Ian was no fool, though at the moment he felt like one. But if he had Argos' cooperation both with retrieving the artifact and getting him back to Atlantis, it was worth an evening of his time.
"We will take this slow," Ian said. "If, at any time, I feel you are dealing falsely with me, we will immediately head to the sea. Is that understood?"
Blake eagerly nodded his head but said nothing. He was afraid one misspoken word would change Ian's mind. Sierra's wedding was the only thing he cared about right now.
Ian studied the older man, then looked down at his casual clothing. "Is there a set wardrobe for your weddings?"
Although Ian knew a lot about the human culture through his school studies, human weddings were not covered. The teachers assumed that was knowledge the Atlantians would never need.
"Yes," Blake said, "there is. I have my tux at home. We'll need to get you, at least, a suit. We can get that at a store."
"No, we are not going to your house. Tell me of a store that will have both our needs."
Blake thought the local men's shop would have what they required and directed him to that. Ian knew this area. The store was only a few buildings down from the pawn shop.
As the men shopped, they shot looks at each other. After so many years apart, the two couldn't read each other as well as they once did. But over the course of the afternoon, they became more comfortable with each other. Not to the point that they trusted each other, but at least enough for Ian to ask questions that waited in his mind.
After choosing their suits, Ian decided lunch was in order while they waited for the adjustments to be made. As they sat at a corner table in the Italian restaurant down the street, Ian leaned back in his chair and asked, "Why did you take the artifact? You could have just left, done anything you wished up here. We would not have cared. But you took the artifact. Why?"
Blake sighed and lowered his head. "After my wife died, I was such a wounded man with flawed reasoning. I thought if I took it and gave it to the humans that it would somehow—I don't know how— but that it would start a war between human and Atlantians. I wanted the humans wiped out, and that is one way it could be accomplished."
Ian scoffed. "Kind of ironic since the artifact is for the humans."
Blake shrugged and laughed at himself.
Ian sat up in his seat, leaning in closer to Blake. "It actually would take very little for the council to go to war once they know that the murders are humans. It would not start that way. But if we were to surface and demand their citizens, what do you think humans would do?"
"Deny us, fight us."
Ian leaned back again, decisively nodding his head one time. "That is why this thing with the humans needs to be handled very carefully."
The men were quiet for a while as they ate. Each deep in their own thoughts. Ian shoveled in the food as if he were feeding a furnace, while Blake picked at his.
Ian looked at his old friend, noting all the changes in his appearance. "Did you know you would get old?"
Blake cleared his throat. "I knew the rumors. I can't say that I cared though, at the time anyway. Death couldn't come soon enough then." Blake gave a half smile. "Now though, what I wouldn't give for a few more decades with my children and grandchildren."
"Why do you think it happens?"
"I don't know for sure. But it's hard on our bodies to live up here. Not enough moisture, too much oxygen. Who knows what else? It took years of battling before I could breathe properly. I still can never drink enough. It wears on an Atlantian."
Ian agreed. He had felt the pressure, they all did when they were on land. "Maybe it will slow when you come home."
"Maybe, but at what cost? Never seeing my family again? I would trade the years to spend the time with them."
"They could come, if the council allows, and I think they would. The idea of living longer may appeal to them." Ian cut off their conversation. "It is time to retrieve the clothing. And on the way there, explain all the customs at a human wedding. Remember we are going only to the wedding."
Ian timed their arrival at the ceremony so that they had only minutes to spare. They went straight to the family area and sat down. Many quizzical looks were thrown Ian's way. No one remembered a relative of his stature. Once seated on the wall side of the small auditorium, Ian sunk down in his seat. The last thing he wanted was to stand out.
The music started.
Ian felt her before he saw her. He turned toward the back of the aisleway. His eyes locked on her. His breath left him. His heart thundered The room narrowed. Everyone in it disappeared. Blake could have tripped over him and left, and he would never have noticed. There was only her.
Sonora stood in the archway, a bouquet of roses in her hands, that matched her rose-colored dress. The gown flowed from the waist, similar to the dresses Atlantian women wore. He wondered if that had reminded her of them, of him?
Her blond hair was unbound, flowing over her shoulders and down her back. Memories of its silkiness between his fingers rushed back to Ian. She had a little smiled plastered on her lips, and she kept her eyes focused on the official performing the marriage. She is nervous.
Ian realized that Blake was rattling on in the background. "Oh, there she is, isn't she just the most beautiful little woman? I'm the proudest grandfather!"
Ian's heart stopped, and he unknowingly raised a hand to rub his chest. "This is your granddaughter?" he hissed at him.
Everything faded out of existence again, when Ian saw a man come from Sunny's left and hold an arm out to her. As she smiled and took it, Ian felt a growl start at the base of his throat.
Blake gave Ian a strange look, but continued, "And that young man is my nephew. My granddaughter wanted to have as much family in the wedding as possible."
"So these are not the two being mated today?" Ian asked to the amusement of those that heard him.
Amid the giggles and chuckles, Blake quickly whispered, "We don't call it that here! It is married. Mar--"
Ian clenched the armrests of the chair, his body taut. "I do not care what you call it here! Is it her? Is she the one?"
"No, Ian." Blake was a bit disappointed that Ian hadn't been listening to him. "I told you Sierra is getting married. She comes down last. This is Sonora, my other granddaughter. She is a bridesmaid. Bridesmaids—"
Ian's heart slammed as it started again. He slumped with relief while continuing to track Sonora. He hadn't known what he was going to do, but a wedding for Sunny was not going to happen. Not unless he was the one standing beside her. Ian shook his head. That was not what she wanted. But it didn't matter what Ian's mind was telling him. It was his heart he heard.
Ian's gaze followed Sonora's every move, her every breath, as the ceremony continued. Occasionally, she would frown and cast a glance to the audience. Ian hoped that she felt his presence. He knew now that is was possible. Maybe. She is one-quarter Atlantian. I gave up too soon.
He tried to reach out to her. To wrap all his emotions around her. Maybe then she would feel him. Sonora shivered. Then she ran her hand down the thin, silver chain at her neck and fingered the charm that hung at the end of it. A very small pink conch shell. The one that used to sit on the shelves behind his desk.
Ian chuckled, the sound low and deep as hope, however slim, entered his world again. Seems she takes after her grandfather with those sticky fingers. But Ian was not angry, not upset in any way.
He was filled with joy. She did think of him. She had thought of him just now. I felt it.
Eyes flashing, Ian turned to Blake. "Where is the gathering that happens after the wedding?"
A/N: For all those nervous about the doings over on Sanctuary, a happy chapter. :) Did you like it?
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Sea Bound (A Sanctuary's Aggression Novel)Science Fiction
#159 on Scifi Hot List. A Golden Pen, Pen and Ink, and Rose Award Winner. In this sci-fi fantasy, Sonora yearns for more than life has given her until the day a shadow becomes a guide to a world she could never have imagined. A new world that offers...