Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop.
KC sighed as he dropped backwards into the soft cushions of the couch in the hotel suite, then looked over at Blake, who had barely made it onto the bed, where he had sat down, fallen backwards, and was asleep in mere seconds, his feet still on the ground.
Poor kid, KC thought, but it also made KC grin. At least this got his mind off he terrible events of the past months and now he was often too tired even for the horrible nightmares he usually had nightly.
The days for KC were dull, long and strenuous. Aside from getting up way too early to make sure he could get his teen grandson out of bed and ready to go, motivated and also fed, give Blake pep talks throughout the day when he got down on himself, fight the people at the studio to make sure Blake was treated well and according to his young age, then get him back to the hotel where the kid usually fell asleep right away. KC would let him recoup for an hour or two before waking him, making him eat dinner, have him get ready for bed and then basically tuck in a totally exhausted 16 year old, who seemed more like a little boy by that point.
While Blake was ‘working’, KC would have to sit around stiffly and quietly to not disrupt production, not even allowed to dabble on his phone or risk being kicked off set, and he was afraid to leave the studio and therewith Blake to the mercy of the complicated movie folk.
While KC was normally very fit for his age with no health concerns to speak of, currently he felt ever single one of his 65 years after a few weeks of that routine, and there were many more to be had.
Blake had nailed the audition in San Myshuno, received a callback, and after some ado got one of the leading roles. Since KC had gotten him into that ‘mess’ he felt responsible, didn’t want Ethan to find excuses for him not to go, and he didn’t want Blake to be disappointed as he seemed downright ecstatic about it all, so he offered to accompany him, chaperone the 16 year old and be his guiding light in the strange city far away from home.
Somehow Ethan – and Evey – agreed. Now KC and Blake’s days started well before dawn and ended long after dark.
Every day, even weekends.
The producers’ goal was to get the movie shot as fast as possible, not only to save resources, but because most of the main protagonists were underage and had to attend school. In order to keep the amount of missed school days down once summer break was over, they hurried through production. Still now, about half way through, KC was wondering how they’d make it.
Luckily every so often, they would get a day off, unscheduled, due to some faulty equipment or other SNAFU.
Blake was being a trooper and tried to be professional.
The film was some romantic teen flick, a typical boy meets girl scenario, they end up chasing each other for the length of the movie, while the boy rises like phoenix from the ashes from some ridiculous drama, while going from poverty to fame. And of course he ends up getting the girl.
Having to watch this was painful for KC, and the romantic scenes gave inexperienced Blake much anxiety. Blake and KC found out that movies were not shot sequential, which was confusing and really not easy to follow if you weren’t looking at a script.
Not to mention: boring for KC.
KC wondered what this movie would ultimately mean for Blake. Would he be the one to break the spell and move away from Brindleton Bay? Be famous like Liam once had been?
All that was assuming the movie didn’t flop. If it did, what would that do to the tender, beaten soul of this young boy? Kids in school would find out and tease him about it.
They’d find out, eventually, no turning back now.
Finally back in Brindleton Bay, still during the last week of summer break, Blake wasted no time and invited Hailey over to hang out the day after they arrived home. The teens talked, enjoyed the warm, lazy summer day on his grandparents’ patio.
“Yeah, I guess I’ll go have ice cream with you, Mr. Del Sol Valley superstar…” Hailey giggled.
“Don’t call me that! We don’t even know how the movie will do. It won’t even be released until early next year.” Blake was mildly annoyed. He had missed her so, and wasn’t in the mood for teasing. And definitely did not want to hear another word about movies.
“Did you have to kiss girls?” she asked.
“Uh – I guess. I mean, my character did … but it was … really awkward.” about as awkward as he felt about that question now.
“More awkward than .. you know…” she asked, and Blake knew right away she was referring to their kiss at the summer party at Everett Heights.
“Why are you bringing that up now?” he was really annoyed now. Why did she have to talk about THAT now?!
“Why are you so touchy about it?” she shrugged.
“I am not.”
Hailey just shook her head and smiled.
“Keep foolin’ yourself, Blake …” Hailey said and got up, Blake followed.
“Look, I just … that night … it’s just weird, cos … umm … dating is just not …. for me.” Blake stuttered what he hoped to turn into a sufficient explanation.
“Girls in general or just not me?” Hailey wanted to know.
“Stupid question. In general. I just don’t want to be tied down, especially not at 16.”
“Because you are a big shot now and have options?”
“No. And I am not a big shot. I just … don’t date.”
“Why?” Hailey asked and Blake just wanted to run away. What was wrong with her today?!
“Because .. I …. I don’t know. You and I especially, that kiss was an accident .. we are friends. That is SO much more important to me than holding hands and … kissing .. and stuff.” Blake could feel his cheeks and ears glowing hot by now.
