Saturday, May 3, 2014

2.3 - According to Plan

Collin stood impatiently by his cake, waiting for Erika and his mother to join him.  Erika felt just as eager for Collin to become an adult as he did and hurriedly took her place.  Jessica was a bit more laid back about the whole thing.  She had an amused smile as she walked over toward the younger two.

Erika had never really been into celebrating birthdays, but this was definitely an exception.  And besides, she needed to pay Collin back for blowing that party favor right into her ear on her birthday.  So she received one of them from Jessica and made sure to blow it loudly.  Although she did give Collin a bit more courtesy by not standing directly by his ear when she did.

Unfortunately for Collin, his mother didn't have the same courtesy.  Perhaps she detected Erika's desire to blow it right into Collin's ear, but her self-restraint and decided to act on it.  And maybe that was true, since legends did say that vampires could read minds.  At least Jessica's enthusiasm for the party horn meant that Erika didn't have to blow it anymore.

Erika expected it would be just the three of them at Collin's birthday, when they were suddenly joined by a young boy.  Erika initially was confused about who he was, since he didn't look anything like Collin or Jessica, until she noticed the same sheen to his black hair.

"That's my half-brother, Franklin," Collin commented absently, noticing Erika's momentary confusion.  So, it seemed she wasn't the only one with half-siblings.  This made Erika feel a bit better about her own family.  Perhaps her family hadn't been perfect as she would have liked, but at least it hadn't been abnormal.  Although that didn't really matter since her future family would be perfect.

"All right, dear.  We're cheering for you.  You can stop basking in the glory and blow out your candles," Jessica commented with a smirk as Collin continued to stand by the cake.  Collin started and then blushed at having been caught enjoying the cheers.

"I wasn't basking in glory!  I was just... trying to decide what I wanted to wish for.  But I know now," Collin retorted, lowering his head and blowing at the candles.  In truth he'd already known what he wanted to wish for.  But it was embarrassing so he couldn't say it out loud and he couldn't spend too much time thinking about it or his mom would tease him about it.

Collin stepped back when the candles went out and waited for the change to adulthood to hit him.  He hoped that however he looked when he became an adult, Erika would be impressed.  He didn't let his insecurities show, though.  Instead, striking a confident pose as the change finished.

As Collin finished his age transition, the full moon began to rise.  Jessica, meanwhile, regarded her son and then looked over at Erika.  Yes, Erika was a fine heir.  She'd been worried since her oldest child was such a goody-two-shoes, but perhaps now her legacy was safe.  All she needed to do was convince her son to turn Erika and then she'd finally have the strength to take back control of the city's vampires from the Hemlock family...

But she didn't say any of that out loud.  She was a very old vampire and had been laying these plans for quite a while.  Sure, she'd had a set-back with Collin, but her patience was starting to pay off.  In the meantime she could be patient for a little while longer.  In the meantime, she was going to enjoy some cake.

Erika had been trying to come up with some excuse to pass on the cake, but when she saw Jessica eating it she decided that she could eat it too.  It would just take a trip to the gym to work it off anyway.

Franklin and Collin held no such reservations and immediately dove into the cake.  Obviously, just because they were vampires didn't mean they couldn't enjoy indulgences like this, even if they didn't really need to eat.

When everyone finished, Jessica shooed Franklin off to his room to do his homework and get to bed while she cleaned up.  This left Erika and Collin free, which might have been Jessica's intent.  Either way, Erika looked at Collin expectantly, waiting for him to take this moment to pop the question.

But Collin didn't immediately say anything.  In fact, he didn't seem to notice Erika staring at him at all.  Maybe he needed a little bit of encouragement.  It was his birthday, so perhaps he was waiting for Erika to make the first move.  That was fine with her.

"You look amazing.  I love how long your hair has gotten," Erika commented, coming up next to Collin and leaving him very little personal space.

"Really?  I know you like longer hair, but I was a little worried that maybe I let it grow too long..." Collin admitted, blushing.

"Not at all.  It's perfect," Erika assured with a smile.

"Thanks," Collin murmured in response, looking sheepish.

"Don't be so modest, you're very handsome," Erika assured.  Of course he was, she knew he'd be.  Even as a child she'd been able to predict that he'd grow up perfectly, and he had.  There was no need for modesty.  But she supposed that innocence was something she liked about him.  Although she could see where it had frustrated his mother.

"I'm just glad that I can measure up to you," Collin commented.  Erika beamed at that.  She did so love it when Collin complimented her.

