“Happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!” the choir faded out, people clapped, as Vivian bend down and blew out the candles atop a birthday cake I had made for her, praying it would be at the very least edible.
Ever since I had climbed the ranks to Minor Vampire I threw up most of the time I attempted to eat even a shred of human food. Hard to cook and bake that way.
Sure I could have bought one, and maybe next year I had to, but I wasn’t ready to let go of every little bit of being a little girl’s parent just yet.
Now she was officially a teen. She still looked so much like our little girl, but the woman in her was starting to show as well.
The guests were mingling, congratulating, celebrating, talking amongst each other, music was playing, I just needed some air and snuck out into the yard. My ears were ringing when the talking and laughing, the music and sounds of a party faded to a dull roar after the door fell shut behind me and the cool, crisp evening air enveloped me. I closed my eyes. Then I heard the door opening and closing again, without opening my eyes I knew who had come to join me. The faint scent of a specific deliciously fragrant masculine after-shave gave it away. Ezio.
“I remember how it felt when Marco became a teen. Does not get easier, does it?” he mused.
“Nope, sure does not.” I replied, my head turned towards him.
In his hand a glass with Bourbon, he must have brought it, afraid all we would offer only bubblegum flavored lemonade or something (which we did not, just to be clear). He was circling it lightly, as he always did, noticed my glance and held the glass towards me.
“Have a sip, you look like you need it. I have more.” he smiled and winked at me.
“Oh what the hell!” I said, took the glass and a big sip. Man, it burned going down.
Strangely, while human food was off limits, nearly all vampires loved alcohol. And it still affected them, although not to the extreme degrees as human, but it did still give a buzz. And I felt like I was already getting one from this one drink.
“Not so bad after all, huh?” Ezio teased.
“I am debating whether I am taking the entire bottle from you.” I smiled.
“Now now, young lady. The mother of the birthday girl would not set a great example that way.”
We made a little more small talk, when Ezio paused and then took the verbal swing.
“So, have you thought about my request?”
“What request?” I really did not know.
“To turn me.”
BOING! Felt like a wooden board to the forehead. Crap, the very conversation I had been ducking for months.
“I still can’t. I told you.”
“Have you not recently climbed another rank?”
“How do you know about that?”
“Oh, I know a lot of things.” he smiled knowingly.
“Then you know that the answer is no. No, I cannot.”
“Cannot or will not?”
“Both, if you must know. Ezio, really, this is not a retirement plan or a family planning assistance. Here is the truth: you asked me once if I ever regretted my decision. I told you I didn’t, but I did. And still do. This is a curse and a blessing, but more often a curse. I do not wish this on anyone. I wish I could take it away from Vivian. And Vittorio. Those kids will miss out on so much, things that made us who were are now, that made us .. human. No Ezio, I cannot and if I could, I wouldn’t. I am sorry.”
“Fair enough. Thank you for your candor. I am sure I do not have to mention to you, that I will go forward with this regardless?”
“No, but I do beg you to not do it. I mean it. It is a double-edged sword and if you are not careful, you will fall right into the edges. Both of them.”
“Appreciate your concern. You already know my reasons. To me, that outweighs your veto. Too bad, I wished it could have been you, who would do the honors, for old times sake and because I trust you.” he emptied the glass in one gulp and made for the door. I put my hand on his arm, halting him.
“Ezio, please PLEASE reconsider.”
He shrugged and went inside. Dang it. Stubborn old man. And Blaine would not like those news much at all.
Blaine and I were in the kitchen doing the last of the dishes. The cake had been good, thankfully, everybody had fun, Vivian was in bed asleep and all guests had finally left. Once done, Blaine hugged me from behind, kissed my neck and whispered in my ear
“So, what did the mafioso want?” How did Blaine know? Don’t ask me.
“What do you think?” I sighed.
“There are several options, most not beneficial to his health.”
“He wants me to turn him.”
“Ah, figures. I just knew he would wanna go through with that. He just cannot let go of you.”
“He is not doing it for me, but for Melissa. They want more kids.”
“Sure, he is.”
“Come on now Blaine. We have been over there often enough for you to have witnessed how those two are together. They are basically you and I all over again.”
“A drug addict is not addicted to drugs, because he loves them, but because he is addicted. Same applies here.”
“Addicted to me? BWAHAHAHAH… you crack me up.” I laughed and pulled free from the embrace only to find myself in the next one, just this time facing him.
“Why? I am.” he began to nuzzle my neck. OK, I could go along with a little bit of … this.
“So what about you? Have you thought about it again?” Blaine asked.
“Thought about what? Turning him? No, and I also politely declined.”
“What about the other part?”
“What other part? Do you have to go oracle on me? Just say what you mean straight up.”
