“Arjun, you cannot be serious!” I look at him in confusion.
He smirks, “Priya, it’s totally up to you. I know you’ve been having trouble getting your scholarship money and pay your rent, so I think it’s a fair deal.”
“But, you can’t be serious,” I take a step backwards. “I mean, you and Sakshi…” I could never do that to my friend, irrespective of whether they were together or not.
“Up to you,” Arjun shrugs, crossing his legs. “Sakshi and I are history. I trust you to be wise if you want to pay your rent.”
I tuck my hair behind my ears, my mind at a crossroads. “What is it exactly that you are suggesting?”
“The weekend,” Arjun grins. “Friday evening through Monday morning. I’ll pick you up and drop you off. We don’t do anything purely sexual unless you consent, I promise. I give you your 1,00,000 rupees. And we forget about it, if you wish.”
I process it for a second, looking around blankly at my living room. I’d much rather take a debt, but he rejected the prospect right away.
“You promise?” I turn around to face him, biting my lip.
Without a word, he gets off the couch and walks over to me. Holding my shoulders firmly in his grip, he bends down to look at me, “I promise.”
“I mean, I honestly don’t want to take your money for free.”
“Trust me, it’s not going to be for free,” he grins. His eyes soften and he tucks a lock of hair behind my ear. “I don’t want you to keep struggling for money through the next two years until you get a job.”
“Why?” I blink. “Why me?”
His hand grazes against my jaw briefly as a slow smile creeps up on his lips. “Because I like you. You’re smart, sweet, nice. Not to mention beautiful. Beautiful legs, beautiful smile, beautiful hair,” he runs his hand through a section of my long hair that had fallen over my chest from the ponytail.
“Sex is off the table?” I can’t help but ask again.
“Then what is on the table?” I cock my head to the side.
“Everything else,” he smirks.
I gulp as I wait for Arjun at the front gate to my building. The time is nearly 6:35 and the sun is just setting. I set my carry-on bag beside me, rubbing my slightly chaffed palms along my jeans. Having never had a boyfriend despite being nearly 24, forget having sex, truth be told, I was shit scared.
A few minutes later, a silver Benz rolls along the road and stop beside me. Before I can pick up my bag, Arjun is out and grabbing it from me, walking towards the back of the car.
“I’m sorry I’m late, babe,” he says and the term of endearment catches me off-guard. I’ve always liked Arjun, but he’s been a forbidden fruit, someone unreachable.
“It’s okay,” I trail around the side of the car, unsure of whether I was making a terrible mistake. I watch him drop the bag and shut the compartment close. He walks up to me with a smile, looking amazing in his blue jeans and a white shirt.
“You look gorgeous,” he comes to a stop in front of me, eyes travelling through my body. “Thank you for dressing as I had requested.”
I tug down the hem of the white summer dress he’d sent me, fitting my upper torso really snug before bellowing out into the skirt. Little pink flowers adorn the dress and he’d asked I tie a ponytail.
“Of course,” I fidget with my fingers.
“Nervous?” he smiles.
“Don’t be,” he cups my face in his hands, leaning down towards me. “May I?”
Not sure of what exactly he was referring to, I nod, and he quickly pecks my cheek.
Blush creeps up on my entire face and he smiles, still not letting go of it. “Shall we leave?”
I nod, still nervous, but now, kind of excited.
Arjun hands me a glass of coke in the kitchen in his farmhouse. We drove for nearly an hour and while I knew he came from a well to do family, I had never expected the largesse of this house. It’s like a serene paradise away from the bustling city.
Refusing any help, he brings out the food from the microwave and starts setting the table.
“The cook and maid have left after preparing dinner,” he tells me, grabbing plates from a shelf. They will come the next two days early in the morning and leave around 8. Basically, absolutely no disturbance.”
“Cool,” I nod, unable to expect what exactly they can disturb. I watch him serve pasta into the plates and set the cutlery. He comes over to me once he’s done, as I set the now empty glass aside.
“You like Alfredo sauce, right?”
