An homage to an old love, a new love, life at its beginning and towards its end …
Scene 1: A man, a woman. An old love
His crystal green eyes looked up, meeting hers, generating smiles on both faces as he winked at her.
The beautiful, slender woman came over to him, he pulled her close, burying his face in her mid-section, inhaling her like fresh Spring morning air, as she spoke quietly, but sincerely.
“Thank you for staying.”
“Thank you for wanting me to.”
The meaning of those simple words much deeper than met the eye. She wasn’t talking about last night, neither was he. She was talking about life. As was he. Life, living and surviving. For himself, for her, for their family. About a divorce nobody had wanted and that never happened and now never would. About being there and about staying when needed most.
Behind them were stacks of boxes and suitcases, waiting to be picked up later, joining others already loaded, to make their way to Del Sol Valley. A return home while also leaving home, bittersweet, as it also marked a new chapter nobody expected.
After just barely surviving what the doctors called a stress-induced cardiomyopathy, in other words a heart attack brought on by severe levels of stress over extensive periods time – work, relationship issues, heartbreak, the worries about one kid in college, the other a teen prodigy dreaming to follow in her mother’s career musician footsteps – had mounted up and become too much for Liam’s heart.
His son’s best friend, freshly baked Dr. Rohan Sharma, M.D.’s quick actions administering the right kind of first response Liam had needed before the ambulance arrived, then giving them the key information so he could receive the exact treatment right away, most certainly saved his life, the realization of how close he had come to death had changed Liam’s demeanor along with his entire outlook on life had changed, as had Vivien’s.
It had now been four full weeks since the emergency that almost took Liam’s life, and also since their last fight. Not even any serious bickering. Just relief, love, contentment. Liam’s high fitness level had helped him a lot to speed up his recovery, he had been released over a week ago, even though he was far from back to normal, but now finally fit enough to be cleared to travel West.
Never leaving his side all the way through his recovery, spending every hour of every day and night on the chair next to his bed while Liam was fighting to make it through, Vivien vowed that it would be a proper new beginning for them as she pleaded with him to come back to her. He fought. And he made it. The moment he opened his eyes again for the first time, a hint of recognition and relief flashed in them, he gave her a weak smile, and something in Vivien clicked.
A clean slate. Unlike the many times before when they had fought and broken up, even gotten divorced. This felt different. It was different.
Liam agreed, and once well enough to consider any of this, during a family meeting – with their two kids and Vivien sitting on Liam’s hospital bed – the decision was made that he would move back to Del Sol Valley to live at Villa ViVa with Vivien and their teen daughter Aria-Grace, while slowly building a new Cameron Law firm in Del Sol Valley with Kai and Dylan’s help, and Nick would keep the Penthouse and take over Cameron Law San Myshuno much sooner than originally planned.
Nick wasn’t interested in moving back to DSV, as Adrianna and Rohan weren’t going to be able to leave San Myshuno and after four years of living with them in one house on campus, they were his family too.
Big responsibilities awaited Nick, but his dad only ever a phone call or a chat message away, and seasoned and trained staff at Cameron Law to help guide him through some of it, plus Adrianna and Rohan had his back, both moved into the penthouse with him, Rohan only on a temporary basis as he was searching for a more permanent home he could afford.
Scene 2: A man, a woman ... a new love.
He looked up, his brilliant turquoise blue eyes – mirroring the shade of the tropical ocean waters behind them – met hers.
Hers were the color of Forget-Me-Not flowers, her smile matching his. Happy, loving, astonished.
Still smiling, she continued to make her way down the aisle to the traditional sounds of the Wedding March at the arm of her father, as around them sat their families and friends, watching with smiles and bated breath.
This wasn’t a regular wedding, more a sort of vow renewal, as the couple was already married, had been for more than 4 years, even though they had never lived together yet, with him away at college, but would after returning from their honeymoon.
The first wedding had happened in a drunk stupor at some Vegas drive-thru chapel, neither of them had much, if any, recollection of the fateful night, but this one nobody would ever forget.
A destination wedding, the sound of waves crashing all around them, the scent of exotic flowers filling the warm air with their intoxicating compositions of olfactory sensations, as a balmy breeze rattled the palm tree leaves creating their very own, special melody for their special day.
Smiling, her father had given her away to him, officially at last, the minister spoke his words while the couple never took their eyes off each other, not even when he placed a new, shiny, and very tastefully expensive ring in the place where their cheap one had been before.
