Dear Diary, our honeymoon stay was in a beach house in Islesbury. We decided on Islesbury because it was the one place we could think of that neither of us had ever been. We planned to stay in this location for the duration of our three-month trip, then later, Momma and Daddy were going to bring the twins to us on their way home.
I was determined this would be the best holiday Xalen ever had but it was only later I learned it was the only holiday he’d ever taken away from The Inheritance.
The skies were a bright blue and filled with some of the fluffiest clouds I’d ever seen.
There was a lovely courtyard in the middle of the house. It was so welcoming with its warm tiles and small fruit trees, I figured I could lose a lot of time reading, all snuggled into one of those inviting lounge chairs. But then, honeymoons aren’t exactly for reading, are they?
This is the view from the back of the house which sits on a cliff, overlooking the beach.
Oh yes, and there is the rear of the house in all its glory. I could really get used to staying here, I think.
It was a few days before we ventured beyond our front door and into the small town that is Islesbury. As we walked down the sidewalk, hand in hand, Xalen’s eyes suddenly lit up.
“Look!” he announced, pointing at a cute little shop with a sign that read, “Alistair’s Elixirs.”
“This should be interesting!” he enthused, grabbing my hand and pulling me along.
“Wow, look at that vase,” I said after we’d gone inside.
Xalen turned from what he was looking at to take a gander at the black vase sitting precariously near the edge of a table which also had strange looking bottles of all sizes and colors on it.
“Hmmm….” he murmured as he squinted his eyes a little. “That looks like an urn from the Era Of Violence!”
“Oh, I was going to say from the Era Of Fortune.”
“This urn predates that era.” Then he added, “Whatever you do, don’t touch it.”
“Why? I thought maybe we could buy it. Our first purchase as a married couple.”
“I don’t think we should risk it,” he said firmly.
“Why not? Afraid of who’s inside it?”
“Honey, if there’s one thing I’m going to teach you, it’s how to take risks,” I said with a smile.
“I take plenty of risks, my dear.”
“This coming from the guy that thinks he’s dressed down because he’s wearing a sweater vest instead of a three-piece suit.”
“I am not the jeans wearing type,” he said with a slight smile.
“Yes, I know.”
Turning from the vase, I browsed a little more. This was such a strange shop, I’d never seen anything quite like it. Besides all the crazy bottles everywhere, there were piles and piles of thick, dusty books that looked a few hundred years old.
“What in the world is that?”
Xalen laughed a little under his breath, then said, “That is an alchemy station. I have read about the Amazing Alistair. He was said to be a hugely successful alchemist in his time. After his death, his family opened this shop, displaying this station. People come from all over the world to make potions.”
“You don’t believe in that, do you? I mean it’s just pseudoscience, right?”
Shrugging a little, he planted a kiss on my cheek. “I’m going to look at some of these books over here.”
Alistair and his elixirs. Hmph. I stared at the alchemy station for a few minutes before opening the heavy tome lying there. The book fell open to what must have been a popular page and I realized it was a potion recipe.
“Vial of Bliss,” I read out loud. I could use some more happy.
I had no idea if this was going to work or what this was supposed to look like, but I followed the recipe as best I could.
… I dropped in more ingredients…
… and what I created was a vial of fuchsia goop.
It had an odd glow and an even weirder smell. Steam rose out of the top and I wondered if I should cork the bottle or not.
“What have you done now?” Xalen asked with a smirk as he joined me.
“This, dear sir, is a Vial of Bliss. Drink it.”
“Thank you, but I am going to pass.”
Taking a deep sigh, I held the bottle up to my lips. The foul-smelling steam wafted up my nose and I nearly gagged. How could something so beautiful have such a vile odor? Just as I was about to take the plunge and gulp it down, Xalen pulled it away from my face and set it down nearby.
“What are you doing?” I demanded.
“I am no doubt saving your life,” he laughed as he pulled me into an embrace, looking into my eyes.
“Well,” I said with a playful huff, “I guess I’ll let you save my life… this time.”
As our mouths met and the kiss grew more and more passionate, we forgot where we were. This was something that tended to happen a great deal.
“Ahem,” the cashier coughed loudly.
Reluctantly, we stopped what we were doing and joined the cashier at the counter.
“We would like to buy the vase over there,” Xalen said.
“Okay, but we are not responsible for anything that happens.”
Xalen and I both laughed a little bit, mostly to ourselves, then he paid for the item and thanked her for her warning. Xalen gave instructions for sending the urn to The Neptune Foundation and then we were off again.
