“Where are we going?” I ask as he drives out of the estate. “Is Kieran waiting for us somewhere?” I see him sneer as I turn toward him. With the safety belt around me, I cannot turn to him all the way, but I manoeuvre my body so I am facing him as much as I possibly can. “What?”
Indifferently he replies, “It’s nothing.”
“So where are we going?”
“I am taking you to the Hills of Tara. Have you ever been there?”
“No. My dad always said he would take us there one day, but that one day never came. What’s there that you want to show me, anyway?”
He shrugs. “It’s just nice, and I thought you would like it.”
I do not want to ask, but I have to. I cannot be running around with Jayden, going to places of interest, when I am in a sort of relationship with his brother. “Where is Kieran, then?”
I see him close his eyes for a brief moment. He increases the volume of the music, as he says, “I love this song. Listen to the words.”
I lean my head back and I listen to the song. I recognize the song as a song by The Corrs. I see on the console the title of the song flash across the little screen of the stereo one letter at a time, ‘Make you mine’. I close my eyes so I can listen to the words properly and I smile when I hear him suddenly sing only one line, ‘until you find that you cannot stand to be away, not for a day’.
I open my eyes and I cannot help laughing.
He asks with indignation, “What?”
“You sing beautifully.” I chuckle.
“Don’t mock me.” He laughs insulted. “I forgot you were in the car.”
“Ah, now I feel insulted,” I say with fake grumpiness.
He glances at me apologetically. It looks as if he wants to say something, but I interrupt whatever he is planning to say, “I am only kidding and you actually do sing nicely. I was laughing because you were singing with the Corrs, but you always pretend to be so tough, and here you know the words of this charming love song.” I laugh again.
“I am not going to say another word.” He huffs insulted.
He drives in silence and I look out the window at the tall trees and shrubbery crowding alongside the road. There is only enough space for two cars to pass each other, and the road winds and twists.
All of a sudden, he says, “I do not know if it is true, but I heard once these winding roads were built by women and children during the famine, as job creation. They used to build it from tree to tree and that is why it is so twisted and meandering.”
“That’s interesting, I never knew that.”
“As I said I do not know if it is true.”
“Even if it wasn’t, it is actually quite interesting.”
The trees make way for fields and fields of grass. I can see all the way to the distant, hazy horizon.
We get to a T-junction and then he turns right. A short distance later, he turns off the road into a little side road. We drive to a parking area and then after he parks the car in the lonely desolated spot, we get out of the car.
He walks around the car toward me. Grinning mischievously, he says, with a false disappointed tone in his voice, “It looks like we are the only people here.”
He holds his hand out to me, palm up. I hesitate. I glance up at his face, and then down at his hand again.
Tentatively, I reach for him and my hand fits perfectly in his. He twines his fingers in between mine and then he leads me through the long, yellow-tipped grass toward a cottage.
We follow the dirt road around the cottage and then for a moment we stop at the statue of St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland. Together we lean closer and read the inscription at the base of the statue. The black, iron wrought fencing keeps us from getting too close.
We start walking again and as we pass a large overhanging tree, I see the whole valley ahead of me. It feels as if I can see all of Ireland, all at once. It stretches away as far as my eyes can see. I take a deep breath and smile up at Jayden when I notice him looking at me with a smile on his face.
He leads me up to the top of the first of the three hills, and on the top; he pulls me down with him.
I sit down and cross my legs in front of me while he lets his leg rest comfortably against mine. He starts to pluck daisies from around him, and then he starts to fashion them into a circle. I watch him in silence, and I cannot help it when my eyes drift to his profile. He has a strong jaw, and there is a muscle, which keeps jumping every so often. His eyelashes are long and dark, and they fan across his cheeks as he looks down at his fingers tying knots in the daisy stems. His nose is perfectly straight and his lips are full and ever so slightly tinted. His full eyebrows are dark, just like his hair—a rich coffee brown. His hair is longish, but not too long and brushed away from his face in a messy, haphazard sort of way. I notice he and Kieran have the same forehead, nose, and chin, but other than that, you would never guess they were brothers.
He unexpectedly glances up at me sideways and embarrassed I look away from him.
“Come closer.” He says in a low voice.
I turn back to him and frown.
Smiling, he insists, “Bend your head this way.”
I lean closer into him and gently he puts the daisy crown on my head. “I crown thee fairest maiden of all,” he says in a quiet voice.
I bring my head up and I have this deep inner yearning to be kissed by him. I feel it in the pit of my stomach—and to be honest, it is not a pleasant feeling, it is actually quite painful and it is also the first time in my life I have ever felt it.
He breaks his allure over me when he says, “Look.”
I look to where he is pointing, and I see the sun starting to dip into the horizon, a shimmering ball of liquid.
I want to exclaim how beautiful it is, but it is as if a great peace has descended upon us and everything around us. I cannot hear a cricket, or the chirping of a bird. There is not a sound, and it is so silent, I can even hear my own breathing.
I pull my knees up automatically and I wrap my arms around my legs as I balance my chin on my knees.