“Some of the most beautiful things we have in life comes from our mistakes.”― S. Bell
Glimmerbrook Bartholomew Residence
A few hours after locating Leeora at a fang bar, Caelan dropped her off at her home, where he was met by a very upset Seraphina, pulling him aside after sending their buzzed and immensely drowsy daughter to her room.
“I was worried sick about my daughter, next time please have the courtesy to call! And did you have to get her drunk on her birthday?!”
“She was already at a fang bar getting into booze when I found her and is at best a little tipsy, I had twice what she had and still barely feel a buzz. Also, she is OUR daughter, not YOURS, she’s 18 and why are you blaming me, when she lives with YOU?! Not my fault that you were otherwise occupied. As usual.”
“Ah, we are doing this again. Lovely. Sure, Caelan let’s have it. I am the bad, terrible mother. But at least I was there for her, ALL the time, all those years, every day, not up and away like her father on your little missions only to drop by when convenient. And for your information, my 7-year-old twins were down with a fever, so we had to take them to the ER. Problems of mortals, you wouldn’t understand, but high fever in children can be dangerous. I cannot control the terrible timing.”
“You should have contacted my family. That way, I wouldn’t have to find our daughter at some vampire dive bar trying to get drunk, playing chicken with some bottom-of-the-barrel vampire even I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.”
“I handled it. But I need you and your husband to buy her a car, as you know my family does not use cars, hence I know nothing about those things. I will pay for it.”
“She is NOT getting a car and we do not need your money. There is a reason I haven’t bought her a ride. The moment she has a vehicle, that girl is gone.”
“You really do not know Leeora as well as you seem to think. She has NO aspiration, no energy, no drive, only anger and irrational dreams. Unattended that won’t lead to anything good.”
“So you think locking her up helps the situation? Why haven’t you tried to get her interested in something? You are the mother and know … you know … girly mortal things. Am I supposed to do everything now? I really don’t know what young women want these days, best I could do is stick her with my niece Vivien or maybe Caitlin since they are closer in age and hope they can help sort it out.”
“You need to holster those accusations, Caelan! Unless you were there, REALLY there all the time, not just this weekend parenting you have been doing, you do not get a real say as you simply don’t know what is really going on. Leeora is a very difficult person. Always has been. I know she purrs like a kitten around you, but the rest of us always got the full experience, including the claws and fangs, pun intended. Sticking her with your uppity Del Sol Valley celebrity in-laws who have lost all connection to real life won’t help her at all. You do not know the half of it, only see what you want to. Some things never change.”
“At least I don’t betray loved ones!”
“Oh my god, you are still on with that?! Look Caelan, we are both married now, we have moved on, at least I have and thought you had too. Evidently not. I never once betrayed you, I saved our child. Again, you didn’t even know the half of it, nor cared enough to ever listen to me trying to explain it to you. You always lived in your own reality, blind to what really goes on in the world around you. The Vatore way. As presumptuous as it is ignorant!”
“Oh, but you have all the insights, huh Seraphina?! You stir around in your elixirs and potions and – voilá – you know everything and then some! Is that why you killed my Ingrid?! Because you were enlightened, mature and you moved on?!” Caelan’s voice was but a low growl.
“That was before I met Damien. He helped me get my head on straight. I have grown a LOT since meeting him!”
“You have grown, all right. Old, fat and gray! Who the hell is Damien?”
“My husband, you arrogant moron, and if you think your insults make me feel anything but more pity and disdain for you, you failed! Your daughter’s step-father, Damien Bartholomew, whom I have been married to for over a decade now and who has been an amazing dad to our twins Morwyn and Magus and a patient and kind step-dad to Leeora. A father who was ALWAYS around, something she needed.”
“Leeora doesn’t need a fucking step-dad. She has a REAL one! And I was always present and around as much as I could be and as much as you would let me be.”
“I am NOT discussing this with you. I am happily married, a mother of three lovely children whom I love very much and whom I do anything I can for.”
“Do you though? You stepped down from the only real aspiration our daughter had, except becoming like me, which is impossible. But what would have been well within her grasp would have been letting her work her way up to one day replace you as Grand Mage of the Magic Realm, and that would have been something she’d want. Instead, you step down and hand the reigns to your wet towel of a brother! How could you do that to Leeora?! Selfish to the T. You only saw what you wanted, forgetting about all else, AGAIN. Leeora is meant for greatness, you can’t expect her to live some average life, not with the pedigree she stems from. We are both from a long line of powerful leaders – you took that from her, and I can’t give it to her because of what she is.”
