Blaine, shirtless, looked up at the visitor as he was stacking large sacks of gardening soil, fertilizer and manure neatly into various spots in the front yard from the trunk of the car.
“Blaine.” Ezio greeted
“Ezio.” Blaine replied, dedicating his attention back to his job after looking up at the visitor briefly.
“Like some help?”
“Nah, I am good, wouldn’t want to ruin that Armani or whatever that is you are wearing.”
“Let’s just say you get about 5 Armani jackets for the price of this one.”
“Ah, now that you say it I can see the amazing waste of money cut perfectly to fit.” Blaine said sarcastically.
“I am not here to bicker with you. I have something to discuss…”
“Vik’s inside.” Blaine interrupted as he was getting another load from the trunk.
“Actually … I am here to speak to you, Blaine.”
Blaine halted and turned towards Ezio.
“Me? Oh, this oughta be good.”
“Well, I know you are a man who likes to come straight to it; with your recent unforeseen circumstances I know you must be in need of funds, and I wanted to offer …”
“Lemme stop you right there. We do not need your money. Was great catching up. Bye!”
Blaine resumed his task, leaving Ezio standing there.
“Look Blaine, I know you want only the best for your family, you are a smart man, with a good head on your shoulders and …”
Blaine looked up from the bend position he was in
“Are you trying to ask me out? Gotta warn ya, I don’t put out on the first date.”
“I find that hard to believe …”
“Ah, the man does have a sense of humor, tucked away well inside the cover of entitled moneybagness.”
“No need to start insulting people …”
“Wasn’t intended to be, but if the shoe fits …”
“What is your problem with me?” Ezio demanded.
Blaine stood up straight again.
“You ARE the problem man! Just stay the f*** out of my business!”
“You need to change your tone towards me!”
“Are you asking for another beating? Be my guest!”
This is when I stepped outside.
“Guys what the heck?!”
“I was just about to take out the trash!” Blaine barked in Ezio’s direction.
“Have to be it, to know it.” Ezio retorted angrily.
“Ezio, stop taunting him!”
“He started it!” was his reply, sounding more like a school boy than a dedicated businessman.
To prevent worse I grabbed Blaine’s right arm and snuggled up against it. I felt his tension dissipate. He would never risk harm to me or his unborn child.
“Are you here to visit Finn, Ezio?” I asked smiling, knowing that the chance of holding babies usually made him forget everything, including business, which that was saying a lot.
“He was here to throw his money around again, to prove how great he is and how great I am not.” Blaine barked.
“Blaine Cameron, stop it.”
Blaine shook his head, pulled free from my hold and set out towards the open trunk.
“Excuse me, I have some other shit that I actually want to deal with to shovel through before dawn.”
Everybody was in the living room, Vivian had just finished feeding Finn and returned him to his crib to take his nap, and was now watching the latest reality TV show, I was on the tablet looking for used baby furniture while Blaine was strumming on his guitar, when he put it down, plopped down next to me like he always did, after pulling a folded and wrinkled piece of paper out of his back pocket, which he handed to me.
I unfolded and straightened it enough to read.
“OK, why am I reading a job opening note from the club you work at?”
“Because I think you would be a great fit.”
“Blaine, they are looking for an ‘entertainment act’, not an office worker.”
“You are pretty entertaining to me.” he laughed, then continued “but I thought about the two of us. You sing, I accompany you on the guitar.”
“Oh no!” I shook my head and tried to hand back the paper, which he did not take.
“Mom can’t sing!” Vivian protested.
“Oh, yes, your mother can sing. Really good even.”
“It’s really ‘well’, Blaine, not ‘good’.” I corrected him.
“Glad to see you agree without a fight.” he smirked, purposely ignoring my grammar lesson.
“Mom can sing?!” Vivian was still not over that.
“No I cannot. Blaine stop.”
“Oh, yes your mother can sing, well and good! And she has. She rescued me once, when I was like 15, trying to make some dough playing at an event and was nearly booed off the stage, empty beer cans flying and all. Pissed your mother off something fierce so she climbed up on the stage, grabbed the mic and rocked out. Between the voice and the eye candy she was – and is – we got ourselves some decent cash that night, so we did it a few more nights. I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same again.”
“OMG Mom, yes! You HAVE to! That is so cool! Uber-cool!”
“OMG – absolutely not.” I mocked, but meant it.
“Moooooooooooommmm…..” Vivian pleaded, while Blaine smirked. Devil. He knew that Viv would not let this go now, neither would he, and he knew I knew.
“I have not sung in years!”
“You sung for the mafioso …”
“That was casual…”
“What do you think kinda club I work at? The Ritz Carlton? Grand Ole Opry? We are going. Tryouts are tomorrow and I am pretty sure I can get Dave to cover the bar while I am on stage with you. And we get twice the money, if not more. You may not be 14 anymore, but I think your body now gets more attention.”
