Love, no matter how it’s expressed, is still love.— Erin McCarthy
We all have flaws, and so our love will be flawed, but that doesn’t diminish it.
Del Sol Valley Cameron Mansion Friday late afternoon
Frowning, Chase watched his older sister Vivien checking her going-out look over in the hallway mirror, while waiting for the car to pick her up.
“What?!” she asked without ever turning around to him.
“You sure Liam is cool with you hanging with them? Alone? Without him?”
“Excuse me?! Do I look like I am owned by my husband or in need of constant supervision?! I don’t need him to hold my hand when I go out with old friends.”
“Just sayin’ …”
“Just sayin’ WHAT?! No, seriously Chase, please share your apparent issues with this. I can’t wait to hear.”
“Well, two of those friends are your exes. Maybe one’s out because he came out gay, but the other? I wouldn’t like Hailz hanging out with her exes … especially not when I am not with her.”
The context here was simple. Over the past year or so, Vivien had reconnected on social media with her old friends Nikki, Caterina and her brother Matteo, who had been Vivien’s first boyfriend before he came out as gay, and even Malik (not shown in the pic below), Vivien’s ex-boyfriend after Matt and also Nikki’s cousin.
As a high level celebrity it wasn’t easy for Vivien to just make new friends, and since she had retired from actively performing in front of audiences while basically being a stay-at-home mom for the most part, she had felt unchallenged and lonely when Liam was at work. Over time old hatchets were buried, all had grown up a lot, some of them had children as well, all had stories. Now it was Nikki’s birthday and Vivien had come to stay at her childhood home, the Cameron Mansion in Del Sol Valley, for two days to celebrate with Nikki and the others, the first official celebration together since reconnection, but hopefully one of many more to come. Vivien’s husband Liam hadn’t been able to come along for work-related reasons, he stayed behind in San Myshuno with their son Nicholas.
“Is that so? Does Hailey even have exes?” Vivien challenged, slightly annoyed.
“No, but …” Chase blushed. Hailey and he had been each other’s firsts for several things.
“No ‘but’ about it! You are just too much. Look Chase, relationships stand and fall with mutual trust. Liam trusts me and knows I am going to a birthday party, not a sex orgy at some swinger club, let alone to hook up with exes, who are obviously EXES for a reason. It’s all good and obviously Liam is okay with it or I would not be here. So, you do you, and I live my life, okay? OKAY?”
“Yah yah .. okay.” was all he replied, taking the verbal spanking, knowing better than to upset Vivien, who was known for her temper. Scary even to a vampire.
“All right lil bro, see you later. Call me if something comes up.”
“Tell that to mom and dad. I am not gonna be here either. I am going out too.” Chase said with a certain amount of pride.
“Out?! YOU?! Like outside this house into the yard or actually leaving the premises?”
“Out on a date.” Chase said, now he was somewhat annoyed. Did she have to rub it in?
“OMG – that I live to see that day that my nerdy lil bro actually does normal teen stuff. WOW, miracles really DO happen. Happy for ya. Well then, have fun, but not too much, remember, we are Camerons …” Vivien winked at him, grinning.
“Argh – not you too! Dad’s constantly up in my business with that never-ending ‘use protection’ crap and I keep finding birth control items EVERYWHERE in my room, clothing, backpack, bathroom, my coffee mug, … What do you guys think of me? That as soon as I see Hailey I am mounting her? We’re not animals in heat!” Chase ranted with frustration.
“Lighten up, Chasey, we just tease you because we love you and you and Hailey are so darn adorable together. Bye now, have a great date!” giggled Vivien, blew him a kiss and left.
“I can see why she and Liam only have ONE kid. Siblings are a cramp!”
“I am not a cramp!” sounded Caitlin, the youngest of the siblings as she hopped down the final steps of the stairs.
“You can be. Who’s that out there?” Chase pointed at the little boy he had just now noticed outside the window on the Camerons’ terrace.
“My friend, Giacomo, we’re going in the pool – obviously.” Cait pointed at the swimsuit she was wearing.
“Who the hell is Giacomo? Is he a classmate?”
“No. You should know him, cos YOU introduced us.”
“I did what?! When?”
