Everleigh looked pale when she placed fresh flowers by the tombstones. Tears flowed freely.
She was supposed to be on strict bed rest since the fall down the long and steep flight of stairs several weeks ago, but cabin fever had gotten the best of her.
Everybody she had called was unavailable, at work or busy with other things. So while KC was at work, she had decided to sneak out.
She needed to go see her grandparents now. Or at least be near what was left of them in this world. She felt like her grandparents had been her guardian angels, protecting her from the worst that could have happened to her and KC.
Had to be. Just had to.
There was no logical explanation for her and her babies making it through such a fall with only a bunch of mean bruises, a light concussion and some scratches. Medical staff called it a miracle. And maybe it was. Maybe she had a guardian angel. Maybe it was immense luck.
Whatever the reason, the doctor had been very firm about strict bed rest and no unnecessary excitement. KC and her family were adamant about enforcing it and for the most part as was Evey, unwilling to challenge fate again.
For the past several weeks Evey had been laid up, sometimes on the couch when KC was home and it did not take long for her to be bored out of her skull as any healthy 25 year old would be.
KC returning home from work was the highlight of her days now, as well as her parents coming over after work to have dinner with them, they would bring take-out or make dinner, sometimes her brother and his girlfriend Emmi came too.
Still, there was only so much reading, watching TV and handcrafts one usually very active girl could stand. Evey was well past that limit. Today she snuck out to get some fresh air. Hopefully without anyone noticing. And hopefully without incident. She would only be gone a couple hours, before returning to her home imprisonment until the birth.
In her peripheral vision she suddenly registered the mausoleum, but could not say why.
She had known it was there, just like it had been for hundreds of years, but somehow it seemed to command her attention today.
Some gut feeling.
She went to the door and it was unlocked. She entered.
It smelled of death and mold, damp stone and earth, frowning she looked at stacked coffins, much more elaborate than any she had seen before. She saw urns. And stairs, somewhat hidden.
On a whim she carefully descended them with a newfound respect for stairs after her fall and not very agile at all anymore at nearly full term of her pregnancy now.
There was light, torches and candles on the walls in the tunnels below.
Obviously this place was not as abandoned as one would imagine.
When she noticed movement it startled her nonetheless. For the blink of an eye there was a man and then he was gone like a figment of her imagination. Still, Everleigh was sure of it, he had been there.
“Excuse me! Wait, please!” she called to him attempting to follow around a corner as fast as she could which wasn’t fast – or far – until she ended up clinging to the wall about to collapse, winded.
Suddenly he was back, looking worried at her as he stabilized her by carefully holding on to her.
His touch felt cool, no body heat radiating from him. A young man, but since he clearly wasn’t a mortal judging by the way he moved about and how cold he felt, that did not need to mean too much. He may be her age or hundreds of years old, and anything in between.
“Please, I just need to ask you something.” Evey pleaded, looking into unexpectedly kind honey brown eyes.
“Bathroom is upstairs inside the church.” was the man’s short answer. His voice was pleasant and melodious.
“Uh, yes, I know. You are a vampire, aren’t you?” Everleigh asked.
The man’s full lips tightened, she was standing on her own again, he pulled his supporting arms away quickly, while staring at her distrustful.
“Don’t be afraid. I am not here to cause you trouble, only asking, cos I need a vampire to help me. I cannot get into Forgotten Hollow anymore, and assume that is where you live … could you by any chance either help me get in or look for a little girl for me? She is lost and her daddy is so worried…”
The man’s eyes narrowed as he measured her up.
“Look, I am Everleigh Rose Cameron, well, McCoy. Doesn’t matter. My great-grandfather was Blaine Cameron, the former Vice-Elder. I am sure you have heard of him…”
“Everleigh? As in Aunty Evey?” the young man seemed interested now.
“YES! That’s me. You’ve seen Abby then?” Everleigh was hopeful.
“I have. Abby has been staying with me since her father … you know. Is Heath alive?”
“Yes. Where is she? Is she okay?” Evey’s heart was racing with excitement.
