Love is a fire.
But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.
Britchester University On-Campus Housing Minutes after the last chapter
Blaine felt like in the middle of a Mexican Standoff, between enemy lines, question being, who was the enemy here?
Obvious answer would be, that he was, as usual, his own worst enemy.
“BLAINE! Do something about this mess!” Kai’s unusually harsh voice pulled him from his near-trance, as he now realized Bristol was laying into Scarlett, who overall seemed eerily calm.
Kai had already pulled his girlfriend Cheyenne away from the conflict, now headed out the front door with her, sparing one warning glance back at Blaine.
“This had better be sorted by the time I come back! Excuse us now while we try to enjoy what’s left of our anniversary date!” he growled as they were leaving.
The door slammed shut hard, echoing into the now silence, as both girls stood there, measuring each other up.
“Explain this to me!” Bristol demanded from Blaine now.
“I … I … I … am … sorry … I … ” he stuttered, wondering what was there to say that didn’t sound like a cliché.
“Not as sorry as I am! There I sit in rehab, all alone, you know how rough that was? And then I come here, first place after being released, to surprise you, and I end up being the surprised one. No, appalled is what I am. Cheating on me with some dorm floozy! Seriously!? Some cheap ass rocker-goth-emo chick or whatever that’s supposed to be?!” Bristol’s voice and eyes told that she was between anger and very hurt.
“Hey, bitch, watch it!” Scarlett warned, her eyes sparkling dangerously.
“Scarlett … please … ” Blaine tried to stop her.
“Oh, no way. THAT is Scarlett?! THE Scarlett?!” Bristol instantly connected the dots, not like you would ever forget the name your boyfriend yells out during sex, especially when it is not your own.
“How many Scarletts do you think he knows, you airhead?! And why do you shut me up, Blaine, but let her insult me, huh?!” Scarlett hissed.
“Because I am his girlfriend, not just some random hussy who probably spreads it for everyone! Especially someone famous, like MY boyfriend. Let me repeat that for those slow ones in the back: BOYFRIEND!” Bristol answered for Blaine.
“Bristol – STOP! Enough! Please!” Blaine yelled.
“Why?! Aren’t I right? If not, please enlighten me. Is there more to this story, huh?! Is she more than another groupie you got a little weak with that I now have to try to forgive and forget, because that’s just part of being with you?” Bristol challenged, her eyes firmly focused on him as they welled up, as were Scarlett’s, both hanging on his every word now. Shit! Now what?!
Blaine didn’t know what to say. Inside of him it screamed a resounding YES! but every time he had tried to choose Scarlett, she had pushed him away. Even now, looking at her, the look she gave him didn’t instill him with much confidence that she wouldn’t just reject him again. He glanced back and forth between the girls with a begging expression in his eyes. Just make this go away. Start over with a blank canvas. Erase and rewind. Ugh!
Scarlett decided to take over for him.
“No, there’s not. Just a college hussy, some random act, wanting a quick roll in the hay with the famous celebrity son, isn’t that right Blaine? Yup, that is so ME. Well, didn’t work, too bad, so sad, bad for me, good for you, Del Sol Valley Barbie. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have other pants I need to get into. Tootles!” Scarlett’s eyes were narrowed, her tone dripping raw and unfiltered sarcasm.
“Scarlett, wait … don’t go” Blaine called out before he knew what to say, she halted for a moment, giving him a certain look, his eyes met Bristol’s, her expression somewhere between anger and terror – and his words ran silent.
“Right. That’s what I thought. Bye you two society lovebirds. Campus hoe-ing isn’t gonna do itself.” Everything about Scarlett was dripping disdain and sarcasm as she now headed for the door, Blaine could tell she was barely keeping her cool now.
The loud slam of the front door in Scarlett’s wake made Blaine jump, rising him from his quasi paralysis, he knew he screwed up, so he just ran after her, still just in his socks and boxers, he didn’t even care, caught up with her near the stairs towards the bridge.
She stopped, he caught up with her, facing each other, he pressed out
“Give me one reason to tell her who you really are to me. Tell her I chose you. Just give me something to hold on to. Just say the word, say you want me too. Anything! Please – just gimme something!” he begged.
