“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”–Frederick Douglass
Del Sol Valley
Sitting together over a beer, Jamie and Blaine felt a bit melancholic. Jamie and Averie had come into town to celebrate Nicholas’ 6th birthday.
“Hard to believe we are both grandparents of school-aged kids now. I already was, with Abby’s triplets, but now you are as well. Man, that makes me feel old.”
“Yeah … same, even though I guess age is kinda relative for me now.” Blaine agreed, as usual trying to ignore the silver in his cousin’s light blonde hair.
The realization that they were the same age, but one of them quit aging altogether, while the other still clearly displayed the countdown of life made Blaine feel sad. Jamie and his identical twin brother Jordan had been Blaine’s first, best and oldest friends all their lives, and were always more like brothers to him than cousins, especially since Blaine had lived with them when they were kids and teens several times for whole school semesters, all of them then attending school in Windenburg together, while his parents were touring as the music duet ‘Rett & Reed’.
“You have other problems currently anyway, don’t ya? How’s it going with the babies? Man, twins at our age, I don’t know if I could. And who would have ever thought you and Scarlett of all people would be multiplying like rabbits. I remember vividly a 14 year old you and your very detailed future plans that 100% excluded marriage and kids, except one single boy, fathered by you when you were well over the hill so there would be an heir to your fortune, name and fame.” Jamie chuckled.
“Oh, don’t remind me of my idiotic banter from yesteryear. Mom and dad tried their best raising me right, as did your parents all the times I was left with them to raise, but I was such a dumbass kid. Man, all the bullshit I pulled and all the unnecessary detours I took. At least I finally saw the light before it was too late. As for the twins, man, can’t be immortal enough for that not to exhaust ya. But I’d take another set of twin infants over those teens I got now. Either I am getting old, or those teen years get progressively worse with each new batch we got.”
“I totally get the baby gripe, trust me, after Abby’s triplets nothing can shock me anymore. That’s how I came around to liking Jay, any man who stays by a woman’s side through all that has to be ace, no matter the criminal past. And my parents thought highly of him and I am convinced he loved them. Plus, he makes Abby happy and the triplets adore him. But Caitlin? How is she giving you grief, she’s sweet as pie. And that quiet boy is just like a mirage most of the time, just barely there. If I didn’t know better I’d swear he isn’t even real.”
“Sweet as pie, my ass. I swear most people think Caitlin’s name is “NO CAIT!”, followed by some serious threat, usually involving her phone and or computer. And that quiet mirage boy is Caitlin’s shadow. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I had to drag that Heath out of Cait’s room since we took him in. I get it, he used to have terrible night frights, but he doesn’t have those anymore. And sure, back then they were just innocent little kids, but even then I could tell he wouldn’t outgrow that obsession with my daughter. And I was right. What I can’t figure out though is whether my beautiful Caitlin is dumber than a box of rocks and doesn’t get his end game or if she is playing coy. She claims he’s just like a brother to her and she like a sister to him. Yeah, in a banjo sort of way. Just as much as I am brotherly with Scarlett. I was born at night, but not last night. And then there are still KC, Giacomo, Ryan and I am sure I am forgetting some. Those boys seem to have matured a lot faster than Cait, I can read it in their smug little faces that they see the young woman my little girl is growing into way too fast, and I dread the day she realizes boys aren’t just male girlfriends that look goofy in skirts.”
Jamie chuckled, while taking a sip.
“Yeah, laugh it up. In about 7 years we’ll talk again when your triplet grandkids are teens. You are gonna have three of those running wild, wreaking havoc on your nerves, patience and sanity. Did I mention the insanely loud music phases? I am a fucking career rock musician, so if I find something is too loud when I make a living by spending weeks on tour with professional grade sound equipment blasting my eardrums from all angles, it should tell you how angelic my little girl really is. And every time one of us tries to reprimand her, Heath rides in on his imagined white horse to save her from us, so we are always wrangling two kids at once. He’s never loud or mean, uber-polite, but so fucking annoying as he tries to shield her and take the blame for something he clearly had nothing to do with.”
“Awww, how chivalrous. Puppy love at it’s finest.”
