Once you eliminate the impossible,
whatever remains, no matter how improbable,
must be the truth.
Willow Creek Taste of Florence Restaurant
Eyeing Blaine and Bristol suspiciously, Scarlett arrived at their table, ordered water with the waiter who came running right away – because it was THE Blaine Cameron dining there tonight. Scarlett tried to ignore all the curious stares from all around them, but could feel them uncomfortably burning holes into her back, even though they were clearly intended for Blaine and Bristol, the power couple. She was just a nobody, which was the way she preferred it.
“Sorry, I am late.” she said, looking distrustful, while pulling out a chair, it was apparent to Blaine she had assumed he was going to come alone.
“Hey waiter, just a sec, I think she is gonna want something with a little more substance than water. Scarlett, will you have some wine with us?” Blaine halted the flow.
“Fine, I’ll have the wine then.” Scarlett told the waiter who nodded and hurried away only to reappear moments later with another glass, pouring it nervously, generating a raised eyebrow from Scarlett, but she said nothing. Celebrity life definitely came with perks.
“Scarlett, I am sure you can guess why I asked to see you. Bristol knows about my suspicion. She is here to support me in case I am right, which I am pretty sure I am.” Blaine tried for a neutral tone.
“Ah, strength through unity. How adorable of you two. So, what suspicion would that be, Blaine?” Scarlett’s tone was sharp. Clearly, she didn’t like any of this.
“Scarlett, look, I know this may look like two against one to you, but it is not meant to put you on the spot or make you uncomfortable. We just want answers. Blaine deserves the truth, and by extension, so do I. Is that little girl Blaine saw you with at the playground his child or not?” Bristol cut straight to the chase.
“What if it were?” Scarlett responded after taking a sip of her wine.
“Then he would want to meet her, be a part of her life. Naturally we would have to complete a paternity test, just a formality, of course, and after that, make his fatherhood official. He would want visitation rights, assuming you aren’t inclined to allow her to live with us full time, we would pay child support, all that. Co-parenting. Help carry the burden, so to speak.” Bristol said.
“Is that so? Well, Bristol, first of all, my daughter is not a burden to me. Also, this is not about money, I could care less about money. My family is plenty wealthy, the very last thing I want or need from either of you is money, and my little girl will stay right the fuck where she is, in her home, thank you very much! As for the rest … fine. Yes. She is yours, Blaine. I never intended to keep this from you, was going to tell you a million times but you were still so angry at me, always so nasty to me, I did not see a way to bring that up with you. Frankly, your behavior also made you seem immature and not ready to deal with such news, let alone with a delicate little child, plus you had made your feelings about fatherhood crystal clear to me many times, I am sure Bristol has heard that spiel before as well. Not exactly confidence inducing. I didn’t want to risk exposing my child to your unpredictable outbursts or any sort of unnecessary drama, nor did I want to jeopardize your marriage. Belated congratulations, by the way.”
“Exposing her? To me? That’s MY daughter! I have a right to expose her to me, to know her! You kept her from me! How could you?!” Blaine ranted loudly, but quieted instantly when Bristol placed her hand on his.
“Blaine, darling, calm down, keep your voice down. Scarlett makes a valid point, people are staring because you are making a scene! You do have a temper. Fair enough then, Scarlett. First of all, I chose my words badly, my apologies, I did not mean to imply your little girl was a burden to anyone. But Blaine wants to be part of her life, we would both like to meet her, I would be there to make sure he won’t lose his cool. I think our request is more than fair and very understandable.”
“What’s my daughter’s name anyway?” Blaine asked.
“Vivien. It means lively. I am sure you can guess why I chose that, can’t you, Blaine?”
“So, she is like … me?” Blaine asked carefully, while shaking his head ever so slightly, signaling that Bristol knew nothing about the vampire part.
“Yes, she is all daddy. Same eyes and everything.” Scarlett gave him the answer covertly.
“That is a very pretty name, Scarlett. It still seems wrong to me to let you and your family bear all the costs. Proper care of a child is not cheap and we do not want corners cut. Only the best for little Vivien. After all, she is my step-daughter.”
“I can assure you, step-mommy dearest, Vivien has everything she could EVER want and need. Above all, an entire family with nothing but love for her. The unpretentious and free kind!” Scarlett put her in her place, while Blaine was busy processing it all.
“Well, except her daddy, right? She has been missing out there, but I am glad that you are willing to change that. I am confident we can work something out that is satisfactory to all of us.” Bristol smiled a well-rehearsed polite smile with strong ‘don’t-fuck-with-me’ undertones.
“Of course. I agree with you there, she should have her father in her life. I would prefer that as well.”
Bristol excused herself to the bathroom, as soon as she was out of hearing range, Blaine told Scarlett.
“I am sorry, Scarlett, to catch you off guard, that wasn’t my intention, I swear. I know you thought it would just be me, and that’s how I had planned it, but she really wanted to be here for this. You know this situation is messed up. So, is this why you married Riordan? To cover up for the pregnancy?”
