“MOMMY!” Natalie’s high pitched toddler voice sounded whiny.
“In the kitchen honey!” Leonie called back.
Seconds later the little girl came running, her pigtails bouncing.
“Mommy, Rett is soooo mean!” she told her and started sobbing as if on cue.
“Oh no honey no crying.” Leonie bend down and tried to pick up her daughter, but her advanced pregnancy and resulting backache made that hard, so instead she just gently stroked her cheeks.
“Up mommy!” Natalie demanded.
“Not now, honey. Mommy’s tired and her back hurts from your new brother or sister. And you are such a big girl already … almost in school now. You are too big and heavy now for mommy when she is pregnant.”
“I want a sister this time – for sure. No more boys! They are dumb!” Natalie explained with determination.
“What? You and Rett are peas in a pod!”
“No. He is dumb now!”
“You are dumb!” Everett had come to the kitchen now too. Leonie was shocked. Ever since Natty was born, she and her big brother had been inseparable. He was very protective of her. Never a bad word between them. Until just minutes ago. Ugh.
“Everett Cameron! Your little sister is NOT dumb. Apologize!” Leonie scolded him.
“Mommyyyyy!” Leonie heard from the living room, followed by loud crying!
“Coming Jakey!” Leonie waddled over to her youngest, leaving her two older children to argue.
Jake had fallen down and was tired, a bad mix, making him very whiney and cranky. He demanded up, eyes filling with tears, lips quivering.
“No, no crying please!” She picked him up, when Natalie started crying.
“What now?” Leonie asked her, her nerves bare.
“You love him better! You pick HIM up but now meeeee” Natalie screamed, while Jake demanded down.
She picked Natalie up too and went to the kitchen with both, waddling, her back aching like it would break in half and her feet hurting.
“Who wants foodie?!” she said upbeat, getting the attention of both toddlers who started fighting over the food now, but stopped crying, as Dakota made odd noises and threw up in the middle of the kitchen floor, then started eating it, while the toddlers were not unsupervised and up to no good, eyeing bowls on the counter.
“No, no, stop it! Damn it!” Leonie scolded the dog now.
She put the toddlers down and tried to bend down to clean the mess but the belly was in the way.
“You cursed! I am so telling dad!” Everett said smirking.
“You go do your homework, young man. And you two off to bed for your naps after lunch!” she told the two toddlers who pouted immediately.
Once Leonie had all kids in their rooms, she fell down onto the couch, exhausted, it only took a few minutes until she heard loud screaming from upstairs. Natalie and Everett again.
“Oh no!” she said and started to cry, as she pulled out her cell phone and dialed.
“Blaine? Is Viktoria there? No, I am not crying … okay I am crying.. I need help, please….” she sobbed into the phone.
The rest was incoherent, but Blaine promised her they would be right over.
“Blaine, wait, I need to text you the address. No, we are in a tiny rental now, the other house was deemed unsafe by an inspector so the purchase fell through after all. Liam found a new property and we are building a new home. Yes, here in Brindleton Bay. Sorry I didn’t tell you yet. Most days I don’t even remember if I am coming or going.” she sobbed again.
Not 10 minutes later Leonie’s in-laws showed up.
“Thank you guys!” Leonie’s eyes welled up as she lead them into the living room.
Blaine smirked his crooked smile and told the women he would go deal with the ‘retched’ kids, while Viktoria stayed with Leonie, hugging her, and getting her set up on the couch with some herbal tea.
“So sorry guys, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.” she cried again.
Right then, the door unlocked, seconds later Liam walked in.
“I thought I saw your car. What are you doing here, mom?” Liam asked Viktoria.
“I called them. They are helping me with the kids.” Leonie said, her tone unusually accusatory.
“Okay.” Liam replied, taken aback, looking at his mother.
“Thankfully I am here now. Were we still in Del Sol Valley I would have lost my mind today! Because guess who was NOT here again. As usual!” She sniffed and sobbed.
“Leonie, baby … of course I will help where I can… and I am here now….”
“Yeah, but for how long? You are probably itching to get back to the studio or your manager or some party or heck knows where! Anywhere but with your family!” Leonie started sobbing harder. Liam went over to gently rub her back.
“Hey baby, no. I am here now. At least for a few days … but that next trip should be really quick. Promise.”
“Great. I have a husband for a few days … and then you leave again and I am alone with the kids and I cannot even move right anymore. And the damn dog threw up, too!”
Liam couldn’t help but chuckle at her outburst, which was the wrong move, as it made her very mad.
“You think this is funny? I am basically a single parent! And you knocked me up again and then left me!”
“But Leo, you wanted that baby …”
“Oh, now it is MY fault!?” she challenged angrily, labored up off the couch and ran as well as she could upstairs. They heard a door slam, then Jake crying.
