Those Who Came Before

A few notes before we delve in.
This is a condensed and altered version of the original legacy - which far preceded the chapters and characters you are accustomed to now, even though I brought back the founders and a few names, but in different context. I lost that original legacy at ten generations deep when all save files of very old saves became corrupted after some huge EA update about a year and a half ago now, I had no other choice than to start my beloved Cameron legacy over. "The Cameron Legacy" which had begun sometime in 2016 ended, was rebranded, and became the "CameronLineage" you know today. So what you are about to read has little to nothing to do with the current characters, alive or dead. Just to avoid any potential confusion.

To those of you who do remember the first legacy, the gist here is the same as it had been initially, but made a little more palatable, because when the original was written several years ago, I had not the first clue about SimLit and I didn't know these stories required pictures until several chapters later, so I scrambled together a few screenshots here and there to add into this post, which weren't in the original chapters, but are the original characters. As for the things that happened, those were almost all tossed at me by mods, which was I was still learning how to fine-tune then, so relationships, strange interactions, babies and other drama just happened before I knew how to properly contain it. Some of it I cut from this condensed blast from the past to make it less confusing.
Treat this, however, more like a short story, rather than SimLit. This is a one off, there won't be any follow up to it. 

ENJOY!
ROCK BOTTOM

Aimlessly walking while mulling over where my best friend since childhood could have vanished to, I could hardly hide my worry. Nobody had seen Blaine since his messy divorce following a brief marriage that should have never happened in the first place, and only ever did because during some reckless night he had knocked up a girl he barely knew and hardly loved. And that hadn’t probably been the real reason he got hitched to her. I wasn’t the only one who secretly suspected he only married Olivia because I said yes to Ezio. Whether that was true or not, I didn’t know, all I DID know was that ever since I got back together with Ezio, Blaine had become very illusive and gotten into even more trouble than before, hardly imaginable, but evidently possible. After my wedding I hardly even heard from Blaine at all anymore, and if, he always seemed strung out. I was now the wife of a high level businessman, the CFO and co-owner of one of the largest financial institutions of San Myshuno, I was his right hand, and Ezio wasn’t too fond of me spending time with the ill-reputed troublemaker Blaine. Since Blaine was hardly ever able to even hold up a real conversation since the wedding, and I was very involved working at my husband’s company, I eventually succumbed to the perceived inevitable, accrediting it to a form of ‘things that happen when you grow up’. Teens and twenty-somethings have the time to hang out and party together, afterwards, real life happens.
I suddenly realized I just walked past the little restaurant where Blaine worked as a line cook. I just had to go in and ask to speak to him. At least that was the plan …


“I am sorry Miss, but Mr. Cameron no longer works for us. And no, I do not know where he lives now, even if I did, I would not be at liberty to share that information with you. Truly sorry.”

As I was ushered out of the restaurant I cursed Blaine out in my head. ‘Getting in trouble again, are we?’

More aimless walking followed until suddenly there it was. My old, tiny childhood home. My feet had just carried me here, subconsciously. I had avoided seeing it since my mother passed several months ago.

Standing by the mailbox at the path up to the door, which was now ripped open, and a very angry woman – a VERY pregnant woman – stormed out.

“I would stay FAR FAR away from this place, if I were you!” she told me angrily as she passed me.

“Ahem … okaaay …” I muttered dumbfounded.

The front door had been left wide open.

Somebody lived here? WHAT?!

Did the attorney I had left in charge of handling the inheritance until I felt ready to fully acknowledge that my mother was gone rent it out behind my back? He better not! I know all the furniture had been put into storage, since it would make selling the house easier, if I so chose.

Finding my courage again, I decided to get to the bottom of this and walked up to the front door, peeking in, entering.

“Hello?! Is anybody here? I am unarmed, not a burglar, I am the … umm … landlady… I think?”

This place was a mess, dirty, what little furniture that was here was pitiful, looked like some random stuff from a flea market or trash piles. The entire place reeked terrible and strange, of … dirty socks, stale alcohol.. and … sweat. There were empty bottles of booze and empty take out boxes everywhere. Disgusting!

What a pig sty!

I’d teach the tenant some manners! They’d clean up or would be living on the park bench by tomorrow! They shouldn’t be here in the first place, but that was a bone I’d pick with the attorney. He better buckle down good! Outrageous! Or wait … maybe this was one of those squatters? Oh god no!

I heard moaning and groaning from somewhere behind the couch, outside of my line of sight, so I walked around the piece of furniture, more upset by the minute, which reflected in my tone.

“Excuse me, but this is REALLY unacceptable, this is disgusting! You are a dirty old .. BLAINE?!” mouth agape, I couldn’t even acknowledge that I had found my lost friend. He looked awful!

“Hi …Vik…” Blaine giggled, attempting to hoist himself up from the floor, unsuccessfully.

“Blaine, let me help you up … OMG you are naked!!!” I was still too shocked to fully grasp everything going on.

He looked down on himself and giggled “I am…I know I have clothes .. somewhere …I think …” his voice slurred. Yep, this had been him for the past few years. Almost constantly, this.

“Urgh. Come on now.” I assisted him, avoiding certain regions on him, while he just giggled, trying to wrap his arms around me. Also not unusual behavior by him in this condition and another reason I gave up trying. This kinda stuff never sits well with husbands, no matter how often you explain the ‘just friends’ part.

“Stop it you fiend! We need to get you sobered up. And into a shower. My gawd you stink!” I protested, fighting off my drunk bestie’s about 8 extra arms, while still trying to get him into a standing position.

“Awww… the smell of love. Well, sex. I had sex, Vik, with a woman .. and booze. Mostly booze. I had sex and booze …” he laughed. He was absolutely drunk.

“That’s great, Blaine. Happy for you.” I rolled my eyes. Urgh.

I put his arm around my shoulders and hoisted him off the couch, finally successfully, then headed towards the stairs to the upstairs bathroom, him stumbling over his own feet repeatedly while hanging off me surprisingly heavy for his slender, but very tall stature. There was barely any light in this place and the stairs were dark, an old building. If I didn’t know this place like the back of my hand, we would have stumbled and broken both our necks.

The bedroom was an empty room, just an inflatable camping bed and some pitiful provisory nightstand made of an old crate … but plenty of empty booze bottles. The air was stale and smelled like … sex? URGH!

We had reached the bathroom, I now flung him into the shower, holding him upright against a wall with one arm, trying not to look at anything below his chest, while turning on the water with the other ….

“COLD!” Blaine protested, trying to scurry out, but I blocked him in.

“It will get warmer in a second …. there we go already better… see. Nice and warm.” I realized I sounded as if I were talking to a toddler, even though the handsome, chiseled face just inches from mine was that of a grown man.

Our eyes locked, my heartrate accelerated, until Blaine spoke.

“Cold water shrinks my nu..” quickly I shut him up by covering his mouth with one hand, causing him to giggle, while I grimaced at him.

“BLAINE, I do not want to hear about your … you know .. man parts. You need to sober up. You finish this, put on clothes, and I will make some STRONG coffee!”