“It wasn’t selfish, try selfless! I fought so very hard to have that position. I sacrificed it, for Leeora’s sake. Being the Grand Mage consumes you. It started to consume me, but for many years I didn’t see it, which is why I did to Ingrid what I did. Back then I still loved you, wanted you, I felt you should be mine and it was my right to make it so. It wasn’t until I met Damien that I started to realize the errors of my ways and the dangers. He saw it and patiently helped me find an equilibrium, but as troubled as she is, I knew I didn’t want to run the risk with Leeora. So, I did the only thing I could to avoid her going down that rabbit hole. My brother is much better suited anyway, the power he holds doesn’t seem to affect him at all and his son Lysander is just like him, so he will be a just leader whenever he takes over. Leeora isn’t like that. I did her a favor, sacrificing something I wanted so badly, just like I had done with you. Sacrificed you to have her. Besides, for hundreds of years the Grand Mage has been a Latimer, in both blood and name. I no longer am one of those, but my brother, his son Lysander and his young son after him all are. It all worked out as it was meant to be.”
“That is bullshit, Leeora is still a Latimer in name and 50% in blood. The other 50% is the Vatore line, and BOTH are meant for leaders, not followers! Continue living your lies, Seraphina, if it pleases you. But I will not let you hide away our daughter. If she wants to leave this place, I will help her do so. After your latest ‘sacrifice’ there is nothing left here for her anyway. Not even family, since you are too busy with your new one and your brother’s family never gave two shits about her, because of who her father is.”
“That is not true. Not really. Family and relationships can be complicated. Do you love your wife, Caelan? That white headed goodie two shoes who looks like she bores you to tears, her name slips my mind.”
“Her name is Rhiannon, and of course I love her! Idiotic question! Not like it matters, but she is neither boring, nor a goodie two shoes, and her hair is a very light blond, not white! She is beautiful and excites me, for one.”
“How quaint. Say what you will, but whatever you two may have can never be the intense kind of love we once had. That was a once in a lifetime thing and is gone and forever out of our reach now.”
“Whatever gets you through your days, Seraphina. I’d tell you that you are wrong as far as I am concerned, but I don’t feel like arguing with you, I will say, though, that I think you are confusing love with lust. Besides, if what you said were true, it would be even the more reason to let Leeora find a life elsewhere. She is not gonna find what you claim we had here with all those ridiculous Harry Potter impersonators waving their little wands and all their magic antics. Those witcher boys aren’t real men, not now, not ever!”
“Oh, because the one way to be a real man is to have fangs, dress head to toe in black leather and go around sucking the blood of mortals, occasionally killing them for sport? Please, that sounds as ridiculous as it is. Unfortunately, Leeora may be a witch, but she is dark inside like a vampire. And she is way too powerful for her own good. Maybe it would be best to grant her wish for turning. If anyone could survive it, it would be her, she would lose all her magic abilities, which may not be the worst thing as I am afraid what she could do with all that power, if something ever really sets her off. One more reason I didn’t want her to ever have the chance to become the Grand Mage. If we thought my mother was dangerous and evil, the mere thought of what a pissed off Leeora would be like frightens me.”
“Nice try, but let me remind you, that YOUR tally of killing mortals is much higher than mine, and those are only counting the ones I know of, who knows what the actual count is. I kill no mortals, I hunt and bring to justice vampires instead, and for good reason, as my kind can be sentenced to death for killing one single mortal, by our laws, I should and could kill you right here on the spot for all you have done so far. Lucky for you, witch, my father’s realm extends only to vampires. And nobody is turning Leeora, are you insane?! You know how risky an attempt to turn her would be? Over my dead body!”
“Well, not to split hairs, but aren’t you technically already pretty much dead anyway? Ha, after having been married to that boring silver-haired maiden in perpetual distress you are probably dead from the waist down as well now, once your sole saving grace in your otherwise ice-cold body devoid of any capability of emotion other than sexual.”
“You have gotten old, in body but also mind, if you have forgotten how very much alive I am under the right circumstances. Inside and out of the bedroom. And I will warn you one last time to not speak ill of my wife. Aim your venom at me, I am used to it, but Rhiannon is off limits. As is my son, so don’t even think about going there.”
“After so much family heart and hearth by the vampire incapable of emotion, I have to get back inside. As you may recall, I have two sick children. Leave Leeora where she is. And don’t get my daughter drunk again.”