With shaky hands and through a veil of happy tears she followed suit, the kiss to seal their love seemed as eternal as their love was intended to be.
It had already weathered some nearly unsurmountable circumstances, so their outlook was positive, to say the least. In a way, they had fallen in love after getting married the first time. And had it not been for the Vegas-wedding, a man like Reed and a girl like Cassidy would likely never have gotten in a relationship.
After the kiss ended, he whispered in her ear
“Thank you for staying with me.”
“Thank you for wanting me to.”
As with Liam and Vivien, these words had deeper meaning. After the Vegas-wedding both first agreed to undo it, but after spending a day together trying to sober up and find a way to return home, Reed had fallen for her and asked her to give them a chance. Against all odds. In secrecy.
The wedding guests applauded now as the couple separated while being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Cameron for the first time – until now Cassidy had kept her maiden name, Chandler – smiling they winked, then nodded at each other. A secret signal.
She turned and tossed the bouquet into the completely unprepared crowd, generating surprised shrieks. Someone caught it, but the groom and bride didn’t know who. Nor did they care.
He took her hand – and both started running down the aisle, past everyone else, never stopping even as both were laughing hard at the shocked faces of their guests when the couple now ruined their wedding outfits running straight into the salty waters, Reed helping Cassidy onto the waiting jet ski before they took off, one last loop to wave at everyone.
“Poor fools if they really expected us to draw inside the lines this time …” he laughed as they disappeared towards the horizon.
Scene 3: A man, a woman A life beginning ...
He looked up, their eyes met, generating smiles on both faces, crinkling her nose. She exhaled, then walked over to him, his open arms receiving her, enveloping her, pressing her against him, tight, yet surprisingly gentle. The sensation of the cold always emitting from him send shivers down her spine, but it was a familiar feeling now.
His eyes closed, his smile widened, exposing frightening fangs as he inhaled the scent of her light perfume, mixed with the fabric softener and her shampoo. Her scent. The scent of Emmy.
This was their very own beauty and the beast story, for he would be the first to admit that’s what he was, just like his father, a stone-cold, merciless killer if on an assignment, the scary unemotional vampire hunter and the young, beautiful, naïve girl, the dreamer, polar opposites, who completed each other.
The way they had met, many years ago now, him lethally injured after a failed hunt, her fighting his reluctance to let her help him survive, grasping the complexity of the situation despite her very young age.
His eyes opened, he turned his head and his gaze fell onto the small, white and blue wand waiting for them on the table nearby. Was this really happening? Was it possible? Not just a dream?
There on that small, many centuries old map table lay a small device, it’s modernness a crass contrast to the furnishings all around, accumulated by ancestors throughout the centuries which they had already lived.
The small, modern device which could change their entire life as a young couple. The scariest thought, but it made him very happy. Emmy was 22 years old now, Connell a relatively young vampire, only some years older than Emmy, but he never kept up with the mortal count.
Emmy was on one of five kids, Connell was an only child, his mother chose that route for no other reason than that he had been born cold, incapable of emotion, like his father before him had been, an affliction affecting some natural born of his kind, extremely hard to remedy, if not by a very special person. A rare person, a rare bond, one some vampires may wander the earth for eternity to never find.
Soulmates often become a vampire’s lifelong mates, but not always. Connell’s father Caelan had found his when Vivien was born at the castle, a mortal out-of-wedlock child to Calean’s older sister Scarlett, Connell’s aunt. A soulmate best friend, whom Caelan helped raise. A strange setup, but not unheard of.
It developed his emotions then, his ability to feel and understand them, and even with Vivien a grown woman with a family of her own and Caelan married to a mortal woman he turned into one of them during their wedding night, whom he adored and loved, and eventually had Connell with, he and Vivien had remained close to this day. Unfortunately, was this a learned behavior and his own son hadn’t inherited it. Vampires born with this particular affliction could be problematic and even downright dangerous, as they easily could turn rogue. It was the type of vampire Caelan and Connell ended up hunting and eliminating most during their assignments, when one of the hapless fools had committed cruel acts against mortals or even their own kind. There was no use trying to fix them with punishments, you couldn’t fix them. Once released, they would just fall back into their old habits. This was the reason Caelan and his wife Rhiannon had chosen not to have another child, and the reason Connell was trained as a vampire hunter at an early age, hopeful to divert his cruel tendencies and put his disregard for human life to good use in a controlled manner, while keeping him from going rogue.
