“The wind taught me never to forget old friends, by blowing them back to me.”― Michael Bassey Johnson
Brindleton Bay Eric, Lana & Meaghan's home (Rhys since moved out)
The coffee in the cups on the table was steaming as it filled the air with its warm, rich scent, comforting to everyone with true Cameron blood in their veins. In some cases, the love for coffee seemed to have been the only common denominator passed down the many generations of the Cameron family tree through all branches, including so many very different types of people that all shared at least some Cameron DNA.
The two Camerons meeting here were an unlikely pair. One a Cameron by birth, Liam, the other by marriage, Lana, who was Liam’s cousin Eric’s wife, but what made this meeting noteworthy was the history Liam and Lana shared. Twice throughout their history together had they been a couple, now both happily married for many years to their respective partners, but an old friendship still persisted, even though the only times they really spend together nowadays was at family events, even if for no other reason than they were both very busy with their own lives and both lived in different cities, not really far apart, but not close enough to allow for spontaneous drop bys. The exception was today. Lana had invited Liam to see her at her Brindleton Bay home, and it was just them there now.
“Would it rude of me to remark upon the cute, cozy suburban idyll you call home these days? I never thought I’d ever see you as Suzie Homemaker.” smiled Liam, as he reached for the cup intended for him and took a sip, nodding appreciatively.
“Not rude, I would have never expected anything like this myself, but I am very happy. The Suzie Homemaker part is only partially true. Yes, I have become very domestic, but let’s not forget I still have my career, Liam, without my attorney job we would have a hard time making ends meet sometimes. But we’re all happy, Eric, Rhys, my daughter Meaghan, I certainly am. Eric is the love of my life, such a great partner, I would have never thought I could ever be happy with a man so much younger than me, but he is so mature, kind, and he has been and still is the father Meaghan never had but evidently always craved, if you go by how much she has latched onto him. If you didn’t know any better and saw them together, you would never know he’s not her dad, not even adoptive. They look every bit like father and daughter, and that is exactly how they always treated each other, I cannot tell you what a relief that has been to me. I can honestly say, I love Rhys like my own son, and still cannot get used to him having moved out on his own, even though you can walk over to his new place and he comes by a lot. So hard to grasp that both children are technically no longer kids, both 18 now and theoretically adults. Time really flies, you’ll notice that with your kids. Today they are 15 and 9, tomorrow they’ll fly the coop, and you and Vivien wonder where the time went. But, while we’re on topic, Meaghan is actually why I invited you here.”
“Oh boy, what trouble did the little lady get herself into that you need to consult outside counsel?” Liam chuckled, he knew Meaghan and the fact that she wasn’t a shy wallflower, but then stopped when he read Lana’s face, raised an eyebrow awaiting her explanation. He didn’t have to wait long.
“Funny you should put it like that. Outside counsel is a good keyword here. Look, Liam, it’s a bit delicate of a matter and maybe even a bit humiliating for me, which is why I felt I needed to talk to someone I can trust. You came to mind, especially since you are a lawyer with your own law firm too. I know our history is a bit iffy in places, but it’s been years and I would say we are over it. Would you agree?”
“Far as I am concerned the past is in the past. I would consider you a friend, and you are my cousin’s wife, so you are even in a way family. So, what can I help you and Meaghan with?”
“Are you by any chance familiar with a senior attorney by the name of Hudson Lee Hammond of the firm B & B Law, LLP?”
“Not from a professional standpoint, but I do know Hammond, via my brother-in-law Chase’s wife, Hailey’s best friend is married to Hammond, I think they’re even neighbors, so I’ve have met him several times at one of the many parties at Chase’s place. Both of us being lawyers gave us an instant topic. Nice guy, seemed strait-laced and capable. Father of three young children. Solid guy. What about him?”
“Well Liam, I happen to work with Hammond sometimes, as you know I am in the very un-prestigious position of being one of many attorneys in the legal department of a large manufacturing company, and we sometimes use B & B as outside counsel. Until recently I would have agreed with your evaluation of his character. But like I told you last time we met over at Rhys’ housewarming, my Meaghan was and is completely clueless what to do career-wise, so she started working with me, as a legal secretary for now, with the intention of her becoming a paralegal eventually. In order to get her feet wet on what all that entails I had her assist Hammond on a case he and I had together … went fairly well until I ended up walking in on them making out in the file room where she was supposed to be copying discovery the opposing counsel had subpoenaed. We are not talking a harmless peck on the cheek, Liam. I am talking almost X-rated kinda stuff here.”
“Holy crapcakes! He’s over twice her age!!! What the fuckuggles!?!”
“Exactly. So, you can imagine that things went awry in a hurry, Meaghan is – surprise, surprise – very upset at me for – and I quote ‘humiliating her’, Hammond is mortified that I would report him, and I am in the middle of it all with my hands tied, my back against the wall, as appalled as I am I don’t want to ruin several futures including that of Hammond’s kids, but I have to do something. The cleanest and easiest solution I could come up with would be hoping Meaghan could complete her training at another, well-reputed law firm with someone I can trust. Only one person came to mind.”
“Dear Lord. Give me a moment to digest all that, Lana. Who else knows, aside from you, Hammond and Meaghan – and me now?”
