“Hey Liv! so good to see you!” Viktoria hugged her friend, who seemed down “Are you ok?”
“Wanna go grab a coffee and sit?”
They ordered and once settled, Olivia Cameron looked up at Viktoria after stirring around in her black coffee for a while when Viktoria tried to start the conversation.
“Quite a mess our two oldest got us all into, huh?” referring to Adrianna and Blaine.
“I am thinking of leaving Blaine.” Olivia stated bluntly.
“What? Umm … why?”
“Many reasons. I am just not happy, Vik. Haven’t been in a long time.”
“Oh no, Liv I am so sorry. Why did you not call me sooner?”
“To be honest, after you and Blaine’s … umm … transgression I just couldn’t even look at you the same way anymore.”
“Liv .. I …”
“Don’t. It’s been a lifetime ago. We were all different people then. But it is the truth. Remember what Ezio’s brother said when we all met at your house? It seems he is the only one who ever saw the truth, my truth. He was so right. I have not been happy. I never wanted this life. I love my children. I love Blaine. Maybe, I do not even really know what that should feel like. What I do know is that I am leaving. I have found a small place to live and will move out. I am leaving the kids with Blaine. It’s their home, no need to uproot them. The girls are about to be teens and won’t need their mother much anymore. I will support them financially and see them when I can, but I need to do me now. Just wanted you to hear it from me first. I owe you as much.”
“Wow. How is Blaine? How are the kids taking it?”
“Hmm, speaks volumes that he would be your first concern. I think maybe Ezio’s brother is onto something there too.”
“Liv, no! Blaine and I are just friends and have been ever since that one time. Not once since have we even thought about…”
“Speak for yourself there. Maybe you haven’t, that’s for your husband to figure out. What I know is that for years I have listened for my own husband mumble YOUR name in his sleep. Ironic really, that now the kids are starting down the same path, if that weren’t also sad.”
“Olivia, I swear, I had no idea. I love Ezio. Not Blaine.”
“I don’t even care anymore. Besides, I have started seeing someone else, too.”
“Oh. Already … don’t you want time for yourself first?”
“Viktoria, I have been stuck in a very lonely marriage with a man who married me solely because he could not have the woman he REALLY wanted and because we were careless one night and I wound up pregnant. He does not love me, and I knew that for a long time. Yes, I want some love, passion too …”
“But you are still married …”
“So is he…”
“Oh Olivia, be careful with that …”
“Well, he’ll tell his wife before long. He’s been in the same boat as I, she never loved him. By the way, another man obsessed with you, but I think he is over it now. And another one of your matchmaking success stories gone awry.”
“OMG- my best friend Eric? Penny’s Eric?”
“Well, I think he would be Olivia’s Eric now. But yes, THAT Eric. Eric Miller,”
“And what do you mean ‘obsessed with me’? Eric and I played in the sandbox together. He is like my brother to me.”
“Yeah, in a very Borgia sort of way…”
“I am not going to argue about this with you. Eric is a friend. Only a friend and has never been more than a friend.” Eric really never even had a girlfriend, and was definitely not interested in my THAT way.
“Sure. However, I have to run now. Got you caught up. I have packing to do…”
“Do you need help?”
“No dear, you’ll have to wait until I am gone till you can go console Blaine as I am sure you will, the good friend you are. Tootles!”
Viktoria sat staring after her friend leaving, without even looking back. Friend? Well, it did not sound like they were still friends. But why was she getting the blame? It was during the worst time of her live, after Ezio and she had broken up and she was there pregnant, scared … She had run into Blaine on her way home, literally run into him, her eyes blinded by tears. He caught her, one look and just pulled her into his arms without asking pesky painful questions. He held her like this for an eternity, eventually he took her home. They spoke, about everything but the events at hand. Finally they decided to celebrate a new beginning, with some leftover alcohol from a party at her place a week prior. Which is when things went all wrong. They mixed the different kinds of alcohol, red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, tequila, vodka, rum … neither one recalled how they ended up in bed together. They woke up, both badly hungover and sick as dogs. Had they not been naked they would have just attributed waking up next to each other to the fact that Viktoria had to sell the guest bed she used to keep in her study for friends staying over to pay for the abortion. But both just knew. To add insult to injury, as Blaine was half dressed in her kitchen and Viktoria just came out of the shower, suddenly there was Olivia, who had a key to the apartment, like several of her friends. The situation was more than awkward. Liv turned on her heels and left, followed by a sparsely dressed Blaine, leaving Viktoria simmering in her shame and embarrassment. Not her finest hour. To say that technically Blaine and Olivia were only dating and not even officially boyfriend/girlfriend yet was just semantics.
