“A rose for the most beautiful flower among them all.” he gallantly said.
“When it’s good between us, it’s great, but when it isn’t – it’s like the Armageddon.” he said.
“Just be quiet and kiss me, while I still can reach you over this gigantic baby bump!”
Dusk was on the horizon, Finn was doing his homework up in his room.
“All right, let’s compare lists. How many did you come up with?” Vivian plopped down next to Silas, much like her dad always did, causing him to moan in disapproval.
While he rarely commented on Vivian’s behavior, it was obvious to most people who every spent any amount of time with both that he was trying hard to be as modern-minded as he could, but Vivian’s sometimes androgynous and abrasive behavior was something he struggled with. He barely ever spoke about his past, but Vivian and her parents have been privy to some reminiscent moments with him, and his wife had been a delicate, very feminine and gentle, quiet woman, who enjoyed needlecrafts and writing letters to her friends and family, as well as collecting, arranging or pressing flowers. Her whole day was filled with just politely receiving guests, planning meals and shopping lists for the staff and going to dances to be invisible for the most part. Vivian cringed at the thought. If she was in the house, you would NOT be able to miss it. She had a presence that arrived 10 minutes before she did, as her father once put it.
Silas ran his finger about the lists, counting.
“10 finalists, total.”
“10?! That’s it? I have more than double that for each sex! Ok fine, let’s just start with the girl names: how about Josephine. Could go by Jo, or Josie …?”
“No. I do not like it. And I do not want a daughter named ‘Joe’.”“Ok, you go. Whatcha got?”
“Shelby.”“Ah, no. I went to school with a Shelby and she was not what I have to have living in my house. No. What about Elizabeth? Could go by Liz, Lizzy, Liza .. Beth..?”
“No. My previous mother-in-law was Elizabeth. No thanks. How about Taylor?”“Like the singer? Nah, and besides. nobody ever knows if it is a boy or a girl. What about Esmee?”
“That sounds like a disease. No. What about Savannah?”“Sounds dry and without any sense of humor .. no …. you’ll love this one: Clarissa!”
“Sounds like a musical instrument! What about Bella?”
“Bella Blackburne?! Ummm no!”
It went on and on, back and forth, the lists already long depleted. He suggested modern names, while she had tried to stay traditional. Eventually, Vivian ran into the office, slamming the door shut behind her, while Silas crumpled up the list and threw it hard into the wall, before sinking backwards into the couch with a sigh. This relationship would kill him for good one day, vampire or not. And a heavily pregnant and hormonal Vivian was not to be taken lightly.
“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaad!” Liam screamed at the top of his lungs. The door flew open and Blaine rushed inside, looking worried.
“What is it?” he asked, sounding as worried as he looked.
“It’s not working. The game, it keeps crashing at startup!” Liam explained, pointing at the TV and gaming console.
“You really just did all that for a game? You are not a little kid anymore, about to hit the evil 13, and that seemed like an appropriate action for this? You sounded like you were on fire!”
“Hell yeah! I have 10 minutes till the online battle starts. Can’t be late and still have to select my weapons!”
“If I did not know any better, I would swear you were swapped at birth. Fine, gimme that, I’ll fix it. But really kid. And what about Finn? You don’t let him play?”
“He doesn’t want to plus he is not part of my team, meaning he would need his own game.”
“That is not a valid excuse…”
“It’s okay grampa, I don’t want to play. That game sucks. Everything sucks.” Finn said from the couch.
“Here’s the game now. Knock yourself out, Liam, and I think I mean that literally, saves me from temptation. And what do you mean Finn? Did your goldfish die or something?”
“I don’t have a goldfish!”
“Exactly. So spill.”
“I hate my father! He is an asshole!”
“Finn Cameron! You are NOT allowed to use those kinda words!”
“Why not, you do.” Finn shrugged as Blaine moaned.
“I am many times your age kid, and this is my house, meaning I make the rules.”
“Only if mom isn’t here…” Liam interjected grinning, earning himself an evil stare by Blaine, who then grinned, like his son.
“Shut up, kid! Even though you may have a point you are cruisin’ for a bruisin’, bud. But your mom – and your grandma is NOT here, so you BOTH are at MY mercy.”
“He hates Lucca because he won’t sign something so Silas can adopt him. Now can you both take the tea-time elsewhere I need to focus, and I cannot hear the others over your drama.” Liam pointed at the gaming headphones.
“Well, excuse me Sir for being in my own living room that I bought and paid for!”
“Again, technically mom did.”
“I will spank you!”
“After the game, ok dad. Seriously, this is like super important! And now, bye – please!”
