Blaine, Melissa and I sat at the bar by the kitchen over at the Auditore Mansion, just friends hanging out together, waiting for Ezio to get done with work in his home office, so we could start the evening by streaming some new movies. Liam was with the Auditore children in their room, playing.
Mel and I were giggling about various things, Blaine sat next to us shaking his head at the things girls find amusing, as he put it.
Ezio was still in his office, located diagonally behind where we were, the door shut. That door now opened.
“Viktoria, can I see you under four eyes in my office briefly?” he said in a stern tone.
“Uh oh, you guys, I think I am getting fired.” I joked.
The three of us laughed while I made my way over there. Ezio looked serious. He let me enter, gestured me to sit, then shut the door before sitting at the computer.
“So, is this it? Are you letting me go?” I tried to say as sincere as I could.
Ezio looked confused. He did not realize the joke.
“Are you firing me?” I grinned, explaining the funny.
His expression lightened up a little.
“Oh. Ha ha. No, quite the opposite actually. I have a business proposal for you.” he continued, all sincere again.
“A business proposal. Ezio, can you get out of business mode please? I am not one of your clients. And lighten up please?”
He leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and rubbed the tips of his fingers over them. He exhaled audibly, then opened his eyes and looked directly at me, then stood up, as did I.
“It is about business. I won’t beat around the bush. Viktoria, I need your help. My right hand man just quit his job, and we have so much lined up, even working three days straight without interruption I could not do it all. Plus, several of these things require travel. Even now, I cannot possibly be in two places at once. I need you to come back and help me out. If only temporary, if you do not want to make it a career again.”
“Ezio, I have not worked for or with you in almost a decade now. I could not possibly.”
“You know this company better than anybody else, except me. Everything else is easily learned. Not that much has changed. I will brief you, and get you some files to review. I will be there with you the entire time at first. But I cannot keep stretching myself this thin for long and Melissa is already well over me working so much.”
“Have Addy help you.”
“She is so busy already. And hardly sees her family as is, as you know her and Casey’s schedules don’t always line up. And then the kids. I just cannot involve her more than she already is.”
“Hire someone. It’s what businesses do.”
“I could not get someone as fast as I need them.”
“Really Ezio … no. I could possibly help you out from home, maybe even come over here and work on some things with you every now and then, or even do it for you, but I am not going back into the rat race full time.” I walked around the chair I had been standing in front of and turned towards the door while speaking.
He got up and came over to me, held on to my upper arm.
“Viktoria, please, please reconsider! I besiege you! I need your assistance with this.”
In that very moment it made *poof*, a black cloud, and Blaine stood next to us.
His smirk faded fast when he looked at Ezio’s grip on me, which he immediately released.
“Looks like I came just in time.” he sounded calm, but I could tell he did not like this.
“Ezio wants me to come work for him, that is all.”
“No.” Blaine said darkly.
“Blaine, as I was explaining to Viktoria…” Ezio tried to justify the option.
“No, absolutely not.” Blaine shook his head, facial expression gloomy.
“Blaine, I already told him I would only maybe help out a little …”
“No. I won’t allow it.” Blaine was turning angry now.
“Excuse me?” I interjected.
“You heard me, Vik. I won’t have it.” he said looking at me.
“I think this would be my decision, don’t you think?” one eyebrow raised, I challenged him.
“I don’t and no. I forbid it.”
“YOU WHAT?!” I blurted out. Was that man serious?!
“I am not letting YOU reel her back in.” Blaine now addressed Ezio, tapping his finger on his chest.
“Blaine, nobody is reeling me in. Have you not heard what I said?” I took his finger off Ezio’s chest and held it, trying to get him to look at me, which he finally did.
“I heard you. I also heard the ‘maybe from home’. First at ours, then over here, and then suddenly, you are back at the office with him and I need to take pictures to remember what you looked like. NO.” Blaine kept shaking his head.
“It’s not the 1950s. I like to think I make my own decisions.” Now I was over it.
“If that one over there is involved, you make shitty ones!” Blaine barked.
“Fuck you, Blaine!” this time it was me who disappeared into the black cloud, literally into thin air. I went over to Melissa, told her I was married to an unreasonable jerk and had to leave. Kiss on cheek, hug and I was but a dark cloud settling again. Yeah, Blaine finally taught me how to do this and it really came in handy now!
In the meantime, Blaine was still glancing at Ezio.
“Look Blaine, I really do need her help or I would not have brought it …” Ezio tried once again to win Blaine’s support. In vain.
“You need to stay the fuck away from her. Leave her be already. You are really trying my patience with this we-can-all-be-friends thing.” Blaine yelled at him.
“Viktoria is a grown woman who can make her own decisions! And she is great in business, it is her forte. She belongs there! Not with you in some smoky bar plucking away on your guitar for pocket change! What a waste of talent, skill and education!” Ezio yelled back.
“Where she belongs is with me! End of story!” Blaine laid into Ezio.
“Goddamn it, I am not kidnapping her. Not taking her from you. I am offering her a job. Temporary one! With great pay!”
