Read Fierce Salon, Episode Four: A New Adult Smexy Serial Online
Authors: Aspen Drake
By Aspen Drake
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Fierce Salon Episode Four
Published by Surrendered Press
Copyright 2014 Aspen Drake
“I’m not doing it.” I’m already wound as tight as a goddamn spring. I don’t need this guilt trip from my dad. “She’s a bitch.”
“Nathan! You will not speak that way about the family of a dear friend.” He still thinks his stern voice has an effect on me. I learned a long time ago that regardless of what I do, he’ll never be proud of my accomplishments so I’m done trying—stern voice or not.
“Since when are they dear friends?” I pull into my usual parking spot and kill the engine. “I’d never heard of the Newports before last week. When the hell did they become so important to you?”
“When they agreed to provide some of their grapes for my new Meritage. He’s very protective of his varitals and doesn’t partner with just anyone.”
I throw my head back on the seat and exhale, blowing a few strands of hair off my forehead. “I’m not taking her out again. Call Roman.”
“Your brother is busy.” Dad is getting ready to hang up. I can hear the dismissive nature his voice takes when he thinks he’s won an argument. “He’s a detective now. He has to be available if anything happens in town. I’ll expect you here Friday.”
“I won’t be there.” I want to hang up but I still have some respect for the man. The man that seems to think it’s fine to whore me out to his business partner’s daughter. “Have a good day, Dad.”
“I will and we’ll discuss it when I see you on Friday, son.” He hangs up. Bastard.
I slip out of my car and slam the door, not even realizing Julia is walking a few feet behind me until she speaks up.
“Everything okay, Nate?” Her steps quicken and she’s at my side before I can pretend to not hear her.
“Morning, Julia.” I give her a fake smile, hoping she won’t notice my clenched jaw. “I’m good. How are you?”
“Great.” She’s quiet but I know she has something to say by the way she keeps glancing at me with her mouth open but then shuts it and looks away.
As I’m unlocking the back door, I pause and look to her. “Got something on your mind, Jules?”
“Are you sure everything’s okay?” She allows me to open the door then steps through. “You’ve just seemed distracted lately.”
Of course I’m distracted. Ever since Amy walked through my salon door, I haven’t been able to focus. When she’s not around, I can convince myself it’s because I don’t trust her and want to fire her. But as soon as she’s within my line of sight, I can’t keep my eyes off her. Or my dick soft.
“I’ve got some stuff going on with my parents.” I pat her shoulder as we enter the break room. “Nothing to worry about, but I appreciate you asking.”
She seems appeased but her side glance tells me she knows there’s more to my story. She can wonder all she wants. I don’t air my laundry at work. And I don’t share my personal life with employees. It’s a simple policy that has done me well for the past three years and will continue to keep me out of trouble for the foreseeable future. I hope.
I pop a cup in the Keurig and lean on the counter while Julia stashes her purse in a locker. The clock says it’s ten to nine so I turn to Jules. “You’re here early.”
“Paige is out today so I wanted to get an early start. If I’m not ready when the first few clients show up, the whole day is off.” She smooths out the front of her dress then heads to the reception desk.
I grab my mug and wrap my hands around it, focusing on the heat penetrating into my skin. When I’m finally ready to step into the salon, it’s after nine.
“Ella is coming in at nine thirty. She’s always early so she could be here any minute.” Julia doesn’t even look up from her computer screen as she shouts to me. “Need help with anything before she gets here?”
“I’m good.” I walk to Julia’s desk and grab the book. Everything is managed online but we still print daily calendars to help give everyone a quick glance at their appointments. Stylists aren’t always the most organized people and it’s easy to forget about appointments if they aren’t written in black and white.
I take a look at my day and groan when I see Sharon’s name. She is a beautiful woman that I’ve made the mistake of hooking up with more than once. She’s always trying to set up our next time. If I thought it would help, I’d go for it but little Nate seems to be unsatisfied by everything I do lately so I’m not going to bother.
I glance at everyone’s schedule and the only person able to take her off my hands is Amy. “Jules, can you move Sharon to Amy? I have to take an important call at eleven and she’s open.”
Julia is already making the change in the system. “No problem. She’ll like Amy.”
