Viktoria’s phone rang. Terrible timing. She looked at the caller ID. Blaine. Not now. She’d call him back.
It rang again. She clicked him away. Just leave a message Blaine. Phone rang again. Persistent little sucker, you are.
“Blaine, really not a good time right now.”
“Kinda figured. I need to talk to you. When do you have time?”
“I don’t know … tomorrow afternoon?”
“No. Today. Please.”
“Blaine, seriously, I cannot always just drop everything like a hot potato whenever you call. I have a dinner to prepare, it’s super important to Ezio. Addy had a bunch of meltdowns and Marco keeps bugging me about some concert…plus I have work piled up that I need to get through before Monday …”
“I see. It’s all good. I guess I see you when I see you then. Night babygirl, don’t work too hard.”
“Oh Blaine …” Viktoria felt bad, but he had already disconnected the call.
Continuing the tasks at hand she kept thinking about the call. Blaine had always been so upbeat despite of his rough tough life. Even when his marriage crumbled he was more ok than most. Something must REALLY be bothering him. No way she could go now. Maybe later? Poor Blaine. She felt like the worst friend ever, even though she had bailed his butt out of trouble – and even jail – many times.
The dinner was just as bad as she imagined and then there was all the clean up. URGH. But eventually she was done. Everything had gone according to plan and Ezio’s mood was elevated. he was whistling as he got ready for bed in their master bathroom. Until the moment she mentioned that she wanted to go see Blaine. Now. She told him as he was brushing his teeth, speaking to his reflection in the mirror as he looked up.
“Mia cara, I really don’t think I like the idea of my beautiful wife lurking around a known gigolo’s home around midnight on a Saturday! This should wait till daylight hours, don’t you think?” his voice sounded strange with all the toothpaste in his mouth.
“Ezio, I am super tired and mega exhausted. If I didn’t think this was something life or death, I wouldn’t even entertain the thought.”
“If it is an emergency, there are numbers for that! He needs to learn that you are not his mommy.”
“I am sure he is aware…”
“Don’t remind me!” Ezio’s usually well hidden jealousy reared its ugly head.
“That’s not what I meant. His mother was a crack addict and abused the hell out of him!”
“Yeah, so I heard. Honestly, what could be so important that he needs to drag you out in the middle of the night? Does he not have other friends?”
“Truthfully, I don’t think he does. Hmm, strange, I never realized this …”
“Oh, please not another pity party for Mr. Fantastic. Have him call one of his conquests. He can confide his problems while banging her across all the surfaces of his home, as I am sure is his style.”
“What? Since when does it bother you to think what he does with all those women?”
“It does not. But that is my childhood home, and he is like my brother. I am sure you do not want to envision how Frederico made all those kids of his, do you? Besides, Blaine has changed. He has not been with any woman since he broke up with Olivia.”
“While that is probably intended to make me feel better, all I can think about is that there is a very sexually frustrated gigolo calling my WIFE to come see him in the middle of the night on a Saturday. Not a very relaxing scenario for me.”
“Ezio. I am not a child. I am going.”
“I am coming with.”
“You are NOT.”
“Then you won’t go either. Basta!”
“Ha! That would be the day! You can take your antiquated idea of husbands forbidding their wives whom they can see and shove it!”
“Antiquated? I think I have shown how supportive I am of your little pet project, I even hired his scrawny loser butt into my company to help, well aware, mind you, that he obviously is just circling my head waiting for his chance to pounce on you! Any fool can see it, except you. You are so googly eyed and permanently sorry for him, that he gets away with everything that you would normally not let slide for anybody else. Including me and your kids. But he gets away with murder, while you are holding his hands through it all.”
“I am not even going to comment on this B.S. I will see you when I get home. In the meantime, you will just have to trust me, your wife, love me for who I am, even if that means pissing you off to help a friend, and know that I am not some random whore any man who pays me a compliment can just bed!” she pushed past him.
