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Dear J, Hidden Springs really seemed to be the right move and everything was kind of falling into place. I was brought on by Paradox Pictures to compose the score for their upcoming action film Terminal Retaliation. It was starring none other than, you guessed it, Samuel Serendipity.
If you remember, he’s the guy my Aunt Keniesha met at the Grammy after party. They’ve been dating for a while now and rumor has it, they’ll be tying the knot. Even though I still wonder what happened to Uncle Mango, I’m really excited about my aunt finally finding love again. So is my mom.
When she was a teenager and then all through her adult life, she loved every movie he was in. She was never an action movie fan, she just loved that guy. Even now, she sometimes talks about how when she and my dad were first dating, they cuddled on the couch watching Triple Overkill. She sighs all funny while she’s remembering and says things like, “Those were the days.”
To be honest, Triple Overkill is an okay movie, but definitely not Samuel’s best flick. My all time favorite that he did was called Duke of Vengeance. In it, Duke Crossbow (an assassin played by Samuel) was framed for a theft. After Duke got out of prison, he went on a rampage, seeking revenge on everyone who’d double crossed him. Now there’s a great action movie!
But I digress…. where was I? Oh yeah. The film I’m working on; Terminal Retaliation. The studio is expecting this to be a real blockbuster which makes me a little surprised they chose me to do the score. But I’m not going to argue with them. As soon as they offered it to me, I jumped at the chance. Now that I’ve totally switched gears with my career, I have to prove that I can do this and that it was the right decision.
It’s been tough to ignore some of the criticism that has come since I supposedly “threw away my career.” So I had to work extra hard now to make good.
I do have a small studio in our new house, but I decided to try out some of my new compositions on the grand piano. They just sound better there.
When Josh came over later that day, I was really excited to tell him about the new music. That’s how it was with me. Typically I would get the inspiration and then write almost feverishly, pounding out tunes on the piano. After more changes then I could count, it would eventually become something with a life of its own.
This piece was turning out to be pretty good, in my opinion. I had the main melody down and had figured out some variations of it. I thought this was a great start.
Anyway, Josh seemed excited, too. He really dug the song I played for him and he had some great ideas for the orchestration. I have to say, action music is a lot of fun.
Later that day, Blue and I went next door to the Drummond house (it still feels strange calling my sister a Drummond) for a barbecue. Speaking of Rachel, I don’t think I mentioned that about a month after she and Josh came back from their honeymoon, they announced they were having a baby.
She’s due anytime which has Blue talking nonstop about how she’s going to be very important to her new cousin. I’m really happy for Rachel. With the awesome way she took care of Blue, I know she’ll be a terrific mother.
“Leo, are you even listening to me?” Rachel said with exasperation.
One thing I have to say about Hidden Springs is that it’s hard to concentrate on conversation when there’s all that beauty around you to behold.
I paused for a minute now, trying to figure out what she’d said. Finally, I admitted, “No. No, I’m not.”
She rolled her eyes as Josh produced a knowing smirk. Apparently he tuned her out sometimes, too.
“I asked if you’re still getting those weird calls.”
I sighed. The calls. “Yeah, once in a while.”
“I don’t think you should just make light of them,” she said.
“Look, it’s just some kid or something and it doesn’t happen that often,” I reasoned. The last thing I wanted was for her to worry. I gave Josh a little glare to remind him that I was sore at him for telling her in the first place. In return, he smiled, clearly not understanding the message. This guy didn’t need a sign, he needed a billboard.
As for the calls, they had begun almost as soon as Blue and I had moved in. And they weren’t anything, really, just hang up calls. I would answer and get hung up on. Sometimes there was a longer pause before the hang up. I only mentioned it to Josh in passing and the first thing the loud mouth had done, was tell my sister.
“Well, I don’t like it,” Rachel said. “It could be some crazy fan or something. Or someone who’s mad that the band broke up.”
I shrugged. “It’s probably a coincidence. How would a fan have my phone number? It’s not exactly something that’s available to the public.”
“What about Bexley or Cricket? Could it be one of them?” Josh asked.
I glared harder at him than I had before and this time, I could see it register in his eyes. “No, it couldn’t,” I said. “As you know, I changed my number when we moved here.”
“Are we eating yet?” Blue called from the picnic table. “I’m going to faint over here!”
Feeling relieved at the interruption, I motioned my melodramatic daughter to sit down and gave her a hot dog and some chips.
“Thif if really goot, Uncle Josh,” she said around her first bite.
“Thanks, sweetie,” Josh answered as he filled his plate.
“I’m glad you like it but don’t talk with your mouth full,” I said. Since moving here, I’d begun to wonder what had happened to Blue. It wasn’t all bad…. just different. In Bridgeport, she’d been a shy little girl who hardly ever spoke. She was still shy, but she was becoming more and more vocal. And funny. It was really nice seeing this side of her.
