Voices and laughter filled the small living room, simple, yet cozy. Everybody was talking animatedly or laughing, the smell of party foods and drinks filled the air along with music, voices and laughter.
A normal occurrence maybe for most, but not for him.
Standing a little away from it all, to take it all in as he watched friends and family laugh, talk and drink as they had come to celebrate the newly finished and furnished home with the young couple.
Most of the Cameron clan where here as well as Heather’s family, the entire crowd split up between all the rooms, the front and back yard due to the very limited room in the tiny home. Heath was surprised at how many people he knew now, who considered him a friend or at least important enough to celebrate his first home with him and his girlfriend.
He was even on fairly good terms with Heather’s family, her mother, father and teenage brother. She had been wanting him to meet them, and while he bend over backwards to fulfill her wishes, his last ‘meet-the-parents’ drama at Catherine’s deterred him.
Then one night he was out with Heather, Evey and KC where they ran into her parents, who happened to have stopped by at the same restaurant.
While it was hard to deny the disappointment in their faces when they were corrected after assuming KC was Heather’s boyfriend, they ended up sitting with the young people and it went fairly well, mostly because Evey was there who knew most of Heath’s hangups and helped him out.
He had since been invited to the parents’ home, where Heather had been pretty open with them about their relationship, the pregnancy which was almost past the part where Heather could hide it with loose clothing, and why things for them were more complicated than for most. Her parents took it surprisingly well, but Heather was already 27 and as her mother put it ‘as long as their daughter was happy’. Her father, an avid team sport and car enthusiast, was not thrilled that his secret kinda-son-in-law knew nothing about either, leaving them with few topics other than Heather.
Heath smiled now as he caught Heather’s glance across the room, where she was animatedly telling a story to some others, she smiled and blew him a kiss before diverting her attention back to the people she was conversing with.
He felt a hand on his arm, and looked into Everleigh’s green eyes.
“You look happy.” she smiled.
“I am happy, Little Leigh. All this is for me, for us – the fact that there is an ‘us’ feels like a dream. Where there once was only darkness, there is now so much light. The silence is now laughter and music. Please tell me I am not just dreaming this.”
“Want me to pinch ya?” Everleigh smiled while nudging him.
“This is all because of you, Little Leigh. Had I never met you, I would never have any of this.” Heath said, the look in his eyes and tone of his voice filled with melancholy.
“You don’t know that. Besides, it took a village. Topic change before we both burst into tears: KC really did an awesome job remodeling this house, don’t you think? That old hut looks almost brand-new now!” she beamed.
“It does, and he did. I am glad you found him. And I am glad I found Heather. Or she me.”
“And you’re gonna be a daddy. I still cannot believe that. Hopefully the baby has your eyes.”
“Heather’s eyes are beautiful. Like Forget-Me-Nots, so blue and bright. Like everything about her is light and bright. I am always so dark …”
“For heaven’s sake, enough with the melancholy. When are you guys going to find out the gender?”
“In a few weeks. Her usual doctor could not help us as the baby apparently is vampire, so it has no heartbeat or vitals, but moves. And the pregnancy progresses faster than usual which means there is new-breed in it, which scares me, but everybody says no reason for concern. We had to get an appointment with a specialist who is familiar with vampire births, same medical center where your grandparents went. But they said I could be there for the birth.”
“Everything will be fine, Heath. Quit worrying and just be happy.”
“Hey Heath, mind if I steal my girl from you for a moment?” KC now appeared.
“Not at all. Oh, KC, thank you again, for all of this. You really did a fantastic job.”
“No problem. I loved my carpentry job, one thing I am actually good at, at least until someone who shall remain unnamed got me fired.” KC said it smiling, signaling he was over it, pat Heath on the shoulder, then pulled Evey along with him.
“Did you have to say that? He was already on some emotional roller-coaster. Where are we going?” she giggled.
“Just out of sight so I can do this.” KC pulled her into Heath and Heather’s bedroom, closed the door then bend down for a long and intense kiss.
“I am sorry, I did not get that. Would you mind repeating that?” Evey smirked after he let off.
“Oh well, before you twist my arm…” he said then kissed her harder, pulling her closer yet.
When they both stopped, KC looked at Evey and told her
“Ya know, I just cannot catch a break. I have been trying to take you on a surprise vacation for your graduation but just cannot seem to get the damn cash together. First my cousin and her baby happened, now I spent it all on tools and materials for Heath’ home – of all people. And now you are about to graduate in two weeks and I am nowhere near the ticket price. Means I literally am gonna have NO present for ya.” KC grimaced at the last words.
