Blaine grinned, then swung the door open.
“Amazing. I only had to knock till the hand was numb this time. How come the fast service?” Sarcasm was hard to miss in Ezio’s greeting, but he was suppressing a grin.
“Came as fast as I could stop puking at the thought of seeing you, meatball.” Blaine left the door open and stepped towards the living room, followed by Ezio after he shut the door.
“Same frightening lack of manners as always, punk.”
“Want something to drink? Cheap whisky, frilly wine, fancy coffee or brand name drain cleaner?” Blaine offered jokingly.
“I’ll go with coffee.”
“What, no booze? You pregnant?” Blaine smirked.
“Hope dies last, if I am, you’ll get to name it.”
“Be right back. Try not to get abducted or something stupid like that till I am back.”
“I will sit here crying into a pillow until you return to me. O, ritorna me, cazzo.”
(*Italian for ‘Oh, return to me, d**k’)
Blaine left and poured two cups of the freshly made coffee, then returned, handing one to Ezio, while sitting next to him on the couch.
“So how was the event?” Ezio asked in between sips.
“Meeting the Ellingtons.”
“Stalk much? Or was that in the evening news or something?” Blaine asked.
“Obviously Viktoria told me. They are old clients of mine. How did you find Ellington Senior?” Ezio did not even try to hide his glee.
“About as pleasant as a sandpaper suppository, bigger pain in the ass than you are.”
“Imagine that. How did Viktoria do with him?”
“Mad love. Especially when he kept calling her ‘secretary’.” Blaine laughed.
“Oh boy!” Ezio laughed out aloud “He told me that on the phone before, something about some document he handed to my secretary. I asked Helen, who had no clue and we searched like mad – until eventually Viktoria came up to my office with it. Naturally I enjoy living with all my body parts attached, so I never made mention.”
“Yeah, she was pretty hot and bothered. The old dude was pleased as fuck that Finn is part Auditore by the way.”
“How could you not be? The only thing better than being part Auditore, is to be a full Auditore.” Ezio enjoyed himself.
“If you say so.”
“Where is Viktoria, if you do not mind me asking?”
“Either at the spa or in some dungeon torturing the old Ellington. I was told the first when she left but have my money on the latter.”
“Oh, give her some credit, she has fairly good self control, for the most part.”
“Clearly you have forgotten a lot. Where is Melissa? Surprised she let you off the leash.”
“Out prom apparel shopping with the teens at Madame Lola’s.” Ezio said, shuddering.
“Truthfully, don’t care what it costs as long as I don’t have to go.”
“I thought you love shopping.”
“Maybe for handmade suits, cashmere sweaters and exotic cars, not prom dresses and tuxedos with three hormonal teens. Is Liam going?”
“Guess so. Hasn’t mentioned it.”
“He still dating that pretty cop-daughter?”
“Yeah, last I checked, but I blinked since, so with that kid, you never know.”
“Then he’ll be going. I was told that she is a lot like Viktoria.”
“She never managed to make ME go to any dances.”
“Interesting. Maybe you are not as whipped as I thought you were then after all.”
“Whipped?! Me? You trippin’, Mafioso?”
“I think not. How the band business going?”
“It’s going. Pretty successful and finally starting to make more money than we are spending. Before long we should be able to have enough to all share one happy meal.”
“Good for you. I have to say, while that is still not my preferred type of music, your tunes aren’t as bad as I thought. If you ever have some tickets laying around, Melissa and I would like to go again.”
“I’ll getcha hooked up, you ol’ cannelloni. Will be a few weeks though, we’re about to leave again, two weeks on the road. Truth be told, and strictly between you and I, but I am thinking of getting out. I love it, but this being away from Vik is too much for me. I am dreading the next two weeks and not sure how I am supposed to get through it without her.”
“Oh, I may understand you better than you think. I used to work so very much when … umm … back in the days and had to leave her and the kids all the time, to the degree that I saw all of them maybe 7 hours per week. It was hard. On all of us. At least hindsight is 20:20 and I do not do that to Melissa and our children, even though she still swears I work too much.”
“Isn’t she busy designing?”
“She is, but has a much better hand at work-life balance than I do.”
“How come I haven’t seen Vik wear any of her designs?” Blaine wondered.
