Entering the house through the patio door he already heard the additional voices, obviously the Camerons had friends over. He considered leaving again, turned to walk back to his room beneath the shed in the outer corner of the backyard, almost crashing into a young woman who had suddenly appeared before him.
“Oh hi! You scared me there for a second. Do you happen to know where the restrooms are? I am totally lost, horrible with directions.” she just started talking to him like they knew each other, then smiled.
“Yeah, sure, first door on the right down that hall.” Heath pointed.
“Right there? Thanks, and sorry again for almost running you down. If you excuse me …” she smiled again then walked off.
Heath watched her, smiling as well. Somehow she reminded him a little of Evey even though they looked nothing alike. Maybe it was her total disregard for his – oddness. People usually were not initially friendly with him.
“Heath, hey come here and join us.” Leonie saw him and waved him over.
He was introduced to old friends of Liam and Leonie, some people from what they called “The Clique” and some of their children and grandchildren, along with some other friends.
Evidently they had come to see the new addition to the household, KC’s cousin’s baby, Chance Cullen, whom the Camerons now fostered temporarily.
The girl from earlier reappeared and smiled when their eyes met, Heath responded in kind. She signaled him to come over to her, which he did for reasons unbeknownst to him.
“Wanna go for a walk and talk?” she suggested.
“Ok.” he could say no more. Was she confusing him for someone she thought she knew?
Then again, who cares? He enjoyed her attention and readiness to smile.
He lead her around the area, they walked alongside each other and the conversation came easy, which was not commonplace for Heath who usually struggled severely with small talk.
“Are you related to one of the Bjergsens?” Heath asked, less because of genuine interest in her relations but more to find out who she was without being too obvious about it. All he knew was he had seen most of the other guests before, but never her.
“Because of the blond hair and blue eyes? Ha ha ha. No, my parents were neighbors of the Millers and somehow befriended Liam and Leonie. I honestly barely remember them at all, we moved away when I was in Grade School and just moved back to Newcrest a few months ago. My parents thought I should come along to get to know some of the locals. Anyway, I really love the coast, but don’t think I could ever live here in Brindleton Bay. Way too boring. I mean, what do you do here for fun? Any places to go out?”
“There is a restaurant by the docks…”
“I really couldn’t say …” Heath shyly looked away.
“Oh, you are also a … sorry, didn’t realize that, but looking at you now, pretty obvious. Are you related to Liam and Leo?”
Heath shook his head.
“So, should I be worried about you?” she smiled and winked.
“That you’d bite me. Just a joke. Sorry, obviously a really lame one.”
“Oh, I see. No need to worry. I am on a diet and only bite blondes these days, less melatonin.” Heath said seriously.
“I am a blonde…” Heather told him.
“You’re right. You definitely should run then.” Heath grinned at her.
“Oh, you are teasing me! Ha ha ha … you are funny, umm, what did you say your name was again?” she laughed.
“Heath. Heath Grainger.”
“Well, Heath Grainger, I am Heather Garland. Heath and Heather. What are the odds? Sounds like we are some children’s book series or something.” she laughed again, a pleasant, open and light sound.
“I guess that means I really better not bite you then.” he winked at her, smiling.
“Oh, you can bite me, all right, just not how you think, Heath.” she played along.
They looked at each other. For some reason Heath found it incredibly easy to talk to this girl and joking with her came natural.
“So, what is a handsome place like you doing in a remote vampire like this?” she quipped.
“That is too long a story to be told on a first date …” ‘Or ever, if I can help it!’ Heath thought.
“Date? This is not what I’d consider a date. But – I am intrigued. Let’s go on a date, so I can hear that story and also tell my friends that I went on a date with a vamp.”
“Is that something special?”
“I don’t know yet, but guess I’ll find out. Only if you want to, of course. Or are you seeing someone. Dang, I didn’t even think to ask… don’t want to have some angry vampire broad after me.” she frowned playfully.
“No worries, there isn’t anybody and yes I do want to.”
They walked a bit longer, then returned just in time as everyone was leaving.
Sitting on his couch in his room, looking at the piece of paper with her name and number which he then carefully folded and slipped into the pocket of his jacket, he looked up at the large photograph of him and Evey, smiling, and said
“I think I just fell in love, Little Leigh.”
As they were leaving the cafe, both laughing hard as they began to walk down the promenade in Windenburg. Heather had linked her arm into his, giving him goosebumps. His perma-smile vanished when he remembered the last time he walked here with a girl. He stiffened.
