KC shifted awkwardly.
He felt uncomfortable, kept looking over his shoulder, then at the grave in front of him, where he had placed a small bear statue he had carved the night before.
Suddenly he cleared his throat and spoke
“Well, here I am. Still around – no thanks to my father. If he’d’ve had his way, we’d be neighbors here right about now. Anyway, I have never done this before, you know, talk to a grave and shit, probably because usually I come here with Evey. She says hi, by the way, still misses both of you. So do I. Can you believe I am going to be 40 in two weeks? 40. There was a time where I didn’t think I’d ever make it to 14, let alone this far. But I did. Beat those odds into the ground. All because of Evey and because of you and Leonie. Because you gave me a chance, Mr. Cameron – ha – still do that, still can hear you yelling at me to call you Liam. I got a guy now working at my shop, a young man who needed a chance and I gave it to him, trying to teach him right from wrong along with a trade, like you have with me. He doesn’t really need me anymore, his situation changed for the better, but he is still around. Maybe I am doing something right. Ha. He’s Heath’s son-in-law. You remember Heath. Of course you do. He’s doing well too. Still manages to rub me wrong sometimes, but you were right giving him a chance too. He’s a good friend of mine now. One I wouldn’t want to miss. And there is still Evey. We’re still a team. More so now than ever, we work together in our own business. I still count my blessings every day, for having her, still, and for our children. Great kids. I watch them, secretly, often, and I see so much of Evey and me in them, you know from back when, just both have a safe and happy home. Solid kids. Luckily both smart as whips like Evey, and our little Ezzy looks just like Evey did her age. They are going to be teens soon. Teens. Feels like only yesterday that Evey and I were teens ourselves. Funny, I don’t even mind getting older. Sounds like a platitude but I really am grateful for each single day. I love getting up in the morning and going to bed at night and every second in between, even when the going gets rough, cos hell or high water I know I always have people in my corner. Man, I still wished you were here, but that would make you seriously old. Let’s see, Everett is 67 now, you had him at 21, well, could be. At least then you would see your legacy. Man you guys have some legacy. Every single one of your kids is happy, healthy and successful and their kids are as well.”
KC felt watched and stopped talking.
As he turned around his eyes met the wise ones of an old priest, smiling at him, so he rose to his feet quickly.
“Apologies, I didn’t intend to startle or interrupt you, but it is good to see young folk pay their respects to those gone from their physical form. Your father?”
“Sort of. Actually, a great man, who gave me a chance when I needed it a long time ago, and he changed my life forever. My wife’s grandpa.”
“Ah yes, Mr. Liam Cameron. I remember him well. Sad what happened to him and his wife. She was lovely, a real angel, so kind and soft-spoken. Did you know her too?”
“Yes, Sir. Was like a mother to me.”
“So you must be little Everleigh’s husband?”
“I am, Sir.”
“Sweet girl. Comes by a lot. I think there is more family of hers resting here. Yeah, the Camerons. Definitely a name well known and nowadays for all the right reasons. Wasn’t always the case. I remember a time when it was spoken with a great deal of disdain, but like Phoenix from the ashes it rose and after its Renaissance became a name people would look up to, and to its bearers. Sounds like you already knew that, son. I’ll let you get back to it, kid.”
“Don’t know about kid. Just told Liam, uh Mr. Cameron, that I am about to turn 40.”
“I am 87, son. To me, you are but a kid.”
After listening to more anecdotes about their long vacation and looking at more pictures, that had not been covered in the big welcome back dinner two weeks ago, KC finally spoke up.
“I know you figured that I had something to discuss with you, since we didn’t bring the kids. We haven’t told them about it yet, wanted to bounce it off you first. My one birthday wish for the big 4-0. One from the entire family to my family.”
“Uh oh – should I be sitting for this?”
“Rett honey, you already are sitting.”
“I know that, Katie, it’s a figure of speech to proclaim my worry about what’s forthcoming.”
“You could just let the boy talk, then you’d already know.”
“Well, talk then, kid.”
“I recently went to the cemetery, to visit your parents’ graves and had an epiphany. Something that has bothered me, always, even though I never really realized it until then. My name. I want to change it.” KC said.
“Oh honey, Kieran is such a pretty name….” Katie told him
“Mom, he is not talking about his first name…”
“I want my family to be Camerons. Including myself. IF that’s all right with you.”
Everett and Katie were visibly surprised, KC wondered if this had been an insult to them.
“What made you deem that necessary, son?” Everett asked.
“McCoy has always been a curse to me. All that people in this region ever think about when they hear it is ‘trailer park’ and ‘the father who tried to kill his own son’. Evey and I have tried to change that bad aftertaste, somewhat successful, but I still feel that way and can’t shake it. I cannot tell you how many times I wished Liam had adopted me, but I was already 18 when he took me under his wing. He and Evey, and you as well, have shaped me into who I am today. I even have people coming to me for advice now. Me. I want to leave a mark in the world but the right one. I feel I want my name to mean something good. A true legacy.”
“You do realize it will be tough on the kids, right? And that a gigantic mound of paperwork awaits you right?” Everett told him.
