Sera overlooked the gorgeous estate gardens, as if in a dream. This was happening. It was actually happening.
She could still remember her first visit to the Von Haunt estate, remember how adamant she was on getting married here one day herself. The memory still felt so sharp, but everything had changed since then.
Back then, she was so set on being a princess of this palace. She didn’t even care who the prince would be, as long as the whole day would revolve around her.
None of that mattered now. Lorcan had insisted on giving Sera her dream wedding, but she would have married him anywhere.
She was still finding it hard to process. In a few short moments, she would become Mrs Seraphina McCoy. The first Bloomer heir to take their spouse’s last name. Carly may have given her kids Ralph’s last name, but she still retained her own.
Not Sera, though. Being a Bloomer meant a lot. But Mrs McCoy… She couldn’t think of a single word she’d rather be called.
“You ready, darling?” Her father emerged from within the manor, bringing her back to the present. She turned around, her skirt twirling as she spun. “You look exquisite!”
He looked so emotional. Probably never thought he’d see this day come, Sera laughed to herself.
“Thanks dad.” She said softly.
Leo stalled for a moment. He’d thought giving one daughter away would make it easier the second time around, but it wasn’t. A part of his firstborn Seraphina as a baby in her basinet. But much like Carly on her day, Sera looked so happy and radiant. And much like Carly, she was marrying the man that was exactly right for her.
“You nervous?” He asked with a smile.
Sera beamed back at him. “Not even a little bit.”
Leo hugged his daughter tightly. “Good. I wasn’t either, when I was marrying your mom. When it’s right, you know. It fits.”
Sera’s heart filled with warmth. The love her parents always shared, the love she always wanted and admired… she had it too now.
“Now then,” Leo managed to compose himself. “Let’s show them how it’s done!”
Sera laughed happily, clinging on to her father’s arm as they headed for the door.
Hope dashed through the gardens, feeling giddy. She’d just witnessed the wedding ceremony, and while she wasn’t particularly romantic in nature, she couldn’t help but feel ecstatic for her aunt. And today promised so much more… The old mansion was beautiful and it seemed to have many hidden secrets she could find to keep herself busy.
And then of course, there was the evening escape with the cocky but charming boy from the restaurant, and getting to see Windenburg through the eyes of its native. A cute native… Hope’s stomach filled with butterflies.
“Azz!” She spotted her cousin and ran towards him.
“Hey Hope.” He nodded towards her. “That ceremony was a snoozefest, huh?”
“It was amazing!” Hope squealed, barely paying attention. “Today is amazing!”
Aslan looked her up and down. “You’re being weird.”
“What? No… I’m just happy. For aunt Sera.” She added quickly.
The boy’s eyes narrowed. “You’re being weird.” He let out a sigh. “Why is everybody so weird today? First dad, now you…”
He was on to her. Hope evaluated her options. Directing his attention the other way seemed like the best course of action.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said with an exaggerated shrug. “How’s your dad being weird?”
“I dunno, exactly.” Aslan frowned. “He’s just… off. I can’t figure out why…”
The distraction worked, Hope beamed. “Why don’t we keep an eye on him? Pass by discreetly, see what we can find out…”
Vito was trying to figure out how to handle the situation the best. He was such an idiot. Why did he agree when Sera asked him if she should invite Louis to the wedding?
Of course you should, he could still hear himself, would be strange not to! It would be different if you were having it here in Newcrest, but he lives in Windenburg. Besides, wouldn’t it be kinda nice for him to come to a wedding at the Von Haunt Estate, since that’s how we first met him in the first place?
Kinda nice my plum, Vito scolded his past self. Now he had to deal with Louis and his plus one. The closest thing Vito had to a plus one at the wedding was Aslan.
So far, the day had gone ok. He caught a glimpse of Louis and his model boyfriend when they first arrived and were just saying hi to Lorcan and aunt Yenn. The ceremony happened shortly after, so it wasn’t exactly difficult to focus on other things…
But now he had to endure the rest of the afternoon and the evening seeing them together. Not that they were all touchy feely, thankfully, but after a few drinks, who knew?
Vito decided avoiding even looking at them would be the best way to go. That, and getting himself a drink too.
Hope was still observing her uncle. She may have initially expressed interest in his odd behaviour to distract her cousin, but her innate curiosity didn’t let her drop it now. He definitely seemed out of sorts, and it had something to do with those two guys.
