Oasis Springs Dusty Turf Diner
Two people at a diner, oldie tunes filling the air in the background.
The male, handsome, tan, athletic, with piercing blue eyes sighed hard, cleared his throat, then smiled at the dainty, even though tall, raven-haired beauty with skin the color of fresh milk, her eyes silver-gray and so bright that that seemed translucent at some angles. They had just sat down at a table, the place seemed abandoned at this time of day during the week.
It was her who broke the uncomfortable silence first.
“So, you really did this, hm, popped the question? Wow. Oh, and congrats. Look at us, both engaged … who would have thought, right?” her laughter sounded as fake as it looked.
“Just say what we both are thinking, Cait. We both figured we’d be engaged one day, just not to other people.”
“KC! What the hell?” she looked at him, wide-eyed as if he had just blurted out the biggest secret.
“Am I wrong?”
“I love Heath!” she said, avoiding a direct answer.
“So? Not mutually exclusive. You loved him even when we were a couple. There are many forms of love.”
“Pretty self-explanatory. So, have you two set a date? I mean you have been engaged now what for, two years was it? Isn’t it time for the next level?”
“After everything going on in the world at the moment?! After the big earthquake everyone all over the world is rallying from, you think I sit there picking out centerpieces and wedding decor? Hardly so. Bet not many venues are intact enough to even tie the knot, unless you wanna do some backyard thing. You?”
“Well, knowing my humble bank account situation a backyard thing is gonna be it for Annaleigh and me anyway. She said she doesn’t want that vampire thing that one big kahuna – oh sorry, keep forgetting he’s also your grandfather – tries to make all of you vamps go through. But that isn’t even on my mind, not after everything going on in MY life. My grandparents just died, all four of them, my sister and I were close with them. So, no, no wedding planning, we were all too busy planning four funerals.”
“Right, that was insensitive of me. I am sorry. My deepest condolences again. I know you were close. I remember from when we were kids. You talked about them a lot.”
“Well, lucky for you, death is not something you’ll ever have to worry yourself with.”
“Prejudice much? For your info, KC, there are many ways vampires can die, just not of old age. We had deaths in the family before.”
“Tell me now there is some van Helsing running around with a wooden stake and I start howling at the moon.”
“Well, maybe not a van Helsing, but there are vampire hunters, many types. My uncle is actually one of them.”
“Which uncle? Far as I know you only have one, that creepy guy with the long hair. But isn’t he a vamp too?”
“Caelan, yes. Him. And yes, he is. Just never mind all that, I already said too much.”
“Right, I have only known you most your life, but still can’t be trusted. See, this is why we would have never worked.”
“Would too! If we were a couple, I could tell you things. More things.”
“Yah, sure. Last time we were a couple you didn’t even tell me that you were a vampire.”
“Well, that was different. And before the big reveal. Nobody even knew my kind existed. So, has Annaleigh told you all the secrets then, even though she is bound by the same laws as I am?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know, Caity Cat.” KC smirked daringly across the table.
“Wouldn’t that be YOUR job?”
“Fuck you, KC!”
“Touchy today. But – was that an offer?”
“Good grief, KC. I know Annaleigh has been working double shifts at the hospital, but you cannot be that desperate for sex. Especially not with me, since that would mean you would have to swallow your pride, let go of that grudge and actually forgive me. Nah, that would be unlike you!”
“I don’t need to forgive you for a roll in the hay, pussycat. Angry sex can be fiery.”
“You are … disgusting. What’s wrong with you?!”
“Wrong? So you don’t like sex? Well, knowing Heath, no wonder. If you ever get a chance to do it with a man who isn’t as animated as a marble statue, you’d leave Heath in a heartbeat. We’ll if you actually had one of those. Heartbeats, I mean.”
“You are literally engaged to a vampire, so what’s with all the jabs?! And leave Heath alone!”
“Not doing anything to him. Fun to see that even in adulthood you are still defending him, same as back when we were kids. He got what he wanted. You. I was the one left to eat both you guys’ dust and like it. Which I didn’t.”
“Are you serious?! That AGAIN!?”
“Again? We never actually talked about it.”
“Yes, we did! And I thought we made up. Evidently not!”
“I could have made you much happier than that creep. I don’t have much, I know that, but it takes a lot more than money and fancy shit to make a marriage work long term.”
“What marriage? Who says I am even getting married at all?! It’s not the 1950s anymore. A woman doesn’t have to be married.”
“Ah, Caitlin, what do you think an engagement is?! Plus – that big rock on your hand there, right there on your finger screams wedding bells! What is that? Sapphire? Must have cost him a pretty penny, judging by the size of it and the diamonds around it, that is not a promise, that is him staking claim. If you were cattle, this is the equivalent of his brand on your ass. You ARE getting married, Cait, as long as you have that quasi ball and chain on your hand.”
“Bullshit, KC! That … that is a … promise. Not a guarantee. And certainly not a token to any wedding express lane! Heath and I have nothing but time. We could wait 50 years to get married. Or a 100.”
“Ah.” KC made, grimacing, which visibly rubbed Caitlin the wrong way.
