Author’s Note: Well, I’ve finally caught up with myself. The posts will probably be fewer and farther between as it usually takes two days to write a whole one. I won’t be posting partial chapters. I hope everyone is enjoying it so far.
I’m going into the office today. I have a little headache and bad case of cabin fever. I’m so sick of winter that one day in my house has driven me to craziness. I’ve already shoveled my walk. The snow began to drift again last night so there were icy streaks of snow rippled across everyone’s walks again. The day was already warmer than it was two days ago. Maybe Spring will finally come.
I also managed to walk the dogs, do the dishes, sweep my living room, and gather up my papers that needed shredded and the mail. I didn’t need to be in the office until two so I was making the most of my day. I was happy and excited. I was selling a house today. Tiffi had called early and told me that Tom had made an appointment with Mr. Strogal this morning to buy the Logan House outright. Mr. Strogal had suggested that I come to the meeting. It wasn’t necessary for me to be there since the place was technically owned by Mr. Strogal’s business and he would be the one negotiating. This was probably the real reason for my excitement. I was going to see Tom for the third day in a row.
While I was cleaning out some things of Parker’s to take over there I thought about my look. I bought in to so many things Parker stood for, including my hair, so I called the salon and made an appointment with Jenna. That’s where I was heading now. I wasn’t sure what I wanted done, but I wanted something to symbolize my change, my growth, my new found independence. I parallel parked right in front of the salon and strode in, determined to say goodbye to my long hair… or something.
“Hey, Kat, I’ll be with you in a second,” Jenna called from sweeping under her chair. Jenna was scary-skinny girl who was twenty-two years old, but looked much younger. Her mother didn’t work and he little brother was in high school. Jenna worked two jobs to support her family, and sometimes took the odd cleaning job. Her mother has had bipolar manic depression since Jenna’s father left about ten years ago. Jenna practically raised herself and is now raising her brother. Her mother stays home and watches TV.
There weren’t any other customers in there so I picked up a hair style magazine and looked through the pictures. There were so many cuts it was mind-boggling. I liked to be able to pull it back when I jog, but I guess if I didn’t have enough to pull back I wouldn’t need to. I flipped to the color section and saw girls with all sorts of chunky sections of bright colors spiking out at odd angles. One actually looked like she patterned it off of a skunk.
I began to have second thoughts when Jenna was ready. I sat down in the mechanical chair and she started putting the cape around my body.
“So, what do you want done?”
“I’m not sure,” I bit my lip. “Just something different.”
“Well, on the phone you mentioned cut and color, do you have any ideas?”
“Um, well, definitely some highlights, but nothing too bright, you know? I’m not sure what to do about a cut. I want it cut, though.”
“Hmm,” she started and then walked over to the counter. She came back with a color swatch book. “Here’s some colors I think would look great on you.” She pointed to a light brown and a medium auburn. “We could alternate small strands in with your natural color then if you don’t want it keep re-doing it, it will blend pretty well when your hair grows out. and as for the cut, if you don’t mind going kinda short you could donate to Locks of Love. You only need ten inches of unbleached hair and I could cut off at least fifteen and still have plenty to work with.”
I closed my eyes, debating. My hair could always grow back if I didn’t like it short and Jenna has never given anyone a bad cut that I’ve heard of. The colors? Am I the same prude that went all natural for so long? I didn’t want to be her. I wasn’t her. The thought of giving my hair away to charity was a plus side. At least if I didn’t like the cut I could say I did my good dead for the year, or however it took to grow it back out again.
“Okay, Jenna.” I nodded.
“Okay?” She wasn’t sure what I meant because my eyes were closed tight and I’m sure that wasn’t a good sign to her.
I took a deep breath. “Yes. Locks of Love. Highlights. Just do it. I want something new and cool and I don’t want to watch.”
She laughed quietly and said, “Okay. If you’re sure?”
I nodded again. She pumped up the chair and I felt her gather my hair into a ponytail at the nape of my neck and I heard something that started the tears rolling. I thought there would be a quick snip and it would be gone, but it wasn’t; it took several rough, hard cuts to get through the thick bunch of hair. Then it was gone. I opened my eyes and it looked… okay, I guess. Then she turned the chair around from the mirror.
“You said you didn’t want to watch, so don’t watch,” she teased. “You can trust me. Would I still be working here if I didn’t do a good job?”
“I guess not. Okay, Jenna, I trust you.”
“Good,” and she began mixing the color.
* * *
Hours later, Jenna turned my chair to face the mirror.
I gasped, as cheesy as it sounds. I had gone from a girl with long, plain Jane, brown hair to a stylish chic. My hair was still dark brown, but it had subtle strands of light brown and auburn mixed in. I turned my head from side to side and Jenna fetched a hand held mirror to show me the back. It was cut in a bob starting at my chin and angling back to my neck where she had put a small amount of gel to spike it out. She had puffed it up a little on the crown of my head and parted it on the side and angled my bangs. She cut it knowing my hair was straight as a pin and I needed it to be easy to manage.
“And you can still pull up the sides if you need to for running and stuff,” she said. I didn’t know what to say. “Don’t cry, please don’t cry.”
“No, it’s great,” I said, and I wasn’t lying. I really liked it. “Thank you so much, Jenna! I really needed this. I love it.”
