“I am really having second thoughts about this…”
“Baby, she is a big girl now, and your parents and siblings will look after her as if she were their own child. You KNOW they will.”
“I still worry. It’s in my DNA, I am her dad.”
“I think this is a chance for out little girl to show us how much we can trust her. It’s only a weekend.”
“A long weekend. Four whole days …” Everett mumbled.
“…in Paris. Just us. Rett…” Katie beamed.
Katie gave him this look that made Everett hot and cold at the same time, and brought a smile to his face. Gawd he loved that woman. Four days alone with her, no teen problems, no young boy being a boy, no work, no interruptions in the city of love? Yeah, what WAS his problem?
Their children were still a child and a teen, but a fairly responsible one. Sixteen and ten years of age now. Not quite as dedicated to learning as he had been at their ages, and definitely with a much more active social life, but still a straight A honor students dreaming to be architects … and a ballerina in Evey’s case. Josh was staying with a friend, he had been picked up the night before, Evey would be staying with their grandparents.
“Guys, your chauffeur is here!” Evey yelled from the door, quickly followed by a deep male voice.
“I’ll give you chauffeur you brat!”
Giggling followed, along with laughter, obviously Liam was tickling her.
Shortly after Everleigh and her grandfather appeared.
“Hey dad. You sure you are ready to take on that little monster for four whole days?”
“Nah. I booked me a hotel room and left your mother a bouquet of roses with a note reading ‘Good luck!’ She already raised you and your siblings, Rett, that little girl will be a piece of cake for her.” he joked, nudging his granddaughter.
“Ha ha. Very funny, adults. I am one of the easiest teens known to mankind.”
“Except when you sneak out at night, lie about where you went, skip classes … break up with your boyfriend and don’t even tell us … shall I go on?” Everett listed.
‘…and that’s not even the half of it, if only you knew, daddy…’ Evey thought, feeling instantly guilty.
“Let’s not, son. You guys would miss your flight for sure.” Liam winked at his son.
“Thank grandpa.” Everleigh demonstratively rolled her eyes, but smiled.
“Anytime, my sweetpea!” he kissed her cheek.
After watching them disappear into the security lines, Everleigh and Liam left. Walking out of the airport, Evey snuggled up to her grandfather and smiled
“So, what kinda trouble are we getting in first?”
“What kind of irresponsible grandpa do you take me for, young lady?”
“Oh sorry, for a second there I thought you were a cool grandpa.”
“Nice try! Get in the car you brat!”
The time at her grandparents was fun, as always. They had their children young and it showed, they were both very modern, fit, active and involved, albeit not the youngest anymore.
One night Liam and Leonie went out with the old Clique. Their childhood friends.
After her school work was done, Evey stood in the kitchen.
“All righty. Huge house all to myself. What kinda trouble am I gonna get myself in then? Livin’ it up in this bi-a-tch…Part-aaaaayyyy. All alone. With myself. Because literally everybody but me has a life. Even my parents who are probably doing unspeakable things to each other in Paris now. Damn I am a total loser.” she giggled at herself.
She baked some cookies, chewing one she stepped outside into the backyard.
“Good evening Little Leigh….”
“Heath! And you brought KC! Lifesavers!” she ran over and straight to Heath’.
KC watched her jump into the vampire’s open arms, his facial expression hardened. Why did she always have to greet him first?! Every single time.
Finally it was his turn when she turned towards him, and hugged him tightly now, making him smile.
“You smell like cookies …” he told her.
“Come inside, they are still fresh.”
“Evey …” Heath shook his head.
“What is your problem now!?” KC complained when Heath held him back from entering.
“We will stay out here. It is not her house to invite people into.”
KC rolled his eyes as Evey ran in and returned with the cookies, watching KC devour them as the friends visited.
After half an hour, Evey whined “Man, Heath, why can we not go inside? Those mosquitoes are hellacious!” Evey complained, swatting at them repeatedly.
“I find it funny to watch their disappointed faces when they try to bite our pale buddy and realize nothing comes out…” KC chuckled, making Evey giggle too.
