Isturon walked into the small coffee shop that had recently opened in Tranquillien. It wasn’t as big as the ones in Silvermoon, and it was also considerably less busy. A couple of the tables were occupied with elves he didn’t recognize, but he saw Arancon sitting at one of the tables in the back. He waved to him as he made his way to the counter to order.
He was impressed with their selection of coffees, but he wound up ordering his usual, regular black coffee. He got a muffin to go with it and carried it to the table in the back where his friend was waiting.
He raised a brow as he neared, taking notice of Arancon’s drink. As he sat, he asked, “Just water?”
Arancon shrugged. “Anorelle said that Esladra told her that too much coffee isn’t good for the baby.”
Isturon tried to raise his brow further. “I think she meant for Anorelle. You can drink coffee.”
“Oh no, I’m not going to. It’s for solidarity. Anorelle and I are in this together. You never did that?”
Isturon shook his head, “I could never convince Verisna to stop drinking coffee.”
“Well, it’s just for a couple of months, but then there’s going to be a baby so I might have less time to come here to get coffee.”
“You could always bring the baby with you.”
Arancon nodded, sipping his water. “I could. After she starts going on patrols again, I’ll have four hours in the morning alone with the baby before my patrol starts. Sath’alor has agreed to watch him the four hours after I leave until Anorelle gets back. By the way, I do like the timing with Nessna having one at the same time. I hope they’ll be friends, but at the same time I worry how Sath’alor is going to cope with two babies and a toddler.”
“I’m sure he’ll manage,” Isturon said. He took a sip of his coffee. It was good; hot, but not too hot, and had a nice deep rich taste. “Has Aeramin warmed up the idea of being a brother yet?”
“I think so,” Arancon replied. He took a deep breath and sighed. “It’s not always easy to tell with him, but he’s by once a week in the morning and hasn’t yelled lately.”
“That’s positive, right?”
“Yeah. How about you? How are things with Braedra?”
“Things are going well, really well. I’ve been there every night since we got back and she hasn’t told me to leave and go home yet.”
Arancon grinned, “So when is the wedding?”
“I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I know it probably sounds like the next logical step, but I’m really happy with how we are right now. I don’t want to mess that up, and again, I’m not sure I’m ready.”
“You’re ready to sleep with her, but you’re not ready to marry her? You love her, right?”
Isturon nodded. “Of course! And It’s not like I expected the whole sleeping together thing to start. I just really like spending time with her. But now that it has started, I’m not too keen on questioning why because- Well, I like it and I don’t want it to stop.”
Arancon sipped his water and gave him an unsure look. “Okay, so you like sleeping with her because it’s fun, but you don’t actually want to sleep with her?”
“That’s not what I said. I’ve been wanting to be with her for some time. I just didn’t expect it to happen anytime soon and was completely fine with waiting. I love her, and I wanted her to be just as ready as I was.” He started to pick up his coffee but put it back down as Arancon spoke again.
“I don’t think it sounds like you were ready.”
“I was just a little surprised- still a little surprised, but that’s different from not being ready. And I love her. I think about her all the time and can’t wait to see her again when I’m not with her.”
“But you’re not taking the next step.”
“I’m not sure about that step yet, and I’m not sure she’s ready for that either.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t know she wanted to sleep with you either. I’m not sure I trust your judgment on that sort of thing.”
Isturon shook his head. “No, I know we spend a lot of time together and everything now, but she still hasn’t said she loves me.”
“Maybe you just need to tell her that you love her more often.”
“I already tell her multiple times a day exactly how I feel, and I’m already worried that it’s excessive.” He picked his coffee back up and took a sip this time.
“Okay, besides that then, why aren’t you sure?”
“Life experience makes me not so sure. You know I’m divorced.”
“But that marriage was arranged, and I thought you said ending it was a mutual decision.”
“The only thing Verisna and I ever agreed on, yes, but you also realize that I was unhappy the whole time I was married.”
“Okay, but that’s not going to happen with Braedra.”