“Now you’re getting it. In my ancient society unwed mothers are shunned, which is why Ri married Anastasia back when she was pregnant with his twins, well aware the marriage meant nothing among you mortals which is where they chose to live, but it meant everything among my kind. Ri and I have since unbonded, like a divorce among you mortals, but he insisted I keep the ring. It is still beautiful so might as well wear it. But Ri and I are no longer official. No use keeping up the charades since my daughter is mortal and very obviously not Ri’s. Was worth a shot.”
“Our daughter. I fully intend to be part of her life as much as I can and I hope you will let me. But wait, does this mean you and Ri never …”
“Why do you care? You very clearly moved on. But no, Ri and I obviously are not lovers and never have been, although what he did for me showed great love for me, just as I have for him, just not in the romantic sense. I can never repay him for this. See the funny thing is, as long as I was married at the time of birth, no vampire cares about the rest. So, it served its intended purpose and we are both free again. But enough about my kind’s warped dusty customs and laws. I’ll admit I am amazed how well Bristol takes this, except the few punches she had to get in with me. But I think it was a mistake telling her about it. Too risky. What if she wants to go the legal route. You know why that would be detrimental no matter how we spin it. Are you ready for that shit storm? I am not. And I most certainly hope you won’t tell her about my family’s not so little secret.”
“Of course I won’t. I told her about my suspicion about Vivien because it directly affects her. She is my wife and I am not keeping secrets from her that directly affect her. You being what you are does not affect her in the slightest, so no need for me to tell her, and I am not trying to hurt you, Scarlett, or your family. You have lived on campus for four years, our clique hung out ALL the time, and Jamie, Jordan, Averie and Jenna to this day still have not the faintest clue about that ‘secret’ you keep, I am confident we can continue that with Bristol. As for the shitstorm, there won’t be one. I told you many times, Bristol is a wonderful person. She will not do anything like that without my consent and you know I won’t give it. Whatever happened between us, I am not that kind of a dick, especially not with my – our – daughter involved. I have changed, Scarlett. I’ve grown up. I am still far from perfect, but Bristol makes me want to be a better person. She is very kind and genuine, hard to find in Del Sol Valley.”
“Hard to find – period. Interesting to hear you sing all those praises when I recall you saying that all she wants in life felt like nothing but shackles to you. Guess you really have changed – a lot. Seems you now want the same thing.”
“That was a long time ago, at least it feels that way. That breakup you put me through changed me in a big way. What I want has not changed, I am sure you are aware that my career is going better than I could hope for, we just compromised, she’s always by my side and I wouldn’t want it any other way. See, Scarlett, if a relationship is given a fair chance, things can fall into place that seemed unsurmountable. But no need to beat that dead horse again. So, Vivien is mortal, correct? Just making sure.”
“Unsurmountable. Ha. Listen to you throwing around the big words now. You really have changed. And yes. Vivien is a mortal, just like you. She has a real birth certificate, 100% authentic, which I am very proud of, it makes her real, the entire world is open to her. I’d be happy to have you added as the biological father. After the paternity test, of course.”
“Please do. That test is but a formality for the files, if you say she is mine, then I believe it. How did you pull that off? The birth certificate.”
“Hospital birth, Dr. Collin Cunningham brought her into this world, Ri was right there with me, stayed at the top end of me of course, that poor guy, he was so miserable but never left my side. Collin is still Riordan’s step-son, still adores Riordan and knows about our kind. And he knows how to get it on the record, while still keeping me off the record, if you know what I mean. Of course he didn’t know who the father is.”
“Probably for the better, since I am not exactly popular with that entire side of the family, the Cunninghams and the McKenzies.”
“Oh yeah, stealing and marrying Lucas’ bride out from underneath him probably got you off their Christmas lists for good. But I suspect they’re over it. Lucas has a new lady in his life. Pretty serious, Collin said Claire is hearing wedding bells in their very near future.”
“I am immensely thrilled, but no more vampire talk now, Bristol is coming back.”
“Yeah, your blushing stolen runaway Barbie bride would probably fall to pieces if she knew anything about my kind, ooh scary vampires that don’t even sparkle in the sunlight, shudder. You are quite the couple though, who would have ever figured you to be conjoined at the hip with one single girl? Not me. And how did Rock Star Ken and Del Sol Valley Barbie manage five whole minutes apart, I would have pegged you as that couple that even goes to the bathroom together, holding hands still. You two do look perfect together, I have to give you that. You could have a TV reality show for sure.”
“Are you done with the verbal blows? Just get it out of your system before Bri is back. And I did not steal her. She came with me out of her own free will. You see, I made the same mistake you did, I didn’t give the relationship with her a real chance, I was too young and immature then, but I got a second chance with her. Luckily. I guess I should thank you for that, even though nobody will ever hear me mutter those words out loud. Anyway, I would have invited you to the wedding, as a very good friend, but doubt you would have come.”
“You would have been correct. Your wedding would have been the very last place on earth I would show up. But I thank you for thinking of me, I guess.”
The evening ended not long after and on a neutral note, by the time they parted ways, they had agreed on Blaine and Bristol coming to Castello Vatore to meet the child the next day. Their flight was leaving in the evening, not giving much time otherwise, and Blaine was booked for appearances the day after.
To be continued ...