Life in Bloom
Thirteen months later. Los Angeles.
At the world premiere of Closed Doors, the male lead showed up with his little sister on his arm. Not once did he complain that the entourage cramped his style. He grinned for pictures, waved at adoring fans, and spoke warmly to reporters, showing the charm he so obviously inherited from his father.
To the question How was it to work with the female lead? he answered, “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a boy. I’ve had a crush on her since then. But then again, who doesn’t, mate?”
At Isadora Henderson’s home some miles away, his family happily watched the live coverage, glad to be in the comfort of the plush den rather than out on the red carpet. Sitting on the carpet in front of the couch, Orlando Bloom peered down at his youngest daughter staring at the TV and babbling at the sight of her big brother and older sister on the screen. He smiled and leaned down to talk to her softly and was rewarded with a gurgle and a swipe across his cheek with her downy hand.
Dora came into the room at that moment with a plate of cookies and Johnny Depp. The twinkle in her eye indicated that there had been a bit of flirting going on between them in the kitchen. Elizabeth glanced up at them and shook her head.
“I wish they would just go out already and get it over with,” Elizabeth muttered to Laine, Audrey, Margo, and Penny, who shared the couch with her. Cameron was in London for the moment and would be visiting later.
“I agree,” Audrey supplied as Johnny sat down in the armchair with Dora beside him on the arm of the chair.
“I don’t see why it should be any of our business,” Laine said primly.
Margo rolled her eyes at her cousin’s comment. “That woman is closed up tighter than a bank vault. And with the assholes in this world, I wouldn’t blame her.”
“Hey,” Orlando protested from Penny’s feet. “Margo love, that’s hardly fair. Not all the blokes in the world are good-for-nothing wankers who want to do nothing but break women’s hearts for sport.”
“Maybe not,” Margo contended, swiping a cookie from the plate when Dora set them down and walked away, “but most of you are. I’m not surprised they don’t give you scorecards when you start puberty.”
Across the room, Aurora sat on the love seat with Rory who opened his mouth to add to the exchange. She gave him a look and he made a face at her.
“What? So I can’t defend the male species?” Rory asked in a low tone so that only Aurora could hear.
“You can try if you like,” Aurora said placidly. Rory raised an eyebrow at her. He had expected her to tell him he couldn’t, to threaten his ability to procreate or something. Instead, she watched the TV as a commercial for hair dye came on. Oddly, she thought of Genifer Doogan and her tawny-colored hair. She hadn’t heard anything about the girl since she had been expelled from school for hitting her, but, in the wake of the past few months, she wondered where she was now.
Rory noticed Aurora’s thoughtfulness and nudged her. When she looked at him, he asked, “Are you all right? You looked really thoughtful all of a sudden.”
Aurora shrugged. “I dunno. I found myself thinking about the past.” Her mouth curved as she noticed his concern. She patted his thigh. “But don’t worry. I haven’t started figuring out a way to get rid of you yet, St. James.”
“And what if I decide to get rid of you first?” Rory shot back.
From a few feet away, Elizabeth snorted at that before Aurora could speak. They stared at her in surprise, and she quipped, “Then she’ll chase after you to get you back so she can do it herself.”
“Hey!” Aurora protested. Rory could only laugh, and she whacked him with a pillow. “I don’t think that is very funny. In fact—”
Johnny cleared his throat, seeing an exciting show Aurora’s trademark temper on its way. Pursing her lips together, she crossed her arms over her chest and went silent, prompting laughter from everyone. Rory reached over and pinched her cheek. She nearly but his hand off.
“Maybe we should talk about something else,” Laine suggested.
“Indeed,” Orlando murmured, running his fingertip along the baby’s closed fist.
“So what did we finally decide for the little one’s full name?” Dora asked before taking a sip of coffee.
“Arabella Rosemarie Aurelia Bloom,” Penny announced proudly.
The room went silent as everyone quieted in shock.
“Arabella Rosemarie Aurelia Bloom?” Elizabeth inquired, incredulous. “Isn’t that a bit much, Penny?”
“That’s quite a mouthful for such a little one,” Laine agreed.
“That’s why she’s going to be called Belle Rose,” Penny explained. “It’s shorter and prettier anyway. Besides, I wanted to have some way that her name matched her sisters’ and brother’s.”
“I think it’s a beautiful name, Penny,” Johnny told her. “She’ll grow up to be as beautiful as her mother…” His eyes shifted to Orlando. “And as stubborn as her father.”
Because it was a compliment coming from Johnny Depp, Penny preened and responded, “Thank you, Johnny.”
“Yeah, thanks, mate,” Orlando said with sarcasm dripping from his tone. Johnny just looked at him and smirked.
Audrey tilted her head. “I think that’s sweet.”
Her older sister shrugged. “I guess.” Margo then looked to Penny. “I just want to know where the hell you got the name Arabella. What the hell is she supposed to aspire to be when she grows up—a Harlequin heroine who marries a sheik or something as asinine as that?”
“No,” Penny said slowly as if she were explaining this to a child. “I happened to be watching Beauty and the Beast when it came to me.” She giggled as Orlando tickled little Belle Rose and had her giggling, too. “Kinda funny when you think about it since the female lead is named Belle and all…”
As the others weighed in on this, Aurora and Rory shared a meaningful look. Rory smirked and Aurora’s brown eyes narrowed.
“Don’t you even think about saying it,” Aurora warned. And Rory didn’t, because he could see an ass kicking in his future. But then again, with Aurora, the Roaring Bloom as his girlfriend, ass-kickings came standard. That was life as far as she was concerned.
He wouldn’t change it for the world.