A bridge can still be built, while the bitter waters are flowing beneath.
“Not. My. BOYFRIEND!” Vivien hissed, very annoyed now, as the waitress scurried away, smiling apologetically, but not without one last stare at Liam’s exposed chest.
“Hm.” Liam smirked, then took a drink of the beverage the waitress had brought them.
“Does that not bother you?! Everywhere we go, everyone assumes we’re a couple! And would it have killed you to button up your shirt?!” Vivien ranted on.
“Yes, it would kill me, considering we’re on a beach! So what if people think we’re together. Wouldn’t you? We are literally on a tropical island where bunches of people go to get engaged or married. The just friends and just second cousins crowds are rare here. They go to places like Vegas and Cancun to get trashed I guess.”
“Still stupid and presumptuous.” Vivien pouted.
“It’s not such a big deal. You’re just still bitter over Malik. You need to remember that we made it. We are DONE, free, graduated, degree in the pocket and on a much deserved VACATION now. Screw Malik and the horse he rode in on. As my mom always says ‘other mothers have handsome sons too’. Go find one of those. Cheers!”
“It’s just …. the way it all ended. And so abrupt. Over nothing. Just not right. I don’t even recognize him anymore. He took a 180. When I go to see Nikki, he leaves and doesn’t come back all day. Won’t even talk to me. After we’ve been together for over two years.”
“Yes, I know. I heard it dozens of times, Viv. I have been patient with you, I get it, it sucks, I have been there but now you need to let go and move on. Just like he has. You remember what Nikki told you, right? That night you came to me wanting to get trashed because he is already seeing a new girl? You need to do the same, move on, date or whatever, but quit thinking about that loser.”
“Agh – Don’t remind me.”
“Look, we’re here for a happy occasion, to celebrate Benny’s engagement to Loreleigh. They are happy, I am happy for them and we got a nice island vacation out of it. Enjoy it while it lasts.”
“I am enjoying it. Still scared how much my life is gonna change now. No more Malik, no more Liam …”
“Hey, I didn’t break up with you. I am still here.”
“I meant, we’re not gonna be living together anymore. That’s gonna be so weird. And my uncle Caelan’s situation is not helping. He got his heart broken so badly, and is just not recovering. I am seriously worried about him.”
“Well, for now, we are still living together in that little cabin Kai rented for us to stay in since they are out of guest rooms at their house. As for Caelan, I see little difference. He’s always been kind of a rude prick if you ask me. Seems fine to me.”
“Ooh – Don’t let him hear you say that.” Vivien giggled.
“I told him so last time he was over. I serve my opinions up straight, Viv.” Liam said plainly.
“What? And he didn’t shred you?” Vivien was highly amused now.
“Nope. Agreed with me.” he said, then took a sip of his drink.
“At least he is self-aware. I love him, but he really is pretty rough around the edges, stubborn as hell and definitely an acquired taste. Now that I think about it, you and Caelan are a LOT alike.” Vivien smiled.
“Oh, I already know I am dick. Maybe I secretly am a vampire too … minus the fangs and teleportation powers. Never tried blood, so no telling if that’s my jam.”
“Funny. And keep your voice down. You know that’s supposed to be a secret, right?”
“Vivien, lighten up. We are on a tropic island, sipping our second round of frilly alcoholic drinks. Nobody gives a shit about our convo. I could jump up on the table screaming at the top of my lungs that my …. hehehe … ‘girlfriend’s‘ uncle is a vampire and people would think nothing of it, other than that I am a drunk fuck.”
“Well … ‘boyfriend‘ … what are we gonna do with the rest of the day? Dinner with Benny’s family tonight, then we have all day tomorrow and after that it’s over again, back to pack up and leave the last 4 years in the dust. I am so not ready. I almost wanna go for some other degree, anything, just to stay on campus with you for another four years.” Vivien made fake crying sounds, as she frowned.
“Yeah, I am gonna pass on that, had enough of college to last me a lifetime. But I tell you what. My parents have been in my ear about a graduation present. New car or whatever, and I have been blowing them off. How about we take a real vacation together. Somewhere cool, just to send our old couple moments off in style, and afterwards we can focus on our careers, wherever that may lead us?” Liam suggested.
“You know what, Mr. Cameron? That is one of the best ideas you have had in years. I’ll call my dad!”
“Yeah, you call your wallet and I will call mine. And then we’ll get on the laptop and try to figure out where to spend their money.” Liam smirked.
