“Sean?” Lira stepped out of the car looking at the small salon. “Where are we?”
“Just come on,” he took her hand. “You’ll like this.”
Sean pulled her into the beauty salon very eager. He signed in with the woman at the counter, which gave Lira a chance to look around. As soon as she did, she attempted to sneak away.
“Oh no,” Sean grabbed her waist playfully and forced her into a chair. “You’re not running away.”
“I will not do this,” she glared looking at the hairdressers spraying different things from bottles into people’s hair and sheering off the strands.
“Hey, you sailed all the way from Valinor, and you fought a dragon in a previous life, came face to face with the Valar. I think you can be brave enough to get a couple strands cut off and a makeover, and if you’re nice I’ll treat you to a facial or a massage.”
“But look at what they’re doing!”
“You don’t see other people objecting do you?”
“No, but that’s a regular way of life,” she began toying with her long dark curls.
“Lira,” he knelt. “Look at this,” he held up a strand. “It has all split ends and is knotty. I assure you, you will be much better with it cut shorter. And it will grow faster once it is cut shorter.”
“How can that be?” she asked.
“Trust me,” he grinned.
Her nose was filled with the scent of hairspray and mousse. She watched one hairdresser clipping one woman’s blonde hair into a Tinkerbell style, and she wrinkled her nose in disgust. What in the world could possibly drive women to such ends as cutting their beautiful hair to a station higher than a man’s? The woman’s lips were painted, her cheeks rosier, and her eyelashes blackened. Lira bit her nails in nervousness until she heard her name called.
Two young women with blonde curls and a man with short spiked dark hair appeared ready to take Lira back. Sean squeezed her hand.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere.”
They led her to the back room and the man advised her to sit in the chair in front of the mirror. He began to fool with her hair and inspect her face.
“Well, excellent skin by no doubt, very fair. Beautiful eyes, absolutely gorgeous enchanting eyes but hidden by bushy almost connected dark eyebrows. So I suggest we start with that.”
“My eyebrows?” she questioned, but he already began to rub some alcohol against her brows.
“Sean?” she looked nervously.
“Don’t worry,” he chuckled. “He’s just going to wax them.”
An odd smell came into Lira’s nose, and the man put what felt like hot, black sand upon her eyebrows and let it dry. She closed her eyes tightly knowing what he was going to do next. Lira squeezed Sean’s hand and let out a gasp, as the wax came off.
“That hurt!” she whined.
“Don’t start complaining,” Sean told her. “This is for you.”
She sulked as the man began to inspect her hair. “Well obviously too long,” he chuckled fooling with the hair at her waist. “How far, Mr. O’Connor?”
Sean motioned to the man and whispered in his ear. He smiled and rubbed his hands together.
“You got it, Sean!”
“My hair! What are you going to do with my hair?” she asked nervously.
“We’re going to give it a little trim, honey. Nothing to worry about.”
He set her back into a sink and began to wet her hair with warm water. It actually felt very relaxing as he worked shampoo and conditioner into her tender scalp and the knots within her hair. He finally pushed her neck upward and dried her hair with a towel. Then he began to use a comb, which didn’t hurt until he came to a knot. Sean thought it wise to blindfold her when the man began cutting her hair.
“No, no!” she put up a big fuss.
“Lia, I wont do anything to upset you or make you ugly,” Sean assured her. “You are very vain. Now I want it to be a surprise, ok?”
She finally consented, and the hairdresser blindfolded her eyes and began to trim her hair while the women gave her a manicure and a pedicure. She had never felt anything so good as two pair of hands massaging her feet and hands with different creams. She could grow to like this. Finally the young man took the blindfold off, and he told her not to scream when she looked in the mirror and recognized someone else. She took a deep breath as he swung the chair around, and she wanted to scream, but managed tears instead. It was change, and most women hate change when it comes to their appearance. Her eyebrows were nearly gone, and her hair was cut to the style of an elf’s resting below her shoulders. She saw the women cleaning up the remainder of her hair. He had also straightened it, and added a slight layer. Her cheeks were rosy pink now, and her lips were painted a deep crimson. Everyone seemed pleased with the effect; especially Sean. But a tear dripped down her cheek. Sean placed his hands on her shoulders.
“Lia, you look beautiful,” he assured her.
“Oh yes, seems like you’ve been hiding your pretty face behind your hair. Now look at it. The boys will fall all over you.”
Sean gave the man a careful warning eye. Lira looked at herself once again in the mirror and touched her hair. It felt soft, thick, and straight. She glanced at her face again.
“There now,” Sean took her hand and lifted her up. “Since you’ve been such a good girl, I’m going to treat you to a massage.”
“That will cost more, sir,” the young man told him.
Sean glared. “Blast the cost! This is for Lira.”
“You don’t have to do it, Sean,” Lira told him.
“No you just be quiet and relax.”
