If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.
Peeking out the window of Emmy’s teen girl room, Connell tensed up.
“They’re here.” he said, his voice low and as tense as his body was, when he turned around to face her.
“Okay, we got this. You go get them. I’ll get my parents corralled into the dining room and will leave the front door unlocked for you guys just as we discussed. You ready for the storm?” Emmy smiled up at him.
“Hardly. I think this scares me more than any opponent I have ever faced, and trust me, some make horror movies look like toddler cartoons.”
Emmy stood on her tippy toes, planted a kiss on his cheek, then left her room.
“All right here goes my life, my future, my happiness. Hopefully this won’t turn any more into a modern day real-life Romeo and Juliet story than it has been over the past year.” he mumbled before turning into a black cloud as he ported to the rendezvous point where he had asked his father and mother to meet him, by the tall rocks not far from Emmy’s home. They were a well known landmark, remnants of an ancient civilization long before history was recorded and seemed like a good place to summon them too. From there, he only had to evade their pesky questions for 50 yards or so to Emmy’s front door and then get them into the house. Doable. Hopefully.
By the time they entered the Camerons’ idyllic family home, Connell’s parents Caelan and Rhiannon exchanged suspicious glances, which felt confirmed as they were led into the homely kitchen/dining area, where they found three people by a table, all looking up at the guests with unhidden surprise, stepping closer to the perceived intruders, until the scene formed two sides, staring at each other.
“What are you doing in my house?!” Jay roared at the intruders but was gestured to calm down by his daughter. Confused, he looked back and forth between her and them.
“I would like to know that myself!” Caelan roared back.
“Father, please.” Connell pleaded.
“Mom, dad, these are Caelan and Rhiannon Vatore and this is Connell, their son. These are my parents, Abigail and Jay Cameron. I am Emmy. Nice to finally meet you both, Mr. and Mrs. Vatore.” Emmy made the introductions.
Caelan arched an eyebrow, looking back and forth between the three people across from him, his eyes locked onto Jay.
“Cameron? You don’t look like one of them. Whose son are you supposed to be?” Caelan blurted out in his usual unfiltered way, one of the reasons he usually chose to not say anything at all, unless he was well-familiar with the others.
Jay moved stiffly, obviously fighting hard to keep his composure.
“I took my wife’s name. We are modern like that. Vatore, huh? Does that mean you are related to Scarlett? Wasn’t that her maiden name and the reason Vivien chose it as a stage name or something to that tune?” Jay retorted.
“Scarlett is my older sister, yes.” Caelan agreed.
“Oh jeeze, so you are somehow related to my sister-in-law Vivien. Luckily only by marriage. They visit us often.” Jay continued the male ego measurement contest, his tone not exactly welcoming.
“Vivien is my niece. And my closest confidante, so I am aware she visits her husband’s family with him!” Caelan hissed back, borderline snootily, causing Rhiannon to roll her eyes, before she spoke up to end what seemed to turn into a verbal male showdown.
“Ahem, so nice to meet you, Mrs. Cameron, Mr. Cameron, and Emmy. What a lovely home. And you are just as pretty as a Spring sunrise, Emmy. Like a doll.” Rhiannon tried to ease the tense atmosphere.
“Emmy … what is all this supposed to be? Why are these people in our home?” Abby wondered.
“Mom, dad, Mr. and Mrs. Vatore … Connell and I … we … ahem … well .. we … “
“We love each other.” Connell finally spoke up when he noticed Emmy was having a hard time getting the words out, Caelan’s head snapped around to him, then he stared at Emmy.
“What?” Jay exclaimed, wide-eyed.
“Excuse me?! How old are you even, young man? My daughter is only 17!” Abigail labored out.
“Oh my.” escaped Rhiannon.
“Emmy! What the hell is going on here!?” Abby shook her head at her daughter.
“Sorry mom and dad. We didn’t mean for this to happen, but … well, it did. We don’t want this to be a secret any longer, but didn’t know how to tell you all. We love each other and Connell has asked me to marry him.” Emmy now held out her hand, after sliding something on her finger.
“YOU WHAT?!” Caelan’s eyes narrowed as he glared at his son.
“I second that! Excuse you!?” Jay looked no different than Caelan as they both stared at Connell, then at Emmy’s hand until she slid it into a pocket, blushing.
“Is that your grandmother’s ring?! It better not be! You have GOT to be kidding me! Do you not understand how precious that is? It has been in our family for centuries!” Caelan was nearly visibly fuming.