“KC, knock it off. Come on, Heath, before I get eaten alive out here. Pleeeeeeeeeeease. My grandparents wouldn’t mind. I swear, they are really cool. ” Evey begged, making Heath smile.
“Especially her grandfather, even though you did not even think to set aside one single cookie for him before the cookie monster over there inhales them all!”
A new, deep voice – distinctly angry – from the door causing all three of them jumped up.
“GRANDPA!” Everleigh looked and sounded shocked.
“OH SHIT!” KC said…
“How did I not detect you?” Heath stammered.
“What are you doing here, grandpa?” Evey asked.
“Nametag on the door says I live here. And unlike your grandma, I have an app on my phone alerting me to movement outside. Remember the security cameras around the outside of the house? Imagine my surprise when I looked at the live video feed. If your grandma had seen this … ugh. No worries, she thinks I went home sick. Inside NOW, the whole lot of you! Chop, chop!”
“I should go..” Heath tried.
“INSIDE! Even you! Consider this your official invite! And yeah, I can see exactly what you are. Move it along, chompy!”
Once he had them all inside, he assembled them in the living room.
“OK, you are the trailer park kid, I recognize you. I had a feeling that Evey had something to do with your disappearance. But who are you?” after addressing KC, Liam turned to Heath.
“Grandpa, that is Heath, he ..”
“Does he not speak?” Liam asked firmly.
“I do. I am Heath Grainger, Sir.”
“I cannot wait to hear why my 16 year old granddaughter runs with criminals and vampires. Both illegal. Enlighten me.”
“Ok grandpa, they are…”
“I was looking at him. Go, son.” he addressed Heath again.
“Your granddaughter and I have been friends for a long time. Since we were young children. I have known her longer than him …” Heath shot a victorious glance at KC.
“Maybe by a few hours you numbnuts!” KC hissed at Heath.
“Hey, kid, not your turn. Trust me, you and I will have some quality time.”
“Can’t wait.” KC mumbled, sarcasm dripping in his voice.
“Me either. Will be fun.” Liam replied in kind and was little impressed. “So, you both have been secretly meeting with her all those years?”
“Enough. Up to your room, Evey. If you want me to even faintly consider not calling your parents right this second, you go up, close the door and stay in there until I get you.”
Everleigh knew there was no use to protest and did as told. Sitting on the bed in her aunt’s old room which was hers whenever she stayed over, she hoped he would not call the police.
“You come with me, kid.” Liam pulled up KC by his arm and dragged him along, sitting him down in the home office.
“Try to leave or do anything funny, and you will wish you were back at that trailer park getting the living daylights beaten out of you. Clear?” Liam’s voice was a deep rumble.
Liam went back to Heath.
“Good you are still here. Passed your first test.”
Liam sat down next to the young vampire.
“I do not want to cause more trouble for Everleigh …”
“Yet, here you are. And have been. For over a decade from what I gather. Lovely.”
“I … she … is my friend. …. Sir.”
“Yeah, I get it. I know what is going on here. To solve your mystery why you could not sense me, I used to be a vampire too. Once upon a time, even born one, before I was Un-turned. Means I know all about vampires, New and Old Breed, and we can skip the BS altogether. Funny how that works, huh? So, how much do I have to be concerned about you with her?”
“Not at all, Sir. You have my word. I would never do anything to harm her.”
Liam looked at Heath, who held his stare, then he closed his eyes and inhaled.
“You’re an outcast? And a New Breed, aren’t you?”
“No family, chapter, master?”
“No, Sir. I was shunned. Just me. All alone.”
“Okay, I get it. Fine. Not like I can really keep you from showing up around her anyway. But do not forget that you care about her and what that means nowadays, got it kid?”
“I won’t, Sir.”
“Stay here, will you Heath? I need to talk to your big mouthed buddy now. If he is still there.”
“He is, Sir. He, too, cares deeply about Everleigh Rose.”
Liam rolled his eyes, then rubbed his face with his hand, moaning.
“Save it and just sit tight.”
He was about to open the office door, then decided to knock first before entering. That kid had not been shown much respect, about time someone started.
He found KC still sitting in the chair, hunched over, his facial expression that of someone who had lost all hope.