“Love it,” I smile and he grins.
“Wine?” he asks, opening the cabinet beside me.
“A little bit,” I sigh. I don’t usually drink, but a wine might just help calm me down.
“Let’s go eat, babe,” he says, bringing over two wine glasses to the table as well. Just as I’m about to sit at the table, he pulls me back by my arm.
“Hold on,” he smiles. Reaching over behind my back, he tugs the scrunchie out of my ponytail, and my hair tumbles down to the bottom of my butt. With hooded eyes, Arjun reaches and pulls my right section to the front, running his hands through it.
“I love your hair,” he twists the ends around his index finger and tugs at it.
“Thanks,” I whisper.
I think he’s about to kiss me again but he just touches my cheek with his. “You’re going to be the death of me,” he grins, pulling back. “Let’s go feed you.”
I step out of the bathroom and find Arjun in bed on his iPad.
Around 9, when we were done with dinner, I came upstairs to take the shower as per the planner he’d sent me for the day. There were only two things there, dinner and shower, and with that I expected us to be done for the day. He hadn’t sent me anything for the next two days.
Unwrapping the towel from my hair, I sit in front of the vanity and watch him watch me from the mirror. Still clad in the bathrobe, my heart skips a beat when I see him get off the bed and walk over to me.
Arjun gently takes the towel off and flings it over to the ground, getting his hands lost in my damp hair. I watch him shut his eyes. He comes over close and I become nearly breathless when I feel his hardness pressed into my back.
And that is when I understand. He likes my hair. He loves my hair. That’s why I’m here.
Like he’s sensed what I’m thinking, he opens his eyes and smiles at me from the mirror. Without a word, I watch him open the first drawer and pull out a comb and a large round brush. From the bottom, he pulls out a hair dryer. Like he’s done this with me a million times, he starts combing my hair.
But because it is so long, he makes me stand up. He parts my hair in the middle like I always do and pulls it all back. Without ever so much as a tangle, he gently smoothens it into its natural shape, going over each section multiple times, from the roots till the ends.
Once that’s done, he plugs the hairdryer into a nearby socket and whizzes it through my hair with the brush, almost like a professional. The heat crawls up my skin and given the sensuality of the situation, I begin to feel a tingle in my toes. I staunchly avoid looking at him in the mirror as he dries section by section, his attention divided between my hair and looking at me with his sultry eyes.
It takes him nearly ten minutes to dry the lot of it, but then he turns me around gently with my shoulders. I look up at him quizzically but he nods towards my overgrown bangs, lying a few inches past my collarbone. With a slow smile, he brushes through my bangs and dries them into shape. When he’s done, he sets the brush and the appliance aside, one hand running through my bangs and the other through the full length of my hair.
“So beautiful,” he murmurs, touching his forehead to mine. I stand still, heart beating ferociously against my chest as he whispers, “Your bangs need a trim.”
“Yes,” I say softly into his chest.
“Your hair too,” he says after a pause.
I look up at him as he pulls away, unable to understand what he intends to do. He runs his hands through the full section in the front until it pools to an end against my thigh and his fingers pause there for just a second longer.
“Tomorrow,” he smiles, giving me a kiss on the cheek and quickly goes out of my room.
This anticipation is going to be the death of me.
The next morning, when I wake up, I find a sticky note, along with two wrapped sandwiches and coffee in a tray at the foot of the door.
P, please dress in the sari I sent you. Leave your hair open.
I quickly take a shower and spend nearly 30 minutes trying to get the sari right. It’s a soft, light blue sari with a white sleeveless blouse that fits me perfectly. At this point, it’s not surprising to know that he sent me clothes that fit so well.
My hair is still voluminous and shiny from the blowout and I just smooth it out with a comb and apply a brownish pink lipstick. But funnily enough, I’m not as scared as I was last evening.
“Priya?” I hear him call out as I walk down the steps. The clock is just striking 12.
“Arjun? Where are you?” I look around at the bottom of the staircase. I hear footsteps and there he is, walking out from a corridor on the side, beckoning me towards him.
