They arrived at the market after lunch, ready to explore. Throughout their travels, Sera had been more partial to the remote destinations in the countryside, but that didn’t mean they didn’t take advantage of their time in the cities.
“Ok, you’ve got to promise me you won’t let me buy anything for myself again.” She turned to Lorcan.
“You sure? I bet we could fit one more dress into the luggage…” Lorcan teased.
“Positive.” Sera laughed. She’d accumulated far too many new outfits and accessories over the last several months. “I was actually hoping I’d find something for the guys at home.”
“Good thinking.” Lorcan smiled. “So where do you want to start?”
“I’ve got absolutely no idea.” Sera laughed.
They chose one of the small shops at random and ventured inside.
They found themselves in a room filled with various clay objects; clearly all handmade – the shop owner was just in the process of engraining a pattern into one.
“Welcome,” she greeted them. “Feel free to browse.” She breathed out gleefully.
Sera didn’t necessarily share the woman’s appreciation for the statues and pots surrounding them, but was moved by the fact the woman clearly adored what she did and took pride in it.
It reminded her of her little retreat back at home, the countless times she sat by its gazebo and watched people enjoying the grounds. Her mind briefly wondered to how things may be going there, but she shook it off. Everything seemed just fine with the retreat from aunt Yenn’s messages. It was this place she needed to focus on.
“I think I’ll buy some of the teapots,” Sera told Lorcan.
“I haven’t decided yet.” They laughed. “This stuff kind of reminds me of the knick-knacks Ralph makes, so Carly definitely doesn’t need more of them.” She lowered her voice. “And the décor at Vito’s way too minimalist for any of this… so that leaves Hallie, I guess.”
“Very thoughtful,”Lorcan chuckled softly.
“I’m trying here, ok?” Sera complained jokingly. “Let’s see if we have better luck with others…”
They paid and made their way to the store next door.
The sunlight reflected in all of the crystals that filled the place, dancing around the walls.
“Now this is perfect,” Sera beamed.
“Let me guess, your sister?” Lorcan asked.
Sera nodded. “Carly would love this. Question is, which one to pick? I don’t know the first thing about stones and crystals…”
Lorcan briefly touched her hand. “I’m sure she’ll like anything you’ll pick for her.”
“Well, I guess we can’t go for anything too small since the twins might swallow it… and nothing too huge so that it fits in the bags. That didn’t exactly narrow it down.” Sera looked around helplessly. “I hope you’re taking a mental note of this, Lorcan, when it comes to your birthdays and such. You better not expect any amazing presents, clearly I suck at this.” She half-joked.
Lorcan simply smiled. “What about malachite?” He gestured towards the green mineral in front of them. “It’s meant to embody synchronicity. Can’t go wrong with that.”
Sera shook her head in awe. How did he know everything? “Synchronicity. I like that.”
Finally, they chose a gift for Vito from the art shop; a painting of fish that looked simple enough to compliment the style of his home but was exotic enough to stand out. That went a lot smoother than anticipated, Sera thought.
“Mission accomplished,” Lorcan said as if he’d read her mind.
“What now?” Sera asked him with a smile.
“Well, there was an interesting looking shrine by the market entrance,” Lorcan suggested hesitantly. “But we don’t have to go there if you’re not up for it.” He added.
Sera raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think I’m not? I’ll have you know I love shrines.”
Lorcan laughed softly. “Guess that’s a plan then.”
The candles spread across the floor along with meditation stools immediately brought Sera back to the memory of her strongest meditation experience.
Lorcan noticed the shift in her immediately. “What’s that smile about?”
“Seeing this shrine reminds me of the time I could fly.” Sera said dreamily.
Surprise across Lorcan’s face. “The time you could fly… you mean, you managed to levitate during meditation?”
Sera nodded. “I did have a good meditation teacher, you know.”
Lorcan still seemed confused. “But you rarely ever do a full on meditation.” He smiled briefly, trailing back to the moments of basking in the sun; meditation, the Sera way. “When was this?”
