“Hey baby, you okay?” Liam asked, reaching for Leonie, who dodged his embrace.
This was very unusual for her. He had only just arrived 2 hours ago after having been gone for 2 weeks in a row for filming in Iceland, and now was home for the weekend.
“Not feeling well. Can you watch the kids? I am going to lay down.” she barely even looked at Liam when she spoke then turned to leave.
He tried to kiss her and she pulled away.
Liam knew something was wrong.
This was not Leonie’s usual behavior.
In fact, this was extremely unusual for her.
He followed her.
She was in the bathroom, the door was shut. This was their private bathroom in the master bedroom. Liam waited for her to get done and he was uncertain how to act, but since he only had the weekend before another week away he did not want to waste a minute on unnecessary misunderstandings. Besides, after the next week of filming in Iceland, he would go to get un-turned, and the recovery after that could be anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks.
No, this needed to be fixed now.
He walked closer to the door and could hear Leonie crying inside. He tried the handle and noticed it was locked. They never locked this door. Nobody else would ever use it, and they knew to wait when the door was shut. He knocked gently. No answer.
“Leo? Is everything all right?” he asked, worry in his words.
“Go away!” she sobbed.
“Leo. Talk to me, baby. What is wrong?” Liam was beyond worried now.
“Leave me alone.” she sobbed harder.
“Leo! Please open this door. Are you hurt?” he tried the handle again then leaned against the door.
“Damn right I am hurt!”
“Leo, unlock or I am kicking it in, I swear!” Liam raised his voice and kicked against the door once.
“Stop it, you idiot!” she sobbed harded again.
He could hear her sliding down the door on the other side.
“Leo, please ….”
Of a sudden he heard unlocking sounds and relaxed a little, the door swung open, now Leonie pushed past him, slamming a magazine into his chest, which he caught as she stomped off and sat on the bed.
He looked at the magazine and felt like someone had rammed him with a tank.
“Oh fuck!” he said.
“Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Hope she was worth it!” Leonie hissed, then started sobbing again.
On the magazine cover, a picture of him with a currently very famous actress, sparsely dressed, in a very explicit position.
He could understand why Leo did not like this and what she had to be thinking and the headline was made up to only pour oil in the fire. He tossed the magazine into some drawer and slammed it shut.
As he walked over to her and sat next to her, she slid away from him at first. He tried to put his arm around her, which she shook off.
“Leonie, I swear, this is not what it looks like at all. It is nothing.” as he heard his own words he realized how dumb that sounded.
“That is exactly what I was always afraid of. And here it is. And ‘nothing’? I’d like to see YOUR reaction if you saw ME on a magazine cover swallowing another guy’s tongue or wrapping my legs around him in my lingerie!” she hissed at him, her eyes narrowed for anger and pain.
“Leonie, there was nothing. This is staged. Come on now, you know me better than that.”
“I did not cheat on you nor will I ever. You KNOW that. And I know you know that. Leo, I am about to make the most significant change in my life for you and the kids. Does that alone not tell you that this there is just some cheap press stunt?”
“Cheap stunt? So you were both unconcious and they just matched you up in some heated embrace? Bullshit Liam. How ignorant do you think me to be?” Leonie looked very upset and angry, her eyes gleaming beneath a curtain of tears.
“No, we were reenacting a scene for the picture. I thought it was for the PR of the movie, not this … shit.”
Leonie just looked at him, sad, shaking her head.
“Liam, something needs to change here. I cannot do this anymore.”
Liam thought he was struck by lightning.
“What do you mean?”
“I want to move back home. At least there I have friends, they have kids, things are normal.”
“Back … home?” Liam felt like he was falling into some abyss.
“Yes, back home to Newcrest, or Windenburg or even Brindleton Bay, near your folks.”
“Leo. I cannot move .. we did that before I …. the kids … how … but … ” Liam could not even think straight anymore.
“I don’t have answers to that Liam. All I know is that you are gone a lot, and I am miserable here alone. And even when you are here for a change, something is always going on, some publicity event, awards show, VIP party. And if you take me to those horribly fake events I feel like the oddball out and get singled out by the other wives and girlfriends and if I don’t go I see pictures like this in the media. Trust me, this is not the first, nor will it be the last. I need friends. I need support. I cannot do all this alone anymore. No.” Leonie was shaking her head at her last words.
“What are you talking about? I thought you liked going to the receptions and stuff. You get to dress up like a princess…” Liam felt like he had fallen into a pool filled with alligators.
“Yeah, and I look like Walmart compared to the other models. They are all tall, skinny, perfectly groomed, Botox’ed and plastic surgeries left and right. You know what they all call me behind my back? Betty. BETTY!”
