Let’s start with a brief recap of events that took place since the last chapter.
Following the big surprise at Grace’s home came weeks and months bringing a whirlwind of happenings, emotions and change.
Naturally Alex and Cory Pritchett had been taken into custody as soon as Nick arrived, who had brought the police with him right away, their pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears with the cops and later the judge, leaving him just as unimpressed by Cory’s affirmations that none of it had been intended as more than a prank, as by Alex’ proven attempts to cover up what had turned into a serious crime by abusing his position as head of IT with the police by making the missing person’s report for Blake “disappear” and hiding his son’s tracks.
Father and son were sentenced to several years in prison.
Grace made a sincere effort to rekindle her friendship with Ethan, Blythe, Esmée, Nick and Blair, which they hesitantly allowed, especially after they were introduced to a man who had apparently been Grace’s boyfriend since the divorce years ago, they lived together and they had a little son, Christopher.
On the home front things were running an even keel for most, Blake was still working on his recovery and watching their kids most of the time, Hailey had taken on a part-time job on top of her work-from-home one during his absence trying to keep them afloat, Ethan and Blythe’s renewed love was blossoming.
Esmée and Nick were now grandparents to 7 healthy grandkids after Ally gave birth to another little boy, Layton Richmond-Gray. Needless to say, between the law firm and all the grandkids, family man Nick and mother hen Esmée had become a rare sight.
For Elias, however, things weren’t so rosy. On top of the emotional roller coaster caused by the court dates to get the Pritchetts to pay for their deeds, he was facing his college finals, stressing him out tremendously.
It was no true surprise for Blythe and Ethan to see him come home for a visit earlier than expected. The San Myshuno University campus wasn’t exactly around the corner, but the four or so hours drive weren’t too outrageous, and sometimes Eli just needed to be in the comforts of his parental home.
“Mom, dad, I am home.” Eli poked his head into the kitchen, then already turned to leave the room again. That was unusual, normally he wanted to spend time with them.
“Hello sweetie. Are you hungry?” Blythe chirped as her son barged in and was leaving again.
“Nope.” Eli growled and ran up the stairs to his room without another look. That was also unusual, as Elias was always hungry, making a big trip to the grocery store to restock everything necessary every time he left again. Normally.
“What’s with him?” Ethan asked.
“Beats me. I’ll go check on him.” Blythe told him.
“I’ll go. Maybe he needs some man to man talk.” Ethan puffed up.
“All right …” Blythe didn’t sound very convinced but let her husband take the lead.
Ethan was about to run up the stairs when someone was at the door.
Instead of going up, he turned and answered instead.
“Oh, Natasha! How are you, kiddo?” he greeted his son’s girlfriend as he let her inside.
“Fine, thanks. Is he here?” she too sounded unusually short and not her normal pleasant self, irking Ethan.
“Just got home, went straight upstairs, but he is in some kind of …. mood.” Ethan barely got out as Natasha nodded in acknowledgment and was already on her way up to Eli’s room.
Ethan turned to look at Blythe, who came out of the kitchen, shrugged, when they already heard loud voices. Evidently the kids were fighting. Loudly.
“What the heck is going on with them?” Ethan asked rhetorically.
“Uh oh, trouble in paradise. Should we …?” Blythe wondered out aloud.
“Nah, let them get it out of their systems. Not sure I want a piece of that.” Ethan disagreed.
They heard the voices get louder, signaling a door was opened, then Natasha came running down the stairs, followed by Eli, still yelling at her.
On her way to the front door she turned to him, told him some obscene and barely practicable suggestions about how he could spend the rest of his day, then noticed Eli’s parents staring at them, blushing she mumbled an apology.
A moment of tense silence occurred, before Natasha was out the door, Elias stood thunderstruck for a moment, then ran out behind her.
A car door slammed, tires screeched and she was gone, leaving a very upset Eli to return inside.
“Oh, honey … what happened?” Blythe asked concerned.
“She’s a bitch is what happened!” Eli hissed as a reply.
“Young man! Not in that tone and not such low gutter words towards your mother!” Ethan told him firmly.
“Sorry. She is a grade-A bitch. Better?” Elias was angry, still, and the sarcasm was hard to miss.
“Elias …!” Ethan warned, but Blythe shook her head, instead addressed their son calmly.
“Honey, fights happen. Everybody fights, especially if you have known each other for such a long time as you two have. I am sure it will blow over.”
“Blow over? There is nothing to blow over, mom! And please quit asking what happened, I do not want to talk about it. Just know this: for once, none of this is my fault, I know you’ve been considering that. This is on her! But I finally got to tell her what I think about her and her fucked up father and their fucked up house in that fucked up Forgotten Hollow!”
“Elias Cameron! Oh my goodness! What has gotten into you!? Since when do you speak to people in that manner?! That sweet girl, I am sure it was all a misunderstanding, you two are so good together. I hope you weren’t rude to Henry Blackbourne? He is such a lovely, polite and soft-spoken gentleman. Honey, I understand you were upset, but …” Blythe looked horrified.
