Chapter 407) Benevolence

Windenburg Isle
Esmée's home

The repetitive motion of the paint roller slushing across the wall had a hypnotizing effect on Esmée, back and forth, back and forth, just like the flashbacks of pieces of memories in her head.

Memories of herself and her triplet siblings Ewan and Emmy around 8 years of age, running across the fields, mommy and daddy chasing them, while the younger twin toddler siblings Silas and Sophie squealed for joy. Then there were memories of Jay teaching the triplets how to fish. God, that had been so much fun. Each triplet had a very different personality and getting through to each in the right way was a tightrope walk for the parents.

Every single memory of her childhood was full of kids, her siblings, cousins and friends, full of love, joy and happiness. Even Ezzy started wondering why she disliked children so much. She herself had the best childhood imaginable, she often wished herself back to those carefree days, she genuinely loved her siblings and her parents. Even her nieces and nephews, at least in small doses.

Her sisters all had embraced the entire experience of becoming and being mothers, all that had completely eluded Ezzy during her own pregnancy, which to her had been nothing but a nuisance from the first moment to the last, and it had been scary above all. She remembered her mom Abigail there with her when she went into labor with Aryelle, never leaving her side during all the antagonizing hours.

The baby’s father, Rohan, had been her attending physician, she remembered him being so patient with her, so sweet, despite of her calling him everything terrible under the sun for causing her having to go through all this. She remembered seeing two sides of him, Rohan, the caring and emotional new first-time father and Rohan, the level-minded, absolutely calm doctor who delivered the baby.
When he placed a newborn Aryelle in Ezzy’s arms, she wanted to hate the baby as the unwelcome interruption to her 5-year-plan that she had been but even she couldn’t help being swept away. She loved the baby, just didn’t want her.

Her feelings of affection for Aryelle, a name chosen by her father, as Ezzy just wanted no part of it, were nothing compared to the look on Rohan’s face. A blind man could see how much he loved his daughter from the first moment on. Unlike Ezzy, Rohan had no problems showing it, he had so much patience with Aryelle and somehow managed to work his way up in a strenuous medical career while being always there for their daughter. Obviously, he had a lot of help from his best friend, Ezzy’s cousin Nick and his wife Adrianna, but Ezzy had her entire big family helping and still couldn’t manage like Rohan had.
It frustrated her, made her feel incapable and insignificant. Ezzy felt like she was struggling to make the best of this crappy situation, while Rohan looked like he won the lottery.

Rohan never once complained about the unplanned pregnancy, not from the moment Esmée had first told him until the moment the child was born and he took her home to provide for her full-time as a single dad, he just switched around his entire life to accommodate the baby, treating her like a new world wonder. Even when he came out as gay, he had a lot to deal with then, breaking off an engagement to a woman he said he’d always love, just in a very different and special way. Despite of this trying time, his focus never shifted off Aryelle.
Everything else just came secondary to him. He always looked tired, but happy.
Once again, all that made Esmée feel like it wasn’t even worth her effort to even try to come close, for she so obviously couldn’t be like that.
Having the baby during visits made her tired too, but not happy. Only cranky.

So, feeling like a failure, Esmée withdrew. From the baby and from being a mother.
It was easy until she was confronted with seeing Aryelle, who would always be at the family events at Esmée’s parents’ home, unavoidable. Rohan was always invited and later, when he found love again, his boyfriend, who’d eventually become his husband, as well.

Despite having grown up in a large, very close-knit family who to this day got together often, at the very least once a week on Sunday for dinner, a solid maternal instinct just wasn’t something Ezzy was blessed with. Thinking like a mom just didn’t come easy to her at all, every action as a mother to Aryelle had to be deliberately planned, often copied from her own mom or siblings after seeing them do it. Combined with a rather short fuse for interruptions to her schedule, Ezzy dreaded her daughter’s visits. It felt like acting to her the entire time, not a moment of relaxation, always on edge.

While her sisters – and brothers – had always dreamed of marriage and parenthood, Esmée had always wanted a career, more specifically, she had always wanted to inherit their grandfather’s company. So, to prove she was worthy, she engulfed in working hard for her success, long hours, 80-hour weeks were standard for her, fighting all the inhibitions the world still had about female CEOs, especially young ones, so family had to come second to her, and whenever Aryelle came for visits, Ezzy had felt guilty for feeling like her daughter was a stranger to her.
After each visit followed a cancellation of the next scheduled one, until Ezzy’s guilt for not being there outweighed her guilt for not being good at being a mother. Or after being confronted with how easy Rohan made being a parent look.