“Because she is so hard on herself. I know Viktoria has asked her about it, but Melissa is just not happy enough with it to have people wear it outside of a fashion show.”
“Silly girl. The stuff at the show looked good, I’d wear it.”
“And I’d pay to see that.”
“Deal! I have never been accused of being too proud to do just about anything for some fast cash.”
In the meantime I was 100% relaxed and all floppy as I left the spa, almost in a trancelike state, when I realized that someone was calling my name. There was now a woman across the street waving, but soon covered by passing cars till the lights turned green.
Once the woman hurried across I could not believe my eyes.
“Hey mom. You look amazing!” she said while hugging me.
I wanted to return the compliment, but was way too shocked to come up with a believable lie.
Had Addy aged this much in just the past … however many weeks she had been absent from work?! She was on some personal time off and went somewhere to some resort. Instead of coming back looking like a beautiful Spring day, she came back looking downright awful. My poor little girl!
Immediately I had flashbacks of days gone by, of a beautiful newborn baby squawking for joy in Ezio’s arms, of a little ponytailed toddler with chestnut brown locks, blue eyes fussing about the pancakes her daddy made just for her, a little girl beating all of us at games of basketball and a beautiful, headstrong teen who nearly sent her father to an early grave with her choice of boyfriend.
“Mom, you look like you have seen a ghost.” Adrianna touched my arm, that and her words pulled me from the past back into the now, she was smiling, wrinkles framing her eyes, which were covered by glasses. Glasses? Since when did Addy wear those?
Man, I had always known that the day would come where the no-aging being a vampire brought with it would catch up with my loved ones aging and … worse. But nothing could have prepared me for this.
“Mom, I am really getting worried.”
“Oh, sorry baby, I .. umm … so much on my mind of late I … do you want to grab a coffee? My treat.” I forced a smile hoping it looked believable.
We had a lovely afternoon, but I was dying inside a little bit. In front of me a middle aged woman, who vaguely resembled my Addy. Even the way she spoke, laughed, her topics … everything was so … strange now. She seemed to have trouble remembering things, which was odd to me, she was not that old. Addy had always been so quirky, full of life, so happy to be alive, full of spunk. I do realize how idiotic this must sound, but it is a very strange situation. We finally bid farewell and I sat in the car, fighting tears the entire way home.
“Blaine? Blaine?” I called from the door, tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt safe at home, and could not hold back any longer. I ran into the living room, Blaine was on the couch, I ran to him, tears clouding my vision now, and I nearly jumped into an embrace by Blaine, when too late I saw Ezio, who was standing up now, looking at me bewildered.
Blaine enveloped me into a tight hug, while I tried not to look at a shocked Ezio. Dang it, why was he here?
“What is is babygirl?” Blaine asked gently.
“Addy. I saw her.”
“Is she all right?!” Ezio asked, sounding alarmed.
“Yes. No. She is … well .. she looks terrible!”
“What?” Ezio looked at me like I grew another head, while Blaine suppressed a chuckle.
“What have they been feeding you at the spa? Truth serum?”
“Not funny!” I sobbed underneath a new wave of despair.
Blaine instructed Ezio to take over for a minute and keep me calm, before he returned with a coffee and Moscato.
“One of these is bound to make you smile again.” He smirked, while popping open the bottle after handing me the steaming cup.
I finally calmed down enough to tell my tale. Ezio did not find it so funny anymore either, but instead looked pale, after I showed him a Selfie with her we had taken in the café. He agreed that she did look bad, and not like someone who just spent weeks at a resort.
Not long after he went home, while Blaine did not leave my side. I was glad that both our children were vampires. No more of this.
My phone buzzed, the sound it made when it was internal. I hit the speaker button, while mulling over my work.
“Mrs. Cameron, Mr. Auditore would like to see you in his office.” Helen, his secretary informed me.
“I’ll be up in an hour or two.”
“No, I am afraid he wants to see you now.”
Seriously? He was the one who stuck me with all this super-urgent work, needing to be done yesterday basically.
“Tell him to look at a picture of me.”
I hung up.
Not a full minute later the phone buzzed again. For goodness sake!
