“Artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.”Alan Moore
Glimmerbrook Weeping Willow Cemetery
“Thanks for going with me, Liam.” Vivien said with a somber voice, as they stepped past another row of gravestones.
“No biggie. I have family here too, and don’t come here often enough.”
“I never managed to go to a cemetery on my own. Just freaks me out. Isn’t that strange, considering my mom’s side of the family are all vampires? Caelan used to here go with me, now he can’t, since he was forbidden access.”
“Well, go say hi to your step-mom, I have to go take a leak. Be right back.”
Vivien watched Liam’s tall, slender figure hurry off with long strides of his long, muscular legs, a picture of a man, it made her smile before she dedicated herself to Bristol Collin’s grave, next to her late husband’s, both their lives extinguished suddenly and prematurely by a tragic accident some years ago, and her smile faded. Clearly the final resting places were well maintained, probably Bristol’s brother Phillip and his family. With a sigh she stared at the tombstone, when a woman’s voice caught her attention, and she saw a pretty redhead walking down the main road outside the cemetery, cooing at a small child in her arms.
Vivien’s posture stiffened, watching them, still staring when Liam returned.
“Come with me.” she said, pulling him along by his hand.
“Where to?” he wondered, surprised.
“Just play along. I will explain all later!”
They hurried out of the cemetery around the same time the young woman had arrived near the exit with her baby.
“Oh my goodness, look, honey, how sweet. Hello there little one!” cooed Vivien, dragging a very confused Liam towards the mother and child.
The mother looked up at Vivien and Liam, taken aback, when Vivien already continued.
“I am so sorry, when I see little babies these days I just get carried away. We are trying to conceive, you see. May I please hold the little one?” Vivien asked, generating a grimace from Liam.
“Ahem … I rather you didn’t. Sorry, but I … just .. don’t know you.” came the mother’s surprised response.
“Oh, I understand, of course. You must think I am totally weird, but I just can’t help it when I see such sweet bundles of joys! Sorry, I am … Veronica Reed and this is my husband Leonard. Or Lenny. I call him Lenny. We just got married and can’t wait to have a little one like this beautiful girl here.”
Liam coughed briefly at the surprise, then worked up a fake smile, as Vivien already continued her deceit.
“Honey, look, isn’t she darling? What a treasure … ah, sorry, what did you say your name was?” Vivien rambled on, in a tone unusual for her, sounding like an airhead to Liam.
“I … didn’t.” there was a sense of finality in the woman’s answer.
“Oh, I understand, didn’t mean to overstep. It’s just, you are so beautiful and we’re desperate for baby name inspirations, the naming almost feels like the hardest part right now. I mean, a name is so important, you want to get it right. She is so precious! Isn’t she precious, Lenny?!” Vivien chirped on, Liam nodded, more confused than ever.
“Oh yeah, the name was very important for me too. This is Leeora. It means compassion, gift of light. Her father … he …is … a very tragic story … he is … absent. Well, he’s … gone. Like … dead. She is his greatest gift to me. The apple of my eye, center of my life. My everything. My reason for being.” the redhead stumbled over her own words, visibly affected.
“Oh, how sweet … and so sad. Sounds like you loved him very much! My deepest condolences!” Vivien told the woman.
“Thank you. I did, and I miss him every minute of every day, even though our relationship has been rather complicated from the start, but with him now completely wiped from my life – our lives – I probably will miss him for the rest of my days. He never even got to meet his daughter, so I’m pouring all the love I shared with him into our little girl now, hoping maybe she can feel him through me. She already reminds me of him. When I look into her beautiful eyes I see him.” explained the woman with a melancholic smile.
“Oh my god, this is so tragic! Say, would you mind if I took a pic with my sweet Lenny and your precious Leeora? Just to remind us how we will look when we finally get pregnant and have a little one of our own? Ours would of course probably have dark hair, not this beautiful copper shade. Are her eyes gray? What a lovely combination, so unusual.”
“They are silver gray, like her father’s. Yes, Lenny may hold her, I … suppose that would be all right … you two seem nice. I hope you two get the chances my lover and I never had. Cherish each moment together, treasure each minute like it’s the last, as you really never know when that may hold true.” the woman said sadly and handed the baby to Liam, who carefully took her, shot Vivien a quick glance, but said noting, stood there holding the little girl as Vivien briefly rubbed, then kissed the baby’s pudgy little pink cheek, before she snapped a picture up close with her cell phone.
