I was making lunch for Vivian, who was in her room doing her homework, when the doorbell rang.
“I get it!” I heard Vivian yell, followed by noises and voices in the hallway.
“Who is it, honey?” I yelled in her direction.
“My new friend!” she yelled back from the hallway.
“Can I meet them?” I called back, thinking What new friend now?
Shortly after she appeared in the kitchen followed by a girl her age. I just quickly glanced up, stirring around in the pot with boiling contents.
“Mom, this is Alexis. She is new, she and her mom just moved here. And we are best friends!” Vivian proclaimed.
“That’s nice. Hi Alexis, I am obviously Vivian’s mom…” I said after turning off the stove, wiped my hands on the kitchen towel to offer my hand for a shake to the kid and turned to Vivian’s new friend.
As I looked at her smiling little face I almost had a heart attack. If I still had a beating heart, that is.
Before me, a female mini-Blaine. The exact same color of light green eyes, the same nearly black hair, the light skin, the slender figure with the fine limbs of an artist …
Reminding myself not to scare or worry the children I pulled myself together and exchanged the usual niceties, carefully questioning the kid. Her mom was single, she did not know her dad. Oh man. While I always knew that Blaine had been with a LOT of different women before settling down, he also always told me that he had been adamant about birth control, as the last thing he ever wanted was kids. But it would almost appear that it may have failed once. Exhibit A standing in my kitchen now. There was just no way that this kid was not related to Blaine. It was nearly a clone. Alexis looked more like Blaine’s daughter than Vivian did, mostly because Viv had inherited my dark blonde hair. Since kids are kids, both girls seemed blissfully unaware how much they looked alike.
I fed the children and eventually Blaine came home. I immediately explained the ‘problem’ to him then made him meet Alexis. He remained calm. Told me it was a coincidence. Inside of me the nagging feeling that this child was his illegitimate kid, but she was younger than Vivian, which would mean … No, no it could not be, it must not be. Right? The last time something like this came about, Blaine and I had our very first fight ever. Over what turned out to be nothing. I was not going to risk it again.
The doorbell rang. I opened, a woman. She was probably younger than me, and had once been beautiful, but now the traces of a fast life with many vices had left their marks.
When she addressed me, her voice sounded raspy and deeper than her appearance would let on, signifying that she likely had been a smoker with a love for liquor most of her life.
“Hi, I am Alexis’ mom, here to pick her up. This is the right house, no?” she listed our address.
“Yes, sure, come on in.”
I brought her into the living room, then called for the girls when I heard Blaine say coolly.
“Blaine.” her reply was just as cool and detached.
Uh oh. That terrible feeling was back in full force.
“You live here?” she asked.
“Obviously.” Blaine’s response was short.
I couldn’t take it anymore. As the girls entered the room I asked
“You two know each other?”
“Yeah. Although I think knowing is an exaggeration. Vik, meet my sister Blythe. Blythe, my wife Viktoria.”
WHAM! Nope, did not see that one coming. I knew Blaine had a sister named Blythe, but never met her. Now that he said it, I realized she had the same unusual shade of light green eyes as Blaine and Alexis.
“Viktoria? Not THAT Viktoria, is she?” Blythe addressed Blaine.
“The very same.” Blaine was still short.
“No way, small world. I always knew this would happen, I mean you two. Well, nice to meet you finally. Your hubby is not exactly one to keep up with family matters …” she shook my hand and smiled when Blaine interrupted her.
“What family? My only true family has always been in this house.” he snapped at her.
“Blaine, are you still riding around on old stories?” Blythe rolled her eyes. I had no idea what she was referring to.
“Nope. I am all done with all of that. Looks like fate has a sick sense of humor washing you up right here and now.”
“What do you want me to say? Fall to my knees and cry for your mercy? We were kids. And you know how things were back then. What was I supposed to do?” Blythe shrugged.
“Something other than stab me in the back and leave me in the dust, while you went off to live happily ever after with grandma.”
“Happy? Man, you have no idea!”
“Neither do you! You did not need to lie. Had you not told those lies, we would have BOTH gotten out and lived with grandma.”
“I had to make sure. She kept saying that she was too old for two kids. You know how our stepdad was with me! I was afraid he would do more than just want to snuggle with me on the couch, which was super-creepy and nasty.”
“You know I would not have let that happen!” Blaine raised his voice.
“Oh yeah? What if it happened when you went off to spend the night with your little girlfriend there … left me behind again while you had food and a warm bed.”
“Guys! You really do not work out your family drama in front of the kids!” I interjected.
“Ummm … mommy, can Lexi spend the night?”
Before I could answer Blaine did while pushing Alexis and her mother towards the door.
“No, she and her mom need to go home now. Bye. Great catching up. Hope to never do that again.”
“BLAINE CAMERON!” I yelled.
All froze, including Spunky, who had been playing with a ball, and Roxy, who had been licking herself on the floor. All now stared at me, eyes wide.
“The following: if Alexis wants to spend the night and her mom allows it, she can. Also: We do not shove visitors out of doors. Especially not if they are family. So, let’s try this again, like civilized people this time. You two kids can go and play in Vivian’s room. You two supposedly adults back into the living room. Anybody want something to drink?”
