“The root of suffering is attachment.”-Buddha
Brindleton Bay Cameron Cliff Home
Staring at the sleepy little infant in the crib, Everleigh’s heart was overflowing, she smiled, watching the baby move.
Usually Evey wasn’t much fazed by babies, but this little one was very special to her. It was her brother’s baby, more accurately, her twin brother Eric’s infant son Rhys.
Like many twins, Evey and Eric shared a very tight bond, and standing here now, looking at a baby that was part of her brother, part of herself, in a way, made Evey happy and melancholic alike, as well as generate motherly feelings in a way.
“Agh, Rhys, I thought I would have a baby around the same time, so you two could grow up together as best friends, like your daddy and I did. Like twins from different mothers in a way. Missed that boat by a mile. Sorry, kiddo. But your name I helped pick out. A long, LONG time ago. See, I don’t know if your daddy told you, but there was this book he and I loved since we were toddlers and the hero in it is called Rhys. So your daddy and I made a pact that the first of us to have a boy will name him Rhys. Looks like Eric remembered.”
“Of course Eric remembered, because Eric is the absolute best brother EVER!” came Eric’s voice from the door as he entered, joining his sister by the crib.
“He is perfection, Eric. Great job, daddy.”
“Well, I can’t take too much credit here, Emily did the heavy lifting. But thank you nonetheless. Definitely ridiculously proud of our creation. I still cannot believe I made this little man right here, even though at the time we weren’t trying to make babies. Oh well, the things that come with being a Cameron, right?”
“Eric … when did you know you wanted to marry Emily?”
“Around the time she held a pregnancy test under my nose that read something like “GUESS WHAT, DUDE?!” At least that’s what I saw.” Eric laughed. An open laugh, contagious, making it hard to believe he could be very stern when at his job as a police detective.
Evey giggled, nudging her brother.
“No, seriously, Eric. When did you decide she was the one? How did you know?”
“I don’t think Emily or I ever decided anything, we never talked about marriage and kids. We were a couple and I was crazy in love with that girl, so at some point I just bought a ring and proposed, seemed like a natural progression, it was one of those ‘on-the-whim’ things, I am sure you remember that drama when mom just about had a coronary.”
“OMG – yes, we all remember! But why in the world did you have to pop the question in the middle of dinner?!”
“I didn’t. I asked her while we were all helping clear the table.” laughed Eric.
“Seriously, Eric … what made you do it?”
“I knocked her up. When she stuck that positive pregnancy test in my face I defaulted to what every decent guy would do, I told her we should probably get married and she agreed. Luckily neither one of us needed any huge event, so it was quick, a fun party, great memories. I regret nothing. Maybe sometimes fate has to take the reigns. But where is all this coming from all of a sudden? Oh wait, I think I get it. Justin is on the chopping block for something again, huh?”
“In a way. I am confused about our complete lack of progress with the relationship, I mean, I guess I am okay with it, but do think we should talk about it openly, at least once, however, every time I try to bring this up Justin evades any and all attempts to get clarification and the cherry on top is Mom with her constant verbal drive-bys, she just doesn’t seem to register that I love him, I want to be with him, and we may just be the free spirits of the family. Marriage is an outdated concept anyway, and not everyone wants kids, right? Besides, my genes are in your son too, so you did the passing down for the both of us. No need for me to procreate, I will live vicariously through you and Rhys, while enjoying the benefits of life without kids.”
She gave Eric a peck on the cheek and left the nursery.
His eyebrows drawn, Eric sighed then told his infant son while picking him up.
“Yeah, I agree little man. That speech was a pile of steaming shit. I am thinking when I get to work on Monday, I am going to dig into our Mr. Justin Banks’ deal a bit. I don’t care what Evey says, I am starting to see mom’s problem with him. I like him, a lot, cool guy, but something just ain’t right here.” he mumbled.
Later that same day, after a family dinner, Jenna and Jordan stood just outside the doorway of their home on the cliffs, waving off their son Ethan and his brand-new girlfriend Vanessa, as well as daughter Everleigh and her boyfriend Justin. Ethan lived just a few hundred yards away in a small house on the beach, Evey lived with Justin in a modern house just past the old downtown of Brindleton Bay, near the harbor and near C-Genix Marketing, Jordan and Jenna’s company. Son Eric was upstairs with his wife Emily, tending to their newborn son. Those two lived with Jordan and Jenna. In other words, a very close-knit family.
When Jenna turned around, Jordan asked.
“You hate her, dontcha? Not surprised, you hate everyone any of our three kids bring home. Just out of curiosity, why? I think Vanessa is a sweet, polite young lady and I haven’t seen Ethan smile so much in months, if not years.”
“Why? WHY? Jo-Jo, she is almost 10 years younger than him. I know Ethan has been struggling to find someone since the divorce, but this is seriously stupid. She looks and acts like a teen. The entire time I had to fight the urge to ask her if she finished her homework. Wait – she has graduated, right? Oh Lord help us, I hope she is not still in high school. So, what is she doing with her life? I know I asked, but you changed the topic and I never got the answer to that! Last thing we need is yet another mooch! That Justin is plenty!”