Ezio’s instinct was to hold on to her. But he knew it would just result in the exact opposite and push her further away from him and closer into the arms of that loser. He sat down on the bed. Yes, he loved her, and he trusted her. It was HIM he still did not trust around her. Ezio let himself fall backwards onto their bed. The only place where he still felt in control was at work. His kids were growing up, soon they would leave the house and start lives of their own. Addy was nearly 18. An adult. It seemed like only yesterday he held her for the very first time. Had they not …. “lost” … their first child together, he or she would now be 20 years old. And Viktoria … he had loved her the first moment he had laid eyes on her. Ironic, as he never believed in something so ridiculous and foolish as the mere idea of ‘love at first sight’. Always level headed, always the eye on the price, yet there he was sitting in his office after their first encounter, heart pounding, knees shaking, and this funny feeling between relief and regret that she left his office and already thinking of reasons to call her back in. Before her, since he was 16 he recalled all the fights with his father about him getting married and him insisting he would NEVER marry. And then this beautiful young assistant started working for him. His entire world turned upside down. No affairs with employees was the unwritten rule. All serious relationships were to be with Catholics, preferably of Italian heritage. And absolutely no baggage, such as divorces. Initially, he remained perfectly calm and professional around her, hid his feelings until he could not anymore. Just a little affair was all he wanted to allow this to be. But then his parents of all people surprised them making out intensely in a club one night, when he just could not hold himself back anymore. He could still hear his father yelling at him the next day, it made the crystal clink in the china cabinets.
Still he decided to make it official. To just force her on them. He brought her to family dinner night. The entire clan was present. It was a disaster. But nothing like when Viktoria got unintentionally pregnant. His younger brother Petruccio, who moonlighted at some “it” club as a bartender, had told him about some ‘Blaine’ fellow always sneaking around her. And he had seen her with several other men, way too cozy for his taste, at those parties she liked to throw at her place. So when she told him she was pregnant, he was speechless, but his mind worked 100 miles per hour. She demanded a response and all he could get out was his last thought. “Whose is it?” This had made her so very mad. A lot of very unflattering things were said. And then the worst thing happened. He had blamed her then, but now knew he was to blame as well. Once he came to that realization he wasted not another minute. He married her as fast as he could. He felt guilty for not giving her the fairy tale wedding every girl probably wanted, even though his family was one of the wealthiest near or far, but once he made his intentions clear to his family, his father cut him off from everything but his regular salary and instructed every other family member that would show up at the wedding would face the same fate. That was then. A long time ago.
But if he lost her now … to Blaine … he did not even really dislike Blaine. He was generally a nice enough guy. And his son, Blaine Jr., would likely end up as part of his family at some point by the looks of it, and potentially Blaine’s daughter as well. *sigh* Not just one but TWO of this blasted Blaines offspring as in-laws. Oh well, at least they were good kids. The girl, Emmy, was very sweet and quiet, very polite. After tonight’s dinner however, after seeing how Vanderbilt’s daughter took to Marco, Ezio had to admit he would not hate it if those two would start dating. It would get that pesky Blaine out of the picture for at least one of the kids and Vanderbilt would not be a bad relation to have for various reasons. Ezio suspected Viktoria would have a nervous breakdown if that came to be. And Blaine Jr. … Who named their kid after themselves still nowadays anyway?! So much room for confusion and it just showed what a self-absorbed prick that Blaine was! Still, that fact really was not his son’s fault, even though secretly Ezio still hoped that Addy would find a boy that did not already have kids so early in life. And preferably not with someone else. Someone who wanted to make something of himself. One who could take care of his little girl when Ezio had to let her leave the nest. Oh Addy, she deserved the moon and the stars, not a trailer park. Still, he could deal with all this, as dreadful as it was to him, as long as he had Viktoria by his side. Without her … he had to trust her. Whether he liked it or not, she would be there for her friends. Loyal to a fault, and that had always been one of the things he admired most in her.
She knocked on the door. The house was dark, not even a porch light was on. Had Blaine gone out? She called his cell, eventually he picked up.
“Where are you?”
“I am at your home, it’s all dark.”
“It’s late … and I do not need lights…”
“Are you drunk? Open the door, so I can beat your ass!”
“Not yet and the door is unlocked.”
Viktoria hung up and tried. Truly, unlocked. He would get a tongue lashing from hell, what was he thinking?!
She stumbled inside, fumbling for the light switch, found it and flipped it on. Blinded for a second she saw Blaine on a kitchen chair, hunched over leaning on the table propped up on his arms, a half empty bottle of some cheap high percentage alcohol in front of him. She locked the door behind her.
“Are you nuts? It’s not the 50s anymore, people lock their door now for a reason! And why the hell are you drinking again? Do you love rehab THAT much?!”