That was when the mother pulled the baby from his arms.
“I should get back home. It’s time for her nap. Good luck conceiving!” she said quickly and hurried away, followed by Vivien’s stares.
Once she was out of hearing distance, Vivien turned to a Liam with a certain facial expression, as he already laid into her.
“You got some ‘splaining to do. Lenny Reed?! Ditsy Veronica?! Newlyweds?! Why were we snuggling other people’s babies in cemeteries, hopeful to welcome our own bundle of diaper rash and are quizzing people for name suggestions?! Did I fall into a coma on my way to the cemetery crapper?! You were incredibly creepy, I bet she thought we arrived here in some unmarked van and steal babies for a living! If I am not hearing a very sound explanation out of you, I am taking you to the hospital for a brain injury!”
“Yeah, well … I am waiting! VIVIEN! TALK! NOW! What was THAT!?”
“Okay. Sorry I couldn’t brief you, but I had to act quick and wing it. Blake’s the one with the acting lessons, I am not good with this, did the best I could. Reed’s my grandma’s maiden name ..and ..well, …. I have no proof, but a strong feeling about this. That right there, Liam, was my little niece you were just holding. I am 100% certain that woman, the mother, was Seraphina, the one who broke my uncle’s heart – that was his baby which he can never meet! Which NONE of us Vatores can ever meet! That little girl is related to me! Did you hear what she said? How she spoke about Caelan? No way she wanted to hurt him. That was all her mother, I suspected that all along! Seraphina still loves him! And that baby had my uncle’s eyes. Same as my mom’s and my grandpa’s and my little brother Chase’s, the same light silver gray that sometimes almost looks preternatural! Vampire eyes. A rare combo with bright red hair especially on a warm, pink mortal like us!”
“Holy shit! How did you figure all that out so quick?”
“Female intuition? Maybe part of the vampire blood I inherited. I don’t know. I just had an strange feeling the minute I saw them. I need another favor, please. Can you take me to Forgotten Hollow right away? I want to show my grandparents the picture I took. At least grandpa, let him decide if grandma should see it. She has been very heartbroken about this too. That little girl was their grandbaby! And Caelan needs to know … “
“Okay, I’ll take you there, but I will stick around, so you keep that foot out of your mouth, okay? Oh – and leave Caelan out of that. The man’s had it rough enough.”
“Okay … fine … deal. Let’s go!”
Forgotten Hollow Vatore Castle
Eyeing both Vivien and Liam suspiciously, Caleb stood there in his study as Vivien pulled out her cell phone, tapping around on it till she found the picture.
Caleb took the phone, looked at it, then up at Liam.
“Why am I looking at a photo of him holding a child?”
“I have reason to believe that is Caelan’s baby.”
Caleb lowered the phone, giving her a warning glance.
“Grandpa … I wasn’t planning on this. Liam and I were at the cemetery and that redhead just walked past and I just … knew. I had to get a better look to be sure and when I touched that baby, I could feel Caelan. She has his eyes. YOUR eyes. Vampire eyes, but she is a mortal. I am 100% certain it’s his baby. YOUR granddaughter.”
“Vivien, if you are right about this, and Seraphina tells her mother about it …”
“Grandpa, the deal was for vampires! I am not one.”
“But you are still a Vatore, in name and blood. It won’t make a difference to Minerva.”
“Relax Caleb, you’re covered there. First of all it happened on public ground, a cemetery, we didn’t go seek her out at a private residence. I don’t know anything about your vampire laws or treaties with Spellcasters and stuff, but rules about public places are pretty universal, I think. Besides, your lil Miss Super-Spy granddaughter here used fake names for us, apparently I am Lenny, she’s Veronica, we recently got married and are trying for a baby, which is why we had to hold that one. Baby fever I suppose.” Liam said.
“Oh, well, congratulations on your marriage then, but did your honeymoon have to involve trying to start a war for us vampires with the Spellcasters?! And did you have to involve Liam in it, Vivien?! He already knows way more about all this than I would prefer! The fake names and story was admittedly smart, kudos for thinking on your feet, but it still was too risky. Well, since you are already knee deep in this with us, I can’t believe you didn’t stop it, Liam. I always pegged you as the voice of reason out of you two, as that certainly wouldn’t be my granddaughter, so much is certain!” Caleb shot Vivien a look.