“You can take that job and shove it where the sun don’t shine!”
*poof* black cloud. No more Blaine.
“Urgh, so aggravating that man!” Ezio hit with his flat hand onto the desk, secretly wishing it were Blaine’s head.
“Liam, where is your mother!?” Blaine demanded sternly.
“I don’t know dad. Last time I saw her, she was with you over there.” Liam looked up from playing with the Auditore kids and pointed to the bar, where now just Melissa still sat.
Blaine sighed. “OK, thanks son. Start saying your goodbyes, we have to go home.”
Blaine walked over to Melissa.
“Fight?” she asked.
“Don’t know yet. But a heads up, I may kill your husband.” Blaine growled.
“Oh no, Mr. Cameron, you won’t or I will make you take care of all the kids, every day, 24/7!” Melissa was still amused. This happened frequently. They would be buddies again soon.
Blaine smiled at her, they hugged.
“Sorry Lissa, guess I fucked up again. Didn’t mean to end the evening like this.”
“Not surprised, you two had another brawl overdue. Now you can be bros again.” she smiled.
“I didn’t fight with Ezio. He just instigated. I fought with Vik.” Blaine looked down at the ground.
“You better go home and fix that!” Melissa’s smile was gone. That was NOT good.
“On my way.”
Blaine felt right away that the house was empty, except the two dogs. He still checked my coffin. Empty. Shit! Trying to keep it together until he tucked in Liam, then he went out looking for me.
One of his first stops was Adrianna’s. It was fairly late, but he saw light in the home office. Of course. She was Ezio’s daughter. Work, work, work. He used his vampiric powers to get up to the second story window and knocked.
It startled her, but she opened and let him in.
“Blaine! You just about gave me a coronary!” she complained but hugged him anyway.
“Sorry Addy. Have you seen your mother? Or heard from her?”
“No, not today. Oh no. You didn’t fight did you?”
Blaine just nodded.
“Your goddamn father!”
“Ah, the usual then, huh? And who messed up this time?”
“I don’t know. Probably me. It’s always me. Your fuckin… ummm… your father wants to reel her back into the company, to work for him, and she seemed to be considering it.”
“And you have a problem with that, why exactly?” Addy had sat down on the couch in the office with Blaine, gently rubbing his arm, he looked pitiful.
“Not enough words to tell you.”
“But that has been on the table a million times. I know daddy wants her back working with him. Honestly Blaine, I can see why. I wouldn’t exactly hate it either. And we could use the help. She loved working there. No offense, but you guys probably could use the money. It pays well. Just saying …” Addy shrugged.
“Yeah, I know …”
“But jealousy is an ugly thing, huh?”
“I am not jea… ok, fine maybe I am. Your father just pushes all my buttons when he is all cozy with MY wife!” Blaine growled.
“Dad does not get all cozy with your wife. Don’t forget they are friends now. Whatever he did, was probably just to either stop her from walking out on the discussion before he could land his best argument or because he thought she needed a hug. That is all. He is very happy now, not trying to take my mom from you. I promise you.” Addy explained.
“Still hate it.”
“Well, always room for some self-improvement.” Addy smiled at him.
“You are just like your mother … so … so .. umm .. what’s the word?” Blaine said.
“Level-headed? Reasonable?” Addy winked at Blaine. He smiled.
“Viktoria is not reasonable. Not now.”
“She’s not? Maybe because someone said something that set her off?”
“I didn’t say anything bad, other than that I was against it. Oh, I may have used bad phrasing … and may have said something along the lines that I forbid it.”
“Ok, there you have your answer. I fucked up. Again. Where could she be? I need to find her so I can start kissing her ass till it bleeds.”
“I wouldn’t do that. But if she is not here, we know she is not at Melissa and dad’s, so … how about Vivian? Or Eric’s?”
“You definitely got the brains from your mother. Not that Mafio… dang it, I keep forgetting that he is your dad and you actually like him.”
“It’s ok, I know he can be an acquired taste. Now go, Blaine! Fix this.”
*poof* Black cloud. No more Blaine.
Addy went back to her desk and sat down, the door opened and Addy’s husband Casey poked his head in.
“Who are are you talking to, sweetheart?”
“Oh, just myself. Go back to bed, honey, I need to go over to my dad’s about something. Don’t wait up.” she said.
“Daddy, why do you keep getting mom in trouble?” Addy gently rubbed over her father’s arm.
“But I am not. I merely made a suggestion.” Ezio replied defensively.
“Dad, you KNOW that Blaine does not want that. They are happy with what they are doing. Just leave them be. Quit poking the bear.” she smiled and winked at her dad.
“She misses business. She misses doing something with … some … measurable results. They can still perform, if they must, they don’t work every night. We can work all that into her schedule. But right now I need her, WE need her. You are her daughter, if she does not want to help me, then at the very least she should consider you in her decision. Morris just quit cold turkey, his wife got sick or something and he needs to be there for her. Now of all times with all the new deals we have on the table. They are big and important, I cannot just pawn them off, I need to be involved. I am buried, Addy!”
