1.03: Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Chroma

The two crept quietly into the house.  While everyone else would be asleep, Azura wanted to make sure they didn’t disturb anyone either.  She led him into the family room and they sat down on the couch.  Rogelio pulled her close to his side, nuzzling his cheek against hers.

“I never thought to have this,” Azura murmured after a moment.  “It seemed like a fairy tale.”  She swallowed.  She so rarely talked of her early life, of her parents.  It was just too painful for her.  She could talk with Bella about it because Bella had been there for much of it.  But Rog…  She felt she could tell him anything.  So as they sat there, just holding one another, Azura told him about the day the colors faded for her.  She had already explained to him a bit about the research she and the Goths were doing, but this was the first time that she’d been able to tell him what had prompted it all.

He didn’t say anything for a long moment, the hand on her back just gentle rubbing in small circles.  When he did, his gaze was tender on hers.  “We’ll bring the colors back for you, my love.  I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make sure that will happen.”  Then he kissed her as if sealing that promise.

She closed her eyes and just savored the moment.  Azura hadn’t let herself hope in a long time.  Her obsession with the old manuscript, even approaching Bella and Mortimer hadn’t put this feeling in her chest.  A feeling of lightness, of blossoming hope that was fragile, but nevertheless, it was a start.  She let out a sigh, then lay her head on Rogelio’s shoulder and let sleep take her, for the first time in a long time, her dreams held a bit of color.

Azura had been a little afraid adding someone else to the household might disrupt things a bit, but in truth, Rogelio was proving invaluable, and not just to herself.  He was quite handy and after one of the toilets downstairs sprung a leak for the fourth time that month, he was in there fixing it himself instead of having to call a plumber.

Even Alex and Cassie quite liked him.  Azura often found him chatting with Alex in the morning before school.  He’d have Alex rolling quite a bit with some stories from his youth.

“Nu uh!” Alex exclaimed.  “Did you really?”

Rogelio chuckled lightly.  “I’m afraid so.  My uh… teachers weren’t overly pleased with me, of course.”

Alex giggled then he saw Azura.  “’Zura, Uncle Rog let a bunch of frogs out in the halls in school!”

Azura arched a brow at him.  “He did, did he?”  She grinned.  “And why, pray tell, did he do such a thing?”

Rogelio grinned at her, the look in his eyes making Azura’s cheeks flush.

“Why, to impress a young lady, of course,” he told Alex, turning back to him, winking at Azura.  “Watcher only knows that we poor menfolk are powerless to resist when a girl bats her eyelashes at us and talks about the plight of the poor little creatures in the science room.”

Azura almost choked on her coffee as Alex let out a gagging noise.  “Girls are icky!” he exclaimed.  “And weird!”

“Am I weird?” Azura asked him.

He blinked.  “Oh no, Aunt ‘Zura!  I didn’t mean that you were weird!”

“What about your mom and sister?  Are they weird?”

Alex seemed to think about that for a moment.  “Well, Cassie can be a bit weird at times, but no, I guess not.”  Still thinking, the young boy got up to go get ready for school.

Azura turned to her boyfriend.  “Can we not try to corrupt the poor thing?” she asked with a laugh.  “Alex’s a good boy.”

Rogelio inclined his head, grinning unrepentantly.  “That he is.  And he’ll learn all too well.  Not much longer before he’ll be a hormonal mess as well.  It happens to us all.”

Azura giggled.  “I suppose you have a point there.  Don’t mention that to his mother yet, though.  She’s not ready for him to grow up quite yet.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Rogelio promised.  He watched Azura walk out, needing to get ready to leave for work.

After giving Azura a hug and a steamy kiss before she went out the door, Rogelio wondered out to the dining room table.  Bella and Mortimer had emerged and were eating some breakfast.  Rogelio sat down with the book he’d selected and gave them a smile as he sat down.  “Morning, folks,” he greeted them.

“Morning, Rogelio,” Bella greeted with a smile.  She looked over at Mortimer, a little blush coloring her cheeks while Mortimer gave her a look much as Rogelio had given Azura that morning.

As Rogelio and Mortimer began an animated conversation, Bella got up and excused herself so she could go work in the garden.  She felt a little pang.  Mortimer and Rogelio were of an age, both several years older than her and Azura.  Mortimer had swept her off her feet, much as Rogelio had done to Azura.  But seeing the little hint of gray in their hair, hearing how the two talked of things that neither she nor Azura could understand was a constant reminder of the age difference.  Not that it had stopped any of them, obviously.  But Bella couldn’t help think on it every now and again.  She couldn’t help smiling though when she heard the subject of fishing come up.  Knowing they would be at that discussion for a while, she tuned it out and went out the back door to her garden.

