Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chapter 9, Dreams Do Come True

***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***

The day of my extraordinary shopping trip will forever be etched in my mind. It was a grand day filled with laughter and fun, but what made it so extraordinary was my Robin's reaction when he saw me in my updated attire and modern hairstyle. He always looked at me in that soft, special way that curled my toes. This time, however, was a reaction I will always cherish.

My Robin just gazed at me as though I were something divine. I heard his breath catch as he whispered my name. "Alina! By Ariadne, is that really you?"

I smiled a little nervously and did a twirl, hoping I would keep my balance. It would completely dcstroy the moment we were having if I tripped and landed in a most ungainly position. "Aye, it is. The ladies gave me a done-over. Do you...do you like me?" I so wanted to please him and knew I had with his next statement.

"Oh, Alina, I more than like you. I love you, and you look absolutely drop dead gorgeous!" he said, taking me by the shoulders and gazing at me some more.

I blushed and grinned. "I'm so happy you like it."

"The more important thing is, do you like it?" he asked. "I love it, but you have to be happy and comfortable with it."

"Oh, I do! I love it. I have never in all my life had such fine attire. I never thought...I never dreamed..." Unexpected tears filled my eyes and I looked away.

Robin took me into his arms, kissed my temple, then just held me. "What is it, sweetheart? Why the tears?"

"It's just...och, I will sound completely daft," I said.

"You can tell me anything, Alina. I promise I would never belittle anything you say to me," he said, tilting my chin up so I had to look at him. I loved it when he held my face in his hands. His touch was always so gentle, so loving.

I smiled when Robin wiped the tears from my cheeks. "Well, you see, I've always wanted to be a fine lady, but it was an impossibility for me due to my status in my own time. I've always dreamed of dancing with kings and gliding across a marble floor like a princess. I envied those who would never see their hands roughened by labor, such as washing clothes or hauling water from the well. I even practiced pitching my voice in attempts to sound more refined. I wanted to live in a fine home, even a castle, rather than a tiny shack with a dirt floor. I think you see where this is going. I knew they were big dreams, impossible ones, for a peasant woman such as myself would never have married into the nobility or even come close to mingling with their ilk. And now with everything that has happened; meeting you and having such people like Lenora in my life...all of this...I'm beginning to believe dreams really can come true."

He listened, studying me all the while. When I was finished, he tucked a lock of hair behind my ear, then ran a thumb over my cheek. "When I look at you, Alina, it's like looking into a piece of Heaven. You dropped into my life from such an unlikely place. You're so beautiful, inside and out, Alina, that queens would be envious after just looking at you. To me, you are the finest lady in a class all her own. What's amazing is that you're mine and I'm blessed in the best way because it's me you love. I'm not a king; far from it, actually. I'm an insignificant person, really, just a policeman...uh...constable who tries to make things right and keep order. I do come from a wealthy family and you will want for nothing. But know this, my Alina. To me, you are the most amazing woman, the fairest of them all. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could ever hold a candle to you. The day you become my wife will be the happiest day of my life."

I was unable to speak, moved so beyond words was I. My Robin held me then and as corny as it sounds, I basked in his love. The gods certainly smiled upon me the day they saw fit to send Robin to me.

The day of our wedding dawned bright and glorious. I was awakened by Lenora, who was singing in the kitchen as she put the finishing touches on our wedding cake. My eyes flew open and I gasped, knowing what was going to occur later. I would become Mrs. Robin McIntyre, lawful wife to the most wonderful man who ever breathed. I threw back the covers, placed my feet on the floor, bounced merrily on the bed, and laughed like an absolute fool until my sides ached. Euphoria flooded my entire being and I never wanted that feeling to end.

I felt like a queen as I was being prepared for my wedding. Lenora as my matron of honor took charge, directing the other ladies to the tasks she'd assigned them. Lenora was a busy woman that day with making the cake and being in the bridal party. I locked gazes with her in the mirror, my eyes welling with tears. "Oh, Lenora!" I choked out.

"Och, don't cry sweetheart. Ye'll ruin your makeup." Smiling through her own tears, she gently dabbed at my eyes with a handkerchief. "Ye are the most beautiful bride." She gave me a sisterly kiss, then hugged me. "May ye and Robin always be blessed with love and happiness."