He whistles as I go up to him, his eyes appreciating every inch, pulling his hands out from the pockets of his jeans. “You look heavenly, babe,” he smiles, cupping my face in his hand.
His finger lingers near my lips and I have no idea where the strength came from, but I reach up onto my tiptoes, grab his black shirt to pull him down to me and give him a kiss.
My first kiss. Ever.
He looks gobsmacked and laughs when I pull away. “What was that for?” he teases.
“I don’t know,” I blush.
“My turn now,” he looks at me enquiringly and I nod. He throws one hand under my butt, pulling me up in his arms, fisting my hair at the nape with the other as he closes the distance between us. I grab onto his hair and feel the intensity through the lips.
A minute or so later, he sets me down, both of us nearly breathless. An appreciative smile takes form on his lips, and he tucks my bangs behind my ear.
“Thank you,” he squeezes my hand. “Come, I have to show you something.”
He leads me through the corridor into what looks like a library of sorts. Books line the shelves along all four walls, but Arjun takes me towards a nearly hidden door and then through a staircase to an underground den. There are a few couches along the walls and a pool table with a video game system set up. I gawk in awe, having never imagined such a set up. He comes to a halt at the end of the room, before a big door with a latch.
He turns around to me. “This room is my… secret,” he bristles. “You’re the first person I’ve ever brought here,” still holding me by my hand, he opens the door and gestures for me to go in.
Whatever I had imagined, it certainly was not this.
A large mirror lines one wall, from the top to the bottom. In front of it is a single chair, the one you find in salons, a cape slung over the armrest. There’s a similar table of sorts beside it, holding different kinds of scissors, combs and clips. On the other side of the room, there’s a table with wigs of various lengths hanging from hooks on the wall beside it, a mannequin head placed at the center of the table. There’s a stool accompanying it, probably for him as he works on the wigs. It’s not a very large room, but just enough to make you feel like it was no longer a house, but a stylist’s play area. Despite the windows being shut and curtains drawn close, the room is well lit with low ceiling yellow lights, setting off a really intimate atmosphere.
I swallow the fright that’s now creeping up my throat when I realize I’ve walked to the center of the room, towards what probably awaits me. What exactly does he plan to do?
I feel his presence behind me when he sniffs into my hair, throwing his strong arms around me, reminding me that I cannot escape now.
“I’ve been waiting so long,” I hear his murmur as he runs his hand through my waist. “Ever since I’ve seen you, nobody compares, Priya.”
I blink back silent tears at his confession, at once both scared and excited. How come I’ve never known him to be this despite an entire year of knowing him?
“I know you’re scared,” he continues. “But I promise, I’ll never hurt you.”
I know I can trust him, but I’m shit scared nevertheless. He pulls away from me a second later and guides me toward the salon chair. I climb into it a little unsteadily because of the sari and once I’m tucked in, Arjun raises the lever so all of my hair is within reach.
He said my hair and bangs needed a trim, right? That’s not so bad, maybe a few minutes at the most. I feel slightly more reassured when he grabs a comb from the counter beside and starts his meticulous combing.
“I prefer cutting dry hair,” he tells me as he runs the comb through the entire length, having to bend a little to reach it.
“Okay,” I respond. While I had never really had a preference, I certainly would have no say here.
“When was the last time you cut your hair?” he asks unexpectedly.
“About a year and a half ago.”
“You maintain it well then. I can see no split ends,” he smiles at me from the mirror and I return it. “But that was a long time ago, wasn’t it, Priya?”
“Yes,” I reply, biting my lip. “I generally trim my own hair.”
“You don’t have to anymore,” his hand reaches over to caress my neck, and I feel the heat of the sultry gaze from the mirror as he leans down into the left crook of my neck. “I’ll do it every month.”
“Okay,” I whisper, unable to say anything else.
“You’d like that?” he kisses my neck and I can no longer hold back a moan.
“Yes,” I rasp out. The second I say it, his right reaches under my sari at the waist and sends shock waves to my toes. He smiles at me through the mirror, pulling up and grasping my shoulders in a firm hold.