“I would, but you always get stiff and yell at me, when I do… ” Blaine smirked.
“I do not!”
“Ok, how about us having another baby.” he stated plainly. I got stiff and exclaimed
“See.” he smirked again
“Blaine what the heck? Vivian is finally old enough to not need a lot of parental supervision and now you want to start at zero?”
“Perfect timing, isn’t it? If worst came to worst, she could even help out here and there. Like a big sister.”
“No more kids for me. No no no no no. Just no. And also, no.”
“Makes me want to trade my vampire ability of turning people for the knowledge on how to muck with birth control without getting caught with your beloved mafioso… ” Blaine laughed.
“No even funny!”
I was looking at the offerings on display in a toy store downtown. It was one of the late night shopping days, I had finished my list of errands and this store had caught my attention. The feeling was bittersweet, knowing that nobody would want cute teddies and Barbie dolls anymore, instead now more grown up stuff. I had to admit Blaine’s recent procreation drive-by had thrown me off kilter. No, technically I meant what I said. But Vivian growing up and him being so persistent with subtle and not so subtle hints, then Ezio and Melissa with their constant baby talk (no news as of yet, but count on it) it had my tail in a spin.
“Hi Viktoria.” I heard a gentle voice behind me.
Turning around I saw Eric. We hugged. The usual conversation ensued with someone you had fallen out of touch with.
Eric and I had known each other for about as long as Blaine and I. We all grew up together. Eric had been a shy, quiet, gentle kid, his father, when he was still alive, had been a well known professor at the local university, strict and very adamant about Eric’s education and manners. So basically Eric was the opposite of Blaine. But like Blaine, Eric was always picked on, until I took him under my wing. I was an honor student, I was fairly popular, and I had Blaine. Nobody would pick arguments with me. Eric loved spending time with me, but was afraid of Blaine, just like he had always been afraid of Ezio after we married. After graduating from college (he studied at the same college I did) Eric and I tried to keep our friendship alive, but it wasn’t easy. At some point we just seemed to have lost all touch. He was a tortured soul. Somehow everybody probably always knew he was gay, except him. His father would have never okayed a homosexual relationship for him. So he married a woman. And had the obligatory son. But I always knew he was miserable. His wife, Penny, was not the marrying kind and even after the vows she continued to party and see other men. Eventually their marriage broke apart. He attempted another relationship with a female, even fathered another son, but finally came to his senses, met a nice man and married him. The man was older than Eric and when he passed away, Eric lost all grounding. I was so wrapped up in my own drama that he did not want to come to me for help. And now here he was, we had moved the reunion into a nearby cafe, and he told me how the latest relationship had crumbled into some terrible melodrama.
“Eric, sweetie, what do you want me to tell you? Pretty sure you already know what I am going to say.”
“It is just so hard. I do not even know where and how to start. And I am not getting younger Vik. I am going to die alone. Without love in my life. Only rejection, disgust, denial. Nobody in my family talks to me. Not even my sons. All alone ….” He looked down at his hands and I hugged him. Poor guy. He was such a sweetie. I really could not see why it would be so hard for him to find someone. He should have lines of dudes beating down his door.
“How about we go out together and I’ll find you some hot dude and just pimp ya out. Maybe take Blaine, if the dude doesn’t want to , Blaine will convince him otherwise ….” I laughed, trying to cheer him up.
“Oh gawd no, keep that Blaine away from me. I have problems enough already.” he smiled faintly. I could not say if he was joking or serious.
“You live near here?” I asked.
“Uh uh, still San Myshuno. Same old apartment …” he smiled.
So we went over there. On the wall still that old selfie of us two. Absolutely nothing had changed here. Wished I knew any single gay men, but then again, my matchmaking had failed me more than once.
“Have you thought about online dating? Or an ad in the paper or something?” I asked.
“Yeah, sure. ‘Aging Cowboy with loads of issues looking for forgiving mate’ Nah, Vik, I’ll pass.” he shook his head. Eric smiled rarely, had always been more on the serious side, even as a child.
“Well, it’s not gonna rain one down on ya. Maybe a dating service, where you go and they match you up in person.”
“I am not good at telling strangers about my dating life or sexuality, remember?” he shook his head.
“What do you want me to do then? Go to the local gay bars and hijack a bunch of handsome dudes for you to pick from? I do not think that is a basis for a lasting love either.”
“If I knew how to fix this, I would have already, Vik. I just wanted to talk…”
“I do not just talk about problems, I fix them. As you well know…”
Oh, I did. It was me who went to Eric’s strict father, to tell him about his son’s intentions to marry a man. Oh yeah, Miller senior was not happy with me, but I let out a tirade that even got his butt to show up at the wedding. So there. Fixed. He still didn’t like it, oh well, his right. But at least he had shown his son some respect at last. Yet, I could hardly fight all of Eric’s battles for him. But I could be a friend. He obviously needed one. So I told him that we would meet frequently from now on and his butt better be there. He just smiled and hugged me, told me I had not changed at all.