“Rett, we’ll get an attorney on that stuff. And KC, Everett and I think that is a very nice notion, an honor, really and of course we are excited and pleased aren’t we Rett?” Katie smiled at her husband leaving him only one answer.
“Of course we are. Just very unusual a wish, unexpected too, but I’ll get Abernathy on the paperwork. About time he earns that retainer. Lazy attorney folk, they are like neighbors and insurance. You hope you never have to deal with them, but when you need them, you are glad to have them. Katie is right, when is she not, this is an honor. You are honoring me and my heritage. I’ll help you with all that bureaucracy, since now I have loads of time, but you two will handle your kids. At least they are at a crossroads anyway and about to attend a new school, so that will work out fine. And your mother and I will throw in new signage for your shop, assuming you want to rename it to match the owners. Now, have you spoken to Josh about this yet?” Everett concluded, pride now reflecting on his face.
“No, I wanted to talk to you first, Sir.” KC told him.
“Katie, get our son over here.”
Josh was there within 30 minutes, and after an initial shock, he grinned. Not only was he a genuinely nice guy to begin with, but he and his wife had been close friends with Evey and KC, so while surprised that this had never been brought up, it didn’t bother him one little bit.
“Well, I always wanted a brother. All I got from my parents was an annoying sister and a company.” Josh laughed.
“Is that your tactic to try and take EC Architects from me?” he grinned as they all got up for hugs.
“Absolutely. I have done nothing but doodle houses in between filling orders at the workshop.” KC grinned back, well aware Josh was only teasing him.
“Great, I need a vacation right about now. Good luck with it. Just remember that beating up annoying clients is kinda frowned upon.” Josh kept joking.
“No need. If they get too much, I’ll send in my pre-teens. Nobody manages to get an argument in edgewise when those two are at it.”
“Needs a vacation, you hear that Katie? Your mother and I ran that company for 45 years and never once took a vacation, except the honeymoon and when we had your sister and you.” Everett grumbled.
“Dad, it was a joke, just like it’s a joke that KC wants EC Architects.” Josh told his father.
“Oh Josh, your father knows, he’s just tired.” Katie said.
“I AM tired. Why visit people so late for big decisions like that?” Everett said.
“Cause daddy, some of us still work for a living and it is only 8:30 PM.”
“I am still jet-lagged then.” Rett insisted stubbornly.
“Rett, we have been back for 3 weeks now! And the kids were only joking anyway.” Katie told her husband with a calming smile, making him smile too.
“I was not joking about the monster pre-teens and I really do doodle houses sometimes.” KC added.
“He does draw. Totally talent-free too. Whatever he draws is so godawful that you need to write ‘this side up’ on it or it becomes a mindboggling puzzle. I swear our dog Alpine could draw better pictures than my husband. Pretty safe to say, EC Architects will not be taken over by this Cameron-to-be.”
More laughter ensued.
Once the kids left again Katie turned to her husband.
“You could have been nicer, and smile a bit more, that was a great honor I think and very polite by KC to come ask your permission first.” Katie told him.
“Oh it is! I am beyond flattered. But at their ripe old age they still know how to pick the worst possible moment to visit us. Now where were we before they came to bother?” Everett asked while pulling Katie closer to him.
“I think the bedroom would be a good start, honey…”
The children were a bag of mixed emotions even before they were told about their parents’ imminent plans. Their time at grade school was coming to an end which would mean new friends, hormones beginning to rage through them wreaking havoc on skin and moods.
Both KC and Evey approached the subject carefully but honestly.
“I think it’s cool. Sounds pretty too …. Esmée Cameron. Ezzy Cameron. Esmée Cameron. Yeah, I like it.”
“You’ll end up changing your name anyway at some point.” Ethan shrugged.
“Huh, why?” Ezzy wondered.
“When you get married. DUH!” Ethan told her.
“What if I don’t get married. Or make my husband take my name? I may want to stay single forever. Learn all I can and then have a big career.”
“More likely only because you can’t find someone dumb enough to marry you.”
“At least I can walk and chew gum at the same time, unlike my dumb brother.”
“You chewing gum is embarrassing, looks like a cow regurgitating grass. MOOO!”
“The only thing embarrassing is having to sit next to you in class and people knowing we’re related. Maybe you should keep the old last name and I’ll just change mine.” Esmée told him.
“Dream on!” Ethan snapped back.
“Kids – can we stay on topic? So do you understand what that means? You would have to use your new last name everywhere and remember to say that and respond to that in class .. it may be a little tough in the …”
“MOOOOOM. We get it. Duh!”
“Yes, Evey, duh.” KC chuckled.
“Fine, you handle it, KC.” she was not amused.
“Looks like it’s handled. So what is your name going to be soon, Ezzy?” he asked their daughter.
“Esmée Cameron, daddy. Seriously, I got this. It’s Dumbo over there you need to worry about.”
“I give you Dumbo, you airhead! I am smart too, just more with science and numbers, not that other useless stuff. And I can remember Ethan Mc … Cameron!”