“He’s such a nerd, hey grampa, can I get a sandwich?”
“Yeah, let’s go to the kitchen, so I do not actually spank that kid of mine. I had a feeling this one would be even worse than … umm … other kids.”
“It’s ok, you can say my mom.” Finn was amused.
“No no, your mother was an angel. So should you be.”
They got settled in the kitchen, Blaine made Finn his sandwich. Normally, there would not be food in all-vampire households, unless maybe for potential pets or visitors. The Camerons had mortals over so often, there would always be some food to offer.
“So, what’s with that adoption stuff?” Blaine asked sincerely.
“What should be with it? I want to be a Blackbourne. It is so awkward in school. Silas comes to PTAs or events and people call him Mr. Cameron. Mom too. It’s just wrong .. and don’t get me started on the name, no, I know, nothing is wrong with it. Except for me. I want to be a Blackbourne too. Like my brother and sister will be. I am so jealous about that. And I want that dumbass father out of my life. He is an … really horrible person.”
“Wanna enlighten me?”
“Fine, I’ll tell you but you have to PROMISE not to tell or do anything bad, ok? All right fine. When I was there, they had so many rules, and then they always locked me in my room. There was not one single toy, no books, no TV. Then they would let me out and I was to function. If I did not, I got locked up again. One night, they did not lock me in, so I could use the bathroom if I had to, I snuck downstairs. They have like a gigantic party and play room in the basement, with like TV’s, game console, pool table, arcade machines, anything you can think of. So I went down there, but then my father, some of his friends and some girls came in. I hid behind some furniture. And they did stuff to those girls. I could not get out anymore without them seeing me, so I saw it all. The girls screamed and begged … and they were doing stuff to them .. all of the men. And it wasn’t the only time, just the only one where I saw – everything. They are so bad. But then, in the middle of it all, my grandfather came down and saw it, he made them stop, took all the girls aside and told them he had the best lawyers and knew the chief of police, so they should not even try stuff. He gave them money and had his chauffeur take them somewhere, then yelled at my father and threw the other men out. One time while I was there my father got caught, but he really got out of jail fast. That’s why I never said anything. I figured if I told either you or grandma, or mom and Silas, one of you would go and do something stupid. Or feel bad. I did not want either. So please, don’t tell. And don’t go kill him. I love you so much, and don’t want you to get in trouble, grampa.”
“Damn, kid. I would never have guessed anything like THAT. It is good that you told me, Finn. That is not something you need to carry around with on your own.” Blaine was shocked. His blood was boiling but he did not let on, for the sake of his grandson. That poor child. Blaine knew first hand what seeing terrible things could do to a kid.
“See now why I want him out of my life? There was a lot more, but I really do not want to talk about it. I worry every day that he dreams up something again and makes me live over there again. I swear this time I’ll go crazy. I’d either kill him or me. Not again.”
“No, I get it. But he legally can’t. Judge saw to that.” Blaine was half way lost in thought.
“Are you sure, knowing them? I know you are buddies with the old Auditore, but you have to admit, if he really wanted something, he’d get it, somehow.”
“Not everything. That I have on pretty good authority. But I see what you mean. Even the old Mafioso next door has his issues with that part of the family, they cause him grief too.” The wheels in Blaine’s head were spinning on high.
“Come here, kiddo. Your ol’ grandpa needs a hug now. Oh, and for what it’s worth, at least take this as a good learning experience to always treat girls well. Your grandpa did not always do that either, but I never once forced myself on a girl. And you should not either. Never. Ok?”
“No, worries. I don’t want to be ANYTHING like my father! Never! I want to be like you. always super-cool, always smiling, always in a good mood. And like Silas. He gives mom hand kisses and brings her flowers, opens doors, does not let her carry things, but he carries her! I want to be like that one day!”
“Well, I haven’t always been like that. Your grandma made me this way. Just like your mom made Silas happier. Without our girls, we’d be very unbalanced. So what you need to take from that is that finding the RIGHT person is what matters, not just any partner. But you are so young still, you have so much left to learn. I can tell you though, you are a very smart and good kid, Finn. You’ll get it right long before Silas or I ever did.”
That very night, Finn was asleep in Liam’s bed, Liam in his coffin and I was finally home from work and soundly asleep in my coffin too, Blaine snuck out. Straight to the Auditore villa on the island by Windenburg.
Didn’t take him long to find Lucca, sitting on one of the patios, just chilling.
“What a lovely evening, isn’t it.” he said, as he suddenly appeared next to Lucca, who was so startled he jumped up and almost fell over, so Blaine grabbed him and threw him back on the bench.