I collected myself and offered a wobbly smile to my ladies. I had asked Lenora and Tyrone's daughters as well as the wonderful ladies Chris and Jonas were with to be my bridesmaids. Robin's sister, Lauren, also took part as an enthusiastic bridesmaid. For Robin, Tyrone was his Best Man and Carson, Chris, Jonas, Elton, and Blake were his Groomsmen. "I am nervous. What if I trip and fall on my face?"

"Every bride is nervous and you won't fall on your face," Tabitha grinned. "Everything is going to be absolutely perfect."

"Of course it will," Aurora said, grinning at me from where she and Andrea sat.

"Just keep your eye on the prize and you won't go wrong," said Sharon, her eyes twinkling.

"The prize for me will be getting out of this dress," Andrea said, pulling a little at the material.

I grinned and hugged Andrea, who I knew didn't like wearing dresses unless she really had to. "You're a dear for putting up with all of this, Andrea."

She snorted and flapped her hand almost dismissively. "Hey, anything for you, Alina. Besides, it's only one day and I shall soldier on." She hugged me back and despite her preference for trews and tunics, I could see she was pleased to be a part of my wedding party. Again, she pulled at the material of her dress and I lightly and playfully slapped her hand away. She grinned sheepishly at me and I kissed her cheek.

"Will ye quit fidgeting, for Ariadne's sake?" Aurora chided her sister. "Ye're going to look like a wrinkled mess before the wedding even starts."

Aurora was laughing and smiling, but there was no mistaking the wistful look in her eyes. I went to her and hugged her tight. "I am sorry your Silvan could not attend the ceremony, Aurora."

She shrugged. "It's okay. He sends his regrets to miss it, but I'll meet him later at the reception. Thanks for inviting him, Alina."

"It's my pleasure," I said, then lowered my voice. "I have a feeling you are going to be next."

She chuckled. "I wish, but Silvan and I are a long way away from a proposal. I--" She was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Special delivery!" came Albus's voice. Robin and I had asked him and Gabriel to be ushers. "This big one is for you, Alina. Got something here for Aurora, too."

"Now, who would be sending me something?" I asked.

When Albus handed me the package, I knew exactly who had sent it to me. There were two dozen red roses and a card in a pretty envelope. I buried my nose in the roses, inhaling deeply, then opened the envelope. My Robin's neat handwriting was unmistakable.

Dearest Alina,
     As I sit writing this, I can hardly believe you will be Mrs. McIntyre, my wife and forever love by the end of the day. I can't wait to see my beautiful bride as she walks down the aisle toward me. You will be the most beautiful bride, I know, for you are already the most beautiful woman alive. I love you with a true, eternal love, and I can't wait to pledge that to you in front of our family and friends today. 
         Love Always,

I let out a sob as I held his much treasured letter to my heart.

"C'mon. Out with it. Read it to us," Andrea said, bouncing in her seat.

I dabbed at my eyes and grinned rather lopsidedly. I cleared my throat and shared Robin's letter.

"Oh!" Aurora said, then dabbed daintily at her own eyes.

"Oh my! Man, if I didn't see floating hearts before, I surely do now," Andrea said. She, too, was grinning. Andrea was tough as nails, as the saying goes, but everyone who knows and loves her realizes she is also a...soft touch? Yes, I think that is the right saying.

I laughed, looked in the mirror again, and saw Aurora quietly folding up her own letter. "Was that from your Silvan, Aurora?" I asked her.

"Yeah," she said, blushing.

"Oh, do read it to us if it is not too personal," I begged.

She shook her head. "Oh, Alina! I don't want to take anything away from your day. It'll keep."

I was insistent, however. "Nothing will take anything from my day. I am so happy right now, but it makes me even happier knowing there are others out there who share love as Robin and I do. Please do read it to us. C'mon, Aurora. Knock over."

From the sound of the ladies' laughter, I realized I must have erred an expression of slang, as I am still apt to do.

"Alina, that's GIVE over, not KNOCK over," Andrea said.

"Och! Bugger me," I said sheepishly. "Mayhap, I will get it correct one day. Now, do give over, Aurora."

"Yes, Ma'am," she said, taking out the letter. Looking down at it, she began to read.