“At my home. She is fine. I cannot move in the daylight, not sun-resistant, I didn’t pay attention and got stuck here while trying to find sustenance for her. I do not eat, you see, and money is sparse these days. Abby is still a child and eats human food, but cannot digest plasma fruit. There are apple orchards and many other gardens here and none have camera surveillance as I found. By the way, I believe you and I are distantly related on your great-grandmother’s side. I am Adrian Drake, son of Autumn and Lucien Drake. Autumn was Adrianna’s daughter.”
“Oh, yes, I remember hearing of you and your family. You are the oldest son, right? What about your siblings?” Evey inquired.
“All three of them dead. Just like my parents.” was the short reply.
“You live in Vlad’s old castle up on the hill in Forgotten Hollow, right?”
“I do. Vlad was my grandfather. Tell you what, I have never had kids and am quite overwhelmed having to care for one. We can meet somewhere again tomorrow after dark and I will bring Abigail with me. I think she would be happier with you.”
Few days later, Evey snuck out again to visit her cousin Isabelle.
Officially at least.
Belle played along as her beard to be able to see Heath.
“Thank goodness you are all right, Little Leigh! All three of you.” Heath said as soon as they were alone. Today was the first time he had seen her since the accident, even though Isabelle had kept him updated. Secretly, of course.
Everleigh kissed his cheek, then hugged him as tight as her significant baby belly and his spikey collar would allow for. He put his arms around her and returned the hug carefully but firmly.
“Heath, I am a lot of things, all right is not one of them. Can we please not speak of anything that happened recently. There is nothing left to be said about any of it. We all lucked out. Big time.”
He just nodded.
“I have something to show you though.” she smiled big as she pulled out her cell phone.
Everleigh tapped around until she found what she was looking for, a video, when she pushed play Heath started smiling as his eyes welled up, never once taking his eyes off the small screen where now a familiar little face appeared.
“Hi daddy! I live with Aunty Evey now, I saw your old room, super-cool! I like it here, but I miss you a lot! Loooooove you! MUAH!” they heard a child’s voice coming from the phone now as both watched the little girl wave and blow kisses on the screen.
“You …” Heath attempted, then swallowed hard, couldn’t speak for trying not to fall apart with emotion.
“Yeah, I found her. She’s fine. But I got something better yet. Hang on a sec, will ya?”
Evey whistled and around the corner came Abby.
“Daddy daddy daddyyyy!” the little girl ran into Heath’s open arms.
“Careful baby, the …. umm .. necklace daddy has to wear is very pointy.” Evey cautioned her.
“Can’t he take it off? Looks dumb!”
“No honey, it’s like a uniform….” Heath explained carefully.
“I don’t like it!” Abigail determined.
“Neither do we, sweetie. But tell daddy about the new book we are reading together…” Everleigh attempted to change the subject.
“Ok, I am reading it by myself, Aunty Evey only helps .. a little bit! And it is THIS big. Are you proud of me daddy?” the little girl beamed up at her daddy, who was trying not to let show how much he was fighting to keep his composure.
“More than you will ever know, ladybug.” he managed to get out, his voice only slightly shaky.
The rest of the time was spent laughing and playing until the three men of the house would return from work, who were not aware of the little rendezvous Isabelle hosted for her cousin, as Thralls were not allowed to socialize. It was important that Everleigh and Abigail would be gone before Isabelle’s husband and in-laws reached the driveway. Isabelle gave them privacy, but kept an eye on the time to make sure they would not be found out.
When it was time for Evey and Abby to leave, it was easy to read in Heath’s eyes that time had gone by too fast for his taste, but also that he knew his best friend would return with his little girl as soon as possible.
Like many times before in his life, in his mind he thanked fate for leading him to Everleigh all those years ago and wondered if she would ever know how grateful he was to have her in his life.
Few weeks later, back at Everleigh and KC’s home.
Toiling away in his workshop KC was busy making some barstools for a bar he was going to build. Everleigh had been in discomfort and taken pain meds that usually knocked her out until the next morning, allowing him to dedicate his time to his favorite hobby.