“Isn’t there a law that vampires cannot do this?! I am going to report you!” he complained.
“Cannot do what? Stand around and talk with some random scumbag?”
“Enter mortals’ homes uninvited!”
Blaine looked around, playing surprised, then grinned at Lucca, assuring his fangs were showing.
“Looks like I am not inside your home. So thank you for your concern, but I am good.”
“Well, there are cameras all around the property. You are on them!”
“Again, thanks for your concern, but not my first rodeo. They won’t be able to see me. All they can see is you acting odder than normal and talking to yourself. Isn’t vampirism nifty?”
Lucca tried to quickly make a run for it, to the inside, but barely made it two inches, until Blaine held on to him with an iron grip, and it was obvious to Lucca he was not getting out of it. A short fist fight ensued, which Blaine won by a mile.
“A little different than hitting women, huh?” Blaine snarled after placing him right back where he had sat before, on the bench.
“You are trespassing!”
Blaine just grinned at him, his face now inches from Lucca’s, making sure the fangs were impossible to miss. “So sue me.”
“I just might! You are threatening me.”
“I am? With what?”
“Your … your … those … fangs.”
“Oh, THESE fangs you mean?” Blaine grinned wider and came dangerously close to Lucca, still holding on to his arm, and he could feel him trembling.
“What do you want?!”
“I think you can guess.”
“I am not doing that! He is MY son.”
“You are at best a sperm donor.”
“I was good enough to pay for him all those years!”
“I’ll offer you the full amount back, and you would be relieved of the child support payments as soon as you sign on that dotted line!” Blaine did not have that kind of money, but knew Silas would be happy to write that check.
“You are blackmailing me.”
“No. I do not blackmail. I respectfully request. Although, deny me, and see what happens. Hint: I wouldn’t test me, if I were such a spoiled lil armchair jockey as you are. I have been to jail plenty of times and I have had a rough life that I remember all too well. Am not scared of it. I have never been a fan of you, kid, and the longer you drag this out, the worse this gets. So sign the fucking document and save both of us some really bad moments. I am going to leave your precious pretentious private property. But tomorrow, your happy ass is walking itself over to the Blackbournes to sign those papers with a smile and seal ’em with a kiss. If don’t, if you make me come back, it will not be pretty. I want you out of my grandson’s – and my daughter’s – life for good, you rat. Oh, and that what you are thinking right now will not work, none of it. Just remember, I am not just any old friendly neighborhood vampire. I will find ya, no place too far. And if you make me chase you, if you go against my wishes, if you even as much as breathe any of this to anyone but the teddy bear on your bed, when I am done with you, there won’t be much left to be found to identify you by. To say it in one of my wife’s terms “the value received is worth the price paid”. You’d be out of our lives one way or another. Oh, did I mention that my lovely wife is really chummy with your dad’s uncle, guess that makes Ezio your great-uncle, yeah, you know that really big kahuna of your clan. If you mess with me, she will get angry, and if she is angry and goes to him with it, which she will, he will be angry. And your measly inbred side of the family will not come out of that fight too well. That is of course AFTER my lovely wife will rip your balls off and shove them down your throat. So what will it be, you useless piece of sandpaper buttwipes?!”
“Ok ok ok ok … I’ll do it. I am tired of paying for that ungrateful brat anyway. You can have it. Turn him, feed on him, do whatever you will with him. I’ll sign it.”
“Much obliged.” Blaine sarcastically bowed and flourished, then with a satisfied grin after but a few steps away from the bench, where the still stunned Lucca sat like a statue, he was gone, only a dark cloud dissipating into the wind.
“I’m coming, I am coming … I am the size of a whale, pregnant with twins and hence not a marathon runner right now!” Vivian was muttering to herself on her way to open the door. Silas was over at Caleb’s and Finn with his grandparent’s.
She unlocked and swung open the heavy wooden door, when she saw who it was, almost slammed it back shut. Behind him, she saw their driver and two big men in dark suits, security.
“What do YOU want? Finn is not home and you cannot see him today anyway!”
“I just want to sign the fucking documents and be done with your white trash family and that brat. Where are they? I want to do this as quick as possible!”
“OK, sure.” Vivian was fast now. Never knew with him, he may change his mind. She watched him sign the papers. He seemed to mean it. He could spew insults all day long as long as he signed.
And he did. He signed his full name on every dotted line, entered his information and initialed here and there, then got up and without another word went to the front door. He was almost on the steps until Vivian finally caught up with him.
“What?” he asked without turning around.