As I left the upstairs, I opened all the windows in the house on the way down, despite the chilly temperatures before heading into the kitchen.
My idea died in the bud, however. There was no coffee maker. Or coffee. Or milk. Or food …

‘Man, Blaine. You didn’t just hit rock bottom you found the bottom of rock bottom.’ I mumbled to myself. He clearly needed me again. Or still. There was no way I could just leave him hanging.

I ran over to the small coffee shop down the street that I remembered from my youth, praying it was still there and was in luck. I got both of us the biggest sized cups they had and went back home. Blaine was not downstairs yet, so I went upstairs and found him, passed out face down on the bed.

I sighed. Maybe this wasn’t so bad. Sleep would do him good. As I turned to leave, I heard his voice.

“Viktoria .. don’t … go …” he mumbled into the bedding.

“You’re awake. I have coffee. You need some!” I walked over to him, holding out one hand with one of the cups, but he didn’t even attempt to take it, even though he had turned his head and was looking at me.

“I need YOU.” his voice seemed to crack as if he was crying. It was too dark to see, and I had never seen Blaine cry. He just wasn’t the type. No. It was just the alcohol. Had to be.

“Well, you are in luck, you have both. Me and coffee, and both of us are going to sober your butt up! We need to talk.” I said, sitting down on the bed.

“No more talking.” he buried his head in the bedding again.

“Blaine Cameron, sit up and face me like a man!” I told him, tapping on his back.

“I don’t wanna…” came his whiny voice from the sheets.

“Since when are you such a drama-queen, Cameron!?”

He lifted his head. “If I agree to talk, will you stay tonight?”

“Blaine … you know I cannot. Ezio would have a cow. And I have a very busy job. I just can’t.”

“They don’t need you like I do …” he pleaded.

“If only you knew…”

“I can’t do this anymore Vik … I am going to end it all….” he said, and something in his tone worried me.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Me. My life. Everything.”

“Blaine Cameron, if you mean what I suspect you mean, I am telling you now you are in super-deep shit with me now! I don’t want you to even think about such non-sense. I know it’s just the alcohol talking.”

“Why? I am just a fuckup anyway … a failure. Always have been. You know it’s true. You even abandoned me now … I have nothing left anymore. So, why bother?”

“Very sore is what you will be, if you keep that crap up! I am here, aren’t I?!”

“Ooooh, a spanking, sounds raunchy … I am interested…” he chuckled while sitting up.

“I meant I’d beat your ass – in a very UNpleasant way. And you are still naked!” I averted my gaze. I hadn’t even noticed yet. Oh, that man!

“Nothing you haven’t seen before, my angel! Your mafioso husband’s got a dick, don’t he? If not, my condolences. And I think you have even seen my tool more than once, maybe not intentionally, but I am sure you snuck some peek here and there. You can admit it!” he said as he stirred closer to me towards the edge of the bed without even trying to cover himself up, as I noticed in my peripheral vision.

“Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaine. Please – just put something on and change the topic. Throw me a bone here…”

“I am trying … but you keep rejecting my … bone. Or boner.” he smirked as he mercifully FINALLY fished for and slipped on at least a pair of boxers.

“Oh my god what are you? 14? Just hit puberty?! Can you please adult for a moment? Put clothes on – real clothes, like head to toe, and meet me downstairs. Don’t dare falling asleep again! And don’t dare not getting dressed! I mean it! Your coffee is on the nightstand. Well, the crate. DRINK UP! And hurry!”

I stomped off. He was impossible, but still very likable. He always had liked to tease me, trying to make me blush or speechless and push my buttons. It was just his thing. And I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon him right now.

A few moments later he appeared, dressed and a lot more coherent and stable while walking than before.

“Blaine, what happened to you? Why are you in this house? I am working up my courage to sell it, but that will hardly happen when it looks like THIS! Why are you drinking so much? And why did you lose your job? And where is your guitar?”

“Oh man, I am not sure I am sober enough yet for this investigation… let me try. What happened? Well, you know the gist of it. Olivia divorced my ass and kicked me out of the house. It’s hers anyway, obviously I could not get a loan to buy a pack of gum, so .. I was suddenly homeless again. Evidently nobody likes to rent to losers, so … Had to go somewhere, I had no choice, so I kinda broke in here when I saw it sat empty. This shit is all I could do to sorta furnish it. Most of it I found on the streets. Drinking is all I have left and it makes me forget, which leads to your next question … evidently drunk line cooks are frowned upon. Sadly, a few times too many I was too drunk to remember not to got to work drunk, so I got fired. Surprisingly an undereducated, divorced failed musician with not work history to speak of who got fired from their last job due to intoxication on the job, who is probably getting slammed with child support payments, which I cannot pay, who has no solid residence is not a hit on the job market. Who knew? I couldn’t even get a temp job cleaning toilets. My guitar I pawned to afford the stove, fridge and microwave. Did I miss anything?”

“Why did you not come to me?! Oh, Blaine …”

“Come knocking on your door with that jealous Italian and his mafioso family everywhere?! Although that would probably be a cool way to go, but I’d hate for you to be the wife of a murderer.”

“Ezio is not that bad …”

“If I am involved, he IS that bad, babe.”

“Drink your coffee. We need to get some food into you and clean this place up.”

“Sounds so much fun, can’t wait …” Blaine smirked while pulling a face.

“All right, where are your cleaning supplies?”

“My what? Well, there is toilet paper … I can spit on it for you … does that count?”

“You are impossible, Cameron!”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Get your coat. We are going to get you food and basic household items. And then we will get this house spic and span. Mama would be rolling over in her grave if she knew about this mess!”

Blaine’s smirk faded. “Yeah, about that … I am so very sorry angel… my condolences I ….I …ummm..”

I hugged him. A mistake. He held on a little too tight for a little too long, so I pulled away …

“To you as well. I know you loved her too. Which is why I do not know why you did not come to her funeral.”

“I … was there …. just not in plain view. It did not seem right. Considering all circumstances, I did not want to make things harder for you. The husband was there and all …”

“Ezio would have understood! He is not a monster! I needed you there.”

“One more thing for my list of fuck ups. Sorry, babygirl. I thought I was doing the right thing. You know what? Let’s just go, before I decide I want to get drunk again.”

We ate at a small diner, Blaine put down his food in record time, plus finished half my plate and two side orders. Then we got enough groceries to feed a small army and basic supplies, then cleaned my childhood home till it just glistened.

Our exhausted coffee break afterwards was interrupted by a forceful knock on the door. The pregnant lady from earlier came back and started laying into Blaine as soon as he opened the door. Blaine just stood there and listened, did nothing when she slapped him, hard. That angered me immensely. My protective side came out and I, in turn, laid into the woman, eventually telling her to leave MY property.

“Umm .. Blaine … what was all that about and did you do that?” I asked, leaning against the door after shutting it in her wake, looking up at Blaine.

“The bump no, she already had that when we met. The Blaine-hatred, yeah, that was probably me. I seem to have that effect on females.”

“Thank god you didn’t knock her up too. The kid you already have is plenty for you. But why would you sleep with pregnant women?”

“Well, if there are no non-pregnant ones around, besides, no sex is ever safer …right?!” Blaine smirked, but I could clearly see he was ashamed. Maybe there was hope for him yet.

REFLECTIONS

My phone rang in the middle of me trying to produce a 5 course dinner for 8 on a Sunday.
Terrible timing. I looked at the caller ID.

