Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom;
indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.
Newcrest Hanson Residence
Chase walked up to Hailey and just pulled her into his arms, where she started crying hard again. A needed release, she had cried her eyes out after learning her best friend since high school, Hadley, had died in childbirth, leaving behind not only her four kids from a previous marriage, but also the baby and its elderly father, who was none other than Hailey’s other best friend’s dad. Chase’s embrace calmed her quickly and finally, she smiled up at him and they kissed.
To claim the funeral had been iffy would be the understatement of the year, the situation was unavoidable as Hadley and her now widower were also immediate neighbors to the Elysium, the name the four friends and band members of 2Dark 2C had given their home when they first moving in together many years back. The Elysium was said to be a mythological place at the ends of the earth to which certain favored heroes were conveyed by the gods after death, but also the state of ultimate happiness. Considering that most of its residents were now vampires, but also famous musicians, they found it fitting.
“Ah, about time for another grandbaby to go into production.” joked Ella, Hailey’s mom, causing the lovebirds to pull apart.
“No thanks, Ella! I am still not over the shock from getting the one we got.” smiled Chase, who got along exceedingly well with his in-laws.
“Ha, you’re one to talk. I was the one having Connor – and all the issues!” complained Hailey.
“And I was the one having to stand by and watch it all happen, completely helpless!” argued Chase.
“Well, lucky for you both, now that you turned my daughter, might as well, right? So, get to it, Mr. Cameron. Chop chop. Or do you need me to build you a condom pyramid first to set the mood.” laughed Ella, nudging her son-in-law making everyone laugh. It was a jab at a practical joke Chase’s dad Blaine had pulled on them when they first started dating.
The doorbell rang, Ella put down the bowl she was stirring in to answer.
“Ah, that must be Beth now …”
“I’ll get it.” offered Hailey.
“No, you girls stay and do your thing, I get it.” Chase decided, then left.
“Why is Beth coming here mom? You know this whole situation is still super-weird for Maddie and it’s not like Beth really needed to be at the funeral reception for the woman her husband left her for.” wondered Hailey. Beth Barlow was Maddie’s mother and while Hailey got along great with her, circumstances were a bit unusual at the moment.
“Maddie is a grown woman, Hailey. This is a funeral reception, not a high school, I am hosting, so of course Beth is here, she is my friend, this is my home. If Maddie doesn’t like it, you guys live not even 5 minutes away. Tootles, I say.”
“Mom, Colton needs to stay, since he and Chase will be doing the musical send off, they wrote a farewell song just for Hads. I can’t leave, since Hadley was my best friend, I need Chase here. And Maddie cannot be alone at the moment. You KNOW why.”
“Oh yeah, had to turn her too. This town will soon be crawling with vampires. None of you and your new buddies better ever get close to Michelle! Or your father and me, for that matter. Or Grady and his family!” Ella warned.
“Oh my Gawd, mom! We’re not feral animals. You said it yourself, you can’t even tell with me and you are my mom! Besides, if Colton happened to get close to Chelle, she’d love it. I swear my little sister is crushing on my hubby’s best friend!”
“She better not be! Your father would have a heart attack.”
“She’s sixteen. Of course she is looking at boys.”
“Oh, she can look all day long, it’s the touching part that worries me. Maybe I should make her stay over at you girls’ brother for a while, day and night. I love my grandkids but the three he and Giulia have are a trip and a half! Must be the Italian in them. Their maternal grandfather, that Ezio Auditore, is a megaphone on legs; you can hear him talking from clear down the road. Anyway, that would be the best abstinence incentive I could give her.”
“Wait, what mom? I am confused here. So, Grady has three kids and you complain, Chase and I have one and you complain, so what do you want?” Hailey grinned at her mother.
“What I REALLY want is what I always wanted, you smart Alec, two kids. A boy and a girl. Obviously, you cannot pick and choose and apparently, your father and I suffered that Cameron Curse before we even knew Camerons even existed and had your sister late in life. I love Michelle but having an unplanned kid in your mid-forties is a killer! And not just to my figure, which I can’t even remember anymore. All I know, once upon a time, I had one.” Ella laughed, Hailey chimed in.