My Beautiful Aurora,
     How I regret not being able to be there with you for Alina and Robin's wedding. I will miss you every moment I am away from you. Know that my heart is with you. While we are apart, I will look up and think about you and I being under the same sky. 
     Please extend my thanks to Robin and Alina for inviting me and give them my regrets that I was not able to attend the ceremony. I will be there afterward though and will look forward to giving you a special kiss and having a dance with you. 
              With all my heart, from your fairy prince,   

It was my turn to dab at my eyes. "Oh, that is lovely!"

"Yeah," Aurora said rather dreamily.

Another knock came, and Chris poked his head into the room. "Good. Everyone's decent. Man, the place is packed! Ma, the cake looks great and I can't wait to pig out after this hullabaloo is done."

"Spoken like a true barbarian," Aurora said, rolling her eyes and chuckling. "Ma, Tabitha, someone had better keep an eye on him or there won't be any food left for anyone else. He'll sneak off to the reception hall and demolish the whole thing before the ceremony is even halfway over."

Lenora laughed. "Don't worry, dear. Your Great Grandda will keep an eagle eye on him."

"Damn!" Chris said in mock disappointment, then closed the door as he left.

I grinned at the exchange, picturing the day I could proudly present a son to my Robin. First, however, we had a wedding to get through.

I loved "Canon in D" by Pachabel, which I thought was the perfect piece to have played for the wedding party's entrance. As everyone was getting lined up, my stomach fluttered nervously. This was really and truly happening!

First to enter was Chris and Tabitha.

Jonas and Sharon.

Elton and Andrea.

Blake and Lauren

Aurora and Carson.

Lenora and Tyrone as Matron of Honor and Best Man.

Robin's niece, Alicia, made a beautiful flower girl.

Since I did not have a living father, Liam agreed to give me away. "I couldn't have been more proud of ye had ye been my own daughter," he said in his wonderful Irish brogue.

"And I could not love you more had you been my biological father. Thank you for this...for all of this."

He kissed my cheek, then tucked my arm into his. I gulped audibly when the Bridal Chorus began to play.  My moment had arrived. As I glided down the aisle with Liam at my side, I felt every eye on me and blushed. Everyone was standing and smiling at me. Never had I been the one to receive such grand attention.

My nervousness evaporated immediately when I saw the look on my Robin's face. His eyes shone with adoration and the smile he gave to me alone caused my heart to skip a beat. He mouthed "I love you," and I smiled so wide that my cheeks actually hurt.

My mother had arranged for someone from the Witch's Council who had the proper credentials to marry us. I'd been surprised when the person turned out to be a woman. In my native time, no way would a woman have such power to perform such a task, but Mother assured me that it would be all right. Women had much more power and position nowadays, and Carrie Adamson had performed many a wedding ceremony. When Robin and I had meet with her, we liked her instantly.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of Ariadne, family, and friends, to join this man, Robin McIntyre, and this woman, Alina Rebecca Blankenship, in holy matrimony. Robin and Alina have expressed their desire to become one on this day and wish to share their joy with those they hold most dear. Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Carrie asked.

"Her mother and I," Liam's strong voice said just before he kissed me and placed my hand into the hand of my Robin. As Liam went to sit next to my mother, my Robin pulled me to him and squeezed my hand.

"If anyone can show just cause why Robin and Alina should not be joined, may they speak now or forever hold their peace," Carrie intoned.

After a moment of silence, Carrie spoke again. "Alina Rebecca and Robin will now exchange their vows, which they have chosen to write themselves."

Robin took my hands in his and squeezed them tight. "Alina, the day you dropped into my life was the day I truly began living. You are from a different world, a world that is so foreign to all I had ever known. I knew you were the one I'd waited all my life for. Our love transcends time and space, and even the world of the spirits could not hold you back from me. I, Robin, take you, Alina Rebecca, as my lawfully wedded wife. I promise to love and cherish you, keeping myself only unto you. I promise to protect and honor you from this day forward. I promise to respect and care for you in sickness and health, in good times and in bad, all the days of my life until death do us part."

