Chapter 435) Best Man Wins

“Feed your friends, and their mouths will be too full to gossip.
Feed your enemies, and they’ll become your friends.”

— Susan Wiggs
Connell & Emmy's home with their three kids Jaymie, Fiona and Damon plus family dog 'Banshee'

The door was opened, and Michael couldn’t help but chuckle at the view presented to him, of Connell in his sleepwear.

“Damn, that’s a whole lot more than I ever needed to see of you. You can blind a person with how white you are, for heaven’s sake! Did I disturb some sexy time with Emmy?”

“No. It’s late. Normal people don’t call on others at this hour. I don’t know how you sleep, but those of us who do not curl up on a doggie bed usually choose to wear something comfortable, yet covered if you have children. Speaking of, mine are sleeping, so is Emmy, keep it down. Come in already before anyone sees you here and thinks we fraternize.”

“We DO fraternize, remember, you sexy bitch, you? We. Are. Family. … well almost anyway.” Michael whisper-sang the last few words in the tune of the popular classic.

Connell just huffed and headed to the kitchen, leaving Michael to shut the door before following him, while Connell had already poured two cups of coffee.

“What’s this? You think I am a Cameron or something, drinking coffee at this late hour?” smirked Michael.

“We’re all Camerons at this point, one way or another. If you don’t want it, I’ll drink it. In case you forgot, I am a Vampire and do not require much sleep. My kind thrives at nighttime.”

“Argh, before you double fist that broth you create and call coffee and start bouncing off the walls, I’ll sacrifice myself.” Michael said and grabbed the cup closest to him.

“Why are you here, Michael?” Connell asked.

“To ask for a favor, kinda.” was Michael’s retort.

“Is that so? How many more favors do I have to do for you?” Connell wondered, mildly amused.

“Fine, then don’t. Have fun going bump in the night, Fang!” Michael demonstratively turned to leave but halted when Connell spoke

“Wait … my interest is piqued. What’s the favor?” the Vampire asked, and Michael turned back to him.

“You know Ezzy and I are getting married … soon … whenever … not sure when, but soon.”

“I do. Still can’t fully grasp it, but … what about it?” Connell told him.

“As you well know, neither Ezzy nor I are much for pompous big weddings, there will be no bridesmaids, no rented Victorian homes for some mega-reception, no huge affair whatsoever, but we did decide we wanna keep a few classic elements. Ezzy is going to ask Emmy to be her matron of honor, so I thought … ya know …” Michael said, hoping it would be enough.

It wasn’t. Not for Connell. A devilish smirk curled up Connell’s lips, which he hid by sipping more coffee before forcing a straight face.

“No, I don’t know.” Connell said.

“Sure you do! You are really gonna make me ask it?” Michael grumbled.

“You are gonna have to if you want an answer.” Connell tried hard not to grin.

“Stupid Q-Tip! Fine, would you be my Best Man? Please.” Michael asked annoyed.

Connell couldn’t keep it together anymore and just laughed, Michael watched him, annoyed and rolling his eyes.

“You done yet? No wonder nobody likes Vampires, you are all a bunch of arrogant pricks!”

“No, not yet, and we prefer being called confident, rather than arrogant. This day should be recorded in the history books. A Werewolf asking a Vampire to be his Best Man at his wedding to a mortal. Priceless! Maybe I can ask my half-sister Leeora to officiate, she’s a Spellcaster, and then we have all the occult in there. Ha – here’s a thought: ask the guests to dress up as their favorite fictional characters and you’ll definitely have a wedding nobody will ever forget, no matter how hard we try. BWAAHAHAHAHAH.” Connell was highly amused, snorting for laughter, while Michael was annoyed.

“Listen here, you clown, Jay will be officiating, I don’t know that Leeora and since she is related to you, I don’t want to know her either! An answer would be good right about now.” Michael grumbled.

“Lucky you for not knowing Leeora. You think my dad’s bad, she is him plus magic spells. The serious stuff, like raising the dead and killing people. I have a serious question. Why me of all people?” Connell said.

