It still felt strange for him to just walk up to the front door and knock. Her mother let him in, asked how he was doing and other small talk, before letting him go to her daughter’s room. Leonie hugged him and planted a kiss on his cheek, was obviously very excited about something. Something other than seeing him.
“OMG Liam, good thing you are here! LOOK!”
“Wow – a letter.” Liam was unimpressed.
“No, two letters. I do not know which one I am more excited about!”
She was waving the letters in front of Liam, doing some bouncy dance, until he grabbed one from her and started reading it. His amusement about her silly behavior soon faded like the smile on his face.
“Leonie, this is Bridgeport University. That is on the other side of the country.” he looked up at her from the acceptance letter.
“Yes! And one of the best universities! And I am already in! That was my first choice!”
“Leonie, you are 16. This is a bit … early.”
“No it’s not. We’re both going to be 17 soon. But the hardest part is to keep my grades up now, especially considering the other part of the news.” She squealed again and danced around more, while Liam took the second letter from her and read it, while pulling out her desk chair and sitting down.
“I don’t think I get it … student exchange?”
“YES! They have a host family for me! I am going to spend the next school year abroad! In Spain, just outside Madrid! Isn’t that insane!!!”
“Yeah, insane is a good way to put it. What about me?”
“What do you mean?” Leonie asked while on her way to sit down on her bed.
“You just leave me, for a year, after summer, just like that?” Liam was shocked.
“Well, actually I am kinda leaving earlier than that, Mom is taking me over there and we’ll have a mother-daughter vacation first, she is really proud of me too. So we will leave right after I get back from camp.”
“Yes, Liam, I told you about squad camp. The entire cheer team is going.”
Liam threw the letters onto her desk, listening to her going on and on about how exciting the news were, what she was going to do and see while in Spain, how great Bridgeport would be until it all faded into just background noise.
“Hey, what’s wrong? Aren’t you excited for me at all?” Leonie was now looking at him, looking disappointed.
“Sure, I guess. But really, what about me? I am supposed to just sit here and wait for you while you travel the world again and again, forgetting about me? After everything I have done for you, all I have been through? You could at least have asked if I was okay with any of this. Or at the very least mention it before the fact.”
“Excuse me?! All you have been through? What about what I have been through, and am still going through, because of you?” her excitement was gone, her eyebrows pulled together as she stared at him now.
“For starters you’re that boyfriend nobody ever really sees. Everyone I know is with their boyfriend or girlfriend when we go out doing stuff, except for me. I am like always alone, always like the fifth wheel, while everybody else is all romantic.” she shook her head.
“That’s not true. I was just with you at your friend Janie’s party last weekend.”
“Her name is Delaney, and wow, one party, and only because it was at night. What about all the fun stuff we do during the day. Oh wait, you wouldn’t know about it, because there is sunlight. And even if I didn’t leave town, what would my summer with you look like? Sitting in your room – or mine – staring at the sun outside, while everybody else is out tubing, BBQ-ing, beach parties, swimming in the lake, hiking,..”
“Ok, you knew I couldn’t do these things.”
“True, and I was kind of okay with it, at first. But don’t tell me about all you went through when I had to keep you secret, all that trouble with my dad, I am THAT girl in school who has the boyfriend with a criminal record and that is only the beginning. And honestly, if you would have any ambition, you would realize how big getting into that uni is for me. What have you done for your future? Any plans yet for when high school is over – which you do realize will be in a little over a year from now? Of course you haven’t. I mean, really Liam, what are you going to do with yourself? If you at least were into music, like your dad, I could get that whole renegade thing, but not even that. And your parents are vampires, but can be out during the day, have you ever even tried to learn how and maybe work towards that yourself? Of course you haven’t. And now you want to rain on my parade, just because I am doing something with my life?”
“Great plans Leonie. Glad I was some stepping stone for you while you were biding your time here. I spent almost 5 months driving 3-4 hours each way to spend time with you at that boarding school every single weekend.. That was after I got out of jail and did two months worth of community service, just for seeing you. I have basically ditched my best friends since kindergarten, just so I can be with you. I have done NOTHING that I like to do, to be with you, so we can do things YOU like. And now you are telling me I do nothing, just because I haven’t sent out college applications, like nobody else but you has? And excuse me that my future plans, even if they may not meet your standards, at least all included YOU.”