I cock my head to the side and raise an eyebrow. “Why do you say that?”
“Amy’s fun. She has great rapport with her clients so Sharon will be fine with the change.” Julia finally looks up and gives me a smirk. “Even though she always insists on only seeing you.”
“Thanks.” I’m browsing the rest of the schedule when Ella flies through the door like a tornado.
“Nate, sorry I’m late.” I glance at my watch and note that she’s actually twenty minutes early. “Traffic just keeps getting worse and worse.”
“You’re right on time, darling.” I lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek as she shrugs out of her coat then hands it to me.
“Good because we’re gonna be here for a while.” She lifts the back of her hair. “Do you see these roots? I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s been way too long since I’ve been in here.”
I lead her to my chair. “You look as gorgeous as ever. Maybe we should extend the roots a bit and give you an Ombre.”
While I’m getting Ella situated, Amy walks in. I don’t know why I’m so attuned to her but I can almost feel the air change when she’s in the room. It’s heavier and every move she makes forces me to adjust to compensate. Mostly it’s my eyes that follow her. I should be embarrassed by the number of times she catches me staring but I can’t stop myself.
When she stops trying to avoid eye contact and finally looks up at me, her face immediately tints pink. She’s wearing a creamy wool sweater that stops mid-thigh and a pair of tight jeans. The high neck line makes me wonder if she’s trying to avoid giving me another peep show.
I’d be disappointed if she didn’t look so fucking hot in those brown knee boots. I don’t know what it is about women in boots but they get me every time.
“Good morning, Nate.” Amy is polite but quickly looks away. I know she’s uncomfortable with the attention I give her and part of me hopes it’ll drive her away. If she wasn’t an employee, then maybe… No, I can’t think that way. She’s a talented stylist and I need her professionally more than I need her in my bed.
“Amy.” I nod and offer a small smile. “You look warm today.”
She freezes mid reach for her cabinet but quickly recovers and her eyes find mine. Her gaze is locked on me when she slowly lets herself smile. “Well, it’s getting a little nippy these days.”
Surprised by her boldness, I actually chuckle. “Indeed it is.”
I can’t believe I said nippy to Nate! What was I thinking? I shouldn’t be flirting with my boss. But his laugh means he’s not mad. Right? Right. Of course he knows it was a joke. I need to get myself together.
After getting reacquainted with Lelo this morning, and leaving everything else in the dumpster in the back parking lot, I was feeling great until I walked in and saw Nate in person.
He seems to become more handsome every day. His tan looks deeper, his eyes bluer, his hair messy enough to be even sexier than yesterday. As much as I want to keep my distance, I can’t help but watch him work. All day long.
My first cut is easy and puts me back in a good mood. When Sharon walks in, I’m actually a little giddy. Between my morning endorphins and a venti pumpkin spice latte, I’m buzzing around the poor woman as I walk her in.
“I thought I was with Nate today?” She looks around the salon, disappointed to find herself in my chair instead of his.
“He had an appointment that couldn’t be rescheduled.” I give her a big smile and gently pat her shoulder while she settles into my chair. “I’m sorry about the last minute change but I’m looking forward to working on you.”
“Um, okay. That’s fine.”
“Can I get you anything to drink before we get started?”
Sharon shakes her head. “No, thanks. I’m feeling a little under the weather. My water is fine.” She holds up a plastic water bottle then sets it on the counter.
“Great.” I run my fingers through her dark hair to see what I’ll be working with. It’s long enough to almost reach her butt. She has an exotic look that I can’t quite place but the thickness and weight of her hair makes me think she has some Asian genes. “What can I do for you today?”
“Just a trim.” She blows her bangs off her forehead. “I hate when my bangs are in my eyes. Just take half an inch off the front and an inch off the back.”
“Sure thing.” I turn to my cabinet to reach for a drape. I’ve only had my back turned for a few seconds when I hear a low moan come from behind me.
When I look back, Sharon is slumped over, lifeless in my chair.
“Sharon?” I pull her up by her shoulders to see if she’s conscious. Her eyes roll back and all color drains from her face.
“Nate!” I scream while trying to move Sharon into a safer position. “I need help. Call 9-1-1.”
