for they precede new beginnings.”Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Windenburg Cameron Lake House Saturday, Day before New Year's Eve
The frown changed into an annoyed look, when Maeve eyed her great-nephew Liam, as he was setting the dinner table.
He noticed, halted and snapped.
“What? Want a picture, lasts longer.”
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Maeve’s tone was decidedly too shrill for that to be even remotely true.
“Uh oh, you’re in deep doodoo now, kid. When that one says ‘it’s nothing’, it’s always ‘something’. Something significant. Yo ’bout to get yo ass reamed, Liamster!” Rett chuckled, his youngest grandchild Caitlin asleep in his lap, while his older brother Declan shook his head at Rett’s comment.
“Well, if you all REALLY want to know, I am wondering what the frigging hold up is there with you and my granddaughter. You fought, you broke up, like we Camerons apparently like to do, you made up, so, how about getting a move on, make an honest woman out of her, considering you both are the oldest grandkids and none of us is getting any younger!? You included, both of you are staring down 30. Those few years separating you from the big 3-0 will just fly by and before you know it, you are that ‘old couple’ getting married late in life. Not to mention the humiliation at the gyn, should you decided to have a baby. After a certain age it’s automatically a high risk pregnancy.” Maeve told Liam, her tone still pointy.
Liam’s mouth opened for surprise, but before he could say anything to that, a loud noise came from the kitchen when Vivien, who had been helping, dropped a load of silverware.
“GRANDMA – what the hell!? OMG!! Dad – do something! Mom?! ANYONE?!” she exclaimed horrified.
“Viv’s right, Maeve, come on now … it’s their lives and ..” tried Scarlett in her husband’s stead, a mistake, which earned the most atomic glare yet. Maeve had never forgiven her daughter-in-law for accidentally turning her one and only son into a vampire and things between the women have been rocky ever since.
“YOU really shouldn’t pipe up! Not everyone in this room has eternity to plan their lives out for. Some of us are chasing time! And you need not even think about advising anyone about their relationship, not after all you put my son through ever since you both first met at 15 … and what you put us through. And the children!” Maeve cut her daughter-in-law off harshly.
“MOM – for heaven’s sake. Get the eff over it all already. I am fine, we’re all fine, get off Letty’s back!” Blaine groaned.
“Oh wow! MOM, dad’s broken. He didn’t curse. May need new batteries.” jested Chase, which got him an unmistakable one finger motion from his father, making Blaine’s cousin Jamie, who was standing next to him, laugh.
“Chase, why are you just standing around there when everyone else is helping?! Help Rory, bring some of the food over to the table, go GO!” Scarlett tried to silence her youngest son by keeping him busy.
“Why? I can’t eat it anyway …” protested the teen.
“NOW!” Scarlett said in that certain ‘don’t mess with mom now’ kinda tone.
A deep theatric sigh underlined how much Chase was now in his defiant teen phase, if his strange fashion sense didn’t already give it away, as he dragged over to the kitchen, where he earned a kiss on the cheek by Rory, which put him in an even more annoyed mood. He wasn’t the type for PDA.
“So is this everybody? Or is someone else coming?” Averie wondered into the round.
“Nah, this is it at least from our side. Blake won’t be coming, he’s still in Del Sol Valley, had a few reflecting on the year type interviews, so he’ll be spending New Year’s with Mila and her family there. Celeste plus her new hubby decided to have it with her uncle and her grandparents in Willow Creek, since they never had one together before. So just the five of us from my side.” Blaine told her.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Leonie is off to some party with Zeke, Abigail wanted to spent the weekend with friends … when the kids get older, they have their own lives. Jamie’s brother and family won’t come either, decided to go climb some mountain somewhere and watch the fireworks from there. At least Liam didn’t abandon us, so it’s only three of us. Guess we’re just gonna have way too much food now, especially considering some of us can’t eat.”
“Well, and the grandparents, I know we are old, but we still count, seeing how this is our house. Declan, where do you think you are going?” Rory had jokingly interjected, when she spotted her husband trying to leave.
