“If the past cannot teach the present,
and the father cannot teach the child,
then history need not have bothered to go on,
and the world has wasted a great deal of time.”Russell Hoban
Del Sol Valley Starlight Accolades Gala Hall Walk of Fame tile dedication ceremony for singer 'ViVa'
Her cheeks nearly numb and aching from the fake smiles, Vivien sipped on her champagne, feeling nostalgic and melancholic, rather than ecstatic and celebratory.
At least finally everyone had their fill on congratulating her and making a fuss, and while this was technically in Vivien’s honor, it was, like most Del Sol Valley celebrity events, mostly a seen and be seen elbow-rubbing connection-generating spree for all attendees. All she had to do now was get through the rest of the evening, the actual dedication event and the speeches. Ugh.
Looking around she saw happy faces, people standing in clusters talking like all of them had been on remote islands for a month. But above all she saw couples. Her gaze fell on her brother Blake and his beautiful girlfriend Mila, after their annulled wedding they were still sweet as always, Vivien watched Blake now gently kiss Mila’s fingertips, making her blush and giggle.
She turned her head and saw her parents slow dance to no music at all, her mother giggled and swatted playfully at her dad after he had whispered something into her ear, then snuggled up close to him as they slowly continued moving to a tune only they seemed to hear.
Vivien always had loved seeing her parents like that, romantic, the intense love and attraction between them almost visible like an aura. Maybe that was because she remembered a time when they weren’t together. Even a time when they barely got along. Vivien knew how precious this was.
“Is this seat taken?” someone asked behind her, but already slid down into the chair next to her while Vivien inhaled to unleash a polite protest. Probably another press-dude. They were obnoxious.
“Yes, sorry, the entire table is reserved.” Vivien spoke in between her arms, she had been resting her head on her hands, elbows propped up on the table, now she looked up at the new arrival to see if he got the message.
“Liam?! Oh my god .. you? Here?” she was shocked. In a happy way.
“Hey. Congrats on the tile. Your very own paw print forever embedded in the prestigious Walk of Fame. Great job. You made it to the very top now, quite the achievement.” he winked at her.
Vivien couldn’t answer, just stared at him like a mirage, as if she had willed him into existence thinking about all the couples while she was single, and about the times Liam had accompanied her to award events. He. Here? Huh?
“Viv? Are you okay? Should I leave?” Liam wondered concerned.
“NO!” Vivien exclaimed a little too forceful, then corrected herself more calmly “No, don’t go. I was just … surprised. You came all this way to … well … why are you in Del Sol Valley and how did you get in here without invite?”
“Take a really wild guess.”
“Almost. Less boobs, more ‘tude.” Liam smirked.
“Yup. Called me up and thought since I had been part of the breathtaking rise of the amazing ViVa so far, I should be here for the big crescendo. I still can’t believe the feisty little girl with the pig tails I used to bake sand cakes with is getting her own dedication on the Walk of Fame. I am genuinely impressed. But then again, that last tour was gigantic. Made Michael Jackson’s events look like a children’s birthday party.”
“How …? Did you go to one of my concerts?”
“Would a guy like me go to see a pop singer live in concert, among all the 14 to 17 year olds? Oh you betcha I did! Hey, I have been your fanboy from the beginning, remember?” he winked and smiled.
Vivien remembered the posters on his wall before they were a couple. She wanted to say so much, but couldn’t. Her heart was overflowing for love, excitement and joy that he was here. She briefly closed her eyes and inhaled his scent, a mix between his after-shave, probably his shower gel and just him.
“Sitting here staring at whomever’s wine and champagne these are makes me thirsty, thinking I should go get me something to sip on too. Want a refill?”
She opened her eyes, it took her a moment to realize he was talking about the champagne. And he was being nice. She nodded, he smiled briefly and got up with their two empty glasses.
At the bar, Liam was joined by Blaine.
“Thanks kid. Means a lot that you came.”
“No problem. I have tons of vacation days accumulated, could probably take a whole year off.” Liam told him, then ordered the drinks with the barkeeper.
“You know that’s not what I mean. I don’t give a fuck about vacation allowances, I am talking about you actually being willing to be here. You’ve been giving my little girl a pretty tough time.”