Blaine.

Not now. I’d have to call him back. It rang again. I clicked him away.

“Just leave a message Blaine.” I mumbled harried.

Phone rang again.
‘Persistent little sucker!’ I thought as I answered.

“Blaine, really not a good time right now.”

“Kinda figured, but I need to see you. Badly. It’s important. Really.”

“I don’t know … tomorrow after work?”

“No. Today. Please.”

“Blaine, seriously, I cannot always just drop everything like a hot potato whenever you call. I have a big dinner to prepare, it’s super important to Ezio. Plus I have work piled up that I need to get through before Monday …”

“I see. It’s all good. I guess I see you when I see you then. Night babygirl, don’t work too hard.”

click

“Oh Blaine …” now I felt bad, but he had already disconnected the call.

Continuing the tasks at hand I kept thinking about the call.
Blaine had always been so upbeat despite of his rough tough life. Even when his marriage crumbled he was more ok than most. Something must REALLY be bothering him. Poor Blaine. I felt like the worst friend ever, even though I had bailed his butt out of trouble – and even jail – many times before.

The dinner was just as boring as I imagined and then there was all the clean up.
URGH.
But eventually it was done. Everything had gone according to plan and my husband Ezio’s mood was elevated.

Later, he was whistling as he was getting ready for bed, until the moment I mentioned that I wanted to go see Blaine. Now. He was brushing his teeth, I was speaking to his reflection in the mirror as he looked up.

“Mia cara, I really don’t think I like the idea of my beautiful wife lurking around a known gigolo’s home around midnight on a Saturday! This should wait till daylight hours, don’t you think?” his voice sounded strange with all the toothpaste in his mouth.

“Ezio, I am super tired and mega exhausted. If I didn’t think this was something life or death, I wouldn’t even entertain the thought.”

“If it is an emergency, there are numbers for that! He needs to learn that you are not his mommy.”

“I am sure he is aware…”

“Don’t remind me!” Ezio’s usually well hidden jealousy reared its ugly head.

“That’s not what I meant. His mother was a crack addict and abused the hell out of him!”

“Yeah, so I heard. Honestly, what could be so important that he needs to drag you out in the middle of the night? Does he not have other friends?”

“Truthfully, I don’t think he does. Hmm, strange, I never realized this …”

“Oh, please not another pity party for Mr. Fantastic. Have him call one of his conquests. He can confide his problems while banging her across all the surfaces of his home, as I am sure is his style.”

“EZIO! Yikes.”

“What? Since when does it bother you to think what he does with all those women?”

“It does not. But that is my childhood home, and he is like my brother. I am sure you do not want to envision how your brother Frederico made all those kids of his, do you? Besides, Blaine has changed. He has not been with any woman since he and Olivia divorced.”

“While that is probably intended to make me feel better, all I can think about is that there is a very sexually frustrated gigolo calling my WIFE to come see him in the middle of the night on a weekend. Not a very relaxing scenario for me.”

“Ezio. I am not a child. I am going.”

“I am coming with.”

“You are NOT.”

“Then you won’t go either. Basta!”

Let’s just say it ended in a fight after I explained loudly to my husband that I was my own person and not his property, before underlining the statement with a slammed front door as I drove off.

Now here I was, outside my childhood home, knocking on the door. The house was dark, not even a porch light was on. Had Blaine gone out? I called his cell, eventually he picked up.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Home.”

“I am at your home, it’s all dark.”

“It’s late … and I do not need lights to see how fucked up my life is …” he slurred.

“Are you drunk? Open the door, so I can beat your ass!”

“Not yet and the door is unlocked.”

I hung up and tried. Sure enough, unlocked. He would get a tongue lashing from hell, what was he thinking?!

I stumbled inside, fumbling for the light switch, found it and flipped it on. Blinded for a second I saw Blaine on a kitchen chair, hunched over leaning on the table propped up on his arms, a half empty bottle of some cheap high percentage alcohol in front of him. I locked up, then went over to him.

“Are you nuts? It’s not the 1950s anymore, people lock their door now for a reason! And why the hell are you drinking again? Do you love rehab THAT much?!”

“Screw rehab. I need this.”

I grabbed the bottle before he could, resulting in a faint moan by Blaine, while I smelled it and grimaced.

“What kinda shit is this? Lighter fuel?! Gross!”

I put the bottle next to my feet on the floor out of Blaine’s reach as I sat on the chair next to him, trying to study his face.

“Can you please tell me what the hell was so urgent that I need to get into a fight with my husband so I can watch you undo much of the progress we worked on so very hard?!”

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have called you …”

“BLAINE CAMERON! Can you please at least look at me when you speak and can you knock this OFF? Pity party is not a good look on you!” I put both hands on the sides of his face, then turned his head to face me as I spoke. His eyes focused on mine now and I could see a deeply sad expression in them. The eyelids were swollen, the eyes rimmed in red.

“Have you been crying?” my voice turned softer.

“Like a baby… manly, huh?”

“I am not here so you can impress me with your male vigor, but because you said you needed me. What is going on?” to say I was very worried now was an understatement. This was VERY unusual. Something was VERY wrong.

“Well, where to start … you know what … here … see for yourself.”

He pulled a letter from the back pocket of his jeans and handed the wrinkled mess to me.
Smoothing the crumpled paper as I unfolded it to read its content, Blaine had resumed his hunched over position, his arms crossed on the table before him as he rested his head down on them. Very un-Blaine-like behavior.

“Dear Mr. Cameron,
We have run the tests ordered by …”
The letter contained a bunch of medical formalities and gibberish, even I did not fully understand.

“What exactly am I looking at here, Blaine? Are you sick?”

“You can say that …” he mumbled from underneath this arms.

“Blaine….”

He sat up straight. His eyes now looked tired. He looked like … crap. I was alarmed. But nothing could have prepared me for what would follow.

“I had a doctor explain it to me. I spare you the details but basically my kidneys are going out. I guess from all the years of living like I was dying .. just now that I cleaned up my act, I actually AM dying. In less than a year they said. Kinda ironic, if you think about it.” A joyless laugh ended his speech.

“WHAT?! Oh my god, Blaine. Are you all right? I mean, never mind, but … I mean … what now?”

“Nothing now. I have to go to dialysis until I can’t go anymore. Then I will lay in a hospital bed until I cop out. The end. What a way to go. I always imagined I’d wind up shot dead by some jealous husband after catching me in bed with his wife. Ha.”

“Blaine, this is not a laughing matter….”

“I already did the crying part. Kinda glad you were not here for that. I would at least be a somewhat manly memory to you …”

“STOP IT! I am sure there is some cure, something that can be done … ”

“Not for me there isn’t. You know, the only thing my mother left me was memories of her abusing me. Guess now I have something else. They suspect that my kidneys were impacted before I was even born. My way of life obviously didn’t help much. Personally, I would have preferred a picture or something else of hers that I could punch or burn, but it is what it is, I guess.”

“Oh Blaine!” I leaned forward in my chair, pulled Blaine towards me and hugged my friend as tight as I could until he winced in pain. Startled, I loosened my grip.

“Oh no, I hurt you, I am sorry, is it your kidneys, I should be more careful with you …so sorry ..” startled, my brain malfunctioned and instead of letting go, I held on to him, frozen.

