Chapter 1 - JUST ANOTHER DAY
Liam Irish was bored. A week into Lent, he hadn’t had a drink in over a week, therefore, he hadn’t gone out to The Foxy Lady strip joint, or to his favorite fetish club, Down Under. Although he considered himself an Atheist, he had been raised Catholic. Some rituals were ingrained in him, so he used the more familiar rites and holidays as a time to challenge his will power. This year he was quitting alcohol for the duration of Lent, which, he discovered, also included his personal indulgence of biweekly visits to sex clubs. It seemed he couldn’t manage one without the other.
At the onset, Liam had not considered the forty days of restraint to be difficult, but it was day seven, and he already found himself surfing internet porn sites to quench his thirst for voyeurism. Somehow, and in true Catholic form, Liam didn’t feel this indulgence fit into the category he had given up – thank god!
He pulled the flat iron through Frances Del Monte’s hair, careful not to tug too hard.
“So Frances hon, how’s the fam?” Liam asked, trying to make conversation even though he was in no mood for small talk.
“Oh, you know, Mitch still drinks too much, Laurie can’t decide if she’s going to hairdressing school, Military school or no school at all, and Mitch Junior, well,” she thought for a moment. “Mitch Junior is too busy sitting at his computer playing games and surfing the net. Frankly, I think he’s up to something.”
Frances Del Monte was in her mid-forties, rotund, with a thick head of frizzy black hair and a jovial cackle of a laugh when she got going, which was often. Liam Irish adored her, and in turn, she was one of his most loyal clients.
“You’re probably right Fran, but what are you gonna do?”
Liam snipped a few stray ends before he whipped the towel away from around her shoulders and lowered the hydraulic chair so she could step off. Her stilettos clicked on the hard linoleum as she stood up.
“Here you go doll face. Good as new.”
He pulled Frances’ faux leopard jacket off the hanger and helped her into it, then walked her to the front desk and opened his appointment book. While they were arranging her next scheduled time, the door opened and in walked a young man with shaggy blond hair and a two day overgrowth. He was drop dead gorgeous.
“Uh, excuse me,” he stammered. “Sorry to interrupt, but I have an eleven thirty with Genevieve. I’m a bit late.”
Liam and Fran just stared. The young man looked around to see what they were staring at. Once he realized it was him, he looked down, blushing.
“Awfully sorry ‘bout that. I look an awful mess,” he said humbly. “I’ve just returned from travel, you see. Really need a cleanup, don’t I?” He laughed. Liam and Fran exchanged glances. Fran finally came to the rescue.
“You look fine to me, sweetheart. If I had my way, which I don’t very often,” she shrieked delightfully, “I’d just preserve you in ice or wax or whatever it is they use nowadays, and take you just the way you are. How old are you?”
“How old are you? You’re adorable.”
“Fran, honey, that’s not polite,” Liam piped in. “We don’t even know this gentleman. You’re embarrassing him.”
“Well, it’s a fair question, isn’t it, Irish?”
“It’s okay. I’m thirty. Or is that too old for your taste?” He smirked. They all laughed, and the tension in the room dissipated.
“Are you Miguel – Miguel Santos?” Liam asked, holding his finger on a name in the book.
“Yeah, that’s me. Shall I have a seat and wait, then?”
“Oh, Miguel, you can do whatever you want.” Frances followed him to the waiting area, clip-clopping in her strappy heels all the way.
“Fran, focus,” Liam said in a slightly raised voice so as to grab Fran’s attention. “Let’s get that next appointment booked so you can go pick up your two delightful children from school.”
“Oh goodness, Irish, did you have to tell on me? Really. I could have had a chance if you hadn’t exposed that information.”
“Fine. How’s two weeks Thursday? That’ll be the fourteenth.” Liam knew Fran well enough to know when to listen and when to ignore her antics.
“Great, darling. And can you put this on my tab. I’ll pay you next time. How much are we up to, Irish?”
Fran sauntered over to the desk by the door and leaned over Liam’s shoulder.
“You’re up to about four hundred dollars, Fran, and five’s payday.”
“Alright, Irish. Cash in two weeks time. We’re off to Key West tomorrow. Mitch wants to do a little fishing, and the kids want to surf…the net.” Again, Fran cackled with laughter. “You know, Irish, you really should take us up on our offer to come to our condo sometime. Get outta the Miami heat. Mitch’d love to take you out in the boat. God knows he’ll never get me in that thing, unless it grows in length by about forty feet.” Her eyes rolled. “Besides, some fishing and R&R never hurt anyone, right Irish?” Liam smiled and she winked back.
”Ciao, boys.” She leaned over the counter and gave Irish a peck on the cheek, glanced over at Miguel, who was thumbing through a GQ, and waved. Then Frances Del Monte swept out of the salon. Miguel looked over at Liam.
“She’s quite the breath of fresh air, isn’t she?”
“Yes, quite,” Irish admitted. “She’s actually not as ‘large’ as she appears. That’s just her MO, you know?”
