“You may not be pushing me away,
but you’re not fighting to keep me either.”
Del Sol Valley Villa ViVa The prelude
Liam heard the clicking of high heels behind him on the stone tiles of the patio, where he had been standing staring at nothing in particular for the past 30 minutes or so. Vivien now appeared next to him, his head turned slightly to look at her briefly, her eyes met his, and she exhaled, before directing her attention to the Del Sol Valley skyline, he faced forward again as well.
A half-empty bottle of wine was on the table, two glasses, but only one used, in the background Barbra Streisand sang about “The Way We Were”, further adding to the nostalgia and melancholy of the moment.
Neither of them spoke for a good while, just stood there in perfect unison, the weight of the moment heavy on them both, before she quietly told him
“I am really sorry for what I said.”
He looked down at the ground for a few seconds, closed his eyes briefly, before he nodded.
Silence fell again between them, it was him who broke it again.
“You know what all this means, right? You feel it too, don’t you? All the signs are there again. We have to do the right thing. We HAVE to think about the kids.”
She closed her eyes, swallowed hard, her mouth opened to argue, but shut again, she nodded …
San Myshuno Senator Suites Penthouse Several Weeks Later Nick
Sitting here at my desk, staring at the San Myshuno rain outside my window, wondering why I even bothered with attempting to do my homework. I couldn’t focus to save my life.
I remembered back to the evening several weeks ago now, my little sister Aria-Grace and I could already tell something was not right when our parents called a family meeting, both of them seated across the dining room table from AG and me, looking at us with artificial smiles on stony and serious faces as after some schmoozing and blah blah they dropped the bomb.
Of course, we kids flipped out when they told us the news, both of us ran through the whole stages of grief all in one sitting, several times over, even though Aria-Grace stayed in the denial phase longer than me, maybe because I was older and had been through all this with our parents before.
The original plan had been for my sister and me to stay with mom in Del Sol Valley, because of school, but since I had inherited some extra-helpings of temper from both sides and because emotions were already running high, I somehow got into a serious fight with mom over something I don’t even recall now, I told her I’d go with dad. Before I knew it, that was the new plan, and I was too stubborn to backpaddle. Well, Aria-Grace didn’t talk to me for days when she found out, but when the driver was there to take dad and me to the airport on D-Day, she came running and clung to me so tight, sobbing, it broke my heart.
Was this the same sister whom I could not go a day without bickering with, the same sister I would have proverbial fights till blood over about the last of our favorite cereals and TV shows and such BS, who now was losing her mind because I was moving away with our dad?
Ironically, the worst part was the fighting between my parents had stopped.
As in, completely seized, which felt eerie to me. They had always at least argued about something, every damn day, and sometimes they fought so hard that my sister and I had to turn up the music to drown their bullshit out. Had been that way for as long as I could remember back, felt normal, and maybe it was, considering my mother was this high-level, notorious pop icon and my dad was just a regular Joe along for the ride, all the wealth, the house, the cars and all the expensive shit was mom’s, and if my dad landed a real low blow during one of their yelling matches, she’d hit him with that bit of truth. Understandable, but still not the stuff a great marriage was made of.
Anyway, now they were so civil with each other, mom even hugged and kissed dad goodbye when we left, which really screwed with AG’s and my minds. When your parents separate, you don’t expect them to make out while half the family is loaded up and on the way to go live somewhere across the country.
Ironically, dad and I moved back to the old penthouse in San Myshuno, which my dad owned outright, and where they had lived together as a couple for a very long time and after I was born, and for the majority of my childhood this was where we had lived, too – well, in between the dozens of relocations we Cameron-gypsies have been through over the years. Photos of mom, alone and with dad together as a happy couple were still everywhere, dad refused to take them down. Same with mom at the Del Sol Valley mansion. It was weird for us kids when we went for visits at each other’s homes, parents split up, but grinning happily from the walls at us. Mark that down in the book of things NOT to do if I ever have kids.