“I don’t know, I am not a diary. When we went to see Hailey that one time, I think, and her brother had his girlfriend over and she had Giacomo with her.”
“Why would Grady’s girlfriend Giulia have lil boys with her?”
“Because he’s her little brother, duh!”
“Oh shit! That kid’s an Auditore? Shoot me now. So what is he doing here? They live in Newcrest.”
“Well, Giacomo’s dad owns like a bank thingy and he is Italian, and so are the Bertuccis and somehow they know each other, so Giacomo’s dad came here and took him and … now he’s here.” Cait explained. The Bertuccis were some of the Camerons’ neighbors in the DSV hills.
“Okay okay, whatever. Do mom and dad know he’s here?”
“Caitie … you know better. Go ask mom and dad.”
“Why!? You always have Hailey over!”
“After I ask her parents AND ours. GO ASK MOM AND DAD. No ‘but’ about it!” Chase had to hide a smile about him using the same line on his younger sister than their older sister had used on him. Shit really did roll downhill.
“Fiiiiiiiiiiine. I’ll ask daddy. He’ll say yes. He can’t resist me.” she ran off to find Blaine.
“Isn’t that the truth. Wish I were a girl sometimes … ” Chase mumbled to himself.
“Now that’s something I can help ya with kid, all it would take is a hearty yank and done. Not sure I want to, but whatever makes you happy.” sounded Blaine’s voice from behind Chase, so he turned around.
“Oh, there you are, dad. Your daughter just went up the other set of stairs looking for you.”
“Well, guess she won’t be finding me up there. Which daughter anyway, there are so many.” chuckled Blaine.
“Tell me about it. The littlest one. She brought a boy home. He’s around here somewhere, was by the pool last I saw him. I made her go ask your and mom’s permission.”
“She brought a WHAT home?! My Cait?! She is fucking eleven years old! WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK?! Where is she? And where is that boy?!” Blaine rumbled.
“Like I said, went that way … up the other flight of stairs looking for you. Unless she sees a squirrel or something shiny and forgets all about what she was doing, knowing her. Attention span of a gnat.”
“No kidding. At least her sisters both waited till they were teens to start with that boy business. I can’t believe my baby brings home boys at eleven. ELEVEN. Oh, hell no! I’ll help her have boys over at her age … She won’t want that again until she is fucking growing tits and dealing with tampons and all that girly crap!”
“Dad, chill, it’s harmless, they’re just playing. She’s had boys among her many friends all along and they have all been over to our house many times. Just little kids, nothing for you to worry about.”
“I know, but a group is a different story than one on one, and I am gonna make sure your sister and that little Don Juan both remember that! Now they are playing with each other, in a few years they may want to play ON each other and I am gonna lay the groundwork to prevent that happening too soon NOW!”
Chuckling, Chase watched his father rush off, visibly worked up. Chase already knew how that would go. Blaine was a sucker for little girls, particularly if they were also his family. Cait would have her way, and the poor boy would get a rule book thicker than the Del Sol Valley yellow pages.
“Well, maybe being a boy in this family is easier after all, definitely less interferences run by dad as soon as the opposite sex is involved. Who’d’ve thought his little princesses have their own dad-isms to deal with.”
Chase laughed when he turned and looked at the old sign Blaine had hung long before Chase was even born, back then for Vivien. By now it had been applied to her, Celeste and apparently would also go for Caitlin, while his older brother Blake and he basically got buried in condoms by Blaine.
Newcrest "The Coffee Container" Coffee Shop Friday late evening
Hours later, bored beyond belief Chase jumped up from sitting on the ground when he finally saw a female shape in the almost dark hurry his way.
“Finally! I thought you forgot about me.” he greeted her.
“Yeah, that’s likely, cos I have so many boyfriends, who can keep that straight, right? Work ran late … sorry. My boss is a recycled douche!”
“Seriously! Why is he making you do overtime? How many people could want coffee after 10 pm?”
“Maybe they are all secretly Camerons. We both know your family gulps that stuff down around the clock.”
“I hate you having to work so late. You’re too pretty to be out by yourself this late. Your boss is a dick for making you do that.”
“Well I can’t do the afternoon shifts because they start when I am still at school … soooo …”
“I almost wanna just elope with you so you don’t have to work anymore.”
