The hand that slapped her cheek, she thought, was baby soft and powder smooth but even that didn’t lessen the sting, although she felt its resonance more emotionally than physically—which she was quite sure the owner of that hand had known all along. She had been attacked and nearly broken by a vampire and some psychotic glowing woman—both supernatural creatures, no doubt—but she had never been struck by another person, let alone another woman. There was a tough interior masked only by her beauty which the women who worked with her were quite aware of; she was never one to let down her guard enough for anyone to even get in a sneak attack, but she had never even seen this one coming though she had been staring right at her mother when it happened. No, not her mother; Cassandra.
The swell of blood that bloomed in her cheeks was more because of that single betraying thought than the single slap she’d been dealt as she walked through the door of her own spacious loft in Beverly Hills. Cass might not have birthed her but there was no mistaking that she was her mother. They even looked alike from their pale blond mane and dark roots to their voluptuous figures, although Lex had a few good inches and pounds on the woman who was nearing her fifties with the grace of a goddess. Or movie star. Cass was the type of woman who earned compliments and stares not just for her present beauty but for the stunner she surely must have been in her youth. Fine shoulder length hair, electric green eyes, and thin lips which trembled as she stared in horror at her raised hand and the spreading rouge on Lex’s fair cheek.
“Where. Have. You. Been?” she asked in that I’ve-just-been-crying-my-eyes-out tone of voice, which Lex hadn’t heard since… a week or so ago after the nightclub incident before both of them had taken it upon themselves to drive from San Francisco to LA just to take up her spare bedroom and treat her like a child again. Which is to say: pampered and overprotected. She could have maybe handled them a little bit better if she didn’t also have to deal with the bodyguard the Agency had tacked her with. A gigantic specimen named Todd Smith—or Agent S, as she thought of him unfondly—tagged along everywhere she went, even staying in her apartment until she threatened to relocate to Brazil and the Agency booked him a room at a nearby hotel instead. He was even better at his job than the previous two had been which also meant that he was twice as annoying. It came as no real surprise to her that both Cass and Gert found him charming and witty—both heavily hinting at how “cute” it would be if they were dating.
“Out. I needed… air. You know I can’t stay inside for long. I’ll suffocate.” She responded respectfully. Her mother. This was the woman who had raised her and acted only out of love for her, even if it was sometimes tough. Since they had arrived she had been hugged and kissed and coddled more times than she ever could remember, the first few nights they had all slept in her Queen-size sleigh bed until she notified them that she was perfectly fine sleeping alone. Every since then they’d gone out of their way, mostly Cass, making sure that she had everything she needed to the point where she didn’t have to go outdoors for a single thing. She felt like a prisoner in a lavish cage with very little privacy, if any at all. Gert was, as always, the sane one and pretty much stayed out of her way and her business, but Cass was overbearing and nosy and needed to know everything about everything from the male clothing in her drawers to the bear tooth in her jewelry box to the photographs of Kathleen hanging in the darkroom—“She’s pretty. A bit older than you, isn’t she? Who is she?”
All questions had been cast aside without even an attempt to answer them, not the first time nor the second or third… everything else aside she had to admit that part of her actually enjoyed having them around. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d woken up to a large breakfast everyday and had all her laundry washed, dried, and hung up neatly in her closet. Her place had never been neater or more orderly. Gert had even bought her more brushes and pencils and Cass handled the phones, canceling shoots and turning down interviews—she had her publicist make several statements to the press but she hadn’t and didn’t plan on doing any interviews regarding the shooting incident. The point was that she loved and adored her parents and enjoyed spending time with them… but there was such a thing as spending too much time with them.
So, she did what any successful grown woman would do… she snuck out. Only a few times at first and only for a few hours, for Jake’s party and to visit the Garou—specifically Kathleen—but things started to progress and naturally she ended up behaving a little more recklessly. And though they’d always been aware of her little absences the real reason they were so worried was because since they’d been there she hadn’t once tried to include and fill them in on her life. It would’ve happened sooner or later, for Cass it was as simple as not wanting to be pushed out of her daughter’s life, a daughter who she already saw more in catalogs than she did in person. It hurt. And she was convinced that her Lexy didn’t know what she was doing, which was why she was going to confront her about it rather than wait for her to come to them like Gert had suggested many times before. Unfortunately she hadn’t expected to feel such anger at seeing the blonde’s bright innocent face. She was still just a kid.
