“Jose Ortega Y GassetWere art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness.“
Brindleton Bay Banks Residence
Standing right outside the nursery of their barely two week old daughter Sarah, Everleigh nudged her husband Justin hard, who then went from staring at Blaine to staring at her, discombobulated, as if woken from a trance.
“Quit nerding out, Justin! Act normal, will ya? You are embarrassing both of us right now!” Evey whisper-yelled at him.
“But Evey .. baby … that’s …. that’s …. Blaine Cameron. THE Blaine Cameron! In our house! In the nursery I wallpapered. Holding our daughter! The daughter I made! He is literally touching my child. In my house! There – he just kissed my child! WOW!”
“Yeah, I can see that. You know he’s my dad’s cousin and we know he loves kids. How is that news? He and his family have been at our wedding and we’ve seen them before at parties. You’ve never acted like a star-struck 13 year old girl before! You’re practically drooling!”
“Baby, this is Brindleton Bay and our little house and he came specifically to see US, we didn’t just run into him at your parents’ place. He and his wife came to us. US. People like Blaine Cameron don’t come to places like THIS to see people like me. Besides, our wedding was a blur, I was so nervous back then, with your mother breathing down my neck, my parents in the middle of their divorce malfunctioning like toddlers in need of a nap and all … I … but … maybe I won’t have to give up on my dream of being a musician completely. I think I will never wash Sarah again, he touched her, kissed her. WOW! Maybe you could go talk to him about my music …. you know …”
“I am not gonna bother uncle Blaine with giving you some boost! You are doing so much better where you are now, in business. You have talent for it, you worked your butt off with night classes and you said you enjoyed it, mom and dad needed help in the company anyway, Brindleton Bay’s old downtown area is a super-short, low-traffic commute plus C-Genix Marketing is a great place to work at. Heck, I might even do the writing on the side, take a few business classes since I already have a degree and work at C-Genix once Sarah’s out of the worst. Mom and dad may give the company to us one day, for Sarah to run, since Eric’s in law enforcement and Ethan’s a college professor.”
“Sarah’s a newborn!” Justin frowned.
“So? We started a college fund for her when we found out I was pregnant … she isn’t going to college anytime soon either.”
“Oh gawd, here he comes. What do I do?! Do I look manly enough?” Justin sounded nervous and panicked.
“Oh dear god … where is your reset button?!” Evey rolled her eyes.
Blaine finally let Scarlett enjoy the new baby and decided to talk to his cousin Jordan’s only daughter and her husband.
“Hey guys! Congratulations and gotta say, great work. Gorgeous baby! But how could she not be, with those parents, right? You two bring some good genes to the table.” he smiled.
“Uncle Blaine, thank you so much for stopping by. So good to see you and auntie Scarlett again. Wish you would have called ahead, we could have prepared something to eat.” Evey said after a hug and kisses on the cheek for her, the ‘uncle’ being more an honorary title as the relationship was indirect.
“Nah, was a spontaneous decision. Picking up our Chase, he has himself a little girlfriend in … ahem … not far from here, so we went to see your ole daddy Jordan and decided last minute that two weeks was enough time for you two to recover from having this little angel. Had to come meet her. She is gorgeous. I remember holding you when you were that little, Evey. How time flies.”
“Thanks uncle Blaine. We agree, both of us can’t believe the miracle that is her. Look, not to sound weird and all but Justin is a musician at heart too, but has been taking night college classes, graduated a few months ago and now works with mom and dad as a manager at C-Genix. He is a big fan of yours. I mean REALLY big fan.”
“Are ya? Flattered. I think you did well, learning something decent like business. Congrats on graduating and making something solid of yourself. Best thing you could do for your family. Music is not for everyone, it can be a fucking bitch. Letty and I gotta be sneaky or them fucking stalkerazzi are up in our biz no matter where. Wifey got not much love for them fuckers, and here is a very important life lesson in there for you, kid: happy wife, happy life.”
“Tha-thanks Mister … Sir … ahem ….” Justin stuttered.
“Justin! Get yourself together! Sorry uncle Blaine, he’s not usually such a dork! He is really sweet and cool normally. I swear it. I have never seen him like this.” Evey grimaced.
“It’s okay, Evey sweetheart, I’ve met him before and knowing your mother, there is no way she would have let you get married to some loser. The sudden-onset goofiness happens more than you’d think. I probably should have come around more, then he’d be used to me and I’d be old news. Leonie’s hubby was all odd-like too, then I got them both good, giving them some funny shirts I know they would never be caught dead in. Their faces were priceless – but eventually they realized I was fucking with them. The next time I went to see them, old Zeke was all normal and has been ever since. He can land a good comeback too, once he gets to know ya. They all come around eventually. Hey, Justin, let’s have a chat, man to man, while you show me the yard, whatcha say?” Blaine smirked, careful to hide his fangs, as Jordan’s kids didn’t know about vampires, on request of their parents, which Blaine and Scarlett honored.
Once outside, standing on the small deck overlooking a tiny backyard, Justin sighed.