“Damn tiny screws!” KC bent down to pick up the items that had slipped off his workbench in the shed and with metallic sounds were rolling all over the floor. He crouched down to gather them when near the door to the basement he swore he heard a sneeze from downstairs.
He halted, listening, but everything remained quiet. Unsure if he had only imagined the sound, yet curious now, he put down his already collected screws on the workbench and opened the door, halting and listening again. Nothing.
But there was light! Why? Nobody ever came down here anymore. Definitely reason to investigate further!
He went down the stairs, but saw nobody in the tiny room with no real hiding spots, the coffin lid was up, and apparently nobody hiding in it either. Still, as a precaution, he yelled into the room
“I KNOW you are down here! Come out before I hurt you – badly!” his voice firm and deep, with a dare to test him and suffer the consequences.
Suddenly he heard a noise, his stance stiffened.
A little body emerged from behind the couch, a little girl, in a pink cardigan, now crying.
“Abby?!” KC thought he was seeing imaginary people.
“Please don’t hurt me, uncle KC….” Abigail begged in a small, shaky voice, tearing KC’s heart to pieces, and he instantly felt guilty.
“What? Of course not! I would never! Abby, come here to me sweetheart! What are you doing down here?!”
She ran into his arms, he caught her, gently wiping the tears from her little face.
“It’s a secret. I messed it up. Do I have to wear one of those ugly necklaces now, wear silly outfits and do what everyone orders, like daddy?” she sniffled.
“Absolutely not! Oh sweetie, how did you get down here?” he knelt down to be closer to her height, she moved closer and petted KC’s cheek.
“I am really hungry, uncle KC …” she said quietly.
“OK, I tell ya what: I happen to make a mean Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich. Let’s get you hooked up and then you will tell me everything while you eat. I’ll even throw in some chocolate milk. Deal?”
“DEAL!” her tears had seized and made way for an excited smile.
“All righty then, little lady, let’s get to that kitchen, those sammiches are not gonna devour themselves!” he said in a purposely silly voice as he took her little hand in his and she trustingly followed.
The next day.
“Good morning, sunshine! Nice to see the patient is finally listening to doctor KC and actually stayed in bed on her own.” KC sounded chipper when he entered the bedroom.
“The real doctors telling us all the terrible things that can happen if I don’t may have something to do with that. And the fact that trying to get up is almost not even worth it. We may need to invest in some adult diapers, as often as I have to pee and as hard as it is to get up, I am headed for disaster. But it is boooooooooring.” Evey moaned.
“I can help with that. Look what I found in my workshop …”
“Auntyyy Eveyyyyyy…” Abby came running into the room, jumped onto the bed and snuggled right up to Everleigh.
“Uh oh …” Evey made, a guilty look at KC, while happily cuddling Abby.
“Yeah. We are going to have a talk about keeping secrets from me again. What example are you setting for our kids?”
“Daddy always says sometimes secrets are necessary.” Abby informed them.
“When you are a vampire, that is. If you quote me, quote it right, ladybug!”
“Heath!” Everleigh exclaimed.
“Go ahead, hug her, just refrain from jumping into bed with her, too. That’s only cute up to the age of 6, and I do have some lines left for you not to cross.” KC told Heath grinning.
Abby had since crawled off the bed and was investigating the room.
Heath went to hug Evey ever so careful, due to her condition and his spiky collar, while Everleigh looked past him at KC, her expression grateful.
After Heath released her, Abby took up her father’s time, excited to have him near again, so KC sat down on the bed.
“Thank you for all this, baby. And sorry about hiding Abby. I was going to tell you … eventually, I swear. How long can Heath stay?” Everleigh asked.
