“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”― Coco Chanel
First off, a bit of catch-up to a torrent of things happening in several households.
Time seemed to have flown by, as it often does. The triplets Esmée, Ewan and Emmy’s 24th birthdays had come and gone, as had Christmas Day and with it, Nicholas’ 24th birthday as well, the day prior, on a snowy Christmas eve, Caitlin and Heath had welcomed their twin boys Noah and Nolan into the world.
On New Year’s Eve, with barely a few hours left in the old year, Sheridan and Reggie welcomed their son, baby Maverick Williams.
Connell and Emmy Vatore’s oldest daughter, Jaymie, was now just over a year old and starting to walk, their younger daughter Fiona still an infant. Yet, they were already talking about maybe adding on to their family again. Everyone guessed that while Connell loved his girls, he was hoping to add some testosterone, and being from a large family and the domestic type, Emmy was all for that.
Ewan Cameron was still happy with his girlfriend Ashley Roberts, living and working together, but no plans to level up yet, and Esmée was officially Michael’s girlfriend. Their time together was mostly limited to weekends, due to Ezzy’s involved work schedule, but Michael had so far attended every family event since they officially got together. Acceptance overall had been good, surprisingly even by Ezzy’s beloved stepdad Jay, who had always been extra stringent with males interested in any of his three daughters. Obviously, nobody but Ezzy, Connell and Emmy knew Michael’s secret and that was to remain that way.
Connell and Michael largely avoided each other, as both were not very good at hiding the disdain for one another but during family events always managed to remain civil and polite. During other times with a more limited audience, they would often act like two overgrown, dangerous toddlers in desperate need of a nap. Luckily had both always refrained from using any powers than sharp tongues, snide remarks and on very rare occasions pointing, nudging or shoving, Esmée and Emmy both hoped that would stay that way since they were always the ones having to separate their men and try to calm them down.
On a more somber note, the Brindleton Bay Camerons were stricken by tragedy, just before New Year’s a terrible accident tore Professor Dr. Ethan Cameron’s wife Vanessa out of life in her early 40s, leaving him and their only child, 22-year-old daughter and fellow professor-in-training Hannah in deep mourning.
Ethan’s younger brother Eric was taken back to his own traumatic time decades ago when his first wife Emily died in a skiing accident back when their son Rhys was only a toddler, so he helped his older brother through the hard times best he could.
Over in Newcrest Chase & Hailey were still a happy little family with son Connor.
Still living together at the Elysium in Newcrest with Chase’s lifelong best friend and 2Dark 2C bandmate Colton, his wife Maddie and their daughter Keira, who seemed to repeat their father’s lifelong friendship with Connor, being nearly inseparable best friends since both ended up born on the same day.
Very recently Maddie’s mother Beth moved in with the six, temporarily only, while she was looking for a new home elsewhere. She and her two times husband Gary were divorced yet again, he still lived next door to the Elysium with his young son Gary Junior with his late wife in between his two marriages to Beth. The reasons for the recent breakup were diverse and mattered little in the grand scheme.
While on the topic of divorces, Blaine and Scarlett’s former foster child and Blake Cameron’s half-sister Celeste and her long-time husband Ronan Waters went separate ways after several decades of marriage. Celeste’s two kids with her first husband and the twins she shared with Ronan were all grown up and in relationships, some of them with multiple kids of their own.
Back in Del Sol Valley the emotions were high. On Valentine’s Day, which also marked the day before her 19th birthday, Rohan proposed to Aria-Grace – and she said yes!
While Liam and Vivien – or Nick – weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of their daughter engaged so young, they all knew AG had a very hard time accepting Esmée now being in Rohan’s life so much to see their daughter Aryelle, while AG was far away at university, which made her painfully jealous. Rohan hoped that the ring would put her mind at ease. For the time being, it seemed to work. When Rohan had asked Liam for AG’s hand the day prior, Liam had made him promise that they would not take any more steps towards being a family until well after Aria-Grace had graduated, and he asked the same of AG after she came back from a date with Rohan with a new ring on her finger.
