“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,― William W. Purkey
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
Independent Kingdom of Tartosa
The golden morning sun was already warm, as its tender rays tickled Nick awake.
Opening his eyes to the warmly illuminated room, he laid there, smiling, while his heart started racing. Today was the day. The BIG day.
Sitting up he peeked out at the bright, clear blue skies. Good weather was forecast all week, and he knew that would make Adrianna very happy. It felt odd to wake up without her next to him, but they decided to honor tradition, so she spent the night at her childhood home instead.
After today, she would be his wife. And he’d be a married man. At 24 years of age.
Their wedding day.
They had been together for so long, it hadn’t always been easy, but they made it. After today, nothing could separate them again, they would be married.
Husband and wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Cameron.
Nick felt an uneasy nervousness creeping up, so he went to take a shower, put on a simple tank top and athletic pants, no use getting dressed, since in only a few hours he would have to change again anyway – into his wedding suit – then went downstairs, where his parents, younger sister Aria-Grace, Rohan and his daughter Aryelle were already assembled. Still something that took Nick getting used to, thinking of his best friend Rohan as his little sister’s fiancé now, even though it had been almost 4 months since he proposed.
As he walked in and greeted everyone, he could tell by the way they all looked at him that today was not an ordinary day for them either.
“Good morning my beautiful baby boy! It’s your big day! You’re getting married today! YAY! Are you nervous?” his mom Vivien greeted him with a peck on the cheek.
“Yeah, very. And you’re not helping, mom.”
“Oh, baby! You’ll do just fine. Sit down, let’s have breakfast. Almost done with it.” Vivien smooched around on him some more, while Nick’s 19-year-old sister Aria-Grace giggled, coming back from the coffeemaker holding two mugs, handing one to Nick.
“You are SO cute, Nicky. The big bad lawyer, shaking in his boots.”
“Yeah, I’ll remember that for YOUR wedding.” he told his little sister, while taking a sip of the coffee she had brought him.
“I said it’s cute! I mean, what’s there to be afraid of? You already have basically been unofficially married to her for almost a decade, or at the very least some years since you have been living together. No biggie. And if her dad gives you grief, mom will take him out, won’t ya mommy?”
“You better believe THAT!” Vivien agreed.
“I believe it. I already have drafted a statement and settlement, just in case we end up needing it.” Nick and AG’s dad Liam joked chuckling, also a lawyer, and Nick’s inspiration to wanting to become one as well.
“Oh dad. Got any jokes for me too? Just get it all over with at once.”
“Oh no. Son, I did what you’re about to do twice, even though both times to the same girl. No jokes here. I know how it feels. But you got this, kid.”
Nick sat down next to 25-year-old Rohan, who had been quietly sitting there with his morning coffee as usual, just finished feeding his one-year-old daughter Aryelle, when AG appeared at the table, across from Nick.
“Hey, you’re in my seat!” she told her brother impatiently.
“Tough tiddies. Pick another one.” he retorted, utterly unimpressed by her demand.
“MOM!” Aria-Grace exclaimed, generating a sigh from Vivien.
“AG – it’s your brother’s big day. Just sit elsewhere. Like across from Rohan instead of next to him, that way you can actually look at your sweet and handsome fiancé.” Vivien tried to mediate.
“I don’t want to look at him, I want to be able to touch him!” Aria-Grace argued.
“No fondling at the breakfast table anyway, Missy!” Liam chimed in.
“I wasn’t gonna fondle anyone, dad! No fair! Nick can ALWAYS sit next to Rohan all the time! I can’t!” she whined, referring to the fact that she now was having a long-distance relationship just like her brother did before.
“No, Nick can’t, cos Nick has to work, and so does Rohan. A lot actually!” Nick retorted.
With an exasperated huff of frustrating and pouting, AG left the room, probably to sit in one of her favorite spots, a table and chairs located on a raised terrace overlooking the rolling hills from the patio of the large rental home the family has been coming to for years.
“I didn’t mean to upset her. Normally she has a sense of humor …” Nick frowned.
“You didn’t. You know our AG, the little drama-queen. Plus, I think she is more nervous than you.” Vivien told her son.
“Why? She wanted to be a bridesmaid. All she has to do is walk down an aisle with Rohan while holding a bouquet and then stand there for the ceremony. I have to actually talk, and everyone will be looking at me.”