“Ha – Knowing the nerd, probably to the computer to play some game.” quipped Everett, Declan stuck his tongue out at him. Brothers. Even in their 80s they still teased and bickered, but were peas in a pod nonetheless, just like all their lives.
“What game?!” an enthusiastic gamer himself, Chase’s ears perked up.
“No! None of this, neither of you. We are about to eat, and your butts will stay right here and if I have to super-glue both of you into chairs! I am sure Declan will let you play it later, Chase, or even play with you, and I don’t mind, but you both just gotta sit through most of dinner, then you can go and sit in front of the computer to your heart’s content, you two geeks!” Rory decreed, making Chase grimace and Declan sigh.
“Hey – no frown, kiddo. Dinner won’t take more than 30 minutes, 45 tops and then you can help me christen the latest ‘War of Doom’ game! I found this super low key guide online giving some pointers on leveling up without needing cheats – if you wanna show off to your friends, great-uncle Decs can hook you up. I’ll even let you borrow the game if you want.” Declan grabbed his great-nephew and snuggled him against his chest, much to the teen’s dismay. Chase had never been the cuddly type, especially not now.
The dinner went well, even though Maeve refused to sit near Scarlett, let alone make conversation with her. The vampires had brought plasma fruit to be able to join the meal, which really lowered Maeve’s mood even more, as she glared at her son, his wife and their son eating the pulsating purple fruit. Toddler Cait was down for a nap in the guestroom.
After the dinner and cleanup, Liam found Vivien outside.
“How you holding up with the drama?”
“Urgh … not like it wasn’t expected. My grandma seriously got grumpy in her old days. Yours is always so sweet. I was gonna be staying over, so she and I can do one of our baking sessions again … but now Ethan called. He’s a mess after the divorce and wants to hang out with his grandparents at the quiet Lake House. No way I would insist on staying, since it’s his grandparents, not mine. Oh well.”
“I could think of a way for you to do both. I know Ethan, he and granpa will be going fishing a lot, which is where they do the heavy talking, you know, life advice and all. So coast will be clear for you to do the bake-a-geddon with grandma.”
“They are my grandparents after all … and you know I am close with my family. ALL of them.”
“Right. I guess I could ask grandpa if I can stay with them. I don’t think I’ll cross grandma’s line of sight for a few hours, considering how much I look like my mom, she may just rip me apart cos I am guilty by association.” Vivien shuddered, making Liam chuckle.
“Or you could avoid that and stay with me. We could even ring in the New Year together, unless you are hell-bound on spending it with your family in DSV.”
“You don’t have plans?”
“Just the usual I did before we got together. Spend it with my parents. But I always see them, I’d be happy to make it a dinner for two kinda thing with you. If you are interested.”
“Wow – I would have totally thought a man like you would go to some fancy party.”
“Well, I would have thought a woman like you would go to some celeb elbow-rubber appaloosa.”
“Nope. Against contrary belief, celebrities usually overdose quickly on other celebrities and we really don’t like to hang out unless it’s work-related. So, no on that, goes for the rest of my family too. Blake is the social butterfly among us and even he is celebrating with Mila.”
“So, is that your way of trying to sweep my offer under the rug without having to answer?’ Liam smirked, winking.
“NO! I would LOVE spending New Year’s with you Liam. At your penthouse. Just us. Sounds dreamy.”
“Yes, just us. Unless Caelan happens to stop by unexpectedly.”
“Why would Cae do that?”
“I don’t know, but he did a few days ago, looking for you. Guess he forgot you don’t live with me anymore.”
“What?! He’s come to see me a million times since I moved back to Del Sol Valley months ago, what a senile doofus he is sometimes. So what did he want?”
“WHAT?! From you?”
“No, from you, but seeing how you weren’t there, he just poured his heart out to me. So, I did the bro-thing, listened and advised best I could. Free of charge, too. Very un-attorney-like. Hopefully I won’t be de-barred for unethical behavior among us scum-sucking bottom-dwelling law-leeches … ha ha ha” Liam chuckled.