“Vik, it’s not the kidneys! It’s lower…”

“Huh?”

“My balls Vik, you are squishing them into the leg of the table!” he chuckled, frowning.

I let go, he sat up and laughed when he saw my shocked face, which made me laugh as well.

“You’re an idiot!”

“But an idiot who could probably hit the highest notes now singing …” with his head he gestured to the guitar in the living room, which I had bailed out from the pawn shop for him. It was a part of our youth, a gift from my mom and me to a then teenage Blaine, and it had since been a part of him.

“Keep it up and I’ll just rip those testies off altogether! Would have saved a lot of trouble for a lot of people had I done that years ago!” I joked.

“Hey, if that means you’d touch them, I’m game.”

“You are impossible.” I retorted, play-hitting his arm.

“How about we get a little more comfortable?” he suggested.

“Seriously Cameron? After all this all you can think about is sex and whatever other naughty things go through that broken brain of yours??”

“Ummm … actually, shockingly I was only thinking about sitting on the couch over there … the non-broken side definitely beats the hard wooden chairs and less chance of getting my man-parts squished by you again.”

“Oh… oops.”

“Guess we know who has the gutter mind tonight…”

“Oh, shut it! But we do have to talk … I am not letting you get out of all this without putting up a good fight. You can beat this, Blaine. I am going to talk to Ezio. He knows a lot of influential people … including in the medical field … he’ll figure something out!”

“If he knew you were here, at this hour, he’d already be outside the door to put me out of my misery right away.”

“Oh he knows I am here.”

“I am DEFINITELY going to lock that door from now on!”

As funny as that terrible night had ended, with us laughing till the early morning hours, and as readily as Ezio and I had made up, Blaine’s diagnosis was no joke. It only took a few weeks for him to decline.

“Blaine? Hey sweetie, where are you?” I called from the entryway of Blaine’s house, when I received no answer I decided to go up the stairs, where I found him in the bathroom, in his underwear, collapsed next to the toilet. There was vomit everywhere, filling the air with a stinging vinegar-y yet sweet stench. This happened often these days.
As if the original diagnosis had not been gruesome enough, they found an aggressive, fast-growing cancerous tumor in his stomach. Stage 4. Inoperable. His original prognosis of about 1 year to live got shortened dramatically, even though no doctor would put a timer on it. One glance at a Blaine before and after was enough for anybody to figure out that there were weeks, maybe a few months left.

Biting back the tears I patted his hollow cheeks until he came to.

“I am calling an ambulance!” I told him as he finally fluttered his eyes open.

“Vik no! Please.” he held on to me weakly, his tired, reddened eyes pleading. Within the past three months he had grown weak and frail. He had occasional good days, when he was almost the old Blaine, and many days like today. I wondered about the medications, if they even did anything or just made it all worse yet.

“We have to get you cleaned up. Think you can stand long enough to … ummm … take your boxers off … so we can wash you?” Yes, I said that, and yes, I had done it many times before. He was my friend who needed help, there was nothing sexual about it. As sick as he was, I doubt he could if he wanted to at this point.

“I can do it …” Blaine replied faintly.

“You could not even drag a ball of yarn right now! No sense in false modesty. I’ve seen your junk before, more times than I care to think about, especially in times when you were drunk.”

I helped him into the shower, where he had a small stool for days like these, on which he plopped down weakly after I pulled down his underwear. It pained me to see him like this. Once he was clean I fed him some stomach-friendly oatmeal and put him into bed.

“Stay with me?” he pleaded, his voice weak and crackly from the vomiting earlier. At least he held his food down now.

“Sure.” I sat on the side of the bed and stroked his cheek gently. He had become so thin that his cheekbones protruded noticeably now and his eye sockets were so deep, he looked more dead than alive. A stray tear rolled down my cheek. Blaine gently wiped it away with a shaky hand.

“Hey, none of that … come here, lay with me….” he lifted the cover and patted on the mattress next to him. His hands were so boney and white …
I did not argue with him, kicked off my shoes and snuggled carefully against his bony shoulder, while he covered both of us up again.

“Penny for your thoughts, babygirl.”

“Remember when we were kids and we went to that waterfall we heard about, but got lost and then it got dark and a thunderstorm surprised us? It was so spooky and so cold and so scary, I could not stop crying, thinking we would die. You held me kinda like this, wrapped your jacket around me and told me it would be all right … and it was. The storm passed, the sun came out and it was a beautiful Spring day … I never felt saver than with you that night.”

“I remember.”

“Do you remember as teens when you took me to that crazy party by the ruins with that rock band after we snuck out at home, but missed the last ferry back? When the early morning ferry finally came hours later, you helped me sneak into my bedroom window, but I lost grip and fell … right in front of Mama’s feet? OMG! She was so mad! Was a school night too …”

“I remember. She made me climb in through the window too, and I thought she’d spank me, especially when she smelled the alcohol, but instead she just made cocoa for us, and let me sleep on the couch. After giving me a few earfuls about my terrible behavior and that I should be ashamed of myself. And I was. Oh, she knew how to get through to me. I never felt more guilty.”

“I miss Mama.”

“I do too.”

“Blaine, I do not want to miss you, too.”

“I am not really ready to go either, babygirl. But nobody’s asked my opinion.”

“I need you Blaine…” I cried into his shoulder.

“You know what I was thinking, babygirl?”

I shook my head against his shoulder, still crying.

“I was thinking that after all these years, I finally managed to get you into bed with me….”

Laughing and crying, I gently hit him. He was trying to make me laugh to take away the pain. That was the Blaine only I knew. The gentle, caring one.

LOVING AND LETTING GO

Hiking through the old, familiar woods next to Blaine, I thought about the past weeks. We were here alone, just him and me, and yes, my husband knew about this and was okay with it. Well, sort of. This was a sort of final vacation for Blaine. A place my mother used to take us since we had been little kids, all the way until I went to college. Our place.

“I am fine, jeeze woman! I am not an old man.” huffed Blaine as he demonstratively walked past me.

“I didn’t say that, I just offered my hand to hold on to, you ungrateful bastard.”

“We are almost there, old lady! Here, race you there. Winner gets dinner cooked for them!” He ran towards the cabin which now came into view, while he seemed fitter than most days, his condition made this efforts look almost comical.

Finally I made it to the front porch long after he got there, he was still catching his breath.
Yes, I had let him win.

“Did you even try? Am I really so pathetic that you just let me win at everything now?”

“I did let you win, because I have had your cooking. I rather eat dog poop on a cracker than anything you brew up!”

“Whoa, you used to beg for that dessert pudding I used to make…”

“Only to get the taste of that horrible main course out of my mouth …”

“You are evil, woman!”

We both laughed. Then I handed him the key.

“You do the honors.”

“Very well, after you mylady!” he unlocked it and swung the door open, we both entered.

“Nothing like the smell of mothballs and stale old air, mixed with rotting corpses to make you feel like you arrived!” Blaine said dryly.

“Seriously, what is that smell? You did put on deodorant before we left, right?”

“Wait, can you check my pulse. Maybe I am already dead and decomposing, just did not realize it yet.” he joked.