“It was given to me on my 18th birthday to give to my future wife, father, and I have! Emmy will be my future wife, once she is of age, of course. I understand it’s a surprise, shock even, and I was going to ask you for your daughter’s hand, Mr. Cameron, formally, in due time. But I wanted to give her a visible token of my love.” Connell defended himself.
“You have been sneaking around with a vampire?! A VAMPIRE?! Are you insane, Emmy!?” Abby nearly shrieked the words.
“I am so disappointed in you! How could not even tell us you were seeing a boy? How did you even meet? I don’t even recognize you anymore, Emmy! This is so unlike you! Completely out of character! What has he done to you?!” Jay looked at his daughter as if she were an alien.
“If I may answer in her stead, to shed some light on it all. A little over a year ago I was on an assignment with my father, where I was injured. My porting skill abandoned me and stranded me right here, in the fields behind your home. I had been poisoned and had your lovely daughter not found me and figured out to contact Vivien, who alerted my father, I would not be standing here tonight. I was trying to send her away, but your daughter has the heart of a lion and ignored my unkindness, stayed with me, which I later appreciated more than I can find words for. I came back to thank her and realized I was intrigued. As was she, apparently, she asked to see me again. We have met frequently since, for over a year now. Yes, I am older, 22 to be exact. I assure you we kept this purely platonic and friendly for the longest time.”
“You’ve been sneaking around for over a YEAR!? With a GROWN MAN!? And for the longest it WAS platonic? Emmy! Do not tell me you … he … you both … did the … thing … oh for heaven’s sake, girl! Over my dead body!” Jay looked close to having a genuine heart attack.
“Well, Jay, when we had the nookie talk with her, we never covered dating vampires. Guess we should have.” Abby shrugged, which made Rhiannon snort a brief laughter, which caused all heads to snap around to her.
“Oh, don’t you all look at me like that! This drama is unnecessary and laughable. The kids are in love, so what? How dare we judge them? Our son is 5 years older, once she reaches his age, it no longer matters. It’s not a crime, at least now among our kind. They are also not the first interspecies couple and won’t be the last. This before us is as old as time. Circumstances aren’t ideal, but who in this room can claim to never have bend and broken the rules? None of us here present are without flaw. I do remember Vivien telling us about you, Jay, or better Liam did. He had a LOT to say about you once upon a time. It seems he came around, but I vividly do recall he wasn’t your fan for the longest time. Something about your brother, if memory serves?” Rhiannon was always the lady, but Jay’s open rejection brought out the momma bear in her protecting her cub, with her last words her beautiful purplish eyes locked on to Jay.
“That is none of your business and ancient history! Abigail and I were definitely not minors then.” Jay barked at her, causing Caelan to straighten up, sending a clear signal for Jay to tone things down when addressing his wife or face the consequences. Rhiannon, on the other hand, was not done with Jay yet.
“Oh, is that your hang-up with this, Mr. Cameron? My apologies, it seemed to me that you took issue to the fact of what my husband, my son and I are. The UNCHANGEABLE part that makes us different from you, while you conveniently overlook the many ways we are the same. Such as love, Mr. Cameron.” Rhiannon said in a sweet, but assertive voice.
“Love? Love?! These are kids, Mrs. Vatore, at least my daughter still is! She has no business with a grown man! Your son might just be horny for all we know, looking for an easy victim to defile and Emmy is a dreamer, say the right things and she forgets her good upbringing! As parents we are supposed to protect the children from bad choices made out of inexperience and nativity, my parents couldn’t be bothered and it fucked up my brother and my lives for a long time, even landed me in jail a million times. I take being concerned about all my children’s lives and their choices VERY seriously! Nobody knows better than me what happens if you don’t!”
“Dad! Stop this! I love him. 17 or 18, what’s the difference? Just numbers on paper. You think on the day of my 18th birthday – less than 9 months from now – I suddenly magically figure out life and what love is but now I am too stupid?! Makes ZERO sense!” Emmy argued.
“You are a child! MY child! I am responsible for you and this – THIS – is irresponsible, not to mention illegal! The fact that neither of you see that only confirms that you are BOTH immature. At the very least YOU are, with him, he is probably just using you! I was his age once myself. We men don’t think much with our heads at that age, at least not those atop our shoulders, especially not around a pretty girl, let alone an impressionable one like you, Emmy!” Jay roared.