“No. She’s nothing like Verisna, but because I was so unhappy, I did things I wouldn’t have normally done, and my heart was broken each time.”
“Because you were married.”
“They knew I was married. The first one, that was the first thing I told her. She asked me to buy her a drink, and I told her I was married. She shrugged and said she still wanted a drink, so I bought her a drink. I made it clear I couldn’t leave Verisna because there was a contract saying I’d lose my kids. She said she didn’t care. She didn’t need me to leave. Then two years later, guess what? She wanted me to leave Verisna. I told her again that I couldn’t. She said I didn’t love her, and she didn’t want to hear from me again. I thought she had cared. I thought I finally had some sort of semblance of a loving relationship because I knew I wasn’t going to get one with Verisna, and then she just left. She left over things that I told her right at the start that I couldn’t do, and it hurt.”
Arancon frowned. “Okay, I don’t condone cheating, but she shouldn’t have said she was fine with something she wasn’t fine with.”
“Right? And it kept happening over and over, not that I really saw that many people. There were just the five and they were pretty spread out. I was married when I was 100, the first one was around the time I was 145. I was almost 160 when I saw the second and that was just for a couple of months. He and I broke up because he was seeing other people and thought that because I was married, I wouldn’t want to be so serious. Then the third was around the time Aranae finished her general studies, so I was in my late 180’s, and again, that one was only for a few months. Then a couple of years before the contract ran out when I was in my 220’s, Nessna introduced me to Theria. I had planned to leave Verisna for her after the contract was done, but then the Scourge invasion happened. Theria died, and it wasn’t a good time to leave after that.”
“No?” Arancon raised a brow.
“No. For one, I was depressed because I lost Theria, which I know is nothing like you losing Maena or Braedra losing Galandil because I knew her for only a few years, but I think you can understand, and secondly, I didn’t think the kids needed their parents splitting on top of everything else.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Arancon narrowed his eyes. “Wait a second. That was just four. You said there were five.”
“Yeah, the last one I count even though we didn’t do more than kiss. It was when Verisna and I decided enough was enough and it was time to go our separate ways. I had already been seeing this other woman, but not much had happened at that point.”
“Besides the kissing.”
“Yes, besides the kissing. Anyway, Verisna managed to leave me without any money, and that kind of made me poor, and this woman left because she thought I had money and when I suddenly didn’t, she didn’t want to see me anymore.”
“If you ask me, maybe that was a good thing,” Arancon said then sipped his water.
“I guess, but it hurt at the time, and here I am now without money again. I’m kind of holding my breath hoping Brae doesn’t leave over it.”
“From what I know of her, I don’t think she’ll leave over that.”
“Well, anyway, that’s why I don’t want to propose marriage too soon. I want to make sure that we can handle things together okay and that she is who I think she is.”
“So you’re moving in?”
“Not exactly. I’m really kind of scared, and I don’t think I’m ready to give up my own space. I still change out of my jogging clothes there, and smell bad after jogging, and do things like meditate that I’m not sure how she feels about.”
“I know what you mean. You can fart without being yelled at.”
Isturon paused, having temporarily lost his train of thought, then nodded. “Umm, yeah. I guess that’s true too. I can also walk around in my underwear without worrying that her daughters will see me. Anyway, I’m not proposing marriage yet, and I’m not moving in, though I do intend to spend every night I can there.”
Arancon nodded. “I guess if you’re both happy with that pace, then that’s good, and you’re right. Maybe she still needs a little time too.”
Isturon glanced at the clock hanging over the coffee shop counter. He noticed Arancon’s gaze follow his. “You have to—”
“Crap, I’m gonna be late,” Arancon said as he got up and tossed his cloak on. He turned as he started heading towards the door. “It was good seeing you again. Same time next week?”
Isturon nodded. “Yes. That will be good.” He watched as Arancon hurried outside into the rain and started his riding machine. It couldn’t possibly be very fun to ride in the rain, but Arancon didn’t seem to mind as he took off down the road.
Isturon leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee as he watched the rain fall outside.