They finished their drinks and went back to the Cameron-Vatore’s home, where Kai, his wife Cheyenne and their three kids lived. Their oldest, twins Benedict and Ballentine, were enrolled at Foxbury at the moment and would graduate in a year from now, but Benedict, called “Benny” had proposed to his girlfriend during a visit home.
Since it coincided with Liam and Vivien’s graduation, they invited them along to celebrate. Liam accepted right away, not only because of the sappy moments to be had, but because Benny’s father and grandfather, who also lived in Sulani, had both been lawyers to high-profile clients, so Liam hoped to get some hints for his future career.
Graduation had been a very proud moment for both Liam and Vivien, as well as their families, but tainted and bittersweet because of the fairly recent break-up from Malik.
His sick grandfather and cousin Nikki had come to watch him receive the diploma as the first member of the Williams family ever, both of them had known Vivien most of her life and wanted to congratulate and celebrate with her, which was uncomfortable because Malik just couldn’t seem to behave around her. It left Vivien sad and unable to fully cherish the achievement.
About a week later the dorm had been packed up and abandoned, their belongings were sitting in boxes and suitcases at their respective parents’ homes, while Liam and Vivien had just arrived in Selvadorada.
They had decided on a jungle adventure trip, something so different and new, unlike most of their former classmates who had opted for the more typical European trips or beach vacations. Both felt keeping their minds busy would be more beneficial to get over the recent events than laying around working on a tan.
After the initial breathtaking moments, in a way more literal than just because of stunning scenery, due to the humid and thick air after a recent torrential downpour before their small plane landed, after which they were seen to a boat to get them to their final destination.
First plan of action had been to check out the little cabin they rented for the week.
“Well, the sleeping quarters are a bit different than the website had us believe. I remember us talking about the two bedrooms, all I see here is one big open living space with one bed and a couch. I’ll be on the couch then I guess, but seriously! They’ll definitely be hearing from me about misleading practices once I get back home. On company letterhead! Well, after I started at the law firm, of course. But the Better Business Bureau will get flooded about this shit.”
“I don’t care, we can share too. We used to nap in the same bed when we were little and we’ve seen a lot of each other over the past 4 years, sometimes a little too much, depending on how wild the party had gotten, so we can deal with this, but Liam, this kitchen is seriously rad. So weird, everything.” Vivien called over her shoulder from said kitchen.
“Please tell me there is a coffeemaker though. There better be a coffeemaker in this shed. I don’t care if it’s weird, as long as coffee comes out of it somewhere.”
“Yeah, there is one, but I see no coffee packages.” Vivien confirmed.
“I am leaving!”
“Relax, we’ll just go down to that market the girl from the tourist office mentioned I am sure we can buy some there. We need bread and such anyway. And I want to check out the waterfall and the cantina thing, take some pictures.”
“What waterfall? What cantina?” Liam wondered.
“Were you not listening at all to her?!”
“To be honest, I was staring at her tits the whole time, those were some big mammajammas, I was wondering when they would bust out of that … OUCH!”
“Nope, just a fully functional healthy male with fully functional eyes – and other fully functional body parts on a vacation. With my jealous ‘girlfriend’. Hehehe.”
“Very VERY funny. I told her TWICE we’re not together. Yet, again … blah blah blah boyfriend. And again, and again. I gave up. Sure, you’re my boyfriend. Whatever.”
“Maybe she just couldn’t believe a hunk like me would take a vacation with an angry bitch like you if he didn’t feel obligated.” Liam snickered.
“I am not angry, I am sad sometimes! Understandably so. But you got the bitch part right, so I’d watch it.”
“Vivien, you have been in a shit mood ever since we left Oasis Springs International Airport. The flight attendants were flipping coins, loser had to talk to you. That kinda mood.”
“Am I really that bad?” she wondered.
“Let me put it to you this way: if your mood were any lower, it would hit magma.”
“Sorry. It’s just that Malik …”
“All right – some ground rules! I do not want to hear that name all trip. Or Matt’s. If you bring either of them up, you will go swimming. Involuntarily. Clear?”
“Yeeeah …” Vivien agreed.
“Vivien, I am not trying to be a dick, but this trip is also for you to get over him. He isn’t coming back. Even if he did now, you heard your dad’s thoughts on that, he was pretty graphic about all the things he’d do to him, and I agree with Blaine. So, no more talk of Malik, Matt or break-ups, okay? Okay! On that note, case Malik CLOSED!”
