“It’s so hard to move on, cause every time I think you’re gone you show up in my rearview mirror.”
Granite Falls Cameron Cabin
Liam’s phone rang, he rolled his eyes and grunted when he saw Kai Camore’s number.
Kai was the Del Sol Valley Camerons’ lawyer before and now again after Liam.
Probably called with a question about some case Liam had still handled, or worse yet, something about the divorce – nothing Liam wanted to think about at the moment.
“Just leave me a message and I’ll deal with the BS whenever I get around to it.” Liam mumbled at his phone.
He ignored the call, but Kai was persistent, kept calling back, again and again.
Finally, Liam had enough.
“What?” he barked into the phone, after punching the answer button.
“Well, hello there Liam. How are you? Long time no speak. Oh, I am fine, thank you very much for asking.” Kai’s voice sounded amused.
“Sorry Kai. I am in the middle of the woods. Whatcha need? I know you’re not calling just for small talk and to see how I am doing, so out with it.”
“Okay, straight to brass tax then. How did you do it? What did you say to her?”
“To whom? Kai, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Vivien. She’s changing the divorce settlement paperwork. Wants you to get half of everything and forego the pre-nup you signed, plus nixed the removal of you as the beneficiary of her life insurances. From a professional aspect I don’t have to tell you how unusual that is, let alone nearly impossible, but from a personal standpoint, how did this go from bitterness to amicable in just some weeks? In all my career, which is now more decades than I care to think about, I have NEVER heard of that happening. Care to enlighten me?”
“Huh? I didn’t know she was gonna do that. Ask HER for enlightenment. Oh, and before you get started: don’t bother with that change. I want nothing, none of that. She can keep it all and shove it. I don’t want her money or any of that fancy shit. All I want is Nick, as much as somehow possible. Tell her that and save yourself the effort.”
“Well, I work for her, not you, so I am gonna have to do it, and you get to smirk arrogantly as you reject it. Still doesn’t answer my question. How? I obviously DID ask her, also obviously in vain and I know better than to piss off Blaine’s precious princess. He’s with her right now, I am at her place. Or shall I say your old place?”
“I don’t know Kai. She stopped by last week and we talked. Was a good talk. That’s it. Money, pre-nups and the mansion never came up. Only Nick. If she wants to do me a solid, tell her to agree to 50:50 shared custody.”
“She will, that’s part of it, plus any noteworthy events, school stuff, graduations, birthdays, that should fall on her 50% she wants noted that you are automatically invited to come, if you so wish, no strings. I know this is none of my business, but you do realize that she still loves you, right?”
“So? What am I supposed to do with that now, Kai? Forget all that happened and crawl back to her? Would you, if you were in my shoes?”
“Maybe if I loved her still too, I would consider it. I have been married for a very long time, Liam, trust me, things get very rocky sometimes, make you want to throw in the towel, and even more so if one partner is in the public eye. There are many ways to skin a cat. No crawling required. This can still be undone.”
“Kai, knowing you’re the good guy that you are, I am gonna refrain from telling you keep the fuck out of my business, and instead I’ll assume you are coming from a place of sincere concern and are not just too fucking lazy to rewrite and refile a shit-ton of legal documents, so thank you, but in the most courteous way will ask you to mind your own. Besides, YOUR client kicked ME to the curb, not vice versa, meaning SHE started our official separation. YOUR client filed for divorce. So, talk to your client about all that. Not me.”
“I would, if she were in a better state of mind. She’s not doing well, Liam. It’s bad. I am sure you heard about that Alex Montgomery drama. She was a mess afterwards, then went to take some interviews in San Myshuno, assume that’s when you two met up. When she returned from that, she wouldn’t stop crying, so Nick’s been with Blake and Mila since, supposedly for some fun cousin time with their twins, Blake is scrambling for more shit to throw at the kids after school, so they don’t realize Nick’s just been parked, because his mommy is in a deep depression and grandma and grandpa are struggling to get her better. Three days ago, Scarlett left her to get her some food, when she came back Vivien had drunk three bottles of wine by herself, just gulped them down like water. As skinny as she is, and not having eaten a decent meal in God knows how long, she ended up in the hospital, which I then of course had to try and cover up, so it doesn’t become media fodder. Soon as she was lucent enough, she called me to change the paperwork. You see how it irked me?”
“Holy shit. Oh Vivien, goddamn it girl! Anything I can do?”
“You could come see her. Maybe that would up her mood. God knows we all tried everything we could think of. Blaine’s here now, I am sure he could come get you in his special express way, right buddy? Yeah, it’s Liam. He’s at the cabin at Granite Falls … uh huh.” Kai said the last things a bit away from the phone and Kai heard Blaine’s voice, but couldn’t make out what he said.
“Kai, look, the hot water’s been broken for days now, too chilly to take a dip in the lake, so I am filthy, haven’t showered in days. I can’t stand to be around myself like this, definitely not fit for a hospital visit.”
