Chapter 34 : A Token of Affection

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Katelin's POV

"Is this really necessary?" I say, squinting my eyes to protect them from the shampoo suds.

I have to admit the way the salon staff was massaging the shampoo through my scalp felt quite nice. It has been a while since I let myself be pampered at a salon and I wish I could do this more often.

"Trust me," says Alicia. "You can't go around looking like someone's secretary anymore." Raul's cousin studies my hair through her stylish white eyeglasses, which makes me nervous. What if my new hair color looks terrible on me?

"Don't get me wrong," she adds. "The efficient assistant look is very hot. But you're Raul Elizondo's wife now, not his assistant; you need to look the part."

"I just don't know why I needed three different hair treatments."

"Don't listen to her, Alicia," Maricris says. She's also getting her hair shampooed in preparation for her haircut. "This was a great idea." She sighed in pleasure as the salon staff carefully massaged her scalp. "I wish I could do this every month."

"If you moved to Boston, I'll treat you to the salon every week," I say.

She raises her index finger. "That is bribery. I respect that."

"So you'll do it?" I was only half-joking about the weekly salon visits, but I'm happy to fulfill that part of the deal if she takes it. I have more money than I know what to do with, and I'm happy to pay anything to have my sister move closer to home.

"Hmmm. I'll think about it."

When I finally get to see what my new hair color looks like, I'm even more nervous. They lightened my hair to an ash-brown color and added highlights. I stare, my mouth agape, at my reflection in the mirror.

"Beautiful," Alicia murmurs, fingering the ends of a few strands. Still, her gaze is sharp and critical as she studies the way the light moves on my hair. "Let's keep it long, but layer the ends," she says to the hairstylist. "Not too much. Just enough for her to pull off sex hair."

I turn to her, my eyes wide.

"What?" she says, suppressing a grin. "I'm just talking about hair."

"Hey, Alicia, what should I get?" Maricris says, waving a hand to get her attention.

"You sure you don't want a new hair color first?" Alicia says, making her way toward her.

"I don't think we have time for that today. Maybe another time."

"What took you so long, anyway?" I say.

"I got a massage before I left the hotel," Maricris says. "It was glorious."

"I'll throw in a massage every week if you move here."

"Evil," she says, grinning at me. "I'll think about it."

Maybe I should just find her a job in town. Maricris talks a lot about how stressful her work at the hospital is, but I know she loves it. Still, I worry about her burning out. Maybe a less stressful job at a retirement home or a daycare would be better for her.

I watch her chat with Alicia as they discussed her haircut. They hit it off pretty well, thank goodness. Raul and I didn't have the traditional dating period before we got married, so Maricris has never had an opportunity to meet his family and relatives. Maybe when my family and relatives arrive for the wedding, things would go just as smoothly. We weren't poor but even moderately well-off families look like paupers next to Raul's family. But his cousins, aunts, and uncles seem to be warm, salt-of-the-earth folks. Well, maybe a bit too privileged, but when I was just an employee of ME they didn't treat me as though I was invisible, the way most wealthy people do.

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