“All right son. Talk.” Liam ordered as he sat down across from KC.
“About lovely flowers in Spring and soft kittens! What do you think? Fill me in, boy. Let’s start with: How did you get out?” Liam asked firmly.
“Good one. You know they still have not figured that out.”
“Yay me….” KC said sarcastically.
“Ah, sarcasm. I think I am getting a good read about you here. So, you care about Evey?”
“Yet, you do something like this, the whole country is looking for you, and you drag my granddaughter into it?”
“I had nowhere else to go… I fucked up, I know….” KC looked down at the floor.
“You sure did. Why were you locked up anyway?”
“Oh. Fucking fantastic! And this is where you tell me why I should not freak out knowing a quasi murderer has been hanging around my granddaughter for the past several months. And now sits in my house, after eating some homemade cookies on my patio! Hope they don’t give you indigestion, because my stomach is fucking turned inside out by now!”
“I would never hurt her. Or anyone who doesn’t deserve it. For what it’s worth, I was innocent anyway…”
“Did you tell them that? I am sure they have never heard THAT before!?”
KC just looked at his feet.
“Sorry kid. That was uncalled for. My nerves are a bit … strained. Let’s start over. So what happened?”
KC looked up at Liam then said
“I was just defending myself, but – as usual – nobody believed me. And – as usual – I got the shaft and the full punishment while the dude who had jumped me trying to butcher me like a fish fillet walked. And don’t ask me why. I don’t know. Either because of the people I was running with or my incredible charm. Probably some of both.”
“I see. And never hurt Evey, huh? That’s what the other boy said too. Why not? What would keep you?”
Liam watched KC close his eyes but never respond. Yikes. Just what he had been afraid of. No answer sometimes said more than a thousand words.
Finally KC looked up at Liam and asked.
“So … did you call the cops?”
“Nope. And I won’t if you give me a good enough reason.” Liam said.
KC’s eyes focused on Liam’s.
“I don’t know what to say here, man …”
“First of all, you can call me Sir, Mr. Cameron or even Liam, but not ‘man’. I am not your ‘man’.”
“Why did you break out?”
“Duh, because I did not want to rot in jail anymore. For someone else’s bullshit.”
“Your logic limps. I know this was not your first time locked up. So you know how this works. Just like you must know that all you did was make everything worse.”
“That’s what I am best at. A loser. Fuck up. No good. Dumb. Useless.”
Liam watched the boy closely.
“So, why my granddaughter?”
“You’re easy enough on the eye. Why not another girl? There are many loose girls out there. Why not make it easy on yourself?”
“It’s not about that with her. Evey is …like … the best thing that ever happened to me. The only one who ever gave a shit about me. Only one who ever gave me a chance …”
“What about your vampire friend?”
“Not my friend. He only helps me because Evey asked him to. Hates my guts. Feeling’s mutual.”
Liam continued to watch KC for a few moments.
“Tell you what kid. If you want to, we can make that two friends for you. If you can show me you are worth the effort, I’ll be in your corner too.”
KC looked at him, distrust mixed with faint hope in his eyes.
“Three reasons. You remind me of someone. Two people actually. My dad and myself. Secondly, my granddaughter is a very bright girl. If she sees something in you, I tend to believe her. And thirdly, because I got a chance once and it changed my life. But I tell you this: Not gonna be an easy ride. You will have to give up your shitty ways, clean up your act and it will be a lot of work. But if you agree, and stick with it, I’ll keep you out of jail. They legal way.”
“I don’t see how, but I am in.”
“Not so fast. You should think about this. I am dead serious. It will be hell. Worth it in the end though – IF you can make it. If you flake on me, I will personally drag you to the slammer and help them lay the bricks to lock you away forever. You copy?”
KC snorted a laugh.
“If this is supposed to scare me, try again. My life has been shit for as long as I can remember. I have been begging for a chance. I know turning this shit-show into something decent won’t be easy, but I cannot do it alone. Trust me, I tried. So, no don’t need to think. If you are serious, I am in.”
“All right. You sit tight, let me make a few calls. Need some water or soda?”
