“Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”Saint Ignatius
Weeping Willows Cemetery Windenburg
After some persistent issues concerning access, landownership and zoning with the Latimers of Glimmerbrook, the greater Windenburg District, spearheaded by Mayor James (Jamie) Cameron, Liam’s father, had undertaken a lengthy project of moving the old cemetery from Glimmerbrook and meticulously rebuilding it stone by stone, grave by grave, in his district on the outskirts of Windenburg.
Two of the first visitors after reopening in its new spot were Vivien and Liam.
Vivien was laughing hysterically, her eyes were tearing up. A somber visit to lost loved ones’ graves had turned into a crazy chase and make-out session of the young lovers, after Vivien couldn’t help but slap Liam’s butt when he was bent over, causing him to hit his head, so she took off giggling, until he caught up with her, kissing her wildly, only interrupted by blowing raspberries on her cheeks and neck to make her laugh even harder.
“Stop! STOP! This is a cemetery! We’re gonna go straight to hell! STAHP!” she pleaded, wheezing.
“We’re just outside the Cameron mausoleum and I guarantee you, they all approve!”
“You are awful, Mr. Cameron!”
“And you like it that way, Miss Vatore!”
“How adorable. Vatore, huh? Interesting! I had a feeling last time we met you were dishing me up a steaming pile of rubbish, dear ‘Lenny‘ and ‘Veronica‘. I see you are still not expecting, maybe because none of that was true, hmmm?” they both froze when a third person spoke, both turned to see Seraphina Latimer. (AN: refers to Chapter 164) The Lie)
“Oh crapcakes!” Vivien exclaimed, both she and Liam froze up and stared at the woman with the flood of fiery curls, who looked back at them with her arms crossed, unamused.
“I think you and I should have a talk, young lady. In private. Unless, of course, you prefer me to take this directly to my mother? I am quite sure you know what that means.” Seraphina’s tone was firm and borderline threatening.
“Hey lady, what’s your problem?!” Liam puffed up, shielding Vivien, but she stopped him, shaking her head.
“Liam – don’t. Please. It’s okay, I’ll go and talk with her. It’ll be fine.”
“Like hell you will! Absolutely not. I go where you go!” Liam dug in his heels, making Seraphina roll her eyes.
“Fine, pretty boy can come then, but make haste. I am sure I am not the only one curious about how this turned out. I mean, who has ever heard of a cemetery being moved in its entirety? It has been in my hometown of Glimmerbrook for as long as I have been alive and even long before then, so I am sure other residents will show up at some point to see this. Are you any good with children, handsome? You could entertain Leeora while whomever this girl here really is to you and I have a chat.” Seraphina turned to Liam.
“I am neither a ‘pretty boy’, nor a babysitter! I am an attorney!”
“You think that impresses me either way?!”
“Come on Liam, please. PLEASE – for me?” Vivien pleaded with him, knowing about Liam’s temper and how dangerous Seraphina could be, if she wanted to.
“That’ll cost ya, girl!” Liam told her.
“Anything you want! Literally ANYthing. Just please.”
“Fine, let’s go then.” Liam sighed.
Seraphina followed them to Liam’s car where she slipped into the passenger seat, when Liam opened the door for Vivien, which had him quietly fuming, only marginally calmed by the kiss he received from Vivien as she climbed into the backseat. His question about how Seraphina got to Windenburg without a car remained unanswered, while she unnecessarily directed him to Glimmerbrook, then over windy backroads to a small house mostly hidden from view, with so many blooming bushes, trees and flowers that it looked more like a fantasy than real. Liam parked a bit away, then – holding Vivien’s hand – both followed Seraphina inside.
“Is that a ….” slipped out of his mouth, surprised.
“A cauldron, yes. I ask that you withhold any ridicule and commentary. Leeora is over there.” Seraphina pointed at the little girl playing with some toys in a corner of the room, barred off with a sort of fence as a makeshift playpen.
“You left a toddler alone?! Are you insane?!” Vivien burst out.
“Hold the judgment! I really do not have too many options here. Believe me, this IS the better option. For her sake. Not like too much could harm her, she is, after all a witch.” Seraphina looked Vivien over, then pinched her before Vivien knew what was happening.
“Ouch, what the fuck, lady!?” Vivien yelped, glaring at the witch.
“You’re mortal. Hmmm … so you must be Vivien then. What about him? Looks mortal too. Is he?”
“Yes, and duh! You saw both of us out in the the bright daylight! And how would pinching the shit out of someone prove anything? Vampires feel pain.”
“They do, but differently and a pinch mark wouldn’t turn red with blood collecting beneath the skin. We both know some vampires can stand daylight, even some sun exposure. So, YOU are Vivien then. I heard lots about you. Caelan is very fond of you indeed. Who’s that one over there then, really, I mean. We both know he is no Lenny.” Seraphina pointed at Liam, who was playing with the toddler, but Vivien couldn’t get over how red Seraphina’s eyes shimmered. Freaky.
“That’s Liam, my fiancé. For real this time. Look, here’s my ring. I heard lots about you too. Sadly, not so much of late, especially not anything good. You really hurt him bad. How could you? He loved you so.”
“I believe you heard a lot of things about me that aren’t true. I am not the bad guy in this mess, Vivien, even though I am quite sure Caelan thinks so now. That’s why I need you to take a message to him.”
“Look, that won’t work. As soon as your name comes up, he gets upset, shuts down and walks off. He won’t listen, not even to me. I asked him a million times about you, and about what really happened, he won’t say. Neither will my grandpa or Riordan. If it comes to most vampire-related stuff, I am locked out. I can’t help you.” Vivien told her.
