Love Letter Lovelies 8:

Missing Beauty

by C.M. Lacey

Chapter Twenty Five.

Makoto arrived late Friday evening via Kaede's private jet. The superstar was a big asset to the studio, so was allowed to use transportation for various reasons, Shiho knew. Whether she took advantage of company cars or not in Tokyo, Shiho didn't know, but it seemed using a jet to return to her small hometown wasn't a big issue. Sadly, only Makoto would be present this weekend, as the actress herself was busy doing pre-production preparations for her latest film project. How Kaede arranged Makoto traveling solo, however, was a mystery.

Waiting at the pick up area in front of The Ozawa Inn car, Shiho watched for her High School friend with excited eyes. The last time she saw Makoto it was at Christmas, and she was still recovering from her London ordeal. Now, things were different. She couldn't wait to share her happiness with possibly the most bubbly girl in the world.

A cat-call whistle sound came to the side of her, and turning around, Shiho couldn't help but smirk at that. Makoto was jogging up with that chestnut colored hair bouncing around like a shampoo commercial, while dragging her rolling suitcase behind her. Arriving near the car, she let go of her bag, then dashed to Shiho and gave her the most cutest of hugs. Shiho embraced the girl back, always surprised at just how soft and squishy she seemed to be.

"You're looking great!" Makoto exclaimed when she pulled away. "I mean really great!"

"Thank you Mako-chan." Shiho couldn't help but blush at the compliment. "I've been working hard to get back into shape."

"Well, it paid off." Makoto stepped back further to appraise Shiho with a more accurate eye. "Damn."

"Aren't you supposed to be married." Shiho laughed.

"Kaede won't care." Makoto waved that away, then reached for another hug. "Your radiant. But I think it has more to do with a certain someone over doing more sit-ups."

Shiho enjoyed Makoto's cuddles, closing her eyes and allowing for the moment to seep in. So Makoto could sense her happiness, even now. That just proved the power of love. Makoto always seemed to glow with it whenever Kaede was around, and now Shiho wondered if she did the same.

After the hug, more giggles, and yet another hug, Shiho decided that a reunion on the air-strip wasn't exactly the best place to talk. So she reached for Makoto's bag, and was starting for the car. Makoto, ever the helpful friend, ran along in front of her so she could open the back door of the car. Once she did, the two of them hoisted up the suitcase and plopped it on the back seat. They both knew she was sitting up front with Shiho.

"Not that I'm sad to see you or anything, Mako-chan, but you know you didn't have to fly all this way just because Yui-chan called the other night." Shiho changed the subject after they had gotten inside the car and started down the trail leading to Yumoto.

"Yes I did." Makoto spoke in a more serious voice now. "It's Yui-chan."

"I know how broken up you where after the fight." Shiho recalled.

Makoto nodded, still looking out the window. "I was willing to patch things up then and there, but she wasn't yet. I was holding out hope that our friendship wasn't over, but I have to admit I didn't think we'd ever get back to where we were."

"Did she apologize to you for reading Maria's letter?" Shiho wondered.

"Yes. And I apologized to her for over reacting."

Shiho thought this was generous. While Makoto did freak out when she learned that Yui had invaded her privacy and read Maria's letter, Yui technically was in the wrong. Whether it was that bad of a crime or not depended on Makoto's feelings, and it seemed at the time that Makoto was very upset about it. After some time away from the fight, Makoto apparently decided that she valued Yui's friendship over that break in trust.

"I think she finally understands why I got so worked up." Makoto continued on with her thoughts from before. "It wasn't that she read the letter, I get how much she adored Maria and just wanted to know what sort of love letter she might have wrote, it was that she did it behind my back. I'm not sure she understood that before. She was more upset that I was denying her a memory of Maria that she didn't have. Maybe I should have allowed her to read it, but I was being selfish myself. It was the one thing of Maria I had that was only for me. In the end, Maria was everyone's friend and I had no right to keep her to myself."

"So the two of you really hashed it out."

"Yes." Makoto smiled, leaning back in her chair. "But I'm not here for that. Once again, there's a broken hearted Lovely in our midst. I apologize if I disappear this weekend, but I'm here for Yui-chan this time."

Not being able to take it, Shiho's eyes watered on hearing that. "You're so sweet Mako-chan."

"Well, at least Mari-chan isn't getting hurt anymore." Makoto breathed in, ignoring the compliment. "Even Yui-chan is glad it's over. It's the guilt that's killing her. I'm not sure what I can say or do that will help because I'm sure we all agree that Yui-chan was definitely the bad guy here. I can't really encourage her in that way."

"I know what you mean. Saying wise stuff was always Kaede-chan's department."

"Exactly." Makoto agreed. "But what I am good at is listening and giving hugs. So I'll do that. I'll hug her the whole time I'm here if I have to. I want her to know that just because she did something terrible, that doesn't mean she's a terrible person. We all still love her."

"Now THAT sounded like a Kaede line." Shiho smirked.

"Did it?" Makoto hopped in her seat so she could pull out her phone. "Yes! What did I say exactly? I want to write it down!"

Laughing at that, Shiho nearly swerved off the road. "Mako-chan! How can you go from sounding so cool to incredibly silly in the span of a few seconds?"

"It's a talent, baby."

They arrived at The Ozawa Inn around 9:30 as Shiho selfishly took the longer mountain trail so she could spend a little more time with her cute friend. Once they had arrived, however, it was business. Yui-chan had excited the building to gather the luggage, but Makoto immediately ran over to the taller woman and hugged her. Dropping her professionalism, Yui's long arms embraced Makoto with such affection that even Mama Ozawa looked moved.

"Yui-chan, I believe that you are over do on a break." Mama Ozawa announced once Makoto pulled away from a tearful hug. "How about you show our guest to her room, and visit for a bit. Shiho-chan and I can take it from here."

