The next months and seasons passed fairly uneventful. Spunky grew into a large and very spunky dog, pardon the pun. Blaine did his vampire thing, the world did its thing and sometime in between little Vivian grew into an alert and active toddler.
With her daddy’s green eyes and light blonde hair, like I had when I was her age, plus the most adorable freckles, she stole everybody’s hearts.
Unless you knew exactly what to look for, you would never have known that she was not human. She was very eager to learn and interested in new things. Spunky was very gentle with her, even though generally he was a klutz. Those two were inseparable. We decided to keep Vivian at home and teach her ourselves until it was time for grade school. Then she would attend regular public schools.
The vampire society met once again at our house, but Lilith was absent. The old grump did not elaborate and none of the others knew. I heard from Ezio that he did was he said he would, they divorced and he kept the baby. Ezio’s son had been christened Vittorio, which was very obviously a nod at me, as it was the male version of the female name Vittoria, which was the Italian version of my name. The boy had been born mere days after our Vivian, so evidently Ezio and Lilith had been in cohoots a lot longer than Ezio had lead me to believe.
Blaine was surprisingly okay when I told him about Ezio’s request for friendship. He told me that sometimes a person just needed a friend, even if it is the worst possible time and circumstance. I knew he was referring to a time he was in a similar bind. Especially when he closed with “…but if I as much as sense that he is trying anything funny with you, he better find a good foster home for that kid of his!”
I met Ezio a few times, never at any of our houses but on ‘neutral’ grounds, as I called it, cafes, restaurants. No need to tempt him. He had started to look at dating sites, but there just was not much of a market for a single man near retirement age who was raising an infant. Per my suggestion, Ezio remained as anonymous as possible and left out the wealthy bit. I had also convinced him to move. He could afford it, no need to squeeze his kid into the small house we once called our home all those years ago.
I mentally went through my entire friends list, and those who were single were not looking at the moment. Until that time I ran into a former coworker of mine, Julia, from my job before Ezio. She had never married, but recently broken up with her long time boyfriend, leaving her in a similar emotional state as Ezio. She was about my age, so trying to get her interested in Ezio was a bit of a long shot due to the age gap. And the part about him being my ex. But those two did hit it off right away, Ezio’s charm was probably to thank. Once those two were an item, Ezio smiled again, and Blaine relaxed visibly whenever I mentioned anything Ezio. I saw him a lot less after he started dating, which was fine by me.
Then suddenly I got a call by Addy. Evidently her younger brother Marco, who had been a troubled soul since her was a teen, gifted the old family home to her, who gladly took it as her tiny city apartment had gotten too small her her patchwork family. Marco and Emmy split up. Evidently there had been problems for a long time. Shortly after, Emmy remarried. I worried about Marco, but my attempts to meet with him were always declined. Addy was busy with work and her life, but made time to take care of her little brother. He had quit his job in his father’s company to pursue a political career. Ezio was destroyed until Adrianna took the job, leaving her gardening career and instead made the plants her hobby. She had always been a daddy’s girl and Ezio was beside himself for joy. Once Addy had mentioned to me that she would love to start her own family but it just never seemed the right time. She and Blaine Jr. were still a mostly happy couple, and had stood all the tests of time. Addy had been a loving step-mom to Ben, who adored her. He loved Blaine and me as well. Which made my Blaine overjoyed. As a vampire his feelings were different, but somehow Blaine managed to generate genuine feelings for his family. I think part of this was his terrible childhood. Again and again did he try to contact his youngest daughter, whom I never even had met, to no avail. Then one day I found out that Marco rekindled his affair with Nicole Vanderbilt and moved in with her. Addy had a lot to say about that, but at the end of the day, it was her brother’s decision. On the bright side, Blaine heard from Emmy again, now that she was no longer with Marco. She even brought her new love with her, a nice young man named Demarcus. Blaine and I often joked about who would become a grandparent first (Ben aside).
“Mr. Cameron…” the voice arrived before the creature materialized.
“Master.” Blaine nodded at the elder.
“Mr. Cameron, I see you have mastered the art of entering without utilizing a door, at long last. I was beginning to lose hope.” The elder spoke in his usual, well enunciated way.