The slushing of the paint in the bucket when next to her Michael dipped in his roller worked like a switch fast forwarding Ezzy’s flashbacks to more current times. One life-altering one only a few weeks ago now. She dipped her own roller into the soft pink paint and went back to work while the next batch of memories rolled by just like her roller across the wall.

This memory was just a few weeks old, actually.
Esmée’s boyfriend Michael ended up with his son in need of a home again, unlike the last time this time there was no way to run from the problem.
Last time Blaine and Scarlett had taken in Michael’s son Nathan, to save him from being killed by other Werewolves as he still had claim to their leadership. Once the cure had been applied and the curse of the Lycan had been lifted from the child just as it had been lifted from his father months prior, Caleb had his diplomats inform the wolves of the new situation. They confirmed that now Nathan was no longer a threat and therefore uninteresting to them. Ezzy was glad and thought no more of it.

Until Blaine showed up at their doorstep unannounced, asking when they would now finally take the boy since he no longer was in danger. When confronted with Ezzy’s shocked and surprised face, followed by more excuses on why the boy would be much better off with him and Scarlett in Del Sol Valley, Blaine burst into one of his typical rants. Loud and obnoxious it was clear he was fed-up.

“That’s like trying to wipe your ass without toilet paper – all you end up doing is transferring the problem, but it’s still a problem – an even bigger one than you had before, cos now you got shit all over your paws and your day just got so much worse.” he had ranted in her living room.

Michael and she had grimaced at his analogy, even though all were pretty much callused over by Blaine-isms and his occasional toe-curling crude remarks. Michael certainly had feelings about the situation but said nothing. He wasn’t in the position to, as he fully depended on Esmée’s mercy himself. An uncomfortable spot for the former leader of a very dangerous group of Werewolves. Esmée remembered her words to Blaine, trying to save the situation by arguing with logic.

“Blaine I am sorry, but I just don’t have room for another person! Look around! Michael can’t find a job, he tried, I tried to help him, but with a decade long inexplicable gap in his employment history, nobody will take him. And we can’t be honest about the gap and tell people ‘Oh that? He was a Werewolf, took many years till he was mostly under control enough to even be around mortals without shredding them, but after almost being shredded himself, we mixed some nasty looking drink following a recipe a Vampire gave us, and now he’s all normal again, thanks for asking!’ So, he is stuck with me, he helps me out with repairs and all that, and while Cameron Enterprises is going well, I just can’t afford to buy a bigger property. At least not in Windenburg, you KNOW real estate is super-rare and expensive here and no way am I moving and end up sitting in commuter traffic for hours each way every day.” Ezzy told him annoyed, using her best ‘DUH!’ tone of voice, hoping to subdue the impending issue. No such luck, unimpressed Blaine continued.

“Well, don’t I have JUST the solution for you then. Your tall, dark, handsome former butt-sniffing full moon afficionado Furry there told me he has built houses before, for a living, even the one he and his son used to live in. Guess what houses have? Walls. You know whatcha get when ya put 4 of them things together? If you guessed ‘room’ you gave yourself the answer! Slap a door on that thing and you got a place to stick his kid that is not MY house.”

“Uncle Blaine, you know I don’t do kids! I suck at being a mom! You guys are so much better at it! It’s much better for Nathan to stay with you.”

“You don’t ‘do’ kids and suck at being a mom? Oh, now THAT’s extra-rich! Shoulda considered that before doing a dude WITH a kid then and sucking around on him! Ya know how Letty and I got so good at parenting? By actually DOING it, by being parents, rather than pawning off our kids to someone else! There’s a new idea for ya, Ez! I’ve never been a fan of you dumping your own daughter on her father full time, lucky for you is that none of my beeswax, but Michael’s boy is very much my beeswax, because I ended up with him so now I got a say. His son has nowhere else to go. You can’t dump him on his mother, she’s got a whole different set of shit to deal with. She’s been a good mom to him thus far, from the sounds of it, so them being separated is hard on both. Nathan understands a lot more of this shitshow than you both may think, he knows his mom ended up in a position where she couldn’t help him, I can’t solve her issues, but I can help the boy. So, with that in mind, making that kid live so far away when his father is alive and well is just fifty shades of fucked up in my book and I won’t stand for it. That translates to: You guys have ONE WEEK to present me with a plan and then the shortest reasonable amount of time afterwards to put that plan into place, because Nathan is coming home to daddy! Boy needs his father, you’ll have to do as a stepmother. And get your own daughter into that mix already! Kids grow up so fast, if you don’t get in on it now Ezzy, you will miss it all and regret it later. Aryelle is such a bright little girl, you really should gitcha some and revel in her brilliance. I have known you and your siblings since birth, I KNOW you have a good heart, and I KNOW you can learn how to be a mother, seeing how you already have a kid and no choice anymore. So, get your shit together and put some effort to being a mom to your kid and his – or I WILL spank yo ass! Don’t think I am just blowing hot air out of my face cos my ass is busy. I am damn serious!”