“You must make him listen. That little girl over there is his daughter. Each day that passes without her father kills me. What I told you the last time we met, when you lied to me, I only told the truth. I love Caelan, then and now, but I had no choice, I had to protect my child. Our child. I have no doubt my mother could have killed my daughter, even inside my womb, had I resisted. That is not a comforting thought, Vivien. Why did you lie to me anyway? Obviously you knew very well who I was.” Seraphina sounded hurt and desperate.
“Isn’t it obvious? My last name is Vatore, I am directly related to Caelan, so of course I wouldn’t tell you a thing knowing what happened. No offense, but my loyalties will always lie with my family, especially Caelan. But when I realized who you were, I wanted to meet Leeora, whatever that took. Gawd, she is so cute, and my cousin. That’s big to me. So I did what I had to and dragged Liam into it. Wasn’t his fault, he just didn’t know what else to do other than play along.”
“I see. Look, Vivien, I WANT her to know her family, especially the side that may actually care about her. My mother fell ill some months ago, I had hopes she would just perish and then I would be sworn in as the new grand mage and could make the changes I need, undo that stupid agreement with the vampires, but sadly, she recovered. So nothing will change. Only get worse.”
“What a way to talk about one’s mother.” Vivien frowned.
“You do not know my mother, Vivien. Trust me, that is a good thing. She really is evil to the core.”
“Well, she is still your mother, meaning she loves you. Maybe she really thought she was doing what’s best for you, so if you approach this calmly, you may be able to …”
“Vivien, no. Make no mistake, there are bad mothers in the world, cold ones, calculating ones. You might have a good one, I wasn’t so lucky. Unfortunately is mine also very powerful and has me backed into a corner. Look, I am sure Caelan told you what we are. We are strong. I am powerful. But not even remotely as powerful as my mother, nobody is, I cannot take her, nobody can, nobody but nature, one fine day she will die, but my daughter and I cannot wait that long. As soon as Leeora gets older, she will corrupt her and I cannot stop that. My mother has my brother under her spell, literally, he is like a puppet to her, as is his son, my nephew, the poor kid, which makes both of them dangerous as well, even to me. I tried to get away before, twice, to save my child from her, but they found me each time. Minerva, that’s my mother, she is dangerous and cruel. The only reason I am even still alive is the fact that I am her only female heir, and she is too old to have another baby to replace me, so she needs Leeora, but if I push her now, she will not hesitate to rid herself of me and the shame I brought over her. Even though nobody knows who -or better what – Leeora’s father is, you know as they say, only one can keep a secret. My brother can’t tell, she controls him, nobody else knows, but I am the loose end. If I get too complicated, she will kill me and raise my daughter to be just like her. I cannot let that happen to my beautiful girl. If the other Spellcasters even suspected that vampire blood has infiltrated the ancient Latimer line, there would be an uprising and they would not rest until every last one of us was gone including the innocent child. Spellcasters hate vampires with great passion, have for centuries, nay, millennia. All those stories you ever heard about vampire hunters, they all were Spellcasters. The only exception I personally know to that rule is the one you are looking at. I was toying with Caelan in the beginning, trying to mess with his head and heart, as witches do, but I fell for him instead. I still love him, even though I know it is hopeless.”
“Oh man. I may not be a vampire, but I grew up among them and I know all about secrets everywhere and about outdated rules and all that. My own mom had very frustrating experiences with ancient vampire laws and rules. But I do agree that CaeCae should know his daughter. Let me talk to him again. No promises though, he is very bitter and don’t expect some love scene between you two. That I almost guarantee won’t be happening. And you do know that this is dangerous, I do know about the part of the agreement where all of the Vatores are forbidden to even approach Leeora, my grandpa had to agree to it to save his son, but it hurts him and my grandma too. They love kids and have been DYING to have one by their son. I guess I can slide by that rule since I am not the kind of Vatore they mean, but as soon as we get Caelan involved we are in breach.”
“Yes, I know. We would have to be extremely careful not to raise any suspicion, but it can be done. Caelan and I did it for 7 years without being found out. Had it not been for the baby … what was I thinking? I did it on purpose, get pregnant I mean, without telling Caelan. I wanted his child so badly but knew he would never agree. I was so much in love that I wasn’t thinking clearly, I thought once she was born he wouldn’t be able to help love her, thought he and I could just run away together. I am such a fool, and I hurt the one man I loved more than my own life. Now look what I have done, to all three of us.” Seraphina looked miserable.
“I’ll think about it, okay, Seraphina? That’s the best I can do, because if I agree to this, and if Caelan were to even listen to me, let alone if he really were to meet his daughter, which I am not convinced he would want to do, it would put him and the other Vatores into grave danger. That is a huge risk and not something I can decide on lightly. I hope you understand. I need to think about it, but I will find a way to get in touch once I figured out what I am comfortable with. But can I hold her?” Vivien asked.
“Sure. She speaks now, and understands much, is like a sponge and a little parrot, so we have to be careful, do not tell her your name or any details.”
Vivien walked over to Liam and took the little girl from him, snuggling her, which amused Leeora.
When Vivien looked up at Liam, he took a photo of them.
After they left, on the way back to the car they were quiet, but once they reached it, Vivien said quietly
“That was so strange, holding that little girl, technically a stranger to me, but I was looking into my mother’s eyes. And my uncle’s obviously.”
“You looked cute holding her.”
“Is that why you took a pic? Or was that for CaeCae?”
“Something like that … a little glimpse into the distant future maybe …” Liam winked, as he opened the car door for her.
“The future? You mean for Caelan to hopefully meet his baby, or our future?” Vivien wondered.
“Put on your seatbelt.” Liam said softly, smiling, as he turned the key in the ignition.