“Now that is a steaming pile of crock for sure! You can do both, be friends and a couple. My parents are a team like that. They met in high school and are still happy. Working a farm is hard work, so dad doesn’t constantly chase mom down with red roses and stuff, but they still love each other and kiss and all…”
“Good for them.”
“So, you are planning to live your entire life alone? What’s the point?”
“The point? I could ask you the same with your scenario. We are not animals, sole purpose in life to find a mate and reproduce as fast as we can. I have dreams, aspirations, goals. A girlfriend would just get in the way.”
“Wow. You seem so nice, like you had your shit together, but you sound like a prick now. In the way? WOW. Bet that’s not gonna make it onto the promo posters for your big movie debut.” Hailey’s tone made no secret about her being upset.
She turned to leave, Blake held on to her.
“You are taking this all wrong. I didn’t mean it bad. What I meant was, females are just usually trouble to guys, unintentional sometimes. I just cannot focus on what I want to do if there were a girl breathing down my neck, constantly distracting me, wanting attention, …”
“You are totally messed up! So who are you going to take to the dance then? Your guitar?”
“Duh – the school dance, hello? Every year after summer break they have a school dance a few weeks later. EVERYBODY goes. So, are you gonna be the one weirdo who is just not gonna go, because you suddenly hate females?”
“I don’t suddenly hate females, I do not hate them at all. I just don’t go to dances and that kinda stuff. I don’t see the point. Unless of course the school would book me to play at the dance. Now THAT would be awesome!”
“The point? The point is that those ‘dances and that kinda stuff’ are what 50 year old you will one day look back on and reminisce. Those of us who went, that is. Maybe not the celebrity-wanna-be crowd. I wouldn’t know. Just a simple farm girl.”
“Ok fine, if you think that dance is so important, I’ll take you that stupid dance. Happy?”
“WHAT?! Excuuuuse me?! You are so full of yourself! Do you really think that I am so desperate for a date, that there is nobody who would bother take me, so that I have to take a pity invite from you only made to ‘shut me up’? Dream on! You are seriously too much right now, I can’t even!”
Hailey got so angry and loud, Blake was shocked. In all that time he had known her, over half their lives now, he had never seen her lose her cool, ever, let alone seen her this upset.
“Why are you getting so bend out of shape about such non-sense. None of this matters in the end, Hailey …” he tried to diffuse the situation.
“You are wrong! This kinda stuff is the only thing that matters in the end, but you are too dazed and confused by your dreams of fame and fortune to see.” Hailey’s eyes were tearing up for anger and frustration, she turned and stormed off leaving Blake behind, almost running into his grandpa on her way into the house.
“Whoa, young lady, careful there. Bringing you kids a bucket of ice so you don’t melt away.”
“Great idea, Mr. Cameron, you can empty that bucket over your idiotic grandson’s head! May just be the wake up call he needs!” she hissed and ran inside past KC.
“Hailey … ?” Blake’s voice reflecting his shock.
“That is one angry girl. Good job, kiddo. Definitely didn’t half-ass that.”
“Hailey wait …. ” Blake had no ear for his grandfather’s teasing once he woke from his shocked frozen state and ran after her, through the house and found her walking down the street.
“Hailey where are you going?”
“You don’t have a car … let me drive you home.”
“No, thanks. Wouldn’t want to get in your way.”
“Hailey, don’t be like this. And this is the wrong way to the bus station anyway …”
“Leave me alone!”
“Mind if I cut in? I know I am not as swoonfully irresistible to a fifteen year old girl as that one, but maybe I will do? Let me take you home, for your parents’ sake.” KC had caught up with them.
“Thank you, Mr. Cameron. What a gentleman you are! And for the record, I think you are MUCH more handsome than that little boy over there who needs to grow up. At least you do not have your head up your butt, Mr. Cameron!”
“Wow – Hailey I don’t get while you are so …”
“Blake, why don’t you go inside and help your grandma.”
“Help her with what?”
“I don’t know kid, maybe she can pull the head out for ya. Just go. Now.”
Blake stood stiffly, shoulders slouched and mouth agape, watching his grandpa gallantly open the car door for Hailey, who smiled that sweet smile, which vanished instantly as she looked back over at him.
That stung more than expected.
With a confused expression Blake watched his grandpa drive off with her, feeling like he messed up without having done anything wrong.
When KC returned, Blake was already waiting for him near the door, like a puppy.
“Is she still mad at me? Did she say why?”
“Yes, and kinda.”
“Are you not gonna tell me? And how am I gonna fix it? And do you see how this proves my point? Females – mad at you for no good reason.”
“Hey, zip it kid. That kinda talk is going to land both of us in the frying pan if your grandma hears. And it isn’t rocket science, nor does it require lots of life experience. All you need to do is think. Also, whatever you said to her, something about girls being a burden, really did not sit right with her.”
“That’s not what I said or meant. She took it all out of context. What I meant was that ..”