While Nick and Adrianna, both 24, had decided to postpone their own wedding, Blythe and Jensen moved theirs up. Jensen was already 28 years old and mortal, Fallon 20 and a naturally born Vampire, so to him family planning was a lot more pressing than it was to her. But after losing her grandfather Everett so suddenly when there had been no apparent signs of him even slowing down, they wanted to make sure grandmother Maeve would be able to attend.
Wedding invitations went out and planning went into overdrive.
Dress shopping somehow turned into a family affair.
Both bride and groom decided to forgo the bachelor and bachelorette parties, and before anyone knew it, the rehearsal dinner was over, marking the countdown to the wedding.
The bride’s three sisters and three brothers made up the bridesmaids and groomsmen, her mom and dad the man and matron of honor, groom’s grandfather Kai officiated, Kai’s great-granddaughters, twins Catherine and Cheyenne and their toddler sister Hadley were the flower girls, while Chase’s son Connor was the ring bearer.
It wasn’t until after Kai proclaimed the couple as the new Mr. and Mrs. Cameron-Camore, yes, hyphenated last names for both, that her twin sister Fallon realized the full scope of the changes ahead.
After the wedding reception, the dinner, dancing, bouquet toss and so on, the couple would run off to their luxurious suite at the very hotel where the wedding took place, spend the wedding night, then be whisked off to their almost 4 week long honeymoon cruise. Once they would return, they’d be looking for a new place to live, since both had been living with their respective parents until now.
Jensen had big dreams for his career, and Blythe was looking for new opportunities as well, meaning the popular fashion and lifestyle blog she had been running with her twin sister since they were still in their senior year at high school didn’t make her cut anymore. Fallon wanted to be happy for her sister and best friend since birth, but couldn’t help feeling betrayed and abandoned, which reflected in her overall mood.
She wasn’t the only one not feeling the ‘extra-cheese’ that evening. With Michael Bolton’s “You Send Me” blaring all around them, inviting the happy couples in attendance to flock to the dancefloor, moving around slowing while clinging to each other as if there were no tomorrow, her brother Gavin, the youngest of the Cameron siblings, plopped down next to her on the sofa behind one of the wedding signs, onto which Fallon had fled from it all, in the hallway outside the large wedding room. Gavin snatched her brand fresh drink from her and with a few big gulps emptied it, before she pulled the glass from his hands and sat it out of reach, where quickly one of the waitstaff whisked it away.
“Holy crap, buster! Since when have you become an alci?!” she protested.
“Since life happened. Plus, my suit itches. Feels like it’s made of sandpaper. I hate this thing!”
“Oh, poor baby boy! Need a binkie? Wanna swap clothes and see how you feel in stiletto heels and this dress? And what do you mean life happened? Life always happens, even though you and I are just along for the ride.”
“Well, I miss grampa Everett. It sucks so bad that he’s gone. He was my buddy. I could really use his advice and all, especially right now … remember Bianca?”
“Can’t say I do …”
“Nick’s fiancée Adrianna’s little sister.”
“Oh, the pudgy chick her dad caught you with messing around in her hotel room once, then hand-delivered you straight to dad causing a big Blainism-ageddon?! Nobody could forget that!”
“She’s not pudgy! She’s … voluptuous. And yes, that one.”
“Okay, what about her?”
“Well, long story short, she dumped me. And all because she and her dad suddenly couldn’t deal with what I am. The Vampire part. Tell me, Fallon, what am I supposed to do with that kind of rejection? Not like I can change that about me.”
“Oh shit! Sorry to hear, Gav-ey. I didn’t even realize you were dating.”
“We weren’t … not really. I mean, I thought we were serious though. We’d hang out whenever we could, which wasn’t THAT often. She lives in Italy, and I couldn’t port that well, let alone that far, until recently, so I usually caught her when she was visiting her sister wherever Nick was.”
“Hang out? Riiiiiight. Is that what the kids call it these days?”
“Very funny, Fallon. You’re only 2 years older than me, grandma! And no, I meant it. We just hung out. Maybe a little kissing and touching and stuff, but not …that.”
