After my third coffee I was finally all happy and smiley again. Blaine suggested we pick up some items at one of the local street vendors by the market place. I told him to see if they had a coffeemaker, which made him laugh hard. Once his shopping was done, we went back to our cabin, where Blaine sorted through the purchases, seemingly random things, but he seemed sure of himself.
While he was stacking this and packing that I stood by, head tilted and just could not help but smile.
He eventually noticed, looking up at me.
“Do I have something on my face?”
I shook my head.
“What is it then?”
“Can I not just smile at my husband?”
“Sure you can. I encourage it. I was just not sure that I am out of the doghouse yet.”
“You were never in it. I always told you, I’d go with you wherever life takes us.”
“Damn girl, coffee really does make a difference! I do need to find some before we leave. Just a few hours ago I was fearing for my life and now you are all sappy and shit.”
“Sappy and shit? Nice, how romantic.”
“Babygirl, I am trying to get us set up right here. If I fuck this up or forget something, it could really come back and bite us in the ass, and that I mean literal. There are actual things creeping around out there that want to do just that. Take a chunk out of our butts.”
“How come you are such an expert.”
“I am just that damn brilliant.” he smirked and continued.
“All right, that’s done. I am going to take a shower now and get dressed. Open invite.”
“Oh what the hell. We might die out there, might as well go happy.” I laughed as I took his hand and followed him in.
After the – shall we say very intense shower – we went to the bedroom to get dressed. I was done and turned to Blaine, when I could not help but burst into laughter.
He smirked then looked down on himself.
“I don’t know. I am blinded by the bright white legs!”
“Nice. If I said something like that to you I would never get laid again.”
“You say stuff like that to me all the time!”
“No, I keep telling you how beautiful you are. Annoying at times, but beautiful.”
“Only hears the negative. You missed the two beautifuls.”
“Probably still distracted by those skinny bright white legs.”
“Speaking of, you need to change, babygirl. If you wear those shorts, we are not getting far.”
“What? Why?” I looked down at my shorts.
“Because they are serious Blaine-bait. I never see you so uncovered. If we are climbing up hills and I see you butt in those, we’ll be stopping all the time.”
“You fiend. I was actually more comfortable with jeans anyway. I’ll change.” I quickly swapped bottoms.
“Of course you were. And oh my what is all that? I think I am blind too .. are those.. could those be .. colors? On you? Did you get dressed in the dark?”
“Funny. You got Liam’s backpack, because I am nice, I borrowed Leonie’s. Hers is pink. Go on teasing and I’ll switch with you.”
“I am man enough to pull off pink. If not, I am definitely man enough to be some cannibal’s bitch in my pretty pink backpack. Oh the suspense.”
Minutes later we were on our way.
It was still kinda dark and foggy or misty.
And chilly. So here we were now. Walking up that path and down again another.
Until we reached a very overgrown stone pathway, which likely at some point once was a gate. No passing through. I wanted to turn around, but Blaine pulled out the machete and went to work. My suggestion to find another way he laughed off.
“Babygirl, this is a jungle. Everything is overgrown. There are no hiking trails here. This IS the experience.” he said as he cleared out path.
I didn’t like any of that experience. Then the sun rose and everything just suddenly came to life, colorful, amazing blooms, birds chirping, butterflies. We arrived at a very high, very floppy rope bridge. I bucked and did not want to go over. I was scared. Blaine did what he always did and talked me off the ledge, well – not literally, of course.
He calmly spoke to me, joked, and gently caressed my face through it till I was ready-ish.
He went first, which I didn’t like as I did not want him to tumble down into the abyss either, or at least not alone, so I ran after. We made it across just fine. Then we arrived at an amazing and impressive waterfall. I stood, mouth agape. For the very first moment I began to realize why Blaine wanted to come. This was indescribably beautiful. I felt so little and on top of the world at the same time.
We walked and walked and walked. And arrived at yet another one of those damn bridges. By now I was so brave and elated from all the experience, I bravely went over without hesitation, enjoying the view and the breeze.
All day long. Every day. For a week. Every day, when darkness began to fall, we set up camp somewhere Blaine deemed suitable and safe, watched sunsets and spent the surprisingly frosty nights in a tight embrace. Technically, this is the exact opposite schedule any regular vampire would follow, but with our sun resistance and Liam having been school aged we just adapted to a mortal schedule. Besides, in the jungle, it is wiser to not roam outside too much in the dark. As a vampire you may not die so easily, but you did feel some pain and could get dented pretty bad. Wounds would heal fairly quickly, but once some body part was off, it was off for good, even for us. So, caution was advisable. Even for us.
Every morning we would rise in time to watch the sunrises.
We saw amazing things, flowers, animals, ruins. The entire time we never ran into another human being, mortal or vampire. Just us, him and me.
When we got here I had no idea how to get through an entire week and before I knew it, it was over and we were heading back. We spent the last evening near the directional signs and arrows leading back to the village where our journey began a week ago, watching a beautiful sunset.
This is where Blaine told me
“I always hoped I would get to come back here with you one day.” he sounded soft and melancholic.
“You have been here before?!” I asked surprised.