Blaine disappeared in a black cloud, and after her usual outburst Ezzy realized she was stuck. Uh oh.

She knew she had exactly two options: avoid the kid, but lose Michael, or bite the bullet and learn how to be a mom to his son and her own daughter. After many months without Michael when they were broken up, Ezzy already knew what that felt like and that it wasn’t a feeling she wanted again. Left one single choice.

Fast forward past her mother Abby and sister Emmy – both Interior Designers by trade – dreaming up designs, which were put into action by Michael with Jay’s help and often Ezzy’s brothers Ewan and Silas and brother-in-law Connell, and two small rooms were added upstairs without disturbing the beautiful, charming curb-appeal of her little home on the Windenburg isle.

Then came the dreaded moment when they brought the Aryelle to see her new room.

Since nobody was sure how it would go, the decision had been made by all involved adults to introduce the kids to the new situation separately first, even though Aryelle and Nathan obviously already knew each other. Baby steps, just in case.

Nobody had any idea how the girl would take it. Everyone knew that Aryelle was a sharp child and had picked up on her mother’s inhibitions and reservations towards her long ago, while she rarely mentioned it, it was clear it hurt her. Fearing complete resentment now, Esmée’s heart literally stopped when she swung the door open and the child entered, wide-eyed and full of wonder, then turned to Ezzy and Michael, Rohan was there too, just in case things went South.

“A room? For me? Like … an actual room at mom’s house. For me. Just for me? And I can come more often? Really?” Aryelle looked back and forth between her parents and Michael, when Rohan nodded, so Aryelle stared at her mom, waiting for visual confirmation.

Ezzy nodded and Aryelle squealed and ran into her arms, squeezing Ezzy so hard it took her breath away.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! So you DO love me and you DO want me to come! I love it! Love, love, love it! Daddy, can I bring Mr. Snuggles here!?” Aryelle chirped excitedly. Ezzy heart melted, leaving her to fight her emotions. Smiling, Rohan told their daughter,

“Of course, princess. It’s her favorite teddy.” Rohan directed the last part at Ezzy, making her secretly vow to herself that one day, she would not have to be told those things anymore.

“Daddy, can I call Uncle Nick and Aunt Addy? I have to tell them about this! They will freak out!” Aryelle was all excited, Rohan nodded, and she ran downstairs. Ezzy bit back the pang in her heart about the fact that her cousin and his wife played an almost bigger role in her daughter’s life than she did as the mother caused. Ouch. And self-inflicted. Double-ouch. One day, maybe she would be on the list of people to call as soon as something amazing happened to her. So far, she was usually the last to find out anything about Aryelle. Ouch again.

Michael’s experience introducing Nathan to his new room had been similarly emotional.
Nathan was the more reserved type, although his time at Blaine’s had melted some of the high walls the terrible experiences the boy had to endure had caused him to put up.
When they brought him in to see his room he walked in quietly, looking around for a few moments then turned to his dad, burying his face in Michael’s midsection until he picked the boy up. Nathan swallowed and asked.

“You mean it? I can actually stay here? I can stay with my dad? Do I have to call you mom?” he asked Ezzy. Since his previous experiences with stepparents hadn’t been great, Nathan was understandably reserved with his dad’s not very child-crazy girlfriend.

“Yes, you can stay, and no, you don’t have to call me mom, I actually prefer you calling me Esmée or Ezzy.” she told him softly.

“Dad? Really?” he needed more confirmation.

“Yes. It’s yours. Permanently. I can help you decorate it as you like. Ezzy can help too, since girls are so much better at this. Could be fun, right?” Michael told him.

“Thank you.” the child said, his voice full of hope and relief, squeezing Ezzy’s heart like a giant fist. Oh boy, how could she have denied the boy to be with his dad for so long. Yikes.

