It’s a lovely day in the city. A little chilly, but nothing terrible. Despite Saturday having been St. Patrick’s Day, the area is remarkably clean. I don’t even know how many green tinted highlights I did last week for the holiday. It’s good for business, though, so I can’t complain. The train was actually on time this morning so I’ll most likely make it to work on time too.
But first, a stop at Niall’s for coffee. Best brew in the city, hands down.
The place is packed when I walk in, but that’s not uncommon, particularly for a Monday morning. I get in line and check my phone. There’s a text from Lafayette telling me he’s going to be late. That’s also not uncommon for a Monday morning. There’s a reason I open the salon on Mondays. Lafayette Reynolds, one of my oldest and dearest friends, co-owns the salon with me and our most recent partner, Amelia. We’ve been in business for just over seven years now and the salon is doing fabulously. That’s saying something with all of the high end “spas” and salons in the city that charge an arm and a leg for services.
I don’t believe in jacking up prices just because I can. One of our nearby competitors charges over two hundred dollars for highlights. That’s just… that’s robbery, is what it is. They also charge ninety bucks for a haircut. I almost had a heart attack when I saw that. I’m lucky, though. I have a regular clientele base and word of mouth has brought us lots of new faces over the years. Some of my clients I’ve been cutting or styling since they were children. Now some of them have children of their own that they bring to me. That’s pretty sweet.
As I’m standing in line, waiting for Lafayette to respond, I get bumped from behind. I turn to look and find myself eye to chest with a very tall man in a black baseball cap with Ray Bans on. It’s fucking cloudy outside and we’re indoors. I snort and turn around again.
“Sorry,” he says as he reaches up to pat my arm.
“No problem,” I reply without looking back. My phone buzzes in my hand and I’m way more interested in what Lafayette has to say than the douche behind me. I can’t stand people that wear sunglasses inside. Unless you’re fucking Corey Hart, just no.
Fabulous Bitch: I gots to chase two fine ass mens out mah place. Details later.
Of course he does.
Me: Are they “straight” this time?
Fabulous Bitch: Ain’t they always? 😉
Yes, yes they are. Lafayette has a real talent for attracting the closeted types. I think he gets some sort of thrill out of exposing the parts of themselves they like to keep buried.
Me: Careful, buddy. Someday some bitchy ass housewife is going to come fuck you up.
Eventually it’s my turn to order and I get myself a white mocha latte and an egg white breakfast sandwich on a croissant. I find a seat while I wait for my order to be called and for the second time, Ran Bans bumps me as he walks by.
Do I need to start wearing a reflective vest or something? Jesus.
This time I glare at him when I look up. If he’s flirting with me, he’s got a shitty routine going.
“Sorry,” he says apologizes again.
“Just try to watch where you’re going,” I mutter.
“In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a fuckload of people in here,” he snaps back as he goes past me.
“Hard not to notice when you keep bumping into me!” I call out after him. Dick. I’ve managed to navigate this place without hitting anyone.
I see him shake his head as he walks out the door. Thankfully my order is called a minute later. I get up to retrieve it and then walk out of the little cafe. I spot Ray Bans sitting at a little table outside and make sure I nudge the back of his head with my elbow. Asshole.
“Oops! So sorry!” I say over my shoulder and keep walking.
“Maybe if you took your fucking nose out of your fucking phone, you’d learn how to get out of the way!” he hollers at me.
“Eat a dick!” I yell back and flip him the bird.
“Nah, I’m leavin’ ‘em for you!”
I roll my eyes. I’m in no mood for this shit right now.
When I get to the salon I lock the door behind me and flip on the lights. The receptionist should be here soon but I get the stations stocked with towels. I have to stop to let one of the manicurists in, but then I’m free to go up to my office to work out the schedule. Of the three owners here, I’m the most business minded and the most organized, so I tend to handle the paperwork, payroll and all the scheduling.
I have a pretty full day ahead of me, starting with a cut and color at nine. At ten minutes ‘til, I head downstairs to my station to get myself set up.
“Do you want curls today?” I ask Sophie. I’ve been cutting her hair for the last four years ever since she discovered us.
“I don’t think so,” she answers as she turns to look from the side.
I hand her a mirror so she can see the back. She has beautiful, deep strawberry blonde hair almost the color of a penny that several of my clients would kill for.
“I think parting it off to the side like that makes all the difference,” I tell her as I smooth the side a bit. She has this unfortunate cowlick that refuses to be tamed no matter how long I leave the flat iron on it.
“I think so too,” Sophie agrees. “It’s going to take me a while to get used to it so much shorter, but I need the change. Newly single, new looks, right?”
“Absolutely. This cut frames your face really well. Just remember to use a tiny amount of the styling wax when you’re getting ready and your hair should stay nice and sleek like this all day long,” I advise her.
“That’s going to be the biggest problem,” she laughs. “I feel like I’ve been using buckets of shampoo and conditioner. That would just be way too much now and it’s going to take me a while to get used to it.”
“It always does,” I nod. “If it starts to frizz up on you come summertime like mine does, try a little coconut oil. Your hair will smell like the Bahamas and feel like silk.”