Nodding, Yui did as she was told and led Makoto towards the Ozawa family side of the Inn, probably directing her to Kaede's childhood bedroom. Shiho exchanged a knowing look with Mama Ozawa, and the two of them shared a sideways hug themselves. Yui's 'break' probably would last however long it took for Makoto's magic to seep in, and they both knew it.

"Sad to see that your daughter hasn't come along?" Shiho asked playfully.

"While I would love to see Kaede, I'm happy that she's busy with work."

"It must be killing her that she's not here for Mako-chan's and Yui-chan's reunion."

"If I know her, she'd be more interested in what's going on between you and Emiko-san." Mama Ozawa speculated as they both returned inside.

"I don't know. This is a big deal, Yui-chan apologizing! I'm sure Kaede-chan would have loved to see that."

"Mako-chan has Yui-chan covered." Mama Ozawa stuck to her guns. "She'd trust that remarkable woman to resolve things on her own. So that would leave you and your ever present smile. I'm sure she'd be more excited about that."

Seeing Mama Ozawa's point, Shiho had to give in. Perhaps they didn't act alike, but Shiho often thought mother and daughter thought very similar. Both were observant and rational, and could be stubborn once they set their mind to things. At the same time, Kaede was sensitive and emotional much like her father. Where her stoic silence came from, no one knew.

"Did I miss Mako-chan?" Emiko emerged from the family side of the Inn, walking towards the front desk that Mama Ozawa and Shiho were now behind.

"By a few minutes." Shiho told her. "Yui-chan's got her now."

"Aw." Emiko gave a pout. "Oh well. I'll just brag about my new hot girlfriend later, I guess."

"Stop!" Shiho blushed slightly, glancing at Mama Ozawa. "I'm still working, you know."

"Nevermind that," Mama Ozawa interrupted, joining in on the girl-talk. "how's apartment moving going along?"

"Hikaru-chan is no help at all! It's taking forever." Emiko complained. "She does realize that we'll finally have our own rooms, right? It's almost as if she liked living in that closet before!"

"Maybe she'll miss sharing a futon with you." Shiho speculated.

"Not with Kanako-chan around, she won't." Emiko corrected, then added on. "And quite frankly, I won't miss sharing a bed with two other girls, OR the accidental wandering hands that come with sleeping next to a horny couple."

"Gross." Mama Ozawa chuckled. "I'm surprised you haven't just moved in with Shiho-chan."

"I thought about it. Believe me, I really have. But I'd like for some space between us since we're still a young couple. I know it sounds stupid given we're practically in each other's faces 24/7 these days, but I'd like the option for both of us to have that alone time."

"Very sensible." Mama Ozawa approved then smacked Shiho on the arm slightly. "Don't let this girl get too much alone time. I'm hoping to host another wedding in this Inn one of these days."

"Mama Ozawa!" Shiho felt her whole body glow hot. "It's too soon for that!"

"Maybe so, but a girl can dream, can't she?"

She coyly walked away, leaving Emiko and Shiho both blushing. They turned to each other, reading the expression on the other's face, then broke out in smiles.

"Your 'mom' likes me." Emiko giggled.

"Be grateful. I think you're the first girlfriend I've had that she's approved of."

"She didn't like Jessie?" Emiko was surprised at that.

Shaking her head, Shiho reworded that. "It wasn't as if she disliked her, but... I think she could see that we had no future. It must have killed her to watch me fall for her knowing we'd break up in the end."

"And Ito-san?"

"Well, Sarah was sort of a bitch back then." Shiho laughed. "It took a special sort of person to actually like her. In fact, I'm pretty sure Yui-chan hated her and Mako-chan tolerated her presence. It wasn't until her accident that things changed."

"So I'm her favorite! Don't mess this up, Emi." Emiko beamed at the thought, speaking to herself as she tended to do occasionally. "You too, Shiho! You don't want to make make Mama Ozawa cranky, do you?!"

"Geez, put some pressure on a girl."

It took a few hours, but after taking a bath and heading back to her bedroom, that's when Shiho finally saw Makoto again. She was traveling from Yui's room to Kaede's, her eyes looking rather red and puffy from all the crying she must have been doing with the taller girl. When they spotted each other in the hall, Makoto jogged over to Shiho and hugged her once more.

"I think she's okay for the moment. She said she wanted to sleep alone, so I'm giving her some space."

"How are you doing?" Shiho asked, knowing that Makoto absorbed other's pain into herself. It was part of the reason why she became a Nurse in the first place. She loved helping people.

"I'm... well, I wish I could just kiss away all her troubles like I can with Kaede, but it's not going to be that simple." Makoto pulled from the hug. "She's come to terms with what she's done, both to me and Mari-chan, and is trying to forgive herself. That's going to take a long time. She really messed up big time."

"If I wasn't busy globe hopping, I probably could have stopped this before it got out of hand." Shiho murmured, more to herself, than to Makoto.

"We've all had our problems, and all had to grow up in someway. I guess Yui-chan is finally catching up to us." Makoto smiled. "Now, is Emi-chan still around?"

"Huh? Oh, yes, she's been loitering around in my room all day, even though I had work."

"You're not gonna... you know..." Makoto paused and raised her hands and imitated two figures scissoring with her fingers.

Laughing at Makoto's pantomime, Shiho shook her head. "There wasn't a plan or anything!"

"Mind if I sleep over? I want to grill Emi-chan before I pass out."

"Be my guest." Shiho smiled, but raised her finger. "Just let me make sure she's decent first."

"Aw, you're not fun!" Makoto giggled.

"Why do I have to keep reminding you that you're married, Mako-chan?!" Shiho couldn't help but laugh at Makoto's playfulness. "Stop being a pervert!"

The End.