“Uh – nothing. Just some bad memories here …” Why was he so open with her?
“I say let’s get out of here then. Any suggestions?”
“None whatsoever. I guess I should mention that I never go out …”
“So you are telling me someone like you sits in his room all day and night, every day, leaving girls like me to wonder if there really are only weirdos and creeps out there left for us to date?”
“I have been called both.”
“Whoever called you that was wrong. You are NEITHER, lemme tell ya. I have expert status in that department. I could tell you stories, your ears would crawl into your head.”
“Sounds interesting. Do tell!”
“OK, so one time I dated this guy, seemed nice and smart, bit of a nerdy type, but when he took me home for the first time, his entire – and I mean entire – apartment was model train tracks. Aside from one small path the entire floor was covered, even the walls, and he had made holes in the walls between rooms as tunnels! Needless to say I was on the midnight train to Hell outta Dodge away from that guy.”
“Ok, keep going, I definitely feel a lot more normal already.”
“Another dude seemed perfectly cool, we got kinda serious, but when he took me home to meet the parents he actually French kissed both of them. So disturbing and gross! I just ran. Another one, an engineer, slept in an oxygen tent to – and I quote – heighten his senses and extend his lifespan. Yeah, no. Check please!”
“Good news is that I don’t do that, but I guess I should tell you I sleep in a coffin…”
“Duh, I figured that. Is that like an actual coffin? I mean, a used one? Were you buried in it?”
“I was never buried as I was born as a vampire, and the only use the coffin ever got is as a resting place for me.”
“Can I see that coffin? Never actually seen one up close.” Heather asked.
“It’s in my room. Back home.”
“Just to outline how smart I am: I actually figured that.”
“Oh, you mean you want to go home with me?”
She gave him a look that made him very hot under the collar. Instead of hesitating as he normally would, he bravely put his arms around her and teleported home with her.
“Oh wow, that was wild! So this is your room. Is that … Everleigh?” she said once they arrived and were standing in his underground room beneath the shed in the Cameron’s yard.
“It is. You know her?”
“Not very well. We’ve met a few times. I like her. She’s funny.” Heather explained.
“We’re best friends. Have been for a long time.” Heath said proudly.
“So I see …” Heather pointed at a framed photo of him and Evey as children.
“There is nothing going on between you now, is there?” she now asked him.
“Oh no, purely platonic.” Heath confirmed immediately as they sat down on the couch together.
“OK, cos I really want to do this.” she came very close now, then kissed him, a long and longing kiss and before he knew it they were on the couch making out.
It felt … different, unusual … great. He felt butterflies in his stomach and heat waves wash over him repeatedly.
When he felt her pulling off his shirt he worried briefly, but it felt too good to stop, as he watched her take off her clothes now. If there was any reason to stop this, he could not remember what that would be, nor did he really care.
“You are beautiful.” he told her as she stood there, almost completely naked, smiling at him like she often did, but this time there was a hint of a promise in her smile.
“Then what are you waiting for? I am starting to get cold … ” That look, that smile, …
He picked her up and carried her to his coffin, disregarding the fact that he had never been with a woman like this nor had any idea what to do next, somehow he just went with the flow.
“Heath?” she said softly, laying next to him in his coffin.
“Hmm?” Heath was still in a haze, trying to digest what had just happened.
“Think it would be weird if we did the walk of shame into the kitchen? I am parched.”
“I am too. I can get you something, if you like.”
“Afraid to be seen with me?” she smirked.
“Oh no. Of course not.”
“Have you ever had a girl over? I mean, like THIS?”
Heath shook his head.
“Just to make this perfectly clear, I am not usually like this either. I guess I just really like you. Or maybe you used some spell on me to make me like this.”
“I didn’t, and there isn’t such a spell. I am a vampire, not a wizard.”
“For all intends and purposes that will be my story though. Better you look like a wizard than me looking like a cheap whore.”
“I don’t think you are.”
“Course you don’t, you just got laid. Umm, I really am thirsty, Heath.”
“Of course, come on.”
They got dressed and went to the kitchen where they met Liam, who gave Heath a knowing glance and a grin but said nothing aside from the greeting, then left.
“Will I see you again, Heather?”
“If you want to. I mean, you already got what most guys want.”
“I want more.”
“Of course you do, you are a man.”
“No, I mean … between us.”
When she smiled, Heath felt a bout of bravery and just kissed her.
When they separated she looked at him with a smile that fully reached her eyes.