“You act like I am a dumbass, dad! You think I wouldn’t have figured that out by now? You really think Connell would drag his parents here for this if he wasn’t serious about me?! You think he would have given me his family heirloom ring if he was looking for some fun? If you take so much pride in your parenting, couldn’t it be that you didn’t raise me a complete moron?”
“Nobody calls you a moron, but you are young, inexperienced and too naïve, that is your flaw! I am here to protect you. And this is just not normal! Don’t even get me started on what I think about this proposal bullshit!!!” Jay argued back.
“Not normal?! NOT NORMAL?! Oh, that’s just rich, dad. What in my life is normal? Can’t be the fact that until recently I had not one, but TWO dads, until the other one died – for the second time, actually, just this time for reals. I definitely can’t be that you have been my dad all my life, but you are also really my uncle by blood, and my little siblings are actually my half-siblings and also my cousins. Totally normal, right?! But me dating an older boy, no, we can’t have THAT. And of course I am not lovable enough that he could propose and actually MEAN IT! That’s just too weird, right? You are NOT the one to talk to me about normal!”
“Emmy, don’t take that tone with your father! None of that matters! You are young, say what you will and until you are 18, dad and I are SUPPOSED to protect you from decisions that may not be ideal, like this one. That is our job, as parents, and by law! And your dad is your dad no matter what! And the big elephant in the room is the vampire part. How is that supposed to be safe? What if … urges strike? I don’t want my little girl to be turned or worse! And if you want to be treated like an adult, sure, let’s, shall we? Here’s an adult topic for you: what if you .. get pregnant? A teen pregnancy would be bad enough, I was 21 when I was pregnant with you and your siblings and I felt way too young, unprepared and overwhelmed, but if you were to have an accident, how would we raise a vampire? HOW?!” Abigail argued then held her head as if it were aching from the topic.
Instead of Emmy, Rhiannon responded in her stead.
“Mrs. Cameron, if I may? As a mother myself, I understand your worries, I do. But I also know my son. He is not the typical hormonal airheaded boy type as your husband fears. As a matter of fact, he has never dated or shown any interest in any girls until now. Like your daughter, our Connell is a dreamer, he has a good heart, despite a tough job assigned to him by the same rules that make him a prince by birthright. I wouldn’t say your daughter is throwing her life away, by dating a young man of high status and abundant wealth. Even if there ever were an unplanned pregnancy, which I doubt because I have that much faith in my son’s choices, we are very well prepared to take care of your daughter and the child or assist you in doing so, be it financially, hands on or both. If – God forbid – a baby were to come from this union before anyone is ready for that step, it would still be my grandchild too. Blood of my blood. And while we are on the topic of blood, I took great offense to your implication of Emmy being recklessly turned or killed. We are vampires, Mrs. Cameron, civilized humans still, albeit a different kind, but we follow strict rules, which my husband and son aid to enforce, not some two-legged equivalent of sharks driven by instincts and some uncontrollable thirst for the flesh. Connell won’t ever turn your daughter against her will, especially not unsolicited or unplanned! Being born into a high rank comes with great responsibility too, he had to learn restraint in many aspects early on. And moreover, he clearly loves her or my husband and I wouldn’t be standing here.”
“Fine, I apologize for what I said about vampires, I meant no disrespect. But she is only 17, Mrs. Vatore! Seventeen.” Abby argued back.
“Call me Rhiannon, please, no need to be overly formal. And I understand. She is very young. My boy was only 16 when he started to learn how to wield a sword, how to engage in combat. As a mother I wanted to fight it. My baby had no business with any of that, but I knew that sometimes circumstances dictate otherwise. I understand having to stand by watching the little baby you only just held grow wings long before they seem ready, and moreover, long before we are ready. But we will never be ready, Abby. No matter if our child is 17, 27 or 70. We are never ready to let go. That is one of the hardest parts of parenting. Our final lesson for them, and for ourselves.”
Quietness fell over the room. Everyone was processing the situation at hand and Rhiannon’s words. Caelan’s jaw was clenched tight, much like Jay’s, Abigail’s eyes were widened with fear and worry, Connell was looking at the floor, but when Abby saw Emmy step towards him, her hand finding his and their fingers intertwine, their heads turn ever so slightly for their eyes to meet and a tiny faint encouraging smile to appear for a brief moment, Abby remembered all the pains she went through with Elliott, the way her heart was shielded so long that it was a miracle Jay had stuck around.