“No. You do more than you should already. You need to be with your family. Don’t repeat your father’s mistakes. No.”
“Just until we find a new person.”
“And until then, your mother could help out.”
“Dad, leave her be. You know very well that you have her wrapped so tight around your finger. She still cares about you. You do your routine and she will feel obligated to help. Like she always does. Which then will piss Blaine off, causing problems between them. It’s not fair. You are using her, like an easy button. Leave her out of this. If she wants back into business, she would certainly not be shy about talking to you – or me – about it.” Addy spoke firmly and sincere now, no more smile.
“I am NOT using her! But she is perfect for this. It’s where she belongs!”
“No, she belongs with Blaine. Daddy, why are you really always trying to get mom involved in everything? Every time you have a problem, you bring it to her doorstep.”
“Many reasons. She is still one of a handful of people I know I can trust unconditionally. She is the ONLY one except me and you, who has a vested interest in this company, she helped build it from nothing. Melissa wants me to retire, and part of me wants that too. But I cannot just drop my pen and walk out. You have your part already, I could not possibly ask you to assume even more responsibility. You are still my daughter and I will not have it. Vitto made it very clear to me that he wants no part of the company, leaving me high and dry, so the only thing I could do is hope for James. But that is still at least 15 years from now. I want to spend quality time with Melissa and the children, see them grow. Not repeat old mistakes. I want to be a good dad – and husband – for once.”
“Oh daddy! You are the best dad. And I am sure Melissa would agree your are the best husband. Sometimes more like another child, but most of the time still a good husband. She is not the kind that would have married you otherwise. I mean, what extravagant things has she bought so far? Not a damn thing. But she has given you four children and about to have another. And not to rub salt in wounds but mom never has said anything bad about your either. She has never once told me that she thought you had not been a good husband. Aggravating and a hothead, but she does not have to tell ME.” Addy hugged her dad.
“I need the help Addy. Someone I can trust blindly. It has to be her.”
“Why do you not ask your wife instead?”
“Melissa? She has her hands full already. And her heart is in design, not business. I cannot possibly involve her in my company when I want her to build her own. Still working on that too. No, it has to be Viktoria.”
“What about mom’s life? She has a child. And a husband. And a job. And a household. Blaine is a sweetheart, but pretty useless without mom cracking her whip. She cannot be gone half the day or night working for you and then do all that afterwards. I am no vampire, but looking at you they obviously still get tired and exhausted.”
“I’ll pay for a maid. Or a nanny. Or both.”
“Liam does not need a nanny, daddy.”
“I meant for Blaine.”
“Oh daddy!” Addy laughed.
“Adrianna, I really am at a loss. Work, Vitto’s issues, Melissa’s pregnancy, and so much more. I want her to be happy and do what she loves, but cannot be supportive when I just cannot see land anywhere.”
“OK, I am going to make an executive decision here. Once Blaine talked to mom, we all will sit together and discuss this. Not one on one, excluding others who should have a voice. I will set that meeting up myself, here at your home or mine, and we all with get a vote. All being you, mom, Melissa, Blaine, Vitto and me. And that is final.”
“He is just so unreasonable sometimes. Like a naughty toddler, just too big too ignore or put in timeout! But I am this close to administering a spanking he will never forget!”
*poof* black cloud Blaine appeared.
“Speaking of the devil!” I said.
“Umm dad, you do know that just entering without asking is forbidden and that we live right across the plaza from Caleb, our new Elder, right?” Vivian shook her finger at her father.
Blaine ignored it, rushed over to me and just pulled me into an embrace. I grimaced, knowing that I was already melting and was going to forgive him. He seemed really upset and sorry, placing kisses all over my face and neck. Over his shoulder I saw Vivian grinning.
“Yay, more parent porn. In the comfort of my own living room now … glad to see that I still get this channel, even after moving out.” Vivian said grinning
“Shut up kid or I will make it parent-porn, just for you.” Blaine mumbled from against my shoulder.
“Do I not get a say in THAT either?” I said, half joking.
Blaine looked up at me and fluttered his eyelids, making Vivian and me laugh.
“Sure, but could you resist THIS?”
“OK, you two are fine, I am going to bed, and I am just going to say this because I know you but still have standards – please PLEASE use sanitizer when you are done!” Vivian joked. We all laughed, Blaine threw a pillow from the couch at her.
Once she left, I put my arms around Blaine’s neck, he his around my waist, we kissed.
“You are some misogynist asshole sometimes, Blaine Cameron.”
“No, not at all. I am just jealous as fuck. Addy taught me that today.”
“You saw Addy?”
“You did not wake her for this?”
“She is related to that Mafioso. She was awake and working.”
“Ah, poor girl. Maybe I really should think about …”
As if on cue my cell phone jingled. Message from Addy.
“Mom & Blaine, setting up a round table, mandatory attendance, to talk about the work thing. Please show up and please be open minded. Date, location and time in next text. – Addy.”
So, what was it going to be for me next? Back to business or continue performing with Blaine? I wish I could say this would be an easy decision …