“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
Forgotten Hollow The Elysium (Home to Chase & Hailey Cameron and toddler son Connor, Colton & Maddie Vatore and toddler daughter Keira)
Angrily, Maddie shook KC’s muscular arm off her shoulders, which only generated a bigger smirk in his tan face, making his brilliant blue eyes sparkle.
“Screw you!” she hissed, which made him theatrically act as if he were deeply insulted.
“Thanks for the offer, but I am happily married, besides, that’s not a nice thing to say to your maybe-one-day-step-brother.” KC protested, hiding the grin.
“That is NEVER EVER gonna happen! They are just going out for meals. My mom’s just frustrated A.F. and needs a distraction from the divorce and from the fact that the man she was married to for 35 years is already planning his next wedding and buying baby stuff with his future-wife who is MY age! Your dad just happens to be a nice gentleman in her age group! Totally harmless. They are not dating!”
“ARGH!” Maddie exclaimed, then ran out of the room and up the stairs, accompanied by KC’s amused chuckle.
“Seriously, KC? You know she’s got a rough time with all that, so why do you have to instigate? Very insensitive of you.” reprimanded Hailey.
“Au contraire, I am using humor to distract her, redirect her anger and help her get through it. None of us can undo the BS her dad and your friend did, so for better or worse, she’ll have to face the music. Her parents’ divorce is finalized, her dad and Hadley have their wedding date set. And the way my dad always goes through the greatest lengths to look his best before picking up Maddie’s mother to their ‘not-dates’ is more obvious than a neon sign. They definitely ARE dating, I have come to terms with them getting really serious, and honestly, I am happy for them. I worried about dad for years, he has not even looked at another woman since my mom died. I don’t mind having Maddie as a step-sis. So, I am just being a good future big brother here making her hate me, so she can stop hating him.” KC said as serious as a heart attack.
“KC, that is the dumbest plan ever. Just shut up already!” Caitlin said, unnerved.
“Make me, Caitie Cat. Oh, spank me, you mighty spanker!” KC challenged, grinning, ignoring the warning glance by Heath.
“I’ll go check on Maddie. Try not to kill each other down here, or if, take it outside. This is my home.” Hailey said, ran up the stairs too, then knocked on the door to Maddie’s and Colton’s bedroom suite.
Hailey entered, walked straight up and hugged Maddie, who mumbled into the embrace with a whiny, pouty voice.
“I can’t believe you accepted that bitch’s invite. How could you? It’s like you chose her over me.”
Hailey instantly knew what Maddie was referring to.
“Maddie, I didn’t choose Hadley over you. You are both my friends, I am loyal to both of you. And while I get how this is hard on you, and why you are so upset, we don’t own our parents, just like they don’t own us. They have lives too. Just imagine – 100% hypothetically – you were to leave Colton for another man, because you two fell in love against all odds. Would you stay just because of what your parents would think? No. See? That’s what KC was trying to get across, in his own special way.” Hailey spoke after releasing her friend from her embrace.
“KC’s a dick. So is my father.” pouted Maddie.
“KC’s a goof, with a good heart. He was just trying to make you angry at him, so you quit being so mad at your dad. We all agree, you should forgive your father. I am telling you, it’s the real thing. And neither Hadley nor your dad did this to be malicious, they can’t help falling in love. And as Chase told you earlier, intact marriages can’t be broken up like that. Something was already wrong. And your mom looks happy with KC’s dad. So, maybe it was all for the best. You just have to accept the things you cannot change, and forgive.”
“Forgive? And accept that KC may become my step-brother some ways down the line and that YOUR bestie’s five million kids will be my step-siblings, while she hatches number one of God knows how many half-siblings for me? Nah, Hailz, I cannot accept OR forgive that. Nor will I EVER acknowledge her nasty-ass brood as relatives. No way, YUCK!”
“Maddie … at least come to the wedding. It would mean the world to your dad to have you there. You can still be mad afterwards. But there are some things we don’t get a second chance for and may regret forever if we miss out. The Auditore kids attended their dad and Meaghan’s wedding, we were all there too, and we all saw Ezio’s kids grimacing now and then at the fact that their step-mom is 21 years old. And everyone knows that there will be a baby coming out of that union sooner or later, it’s just a given. But still, they all showed up, showed support best they could, and were part of their father’s big day, even though aside from Adrianna and Bianca, all of them left for the airport right after the reception as if the devil himself were after them. And if they could have, Addy and Bianca would have gotten the fuck out too. But they all were there, for their dad, because they love him, he loves them and he is a good dad. Just like yours.” Hailey said, softly and patiently.
“That’s different! Meaghan may be young enough to be Ezio’s daughter, granddaughter even, but she didn’t break up his marriage to marry him, he’s been widowed for years. But YOUR friend broke up my parents’ marriage! You can play her matron of honor all you want, but I can’t forgive her for stealing my dad from my mom, nor can I forgive him for any of this. I just can’t. “
“Can you at least forgive me for wanting to be there then?”
“Maybe. But I refuse to watch Connor so you and Chase can kiss that homewrecker’s ass! Any other time, but not for that. Find another babysitter.”
“Oh, Maddie, you are priceless!”