“Nah, but some food would be great …”
“Yeah, I’ll get Evey, she can deal with that.”
“Ah … sir?”
Liam pat KC on the shoulder and left.
Several weeks later. Liam’s efforts had finally reached their crescendo and they were now in a court room facing a grim looking judge.
The judge shot Liam a stern look, then looked at the two attorneys, then focused on the young man in the suit, then back at Liam.
“Well, well, well. Our paths cross again, Mr. Cameron. I was beginning to miss you dearly.” the face of the judge remained stern. Not a smile in sight.
“I wish I could say the same, your honor.” Liam smirked.
“Yep, still the same arrogance I remember. You are to blame for much of my grey hair. But today we are not here about you. For a change. Seems you have grown so tired of testing out our incarceration facilities yourself, that you now resort to removing other inmates from them? Mr. ummm… McCoy …”
“Yes … Mister .. umm .. Sir … your honor?” KC replied nervously.
“I have read all the interesting and glorious documents, volumes of reasoning, submitted by your attorney, nay, attorneys, plural, no less. Must be nice to be on the good side of a celebrity with deep pockets. Anyway, all of those documents meant to shine much light on why you have lost your ways. But I would like to hear from YOU now, why I should, in fact, grant your release after all that you have made yourself guilty of. Quite an impressive list, I must say. Busy boy.”
“Because I have changed my ways. I want to keep it straight. Like a good kid. Man. Solid. Like Mr. Cameron.” KC explained, his hands shaking.
“Tall order. I believe Mr. Cameron’s situation was a lot different from yours and he had a whole village to support him. And quite the following of fans, our Del Sol Valley celebrity here. Interesting to see how you put your wealth and fame to good use to help those in need, Mr. Cameron.”
“Your honor, our client …” one of the attorneys began talking.
“I do not recall asking you anything, counselor.” the judge shut the attorney down brashly.
“Apologies, your honor.”
“I would like to see you Mr. Cameron and you Mr. McCoy in my chambers please. Alone!” the two attorneys froze in their tracks at the last words, nervously looking at each other and their clients.
The court was interrupted for one hour. Liam and KC were shown to the chambers of the judge, he entered and took off his robe.
“I wanted to talk to you without the formal dancing around and legal mumbo jumbo even though I will repeat much of what I am about to say to you in court anyway. I must say, Mr. McCoy, I was appalled when I looked into your case, and I admit I ended up digging a lot deeper than I usually would. You know why I am appalled, McCoy?”
KC shook his head.
“Because it is blatantly obvious that we have failed you, son. The entire system let you fall through the cracks, not once, but a whopping 17 times, by my count. 17! That is an abomination to the entire CPS, court and legal system and I must admit, I am embarrassed to be part of it. I am much to blame, as I was one of the parade of justices sentencing you as a young boy for offenses that should already have triggered a deeper look. That being said, I will rule in your favor. Before I do, I wanted to apologize to you directly and in person.”
KC nervously looked at a smiling Liam when the judge held out his hand to him, when Liam nodded, he shook it.
“Now, that being said, Mr. McCoy, I will tell you what I told Mr. Cameron here the last time we met many years ago and I hope like he did then, you will heed my words: you have done a lot of things you should not have done. Most of it you have paid your dues for and all of it was most likely a result of your childhood mistreatment and abandonment. But make no mistake: now things are different. We’ll start you out with a clean slate. You get your chance, use it wisely and do not squander it. One false move, if you even get caught 1 mile over the speed limit or steal one pack of gum within the first three years, I will unleash the full wrath of all the legal means available to me. Your criminal career ends here and now, today. Are we clear?”
“One hundred percent, your honor.”
KC barely got out the words for shock, while Liam smiled contently.
“Welcome to freedom, young man. Sweet liberty. How do you wanna celebrate?” Liam asked a beaming KC as they had left the court building, where KC’s liberation had been signed and sealed.
“Double cheeseburger and fries?” he grinned.
“Why did I even ask? You know kid, enjoy it while it lasts, there will soon come a time that all that food won’t just melt off and when you reach my age, you end up in the gym for hours everyday to keep in shape.”
The two unlike men entered the diner.