A tear rolled down my cheek, which Robin wiped away with the gentlest of touches. It took me a moment to compose myself, and when I spoke, my voice sounded strong and sure. "Robin, I have always dreamed of treasures untold. I wanted to live among kings, to dance the night away with royalty, and to be looked upon as a fine lady. I wanted to fall in love and be loved in return by a handsome prince who cherished me above anything or anyone else. I was hurled into something completely unbeknownst to me and was so frightened. I'd lost everything I had ever known. Then, you came into my life, bringing with you the hope and light I so desperately sought. You loved me despite my station in life and reunited me with my mother. You even braved the realm of the spirits to save me. I now know that I don't need royalty or beautiful balls to make me happy. All I need is you. Knowing you love me is everything I need to feel like the wealthiest of women. I, Alina Rebecca, take you, Robin, as my lawfully wedded husband. I promise to love and cherish you, keeping myself only unto thee. I promise to honor and respect you from this day forward. I promise to care for you in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, all the days of my life, until death do us part."

"The ring is a sign of eternal love. It is a circle, a shape with no beginning and no end. Robin and Alina Rebecca will now exchange their rings and then will recite a binding spell that goes back to the days of the druids. This spell will forever seal them to one another and cannot be broken," Carrie said

I uttered a little sigh when I felt the golden band encircle my finger. "Alina Rebecca, I give yo this ring as a sign of my constant faith and abiding love. May its presence surround your finger as you surround my heart with your love."

I slowly slid Robin's ring onto his finger, then spoke. "Robin, I give you this ring as a sign of my constant faith and abiding love. May it's presence surround your finger as you surround my heart with your love."

Robin and I shared a long look before he placed his right hand over my heart and I placed my left hand over his. My right hand went to his heart with my left one over his right one. Robin spoke first, never taking his eyes from my face. “If aught must be lost,  It will be my honor for yours. If one must be forsaken, it will be my soul for yours. Should death come anon, it will be my life for yours. I am Given.” The instant the words were uttered, Robin gasped and closed his eyes. I knew instantly what was happening, for Lenora warned me of the onslaught of deep emotion that would cascade over us once the spell was cast.

It was my turn and I looked deeply into his eyes, speaking as though he were the only one in the room. “If aught must be lost,  It will be my honor for yours. If one must be forsaken, it will be my soul for yours. Should death come anon, it will be my life for yours. I am Given.”

I cried out and doubled over. Robin caught me in his arms, holding me tightly to him until the swell of emotion passed. "How is it possible that I love you more in this moment than I ever have before?" I whispered.

"I don't know, but I'm not complaining, for I feel the same way, my Alina. What a wonder you are!" he said, gazing into my face.

"By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Robin, you may now kiss your bride," Carrie said.

When Robin lowered his lips to mine, I was completely lost. Everything save Robin disappeared. I loved this man more than I ever thought possible, and oh! This could not have gone more perfectly.

"May I now introduce to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Robin McIntyre," Carrie announced.

Oh my! I was married. I was really MARRIED! I gazed up at my Robin, grinning soppily. He laughed and kissed my temple. "Well, Mrs. McIntyre, what do you think?"

"I think...I think I'm so happy I could burst, Mr. McIntyre. Oh, Robin, how I love you!"

"I love you more," he said.

I didn't know how that was possible, but hearing his words overwhelmed my heart to overflowing. I couldn't stop smiling as I hugged everyone as they came to congratulate us.

I was still grinning when we arrived at the reception hall where we were greeted with cheers and more congratulations. Once again, every eye was upon Robin and me as we had our first dance. Robin led me onto the dance floor and I smiled up at my husband...my HUSBAND...as he slid his arms around me.

"You look so beautiful today, my Alina...my wife," he whispered as the music engulfed us.

"And I am married to the handsomest, kindest man ever! Oh, Robin, I don't want this day to end," I said.

"Today is only the beginning, my darling," he whispered as he whirled me across the floor.

I laughed giddily when we finished it off with Robin dipping me back for a passionate kiss, much to the delight of our guests.

Next, it was time to cut the cake. Lenora had dome a beautiful job on it as I knew she would.

My heart gave a lurch when all the single ladies lined up for the throwing of the bouquet. I'd heard stories of bouquets filled with magic. Even if it went in the direction of a lady the bride hopes will catch it, the bouquet can sometimes have a mind of its own. I took at as a sign of a good omen when the bouquet and I appeared to be in perfect harmony.

It sailed right into Aurora's waiting hands and I could not have been happier.