“Yeah, great plans. Knocking me up at 16, getting married and what? Living in some trailer by the train tracks and have another kid each year so it doesn’t get too boring? Great plan Liam. I still cannot believe you brought that up and were actually serious about this BS!”
“At least I was trying to come up with something so we could be TOGETHER, while you were obviously busy getting as far away from me as you can!”
“I cannot believe that you make this about you now, Liam!”
“Every once in a while I’d like things to be about me, for a change.”
“My entire life changed because of you Liam. I do not even know who I am anymore from having to creep around the darkness all the time, since my boyfriend cannot stand bright light.”
“Wow. Makes two of us though, I do not know who you are anymore either.”
“Maybe that’s it then. Maybe we were wrong, because you have been here for about an hour now and still not ONE nice word about either of my news, the biggest news of my life to date. No congrats, nothing. Just you, you, you oh, and YOU.”
“You know what Leonie, if you are so fucking unhappy, maybe we should just go our separate ways. You can get yourself sunburned to a crisp and lay in bed at 10 PM happily dreaming about Europe and colleges, while the rest of us enjoy being normal!”
“Fine by me. You just go and be a loser creeping around dark alleys for the rest of your life, while living in your parents’ basement! Great plans!” she hissed at him.
“Fuck you, Leonie!” Liam boiled over.
“Fuck you too, asshole!” Leonie screamed back.
Liam ran out her room and straight out the front door, jumped into his car, started it and rushed off with squealing tires and the engine howling, driving like a bat out of hell until he got to some rural area near Windenburg where he pulled over, got out, screaming obscenities before punching a tree, then dropping backwards into the high grass. He did not know how long he laid there, but eventually he realized his hand was throbbing in pain, and bleeding. If he went home like this he would have to face his parents and their well meaning crap. Corbin lived in Windenburg, with his wealthy grandmother. He just steered his car towards the ferry landing spot and bought the fare over.
There was no nearby parking, so he left the car where the pavement ended and walked the rest of the way to his friend’s home.
It took a few minutes till he opened the front door and looked surprised to see Liam.
“Damn man, you look like crap!” Corbin said when he let him in.
“I feel like it.” Liam claimed while following his best friend into his kitchen.
“Uh oh, trouble in paradise?” Corbin asked while holding up different soda cans for Liam to take his pick, but he only shook his head.
“More like hell. Deepest pits of hell.” Liam sat down, head hanging low.
“Mind if I eat? I had practice and was out with Emily after that, just got home.” Emily was Corbin’s girlfriend of almost a year. Liam felt a pang of pain, in the same timeframe he had gone through three girlfriends now. Maybe the problem really was him.
Liam followed his best friend into the kitchen, then watched him microwave some leftovers before joining him at the table.
“Your grandma isn’t home?”
“Already in bed. She never really makes it past 9 pm. She takes a sleeping pill too, so we are golden.”
Corbin had lived with his wealthy grandmother, Sofia Bjergsen of the Windenburg Bjergsens, meaning really old money, since his parents had died in a car crash back when he was young. He had a rough time with it for a long while, still a child then, but got through it with Liam’s help, spending most of his time at Liam’s home. It fused he two boys together, so their friendship was not affected by Liam spending all his free time with Leonie over the past months.
They talked, Corbin helped Liam bandage his hand.
“Hey you wanna call your parents?”
“What for?” Liam was only half way present for the conversation, the other half of him was reliving the fight with Leonie.
“Cause you just missed the last ferry, and unless you want to walk home, your car ain’t going anywhere tonight, man. Looks like you’re crashing here tonight.”
After a certain time ferry service was discontinued until the early morning. All the wealthy families living on the Windenburg island had boats, but none large enough to carry over a car.
“Shit! I’ll text them.”
They boys ended up talking until late, and playing a few rounds of foosball.
I did not see Liam until the evening of the next day. I got home early from work, since it was a slow day, and when I walked in to greet Liam, I saw him taking down the photos of him and Leonie in his room. Judging by the music he had playing his mood was worse than bad, and I already knew there had been a fight. Or worse.
“Hey you, everything all right?” I said, knocking on the partially open door.
“Sure.” he said, continuing his task without looking at me, then sitting down at his desk, facing away from me.
“You wanna talk?” I asked, carefully.
“Mom, can we not do this now?” he shook his head, still not looking at me.
Blaine had walked up behind me, kissing me and with his arm around me looked into his son’s room before pulling me inside with him.