“OUR daughter. She is mine too! And I didn’t get her drunk! She did that because of YOU! Can’t say I really blame her!” Caelan said against a shutting door.
He let out a dissatisfied groan.
Forgotten Hollow Vatore Castle
Less than an hour later found Caelan under the watchful eye of his wife Rhiannon, as he rid himself of the weapons and armory from his latest assignment, as well as his clothing in their private chambers at the castle.
The stunning beauty, her silvery blonde hair so light it seemed almost white, contained in an elegant updo matching the rest of her elegant appearance, joined her husband, cupped his face gently, studying it, then kissed him, which he responded to in kind while she embraced him, clinging to him. They stood like that for a moment, until he released her.
“Careful, my love, I am filthy.” he smiled, as he stepped away to finish his task of undressing.
“I already ran a bath for you as soon as you texted that you’re on your way home from Glimmerbrook and intend to offer any assistance you may need. Or want.”
A chuckle escaped him, his stance relaxed and his eyes softened.
“I don’t deserve you.”
“Probably true. But lucky for you, I am hopelessly in love with you, so I’ll stay anyway. Rough time with your latest mark? You look positively worse for the wear.”
“Not more than usual. Was actually my lovely daughter and my bitch of an ex who gave me the real run for the money. Kid got trashed at some nasty fang joint, and instead of thanking me for finding her as fast as I did, her mother ripped me a new one, chasing it down with the usual venom. Urgh!” Caelan groaned.
“Imagine that, Leeora giving you a taste of your own medicine again, my darling, probably because you told her no to something she wanted.” Rhiannon smiled.
“Oh, she’s so much like you, it’s not even funny. More a clone than a daughter, remarkable considering she spent most of her time with her mother.”
“Didn’t realize I was a redheaded witch. Or female. I am almost ready for a thorough inspection by you to confirm.”
“Don’t you play coy with me, lover. I don’t need to check anything; I know every single inch of you and we both know what I am talking about, the character and mind, not the appearance. She is stubborn as a mule, like her father, determined and unstoppable once she set her mind to something. You know I am right.”
“You’re my wife. Of course, you are right. Wives are always right.”
“That sounds suspiciously like Blaine wisdom to me.”
“Well, women seem to find him charming and irresistible. Figured it couldn’t hurt my case, considering I need all the help I can get, probably.”
“I adore Blaine, but I LOVE you – and exactly the way you are. Rough edges and all. No help needed.”
“Best news I heard since you last told me you loved me when I left a day ago.”
“Days. You have been gone 4 days, my darling. I know time flies when you are tracking a perpetrator, but it doesn’t for me. I worried about you, like I always do, and I missed you. Terribly. As did our son. He’s asleep now but be prepared for him wanting his daddy all day tomorrow. Tonight, however, you are all mine. Non-negotiable.”
“Hard to imagine, considering how unlovable, emotionless and cold I am. Oh, almost forgot, I am also a loser as a father. Per my ex.”
“Caelan. Please. Why do you even listen to Seraphina’s bitter ramblings? She’s your ex for a reason. Exes rarely sing each other’s praises, and you certainly are no exception to that rule, you do not exactly speak very highly of her either. And maybe the fact she feels behooved to say such things at all says more about her than you. Leeora wouldn’t adore you as much as she does, bordering obsession, if you weren’t a good father, neither would our Connell. I can vouch that you are everything BUT emotionless and unlovable, quite the opposite. You are an excellent husband, dedicated father and amazing lover. As a matter of fact, I very much intent to enjoy you in a rather steamy, loving and very emotional way – after your bath.”
“Who sounds like Blaine now?” Caelan snickered.
“The Camerons do not hold the monopoly on love and passion, physical or otherwise. I know you and your family prefers these things to stay away from the eyes of others, the Camerons do not seem to have that preference, but once the door closes, I don’t think anyone could accuse you and me of boredom or tameness.”
Caelan’s initially surprised face, changed into a big grin, as he pulled his wife close.
“I think I will take you up on that offer to assist with my bath, and then see where the night and all that takes us. After receiving a worse than terrible endorsement by the ex, I must admit my male ego is rather busted and bruised, your words are like medicine to me.”
“I think we’ll skip the bath for now and take one together afterwards … I don’t mind you a little filthy, lover. I assumed you might be exhausted and want to rest or hibernate first, really thought I’d have to fight the big, bad warrior into submission to get my fill after missing you for days again.”
“I am only a warrior around others. With you, I am only ever putty in your hands to be shaped and molded as my queen desires …”