“Lexy,” she began, reaching out to touch that same cheek tenderly. Lovingly. “I’m so sorry. I just… I was worried. And not just for your safety.” Alexys nodded quietly. “Baby, we need to talk. I should’ve never let it go this far…” Cass continued, gripping Lex’s hand as she led her into the living room and sat down beside her on the plush green sofa—everything was done in earthy tones. Face-to-face, Cass squeezed her hand gently and took a deep breath before raising her first question: “Are you doing drugs?”
Lex blinked and repeated the question in her head. It still didn’t make sense. “What?”
Cass sighed, “Lexy, you’re in Hollywood… I know how things go. I watch Entertainment Tonight. It’s okay, honey, if you are. You’ve been through a lot… after the nightclub… I wouldn’t blame you, but sweetie you have to talk to us so we can help you. I love you, we love you… we just want you to let us in—”
“I am not on drugs! Why would you even think that? Do I seem like I’m high…?” she asked with wide slightly amused brown eyes. Drugs? “I’m not nor have I ever been on drugs, mother. Trust me.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, Lexy. I knew you weren’t that foolish, but… if not drugs then what? What is it that you’re trying to hide—and don’t tell me you’re not hiding something because we both know you are.” She said. “What is it that you feel you have to keep from us? What would make you push us away? Because that’s what you’re doing, Lex, and it hurts. It hurts us both.”
“I… I… it’s… complicated.” She swallowed a lump. She couldn’t exactly come out and tell her that she was related to werewolves and had recently befriended a few, including a were-bear. “I.. don’t know. I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was so obvious… I didn’t mean to hurt either of you. I love both of you. I’m so sorry…”
“It’s okay, sweetie. We love you, too. I’m so sorry for striking you. I was just so worried.” Cass consoled, squeezing her hand again gently. “I’m glad it’s not drugs or anything serious… I just… is it someone? Are you seeing someone?”
Lex paused, images of her and Kathleen near the lake flaring in her mind. She blushed and shook her head as if to say no, then nodded instead. Technically that was a lie, she supposed, but it was better than a Veil breach.
“Oh. Oh… good. That’s… great. Lexy, that’s nothing to be ashamed about. As long as you’re happy… you are happy, right?” Cass asked with a small smile, clearly relieved.
“I… am. I am. I’ve never been happier.”
“That’s great.” She paused. “So… why go through all the trouble to sneak around and keep them hidden?”
Lex paused. She hadn’t expected to be questioned further on the subject. “She—“ she broke off, letting that truth sink in. “She’s… we’re… she’s a little bit… more mature than I am.”
“Well, that’s not a very good excuse. After everything you’ve been through I can’t help wondering what sort of person she must be to not visit you or meet your parents. She’s not using you, is she?”
“No. No… she’s also mar—marriage... a marriage…counselor. She used to be. She’s just… busy. Really busy, so I go see her.” She smiled and added, “She’s really sweet. You’d love her. She has a pilot’s license.”
Cass grinned. “A marriage counselor with a piloting license… have you seen your smile? I want to meet her. Invite her over for dinner. I’ll cook an—“
“No! I mean… she’s busy and she’s… she does… stuff. And we’re just getting to know each other, really. I don’t want to pressure her or anything.”
“Oh. Well… don’t invite her over then. We’ll go out to eat. Maybe at one of those fancy outdoor restaurants on Rodeo.” Cass smiled and got to her feet yawning. “One day this weekend. I’ll let you decide.”
“But… no, ma. You don’t understand… I can’t.” Lex protested weakly from her seat.
“Don’t be silly, of course you can. Invite her to lunch, we’ll make it short. And I promise not to embarrass you.” She smiled and bent to kiss her on the forehead. “It’ll be fun, you’ll see. Night, sweetie.”
Lex blinked, “…night.”
On her way out Cass stopped and turned back, “Oh, and maybe you can frame one of those photos of her that are hanging up. They’re real pretty, I’m sure she’ll like them.” She said with a knowing smile before exiting the room.
Lex spent the rest of the night unable to sleep as she formulated excuse after excuse to use on Cass the next morning, completely forgetting that the next morning was another shoot.