“HA! Maybe you can calculate the sum of the name and remember that instead. Hi, my name is Ethan 5, drool spit drool. Plop, I fell over because I cannot talk and think at the same time” Esmée laughed while teasing her twin brother.
“For your information I did that on purpose! CAMERON. Cameron… I got it. And YOU are dumb! A SO dead!” Ethan slid off his chair and chased his still laughing sister through the house.
That night after the kids went to bed Evey and KC talked in bed.
“That went … ah, it went.” KC chuckled.
“Ha ha ha … it’s good. They are good. And I am happy.”
“I was never going to say it, but I always loved my name Everleigh Rose Cameron. I am seriously glad. And now your name finally makes sense too. KC = Kieran Cameron.”
“I always had this one goal in mind, even as a young boy.”
“Seriously, you never told me how you arrived at KC.”
“Ah – it’s another sappy sob story from my fucked up birth family, Barbie. In a nutshell, during one stint with Foster parents, someone messed up and had me under my father’s last name, not my mother’s, so suddenly I was Kieran Cullen. I HATED that so very much! I protested and protested and finally just told everybody to only call me KC. That’s when you and I met. Then that stint ended, suddenly I was Kieran McCoy again, but I had told you I was KC, I liked you – a LOT – even then, so I was going to stay KC forever.”
“Aww. Well, now you’ll be a real KC. Wonder which one of us forgets and messes up first.”
“Honestly, ever since I lived with your grandparents I always wanted to be KC Cameron. Even sounds kinda cool.”
“If you wanted to be a Cameron so badly, why did you not just take Evey’s name when you got married? Would have been much easier and cheaper.” Heath said matter-of-factly.
“Are you SURE I cannot strangle him?” KC grumbled at Evey.
“YES!” came one response by two female voices, Sam’s and Evey’s.
Heath grinned victoriously at KC.
“I think it’s great. I do think though that maybe I should have insisted on my name instead of just taking Heath’s… world could have done with a few more Stewards…” Sam grinned at her husband, teasing him.
“I made a Steward out of one Grainger and we have another one already in production.” Jacob interjected grinning as he was passing through to the kitchen, in swim trunks, apparently on his way back from the pool, referring to him marrying Abby, who was expecting their first child.
“I don’t pay you to have an opinion.” KC called after him.
“You’re not paying me at all today! It’s my day off.” he heard back from the kitchen.
“Huh, how about that. No more days off for you kid!” KC called back.
“Sure, just remember you or Evey would have to be there too, or give me a key to the store and the register.” Jacob replied.
“That’ll happen in about – ah – not a million years!” KC answered.
“Hey guys!” greeted Abby.
“Oh my goodness, look at that adorable baby bump on my little Abby! Did you find out the gender yet?” Evey clapped excitedly.
“A little boy! Thanks guys for abusing my poor husband. Figured I better come downstairs and swing my bump around in his defense.” Abby grinned.
“Oh, that was nothing, Abby. You should see the abuse I give him at the shop. I work him so hard, at the end of each day I have to hammer his back out straight and Evey has to tie sticks to him so he can stay upright and make it home again. Looks like a gingerbread man.” KC told her.
Abby laughed and ran up the stairs with Jacob.
“Awww…. hopefully that baby she’s carrying will have those purple eyes … like his mommy and grandpa.” Evey swooned.
“…awww…and hopefully his daddy’s deep complexion …. not grandpa’s lovely shade of ‘White-Out’.” KC teased.
“Well, at least I am about to have a grandson. So far ahead of you, Arnold Mc Whats-My-Name-Again” Heath replied grinning.
“Oh no, you didn’t!” Evey laughed.
“Keep that up and we’ll find out how flexible you can be when I stick your head up one of your crevices. Maybe you will learn something new about your nether regions that way too.” KC play-threatened Heath trying hard to suppress laughter.
“I don’t need to learn anything new KC. Last count I was one biological kid ahead of you and I made them each individually, not two at once and done!” Heath retorted.
“Oh no you didn’t! Ouch, KC, that has to burn! Heath just owned you!” Sam laughed.
“So I hear, I feel like a proud daddy. After all those years, you finally sound like a real human. Next we get you started on some strength training, because without your vampire overlord strength you look a bit wimpy in those loafers.” KC grinned back at Heath.
“Why don’t you drag your knuckles back into your shop and pound around on some wood for stimulation of that lonely brain cell of yours? I am already done with my work for next week, since instead of brute strength, I use my brain to make money.” Heath threw right back at him.
“Ooh, someone’s been practicing their witty comebacks in front of the mirror.” KC laughed.
“I feel like I need popcorn to watch you two now.” Evey giggled.
“Me too. Jacob! Come back downstairs and get us all popcorn!” Sam called playfully.
The women laughed, but even louder yet when Jacob called down the stairs
“Mom, did you call me?”
“No, my lil gingerbread man … BWAHAHAH.”
All four adults burst into roaring laughter.
“What did she want?” Abby asked when Jacob returned to their room, shaking his head.
“I don’t know but one of them seriously spiked that coffee. They are 50 shades of cray cray and if you ask me, totally wasted. Even your dad is laughing.”
The name change was completed soon after, just days before KC impending big birthday.