“Awww, I love it when you talk sexist to me. Do I really look like a trophy wife to you?”
“You could work for me. Like my manager or something.”
“Why would I? Once we’re married, half your stuff is mine anyway. Wonder how much that guitar brings in on ebay.” Hailey purposely joked about Chase’s most prized possession.
“Very funny. Besides, knowing Kai, there would be a prenup stapled to my forehead before I even got the engagement ring on your finger all the way.”
“Family attorney, and also my dad’s oldest and best friend. He’s pretty strict, but has saved some serious Cameron butt throughout the years with his legal magic.”
“An attorney? Jeeze. Dating a rich boy is complicated. Surprised he didn’t run some background checks on me when we started dating.”
“Right, at least not as far as you know. Just kidding. Dating me is not half as complicated as dating a mortal middle class girl who is too pretty for her own good. I cannot think straight knowing you are out here every night. All the things that could happen and I cannot port here every night …”
“Fine, I’ll take the super-early shifts before school then and have dad drop me off on his way to work, just so you won’t get a stomach ulcer about this. So, are we just gonna stand around here or did you have any plans.”
“My plan was to see you. Beyond that, I don’t even care. What do you want to do?”
“Sleep. I am beyond tired. Ironic, since I work in a coffee shop.”
“Okay, so we go to your house and I watch you sleep. I don’t mind.”
“Creep! And after our last thingy with my parents, I think we’re not gonna even attempt that. My mom and dad would take turns having heart attacks while yours rain condoms down on us. I’ll pass.”
“No kidding. I still don’t dare face your parents again. Next time they’ll see me is some years down the road at our college graduation or something.”
“Aww, come on, they were uber-cool about it, once you get past the super-humiliating factor. You know what some of my friends’ parents would have done to you?”
“Shoot me an additional butthole?”
“At the very least.”
“Good thing they don’t know what happens when you stay with us in our guestroom on the other side of the house from my room …. supposedly.”
“Oh, they know. I am sure they do. They are not stupid, Chase. You could tell them I am staying at a hotel downtown and they would know you would be right there with me. My mom and dad did all that and then some when they were younger. They totally know you sneak into my room at night. Just like your parents know.”
“You usually sneak into MY room, Hailz. And I don’t think they do suspect anything. They would have totally said something by now.”
“Trust me, they do. Your mom and I had a convo last time I was there, by the coffeemaker. They have always known. And they are fine with it, as long as we are not stupid about it. Luckily your dad quit building condom pyramids, so maybe they did realize we don’t want a baby right now any more than they do.” Hailey laughed.
“He didn’t stop all the way. Everyone at school thinks I am a total weirdo, cos I hunch and peek into my pencil case and pockets before opening them, afraid he snuck more condoms in there, usually with a smiley face and some off-color message. You’d think my parents would trust me and understand we don’t go through that stuff as much as they may think.”
“Yeah, about that. Why is that?”
“Why is what?”
“How come you do not like sex? Or do you not like sex with ME? Am I doing something wrong? If I am, just tell me.”
“WHAT?!” Chase looked like a deer in headlights.
“It’s just a question …”
“WHAT?!” his voice nearly tipped over as his eyes threatened to come out of their sockets.
“Chase, for heaven’s sake chill out! All I am saying is we’re young, we’re experimenting with love and learning as we go. It would be normal if we were to hump each other every time nobody’s looking …”
“OH MY GOD! Did I break you? I thought we could talk about stuff.”
“No. Yes. We can. It’s just .. I thought .. .girls don’t want to … as much … and I … you know … and … ahem .. respect you … and … I …. you … we … I thought it was all good between us.” stuttered Chase, barely coherent.
“Okay, okay … stop Rainman-ing here for a minute! Just chill Chase. It IS all good, I just maybe wish it were a little more, that’s all. And how can you be so timid about all that when your dad is so clearly not? Nor is your mom, she’s just not as verbal about it.”
“I don’t know. Sorry?”
“Chase … don’t apologize. I think it’s sweet that you’re not pushy, even though I kinda sorta wished … you know … a little more physical stuff would happen. I mean … look at you.”