“Oh yeah, which half drunk bag of roweled up testosterone does not want to see a 6 months pregnant singer to get his juices flowing.”
“Pregnant or not, I still drool over you, pretty sure others will too. Even if they’re not your dear ole mafioso.”
“Dad’s right, you’re still pretty hot mom! Do it!”
How did I always get into messes like this? I was already embarrassed, assuming the club owner would laugh at us before kicking us out. I was wrong. He loved it and hired us on. Next problem. Stage fright was a thing, even for vampires. The struggle was real.
It had been 2 months since I started working a few nights a week at the club where Blaine tended the bar. It was amazing to see him work, his charm, the way he mixed drinks with ease, keeping up with all the orders for a large crowd as this club was not a small one, he remembered all the refills while charmingly dodging the female attempts at him was a sight to behold.
Then us up on the stage, sometimes as many as a hundred people watching, was as intimidating as it was a exhilarating.
Now here we were at a dinner party at Ezio and Melissa’s when Ezio, who of course knew about my latest endeavor, asked me to sing a song while he played the piano. It was an Italian classic pop song.
I sung like my life depended on it.
Blaine was leaning up against a far, darker corner of the room, holding a glass of whiskey.
“The singing Romeo & Juliet” be quipped.
“Tell me about it …” Melissa said, taking a healthy sip of wine.
“Sorry, didn’t see ya there, didn’t mean to instigate.”
“You didn’t. I hate to admit it, but that just annoys me to no avail.” pointing at Viktoria and Ezio she shook her head and walked out onto the patio.
“Hey, don’t get your panties in a bunch over this. It’s not worth it and there is no reason. That dude is clearly all over you. But those two have history and you can’t deny that.”
“History. Pah. I do not know any other divorced couple who still hangs out so much. It’s like you have to remind them that they each supposedly moved on.”
“Nah, but unlike most couples they never really broke up.”
“Guess he never told you how it happened, huh? Not really surprising though. Those two were in love. 20 years and change. It was yours truly who messed that up, not like I am sad about it or something, but it is the truth. I think if I had not played my part in their game, she would have never left him and he would have never let her go. They never really fought until that night. Did he tell you how they got together?”
“I think he said at work… think she worked for him.”
“Yeah, but I meant later. His parents hated her. His entire family did. She was divorced, and hence damaged goods to them. Plus he had knocked her up before, treated her like shit and she had an abortion, which caused even more crap. When they got back together he tried like hell to get them to get over it, they didn’t, and as you probably know first hand ‘no’ is at best a statement to him. He married her anyway, his father disowned him. All he had left to his name was some savings and the income from his job at his father’s company, which was really not that much. He used his savings to buy a tiny house, smaller than the one Vik and I have now, and it was rough for a while. He worked a lot, all the time, as did she. Then she got pregnant. He made her stay home, while he proposed a new business idea to his old man. He dropped the funds, Ezio took it and within a few years made it into the cash cow it is today. So for the first years, maybe decade, Vik wasn’t a millionaire’s wife, just the wife of an average business man, working just as much as he while keeping the household going, without servants, and raising the kids. The wealth you know came much later, when his old man died and again when Frederico copped out. You see, stuff like that fuses people together. I don’t like it any more than you do, but I kinda get it.”
“No, I had no idea. Poor Vik. I know his family is mostly an acquired taste. One I have not yet acquired. And just to make that clear, I did not marry him for his money.”
“I know. You are different that the other two wives in between. And that is a compliment.”
“You knew them?”
“Kinda. The first one is a vampire you know, Vitto’s mom. She is – how did you put it? – an acquired taste, too. And the other one was a gold digger. Didn’t work out for either of them. He had them sign prenups. They got the few bucks fifty the law required them to have, which really is nothing to a man of such wealth.”
“I didn’t sign a prenup …”
“See. Neither did Vik. She legally could have taken 50% of all this … you know what she took? Her personal stuff, clothes, books. That’s it. Left it all. When he forced some money on her during the divorce, she stuck it into their kids’ college funds.”
“Oh wow. You didn’t mind?”
“Nope. All I wanted was Vik, and I got her. The rest I couldn’t care less about.”
“Thanks Blaine. Nobody likes to talk about this stuff and I feel bad for prying. Really nice of you to be so honest.”
“I have a rep for being too honest sometimes, but you are welcome, girl. So don’t worry, that mafioso is all yours as far as Vik is concerned. Even though he just knows how to push my buttons, but I suspect he enjoys it.”
“Funny, he says the same about you.”
Both were laughing, when I joined.