“Not much to show. Needs a lot of landscaping, but it’s fall now and too late to start. This place is tiny, all we could afford. Everleigh is too good for me, she deserves a villa, a castle, but this is the best I can do right now. Hopefully one day I can give her all she should have. And my daughter too.”
“Wrong attitude, son. You should be proud. Evey clearly loves you and you her, that is all that matters. When a woman loves you, she wants YOU, not a fancy house, car, ring or whatever. YOU. She wants to feel she can count on you and if she does, you have yourself the best ally you could ever ask for. The shit Letty and I have been through would fill volumes, Justin. Jordan told me about the crap you and Evey have dealt with already and she’s still with you. Tells me everything I need to know. I’ve known Everleigh since she was born, she’s a thinker and very sharp, not easy to fool. So if she chose you to marry and have a baby with, I know you bring something to the table. Evey’s father Jordan and his twin brother are more than just cousins to me. We’re close, best friends and all. Jojo told me it was your idea to sell the big house in the Bay he and Jenna bought for you guys, to buy this little one instead and give him back the rest of the money. You really won big with him and Jenna. Mad respect from me too. Nothing feels as good as an achievement you did the honest way, the long and rocky road. My parents did that, I kinda got to ride the coattails or I wouldn’t be here taking your breath away. No reason to pseudo-worship me. I know I am excellent at what I do, write, perform, produce, but that doesn’t mean shit in the entertainment business. It’s who you know and who you blow. Talent is at best secondary nowadays, if that.”
“Ah … okay …” Justin looked taken aback.
“Sorry mah boy, I am an acquired taste with that potty mouth and all that honesty. What I meant is, it’s connections man. Without those, no matter how good you are, your chances are the same as a snowball’s in the desert. You’re one in a million. That being said, if you wanna give me a tape or something, let me hear what you can do, I am sure I can help a brother out, if that’s still what you want. But let me warn you, if you do make it big, it will often keep you away from your family making Evey basically a single parent most of the time. Take it from me, it’s no fun, I was in a great position, already well established in the business before I even really got started because of my parents, so I was able to time my shit better, but even I missed some key moments in some of my kids lives filling me with regret. My daughter Vivien – you may know her as ViVa – she had enough and chose family over fame. Fucking loss to the music industry, if you ask me, but the right choice and I support the fuck out of that. Her and Liam’s little Nick is priceless and needs mother and father. But if you weren’t’ born into it, which gives you the right head start, my advice is stay as far away as you can and count your blessings.”
“Yeah, I know. I don’t want to leave Evey or Sarah. It’s okay, I came to terms with it.” Justin said, slightly resigned.
“Nah, you didn’t. You sound sad, and not convinced. Trust me, Justin, being a successful musician is a lot more than just doing what you love. There is a LOT you have to do that you don’t want to. You have to perform when you feel dead inside. Life doesn’t stop just cos you got a tour planned. If you are in mourning, you still have to entertain the fans. That’s hard. Nobody paid their hard-earned dough to see you be a sourpuss on stage. My advice to you, make music a valued hobby. Hobbies are great, balancing out stress, putting a smile on your face, biggest mistake you can make is to make it a job. Often times it becomes a drag and takes the fun out of it. Perform at your friends’ and family’s events, for free, saves you from having to worry about buying gifts that take chunks out of your bank account usually when you can use it the least, only to become something that may end up collecting dust in someone’s attic. Change your perspective, Justin. You are already on the right track, for yourself, and for your little family. This house is perfect too. Quit looking for what you should have, cos you are missing all you are already blessed with. Enjoy what you have NOW. Plan for tomorrow, but live today.”
“Wow. You’re right. Man, you are smart.” Justin sounded genuine.
“I wish you didn’t sound so surprised.” Blaine chuckled, winking at and nudging the blushing Justin.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that …”
“Chill, kid, was a joke, I am a joker and not easy to offend. Look, I know your name is Banks, but like it or not, you are also part of the Cameron bunch now. We are fucking nuts, and weird as shit, but we are solid as a family. If one of ours needs help, we’re there. Snarky, bitchy and sarcastic, probably double-fisting coffee, but we’ll see ya through.”
“Speaking of, do you want coffee?” Justin offered hopeful.
“Now you’re talking! Yes, I would love some. Get me two cups, one for Letty. She is just as addicted as I am. Not the only thing I corrupted her with.” Blaine smirked.
After a very pleasant visit – Justin had come around to Blaine just being a regular person underneath all that fame and there was much laughter – Blaine and Scarlett had just stepped outside the front door and were about to head a couple of street over towards a quiet corner from which they would port over to Newcrest where the Hansons lived, to pick up Chase from visiting Hailey, when Blaine got a call. It was brief and sounded cryptic, leaving him with a frown.
“Babe, that was your daddy dearest just now, summoned me to some Vampire Council meeting. NOW. With all the old bastards he always tries to kiss up to. There goes the evening.”
“Lucky you …” Scarlett sighed, being sincere, not sarcastic.
“Hey, if you wanna go to that snoozefest in my stead, we can cut your hair, stick you in my clothes and let you have fun. Cos it really isn’t.”