“GET YOUR ASS UP INTO MY OFFICE – PRONTO!” Ezio barked and hung up.
I sat up in my chair. What the …? He’d get an earful. Oh, I’ll be right up all right.
I flew by Helen’s desk, barely greeting her.
Then I busted into his office like the Kool Aid man, about to unleash a flood of logic on him, when I noticed Addy by one of the visitor chairs.
“Addy. You’re back.”
“Sit down.” Ezio barked.
I sat, as did Adrianna when he handed me a piece of paper, before sitting down.
“This is what YOUR daughter just gave me!”
I looked at the paper Ezio handed me.
“Addy, you’re resigning? Effective immediately? Why … what?”
“Mom, dad, there is more. Much more. I need both of you to be quiet, so I can talk, promise?”
Ezio had his eyebrows drawn together but nodded, as did I.
“Ok, this right there was not an easy decision for me. I love my job, love this company, love you two. I never thought I would leave this company until I retire. But things change, circumstances change. Where to start? Oh yeah, I have a bullet list, bear with me. OK, yes. Well, the first thing is that I have been training Vitto to assist me, but he is a very smart boy, very dedicated and ready to take over. Naturally I wanted to wait with this until he graduated, but unforeseen circumstances forced my hand. Maybe one of you can take over some of the work, sorry, I know.”
“Adrianna, if you need more time off, we can talk. Maybe hire you another assistant. No need to go to these extreme measures like this …This is your company as much as it is mine, kid.”
“It needs to be yours and Vitto’s company. Maybe cut mom back in too.”
“Umm, no that’s fine, I’ll pass. But Addy baby are you all right?” I said.
“No mom, I am not all right. But we agreed this to be a monologue you guys, I need it to be so I can get it all out. It will all make sense in the end, promise.”
The phone buzzed on Ezio’s desk.
“Helen, I instructed no interruptions!” he shouted angrily.
“I know, Sir, but security called that Mr. Cameron is downstairs to see his wife.”
“Oh shit! I forgot about the time. Blaine and I have plans.” I admitted.
“Have him come up, daddy. Not a bad idea for him to be here actually.” Adrianna said.
“Helen, have him come up to my office, please and send him straight in.” Ezio instructed.
Few minutes later the door opened and in walked Blaine.
“Oooh, was I a naughty boy so I have to go see the big daddy?” Blaine grinned.
“Shut up, pull up a chair and sit down!” Ezio barked.
“Oh, sounds like someone is sitting on something sharp and pointy.” Blaine grinned, while kissing me, then hugging and kissing Addy on the cheek, before pulling one of the other chairs to join us.
“What you missed so far, you nuisance, is my daughter resigning from the company.” Ezio snarled.
“Well, the universe may be able to take that hit after all. Good for you Addy.” Blaine said.
“No, not really. Here goes the rest. I do not know how to say this, so I will just lay it all out there. Casey and I are separating. Well, actually we have been separated since before I left. He found a new house to live and is taking Greyson. Lauren moved in with her boyfriend and Autumn is looking for an apartment. He has been having an affair…”
“WHAT!?!?!?!” Ezio jumped up but sat right back down when he saw Blaine and my looks.
“Daddy, please, this is hard enough.” Addy begged, while fondling some pills from her purse, dropping them. Blaine picked them up for her, glancing at the bottle, then at Addy, before handing them to her, getting up to bring her water and napkins.
“Thank you, Blaine.” she smiled, Blaine only nodded.
“You got the headache now? What do you think this is doing to me? Why did you not come to me sooner?” Ezio was upset.
“Just keep that spaghetti trap shut and listen to the girl, Mafioso!” Blaine said sternly. Ezio did as told and Addy continued.