For a few blinks of an eye she seemed to consider his words, her eyes softened, tears just waiting to fall wetting them now, but she didn’t allow it, her posture stiffened, her facial expression hardened as she shook her head.
“I wish I could … but I can’t. Go back to her. You belong with a girl like her. Fix what we almost broke. Bye Blaine.”
She turned and walked off with long strides, hiding the tears she now couldn’t stop any longer, while he grimaced, swallowing hard.
He inhaled deeply, then turned around and returned to his home to try and mend things with Bristol, if that was still possible.
The next morning ...
Blaine was up before dawn, sitting at the kitchen table hunched over a coffee mug when Kai walked in. He had spent the night away, still wearing the same clothes as the night before, probably slept at the hotel with Cheyenne. She and Bristol were enrolled in a college in Del Sol Valley, and only had flown in for a visit, and had booked a hotel for convenience.
The look Kai gave Blaine showed he was still upset, but then it softened when he realized Blaine was miserable.
“Morning.” he greeted.
“Morning. There’s fresh coffee if you want some.” Blaine offered.
Kai nodded, grabbed a cup, then sat down across from Blaine.
“So, what’s the news? You look like shit, so I assume this hasn’t turned into a convenient threesome?”
“Not in the mood for jokes, dude.”
“I wasn’t in the mood to get caught up in your love triangle last night, so I guess we are even then. So how bad? And why Scarlett? I didn’t even think you knew her!”
“Long story. And how do you know Scarlett?!”
“Right. I am only your best friend. No need for me to know. Why wouldn’t I know Scarlett, she and I are related. Distantly, but still. So yeah, we’ve met.” Kai gave Blaine a type of ‘does your stupid hurt?‘ look.
“What do you mean ‘what’?! The ‘Vatore’ part of my last name before my parents legally changed it from Cameron-Vatore to Camore when I was 9 didn’t clue you in, Einstein?! You knew me half my life as Kai Cameron-Vatore, before I became Kai Camore! Or did you already forget that, huh?”
“Shit. Yes, I kinda did forget that and I thought you were only related to Riordan, not Caleb.”
“Well duh! If I am related to one, I am automatically also related to the other, you fool! Ri is my grandpa, Caleb’s nephew, and ergo that makes Caleb’s daughter Riordan’s cousin. So Scarlett is my grandpa’s cousin. Just please don’t ask me what that makes her and me, other than somehow distantly related, even though her family and mine never really talk or hang out. Seriously Blaine, if you wanna start messing with vampires, you gotta stay on your toes, man. It’s not that easy! Rule of thumb: if the last name is Vatore, just assume there is a relation to Caleb, one way or another. You’d usually be right. Includes hyphenated names and mortals, like me. Not everything Vatore is necessarily a vampire, but most likely related to Caleb. Head spinning yet?”
“Yeah, no shit. Sorry, I didn’t realize that. And sorry I didn’t tell you. It’s just such a mess, I can barely make heads and tails of it. When I did that semester at Windenburg High I ran into Scarlett over at Ri’s and somehow we connected. So I asked her to junior prom. We hung out a bit after that, got really close and even eventually lost our virginity to each other. At fifteen. I got it bad for her, man, and I am pretty sure it’s mutual. But she keeps telling me she doesn’t want me, pulls me in, then pushes me away. I’m so confused by that, and it pisses me off so much. So we fight, again and again. Every time before I have to leave to fly back to the Valley we have the worst fight in history of mankind and no time to make up. Then I met Bristol … thought I was getting over Scarlett, until I met her again, and we … well, let’s just say I am 100% NOT over her and I am definitely something to her, but now … it’s such a clusterfuck. She and I have been going round and round for 3 years now, and counting, evidently.”
“Caleb and Ri don’t know about any of this, do they?”