“One more word and I swear I will drown you.” Blaine growled, causing Jamie to chuckle.
“Well, I did my duty with my three kids and they all turned out better than okay. Got all of them to adulthood without too big a hiccups, now Avie and I are just sitting back and enjoying the simpler side of life as grandparents. We don’t mind watching the kids, but if they get testy, we hand them off to their parents. Their problem.”
“Yah, as if, Mr. Mayor of Windenburg. The second those grandkids act out and start shitting on your good rep, you are gonna have their hides and we’ll talk again then. There is a reason the word ‘parent’ is in grandparent. Your genes, you’re still on the hook.”
“Well, they’re only 6, not 16, and it’s Windenburg, not Del Sol Valley, plus there’s the hurdle of them living nicely tucked away on the island. You remember yourself that after a certain hour there are no more ferries to the mainland, so there won’t be much use sneaking out, unless one of them finds a date with a speedboat.”
“Yeah, that no ferry situation REALLY stopped me and Scarlett from sneaking around, didn’t it? Worked so well that we ended up with a kid.”
“I am just gonna assume none of them finds themselves dates that can teleport. And nothing compares to you and Scarlett. That story alone is a whole theater play in itself. You have to admit, your family was never what one would usually consider average … even before you got yourself turned into a vamp and started mass producing little Cameron vamps with Scarlett.”
Both men laughed, grabbed their beers, clinked the bottles together and drank, almost dropping their bottles when a loud scream startled them.
“My god, that was Averie!” exclaimed Jamie and jumped up same time Blaine did.
Both ran inside, where right in the foyer they found Everett Cameron, Blaine’s father, collapsed on the ground, unconscious, now surrounded by Blaine’s mother Maeve, his teen daughter Caitlin, Scarlett, Jamie’s wife Averie, all of them panicked.
“What the fuck happened – DAD?! Dad, can you hear me?!” Blaine ran to him, dropped to his knees, patting his father’s cheek, while checking his vitals.
“Yeah, hi my name is Averie Cameron and we need an ambulance to … hey!” Averie was on the phone, which Scarlett quickly took from her.
“Yes, hello? This is Scarlett Cameron, the homeowner, sorry, false alarm. My 85 year old father-in-law tripped and my sister-in-law got a little scared, but he is perfectly fine now. Oh yeah, I will tell my husband, he always loves to hear fans appreciate his latest album. You have a nice day too.” she disconnected the call and handed Averie back her phone.
“Scarlett what the hell?!” Averie complained shocked.
“Guys, shut up for a moment. This wasn’t another heart thing. This is something else. I’ll have to handle this and we all have to remain calm, for his sake. I think I know what happened here. Caitlin, where is Heath?”
“I don’t know, mom. He was all weird in the car on the way home and ran inside before the driver even left while I was on the phone outside. When I came in, all this was going down already. Is granpa gonna be okay?”
“Yes honey, eventually, promise. Do me a big favor, this is important, please find Heath and make sure he doesn’t leave. Keep him calm, tell him everything is going to be okay, daddy and I are making sure that is gonna be true, okay? You got this? Blaine, get Rett to the basement. I’ll get my dad and will be right back with him.”
“What is going on here? Nobody is taking my Rett into basements. He needs medical attention!” Maeve looked scared, sounded whiny, but defensive, so Scarlett told her
“There he is! He’s coming to! Hey dad! You okay? Man, dad, you fucking scared the shit out of me.” Blaine sounded genuinely relieved.
“What happened … ?” Everett mumbled.
“I am sorry Maeve. There seems to have been a little accident. Everyone just go sit down somewhere and keep calm. Don’t do anything until I get back with my father. I don’t have time to explain, but Blaine, my father and I will assure Rett will be okay. Blaine put him in my coffin for now.”
“What the FUCK?! Rett is NOT going into ANY coffins! He goes onto the couch or he doesn’t go at all!” Maeve protested vehemently.
“Fine, Blaine, put your father on the couch then. Then call Liam and have him come get Jamie and Averie. Sorry guys, it’s just for the night, at least you get some more time in with the grandkid, right? Yay! I’ll be right back with my dad.”