“Ignore everyone looking, son. Imagine it’s a courtroom. You have the better arguments today; you will definitely win this case.” Liam told him encouragingly.
“Your sister idolizes you, Nick. Never noticed that? This is a big deal for her. Her godlike big brother getting married is huge to her. To all of us, actually.” Vivien explained from the stove.
Nick looked at his mom in awe, then his nodding dad, then at Rohan, who also started nodding.
“Definitely gonna go talk to her now!” Nick got up and left.
“I think I am just gonna serve breakfast outside.” Vivien decided.
Just some hours later they all were dressed and ready, already in the beautiful wedding location at the small Adriatic town of Tartosa. The climate was mild, the sun shone readily, and it wasn’t as overrun by tourists as some of the larger towns, while the famous Venice and Florence were only a few hours car ride away. Perfect for a honeymoon, even though theirs would take Nick and Addy to other cities first, and they would end their honeymoon back where it started in a few weeks. A small version of a world trip to ring in the new chapter in their lives in style.
“You okay kid?” Liam wondered, adjusting his son’s tie for the fifth time, while he was waiting with them to be called to go down the aisle. He wasn’t part of the already large wedding party, but stayed with Nick out of solidarity, and because his father Jamie was there, since he would officiate.
“Sure dad.” Nick said with a slightly shaky voice belying his words, while his grandpa Jamie pat him on the shoulder, encouragingly. Adrianna’s older brother Vittorio left to go find the wedding planner to see how much longer it would be.
And then it happened fast.
Vittorio came back within moments of leaving, they went down towards the aisle, the wedding planner began lining them up with their coupled partners, as each of the bridesmaids was to walk down the aisle to their positions at the arm of one of the groomsmen, followed by the groom, then the officiant, in perfect order and with practiced steps. Since there were too many kids by Adrianna’s many siblings and not enough room to have them all as flower girls and ring bearers, they had forgone that part to avoid potential discord with the family.
Best man Rohan’s daughter Aryelle had started walking, but not enough to make it down the aisle by herself yet. She was better off in her mother’s lap for now, since daddy was busy being his best friend’s man of honor.
Once everyone was in position, the last guests seated, it got quiet for a moment when the bridal march started being played by none other than Maeve Cameron, the groom’s great-grandmother and formerly one half of the world-famous music duo Rett & Reed, before they lost Rett some months ago.
She played beautifully, and the perfection was only topped by the beautiful bride who now appeared at the arm of her father Ezio, as they began to make their way down the aisle.
Nick felt as if he was going to have a heart attack, a glance over at his best man and best friend Rohan calmed him. Nicholas was overwhelmed with emotions, fighting hard not to cry like a baby seeing the girl he’s loved for so long come to him to become his wife.
Somehow, smiling through emotional tears of joy, Nick managed to keep it together, as he watched them make their way, it felt as if it was taking an eternity.
Even through the veil covering her face, he could see her smiling so big, it could light a whole city, so bright.
Finally, Adrianna was close to him, still smiling at him through the veil, before turning to her father to lift it, he kissed her, then gave her hand to Nick.
“Take extra-good care of this one, son. She’s always been special.” he whispered in Nick’s ear during their brief hug.
“I know.” he pressed out, all he could say without breaking into tears. But seeing her smile, those brilliant blue eyes, made him forget about it and smile in awe. God, she was beautiful!
Squeezing each other’s hands encouragingly, Nick and Addy smiled at each other, now facing one another, Nick winked, making her smile bigger, before the officiant, none other than Nick’s grandfather Jamie, began the ceremony.
“Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today …” the usual spiel began, Nick felt the ground move beneath his feet and just prayed he wasn’t going to faint.
But he didn’t. They spoke their vows, just as rehearsed.
Then finally the relieving words came “… and I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride, kiddo.” Jamie said.
“Git ya some!” sounded from the audience, in an unmistakable voice. Blaine, inciting laughter and cheers in typical Blaine-manner.
They kissed and the cheers crescendo’ed to volume levels as loud as it had gotten during some concerts of Nick’s mother with cheers and standing ovations by the audience.
When the kiss ended, they turned to face the guests, while Jamie introduced them as the new Mr. and Mrs. Cameron for the first time.
The rest was but a blur to Nick and Addy.
