Liam came into the living area, where Leonie was watching TV.
“Hey baby! What are you watching?” he asked her.
“Dora, the Explorer, apparently. Well, Natty and I were, but guess she had something better to do. I would change the channel, but the remote is over there and trying to get up out of this soft couch is already not worth the effort. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover something new with Dora.” she giggled, rubbing her now already sizable baby bump.
“Luckily you have a very attentive husband, who grants your every wish before you could even think it.” Liam grinned, grabbed the remote off the coffee table and handed it to her.
“Thanks, but sounds more like a husband who wants something and is buttering me up for it.”
“Aww, my heart breaks. But you are right. I’d like to fly home for a few days, all of us. I want to see everybody and check on Vivian.”
“No need to butter me up for that. My mom called, dad is not doing to rosy, his heart again. I should go see them. Oh, but Liam. Do you have to call it ‘home’? Shouldn’t this be home now?”
“It is. Just so used to saying it that way. Maybe I have two homes.”
“Two things. We need a hotel this time, with Vivian living at your parents’ now and this home thing … I think we should look for a house. Once the baby is here we will have to, need another room.”
“I thought you loved this place?”
“I do. It is cool – for a bachelor or a single couple. Not for a family with small children. Not even a fenced yard.”
“Fence is easy to install. I can have that done in a day!”
“Liam, I always saw us in some gingerbread house type home with a white picket fence and a lovely garden, flowers everywhere, all of our kids running around in it …”
“ALL of our kids? How many exactly are there in your little fantasy? Just asking to see if I need a side-job.”
“Ha ha ha – the number varies, but I am happy to say that we usually stay below half a dozen. Few exceptions.” Leonie giggled at Liam’s facial expression.
“Oh dear Lord, my nerves.” Liam theatrically sighed.
“Did I mention the nanny I see running after them?” Leonie laughed.
“Sold. I’ll get Jana looking for a realtor for us.” Jana was Liam’s assistant.
“Wow! You are some hubby. First I want a baby and you just go with it, now a house. Starting to wonder why you are so easy-going, Mr. Cameron. Should I be worried?” Leonie smiled, winking at Liam.
“I am just the best husband a girl could wish for.” he pulled her close and they kissed.
“And humble. Oh so humble!” she teased in between kisses.
They stopped making out when they saw Everett heading for them.
“Umm – mom, dad, can I have some friends over tomorrow after school?”
“No, we will go to the airport after school. We’re visiting grandma and grandpa.” Liam told him.
“Oh cool! Are we gonna see Finn too?” Everett looked excited.
“I guess, we usually do. Since when do you care so much about Finn?” Liam asked while Everett was already running to his room to start packing.
“Liam, it’s not Finn he wants to see. It’s little Tatum. She had her birthday recently and we bought her a gift I haven’t had a chance to mail yet.”
“Why is he buying her gifts? I usually have Jana send gifts to everyone …”
“Liam! Do I really have to state the obvious?”
“No?” Liam looked at her in disbelief, but grinning.
“Yes. Our little son has his first crush.”
“Oh gawd. At age 8? I didn’t even care about girls then.”
“We both know that you made up the lost time later on.” she poked him.
“Yeaaaaah – not a convo I want to expand on with my wife.”
“No need. I have literally been there for some of the highlights.”
“So, how do you know about the crush and I do not?”
“I am his mother. I just know things.” she smiled.
“Now you remind me of my mom. Scary you two!”
“We need to start thinking about names for the new little one.” Leonie said, rubbing her baby bump.
“Way ahead of you. I already have a list and checked it twice.”
“What?” Leonie was surprised and amused.
“Wanna see it?” Liam grinned.
“I HAVE TO see it!”
Liam pulled Leonie up from the couch and they went to the computer to let his parents know they were coming, book flights and look at Liam’s list of names for the baby.
Once done with the desk work, Leonie got up and put her arms around Liam’s neck.
“You never seize to amaze me, Liam. You really did make a list. And not too shabby of one either.” she told him.
“You should see all the other things I am amazing at.” he chuckled.
“Oh yeah? Such as?” she teased him.
“Most of it is much better demonstrated than explained.”
“I think I am familiar with those talents, seeing that I am carrying your third child now.”
“My mad skills are including, but not limited to, pleasures of the flesh. Those are only the beginning.”
Liam and Vivian were teasing each other lovingly as the siblings usually would, while their parents were both playing with Everett and Natalie in the living room of the beach house.
Leonie, sat there, watching it all, smiling.
Sometimes seeing this still made her melancholic, this was the kind of family she had always wished she had. Warm, silly, teasing each other, but always there when needed, protective and even a little weird.
She felt obligated to stay in touch with her own parents, but never looked forward to seeing them. Especially alone. Liam would normally go with her, or Viktoria would, but this time none of them could, as her father was hospitalized and all of them were vampires, hence banned from entering any hospitals.
She had to go alone. No need to expose her children to her father’s harshness without another person there to distract them.
“Mommy, mommy! Can we go see Finn now?! Aunt Vivian said she would go with us!” Everett stood in front of Leonie now, tugging on her sleeve.
“Honey, mommy has to go see your other grandparents, your grandpa is sick, so I cannot take you.”
“Oh, the rest of us can handle those little buggers.” Vivian smiled, scooping up a squealing and giggling Natalie.
Leonie admired Vivian’s strength once more, since she had just lost her own daughter. Leonie knew if that were her, she’d be a mess for a long time.
She borrowed Liam’s parents’ car and drove out to the hospital. When she entered the room, her mother was at her father’s side. Both looked at her, welcomed her, but then her father’s eyes kept going back to her much expanded waistline.