“Not funny Blaine. Wait, I am going to check the bathroom.”

“You will do no such thing. You will go and wait outside. I will check. And don’t you dare argue with me for once, woman!”

I did as he asked. After long moments of silence I heard stirring. Blaine came limping outside, holding his throat. My heart beat faster. He now stumbled towards me, blood all over his shirt, his chest, his hands …

He stumbled into my arms, I caught him when he collapsed.

“I …. Vik … help me … ” he moaned in pain.

“Oh gawd Blaine, how can I help, where are you bleeding from? What can I do?” I was in a panic.

“My .. urgh … here … down …here …”

“Where, what?”

“Here …” he took my hand and placed it on his crotch then burst into laughter.

I honestly didn’t understand, then pulled away my hand and punched him in the chest, as he held up a half empty ketchup bottle.

“You are one gigantic asshole, Blaine Cameron!!!” I jumped up, blushing. That man and his immature jokes!

Blaine was still laughing, and nearly suffocating from laughing so hard, his eyes watery.

“You are so frigging immature…. I think I am going back home and leave your butt here. Good luck and enjoy the forest air!”

“No, please, don’t go. I am sorry, I’ll be good now. But your face … and don’t you remember … when we came here as teens? That one summer, when it rained 4 weeks straight?”

“Yeah, I remember now. You pulled that same stupid immature dick joke then too. And I cannot believe I fell for it again. You are still a douche! Fine, I’ll stay, but absolutely no more of this nonsense.”

“No more, scout’s honors.”

“You were never a scout!”

“I was … for one day.”

“Oh yeah. Why were you kicked out again?”

“I beat up a kid for saying something stupid.”

“Man, I am not even going to ask… but seriously, no more of this. If Ezio even suspected that my hand had been anywhere near … that, he’d have your hide! And probably mine too.” I drew a circle in the air above the general area of the offensive body area. “Ummm .. Blaine?”

“Hmmm?”

“Did you ever find where that smell came from?”

“Yeah, someone had taken a dump and not flushed. Fret not, damsel in distress, I fixed it.”

“Wow, you know how to flush a toilet. I am so much in awe, I can barely ask if you opened the window as well…”

“Ummm…”

“Oh, and just so we are clear … you are washing your own damn clothes. Good luck getting the ketchup out.”

“But I am sick and dying …”

“Shoulda thought about that before being such an idiot. Come with me you demon, let’s see if we can grill us up some sustenance.”

After we had a very satisfying and filling dinner together, fresh off the BBQ grill that belonged to the cabin, we sat next to each other, watching the sun starting to set on our living memory here.

“How are you feeling?” I asked him.

“Fit like a dolphin. Well, I think I ate too much. Maybe more like a manatee. Why?”

“Wanna go for a little walk? To see if we can find our old spot. I think it was that way, but I know it’s not very far. Think you can make it?”

“Sure! Need to walk off some of that food, don’t want to ruin my girlish figure…” Blaine lifted his shirt and rubbed his belly, but all I could see was ribs and hip bones protruding. Ugh. He had always been on the skinny side, but muscular, now he was little more than a skeleton. My poor Blaine!

We walked, slowly, the weather was beautiful. Once we found our old spot, both of us dropped down in a field of clover, where we play wrestled, until Blaine signaled his surrender after I attempted to stuff a fistful of red clover into his mouth when he made another one of his off color jokes. Spitting he sat up, while I rolled onto my back next to him.

He laid down next to me, knowing him so close felt comfortable. Like coming home after a long journey through strange lands.

“Look at that cloud over there. Kinda looks like a giant…”

“Stop! I do not want to know! Or are you that hungry for more clover?”

“What?! I was gonna say a giant rabbit. Look, there are the ears, the eyes, the feet…”

He was right.

“Sorry. With you it could be anything.”

“Fair point. But I am trying to be good. Which is why I did not point out that cloud over there that looks like a giant set of …”

“BLAINE!”

He laughed.

For a while we laid back just enjoying the day quietly. I secretly peeked over at my best friend from the corner of my eyes. I legit loved that man, even though he had always been a giant pain in my butt. He just could not seem to take life seriously, could not stay out of trouble. Well, maybe he had always subconsciously known that his life would be cut shorter than most. He felt better now, looked better, even was was gaining some weight back, slowly, some color had returned to his face, but only because they had stopped treatment altogether. The medication had been what made him so sick. But it had also stopped the progress of the aggressive cancer …

Now all he had left was pain management and too little time. For him, and for me.

“Vik, I want to thank you for doing this. This is the best I am ever going to be. It is all downhill from here. Fast. You do not know how I feel most of the time. I cannot explain to you how often I wished to just not wake up the next morning. I have a gun you know. But I was afraid that you would be the one to find me. I could never do that to you…”

“SHUT UP!!! I don’t want to hear that!!! I would give my life to save yours, you moron! Why would you even talk about that now when we already have so little time left!?!” I downright screamed at him, my voice tipping over for pain and terror, as tears ran down my face. Blaine sat up and pulled me into a tight embrace, just held me and I let him. It felt good.

“Shhhhh babygirl shhhhhh .. there there … it will be all right … everything will be all right … I am sorry. Diarrhea of the mouth again …”

“You are lying to me! This time you are lying… nothing will be all right … you will leave me … you cannot even wait to leave me …. then I will be all alone. Mama’s gone .. you will be gone … why can’t I die too!? I want to die as well!” I cried harder against his shoulders.

Hours later, it was dark now, we were back at the cabin and had already said our goodnights.

“Move over!” I demanded, after entering Blaine’s room, standing next to his bed in my pj’s.

He did as requested and as I climbed into bed next to him he grinned.

“Don’t trust me, huh?”

“Nope.”

“Funny, how time has changed. That used to mean that you would never get INTO bed with me, now it means the opposite.”

“You used to not be on suicide watch! You used to like living.”

“I still do. Oh, angel, if I could make it last longer, I would. I’d give my manhood for that, and you know how attached I am to that, no pun intended.”

“Can we not have ONE single conversation lasting longer than 1 minute in which you do not bring up anything to do with sex, your junk, and such stuff?”

“Hmmm, let me think. No, I do not believe I am capable of such a conversation…” he chuckled.

“Well, try!”

“Anything for you, sugartits.” he chuckled, was clearly teasing me.

“ARGH!”

“Sorry, I’ll be good now. Or good-ish. To keep the suspense.”

“Blaine?”

“Hmmm?”

“Can I lay on your arm?”

“I don’t know .. most of the time I got that close to you anywhere near a bed I ended up with a glowing red cheek or a punch in the groin.”

“Very funny.”

He stretched out his arm and she snuggled up against his shoulder.”

“Kinda weird, that the place I feel safest right now is in bed with a notorious manwhore.”

“Wow, I thought we would not bring up anything sexual.”

“That’s not sexual. It is a fact of life. Like saying you have green eyes.”

“Can I tell you something, babygirl? But you have to promise not to get mad.”

“Does it have to do with sexual acts between us or me killing you?”

“No. Well, kinda, but indirectly. Not like you think.”

“I am intrigued. Let’s have it.”

“Have you ever wondered how our lives would have played out, had we ever gotten together? As a couple? The real deal?”