“But what mom? I am so frigging tired of it all anyway. Of that weird schedule we have to keep for family events if her father is invited, cos her dad cannot deal with daylight because of a – yeah right – sun allergy. Ha, allergy, my ass! Not to mention his creepy ass neighbor always sneaking around me when I go pick her up, going on and on about ‘beware the curse .. blah blah … soulmate…’. I am actually totally glad this BS is over. I am gonna go hang with Blake for a while now. Need to spend some time with someone who gets shit, someone reasonable and grounded!”
Eli threw on his coat and was out the door in seconds.
“Please be safe out there honey!” Blythe called after him, which he acknowledged with a wave of his hand without even turning around.
“Oh boy!” Blythe muttered.
“Agreed, just not sure what shocks me more, that entire Eli/Natasha drama or hearing Blake referred to as ‘reasonable and grounded’.” Ethan said dryly.
“Oh Ethan. Blake has really come around. He is a great role model for Elias. Who would have ever thought those two would end up becoming so close? Not me when they were kids, I admit it.”
“At the very least Blake won’t upset Eli tonight by asking too many questions …” Ethan grinned at Blythe, referring to Blake’s continued problems with speaking.
“Ethan, you’re impossible!” Blythe chuckled.
In the meantime Eli had arrived at Blake’s and begged him to go out with him, something Hailey wasn’t too happy about. The last time Blake left for a bar he had gone missing. But she said nothing, only cautioned both guys to be safe, with a worried look in her eyes.
They arrived at a gloomy bar, mostly empty, which suited them both just right.
Elias immediately ordered two beers, earning a look from Blake, who pulled both glasses in front of him as soon as the barkeeper poured them.
“What?” Elias asked, instantly annoyed.
“Just wondering what YOU are going to drink while I evidently get to double-fist beers.” Blake said dryly.
“Oh come on now! If there was ever a time … ” Elias looked annoyed.
“You are not 21 yet. You can pick anything without alcohol content, little bro. I am not going to get into THAT kind of trouble because of you, the end. Pick something else or go dry, but you ain’t getting no booze!” Blake’s tone was final, as he realized how much he sounded like his grandfather KC. Funny how things go sometimes.
Elias cursed colorfully, but obliged.
“My 21st birthday is in just a few weeks! On that day I will drink till I can no longer stand upright, I swear!” Eli sounded like a pouting child.
“Great plan, Eli. Worked really well for grandpa and me too. Highly recommend if the task is to really torpedo your future. Only took me forever to get back on the straight and narrow.” it was obvious that the topic annoyed Blake and that his waxing and waning ability to speak was giving him problems, as his voice kept tipping over repeatedly, before fading into little more than a rasp.
“Spare me the lecture! Fine, I’ll get a soda or whatever.”
Both brothers drank big sips, sat in silence for a moment, before Eli started pouring his heart out to Blake.
What followed was a monologue about what all had gone down in Elias’ life of late, leading to the crescendo from today. Elias complained bitterly about Natasha. Blake listened without interruption, even though his voice probably had recovered about half way through Elias verbiage of frustrations.
“So when are you planning to get that bouquet of flowers and crawl back?” Blake finally asked after a few minutes pause when Eli had run out of things to say.
Eli gave him a look somewhere between amused, worried and as if doubting the state of Blake’s mental health.
“What?! Did your mental lights turn off half way through!? The little hamster spinning that brain-wheel get tired? I just told you that I am NEVER going back to her, that I am GLAD it’s over, the case Natasha is closed, and that I do not need her! She can go and live happily ever after at her creepy place with her creepy dad in that creepy Forgotten Hollow!” Elias rambled on.
“So you break up with her because life currently annoys you?” Blake purposely put it in a manner that made it sound ridiculous.
“WTH is wrong with you Blake?!” Elias gave him a disgusted look.
“You mean because I sound reasonable?” Blake asked unimpressed. He realized that he used to be that guy and secretly pitied his father and grandfather for having had to listen to him sounding as ridiculous as Eli did to him now about some nonsense blown out of proportion.
“So if you were me, you’d just crawl back apologizing, knowing you didn’t do anything wrong?! PUH-LEASE!”
“Buddy, we are male, and therewith always wrong in fights with girls and it is always our fault.”
“Screw that! Can I at least have a sip of one of your beers?” Eli asked.
“I maybe let you smell them, but your little kid lips are going nowhere near the beer or I’ll slap the taste out of your mouth.” Blake smirked, referring to the ten year age difference between them.
“Not when we’re both standing up, unless you climb on that bar stool first, you dwarf.”
The two men laughed at the vast exaggeration of an old every ongoing joke between them about the significant height difference between the brothers.
But Elias did go back to his college dorm the next day without making up with Natasha, focusing on his finals instead.
This lead to a sort of secret betting pool among the rest of the family about if/when he would get back together with Natasha, or if he’d go the womanizing route several of the Cameron men went down in generations before him because of wounded pride and broken hearts.
The answer would remain to be seen …
– to be continued –