“So, why are we redecorating, kid?” he asked, purposely upbeat.
“Dad, please. Just don’t.”
“Oh, but dad is gonna. You just drop a sleepover at Corbin’s on us last minute last night, even after when you are left, you were all happy and cheery and seeing the girlfriend, now you are doom and gloom and taking down all girlfriend paraphernalia. Also, I don’t know what you have been punching, but looks like it won and you lost, you’re bleeding through the bandage, kid. I think it is time to loop us into the obvious here. Just for completion sake.” while talking, Blaine wrapped his arm around me tighter, so I would not just jump to baby my son.
“OK, the girlfriend is no more. Now you are all caught up. Hand’s fine, looks worse than it is.”
“Oh no, not so fast son. Need a little more meat on those bones here.”
“Blaine, leave him be..” I said.
“No. Last few times we left him be, he first turned into Teenzilla, the next time we had some girl almost off herself in his room. I do not even want to take bets on where this one could go.”
“Goes nowhere dad. We broke up. Happens every day. No biggie. I’ll get over it.”
“OK, so your mother and I are just to go about our usual day, after patting you on the shoulder telling you that other mothers have pretty daughters or what do you expect us to do here, Liam?”
“I don’t care dad. And there will not be another girlfriend. Not for a very long time. I am so over this shit. Women are totally crazy and self-absorbed. I need a break!”
“Umm, thanks Liam.” I said, even though distracted by Vader, our dog, who seemed to sense something was up and was trying to calm the waters.
“Mom, seriously, not now. Obviously not you. Mind if we do this some other time. I want to lay down.” he herded us out of his room, then closed the door right in front of our faces, and the music volume went up in his room.
“Blaine, he is injured. You think he got into a fight with someone?”
“Probably just with some inanimate object. I have been there. He is hurt, but the hand is the least of his worries. He’ll be fine. Just leave him be. Trust me on this, babygirl. I have been where he is plenty. What he needs now is time to himself. He’ll probably start hanging with the boys a lot more now. Just let him.” Blaine sounded convinced, there was even a hint of a smile, so I relaxed.
“OK, I’ll back off. But I am telling you, it’s hard. I want to snuggle my baby boy when he’s hurt. Even as an awkward teen.”
“You can snuggle your husband. He appreciates it a lot more now anyway than that kid would.” Blaine kissed me, then pulled me along with him into the living room.
Blaine would be right. Liam recovered, at least in a way, plus he did not get into any trouble, his grades seemed stable, but he would spent most of his free time with his friends now, either at one of their homes or all of them at ours. Sometimes I would wake up to three boys laying around the living room, sleeping, after some video game night or watching movies. Neither Blaine nor me ever said anything, just went along.
One time I ran into Leonie and her mother in the fashion district in San Myshuno, I was on my lunch break and they seemed to be shopping for clothes. Both greeted me politely, we exchanged the usual pleasantries briefly, but it was awkward. Leonie seemed sad as well, her smile forced. Oh well, they were both young, few relationships outlasted high school. I just wondered what might have happened, but Liam still would not say. He was very different than his older sister, who would tell us everything in great detail. Liam had always been the oyster about problems, until he was ready to share, which sometimes was never.
One time I was on my way into the living room to offer snacks to the boys, all of Liam’s friends were mortals who at their age were always hungry, when I heard them talking and I ended up eavesdropping.
“There is that party on Friday night, any of you going?” Nathan asked.
“I dunno, maybe … ” Channing replied.
“I heard some of the new cheerleaders will be there, definitely worth a look. Maybe score some action .. or even a new girl. I have been single for like 6 months now, kinda getting tired of it.” Nathan said.
“What about you Liam, you going?” Channing addressed him.
“Nah, probably not. And trust me, being single isn’t half bad. Better than being with some unreasonable bitch, who will dump you out of the blue when something better comes along, after you turned you entire life around for her.” Liam sounded bitter.
“Damn man, tell us how you really feel.” I heard Corbin’s voice.
“You don’t wanna know how I REALLY feel about all this shit.” Liam retorted.
“You’re right, I don’t. So just go to a party, have some fun. No strings attached.” Corbin tried to change the tune.
“Yeah, maybe.” Liam said.
“Girls aren’t all bad. I have been with Beth for 8 months now, and all is good.” Channing added.