“Not really, considering we’re broken up. Usually people don’t socialize after break-ups.”
“Ah, really son? Tell me more about life and relationships. I cannot wait to get updated by a snot-nosed kid whose diapers I once changed.”
“Ah, here it comes. The angry father, ripping the ex-fiancé a new one, cos he thinks his daughter is just an innocent angel and simply perfect and I am just a blissful bouquet of dick. All right Blaine, let’s have it. Lay it on me, get it out of your system, I am sure it’s been building up for a while now. Don’t hold back.”
“Wrong on all counts, you little arrogant prick. I know my daughter and I am painfully aware of her flaws. We all got them. But until before the break-up you seemed to be able to deal with her flaws, and now you suddenly prefer to flush all you two had down the crapper, and all just out of hurt pride? And all despite you knowing she still loves you. I see what has been going on, a pissing contest, she hurt you, you punished her, but I am telling you now, you made your point, and I think you made my little girl miserable enough. Time to man up again.”
“Meaning what exactly, Blaine?”
“Meaning shit or get off the pot, Liam. You keep pulling her in, then pushing her away, for sport now. I do not have to tell you that Vivien’s mental state is not the most stable, hasn’t been since Malik. I never got my hands on that shithead, but you are right here and I know where you live. So, chose a side kid. Either you want to be with her, or you want to just be her friend or you want to leave her alone, but you need to choose. If not, I am choosing for you.”
“Are you seriously threatening me?”
“If the shoe fits … I can see why they pay you the big bucks.”
“Fuck you, Blaine!” Liam tried to take the glasses and leave, but Blaine held on to him with an iron-grip, as only a vampire could.
“Listen Liam, I am not trying to butt heads with you. We’re both arrogant dicks sometimes and the protective daddy-side of me got carried away. I am sorry, kid. But you have to understand that I know how all this feels better than you may think. My wife and I have been where you and my daughter are now. I know first hand how much that shit hurts. I have been you. It was but by the grace of god, if you so want, that Scarlett and I made it at all, took us long enough. If you are thinking now that you could maybe find someone else and be just as happy, think again, cos that’s what I did and it created a giant mess I am not proud of. Don’t make the same mistakes and by all that is precious, do not drag my beautiful daughter down with you. If you decided you do not want her anymore, tell her so, unmistakably, and then stay the fuck away. If you stick around, I am gonna assume you are trying to fix shit, so make sure you both know where you stand with each other.”
“Stay away? YOU called ME to come here.”
“I did. But I didn’t carry your ass on that plane, strap you in and sent you across the country, that was all your doing, your choice, so the ball is still in your court, sonny boy. Me calling you to come and then getting your ass in the door of this exclusive shed should tell you who and what I am rooting for. Meaning right now I am in your corner, but if you fuck around with my daughter for the heck of it, that can quickly change to me being up your ass something fierce. I get it, she hurt you, you were mad, had every right to be. I fought the urge to bend her over my knee and spank her for the way she treated you, but that won’t do much good now. So, here we all are at the crossroads, a time to decide, while you sip the free champagne. Enjoy it too, that crap costs more per bottle than an organ on the black market.”
“All right, message received. Anything else? Maybe a swift kick in my balls for good measure?”
“Ah, I see why they say daughters date men that are like their fathers. Yeah, I got one more for ya, you little entitled dickhead, I know you still care about my little girl, but you may need to remind yourself of that fact from time to time when you feel like you need to sock it to her again to make some point. Also remember times when you messed up in the past, then imagine some fool coming back again and again to kick you while you are down. Make wise choices. My kids are not other people’s playthings. If others forget that, I am always gonna be there to remind them. In other words Liam, I get where you were coming from, your anger was valid, now you made your point, time to move on.”
“Look Blaine, do you really think I would be here if I didn’t give a shit about Viv? If I didn’t have some hope she and I could salvage what we had?! You can accuse me of a lot of shit, but gold-digger or whatever those people latching on to celebrities are called is not one of them. I am not here because it’s exclusive and prestigious, I am here for Vivien. Like you said, I was there ever since she first started out, I am here to watch her reach that final goal any singer can wish for. I am every bit as proud of her for this as you and Scarlett are. And I am still not ready to let go completely. I tried, believe you me, I did, but I can’t. So I changed my approach and see if there is hope. But what I will NOT do is just run into something blindly. What Viv and I had before was great when things were good, but disastrous when they weren’t. Her tender psyche and my busy schedule do not mix with that, so if me trying to slowly inch back while continuously testing the waters for deadly rapids makes me some idiotic twat in your book, I can live with that, Blaine.”