“Kinda low on options, as you know. You’re the best my limited selection had to offer. Scary thought.” Michael frowned.

“What about your Wolf friend. Luke was it?”

“Don’t act like you didn’t already research him. You KNOW who Luke is. And you also know my stance on him. He once was a friend, no matter how often he tries to explain and justify his betrayal it won’t change that it was still betrayal, so he and I are done. Besides, even if I wanted him there, which I do not, you won’t allow him in town. You’ll be at the wedding, there is no way to sneak him by you, so what’s the point of your question? I know I am no Einstein, but slightly smarter than your average dog turd still.”

“True, I do know who he is. I did before I found him at Ezzy’s home. Disconcerting to be honest. The Werewolf Apex of the inglorious Wildfang Pack here in town. Hmm. Didn’t leave me with warm and fuzzy feelings.”

“That used to be me, the Apex of that pack. You KNOW that.”

“Operative term ‘used to be’. Trust me, in the beginning, before you were cured, I kept close tabs on you. VERY close tabs. And even after. Your son too. But Luke Connery himself here, hmm, I don’t know … if there is even a small chance he may still want to be your friend, it’s a big risk. First, it’s you, then your son, now maybe Luke, I am sure Nathan’s mother would want to come here at some point, and so on … where there is one, there’s many, it seems. Allowing you was a tough choice for me, two was pushing it, but finding Luke at Ezzy’s home is way too much for me.”

“No, it is not, Connell. I was dead-serious when I told Luke that the chapter including him and Nicolette in my life was closed for me. He won’t come back since you made it crystal-clear to Luke that you are watching, he may be full of himself but knows he’d be committing suicide if he tried to pick a fight with you here in Windenburg, I have no intention of contacting him, nor to pursue any sort of relationship with him or Nicolette. I had a very enlightening conversation with my son about that. He actually feels the same. So, neither will be welcome at the wedding. He may know THAT I am getting married, but not when or where, because Ezzy and I haven’t decided that yet, so he couldn’t even crash the wedding if he wanted to.”

“Music to my ears. I deemed you trustworthy, and also Nathan, we have broken bread together many times now. But this won’t ever change my stance on Werewolves in general. You two are all I am willing to endure.”

“Nathan and I are no longer wolves. That whole thing is long history!”

“Michael, we both know that shedding a curse doesn’t erase the past, nor the learned behaviors, and even some instincts remain. It’s the same for cured Vampires. Those who live through the attempt, that is, which isn’t many. Something always remains. I can still tell you and Nathan were once wolves.”

“Well, what do you want me to say here, Connell? Pinkie-swear that Nate and I are over the whole Werewolf business? Carve ‘I hate Werewolves’ into my skin? They tried to kill us, two of their own, so no matter what Luke says the reasons were, no matter how he tries to justify what he and Nico have done, it was still too much, I almost died, my boy was in serious danger, that’s not something I can rub dirt on and walk off, so no love lost there. Aside from that, I don’t know what else to tell you.” Michael was frustrated.

“Nothing. It was a statement, not a question. My kind does not exactly look favorable on me being so close to not one, but two former wolves. Lucky for me, nobody but my father and grandfather could challenge my decision and they both trust my judgement.”

“So, you’re like Vampire royalty or something?”

“Something like that.”

“Then why live here? I mean this house is big, huge even with 6 bedrooms and all, especially for Windenburg prices, but if you are THAT special … just saying. Honest question for ya, ‘king’ Connell.”