“Yeah … dad used like him …” melancholy sounded in Vivien’s response.
“Well Ma … oh, nice try!”
“Great, recovery. Extra-points for speed of catching on. Looks like for now you will stay dry. But, seriously now, no more of that douche. Deal?”
“Deal. Hey Liam?”
“When you broke up with …”
“Okay, sorry. Done. Coffee, let’s get some at that market.”
“Now, we’re talking. And some food. I am famished.”
“How can you be hungry already?! You just ate a bag of chips on the flight over.”
“So? We’ve taken a boat ride since to get here and I carried all our luggage up the hill to this shed. All this glory of me needs sustenance. A tiny snack pack with three chips in it and crumbs doesn’t hold me over long.”
“I feel sorry for your future wife. She’ll never get out of the kitchen if she wants to keep you happy.”
“You misspoke. It’s called bedroom. THAT’s how a chick can keep me happy. Which is why marriage is out of the question for me. As soon as that ring is on that finger, women quit trying. And once a brat comes along, a married dude’s wiener is purely decorative. No thanks.”
“You clearly should hang out with my parents more. They are married, my mom looks like my sister and they definitely have a VERY healthy sex life. But when did you become such a judgmental macho who goes for lame generalizations? Can’t have been your upbringing, your parents are excellent together! And I am quite sure they still do it, too. After having had three kids.”
“Well, my parents lucked out, as did yours, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. Considering my past luck with relationship, I most definitely wouldn’t luck out and end up marrying a princess and wake up to an ogre, which I would then be stuck with, and if I wanted to get rid of her, she’d take all my money and whatever else I worked hard for by then. So, that will be a clear and loud no from this guy. In my personal experience in relationships most women hold men to impossible standards, while only being out for themselves. Either that, or they had ulterior motives going in. No thanks, I’ll pass!”
“Oh my god, Liam. You cannot judge your entire future and adult life by some bad experiences you had as a teen with some pretentious gold-digging bitches! So some stupid shallow college girls thought you were my dad’s son or something screwed up like that, because you have the same last name and look a little like him when he was younger. You can’t decide your whole life on gold diggers! There are solid girls out there who are successful and proud and want a partner like you who is the same. But you and Caelan, seriously, you sound like separated at birth! Maybe you two should date!”
“If he had tits I would consider it. We’re like that probably for the same reason. Viv, and no offense, but you cannot throw the first rock at us about being bitter after a breakup. Hypocrite much? So, can we go eat now?”
They found coffee, some supplies and a restaurant, afterwards took a little tour of the village and surroundings. Once back at the cabin they had a visitor waiting for them. Caelan.
Vivien was very excited to see him, and decided they all needed to go out to party – together. As usual, she got her way and managed to get both men to agree, reluctantly, but they went to the cantina, the one spot in the small village where locals and tourists alike would go to hang out.
“Oh, how sweet! Newlyweds?” the waitress chirped, looking between Liam and Vivien, while placing the order in front of the three.
Liam nearly spat out his sip of the beer he was already drinking, laughing at her question and Vivien’s resulting facial expression.
“No! That is my COUSIN! And this is my UNCLE. Before you ask, no I am also not dating him! Nobody at this table is dating, least of all each other. OKAY!?!” Vivien snapped back, already upset.
“Oh .. right. Sorry. Uncle and cousin, huh, I see the resemblance now. Was he a teen pregnancy?” she politely asked Caelan, whose expression turned dark with an annoyed grunt, causing the waitress to leave quickly without waiting for the answer.
“What the hell is wrong with people?! What resemblance?! You two are not even related! Argh, people, seriously!” Vivien grumbled.
“I am reminded now why I don’t socialize with mortals anymore.” growled Caelan.
“Right. Hey ‘dad‘, check out that chick over there, at 3 o’clock from the bar, her outfit alone should lift your spirits – among other things. I’d tap that.” chuckled Liam.
“Liam!” warned Vivien, surprised Caelan did peek over as instructed.
“Yeah, not bad, little too slutty for my taste, leaves nothing to the imagination. But look over there, seven o’clock behind what they call a live band, the blonde. Much better. At least she looks like she wouldn’t require thorough disinfection in the nether regions before and after.” Caelan evaluated, causing him and Liam both to chuckle.
“You two! Can you just not?! What the hell uncle CaeCae?! You sound just like Liam now! Eeew!” she complained, resulting in a shrug by Caelan as he drank some of his beer, while Liam came to his defense.