The party was in full swing still by the time Robin and I left for our hotel. We'd decided to spend our honeymoon in Sunlit Tides but weren't scheduled to leave until tomorrow. Robin got us a honeymoon suite in what Lenora calls a swanky hotel in the more upscale part of town. When we arrived and got checked in, Robin carried me all the way up to our suite. Everything looked so beautiful and romantic, and I felt like a fairytale princess as Robin gently placed me atop the bed.

Robin was about to lower his head to kiss me but I stopped him. "I-I should prepare myself for..." I looked away, blushing.

"Prepare yourself for what, Alina?" Robin asked.

"Well, you see, I...well...this being my first time to..." I bit my lip, needing to find the words to explain. "A newly married woman needs to prepare herself for her husband and for...for what is to happen on a wedding night."

"Oh," Robin said, understanding dawning on his face. He helped me to my feet and smiled at me.

I scurried into the bathroom where I dawned one of the pieces of lingerie the ladies picked out for me during my shopping trip. I arranged my hair so it flowed down my back, studied myself in the mirror, and gulped. I wanted to please my husband but oh, I was so nervous.

He was waiting for me when I emerged. In my day, the married women prepared the new bride for her deflowering. She was arranged in the marriage bed where she waited for her husband to come to her. Things were much different in the time I lived in now. Instead of me waiting for Robin to come to me while I lay naked in a big, unfamiliar bed, Robin was waiting for me to come to him when I was ready. It was a strange idea but one that Robin seemed to like. I watched as his eyes traveled over my body and I trembled slightly. "The ladies said this is the right thing to wear for...for this night," I whispered.

Robin came to my side and looked at me intently. "They were right, Alina. You are the most beautiful creature to ever breathe life."

"So...does that mean you like me?" I asked shyly.

"You are my beautiful bride, Alina,' he said, caressing my cheek. "I more than like you. I love you and I want to show you just how much I love you. Will you come to bed with me, Mrs. McIntyre?"

He led me to the bed where he touched me in ways that made me feel so loved and desired. He took his time with me, insisting that he wanted to give me a night I would never forget. Having him minister to me in this way wasn't like anything I'd ever expected. In my time, a woman was taught to do her duty and that it was the man who was supposed to be pleasured. However, Robin made it different. He wanted to pleasure me, which made me want to pleasure him all the more. Every touch, every kiss was something I wanted to treasure forever. He was so gentle and romantic, yet there was unmistakable passion as I went from virgin to being my Robin's much beloved wife. It was the most beautiful night of my life.


Bonus Shots

Here are a couple more pictures of Alina in her dress. She looked so beautiful that I wanted to show her from head to toe.

These are head to toe shots of each "couple" in the wedding party in no particular order.

Liam and Mathilda, the mother and father of the bride. I reckon Mathilda will always be the woman in black no matter the occasion. She's not a witch to wear bright colors.

Here are some bonus wedding night shots. I think those two lovebirds are going to make the most of that honeymoon suite.

Author's Note - The Druid binding spell that Robin and Alina used was not my own creation. I borrowed it from the Highlander Series by Karen Marie Moning, whose books I would highly recommend.

Thanks to PiazzaGirl for use of Lauren McIntyre and Alicia Slayer. You can be sure the rest of the family was there for the big event but weren't mentioned. It just would have been a freaking nightmare to try to get even more arranged than what I already did. Big weddings are beautiful but man, they're crazy hard to put together. Anyway, you can read her awesome stories by going to the following links.
A Race Against Time
Romance on the Horizon

if you would like to read more about Aurora and Silvan, you can find them in my story, "Forever in Time."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chapter 8, What Not to Wear

***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***

I had never been looked after in such as a way as my Robin looked after me after my accident. He vowed he would not let me out of his sight, and that was how it was. Much to my dismay, he took time away from his work to see to me. I was worried that he would be reprimanded by his employer, but he assured me that he had plenty of personal days to use.

Robin wanted me to also take some time from my work. I was reluctant at first, but it was taking more time for me to recover from my experience. "I won't have you going in and slaving over a hot stove until you're completely better," Robin said, giving me a soft kiss. I was moved beyond words at such love and concern for me.

I still missed Lenora dreadfully and remained in a state of brooding. Nevertheless, Robin was always there when things were at their gloomiest. I had told Robin everything that had happened whilst in the spirit world, so he reminded me of everything his grandmother had said. Lenora was alive and that somehow, some way, Tyrone would find her.