There was the cake cutting.
The bouquet toss followed. All the unmarried young women were lined up, even Esmée, although she was very reluctant, especially with her boyfriend Michael on the sidelines laughing himself into a near coma. Fallon wasn’t too keen on catching it either, but Aria-Grace and Bianca were.
But instead, Nick’s cousin Ewan’s girlfriend Ashley caught it. She was genuinely shocked, yet, didn’t want to put the bouquet down again afterwards, amusing Ewan’s stepdad Jay a lot, who later told his son to better start looking for rings.
The dinner followed. The buffet was overrun and there was not one empty seat left in the big dinner hall. All the Vampire guests had taken their serum allowing them to eat and they plowed through the food just like the mortal guests, with the advantage that unlike the mortals, Vampires couldn’t gain weight.
Connell had informed those of his kind in attendance ahead of time about Michael’s big secret and the truce with him, even though Blaine and his family couldn’t care less about Werewolves. They weren’t the type to engage in species fights, as VIP celebrities they usually had other battles to deal with, in the mortal world, including with the ever-present paparazzi, reporters, fans and idle gossip, which could easily snowball out of proportion.
Michael always had a near insatiable hunger, the offered food was excellent, since naturally only the best was good enough for an Auditore. Ezio had seen to the quality of the offered delectables himself. Esmée had to tell Michael she wasn’t gonna date a tubby wolf in order to finally curb his extreme enthusiasm for the culinary delicacies, when people started to stare at them after his umpteenth trip for refills.
Then the first dance as a couple, until Addy was stolen away from Nick, first by her older brother Vittorio, then by her father who refused to give her up for now the second dance in a row. “You got her for the rest of your life, son, let me have her for a little while longer tonight.”
Liam was dancing with Vivien as if they were all alone, both seemed to have forgotten that there even were other people present at all, which made Nick happy. Who would have guessed his father having a heart attack and nearly dying turned out to be a good thing, since that evidently was what somehow fixed whatever had been wrong between them for decades? There were no more fights, only ever bickering as any couple would.
Aria-Grace was dancing with Rohan, clinging on to him, obviously emotional, which overwhelmed poor Rohan visibly.
Maeve had no partner to dance with anymore, so Nick gallantly asked her to dance which clearly made her night.
Now, to the tunes of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”, Nick was moving about the dancefloor with his great-grandmother. Unexpectedly light-footed, she didn’t look, act or move like a woman who technically, on paper, would be well into her 90s, she still had her fiery temper, even though the time being a Vampire for many years before taking the cure had confused everything and everyone, including nature itself, which had been the same case with Everett, strong and healthy as a bull until the day he just fell over and died without any warning. Rett was five years older than Maeve.
“I miss dancing with your great-grandpa, Nick. You are a good dancer, and so handsome, just like he was. Oh, my Rett could move on and off that dancefloor, which was so sexy and romantic. It’s one of the most memorable things you can give a girl. The little moments, Nick. Those unforgettable tiny things only you and she know, those truly are the treasures through time. I think coincidentally this was the very last song Everett and I ever danced to. Oh, Rett and I danced so much, all our lives, even without music. I broke heels of my shoes before, that’s how much we danced. What I would give for one more dance with him …” she told him, before hiding her face – and the tears.
This broke Nick’s heart. The other side of true love. Like all good things, it eventually ends. And when it does and leaves one behind, the pain had to be immense. Nick knew well what missing someone felt like, but for him it had always been temporary. He danced with his great-grandmother until she wanted to sit down and just watch him dance with his new wife instead.
The party was still in full swing, no signs of slowing down, mostly, cos everyone present was on a vacation to be here anyway, but Nick finally left with Adrianna to enjoy their wedding night.
Once in their room at a hotel by the airport, from where the newlyweds would leave in the early morning hours to embark on their honeymoon the next day, he smiled at her.
“Are you happy?”
“Over the moon. You?” Adrianna replied, smiling back at him.
“Crazy happy. We did it. We finally did it, Mrs. Cameron.”
“Was definitely a long road, sometimes pretty rocky. I know I am supposed to be a lady, and Papa would have a heart attack if he heard me now, but … enough talking. We both need to be out of these clothes and on that bed – naked – pronto! That alarm goes off in five hours and we have some husband-and-wife stuff to do now! As a matter of fact, I insist we do that now!”
