Carly and Ralph may have felt guilty about leaving hope in Newcrest when they jetted off for their honeymoon, but their worries were unfounded. The girl was getting spoilt rotten.
With not one, but two doting grandparents eager to cater to her every need, she was having the time of her life.
“Would you like some ice cream, pumpkin?” Leo asked her enthusiastically.
“Ice cream? Really? But mommy never lets me have ice cream this late!” Hope exclaimed.
“Well, good job your mommy’s not around then, isn’t it?” Leo winked.
Hope stared at the cone in her hand adoringly. It was huge! Bigger than her head!
She could barely hold the thing. But it was delicious.
“Thanks grandpa!” She said cheerfully. “This is awesome.”
“Nothing beats your grandpa’s homemade ice cream,” Pauline nodded approvingly.
“You’ll have to stay over more often,” Leo laughed. “To see how many flavours you can sample.”
Hope pondered what he said.
She could get used to this.
After the copious amounts of frozen goodness, Leo reached for one of the thick books in the shelves by the fireplace and let Hope pick a night time story.
She was enthralled in his narration. Hope may have taken more after her father, but she ate up all of the bedtime stories Leo read with the same vigour her mother once had.
When she woke up the following morning, Hope made her way to the kitchen to find her grandparents in the middle of showering each other with affection. The girl didn’t make too much of it, after all, her own parents were usually like this too.
She wondered if all married couples acted like that. She’d probably not get married, she decided. The thought of blowing kisses to a boy sounded pretty gross to her. Besides, space pirates don’t have time for distractions.
“Are you excited for today, pumpkin?” Leo asked. “Aunt Sera should be picking you up later in the morning.”
“Can’t believe it’s time for you to stay with her already,” Pauline complained. “It’s gone by too quickly.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back,” Hope reassured them. “All the ice cream is here!” She giggled. “And so are my favourite grandparents!”
Leo and Pauline smiled at each other.
The girl hung around the garden until aunt Yenn called for her.
“Hope, aunt Sera’s here! Ready to go?”
Hope jumped off the monkey bars. “Maybe… where are we going?”
“I think she wants to show you something special,” Yenn beamed. “In fact, I wouldn’t mind coming along for a little while, I’m quite curious myself!”
“Please do,” Sera told her aunt as she approached.
“Aunt Sera has finished her Newcrest build, you see.” Yenn explained.
“Ooh, what is it?” Hope was intrigued.
“It will probably be a little boring for you once it’s properly open.” Sera laughed evasively. “But nobody’s seen it so far, so you can be like an explorer.”
“I like that!”
The three girls walked across to the brand new meditation retreat by the golf course.
“This is quite impressive, Sera!” Yenn said.
“You haven’t even seen it properly yet! Would you like a tour?”
“Would we, Hope?”
Seraphina led them into the main house.
“Here’s the main yoga space…”
“Wouldn’t be you if there wasn’t an opportunity to exercise,” Yenn smiled.
“Exactly,” Sera nodded. “It should fit a fair few people, I think.”
“Can I try?” Hope asked.
“Maybe I could teach you a couple basic poses,” Sera smiled. “Not that I’m a pro at expert myself…”
“There’s also a sauna downstairs.” Sera added. “To help with the stiff muscles. But my favourite bit is outside…”
She could barely contain her excitement. She couldn’t help it, she knew it wasn’t the most exciting of places for a little girl like Hope, but she was so proud of her little build she just had to show it off…
Luckily for Sera, Hope was always eager to explore new places. And this one didn’t look like anything she’d seen before.
The fountain could be bigger though, she thought. She wouldn’t even fit in it on her own, let alone if she wanted to play with Aslan! Or could she? She figured she could try when her aunt wasn’t looking…
“This is the meditation gazebo. I just love it,” Sera sighed happily.
“It’s a bit like a tree house,” Hope looked around. “You could do a pretend battle here! Like, one person defending the gazebo and one person defending the main house! That would be awesome!”
“Not sure if that’s what aunt Sera had in mind, sweetie,” Yenn chuckled.