But there, now the necessary comments were out of the way... so now Collin would propose to her, right?  She gazed expectantly at him once again, mentally trying to project what she was waiting for.

And once again, Collin completely missed what she was waiting for.  He apparently though she was waiting for a kiss, because that's what he did.  Oh, the kiss was nice so she wasn't complaining but she would really like him to pop the question soon.

But still, Erika was troubled.  What was she missing?  What did she need to do that would signal to Collin that now was the right time to propose?  Then it hit her.  Of course!  It was bad manners to receive a gift before the person celebrating the birthday.  That's all she needed to do.  And she had gotten Collin a gift, she'd just forgotten about it in her excitement.  It was a good thing she remembered before she disappointed him.

"I got you something for your birthday," Erika announced with a smile, producing the package from her bag.

"Wow!  Thank you, Erika!" Collin exclaimed, grinning as he took the gift from her.

If he were honest, he hadn't really expected Erika to get him a gift.  Just having her come for his birthday was enough.  And she tended to be a little self-centered and didn't seem prone to giving gifts.  Obviously that had been a mistaken assumption on his part, and he was a bit embarrassed about that.  When he opened the gift he found a book of sheet music and grinned.  "Wow!  Thank you!" he exclaimed again, shocked by the very personal gift.

"I love listening to your music," Erika assured with a smile.  Excellent, her gift had been perfect as planned.  And now would be the moment that Collin would take to propose...

Except... he didn't.  He just stood there admiring the book while Erika waited, and waited.  What was the matter now?  "Um... isn't there something else you'd like to say right now...?" she prompted, waiting eagerly for what she was sure was coming next.

"Hm?  Uh... I'm afraid I can't play this yet, if that's what you mean.  I'd like to practice it first," Collin replied, unable to bear making a mistake in front of Erika.  He didn't think it would go over well, and didn't want her to be disappointed with his skill.  "But I'll make sure to practice it and I'll play it for you by this weekend," he assured.  It shouldn't take him that long to master something like this.

"...That's not what I meant," Erika mumbled, feeling heavy disappointment crush down on her.  Could it be that he didn't intend to propose to her?  Had she done something to make him lose interest in her?  Were all of her plans for the future worth nothing?

Collin immediately panicked when Erika's face fell.  What had he done?  Had he said something wrong?  Was she disappointed?  What had he done?!

"Erika... what's wrong?" Collin asked, trying to sound gentle and not as panicky as he felt.

"I thought... I was expecting that you'd take this opportunity to..." Erika began, only to trail off.

"To...?" Collin prompted.  He could just read Erika's mind, but he'd always felt like he should never use that particular power, especially not on someone he really cared about.

"To propose," she confessed, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Propose?!" Collin exclaimed, now seriously blushing.  Although his shock was the wrong thing to do, as Erika looked even more miserable now.  "Erika... I... I want to propose to you.  I mean... I might have totally used my mom to help me get a ring.  I just thought you'd want something more romantic.  Like maybe I was going to ask you to dinner some time this week and then I'd propose to you over candlelight," Collin admitted with a wry smile.  So much for those plans.

"Really?  You were going to propose to me?" Erika asked, relaxing a bit.  Although she was still upset that her carefully laid plans for tonight had fallen through.

"Of course.  I do want to spend the rest of my life with you, Erika.  I couldn't imagine spending it with anyone else," Collin assured, pulling Erika close to him.

"Then propose to me now," Erika prompted, although Collin had to admit it sounded a bit like a demand.

"I think I already sort of did," Collin pointed out.  But Erika wasn't budging and Collin suppose that she wanted him to do the whole proposal thing anyway.  Not that he really minded.  "All right, wait just a minute," he replied, and couldn't help but be happy to see Erika looking happy again.

He returned in a minute with a box in his hand.  He felt a little silly as he knelt down in front of Erika, but he could see the anticipation in her eyes and didn't want to disappoint her.  "Erika, will you marry me?" he asked, opening the box to show her the ring.

"Oh, Collin!  It's beautiful!  Of course I'll marry you," Erika replied, ecstatic.  She watched as he slipped the ring onto her finger and smiled.  So there had been a little bit of a hiccup to her plans, but in the end she was getting everything she wanted.  She couldn't be happier.

"So... shall we celebrate our new engagement tonight?" Erika prompted, gazing coyly at Collin as he stood up.  Collin chuckled slightly and shook his head.

