Everything slows down when we listen and stop trying to fix the unfixable.— Anne Lamott
“Come upstairs with me for a moment, please.” Ezzy told him, then turned and went up the flight of stairs, followed by him.
“Well well well, did I finally make the cut and am allowed more again than just to drool over your beautiful body from a distance?” he snickered, as he followed her into her bedroom, right off the landing of the stairs.
“No. I want you meet someone. Michael, this is my daughter, Aryelle.” Esmée pointed at a baby in a crib that looked out of place in the bedroom.
Michael stared at the crib with awe, then at Ezzy.
“Wow. I must be doing something right, if you trust me around her. I thought you said you don’t see her.”
“I didn’t. Someone recently changed my mind about that. I always had doubts and regrets about my decision but thought there was no room in my life for a baby. There really isn’t, and I am definitely not a kid-person, but when you told me about your son, how you have no choice than to let him grow up never knowing who you really are to him, and how lucky I was to have an actual choice, options, but chose to squander them instead, something clicked. You were so right calling me out when you did, holding me accountable. I owe it to her to be present, even though her dad has and will keep full custody. She’s just visiting today as an exception, because I wanted you to meet her. There is a new provisional agreement with her father so I can spend actual time with her, very flexible for now, since I don’t have any baby stuff and work a lot. Baby steps, literally.”
“May I?” Michael pointed at Aryelle.
Oddly careful considering his usual demeanor Michael took the baby from the crib, it was clear he was no stranger to proper handling of a baby, as he rocked her gently in his arms, smiling softly, cooing at Aryelle who was trying to figure out what she thought about the man holding her now. Smiling, Michael winked at the little girl, which amused her greatly, making her giggle.
“Hello there beautiful Miss Aryelle. You are absolutely precious, just like your mom.”
“I think she favors her father.”
“I don’t know her father, but if that’s true he must be a stunning girl, with big, beautiful doe-eyes.” Michael said, making Ezzy laugh.
“Not really. But, he’s of Indian descent, she has his complexion.”
“Yeah, I can see that. But the rest is all you, Ezzy. Nice work. Beautiful girl. It would appear Emmy and Connell are not the only ones who – as you put it – make pretty babies.”
“Thanks. Does your son look like you? Nathan?”
“A little. Has my eyes. According to his mothers, also my temper and messy eating habits.”
Chuckling, he put Aryelle back into her crib, which she acquitted with excited kicking and cooing, as Ezzy stepped closer to Michael, reading in his face.
Then she kissed him.
Not the usual, passionate way. Different.
It was only a brief kiss, narrated from the crib by what sounded like an “Aww!” sound by Aryelle.
“I think she approves, my little wing-girl.” he said, smiling softly, when Ezzy sighed.
“About that, let’s go downstairs and talk, okay?”
Michael followed her, instead of sitting on the couch, she remained standing, looking tense.
“Something tells me this is not a happy talk.” he said.
She shook her head, biting her lip.
“It’s not. Michael, I have been racking my brain about how to make this work with us, but I just can’t figure it out. I got nothing to show for days’ worth of trying to come up with something, except for sleepless nights and headaches. We are an unsolvable problem.”
He looked at her, then nodded.
“Is this what I think it is?”
“I am afraid it has to be. It’s what you asked, your condition. No call, no text, but face-to-face. Here I am, face-to-face, telling you.”
“Why did you introduce me to Aryelle then? That makes no sense. And that kiss. Was that a kiss goodbye? Certainly, didn’t feel like it.”
“That was a kiss because I genuinely love you, Michael. I showed you my daughter because you made me see what’s important to me, and your opinion is important to me as well. What you said to me mattered. It may have changed my life.”
“Okay, I know I am no expert on all things love and relationships, but that usually is the BEGINNING of a relationship, Ezzy, not the end.”
“I wish it could be, but all my soul searching triggered by the things you said to me, about my life, my priorities and my daughter made me realize that while I will never be a dedicated mother hen like my sister is or mother and grandmother always have been – babies and kids still VERY MUCH annoy me – but that baby up there is family and family means everything to me, maybe that is why I take Cameron Enterprises so serious. My grandfather built that place from the ground up when he was my age. It can’t fail. I can’t let it fail. It’s my other baby, if you so want. My favorite child, actually.”
“You are not telling me anything really new here, but why does that have to exclude me?”
“Because I need my family, Michael. I cannot move away from Windenburg, I don’t even want to move, I won’t break with my family, but my family unfortunately includes vampires now. Connell isn’t going anywhere, one of their children is a vampire. I am so over having you as my dirty little secret yet having to go to every single event alone watching others with their partners, that is killing me. Introducing you as someone I am seeing to my family is pointless, since I STILL wouldn’t be able to invite you to family events, because of Connell. So, tell me Michael, if I am missing something, or if you see a feasible solution for us, because I don’t.”
“Ezzy, please, don’t count us out, not yet, not like this. Let me try to find a way. Please. You gave me a new reason for living, a life I have been hating for a long time, you are making it mean something again. I have hated myself for a long time, for what I had to become. You gave me hope, please don’t take that from me.”
“Ezzy please. I’ll figure something out. Just give me a chance and a little time before you kick me to the curb.”
“I am not kicking you to the curb, I am being realistic about not wanting to waste each other’s time with something that has no future. But okay, fine, if you think you can find a fix, and want to drag out the inevitable, have at it. We’ll keep doing whatever the heck we have been doing, being friends or whatever this has become, OUTSIDE the bedroom. You’re still cut off.”
“What about kissing, Ezzy? I mean, since we already crossed that line again … throw a hungry wolf a bone here.”
“Michael … why are you making this harder than it already is? You know I am right. We have no future. I don’t want this to end either, but I also don’t want this to be just some sex thing anymore and we can’t be anything else. We start kissing now, and we both know where that will end. A vicious cycle and ultimately pointless. I don’t want to hate myself in the morning for giving in to you and you won’t be happy with us just basically holding hands like pre-teens who are afraid dad may catch us. So, what do you want?”
“I am on a train to nowhere with you here. Have you not been listening to a word I said?”
“I have. I also thought you agreed to let me try to figure something out, didn’t realize there was a rush on it now. Okay, you want me to fix this right away, I will fix it. Or die trying. Literally.” Michael’s tone bore a certain finality.
“What are you talking about?”
“A fix, Ezzy, that’s what.”
“Is there a cure, Michael? Is that what you are saying?” hope sparked in Esmée’s words and eyes.
“Not for me. I have been THIS for way too long for any cure to be effective anymore. No, I am what I am for the rest of my life, but I have another idea. It’s risky. Either I am successful or … well, I solved this problem for both of us regardless.”
Michael turned to leave, but instead grabbed a surprised Ezzy, looking at her face he pressed her body against his as if attempting to fuse them into one, in a reflex she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Damn, you’re beautiful!” he said, his voice deeper than normal, then he kissed her.
The kiss seemed more passionate than the one earlier, desperate in a way, when it ended, Michael let go of Ezzy and rushed past her out the door and was just gone. Without a trace.
Standing in the doorway in his wake, Ezzy tried to keep the tears from coming.
“I just love it when he does that. Reason number one hundred and something why dating an occult is not worth the aggravation you face with their antics.”
Author's Note: The rules for occults mentioned herein are my own personal gameplay rules, not what is possible in game.