“Jenna, baby, chill! Justin is an okay guy, trying to make it in the music business is hard, ask Blaine and Vivien. They had a lot of help, and it was still not easy. Or have Everett and Maeve tell you their story from the beginnings. They struggled just as much as Justin, sometimes having to decide to pay the rent or eat. Maybe he’ll get his break, or maybe he’ll change his dreams. As for Vanessa, I think Ethan said something about her career, but I can’t remember, and she IS a teen, technically. 18. Ethan knows what he’s doing, he deals with young people all day long. Probably seems normal to him.”
“He is a PROFESSOR. How does that look? This is a small town, Jordan, I really don’t feel like becoming the latest gossip when people start speculating she may be one of his students. WE know that’s not true, but would they care? We have a company to think of, can’t just let our good reputation go down the drain.”
“Jenna … it’s Ethan’s life. He’s 27, a grown man, if that girl makes him happy, if only temporarily, so be it. He’s a good guy. Remember him telling us about him running into his ex-wife, his PREGNANT ex-wife, and them starting to become friends again? He’s very mature about things, even complicated ones.”
“Oh, I remember! For two years we hear not a peep out of Sandra or any of those DiLaurentis for that matter and now, NOW, suddenly she is knocked up and just ‘happens’ to run into our son, her ex-husband, to make nice and be best buddies, after for two whole years since the divorce she wouldn’t even return his calls? Puh-lease! I also remember Ethan saying Sandra mentioned to him that the father of her baby doesn’t want to marry her. Sounds to me like he has one foot out the door. You know what THAT reads to me?”
“JENNA! For fuck’s sakes, girl! It was a divorce, they were both hurt. Ethan wanted contact, Sandra needed to lick her wounds first. It happens during break-ups. Besides, I doubt she earmarked her ex-husband of all people to be a replacement daddy. Sandra lives with her parents and they will help her with the baby, like we are doing with Eric and Emily! Come on now girl! I know you are a mom, and mom’s worry, hell I am 53 now and my mom still does that, but we raised three smart children! I have faith in each of them to make solid choices and if they fall, we pick them up and they learned from it.”
“Smart, yes. Blinded by love though. I said little when Eric accidentally knocked up Emily and not only did we have to move her in with us, but I had to pull a wedding out of my ass like it’s nothing, because I was going to be a grandma, like I don’t have my hands full with everything else already. Then the cherry on top with Ethan and his constant dates that went nowhere. How many girls has he gone out with in these past two years? Must be close to three dozen, all of them duds, according to him, but when he finally finds one to present to us, she is barely out of diapers?! You think that is real love right there? I am not THAT gullible, JoJo! He probably hasn’t gotten laid in years and has the juices backed up to over his eyeballs! Once he gets all that out of his system and he can think clearly again, he’ll wonder about being with a girl who needs a booster chair when they go out to eat! And don’t get me started on that Justin Banks our Evey lives with. I got a BAD feeling about that guy.” Jenna’s temper flared up hot.
“Trust me, I am doing everything I can NOT to get you started!” sighed Jordan.
Brindleton Bay Cameron/Banks home
With a satisfied smile Everleigh put down the finished script of the last book she had been writing on. She didn’t need anyone to tell her that this one was a masterpiece. It would take her places. Hopefully one of those would be the bank to deposit a gigantic check.
The home still smelled new, but it also smelled of an empty bank account and guilt of having had her parents basically buy it for her and Justin. Evey had been trying to pay them back, but after paying the bills what was left over from her income only allowed for humiliatingly miniscule payments, mere drops of water on a hot surface.
Justin barely had any income at all. An aspiring musician, which was a nicer way to say, failed, he had his head in the clouds most of the time. He always said he wasn’t good with numbers, which also just translated to he just didn’t want to deal with reality.
Another reality he just didn’t seem to want to deal with was that Everleigh was antsy to level up their relationship, even though she told everyone she didn’t want marriage and such. Truth was, she did, but she wanted Justin more and he just wasn’t the type.
A few times Evey had dropped big, impossible to miss hints for him, but he always managed to wind himself out of that discussion without ever really saying much. Then he would always just disappear.
Trying to suppress her rising frustration, she got up to make some coffee, the usual all-cure for all Camerons alike.
The minute she had poured a cup as the delicious scent filled the air calming her back down, a knock on the door startled her. A quick glance on the clock told her it couldn’t be her parents or brothers as they’d be at work, so she went to answer.
Opening the door revealed a woman, fairly attractive.
“Yeah?” Evey asked.
“Is this Justin Banks’ residence?”
“Maybe. Who is asking?”
“His wife …”
The coffee mug fell from Everleigh’s hands and burst into a million pieces on the hardwood floor, just like Everleigh’s heart felt shattered by the simple words.