The Holmes residence was the place to be the next night. Jo Jo, Christina, and Brycen were over visiting with Anthony, and Kacey, Viviana, and Kiara were visiting with Alayna. Roland arrived home shortly after 6:00, greeted the ladies, and retreated to the bedroom.
“Excuse me for a moment, ladies,” Alayna said as she stepped away to greet him.
“Hi, honey! How was your day? You look tired,” she said and embraced him.
“Hey, baby. Old age is getting to me, I guess. I’m ok.”
“Hmmm…is that what I have to look forward to in a couple days?”
“It’s not all bad. Yeah, you’ll be a little slower and achier, but you’ll still be the same, beautiful girl I married years ago.”
“Good. Because I’m not really looking forward to it.”
“You’ll be all right. Sit down and let me talk to you for a minute,” he said motioning for her to join him in the chair next to him. “You know you can’t keep Devan away from that girl, right?”
“What? Sure I can! He’ll do what I say while he still lives under my roof!”
“Come on now, baby! Cut the cord! He’s not a child anymore! He’s a grown man. How do you expect him fall in love with someone with you prying into his personal life all the time? Don’t you want him to get married soon?”
“Of course I want him to get married!”
“Ok then! I know you come from a family with traditional values, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to diminish that. But, you’re not helping him any by holding the reigns as tight as you do. You need to let him go, and let him make his own decisions.”
“I’m not holding him back! He can do whatever he wants!”
“Oh! Can he? You changed your tune now?”
“I haven’t changed my tune. He’s always been free to do what he thinks is right!”
“HA! If I had a simoleon for every time I heard you say to him, ‘you better not be talking to any girls,’ I could buy your family’s house…in CASH! Even if what you say is true, how in the world is he supposed to know that with you always warning him?”
“Well…when you put it that way, I sound like a monster. Am I really that bad?
Roland just looked at her. She was smart enough to see that was a dumb question.
“I’m just trying to protect him, Roland! Is that so bad?”
“Protect him from what?”
“You know…predators! Girls that would use him and break his heart.”
“I understand that, Alayna, I do. But, you can’t assume that every girl who comes into his life is like that! He needs to learn how to fight his own battles, baby! Stop trying to run the man’s life. Let him go!”
“[sigh] I guess I have been a little bit overbearing sometimes…”
“Uh huh. Now…Li Li, or whatever her name is, is going to sleep in the basement, ok? Nobody uses the gym except to dance in, so we’ll take half of that space and make it a bedroom for her. I know this is our house, and he doesn’t have to live here, but he’s almost an adult. We need to give him privacy and respect it. I don’t want you meddling in their business. Don’t go down there unless he invites you. We all need to do that. Understand?”
“Fine,” she said indignantly.
“What’s going on with you, baby? Don’t you want him to be happy?”
“Sure I do!”
“Then what’s up?”
“I…[sigh]…life is too fast! I’m just not ready. It seems like just days ago he was so little! Remember that day he asked us about ‘games?’ He was just so cute and innocent. And, now he has a young lady in his life? I just can’t. Time flies by crazy fast, and I want it to slow down! I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time to savor all the precious moments! I feel like everything is slipping away from me! Before I know it, I’ll be…
There was no way she was going to finish that sentence, and she quickly moved on to another point.
“I know my role as mother is supposed to evolve over time, but I don’t know how to be different! I mean, how am I supposed to go from holding my child’s hand to watching someone else take his hand and lead him away? I just don’t know how to do that! I want to hold my child’s hand forever! I know it’s not practical and irrational and impossible, but that’s how I feel.”
“I know it’s hard,” he sympathized. “I know, as his mama, you’re always going to feel differently about it than me. And that’s ok. I know it takes you a while to get adjusted when things change, but you always come around. Just like how you had to let him learn to draw his own pictures, you’ll learn how to let him live his own life. And if you haven’t noticed, he’s very independent and does what he wants. We can’t stop him. But, you know what, baby? He’s a good son. He’s never done anything to disappoint us. You should trust him more.”
Devan had arrived home shortly after Roland. While this conversation was going on upstairs, Devan and Leliana were making plans downstairs to head out and spend some time alone.
“Leliana,” he called when he walked in the front door.
“I’m in here,” she said from Roland’s office.
Devan heard voices in the living room and poked his head in before seeing Leliana.
“Oh! Hey Aunt Viv! Kiara…Kacey. What is this, the beautiful women’s convention?”