“Blake, I don’t care what you meant. I am not the one you have to convince, plus I have a pretty good idea what went down. I was waiting for something like that to happen. Remember that kiss you told me about and when you asked me what I think you should do? If I deduced that you were sweet on her from just that, what did you think she would make of it. And honestly, while I know this is none of my bee’s wax, can’t help but wonder about the way you act. Hailey is as sweet as they come. I am not really sure why you act like a scared virgin on a pirate ship about dating her. I am pretty sure she would not accuse you of bad stuff, if that is what you are afraid of. She’s just not the vindictive type.” KC said.
“I am not afraid of anything. I KNOW she would never backstab me. I like being friends with her. Not gonna screw that up by dating. Not her and not anybody else! Most teen relationships barely last through high school, and it’s just not worth it to me. She is really important to me and so easy to be around. I can be myself with her. Well, I could. Now I guess that’s out the window too. Shit. Exactly what I was trying to avoid.”
“If you wanted just a friend, then why did you kiss her?”
“I have no clue. I don’t even remember doing it. I remember the kiss, but not how I got there. Well, I guess once school starts I’ll buy stupid tickets to that stupid dance she seems so keen on. Any chance you can teach me dancing so I don’t look like to total loser?”
The very next day at the Loughlin farm.
“What do you want?” Hailey asked, her tone short.
“Hang out.” Blake told her.
“This is private property. Hang out somewhere else.” she retorted.
“Ok, I want to hang out WITH YOU.”
“If I help you with … whatever this is, wanna go swimming in the lake?”
“Ok, how about a movie?” Blake tried.
“OMG – don’t you get it? NO.”
“Don’t you get it? I’ll just keep asking until you say yes.”
“Honey, you can go with Blake and enjoy your summer. You don’t need to help with the cabbage.” Hailey’s mother offered.
“It’s okay, mom. I wouldn’t want to be in Blake’s way.” Hailey’s tone was still every bit as upset as the day before.
“Are you still on about that?! Come on Hailey, what do you want me to do? Beg on my hands and knees? I will, if that means you’ll be your normal self again. I miss the old Hailey.”
“And I miss the old Blake. Cos this version of you SUX!”
“All right, tell me how you really feel.” Blake couldn’t help but say.
“Sure, how much time do you have.”
“Kids, can you take that elsewhere? You are scaring the cabbage and the chickens. Go and have some ice cream with Blake. Sugar may give you the jumpstart you need, my little sour puss. Grumpy doesn’t suit you, Missy.” Mrs. Loughlin smiled at Hailey, then winked at Blake.
Hailey’s mom continued her labor in the cabbage patch, while Hailey was fuming, especially when she saw Blake grinning.
“Fine. Then we’ll go have stupid ice cream at some stupid crowded ice cream parlor so you can sit there and act all stupid and innocent.”
“I don’t have to act about that. I AM innocent – and probably stupid, too. But you are really blowing this out of proportion.”
“Do you kids need me to drive you?” Hailey’s mom piped up, this time a little more firm. She was over the kids’ bickering and wanted them to either make up or leave and fight elsewhere.
They took the hint and left.
Hailey stomped off towards the house, Blake just followed her quietly, realizing she’d want to go to her room to clean up and change. When she came back down, she wasn’t in a much better mood still.
“Can we go somewhere NOT crowded, please?”
“Anywhere you like, if that makes you smile.”
“You can be so aggravating and annoying, Blake Cameron.”
“But that almost made you smile …” Blake smirked.
“What am I going to do with you, Blake?”
“Hey Hailez … do you really want to go to the school dance?”“Not THAT again!” she rolled her eyes.
“I was wondering of you already had a date …” Blake said.
“How? It’s still summer break and tickets won’t go on sale until like the second week back or something.” Hailey told him.
“So, no date yet? Could’ve been already like a long line waiting to ask you, picking numbers and stuff.” Blake flashed his most charming smile, imitating the one his grandpa usually gave his grandma when he was in dangerous waters with her.
It always worked for him
“Oh my gawd, you are really laying it on thick now.” she was trying not to fall for his boyish charm. In vain.
“Would you go with me? Maybe you’d let me skip that line and having to pick a number for old times sake?” Blake asked, his tone very official sounding.
“You don’t even want to go.” Hailey said, but it was obvious her anger was melting like ice in the sunshine.
“Course I do! Someone really smart told me that is the stuff I will remember when I am 50.”
Hailey was trying hard to act unfazed, failing completely when he just hugged her and she just started glowing.
“Fine. I wouldn’t want to be the reason you end up missing out on that memory for when you are 50, so sure, I guess I will sacrifice myself and go with you, unless someone better comes along.” she was trying hard to hide a grin, and Blake knew she was just teasing him.
“Fair enough. I may still decide to go with my guitar instead. At least that never gives me such a hard time.”
“One more word and you will be wearing that guitar as a hat, Blake Cameron!” she said giggling.