“Trouble is part of your life, and if you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who really loves you the chance to love you enough.”Dinah Shore
Walking up the stairs towards his daughter’s room, Blaine felt an odd feeling creep up inside of him. An inexplicable kind, one he wasn’t used to. Vivien was six now, just weeks had passed since her birthday, celebrated as one big party with her younger half-brother Blake, who had turned two just a few days ago. Soon Blaine would be 30 years old in just over a month. It all felt unreal.
Vivien had always been a quiet, somewhat melancholic, but overall still happy little girl, now she seemed sad often if she felt unwatched.
Whenever Blaine had brought this observation up to one of the other adults, they had shrugged it off as just a rough patch, an adjustment phase to cope with the many recent changes in her life. Starting school, meeting all new people, having new rules, … with Scarlett back living at Vatore Castle, her divorce from Lorenzo pending, all had agreed it would be best at least for the interim to have Vivien move in with Blaine to attend the same exquisite and exclusive schools he and Bristol had once attended.
It wasn’t easy for anyone, least of all for the little girl, she was very close to her mom, loved and missed her mother’s side of the family incredibly much just as they did her. Vivien had always considered the dark gloominess of Forgotten Hollow and Vatore Castle her home, to her it was cozy, not scary. Getting used to life in always sunny, bright and warm Del Sol Valley was strange for her, as much as she loved spending more time with her daddy.
“Hey princess, your grandpa made ice cream, wants to know if you want some.” Blaine said, purposely upbeat as he entered Vivien’s room after a brief courtesy knock.
The large room with the many big windows was freshly redecorated to match her recent landmark in life, a first grader now, the stench of fresh paint, new carpet and wooden furniture lingered still.
“No thanks.” was the quiet, sad reply.
“Can I come in?”
“It’s your house.” she said as she got up and came to him.
“No, sweetheart, it is OUR house, your home too. And your room. You helped pick everything out, remember? Even though I didn’t realize red was your favorite color. Bri said she had to seriously stop you or the whole room would have been red, including the walls.” Blaine said softly.
“It’s not. It’s mommy’s. Bri didn’t like it at all and that was funny. She said no to most of it, but I got a few red things, at least that way I get to have mommy here too.”
“Oh Vivien … my sweet princess! We can take pictures of your mommy, make them as big as you like, and as many as you like, of your grandparents and uncle too, if you want and put them up. You don’t need to live in a fire engine to have mommy close, baby! And you know she can come by if you miss her too much, you just have to tell her or me.” Blaine’s heart just broke in two, he hugged her, her sadness changed to an upset tone.
“No, you can’t say anything, I don’t want mommy to worry! I am a big girl now! And I wanted YOU to come! You said you would. You promised! I wanted to pick out my room with YOU! But it was only Bri! Again. Just like when my clothes here didn’t fit anymore. Always just Bri. I want you! Or I want to go home to mommy, grandma and grandpa and uncle Caelan. They are ALWAYS there!”
“Baby, daddy had to go with grandma and grandpa to work. Just bad timing, an interview we all had to do was moved, that’s all. I would have much rather picked out furniture than deal with silly reporters asking sillier questions.”
“Just silly adult stuff. It’s kinda like me asking you what ice cream flavor you like best and then asking again and again why.”
“That is dumb! I would just tell them those questions are dumb and then leave. But you rather did that than buy my new room with me?” her bottom lip trembled suspiciously.
“No! Viv, baby, I cannot just not show up for booked appearances, you know that. I tried to be there, but SOMEBODY was all cranky when I wanted to do the room thing the next day. You wanted to do it THAT day, so we did the best we could. And you love Bri, you and her did a great job. Your room looks great.”
“Why do you not love mommy anymore?”
BAM! The question that pulled the rug out from underneath Blaine, even made him gasp before he could contain himself. It would have been hard to answer under any circumstance, but even more so now that it was his little daughter asking. Viv had a knack for blurting out anything you told her at the worst possible time. Just like her daddy used to at her age, much to Everett’s amusement, who enjoyed watching his son squirm whenever he was given a taste of his own medicine from back when. Blaine knew he had to be extremely careful how he answered this question, if he didn’t want to have it come back to bite him.
