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His gaze was intense. His face was flushed, just inches away from mine. I returned his gaze, contracting my muscles to squeeze his cock as much as I could. I saw the flash of a smile and felt him thrust against the increased resistance. There was an unspoken truce as I relaxed and he eased into a gentler rhythm. His right hand went to my throat, squeezed a little, demonstrated the power that he had over me. He squeezed a bit harder, not enough to choke me, but hard enough to excite me. He brought his other hand up, supporting his weight on his elbows. His hands framed my face, eased my hair backwards. I imagined what he was looking at, just my face, the flesh of the backs of his hands forming a cowl out of his skin. I was a nun, my hair covered, removing temptation from any man. The one problem with this scenario was the man lying on top of me, each thrust of his hips making me gasp. It was anything but a rejection of temptation.

‘You look good like that’ he said.

‘With you on top of me?’

‘With your hair off your face’ he replied. He thrust into me a little harder.

‘I can tie it back if you like’ I said, thinking that this wasn’t the best time to be talking fashion. I was moments away from cumming and wanted to be concentrating on that. I wanted to savour the first time with him. He’d put a lot of effort in. I knew it was going to be good. My breath was coming more rapidly, his thrusts starting to drive me into the mattress.

‘You should cut it’ he said, the effort starting to show on his face. He was really going for it now. I was getting louder and louder. I didn’t care. He was good, wave after wave of wondrousness was coursing through me. It had been a while since that had happened, not that various suitors hadn’t tried in recent times, they just hadn’t excited me the way that Mick had. His hands were away from my head, his body went taut and he froze, his cock deep inside me. I hoped that the condom had held, but if it hadn’t, there was the prospect of us having just conceived the most vigorous baby ever!

He rolled off me and caught his breath, a hand resting on my stomach. That was what “afterglow” was all about, I thought as I wallowed in the aftermath. The sound of our laboured breathing filled the room, relenting progressively as we recovered and then slipped into the oblivion of sleep. We seemed to wake around the same time.

Mick got out of bed and headed for the shower, not enquiring whether I wanted to go in first. Despite my mild annoyance at his lack of manners, I was glad of the chance of a few extra minutes to lie quietly and revisit the previous evening. I lay there, serene, peaceful, listening to the cascading water and then Mick was back, picking his jeans up off the floor, getting a fresh shirt out of the wardrobe. I watched him get dressed, apparently oblivious to my presence in his bed.

‘I’ve got to go out. Make sure you give the door a good pull when you leave’ he said coldly.

That was it. He left. Not even a “thanks for the fuck”. Mick had started as a one night stand and it looked like he was going to end as a one night stand. I couldn’t really complain, I had had a good time, way better than I could remember, but I had no idea why he shut me out like that. I would have loved to do it again, but he was clearly in the “treat ’em mean” school of thought and I didn’t really appreciate that. He wasn’t the only guy with a cock, even if he was better at doing things with it than every guy that I had encountered so far in my life.

I showered and dressed, looking round the room before I left. I didn’t leave a note, I didn’t even feel the need to make the bed. I walked down the street, the spring in my step tempered by a distinct feeling of rejection. I looked at myself in the shop windows as I went past. I was wearing a simple dress that projected a modest image to the world, while still showing that I was trim with a firm backside and a good pair of boobs. I hadn’t had a chance to ask Mick what it was about me that attracted him most. Maybe it was my legs, I had a decent pair of pins I’d always thought. It certainly wasn’t my long, dark hair from what he’d said while we were going at it. I’d taken good care of it, was proud of it and there he was saying that I should cut it. I’d tied it back after my shower this morning, so I was able to see reasonably well what he had been looking at when his hands were framing my face. I looked different than when it was loose, obviously, but that’s all it was. I didn’t think it was better or worse, it was just the same picture in a different frame.

My last boyfriend had had a thing about my hair. He’d liked to be whipped with it while I knelt over him. That did nothing for me at all and just gave me a headache.

It was probably the main reason for us splitting up after three months, even though he was kind and funny and everything that I should be looking for. On the other hand, Mick said I had too much and turned out to be a bit of a shit. In typical fashion, the sex was way better with the shit.

I hadn’t realised that I had stopped and was essentially preening in front of a shop window. A wolf-whistle brought me back into the room and for once I was grateful for the interest shown.

I went and found a coffee shop to get some breakfast, surprising myself with how hungry I was. I must have burned up a good bit of energy last night and intended to replace every last calorie. I mused over my dilemma while I ate my croissant. The nice guy liked my long hair, the mean guy didn’t. As for me, I wasn’t really bothered one way or the other. I’d had worn long hair since I was at school and just never really thought about it too much. It was there, I had it trimmed, I fed it every now and again to keep it looking healthy, but was now starting to wonder why. I stepped back through the past few boyfriends and realised that there was very little to choose between them. In fact, the only thing that differentiated them was the interest shown in my long hair by the last one. Apart from that they were kind and gentle and attentive and boring. None of them put a hand on my throat, none of them made me cum like I had last night. I might not be too happy about being discarded along with the used condom, but I did want to experience the same sort of intensity again. The honey trap that I was setting out was attracting too many of the wrong sort, so the obvious thing to do was to change the bait. I finished my breakfast and went to the bathroom.