That day came nearly a fortnight after my spiritual adventure. My mother was beaming when she came knocking on my door. "Alina, Robin! Oh, my dears, I have such wonderful news," she said as Robin escorted her inside.

"We could use some of that," Robin said. "What's going on?"

"We found Lenora last night. She had a regular army there to retrieve her," said Mother.

"Oh, Mother! Is she well? Please say she is unharmed," I begged, taking my mother's hands and squeezing them.

"She is all right, darling. We felt it was best that she settle in with Tyrone and the children, but she will be around to see you later today or tomorrow. Forgive me for not telling you last night, but it was very late by the time the dust settled. I wanted to tell you the news as soon as I possibly could," said Mother.

The day passed as if in a dream. I was so anxious to see my sister again and to know that she was truly well. My heart was beating wildly when the doorbell rang. I could not get my feet to carry me to the door, so Robin answered it instead.

She looked like an angel as she entered the house. I had told myself I would not weep, but I forgot everything upon hearing her voice. "Och, Alina! Robin! How I have missed ye both!"

The next thing I knew, Lenora's arms were around me and I clung tightly to her. I was afraid that if I let her go, she would disappear. "Lenora! Oh, my beautiful sister! Oh, Lenora...Lenora..."

She held me firmly and rubbed my back. Then, with a gentle touch, she wiped my tears and smiled again. "All right now. It's going to be all right. I'm going to take ye over to the sofa and I'm going to sit right here beside ye. There now. It's all right." She spoke in low, comforting tones, keeping her arm around me as she led me to the sofa.

"How did it happen, Lenora? How was it that we were made to believe you had passed?" I asked, attempting to collect myself.

As Lenora told her story, I listened, feeling my heart squeeze. It was difficult for her to explain, and I was horrified at the extreme measures these people had gone to for revenge. I pitied Allen just a little after it was explained to me that he was ill. It was hard for me to understand mental illness, as it was not looked upon the same in my time as it was in this day. Even so, I hated them all for taking Lenora from us, for putting us all through such grief and torment. Her loss was devastating enough to me, but it was so much worse for her children and for Tyrone.

I was weeping again by the time Lenora's account of things was completed. I could only imagine the horror she endured at their hands. She squeezed my hand and rubbed my back once more, and I was amazed that she was offering me comfort when she should be the one being comforted.

"Ye and Robin must be married now." I was glad when Lenora changed the subject. It would be good for her to resume a normal life and put all this behind her.

I glanced at Robin and shook my head. "We decided to postpone, as we did not feel right moving forward while everyone was mourning," I explained.

"Well then, we will have to remedy this," Lenora said, her lilting tones matching her twinkling eyes. "Now that I'm back, we will move this onward as planned."

I laughed, feeling the weight of the world being lifted from my back. "I could not agree more."

"Amen to that," Robin said.

"Champagne!" Mother said, clapping her hands. Robin and I exchanged grins of glee as Mother gave a toast to our upcoming nuptials.

We were all feeling sedate and comfortable, for the champagne flowed freely. "One thing we must do is take ye shopping, Alina." Lenora's statement penetrated my wandering thoughts.

"What?" I asked absently.

"Shopping, Alina!" Lenora said, laughing. "The ladies and I are going to take ye for a makeover."


"A done-over, dear," Mother said.

I sat up straighter, my eyes widening. "Och, but I--"

"No buts!" Lenora grinned. Then, her expression sobered. "Not that ye don't look beautiful now because ye do. However, it would be wise for ye to have some things that will help ye blend in with the time ye are in now. Another thing to think about is that we would not be wanting the knowledge of the existence of time travel to fall into the wrong hands."

I knew she was right. Before Lenora went missing, I had been thinking about ways to alter my wardrobe and appearance to fit in better and had even tried numerous times. I went to the clothing store but soon became overwhelmed. Mother and I had always made our own things. Visiting a seamstress was more than what we could afford. Seeing what a modern clothing shop offered was more than I could handle on my own. I always fled before I had even gotten started.

"All right, Lenora. You know best in these matters. Just please forgive my lack of experience in this," I said uncertainly.

"Now, don't ye worry. We'll take very good care of ye, and ye will have a wonderful time," Lenora promised.

When Lenora said she was bringing in the ladies to help, she was not lying. The next weekend, I made my way to Aurora Skies and was helpless to say even one word of protest when Lenora, Starr, Taylor, and Hope escorted me to the roaring best, all of them laughing and chatting excitedly.