“Anyway, he has had an affair for a few years now, since before Greyson was born. I knew about it, and I think Greyson was our sad attempt at fixing this. Yes, spare me, I know this never works but .. what can I say. Daddy, your perfect little princess is not as infallible as you always thought. Not even close. Truth is, I do not even blame Casey. I have basically been unfaithful to him since the beginning. I never loved him, I guess you could say he was my rebound man and I just rushed into marriage with him. The only man I ever loved was Blaine Jr. The one who got away. I was such a foolish girl back then, could not get over the fact that the man of my dreams had his first child with another woman, and my impossible, unlikable cousin Marcella at that. I love Blaine Jr’s son Ben, I mean I raised him, I financially supported him throughout and would have even paid for college if he had let me. I went to his wedding and we are still close. But I was an idiot back then. I wanted my husband to have his children with me and thought Blaine Jr. and I were better off as just friends. I am sure that Casey must have felt that, felt like second choice. It was not fair to him, so I do not even really blame him. And Greyson. To tell you what a terrible person your daughter really is, I never connected with that baby. I have zero mother-child bond with the kid, he is a cute kid, I can see that, and I tried, but he is never more than a stranger’s child to me. It’s also not fair, so Casey is taking care of him.” she paused, wiping away tears, her voice cracking. We were not supposed to speak, and I think, everybody was too shocked to say anything anyway. I saw Blaine reach for Addy’s shaky hand and gently squeeze it, she looked up at him, then at her notes. My daughter had excellent memory, why the hell would she need notes for a talk like this?
“But there is still more.” she continued, clearing her throat “maybe this is the biggest part. The resort I went to was no resort at all. Maybe a last resort for me. I am very sick you guys. Blaine probably already figured this out but it’s serious. Final stage brain cancer, terminal. The fact that I am sitting here, upright, making some sense is a miracle, but I am noticing that I am fading fast, so I need to be quicker yet. I have a few months, maybe two, probably less left. Casey and I decided against divorcing, but I have an appointment with my attorney tomorrow morning to have my name changed legally back to Auditore. I was born an Auditore and I want to die as one, and not continue the lie that has been Hayes into eternity. I would like to be buried next to my maternal grandmother, since there is obviously a vacant spot there, right Blaine. I am sure you do not mind, seeing as you are not really using it anyway. The house I still own 100% and I want you guys to decide this for me, and do so quickly, while I am still lucent enough for the paperwork. If you don’t, it will go to dad as part of my estate, and he will have to do with it as he sees fit. If I had my choice, it’s either going to go to you mom, as I always thought of it as your home, I still to this day catch myself walking in the front door straight to the kitchen and expect to see you behind the counter, cooking, smiling at me asking how my day was. I have my fondest memories in that house. If you and Blaine do not want it, I want it to go to Vitto, back into Auditore hands. Madelaine is taking care of it for now, she knows and while currently I am holding her Au Pair visa, I need you to take over dad, so she does not have to go back. Vitto would fall apart. If you do not want it mom, I want you to go through and choose the paintings and photos you would like to have, since many of them would mean little to Vitto. And you Blaine, I want to go and take that godawful painting Blaine Jr. made for me when we first started dating, the one of the Italian Nobleman. It’s still in the master bedroom and used to be a reason for many fights with Casey, but in a way, that and the memories were all I have left of the love of my life. And truth be told, as harsh as this will sound, I am done with it. The cancer is only the tip of the iceberg that was my life. But now you guys know why I never wanted to be turned. There is no way for me to every fix this and I am so tired of living with this regret. I am okay with it being over, glad of it, really. Sorry to be short, but I am crashing here. I need to go now. Can you get me a cab, daddy?”
“Cab? My daughter needs no cab. I’ll have Jefferson drive you!”
While Ezio made the call, Blaine and I helped Addy up. She really did seem frail now and nearly fell, but Blaine caught her and picked her up.
“Free delivery service.” he smiled at her.
“Blaine, that is sweet, but put me down. I cannot have people see me like this.”
“Ah, no worries, they have seen me do worse. Off we go, say bye bye.”
I held the door for them to go through when I heard Blaine tell Helen
“Silly girl and her heels, twisted her ankle. Tssk, you girls always wanting to look pretty.”
I felt numb, staring at Ezio who was numbly staring back at me.
Blaine carefully sat her down and helped her into the car, before turning to the driver.
“Deliver that one INTO the house and hand her off to that blonde French chick. Do NOT leave until she is sitting down somewhere and not alone. If nobody is home, you stay there and call the Italian and one of us will be there, got it?”
“Of course Sir.”
“Good man. Thanks.”