“Spoken like a true Cameron! Come here you! Let’s get your beautiful body peeled out of all those layers; cos I need to feel all of you all over me – skin on skin. Last night without you was torture!”
Laughing they both made it so.
The next morning back at the rental home, Liam and Vivien arrived in the empty kitchen together, yawning and sluggish. Even after the bridal couple had left last night, the party continued into the early morning hours until the waitstaff got cranky about wanting to go home. Needless to mention, the next morning started slow for all attendees, everyone feeling the aftermaths of too much good food, too much laughing and dancing and naturally, also too much of the open bar.
Liam made a beeline for the coffeemaker, while Vivien started pulling out things for breakfast.
“Our little boy is married, Liam. How did that happen? Where did time go? Only yesterday he was begging us to take him to Myshuno Meadows to play in the sand and go swinging. Today he is a married college-educated lawyer with his own practice, living miles away from us and on his way to his honeymoon as we speak. And our little baby girl is engaged. Oh man, who hit the fast forward button on this? If I find them, I will kill them.”
“Tell me about it. Nick texting me from the airport to say they were aboard the plane was what woke me up. I had to re-read it twice to believe it. Honeymoon. Our little Nick. How can our little 8-year-old smartass be off on a honeymoon, makes no sense? Then I remembered he is no longer that 8-year-old boy, too smart of his own good, or ours, and THEN it gets worse when I realize, neither is his sister! My dad used to warn me that seeing a daughter grow up is always harder on a father than with a son. I realize, dad wasn’t kidding. I literally dread AG’s wedding day. Fear it. I need coffee and Aspirin. Loads of both!” Liam sighed.
“Well, kids growing up and flying the coop is no picnic for the mother either. At least AG seems in no hurry to get married, so there’s that. Let’s have breakfast for the semblance of normalcy, Liam, before we both end up curled up in balls sucking our thumbs in some corner. You go get AG, Rohan, Aryelle and Maeve; I’ll make the food.”
Vivien’s grandmother Maeve had stayed overnight in the room vacated by Nick, next to the room AG, Rohan and Aryelle’s shared, since she didn’t want to be ported back to Del Sol Valley with Blaine, Scarlett, Fallon and Gavin yet, but much like her granddaughter Vivien wasn’t a fan of Adrianna’s father Ezio and had declined his guest room offer.
“Viv, baby, I love you more than words can say, but I will make breakfast. I know you are trying but … Maeve isn’t as nice about your burnt toast and rubbery scrambled eggs as the rest of us are. You get your grandma, I’ll play personal chef for you girls and Rohan. Ask her if she wants eggs or pancakes with her figure-friendly fruit salad. Easier to hide her pills in those, like we do with the cat and the dog, since she keeps being so complicated about taking them. Blaine and Scarlett both pounded into our heads how important it is that she takes them by any means necessary.” Liam chuckled, while Vivien smiled and swatted at him.
“Oh you! I’ll tell you what my grandma Maeve always said to grandpa Rett up until the day he died: You are lucky you’re cute! And I will do you the favor of not telling her that you are scheming to sneak her the pills with breakfast like with a dog, she would punch you into next month for even thinking that.”
Giggling she left the kitchen, leaving a chuckling and whistling Liam to start breakfast.
He literally dropped the frying pan when he heard a piercing scream, before he ran up the stairs, joined by Rohan coming out of his and AG’s room, and Aria-Grace coming out of the bathroom, all of them staring at an obviously frightened and traumatized Vivien backing out of Maeve’s room.
“Granma? Grammy?” she kept repeating, sounding more like a little kid than a fifty-year-old woman.
Rohan regained his composure first, pushed past everyone and rushed into Maeve’s room, where she lay in the bed as if sleeping, except her skin looked waxy and her lips too bluish, Rohan performed some checks with the routine of someone who – as a doctor – knew exactly what he was doing, he shook his head, turned around to everyone standing in the doorway, and said quietly
“She went to go dance with Rett again. I am so sorry guys.”
In loving memory of Maeve Cameron (nee Reed). A long life lived to the fullest, onstage and off, unapologetic, full of fiery passion for those she loved and for her music, leaving a legacy like none other.
In case you do not know the song mentioned … have a listen. It’s worth it.: Unforgettable