“I hate to admit it, but yeah, I actually have. You would move into my old place, you remember that little apartment, we would get married on a whim some odd place, we would have a girl, she would have your beautiful green eyes and my hair. She’d be tall like you too …”

“… but have your looks and smarts. We’d name her Vivian and she would be a writer …”

“…we’d move to a little place by the water and get a dog named … ummm …”

“Spunky!”

“I would never let you name our dog ‘Spunky’!”

“Fine, you name the damn mutt then, wifey….” Blaine flashed his signature smirk.

“Taylor. No … Scout .. no … ummmm… Hunter! Yeah, and it is a bigger dog. A protector.”

“You would not need a protector, you’d have me.”

“True, but when Vivian grows up, he would make sure no boys would grow octopus arms around her.”

“Good point. I would hate to end up in jail even in my beautiful little fantasy.”

“You’d be in some famous band …”

“As if you would let me travel the world with all those groupies around …”

“You’d be wearing a chastity belt …”

“OK, now it’s starting to turn into my real life hell … hahahaha”

We laid there spinning our tale on and on, until I became so very sleepy. I tried to stay awake but eventually Blaine did not get any more responses and noticed the calm, even breathing.

The following morning awoke me with rays of cozy warm sun on my face, shining through the trees, causing patterns to dance across the blanket of the bed, the floor, wall and ceiling.

Stretching out under the blanket and smiling drowsily, I suddenly realized Blaine should be next to me, but wasn’t.

Within seconds I was fully awake, out of bed and by the door.
As I opened it and stepped into the living area of the cabin, I heard the TV was on and saw the outline of a human on the couch in front of it, asleep under several blankets. I relaxed.

Typical Blaine, he often fell asleep with the TV on.
I tip-toed over and turned it off, before sneaking to the kitchen to make coffee, careful to be quiet.
While waiting for the coffee maker to finish, I noticed my cell phone on the counter.
Strange.
Normally I was meticulous about always having my cell phone with me and always had it on the nightstand when going to bed.
Ezio, work, other emergencies.
I could have sworn I did the same routine last night, but it was a weird day, so who knows.
I tapped on the screen to turn it on.
Two missed calls and two voice mails. sigh Figures.

It had to wait.
Coffee first.
If it was something with work, Ezio would have to handle. He was closer. I poured the coffee, then went to sit on the porch to watch the rest of the sunrise.
Half way through my coffee I decided to listen to the messages.

The caller ID listed it as “UNKNOWN CALLER”. Strange.

I typed in my passcode and finally the announcement gave way to the actual message.

“Hey babygirl, yeah, it’s me, Blaine. Wondering why I am leaving you messages when I am right there with you? I’ll get to that. First of all, I opted for a voicemail over a letter because I could already hear you complain about my terrible penmanship and all the spelling and grammar errors. Plus, we’re modern people, right. Ha ha ha. Oh, and yes, you did have your phone up on the nightstand like you always do. I took it. Mystery solved. Do I know you, or what? Ha ha ha

Well, I do not know how much time they give you for leaving voice mails, and there is so much I want to say, but I doubt I could get it all out without crying like a big ol’ baby, so let me just say that I want to thank you for the most wonderful day of my life. Actually, all great days I have had were with you. But this one was particularly special. For so many reasons. One day, were you were just mine, all mine. 24 full hours with you. It was the best day I ever had. After you fell asleep I relived my life in my head, every little detail. All those little things we did together. Do you remember when we first met? I hated school. The entire year I started before you were old enough I hated it. Kids were mean to me, because my clothes were old, broken and always dirty and I stunk. I never had food or money to buy any. And I just didn’t understand anything the teachers were trying to teach. Until you started school. On your first full day you broke up a fight I got into and yelled at three bigger boys to leave me alone. Then you took me to your home and fed me. And then I went home with you every day after that. Few years later I was in your class, since I had to repeat a year. We were inseparable then. When we were teens I so much wanted to be your boyfriend, but even then I knew I would mess it up and was just not good enough for you.
But man did I want to call you my girl. Officially. But no way I’d drag you down with me.
You often gave me hell for being so reckless, so careless. Honestly, it was a mask I started wearing as a child. It just all hurt less that way. And eventually, if you wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were without it. You were always the only one who knew what’s beneath that mask. The only person in the whole world who really ever knew me.

You once asked me about regrets. I really do not have any. You know, carefree Blaine. Except one. That night we spent together in your apartment when you had broken up with Ezio. I lost you to him before and I should have tried harder to make you mine then, taken the second chance that had been tossed at me, but I did not know how. I was so afraid that I would end up hurting you. Ezio was smarter then me, realized what he had lost and won you back, quickly put a ring on you. And then you were gone, out of my reach for good. I was too late, I had dragged my feet for too long and you now belonged to him. Had I made my move when I had the chance, then maybe we could have lived that little fantasy we spun up last night … Honestly, I never realized you even wanted that with me. It made me feel so incredibly good to hear you say all that last night. Also made me sad. My path is lined with missed opportunities, but this one is the biggest and the worst and I …”

The message was interrupted as he had run out of time. How painfully ironic in his current situation.

The announcement went through its spiel for the second message.

“Oops, sorry, me again. Guess now we know how much time you get for messages. Well, long story short. I am so grateful for yesterday. So grateful that I had you in my life. I would not have been here as long as I was had it not been for you and in part for your mother. But now it is time for me to go. Don’t worry, I am not shooting myself in the noggin, but I can tell that I won’t wake again if I go to sleep. Trust me I am so very tired, but needed to get this out first, while I can. I have been puking all night, for – let’s see – 4 hours straight now, but this time it’s only blood. Something is not right. It hurts bad. But I don’t want to see you cry. I want my last image to be you, asleep in my arms as the moonlight falls in through the window. I want to close my eyes forever and go to that place where you and I are married, where we raise little Vivian and Spunky .. sorry, not Spunky but whatever that darn dog’s name was again, runs around happily. Yeah, your fucked up man-whore friend actually has sappy dreams about marriage, crazy huh? I want to fall asleep every night of my life holding you in my arms, like last night, after being silly like teenagers all day long. My days will now be filled with laughter, happiness and YOU. No more pain, no more bad things. Tell my kid I loved him, well, when he’s old enough to understand that, and tell him not repeat his father’s mistakes. I love you, babygirl. I always have and always will. And maybe one day, you will join me wherever I go next. A long, long, LONG time from now after you have lived out your days to the fullest. Oh, and tell your mafioso ‘thank you’ from me. Makes this a little easier to know at least you have him and he is good to you. I have to end this now, I feel another puking session coming on, and after that one I am going to sleep, I just can’t go on anymore. Remember me, babygirl, but in the best way you can. I … I love you. Always and forever.”

I put down my hand with the phone in it, the announcement babbling requesting some action.
I was stunned, shocked, tears ran down my face. Instinctively I just knew that the form under the blankets on the couch over there was no longer my Blaine, but just an empty shell. I walked over to him regardless, and one look told her that he was right.
His face had an odd color, lips had a blueish cast, the skin looked waxy.
He had not made it.
I reached out her hand to stroke his cheek, but shuddered at how cold it felt …

COMING TO TERMS

Again I was at Blaine’s grave, as almost daily since his funeral almost six months ago now. I cleaned some weeds out, while telling him the latest gossip and cried another round, like I always did.