Connell had stumbled across his soulmate when he least expected it, Emmy, back then tender 15 years young and very childlike still. Even now at 22 she often seemed much younger in her ways and views of the world. Finding himself unable to forget her at first, then upon realizing why, he started fighting for her affection, for their love and here they were now.
Married against all odds, after he waited patiently for her to grow into an adult, and now soon to be new homeowners, once the construction of their little home was finished they’d move away from Vatore Castle, Connell knew his young wife was uncomfortable here, even though she would never admit it, but now with her vampire studies done, there was no reason for them to remain here, so he found them property near her family, knowing she missed them greatly, and they would be living like regular people, despite the fact that Connell largely abhorred mortals, but he would live among them to make Emmy happy.
And maybe their child, as they both were about to find out if they would become parents before too long … Connell felt oddly emotional, even after having been married to Emmy for four years now, the sensation was still strange for him. She had made him feel so much ever since they admitted their feelings for each other. More than he ever thought possible, and it was as addicting as it was worrisome to him. She was his weak spot, his vulnerability. His sole reason for existing.
“Thank you for staying with me, Emmy.” he said, in a low, slightly hoarse voice.
“Thank you for wanting me to … eventually.” she smiled.
As with the previous couples, these words went deep. Had she not stayed with him, figured out how to get him help in just the nick of time, his existence would likely have seized back in the fields behind her home over seven years ago, leaving nothing but ashes being blown into the field and ocean by a breeze, his family none the wiser and likely to never find out what really happened to him. Instead, a young dreamer who had never met a vampire ended up saving his life.
Once his father had fetched him and Connell saw the scared and worried faces, first Emmy’s just before his father ported away to the castle with him, then those of his family standing around scared to lose him as his grandfather tried all he could to save him. While drifting off into the healing slumber of vampiric hibernation while his grandfather’s ancient potions worked to neutralize the poison within him, Connell swore to find Emmy again and thank her.
When he saw her again, he felt drawn to her, unable to keep himself from wanting to see her again and again, until he knew why.
Lucky for him had she taken quite the shine to the tall, dark handsome stranger as well.
Scene 4: A man, a woman ... lives towards their final chapter.
He looked up, their eyes met, generating smiles on both faces, old faces, marked by a lifetime of fun, love, excitements, but also hardships, loss and heartbreak. Eyes that have seen the world. Eyes that have looked down on generations of music lovers from some of the biggest stages. Eyes that have tasted eternal life but chose the return to mortality. The eyes of people looking back at lives well lived.
Wise eyes, content in their love shared for many decades now.
He took her hand, kissed it. She nestled her head against his broad chest, listening to his heartbeat – which he once more had after they both had been without it for over a decade – made her smile.
“Do you regret it? Giving up forever?” he asked quietly as if reading her mind.
“I regret nothing, as long as you are by my side. If anything, knowing that it will end eventually only makes me cherish every moment we have left together more, treasure every sensation, every day with you.” she responded.
“I always have been and always will be by your side for as long as we both have left. Which should be at least a couple more years, I swear all those grandchildren our son bestowed upon us and the great-grandkids preserved us for eternity, vampire or not. We should get some rest, Blaine threatened he’d come by with some of them tomorrow evening.” he said, briefly chuckling.
She smiled and nodded.
“Goodnight, my love.” she told him.
When the rays of the morning sun woke them the next morning, she turned her head to face him, they smiled again.
“Thank you for staying with me another day.” she told him.
“Thank you for wanting me to.”
Again, these words went deep. Through the ages, and now also included beating the greedy hands of time, however much of that they had left of it now.
“Here’s to many more like this.” she said.
“There will be. Together forever, one way or another, Maeven … even if I should go before you, I will be up there, comfy on a bench, waiting for you to join me eventually. Just like I have all our lives. I always waited for you and always will. You are worth it.”
“Well, Rett, we are not done yet.”
“No Ma’am. Let get up, I am famished, let’s enjoy being able to eat again, and then go on a walk to enjoy the sun again. I missed that more than I can say. Enjoy some peace and quiet before Blaine brings the circus into our home again.”
“Let’s walk to Everett Heights. After all, the park is not just your namesake. A long time ago I asked you to marry me there.”
“And I told you then what I tell you now: Hell yeah, woman!”