“They do, to a degree. I picked her up at Caleb’s house for prom, even went there a time before that to ask her out. I met both her parents and little brother, so they all know me. They know we’ve hung out, a highly censored version of the truth, obviously. My parents do too, which is why I was rushed back home so fast. They only heard ‘vampire’ and almost lost a leg rushing me to the airport so fast, away from her before I could even tell her. Thought my mom was gonna rip my grandma’s head off when she found out she let me go to Forgotten Hollow without an adult. If they knew she’s on campus, they’d have me flying back home in no time! In case you don’t know yet, Scarlett managed to somehow get enrolled here. That’s why she was here, to tell me … well, at first it was harmless, we just hung out watching a movie together, laughing, having a real good time, but somehow ended up confirming what I already knew, namely that I am most definitely not over her.”
“Okay Blaine, I know you already figured this out, but I need to say it out loud for my own sanity’s sake. Don’t. Just DO NOT! I grew up with vampires around, and trust me, Ri tries so hard to be more like us mortals, but he never was and never will be. Can’t be. I love my grandpa, even though I cannot even call him that anymore, because he already looks younger than my dad now. That is not easy, believe you me. Caleb is a good guy, but a lot more vampire than Ri, his whole family is. That is a very different animal. I cannot see him sanctioning his precious beloved daughter dating a mortal. Especially not you, no offense, man, but you are not every father’s dream. Caleb is a stickler for rules and keeping up appearances. Now, I also know Scarlett has him wrapped tight around her finger and does whatever she wants, but I wouldn’t push that. Caleb is very powerful. He can MAKE her oblige, if he really wanted to, by force if need be. Ri could tell you stories about that …”
“I know, but … he has a son he can do all his vampire shit with, why does he need Scarlett?”
“You have a girlfriend you can do all your shit with, so why do YOU need Scarlett?!”
“Because I think I love her. That’s why.”
“Then you have to break it off with Bristol. That’s just shitty, stringing her along. She is a very nice girl, and definitely does not deserve sloppy seconds, since you’d only be with her because another girl rejected you! Yeah, that’s just not right, dude. Not cool at all.”
“I agree and therein lies my problem, I think I love her too.”
“Oh jeeze! Gimme a million breaks, dude. What kinda cheap teen soap opera are you rolling now?! That’s impossible. I think you are confusing being horny and love here. You probably got a hard-on for one and love the other. Just gotta figure out which is which, and for your sake I hope Bristol is the lucky winner!”
“Well, as usual Scarlett already gave me the shaft again. She just won’t commit to me. I asked her straight out, I would have chosen her last night. But again she left me hanging.”
“For good reason! I told you why. She knows that, better than I do even. So what about Bristol? Did you guys make up?”
“In a way. She’s in my bed, asleep.”
“Ah, THAT kinda make up, got it. Well, not a bad sign and whatever works. If a ride on your magic wand made her forget your asshole move, good for you. Didn’t do it for me, I had to listen to Cheyenne bust your balls before and after sex. Happy anniversary to me. Oh, and I had to listen to all the things she would do to me, if I ever did something like that to her. Every man’s dream when envisioning a steamy night with his girl. Thanks again for that.”
“Sorry! What you want me to do, give you a big wet kiss and tell you you are awesome?! And I wish sex were all it took. We made up all right, but she gave me an ultimatum.”
“Uh oh. Do I even want to know? Does it involve you moving back to Del Sol Valley right away?”
“I wish. I think I’d even prefer that right about now. She wants a ring. And a proposal. To be sure I mean it, that I am fully committed.”
“Holy shitpickles! She’s blackmailing you into an engagement?! Are you gonna do it?!”
“I don’t know. If I don’t, she’ll leave me for sure. I don’t know what to do. Any advice?”
“Yeah, start by putting both hands on the sides of your head and pulling as hard as you can. When you hear a loud ‘plop’ sound, it means your head is finally removed from your ass! That would be a good start.”
“Thank you, very helpful. Good thing I have a friend like you.”
“Anytime. What do you think I am gonna say now? I am not gonna tell you to propose to a girl at 18, but I sure as hell understand why she wants that. You made your bed, man … “
“I mean, it’s just a proposal. I can still back out later, right? Not like we would have to get married anytime soon. She said herself that’s not what she wants either. She just wants a real sign of commitment. So, I guess that’s not too bad, right?”
