“Even the worst days have an ending, and the best days have a beginning.”― Jennifer Coletta
University of Britchester Campus Administration Buildings
This day seriously could not be any more wasted if it tried.
For hours Chase had now been dragged around the huge campus to look at uninteresting things, learned absolutely nothing new, except maybe how many levels of embarrassment one boy can go through in the time it took his toddler sister to publicly run through every emotion known to mankind, while those college students that weren’t standing by staring and laughing at them, nearly ran them over on foot or on bikes, or they stood around staring into the great nothingness like regurgitating cows on a pasture, looking about as bored as he was, making Chase wonder what the big deal with college was in the first place. This definitely didn’t scream ‘FUN’ in capital letters to him. Hopefully there was a lot more to it all. More than those crazy themed parties Chase had seen flyers for all over campus. If parties were the saving grace of this dump, he was doomed. Parties weren’t exactly his thing.
Now they had arrived at an ancient looking administration building filled with ancient looking well-used books that would probably make his grandfather Caleb Vatore squeal for joy, but only made Chase’s eyelids heavy, while his parents were standing around, laughing, pointing, reminiscing. Jeeze, old people for ya.
Another eyeroll and an exasperated sigh later, Chase walked away to look at the books, or at least pretend to. Anything to get away from his embarrassing family doing embarrassing stuff at a boring college campus.
Chase was not even quite 16 yet, not for two more months, but his school in Del Sol Valley had teamed up with several high schools across the country for one of those boring and annoying “college intro tours”, during which innocent high school kids were dragged off by their parents to be brainwashed by some college administrators to for certain spend their parents dough on attending there while ‘laying the foundation for their futures’. Ahem – yawn!
When his dad Blaine saw the flyer peeking out of his homework folder, he snatched it before Chase could do anything about it and took it to Scarlett, together his parents decided they would take Chase there, whether he wanted to go or not.
Emphasis on not, but if you were not even fully old enough to drive without an adult in the car with you, you’re not only stuck, but also at your parents’ mercy.
“Total snooze fest, huh?” said someone behind him.
“What?” Chase turned to the speaker and froze.
Before him his kryptonite, a girl, about his age and pretty, triple whammy. He had been socially awkward for as long as he could remember, but it was worst with girls, and even more so when they were attractive and in his age range, and this issue had only been magnified after the Nadia dilemma.
“The career day thing. Total drag, am I right? I mean, like, what are we doing here again?”
“Yah.” Chase croaked, thrilled that any sound came out at all, when he heard his mother’s voice, making him want to sink into the ground.
“Oh, look honey, Chase-y made a little friend! Let’s say hi to her, come on Blaine! Hi, I am his mom, Scarlett, my husband Blaine and this is our little Caitlin, Chase’s little sister. He has three more siblings. Two sisters and a brother, all older and already moved out.”
Cringe. Gulp. Chase paled even more than he already was, thinking ‘oh gawd, kill me now!‘. Had his mother lost her mind?! Chase-y?! In front of a stranger?! A girl stranger?! And WTH did she have to detail his huge family for her?! URGH! But in another episode of ‘things can always get worse for Chase’, his father added his usual two cents.
“Yeah, you heard that right, five kids total, but then we finally got around to buying a TV and a pack of condoms. I’m that cool dude’s dad, also a cool dude. Runs in the family, right Chase?” Blaine smirked, while Chase felt like the first vampire on record EVER to die of humiliation.
What was the matter with his parents?! Oh, the horror! Chase thought, while cringing even more realizing the band tee his dad had chosen to wear for taking his teen son to tour his potential future college campus was the one that read “METALLI’FUKIN’CA”. Great first impression for me, dad. Thanks much.
Why could he not be a normal teen with normal parents?! ARGH!
“OH, hahaha, that’s funny. Nice to meet you. My parents and little brother are over there. Oh, there they come. Just so you know, my mom’s pregnant too, third child and totally unplanned, so I get it.” the girl smiled, although once she realized her parents were on their way, that smiled seemed a little more forced as well.
“Oh yeah, we may not be done just yet either. Guess we’re trying to get that little diaper monster here out of the worst and then we’ll go from there. Never wanted kids when I was your age, truth be told, one of them is a foster we didn’t make her, and only three of them are with this stunning creature over there, she made me a father first though, we had an oopsie baby together, turns out I make gorgeous babies, I love being a dad, and kids are like potato chips, can’t get enough, right babe? We could totally do a couple more, right?” Blaine blurted out, Chase and Scarlett’s eyes widened.