“Well, speaking for the weekend at least, your hair is mine,” he smiles. “As are you, babe.”
I nod meekly at him and flashing me a dazzling smile, he picks up the comb from the tray joined to my chair and begins to comb out my hair again. Just when I’m wondering if maybe he does not plan to cut at all if he loves my hair so much, he rolls the table holding the equipment to right before me.
What I had previously overlooked, I now see. There are four different types of scissors, of different sizes and when I peer closely, different types of blades as well. There is another comb with a pointy end, probably to help part better. And beside it, the thing that sends a jolt to my chest, a hair clipper.
Striving to hold back tears that threaten to jump, I avoid looking at Arjun as he moves around to my back again and combs my hair just once more.
I stay still, my heart thumping in my chest, as Arjun grabs the cape from my right and shaking it free, pulls it around me. He’s barely able to grab all of my hair with one hand before fastening the cape around my neck. Smoothening it out into its natural fall, he combs it out again. Every movement of his sends multiple electric jolts right into my toes.
“Bangs first or the rest…” he wonders aloud to himself. “Let’s do bangs,” he decides, and I gulp, the thought of my impending doom pushed further into the future. He walks over to my frontside, completely obscuring the mirror and instructs me to look down.
Taking the sectioning comb, he parts my bangs from the rest of the hair and combs it out. Pausing for a second, he tells me, “I think you’d look better if you’re bangs weren’t as thin.”
I feel him sectioning more hair and watch him hold in his hand the amount he desired, he combs it out and grabs a pair of longish scissors.
“How long were your bangs originally?”
“About jaw length,” I say softly. That was the first time I’d ever gotten bangs.
“Nah,” he smirks. “Bangs should be shorter.”
Without a word, he expertly twists the hair around to a right angle and begins to carefully cut it off. Unable to tell what length he was cutting it off, I go through a simultaneous relief and shock when the hair falls back to my face after he’s done, at about my nose length and a nearly two and half feet length of hair falls down into my lap. He ruffles my new bangs and smiles at his work, “You look so cute.”
I sneak a look at the mirror and honestly, it does look cute. Not long enough that I can pull it away in a ponytail, but not short enough that it would stay out of my eyes.
Like he’s read my thoughts again, Arjun follows my eyes to the mirror. “Depending on how your hair ends up, or if you feel too irritated pushing it out of your eyes, we’ll go shorter.”
I nod mutely. Depending on how your hair ends up.
Oh, dear god.
“I figure you must be hungry,” he sets his stuff on the table. “We’ll continue after.”
He gently tugs the cape off me and I watch the hair swirl to the ground.
Helping me up gently, he leads me back to the dining room.
I jerk awake when I feel like I’m falling my dream. The idyllic atmosphere and the heavy lunch we had had lulled me into a sleep and the last thing I remember was Arjun’s arm around my waist as he also slipped into a nap with me.
When I turn around to face him with a smile, I see him playing with the ends of the braid I’d made before falling asleep, leaning against the headboard.
“What’s the time?” I stretch with a yawn.
“Nearly 6,” he grins. “You just did not want to wake up.”
I smile sheepishly. “Shall I go shower?”
“There’s something I want to do, come,” he lets go of my braid and beckons me towards the washroom.
Standing in front of the wash basin, his eyes bore into me hungrily from the back.
“Strip,” he commands and after a slight hesitation. I remove the sari off my left shoulder. I unwrap it slowly, my eyes downcast and cheeks burning with embarrassment. Nearly a couple of minutes later, I manage to unwound it completely and fling it to the hanger a couple of feet away. I still can’t look at him.
“The skirt goes too,” I hear his husky voice close to me and with shaking hands, untie it from side and step out of it. The minute I do so, Arjun’s hands grab onto each butt cheek with a force that has me knocked against the basin cabinet with a gasp. I can feel his erection under his jeans through my bare skin and hold back a moan when he kisses the sweet spot on my neck.