“Relationship advice? Hm. I already told him how to win Seraphina back. How hard can it be?”
“Well, not sure if I am speaking out of turn here, but Seraphina seems to be history. There is now an Ingrid he is very enamored with, who incidentally lives in the building across from mine, after one of apparently many a hot nights together he looked out the window, saw my penthouse and probably thought a visit was in order. Since you weren’t there, I was the lucky one to end up with him spilling his guts out to me. Oh joy.”
“Yup. Very pretty Scandinavian chick, he showed me several dozen photos of her. Sounds like she is sweet, but won’t take his shit. He hasn’t quite explained to her why he is so pale and cold all the time, or why they won’t go out to eat together, but he did drag her to meet his parents. If you ask me, that should have been a dead give-away, seeing how everything about the creepy castle in creepy Forgotten Hollow just screams VAMPIRES ARE REAL AND I AM ONE OF THEM.”
“WHAT?! Grandma and grandpa met her – he took her to the castle?! And I haven’t even heard about her?!”
“Well, seeing how they are his parents and you are his niece who is going through some crap of her own, he probably thought it best to leave you out of it until he knows it’s for real. Think he is almost there. So, you have been warned. It’s coming.”
“My uncle is dating? And not the mother of his child?! What the actual fuck?! I had already pictured me at their wedding, as his best maid or best … ahem … whatever the heck the female version of a best man is called.”
“Do vampire weddings even have that?”
“Uh – honestly, I don’t even know. Last one I went to was Riordan’s and you know how private he is. Mom and dad did this combo-thing at the mansion, so no clue. I am sure he could have worked me in, if he wanted to, but now I am not so sure anymore he and I are still as close as I thought we were.”
“Viv – chill! He was gonna tell you but you weren’t there, so I got it. You know he’s not your dad’s biggest fan, so maybe he just didn’t feel like putting up with Blaine-isms when he felt vulnerable about a potential new relationship. Courting a girl is nerve-wrecking to us guys, seriously. Last we need then is another man take a big, steaming dump on our ego, and we both know, that’s what happens when Blaine and Caelan meet. Getting into a new relationship and keeping it alive is hard work. And we’ve seen with Ethan how quickly and unexpectantly relationship heaven can turn into hell. Nobody saw him and Sandra ever split up – yet, they did. I would know, I was there, front row seats, as both their attorney. Not my most favorite case ever. Yikes. I feel sorry for both of them. Such a tragedy.”
“Yeah … and all that over a baby – or lack thereof. That sounds familiar.”
“Vivien, not again! We did NOT split up over a baby! We split up because you kept running in the wrong direction rather than talk things out, and you threw away our engagement over unwarranted jealousy when I had never given you a reason for it! The baby was only the tip of the iceberg. And they didn’t split up over no baby, they split up out of frustration when both checked out as medically healthy, yet, Sandy didn’t get pregnant. Instead, those fools had already made the home office into a nursery, with as tiny as their home was, they were constantly reminded of it. It wore on them and killed the relationship.”
“Right … fine … sorry. So, does your offer to stay with you still stand or is that withdrawn now?”
“Why? Because we had a disagreement, like normal couples do? Welcome to the real world, DSV-princess.”
“So, we are a couple now?”
“Are we not? I mean, we are exclusive, right?”
“Well, I guess, but we never even kissed since the makeup talk at the cabin …”
Liam leaned forward, pulled Vivien into his arm and kissed her.
It turned into a long, deep kiss, leaving both of them gasping for air when he released her.
“All right! I’ll let my parents know and get my overnight bag!”
Vivien turned and ran off, leaving behind a smiling Liam.
“Well Maeve, in your very own brutal ‘frying pan into head’ kinda way, you did give me the nudge I needed to get the words from my brain out of my mouth. Wishing myself luck that Viv and I won’t fuck this up again now.” he mumbled to himself.