“It could be done,” Sera shrugged with a grin. “Guess we’d just have to put off the opening…”
“When are you going to open this to the public, then?” Yenn asked. “It is stunning! I’m sure everyone in Newcrest will enjoy this slice of paradise…”
“Thanks,” Sera beamed. “I’m not too sure what I’m waiting for, to be honest. It feels like there’s something missing before it’s ready… but I guess it will always be like that, always thinking I can do more with it. I’ve got to open it sometime!”
“I think it’s cool!” Hope ventured in. “So… can you swim in the pond?”
“Go for it,” Sera told her.
The girl dove in with a big splash.
“Now that does seem quite delightful.” Yenn watched hope swim around. “I might just join in.”
She entered the pond carefully, swimming towards Hope.
Sera watched them try to scope out some of the petals for a while. She smiled. Perhaps she should go in too, she thought…
“Quite something you’ve got here,” A deep voice behind her interrupted.
It’s been quite some time since she’d seen the yoga instructor. She never did return to his yoga class after that first lesson. She did start practicing on her own, though.
“I must say I was surprised to see you’ve built this – didn’t think you liked yoga that much, after you never came back.” He said, as if he’d read her mind.
“Sorry, you probably don’t remember me. I’m Lorcan McCoy, I teach yoga over at the Garden of Eden Gym…”
“No, I do remember!” Like she could forget those eyes. “Though I don’t think we ever properly introduced each other. I’m Seraphina, by the way. Bloomer.”
“I gathered as much,” Lorcan nodded. “That’s why this is here, after all, right? Since the Bloomers build Newcrest.”
“I’d like to think I’d want to build something even if I wasn’t a Bloomer,” Sera told him. Though would she? She wasn’t sure. “But I guess you’re right.”
“Well either way, you’ve done great. Newcrest could definitely use a spot like this.” He said politely.
“Thanks.” She smiled. “Wold you like me to show you around?”
“Definitely.” He nodded.
“Well, what do you think?” Sera asked after they’d walked around the grounds. “I’m getting a hang of this tour guide thing…” She giggled.
“I think it’s perfect. I could definitely see myself spending a lot of time here.”
“Are you hoping to become a regular?” Sera joked.
“Actually, I was hoping to become an employee.” He told her. “If you still need yoga or meditation instructors, I do know a thing or two about both.”
“Oh.” She considered it. It seemed to make a lot of sense. She knew first hand that he was good at what he did. Perhaps this was the missing piece for the big opening… Then again there was a reason why she hadn’t come back to his class…
“I thought you worked at the gym.” She said cautiously.
“The gym only offers so many yoga classes.” Lorcan shrugged. “I spend most of my time driving around to teach classes in all sorts of towns. Of course I’d much rather work in this little oasis you’ve created. I could easily pop across the street to teach the few odd classes… that is, if you wanted to hire me.”
“Look, it’s not that I don’t want to offer you that steady gig…” Sera started. “And I genuinely think you’d be great…”
“But I don’t think it would be a good work dynamic.” Sera said awkwardly. Because your face is too symmetrical and your eyes are too deep and the last thing I need is to fall for yet another guy that looks perfect on paper… Of course she couldn’t say that.
“Do you still think I’m trying to chat you up?” He asked.
Ok, seriously, could this guy read her mind or what?
“Not necessarily, but…”
“Would people actually go through the trouble of applying for a job just to get a date?” Lorcan raised an eyebrow. “Look Sera, I do think you are beautiful, but I assure you that’s not where I’m going with this. I don’t date. Prospective employers, or anyone else.” He added.
“Ah.” So he was like Hallie, she thought. Perhaps it wasn’t such a terrible idea, then…
“I’m not looking to date either.” She told him. “But you’re right, I could probably use somebody that actually knew what they were doing working here. I figured it would be more of a self-service meditation and yoga place…”
Lorcan laughed. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say that!”
“Yeah… that’s why you’re needed around here.” Seraphina replied with a grin.
On second thought, this was a fantastic idea, she figured.