“You lucked out then. I have had three girlfriends so far, first one cheated on me, second one seemed like a nice girl, but turned out to be some co-depended psycho and the last one screwed me over because I supposedly lack ambition, while she goes and spends a year in Spain and then goes off to college on the other side of the country. And all without even mentioning any of it to me, until it was all set in stone already. After all I have done for her. I am so fucking done with women.” Liam’s bitterness reached a new low.
“Yeah, you really know how to pick ’em, Cameron. Maybe you should become a monk.”
“Don’t let my ex hear that or she’ll have something else I cannot do because I am a fucking vampire.”
I had heard enough. So that’s what that was all about. Yikes, rough. I was about to walk off to find Blaine and tell him about it all, but was startled to find him already leaning casually against the wall behind me.
“Oh babygirl. What am I gonna do with you?” he grinned, shaking his head.
“How much did you hear?”
“Probably as much as you.”
“So don’t look at me like that. You did it too.”
“Right, that’s the story we’ll go with. Keep the rest of your promise. Let him sort through this. He knows where to find us, if he wants our help. Have some faith in that kid. But maybe tell the Mafioso to make sure his garage is locked at all times, just in case.” Blaine smirked that crooked grin and winked at me.
Two days later, Saturday morning. Liam walked into the kitchen to find his dad at the table, fully dressed, drinking coffee, a second cup waiting for me at the empty chair across from him.
“Morning dad. Why are you up so early? And what’s with the bags in the hallway. Someone going somewhere?” Liam asked, grabbing a cup of coffee too.
“Keenly observed son. I am taking your mother on a weekend getaway.” Blaine said.
“Ah, of course. More people in my life just leaving without even telling me.”
“We did tell you, son, but you were on autopilot while staring blankly at the TV on Tuesday night.”
“I wasn’t even here Tuesday.”
“No, you weren’t even here Wednesday. You were physically present on the other days. Obviously not the information processing part of you though.”
“OK, right, whatever. So where are you taking her?” Liam asked, slipping his hand into his pocket casually.
“To a cabin in the woods.”
“Wow dad, sounds like you went all out there.” Liam frowned.
“I just love the scent of teen sarcasm in the mornings. Your mother and I have history there. Lots of it.” Blaine was unamused.
“What, is that where you dumped your first body?” Liam smirked.
“No, but may be where we lock up our annoying teen son, the smartass until he outgrows the current stage. If you must know, highlights there include but are not limited to us going there as kids, teens and later, it’s where your father officially ‘died’ – spoiler alert, I came back so I can make your life a nightmare too son, and also your sister was conceived there.” Blaine grinned after adding the last part solely to push his son’s buttons.
“Ugh thanks. I could have literally gone my entire life without ever hearing about that.”
“Why? I’d be happy to explain in great detail. Weren’t you planning on having a baby soon anyway? Might be helpful.” Blaine tested his son’s patience some more.
“Forget it dad. That was the stupidest idea I ever had and will have.”
“Oh, I am sure you can and will top that. I have faith, son.”
“Thanks dad, so when are you finally leaving?”
“Whenever your mother gets out of the bathroom. She has been showering, hairstyling, putting on make up and what not for almost an hour. All just to drive to the woods.”
“That’s what I am saying, women! Even mom. Who needs make up and nice hair to hang in the wilderness? Who’s gonna see her, some deer? A carp?”
“No, but your dad. I have known your mother for an eternity, but she still tries to capture my attention by prettying herself up for me. You could look at it as silly, or you could take it as a compliment, son. Even if we are going nowhere, she wants to look pretty, for me. Even though I have always told her she is the prettiest girl to me anyway and always will be.”
“Morning boys! Who’s the prettiest to you?”
“That chick from that lingerie fashion show, right Liam?”
“What?!” I was trying to gauge what I had walked into here, when I looked at Blaine just sitting there grinning at me, as was his son, and both staring at me.
“Are you boys messing with me?” I was suspicious. What did I miss? I saw the already poured cup of coffee across the table from Blaine and was appeased. I sat down and sipped greedily.
“Of course I am, babygirl.” Blaine smiled and winked at me, I smiled back.
Liam went to the sink to rinse his mug while telling us
“OK, I’ll give you privacy before you start your romantic getaway right in front of me. I am going over to Corbin’s later, we may go to a party, and I may stay overnight at his place afterwards, if that’s ok so I don’t have to drive all the way back out here. You guys have fun and try not to get eaten by a bear.”