“Oh, good. I always get nervous when someone cuts all their hair off.”
I looked at my watch and it was later than I thought. The meeting with Mr. Strogal and Tom was in a few minutes.
I paid and gave Jenna a huge tip, Lord knows she needs it, and walked out to my car. The wind wasn’t blowing today and the sun was already melting the snow. I decided to walk to the realty office. It was across the street and over a block in the opposite direction of where my car was heading, so I just grabbed the papers off the seat that needed shredded in the office.
When I got there Tiffi had left a note saying she was off showing houses and Mr. Strogal’s office door was open. Tom was already inside filling out papers. He must have gotten there early, so I stuffed my papers in a desk drawer and went in.
The reactions I got were not what I was expecting. I’m not used to people staring. “Hi,” I said and sat in the only chair available, next to Tom. He didn’t take his eyes off me the whole time and I could see a flash of heat in his eyes.
Mr. Strogal grunted and cleared his throat, and Tom looked back at his contract. “Let’s catch you up, Katrina. We’ve already agreed on the price and signed an agreement. You’ll get your usual commission. Since he has offered to pay in cash and I have verified the finds are there, all there is to do is make an appointment at the attorney’s for the closing.
“Oh, great,” I turned to Tom and said, “Have you looked at the whole property?”
“Not in person…”
“You can take him out to do that in a bit. I’m going to take off for the day,” Mr. Strogal said and got up to put his coat on. “I’ve signed everything I’ve need to sign, you can do the rest, Katrina. Feeling better I hope?” He seemed to notice my hair for the first time and frowned a little.
“Yes, much better. And yes I’ll be able to show him around today.” I turned to Tom, “Is that okay with you?”
Mr. Strogal shook Tom’s hand and left leaving me to look over the forms already piled up. I usually skim over the personal information because I usually know something about the people already. I didn’t know hardly anything about Tom so I took my time. I didn’t get far when I froze. I stopped reading at the second line where it said ‘marital status’. He had checked the box marked ‘Widowed’.
I felt an overwhelming sadness for him. I didn’t know what to say. I pretended to read further but nothing was sinking in. I had perceived him as single, as someone who put on the farce of a rebel but was actually quiet and shy; the old expression ‘still waters run deep’. They were deeper than I thought. Is he still grieving? How long ago did this happen? What had happened? Was it something like a disease, or a car accident? Was she hurt by someone? I remembered the burn scars on his ear and neck and wondered if she had been in a fire. How horrible.
I started to feel the sting of tears in my eyes and got angry with myself for overreacting. I got up and got a tissue from the corner of the room. I kept myself turned away and dabbed my eyes before the tears spilled over and left streaks through my makeup. I made a show of blowing my nose so as not to reveal the real reason I needed a tissue.
His sudden voice startled me, “You got a haircut.”
I whirled around and planted a smile on my face. “Yeah. I needed something different.” I went back to my chair and quickly picked up the forms and turned the page.
“It looks nice.”
I couldn’t look at him again so I kept skimming the information on the forms. I just said, “Thanks.”
Everything on the forms seemed to be in order, including the explanation of the life insurance policy he had on his wife, so I signed the witness lines and got up. He followed me to the front room where I filed the papers in a folder. I decided not to bring it up his marital status and open old wounds. Besides, it must have been a while ago if he was looking at me like that. And he kissed me. And we’re going back to the scene of that kiss today. Actually I was supposed to show him the property; he’s already seen the house. That’s when I realized I was wearing the wrong shoes.
“Oh, dang! I just remembered I left my snow boots at my house. Do you mind if we…” I had turned around to tell him and he was right there, our faces inches from each other. I swallowed and tried to finish what I was saying. “… stop… by my… house…and…”
And he kissed me. I leaned back on the desk as he leaned toward me, his hands on my wrists. He slowly ran his hands up my arms to my shoulders and wrapped them around me. Mine had a mind of their own as they under his arms and pulled him tighter against me. There was an urgency in his kiss that left me breathless. He ran one hand into my hair on the back of my neck, a feeling I wasn’t used to and I shivered. His other went around my waist. He started to kiss down my neck to my collar bone and then reached down and to lift me onto the desk. He settled in between my legs and I felt one of his hands begin to go inside my shirt. Unfortunately, reality sunk in.
“Wait,” I said, breathless. “We can’t do this here. It’s a storefront.”
His hands stilled and he whispered, “Your house?”
I nodded and we parted. I rushed around to shut everything off and close the office. We went outside and I locked up. We walked briskly across the street and down a ways to my car. He didn’t’ hold my hand. I wanted him to but he seemed to know that we couldn’t do that without causing a whole lot of gossip.
He was very still in the passenger seat in the few minutes it took to get to my house, but he wouldn’t stop looking at me. I pulled up in front of my house and got out with my keys ready. I looked around to see if anyone was around (I really hate the gossip in this town). I didn’t see anyone, but something wasn’t right. Tom was right behind me and grabbed my hand and stopped me. I wouldn’t need my keys. My front door was already wide open and Ernesto was sitting on the first step. Had I left in such a hurry that I didn’t shut it all the way? I started to rush for the door and call for the dogs, but Tom pulled me back.
“What are you doing? I have to see if my dogs are still here.”
“Look.” He pointed to the door jam and I saw the frame looked like it had been chewed. Someone had broken into my house.