Rogelio stretched and got out of bed.  After their discussion, he and Mortimer had gone fishing together.  Two old guys at the river bank.  It had felt good, though he was feeling his age a bit and they’d both headed to their rooms for a quick nap.  He looked over at the bedside clock and his eyes widened.  Azura was going to be home any moment now!  He ran to his dresser and reached into the back and pulled out the little jewelers’ box.  He had thought about taking her for another date and doing this properly.  But he thought doing it here, at the house would be more intimate.  The Goths were her family and doing it here would have more meaning, he thought.

He heard the door open and slid the box into his pocket then strode out of their room.  He found the love of his life in the kitchen.  It was true what they say: the kitchen is really the heart of the home.  It certainly was in their house.  She looked lost in thought, but when she heard the footsteps and saw him, her face lit up and then she was in his arms, greeting him with a kiss.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly after he held her at arm’s length.

“Hi yourself,” he murmured.  He seemed to be drinking her in with his eyes, his gaze sweeping over her from head to toe.  He was nervous.  He didn’t think he would be.  It felt so right.  He’d never been one to really do things on impulse.  He’d been planning this for a while now, since before she’d asked him to move in.  But now that it was time, he found himself nervous.  But looking at her, feeling that punch in the gut that always seemed to accompany that first glimpse of her each time, he could only smile.  He reached into his pocket even as he knelt down on one knee in front of her.

Azura could only stare at him, not quite computing what she was seeing or hearing.  “Azura Lynn Chroma,” Rogelio began, “I knew from the moment I set eyes on you that you were the one.  It was like a punch straight to my heart.  I never really believed in fairy tales, until I set eyes on you.  You have become my very own fairy tale, my Princess.  Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?  Of sharing the rest of our lives together, however long that may be?”

Nothing came out.  Azura just stood there, unable to speak past the lump that had lodged itself in her throat.  Tears pricked her eyes, making Rogelio’s upturned face blurry.  Her hand had gone to her chest to make sure she still had a heartbeat.  She was fairly certain that her heart had stopped for a moment there.

After what seemed like an eternity for her, but was in reality only a few moments, Azura choked out, “Yes.  Yes, I’ll marry you.”  He slid the ring on her finger, his own eyes shimmering with just a hint of tears as well.

He stood up and they kissed tenderly, Azura letting out a little sob of noise as she tried not to cry in sheer happiness.

With a sudden wild whoop of delight, Azura leapt into Rogelio’s arms!  He looked startled, but he managed to catch her at least.  Older he may have been, but he was still in very good shape.

Cassie, who had been creeping at the edge of the kitchen, not wanting to interrupt the beautiful moment, ran in, cheering for them.  Rogelio grinned, unable to tear his gaze away from Azura’s.  She was going to be his wife.  It still seemed a little unreal to him.  To both of them, he thought, judging by the look in her eyes as well.

He set her down and once again, they were wrapped up in one another’s arms.  Cassie let out a sappy sigh at the table.  “That’s so sweet,” she murmured.

“Maybe we should just elope,” Azura sighed one night a few weeks later.  Between work and the wedding planning, she was a bit overwrought.

“Nonsense,” Bella said briskly.  “You’re almost there.  I wish you would relax a bit more and let us handle things,” she said.  “I promise, it will be beautiful.”

“Oh, I know that,” Azura assured her.  “I do.  I just… I would feel awful leaving it all to you.”

“Azura,” Bella said, putting her hand over her friend’s.  “It’s ok, really.  You’ve been working non-stop lately.  You’re stressed out.  Your wedding is your day.  I want it to be special for you.  So, let me take care of things for a while, alright?”

“Mom’s right, Aunt ‘Zura,” Alex piped up.  He was doing his homework.  “Mom’s good at this kinda stuff, aren’t ya, Mom?”

Bella grinned at her son.  “Yes, yes I am.”

Azura stared between them bemusedly for a moment, then she threw up her hands, laughing.  “Alright, alright.  I’ll leave it in your capable hands, Bella.”

“Excellent!” Bella exclaimed.  “I promise, you won’t regret it.”

The next month or so passed in a whirlwind.  True to her word, Bella took over the wedding plans.  Azura hardly had to lift a finger unless it was just to make a choice between two colors, or two kinds of stem-ware.  It was suspiciously easy.  And before she knew it, the day of her wedding was upon them.