“And a valid one. Technically we should be living in Forgotten Hollow, but even a proverbial king is nothing without his queen. My queen loves her hometown and I love my queen, so we live here. We were perfectly happy in our little home on the Windenburg Isle, but when this place came up for sale, I just couldn’t resist the batting of Emmy’s eyes. She and I have history here. In case you are not familiar with how Emmy and I met, it was actually in the very fields adjacent to this very home. Emmy was a tender 15 years old, her parents lived here temporarily at the time while the former Cameron Estates was undergoing serious remodeling, and I landed in the fields during a failed attempt to port home, still a young warrior in training then myself, I had misjudged an opponent, leaving me too weak after having been severely injured during a mission. Coming home from school much later than her siblings as she had been too distracted chasing butterflies, my little dreamer Emmy found me and was very persistent on helping me, no matter how much I tried to make her leave, but she actually figured out what I really was and how to help, quickly too. Saved my life, literally, for I had been poisoned. Without her, I would have grown weaker and lasted maybe a few more hours. Emmy is an angel, looks like an angel, and is very hard to forget. I didn’t manage it, so I came to visit her. The rest is history. Jay didn’t like me much for a long time, because of what I am. So I understand the hardships you and Nathan are facing of trying to fit into a new world, a new family, especially if you know well that you are never gonna be exactly like them.” Connell’s voice was soft while reminiscing.

“Yeah, true, I may be cured, but I am not like the rest. Well, I think Jay’s issue with you was more because of how old Emmy was. 15, dayum bruh! Way to cradle rob!”

“I am only a few mortal years older than her, I was 19 at the time, and I never touched her. Only a kiss here and there. Even though she offered, oh that girl didn’t make it easy on me. But I made a pact with my parents and hers to wait until she was 18. And we did. Barely. On her 18th birthday she just about dragged me into her room by my hair to become lovers in every sense of the term. But I had kept my word. And then I married her. And then she wanted kids. And I said yes to all. Never regretted a thing. Anything real is worth waiting for and worth making compromises for.” Connell spoke with a slight smile.

“Hm. Actually, kinda nice story. Who knew you Vamps are capable of all that. Not how the word on the street describes you.”

“I am aware of the general idea about us. Cold-hearted, emotionless, rogue bat-winged monsters of the night. Ironic, considering that Vampires, in essence, are nothing but mutated mortals, even though nobody ever could figure out how that exactly works, or where the mutation originated. Some say mortals are actually the mutation, since they are so much weaker and such, and that we were the originals. Since nobody managed to sort that out in millennia, I doubt anyone ever will.” Connell’s tone was somber now.

“Yeah. Same. Nobody REALLY knows why or how Werewolves exist, or how the mutation came about. Research is futile, who can tell what is fact and what is fiction? I heard anything from curses to dark magic, the most logical explanation to me personally is that a mutated virus from an actual wolf caused it, when a person was bitten the virus mutated and somehow did something it wasn’t supposed to. What we DO know is that the initial bite messes with your DNA, your body and your head and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Come a full moon, you WILL black out and in my case, which I learned is more the rule than the exception, you wake up with a raging headache, only to realize you are buck-naked with no idea where your clothes could be, which becomes a secondary problem when you also realize that you are covered in blood and don’t know why or whose, and then realize you really don’t want to know either. Your next problem then is upon realizing you are somewhere deep in the woods atop a mountain without a clue of how you got there nor how to get back to where you came from. Fun times. First you blow it off, try to bury it deep in your mind, until it dawns on you that this cycle becomes the bane of your existence, unstoppable, ruining your entire life casting you into the role of a loner, a hermit, until you finally learn to control the darkness, the primal urges, the severe cravings for raw flesh and the extreme desire to kill as soon as there is a fucking full moon. The height of all happiness then is when you stumble upon a band of other misfits and outcasts suffering the same bullshit and you try to make a new life together, feral as you now are, cos whatever and whomever may be left from your old life, usually not very much after all your rampages, is off limits forever. In most cases you already killed people who once were close to you, whom you loved, so let’s add a heaping serving of self-loathing to that mix. Absolute dream life.” Michael couldn’t believe he was hearing himself say words he had never told anyone before. Not even his own son.

“Interesting. Sounds like we have more in common yet, we are what we are – or in your case: were, but nobody really knows why we are what we are beyond the obvious. Why not ask Nathan to be your Best Man? He’s old enough, he definitely gets how you both differ, and he is of your own blood. Or ask one of Ezzy’s brothers.”