“I’ll get him!” they heard Blaine’s voice from above.
Liam looked at his mother, his expression worried and not understanding.
“What do I do, mom? She has been so angry with me of late. I thought moving here would make her happy … but it is just more of the same. No matter what I say or do it is wrong.”
“I can tell you what to do, but you won’t like it, Liam.” his mother said, shrugging.
“Mom, acting is all I know how to do. It’s what I am good at. It’s how we can afford all that. How I can guarentee a great life for my kids and for Leo and me. And to do that I have to be in Del Sol Valley. I really do not have any options here.”
“Maybe four kids was a bit ambitious then? But too late now. So, get her help. A nanny. Of course your father and I will help, gladly, but I think she is uncomfortable with that. And you should go up and talk to her, hold her and comfort her. What are you doing here anyway?” Liam was supposed to be gone all week.
“Last time we spoke Leo mentioned an appointment with her Gyn, for an ultrasound. I wanted to be there. I thought she would be happy if I surprised her.” he looked disappointed.
“Liam, go talk to her. She needs you now. We all thought you were going to be off until after the birth.”
“I am. At least I am not filming. But I have appearances. Not too many but I cannot just disappear.”
“Go to her!”
He ran up the stairs. When he tried to open the bedroom door he found it locked.
“Leo?” he knocked. They had never locked doors before. This was now the second time she had locked him out.
“Leo! Open up!” he pleaded against the wooden door.
Surprisingly he heard the key turn. When he tried again, the door sprung open. Leonie stood in the middle of the room, looking lost.
“Sorry …” she said, sounding like a little girl herself, before she started crying again.
“No, baby no. No need to be sorry. You’re just exhausted. We’ll hire a nanny again and a maid and you can get some rest, okay? And I will stay home now, promise.”
The next day was the appointment. Once the doctor began to apply the jelly and search for the heartbeat, Leonie smiled at Liam, looking so happy again. And then they found out it was a little girl, just like they had hoped for.
“This time will be so much easier Leo, you’ll see.” Liam tried to up the mood.
“I doubt that but I am so glad you are here.” she leaned into him. He could almost feel her exhaustion. His mother was right, three, almost four children and a traveling husband was too much. He had to figure something out.
When they got home, Everett was doing his homework.
“Dad … We need to talk.” he told Liam, who tried to keep a straight face when his young son addressed him in a very serious and grown up manner.
“I really want a big dog. Can we pleeeeeease get a big dog?” the grown up voice changed to a begging child’s one again. Liam was still fighting his serious face.
“No. We have Dakota. He is adorable. There is nothing a big dog can do that he could not.” Liam told his son firmly.
“Except really run with, go on adventures with, protect me, … Brian and Tatum have a cool, big dog. A chocolate lab. So great! Besides, Dakota is Natty’s dog anyway. He always follows her around and won’t listen to me! I want my own dog. And you said when we move I can have one. I never wanted to move away. I liked Del Sol Valley!”
“Come on, Rett. We have so much going on already, we cannot add another pet. And never tell her that you liked it better there. Your mom likes it here. And I was born here.”
“So?” Everett pouted. “I like Del Sol Valley, we move away. I wanted to be a vampire, like you, you won’t let me. You said I get a big dog, and now that’s a no too. No fair!”
“There is so much nature here, the beach,… you can play with your cousins! You’ll make new friends quickly, I am sure. You always make friends easily.”
“Nature is perfect for exploring. With a big dog. Like a lab. A black one! And he could protect my new friends then too.”
“Everett. No. We are not getting another dog! They cause extra work and they have to be walked every day. I doubt you would and I am not going to! So, no big dog, son! And that is FINAL!”
Everybody, meet Shadow, a black Labrador Retriever and the newest addition to the Cameron family, while we await the birth of the baby.
Few days later another big event happened.
Natalie’s 6th birthday. She would go to school now, just like her big brother.
They invited way too many people for the small rental home to hold, so the guests spread out all over the home and yard.
But no guest made Natalie’s hit list like Vitto.
As soon as he walked in, everything and everybody else was forgotten, and Natty hugged him so tight, it almost strangled poor Vitto.
Vitto loved the attention, as unlike with adults, kids never made him uneasy or blush.
Vivian watched on, smiling, one eyebrow raised when she said to herself
“Yeah, he’ll be a great dad.”
Once it was time for all the guests to leave, Everett came into Natty’s new ‘big girl’ room.
“Ummm … Natty ….”
“Hey Rett! Wanna play dolls with me?” she beamed, pointing at her brandnew doll castle.
“Sure!” Everett smirked. That was easy. He had felt bad about having been mean to his little sister and had been pondering how to apologize all day.
Natalie was naturally sweet and easy going, much like Leonie, and had already forgiven her big brother.