As Bella had promised, things were perfect.  She’d had a wedding arch set up in their backyard, even ordering a beautiful fountain and arrangement of flowers.  It was beautiful.  Azura stood under the arch with Rogelio, their guests looking on.  Azura really left like a Princess, decked out in her light blue gown.  Rogelio looked dashing in a white fedora.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered.  “You take my breath away, Azura.”

“Oh Rog,” she murmured.  Tears threatened to spill over.  “I-I’m so happy.  Y-you make me so happy.”

As everyone found their seats, Azura and her husband-to-be could only look at one another and both count their lucky stars.

When everyone was seated, the music started.  Swallowing, Azura took Rogelio’s hand in hers and then slid the ring onto his finger.  “With this ring, I thee wed,” she murmured, never taking her eyes off of him.  “I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your friend and confidante for as long as we both shall live.  I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”

Rogelio held her hand and slid the ring onto her finger.  His voice was a bit gruff as he recited his vows.  “With this ring, I thee wed.  I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your rock and your support.  I swear to you that I will help you paint your world with color once more.  I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”

And with a kiss to act as a final seal on their promises to one another, they became Mr. and Mrs. Chroma (Rogelio was only too happy to take Azura’s name as his own).

After the ceremony was the reception.  They started with the cake-cutting.  And then of course there was the feeding each other cake.  Azura’s eyes twinkled.  “Be nice,” she warned her new husband.

“You too,” he said, giving her a wink.  She laughed and the two gently fed each other, both being on their best behavior, if for no other reason than they knew the other would get even.

They made the rounds afterward, sitting and chatting with as many of their guests as possible.  Nancy, Geoff, and their son had come as well as a few people that Azura had met through work.

Shortly after that, Rog and ‘Zura made their escape with the help of Bella who took care of shooing any of the guests out of there.  She told Azura that she and the kids would take care of clean-up.  “It’s your wedding night.  Enjoy it!” Bella said with a wink.

Azura laughed.  “Oh we will!”  Taking her husband’s hand, she led him upstairs.  Once in their room, the two just stood there for a moment, looking at each other.  Then Azura leaned forward.  “Well Mr. Chroma?” she asked.

“Thought you’d never ask, Mrs. Chroma,” Rogelio answered, grinning devilishly.

They changed out of their wedding attire and hopped into bed, giggling like children.

Later on, as Azura lay in her new husband’s arms, she felt his mouth curl into a grin as he whispered in her ear.  “Good night, Mrs. Chroma.”

She grinned back.  “Good night, Mr. Chroma.  Sweet dreams.”

“I’ll be dreaming of you, so of course they will be.”  Flushing, her heart going pitter-pat in her chest, Azura closed her eyes, happier than she could remember being in a long time.  Her dreams held a beautiful sunrise, bringing with it a light wash of color.

1.02: The Frog Prince?

Bella sat down on the couch next to her friend, plate in hand.  Azura smiled up at the other woman.  “Hey!  Just the person I wanted to see!  I can’t thank you enough for all of this, Bella!”

Bella smiled.  Her worries that she’d shared with Mortimer had been put to rest and seeing the way her friend was almost glowing only cemented the fact that she had made the right decision.  That and watching her kids interact with ‘Aunt ‘Zura’ made her especially glad.

She shook her head.  “I will admit; the last few weeks, I’ve had my- reservations and some doubts.  But quite honestly, Azura, darling, things are wonderful.  I’ve never seen the kids happier nor have I seen my husband so relaxed in far too long.  Work was really dragging him down.  This is good, this is great even.”  She reached over and took Azura’s hands in hers.  “How are you doing?  How’s your research?”

Azura looked away from Bella, but not before she saw the blush that flamed over her cheeks.  “Azura?  Is everything ok?” she asked, concerned.

“Oh, you’re too sweet.”  Azura looked at her, though she was still blushing profusely.  “I’m fine, truly fine.  My research is going well, but uh- I have to be honest.  I-I’ve gotten a bit… distracted,” she said lamely.

One of Bella’s eyebrows winged up and she grinned.  “Oh ho!  Distracted hm?  You wouldn’t have gotten distracted by- oh, I don’t know- a member of the opposite sex, have you?”

Azura nodded quickly, throwing her hands up.  “I have!  I-I don’t even know how it happened!”  She leaned back, tipping her head all the way back until it rested on the back of the couch as her gaze seemed to go far away for a bit.  “It was a week or so ago.  I’d gotten a bit blocked with this new book.  I needed a change of scenery, something to kick-start my muse.  So I went to the park.  I just say on one of the benches for a bit, then went to go to the pond’s edge.  I saw a little frog jump and on impulse, I tried to catch it.”