“No, I am pissed beyond words! I made it almost to 30 before my damn parents lost their minds. Until just some months ago, I had this happy family fantasy, thought Colton and I would go visit grandma and grandpa with Keira as she grows up. But no, now we will most likely visit grandma and KC’s cowboy dad, and then grandpa and his new ho, plus all the kids she’ll have with him now, we’ll bring our own shoe horn to be able to squeeze into her tiny ass house bursting at its seams. But maybe dad will buy her a castle, since she is giving him that boy he always wanted, to carry on the Barlow family name, since I failed to do that for him. I probably should be grateful that my mom’s too old to get preggers, or she’d have a one-up baby with KC’s dad. Oh the horrors. My family need their own reality TV show. Fuck the Kardashians, they got nothing on the Barlows.”
“Maddie, your mom and KC’s dad are just going out, I don’t think they’ll get married anytime soon, if ever. Both are just happy to have found someone their age to hang with. And Hadley said she doesn’t want any more kids after this one.”
“Seriously?! She’s been saying that since she had her oldest! We’re talking about the broad who had marriage patch kids with a cheating husband every time they almost separated. THAT idiot! And I gave that stupid whore a killer makeover, which she used to steal my own dad from my mom. Had I known that was in my future I would have shaved her ass bald and put her in clown makeup. PERMANENT make up. Yeah!”
Hailey couldn’t help but giggle at Maddie’s rant, which then even caused Maddie to smile.
“Feel better now?”
“Maddie, I am going to be at Hadley’s wedding, with Chase, and I will set him on you, because he was the one who talked me into forgiving her and he was right. We may not like everything our parents or friends do, but we can’t be loyal only when they oblige. Right?”
“Well, maybe I could show my face. But how am I supposed to explain that to my mom.”
“Maddie, you shouldn’t have to pick sides. This is their fight, not yours. You are both their daughter. And knowing Beth, I am sure your mom wouldn’t want you to feel like you have to choose. This is a you-decision. You should really think about this. It’s gonna be a very small, intimate wedding. Just the couple, Hadley’s brother and his family are coming in from Sulani, Hadley’s kids, Chase, me and the minister. And hopefully you and Colton.”
“I hate you, Hailz. HATE YOU!”
“So, is that a yes?”
“It’s a maybe. I have to think on this, but if I were to go, not saying I am, but if I were to, I will NOT congratulate the homewrecker and I will NEVER call her mom, nor acknowledge her brats as relations. I will only be there for my dad. And you.”
“Okay. Fair enough. Even though you are amazing with make up and I was hoping you could maybe do mine and Hadley’s and …”
“Hailey – NO! NO WAY! NO NO NO! Yours I will do, absolutely. But if I ever touch that Hadley again, it will be with a very long and very sharp knife! And then I will be on an episode of ‘Snapped’.”
“Okay, message received.” Hailey smiled, hugged Maddie again, then left the room to leave her to simmer on it. On her way out she almost ran into Colton, Maddie’s husband, who was on his way to check on his wife.
“How is my Madster? I had words with KC about his shit-sense of humor. This time he got to keep his teeth, next time he won’t be so lucky. I think he got the memo.” he grumbled.
“KC just tried to help, in a very clumsy way, by redirecting Maddie’s anger onto himself. Mads is okayish, I tried to even the keel, but she could definitely use some TLC by her hubby. Make her feel safe, Cole.”
“I am on it.”
He entered and like Hailey had before him, he went straight to hold her. Maddie snuggled into his embrace, he kissed her gently.
“I have decided. I want to do it.”
“Do what, babe?”
“I want you to turn me. I always hesitated because of my parents, thought it would be too weird for them, but after the way they act now, screw it all. I know I denied it, but I know my mom is crushing on KC’s dad, they totally are dating and I think if KC’s dad were to ask her, my mom would marry him on the spot just to spite my dad, neither would even stop to think how I feel about any of it. So, screw them. I want to be with you, forever. Just like Hailey did for Chase. She’s still the same Hailey, and still so happy.”
“Wow! As much as that thrills me, I don’t want this to be some panic reaction, which you later regret.”
“I AM sure. Never been surer of anything. You are my family. You and Keira. And of course Hailey and Chase and Connor. My family by choice, not by happenstance. We all chose to be some sort of weird family thing. I want to be part of this forever.”
“I love you. And I love this change of heart, as surprising and sudden as it may be. You have no idea how happy you just made me. We’ll plan something special. This is great! And such a relief. I can’t wait till I can train you on all our rules and things.”
“Plan fast though. I want this to happen before my 30th birthday. 29 for life.” she giggled.
“That can be arranged. Maybe I should just do it right now, so you can’t change your mind.” Colton joked.
“I won’t change my mind. Can’t do it now, I have to be fit and ready to go for my father’s wedding to Sluthilda. Oh yeah, we are going to that shit show after all, to support my dad, fake smiles and all. Blame Hailey and Chase for that.” Maddie shrugged.
“Sounds good, but if we do that, you might want to holster the ‘tude, babe. And I think I’ll be the one signing the guest book.” Colton chuckled.
“We are going for my dad, not for her. So, fuck her!”
“Nah, I think your daddy already got that covered.” he chuckled, while Maddie swatted at him.
“Sorry, couldn’t help it. Oh well, after your dad’s shotgun wedding, we’ll plan a romantic getaway just us two, after which you will return slightly changed. And now come here.” Colton said, pulling Maddie close for a tender kiss.