“Until one of us kicks him out. Probably me, in another jealous rage. Although, as I was informed, there is a GPS tracker in his collar and he cannot go past a certain radius from where he is registered to without all sorts of alarms going off and some sort of special ops commando come lookin’ for him. Biggest irony is, here I am, I always said I’d live under one roof with that dude again the day hell freezes over. Well, guess good ol’ satan better bundle up, cos hell just done gone freeze over. And it was even me who dragged him home this time. Ha! Anyway, when I found Abby yesterday, by the way, she spent last night in the main house, not the basement of the shed again, she and I had a talk and she told me where he was. So I fed her – by the way, she REALLY appreciates my PB&J sandwiches – and stuck her in front of the TV, while I went to talk to Isabelle. Before you ask, no, we did not kiss. Just thought I’d throw that out there. I begged her to sell him to me, maybe on a payment plan, but she would not hear of it. Told me Charlie found Heath a bit too creepy, her words, not mine, and they already ordered some new Thralls to serve as butlers and maids and what not. She gave him to me. Literally a gift, only thing missing was a big red bow. She liked Abby and thought father and daughter should be together. I took him home, so he and Abby could spend some quality time together, finalized the paperwork at city hall this morning. Looks like we are one of those disgusting Thrall-owning households now. Daddy would be SO proud.”
“I love you so much, KC. I can’t believe you did this.” Everleigh was fighting her emotions.
“Me either, but it is what it is. Truth is, when I saw Abby and heard her talk about how much she loved and missed her daddy, and knowing how much you care about him, I thought of why I even hated him so now, then I thought about my own father. If anybody ever held me responsible for all the shit he has done and probably still will do, I’d be the worst a-hole in the universe. And I could not even stop my cousin from dying even though I KNEW she had issues, how can I blame Heath for not being able to stop an army of dangerous vampires on a rampage? So, after coming to the conclusion that I was one judgmental prick, I went and got him.”
Heath had been playing with Abby, but was obviously listening as he smiled at KC’s words.
KC went over to him, put his arm around him and said
“Just so we are clear, that one over there is MINE. So hands off brother, copy?” KC pointed at Evey.
“Nuh-uh! She is all mine! MY Aunty Evey and you two will have to fight me for her.” Abby dared them, still in a playfull mood.
“Ah yeah? I think I will have to take you up on that, little lady …” KC knelt down and tipped the giggling Abby on the nose. When he stood up again she requested another Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, puppy eyes and all. KC knew he was wrapped around a little finger, closed his eyes and shook his head.
“Fine, come along you bottomless pit, but that is the last one for today or I will have to add support boards under your bed soon or you’ll go through the ceiling with your PB&J belly!” Abby giggled as she slipped her little hand into his.
“He loves you so.” Heath told Everleigh after they had disappeared.
“Apparently he loves you too.” she retorted giggling.
“KC’s and my love might then be an even better kept secret than most others, Little Leigh. So secret that even he and I don’t know about it.”
“Ah, you do. I can see a budding bromance there.”
“Like him, I do not share, so beware…”
“You want to fight me for my man now? As weak and skinny as you are, and as gigantic as I am currently, all I have to do is sit on you and you are toast, man.”
“You’d have to be able to get up first. I am no expert, but I can recognize turtle on back when I see it…”
KC had returned in the meantime and chimed into the laughter from the door, when Evey threw pillows at both of them, but suddenly froze up.
Her facial expression hardened, eyes wide with fear, then her expression suggested a great deal of pain.
Both men stood stiff as boards, then shocked when they realized what just happened.
“Oh no! KC, my water just broke!” Evey sounded panicked as she was folding over in pain. Contractions. Severe ones.
“I’ll dial 911..” KC stuttered.
Everleigh began to moan in pain and discomfort.
“Get her comfortable first!” Heath instructed, but KC was indecisive so Heath folded aside the blanket. The sheets were soaked and there was blood.
KC paled at the sight.
“Oh gawd, this is the real thing. No false alarm.”
“Yes. She’s contracting again. They are really close together. We’re gonna have to get started on this ourselves. Shut the door, so Abby won’t see.”
KC looked like a deer in headlights, so Heath tossed the blankets aside and slammed the door shut, locking it.
“Do I need to get hot water and … something else?” KC stuttered.