While my braid had come slightly unkempt at my crown, it was still quite neat and tidy down the length. Arjun runs his hands down through it once before opening a drawer under the basin and pulling out a pair of scissors.
I swear this man has scissors lying around all over his house!
“This will be uneven but I’ll clean it up later,” he whispers into my ear, before pulling over my braid to my front side and then locking me in his arms. I blink at him, caged as the way I was, my braid falling past the counter into the basin. He towers over me, then bends slightly, so our cheeks touch and I feel his hard length pressed into my panties.
With easy access, he grasps my braid in his left hand and clutches the scissors in the right. Bringing the end of my braid up to eye level, he starts cutting bits off from the ends an inch at a time, maintaining consistent eye contact with me.
I begin to feel a wetness between my thighs at the display and look away for a second, but he carefully nudges my face back again.
“You have to look.”
I gulp and nod as I watch him cut through the open end of my braid, the basin slowly filling up with hair half an inch long. He does it excruciatingly slowly and each cut only makes me want to moan louder. About five minutes later, he’s finally done, he pulls over my braid back again, with the scrunchie I’d used now at the very end of my hair, lying a few inches down the top of my butt. He’d only effectively cut off maybe three inches off. He then gently slips the scrunchie off, backing away from me.
“We’ll have dinner at 9.”
“I can throw it away,” I say that night, but Arjun takes my plate with a smile.
“Let me pamper you while I can.”
I bite my lip and fidget in the red halter neck dress he’d given me to wear for the night, realizing our time together was slowly coming to an end. I’d washed my hair, and while it was slightly uneven at the bottom, it was alright, now in the bun as he’d instructed, exposing my neck and nearly half my back completely.
The clock strikes ten when he loads the dishes into the dishwasher and wipes his hands with a napkin. I lean against the kitchen counter watching his every move as he slowly turns to me and walks over, coming to a stop in front of me when he effectively locks me with his arms.
My bangs fall into my eyes for the thousandth time that day and he smiles.
“That reminds me,” he tucks them back in again before the inevitable swing back, with a mock look of surprise. “I have to give you a haircut.”
I bite my lip, anticipation sending waves down my stomach again and he takes me back to his lair. There’s a swing in his step, like he just can’t wait.
And that’s when I know, it was something big.
He seats me in the salon chair again, easily wrapping the cape around me now that my hair was up in a bun. He pulls the pin holding my bun in place and my hair goes tumbling down past the chair.
“You know, I almost don’t feel like cutting this beauty,” he sighs, weighing it in his hand. “But more than that feeling, I want to cut it. So much more.”
I blink at him like a deer caught in headlights through the mirror.
He grabs a comb from the table where he left it, and starts combing through it again. “You wear mostly pony tails right?” he asks without looking up.
“Yeah,” I give a small nod.
“Well,” he smirks, “I doubt you can now.”
Tears spring to my eyes and threaten to fall down at that statement. I sniff, trying to stay strong, and at the sound he looks up and his eyes soften.
“Babe, no,” he cocks his head to the side. “Don’t do this to me, Priya.”
I bite my lip and look away.
“I have to do this,” he sighs. “I just,” he shakes his head. “You have no idea how badly I’ve wanted this. How much I’ve dreamed. And I know you’re going to look beautiful.”
I clear my throat unable to reply. I can feel his hard stare on me as I avoid looking at him, and he says, “Pass me that scissors. The second one from the right.”
With shaking hands, I reach over and hand it to him. As he takes it, he gives me a smile, his eyes domineering. “Don’t move,” he instructs, positioning my head.
He starts to clip away and given the fact that I cannot see and the length of my hair, I have no idea how much he’s cutting off. I can only feel the gentle tugs as he lifts a section and drops it back, but I daren’t even lift my head up to look at the mirror. This goes on for five whole minutes, when I hear consistent snipping and feel the tugs and the combing until he sighs and stops.
Only then do I look up to see him viewing his work, from a distance, his arms crossed, eyes flashing.