“There you are. Nice to know I sing my heart out and neither of you appreciates it.”
“We appreciate you, babygirl. Thought you’d sound great with some ocean sounds as background, so Melissa and I came out here.”
“Honestly Vik, you two singing something Italian up there felt like I was interrupting a trip down memory lane…. you know I don’t really know much Italian.”
“OK, first of all, you’ll pick that up when married to that man, secondly, the song wasn’t a trip down memory lane for Ezio and I, but a statement of love from him to you, silly girl.”
“Yeah, it’s called “Uguale a Lei”, loosely translates to ‘just the way she is’ and it is a love song proclaiming a man’s undying love for a woman. Like the line ‘lei la tua ragione il tuo perché il centro del tuo vivere’ means ‘she is your reason for being, your motive, the center of your life’. Girl, this is as publicly romantic as an Ezio will get for ya.” I winked at her.
Melissa’s eyelids began to flutter, a telltale sign every female knew after realizing you just missed a really romantic gesture of your beau, so I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to an darker, quiet outer corner of the patio, hugging her as she cried into my shoulder.
This is when Ezio appeared, wanting to rush to her when he realized what was going on, as Blaine held him back. Ezio looked down testing at the hand clenching his expensive woolen dinner jacket, but realized why Blaine did it as he saw him shake his head.
“Uh uh!” Blaine made.
“Is … Melissa ok?”
“Fine. You just got her all worked up with your sobby love hymn in there. She’ll be all smiles shortly and then brace yourself, old man. The promise of a wild night lays ahead.” Blaine grinned, Ezio’s face relaxed and cracked a smile.
“You know, while I have you here and you seem in a good mood, I meant to run something by you. It’s about Viktoria …”
“Of course it is … I’ll work on my shocked face later. Heartbroken though, thought you and I had a moment here, dude.”
“Still not your ‘dude’, but I know you have the attention span of a gnat, so I’ll get right to the point. There is a senior position opening up in my company, Vik would be perfect for it, and it can be done from home, perfect for her condition – or conditions, considering the vampire part. Much more suitable for her than the vaudevillian act you two are doing. I’d like you to run it by her, because if I do it is no before I even finish my sentence.”
“And you think I won’t tell you no?”
“I think you are a very smart man who wants what’s best for her and your growing family.”
“A compliment for a change? Am I the backup in case Melissa is not interested in some mattress mambo after all?”
“Not in your wildest dreams. I have standards.”
Snuggled up in bed together, I retraced Blaine’s tattoos, as I had done so often before.
“Your tattoos … what do they mean?”
“They mean that I was young, dumb and evidently had too much money at some point.”
“Ha-ha. No seriously, are they just décor or is there meaning?”
“OK, yes, there is meaning. The big one on my neck is a stylized phoenix, the mythological bird that rose from the ashes. The big one on my arm and shoulder that you like to play with is a combination of symbols from different eras, that mean hope, trust and love. The one on my hand and forearm is a symbol for strength. And hidden right here is the letter ‘V’ – three guesses why. Was actually my first one, got it few months after I ran away from home. The one on the back of my neck is an anchor, to keep me grounded – spoiler alert, did not work worth a damn. And the tramp stamp on my lower back is just that, a tramp stamp because they were in fashion and I was young and dumb.” he smirked at me, then kissed the tip of my nose.
“I am wondering if I should get a tattoo…” I mused.
“Why ruin a perfect canvas?”
“I could get a ‘B’ …”
“Afraid you forget my name?”
“No, I have to yell it often enough when you try to attack our neighbors.”
“You mean ‘neighbor’, singular, the one who happens to be your ex and keeps trying to get into your pants?” Blaine chuckled.
“He is not … oh, you are joking.”
“Oh, you recognized a joke.” Blaine continued his teasing.
“With you, one never knows.”
“Well, I am not worried about that mafioso, especially now that I so clearly stamped you as mine” he grinned as he rubbed my baby bump.
“Oh, good to know I have been declared as your property…” I shook my head, playfully appalled, knowing he was just teasing me.
“Rule of thumb, if I am not beating up on the dude already, it was a joke.”
“Great rule. Speaking of jokes, why are you always so laissez-faire about everything? You just never worry at all, it seems.”
“I have no idea what that word means, but assume you mean that I do not freak out all the time? Why would I? No matter what happens, as long as I have you, it’s just not that bad. You are what’s good in my life, always were. Everything else is just gravy, babygirl.
I am also well aware that Vivian will have her own life before long. And she should. We will always be here for her, but she does not need live in mommy and daddy’s home until she’s 40 either. I am actually pretty sure I’d prefer her not to. Kinda leaning towards kicking that brat to the curb when she turns 18.” he laughed.