“I studied politics in college hoping to be part of that snoozefest one day, and I would be, were it not for that antique glass ceiling not allowing women in those positions. Oh, how I envy you for having been made part of the Council, such a high honor and I am still so proud of you. I wish I had a dick, sometimes. Well, at least you get to live my dream and I get to live it a little bit through you.”
“Well, I cannot begin to describe how glad I am that you don’t have a dick! And no need for envy. I know it sounds prestigious, but all it really is, is a bunch of dudes dangling their sausages off chairs while Caleb babbles on and on, and when his mouth runs dry, Riordan takes over babbling. That’s it. Boring and unproductive as fuck.”
“Maybe you should quit focusing on the dangling part and start babbling to make it productive. That’s what you excel at, controlling audiences. You have a natural talent to just know what to say and how to get REAL attention. You have no idea how much power you hold over the future of us vampires with that talent and as part of the Council. I wish you would realize it, because some of our children are vampires. One of them a girl with big dreams, like I once was. Their children one day will likely be vampires. Maybe Cait wants to be a musician, like you. Maybe an actress. But what if she wants to be like her grandpa Vatore – only to find out the hard way, just like her mother once had to, that she will never be able to? Even the mortals are miles ahead of us by having women in politics.”
“Yeah, I can hardly walk for pride about Caleb sticking me into the Council. I have no talent for or interest in politics, Letty, but I know not to piss off Caleb too much, which is why I will make like a baby and head on out, so my lovely father-in-law don’t get a seizure cos I am late. You can handle the teen monster on your own?”
“Yes, babe, I can handle Chase with my eyes closed. He’s a sweetheart with a big mouth, just like his daddy. I have decades of experience handling that. See you later.”
One more kiss and Blaine was gone.
Forgotten Hollow Castello Vatore
Some time later Blaine looked up when he realized the monotonous undertone of Caleb rambling on about recent events concerning the vampire community had seized, noticed Caleb glaring right at him, while all the other council members were staring at him too.
“What? Do I got a booger hangin’ or did you all simultaneously fall in love with my rugged good looks?” Blaine asked.
“Firstly, for a college-educated man your grammar is frightening. Secondly, I hope my important updates concerning all of us and future generations are not keeping you from updating your social media status or whatever the heck you are doing that is NOT listening to me – which is what you SHOULD be doing! Your behavior is atrocious and disrespectful to all of us!” Caleb roared.
“I wasn’t on social media, what do you think of me, I am not a teen girl! I leveled up in my Candy Crush game. It will shock you all to learn that I am so fucking talented, I can listen to things I am not staring at. I heard ya. Same old bullshit as last time. And this wasn’t me being disrespectful. Disrespectful would have been going with my other option, which would have been napping face first on this here table! Luckily it smells like some ancient crusader’s grimy ballsack so a man can’t get any decent shut eye on that. How old is that thing?! Ever been cleaned between the extinction of the dinosaurs and today?!” Blaine replied completely unimpressed.
“It is indeed a very ancient piece of furniture, as are most items in this home, thank you very much for appreciating this, Blaine. And my most insincere apologies that our vampire community matters bored you. Any productive suggestions how to make it more captivating are always welcome. I am all ears, as are the rest of us.”
Blaine considered for a moment, chewing on his bottom lip, then slipped his phone into his back pocket as he rose up of the chair, looking directly at Caleb, while nodding.
“Yeah, actually, I do have some proposals for change. Long overdue ones, which, oddly, as smart as you are, you never seemed to have the balls to change, even though I remember you wanting to. So, first on my agenda: Why the fuck is this always such a sausage fest, huh? You all think only those born with dick have a brain and ideas? Cos I don’t. I know better. And I also know you all know very smart women, some of you are related to some. I know I am. You want change, Caleb? You all want true change, real progress? Up the fucking estrogen levels in this bitch, and you will see, the other councils in the other parts of the world will follow suit. Quit being so afraid they look down on you for this decision, quit asking for approvals from some century old mummies and realize people always initially knock progress, until they realize it actually is PROGRESS – and then they all do it too. And then it will be commonplace. And maybe, MAYBE, one day we don’t have to sit here scratching our balls so we don’t doze off, cos nothing ever really changes. We all know life is a balance and needs variety. Most vampires think we are stronger than mortals, superior over them, yet, we creep around in hiding, looking like fools while trying to learn to smile and laugh without showing our fangs so nobody knows. I betcha if it were Breana and Scarlett here in some of those chairs, that would already be done with. Both are smart, dedicated and level-headed. I am not saying bring some bitchy, manipulative girls in, choose wisely, like you did with with the men. I think we should have a serious vote about that. Just know, anyone who votes against my proposal can rest assured, I will go find the strong, smart women in their lives and update them on how their lovely resident dick-for-brains voted. That should be tons of fun. You know what? You all decide amongst yourselves and let me know. Tootles!”
Moments of silence followed, which then turned into a hurricane of voices, while Blaine had already disappeared into a black cloud.