“What girl doesn’t want to smell like sunshine? Speaking of sunshine, how are you and Dawson doing?”
“Okay,” I shrug. “He’s still down at Fort Polk, yelling at new recruits. I’m supposed to go down to visit him in a few weeks. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, other than a few Skype conversations.”
Trey Dawson and I have been seeing each other for a little over ten years. We met in New Orleans when I went down for Mardi Gras with a few of my girlfriends. He just happened to be on leave at the time after graduating from advanced training. We spent a few days together in the city and then communicated through letters and phone calls. He spent some time in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Trey’s moved his way up the ranks and has been stationed at Fort Polk for the last three years. It’s not easy being so far apart but I love my life here, plus I have my business.
He’s not willing to give up the Army and I’m not willing to give up the salon so that puts us at a standstill. We see each other as often as we can and I love him to death, but I’m not willing to give up my life.
“I don’t know how you do it,” she says, shaking her head.
“It’s a matter of both of us being selfish, to be honest,” I answer. “He doesn’t want to give up his life and I don’t want to give up mine. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than ten years, though.”
Honestly, it’s getting to the point of shit or get off the pot with us. I’m turning thirty-four this summer. I want to get married and have kids. Something has to give.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much the definition of selfish,” she laughs. “I don’t blame either of you though, and if it works, it works.”
“It has, so far. He’s one of the good ones so I don’t want to just throw it away, you know? Although living together for more than two weeks at a time would probably drive us both insane at this point,” I laugh.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?” she laughs with me.
“Exactly,” I agree.
She looks down at her watch and says, “I should get out of here. I have to meet with my divorce lawyer in an hour.”
“Alright. Well, good luck with the mediations,” I tell her. She’s splitting with her husband of six years and they’ve been fighting it out over custody of their twin boys. It’s a shitty situation.
I walk Sophie to the front desk so she can pay up and I stop in my tracks when I see Ray Bans standing at the desk.
“What are you doing here?” I fold my arms over my chest.
He holds up one of those pink bakery boxes and says, “I was having a really shitty morning and I feel like a prick.”
“Is it poisoned?” I ask suspiciously.
“It’s not poisoned,” he promises with a little half-smile as he pulls his sunglasses off to place them on his hat.
He’s got electric blue-green eyes that are sickeningly pretty.
“Thanks. You can just leave it right there on the desk,” I tell him.
He looks nervous and says, “Uh… I think it’s best if you don’t leave this out where customers might see it.”
I raise an eyebrow and curiosity propels me over to where he’s standing. I lift the lid on the box and my jaw drops. Inside is a cake shaped and “decorated” to look very lifelike.
I’m staring at a dick.
Oh. My. God.
“It’s a dick in a box.” I stare up at him and then I crack up. I can’t help it.
“It seemed fitting,” he smiles.
“That’s… it’s very… authentic,” I tell him.
“I have firsthand knowledge of what one looks like…”
“I should introduce you to Lafayette,” I snort under my breath. He would go apeshit over this guy.
“Anyway, I just wanted to apologize for this morning.”
“Apology accepted.” This is definitely the most creative way someone has apologized in the past. “And I’m sorry I assumed I wouldn’t be doing any damage by elbowing your head.”
“It’s hard,” he shrugs. “It was just a fucking dick move and apparently we’re both dicks.”
“Mmm my ears be tinglin’,” Lafayette says from behind me.
“Of course they are,” I chuckle and show him what’s in the box.
“Mmmpf… if only I could finds me one like that for real, I’d be one happy hookah,” he says.
“I don’t know if they make ‘em that big,” Ray Bans says.
Lafayette looks him up and down and says, “Honeypie, that there looks like it could be a replica.”
“Now you see what you did?” I shake my head at Ray Bans.
“I over exaggerated by an inch or so,” he shrugs.
“Come to the back with me and I’ll get an exact measurement,” Lafayette offers.
“Lafayette, I’m sure you have clients waiting,” I remind him.
“Ain’t nuthin’ more important than good dick. These bitches know what I mean,” he says, gesturing around the reception area. The waiting ladies chuckle. They’re all familiar with him and his antics. “We need to get you some. It’s been too long.”
“Annnnd you’re done,” I tell him. I hand him the box but Ray Bans reaches out and rips a piece of paper from the lid of the box to give to me before Lafayette disappears.
“That dick was for you,” he says, handing me the paper.
“Oh, I won’t be the least bit surprised if it’s not smashed in my face before–” I don’t get to finish because the cake is smashed in my face. I’ll kill Lafayette for this.
Ray Bans leans in to whisper, “Step three: make her open the box,” before he swipes some cake from my cheek.
I take a deep breath and say, “Thanks for the cake. I have to go wash my face and kill my friend.”
“No problem,” he chuckles.
The receptionist hands me a towel as Ray Bans walks out. It doesn’t hit me until I’m reapplying my makeup that I didn’t get his name. Oh well. I doubt I’ll see him again anyway. That is, until I remember the piece of paper he handed me. The receptionist is cleaning up the lobby area when I come to the desk to look for the paper.
Eric Northman is his name… and he left me his phone number.
I should throw away the piece of paper. I know that I should. Instead I pocket it.