She smiled as he led her to the waiting room for the massages. He purchased a half hour massage for Lira and picked up a magazine while waiting for her to be done. A middle aged woman took the girl back into one of the massage rooms and swept aside a curtain. A comfortable odd looking bed stood in the center of the room, and the woman instructed Lira to take her shirt and bra off. Lira gave a questioning look, but noticed the woman leaving the room for a moment to retrieve something, and she obeyed. Lira took her place on the bed laying on her stomach with her face in between the head-hole. The woman came back in with a series of lotions and wet washcloths. She began to massage Lira’s back working her powerful hands into the girl’s shoulders and muscles. Lira sighed thinking it felt wonderful but she was rather ashamed of the small scars she received from her father’s beatings. She expected the woman to ask about them, but was surprised when she didn’t.
“You have a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders,” the woman said deepening her hold on Lira’s neck and rubbing out the tension. “Try relaxing more.”
Lira did and found the results rather pleasing. She could spend all day here as the woman rubbed different lotions into her skin and kneaded the areas in her back. The half hour passed away quickly, though, and Lira went back into the waiting room. Sean stood up when he saw her.
“How was it?” he asked.
“Absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much, Sean.”
“Well,” he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “You ready to go home for awhile? Tomorrow, I’ll treat you to the mall, but it’s already…” he checked his watch, “Four thirty. I’d like to get dinner going for my mom.”
“Yes, you’ll get to meet her tonight.”
“But I don’t have any clothes,” she objected looking at the loose fitting jeans and long sleeved top.
“Well, during your half hours, I took the liberty of disappearing down the block real quick and picked this up for you,” he motioned to a shopping bag. Inside was a dainty pair of sandals for running along the beach and a knee length white dress with spaghetti straps. “Hope it fits,” he smiled.
“Sean, this is all very good of you. You went to a lot of trouble doing this for me.”
“You’re worth it,” he smiled.
She finally managed to work the curling iron without getting burned and finished with her hair in an hour. She quickly changed into the dress Sean had bought for her and found it very flattering and comfortable for her figure. Her hair fell in dark layered curls beneath her shoulders, and she added a touch of gloss to her lips and a scent of perfume she had found in her drawer to her neck. Slipping into the sandals, she slowly came down the stairs and into the kitchen where Sean was cooking up a feast for dinner. He looked rather handsome as well dressed in dark khaki pants, a white short sleeved button-up shirt, and his golden hair wet from his shower. A towel was slung over his shoulder as he cleaned up his mess from the kitchen. She walked in and dropped her arms to her sides.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked startling him.
Sean turned around quickly and instantly gaped. She grinned even more and blushed with embarrassment. A curve spread over his lips, and he approached her quickly drawing her into his arms. She placed her hands against his chest before he could do anything.
“I asked you a question.”
“And I was about to give you an answer,” he explained hovering over her lips.
“Your mother will be here soon.”
“Not soon,” he told her hearing the garage door open. “Quickly..um hide in the family room. Quickly go!”
Lira hurried into the other room and ducked behind the bookshelf just as the garage door swung open. Sean was right about his mother being beautiful. She was average height with flaxen gold hair, dark brown eyes, and a pretty china face. Mrs. O’Connor smiled at Sean, and Lira guessed she was used to him making dinner for her. Sean kissed his mother’s cheeks while stirring the Alfredo sauce.
“What’s for dinner tonight?” she asked.
“Chicken Parmesian with noodles and Alfredo sauce. Then chocolate mousse and strawberries for dessert.”
“Why do you have three plates out?” she asked noting the special china set out as well.
He stopped stirring and turned the stove off. “Mother,” he placed his hands on her shoulders. “I have something very important to tell you.”
“Sean, is someone special coming tonight?” she asked.
“Not coming. Already here,” he answered. “Come on out, Lira.”
Lira stepped out from behind the bookshelf, and Mrs. O’Connor let out a small gasp as Lira approached. “Mother,” he took Lira gently by the hand. “This is Lira. The best most wonderful girl in the entire universe.”
“Sean has told me much about you. I am honored to meet you,” Lira smiled.
“Well, Sean, this is indeed a surprise,” Mrs. O’Connor answered. “But I don’t think you could have picked a prettier or more pleasant girl than her.”
“Yes, I know. And I’m going to marry her someday too,” he grinned but continued before either of them could speak. “Food’s ready if you want to sit down.”
Lira and Mrs. O’Connor sat down at the table across from each other, and Sean came over. He carefully dropped a piece of chicken on each plate and drizzled it with white sauce as well as the noodles. Lira watched him as he put it together so perfectly. The family said a short prayer and began to eat.
“So where did you find this little boy of mine, Lira?” Mrs. O’Connor asked.
“Well, actually he found me,” she smiled.
“Now, Lira, what kind of a name is that?” she asked.
“You can call me Lia for short if you wish. Most people think it’s an odd name.”
“Odd but beautiful. I am certain Sean found you in the woods. That has to be it. He was painting in the woods and came across you. Did he paint you as well?”
Lira giggled. “He hasn’t done that yet. But Sean is a very skilled artist.”