“Lucky for you then, Vivien is back home. She released herself – typical. She seems fairly stable now, but someone’s always with her and I am here trying like hell to keep it all out of the media. So, what other excuse do you have not to come? None? Good, cos you did hear me say we are desperate here to pull her out of this, right? Maybe I am too subtle about this, so let me put it in your words: you get your ass over here or we have to have her committed until we can be sure her self-destructive tendencies are under control again. Needless to say, that will put the divorce proceedings on undetermined hold, meaning, you’ll be doing this dance for a lot longer than necessary.”
“Fine, give me an hour to pack up my shit and find a public shower. This is insa- HOLY FUCK! BLAINE! Kai, I gotta go – your bestie just materiali-….” Liam didn’t get to finished as Blaine already grabbed him and ported away.
Del Sol Valley Villa ViVa
The next moment Liam was in the old familiar lobby of the home he used to share with Vivien. He saw Kai at the coffee maker, looked at Blaine who motioned at the stairs.
“Seriously Blaine?!” Liam protested, while slipping his cell phone into his pocket.
“She needs you. Do the right thing, kid. I got tired of Kai and your lovey-dovey banter. We need some action in this bitch, not endless and pointless phone conversations. We’re not politicians.”
“You want me to go see Vivien like THIS?!” Liam grumbled, pointing at himself.
“You’re supposed to talk to her, not rub yourself all over her. I don’t care what you look like or how rank you smell. You used to always be able to talk sense into her, so go work your magic. Go fix my little girl! Or at least try! MOVE IT or I will move you!”
“Why me? I am about to be her ex-husband! You got a divorce under your belt, don’t find that a bit strange?”
“No, I do not! You want a big fat kiss and a medal from me for your sacrifice? Move that ass and talk Vivien off whatever ledge you put her on! If you hadn’t put a baby in your new ho already, Vivien wouldn’t be flipping her shit!”
Shrugging and with a resigned sigh, Liam went up the stairs, straight to their bedroom. It felt strange to him.
He knocked on the wide-open doors, but she had already seen him, jumped up and ran to him, hugging him.
“LIAM! You came!” she chirped, sounding relieved and close to tears.
Liam enveloped her with his arms, just stood there, letting her run through a roster of emotions, sobbing into his shoulder, until she calmed down.
He released her, she stepped back wiping her eyes then looked him over.
“I know, I am a little over-ripe. I was at the cabin, hot water’s been out for days, some part’s missing and the little repair shop said it could be days. Your dad just showed up and didn’t exactly give me a chance to clean up and change before dragging me with.”
“Would it be rude of me to offer you a shower? Nice and hot?” Vivien said, grimacing slightly.
“Not at all. I can’t stand being around myself at the moment and I am afraid to touch anything here or sit down anywhere smelling like a fresh turd. Unfortunately I haven’t gone nose-blind to myself yet, so I know I reek. You mind?”
“Of course not! You know the way.” Vivien pointed at the door of the ensuite bathroom next to them.
“Thanks, I’ll be quick and then we’ll talk. Cos Vivien … seriously …” Liam told her, shaking his head slightly.
He stepped into the old eerily familiar master bathroom, turned on the water that was instantly hot, unlike at the Lake House where it took some time to get warm, as he pulled off his clothing his gaze fell onto the Del Sol Valley skyline. What a crass difference to his home now.
He stepped under the stream of perfectly tepid water at just the right pressure, unlike the ‘never know what you’re gonna get’ type showers at the Lake House.
A small moan escaped him as he closed his eyes when the water started to rush over him, until he felt an extra pair of hands on him. He opened his eyes as he felt her head lean against his back, her feminine shape plastered against his backside.
“Vivien … don’t …”
“Shhh. I need you now. Please. Just once, I need to feel you again. Please.”
Vivien knew how to touch him just right and Liam’s sane and sober response was washed down the drain with this grime and dirt, when Vivien now started soaping him up, touching every inch of his body until he couldn’t help himself anymore, grabbed her and pulled her up, she wrapped her legs around his hips, as he was kissing her hard and demanding, before passionately thrusting into her, making her moan loudly.
Neither of them lasted long, but when they turned off the water, the cool air brought the cold realization to Liam, who finally could think clearly again. Wordlessly he grabbed one of the plush towels, while drying off, he gave himself a ‘WTF?!’ glare in the mirror.
“I laid out a change of clothes for you. Well, just a shirt and a pair of shorts that were in my laundry. The ones I used wear after we … this.” Vivien said behind him.
“Thank you. But Viv – I think I should go. I know I just got here, but we’re off to a horrible start. This was wronger than wrong, just proves that I cannot be trusted around you. I am an idiot. I am so sorry, Viv. I knew you were vulnerable, and I am a dumbass.” he told her, then quickly slipped on the shorts and shirt.
“No. Please, don’t go yet. I need you, Liam. Can’t you see that? I don’t want to lose you. Please … I cannot imagine life without you.”
Liam turned to her, cupped her face with his hand, rubbing his thumb on her cheek, then looked at her eyes.