“That’s the right attitude! Propose marriage to a girl to shut her up. Sounds like a solid plan, Blaine! Right up your alley! I’ll be in the shower. Let me know if you need help with the pulling.”
Britchester University Off-Campus Housing East
While trying to study she looked up and out the window staring idly onto the stereotypical suburban neighborhood street outside her window and suddenly in her wandering mind there she was, wearing a brightly colored cotton sundress, strolling hand in hand with Blaine across the pavement, not a care in the world, suddenly he stopped, smiled down at her, she smiled back, he bend down to her to kiss her, all happening in slo-mo now, right there in public for all to see, in the brightest sunlight.
She imagined what it would feel like, the sensation of the kiss, his warm breath against her always cool skin, while feeling the warm sunlight on her skin without it burning and stinging painfully, the feeling of his hand in hers, just being a couple, being normal, a regular person among other regular people, all of it. Oh, if only … if only.
With a loud sigh her head dropped onto her notes and the paper she had been trying to compose for one of her classes, her mind was lightyears away, in a parallel universe where everything was different, better, where she could be with Blaine, where he would be hers and nobody had to hide anymore.
Drifting to that faraway, imaginary place, it made her jump terribly when out of nowhere loud knocking pulled her back into the dark twilight of her small room. If she had a heartbeat, it would be racing now.
She got up, yelling on her way to the door, more upset about having been pulled from her dream world way too soon than about someone interrupting her studies.
“Whatever it is you are peddling, I don’t want any! I got what I need and if you don’t get the fuck … DAD! What the hell are YOU doing here?!” Scarlett was genuinely shocked and surprised once she opened the door.
“Oh, that mouth on you! Hello there, my sweet princess. May I enter, even without requesting an audience beforehand, if I promise I won’t try to peddle anything? After all, to keep up with your new persona, I am using the door, waiting to be invited inside.”
“Yeah, sure. Thanks. Sorry about that daddy.” Scarlett hugged her father, adding a quick peck on the cheek. What in the world was he doing here now?!
“So, this is where you live now. I have to say, it is every bit as terrible as I imagined it. But at least I see you have been studying. Kudos. Does a father’s heart proud.” Caleb pointed at her cluttered desk.
“Yeah, that’s what I came here for. I am dead serious about getting my degree. You’d be happy to know that I have been getting very high marks on all exams so far. Professors are quite happy with me.”
“I expected nothing less.” Caleb told her with a boyish smirk.
“Well, unfortunately do the people here not love me unconditionally like you do daddy. They expect me to actually deliver. Here I am nothing special, just one of many thousands just like me.”
“Oh, I know, and I didn’t say that out of care, but because I know you too well, my petal. They could be holding all your classes in ancient Greek and you would still be acing every test, as you are way too stubborn to fail. You got that from me. However, something you didn’t get from me is to know when to let go of things that may end up burning you badly. Which is the ultimate reason I decided to come here, and not wait any longer for an invite by you that may never come. Seeing your accommodation first hand, I can see why. Your mother would have a nervous breakdown knowing this is where you live now.”
“It’s fine, it serves a purpose, not planning on staying here forever. But what are you talking about, dad?”
“I think you know. Look, you know exceedingly few things affecting vampires remain hidden from me, I have my ways and eyes and ears almost everywhere. I may not comment or react to all, as I am not everyone’s father, but I am yours, and while I acknowledge you are 18 and technically I have no more right to tell you anything, I find it my duty to not watch you jump head first into the volcano. Let me cut through the chase, I know about Blaine, I just learned about what happened yesterday and I am here to talk to you about this.”
“Oh dear God. This is not going to be the birds and bees talk, right dad?”
“No, as I am quite certain that you have no need for that, which is as far as I want to take that subject. You are, after all, still my little girl. I also know what has been going on with you and that Cameron boy, or at least I think I have a pretty good idea, and I know that it has been going on for years now. He is the exact same age now as his namesake was when he and I first met. At first I couldn’t stand the original Blaine, abrasive, vulgar, uncouth, womanizer, but there was something about him, so I gave him a chance, I offered a helping hand when he really needed it and it got me the best and truest friend any man could ever have. Our friendship survived throughout his lifetime, even when he realized I had the same kind of unrequited love for who would later become his wife as you seem to have for that Cameron kid.”