Bella snorted out a laugh.  “Azura Chroma!  Don’t you dare tell me that you kissed that frog and he turned into your handsome Prince!”

Azura blinked, then threw her head back in laughter.  It took a moment for the guffaws to subside.  “No, I can safely say I didn’t kiss the frog.  In fact, I didn’t even catch the little bugger.  I was still feeling a bit restless, so I decided a bit of a walk was in order.  I-I was going down the path and-and that’s when I saw him.”

She paused and had to take a deep breath.  “I swear, it’s like what you and I would talk about when we were kids.  That instant our eyes met… I swear it was like a sucker punch straight to the solar plexus.”

Bella’s expression went a bit gooey.  She knew just how that felt.  She’d had the same experience with her Morty.  “What happened?” she asked gently, though her expression was eager to know what happened.

Azura sighed softly, the sound full of longing.  “We both just stopped right on the path, just like that.  He smiled at me, said ‘Hello, beautiful lady.’  I replied with ‘Hello, handsome man.’  Then we both laughed.  Oh Bella, we must have stood there talking for hours!  Just talking and laughing.  It was so- easy!  So easy to talk to him.  I-I’ve never had that, not with anyone.”  She grinned sheepishly.  “Well, except with you, of course.  But I just- I can’t even explain it!”

Bella leaned over and gave her a quick, hard squeeze.  “You don’t need to.  I understand perfectly.”  She looked at Azura, grinning.  “So?  What’s your Prince’s name?”

Azura grinned.  “Rogelio.  Isn’t that fantastic?  Sounds so exotic!  ‘Rogelio’.”

Bella laughed.  “Even just saying his name has you glowing!  Will he be coming over anytime soon?”

“Actually… he’s coming over tomorrow night.”

“Don’t you worry,” Bella said firmly, a twinkle in her eye.  “I’ll make sure you two aren’t disturbed.  I think it’s time Morty and I took the kids to the park or for a visit to Oasis Springs for the day.”

“Oh, no!  You don’t have to do that!” Azura protested, panicking a little.  It was one thing to stand there and chat with Rogelio for hours- the only reason either had had to go was because Azura had promised Alex she’d come home and read to him.  But it was entirely another to know she’d be here all alone with him!  What if she made a fool of herself?

“Nonsense!  You and Rogelio don’t need us underfoot!”  Bella was very firm.  She could see the nerves that were beginning to surface in her friend.  “What did he say to you when you parted?”

That stopped the protest that had been on the tip of Azura’s tongue.  Her cheeks heated again, though it was with the pleasure of the memory.  “Well, he pulled me into this warm, gentle hug and told me that he was lucky to have run into me.  It must have been fate.  And that he couldn’t wait to see me again.”

Bella nodded with some satisfaction.  “Good.  I think the kids would like to visit Nancy and Geoffrey for a bit anyway.”  She smiled at Azura who seemed off in her own little world, thinking about her Prince Charming.

When the doorbell rang the next day, Azura had to wipe her hands off on her thighs.  Why was she so nervous?  It didn’t make any sense!  She didn’t normally have such a problem talking with people.  In fact, she was quite outgoing.  Even as she berated herself in her head, she opened the door and froze.  A goofy grin split her face.  “Hello again, beautiful lady,” Rogelio greeted her.

“And hello again to you, handsome man,” she murmured.  Butterflies danced in her stomach.

“I have something for you,” he said quietly, drawing a single red rose from behind his back.

She looked at the flower, then up at him.  Something inside her seemed to bloom; this warm feeling just spread through her chest.  She had no idea what made her do it.  Before a single thought could register in her head, she’d taken the rose and thrusting her head forward with no hesitation, she pressed her lips to his.

It was only after Rogelio’s little gasp that her sense seemed to return to her.  She pulled back, appalled at herself.  What had she just done?!  What had she been thinking?!  Then again, she couldn’t bring herself to really regret her actions either.  Maybe she was a bit fearful of his reaction, but she had definitely enjoyed it.

There was no need to be fearful, it seemed.  Rogelio simply smiled at her, his dark eyes twinkling.  He leaned forward and kissed her cheek.  Without a word, Azura took his hand and led him into the kitchen.  “I’ll make us some coffee and some lunch,” she said.  “How does that sound?”