So we learned about all that had transpired. Blythe had endured a rough life at their grandmother’s home too, Blaine told her about his terrible life, we spoke about how he and I got together.
Two days later we were invited over to Blythe’s home for dinner. Blaine was bucking at first, but I tongue-lashed him into submission.
The kids played outside when the adults sat together talking afterwards.
“Nice house. How can you afford this, Brindleton Bay is not exactly cheap real estate …” Blaine whistled through his teeth.
“Do you really want to know?” Blythe smiled a bittersweet smile.
“How do you think? I am our mother’s daughter. Same way she did make her money, just I wasn’t a drug addict. I did the alcohol route. I have two sons too, you know. My oldest, Blake, is grown and a single dad, go figure, the other one, Devin, lives here, technically, but much like you Blaine, is impossible to keep on a leash. I just pray that he does not do anything illegal. We moved here because he kept getting in with the wrong crowd in the city. Blake had done that too, but has a job now and takes care of his daughter Avery. We hardly ever talk nowadays. And, just like mom, no baby daddies for any of my kids. No child support as I do not even know who they might have been. I sobered up and want to give my girl a fair chance, hoping it is not too late for my Devin. Sorry Viktoria, if I shocked you, but with us Camerons it’s really just once white trash, always white trash.”
“Speak for yourself!” Blaine hissed.
“Blaine…” I trying to reel him back in, speaking softly and placing my hand on his arm.
“Sorry Viktoria. I didn’t mean to include you and your daughter in this. But Blaine, honestly, you and I are just too messed up. You really think you get married to a goody two shoes – no offense Viktoria – and boom you are fixed?”
“And this is where this lovely conversation ends. Too bad, so sad, but we need to go now.” Blaine growled.
“Blaine, can I see you under four eyes real quick.” I asked.
He sighed, but slid of the kitchen bar stool and followed me outside.
“OK, let me have it.” he sighed.
“Blaine, I just think you might want to give her a chance. She is not really wrong, although I agree that she could have worded it differently. Come on. For Viv, look at her and Lexi. They get along so well. And seriously, Alexis looks like a female version of you back then. Give your sister a chance. I am not asking you to become BFFs with her, but just try.”
“Fine. But I swear, if this goes South I will bring it up and rub your face in it any chance I get.” he grinned.
“I would expect nothing less.” I smiled and kissed him.
After that, the rest of the night was pretty decent and enjoyable. Vivian and Alexis really became fast friends, not just cousins.
Soon it was already Spring again. Blaine, Vivian and I picked up Melissa and went to see Adrianna and Lauren.
Vivian was so good with little kids, hugged her little niece and they were off to play.
Roxy and Tigger’s kitten had grown up into the spitting image of his father.
Addy’s pregnancy was showing big time already.
Blaine kept teasing her about twins or triplets, which earned him a beating every time. He and Addy had always gotten along great, even in the beginning of our relationship, back when the entire world seemed out to get us. Not Adrianna. While she obviously didn’t like the idea of her parents breaking up, she and her then boyfriend, Blaine’s late son had been our biggest supporters. To this day, Blaine tried to wind himself out of going to most social events, but if it was to see Addy, he was first in line. She sometimes called him ‘daddy Blaine’, but only when Ezio wasn’t around. She had always been Ezio’s pride and joy, his first born and those two were still peas in a pod. Casey was lucky that Ezio accepted him. Any other man around his little girl was heavily scrutinized. Blaine and Ezio still had their very odd relationship. They would meet to watch sports together one day, the next you found them beating each other up.
Blaine unlocked the front door of his house, when Vivian came out of her room, hugging him, grinning from ear to ear.
“Daddyyyyyyyyyyyy! You are home! Finally! Guess what happened?”
“Guess on why you are still up, when tomorrow is a school night?”
“Daddy, guess. Now!”
“You lost a tooth.”
“What? No. I have all my real teeth. Seriously. No. Try again.”
“I got nothing, my angel. So what happened?”
“What’s a Beryl?”
“Vivian Cameron. You didn’t bring home a kitten did you?”
“Beryl is not a kitten, but a grown cat. And no, I didn’t, mom did.”
“What? Where is your mother!”
“At the vet. Beryl is sick.”
As if on cue I walked in with the evidence, caught red-handed.
“Hi Blaine-y ..” I purred and smiled as seductive as I could muster while batting my eyes at him.
“Don’t even try. What the hell is that?”
“I see that. Why is it in my house?”
“She followed me home from Addy’s. She is sick. But good news, it is curable. I got her medicine.”
“You have GOT to be kidding. We now have too much money, so we can provide care for other people’s pets?”
“She is a stray.”
“You do not know that.”
“I do. I have seen her several times there. She is sooo sweet …”
“Cats roam. You know that. Take her back.”
“No. She is chipped. The owner does not want her. But we found out her name is Beryl!” I stated victoriously.
“To the pound then.”
“Then I will!”
Spunky started scratching on Blaine’s leg, whimpering.
“Oh jeeze, what did I get myself into?! Fine. Keep the damn cat. We needed another pet like a hole in the head.”
“Thanks baby! I’ll make it up to you.”
“Oh, you better believe you will!” Blaine gave his signature smirk.