But Eric? Obsessed? Oh no, no no, Liv was wrong there. Him and Penny breaking up was not as much of a shock. They never quite matched up. But Eric leaving Penny for another woman? Vik had always thought Penny would be the one moving on. And how come Eric had not told her anything about this? They were best friends, were they not? Man, it had been forever since the last time she had spent any time with any of them. She had invited them to the birthday parties, but come to think of it, none of them had ever shown up, only Liv did once for Addy’s last birthday. Man, this was bad. Could it be fixed? Should she even try. Evidently Olivia was hurt and not exactly Viktoria’s biggest fan. Reaching out to Eric would be the worst thing. Should she call Penny? But if they had not told her yet, and she knew, she would either wreak havoc telling or hurt Penny once she found out that Viktoria had known before her. Ugh, life sure had gotten complicated.
Viktoria’s phone rang. Blaine Sr. Oh no, sorry Blainster, no way. But he would not give up. Eventually she answered.
“Vik, can we meet? I need to see you – now!”
“Ummm … so sorry, but really bad timing. I am really busy with … stuff… and … ummm… OH hi Blaine.”
Viktoria looked up at the tall man now immediately in front of her table, both still holding the cell phones.
“Gotcha! One could take this the wrong way and think you are trying to avoid me.” Blaine flashed his pearly whites.
“I think I am going to hang up then.” Viktoria put away her phone and blushed deeply.
“So I take it you heard.”
“Yes, I heard. So sorry Blaine…”
“Don’t be. I knew it would happen eventually … still feels like shit. But you cannot change the way people feel.”
Viktoria was not sure what he meant with the last sentence. Olivia or himself. And she sure as heck would not want to know.
“I am sorry Blaine, I had not idea you two had problems…”
“We didn’t and that was the first clue. I missed it for too long. When I finally realized the fire had long burned out, it was already too late. And truth be told, I cannot say that I am THAT sad. It has been a long goodbye. I just hope the kids will be ok. So far, they seem to be fine. Blaine Jr. has his own set of problems, I am sure you are aware …”
“Yeah, heard some rumors … ” Viktoria retored, causing Blaine to flash his crooked smile that had a long history of sweeping girls off their feet and winked at her.
“I hate to be that guy, but could you drive me home? Olivia has the car and mine is in the shop. I walked here to walk off some … feelings when I saw you and decided to mess with you. But I really would hate to have to walk home in that weather now. Viktoria had not even noticed that it was pouring down rain now.
They sat down on the bench in front of Blaine’s house. They had spoken on the entire way home and had still not run out of topics here. The rain had seized in the meantime. When one of his neighbors took 15 minutes just to take the trash to the curb, his eyes never leaving them and another walked their dog past Blaine’s house for the fifth time, Viktoria asked if they could talk inside.
“Ha ha, you think that would look less suspicious?”
“Harder to take pictures that way.”
“Oh, you have not met my neighbors. They’d risk anything for some good gossip. You don’t think all those trampolines are for their kids and grandkids, do you? Ha ha ha”
“You are silly, Mr. Cameron.” Viktoria poked him in the ribs as they entered the house.
“Wait, I am not sure how your kids would like this…”
“None of them will be home for hours. And neither will Olivia, if you worry about that. She and her new lover are at the movies.”
“Oh, you … know?”
“Every detail. Whether I wanted to hear it or not. Evidently the horrors of me as a human being are only surpassed by my lacking abilities as a lover.”
“Oh shit, I bet I can round up a dozen ladies who would argue that..” Viktoria giggled, referring to the fact that he used to be a real hit with the ladies of all ages. Too late did she realize the pothole she had dug for herself.
“Umm … topic change. Any news on the Blaine Jr. and Marcella drama?”
“If you leave your husband’s theatric family out of it, there really is no drama. It’s a series of unfortunate events but all that are directly involved agree that it’s the 21st century and bein a single mother is not really the shame it once was, quite the contrary. Marcella is a smart young woman and acknowledges that both of them failed, she didn’t take the pill and their condom broke. They also broke up long before she realized she even was pregnant and neither are even remotely interested in getting back together, nor in an abortion or adoption scenario. They only thing Marcella does not want is her child in the hands of that impossible uncle of her. Sorry Vik, but that dude and I will never see eye to eye.”
“Yeah, I am not exactly in love with him. He’s a douche. But his wife is super-nice. I don’t get why she let’s him boss her around.”
“I happen to know someone from her family. Trust me, compared to those folks, her hubby is a soft lil kitten.”
“Oh yikes. Hard to imagine. Sooo … Addy said you got a job.”