"I share a bedroom with my brother," was all he needed to say for Erika to understand.

"Oh, all right.  I suppose that would be a little inappropriate.  Tomorrow then.  We can start making plans for the wedding.  And I have some place I want to show you," Erika replied with a smile.

"Some place to show me?" Collin prompted, intrigued.

"Tomorrow," Erika replied, sealing his mouth with a kiss before he could ask anymore questions and potentially ruin the surprise.

Erika really didn't want to leave that night.  And it was clear Collin didn't want her to leave either.  But they'd just have to wait.  They'd be spending the night together soon enough, and then they'd never have to part.  Everything was working out just as Erika wanted so far, and she was quite confident it would continue to.  She knew she'd get everything she could possibly want.


Sorry this chapter took so long.  I've had the pictures for a while, it was just hard to get the motivation to write the chapter itself.  I was almost tempted to leave it without the engagement... but I decided to go for it anyway.  Although in my actual play file it was Erika who proposed to Collin.  (Had to make sure Collin inherited the Gaul name, not the other way around).  But I doubt that Erika would be happy with anything but a traditional proposal and marriage.  Now if only I could work up the motivation to give her the traditional marriage she wants and not cop out...

Monday, April 28, 2014

2.2 - Infiltration

When graduation had finished, Danisha needed to get to work leaving Erika on her own.  She still had some time before she could head to Collin's apartment since he was currently still in school, but that was fine with her.  She actually had somewhere she wanted to go first anyway.  She pulled out her phone and gave her brother a quick call.  "I just wanted to let you know that I'm stopping by," she informed him before catching a taxi to the apartment complex that Nielson and Belisama had moved into.

When Belisama came to the door to greet her, Erika started feeling a bit self-conscious.  Her current plan wasn't entirely in her control, and Erika didn't like that.  It would rely on the cooperation of her sister-in-law, and while she admired the older woman, she didn't know her very well to say for sure if she would go along with what she wanted to do.

"Are you hear to see Nielson?  He's currently pinned down at the moment, but I'll see if I can rescue him so you can talk to him," Belisama offered with a slight smile as she regarded Erika.

"Actually... I came here to talk to you," Erika admitted, looking back up at Belisama.  The woman raised an eyebrow in response without saying anything.  She was obviously surprised, but waited for Erika to elaborate.

"Erika, is that you?" a voice suddenly spoke up.  Erika recognized her brother's voice and glanced around to see where he was.  It took her a moment to spot him lying on the couch.  There was also a small body on top of him.  Even if she hadn't heard the news from their mother that Nielson and Belisama had had a baby she could have guessed the little guy was his.  They had the same mop of dirty blond hair.  And if she'd been able to see his eyes she would have seen the same turquoise color there as well.  This must be Travis Gaul.

"Yeah, it's me," Erika confirmed, watching as her brother slowly got up, carefully keeping the little guy from falling off.

"Is there something you wanted to talk about?" he asked, once he was standing.

"Yes, but it's actually Belisama I want to talk to..." Erika explained, trailing off and trying to decide if telling Nielson to leave would make her sister-in-law less likely to cooperate with her.

Fortunately, Belisama seemed to sense what Erika wanted to say and intervened for her.  "Would you mind leaving us girls alone?  It's girl talk," she explained.  "Besides, you seem exhausted anyway.  Why don't you lie down on the bed for a nap rather than the couch?" she suggested.

"All right," Nielson agreed with a shrug.  "Come on little guy, the girls are kicking us out," Nielson informed his son.

"Let's have a seat," Belisama suggested once Nielson and Travis were gone and the door was closed behind them.  Erika nodded and followed her over to the counter.  "So, what did you want to ask me about that you couldn't ask in front of Nielson?" she prompted.

"I'm looking for employment right now, and I think you can help me," Erika replied, not bothering to beat around the book.

"You think I can help you?  And how exactly would I be helping you?" Belisama responded, raising another eyebrow as she regarded Erika.

"You'll be helping me get into your family's business," Erika explained.  "That's how."

Belisama's facial expression immediately changed and it was clear she knew exactly what Erika was talking about.  She didn't bother trying to deny it, although she didn't look too thrilled either.

"Why would you want to get involved  in my family's business?  Have you forgotten what happened to you the last time you did?" Belisama asked, pointedly not looking at Erika's face.