"Oh, wait till we get done with you!" Hope said, sliding in beside me. "Robin won't recognize you."

"He'll have a heart attack for sure," Starr grinned. "My brother is toast."

"Perhaps this is not a good idea. I do not wish to bury Robin before we are even wed," I said a little shakily.

Everyone laughed and I tried to smile but could not manage it. "It's just an expression, Alina," Taylor said, still laughing. "What we're basically trying to say is Uncle Robin will love seeing you out of all those layers. Well, most of them anyway. He won't see you out of ALL of them until your wedding night."

"Ah!" I said, feeling my face warm with color. "Forgive my ignorance."

"No worries," Hope said, patting my shoulder. "You'll have the time of your life. I promise. Now, move it on out, Lenora!"

"Yes, Ma'am," Lenora said, making the beast roar.

I listened to the happy chatter but did not contribute much. My mother told me more than once that sometimes it is best to just listen and I felt this was one of those times. That lasted until a big, booming explosion hit my ears. "Hey Lenora! There's your song," Starr said. "It's great they still play it after all this time."

My mouth went dry as the unmistakable verses of "Sweet Lenora" was being sung by Mr. Landgraab. I had heard him sing it in person when I'd visited Lenora, and it was always very beautiful. He had written it for her after the loss of her first husband and son. Now, it was coming from the front of the roaring beast and I was frightened. "L-Lenora...?" My voice quivered as I uttered my sister's name.

"What is it, Alina?" she asked.

"I-I...That is...who has taken Mr. Landgraab and forced him to sing from this...this box?" I asked.

Everyone went silent for an eternally long moment, the only sound being that of guitars and singing. Then, laughter erupted, drowning out the music. Everyone was wiping away tears as Starr finally gasped out, "That's the car radio, silly! Grandpa isn't trapped anywhere. It's only the radio."

I shook my head in confusion. "I do not understand."

Taylor and Hope launched into an explanation of buildings called studios and how things were recorded, which made them able to be played over sound waves that made it possible for hundreds and thousands of people to listen to at the same time. Starr could see that I was still very confused, so she reached for her phone while Lenora softened the sounds. "Yes, Grandpa Wolfie. We have a little...situation," Starr said. She laughed as she repeated what I had told Lenora. The next instant, the phone was in my hand. "I have Grandpa on the phone. He wants to talk to you."

Slowly, I lifted the phone to my ear. "H-hello, Mr. Landgraab. This is Alina."

"It's Wolfie, dear. In fact, it's Grandpa Wolfie to you since you are almost officially part of the family anyway," he said. I heard the hint of laughter in his voice.

"I'm sorry to bother you, and I hope you were not taken away from something important," I said haltingly.

"It's okay, Alina. Starr explained what happened. I swear I'm all right and nobody is forcing me to sing anywhere against my will. It looks like you need an education on how music is made available in this time. If you and Robin want to meet me tomorrow morning, I'll take you on a tour of the studio and then show you the radio station. We'll make a day of it," said Wolfie.

I was overwhelmed by his generosity. "Thanking you kindly, but I would not wish to impose."

"No imposition and I won't take no for an answer," he said. "Now, you go and enjoy your day."

I gave Starr her phone and sat in stunned silence. "He was so nice to me."

"Well, of course he was," Lenora said matter-of-factly.

"I...feel so stupid," I said, ducking my head.

"Well, you shouldn't," Taylor said, looking at me over her shoulder. "It's understandable that you'd be confused about things here. You'll get it and it'll all be second nature. Cut yourself some slack."

"She's right. Hell, you have more courage than most people put together. I mean, I don't think I'd handle it so well if I had to learn to live in a different century. You're doing great and you'll learn more and more every day. Now, let's just enjoy the day and get you ready to knock Robin's socks off."

I refrained from asking how socks can be knocked off another person. However, I could not refrain from asking another question. "This beast that we are riding...how is it that it can move without horses?"

There was more laughter as Lenora maneuvered the beast around a bend and stopped at a building with "BP" clearly visible. "Instead of telling ye, we'll show ye," Lenora said.