“I do still love her, just … differently than I love Bri. Love is not always the same. You love both your grandpas and grandmas differently than you love – say – your cousin Liam. And that is different from how you love Nero, right?” Nero was the Vatores’ German Shepherd, with markings so dark, he was almost completely black. A beautiful animal, mysterious and scary as his owners. Also an exceedingly superb watchdog, making sneaking up on the castle even more impossible than before. But around little Vivien he had always been as sweet and harmless as a lamb and she adored that giant dog.
“Second cousin. And I don’t know if I even like Liam at all. Last time I went there, he slobbered all over my face, just like Nero does. He thought it was funny – it wasn’t – until I emptied a pitcher of water over him. With ice cubes, one slid into his shirt. Now THAT was funny.”
“Viv – that wasn’t nice!”
“That’s what uncle Jamie said too. I told him he should have raised his son with proper manners then! Licking people’s faces is NOT appropriate.” Vivien called Blaine’s twin cousins both ‘uncle’, for simplicity sake. A sort of honorary title.
Blaine had the hardest time keeping from bursting into laughter. You could often tell that Caleb had a hand in raising her. It was hilarious hearing the vampire’s eloquent words come out of the innocent six year old’s mouth.
“Daddy – why didn’t you marry mommy?!”
Argh! Blaine thought. Another one of those booby trap questions. Yikes!
“Uh – long story. She couldn’t because … uhm … you know, because of the secret we cannot tell anybody.”
“Lorenzo did! Why can’t you ask him how and then do it too once he and mommy are not married anymore?! Do I have to tell you everything, daddy?!”
Torn between amusement and shock, Blaine tried to find the right words. Careful ones.
“What about poor Bristol? You know I am married to her. And what about little Blake?”
“Duh, daddy. You ask mommy how to make a … uh … you know the thing where you make a marriage go away and then you do that with Bri. And then you marry mommy. And Blake … hmm. I admit he is really cute, but I guess Bri can keep him. He stinks anyway and is so loud!”
“What?! It’s true! If he isn’t screaming for no reason, he stinks. Go smell him! We can visit with Bri and him – often – after he had a bath, until he stinks again. Then I want to leave. Eww.”
“Viv, he is my son too, and your brother. I cannot abandon one child to be with the other. Doesn’t work like that and it would be very mean. Same with Bristol, she is my wife! And I thought you love Blake and Bri!”
“I do, but I love mommy more. And you. You are my daddy too and I was here first. And you did it with mommy – and me!”
“Vivien, I never abandoned you – or your mom! I would NEVER do that, I’d rather die on the spot. I never want you to ever even think that, let alone say it. I didn’t even know about you until you were about your brother’s or your cousin Leonie’s age! Had I known, things may have played out differently, but you are too young to understand most of it and should not worry your pretty little head about such things.”
“Half-brother and second cousin.” Vivien corrected, once more sounding like Caleb.
“Does that really matter?”
“It does to me. Why do I not have real cousins?”
“Because I am an only child.”
“I don’t know. Ask your grandparents. And your uncle Caelan. You know, he can give you cousins too. Although I pity the woman he’d knock up. Yikes.” Blaine pulled his daughter into his arms and up along with himself.
“Are they sad they only had you?” Vivien wasn’t distracted in the least, like her mother and grandfather Caleb, like a dog with a bone.
“I doubt that. Your daddy was a handful growing up.” Blaine smirked.
“That’s what grandpa Rett said too. Why did you have another baby then? Mommy often tells me I am just like you, grandma MaeMae says it too. So, you having another one was dumb, daddy. I am gonna be a handful! Blake may be too, he is your kid too. Not smart, daddy, not smart at all.”
“No doubt about that, and thank you, baby. Any other advice?” Blaine said chuckling, as he played along with her dancing like a little ballerina, seemingly appeased and in a much better mood than before.
“Yes. Don’t eat yellow snow!” was the response, delivered bone-dry in between two twirls and with an amusingly serious face.