“I do too and have no idea why. I had all those rules firmly in place, I swore off dating, convinced all men were pigs, I was never going to date a vampire, and I was most definitely never gonna sleep with a guy on the first date. Ask me how that’s going of late … ” she shook her head, snorting a laugh.
“We could count the walk as a first date, then this would have been the second.”
“MUCH better. Ha ha ha.” she laughed at his attempt to make light of it all.
“There is one little problem though …” Heath hated having to kill the mood.
“Of course there is. I was waiting for that.”
“I am technically a new-breed vampire …” He watched her reaction closely.
“Oh no! So all this was basically … illegal?” she frowned.
“Yes.” Heath said quietly.
“I knew you were too good to be true! So wait, I know the Cameron’s are not new-breeds, what are YOU doing living with them then? And how do you behave like a person, I always heard new-breed vampires were cold as ice and reckless killers. I can vouch that you are definitely not cold and distant! Especially after last night. And the only thing killer about you are those eyes!”
“I am something like a hybrid, I suppose.”
“So you are telling me that instead of a potential boyfriend I have a secret lover now?”
“Don’t be. Stupid rigid rules are not your fault. I still lo… like you.” Heath felt more butterflies in his stomach when she almost misspoke.
It made him brave.
“I love you.” he said before he could even weigh off his words in his mind.
She looked bewildered at first, then smiled and just kissed him, then snuggled up into his embrace.
“I think I have fallen for you too. I have no idea what all of this is or how it happened, but I know I want more of it, Heath.”
“So do I …” he said wondering about himself. Usually always so tentative, careful, reluctant and now completely recklessly engaging in spur of the moment activities, well aware they were illegal and could have terrifying repercussions.
All that with a girl he just met and whom he knew little about.
And the scariest part of it was that he just did not care. This felt amazing, new, wild, great and he was not going to walk away from it now.
She came down the stairs to his subterrainian room, he had already gotten up and was waiting for her to hug and kiss, like they did.
Ever since that first date, they had gone out several more times, secretly.
Holding hands, kissing, happy, grinning at each other like fools, giggling immaturely just like so many other couples freshly in love.
Never mind that they barely just met.
He had not even told Evey about it yet, but would. Soon. Even though he knew what she was going to tell him.
“I am late, Heath.” Heather told him without any intro or kiss.
“It’s not like we really set a time. You are fine, my sweet.” he tried to hug her, but she pulled away to look at him.
“Heath. I am late and my body is normally like clockwork. I also keep getting mysteriously nauseous. Started not long after our first date. And we were so … umm … caught up in that moment that we were careless that night. And now: THINK!” she said with urgency.
“Ok … oh … OH!” his eyes widened when the understanding came.
“Yeah. I haven’t taken a test yet, honestly, I am too much of a chicken to do it alone. Can we do it here? Together?” she looked worried and as if she was about to cry.
“Sure.” Shivers ran down Heath’s spine as he hoped this was just false alarm. Had to be. Please.
They went into the main house, in his confusion he tried to walk into the bathroom with her, but she stopped him, so he stood outside the door, his knees shaking.
When she opened the door and pulled him inside, he could already read the answer in her face, before she held up the pregnancy test.
Bright blue capital letters killing his last bit of hope.
He swallowed hard.
“Well, I just got upgraded from first date slut to daytime talk show candidate trash. Pregnant by a guy I just met, who is not even officially my boyfriend. I don’t even know your birthday. Wow. My parents will be so proud.” her big, blue eyes showed fear and resignation.
“You have to have an abortion.” Heath said as soon as he could think straight.
“Do what?” with a wrinkled forehead she looked at him as if he was crazy.
“You cannot keep it.” he told her firmly.
“That should be MY choice, don’t you think?” her tone changed to a testing one.
“Not in this case. You cannot have this child.” Heath insisted.
“Ah, here we go. The mask falls. So that is your hangup. I was fun for a night, but now that there are complications, you freak out. Afraid to be a baby-daddy and having to pay up. Well, I knew you were too good to be true. Knew it! No worries, you won’t have to pay or ever change one single diaper. I won’t come after you to do the right thing, I mean, how could I, not like I could sue you for it without going to jail for sleeping with a new-breed vamp myself. Good news for you. Congrats. You are off the hook.” she was obviously very upset now, tried to walk away, but Heath held on to her.
“No, you don’t understand. That is not it at all. This is dangerous. The birth would kill you. You cannot have this baby.”
“Heath, assuming this is not the world’s lamest reasoning, I am just gonna say this: I do not know what era you are from, but births nowadays …”
“No. It’s me. I am the reason. The vampire thing … My mother died in childbirth .. oh Lord …” he felt horrible and cornered.