“I did. First try. This time.” Blaine smirked.
“Splendid. Now we have to go over the part where it is PROHIBITED TO ENTER AN ELDER’S LAIR UNINVITED, MR. CAMERON!!! Explain yourself!” the last part was screamed, underlined with odd hissing sounds and some sort of echo. Blaine’s smirk faded as he felt himself lifted up into the air, unable to move at all, while terrible pain was inflicted on him, just before he crashed to the ground. Vampires were very well capable of inflicting pain upon each other, although few ranked high enough to have the powers strong enough to kill another vampire.
“Sorry. That part I missed …” Blaine spit the words out, scrambled to get back on his feet. This always had this aftertaste of his brutal youth. Constant fighting, pain, degradation, never good enough …
“I suggest, Mr. Cameron, that you finally do take this matter at hand seriously. For your own good. My patience does not run eternal. Now, may I ask why you are here?”
“To … train…?”
“Are you asking me?” the elder seemed annoyed.
“No, answering your question. I came to train.”
“Hm.” The elder vampire tilted his head.
“Does that mean yes or no?” Blaine was getting annoyed too. Weird old sucker.
“It means what it means. If I have something to tell you, anything to share with you, you will know. If not, then you will have to be patient. Play the organ.” The last sentence was a command.
“Play. The. Organ.”
“Look, I am not here to play music, I am here to … URGH ARGH…” Blaine did not see any indication for movement, but suddenly felt himself firmly in the grip of the elder, whose skeletal hand was around Blaine’s throat, making speech impossible.
“For a third time now, Mr. Cameron. Play the damn organ! Try my patience some more and you may now leave here ever again!” Blaine was released without warning and fell to his knees.
He coughed, labored back onto his feet and sat down on the stool in front of the instrument. He knew how to play the piano, assumed an organ would not be too much different, but he did not know a single appropriate piece of music. So he just began to play a famous rock tune, which featured some classical instruments in its intro. To his surprise the elder did not stop or punish him. Blaine attempted his performance on the unfamiliar instrument for several minutes, more or less successful.
“You may stop now.”
“You are quite talented with the arts, are you? I suspected as much. Artists, or those who mistake themselves for such, have always been rebels as well. Annoying lot, albeit entertaining at times. When you have been on this earth as long as me, Mr. Cameron, there is really not much that you have not seen before. The silly humans with their silly notions of modernity and progress, always so proud, yet little more than ants squirming about under our magnifying glasses. It has been the same for hundreds of years, for millenia. Foolish, foolish. Few ideas are truly new. Yet, all of them miss the true idea. The grand idea. Are you following me, Mr. Cameron?”
Blaine had no idea what the elder was talking about. If he admitted it, he would get punished. So he nodded.
“Well, I am sure you do. Now, how is that lovely wife of yours?”
“Ummm… fine.” Blaine was caught off guard.
“I do have to admit, I am rather taken by her. As you know, I dislike it when my authority is being challenged, but your wife is different, she has courage, a backbone, strong conviction, yet is commendably polite, well mannered, has good posture, a terrific mind, and she has something else, something I appreciate a lot. Do you know what that is, Mr. Cameron?” the elder spoke with a theatric voice and gesturing, as always.
“Nice tits?” Blaine tried to joke, as he had no clue what all this jibberish was about.
The elder sighed annoyed.
“Sorry master, I do not know.”
“Why such a fine specimen of a woman ever married a clochard like yourself, is beyond me. I was referring to her eloquence, a way with words. She is literate and eloquent, paired with a very gracefully natural charm. A very rare combination these days. Very rare indeed.”
“Yeah, she is pretty awesome.” Blaine still did not know what the old man was rambling on about, other than that evidently he liked how Vik spoke. Well, yeah, she was smart. He had known that all his life. Big deal.
“I had a family once. A wife, a daughter. They were taken from me during the Siege Of Kiev. Certainly, even an undereducated being such as yourself has heard of that?”
Blaine had not, and shook his head.