“No, you finally dial that 911 and get them on this. It will take them a while to get here, this is not really an emergency per se, and Brindleton Bay is far out there. We have to handle till they get here.”
While KC made the call, Heath worked on getting Evey into a better position.
“KC, help over here, please?!” KC could tell Heath was trying to hide how alarmed he was.
Everleigh no longer spoke, as she was contracting frequently now and had began to push.
“Go down there and watch for the head. I’ll hold her and try guide her up here. The babies are coming now. No stopping it anymore.”
“Can’t you do some of your healing magic and push pause till the emergency doc is here?”
“Not with this collar on. And don’t even think about ripping it off unless you want to explain why I died on your twins’ birthday to my daughter and Evey.”
Evey moaned in apparent pain. Things progressed very quickly with her, maybe because of the last weeks of her pregnancy having been traumatic, maybe since it was twins.
KC had gone in position and the tip of a head was visible. He paled.
“Heath, I don’t think I can do this…”
“Sure you can.”
“Fine, you’ll come up here and I will work down there.”
“HELL NO! You are not going anywhere near Evey’s nether-regions!”
“Seriously, now? You think in this situation I would concern myself with anything sexual?!”
“Oh gawd, this is because we had sex…”
“KC! Pull yourself together! She’s pushing! Get to it!”
When the emergency vehicle finally arrived, all that was left for them to do was tend to the recovering mother and babies. All healthy, although all worse for the wear, including the father and the reluctant midwife Heath.
Ethan and Esmée McCoy were born on an otherwise calm, beautiful and balmy Summer day nobody who was present would soon forget.
In between her recovery naps Heath was briefly alone with Everleigh, when he bent down and whispered
“Looks like you got your wish after all, Little Leigh. Both me and Abby were even among the first to hold your beautiful babies.” he smiled, which she mirrored.
“Hey, get back to work, Thrall! Speak only if spoken to! Good help is so hard to find!” KC entered grinning, Evey said nothing just smiled, as did Heath while rolling his eyes.
“If I weren’t in the presence of a lady, I’d flip you off now.” he told KC.
“I could fry you for that, you Thrall. How dare you talk to your owner like that?! Got a piece of paper that claims I own your scrawny pale ass now. Ha. Where is that nifty remote again? Let’s make you dance…” KC barely managed to stifle a laugh.
“Bite me!” Heath retorted, well aware it was just teasing.
“You clearly have more experience with that. How about I just kick your ass. Let’s see how far you get without your evil overlord powers?”
“Big talk for a man who just hours ago nearly curled into a ball sucking his thumbs while I was trying to help his wife deliver his children.” Heath smirked.
“Hey! I was the one bringing them into this world. I did the hard part, you just hugged Evey!” KC protested.
“Wow guys, I wish I would have been there for all that!” Evey interjected, sarcasm dripping off her words, without even being able to keep her eyes open.
The men joked back and forth a bit more for a while until Heath chuckled, then put his finger to his lips, pointing to Evey, who had dozed off again.
KC pointed towards the hallway.
After both men left the room and quietly shut the door behind themselves, checked on two sleeping babies in the nursery, they walked down the hallway.
“I got some beer with our names on it. We earned it today! Dude, we just frigging delivered two babies. MY kids! Holy cannolli!!!” KC told Heath.
“Don’t remind me! I am still comfortably numb from the shock. But where’s Abby?”
“Asleep in a sea of old dolls and teddies left from all the kids that ever lived in this house. She couldn’t pick one, so she took them all.” KC smirked.
“Did she brush her teeth?”
“Oh, is that how that works? Was she also supposed to wash up, cos she rolled around in a pile of dog poo and I just stuck her into bed as is.” KC asked sarcastically, his way to remind Heath that he and Evey had watched Abigail many times since she was born.
“Thank you. For everything.” Heath said simply, but there was a lot of weight to his few words.
“Back at ya. We delivered actual babies. My actual children. WOW. Dayum! We are hardcore, man!” KC said as he poured the beers, handed Heath his glass, they clinked glasses and cheered to each other, both taking healthy sips.