Just then, Genevieve walked in. Petite and slim, with long, dark, straight hair, big brown eyes and full, red lips, she was dressed for a typical day in the salon, which was dressed to kill. Miguel stopped mid sentence, mouth agape. Genevieve smiled, well aware that she was a head turner. She turned to Liam.
“Hey Irish, how’s it going?”
She walked up to the desk, dropped her bulky purse on to the floor and leaned against Liam’s broad shoulders, staring at the day’s client list.
“I wonder if I have time to grab a latte before my eleven o’clock?”
She looked at her watch then scanned the room for her first client of the day.
“Miguel, meet Genevieve. Genevieve, meet Miguel. I take it you’ve never laid eyes on each other. Just a guess. And it’s eleven thirty sweetheart.”
“Oh, shit, sorry. Miguel. Wow, good thing I came a bit early then.” She giggled. “I was actually expecting someone more…more…”
“Mexican? Yeah, well my mom’s mom was from Tijuana. Does that count?” He said this without a hint of an accent.
Liam returned to his scheduling book, but was well aware of what was going down. The electricity in the air created the room to buzz with a new kind of energy, one that Liam hadn’t felt in a long time. Damn, he thought, I wish it were me.
Genevieve led Miguel with her eyes to the chair at the back, his gaze riveted to her black lace blouse and body-hugging mini-shirt that offered more than a peek at her firmly sculpted buttocks. The last guy that had cut Miguel’s hair had been gay, and had flirted shamelessly with him. He didn’t mind that he was gay. It was the aggressive nature of his come-on that drove Miguel away from continuing at that salon. Miguel figured it was a pretty good bet that Genevieve was not a lesbian, but then, he had been wrong before.
There was the time at the Romance Novel Convention in Dallas, when a group of writers from the Creating Believable Characters workshop went out for drinks at the end of the last day of the convention. Judith, an attractive brunette with ample breasts and seductive lips, hung onto him throughout the evening. Buying him drinks and nuzzling up to him, he figured he had her ‘in the bag’. When it came time to go back to the hotel, Miguel discovered Judith had been using him to make her girlfriend, Leslie, another convention classmate, jealous. Leslie, as it turns out, had met Hilda, who came from Norway to teach a workshop. Unfortunately for Judith, Leslie and Hilda hit it off instantly, leaving poor Judith in the lurch. Miguel ended his weekend nursing Judith back to a mental equilibrium so she could return home bruised but not battered. To this day Miguel was still miffed at the number of lesbian females who wrote romance novels.
Liam watched from over top of his reading glasses as Miguel sat down and Genevieve ran her scarlet painted nails through his hair. They were having the ‘first client’ discussion, but Liam knew there was more going on. Hmmm, Liam Irish thought, with increasing pleasure. This is going to be a hot one indeed.
With his nose in his scheduling book, Liam paid little attention to the salon door opening and closing. After a few minutes he sensed a presence and looked up with a jolt.
“What the fuck are you doing in here?” Liam asked, looking around to ensure no customers were within earshot.
“Yeah, nice to see you too, man. Came to speak to Genevieve, what the fuck do you think?”
It was Dominic, Genevieve’s old boyfriend. Liam hadn’t liked Dominic from the start. There was something dangerously uncertain about him. Liam had tried many times to identify exactly what it was when trying to convince an unhappy Genevieve to leave the jerk.
Dominic was tall and slender, but muscular, wore his long dark hair slicked back, and sported a goatee. Genevieve thought Dominic was handsome. Liam thought he looked like a gangster. But it wasn’t just his looks, as Liam knew looks can be deceiving. Dominic had attitude. He ran an online business that Liam questioned because Dominic could never show him any evidence of what exactly that online business was. Something to do with manufacturing, but what, Liam had no idea.
The friends Dominic hung out with were, in Liam’s mind, sleazy and shady. Once, when the three of them had gone out for drinks at Barney’s after work, a few of the ‘fellas’ showed up. Their conversation had been clandestine, whispered behind turned heads. Dominic’s friends circled around them as if guarding them, and when it was time to go, they pulled out wads of bills and paid the tab with cash, like they were taking care of things for Dominic. They treated him like he was the Godfather, and Liam had noticed that Dominic enjoyed it.
That was, he remembered, the first tip off that Dominic was not a good choice for his colleague, Genevieve, who Liam cared for a great deal. Although she was only ten years his junior, since hiring her, Liam had taken on the role of protecting her, as if she were a daughter. In this case, he had disliked the way Dominic had bossed Genevieve around as if he owned her. She put up with it at the beginning, being completely smitten with his looks and what seemed like his gentlemanly manners. But it soon became apparent that, what she took for manners was really macho behavior, and Liam was grateful when she tired of his ways. However, ending their two year relationship had proven difficult, and if Liam’s instincts were right, trouble had just walked into Snippets Salon.
...stay tuned...Chapter 2 of Salon Antics will be posted next Tuesday, July 19th...