‘Another sibling?! Is dad drunk?! He better be totally wasted and on some serious drugs!! Judging by her facial derailment apparently potential family additions are news to mom too, so that’s good, I guess, since we all know who really wears the pants at home. Welcome to my world, mom, drowning in dad’s unfiltered verbal diarrhea. Yikes! And you married that man. Congrats again and I want to hear no complaints about how I turn out with that as a father. I never had a chance.’ Chase thought before he saw the girl’s parents and little brother heading towards them.
‘Oh hell no! Twice the parents?! Nope, nope, NOPE!‘ it screamed in Chase’s head, panicked yet paralyzed in place he watched the imminent drama unfold.
The girl’s parents now arrived, the usual smiling, hand-shaking and pleasantry exchange ensued, Chase sort of zoned out, only heard rushing in his ears until he realized all eyes were on him, smiling, as if expecting a response from him to a question he completely missed, his fight or flight instinct kicked in and off he went.
“Chase!” he heard his mother’s surprised voice as he was already down the flight of stairs and rushing out the door. Back home just amongst themselves there was no escaping any parental wrath, since they both had the ability to port themselves faster than anyone could run, Chase hadn’t mastered that yet, but out in public, pretending to be mortals blending in, it was a useless skill anyway, so he had the advantage, saw his chance to escape more humiliation and took it.
He made it to the oddly groomed plaza and looked around. Where to now? Everything looked the same around here.
“Come!” He heard the girl’s voice, she must have run after him, now she grabbed his hand and pulled him with, both of them running at top speed.
Somehow her touch sent electricity through him and he followed her, they ran down some streets, across a bridge and finally ended at some bench, onto which they both plopped down next to each other, both out of breath. Well, the girl was. Chase pretended to be. Like all vampires living in secret among mortals adapting to their behavior had become second nature. Anything to not be found out.
“This isn’t so bad. I could get used to this. So, you are the antisocial type, huh? I get it, my parents can be a little much sometimes too, but they mean well. Tell me something else about you, Chase. Like, obviously one day you’ll go to college, obviously probably here, any idea what you wanna study? What is your future supposed to look like?”
“I dunno. I am 15, 16 in a couple months, college is like an eternity away, so nah, no clue.”
“Uh … we still need a plan. Your parents seem pretty cool. I am sure they’d even let you do something art-related. My parents are constantly like ‘study something solid, think of your future’, blah blah blaaaah. If I told them I like painting and dancing and stuff, they’d keel over unconscious. Anything artistic is just not a ‘real’ job to them.”
Initially he had been relieved that she didn’t seem to realize who his father really was, Blaine liked to do what he called ‘hide in plain sight’, since nobody expected a world-famous celebrity to hang out at a public college career day, armed with diaper bag and brochures. Yet, her question about art studies made him suspicious now. Weird guess. Maybe she had recognized Chase’s dad and was trying to pry info out of him now. Nervously he pulled out his phone to hide how at a loss he was. She smelled so nice, which made it even harder to think and almost impossible to be mad at her in case she was just another fangirl of his famous father, brother or sister.
“Uh, hello? Rude much? Got an important facetime with your Goth & Emo club back home or something? Thought we were having a convo here.” the girl grimaced.
“Sorry. So … what do you mean? Why art?” Chase’s tone was less friendly.
“Because you don’t look like you want to be an accountant one day, but you fit the stereotype of an artist. Got the eccentric part down to the T. You’re 15 and are tatted up, my parents would never allow that. Something tells me you cut your own hair, I like it, pretty cool but you wouldn’t get that in any salon where I live and my parents would have you in a wig or a crewcut by now.” she retorted dead-serious.
Chase stared at her for a moment, relief set in, then he started laughing. She chimed it.
“That’s better. I like it when you laugh. Sounds genuine. You have a nice smile too.” she said.
After what sounded like a compliment to him Chase simultaneously reached the peak of ecstasy of his almost 16 years of life, while suffering the equivalent of a heart attack and a stroke at the same time. She was a girl. A pretty girl. One that smelled good and smiled at him and she liked something about him. Him, not dad, or Viv or Blake. Nope, HIM! SCORE! Now what?