“Why did you decide to help me? And Abby?” Heath had gotten serious.
KC just shrugged, before he replied.
“I have known Abby all her life and I am pretty attached to that little girl. Truth be told, after everything that happened, I hated you. More than I already did for always coming first with Evey. Just like before, it’s easier to hate you from afar, you are just too nice a dude to hate close up. And I have known Evey for most of my life, it dawned on me if you are THAT important to her … plus that little girl of yours. I do not know how you do it, but even after all she has been through in her young life, she is still just a happy, smart, kind ray of sunshine. Even though she is a vampire with your creepy ass as her father, single dad at that. No offense, but ‘happy’ and ‘sunshine’ are not words that easily come to mind when thinking of you, man. Your kid is a lot more sound and happy than I ever was at her age. Meaning, you cannot be that bad. Besides, I realize that as long as I am with Evey, you will be around too, one way or another, like toilet paper on my shoe.”
“I appreciate your candor, KC, and the compliment about Abby, but you are wrong about where I rank with Evey. She and I share a special bond, one that cannot be broken. I have tried to sever it, several times, for her protection, nearly driving myself nuts in the process by missing her and instead of keeping her safe it made both of us miserable and endangered her more since she would not stop looking for me. But you are not second choice to her! Never have been! Your relationship with her and mine are not comparable, but if you wanted to, let me tally it all up for you. It was YOU whom she chose to share her first sexual experience with. It was YOU she chose to be her boyfriend. With YOU she went on romantic vacations. It’s been YOU she moved in with, got engaged to, married and now has two beautiful children with. I may be important to her, and she has risked her life for me and I for her, but we are bound by some vicissitude of fate, neither of us had much say in it, but YOU she deliberately chose. I used to not understand that either. I admit, there was a time where I wanted to take her from you. But I know now, her and I as a couple would have been a death sentence for her. In today’s rigid world more than ever, but we’d even fail at the very basics of a relationship. I cannot move during the day, at least not outside. I don’t eat, but consume blood. I could never marry her. Intimacy would be risky, any resulting pregnancy would be lethal for her. Unless I turned her, but she would not want that, and even if, what kind of world is it for a vampire? I could never do that to her. I feel guilty enough that Abigail has to live in it as such. Since we are baring all here, I will share what I have been telling her for years, that since we were young children she has always been the light leading my way through my perpetual darkness. More true now than ever.”
“Wow. That was a lot of honesty I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t think any of it needs commenting, I am an open book to you anyway, you know my sad story already, but I totally get that ‘light guiding through the darkness’ thing. Same with me. I am not exaggerating when I claim that without Everleigh and her grandfather I would not have a life worth living, if I even still were alive which I doubt very much. Leads me straight to the hypocrisy of me blaming you for your father’s deeds. I guess I knew that all along, was just easier to have someone to hate, especially since I have always been jealous of you. How about a truce?”
“I’ll take your truce and raise you for friendship. I didn’t like you at first either, KC, loathed you, thought you were a bad influence for Evey and I hated having to share her attention. I just could not see what she saw in you. Like you, when I realized how important you were to her, I calmed my jealousy. Needed a while, I am sure you remember my transgressions when she was in college. Some years ago I actually started liking you. You even had the patience to teach me how to drive, before it seems we blinked and our world became what it is now. I was sad that things had to change again between you and me, but as I told Evey, I would have probably reacted the same, had it been your father, estranged or not, I would have hated you as well.”
“Friendship then. Let’s drink to that. We’ve earned it! Oh, and later, let’s find you some decent clothes. No offense man, but you look beyond ridiculous.”
“I do, don’t I? It’s what Isabelle wanted me to wear, and it’s already a step up from the diarrhea-colored onesie the government sticks us in.”
With the clink of two glasses an old feud was put to rest and a once budding friendship rekindled.
Unbeknownst to the men celebrating the end of a fateful, exciting day and the beginning of a new life for all in many ways, a young woman stood in the hallway to their right, smiling before slowly making her way back to the bedroom to rest up for her new adventure as a mother of twins.