“Okay dad, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have heard that story a million times, just like Riordan and Ana’s story, but I don’t see how any of that helps me now. It’s not the same. Mine is a lot more complicated than that.”
“Is it though? If you look closely, you see that my story with Blaine’s wife and Riordan’s story with Ana are the exact two options you are faced with, your inner conflict won’t stop until you choose. Either let go, like I did, which is hard, and takes a LONG time, I will tell you that. Or go for it, it took Riordan a long time as well they both hit rock bottom a few times before reaching their happy ending, but they made it. At the end of the day for us vampires who can’t help but fall for a mortal, the outcome is always the same. We’ll lose them all the same, eventually. It’s just the in-between you have to figure out and make the best of. I was lucky enough to find true love with another vampire, your mother, but make no mistake, it took me hundreds of years, and many sometimes all too brief relationships to do so. Nobody can help you with this choice, even though of course I am always there to talk, if you needed to. But the decision has to ultimately be yours, from the heart and the mind, not one or the other.”
“Wait – I’m confused. So are you advising me to go after Blaine?”
“Like hell I am! That would be the day that I’d be even hinting at my little girl to run after some boy! But I am also not saying you can’t, or shouldn’t. All I am saying is don’t run into something blindly but be sure you can live without him before turning your back completely. A relationship with a mortal comes at a very high price. However you decide, I would ask you have a candid talk with Riordan and ask all the right questions. I need to know that you know exactly what a relationship with a mortal entails. For them and you. And for all that is holy, whatever you do with whomever you choose, be sure you use birth control. A baby for a young, beautiful mind such as yours before you could take flight to your full potential isn’t what your mother and I would want for you, and even worse, a mortal child to a vampire can be the detrimental.”
“No worries, daddy. I have big plans and no room for any babies for a long time, and yes, I remember all your stories about Cara and I know how hard it is on Ri that his kids can’t call him daddy and his grandkids can’t call him grandpa anymore. I know all that. But … Daddy! You like Blaine, don’t you!?” Scarlett’s tone was teasing and upbeat now.
“I wouldn’t go THAT far, but I will admit I don’t dislike him. Truth be told, the older that kid gets, the more I end up with flashbacks, he even looks a lot like the original Blaine, which proves to be an Achilles heel. Worked out for him though, as any other snot-nosed teen showing up at my doorstep wanting to take my little girl to some mortal prom would have learned how to run faster than ever before in their life!”
“What for!? I did not tell you to do anything, just cautioned you, especially if your mother asks! I was never even here. She specifically forbade me to meddle in this. This has to be our little secret, my little meadowlark.”
“Oooh … daddy! Do I hear whips cracking? Go mommy! Hee hee hee.” Scarlett teased.
“Watch it, you little brat, remember who is paying your tuition! Now, I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for more agreeable living quarters, just food for thought, young lady. I better get back to Forgotten Hollow. Some more boring Grand Master Elder business to tend to. Love you, little one.”
“Love you more, daddy!” she hugged her father, who returned the gesture with a firm enough grip to make her realize he missed her a lot.
Smiling, Scarlett watched the black cloud dissipate after the hug ended. For his departure Caleb hadn’t bothered with the long-winded paths of mortals, just teleported back home without further ado.
Scarlett’s mind was racing, miles away from any studybooks, even though she tried hard, but the words and letters where just dancing before her eyes, not making any sense except form a certain boy’s name over and over in her mind.
When it was finally dark enough for her to be outside comfortably, she changed into street clothing, shoes and a jacket, put them on faster than vampire speed and ran out the door, straight towards campus, crossing it as fast as she could without using vampire speed, arriving at Blaine and Kai’s home.
Worried his girlfriend might still be there, and unwilling to cause yet another big scene, she decided to look through the window before knocking on the door …