She vaguely recalled seeing the blonde one when she was really little, but she couldn’t quite place him. Aslan hadn’t been particularly helpful either. He said he knew the man, but didn’t elaborate. And Hope didn’t see her cousin as much as say hi to him.
There was definitely a past to be uncovered here. And Hope had thought the biggest mystery would be something to do with the mansion! Well, not that it was that gripping of a mystery. Anything to distract her from her grandparents being extra-affectionate to each other though, she shuddered.
The doors leading into the reception area opened, revealing the blushing bride. “The feast is ready to go, guys,” Sera told her guests with a smile.
She didn’t linger though and passed straight through the bar. Where was Lorcan? He seemed to have disappeared a good while ago. She walked into the gardens to investigate. Her family would have to wait a little bit.
Not that they seemed to mind.
“Finally, we can get to the good part,” Ralph grinned.
“I thought you said the open bar was the good part.” Carly teased her husband.
“That and the food… I guess it’s a toss-up.” Ralph shrugged with a smirk.
“Oh please, you’re a mushy romantic softie at heart!” Hallie jumped in, laughing. “No point hiding it, we’ve all been to your wedding.”
“Plummit. And here I go thinking I could keep up the act.” Ralph smiled softly. “We’re getting old, huh?”
“A little,” Carly smiled. “Have you seen our older daughter today? She looks so grown up in that dress.” She sighed.
“Speaking of Hope, is it just me or has she been acting funny today?” Ralph asked.
Carly nodded. “She’s been a little off since yesterday. It’s probably my fault. She’s probably still mad I didn’t want to let her and Aslan go out on their own at first.” She sighed.
“But you did let her, in the end. Such a cool, down-to-earth mom, you.” Ralph said affectionately.
Carly chuckled. “She only knows she has her schmoozer of a dad to thank that for.”
“She has it pretty good,” Ralph grinned. “But maybe you could cut her some slack, Lottie. It’s not like she’s blowing up her school or anything…”
“You mean, like you did when you were here age?” Carly asked jokingly. “Oh no, wait, that was flooding.”
“She takes after you in all the things that matter, I suppose.” Ralph smiled.
Carly’s expression softened. “You brilliant man.” She kissed her husband on the cheek. “You always know just what to say.”
“Clearly, I sweet-talked you all the way into marrying me, didn’t I?” Ralph said with a laugh.
“I’ll speak to Hope.” Carly told him. “Let her be a little more grown-up. But not too much…”
“Did you see the maze?” Sadie asked her brother as they stuffed themselves.
“The one we passed after aunt Sera and uncle Lorcan said a bunch of stuff to each other in the garden?” Graham replied. “Yeah! Looked cool, didn’t it?”
“Do you think it’s safe to explore?” The little girl pondered.
“Well, everybody knows the maze is filled with monsters.” Hope told the twins from her table, causing them to jump up. They both hurried to sit beside her.
“Really?” Graham looked more intrigued than worried. “So… should we go in or not?”
“Were you not listening?” Sadie scolded him. “There’s monsters! Of course we shouldn’t go in.”
“How about I take you guys around the maze.” Hope offered. “Don’t think the monsters will show up with me around.”
“Or if they do, you’ll protect us!” Graham enthused.
“Of course I will.” Hope smiled.
The twins leapt up, hugging spontaneously to celebrate. Hope couldn’t help but smile at their excitement.
“What are you waiting for guys?” She told them before she’d get too sappy. “Let’s go check it out!”
The three siblings headed out into the garden. Though they weren’t the only ones there…
“Here you are!” Sera called out to Lorcan. He seemed to be watching the flowers floating in the pond.
“Hi.” He smiled softly, tilting his head towards her.
“You’re not… pulling the runaway groom on me, right?” Sera half-joked. There was a hint of worry in her voice.
“If I was, I really messed up.” He laughed. “I’m fairly sure that kind of thing needs to be done before the ceremony, not after.”
Sera giggled with relief. “Well, you’ve always gone about things in an unconventional way.” She told him.
“Not so much today.” He replied. “Couldn’t think of a more traditional wedding than this. At least from what I hear. Can’t say I’ve been to many weddings.”
“Hey, I said we could do something more low key!” Sera exclaimed.
“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.” Lorcan smiled. “I’m just not used to being around so many people at once, that’s all. So I figured I’d hide away for a little bit.”
Sera pulled him into a kiss. His arms wrapped around her instantly.
“Why don’t we hide away together for a while, then?” She whispered in his ear.
Lorcan didn’t need any words to reply.