“You helping Heath out is more than enough of a gift to me. Besides, why don’t I pay for the trip? Daddy still owes me for some summer work I did for him. Should be close to what we need, he can top off the rest as a graduation present.”
“I rather you save that money so we can look for a house together. I cannot believe Heath-from-the-basement got his own home before we did.”
“What makes you think I WANT to move in with you?” she was obviously teasing him.
He slapped her behind, making her giggle.
“Stop! I actually have been looking, but there is absolutely nothing available in Brindleton Bay.” she told him.
“So we move elsewhere. We have cars, we can drive to visit everybody.”
“But the Bay is my home. I am kind of attached … and I REALLY do not want to move into another apartment.”
“Me either. We need a house. Can be small, unless you now want to start a family too …” he grinned and winked at her, obviously joking.
“Uh – no. I really can contain myself there.”
“Don’t blame ya, after that thing with my cousin, I don’t think I ever want kids. Maybe we adopt. Or have ten dogs and fifteen cats. Then again, no kids ever: bet that’s what Heath said before, ya know. Guess at the end of the day, it’s always up to fate.”
“For Heather and Heath it’s their own fault, KC! They didn’t even use any protection. She didn’t have a boyfriend and told me she swore off dating, then she met Heath and stuff just happened. And Heath, well, you know Heath. I doubt he even knows what a condom is. So they challenged fate and lost. We don’t do that. We’re good.”
“Bet that is what your great-grandparents said too. And didn’t Heath have another girlfriend before Heather? Hopefully she’s not knocked up too … ”
“KC, I really didn’t ask Heath about his sex life, but I doubt they ever did anything more than kiss and hold hands.”
“So, kinda like us, huh?” KC grinned big, trying to get a rise out of Evey.
“Yeah, exactly like us. Especially if you keep this up.”
“I could comment on that, but think I’d end up in the penalty box, so I’ll just go with telling you how beautiful you look tonight and see where that gets me.”
“Gets you to bring me something to drink. Hurry along fiance, shoo.” Everleigh now grinned at him, he tipped his non-existent hat, bowed slightly and said
The time flew by until Evey graduated, another big celebration as they celebrated hers along with her cousins Cailean, Jordan and Massimo’s, Everett nearly exploded with pride as his little girl graduated at the top of her class.
Her graduation gift was what she had asked for, a generous down-payment on a house or alternatively her parents would foot the entire bill – within reason – if they wanted to build their own, designed by Everleigh herself with her father’s help, so she would have something to add to her portfolio, much like Everett had once done. She would only be allowed to work on it outside of regular work hours at her father’s architectural office, of course. Everett had made it very clear to Evey that she would work her way up at EC Architects and not just go sit at the throne.
It was tough.
She was assigned a desk in the shared office along with the other architects, who all had seniority over her.
For months there was hesitance and reluctance towards Evey, after all the boss’ daughter was now in the midst of their circle, but eventually she won them over. Slowly.
Especially when it became obvious that Everett was much harder on her than the others, to a point that many even felt sorry for her. Everleigh was stubborn and resilient enough and knew her dad only did this to teach her well, so with often gritted teeth she fulfilled all requests as many times as it took for him to be satisfied.
Once she and KC finally found a property it got crazy busy for both. KC worked nights at the bar, Evey’s days started early and sometimes went late, putting a strain on the young couple, add the insanity of home-building and it was one of the hardest tests their relationship had faced to date. Aside from a few relatively mild fights and pouting, they proved that they could make it though.
Then finally – after many months – the home was finished. Painting and furnishing was done mostly on the weekends.
But it was worth it. If anything, all this just fused them tighter together.
One night as they fell down onto the new couch in the almost finished living room, they snuggled up together, satisfied and happy, reminiscing like an old couple.
“I am kinda hating that housewarming is tomorrow. I’d rather sleep – all weekend!”
“Yeah, me too!” KC agreed.
The next evening, again among many people, this time at Everleigh and KC’s new home, Heath stood by to his fiance, smiling, as he watched his best friend happily chattering away next to him and all around him friendly people, who had pretty much accepted him into their fold.
A long way from the lonely boy he had once been.