“I rather not!”
“Huh? What is that supposed to mean now?”
“You need me to lay my flaws out? Okay, let’s start with I am still waiting for my growth spurt, I am skinny, pale, act dorky … not to mention the fangs thing. Not exactly much to write home about. My one saving grace is my parents dough and fame – and you are not even interested in that.”
“Chase Everett Cameron … are you kidding me right now? I cannot tell if you are serious or fishing for compliments here. You are a total droolicious, hunkalicious piece of manmeat. I’d say look in a mirror but we both know you can’t, so I’ll just say this: You know how many of my friends secretly hate me because you are my boyfriend? And they have no clue who you REALLY are, I mean the celebrity parents and siblings part. They just have eyes and see what you look like, that whole dark, handsome and mysterious thing, your eyes are crazy amazing – not to mention that cute ass. Hmm-hmmm.” Hailey giggled, half-teasing him, which he picked up on.
“Did you just objectify me in the most sexist way? Hashtag me too here!” Chase smirked relieved.
“I totally did. Yes, Sir. And I regret nothing.” Hailey told him dead serious, with a smile in her eyes.
“That’s kinda .. hot.”
“No – YOU are kinda hot!” Hailey retorted with a wink.
“You’re hotter! Come! I have an idea! Right now! I have at least half a dozen of those condoms my dad keeps pushing on me burning holes in my pockets!” Chase grabbed Hailey’s hand and ran off with her, both giggling.
The time between then and when he walked her to her door was spent … well … in the bushes behind some of the local businesses, which were now closed and abandoned for the night.
Del Sol Valley Cameron Mansion The next morning
The night had run late and had been rather exhausting, by the time he came down to breakfast on Saturday morning, his parents were both in the kitchen, looking at him weirdly as he dragged himself to the coffeemaker.
Greedily sipping his beverage, he looked at them.
“Are you gonna tell him or am I, Letty? Ah, screw it, I’ll go. Congrats, your ass made the front page news, kid.” Blaine started, unsuccessfully trying to hide a smirk.
“Again? I am sure people are tired of hearing about the teen prodigy following in daddy’s footsteps and all that lame blah blah. They need to do less writing about me as a person and hand me a fucking Accolade already for my music. Twice now I got teased with one and got the shaft. Vivien and Blake had accolades at my age.” ranted Chase.
“Nah son, you’re not hearing me. I literally meant your ASS is in the news. The two cheeks in between which you keep your head half the time. It is a proud day in any father’s life to get a close up look of my teen boy’s naked derrière with the morning coffee. I definitely had tears of pride running down my face when I first saw this. No wait, those were from laughing so hard. My bad. Here take a gander at exhibit A. Or would it in this case be ‘number 2’?” Blaine laughed at his own joke while pulling his cell phone from his back pocket and tapping around on it.
Chase spit the sip of coffee he was choking on back into his cup, coughing hard as he now stared at his father’s phone in disbelief.
“What the … HOW!? Why would they put my ass on the front page! Isn’t that child pornography or something?! Is Kai on this yet?” Chase felt every emotion known to mankind at once, while staring at his own bare behind peeking out of some bushes, very obviously from last night when he was in the midst of … stuff … with Hailey. Oh gawd, Hailey!
“What do you think? Oh, I am supposed to tell you from Kai to look into some light man-scaping. Looking at your flesh cactus isn’t something he prefers with his breakfast, his words, not mine.” Blaine burst into hearty laughter.
“Oh gawd. I wonder if Hailey knows yet.” Chase mumbled while pulling out his phone to a message already waiting.
He gulped, afraid to read it, worried she’d break up with him now, even though her identity wasn’t mentioned in the article and she wasn’t really visible in the position the paparazzi had snapped the photo in.
“I can’t look. Mom? Here – you look! Take it!” he said, turning around to Scarlett, his voice tiny as he handed his phone to his mother as if it were on fire.
Scarlett grabbed his phone just in time as Blaine tried to snatch it too, sticking her tongue out at him, before tapping around on it, Chase staring at her face as if he was about to fall to pieces.
Scarlett read for a second, nodded, then grabbed her son’s hand and placed the phone in it.
Chase looked down at it with one eye open only, as he read