Sergio and I took things slow. I mean, we had to. Neither one of us were really in the mood for rushing our relationship, even if it looked like marriage was right around the corner. Sergio still hadn’t given me a ring and I wasn’t planning on asking about it.
The days were spent with my mother, slowly remodeling the house. We renovated everything – new exterior, new interior, updated furniture. It turned into something of a modern beauty. It was still sparse since a lot of the money we had went into the farm and keeping the horses and crops up. But it was a work in progress.
There was one room where money wasn’t an issue, though – Brayden’s. I went to lengths to find nautical, boyish stuff for his room. I wanted him to grow into the room and for it to be something he would be proud of – at least until he was a rebellious pre-teen and wanted to paint the walls back or something.
Thinking of him growing up tugged at my heartstrings so I quickly thought of other things. Like how blue hair wasn’t exactly appropriate on a mom in this small town setting. What was with the blue hair, anyway? I had never actually thought about why I was dying my hair weird colors all through college. I liked blue, so I made my hair that color.
The mentality was lost on me now. And that was the first sign that I was getting old.
Every mirror I passed by, I startled myself all over again. I hadn’t been blonde in over four years, so it was hard to see myself with it now. The dying and processing had taken a better part of a day, leaving Brayden at home with my mom while she fixed dinner.
Sergio seemed pleased with a transformation when he got home. He tugged on my curled ponytail with a gentle finger, nodding his approval. “I like the blonde.”
After dinner, we did our usual routine – we roped up the horses and put them into the barn with their oats and hay, and then I worked in the garden for a bit. Finally, and my favorite part of the day, we took Brayden for a walk around the property.
Brayden loved the walks – he would recline in his infant stroller and wave his chubby arms around, cooing at all of the colors and sounds. I could tell he had the blood of the land running through his veins – just being outside seemed to invigorate him.
Every night after our walks, I would bathe Brayden and give him a last feeding before rocking him to sleep in his room, singing him lullabies my grandma used to sing – wordless tunes sometimes, haunting melodies other times.
Then it was our bedtime. Our room had been remodeled slightly, as well – instead of my one big bed, we had invested in two smaller ones and a changing screen. Just because we were kind-of engaged and kind-of had a kid together didn’t mean we were jumping into things, remember?
One such night I was in the bedroom at my easel, working quietly while Sergio changed in the bathroom. When he came out, he stood behind me, just watching as my paintbrush eased across the canvas.
Usually I don’t mind if people stand behind me – I have nothing to hide, so why should it unnerve me? There was too much tension in the room, though – there had been with Sergio ever since our night on the beach that almost lead to sexy-times.
“Can we talk?” he asked finally.
I turned, putting my brush and palette down on my side table. “Sure. What’s up?”
He took my hands in his and met my eyes. “Layla. We’ve talked about this and I know you said that you would accept, but…” he shook his head. “I don’t want to force you into anything.”
He lowered to his knee and my heart skipped a beat.
The ring was beautiful and looked vaguely familiar – like the one my grandmother used to wear before she pawned it off to have money for the farm. It was gold with a small, glittering diamond surrounded by even tinier diamonds.
Sergio held it there, hovering next to my finger, watching me for a reaction. “Layla Derelict, will you-“
“Yes, you dolt,” I laughed, unable to help myself. “I told you once I would marry you! That ring won’t slide onto my finger by itself, so get a move on!”
He chuckled and slid the gold onto my ring finger. It fit perfectly.
“I was able to track down your grandmother’s old ring. It took a while, though,” he added sheepishly. “The owners had moved out of the area and gotten divorced half way around the world, so… sorry.”
I kissed him to show that his apology was meaningless and stupid and just boy babble. He seemed to understand.
We went to bed in our separate beds that night and Sergio, probably exhausted from worrying over the proposal, was instantly snoring. I stayed up for a bit, looking at the glittering ring on my finger. The family ring. It had made its way back to the farm, just like everything else.
I wasn’t even scared my brother might try to sneak into the house tonight – I was too thrilled Sergio had finally asked me. And a bit apprehensive about getting married so early. But when you have a baby and a farm to take care of, an extra set of hands, and an extra shoulder, never hurt.
We were married quietly two days later on the back porch of the farm. My mom had insisted on buying me a dress and, I had to admit, it was gorgeous. We got married right in front of the family plot and I swear it felt like Grandma was watching and smiling on.
My mother was ecstatic through the whole thing and Jeremie, the gruff guy he is, just stood there grimacing the whole time. I swear it seemed like he was allergic to emotion. Maybe it was a Fae thing.
Neither here nor there, Sergio had a few days off for honeymoon leave and mom promised to look after the crops, and Brayden, for me. “All of us went on extravagant honeymoons,” my mother recalled. “Well, all except me,” she added softly. “Anyway, you must go. And you’ll only be a few hours away – Brayden will be fine!”
“But where-” I sputtered, not knowing there was a destination we were supposed to be packed and ready for.
“Don’t fuss so much!” Mother teased, shoving suitcases at us. “Go on, get going! The ferry is down at the dock, you don’t want to be late for check in!”
The ferry brought us to Sparkling Sands Resort – ironically, the resort I almost managed. It curdled my stomach a bit to be back here in the glinting lobby, but I sucked it up and stepped shyly to the front desk with Sergio in our wedding finery.
The clerk smiled sweetly and told us we had been expected and that everything was paid for. She then escorted us across the grounds where the smell of fresh flowers and chlorinated pools, and above all, the sea breeze, flitted around us.
The room was large for a resort and had private access to the beach. She left Sergio and I with our bags in the room where we looked at one another a little sheepishly.
“Food,” I replied matter-of-factly. “But first, we change.”
There wasn’t a changing screen, so we made to with stripping down awkwardly and pretending not to peek at one another. It was rather juvenile but kind of fun in retrospect.
We spent six days and seven nights at the resort, eating more than we should and enjoying the sun and water. We snorkled and payed in the sand and acted like kids. Each night, though, once I snuggled down into bed, Sergio retired to the couch. I tried telling him that I didn’t mind sleeping in the same bed – we were married, after all.
But he only smiled and shook his head. “The couch is good.”
The final night of our stay, I decided to take a shot of liquid courage and change into the special little outfit my mother had packed for me.
I came out of the tiny bathroom and Sergio was st the dresser, packing up his things for our trip back home. When he glanced up he did a double-take and his mouth fell open.
I stood there, trying to think of something witty to say, but all I could think of was, “Well? What do you think?”
He said my name but it came out almost pleading. “This is cruel,” he finally whispered.
I smiled, warning myself to keep calm or else he’d probably freak and run for the hills. “What’s cruel is you standing all the way over there.”
It did the trick. He was at me in an instant, backing me up against the wall, his eyes full of something fiery and merciless. “Tell me know if you’re just messing with me,” he murmured.
I leaned forward, capturing his lips with mine, my hands running through his hair. When I pulled back, I whispered, “Now that would be mean.”