“That sounds lovely,” he murmured.  “But before you do…”  He took a step closer and slid his arms around her waist, just looking into her eyes for a long moment.

Azura let out a soft breath, looking into his beautiful brown eyes.  “We’re moving too fast, I know it,” she murmured.  “But I don’t care.  Do you?”

He shook his head.  “Not at all.”  He leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers, his grip around her tightening as she melted into the kiss.

“What’s wrong, sis?” Alex asked, his tongue sticking out as he concentrated on the math problem he was working on.

“Oh nothing.  Just thinking,” Cassie murmured.  “Haven’t seen much of ‘Zura lately.”

Alex nodded.  “That’s true.  Work’s been busy for her.”

“Yeah, that and when she’s not at work, she’s with Rogelio.”  She stood up, intending to take her plate to the sink.

‘Speak of the devil and she will come’.  Even as Alex got up, his homework finished, Azura padded out to the kitchen, looking sleepy.  Alex greeted her warmly, even gave her a hug before running off to get ready for school.  Cassie stayed though.  After taking care of her plate, she sat back down.  “You look tired, ‘Zura,” she observed.

Azura laughed.  “Yeah, been a long couple weeks.  Deadlines coming up for my new book.”

Cassie gave her a sly grin.  “Deadline hm?  Sure it doesn’t have anything to do with a certain tall, dark, and handsome man that’s been spending nights here?”

Azura hadn’t known she could blush so hard.  “Uh… well then.”  She rubbed at the back of her neck.  “You uh-“

Cassie began to laugh.  “It’s ok.  I’m a big girl.  I think it’s incredibly sweet.  You guys are good together.”

Azura blushed again.  “Thanks.  I-I’ve never felt like this.  I got so caught up i-in my research, it just didn’t enter into things.  A-and I guess I was afraid.  Losing mom and dad like I did, I guess I was afraid of getting close.”  She smiled at Cassie.  “But you guys made it hard not to get close to you.  And I like it, a lot.  I feel… alive for the first time in a long time.”

The young girl reached across the table and put her hand over Azura’s.  “We’re all family, right?”

“Yes, yes we are.”

Cassie’s head jerked up as her brother’s voice reached her.  She looked at the clock.  “Oh no!  Gotta go!  See ya later, ‘Zura!”  She ran upstairs to get changed and then ran out to catch up with her brother.

Azura smiled after her.  She looked down at her own watch and huffed out a sigh.  She was going to be late for work herself if she didn’t get herself up and around. Today was going to be a long day, especially since Rogelio had suggested they get out of the house, go on a date.  They hadn’t really had much time to do that.  She was certainly looking forward to it.

Azura dragged herself home from work.  It had been a miserable day.  Her editor had ripped her latest manuscript apart.  She had a lot of work to do to fix things.  She sat at the kitchen table, her drink forgotten by her hand.  She wondered if pushing their date off to tomorrow night would be a good idea.

She was still contemplating that when she felt a pair of strong hands on her shoulders.  She let out a small moan.  “I’ll give you ten years to stop that,” she murmured.

Rogelio’s laugh was deep and rumbling.  “You’re tense, love.  Long day?”

“Oh yes, yes it was.  I pretty much have to rewrite the second half of my latest manuscript.”

“Poor thing.  Well, why don’t you turn it off for a bit?  I think you’d like the park, hm?”

With his hands still kneading the muscles in her neck and shoulders, and just his presence, all thoughts of postponing their date fled.  “That sounds wonderful,” she murmured.  “Let me get another cup of coffee, then we can go.”

The sun was already setting by the time they walked to the park.  They sat themselves on one of the benches nearest the fountain.  Rogelio smiled at her.  “Feel good to be out of the house?”

“Oh Watcher yes,” she breathed out.  “If I have to stare at my computer anymore today or even this week, I’ll go crazy.”  She grinned.  “Then again, I might already be there.”

He laughed, then reached over to put his hand over hers.

Much like most of the time they were together, they lost themselves in one another, in talking about anything and everything under the sun.  By the time they realized they’d been there a while, it was full dark.  They stood up, intending to go back to Azura’s place.  On impulse, she took his hand in her own.

“Rog?  I know we haven’t talked about-about our future much.  We’ve carefully kept things in the present.  But I don’t want to do that anymore.  It may be crazy and- and maybe you aren’t ready for this, but… would you like to move in?”

The smile that she loved so much spread across his face just before he grabbed her and pulled her in for a kiss.

After they separated, both needing a bit of air, she leaned close and whispered, “Let’s go home.”