I stood in front of the mirror and positioned my hands the way that Mick had, covering all traces of my tied-back hair. It did look different from the reflection that I had been looking at in the shop windows. I could get used to it, I decided. Somebody tried the handle. That was the downside of mall coffee shops, only one toilet. I wafted my hands under the dryer and went out.

I thought about going home to get changed into something more casual. The only preparation that I had made for not going home last night was the traditional fresh pair of knickers in the handbag, but I really felt like I would rather be in jeans and a shirt than a dress. I decided that it was too much effort and I probably wouldn’t want to come back out if I went home. I headed down the street, my mind whirling with memories that in some cases were best forgotten. It was rarely a good idea to rake over the embers of old relationships and I had certainly sparked some stuff back to life that should have stayed untouched. I told myself to stop it, to think no farther back than last night and what had probably been the “ride of my life”.

I smiled as I replayed the evening once again, from the moment that Mick struck up a conversation when I was buying a bottle of vodka to take to Carol’s house, to texting Carol to tell her that something had come up and that I wouldn’t be able to make it after all. Mick had taken me to a bar and his easy charm meant that I raised no real objection to the hand on my thigh within ten minutes of sitting down. He’d met my attempt at a stare of disapproval by slipping his fingertips under the hem of my dress as a declaration of intent. I’d told him to take his hand off me and to take me home. We didn’t speak again until we were in bed. It was wild, it was something I’d never done before and something that I would normally frown upon. I would always make a guy work for the prize, make him wait four or five dates at least, but for some reason, I just wanted Mick and was prepared to let my moral compass drop to the floor along with my knickers.

I walked through the mall, glancing in at the sterile-looking hair salon as I went past. It was glossy, it was empty. It was going to stay that way as far as I was concerned. It just wasn’t enticing in any way. I detoured into a couple of clothes shops, the sort of shops that I wouldn’t normally go in. I looked at clothes that I thought were a little bolder than I would normally wear, lower cut, tighter fitting. I looked at the lingerie section, smiling as it got progressively naughtier the farther back you went. By the time I got to the far wall, I was looking at split-crotch this, split-crotch that, sex toys, all manner of things that I wouldn’t have expected to see in a High Street shop. I retraced my steps back to respectability.

I exhausted everything that the mall had to offer and went back out to the street. After a couple of minutes, I came to a hair salon that looked interesting, unlike the antiseptic place in the mall. It wasn’t somewhere that I knew, my usual salon was the other side of town, which let me think of this salon as being on the dark side. It was quite small, but appeared to be perfectly formed. I went in.

The woman at reception smiled at me, flashing a generous side-cut in an otherwise perfect blonde bob.

‘Hi’ I said.

‘Hi’ she replied with a smile. Who was going to blink first, I wondered. I smiled at her.

‘Do I need an appointment?’ I asked.

‘Not very often’ she replied, smiling at me again. Either she was simple-minded or she had a quirky sense of humour. I really hoped that it was the latter.

‘Is now one of the times when I don’t need an appointment?’ I asked.

‘Maybe’ she replied, her smile broadening. I matched her smile, starting to think about leaving.

‘It’s a spur of the moment thing, so if you can’t do it, the moment might pass’ I said.

‘In that case, come on in’ she said. ‘I’m Mel, by the way’ she said.

‘Chrissie’ I replied, walking past the reception desk and into the salon proper. There was a row of four chairs, but she was the only stylist that I could see.

‘It’s very quiet, isn’t it?’ I said, trying to work out where she wanted me.

‘It’s a bit early yet. It’ll pick up just before lunch’ she said, standing behind the far chair. I put my bag down and took a seat. I could see her looking at me in the way that hairdressers do. She removed the band that was holding my hair and fanned it out over my shoulders.

‘So what’s this urge that’s come over you?’ she asked, running her hands through my hair before resting them on my shoulders.

‘I was thinking that it might be time to go short’ I replied.

‘What’s made you think that?’ she asked.

‘I realised that I couldn’t remember when I did anything different with my hair. People expect to see me with long dark hair. I expect to see me with long dark hair. I was thinking that maybe it’s time to shake everyone up, myself included.’ I saw her nodding as I spoke.

‘It’s beautiful hair, but I know what you mean’ she replied, her hands back in my tresses once more.

‘I was wondering if you had any suggestions’ I said.

‘We need to decide how brave you are first. “Short” means different things to different people. We cut men’s hair here too, so you need to be careful what you ask for’

she counselled.

‘I definitely want it off my face’ I said, thinking of Mick’s hands framing my head, obscuring any trace of my hair from his sight.

‘You could do that with a ponytail’ she said, gathering my hair in her hand to illustrate the suggestion, ignoring the fact that I had walked in with a ponytail.

‘That’s too easy. I need to feel different’ I said.

‘Okay, I can do that’ she said. She moved away and came back almost immediately holding a shiny grey gown which she swirled over me expertly. Although we’d got off to a slightly quirky start, I liked her. She was probably in her early forties, attractive without being a stunner and clearly had a good sense of humour. I saw her watching me in the mirror, could see her weighing up her options.