“Yeah, look my son is a good kid, but currently in some weird teen stage where he cannot focus nor follow directions, he would fuck the Best Man thing up so bad and piss off Ezzy. Asking her brothers is awkward, there are two, so which do I pick and what will the other think, you know. Plus, I am not really very close to either Ewan or Silas. Leaves the other men who are not directly related, you and Stryker. I like Stryker, generally, but I don’t know man. Just not sure if that guy is really all the way off the drugs or the booze. Knowing my luck, he’d pick my wedding day to fall off the wagon again, show up high as a kite and drunk AF, ruin the wedding or piss off Ezzy bad enough that she’d strangle him in front of everyone. Plus, he’s gone more than he is here anyway, touring. Just not worth it. And I grew up in an orphanage. There is no family on my side.”

“Aww, how special do I feel to be asked because nobody else was left.” Connell noted.

“No, that is not it, not even close. Look Connell, if you really need me to spell it out for you, here’s the God honest truth, like it or not – and to be clear, I don’t like this insight even a little bit, but it is what it is: you are the closest thing to a friend I have. One of the very few people outside the Werewolf community who know my truth, and one of an even smaller circle whom I trust. We are in the same boat, both not really 100% like the others, both with a past we have to partially hide, or we’d be literal monsters to those around us, both connected to the occult, as you pointed out, both of us still carry it within us, you fully, me partially. It will also shock you that my natural charm isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I am an overly confident sarcastic prick, I make enemies really easy, but friends not so much. I can’t control my big mouth, I look like The Incredible Hulk’s little brother, minus the green, so people generally don’t like me. I know you don’t like me much, but maybe you can do it for Ezzy. You like her.”

Connell’s face remained unmoved, all Vampires of a certain rank had mastered the poker face, his eyes never breaking connection with Michael’s.

Then he finally spoke.

“You are wrong, Michael.” he said, quiet and sincere.

“About what?”

“I do like you. That’s my problem. I know I am not supposed to, genetically programmed not to actually, but I do anyway, have from the first time we met. Like a strange, forbidden connection. That, to someone like me, is a serious problem. I don’t have to tell you who and what I am as far as my task within the Vampire community is concerned, what I do for my father and grandfather. A hunter by trade, not by choice, of rogues from my kind and anyone of yours who could even remotely pose a danger to my kind or those I love. I know you have killed Vampires before, just as I have killed Werewolves before. And Spellcasters, and mortals, and anyone who posed a threat or broke our laws. Yet, for the reasons you listed, and because I feel we have a lot more in common than we care to admit, I like you. To be even more truthful, like you, I do not have any friends unless we count Emmy and her family. Same reasons as you, I am an acquired taste, one that most never will acquire, I live in a world where I have to hide almost everything about me. My own kind fears me, and I generally don’t trust anyone I am not directly related to. So yes, I will be your Best Man. I am honored you chose me.” Connell’s tone reflected honesty as much as a sense of sadness about unchangeable facts.

Michael hid his immense surprise about Connell’s unexpected bout of honesty under a smirk and more teasing.

“You liiiiiiiiiike me ….”

“And here we go.” sighed Connell.

“Oh yeah! You like me, you wanna date me, kiss me and marry me ….” Michael laughed, while making kissing sounds and motions at Connell.

“I knew it was a mistake to be honest with you.”

“Nah, I am honored as fuck to hear you say all that, I just honestly have no clue how to react to it. I am not used to such touchy feely moments, my kind, my former kind, just isn’t like that at all and if you are, you are considered weak and won’t last very long. I hardly remember my mortal life before that, but I was a manual laborer, I did it all, all the rough and tough jobs, so you act rough and tough too if you don’t want to get singled out and bullied. You know Ezzy isn’t your typical girly type, she’s a tough broad and brutally honest. You are actually a really decent guy, I like you too, Q-Tip. Never thought I’d EVER say that to ANY Vampire, feels definitely weird. But how could I not like you? I am deeply indebted to you, after all you have done for me and my son. I could never forget all the ways you helped me out. Now I know why. I honestly always believed you were doing it because of Ezzy or because Emmy asked you to. Now it appears that you were actually helping ME. Wow. Definitely getting that warm and fuzzy feeling now …. “

“We’re not gonna hug. You come near me, and I will butcher you!” Connell warned.