“Are you telling me my almost 18-year-old little brother is still a virgin!? Holy crap, please turn in your Cameron card immediately, that’s been revoked for good! Are we sure you are dad’s kid? I think this calls for a DNA test.”
“Still not funny. Chase wasn’t active until … late .. late-ish.”
“Yes, he was! Do you need the condom-pyramid story again?”
“Agh Gav, I don’t know what to tell you here. HER loss. You can do better. Maybe change your style a little. I can help with that. I have a whole blog filled with style tips.”
“What’s wrong with how I look?”
“Nothing, if you wanna look like a freshman in high school on a good day, and like you haven’t hit puberty yet on the bad ones.”
“I don’t look like a kid!”
“Yes, Gav, you do. Everything about screams ‘buy me a balloon and pinch my cheeks’. Nothing wrong with it, everyone always wants to look younger. So, why do they have a problem with the Vamp part all of a sudden? Nick’s been dating Adrianna for 8-9 years now and her older sister is married to Chase’s brother-in-law. Not like these Auditores are new to the Cameron family drama.”
“Yeah, but Nick’s not a Vamp, nor is Hailey’s brother, they are just related to some. Makes a big difference apparently, he doesn’t want ‘that kind of stuff’ to – and I quote – potentially mix with his gene pool, he said. Well, I can’t change what I am. I was born this way, so I can’t even try a cure. Only works on turned people. I don’t know what to do.”
“Why would you change something like that about you, when THEY clearly have sand in their panties about it of a sudden?! We’re Vampires, that’s that, Gav. If you want to fight for her, just do it without the senile old fuck’s blessing. If she loves you, she won’t care either. Not the Middle Ages anymore.”
“Yeah, I had the same idea. Screw her dad, do it anyway, and I also thought ‘go big or stay home’. I went to Britchester unannounced to surprise her with a ring, just like a promise ring kinda thing, eventually found her at a party in some other dude’s lap, half-drunk, while they had their tongues down each other’s throats. So, I dragged her off to talk sense into her and she told me we weren’t even dating, which was news to me. I told her ‘WTF?!’, then she laid that whole I am a yucky Vampire number on me too, then raised me a ‘I am over a year younger than her’ to top it all off. Suddenly all that bothers her.”
“Oh Gav, poor Gav. I say fuck it, forget her. You can do much better. Her loss.”
“Fallon, you don’t get it. I REALLY liked her. Like, I could see us married one day and all. Like after I graduated college and all. That much.”
“AGH, not you too now! Just shut up, bro-bro! Why does everyone only have marriage on the brain anymore these days?! Can we not be our own persons at all anymore? It’s like the Fifties again, turn 18 and find a hubby ASAP. No, thanks! I mean, I wanna date. Like, a real realtionship, but not marry and pop our kids and all right away. You know Gav, at the core I have the same problem as you do. I cannot find a good guy to save my soul, I don’t want to settle for ‘kinda okay, but..’ type guys, I DEFINITELY don’t want to talk about marriage and kids, and our traitor sister totally drove the future plans I had into a wall. She and I were gonna build an empire with our blog, maybe get our own realty TV show and stuff. Now she doesn’t want do a blog anymore, too immature, she said. Just because Jensen suddenly felt behooved to propose out of the clear blue sky. I still wanna kick his ass for that crap! She never said ANYTHING about weddings before, neither did he! And now, THIS. It’s all bullshit, Gav. We’re better than that! Fuck relationships.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right. Hey, Fall, can you go get us some more booze? Dad already caught me trying to sneak some twice, he totally has me on his radar now, one more strike and he’s going full-on-Blaine on me, and that’s only if mom doesn’t find out, so let’s not. But this party blows, this day blows and I wanna have some fun too.”
“Yeah, sure, what are big sisters for, if not to get their lil bros drunk. Screw everything, Gav. I am with you, let’s have some fun too. Traitor Blythe gets hitched and ditches me to go play house, so we’ll get trashed, together. I’ll hook us up. Stay here.”