You have to tell the whole truth, the good and the bad, maybe some things that are uncomfortable for some people.John Lewis
Windenburg, old downtown district Bergman Residence
Let’s start this chapter with a bit of a flashback and sort of explanation.
Christian Bergman, Natalie’s 24 year old nephew had just returned from college after graduation, ready to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
His father, Nathan Bergman, had always been rebellious and gotten into competitive sports and from there into steroids at an early age, despite his father hoping for him to focus on academics and eventually study engineering.
By the time he was around 16 years old he was either aggressive on a steroid rage, winning championships on his substance induced high, or getting into physical altercations with anyone who upset him, or he was strung out and barely functional when the steroids had worn off. Eventually he got into other controlled substances as well. This lead to constant friction with his parents, who feared not only for Nathan’s wellbeing, trying to save him from himself, which only pushed him further away, but they also were concerned he may be bad influence on his much younger sister Natalie, and eventually after a horrible fight, Nathan left home and cut off all ties to his family.
At some point over a decade later, Natalie had just gotten married to Brendan and moved into their home together, CPS showed up at the old Bergman’s doorstep with a frightened little 12 year old boy, Christian, and they learned that he was their grandson and they were the only next of kin.
Nathan and his on again off again girlfriend Shelley, Christian’s mother, had both fallen victim to a fatal car crash, making Christian an orphan overnight, Shelley had no living relatives, so the young boy was brought to live with his grandparents, whom he had never even met, and who had no idea he even existed. To make matters worse would the very first thing they would do together be attending the funeral of Christian’s parents.
With lots of love and patience, over time Christian built a strong and caring relationship and a tight bond with his grandparents and his aunt Natalie and Brendan, and he began to thrive.
Christian grew into a smart, happy and healthy young man, eventually attended college for his civil engineering degree. Somehow in between he had met a young woman, and while Brendan and Natalie were busy raising their two boys, having careers and helping Brendan’s sister Anastasia through her rough patch, they had always managed to miss her. Christian had gone to pick her up for the dinner and they were running late, so Natalie’s parents, Natalie and Brendan and their two sons passed the time with laughter and catching each other up on the latest events.
When Christian finally arrived with his girlfriend, Natalie and Brendan tried hard to act normal and not stare. She was none other than Evangeline Chamberlain, the girl Riordan used to date for a long time during his and Ana’s break.
Brendan had a hard time keeping Natalie from flipping out to begin with, but when Christian suddenly announced their engagement, which was the reason they had been late, she nearly spat out her lemonade and almost dropped the glass, during a coughing fit.
Brendan scurried off to the bathroom with Natty, as soon as she could speak again she blew up.
“Can you believe that girl!? Oh hell no, not my nephew and her with that terrible act. Plays like she doesn’t know us. Unbelievable that woman, got everybody fooled with her innocence act, but she isn’t fooling me anymore! And she sure as heck is not going to marry Chris! Not on my watch. This has golddigger written all over it in bright letters! She wants my daddy’s money! NEVER EVER!”
“Natty, stop. She really doesn’t know. I found out some stuff, has to do with Riordan and his uncle. I will explain everything once we are home, but please, please, just try to be happy for them. You used to like Vannie. Please, Natty, do it for me and to keep our boys out of drama. Let’s just put on smiles, enjoy a nice meal and stay calm, okay? I promise it will all make sense. Just until I can explain, please PLEASE act like nothing happened. Okay? For me? Please?”
“Fine, for you Brenny, just for you. And only because I trust you and know you wouldn’t just gloss over serious stuff. But this explanation had better be good!”
“Oh, it will knock your socks off, babe. That I’ll promise you.”
“Ooh, sounds juicy! Good thing I am not wearing any socks then, huh? I’ll be sure to have popcorn handy. Come on, hubby, let’s get back then and play-pretend with the rest of them.”
“That’s my girl! Love you Nats.”
Brendan kissed her quickly, then slapped Natty’s behind on their way out.
Windenburg Cameron Beach House
Later than same night, once back at their own home, after tucking the boys into bed, both Natalie and Brendan ended up in the living room.
“All right, Mister. I am all ears now.”
“Have a seat, so you don’t keel over, as this is gonna blow your panties off, baby. My backup should be here momentarily, and I am gonna need it.”
“I’ll stand and risk it. And what backup? Who?”
A knock on the door interrupted them. Brendan went to answer and returned with Riordan. After a brief greeting Brendan turned to him.
“So, Riordan, you’re on. The moment of truth, the one I was hoping would never come is here. Work your magic.” Brendan told him.
“My magic? What magic? Do I look like David Copperfield? What role exactly do you want me to play here?” Riordan asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Are you kidding me? Explain and show to Natty who and what you really are.”
“I don’t know, man, use your imagination. Do your vanishing act thing or whatever else you can think of that is distinctly … you.”
“Guys, I am not in the mood for magic tricks here …” Natalie protested.
Riordan shrugged, then vanished into a black cloud, Natalie winced surprised, then let out a little scream when he suddenly appeared next to her, showing his teeth.
“What the actual fuck?!” she cursed, which she never did, while taking several quick steps away from Ri.
“Natty, baby, please calm down! Everything is fine. You are safe, we all are safe, but he’s a vampire, yes, they are real. I have no clue how else to tell you this. There is no nice and easy way, nor any logic to explain what defies all logic.”
“I think what he is really trying to explain is that because I am this, as is my uncle, which Evangeline knew, so when we broke up my uncle wiped her memory with his powers. I would like to add that for once, I am innocent, I didn’t know he would do that, didn’t even find out until Brendan told me that he had, and I had nothing to do with it.”