“Just ‘ah’.” he replied with a casual shrug.
“KC, you are being so aggrevating again! Quit it with the jabs and insinuations! Grow a pair and say what you really mean, or I am leaving! You know what? I should anyway! We are not gonna get service in this place anyway. I have not even seen any waiters near our table since we got here.”
Caitlin jumped up and headed for the door, KC right behind her, grabbing her, slamming her back into a wall – then he kissed her. Hard, longing, demanding. And instead of fighting him off, she melted into it.
Del Sol Valley Cameron Mansion
That very same night, a raven-haired beauty with milky-white skin appeared from a black cloud in front of a huge, flashy mansion in the prestigious hills of Del Sol Valley, where she walked up to the front door with the entitlement of a former resident, as she was. Before she could knock or ring the doorbell, the door was opened and another raven-haired beauty appeared, seemingly older than Caitlin. Her mother, Scarlett, who immediately hugged her daughter.
When she let go, Caitlin looked at her with urgency.
“Mom, I really need you bad right now. I need advice or I swear I will implode and go nuts and all that. Can we talk privately and uninterrupted somewhere? I love daddy, but I really cannot deal with him right now.”
“Oh dear, sounds serious. Let’s go to the garden. Your father would never be caught dead hanging over the fence near the gazebo, for fear his bad boy rocker image could take a hit.”
Scarlett smiled at her visibly distraught daughter, then put her arm around her and together they walked to the park-like garden of the Cameron Mansion, Caitlin’s childhood home. Near the gazebo, Caitlin stopped and looked at her mother.
“We need to talk, about serious stuff. I am so very confused, and I cannot un-confuse myself, and I feel that no matter which way I will turn, I may make a huge mistake, one of those irreparable kinds that you never forget about. I am desperate for your advice. And you will think terrible things about me. You’ll be so disappointed in me, you’ll probably hate me.”
Scarlett looked her daughter over for a moment, a serious expression in her eyes, then she pulled the sad girl into a tight embrace, holding her, while Caitlin cried softly under the soft moonlight.
“I would never be able to hate you, Cait. And I don’t easily judge, not with my history. Let’s go sit and talk in private. I have a good idea of what you are so confused about, and I have wondered if and when this would finally surface. I believe we are looking at my history repeating itself in you. I’ll make us coffee.”
“Mom – no coffee! Not any type of coffee – or any other beverage is strong enough to make this better. I need your advice, you need to tell me what to do, because I am at my wit’s end. I am a terrible, terrible person. If I weren’t me, but knew about all this, I would be disgusted by me.”
“Caitlin, whatever you may have done cannot possibly be that bad. You grew inside of me, I birthed you, I raised you, I watched you grow into a beautiful, smart, wonderful young woman.”
“Mom – KC kissed me – for the second time, and I let him. Again. Just like the first time. Worse, I kissed him back. Oh god!”
Caitlin plopped down on the ground, Scarlett joined her.
“Ah – that. Yeah, I get it now, baby.”
“No, you get nothing, mom. Not yet. So that kiss was totally in public. Last time this happened, Heath almost broke up with me and Leeora dumped KC. I mean, later we found out she had already been sneaking around with Jonathan, but … well, that’s beside the point. Anyway, it was at a diner, afterwards he had to go back to work and I went home, but then once it got dark, I went to his house. I wanted to go see him … in his room …. I mean, you get what I am saying here, right mom? But …. don’t worry, I didn’t. But I wanted to. I still do. But … mom …”
“Shhhh … Caitlin. It was just a kiss. Apparently some kiss, leaving you with your panties on fire like this. Nothing more happened though, thoughts are free, you stopped yourself before anything else happened. Sure, a kiss is not what you should be doing, but your situation is a bit complicated. We all always thought you’d end up with KC one day, even at 6 years old you were all over him and he over you. Then he was your first boyfriend … you never forget your first crush. Here, baby, look at me.” Scarlett shifted, while pulling Caitlin to face her.
“Before you say anything else, Cait, let me tell you a story about your father and me. Once upon a time we were young lovers, we actually were each other’s first, God I was crazy about him even back then, but I thought it was a love with no future, because I was a vampire, and he was a mortal and the son of two very public celebrities. That was back when our kind was still a big, well-kept secret. So, we parted ways, the hardest and worst decision of my life, which started an avalanche of heartbreak for all involved, even the innocent, till we got here. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for something like this, it means you have to figure out what you really want, Cait. You want an advice from me, so here it is: This was your home and will always be your home. Maybe it’s time for you to come back home, put distance between you and the sources of your confusion. Your sister Vivien used to do that, it always helped her.”
“Wow. That’s right. Thanks mom! I would love to come back home! Oh my God – I am 22 years old and want my mommy and daddy. I am hopeless.”
“No, you are not. All that means is that I did my job right, baby, and so did your daddy. We’re your safe haven. A place you like coming back to to clear the cobwebs from your confused mind. We’ll tell Heath some story about me needing help with the twins and Gavin, your father is about to leave for a tour again and I find that believable.”