“Oh fuck me. Letty, is this what I think it is?” Blaine wondered, finally connecting the dots.
“I think so, look at his neck. Keep everyone calm, tell them what you know you can tell and we’ll go from there.” Scarlett said.
Within seconds the three of them were gone. Blaine had picked his father up and with vampire speed carried him into the living room, while Scarlett ported to Forgotten Hollow.
About an hour later, Jamie and Averie were staying at Liam and Vivien’s home for now, Riordan was with Heath and Caitlin upstairs and Maeve had finally stopped crying, sitting on the armrest of the couch, gently stroking her husband’s head, Everett was resting. Heath had gone too long between feeding, had blacked out after returning home from school and fed on the first mortal that crossed his path, which happened to be Rett. After drinking Rett nearly dry, Heath had come to and realized what happened and ran to hide, afraid of terrible punishment as turning without prior authorization was strictly forbidden. Caleb had to finish the job to avoid Everett dying a painful death by blood loss. Within the next week or two, he would now transform into a vampire. Unplanned.
“Mom, we’re sorry. It was an accident and …” Blaine tried to calm his mother.
“Accident? How many more accidents like this are gonna happen? First you, now Rett? Someone is gonna have to turn me too. Rett can’t take care of himself alone if I die.” Maeve had jumped up to face Blaine, then walked over to stop before Caleb.
“Mom …” Blaine looked tortured. Turn his mother? What?!
“I wasn’t talking to you, Blaine. I am talking to him. Caleb. You. You are the highest ranking one. YOU are ultimately responsible for this mess. YOU are going to turn me. Hurry up, so it all happens around the same time as Rett.”
“Maeve, I am sorry, but that’s not protocol and … “
“Protocol Caleb?! Oh, that’s rich! I am not going to listen to your nonsensical banter about protocol. None of this is protocol, or was YOUR daughter following protocol when she turned MY son, my ONLY son, my rainbow baby? Was Heath, whom YOU dumped on this family to raise, following protocol when he lost control of his urges, fed on my husband and ended up turning MY husband. You cannot be so cruel as to want to see separated what has been together forever, now, do you, Caleb?”
“I … ahem … no, of course not, but we cannot just … we … oh goodness gracious, what did we all get ourselves into here again? All right, fine. I will do it, but ask that you sleep on this for a night and really consider if that’s really what you want, because it is a serious lifestyle change, it’s irreversible and will impact …”
“Are you KIDDING me?! Consider? As if I had a choice! Quit being cute and realize YOUR warden has taken any choice from us. So, spare me your usual endless lectures, I know you love few things more than to hear yourself talk, but I am not in the mood for this. So, what are you waiting for?! Bite me already! Get to it. Shall I lay down, sit, stand? How is this done?”
“Wait – I can do it. I’ll do it.” said Blaine defeated.
“You will not! I love you Blaine, but I am NEVER EVER gonna call my troublemaker son ‘Master’! From what I gathered through the years I have to call this one here master regardless, so it’s gonna be him. Caleb, would you please?! I am not getting any younger here.”
“Very well, fine. Maeve, please try to be as calm and relaxed as you can be. I will be as careful as I know how to be, but there will be some pain. Once I started this, there is no turning back, so I must ask you one final time: is this really what you want, or would you like some time to …”
“Are you STILL talking?! Quit stalling! I am 80 years old, I know pain and whatever this is, won’t bother me. Now get to work already!”
With a sigh Caleb stepped towards Maeve and quickly bit, skillfully enough to barely make her twitch. It had been a very long time since he last turned anyone and never before with an audience.
“She needs rest now too. Blaine, Scarlett, help me get them both situated and prepared for what’s ahead. I’ll go home then and prepare a statement and the paperwork of two unscheduled turns. I think Heath should probably come stay at the castle before worse things happen.”
“Dad no. Heath is already beside himself, ridden with guilt. He’s been through so much, and it clearly was an accident. If you take him from Caitlin now, it’ll make everything much worse. I am gonna make sure he’ll feed at scheduled times, whether he feels like it or not. Let’s just deal with the more pressing issue here and once they are settled, I’ll call Chase.”