“Hey, calm down. I should be the one freaking out here. Just relax, ok?!”
“I … you … ”
“Heath, I will be okay, I swear. I do not know enough about vampires to say for sure, but you are at least 25 years old if not older. Medicine has advanced since then. Human women have birthed babies fathered by vampires successfully. In fact, mortality rates are low, period. And people have been having babies for millions of years now.”
“But I am … special.”
“That you are for sure!” her tone was now sarcastic.
“I mean as in … different. I am not an average vampire.”
“Heath, I don’t even care. This may be my initial shock or the hormones speaking, but I am keeping the child. With or without you. I don’t know your game or take on all this, whatever all this even is, but as far as I am concerned, this is a love child, maybe there was a fair amount of lust involved, but still. I have been lonely for a long time, always wanted the old-fashioned house in the burbs and a child, but honestly had already given up on men, most I met ranged from lackluster to total psycho, and then … you. I still do not know what it is about you, but you really have my tail in a spin. I have NEVER felt the butterflies and the googoo gaga like I have with you. So, I am not giving this baby up. Together or alone, THIS is happening.”
Heath looked at the blue eyes and saw the quiet determination in them, calming him.
“You know that I cannot even marry you, right? At least not officially. It’s illegal.”
“Lucky for us, it’s not the Fifties anymore and unmarried parents are not the exception anymore. I do not need a ring on my finger to know where I belong or want to be. Just roll with it Heath. There is absolutely NOTHING about us or this relationship – if you can even call it that – that is normal. I am completely fine with that. I do not need to fit anybody else’s roster. I just want to be happy. And you make me happy. And I would try to make you happy, too.”
He stepped towards her and pulled her into a tight embrace, trailing kisses across her cheeks as she whispered up at him.
“I love you, Heath. I don’t know how or why, but I do.”
He just held on even tighter, closing his eyes.
“So, what is new with you?” Everleigh asked after she had answered the same question for him. She was in the midst of her finals and about to graduate, which took up most all of her time currently.
“Ah, a lot actually.” Heath told her about Heather and their most recent news, Everleigh looked shocked and worried.
“Okay. I know you know what I wanna tell you, right? I mean, what the hell Heath?”
“I know … I .. actually I do not know. All I know is that I never felt like this and I never thought I would … I do not want to give it up.”
“Right. Well, you know what to do then.”
“Truth be told, I haven’t a clue.”
“Fine, I’ll break it down for you. You cannot have a girlfriend and a baby in that tiny room of yours. So either you sweet talk my grandparents into moving you all into the main house, or you find your own and make it official.”
“Official? I cannot, you know that Evey …”
“Have you asked her to be your girlfriend? You could even ask her to marry you. Nothing is keeping you from getting engaged, since nobody can officially know about this relationship. Just cannot marry her legally. But you can promise yourselves. Why not, right? And you can move in together. I mean, you have lived here for years and nobody has found you, so I see no reason why the home couldn’t officially be hers and you just do there what you do here. I KNOW grandpa would help you. Daddy and I would help design a coffin room for you and I am sure KC would help build it. Grandpa knows you are not milking him, there is just no work out there for you that would support a family. They even offered to buy KC and me a house, but we want to do it ourselves. So he can use that money towards you.”
“You are moving in together?”
“Not right now, but we are looking. I mean, we will eventually get married and all and I love my parents and Josh, but I need to have my own home. And I want to be able to wake up next to KC every day, and not always having to tippy toe around my family’s feelings about that, even though we have been engaged for a while now.”
“You are right … I just hate to be a burden…”
“You’re not. It’s not like you can help it. I think it will be good for you. And let’s be honest my grandpa is loaded, he donates to everything, might as well donate to the Heath and Heather Liberation Fund, right? But I REALLY want a double date and see you together with her. So exciting! And congrats on the baby. You’ll be a great daddy, Heath. No more word on that curse or whatever you wanna call that. You are not a regular new-breed vampire, so that won’t even apply to you. The baby will be fine and happy and cause both of you MANY sleepless nights.
And I just thought of this: once she had the baby, you can talk her into letting you turn her and then you CAN marry her. Tada, Evey saves the day. BAM! Mic-drop! YASS!”
“Oh my god, Little Leigh, you are right! I had not even thought of that! You are brilliant! And that way I would never have to worry about losing her again!” excitedly he pulled her into his arms and twirled around with her, both laughing.