“What?! Leonie, you are gorgeous. So you are not tall but you are the most beautiful girl at any of those events. Without artificial help. And why Betty?”
“As in Betty Crocker. Yeah, me. I hate that more than I can say. Liam, I mean it. Sell this fucking house or be happy in it – alone. I am taking the kids and we are moving back. With or without you. Emily said I can stay with them for the interim. Maybe I can even find something in Windenburg. Mae already checked, there is nothing big enough for sale or rent in Willow Creek, San Myshuno is out, nothing in Newcrest.”
“They all know? You told them before ever talking to me about any of this?”
“I have tried Liam. Many times. You just won’t listen. Head in the clouds.”
As a vampire by birth Liam never needed to breathe but still felt like his breath had been taken away. He did not know how to react. The center of his life was about to leave him. No.
“Leonie please wait. We’ll move. Just give me some time. I only have this weekend. I cannot do anything about any of this while filming. And then I was going to become a mortal. For you. Can it wait until after that? Please, Leo, don’t leave me. I need you. I need you and the kids.” Liam pleaded. He attempted to put an arm around her again, this time she allowed it, but did not lean up against him, like she normally would. That fact alone was like a dagger to his heart.
“I am not leaving you, Liam, I am leaving this life. It is not for me. It’s tearing me to pieces. And I have children to think of. I cannot raise healthy kids when I am some emotional wreck myself. I want them to be raised with good values. Around good and real people, like our friends and family. I cannot give them that here, everything here is fake and unreal, but I can give them that where we are going. I will call Emily and move in with Corbin and her. Hopefully something comes up for rent or to buy soon.”
“Why Corbin and Emily? Why not my folks?”
“The tiny beachhouse?”
“We can make it work. And they will most likely go through the un-turning too so you have the house to yourself with the kids most of the time and they have someone to watch their dog. Please Leo if you do this, at least stay with them.”
“OK. We’ll see what they say.” Leonie managed an almost smile.
Liam pulled her closer and she finally snuggled into his embrace.
Still, he felt like the end of the world had just been averted. He hated having to leave her so soon after an episode like this, but had no choice. There was no getting out of his obligations unless he wanted to end up with a stigmata of being unemployable.
Things calmed down later on, they both tucked the toddlers in together, finally managed to convince Everett to go to bed and survived a bout of extreme playfulness by Dakota. When they fell down on the couch together they both were exhausted.
“I think I need a drink, a stiff one. You too?”
Liam got up, looking at Leonie shaking her head, then smiling big at him. He returned the smile then turned to the bar when he heard her say.
“Alcohol is not good for the baby.”
Liam almost dropped the glass he was holding, then turned around, where Leonie still smiled and nodded.
He nearly ran back over to her, she met him half way where he pulled her into the tightest embrace.
Laying next to her in bed that night, watching her sleep, he was fighting anxiety hard. Right now he really hated his job and his life. He considered just walking away from it all, but knew that he had no other skills to support his growing family and he never wanted to be poor again. Plus, the part he had left out about the un-turning was that it was not cheap. He was going to foot the bill for anybody who would do it, without them ever knowing about it. Hopefully his parents would agree to have Leo and the kids move in with them, as he knew she adored them and if anything could make her stay with him, it would be them. And deep down he knew she was telling the truth. He had noticed that she was miserable at those VIP events. He could see she did not fit in. It was not fair to force her to stay. Somehow they would make this work. Hopefully.
Carefully he slid out of bed and went downstairs, texting his parents. His mother responded first so he dialed her number.
“Hi mom, got a minute?”
“Sure baby. Is everything all right?”
“Is dad with you?”
“When am I ever not the pain in your mother’s neck? Hi son.” he heard his father’s voice.
“Guys, ummm, I do not know how to say this, but I really need your help.”
Liam gave them the rundown of the situation
“Kid, are you frigging for real? Your mother and I finally have everyone out of the house and now you want to move your entire family in, plus dog? You better be moving that nanny and maid in too!”
“What? I feel like I should go build some shelves to stack all the people in. Why does nobody ever call the people with the big houses …”
Liam heard rustling, quick whispering voices then his mother’s voice louder, apparently no longer on speaker, while he heard his dad in the background complaining.
“Liam, of course will we help you. They can move in anytime. You father – darn it Blaine, stop this or I will beat you, I swear – ummm … well, just let us know when to pick them up from the airport.”
Liam felt a sense of relief and lots of guilt. He knew he was asking a lot of his parents. But he was mortified of losing his wife and children if he did not get them to stay there. After the call he went over to the bar to pour himself a drink when he noticed his hands were shaking.