"No, I haven't forgotten.  It's precisely because I haven't forgotten that I want in," Erika insisted.  "I know you've gotten involved with them.  Even after everything that happened I kept up my research on them.  You can't just join the organization, but if you gave me a recommendation I could get in," she explained.

"You're playing with fire, Erika.  You've already been burned once.  The next time you won't get off so easy.  If this is some stupid plan for revenge then..." Belisama started to say, only to be interrupted by a bump on the floor next to them.  Instantly, both women's gaze turned downward, only to see young Travis banging a container of play-dough against his play table.  He must have gotten bored taking a nap with daddy and had popped the door to come back out here where his toys were.

"Listen to me, Erika.  If you get involved with those people it won't just be you who's in danger.  Any future family you might have will be too," Belisama murmured softly, her gaze riveted to her young son.  Obviously, she was thinking of the danger he was in because of her own involvement with them, and probably imagining what would happen to him if she betrayed the group.

Erika also regarded the young toddler while imagining the two perfect children she would be having with Collin.  This career she wanted didn't really suit her perfect family life that she had imagined.  Even she could admit that.  But she was also perfectly confident that she could manage to find the balance and keep both sides of her life perfect and separated.

"Listen, I'm not asking you to betray the organization or put your family in danger, believe me.  I legitimately want to join the organization and not as some sort of revenge," Erika announced earnestly, looking Belisama straight in the eye so she could see her sincerity.

"Then why do you want to join?" Belisama asked, now sounding genuinely confused.

"My mother's goal for her life was to clean up this city," Erika replied, not answering the question directly.  "That's why she joined the police force.  But she hasn't been able to do that.  She couldn't even find her husband's murderer taking the straight and narrow path to justice.  That's why I'm going to do what my mother couldn't.  I'm going to clean up this city by starting in the filthiest parts of it and cleaning it up from there," she explained.  That's how she would make this city perfect.  By making the criminal element, the true power in this city, conform to her own image of perfection.  The rest of the city would simply fall in line.

"In order to do that you can't just be a member of the organization, you'll need to control it," Belisama commented, looking thoughtful.

"I can do that.  Believe in me," Erika insisted.

"You'll have to deal with Red first.  He's the one who took over the organization when my mother was arrested.  He's in charge of the organization now.  Since I didn't have the experience to take control when my mother was removed, he was the most logical choice.  He was actually there that night when you were attacked.  He simply escaped.  He's a big guy, but dangerously quiet so he's often overlooked," Belisama explained.  Erika knew who she was talking about.  The big guy with red hair who'd kidnapped her and hadn't said a word or changed expression the entire time.  She shivered.  He wouldn't be easy to deal with.  But she still believed she could manage.

"I'll find a way to deal with him.  No worries," Erika assured.  Perhaps she could even win a guy like that over.  He would be a powerful ally.

"And my mother won't be in jail forever.  Kidnapping and assault charges only go so far.  They couldn't pin any other crimes on her," Belisama pointed out.

"Oh, don't worry.  I'm looking forward to when Morrigan gets out," Erika assured, a cruel smile twisting her lips.  Belisama said nothing, but Erika could see her starting to smile too.  It seemed like she had her 'in' after all.

Erika didn't have time to stick around after that.  It was getting late and she wanted to get to Collin's place in time.  Belisama assured her that she'd talk to Red about setting up an introductory 'job' for her so they could see her skills and said that she could expect an anonymous call when that had been decided.  Until then, it was just a matter of waiting.

So Erika turned her mind to other things.  Mainly, her boyfriend's birthday and her impending engagement.

When Erika got up to Collin's floor and rang the doorbell, her boyfriend eagerly greeted her with a hug.  "I thought you might be too busy to make it, now that you're an adult," Collin confessed, clearly thrilled that Erika had actually shown up as promised.

"I said I'd come, didn't I?  When have I ever not followed through on my word?" Erika prompted, and he had to agree with her on that one.

"You know, I thought you were beautiful last night in the moonlight, but you're even more beautiful now that I can see you properly in the light," Collin commented with what he hoped was a very roguish smile.  He still couldn't believe that a girl as popular and beautiful as Erika was into him so he wanted her to know how much he appreciated that.  "By the way, congrats on making valedictorian.  They made the announcement at school today," he added.

"Thank you," Erika replied, blushing appropriately to the compliment.

But Collin didn't stay smiling for long.  He looked hesitant for a moment as the smile faded, and then nervous.  "Actually, there's something I want to tell you before my birthday.  There's something that I should have told you a while ago," he confessed.