“Wiped her memory? Like in ‘Men In Black’?” Natalie grimaced, the disbelief reflected on her face.
“Hey, never thought about it that way, but that actually pretty cool. Maybe I should ask uncle to teach me.”
“Wait, so your uncle Caleb is a … vampire, too?”
“Yup. A leader even.” Riordan confirmed.
“Can I see those teeth again?” Natty asked.
“Sure.” Riordan obliged, Natty stared at the fangs, gently tapped on them with her fingernail, then surprised Riordan when she heartily yanked on them.
“Ummm … ouch! Seriously!?” he protested while pulling away, looking at her like she had tried to skin him, rubbing his face.
“Sorry. They look so … real.” Natalie mumbled.
“Ever thought that may be because they are?! And I am not a rodent, they don’t constantly grow back, so hold your horses there, woman and don’t try to rip them from my face! That really hurt, Nats! I had no idea you could be so mean!” Riordan complained.
“Sorry, I was just trying to pull those fake teeth out. Didn’t know they were in that tightly. Gimme a million breaks guys. I don’t know if you think this is funny or something, but it’s not. There are no vampires. Sorry, I am not buying what you are selling. Uh uh! It’s impossible. Defies all logic.” Natty shook her head several times through her speech.
“So does his sister, but you never doubted she’s real.” Riordan couldn’t help the sarcasm.
“Ri, do something else to prove it.” Brendan demanded.
“Look bruh, I am not a circus animal trained to do a set of tricks on command. What else you want me to do even?”
“Never mind, I got it! Natty, feel for his pulse or heartbeat. He has none of that.”
Natalie did, then eventually stepped away, shaking her head, staring at Ri.
“Are we done now having your wife fondle and abuse me, Brendan?! Remind me to look into fang dentures, just in case she’s ever really mad at me.” Riordan snickered at Natalie.
“Well, if you were a real vampire you would be dead and hence not feel pain. So there is that.” Natty argued.
“Uh, yeah … great logic if I were a character from popular movies or literature. Sadly, they are all wrong, based on the fact that they wrote fiction and had no clue, but I do, seeing how I AM a real vampire and I am very much alive, thank you very much, just differently than you are and I very much feel pain, thanks again for bringing that so vividly to my attention! Oh – and spoiler alert: I also don’t sparkle in the sunlight. I just curse a lot as that shit hurts me.”
“OK, fine, I got nothing. You definitely have no heartbeat, no pulse, you have fangs that don’t come out and you can – whatever you call that poof gone thing. I really don’t know how that is possible. So fine, you’re a vampire then. And Brenny you knew about this all this time? You let him near our boys, even as helpless infants, knowing this?! He’s watched them for us, all alone with them! Oh my God!” Natalie mumbled, still confused.
“Hey, Natty, come on now! You know me better than that and you know I love those kids … I mean, seriously now!” Riordan looked truly offended.
“Natty, you know I would never risk it had I had any shred of a doubt Ri would do anything to them. He would protect them with his life. But see, this is why I never told you. It’s pretty tough to handle. I grew up with it, his uncle, his mother and him always around. Seemed pretty normal and I always knew I couldn’t mention it to anyone. I know I don’t have to say this, but, please don’t say anything to anyone. Not even the boys.”
“As if! I can contain myself. Nobody would believe me anyway, I am still not sure I really believe this.”
“Maybe I should bite your neck a little, so you will have no choice than to believe it? Nom nom nom … ” Riordan grinned from behind her.
“Don’t you dare! I will definitely rip those teeth out of your face then!”
“So, you believe it then, huh?” Riordan smiled.
“I guess so. I know Brenny wouldn’t lie to me, and neither would you, I guess. But how can this be, Ri? You seem so normal. I would never have guessed … does Ana know? What about the babies?” Natalie wondered.
“Thanks for the ‘normal’ part, not something I get accused of a lot. Joking aside, of course Ana knows, this is the reason why we had such a rocky relationship. Before I graduated to my uncle’s ranks, he always threatened to permanently separate us. Now he can’t anymore. The kids are one reason. There is no telling now what they will be. One or both could be like me, or like Ana. We won’t know until birth. And until they hit puberty, they will be like any other kids anyway. My father is a mortal, my mother a vamp. My uncle had a child with a mortal and Cara is a mortal. Luck of the draw.” Riordan said.
“Ri, look at me, straight into my eyes and promise me the kids, Brenny and I will always be safe from you and your … uh …. inclination.” Natalie looked right into Riordan’s eyes, trying to read for signs.
“Of course I promise, Natty. You are one of my closest friends and I love those boys like they were my own. Brenny’s like my little brother, always has been. I would never touch any of you. Nor would any other vamp for that matter, because of who my uncle is and who I am.” Ri reaffirmed her.
“So there are more like you, other than your uncle and Lilith?” Natty looked worried again.
“Oh yeah, many more. But you would never know.” Riordan confirmed.
“Oh man, I need a drink! Anybody else, Brenny? Ri? Or do you have a ‘don’t drink and fly’ policy, Ri.” Natalie said drily.
“Hardee har har. Funny lil girl. And for your information, turning into bats is fiction. What we do is more of a teleportation. So yeah, I’ll take a drink.” Riordan countered.
“As long as you don’t get wasted and teleport yourself straight into the ocean or something …” Natty smiled a little.
“Awww, almost sounds like you’re concerned and don’t hate me now.” Ri winked at her.
“I don’t hate you, you fanged goof. I’ve known you too long and too well to do that. But if you lay something like this on someone, you cannot expect them to do cartwheels for joy.” Natalie said sincerely, then hugged him, while Brendan looked relieved.