“Hi, Devan,” Viviana said.
“Yes, this house is filled with beauties today…when can we meet the one in there,” Kiara asked pointing at Roland’s office.
“Soon,” he grinned. “Speaking of her…it was nice to see you…please excuse me!”
“Aww! That young man is in love,” Kacey cooed.
There were only 15 steps from where he stood to where Leliana was, but he practically ran there.
“Hey there, beautiful!”
“Oh, Devan! Isn’t this great?? I just love hearing your voice!”
“Yeah. I still can’t believe you’re here. Look, I’ve been thinking about you all day, and I know you’ve probably been bored here–”
“Actually, I haven’t! I told your mother I could be useful, so I’ve been upgrading electronics all day! I’m so grateful for your parents’ hospitality. I started with our TV,” she said with pride.
“Yes, Devan. Our TV!”
“Ok then,” he laughed. “Anyway…I wanted to know if you felt like going out tonight.”
“YES! OF COURSE I WANT TO GO OUT!”
Devan smiled and said, “I didn’t know you were so excitable…and dramatic!”
What they were both learning, now that they were together, was although they learned quite a bit about each other through their email correspondence, they had much more to learn. There are things that just can’t be explained on paper or on a screen. Some things just need to be experienced. Devan saying she was dramatic made her think of her father. She always accused him of being overly dramatic. I’m a lot more like him than I thought!
“Oh, by the way,” he said, “don’t let my dad catch you in here. He’s very sensitive about his office.”
“Where are you taking me,” she asked excitedly.
“You’ll see when we get there!”
“A surprise? I LOVE SURPRISES!”
Devan called for some transport, and Leliana was giddy the entire ride. When they arrived, he didn’t even have to ask if she was happy about his selection.
“THE ART MUSEUM?? YOU REMEMBER!”
“Yes, yes. I may not be as smart as you, but I do retain what I read,” he joked.
There was a special expedition called Medieval Royal Court on display on the lower level, and many locals were there to see it. Devan and Leliana didn’t fancy it and went right upstairs to the art gallery. There were always several good pieces on display in the music section. This month just happened to be jazz impressionism month. Leliana found a painting she liked and sat down in front of it as she considered her own music. Devan liked it too, but he enjoyed watching her enjoy it better. He couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for her to go through the things she went through. She watched both her parents die at a young age. Shortly after that, she discovered that her life was a lie and that it was going to be used for evil. Then she was kidnapped and forced to do things she didn’t want to do. And who knows what her body went through going through that wormhole. Devan didn’t want her to have to think about those things just yet. He wanted her to be at ease and have fun and enjoy their time together.
They walked around the art gallery for about two hours looking at paintings and talking about music, color, emotions, and all the beauty that exists in life. But there were still too many people around. Devan suggested that they leave and go for a leisurely walk by the water, and Leliana happily agreed. They walked and talked and walked and talked. Devan’s lazy legs didn’t even complain about the walking. If the path would have continued, they probably would have walked all the way to Oasis Springs. But, eventually their path did end, and they stopped walking.
“I know I keep saying this,” Devan began, “but I’m so glad you’re here! I still can’t believe it.”
He held her hands and gazed into her beautiful brown eyes.
It was a beautiful night. The fireflies danced all around them like beautiful bokeh in the perfect picture. There was a cool, gentle breeze that made the willows and tall grass sway. It beckoned everything it touched to dance. Even the waters joined in. As they lapped onto the shore, the crickets sang melodious songs to the rhythm of the waters. The reflection of the moonlight on the waters made shimmering lights, like a discoball. It was magical night. There was something about these two. Nature could feel it too and seemed to want to encourage the growth of this very young but promising relationship. The beautiful music, the dancing…it was all done to create the perfect environment for…
He was glad she took the liberty. He had been wanting to kiss her all day, and planned to do it that night, but was a bit nervous. Even the most confident of men find it difficult to gird up the courage to kiss someone for the first time. Devan liked the way her lips felt on his–so soft and supple. It was sweet. He wasn’t expecting her to do that, so he was just a bit shocked. But, he quickly got over the shock of her kissing him and closed his eyes to enjoy the moment. But, as soon as he did, she pulled away from him.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I should have let you do that.”
“You don’t have to apologize,” he said as he appreciated her boldness.
“Are you sure? I know I can be bold a lot.”
“Hey…you can be bold with me whenever you like.”