The good news for me was that my best friend Rohan Sharma lived here in San Myshuno, and even changing schools so close to graduation wasn’t too hard on me, since I had done it a million times by now and still knew a lot of the kids from when we lived here before we moved back to Del Sol Valley. In some incredible and lucky moment of foresight, dad had kept his law firm in San Myshuno, had been supervising everything remotely, now he’d just go back to work there full time and in person and just handed the DSV celebrity legal stuff back to Kai and his son Dylan. Also, not the first time that happened, maybe that’s why both stayed current on all cases. Kai was ancient now and technically had retired decades ago, but somehow, he was still always there, since he was grandpa’s best friend.
It was Fall now, before Winter would be over, I will have turned 18 and also graduated high school, then by Spring, I’d be off to university. I was not sure how I really felt about all that now, even considered taking a year off, but Rohan and my girlfriend Adrianna were counting on me to go, since that had been the plan for years. I had to. But what about dad? Could I really leave him here all alone? He had that tendency to bury himself in work, mom was the one to usually balance him out, and he her, since she did the same with her music. I worried about my parents. They couldn’t be a couple without screaming at each other, but were miserable apart, so, hey, maybe this weird platonic friendship thing would work for them somehow. Maybe, just maybe, absence made the heart grow fonder again, had worked out like that before, maybe they’d miss each other enough to want to put some serious effort into their marriage again and we could all exhale and go back to the way we were before this nonsense. Hopefully soon.
If they didn’t end up back together, I wasn’t sure what would happen if one, or both, eventually were to start dating other people. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that either, but if I had learned anything about my family it was that no matter how I felt, if mom and dad wanted something, it was going to happen and I also knew that both of my parents lived to love, and not just the type of love they gave us kids. While it was weird thinking of my parents like that, I was a realist, plus I had a girlfriend too and understood that being without physical affection for any longer periods of time sucked, once you had a taste, you wanted it again, and often. Either way, I couldn’t fix my parents, I had to live my own life, somehow.
Eventually my sister ended up at the same logic and started living her life again, too. I was so used to long-distance relationships, all my life I had to deal with it, be it family I was close with, or my girlfriend, at times my best friend … I had toughened up and was almost fine with it all. Almost.
Even that time mom came to visit with Aria-Grace, all seemed fine, until our parents told us over dinner that they had decided they were getting a divorce.
Guess getting back together wasn’t happening after all.
AG had a meltdown that night, refused to go back to the hotel with mom, didn’t even want to sleep in the guest room, because she thought mom would too then, so I ended up sleeping on the floor in my room while my little sister was snoring in my bed after sobbing for hours straight. The things you do as a big brother. United front, even when before lil sis and I used to bicker about random stuff, like who sat where in the car taking us to school. She even came to sleep in my room a few times when I went for visits at mom’s. I mean home. No, wait, this was my home now. Oh, I don’t know, you get what I mean.
Life with dad in our kinda sorta bachelor household wasn’t bad. He could cook, taught me a thing or too and we could hang around the house in our underwear, scratch our body parts and leave toilet seats up and socks on the floor, fart and every gross thing guys did as we pleased.
Dad and I got along great. We were a team, as he had always called it. And I knew from Aria-Grace that she and mom were doing the girl-version of this, sitting around the house in facemasks and hair curlers, painting each other’s nails, going to the spa, shopping till they dropped and whatever else girls like to do.
If I sound nonchalant about all this, I am not. There is just nothing that can be done and honestly, if mom and dad reached that point again, it was better this way or else, things would be said and done which would create an Armageddon.
Now the past months of high school had been filled with finals, currently San Myshuno High was losing their minds about senior prom. I wasn’t sure I was even gonna go, considering my girlfriend was half a world away and wouldn’t be able to go with me. Only fair, as the elite school Adrianna was attending didn’t even have a prom, evidently that just wasn’t a thing in Tartosa, where she lived.