I do not recall much after that, but at some point I was home, still numb. I wanted to cry, I felt like it was the right thing to do for a mother in my position, but nothing. Blaine was supportive and left me be for the most part. Eventually I went into the shower to wash the day away. I stood there under the water for god knows how long until anger build up enough that I started screaming my pain out, banging hard against the tiles.
I did that, again and again, until I felt arms turning me around and holding me. Blaine.
We stood there for a while until I mumbled.
“Blaine, you are fully dressed.”
“Wrong, I am multi tasking. Comforting you and doing laundry at the same time.”
He made me smile.
“Blaine, I think I am broken. I want to cry, but I cannot, I am so … numb.”
“You’re in shock. The tears will come, when you are ready. Relax babygirl.”
“Blaine? Can we get out now? Your wet clothes feel really weird.”
I was drying off while watching Blaine comically undress his heavy, limp, clingy clothing. It made me giggle, causing him to act shy, making me giggle more.
“You know that is not really flattering to a man, his girl burst into laughter when he gets naked?”
“It’s just … just looks so funny.”
“Funny? I told you before cold water makes it shrink!” he acted insulted, but there was the crooked Blaine smirk.
“You are so crazy!”
We decided to go lay on the bed together, resting.
Blaine snuggled me close which gave me some strength back.
We were starting to relax when Liam came in.
“Kid, ever heard of knocking?” Blaine complained
“Knock knock, the other person who lives here and has a coffin downstairs which I can only access through your bedroom is here.”
“Right, need to get that fixed.”
“Hey mom? I am really sorry about the news. I am here for you if you need to talk. Or hugs.” Liam came to me, I sat up, him next to me.
“Thanks baby boy, I love you.”
“Love you too mom.”
“And I was about to love on your mom, so get lost kid.” Blaine said from behind us.
“Dad, we were having a moment here!” Liam complained, amused.
“Thanks baby.” I said.
Liam got up, as did I and I just pulled him into a hug and placed many kisses on my son’s face, till he pulled away.
“Umm, mom, thanks, but I am good now. I’ll let dad take it from here.”
“That boy only likes being kissed if you’re willing to put out.” Blaine said.
“Not gross at all, you should see your mom naked.”
“OMG – I am outta here!”
Liam was gone in a heartbeat, while Blaine sat on the bed grinning.
“Told you I could get rid of him fast.”
I laid back down next to Blaine.
He gently rubbed my back, both of us silent, until he spoke softly.
“You know what Addy told me down by the limousine? She said that she would never tell you or the Mafioso this, but she is glad when it is all over, as she hopes to go wherever her brother is, to keep him in line and kick his ass for what he did, but above all she is hoping to see Blaine Jr. again, hopes that he remembers her in a good way. I told her that I have it on good authority from all our talks when he was still alive that whenever she gets to where she is going, he will be waiting for her with arms wide open and that he never stopped loving her.”
That did it.
I bawled and bawled, for hours, until at some point I must have fallen asleep. When I woke up, I was still in Blaine’s arms.
I had been wondering how we would get the news about her condition. My question was answered faster than I liked. Melissa called, panicked, begging us to come over NOW. We did. Inside several startled kids Melissa kept trying to send away, and Ezio in his home office banging and screaming loudly.
“I did not know what to do, he got so upset and made no sense, so I locked him in there, but I swear the door won’t hold much longer.”
“I’ll fix that fool right up!” Blaine went in. It got louder for a moment, then quiet.
I was comforting Melissa.
Later we found out that Ezio got a call, from his lawyer. Right after the name change appointment, Addy was not feeling well and ended up falling down a long flight of stairs outside the court house. The lawyer called an ambulance, then Ezio. Addy was in a hospital, in a coma and it did not look good. Ezio called there and ended up speaking to Casey, which was not a good mix now. Casey told him that they will give this two weeks, after which he would make the decision to take her off life support, since he was still legally the husband.
We could not go see her, since we were all vampires, but Ben and Fey went and told us she looked horrible. It did not take the two weeks Casey had given her, she passed away on day 8, never to wake up again.
The funeral was dreadful.
So eerily quiet. I could not believe I was standing right here at this very spot yet again, burying someone I had loved so much for all their life.
All I could do was to hope that that place really existed and that my beautiful little girl was now happy, healthy and reunited with the love of her life again.