“Another one, huh? Trying to set a record for the vampire population?” his tone was stinging.
Leonie closed her eyes, before she answerd.
“My children are all human, dad.” Leonie reminded him.
“No way a freak can father a normal kid. There’s something wrong with them all. I can feel it. Just you wait, sooner or later, you’ll find out” he warned, wagging his index finger.
“Daniel! Daddy does not mean it, Leonie. We are both happy to see you.” her mother tried to negotiate.
“I’d be much happier to see you NOT pregnant for a change …”
“Daniel! Enough of this!”
Leonie felt like crying. Why could her parents not be nicer?
“Here dad, I brought you these.” Leonie handed him a bouquet of colorful flowers, he would not take them from her, so her mother did.
“Oh, these are beautiful. I’ll get a vase from the nurses.”
“They make me sneeze! Put them over there, far away from me, Sally!” her father ordered his wife, while grimacing.
Leonie’s mother left, but came right back with a vase and began arranging the flowers while her father addressed her again.
“Your brother got a divorce, did you know about that?”
Leonie shook her head.
“Steven and I do not really keep in touch, dad.” ‘…because he is too much like you.’ Leonie thought, looking at her father.
“Yeah, his wife had been screwing around on him and now has an illegitimate brat by some foreigner, something darker skinned, and the kid bears our name! The thought alone could have been enough to put me into his place!” he gestured at the hospital computers around him.
“Dad! That is horrible for Steven, but what is so special about the name Hanson?” Leonie knew better than to address her father’s views on racism. It was not a battle anybody could win.
“It’s a good name, that’s what. But what do you care? You already more than soiled it by running off with one of those nasty freaks! At least you had the brains to make sure yours is filthy rich, so when the time comes that he gets tired of you, and believe you me, he will, at least you and your rugrats are taken care of and I don’t have to provide for all of you, too.”
“I should go.” Leonie had enough.
“Leonie, no, please stay. He will calm down soon, he had his meds, they make him easier.”
“Easier? What am I to you, woman? A toddler? Go and fetch me something to drink, something decent, not that water they probably got from the toilet bowl.” he yelled at his wife.
“Maybe Leonie can …”
Her mother obliged. Now Leonie was all alone in the room with her father.
“Steven’s whore of an ex-wife took the son, can you believe it, and left him to raise their daughter. I thought I raised him better than that. What good does that do anybody?”
“Dad, it’s not our right to meddle into Steven’s life. I am sure he …”
“Nonsense! And why are you pregnant again? Does your mother have to explain birth control to you again!? You’ll be fat soon and ugly and he’ll drop you like a hot potato. Beauty fades and wives get fat, but no need to accelerate that by breeding like rabbits and with that scum as the icing on the cake!”
“You are evil! I hate you!”
Leonie started crying and ran out of the room, found a bathroom and cried in one of the stalls.
Once she had calmed down enough she washed her face, fixed her make up, straightened up and left. For a brief moment she considered going back to the room, to at least tell her mother goodbye, but she would call her or visit her some other time.
She wanted to be held now, by someone who truly loved her.
And be part of a loving family.
In the lobby she ran into Steven, her older brother.
He looked tired.
They spoke for a few minutes, when he told her
“Leonie, I need your help. I am at the bedrock of my life, and I cannot get myself out. When Tess left, I started drinking and I lost my job. I am about to lose the house. I need money, Leonie.”
“Why don’t you ask the bank for help?”
“Can you not write me a check? You are swimming in cash, why not share some of that wealth with your family?”
“It’s Liam’s money. I would have to speak to him about it …”
“So he does keep you like dad keeps mom, huh? You’re his fuck-toy and baby factory, but you are not allowed to make decisions, huh?”
Leonie slapped her brother hard, felt more tears shooting up and ran as fast as she could in her current condition.
She cried hard, sitting in the car, when she saw Steven head towards her.
Immediately, she locked the doors, but he kept knocking relentlessly, screaming hurtful things at her, until she started the car and drove off, blinded by tears and a little to fast, she almost lost control going around the first corner.
While driving she kept thinking about her terrible family, who looked so normal and perfect from the outside, but was so rotten at the core.
Why did none of them love her enough to wish her happiness?
Did they even love her at all?
Tears began to flow again.
In this moment her cell phone buzzed and in a reflex she looked at it. Steven. A hateful text message about her being ungrateful and worse. She tossed it into the center console, but almost missed, while trying to catch it she knocked over her take-out coffee cup. In an attempt to catch that, to not mess up her in-laws car, she took her attention off the road. When she looked up, all she saw was a cornucopia of greens rushing towards her. The last thing she remembered was screeching of the breaks and herself screaming.
Leonie forced her eyes open, unfamiliar surroundings, when she turned her head she saw a familiar face.
“Oh honey! I’ll get the doctor.”
“No, mom, wait … am I in a hospital?”
“They said to get the doctor the second you wake. I’ll be right back, Leonie.”
For a few minutes she was left to her own devices, until her mother returned with a man, obviously a doctor and a nurse. All looked at her with a sense of regret.
“Welcome back. Do you remember your name and the year?”
“Leonie. Cameron. Leonie Cameron and it is 2018.”
“Very good. How are you feeling, Mrs. Cameron?”
“I am … where is Liam? My husband?”
“Honey, he cannot come here, remember.” her mother took her hand and rubbed it.
“Mrs. Cameron, do you remember anything before today?”
“I was in a car and … oh my God! My baby! Is my baby all right! Please say my baby is okay!?”
Leonie panicked and started crying …