“You look great, mom. And I know how that goes. After I had Connor I ended up with some baby weight I couldn’t lose and as much as I always hated cooking, I just loved eating too much to seriously lose more weight, even though I wanted to be nice and skinny before Chase turned me. But I remember you being so very pregnant when we toured that college because of the high school assignment thing when I was 15 and I met my Chasey! Best day of my life. Well, that and when he told me he loved me. And when we had our first kiss and our first …. ummm … thing, and when he proposed on his birthday – awwww! – and the wedding … or when we found out we were expecting Connor …”
“Hailey, honey, I am getting diabetes here from all your sugary sweet memories, and I still have more cooking to do. I am glad you and Chase are doing so well. I heard his sister not so much, huh? They said on TMZ they were headed for another divorce. AGAIN!”
“Yeah, looks that way. So sad. Such a beautiful family and I adore Liam. Hopefully this won’t be one of those splits where you never see him again, because he is the other side of the family. He helped so much with Hadley and her divorce, and he got us in touch with Lana. Oh my God, can you believe Hudson dared to show up at Hadley’s funeral – and even cried!? I mean, seriously? I was gonna kick his ass … but Chase said no, because he had the kids with him.”
“Exactly. Hailey, baby, sometimes life is rough. Just because a couple splits up, doesn’t mean they are not also both parents still. Children bond you. Beyond personal differences. Luckily your father and I almost always saw and see eye to eye, but I know many couples where that just isn’t the case.”
“Are you ladies trash-talking about me again?” Beth entered the kitchen, giggling, after hugging both briefly.
“Actually no. This was about Hadley’s ex being at the funeral.”
“Yeah, had you asked me two years ago, I would have felt the same as you both. Now .. well … I am more forgiving. I kinda get it now.”
“Are you seriously gonna take Gary back? After everything he has done to you?” Hailey asked straight up.
“I am getting a sense of deja vu here, I just had this exact same talk with my daughter earlier today. I will tell you both what I told Maddie: it’s not so simple. Just because Gary fell out of love with me, doesn’t mean I fell out of love with him too. And he clearly needs help with that baby. Otherwise, it will kill him. Literally. And that won’t do anybody any good. So, I chose the road less traveled.”
“I still don’t know if I admire you or pity you for complete insanity for going back to a husband who dropped you like a hot potato for a younger woman, and now you not only forgave him, but are helping him raise the baby he had with the other woman!” Ella shook her head.
“Mom, the ‘other woman’ was my best friend …” Hailey injected.
“Doesn’t make it right, Hailey.” Ella told her daughter.
“Ella, Hailey, look. Benjamin is an innocent baby. He didn’t choose any of this, but if I don’t help out, what will happen to him?”
“Honestly, Beth, we are gonna have to agree to disagree. I have been over there to check on him a bunch of times, and agree, he desperately needs help, but from you of all people? I don’t think I could forgive him, if I were you, let alone clean his baby’s dirty ass. I love Chase, but if he did this to me, he could find another idiot to clean up his mess. Well, before I say anything else I might regret, I think I will go check on Maddie, unless you need help with the cooking, mom.”
“No, just go. I love you, but you were never much of a cook, baby girl, and now that you can’t even taste what you conjure up anymore, I am scared to have you in the kitchen with me. Beth can help and if you see your sister, send her my way.” laughed Ella.
Laughing, cos it was true, Hailey had never been a domestic goddess, she’d burn plain water to a crisp, it seems, she left.
“Hey boys, you wanna get set up for the concert? Mom and Beth are almost ready with the food, then we can get started.” Hailey said as she entered the Hanson living room
Before anyone could answer, Maddie jerked oddly, then collapsed, Chase was quickest and caught her.
“Colton! Hailey! We have to go! NOW! It’s happening!”
“Oh crap! Not that now too! MOM, BETH, we need you to keep the kids overnight! EMERGENCY!” Hailey exclaimed as she was following Chase and Colton out the door.
The rest of the farewell party for Hadley took place without the four friends, as they were preparing Maddie for her re-awakening as a vampire in the privacy of their home.