Everywhere we went, we couldn’t stop touching one another.
“Marty, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever known.”
I closed my eyes as his fingers traced invisible lines on my temple and cheek.
“I’ll give you all day to stop that,” I murmured.
As his palm rested against my chin, I reached up and caressed his hand.
“I love you, Xalen,” I whispered as my breath caught in my throat. That happened a lot to me whenever he touched me.
Back at the house, we spent a lot of time in the pool. There was this frisky side of him I’d never really seen before. Even though I playfully punched him in the arm, I was pleased he was able to relax this much. I began to realize this was the first time I hadn’t seen him wound tight as a drum.
These were the days. Lazy afternoons, skinny dipping in the pool with no one around to bother us. We did miss the twins but this time alone was something I would never forget.
“I want you to promise me something,” I said to him one day.
“And what is that?”
“I want you to take a holiday at least every couple years, even if it’s only for a week or two. You deserve a break and time to just be you.”
“I do not know what I did to deserve you,” he said.
“That’s the way I feel about you.”
It was our second to last night before the twins were joining us. We were stretched out on the bed, chatting about all the things we missed about them.
“I miss the way Rosetta sticks her tongue out when she’s concentrating,” I said.
Xalen laughed and nodded. “Oh, me, too. Or the way Holden grasps my hand with those tiny fingers when he is so excited to show me something.”
“Ah, yeah,” I said as images of Holden excitedly trying to get me to follow him filled my mind.
Xalen’s expression turned serious for a moment. Then he asked, “Have you ever thought about having more children?”
“I didn’t think about having the two we’ve got!”
Instead of getting defensive or angry as I supposed he might by my answer, he held his stomach while he laughed. After a few minutes of that, I joined him.
When we were both calm again, he pulled me into his arms. His eyes twinkled as he gazed at me.
“You’re not going to try to convince me we need more kids?” I asked.
He continued to watch me, his eyes full of the devotion and love I’d always craved but had been too afraid to dream about.
“No,” he finally said with a soft voice. “I think our family is perfect the way it is. I only wanted to know how you feel.”
“Don’t ever stop loving me.”
The corners of his mouth curved into a gentle smile and he said, “Ours is a love that will last forever. I am certain of it.”
On our last night alone, we danced until dawn, eyes locked on one another…
… We barely spoke. We didn’t need to. As I looked into his eyes, I knew everything I needed to. There was no need for words.
When Momma and Daddy arrived with the twins, they were hard-pressed to let them go. I was really glad they loved my kids so much but I couldn’t wait to hold them close. I had to keep reminding myself that my parents would be on their way soon and wouldn’t see them for a long while.
“They were little darlings!” Momma said.
“I’m so glad they weren’t any trouble,” I said with a smile. “I have so much planned for their birthday and I’m so happy you’ll be here with us to celebrate!”
Daddy shot Momma a look I couldn’t miss… it was kind of urgent looking but I had no idea what it meant. “Actually,” he said, “we can’t spend the night like we thought.”
“Why not?” I asked, my heart sinking.
Momma gave Daddy the look. The one that informed him he’d said too much. Confused, I looked from one of my parents to the other.
“What’s going on?”
Momma forced a smile and said, “Nothing, honey. We’re very anxious to get home and I’m afraid we moved our plans up. We’re going to have to leave in a couple of hours.”
“I thought we’d arranged for you to spend the night and to be here for the twins special day?”
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Momma said. I could have sworn she was fighting back tears.
My pulse quickened and my cheeks burned. “What’s going on?”
Daddy started to say something, but Momma cut him off. “Really, it’s nothing, Marty. We’ve been away from home for a long time and we’re homesick.”
“That seems kind of lame – ”
She interrupted me before I barely had the sentence out. ” – Please don’t worry about this. It’s silly. We just want to go home.”
“Perhaps we could celebrate the twins’ birthday now then,” Xalen suggested.
“Now?” I stammered. Seeing the relieved look on my parent’s faces, I gave in. “Sure, okay.”
We moved into the dining room. I felt so let down but I tried not to show it. There was something going on but obviously, they didn’t want me to know. Never had I felt like such an outsider in my own family before.
First, Holden had his birthday.
Only mere seconds later, Rosetta had hers.
My toddlers were now children. We all hugged them and told them what wonderful kids they were. In the back of my mind, though, I still had that little voice telling me something was really wrong.
Thank you for reading!