‘Right, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do’ she said. She was more animated than she had appeared up until now. ‘I’m going to cut this off and then we’ll get creative,

how does that sound?’ she said, holding my ponytail in her hand.

‘Interesting. Exciting. Scary’ I replied.

‘You can close your eyes if you want’ she said. ‘I’m going to cut your ponytail with electric clippers. It makes it easier and it let’s you know I’m serious’ she said

with a smile. She squeezed my shoulder and picked up an elastic band from the ledge in front of me. She twisted my hair into a ponytail again. I felt it pull. It was

tighter than I would do it myself, the band close to my head. It would sort out any budding wrinkles in my face, that was for sure. She looked at me in the mirror and

then plucked her clippers from the hook where they had been taunting me ever since she had mentioned them. I smiled nervously. Why was I doing this? Just because a guy that I’d never see again said that I should? Possibly, but it was something else too. It was a way of climbing out of the rut that I’d slipped into. That was why I was going out with cookie-cutter guys, who differed only by name and not always then. I’d gone out with two Peters in the past three years, although at this distance, I’d struggle to know which was which. That wasn’t good. I needed to do this.

I heard an electrical hum from behind me, felt a tug and then a sort of twisting, pulling, tugging sensation. Then I felt nothing. I saw Mel in the mirror, clippers in one hand, my ponytail in the other. She swished it in front of me. I tried to work out what I felt, seeing it there on its own, free from me. I looked at my reflection, looked at the way my hair tried to pretend that nothing had happened. It had fallen into a sort of rough bob around my face. It was me, just with shorter hair.

‘No tears?’ Mel asked.

‘No it’s fine. It needed to be done.’

‘That’s good, you wouldn’t believe some of the wailing I hear when I do that sometimes.’

‘I’m relieved that it’s done’ I said.

‘Now what do you want to do?’ she asked.

‘I thought you had a plan’ I replied.

‘I’ve got ideas, but I don’t think you’d like them’ she replied.

‘Try me’ I challenged.

‘Well, you know I said we do men’s hair. I’ve been looking at you and I really think you should consider going that short.’

‘That’s funny. Someone suggested that to me yesterday. It’s what made me think about coming in.’

‘I don’t think they would have meant as short as I’m thinking’ she countered.

‘I wouldn’t bet on it’ I replied, the thought of Mick’s hands round my face coming back to my mind.

‘And you still came in?’ she said.

‘YOLO, as the young people say’ I said. She looked at me, baffled. ‘You only live once’ I clarified. She nodded.

Mel laid my ponytail on the counter in front of the next styling station. Out of my direct line of sight, but I could still look at it if I wanted. I wasn’t sure that I did. It was the past, it was gone. I hadn’t seen her put the clippers down and tried to second guess her vision for me as she leant in closer and picked up a small plastic comb from the shelf in front of me, one of several that had been sitting there. I stared at the clippers when she brought them up and fixed the comb on the front. She wasn’t finished with them yet. What did I think about that?

‘Have you ever had a boyfriend who had his hair cut with these?’ she asked, holding the clippers higher so that I could be in doubt as to what she meant.

‘I’ve been out with them all, long hair, short hair, no hair’ I admitted. I waited for a look of disapproval, but none came.

‘Forget the long-haired ones. Were any of them bristly?

‘A couple.’

‘What did you think?’

‘I’m not with either of them anymore, that says it all’ I replied with a conspiratorial smile.

‘What did you think about their hair?’

‘I didn’t give it much thought. I’d only ever known them with their hair like that, so I don’t know if I’d have preferred them with different hair.’

‘And you’ve nothing against bald guys?’

‘Only when they screw my best friend at a wedding’ I replied.

‘That does tend to colour your judgement a bit, I suppose’ she replied. She was still holding the clippers. She was waiting.

‘Do you want to give it a go?’ she asked eventually.

I looked at her, my eyes wide.

‘That’s surprised you, hasn’t it?’ she asked.

‘No. Yes, I’ve never thought about it’ I stammered, even though the sight of her standing there with clippers at the ready had already made me think that it was a possibility. I just hadn’t had time to form an opinion on the prospect of having them run over my head. What would that attachment leave me with?

‘Think about it. It’ll definitely keep your hair off your face, it’ll create a totally new “you”, you’ll surprise people, you’ll surprise yourself. YOLO’ she said, smiling at her use of her new acronym.

‘You really think so?’ I asked. Mick was in my mind, his hands cupping my head. My ponytail was several feet from me. I wasn’t the same Chrissie that had walked in. I was already a shorter-haired version of that Chrissie, closer to the one that Mick pictured. Mick the piston, Mick the bastard, Mick who made me cum like no-one ever had.

She flicked the switch on the clippers to signal her intent. I put a hand to my face, while I thought. I could see Mick’s face inches from my own, see his intensity, feel his intensity.

‘YOLO’ I said.

There was no need to send out an invitation. Mel replied immediately, touching the clippers to the back of my neck in