And Emmy had a point. They may seem like your average family, but they were everything but.
Into her mental ramblings sounded Caelan’s voice.
“I know first-hand what a forbidden love feels like and what it does to a person. There is no greater pain. I agree, all this is quite a shock, she is very young, timing isn’t ideal, but I won’t stand in their way. I refuse to become what I despise, what nearly ruined my life and my daughter’s. Besides, to vampires, age is truly but a number. Your daughter doesn’t strike me as a child, but as a smart, kind, assertive and very self-aware young woman, despite her years.”
Rhiannon looked up at her husband with the kind of pride and appreciation that is part of an old love. He had his flaws, many of them, but he was a good man.
“Jay?” Abby asked.
“I don’t know. I … want to say the same … but … I can’t. I just can’t. Not now. Not yet.” he said, shaking his head then hurried out of the room.
“Okay. He’s no help, so I am just gonna say that as much as I don’t want to, I have to agree with you Rhiannon and Caelan. Trying to fix what seems wrong with something else that would feel wrong doesn’t seem to right the first wrong, two minus don’t seem to equal a plus here. But Emmy and … Connell, was it?” Abby looked at the young vampire, who briefly nodded, then she continued, “if you both promise not to be careless, I think I can be okay with you dating. But please, no engagement, no weddings, no kids, not yet. Let this be a promise ring for now. A very valuable one. Okay?”
“Thanks mom. But what about dad?” Emmy wondered. She loved Jay, who to her was just dad, despite of her harsh reminder earlier.
“He’ll come around; I am sure. He loves you so, Emmy, he worries and he’s overwhelmed. Mrs. … ahem … I mean Rhiannon and … ahem …”
“Caelan. Just Caelan will do.” Caelan offered.
“Caelan, right. Please call me Abigail, or Abby. You see, my husband, Jay, just lost his brother, Elliott, who incidentally was my triplets’ biological father, Emmy is part of those triplets. Elliott and Jay are half-brothers had a very rough youth and an even more complicated relationship with each other all their lives, which only recently got to a point that I would call amicable. Both have been good fathers to my triplets, Jay from the very beginning, Elliott came around later on, and now he perished in a terrible accident, which Jay won’t admit, but is taking very hard. So, please don’t judge him for being a bit on edge. He is in great pain and only wants the best for his kids. All five of them, Emmy has two younger siblings by Jay and me. We are definitely not strangers to complicated relationships that should never be, but turned out to be the best thing that could ever happen. Makes me feel like a hypocrite if I am honest.”
“We understand. Please, I am certain you could talk to Vivien and she would vouch for us and maybe be able to ease your worries as far as the vampire part is concerned. She is married to your older brother, if I am not mistaken?”
“Yeah, Liam is my big brother. We also run into Blaine and Scarlett with fair frequency, Blaine is my father’s cousin, and they are still close. They don’t talk much about the vampire stuff around us. Windenburg is a small, big town, if you know what I mean and my family has deep roots here, my dad used to be the mayor until very recently. Vampires just don’t fit into the idyll, and what mustn’t be just can’t be here, so that is just not something that never comes up. We all know you exist, but we all choose to live under a rock instead.”
“I understand, better than you may think. It would surprise you to learn how much of that sweep-under-the-rug mentality happens in our community. Many older members of our kind seem to think it’s still the Dark Ages and try to live accordingly, which causes my father and me much grief at times and makes what my son and I are tasked with twice as important, for our kind, but also yours.” Caelan explained.
“Well, my little Emmy, my dreamer, she always told us she wanted to marry a prince one day. Guess she found him, even though not quite as we all thought back then. But you do look like a very nice young man, Connell.” Abby smiled at the young vampire, who was still holding her daughter’s hand.
“I am certain Connell will treat your Emmy nothing short of the queen she deserves to be treated as. Please, I would like it very much if you and I could meet, as mothers, to get to know each other better. Who knows, maybe there is another unexpected friendship to be had.” Rhiannon smiled relieved, while being mindful not to expose her fangs.
“Yeah, I’d like that. Hope you like coffee.”
Everyone still in the room chuckled, and the tension seemed to become just a little less. Maybe this wasn’t an ideal situation. Maybe they would never all be more than just accepting of another. But maybe, maybe, Rhiannon’s hope would come true. Only time will tell.