“A long time ago. Do you remember that after I – died – I was gone for a long time and didn’t come find you until months later? This is where I was. Mythia, my master, took me here. She had things going on and could not babysit me, so she brought me here, taught me the ropes and would check back in occasionally. You saw how secluded this place is and not very hard to hide even in plain sight. I would come here every night and watch the end of the sunset, when it was already dark enough, wondering where you were and what you might be doing at that very moment. Wondering if you were somewhere out there thinking of me too. And hoping one day I would get the chance to sit here with you. Took a long time, but luckily time is something we have in abundance now. Babygirl, we have come such a long way, do you realize that?”
“I realize that almost daily. But why have you never told me any of this before?”
“I needed the time to be right. You see that this place cannot be explained, has to be experienced to fully understand it. This is perfect. Still think I took you to hell?” he smiled at me.
“No I don’t. This is paradise. You are right, it is perfect. I am sorry I was such a – bitch.”
“I am used to it. Just kidding. And you weren’t, at least not any more than most people who come here for the first time. I reacted the same way when I first arrived here. But it grows on you. And then stays with you forever.”
“I cannot believe it is over already. We have to come back.”
“One day we will. This isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we. There have been times in my life when I cursed having chosen this path, but a long time ago I realized that aside from meeting you when we were children, being a vampire is the best thing that ever happened to me. And maybe our kids, depending on the day.” he smirked at the last part.
We decided to continue on, and arrived back at the cabin in the dark, watched the stars together laying in the soft, luscious grass outside. We saw several falling stars and I had a wish for every single one of them.
Eventually we went inside, got showered and fell into bed exhausted.
Tomorrow morning would be the day to return home. Even the scary geriatric airplane had lost its bad aftertaste. I barely even noticed the turbulences and paid no attention to the pilot’s stupid jokes. In my mind I was back in the jungle with Blaine. This was what I always meant when I said that Blaine was not as ignorant as he liked to portray himself to the world as. There was a lot of wisdom to be had, if you peeled away his nonchalant mask and all the bawdy jokes. Just like my complaining. Truth be told, I never once minded Blaine’s amorous advances, his jokes, his brutal honesty of calling things what they really were, while the rest of us danced around it all till we got dizzy. But that was my front, the whip-cracking wife, necessary to keep him in line so he wouldn’t lose his way again. Even when we were kids, I played that role for him to keep him on the straight path.
When I looked over at Blaine now I saw that he was just as lost in his thoughts as I was, and I smiled at the permanent smile on his face, as I averted my eyes back out the window, where the amazing rainforest now became smaller and smaller until it faded into the horizon like a dream in the morning.
Little did we know then what our son had been going through at home in the meantime. The separation from Leonie was hard on him. Maybe we should have been there for him. Or maybe it was best for him to live out his emotions without having to worry about an audience.
To our surprise Liam was waiting for us at the airport when we arrived on the late flight.
Originally we had planned on hailing a cab, but were of course more than happy to see our son instead.
He was unusually huggy, which made us wonder already.
It wasn’t until much later, at home, after we told most of our tales and showed our photos when he mentioned, almost only as a side note that he and Leonie were no longer a couple. As much as he tried to downplay it, we knew our son and could tell he was not doing well, especially when he looked at the pink backpack I had been using on the trip, which was borrowed from Leonie. I told him I would clean it and drop it off, but he wanted no part of that.
“Mom, I’ll see her in school anyway. I can give it to her. No biggie. We can all handle that. Anything else would be stupid. We’re still friends.” he explained.
He then told us that he had a weak moment and drank alcohol, plenty of it, while we were gone. We were waiting for the reason he was telling us that, maybe a police report, someone who may have caught them, but nothing. Just his conscientious. So we let it go. He seemed to truly regret it, mentioning something about ‘still not mature enough’. Poor guy. He seemed to be questioning his life. Maybe that was part of his healing process. I felt guilty for making him go through this because of my choice to uproot us.
Maybe I was still emotional from the vacation and all the romantic moments I shared with Blaine, but looking at my almost young adult son I saw that little boy he used to be, noisy and funny all the time, and incredibly clingy, who turned into a very mature seeming child, so popular and with opinions for days, who then hit a phase where it was at times hard to love him. And now, here he was, about to be a young man, making very logical and hard decisions for his future. All without mental meltdowns and destroying property. I was genuinely proud of him. As was Blaine. He always had it in his head that any child of his was bound to fail, like he thought he had, completely missing how far he had come and how much of a role model he was now.
I had regretted the decision pressing to move so far away but it was too late now, everything had already been put in motion. I had handed my resignation to Ezio, which did not go over well, even though I did it unofficially at their home during one of out meets. Melissa was less than thrilled, as was Ezio. I gave several months notice for work, as a courtesy, but something told me that he did not like losing me as a neighbor and friend. This would be the first time in many decades that he and I would be truly apart. Well, he had Mel and a boatload of children plus a very successful business to keep him occupied.
Vivian hated the idea but understood my reasoning. Too much had happened to us over the past years and I was done and in need for a new beginning. I had the feeling that after some months, she may be trying to get Silas to follow us. I would like that, but Silas seemed very attached to his home. We would see.
Caleb and his entire family came by one night, he and Grace were very emotional, he told Blaine that he had hoped to make him his right hand in the near future. Blaine laughed and said that he would have probably been the worst pick for that role, to which Caleb only smiled and said that Blaine needed to give himself a lot more credit.
Liam suddenly seemed very eager to leave. He wanted a new start badly.
Hopefully he would be able to move on from Leonie after an adjustment period, just like he had before.