“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”~Eric Hoffer
Fast forward through the next few months, a lot of things changed dramatically for some of our protagonists.
First of all, the Cameron twins Fallon and Blythe grew into adorable, active and very headstrong toddlers. It was more and more apparent that they were, in fact, identical twins, inside and out, both with daddy’s light green eyes and dark brown hair.
Caitlin & KC
Naturally Caitlin Cameron and KC McCoy’s secret relationship didn’t stay secret long. On the day of her 14th birthday party, KC was now 16, their house of cards tumbled when Blaine caught them kissing. As you would expect, that turned into a huge affair, KC was dropped off with his father and then forbidden to go near Caitlin again. She lost her cell phone and computer privileges to make it harder for them to stay in touch, even though Blaine and Scarlett had no doubts that Caitlin would borrow her friends’ devices.
And also as you would expect was Caitlin not the type of girl to sit on such – in her mind – unjust parental overreaches, and inadvertently ended up proving why someone as young as her should not be in romantic relationships, as the choices made are usually not the most reasonable.
Cait’s drama happened not long after she and KC got caught by Blaine, resulting in the showdown separating the teens. One Saturday morning she packed her backpack, snuck out and took trains and buses to Oasis Springs to find KC’s home. She had his address, but had never actually been there, never met his family, except his dad a few times briefly when he had another work assignment taking him to Del Sol Valley and he had brought his son with him. With few exceptions, she and KC had only ever spent time together at the Cameron Mansion.
When she finally found his house, before she could even get to the front door, she caught him hugging and what looked to Caitlin like kissing another girl on the McCoy’s front porch.
Completely beside herself, heartbroken and sobbing, she ran as far and fast as she could, then called her brother Chase to pick her up and take her back home. She was so upset, that Blaine and Scarlett didn’t even punish her for running away.
She completely cut KC from her life. At first, he tried like crazy to get a hold of her, then he finally gave up, assuming the rich girl had lost her interest in him or found someone better, from her own circles. He would have never guessed that she had come to see him, so he could never explain to her that the girl he hugged had been his younger sister Juliette after they found out their father had a heart attack and was in the ICU fighting for his life.
Everyone secretly expected Heath to swoop in and try his luck with Cait, but he never did anything more than hug her, and only ever when she initiated it. He was there for her, which helped her get through her first heartbreak faster, and he always managed to cheer her up.
Maybe he was afraid her parents would not approve and send him away. Maybe he was worried Caitlin wouldn’t reciprocate his feelings. Or maybe he really only had brotherly feelings for her. He had always been very guarded with his thoughts and feelings, quiet and about as easy to read as hieroglyphics. Needless to say, Blaine still kept a very close eye on them.
Everett & Maeve
Those two were loving every second of their second chance on life, reliving their love and youth so much, too much for some tastes. When they released a new single as Rett & Reed, which instantly topped the charts, got nominated for an award and won, headstrong and unstoppable Everett went on stage to accept it, creating an avalanche of drama with his new old handsome good looks. Needless to say the audience was floored, especially since he made not the faintest attempt to hide his fangs during the acceptance speech.
After that, within only a matter of hours a secret kept for millennia by generations of vampires, was out of the bag for the entire world to see. Scarlett, who was in attendance at the award show tried her best to stop it and gloss over it, but wild and crazy Maeve went all out during several interviews, explaining her and Everett’s new situation in great detail, while announcing their comeback to the stage, unwilling to hide away. Unable to argue with the extremely obvious proof of the charismatic singer’s outlandish explanations and revelations, the many paparazzi and news crews on site ate it up, broadcasting the ‘breaking news’ live before the situation could be contained.
Vampire leaderships from all over the world, including Caleb, were forced to take action, release official press statements and over the following months many meetings with national leaders of the mortals followed. To this day negotiations were still ongoing about how to best handle this ‘new development’ but most likely the only thing that would really change was that the existence of vampires had become common knowledge and presumably both sides would establish laws and put means into place to assure safety for both, vampires and mortals alike. Scarlett finally had her moment to shine, as this had ultimately been why she had studied politics in college and why she had wanted a spot as a Grand Council Elderwoman of the vampires in the first place. Now she could finally be part of the trailblazers assuring that the heartbreak she and many of her kind had to endure for being forced to live in the shadows would no longer be the standard. Blaine was thrilled for not having to think about retiring at some point when they ran out of excuses for why he wasn’t aging. Music and his family were his life essence and he didn’t want to give up either.
As usual with big changes such as this, a level of controversy ensued.
The mortals were divided into two main groups, the vast majority being ‘pro-fang’, which ranged from a laid-back acknowledgment of their existence, over curiosity and sincere interest all the way to the more extreme end of the spectrum which included unhealthy fandom and glorification of vampires and every level imaginable in between.
This stood in crass contrast to the opposition, the ‘anti-fangers’, those who didn’t want anything to do with vampires, feared them, hated them, demonized them, starting rumors and misinformation, scaring the easily impressionable.
