“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:-Robert Frost
it goes on.”
Windenburg New Downtown
Entering without knocking, Esmée appeared in Ewan’s office, right in front of her brother’s desk, arms crossed like the avenger of lost souls.
“Really Ewan? You hired your girlfriend on as your new assistant? Seriously?! What kinda rookie move is that?! And please do make sure she re-acquaints herself with the dress code and won’t wear open toed shoes again, like yesterday. Also, please DO talk to her about getting a natural hair color, too, Cameron Enterprises is too conservative for purple hair. After all, that is YOUR job, as the HR manager.” she pointed at the glass door behind her, through which you could see Ashley at the assistant’s desk.
“Are you done now? Feel better after letting your hormones stampede all over me? Also, Ashley’s hair is ‘aubergine’, not purple. Sad you don’t know that with an interior decorator mother and sister. Weak, Ezzy. Oh, I am sorry, Miss CEO, are you gonna fire me now, boss lady?” he challenged.
“Tempting! Ewan, I am concerned about this situation and think you should be too. What if you two break up? You think you can deal with your ex handling confidential and internal company information, your schedule and calls and all? Or are you planning on leaving Cameron Enterprises open to a wrongful termination lawsuit by you firing her if this doesn’t work out and then hire your next girlfriend? And the next?” Esmée ranted on, while watching Ewan get up off his chair to be at least eye level with her, instead of taking her talking down at him. He cut her a lot of slack, knowing she took the CEO position seriously and was feeling a lot of pressure.
“Ezzy, I know that long-term relationships have always just sounded like a waste of time to you, but I am not you. When I enter into a relationship, it has always been for the long run, ideally. Ashley just moved in with me, so I don’t think we’ll be breaking up anytime soon. I am in love, so is she, this is the real deal. Had you made it to the family dinner, you would know that. Ash is the girl I am going to marry one day; I like having her close and she likes being my assistant.”
“I have bigger fish to fry at the moment than family dinners. Trust me.”
“Oh, I know. I heard. Pregnant. You. Wow. So ironic, it would be almost hilarious, if it weren’t’ also so sad, considering Emmy and Connell tried forever until it finally worked, and you casually screw some guy you admittedly don’t give two shits about and wind up preggers, just a few weeks or so behind Emmy. What a slap in the face it has to be to her. Not to mention that you have zero patience with kids.”
“I know that. I didn’t do this on purpose to spite our sister, Ewan. The only reason THIS is even happening at all,” she gestured at her already hard to hide baby bump, before continuing, ” is because Rohan just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, told Nick everything, who of course in typical Nick-fashion came in on his white stallion to save the world, sticking his nose in business that doesn’t concern him, threatening that if I chose to end the pregnancy, he’d tell mom and dad and make it public. I cannot have this type of stigmata as Cameron Enterprises’ CEO, not to mention that we both know mom and dad would never forgive me. Our cousin blackmailed me into this or trust me, this would not even be a topic anymore at this point. Rohan is not exactly an Adonis and most definitely not the type I would choose to procreate with on purpose, but if he is so eager to raise a child, by all means!” Esmée rambled on.
“At least Rohan is gonna take custody of the kid. Couldn’t be any more convenient for you. Just hoping I get to see my niece or nephew on occasion at all. Or nieces/nephews …” Ewan shrugged.
“JUST ONE, Ewan. ONE. And that is plenty. After this ‘tumor’ is out of my body, I am getting my tubes tied immediately, so this will NEVER happen again. Anyway, I am here to appeal to your intelligence and integrity to handle this company with the utmost respect it deserves, and not as your personal playground to hire in your current girlfriends for convenient access. Keep your head on straight and your junk in your pants during work hours! I am telling you this as your CEO.” Esmée turned on her heels and left.
“Yeah, you’re one to talk, Miss CEO, after getting knocked up by someone you don’t even really like. YOU made me HR manager, what’s that good for if I cannot hire anyone? And this is grandpa’s company, not YOURS, Ezzy. You may forget that, I don’t. CEOs come and go, grandparents and the love of my life doesn’t. I am happy with my choices, but worry that you will regret yours one day. I worry that one day you will wake up and hate who you have become for all the wrong reasons. Well, at least then we both know our family will always be there for you. Even me, even after this verbal spanking, then again, you are preggers and we all heard about what those hormones do to a person’s mood. Emmy is probably just naturally too sweet for this to affect her, but you … oh boy.” he mumbled to himself.
His eyes fell onto the glass office door, seeing Ashley typing away at the computer at her assistant’s desk, he smiled, then left his office, stopping next to Ashley’s desk, she smiled up at him, he pulled her up to him and kissed her.
Sulani Annual Cameron Family Summer Vacation
Adrianna moaned comfortably, stretching out in the warm sunlight on a balmy, lazy day by the beach.
“This is nice, isn’t it, Nick?”
“Very nice. I never wanna leave. This, with you, forever.”
“Completely agree. This vacation is just what the doctor ordered. Feels amazing.”
“You amaze me, you know that?”
“Me? Thanks. Where is that coming from now?”
“The way you handled the entire Rohan mess. Offering to help with his baby, once born and letting him keep it at the penthouse with us. Wow. I can’t believe you would do that for my best friend. Nothing but mad respect for you.”
“Well, if you haven’t figured this out yet, Auditores are the quintessential ‘family first’ type of people, which is probably a good thing, considering how fertile we are. I like Rohan, he made a few suboptimal choices, but I don’t see why we should abandon him now. He definitely needs us more than ever. And he is family, even if not by blood.”