“Caleb, wait a second now! That’s hardly fair! First of all, confidentiality is a key part of my job, and you have known me since I was born, I would never do anything to negatively affect you and your kind! So, why am I getting the ass card here?! I am not the one with fancy powers, that would be you and even you could barely ever keep a lid on Vivien. Or her mother, or her uncle, I heard the stories! It’s not like Vivien asked my permission before she acted. I just got dragged in and had to roll with it. What would you have had me do? Expose her lie right there? That would have made things a hundred times worse! And if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know any details about all this, just the bare minimum anyway, even though you know I can be trusted!” Liam defended himself
Caleb’s dark expression, lightened with amusement.
“You really are a Cameron, young friend. You are also right. It was wrong of me to say this. You had no other option, and it is not your job to keep my granddaughter on the straight and narrow, especially since you aptly pointed out that I myself have failed to do so with my children and grandchildren before. My apologies, young Liam. And thank you for keeping Vivien out of trouble, and by extension, the rest of the Vatores as well.”
“Hey, no worries. I try my best to keep her safe, but I am only human and only one man. You’d need an army to keep her contained once she has her mind made up about something.” said Liam.
“Guys, I am right here and don’t need babysitting, thank you very much!” protested Vivien.
“Yes, you do!” said both men in unison, as nearby a dark cloud appeared, out of which Riordan stepped, which eliminated the comeback she was puffing up to let out.
“You wanted to see me, uncle? Oh, hello Viv, hello Liam.”
“Yes, come here and look at this.” Caleb held out the phone to Riordan.
“How did Ri know Caleb wanted to see him?” Liam whispered near Vivien’s ear.
“Grandpa has ways we’re not privy too. He summoned him with his mind somehow. I don’t know how exactly that works, but it does.” she whispered back.
“Is this who I think it is?” wondered Riordan out aloud, looking first at Caleb, then Liam until his eyes remained on Vivien, indicating the question was for her, so she reacted.
“Yes. I am pretty sure it is. Her name is Leeora. Her mother said it means compassion and gift of light, and she said her father was absent, dead even, their daughter was the greatest gift he could have ever given her. Said she loved him. She looked and sounded genuine, Ri. That is one of the most romantic things I ever heard about naming a child. No way Seraphina meant to hurt Caelan! She really loved him. Probably still does. He needs to know about this. And see his child. At least a photo.”
Riordan sighed, then returned the cell phone to Vivien after clicking around on it a bit, which caused something in his back pocket to buzz. Apparently he had sent the photo to himself.
“Vivien, what you did was incredibly risky, for yourself, but even more so for the rest of us. By all that is holy, if you care at all about us, but especially about Caelan, you let this sleeping dog lie. Do not seek her out again, do not tell Caelan. To assist in you not accidentally doing something we all would regret, you will find that I have erased the photo from your phone, but have a backup on mine for safekeeping. My apologies, Vivien, for this privacy trespass, but I felt it was the right thing to do, as you may be too young to understand yet that some love stories may be full of romance and promise, yet fated not to prevail. This really cannot be fixed, not by anybody, no matter how tragic this may be. I hope you can trust my experience enough to believe that if you were to tell Caelan about any of this, if he were to believe you, knowing his history of impulsive, reckless and self-destructive behavior, he may end up doing something that could end in even greater tragedy than it already has, and there is nothing your grandfather or I could do to stop it. Am I understood? You may not be a vampire, but you are a Vatore and hence bound by the same rules about this unfortunate matter as we are. Minerva Latimer is not known for kindness or leniency, it is paramount to step away from this NOW. Can you promise your grandfather and me that you will leave this alone?”
Vivien looked like she wanted to argue, a quick side-glance at Liam, who just shook his head, changed it to a sad expression, silencing her as her shoulders slumped slightly while understanding and resignation flashed across her pretty face.
She nodded and lowered her gaze in defeat.
“I’ll keep her safe.” Liam proclaimed.
Soon after they left, standing in the doorway of the castle watching them walk down the long, foggy road to the street where Liam left his car, Caleb, nodded knowingly.
“I believe you will, my young friend.”