It was winter now, and already dark even though it was just late afternoon. Once I got over the creepiness of being at a cemetery in the near dark, I actually preferred it. Nobody else was ever here, no chance to run into someone I knew.

No empty platitudes when people caught me crying, no lies trying to explain WHY I cried, as there seemed to be a timeframe for mourning friends and I was well past that.
My tears ran freely, when I could no longer see a thing, I fondled around in my pockets for a tissue, unsuccessfully.

Suddenly one appeared from my right. I looked up and screamed, while stepping backwards, tripping over my own feet, landing on my butt, still screaming.

“No, no, please … don’t fear me, please … here take my hand…” the mirage said.

I crawled backwards trying to jump up, finally managed and just ran for the exit. I made it, tore open the gate and ran right into someone. Trying to push them out of the way, unsuccessfully, I looked up and screamed again when I felt a strong grip on each upper arm as I was dragged with against my will. My voice had meanwhile tipped over and utterly left me, I tried to scream more but no sound would come out. All I was able to do was watch with eyes wide open as I was being dragged back into the cemetery and there into one of the small halls where the dead were normally presented for the final rites. This one was empty. It smelled of death, cold and moldy.

“Sorry to manhandle you like this, but I need to lay low a bit as I am sure you understand.”

I just continued to stare, my mouth open.

“Please say something.” he now pleaded.

“Who … WHAT ..are you?” I stuttered, shaking with fear.

“Well, how quickly we forget …” he joked.

I stood, pale, eyes still wide with terror.

“It’s me, babygirl. It IS me.” the Blaine-like figure now continued more serious.

“No.” I stated.

He raised a hand to touch my face and I stepped backwards, away from him. He seemed saddened.

“How can I proof to you … oh, I know! Here is something nobody else can know. Remember that one time, we were like 8 or 9 and I found that hole in the hedge by that tree, we crawled through and it was this abandoned garden we pretended it was magical and a secret place only we could access?”

I just stared at him.

Then I decided to go for it.
I lunged forward to shove the man out of my way, pull the door open to run for my life.
Well, at least that was the plan.
It failed right at the beginning.
I leapt towards him, shoved with all my might, but nearly fell over, while he never even flinched, yet he caught me and pulled me into a close embrace. Cold radiated through his clothes, he smelled of … decay. I was going to die. No, no I wasn’t. I had gone mad. That was it. Oh man, I had lost my marbles.

“Oh babygirl” this stinking, ice cold figment of my imagination now whispered into my ear. I stiffened. No, I would not go down THAT easy.

I struggled till he released me.

“No.” I said. “You are not real. End of story. And am just going to go home now.”

“Wait, please. I have waited so long for this moment. I needed to regain enough strength … and then I had to wait for the right moment. Please, don’t go. Not yet. Please.”

The way he sounded, was so much like Blaine.
My Blaine. The real Blaine.
No no no no no.

“Oh no. I am not falling for this. You are my mind on overload. I can overcome this. I am strong.” I brabbled to myself.

“Now you sound like me most of my life.” The man laughed, his lips parted and revealed fangs. My heart stopped, then beat a hundred miles an hour. Evidently my facial expression changed, as he stopped immediately.

“Yeah, I was going to lead up gently to this … sorry babygirl. I am me, good ole Blaine. And I am back. But a little bit different than before … on the bright side, I am no longer puking my guts out every few minutes. Still obnoxious though, sugartits.” he smirked that signature smirk.

That was too much for me. I felt darkness encase me and then the lights went out for me.

I woke up in a bed.
Ah, much better.
Such an idiotic dream.
Wow.
But wait, that’s not our bedding. This room, it’s familiar. I sat up in bed.
This was Blaine’s home. Or my childhood home. I jumped out of bed. Immediately I ran into the bathroom to inspect my neck. Nothing.

“I would never do that.” I heard from behind me. Nobody behind me in the mirror, so I turned and there was Blaine. I shrieked. Looked in the mirror again, no one. But he was here. Oh no.

“You … you …”

“I am now a vampire. Yes.”

“No.” I shook my head as if that could change his mind, somehow.

“Can I explain?”

“I need to go home.”

“If I make it quick?”

I cried. He comforted me. I didn’t fight it. Eventually I hugged him back. So cold. But felt so much like Blaine. What was the appropriate way to react to this? What would Ezio say? What about Blaine’s kid? How? When? What?

He pushed me away from himself a bit and gently wiped my tears. I noticed he smiled again.

“Why are you smiling? You cannot feel anything. …”

“Oh angel, I do still feel things. Just differently. I still love you and would like to do naughty things with you.” he winked at me and smirked before he continued “That was a joke. Admittedly ill-placed but at least you know it’s really me.”

“Ummm…”

“You want to know how? And when? I guess I do not have to explain the why?”

“I saw you dead! I found you! You were DEAD. Cold and dead. You did not move, you did not breathe, you did not blink… the emergency doctor checked on you and tried to resuscitate but you were DEAD! You left me messages telling me you would die.”

“Babe, I did die. But I came back.”

“Uh uh.” I shook my head.

“Caleb told me he could not do this, after you died.” Caleb Vatore was a friend of mine, someone I had enjoyed spending a great deal of time with – until I found out his secret and with it the fact that vampires were, in fact, a real thing. Needless to say, I avoided him ever since.

“True. That is why this started BEFORE I died. Look, I know this chick, we used to … umm … you know. She is a master vampire. When I realized I had no other choice, I found her and had her help.”

“We spent the entire Saturday OUTSIDE, in the bright SUN. No no no no.”

“Sun did not affect me then. That happens AFTER you transform.”

“But why did the doctor not notice?”

“There was nothing to notice. I legit died. It is what happens. But then you come back. It takes a while.”

“So you crawled out of the ground …. eeeww..”

“No, I crawled out of the coffin, before the funeral, as a matter of fact, in the very room I pulled you into at the cemetery. After the viewing nobody looks in there anymore. You’ll have awoken by then, you can sense when every human left, and you make your exit. Mythia told me so. That’s my vampire -ahem- acquaintance.”

“Then why did you not just tell me instead of letting me go through all of this for SO LONG?!”

“At first I did not believe it would work. Afterwards there is a LOT of adjusting. You do not just come back and live on like before. A lot changes. And then I did not know how to tell you. I was waiting for the right time. Every time you came to visit my … grave… sounds weird, recently, I was there.”

“You were?”

“Every time. I am fully up to speed on the latest happenings in your life, thanks to you. See, I can only be outside when it is dark now. In the sun I burn to a crisp. Limits your activities, but then again, I was more of a night owl all my life anyway.”

“This just cannot be real … It just … OUCH, what the hell?!” he had pinched me. It hurt.

“Just trying to help.”

“By giving me bruises?” I complained, rubbing the sore spot.

“Pinching you, to make sure you know that you are not dreaming. That’s what they do in the movies, right? Whatever gets you to believe me. I was hoping after the initial shock, you’d be happier to see me again. A lot happier. The way to talked at my grave … I really thought … well …”

“I’ll let you know how and what I feel when the shock finally wears off. I need time. I am going to think about this and figure things out. You have to admit, this is not something ANYONE could expect.”