Olivia is by my side with her phone in her hand. She stands behind Sharon and holds her head against her chest to keep it from flopping backwards. I’m fumbling with Sharon’s wrist when I feel Nate’s strong body behind me.
“What happened, Amy?” He’s pressed against my back as he replaces my fingers with his own and lowers his cheek to Sharon’s mouth.
“I don’t know. She just passed out.” My voice is shaking as much as my hands. “Is she alive?”
“She’s breathing.” Nate looks up at Olivia. She’s relaying the situation to an emergency dispatcher when Nate scoops Sharon out of my chair and carries her to the sofa in his office.
I follow at his heels as Julia tries to get everyone in the salon to calm down and get back to what they were doing. I don’t want to get too close but I also don’t want to be alone so I kneel beside Nate in front of my unconscious client.
He’s brushing the sweaty hair from Sharon’s forehead when her whole body jolts up and she begins to gasp for breath. The scene reminds me of a drowning victim in a movie but this is real life and there wasn’t any water.
Sharon’s eyes open just as two EMTs and a police officer rush into Nate’s office. I don’t move until Nate stands and gently pulls me to my feet and away from Sharon.
“She’ll be okay,” he says quietly while the EMTs get to work. “Just have a seat over here while they check her out.”
I nod and sit at Nate’s desk while he begins to explain as much as he knows to the officer. When I finally take a look at the man, I realize he is a younger version of Nate. He’s very handsome but with a rounder face that gives off a playfulness I’ve never seen on Nate.
By the time Sharon is sitting up and drinking a cup of orange juice, my muscles ache from being held so tightly. I’ve never seen anyone pass out before, much less in my chair.
Nate guides the officer over and introduces him. “Amy, I’d like you to meet Officer Montague. He heard the call come in and wanted to check on us.”
“Montague?” I look between the two men, surprised by the unfamiliar name. “Oh, you guys look so much alike that I thought you were related.”
The officer smirks and nudges Nate’s elbow. “Unfortunately, we are. I’m Nate’s brother, Roman.” He extends his hand. “Obviously, I’m the good looking brother.”
I smile at his easy charm and get a good look at him. The resemblance is uncanny but his demeanor couldn’t be any more different than Nate’s. A fun and relaxed version of Nate could be interesting. Maybe my perusal of his handsome face and dark blue eyes is a little too invasive because Nate clears his throat and roughly tugs Roman toward the door.
“Well, you should probably get back out there, bro.”
Roman laughs and pulls a card from his shirt pocket. “Amy, take my card. If you ever need anything, just give me a call.” He winks as I take the card from him. “I’m here to serve.”
Something resembling a growl comes from Nate as he drags his brother to the front of the salon. A few minutes later, I follow the EMTs out of the office. They insist on taking Sharon to the hospital so after gathering up her stuff, I watch them wheel her out the front door and into the awaiting van.
Just as I drop into one of the chairs in the reception area, Mason flings open the door. “Amy, are you okay?”
He pulls me into a hug and walks me backward until we’re at Carly’s station. “Car, what happened?”
Carly turns from her client and lunges into Mason’s arms just as I pull out of them. I appreciate his concern but now that the incident is over, I don’t really want to talk about it.
I try to step away but Mason keeps one hand on my wrist as Carly gives the long version of what happened. When he notices I’m trying to escape, he steps away from Carly and looks to me.
“I was just leaving to get lunch when I saw the ambulance. You wanna grab a bite to eat?” He brushes his fingers across the side of my face. “You look a little pale.”
“Yeah, that sounds good.” I need some sugar before I pass out too. “Let me check my schedule.”
Paige is right behind me. “You’re good until one fifteen but if you want me to reschedule the rest of your appointments, you can take the day off. I’m sure Nate will understand.”
Paige is a doll. “Thanks, hon, but I’ll be back. I just need a Coke or something.”
She gives me a quick hug then steps back to her desk. “If you change your mind, just let me know.”
I nod as Mason drags me out the front door. I feel like I’m in a trance until Nate and his brother step away from a squad car on the street and into our path.
“Are you okay, Amy?” Nate looks genuinely concerned and I feel silly for being overdramatic. Sharon is fine and everyone else is moving on. I don’t know why I feel like my legs are about to give out and my head is foggy.