“Hair-raising! What do you do with your spare time, Mr. Cameron? Evidently not training to be a vampire, and obviously not educating your mind. Oh, please, do not speak of it. I have a good idea what sort of nonsense a Neanderthal such as yourself could be squandering his time away with. So let me enlighten you on proper subjects, Mr. Cameron. The siege of Kiev in 1240 was one of the deadliest defeats in all history. More than 48,000 souls lost. Among them, my beautiful wife and young daughter. My little girl was merely 12 years old, and I had to watch both of them get ravished by those dirty Mongols before they were brutally murdered and thrown into a pile like garbage. I was thought dead and discarded, then with my dying breath I pledged my life and soul to the darkness for revenge. And revenge I got! Either way, I am certain your wife would have known this, would she not?”
“Probably.” Blaine agreed.
“I would like for you to bring your wife here, same time, tomorrow.”
“That shall be of no concern to you. Just do as I ask. Good evening, Mr. Cameron, you may leave.” dismissed the old man, then literally vanished into thin air.
Blaine did not like the sound of this. He was certain Vik would not either. All this had left a bad aftertaste with him. He was deep in thought as he was walking down the dark streets, when he heard his name in his head.
He looked up and realized Caleb was outside his home, and had called to Blaine in his mind. He walked over to him.
“Evening Blaine.” Caleb smiled.
“Hey.” Blaine said.
“Been visiting the old man?” Caleb pointed with his head at the master elder’s impressive home down the street and up a hill.
“Hmm, so quiet, meaning it didn’t go so well, huh?”
“Not sure. Aside from the usual ass chewing, he had been all sorts of weird.”
“Isn’t he always?”
“Weirder than usual.”
“He wants me to bring Vik over tomorrow night. Not sure what for, but he was seriously fangirling her. Not sure how I feel about it.”
“Oh, I see.” Caleb’s smile seized.
“Do you know what this is about?”
“I have a good idea.”
“Hmmm, not sure you’d like it very much.”
“TALK!” Blaine was alerted.
“The old man has been looking for a woman who would capture his interest for a long time. Let’s see, I have known him for about 143 years now. So it has been a while.”
“A woman? What for?”
“I give you three guesses.”
“What?! No!. WHY?”
“As you said yourself, she piqued his interest, now he wants her.”
“She is MY WIFE!”
“I am sure you already figured that would not deter him.”
“Why MY wife? He’s known you longer? Why not yours?”
“Thanks. I suppose Grace is not interesting to him. Not sure if that would be an insult or a blessing, but I personally will go with the latter.”
“Caleb, what do I do? How do I get out of this?”
“I just won’t go tomorrow.”
“You KNOW that will not work.”
“Vik will tell him no.”
“Then he will just take her. Against her will. Better go home and start explaining this to her.”
“Never. I’d be divorced by sunrise!!! Or dead. Really dead. Oh no no no no… what do I do?!” Blaine was in a panic.
“There really isn’t anything to do. You know the rules. Well, most of them I guess. With a little luck he just wants to get lucky for one night. If not … well…”
“If not … what?” Blaine cringed at the idea of any other man with HIS wife. No matter who. Or why. He would NEVER just stand by and let this happen. Never.
“There is a small chance that he would want to keep her.”
“Keep her? He cannot keep her. What does that even mean?” Blaine was completely beside himself.
“He does not have children. He may want some.”
Blaine was too shocked to reply, when Caleb started laughing loudly, the sounds echoing eerily from all around through the thick fog that had formed. Blaine could just stare.
“Ha ha ha .. sorry man, just messing with you. You should have seen your face, just great.” Caleb imitated Blaine’s shocked expression and laughed again, while Blaine just stood there, stiff and appalled, when he finally unfroze and grabbed Caleb by the collar, which did not stop his amusement.
“What?!” Blaine requested with few words.
“The old man just wants to get to know her, I suppose. Probably test her reaction to his lair. Maybe he is lonely and wants someone to talk history to. You know Vik is a walking dictionary, while we are all mere undereducated peasants, to him. Or maybe he wants to talk her into becoming one of us. Either with words or his mind tricks.”
“We cannot force her too.”
“We can’t. Especially not you. But he can. And this time, I am not jesting.”