My time outside of school was dedicated to re-adjusting to the new situation to the best of my ability and with attending birthday parties. Many of my friends and cousins were turning 18.
My cousin Oliver was 18 already, just had his birthday, but I didn’t get to see him, since he lives in Henford-on-Bagley, on a produce farm and Autumn is harvest season. More long-distance stuff, dad and I facetimed him and sang a very X-rated version of Happy Birthday to him, making him laugh so hard, he almost fell off the tractor he was riding. Oh yeah, my cousin was facetiming us while plowing the back forty.
My family for ya.
Then Rohan turned 18, but like all his birthdays before this one, it was just a small dinner his grandparents and I attended.
He didn’t want a party, not even go out to a club or something. But he was thrilled beyond words to have me back full time. He was the shy type and I had always helped him come out of his shell. So, me being back in town was the best birthday present for him anyway, he even told me so.
Well, happy birthday, dude.
Glad my misery made your day extra-special.
I already had the invite for my triplet cousins’ upcoming birthday feast in a few weeks from now, that would mean a whole weekend at the Cameron Estate in Windenburg. Well, for dad and me. Doubtful AG would be able to come, unless mom somehow dropped her off and ditched, which was in the realm of possibility, but I KNEW mom would not show up at the party. Maybe down the line, but this was still too new. All those cousins were from my dad’s side of the family, so her in-laws and … iffy.
While all three of my triplet cousins were dating, dark-haired Ewan and Esmée would have their girl-/boyfriend there, but towhead Emmy was officially still single, even though I knew she wasn’t. Oh, I knew everything. I had ALL the dirt on that, just not from her, but her hush-hush fiancé’s side.
I could already see her sneak off to finally do the deed with Connell, unlike all the other cousins I had been around vampires enough to know what to look for and I literally had seen him hiding in the bushes many times when all of us cousins, there were 10 of us total on my dad’s side, were meeting at one of our favorite hangout spots, Everett Heights. Surprisingly enough, every single time Emmy just suddenly would start not feeling well and have to go home. Yeah, right. Well, the others bought it. I didn’t. At least I had my suspicions.
One time, when Connell was at our place with his father, I caught him alone and asked him dead-on, he didn’t deny anything, but swore me to secrecy.
Connell was my Great-Uncle Caelan’s son, obviously a vampire, Caelan was like one of my mom’s best friends ever, as weird as that was, had been that way since she was a little girl, and at some point, almost a year ago now, I overheard them talking. Even they knew what was going to happen the very day Emmy hit the big 1-8. Not many boys our age would have resisted her this long, but then again, if there was one thing I knew about vampires, it would be that they are so much like us mortals, but so very different at the same time. Especially Connell. He and I got along well, but he was your quintessential vampire. I wouldn’t want to be on his shitlist, that’s for sure.
Let’s just hope they would remember birth control, or I will move to Mars before that shitstorm hits.
Emmy’s stepdad Jay was a really cool dude, definitely the coolest mayor Windenburg ever had, but he HATED the idea of her dating a vampire – yes, both her parents and Connell’s parents knew about that ‘secret’.
At least we didn’t have to worry about him breaking out the shotgun, and if, it wouldn’t do too much harm. Ha. But if there really was ever going to be an Emmy and Connell wedding, it will be one I won’t miss, even though I wasn’t much for weddings normally.
I just could not for the life of me imagine Jay giving his precious Emmy away to the vamp. HAHAHA.
My own birthday would be the usual weirdness, luckily still a few months out, since it was on Christmas Day, and I hated and refused pre-celebrations. My birthday wasn’t the weekend before Christmas or the day before, so I never had much of a party either and this year, I honestly wasn’t in a festive or celebratory mood anyway, even though it was my rite of passage birthday into adulthood.
Only time would tell how my life was going to go after graduation …