“Why? Isn’t that why you dragged us here? To have fun and get around people, and girls, as you added. So we are checking out the merchandise, like good boys. What’s the problem?” wondered Liam.
“I didn’t mean I wanted to take you both to some chick pick up fest. I am still here too and I don’t want to hear about other girl’s tits and slutty dresses! I wanted us to have a fun time, together, maybe you two could dance with some hot mamasitas and such, as long as you keep your pants on. Otherwise, how would it be fun for me to just sit here an wipe the drool off you guys’ chins?!” Vivien complained.
“Well, there are guys here too, take your pick, Viv. What’s your flavor? Hard to tell, Matt and Malik were like night and day. I don’t see any similarities so I am clueless as to what you are looking for in a man.” Liam replied unimpressed.
“Guess she likes guys whose name starts with an M. I am sure there are some Marcos and Miguels somewhere around here.” quipped Caelan, grinning now, very unusual for him.
“I don’t believe you! I am going back to the cabin. You two SUCK!” Vivien had enough, finished her drink, then stomped off.
“Should we go after her?” wondered Caelan, slight worry in his words.
“Nah, I wouldn’t. Once she’s in that kinda mood it won’t do any good. Either she’ll mop the floor with you, or she’ll cry – or it’s back to Malik this, Matt that. It got pretty chilly, I would hate to have to toss her into the pond by our cabin now, like I told her I would if she mentioned either of them, but I would hate more to sound like a man who doesn’t stand by his word.”
“I understand. Well, I should probably be getting home too. This actually was … pleasant. I needed that. Thank you, Liam. And thank you for looking after her. She needs someone like you right now, normally I would be there for her but I am afraid at the present time I am not much help, I’d probably just drag her down even more with my … personal melancholy.” Caelan said and got up.
“Of course I am there for her. She’d do the same for me. But Vivien won’t be happy if you don’t say goodbye to her. You can crash at our place, too. Website lied about the layout at the cabin so it’s gonna be a bed-aggeddon anyway. Someone’s gonna end up bunking with someone. Come to think of it, I may just share the bed with Viv like she offered, if only to take a picture and send it to Malik’s jealous ass.” offered Liam.
“You know Vivien would skin you alive for that, Liam. Anyway, sounds like she already isn’t happy and nothing I can do would fix it. Besides, I shouldn’t stay away from Forgotten Hollow for too long. Trust is a fickle thing to regain, once squandered away and I have a long way to go with my father and Riordan. Were I to stay away from the castle overnight, they would wonder where I was and I just don’t want them to second guess me right now. Looks like you don’t need my help with Vivien. Tell her I said to keep that chin held high and that thing about silver strips on horizons. You can deliver that better than someone like me, who no longer believes in such nonsense.” said Caelan.
“Yup, you got it. Good luck with your own shitshow. See ya, man.” Liam watched Caelan walk out of the cantina, down a dark path and only when you knew what to expect would you have noticed him vanishing in mid step in the darkness.
Liam walked over to the bar to order another drink, when a girl next to him spoke
“Well, hello there handsome. Where’s your pretty girlfriend?” her tone implied that she was interested in what she was seeing.
With a smirk Liam turned to her.
“We broke up.” he said, thinking on his feet.
“Oh no! How sad! Anything I can do to make you feel better?”
“I could think of a few things …”
When he arrived at the cabin the next morning, Vivien flew into his arms, hugging him, nervously.
“Oh my god, you’re alive, you’re okay!! Where were you!? I was so worried about you! I thought a lion ate you or something!”
“There are no lions in jungles. Only in songs.”
“You smell like … like … as if …. well, really bad.”
“It’s the smell of victory and relief. The sticky type that requires a shower. If you excuse me.”
“You have got to be kidding me! You nailed some chick all night long while I was sitting here worried about you? My cell phone has zero coverage!”
Liam halted, and with a grin told her
“And you wonder why everyone thinks we’re a couple. Sound like one. If it makes you feel better, I didn’t nail her all night, after all, I am not a machine. Just two, three times before I passed out considering I had about half a dozen big beers. I’ll be in the shower. Oh, and same rule as before applies, whatever you think you need to say to me, please wait until AFTER I got my dick dried off and wrapped up in some clothing, okay?”
Grinning he walked off.
“Urgh, men! All the same. Argh.” Vivien moaned, secretly just relieved that he was back.