“Daaaad ..” the way the boy said that one word now, filled with bottled-up emotions, as he turned in his father’s arms for a teary hug, which turned into sobbing. Michael tried hard to not get emotional but lost that fight. Ezzy felt as if having been forced into this decision had been a lifesaver tossed her way too, in a way.

Something else surfaced for Ezzy in that very moment. Ever since she had been a newborn she had the closest bond with her dad Jay, who wasn’t really her biological father. He had always been her prince, the first man she ever loved, her daddy, the ultimate model of a man to her, regardless. It wasn’t until she was in her late teens that she realized what a Herculean task Jay had assumed, raising three kids from birth onwards, who weren’t even his. When he started helping, being there, Ezzy’s mom Abigail was still pregnant with her and her siblings and she and Jay weren’t even romantic then. That came much later, when Ezzy and her siblings were already older.

Her daddy, Jay, had always been the perfect man in Ezzy’s book. The type of guy every man should aspire to, if you asked her. Despite feeling like Jay had been an angel in disguise to her mom, and to her and her siblings, admiring him for his dedication and for being there when he didn’t have to be, Ezzy now realized that here she had been squandering her own chance of being just like him, by helping the man she loved, Michael, raise his son, giving them both a home. A little boy who had to feel unwanted, like a burden, to both parents. In retrospect, it felt cruel to have rejected and resented him. And worst of all, she had been rejecting her own flesh and blood too. Poor Aryelle. Ezzy realized how wrong it had been to subconsciously blame the child for having been born, when it had only ever been her and Rohan’s fault. Blaine was right, Aryelle was such a sweet and bright girl, no thanks to her. But that had to change. She had to try and be part of this, just like Jay had been for her.

While it was clear to everyone that Esmée wouldn’t turn into super-mom overnight, or probably ever, the whole family was thrilled to see her change of heart and the honest effort she made towards combining family life with her career-woman-ways.

Over the next weeks, Aryelle visited frequently now, Ezzy couldn’t believe her own eyes when one Sunday morning she put some more freshly baked muffins out, next to the fresh croissants, the kids and Michael already chomping down as if famished, the three of them sitting together in perfect unison like a father and his two kids, exchanging silly jokes about a cartoon they had been watching.

Ezzy turned away from the scene before her, hiding her shocked face.

“Holy crap, I have a real family of my own now. And I am cooking and baking for them like a Susie Homemaker! How in the world did I end up being my mom and sisters?! And why the hell am I smiling about that crap?! I need a doctor. No, committed, that’s what I need to be. Blaine Cameron, you devil!” Ezzy mumbled her revelation to herself.

Sure, there were trying times with a rambunctious stepchild who was still adjusting to a new home and a new school, who had always been very casual about school, stubborn and mischievous, who had to be told to clean his room nearly at gunpoint, and then there was neat and tidy Aryelle, who went to an elite school for the gifted in San Myshuno, raised to mind her manners, a bookworm, always hungry for more knowledge.
The children got along fine for the most part, but naturally would clash and bicker occasionally.
Ezzy had started working from home more now to be present, especially when Aryelle was visiting, but the constant interruptions due to the increased noise level of having one, sometimes two kids in the home, was trying her.
When she was about to give up again, none other than her role model Jay told her that those trying moments, along with the scenic, heartwarming ones, were what fused a family with an unbreakable bond.

So, Ezzy keeps trying …

Categories Cameron LineageTags ,

3 thoughts on “Chapter 407) Benevolence

  1. Oh my heart! ❤️. Thank you Blaine was right! He came in and told her in his no nonsense Blaine way to shape the eff up and take responsibility for what was hers and Nathan was hers too because Michael was hers. I’m glad she had Jay as such a caring father as a role model to look up to and her through the harder times that always happen with kids. I figured both kids would be happy. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️❣️❣️❣️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I swear I replied to this two days ago. Oh well.
      Blaine certainly has a way of getting across to even the most stubborn of people. 🙂
      Jay and she really always had the strongest bond, he is her idol in so many ways, only logical and natural that she would try to emulate him now too. Let’s hope for sweet Aryelle and poor Nathan, both definitely deserve good and happy homes, their situation is complicated enough.
      Michael sure is happy, even though his inability to find employment after such a long stint of inexplicable disappearance from the system while he was too dangerous to be around regular people just doesn’t help. So, he went from being the leader of wolves to being someone fully dependent on someone.
      But at least now he has his son and the boy won’t have to go through what he had to.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A ray of sunshine for Michael. Hopefully his carpenter skills will help him find something.

        Liked by 1 person

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