“They would have picked us up. Or sent a driver. That way, we would not have ended up stuck in traffic after circling the jam packed main boulevard for the THIRD time -lost beyond recognition – all because my husband wants to be independent and have his own rental car – but too cheap to pay for a GPS device!” Everleigh sounded annoyed.
“Why don’t you bitch a little more, maybe that’ll get us there faster.” KC told Evey, both looked at each other, then started laughing.
“Sorry” she told him smiling a smile that got him over his annoyance right away.
“No worries, baby. We’re married, about time to live up to the clicheés.” he chuckled, winking at her.
They arrived at the gated communities in the hills.
After reaching a gate, they were buzzed in by a security guard after he verified their identities with Evey’s uncle, so they could continue looping up sheer endless windy roads past more and more impressive estates, until they finally arrived at the last home in a cul de sac.
Both Rhys Ferrer and his daughter Isabelle, who was about Evey’s age, welcomed them warmly, then beckoned them into a house of dimensions as KC had never seen.
He had thought Evey’s grandparents’ home was gigantic, until he had been invited to the Auditore Mansion.
This one was bigger yet.
And that on prime real estate in the hills of Del Sol Valley.
KC felt tiny and shocked at the realization how wealthy some of his wife’s family actually had to be.
Rhys was a quiet, simple man otherwise, and KC really liked him. An older version of his son Cameron, and the exact opposite of his ex-wife Natalie, who was Evey’s aunt, and their daughter Isabelle, both vivacious, outgoing and colorful, always dressed in the latest designers. He was not technically related to Everleigh anymore after the divorce from her aunt, but they still had a very good relationship and he had invited them out to stay with him and Belle for a few days to escape the current seemingly endless Autumnal rain back home.
After spending some time together Rhys had to take a phone call and they declined the begging of Isabelle to go out with her and her rich friends. Instead they had the pool all to themselves.
Amazed by the view from the large deck overlooking the bright city lights of Del Sol Valley, KC and Evey decided to make use of the pool and relax away the long trip out here.
The next day they went to see Cameron at his bachelor pad. Naturally sizable and luxurious. No surprise there.
From the first second it was obvious, that something was off with him. He acted nervous and shifty, his pupils were dilated and he kept going to the restroom, forgetting things and asking the same questions over and over.
He never offered them a beverage or a seat, so they all just stood around Cameron’s kitchen awkwardly.
When he had left for the bathroom yet again, KC told Evey
“We should probably try to figure out what drugs he is on and try to get him some help to get clean. Whatever it is he is using, it definitely does not mix is with his alcoholism! Needs help for that, too!”
“Don’t be mean! Cam wouldn’t. Probably just lack of sleep to meet some deadlines or whatever. I know you do not like him much, but I have known him all my life.” Evey was not amused by KC’s comment.
“Yeah, sure. Since I know nothing about that stuff…” his words oozed sarcasm.
“KC stop! Cam is not an addict, okay!? Just drop it! Cam is fine, not a junkie and/or alcoholic! He is my favorite cousin, I love him, and he just hasn’t slept well or is getting the flu or something, okay!?!!!” Evey was really mad now and obviously trying to fight back tears.
“Baby, don’t cry, please …”
He grabbed her hands and pulled her close.
“He is not…” she sniffled.
“OK, no fighting, baby! I love you.” he whispered, before she could do anything he just kissed her.
She did not fight it. Quite the contrary.
KC knew that she could see the truth, her frustrated almost crying had confirmed it, but was in absolute denial.
The next few meetings weren’t much better, but the emotional volcano erupted when during a dinner Cameron also ended up drinking too much and his mask finally fell while his younger sister Isabelle once again dominated the dinner table conversation with endless tales about shopping, fashion, her famous and wealthy friends, the amazing trips they took and parties they attended, who was currently hitting on her and that sort of thing.
“… I think he is going to ask me to go with him to the Cayman’s. His father gave him a yacht for his birthday and I think Samuel will be there too, so he can see what he has lost … or maybe he can try to win my heart back, before I give it to Carson … ”
“Yeah, as if. You think all men are just lining up to get their chance to propose to you, don’t ya? Truth is, after they had you, they’ll drop you, who in their right mind is going to marry YOU after all that SHIT that went down with our family? We’re all damaged goods now! You can thank our whore of a mother for that!” he snarled with a slurring voice.
“CAMERON!” his father reprimanded him immediately.
“What do YOU want, old man? If you had a spine on you and a dick in your pants, mom would never have fucked some older dude since before I was even born! Who knows if I am even yours… you fucking impotent …”
He didn’t get to finish as Rhys had jumped up, ripped his son off the chair and shoved him to the ground, then rushed out of the room.
KC jumped up to intervene, Isabelle screamed, Evey stood and looked on in shock.
“Oh shit, here, lemme help you up ..” KC crouched down trying to help Cameron up, who spat at him.