“Viv. You are a strong, beautiful woman. You don’t NEED anybody, least of all a man. You are the most amazing person I know. You are way above whatever this was. And you know, just as I do, we shouldn’t be together like that anymore. We both need to learn that. Just because something feels good, doesn’t mean it’s right. We are simply not compatible, even though a part of me will always love you, and I think same is true for you and you will never lose me completely. I think I just proved that when you need me, I still come running. But sometimes, love just isn’t enough. I thought about what you said a lot, I do want to be the type of friends we used to be, I miss that too, but this was wrong and can’t happen again. You do see that too, don’t you?”
“I … but Liam. I can change. I can be what you need. I promise, this time I will try, and I will not change my mind again. I don’t want all this anymore. I’ll give up performing. I’ll just be a mom and wife. I want to be with you, and with Nick. He needs both of us.”
“Vivien, there was a time in my life when those words would have changed my world. But I was immature then. Obviously, I am still immature, or I wouldn’t have let this happen. But my point being, nobody should feel obligated to change to be with someone. All this, it’s YOU, Vivien. You are the queen of Del Sol Valley, if not the world. You need the stage, and the stage needs you. And I am nothing like that, which is why we cannot be a couple. It just cannot work without one of us losing ourselves completely. I am a small-town boy and I belong in the small town, and when I am not BS’ing my way through a case in an expensive suit, I am in jeans and t-shirt and belong in the woods, looking and smelling like I was gang-raped by a bunch of rabid skunks.”
Vivien had to giggle, Liam chuckled too.
“I need to get back. I promise I’ll call you later. And you have to promise to not do this bullshit again. Make yourself healthy. Listen to your parents, they love so much. Our son needs you. Nick adores his mommy, she needs to be strong for him, and you need to be there for him, show him to not let setbacks bring you down. He’s going through a divorce just as much as we are, you see how confused we both are by that, just imagine it through the eyes of a child. And you know my dumb ass created a whole new mess with Lana, which I still have to explain to him – eventually. He needs stability. And he needs you.”
“Can we talk more often again? Like we used to. Skype and facetime and all that?”
“Yeah, we can do that. But I really should leave now. If Blaine figures out what just happened, he will off me.”
“Dad loves you. He loved you before he ever loved me. You are the reason he even knows I exist. Remember that, us as tiny toddlers at that playground at Everett Heights? The place where we would have our first kiss many years later?”
“Of course, I remember all that. But you need to quit thinking about that now and be part of the present and future. We can do this, Viv. Remember what I told you before? We’ll ALWAYS be parts of each other’s lives. No matter what. And you know I don’t ditch.”
Liam looked at his dirty clothes, about to grab them.
“Leave them. I’ll have them washed and they give me an excuse to see you again, in case you flake on me.” Vivien winked at Liam, who chuckled, then nodded, kissed her on the cheek.
“Promise me to take good care of yourself, Viv. We all love you a lot and need you to be okay.”
Blaine took one look at Liam when he came downstairs, making Liam feel naked and exposed, as if Blaine could see the truth on his face.
“Took a quick shower … Viv still had some of my clothes.” Liam muttered, realizing his hair was wet.
“I can see that.” Blaine said unimpressed, but mercifully, just took Liam back to the cabin, then immediately left without another word to him.
When he got back to Vivien’s place, he found her at the coffeemaker, dressed, her hair brushed out, wearing make-up and perfume for the first time in weeks, humming an upbeat tune, one of Blaine’s most recent chart-toppers, then she turned to him, smiling.
“Oh, there you are, guess what, I got a fresh pot of coffee for my daddy, extra-strong just how you like it. Right, Kai had to leave to pick something up at the courthouse, said he’d be back soon.” Vivien chirped.
“Listen, chickadee, as thrilled as I am to see you out of bed, showered and dressed and in such a refreshingly good mood after weeks of you looking and smelling like the Swamp Monster, plus, the freshly-fucked glow suits you, but I did not bring Liam here for that! Didn’t even think that would come up, the way you had been hanging around like a wet towel! You both have Cameron blood, that should have been my red flag. Well, now we know. Lesson learned. Shortest pimp-career ever, me.”
“DADDY! OMG! Wait … did Liam say that?”
“Didn’t have to. You forget whom you are talking to. What the fuck, Vivien!?! I realize that all this has been very rough on you, and you’ve been a few dishes short of a full set lately, but enough is enough! Please tell me you at least used protection, since Liam’s vasectomy obviously already malfunctioned and is out of consideration, proof in case would be this knocked up chick of his you got your panties in a bunch over in the first place.”
Vivien spit the coffee she was sipping back into her cup, coughing hard, while staring at her father looking horrified.
“Oh – fuck me sideways! I’ll take that as a ‘oh shit, daddy I was too horny to think about that‘. Splendid. Here we go. Let’s just hope your ass is too skinny and stressed right now to even think about growing a baby, or I swear I will put you over my knee and spank brain function back into you every single day from the moment you find out until you are in labor! If your mother realizes I am the one who enabled this shit, she will send me to the glue factory like a lame horse!”