“I know that, kid or I wouldn’t have brought you here. Just thought a reminder was due that you remembered who Vivien is to you. We all get pissed at the girls we care about, trust me, with a mother like mine, a wife like mine and three daughters I can sing you that tune all day long. Which is also the reason why I didn’t kick your nuts into your throat for making my Viv so miserable. I know she had it coming, but now it’s been enough. I am pulling the plug on your shit. Give her something to work with, tell her what you need her to be, show her what you expect or move the fuck on so she can too.”
Blaine raised his glass and cheered towards Liam, then left.
The dedication ceremony was pompous as you would expect, Vivien got through her speech, while her mind was away on some beach with Liam, then cried for happiness, Scarlett cried for pride, afterwards all went dancing in the attached club of the exclusive Starlight Accolades Gala Hall.
Vivien nearly fainted when Liam asked her to dance. A slow dance too. And a fast one. And some in-between ones … Vivien didn’t even pay attention to the music, all she cared about was for a little while, Liam was hers again, at least here on the dancefloor. She had to keep herself from digging her fingers into him so deep that nobody and nothing would ever separate them again, while trying not to stumble over her own feet inhaling his scent, resisting the old urge to unbutton – correction: tear open his shirt and just fondle his chest.
Once it was time to leave, all attendees started walking towards the exit, but waited inside for the cars to pull up to avoid having to deal with the fans and paparazzi, creating quite the crowed of Del Sol Valley’s high society, so the Camerons hung back a bit, waiting for their turn. Vivien was grateful for the extra time with Liam, because knowing what had turned out to be an amazing night for her was coming to an end had her fighting hard for her composure. Everything in her pleaded with all the powers there be that he would just turn to her and tell her all she needed to hear. But he didn’t. He said nothing. Just stood there looking tense.
“Are you staying with us overnight?” she asked, her voice sounding strange to her.
“No, need to get back to work, I am on the first flight out tomorrow morning. Got a hotel room for the night. I think it’s across the street. Just can’t recall which direction.” he told her quietly. Was he sad too? Or was she just seeing something she wanted to see?
“Oh, I see. There is a hotel right behind the Starlight Accolades Gala Hall. The Crowne Plaza.” Vivien made small talk, while the real questions were burning hot in her mind.
“Yup. That’s the one.”
“You can come with us and we’ll have the driver stop to drop you off right out front.”
“I am sure I can manage to walk the few yards. Once the press-fuckers realize I am a nobody, they’ll scurry away anyway. Thanks though.”
“Oh … okay … I had a great time. It was so nice seeing you and sharing this special milestone with you … thank you again for coming all the way out here.”
Liam looked at her for a while, sighed, looked at his shoes for a moment then around the room, before he spoke.
“Hey, I know this is a long shot, and probably totally not up your alley, but I am going camping this weekend, with my sister Leonie and her boyfriend. Abby was supposed to come but she got a better offer and ditched us, so now I am the fifth wheel. Feel like escaping the big city lights for a few days so I don’t have to feel like the creepy older brother? I tried to back out, but Leo made very clear that wasn’t an option.”
Vivien’s heart beat rapidly. Did he just invite her to go with them?! Camping didn’t sound good at all to her, but a weekend with Liam did! Vivien would have agreed to spend a weekend atop a cactus only to have some more moments with him.
“You know what? That actually sounds great! Count me in.”
“All right. Wear comfy stuff. No heels. No tight clothes, nothing that needs to be dry cleaned.”
“Yeah, I figured as much. I am not a complete idiot, Liam.”
“No, but a city girl.”
“Says the man who has a penthouse where again? Oh, that’s right, in the middle of San Myshuno, one of the country’s largest cities. Hmm.”
Liam snickered, winked at her, then leaned in for a hug.
Vivien’s heart nearly exploded, she inhaled his scent and almost fainted for bliss, but he already let go. Just a quick, friendly hug. Well, better than nothing.