“Get away from me you white trash! You and that whore of a cousin of mine. And that arrogant slut of a sister I have, selling herself to the highest bidder with the biggest yacht. All women are disgusting sluts!”
KC pulled him up by his shirt and was about to punch him, when Everleigh stopped him, fighting her tears. Cam had always been her favorite cousin. How could he call her what he just called her. It hurt! But no use letting KC get himself in trouble about all this.
“Fuck all of you!” Cameron rushed out, or his best interpretation of it, as he could barely walk straight and ended up running into walls and furniture on his way out. Someone should have probably stopped him from driving, but nobody dared to try holding him back.
Isabelle sobbed uncontrollably then ran up to her room and locked herself in.
“You okay, Barbie?” KC asked a still stunned Evey.
“Yeah. Thanks for not hitting him. I know he would have deserved it.”
“Thanks for keeping me straight. But I tell you what, next time, he’ll be limping!”
“Wanna go make out by the pool, while we pretend to be some hot celebrities spitting down at all our minions below?” was Everleigh’s attempt to fix the ruined evening.
“You had me at pool and making out. Is clothing mandatory?”
“Uh, hello! My uncle and cousin’s house.”
“As if we would see either of those two again tonight.”
“If you have such a hard time keeping those pants on, we can go to the guest room and lock ourselves in there, like our hosts have.”
He picked her up, threw her over his shoulder yelling “MIIIIINEEE!” and ran up the stairs with her hanging over his shoulder laughing.
Everleigh begged KC to go see Cameron with her, just to talk to him, finally she admitted that he had problems with addiction and was dead set on helping him. KC finally gave in, if only because he knew full well that when her mind was made up, she would go anyway, and he did not want her alone with that maniac. That, and because she had played an ace up her sleeve by telling KC that without Cameron driving her out to the abandoned house in Oasis Springs when she was 15, she could’ve never left her number for KC to find and they would probably never have gotten together in the end, not to mention what KC’s life may have looked like without Evey helping him.
Cameron opened the door, seemingly in a foul mood, but let them in. No apology, no explanation, when he went to get them coffee, KC told Evey that Cam probably did not even recall what he had done and had a mean hangover mixed with withdrawal symptoms.
After some light conversation, Evey asked him straight out, making KC tense up.
“Cam, you know you have a drinking problem, right?”
“I had a shitty day, relax.”
“No, uncle Rhys and Belle both said that wasn’t the first time …”
“Keep your nose out of my business, Everleigh.”
“You need help, Cam! You are enroute to become an alcoholic. You may already be addicted…”
“Shut your damn mouth, you slut!”
“HEY – stop right there, buddy!” KC warned.
“Or what? You’re gonna beat the shit out of me in my own home? All brawny, no brain, huh? Fucking primate!”
Cameron ran up the stairs, Evey following before KC could grab her, so he ran after them but stayed back when he saw that Evey was gently patting Cam’s arm.
“Cam, I am here for you. You know that. I won’t leave you hanging. But please, PLEASE let me help you.” Everleigh told him softly.
“There is no help. It’s fucked up. All of it.”
“You need to check into rehab …”
“I said I am not an alcoholic!” Cameron hissed at Evey making her wince.
“Spoken like a true alcoholic. And what else are you doing? Speed? Heroin? Coke? Crystal? All the above?” KC asked, his words dripping with sarcasm.
“Shut your face, you …” Cameron was about to run over to KC, ready to throw punches, KC took a stance and was ready for him, when Everleigh tried to keep them apart.
What happened next happened within seconds and nobody could stop the chain of events once put into motion.
Cameron, in a semi-drunk and probably drug-induced stupor from his last time using, the high wearing off now, tried to shake Evey off, when that did not work he punched her face.
This sent her flying against KC, who in a reflex tried to catch her but his hand slipped off her arm when she bounced off him, tripped over her feet and stumbled against the railing of the loft area.
The impact made her top heavy and in the next second she was gone and both heard a loud thud downstairs.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” KC screamed in sheer horror, running down the stairs while Cameron stood like a figurine, a shocked expression frozen on his face.
KC found her, laying motionless on the ground, and already dialed emergency services.
Cameron sat in a run down room at a run down no-tell motel far outside town. Around him various bottles of high percentage alcohol, he could hardly even stand still without swaying, yet he was still crying, sobbing, unable to get the shocked face of his beloved cousin wiped from his face, he saw the horror and disbelief in her big, green eyes whether his eyes were open or closed. He had not slept in days.
He had been in pain before. His family falling apart, losing Heather, again. He had slid into addiction, first to make the deadlines for his demanding job, after he lost that, in order to cover up the humiliation of it all.
But none of that pain hurt as much as what he felt now.
Not enough alcohol or drugs in the world to numb the pain, the guilt and remorse he felt now.
He cried, again and again, then sat down at the table, where he collapsed. Gun in hand, still sobbing.
With hands shaking, he picked up the gun, took off the safety.
A couple walking past the motel were startled by the loud bang and the brief flash of light penetrating the drawn curtains in one of the rooms.