“Screw rehab. I need this.”
Viktoria grabbed the bottle before he could, resulting in a faint moan by Blaine. She smelled it and grimaced.
“What kinda shit is this? Lighter fuel?! Gross!”
She put the bottle next to her on the floor as she sat on the chair next to Blaine.
“Can you please tell me what the hell was so urgent that I need to get into a fight with my husband so I can watch you undo much of the progress we worked on so very hard?!”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have called you …”
“BLAINE CAMERON! Can you please at least look at me when you speak and can you knock this OFF? Pity party is not a good look on you!” she put both hands on his cheeks and turned his head to face her as she spoke. His eyes focused on hers now and she saw a deeply sad expression in them. The eyelids were swollen, the eyes rimmed in red.
“Have you been crying?” her voice turned softer
“Like a baby… manly, huh?”
“I am not here so you can impress me with your male vigor, but because you said you needed me. What is going on?” Viktoria was very worried now. This was VERY unusual.
“Well, where to start … you know what … here … see for yourself.”
He pulled a letter from the back pocket of his jeans and handed the wrinkled mess to her.
As she unfolded it to read its content Blaine resumed his hunched over position, his arms crossed on the table before him and he laid his head down on them. Very un-Blaine-like behavior.
“Dear Mr. Cameron,
We have run the tests ordered by …”
The letter contained a bunch of medical formalities and jibberish, even Viktoria did not fully understand.
“What exactly am I looking at here, Blaine? Are you sick?”
“You can say that …” he mumbled from underneath this arms.
He sat up straight. His eyes now looked tired. He looked like … crap. Viktoria was alarmed. But nothing could have prepared her for what would follow.
“I had a doctor explain it to me. I spare you the details but basically my kidneys are going out. I guess from all the years of living like I was dying .. just now that I cleaned up my act, I actually AM dying. In less than a year they said. Kinda ironic, if you think about it.” A joyless laugh ended his speech.
“WHAT?! Oh my god, Blaine. Are you all right? I mean, never mind, but … I mean … what now?”
“Nothing now. I have to go to dialysis until I can’t go anymore. Then I will lay in a hospital bed until I cop out. The end. What a way to go. I always imagined I’d wind up shot dead by some jealous husband after catching me in bed with his wife. Ha.”
“Blaine, this is not a laughing matter….”
“I already did the crying part. Kinda glad you were not here for that. I would at least be a somewhat manly memory to you …”
“STOP IT! I am sure there is some cure, something that can be done … ”
“Not for me there isn’t. You know, the only thing my mother left me was memories of her abusing me. Guess now I have something else. They suspect that my kidneys were impacted before I was even born. My way of life obviously didn’t help much. Personally, I would have preferred a picture or something else of hers that I could punch or burn, but it is what it is, I guess.”
“Oh Blaine!” she turned in her chair, pulled Blaine towards her and hugged her friend as tight as she could until he winced in pain. She loosened her grip.
“Oh no, I hurt you, I am sorry, is it your kidneys, I should be more careful with you …so sorry ..”
“Vik, it’s not the kidneys! It’s lower…”
“My balls Vik, you are squishing them into the leg of the table!”
She let go, he sat up and laughed when he saw her shocked face, which made her laugh as well.
“You’re an idiot!”
“But an idiot who could probably hit the highest notes now singing….”
“Keep it up and I’ll just rip them off altogether! Would have saved a lot of trouble for a lot of people had I done that years ago!” Vik joked.
“Hey, if that means you’d touch them, I’m game.”
“You are impossible.” Viktoria retorted, play-hitting his arm.
“How about we get a little more comfortable?” he suggested.
“Seriously Cameron? After all this all you can think about is sex and whatever other naughty things go through that lonely brain cell of yours??”
“Ummm … I was thinking about the couch over there …”
“Guess we know who has the gutter mind tonight…”
“Oh, shut it! But we do have to talk … I am not letting you get out of all this without putting up a good fight. You can beat this, Blaine. I am going to talk to Ezio. He knows a lot of influential people … including in the medical field … he’ll figure something out!”
“If he knew you were here, at this hour, he’d already be outside the door to put me out of my misery right away.”
“Oh he knows I am here.”
“I am DEFINITELY going to lock that door from now on!”