“Oh yeah. I don a sexy apron and cook giant meals in giant pots for giant a-holes now. It is a dream come true. But it pays the bills. And if I haven’t cut off my fingers during my daytime plight, I pluck the guitar at night. Just like in the olden times. And still as success-free as in the olden days….” he joked. Oh Blaine. He was always so light about life. Even though his life had not just given him lemons, it had dropped an entire 18-wheeler of lemons on him when he was a child. A dysfunctional family is putting it mildly. It was so bad that he spend several nights each week at her house when they were kids. Her mom had picked up on it, and while Blaine had begged her not to call the child protection agency, she had cooked for him, washed his laundry, mended his clothes, bought him new ones, helped him with homework and always had a place to sleep for him. They did not have much either, but thanks to Vik’s mom had Blaine been able to go one some class trips and afford books. His father was a drunkard and his mother a drug addict. Both had beaten Blaine to a pulp many times. He has a younger sister, and since in the beginning before Viktoria’s mom helped Blaine had gotten himself into lots of trouble, his grandmother took in his younger sister and raised her, but she refused to take Blaine who had a problem with authority, except Viktoria’s mother. Once both became teens, Viktoria’s mom was a bit more hesitant with the sleepovers, as Blaine had already started his womanizer career then. After another very aggressive argument with his father, during which a neighbor died, who had tried to interfere, Blaine ran away from home. Viktoria did not see him for many years until she went to a festival and there he was, playing his guitar for money.
“Hello?! Earth to Viktoria, or am I speaking on mute?”
“What? Oh sorry Blaine I was in thought.”
“Could have fooled me. Well, here, coffee. I wanted to do the entire spiel of asking you if you wanted a cup, but then again, who am I kidding, so I just poured you one.”
“Thanks, you are a doll. Just what I needed.”
“I think what we need comes with a bit higher percentage.”
“Oh, no, I am so not drinking with you … last time we did it didn’t end so well for us.”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it like that. It ended really well. At least I enjoyed it immensely, after getting an earful from Olivia about my love making skill I am not so sure about you. It’s just the aftermath that was kinda … ”
“Like the Armageddon?”
“Something like that.”
“Whoa that weather. I cannot wait to drive in that some more….yikes. If THIS is summer I am afraid what the fall storms will be like!”
“Want me to call Ezio and see if you can sleep over?”
“Oh eff you! Unless you have a definite death wish I would never call Ezio if I were you, not for anything. You are a real red cloth to his male ego.”
“Aren’t we adorbs? Just like Romeo and Juliet, sneaking about …”
“We are NOTHING like them. We are friends. Just friends. Plain and simple. Don’t make me call Mama on you to set you straight.”
“Now now woman, no need to threaten me with the one person in my life that actually respect enough to value their opinion about me – except you that is.”
“What? You love Mama.”
“I do. But not when she is mad.”
“You should go see her. She’d like that.”
“Yeah, maybe I will. Maybe we can go together? Just the first time. It has been a while and would be awkward for me to just show up at her door.”
“Fine, I’ll call you soon. Hey what is that smell … is that … CHICKEN!?” Viktoria joked then ran, Blaine after her until he caught her and threw her on the couch tickling her. Once they realized this, both froze and awkwardly sat up, straightening their clothes.
“Sorry, I just forgot that … you are so off limits. I meant nothing by it, Vik. Just old habits that won’t die. When I am with you I feel light and happy … like back when we were kids. So young, so innocent, our whole lives before us and full of promises.”
“Yeah, no, I know… it’s cool. We know.”
“Oh speaking of, you heard about your ex? Shawn or whatever his name was?”
“Can’t say I have, nor that I really care too much.”
“Yeah, but get this: You know he married that witch he cheated on you with, right? Then he had a son with ANOTHER woman, at the same time she was pregnant with his kid. Messed up right? But gets better. She got preggers again, with quadruplets, but three of them died during the birth!”
“Umm… wow, that is kinda sad… and yeah, very messed up. I wonder if they are all right, that must be painful.”
“May I remind you that that nutjob broke your heart?!”
“Yes, but that is not her fault.”
“That’s exactly whose fault it is! She broke you up! I cannot believe you feel sorry for them now! Man Vik, you are too good to be true.”
“We both know that is not true. I got my own cart full of mess ups.”
“Well, so you are human after all.”
“Oh shit, it is getting late. Blaine loved catching up, call me when you need me, but I have to run. And remember we’ll go see my mom soon!” Viktoria called the last sentence back over her shoulder as she was walking out his front door.
“Hey Vik… gotta tell ya, I still hate to see you leave, but love to see you go!”
“OMG, want some wine with all that cheese?” she stuck her tongue out at him.
He stood in the door way as she drove off, his smirk fading into a sad expression.