“It was back in that village in the mountains, in the little shrine you could see from where we were staying. I guess on the rare occasions I do meditate properly, the experience is extra rich.” Sera shrugged. “Why are you so surprised anyway? You get to the levitation stage all the time.”
“Sorry,” Lorcan muttered. “I know you’re spiritual in your own way.”
“You’re doing that thing when you try to make something better but you just make it worse again.” Sera said teasingly.
She laughed. “I’m not mad. It’s nice that I can still surprise you. Maybe I can teach you a thing or two about meditation.”
Visible relief washed over Lorcan’s face. “I’m sure you can teach me a lot about plenty of things.” He smiled. “Hey… but if that happened back in the mountain village, it would have been ages ago! How come this is the first time I’m hearing about your breakthrough?”
“You need to spend the mornings with me, I suppose.” Sera told him snarkily. And nights, she added in her head. And… but there was no point going there. Especially not now, while they were in a shrine. “Should we explore the garden?” She asked quickly to distract herself.
The peaceful beauty of the garden that opened up before them took them both by surprise.
“Look at this!” Sera’s expression lit up. “What a stunning place!”
“It is,” Lorcan agreed as they walked along the candle-lit aisle. “Oh, look at that at the end…”
“A piano!” Sera exclaimed, rushing towards the instrument. Lorcan shook his head with a smile, following her.
“Did your mom ever teach you to play?” Lorcan asked when they reached the corner of the garden.
Sera shook her head. “The others had a stab at it, but not me… Not for the lack of mom’s trying. I was stupid. Still, seeing a huge piano always makes me think of home. Mom composing music. Vito practicing as a teen. Carly having a go when we were kids… mind you, she was horrible.” She laughed softly. “Guess I never thought I’d be nostalgic about things like that.
Lorcan gently took Sera’s hand.
“Why don’t I play for you?” He asked.
Sera beamed, nodding. “You would?”
“Sure!” Lorcan laughed, making his way to the piano seat.
Where was the end to Lorcan’s talents, Sera pondered. Though right now, there was an uncharacteristically sheepish smile on his face…
“Hey… do you even know how to play?”
The grin on his face widened. “Not even a little bit.”
Sera burst out laughing.
“You wanted to feel the nostalgia of your sister’s attempts, didn’t you?” The man laughed.
Lorcan sat down, and took a deep breath. He looked extremely serious in his concentration. And then he started attempting Mary Had a Little Lamb using just his index fingers.
But Sera wasn’t laughing. She was taking in the scene. The perfect man showing that he did not in fact excel at everything. Perhaps it was his way of apologising for assuming she couldn’t have a deep spiritual moment earlier. Or perhaps he just did it because he knew it was exactly what Sera needed.
Did that make him perfect, regardless? Or because of it?
Sera wasn’t sure. She just knew that this very moment was perfect.
There was not a shadow of doubt in Sera’s mind. Lorcan was the one. Her mind drifted away dreamily, until she noticed the “music” stopped.
“I suppose that’s enough torture for now.” Lorcan chuckled to himself.
“Well I liked it.” Sera grinned. “Come here…”
She wrapped her arms around him, locking him into an embrace.
“Thanks for that, Lorcan.”
“Well, any time you need some poorly-played music to remind you of Newcrest, I’m your man.” Lorcan joked.
He drew away – it seemed he never wanted their moments of physical affection last for too long. Sera held on to his hand.
“Lorcan… should we go home?” She asked.
“It is getting late,” he nodded. “Why don’t we just grab something to eat from the market on the way?”
“No, I meant… home home. Newcrest.” Sera explained. She was struggling to look at him. “I know it’s not been a year yet, and that you had much longer in mind, but… I miss them. I didn’t think I would miss them this much, but…”
Lorcan’s expression grew soft. “Let’s go back to Newcrest, then.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’d follow you anywhere.” He looked into her eyes, making her knees go weak. “Besides, I’ve found what I was looking for.”