She swallowed her food, took a drink and then said, “Sorry.”
As was usual in recent weeks, the discussion centered around the new baby. I was interested in everything that was going on with Rachel’s pregnancy. Not just because she’s my sister and I obviously care about her, but it was a chance for me to observe all of the things I’d missed while Chrissy had been pregnant with Blue. I never saw any of this, nor had I seen Blue as a baby.
“We haven’t decided on a name, but we have some we like really well,” Josh said.
“Well, I think you should name her Blue Valentine the Second!” Blue giggled. “She’s going to be just like me.”
“She or he is going to love you a lot,” Rachel said.
“Oh it’s a she,” Blue answered. “I just know it.”
When we were finished eating, Blue and I cleared the table and did the dishes. There was no way I was letting my almost-due sister slave away. Josh picked up a plate, but Blue took it from him and I waved him away.
“We’ve got this,” I said with a smile.
“Thanks, you guys,” Rachel said. “It’s so hot out, I think I’m going to take a swim.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Josh agreed.
And so the afternoon was a peaceful one. When we’d first moved here, I’d wondered how I’d ever get used to the quietness of it all. Instead of busy roads and skyscrapers, there were mountains, lakes and lush trees and skies.
Except for a maid that came in everyday, Blue and I lived alone. There were no unexpected people just walking into the house. We didn’t have to share anything with anyone or worry that people were around all the time.
Sure, there were always paparazzi around and I had to be mindful about that, especially where Blue’s privacy was concerned, but the whole atmosphere was just different. In Bridgeport, or really anywhere we’d gone on tour, I hadn’t been able to just go out without a lot of planning since security had to go with me everywhere. That meant that, on a whim, I couldn’t catch a movie or take Blue to a diner. We would have been overrun immediately by fans.
Here, all of the extra security hadn’t seemed necessary. It was still difficult at times to go to town. People still recognized me. The locals knew I’d moved here. But I had to grocery shop like anyone else and run errands. It was really uncomfortable at first, but once the townies got used to it, most of them didn’t really treat me all that differently than anyone else. And I liked it that way.
It seemed more and more that this new role of being nothing more than Blue’s dad was really suited to me. Because people would still ask me for autographs and liked to take pictures of me, there wouldn’t be any casual trips to the park. But I was really hoping that when Blue began school, she would make friends who could come over and play with her. That would just mean everything to the both of us.
Blue had been taking some summer classes and one of them was swimming. It made me so happy that she was getting into a routine and learning new things. I wanted her to be confident and secure.
One thing she’d decided since hanging out with the other kids in her swim class, was that she had to have neater hair. She’d mentioned to me that the other girls’ hair wasn’t “wild” like hers. So, she’d been pulling hers up into a cute little hairstyle.
“Now watch how I swim, Daddy,” she instructed. “First I’m going to do a starfish float and then I’m going to do the backstroke.”
“Okay, I’m watching.”
My eyes grew slightly misty as I watched her demonstration. She’d really put up with a lot in her short life. Hopefully, from here on out, things would be better for my girl.
Rachel joined Blue and as they paddled around in the water, Josh and I chatted about the mood we wanted the music to set for Terminal Retribution.
It wasn’t long before Rachel dragged herself out of the pool and stood at the side of it with a strangely tense expression on her face.
“Are you all right?” Josh asked.
After a moment, she relaxed a little bit and she said, “Yeah. I have indigestion or something.”
“I’m going to get dressed,” Josh said over his shoulder as he went into the house.
I stood next to my sister and touched her arm. “I can tell you don’t feel well. Can I get you anything?”
“I think I’m just going to get out of the sun, maybe have a glass of ice water and put my feet up.”
After telling Blue to get out of the pool, I took Rachel inside. As I was getting her a glass of water, she gripped her abdomen and cried out.
“What’s wrong?” I shouted without meaning to shout. Of course, I knew what she was going to say.
“I think – no I’m pretty sure that I’m in labor. I need to get dressed.”
It was nothing less than surreal, watching my sister in labor on the way to the hospital. Josh drove as Rachel calmly called her obstetrician to let him know she was on her way.
My palms were sweaty so Blue refused to hold my hand and my heart raced anxiously as we walked up to the entrance of the emergency department. To my relief, Josh was calm and really attentive to her. They both had little smiles on their faces and the way they looked into each others’ eyes made me realize on an even deeper level what I’d missed out on. It was like they shared some wonderful secret or dream that was about to be realized and that only they could understand.
Even though it was clear to me that I couldn’t possibly understand what they were feeling on the same level, I was happy for them. In just a few hours, I would be an uncle for the first time.