“Ok, I understand.” he seemed disappointed. “But please Vik, don’t tell anyone. For .. obvious reasons. And, please don’t take too long to come see me again. I miss you terribly.”

THE CRESCENDO ... IT ALL FALLS DOWN

Ezio had late night meetings often, took clients out, some events. The company was trying to close with three large international companies and evidently, this was what it took. 

Without fail, as soon as I was alone, Blaine would appear. Reluctant at first, I began looking forward to his visits. Sure, I could have just as easily gone to see him, but for some reason, I still could not bring myself to do that. When we were together, he was still the Blaine I knew, once I could get past the pale appearance, the strange glowing of his eyes, which was more evident some times and barely noticeable most of the time. And then those fangs. He once kissed my cheek, just a friendly peck, like many times when he was still … normal. A shiver ran down my spine as I could feel the fangs beneath his pursed lips. The odd coldness he radiated when I got near to him was something I had the hardest time with. Since we met in the very beginning of both our lives, there have always been hugs between us. And he had always been warm, I remembered crawling under the blanket next to him as kids and teens when he slept on the couch in my mother’s living room. Maybe that is where he picked up the habit of TV when in bed. 

Speaking of bed. I was in the master bedroom, changing, when I heard knocking on the window. I saw Blaine’s face, whom else? How? I didn’t want to know. The bedroom was on the second floor. Another vampire move he picked up. I realized I was in my underwear, pulled my clothes back on to cover up and I opened the window, he climbed in, unasked.

“Not very gentle mannered, Mr. Cameron, visiting a married lady in the middle of the night in her bedroom while she is changing!” I half-teased.

“What lady? I only see you, babygirl. Ha ha ha Hey, I never claimed to be a gentleman. And the visiting ladies in bedrooms is kind of my brand.” he smirked.

“Not surprised. Once a manwhore, always a …”

“Aww, you are breaking my heart. Here I am, taking time out of my crazy visiting-ladies-in-bedrooms schedule for you and all you do is insult me. Well, luckily I memorized this moment forever.” He grinned.

“Super. There won’t be another. If Ezio knew about this, he’d hammer it out of your brain with his bare fists.”

“It would be worth it. I must say, killer bod despite all that Italian food the Mafioso is probably feeding you.”

‘Mafioso’ was his ‘nickname’ for my Italian husband, who, just for the record, ran a fully legitimate financial institution, where I also worked, and neither of us had any ties to anything illegal. Reprimanding Blaine, I went to playfully swat at him, like we did, but found myself flung onto the bed, and in a second him next to me.

I got up immediately and reprimanded his behavior.

“No new rules just because you are … this … now! This is inappropriate!”

“Sorry, I thought we were play-fighting.”

“I think someone needs to learn their strength!”

He gave me a sad puppy look, playfully. I sat down next to him, leaned my head into his shoulder.

“Any chance you could just forget you saw me like that?”

“Possibly.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. Until he continued, suddenly standing several steps away. Vampire-speed.

“But since I am a modern manwhore slash un-gentleman, I took a picture. Two actually, in case one does not come out right.” He held up his cell phone.

“Oh NO! Delete it, here, gimme that phone.”

A fight ensued with me trying to get the phone from him and him pretending to fight back. The truth was, he was so strong, plus his superhuman speed, if he wanted to he could have decided this fight in a second flat. But Blaine being Blaine, he enjoyed the chase. Me on the other hand, I really meant it. Such photos should not exist, so I tried to pry it from his cold hand, and when I nearly succeeded, Blaine switched hands. I was on his left, so instead of walking around his legs I just jumped atop him and tried to launch myself towards that arm. I got a hold of it, Blaine fell backward and I was atop, trying to pry apart his fingers when I realized the cell phone wasn’t in his hands. He had to be laying on it. Before I could do anything to retrieve it, the door opened and

“WHAT THE F*** IS GOING ON HERE!?!?”

Blaine and I froze in our tracks and looked up towards the door. Ezio! he looked so very angry and upset. And I said the stupidest thing
“Ezio, this is not what it looks like.” 

“OH REALLY? THEN EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT THIS IS?!” his roaring voice echoed of the the walls.

“I just tried to get his phone …”

“Of course. It is perfectly commonplace for a MARRIED woman to have a man in the marital bedroom, to climb around on, in a state of undress, when she needs a cell phone!”

That night ended with me kicked out of our home by an inconsolable, very angry Ezio, me armed only with a hastily packed duffel bag to stay at Blaine’s place, which I owned anyway. I slept in the bed that night, if you could call the tossing and turning while feeling horrible, sleeping, Blaine stayed in the living room. Nothing happened.

ENDINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS

 The next morning I went to work, straight in to Ezio’s office. He looked up, his gaze distant. I walked around his desk to kiss him, but he turned away, to instead pull a stapled document, about 15 pages by the looks of it, out of a drawer and handed it to me.

“I’d like you to sign this at your earliest convenience. After you read it thoroughly, of course.”

I read over the first few lines, turned pale, felt dizzy, when I looked up at him.

“Divorce papers?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, how lovely. That was quick. So who is she?”

“She is a he and his name is Blaine Cameron. I don’t even want to know why I attended his funeral, yet here he is back hanging around you just as before, whatever that is, I just know it is highly illegal, probably insurance fraud, I want no part of it, nor do I want to fight a presumed dead man for you. Given the circumstances I think you would agree that it would be best if you could find a new job elsewhere as soon as possible.”

Ouch. Ezio seemed like a different man.

“Why all this? Ezio I never once cheated on you … last night looked bad, but really was harmless… why do you not believe me?”

“Thing is, bella mia, I do believe you. I am certain you never physically cheated on me. You have integrity, you are loyal. But what hurts the most is that you DO love him and he is always there, always present, even if not physically. A marriage is supposed to be two people. I spent years with him ever-present in our marriage, and am tired of three people in one bed. He wants you, you want him, I am stepping aside and walking away from a fight I so obviously cannot ever win.”

I stood in awe. This declined so fast it made my head spin. And what was most painful was that he was right. Ezio was always right. His intelligence and level headedness in adverse situations I always admired. Now I knew what it felt to be on the receiving end of this. I looked down at the papers in my hand, grabbed a pen from Ezio’s desk and signed it.

“No need to read it. Here you go.” I handed it to him, all businessman he handed me the second copy, which bore his signature.

I left his office without another word, cleaned out my office. Then I went back into his office one last time to hand him my letter of resignation. 

“Back so soon?” Blaine was sitting on the couch when I unlocked the door.

I walked over to him and handed him my copy of the divorce papers. He frowned, but said nothing.
After putting the box with my personal things from my office down I plopped down on the couch next to him. I should be crying. I should feel destroyed. Instead I felt a sense of relief, as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. A sense of clarity.

“Penny for your thoughts, babygirl?”

“Can’t you just read them?”

“Long story, but it’s not that simple …”

“Ok, my thoughts go a little like this. Remember that dream we had at the cabin about what if we were a real couple? Let’s try that. Let’s quit fighting it, be honest with ourselves and each other and act on it. Sink or swim, Blaine …”



This is where this memory of the original legacy storyline ends ... thanks for taking the time for this trip down memory lane with me.
  
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