It would be months, till he ever made it out to Brindleton Bay, and to the very last minute he tried to get me to meet him in some café or restaurant rather than him coming to our house. I had instructed Blaine to be as nice as he could be. Blaine liked Eric. He had been the first one to figure out Eric liked men, but neither me nor Eric believed him back then. Well, Eric probably just denied it for obvious reasons. Vivian and Eric met briefly, she was already out to one of her many events, meetings, parties, friends. As long as her grades stayed this good, neither of us interfered.
“Hey Eric, old pal, how’s the hammer hangin’?” Blaine patted Eric on the back that he almost fell over.
“Ummm” he mumbled.
“What, just some guy talk, is that not allowed?”
“Eric, come sit over here. Coffee?”
“Sure.” Eric nodded.
I sat down next to Eric, Blaine next to me, but caught the drift when I kept wordlessly looking at him.
“Oh, coffee, right, that would be my clue to bugger off. The coffee fairy will give you kids some privacy and return in a jiff with some joe. Tootles!” It made poof and Blaine had vanished. Eric paled. Goddang it Blaine. I smiled at Eric, my best ‘everything is awesome, totally normal’ smile. He smiled back at me, but his seemed a bit distorted. Poor guy.
“Did you have any problems finding this place?” I started with small talk. Right as Eric wanted to reply *poof* Blaine was back, with a pot of coffee. Everything else was already on the table. I shook my head at Blaine. He just grinned.
“May I pour, my dear?”
“You may, and you may also use doors, that’s why we have them.”
“Is that what those are for? I was wondering about calling the builder about them dang huge holes in the walls.” Blaine grinned at me, then Eric, parts of his fangs showing. Why did he need to mess with Eric?! Eric now sat stiffly next to me. I swear a few more Blaine-isms and he’d be in my lap.
“Eric was just saying how beautiful the view is from here.” I just put some words into poor Eric’s mouth. He nodded appreciative.
“Really scenic. One could be jealous of the peace and quiet here …”
“I thought that was your biggest gripe these days.” Blaine plopped down next to me now, causing Eric and me to almost spill coffee over us from the cups we were drinking from. Man child!
“What now? You wanna give me a script to read my responses from?”
“It’s ok, Vik, I don’t mind.” Eric said from my other side.
“See, Vik, he does not mind being treated like a normal person, rather than wrapping him in cotton wool like some specimen.”
“You would not put specimen in cotton wool, it is a very fibery substance and would…”
“Hey, no need for lessons from you now too, buddy. I get that from your bestie here all the time anyway.” He elbowed me and this time I did spill the coffee. I cursed at him, then went to clean my top and change.
“Ok, now that she is gone, I wanted to talk to you alone. I know you know all this but telling Vik about your love quest is not going to end well for anybody. So if i were you, I would fold that topic and avoid it like the plague. But, we all know I used to get around, and there is a club I think you would like. It is not your typical gay bar, where you uncomfortably stand at some bar with some uncomfortable strangers and go down the list of all the typical stereotypes. It’s a dance club, a real nice one. You don’t have to tell me that you do not usually go to dance clubs, which is why I will go with you. They know me there, I used to play there a lot, and I’ll introduce you to a few people who know a lot of people. If you go there a few times, you may not only end up liking it, but you definitely make some connections. And maybe more, but that can develop slowly. OK?” Blaine patted Eric on the shoulder, gentler this time, winked at him while smiling the typical Blaine smirk, when adding
“Oh, and don’t tell her. This is between you and I, ok? I like Vik to think I am totally clueless. Rowels her up, which is funny to me. So shush, ok?”
“Sounds great. Thanks … Blaine.” Eric smiled.
Finally I came back and was taken aback by the two men peacefully on the couch with the coffee cups in hand, both heads turned towards me, smiling. This reeked to high heavens. Especially when I looked at Blaine and he stiffened his pinky straight up when he drank. What a … !
Believe it or not, but the rest of the afternoon was pleasant. We all traded old anecdotes from back when, embarrassing moments in school, crazy teachers, mishaps. Before we knew it it was late, so we offered Eric our bedroom, since at this point it was mostly for the semblance of normality, but we slept in the coffins downstairs.
The next morning we all had breakfast together, well all of us had coffee, Eric and Vivian ate.
I did see Eric more often now. About two months later I heard that he met someone interesting and had started dating. I knew that once he was certain, I would get to meet them.