The division didn’t particularly concern Caleb, as the same had always been true for the vampire population, which historically had always been divided in a similar manner. The majority of them peaceful, just wanting to coexist with the mortals, living on blood alternatives, and the extremists on the other side, who felt vampires were superior and mortals merely toys and ‘cows’ to be milked for their blood.
Colton & Maddie
Despite both of them taking the smallest baby steps, it had become clear they both were more than ready to level up what had since grown into a fun and tight friendship. So far, other than hugs, quick pecks on the cheek and snuggling up on the couch, nothing had happened between them. Both obviously enjoyed each other’s company, Chase and Hailey liked Maddie and vice versa. Maddie was clearly attracted to him and Colton taking it so slow – very much unlike him – made clear how serious he was about her. Still, Colton dreaded the moment he would have to test how serious Maddie was about him and if their budding romance could withstand the fact that he was so different from her at the core. At least with the recent publicity the vampire community had received over the past few months, almost all questions anyone could have about his kind had been answered over and over again. The secret about the existence of vampires not being one anymore did help a lot. But knowing about vampires didn’t necessarily mean someone wanted to be with one.
Snuggled up on the couch at the on-campus home again, Colton cleared his throat.
“Uh, Maddie? I was gonna talk to you about something.” he eventually said.
Noticing his seriousness, she got serious too, tensely awaiting him to continue.
“So, this vampire thing everyone’s talking about now … how would you feel about … I mean … would you ever consider, ahem … if you were to find yourself liking one … ahem …” Colton stuttered, trying to find the right angle to land the plane.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you? I kinda had a gut feeling for a while.”
“I am.” he admitted, relieved that she didn’t seem to freak out about it.
“After all the news reports and online check-lists of telltale signs on how to tell you apart from us, I almost figured that already. Then your last name is Vatore, like that vampire guy who’s on TV all the time. Assume you are related, otherwise it’s a huge coincidence. Things just started to make infinitely more sense. Chase too, right?”
“That guy on TV is my dad’s uncle Caleb. That woman who’s often seen with him is his daughter Scarlett and also Chase’s mom, and that guy with them sometimes, Riordan, he is my dad. So yes, Chase is vampire too. Hailey’s a mortal, still, and they’ve been together for over four years now. So, you see we are not some bloodthirsty, primal instinct driven Neanderthals who cannot be around a mortal without being triggered to kill them.”
“Be honest, is this why you haven’t even tried anything with me? I was starting to wonder if you weren’t really into me all that much. I gave you so many hints and opportunities, yet here we are exactly where we were months ago.”
“It is and I am definitely into you. God, you have no concept of how tempted I have been so many times, but was worried how you would react when you realized I was one of them. I didn’t really think you would be one of those anti-fang lunatics, but I wasn’t sure that automatically meant you’d be okay with dating one of us. I mean, there are a lot of things about us that some mortals just can’t deal with.” Colton admitted, relieved that she was so calm about it. She wasn’t afraid. Or disgusted. It wasn’t too much of a surprise to Colton to hear she had already figured out the truth, Maddie was sharp as a whip.
“How did you become … that? Because of your dad?” she asked.
“Yeah, I was born this way. My parents are both vampires, as is my little sister, Annaleigh, she’s 14. Maddie, is this a dealbreaker? For us to level up, I mean? Some people have issues with my kind because of stupid rumors and exaggerated movies and such.”
“I am sorry, I was so distracted wondering if you are just gonna attack me, turn me into some subservient minion bride to do your bidding, so you can go for world domination, like the anti-fangers propaganda says you guys all want to do. Cause you know, I believe everything I read on the internet …” she giggled, obviously teasing him.
“I just might …” encouraged by her giggles and apparent attempt to make light of the situation, Colton grabbed her, playfully nibbling on her neck, blowing raspberries, making her laugh and beg for mercy.
“Stop – that tickles!” she pleaded, laughing.
Colton halted briefly, their eyes locked – and he kissed her. Their first kiss, a real kiss, a long kiss, the type of kiss you feel from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, one that contained everything Colton felt about Maddie and wanted her to feel too, his knees nearly buckled for relief when she responded to his kiss, leaning into it harder, then pulling him closer.
When they finally let go of one another, Maddie breathless and amazed, a tiny smirk crept into her face.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing, I am just so very relieved right now.” she told him.
“About my fangs not being as gross as you thought and vampires not being the brutal monsters some make us out to be, but actually just normal and civilized citizens?”
“No. About you actually being a decent kisser. After that library incident, I didn’t have much hope for you … man, that would suck so bad to date a hot guy whose kisses felt like a soaked sponge. Eeew. But this here wasn’t half-bad. Always room for improvement, but not hopeless.” she laughed then, snuggled up close against him.
“Sounds to me like you’re volunteering to practice with me! I may need a lot of practice …” he told her laughing, as he pulled her off the couch and into his lap – for some intense practice …