“Hmm. I guess you just never know about a person. I am in shock, Hammond seemed so solid to me. The silent waters, always. My god, his twins are about Aria Grace’s age, his youngest is not even in school yet. His poor wife, I think Hadley is her name. Yeah, I remember chuckling when I was first introduced by Hailey to Hadley, the names being so similar for BFFs was humorous. Meaghan is a very pretty girl, but clearly also very young, most definitely too young for an almost 40-year-old man and no way could he tell me he thought she was older.”
“I know Liam, I have been up and down that road for days. I hate to put the proverbial gun to your head, especially since I know I am asking a big leap of faith of you, but I really need an answer. My question – the favor I am asking of you is, as you probably already figured out – can you take Meaghan on at your firm as a legal secretary or paralegal in training?”
“Can I sleep on that? Look Lana, I’ll be honest with you here. You know Vivien would flag me hiring on my ex’s daughter without at least talking to her about it first, and I can’t just fly that under the radar, because Nick comes and helps me often, basically doing paralegal work for me for some extra cash on the side, plus he thinks he wants to be a lawyer one day too. Obviously, he knows Meaghan, he knows that you and I have history, and even if he wouldn’t tell his mother, I do not want to sow even the shadow of a doubt about your and my intentions into my son’s head.”
“I understand that, but you may understand that I am in a bit of a hurry to get this resolved while also wanting to keep Meaghan in that legal career path. She won’t hear of law school now, and frankly, we can’t really afford it, unless she were to get student loans, but I am hoping that if she likes this field, maybe eventually she decides for herself to do what I did, and goes to school while working, paying her own way to becoming an attorney in her own right. I am sure with Nick talking about wanting to follow in your footsteps, you know how that feels for a parent. A special kind of pride to have your child aspiring to your career.”
“Well, yeah, sure, feels great, but not to be nitpicky here, technically you started out that way, but had your wealthy late ex-husband pay for it … our former boss, to be exact. Urgh, imagining you with that unlikable old geezer still gives me the creeps. Yikes.”
“Yes, I know Liam, I sold myself out trying to better myself. I was young, gullible and tired of turning every cent twice, not knowing if I could afford rent the next month. At least Meaghan was too young to really understand any of it by the time her old sperm-donor died, that man never gave my poor girl the time of day because she wasn’t the son he had wanted, then my second attempt on a husband and father for her was even less interested in her, or me, as it turned out, as he ended up being a con-artist leaving us destitute. I had high hopes for you, when we reconnected, but once more, you chose Vivien over me. You would have been such a great dad for Meaghan and I would have been a great mother to Nick, as I now learned with Eric, it is possible to love step-children like your own. Anyway, too many mistakes line my path, too many blowbacks and too much heartbreak for me and my poor little girl until I finally found love and happiness with Eric, for the both of us, in a much simpler way than I ever thought I wanted. Believe me Liam, not ever would I have thought this would be what we both wanted or needed. But allow me to point out that I am also not the only one at this table who married a wealthy person, just you still are married to her.”
“Sorry Lana, I know you and Meaghan have been through the wringer before, and I swear I wasn’t trying to schoolmaster you. We both know I didn’t marry Vivien for her fortune or fame, frankly, that fame has been getting on my nerves and is one of the reasons she even agreed to move to Windenburg with us. She and I go back way further before there ever was a superstar named “ViVa”. But fine, let me talk to Viv to make sure she doesn’t feel sidelined by a decision about this. I am sure she will be fine with me helping you and Meaghan out. What are you gonna do about Hammond?”
“What do you mean?” Lana wondered.
“He’s a professional attorney in his late thirties, a family man, whom you caught nibbling on a barely legal 18-year-old girl in a professional setting. Doesn’t that go against all the ethics training all of us attorneys are required to take to keep our bar active, not to mention his poor wife?”
“Liam, honestly, that’s not a fight I want to get into. I don’t have the strength to go there, nor do I want to risk losing my career over it. If things were different, absolutely. Right now, all I want is to protect my daughter, remove her from this situation without risking her future and I am trusting you with her. If you want to tell Chase’s wife about it and let her decide to tell her friend or not, that’s your choice.” Lana said, looking tired of a fight that hadn’t even begun.
Liam nodded, while emptying his coffee, then got up.
“I have to get back home. My dad is taking his grandkids fishing this weekend and I promised Nick I’d take him shopping tonight for his own fishing pole. I’ll call or text you as soon as I had a chance to run it by Viv later tonight.” Liam smiled encouraging.
They hugged like old friends, Lana walked him to the door, then stood in the doorway watching the handsome, tall, dark-haired man walk to his parked car with long strides, the epitome of manliness, while the last of his cologne slowly dissipated in his wake. With a last wave and smile at her, he got into his car with a smooth movement, while the motor purred up and the car pulled out, Lana was briefly taken back to a time when there was a Liam and Lana, many years ago, with a sigh she turned and walked back inside muttering to herself.
“Agh Liam, for better or worse our paths just seem forever intertwined. Which woman thinks of her ex-lover, who chose another woman over her not once, but twice as the one person to trust her precious daughter to, after another grown man evidently wanted to steal her innocence from her? And which ex-lover would even consider helping in such a delicate matter? We may not have worked out as a couple, but we definitely are a lot more than just distant relations by marriage. I really do hope Vivien has learned to appreciate you for the amazing person you are.”