They agreed they’d have a look at flights the following day, but still slot in a few more places in the itinerary before their return.
The excitement in Sera’s eyes made Lorcan happy. Of course, it wasn’t like she’d been suffering on their travels. He knew the trip had been as eye-opening to her as it had to him… but unlike him, she had a family to come back to. He’d been selfish to keep her to himself.
And yet, he still wanted more of her. He was reluctant to say goodnight when they got to the hotel.
They walked through the reception and back outside to find their way to their rooms. Like most nights, Lorcan found himself wanting to slow down time.
But of course, they’d have to part ways for the night soon. And then it was time for the usual dance.
“So.” Sera stepped from one foot too another.
“I’ve had a really good day today, Lorcan.”
He kissed her goodnight, savouring the moment… and then he tore himself away.
“Well… good night, Sera.”
Lorcan let out a heavy sigh when the door closed behind him. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew they couldn’t go on like this forever. And he knew Sera was growing impatient.
But he was terrified of losing her. He couldn’t let her in all the way. He couldn’t let her see him before he got a chance to pull himself together each morning. What if he said or did something to lose it all?
He’d ruined plenty of relationships, back before he’d given up on dating altogether, before Sera. But those relationships didn’t matter to him even fraction of the amount this one did.
But keeping the one he loved at an arm’s length wasn’t the way to keep her either. So what was he to do?
He tried not to think about it. Just go to sleep, he told himself firmly, trying to chase the thoughts of Sera away.
But she was on his mind. He could just picture her face outside of his door…
He sat up in the bed. This wasn’t just his imagination, was it?
She opened the door and floated into the room. The light from the lanterns illuminated her face, her body swayed from side to side as she moved towards him. She looked gorgeous, almost ethereal.
“Sera!” He jumped up. “What are you doing here? Is everything ok?”
“I didn’t mean to worry you. I just… couldn’t sleep.” She didn’t sound particularly convincing.
Lorcan tried his best not to stare at her somewhat see-through robe.
“Uh… sorry to hear that.” His voice croaked. He cursed himself. He sounded like a teenage boy.
“Oh.” Sera continued to get closer. “Are you sure you’re sorry?”
Before he could reply, she untied the sash bow at the front, letting her robe slide down to the floor.
“I guess I’m not.” Lorcan managed to say. He carefully placed his hands on her hips, almost nervous to do so. He definitely felt like a teenage boy.
Sera seemed satisfied with his response though. “Good.”
She erased the distance between them.
They didn’t get much sleep that night, drunk on each other. They even jumped into the pools surrounding he little bungalows they were staying at at one point.
It was only in the wee hours of the morning they’d both finally fallen asleep.
It was late in the day when Sera woke up. The room was filled with sunlight.
Lorcan looked like an angel next to her, smiling in his sleep. She let herself watch his face for a while.
Should she leave the room? She wondered. The first night they shared had been amazing, but Sera knew Lorcan was very particular about his morning routine.
Before she could make up her mind, he opened his eyes, looking right at her.
And then his smile grew wider.
“Morning, beautiful.” He whispered.
Sera started laughing uncontrollably.
“What is it?” He asked.
“Is this that morning rage you’ve been going on about?” She giggled happily. “Because if that’s the case, I think I could handle being with you before you compose yourself.”
He sat up, planting a kiss on her lips. “No. This isn’t it.”
“How come it’s gone?” She asked, suspicious.
Lorcan looked at her. It all made perfect sense to him. He almost wanted to laugh at himself too. All this time he’d worried about nothing.
“Simple.” He said. “You’re here.”
Sera smiled back at him. “Well, I can stay as long as you like. I’m yours. You’ll be stuck with me forever if you’re not careful.” She joked in an attempt to lighten the mood.
But Lorcan wasn’t laughing. “Forever is exactly what I had in mind.”