"Something you need to confess?" Erika repeated, feeling her heart skip a beat.  What could it be?  Collin looked really upset so it had to be serious.  Could he be about to admit that he'd cheated on Erika?  No, that couldn't be...  Her Collin would never cheat on her.  Unless some petty bitch had seduced him.  Erika could feel her anger rise.  If any other woman had so much as touched Collin she'd make them regret it.  Collin would never cheat on her himself, but if he'd been tricked by a woman...  Erika could feel herself getting angrier at the thought.

"Yes.  I really should have told you this the first time we met, but I didn't want to scare you off.  You see, the truth is... I'm a vampire.  I know that's hard to believe, but it's true.  Vampire's are real, and I'm one of them," he admitted, looking toward Erika for her reaction with what she could only describe as dread.

"A vampire?  Is that it?" Erika exclaimed, her surprise and relief making her blurt out the words without thinking.  Collin looked at her uncertainly.

"Uh..." he started, but Erike cut him off.

"I'm sorry.  The truth is, I figured that out a while ago," she confessed with a shrug, surprising Collin again.

"You did...?" he asked uncertainly.

"Yeah.  I admit, I didn't notice initially.  I didn't even believe in vampires at first.  But then my brother got himself in a relationship with a vampire and at his wedding I finally figured out for sure that he and his wife were vampires.  Then I realized you had a lot of similar traits with them like the glowing eyes and the faint glow to your skin so that's when I knew for sure," she explained with a shrug, leaving Collin speechless.

"And you're okay with that...?" Collin asked uncertainly, this conversation not going how he'd imagined at all.

"Of course I am.  You're still perfect, whether or not you're a vampire.  I wouldn't change you for anything," Erika assured with a smile.  Those were the perfect words, and Collin finally relaxed.

"Well... you took that better than I thought.  Thanks," Collin admitted with a sheepish smile.  He leaned in toward Erika and she leaned forward, expecting a kiss, when someone clearing their throat interrupted them.

"Collin, be a dear and put your things away in your room.  You're still a teen which means you still have chores to do before your birthday," a woman's voice commented, and Erika was surprised to see Collin's mom.  She'd only met her once, but she'd left such an impression on young Erika that she still remembered.  And she hadn't changed a bit.  Which was to be expected since she was also clearly a vampire.  Collin groaned but obediently trudged off, leaving the two women alone.  Which gave Erika a chance to get to know this woman and make a good impression on her soon-to-be mother-in-law.

"Hello, Mrs. Talon.  It's so nice to see you again," she began, only to have the older woman interrupt her.

"Oh don't be like that.  Flattering others doesn't seem like you," Jessica responded, and Erika faltered for a moment wondering if she'd taken a misstep.  But then she saw the amusement on Jessica's face and realized she was still all right.

"You know, I like you.  You remind me a lot of myself when I was your age.  Collin is such a good boy... but he can be sickeningly sweet and naive at times.  I was worried he would bring home a girl just like him.  I'm relieved to see that you're anything but," Jessica commented warmly.

"Thank you," Erika replied, excited to hear that the woman she looked up to reminded herself of her.  The very idea that she was a lot like the Jessica Talon was just beyond words.  "I do my best with him.  As long as no other girl tries to take advantage of him, I find his sweetness and innocence endearing," she admitted.

Jessica laughed a bit.  "It is that, I suppose.  And as long as you're the only one taking advantage of it it's hard to complain about, I admit," she mused.

Erika was going to continue, only to have Collin interrupt her.  "You two chatting it up like that over there is making me uncomfortable.  Especially since I'm positive it's me you're talking about.  So how about we have my birthday now, okay?" he suggested, getting the distinct impression that Erika and Jessica were conspiring together against him.  And he wasn't far off.  Not that Erika could protest.  She was more than eager to see Collin finally as an adult.  And then, once the birthday cake was eaten she'd finally be proposed to in the romantic light of the full moon, just as she'd imagined...


I decided to cut this chapter short.  I was originally going to include Collin's birthday in it, but it was getting a little long so I'll save that for next chapter.  I was also a good girl and finally got a picture of Nielson and Belisama's son, Travis Gaul.  He's a cutie.  Right now he looks like he takes more after his mom aside from coloring, but as he grows I think he'll show that he has a good balance of his parents' features.  Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of the other child in that household, Frank(Belisama's child from her affair), since he was at school.  But I'm putting together a family tree so you'll get to see him in that one once I get it uploaded.