“Very funny, you brat! That sounds like more grandpa Rett wisdom!” Blaine laughed.
“How did you know?!”
“I am just that smart, kiddo. Come here you, enough with the twenty questions, let’s turn that frown upside down and get you ice cream!” Blaine lifted her up on his back and started to make his way to the kitchen with her.
“You know what I REALLY want, daddy? A puppy! I miss Nero. Or a bunny! Or both! Yes, both! Please daddy …”
“A dog? Definitely not a giant horse-sized one like Nero! And a critter? Ahem … I don’t know about that, baby girl.” Blaine was about to mention that Vivien only lived with them part-time, but was afraid that would open the discussion about why he wasn’t with Scarlett again, so he left it at that.
Only a few days later, ‘Coco” the Yorkshire Terrier and Bonnie, the Polish dwarf rabbit had moved in.
A few days after that Blaine was dreading the weekend, as it would be Vivien’s time with Scarlett, who was gonna pick her up shortly. He already hated missing his little girl.
Currently though, mostly to take his mind off it, he was engulfed in a favorite hobby he already shared with his daughter: music. Oh yes, even as a toddler it had already been crystal clear that this child had inherited the Cameron artistic gene.
Before Vivien had been able to really speak properly, she had loved to be in the studio, where she would watch her grandparents and daddy record and compose, while bobbing and clapping along to the rhythm. The older she got, the more her interest grew.
“No baby, you have to keep the pitch and add a little vibrato to it at the end, or it sounds too flat.” Blaine was explaining to his daughter as Scarlett joined them.
“No, mommy, not yet! I am not ready yet! Please! Daddy is teaching me a song, we’re gonna record it together! Listen!” Vivien’s voice hit the roster from begging to excited, then focused as she started singing.
“Sweetie, what daddy told you about the vibrato means your voice is to go up and down quickly at the end. Like so … like the echo of time in a forest, my love for you goes on, no rest, my best for you alwaaaaaaays …” Scarlett sung the rest along with her daughter.
“Wow. I forgot how good you sound when you sing and what an amazing voice you have. Gotta admit, I am more than flattered you know the words by heart. I wrote that not too long ago.” Blaine said.
“You wrote it for that little monster there, and ever since, she won’t stop singing it. Not a moment passed that some part of the lyrics didn’t echo off the castle walls. And Blaine, singing used to be our thing, remember, back in college, we used to sneak away to that silly, dirty old karaoke bar, before it eventually mercifully burned down. And you little lady, if you would remember the things you learn in school as quickly and thoroughly as your daddy’s lyrics, we would not have to cram all the time!”
“Mommy, daddy – I just had the best idea! We record the song together! The three of us! Oh my god, yes. Daddy, pleeeeeeeease. Please please please PLEEEEEEASE!”
“I … uh … sure, sweetheart.” Blaine blushed slightly, as it was clear that Scarlett was about to tell their daughter no.
Instead, she gave him a knowing smile, shrugged and followed their daughter to the Cameron recording studio, making quiet whip cracking sounds near Blaine, who nudged her.
“Shut up, Scarlett.” he whispered to her.
“I didn’t even say anything yet, but I will now! Mr. big celebrity superstar, you are so daughter-whipped!” she giggled.
“She just reminds me of her mother so much. I would give her the world …” Blaine replied, leaving open whether he meant the mother or the daughter – or both.
What followed were funny moments in the soundproof recording booth of the Cameron home studio, ending with both Blaine and Scarlett laughing as they smooched their daughter into submission, when she just didn’t want to stop making big and bigger plans involving just the three of them.
To anyone observing this, who didn’t know better, they looked like a small, happy family right now, just like many others.
It did definitely not look like ex-lovers with a rough, sad, heart-wrenching story, but like a man and a woman deeply in love, the proof of that love complaining about too much smooching into the microphone her mother was holding, while her father was holding both of them.
It was not an easy view to swallow for those closest to Blaine. The saddest part was that Bri didn’t harbor hard feelings, but only pity and regret for them, well aware herself how much not being able to be with the one you truly love hurts.