“Thanks, I guess. Sorry about darting out and all. I am not usually such a weirdo, well, actually, I guess I am THAT weirdo, but I just don’t see the point of all this here. Boring as balls, and who knows where we are in a year from now, let alone two. If I were 17 already or something, sure. Right now, this is a waste of time. My parents went to U-Brite and I am thinking this is just some trip down memory lane for them and has little to do with me.” Chase said.
“Neither of my parents went to college, so I am the horse they have all the money on right now. In other words, no pressure, right? So what’s your poison, Forrest?” the girl teased, making Chase blush, then upset. Who the heck was Forrest?! Jealous pangs set in.
“Forrest?! My name’s not Forrest. I’m Chase.”
“Oh, that’s right. Sorry. I guess your weird reaction made me think of Forrest Gump. I knew it was something outdoorsy. Sorry, Chasey! Then again, you behaved a lot more like Rainman than poor Forrest Gump.” the girl just laughed harder.
“Very funny. Fine, I’ll just give you a name too then. You’re … ahem … hmmmmm … Patches.” Chase pointed to the fabric patches on her clothing.
“Yeah, I don’t think so, Rainman. Try again! You can do better.”
“Nah, I think I like Patches for you. Unless you just tell me your real name. I may still be willing to remember it instead.”
“Dream on. You are gonna stew in your inability to listen, Chasey! I already introduced myself earlier, you just didn’t give a shit then. And now I don’t give one.”
They squabbled a bit more, when a boy, maybe 10 or 11 reached them, out of breath.
“There you are! Being the younger kid SUX, you’re like everybody’s slave. Mom and dad wanna leave, and so do I. Can you wrap it up, Hailz? Like right NOW?” the boy whined.
“Hailz. So you are Hailey! Ha! Gotcha!” Chase gloated.
“Don’t mind him, Grady. That’s just our Rainman Forrest Gu-ump, aka. Chasey. Bye Chasey. Enjoy the rest of the tour, Chasey. Maybe I’ll see you in 2 – 3 years then.”
“Hey, wait … where do you guys live?” life came back into Chase and he called after them.
“With our parents, duh!” answered Grady, making his sister giggle and Chase frown. Stupid kid!
“And where do THEY live?” Chase called.
“In New… HMPH!” Grady was muffled by his older sister who had quickly placed her hand over her brother’s mouth, who was trying to fight her off now.
“He’ll figure it out, knowing mom and dad. We gotta go then. Bye Chase-y. Run, Chasey, run!” Hailey giggled.
“Yeah, whatever, Patches. Like I really care or something anyway.” Chase remained, watching them walk away, whispering and giggling, Grady looked back at him a few times.
Finally Chase went back to the main building, where he found his parents and little sister Caitlin waiting for him patiently. Oops.
“There you are! What were you thinking just taking off like that. Did Hailey and Grady find you?”
“Yeah. They left with their parents or something.”
“Oh, yeah they had to. The father has to work tomorrow, so they are driving straight home. It’s a long drive from here to Newcrest. Funniest thing, they live right by Avalon Park, directly across from the new spa and Ella – that’s the mother – highly recommended it. I always said that area needed a good spa. I know where I will be taking Jenna and Averie next time we go visit. At least until they FINALLY open that spa they’ve been building in Windenburg since beginning of the year.”
“Gotcha again, Patches. I happen to know exactly where that is. Just you wait. I cannot wait to see that face when you see me waiting for you next time I go visit Colton … We’ll see who’s gonna be Rainman and Forrest Gump then!” Chase mumbled just loud enough for himself to hear, smirking.
“Ready to go home then?” Scarlett asked.
“Yeah, hey mom, did they by any chance mention their last name? Hailey said it, but I totally forgot it.” Chase lied.
“Yeah, I have it at the tip of my tongue. Something simple … with an H .. like …”
“Ham sandwich?” smirked Blaine.
“Hilarious Blaine. I guess I should be thrilled this time you at least didn’t spew a curse or inappropriate details about family planning or whatever – AGAIN! You are TOO much, seriously! Oh – I got it. Hanson! That’s it! Yes, Ella and Wade Hanson, and the little boy is Grady.”
“Thanks mom.” Chase smirked and already started social media stalking his new acquaintance. As it turned out sometimes his annoying parents could be useful after all. Who knew?
I wasn’t planning on Chase meeting anyone, at least not yet, but she just suddenly popped up on his radar, he was all hot and bothered, as was she, so we changed pace …