A slight blush rose to his cheeks, and he ate another piece of chicken. “I’m alright, I guess.”
“I saw the picture you did of the ocean day. It was beautiful!” replied Lira.
“Mother, would you mind if I took her to the ocean tonight?” he asked. “You know to see the stars?”
“No, I don’t mind. Just as long as you’re back by ten,” she turned to Lira again. “Sean’s home is practically the ocean. He goes there every day. Do you like the ocean?”
“I love it especially the creatures in it,” answered Lira.
“How old are you?”
Lira smiled not minding the fact that Mrs. O’Connor was asking many questions. It was a normal protective thing for a mother to do, and she imagined Sean would be having a discussion with her that night.
“I am eighteen the same age as Sean.”
“Do you live around here?”
“No, I am just visiting.”
Sean looked up at her, but his mother continued. “Where are you from then?”
“Do you intend on returning?”
“I believe so, but not for quite some time.”
“Where do your parents live?”
Sean coughed slightly interrupting. “Um, Mother, Lira lost both of her parents.”
Mrs. O’Connor covered her mouth and then took Lira’s hand gently. “I am so sorry. Sean knows what it is like to lose a parent. I lost my mother when I was very young as well. It is a difficult thing to go through not having anyone to catch you anymore. It is like being cut loose from something wonderful.”
Lira nodded and finished her meal silently. She was glad Mrs. O’Connor asked no more questions. When Sean brought the strawberries and mousse out, Lira instantly grinned when trying one.
“I don’t think anything can match this,” she answered trying the mousse. “It is like sweet light air!”
Mrs. O’Connor smiled. “Interesting analogy. It was my grandmother’s recipe. Sean makes it better than I do though.”
He rolled his eyes. “You always say I’m a better cook than you, but don’t forget who taught me.”
“Yes, I supposed I did teach you to cook.”
“You taught me many things, Mother.”
“You two better hurry if you want to see the sunset.”
“Thank you, Mother,” Sean stood up and kissed her cheek. Just as Lira began to stand, he suddenly raised his voice shocking them both. “Don’t you dare get out of that chair!”
She looked confused but then smiled as he came behind the chair and pulled it out for her taking her hand. Mrs. O’Connor laughed. “That is my Prince for you.”
“It was nice to meet you, Mrs. O’Connor,” Lira smiled sweetly as Sean placed a matching white cloak over Lira’s shoulders.
“And you,” Mrs. O’Connor smiled back.
Sean took Lira’s hand and led her out to the door, which he opened as well. They stepped out into his neighborhood, and he pointed to the west saying that the ocean was a couple blocks away. They walked quickly and silently until they came to the dock, which led out onto the beach. Lira kicked off her sandals and let her feet dig into the cool sand. The sun was setting just beneath the horizon line, and Sean could see the faint specks of starlight appearing. Suddenly, Lira took off running toward the waterline, and Sean ran after her wondering what she was doing. Then he saw her picking up a beautiful colored shell. She held it up, and he took it.
“It’s a Conch shell. Very pretty one too like your eyes,” he noted the violet and silver streaks upon it.
“Can I keep it?” she asked.
“Of course,” he wrapped an arm around her waist.
She sighed and looked at the sunset. “This is so beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here.”
“Anytime,” he murmured into her ear and caught her fragrance of blue mist hovering upon her neck.
She admired the colors of the horizon; bright reds, oranges, and pinks hovering near the line dimming into dark violets and blues. Sean was far too engrossed in watching Lira he hardly noticed the sunset.
“Lia,” he murmured again and touched her hair softly moving a curl behind her ear.
“Hmm?” she turned her face to him and nearly bumped noses.
He trailed a soft finger against her cheek and looked into her violet blue eyes. “I can’t think of a more wonderful time than sharing this moment with you forever.”
“Forever’s a long time,” she told him as he drew near to her. “Sean, are you going to kiss me?”
“I might be considering it,” he grinned and hovered his lips over hers wondering how adventurous she was.
Lira met his smile back, and he finally crushed his mouth over hers. Lira felt a wave of familiarity sweep through her as he kissed her. It felt like this moment was perfect, and they had done this all their lives. Sean finally stopped and brushed his knuckles across her cheek.
“We really should be going back,” she told him.
“Wait,” he motioned to the sky. “Look, they are beginning to come out.”
She looked at the stars and thought the rising glowing moon looked beautiful and luminous as well. Sean suddenly pointed to a star.
“I’m making a wish on that one.”
“What could you wish for that you haven’t got?” she asked.
“I wish to live forever with you right by my side.”
She smiled. “Do wishes ever really come true?”
“Only if you truly believe in them,” he replied.
“Well then, I’ll make a wish on that star,” she pointed. “And I wish that I can be rid of my dragon form forever. I know it is a great opportunity but a responsibility I do not want. And many in Middle Earth will curse me as a dragon.”
“No curse has power over you, Lira. Love is greater than any curse. Remember that.”