“Oh, I agree. Hey, want another frilly coconutty drink decorated with a bunch of colorful junk that just gets in the way?” Nick chuckled, while trailing kisses on Adrianna’s face as she giggled.
Nick folded himself out of the chair they had been sharing, then went over towards the bar, where Aria-Grace was also waiting for a beverage.
“How’s it going, AG? I feel like I died and went to heaven. No work for two whole weeks, mom and dad are doing good, you and Rohan aren’t freezing each other out, and I am getting serious quality time with Addy and you guys in. Living the dream.” Nick rambled on.
“Agreed on all points. This vacation really is a dream. But the better question would be, oh brother dearest, how is it progressing with you and Addy? That girl is going to let you have your best friend plus baby live with you guys. I promise you, not many girlfriends would do that! Ball’s in your court for sure, Mr. Cameron, if you get my hint. I think it’s time for you to do something major.”
Chuckling, Nick shook his head, then grabbed Aria-Grace and planted purposely wet kisses all over her face, attracting concerned glares from bystanders, as she tried to fight him off.
“Eeew, stop…. STAAAAHP! YUCK! MOM, DAD!!! HELP!”
“Relax folks, she’s my sister. As my grandpa Blaine always says, incest is best put your sister to the test!”
“You are so gross and insane! Get off me, you creep!” laughed Aria-Grace, swatting at a laughing Nick.
He got serious and pulled her with him, out of eyesight of everyone, then reached into his pocket, pulling out a little box, which made Aria-Grace squeal excitedly, as he flipped it open, revealing a very tasteful, but clearly multiple carat diamond engagement ring.
“OH MY GOD NICK!!!! YES! FINALLY! Ohmergawd ohmergawd ohmergawd!”
“Shhh, keep your voice down. Nobody but you and I know about this.” Nick told her, snapped the little box shut and slid it back in his pocket.
“Nicky, this is gorgeous! You have great taste, I 100% approve and am so proud of you! This rock must have cost you a fortune and is totally Addy’s style! So, when?! Where?! Here? Tonight? Oh, no, wait! I bet next week when we are in Italy, right?! That would be sooo perfect! Addy is going to die for romance! Tell me everything!”
Later that day
Lost in thoughts, Aria-Grace walked along the beach, closing her eyes, enjoying the sound of the waves crashing ashore, the warm breeze caressing her skin, and the feeling that at this very moment in time, her world was as close to perfect as it was probably ever going to be. Her parents were finally happy together, no more fights, just the occasional bickering, but nothing noteworthy, her dad had received a nearly clean bill of health and with Kai, Dylan and Jensen’s help had already opened a new Cameron Law firm in Del Sol Valley right by the Walk of Fame, and her brother was doing really well running the law firm and with Adrianna. She inhaled deeply.
“Hey Aria-Grace, wait up!” she heard a voice behind her, just before Rohan appeared next to her.
“Mind if I tag along?” he wondered.
“Nah, I don’t mind at all.”
They walked next to each other quietly for a while, until Rohan inhaled and broke the silence.
“I just wanted to say how sorry I am about everything, AG. I mean, Aria-Grace. Sorry. But I am glad I came clean with your brother about Esmée, and he and Addy jumped right in to help me contain the damage.”
“Yeah, Nick and Addy are being great about all this. And it’s okay, you can call me AG. That was pretty immature of me. As were my actions and reactions. Let’s just forget about it all, erase, rewind and start over fresh.”
“Sounds good in theory, but there was a lot to unpack over the past few weeks and none of this is really something easily forgotten. There is so much I want to say to you, AG, but I can’t. I shouldn’t. Now it would be even more wrong than ever before.”
“You don’t have to say anything. We’re okay, Rohan. Just chill. I am over it. Life goes on. We’re cool. Really.”
“AG, I am not just saying that to get back on your good side. I wished, I really, really wished, this whole baby thing wasn’t happening. Were it not for that, I might say something to you right now, which would probably still be very wrong, but since you were so honest with me back when, at the penthouse that evening, it feels wrong that I never was perfectly honest with you about all that. You deserve the truth. But I am just not fierce like you, you were … no … you are very brave. Much braver than I am.”
“That is true. My mom and dad made sure of that. Confidence is key, especially if I decide to choose a career in entertainment like my mom. Fake it till you make it.”
“If? I thought that was for certain.”
“It was, but now I am torn. I am officially 17 now, my last year of high school, I need to get my crap together and come up with a real plan. I love music, always have, always will, but am wondering if the market isn’t overfed with career musicians from the Cameron family, so I started thinking about making it a favorite hobby, or a side-business to a more conventional career.”
“Oh? Any ideas what that real career would be?”
“Oh yes. Law.” she smiled up at him.
“You would definitely make a great lawyer. Confident and incredibly smart. And if all else fails, you could distract them with your beauty. Nobody would stand a chance.”
“Did you just call me beautiful?” Aria-Grace giggled.
“I didn’t think that was a secret. You are beautiful, inside and out. It wasn’t until recently that I realize how rare that really is. Don’t ever change, AG. You are absolutely perfect the way you are.” Rohan told her with sincerity in her words.
“Rohan, that is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me, but I think you are right, we both need to just shut up and enjoy this walk before either of us does or says something we both may regret and end up right where we were before this trip. Maybe we were just never meant to be more than friends, or maybe we just need patience and time, you to process your new situation and prepare what being a single dad will be like, knowing Esmée I imagine her involvement ending with birth, and me to finish school and figure out my future, be it music or law – or maybe something completely different.”