Who would ever have guessed his life would turn out like this? Certainly not him.
Hopefully it would go on like this forever. With a wife and a child. In their own home.
He felt Heather tug on his sleeve, when he smiled at her, he realized her face was not a happy one. His smile vanished instantly.
“Can we go outside for a moment? I am not feeling too good right now?”
“Yes, of course.”
Her holding on to him they slowly walked out the front door.
There she exhaled as Heath pulled the door shut behind them.
“Better. Just got really woozy and hot. I am telling you, this little one is not in a good mood tonight. Been kicking like crazy and now is juggling with my insides. Urgh. Maybe it was the shrimp cocktail … ” she told him as he helped her down the long flight of stairs.
“Is it too early to threaten her with a spanking and grounding her?”
“Ha ha ha, she’s been grounded for many months now. I think that is what she’s protesting. But too early for you to make an appearance, you hear, sweet angel?” Heather rubbed her belly, then winced in an apparent new wave of discomfort.
“Should I call our doctor?” Heath asked.
“No, I think that is just what it’s like. I don’t want to be that frantic preggo that freaks out about everything. But think Evey and KC would mind if we tap out? I really want to lay down. At home.”
“Of course not.” Heath started guiding her towards her car. Heath did not know how to drive. Still.
“Heath, sweetie, we cannot just leave. Go and tell them bye from us. I’ll wait for you in the car. Go, go!”
“OK.” Heath hurried back inside after she smiled at him.
Few minutes later he came back out with Everleigh and KC wanting to see them both off, giggling, which stopped when they realized Heather’s car was still off and nobody in the driver seat. All three ran over and found her, collapsed in front of it.
The next things happened fast. KC checked her vitals, she was alive but they could not wake her. Evey wanted to call an ambulance but KC insisted he’d rather drive her, which would be faster.
KC drove as fast as he could without it being too dangerous while Everleigh tried to calm Heath, who was in full panic mode.
Once they reached the hospital, KC grabbed Heather and ran with her in his arms into the emergency entrance, while Evey had to hold back Heath.
When KC came back out with the patient sheet to fill out it was a combined effort, then Evey took it back inside as Heath was determined to enter the hospital, which was not only forbidden to all vampires, old and new breeds alike, but many security measures were in place affecting any who tried – severely.
They waited for hours, Everleigh would come out to the car with updates, which there was little to be said. There had been complications of undermined nature, the doctors were puzzled, but felt they were able to stabilize her sufficiently until the specialist they called would arrive to make sure both, mother and baby were fine. Since the child was a vampire there were no vitals to check, meaning this regular hospital could do little else.
“We should go home. Heath, you can crash at our place if you want.” KC said.
“I am not leaving her.”
“Heath, KC is right. They have my and KC’s numbers, they will call as soon as there is an…”
“I AM NOT LEAVING!” Heath hissed dangerously at Evey, startling her and causing KC to puff himself up.
“Hey buddy, careful!”
Heath just looked down at the ground.
“I want to see her. I have to see her.”
“You can’t. I am sorry. Want me to check on her again?” Everleigh offered.
“I want to see her. I am going in!”
“Heath no! KC stop him!”
KC tried but Heath shook him off like a ragdoll and entered, immediately it was obvious that he was in great pain, cringing, but kept going, his steps labored as if he was pushing against a great wind until he collapsed.
KC and Evey were at his side quickly KC tossed him over his shoulder and ran outside with him, while Everleigh apologized to everyone in the reception area.
Outside Heath was covered in burns and skin busted open, moaning in great pain. It took almost half an hour for him to recover somewhat.
“I think he needs to feed …” Everleigh said, rubbing Heath’ pale cheek, then began rolling up her sleeve.
“What is this supposed to be?” KC asked bewildered.
“Well, like I said, he needs to feed …”
“No. That is not going to happen. Uh uh! No.” KC rolled her sleeve back down.
“KC, he is very weak.”
“He is also a vampire and already dead. He is NOT going to suck around on MY fiance. This is where I draw the line. That is NOT going to happen. He can go and suck on whomever he wants to, but not YOU! If his fangs come anywhere near you or me, I’ll punch them and him into next year!”
“I am fine …” Heath moaned.
“Great. Let’s take your butt home. You are not going in there, we cannot do anything, but you can still crash on our couch.” KC told him, his tone not allowing any backtalk.
Heath nodded, and KC pulled him up to a standing position.