“You only say that because you don’t know what you are missing. I am an excellent hugger. Literal bear hugs. Well, maybe wolf hugs. Is that a thing?”

“No, I say that because I mean it. I would never get that wolf stench you still exude off myself. Even though I can appreciate the humor in this situation. I feel like you and I are the beginning of a joke. A Vampire and a Werewolf walk into a bar… well, kitchen. Definitely feels like a joke, you in my kitchen after dark, asking me to be the best man for your wedding. I can’t wait for the punchline.”

“Well, you butt of every joke, here is the punchline for ya: Let me know when you are free to go tux-shopping. I never fit into anything anyway, I was pretty bulky before being bitten, and even now after the cure, the Werewolf hulk body frame remains, and nobody sells clothing to fit this, so I need someone there with me who can keep me from flipping my shit while helping me find something I can pull of at a wedding without looking like a clown. I may have been the scum of humanity and ran with the worst, but nothing scares me more than making Esmée mad. Her at top speed would scare the devil himself.” Michael grinned.

“Oh, I can do better than that. The stepsister I mentioned, Leeora, she is a former fashion model and now designs her own clothing, which she sells in her boutique at the Magnolia Promenade. If she has nothing you can squeeze into without looking as if someone tried to stuff a giant marshmallow into a thimble, she will MAKE you something that fits. And she has an excellent eye for finding the right style.” Connell told Michael.

“Look at you go, pimping the family business here. Do you get kickbacks?” snickered Michael.

“Hardly. Leeora and I aren’t each other’s fans, we tolerate each other for our father’s sake. But I can acknowledge real talent, and that she has.”

“We’re gonna be besties before too long, if we aren’t already. Ha, had anyone told me that a few years ago … big ole me and a goddamn albino-looking Fang being buddies. Fate really has a fucked-up sense of humor.” Michael laughed.

“Albinos have reddish eyes, you fool, mine are purple! How did we go from Best Man to best friends? That’s quite a confident stretch there! Nice try. You need to get out of my kitchen now, before I put you on a leash and tie you up outside with a sign ‘free to good home’.”

Michael finished his coffee, grinning, then pat Connell hard on the shoulder on his way out. At the door he turned around, winked and said

“Woof woof, bestie!”

“Run, or you will be playing fetch with your own body parts …. bestie.” Connell countered just before Michael pulled the door shut behind himself.

The charming and interesting story Connell tells about how he and Emmy met can be re-read in the following chapters:
Categories Cameron LineageTags ,

4 thoughts on “Chapter 435) Best Man Wins

  1. I always wondered if Connell didn’t have an affinity for Michael. Their banter was always just short of being mean. They are so much alike and get each other. And really Connell is right, no one but very close family don’t fear him. Same could be said for a Michael before he became human but he still looks scary. It took a lot for Michael to swallow his pride and ask Connell to be his Best Man, and of course Michael had to tease him once he admitted he actually liked him. Lol. But then he did sort of apologize in a round about way. 🥰😘😍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course they have to continue bickering. Despite the very deep and heartfelt moments where they told each other things about themselves they usually never share, can’t share, unless someone understands what being a supernatural being means.
      I think after being confronted with his old life after Luke’s visit, buried things and feelings surfaced and Michael was reminded of second chances and priorities. He’s right, he is very short on actual friends, and Connell just never had any. They are a match made in … well … not sure, but as different as they are, they have a lot in common.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great chapter! These two, if they stop bickering long enough, like now, can really be what the other needs. So glad Michael made that trip to ask such an important question. And very proud of Connell for stepping up and treating the moment with the appropriate respect. Well… it was good while it lasted before the jokes began, ha ha ha!
    Good going, Besties!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! And yes, these two are like an old couple … lol

      Liked by 2 people

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