“Yeah, I think so.” I nod to Nate but don’t look him in the eye. “I just need a few minutes. I’ll be back after lunch.”
It takes a minute for him to move out of my way so we can keep walking.
“I don’t get that guy,” Mason says as we cross the street. It’s not even noon but the little downtown shops are filling up with lunchtime patrons.
“What do you mean?” The fresh air is already helping to clear my head. I take a deep breath and look up at Mason. “What’s there to get?”
“He’s kind of a dick.” He chuckles and points toward a crepe shop.
I nod and we walk toward the door. “Yeah, he can be. But he has his moments.”
I shrug and turn back toward the salon as Mason tells the hostess we’d like to sit on the patio.
“I’ve only met him a few times but he’s come across as a conceited prick every time. And that shit at the gallery on Saturday.” He shakes his head and turns me toward him. “If I wasn’t worried about you and Carly losing your jobs, I would have decked him right there.”
I drop my head into his chest and laugh. “I appreciate the thought, but thank you for holding back. I really need that job.”
We get settled at a private table on the patio and fall into an easy conversation. Mason only asks once about Sharon and my short answer cuts off any further questioning.
“So, I still owe you a real date,” Mason says as he bites into his ham and cheese crepe.
“You took me on a real date and you don’t owe me anything.” I hope my smile is genuine and not forced because I really don’t want to have this conversation. I take a bite of my spinach crepe without looking up at him.
“Fine, I owe you a real
date. One that won’t involve any tears or uncomfortable shoes.” This forces my gaze back to him.
“Okay, but I want to be honest with you.” I put down my fork and lean back. “I really like you and you’re probably the sweetest guy I’ve met in a long time…”
I can see Mason’s face drop as he leans back too. “But.”
“But, I’m not ready for anything serious. I just got out of a relationship and I don’t see us as more than friends right now.” I don’t want to see the disappointment on his face but I can’t look away.
He nods slowly then takes my hand. “I understand and I won’t push you.” Mason pulls my hand to his mouth and places a light kiss on my knuckles. “I can be your friend for now.”
As much as I want to believe it’s possible, I know it’s probably not. But I don’t argue. I’m not up for it so I just squeeze his hand and smile before pulling back and taking another bite.
“Is Friday a good night for us to go dancing or is Saturday better?”
Damn, he’s persistent. But at least he knows where I’m at in this thing. “Saturday works.”
His face gets serious and he slowly stands up. “Don’t panic but there’s a bee in your hair.”
“What?” I start swatting at my head. When my fingers come in contact with the bulbous insect, I jump from my chair and start flailing my arms. “Get it off!”
After thirty seconds of Mason trying to calm me enough to untangle the angry bee from my hair, I’m finally insect free with only a small stinger in my scalp for my troubles.
Mason keeps a level head and carefully flicks it out while I try not to make an even bigger scene. The sting hurts but I’m more scared than in pain. I’ve never been stung before so I don’t even know if I’m allergic.
We both sit back down and try to finish our meal but I’ve lost my appetite and Mason has that worried look on his face again. “Do you have any Benadryl on you?”
I look down and realize I don’t even have my purse. “No, I don’t have anything on me. I just left with you and didn’t look back. Why?”
My throat and eyes are itchy when I finally connect the dots. I guess I am allergic to bee stings.
“You’re having a minor reaction.” He leaves a few bills on the table and stands. “Let’s go grab some Benadryl from the drugstore and get you back to the salon. Carly has an epi pen if you need it.”
“Epi pen?” I hold out my arms to see if they are red. I don’t see hives, and other than being a little itchy, I feel fine. “Why? What’s happening?”
“Your lips are a little swollen.” He is walking quickly but not at all panicked. Thank god for that since I’m panicking enough for the both of us. “It doesn’t look serious but we should try to stop it before it gets worse.”
There’s a small pharmacy a few stores away from the restaurant so we get there before a full-fledged anxiety attack sets in. “Do I look bad?”
My lips feel a little hot and tingly but not enough for me to even recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
“You look beautiful but it could get uncomfortable. Here.” He guides me to a chair near the pickup window. “Wait here while I get a bottle.”
I lean my head back on the wall and close my eyes. This day started out so good and now I may be having a second encounter with an ambulance . Awesome.