I watched intently as Lenora removed what she called a gas cap from the side of the beast. With a twist of her wrist, she snapped something into the hole where the cap had been, which she called a nozzle. "This pump moves a liquid called gasoline into the tank. Think of it as fuel or food. Once this tank is full, I disengage the nozzle and put the cap back. Inside the car, there is a gauge which tells me how full the tank is. When it is low, I simply put more gas into it."

"Intriguing," I said.

"The modern age is a wonder, Alina," Lenora said, putting the cap back into place.

Our next stop was a clothing store, one that I had visited before but fled from. The ladies dragged me to what they called the women's section. Expertly, they surveyed the racks critically, moving hangers around quickly. Soon, I was holding an armload of clothing and Hope was steering me toward a fitting room. "Now, try each one of these on and come out so we can see. If you need help, just holler, okay?"

I gulped, nodded, then scuttled toward the fitting room, feeling like a specimen under a magnifying glass. It took hours, but we finally settled on some things that I felt comfortable wearing. I was glad to see that none of them were vexed at how long it took.

"Hair is next!" Starr proclaimed.

I was nervous at first but I soon relaxed as the woman did things to my hair that I never imagined could be possible. When she was finished, I looked in the mirror and could not recognize myself.

"Lunch!" Taylor proclaimed.

I was in high spirits as we finished our meal. Even the strange looks I received from other customers didn't dampen my mood. The ladies thought it best that my manner of dress be explained by my having just arrived from the Renaissance Fair and had not gotten time to change. t thought we were finished, but when Hope said what she did next, the ladies whistled, cheered, and gave me devilish grins. I wondered if I should be afraid to find out what Simtoria Secret was.

The answer was yes when I realized what merchandise was sold there. I squawked indignantly, put my hands over my face and turned in the direction we'd come in. "Och! It is indecent! It is improper!"

"Well, of course it is, dearie," Taylor grinned. "You have to have a trousseau for your wedding night, after all."

"B-but...but..." I stammered.

"No buts, Alina," Lenora said, her eyes dancing. "Ye have to please your man, after all."

"Here, here," Hope grinned.

I goggled, slack-jawed, as I was measured by a saleswoman, who handed me things to try on. "You have a lovely figure, dear! Your young man is a lucky one," she said.

I blushed as I was herded toward the fitting room. I donned the first lingerie set but just stood there with my arms crossed protectively in front of me.

"Alina! get your carcass out here so we can see!" Starr yelled.

"I--I cannot. It is indecent," I protested.

"Naturally," Hope said. "It's what it's supposed to be. Now, front and center!"

I reluctantly opened the door, knowing my face was at least three hews of red. "Just...explain to me why I am doing this," I whispered.

Hope grinned. "It's for seduction purposes. It's to...how do I put it? It's to increase your man's desire for you. See, when he sees you in that, he'll be encouraged to give you a night of passion you will never forget."

"So...so Robin will not think me a common whore for wearing...uh..." I looked down at myself.

"No way, woman!" Taylor said. "He'll say you look hot and then, your virginity will be out the window."

"It's normal to wear these kinds of things for the man ye love," Lenora said. "They are seduction outfits meant only to be seen by him."

"And by us here and now since we're helping you get prepared," Starr laughed. "But once you get all this home, it should be only Robin who sees you in them."

"Well then, I reckon it is all right since they are meant to be special only for Robin and me," I said.

"You learn fast," Hope said.

The more things I tried on and the longer we looked through the shop, the more I was enjoying myself. Nobody could say I was not prepared by the time we finished our shopping.

"Well ladies, it's been quite a day. Want to stop for drinks before we head home?" Lenora said.

"Why not? You know I'll never say no to that," Starr grinned devilishly.

By the time I arrived back at Lenora's, I was pleasantly intoxicated. I do not recall the last time I had so much fun. While we women had our outing, Robin had his own with the menfolk, but they had not returned yet. I hummed cheerily as Lenora and I sat in her living room and waited for the men to arrive. I could not wait to show Robin my new look and to get his reaction. The lingerie, however, would have to wait. There would be plenty of time for that.

Alina's Makeover

Author's Note: I'd like to thank PiazzaGirl for the use of Starr and Taylor Slayer, and also for Hope McIntyre. Mentioned but not pictured was Wolfie Landgraab. Her stories are amazing and I'd highly recommend them. You can find them by clicking the links below.

"A Race Against Time"
"Romance on the Horizon"