“Thank you! That really means a lot to Finn. And me. I appreciate it!”
“Fuck you, you hoe and your entire nasty undead white trash family! I am glad you all are history to me now! I wish I’d never stuck my dick in something like you!”
He was in the car within seconds and they were gone.
“Makes two of us. Straight back at you buddy, words are cheap anyway, coming from you.” she mumbled to herself, dialing Silas’ number.
“No, no, I am ok, but you just became a daddy … no no, not the twins, just get your butt home and I’ll explain!”
Silas, a very pregnant Vivian and Finn entered, everybody hugged. Yes, I even hugged Silas. I had come around. Kinda. He was a good guy. Silas bro-hugged Blaine and whispered “Thank you. By the way, I mailed that check right away!”. The men nodded at each other.
“So have you kids finally figured out names?” I smiled, ignoring the weird exchange, wondering if I should not have asked what I just did, knowing that this was one of the many reasons for arguments in their relationship.
“We have. We’ll go with Leon and Zoey. Oh, and with Blackbourne for that one over there. Adoption was approved, pending paperwork and just a few weeks for it all to be final.” Silas answered with a smile.
“Yes, I already became a daddy much sooner than expected, right son?”
“Yeah. Thanks grampa.” he hugged Blaine.
“Why ‘thanks grampa’? Blaine, did we miss a memo?” I asked, but even Vivian looked at him, curiously.
“Nah, we just had a talk, man to man, right Finn?” Blaine winked at him.
“Yup. And I just have the best gramps in the world! Not news, but I needed to tell him. And now best dad too – officially!” Finn grinned at his ‘dad’.
“Not to forget best mom and grandma, right?” I joked.
“I have always had those.” Finn said, I smiled, looking at my grandson. Much like Liam, every time I saw him now, he seemed to have grown another inch or two. Finn would turn 13 soon, not long after him our Liam would too. Urgh, Teens. Hopefully Silas would not regret his decision.
A little later during the get-together Blaine and I ran into each other in the kitchen, where I grabbed him and whispered that I wanted to full story once they were gone.
Barely acknowledging the Caller ID, I pressed the ‘Talk’ button and answered, while continuing to read over the documents in front of me, hunched over in my chair. “Mommy?” the voice from the other side of the call sounded weak. I shot straight up in my chair and my attention was fully on the call.
“Addy?” she had not called me mommy in a very long time.
“Yeah. I have to tell you something … the baby … there are issues…”
“Oh my God, Addy, where are you, I will be right there!” I had jumped up now.
“No, mom, you can’t. I am already in the hospital. Just tell daddy I won’t be in the office for a while. And please keep him calm until Melissa can. That’s why I am not calling him.”
“Is the baby?” I did not even dare say the words.
She started crying. Oh no!
“Baby, where is Casey?” I tried my best to stay calm, even though my hands were shaking.
I heard the phone being handed around, then he came on the line.
“Casey, what is wrong!?” I was rushing up the stairs to Ezio’s office. His secretary tried to hold me back, but I make clear it was important, while listening to Casey. Casey, Addy’s long-time husband, was a doctor himself, a successful surgeon. I opened the doors to Ezio’s office where he was talking on the phone, angrily shaking his head at first, but when he saw my facial expression he just abruptly ended his call. He knew me very well.
I mouthed “Addy” to him while putting the phone on speaker, where Casey was still explaining what had happened, what could happen and next steps.
Ezio and I were paler than usual, which was saying much, considering we were both vampires. After being turned even Ezio’s beautiful tan complexion had lost some of its old splendor.
After the call we were not much farther than before, but a lot more worried about our daughter. We ended up hugging, not sure if I was comforting him or he me, probably both.
Ezio had never handled emergencies like this too well. He was enviably calm almost all the time, except maybe when Blaine was involved, but if his loved ones were in danger, he would quickly spiral out of control without someone there to keep him level. Poor guy just had one of those moments during Melissa’s fashion show. (* see here)
Now here was another one of those moments, and judging by Casey’s words, the outlook was bleak at best. Addy was the sweetest person imaginable, yet very successful in business. She and Casey worked so hard but always had time for their girls. It took them so very long to decide on another child. Now here she was, almost full-term with their first boy, and facing the possibility of losing him now.
I did not even want to think about the other things Casey had said, regarding Adrianna. It was very dangerous for her. And we could not be there. Vampires were still prohibited at hospitals and each one of them was so secure, there was no getting in, not even by teleportation. So we had to sit it out. I fought Ezio to leave the office and go home, no way would we be productive any longer and the work day was almost over anyway.