“Get up,” he calls, walking over to my side as he unpins the cape.
My heart does a little dance. The ordeal is over. I climb off the chair and swing my hair, now coming to rest at the top of my butt. I look at him in the mirror as Arjun walks over to my back, lifting my hair up and smiles at me.
“Now for the fun part,” he grins. “Sit on the stool, Priya.”
Confused, I walk over and comply. He rolls the table over to the stool, and that’s when it hits me. It’s not over not yet.
“I want to clean up your hairline,” his steady voice comes from behind me. Before I understand what’s happening, he fastens a tight strip around my neck.
“Arjun, what are you doing?” I ask finally, getting flustered. He then throws the cape over me, fastening it swiftly.
“What?” he asks.
“This thing at my neck,” I turn around to face him. He smiles, adjusting my face forward again.
“That’s a neck strip babe,” he tells me. “I’m going to clean up your hairline.”
I don’t understand what he means but he doesn’t give me a second to ponder, quickly gathering all of my hair from above the curve he draws down from the top of my ear, across my nape and back up the other ear with a sectioning comb, securing it with a clip on the top. It flops down my face, completely obscuring my view and I feel lost, in every sense.
“Arjun…” I begin but he interrupts me.
“Babe, I said don’t move,” he chides. “I don’t want to cut you.”
And then out of the corner of my eye, I see him grab a razor from the table. Small and black, I had never realized it was there.
He’s shaving me.
I take a deep breath as I feel the razor scraping at the back of my neck, my ear tingling when I feel the cold of the blade against it. He goes through the area in small strokes, lightly spraying some water from the bottle as he goes. The sensation feels alien to me and while I can’t say I didn’t like it, I felt scared for what was to come.
Once he’s done ‘cleaning’ it as he called it, he wipes through the area. Involuntarily, I turn around and see a small clump of long hair at the foot of the stool.
“I think, we should push it up a little,” he says, cocking his head to the side.
“Your hairline,” he tells me, pulling the clip from my hair.
“Arjun, please,” I beg. “Please…”
“Priya don’t do this,” I sense the irritation in his voice as he picks the sectioning comb again and I wince when he accidentally jabs the pointy end into my head. I feel him doing the same thing again from one ear, but this time he sections my hair right below the occipital bone and clips the rest away. That’s not a little, it was at least an inch and a half above my hairline. He is clearly pissed.
“Arjun,” I begin again, turning backwards but he grabs my shoulders in an iron grip and turns me around swiftly, cutting me off with a, “Shut up.”
I feel him gathering the the hair into a ponytail and securing it with an elastic. “A keepsake,” I hear him murmur and feel the cold blade of the scissors against my nape, right above the elastic. The feel of the scissors so close to my head sends me into a terror of sorts and I wait with baited to hear the end of the scrunching motion. The short locks tickle my nape as they’re freed from the wrath of the blade.
In a second, I hear a whirring sound and realize he’s using the clippers now. With the same strength as before, he pushes my head down into my chest and keeps it there in a strong grip while setting the blade of the clippers at the line and running it down.
Tears flow freely from my eyes over the cape when I realize I’m completely at his mercy, in every sense. The whirring sensation feels alien, pleasurable and nerve wracking all at the same time. It only takes a few swipes for the clippers to do their job and I hold back a sigh of relief when Arjun shuts it off.
Without even giving me a chance to wonder what he’s doing, I feel him spray water at the buzzed area and realize he’s shaving it now. Soon enough, he bends my head down to my chest again and slowly shaves off the area. This takes considerably more time than the first when he was just shaving away from the hairline and I wait with baited as he first goes behind my ear, finishes my nape and then behind the other ear. He then wipes it clean like before.
Surprisingly enough, when he is done, he pauses at my side. Grabbing the sectioning comb again, he pries some hair keeping the bun intact along my front hairline. He begins from a centimeter above my ear and sections towards a level on the other side, creating a perfect curve along my crown without any ridges, pulling out the hair from the bun as he moved.
I keep my breathing low and my eyes closed, when I feel his hand tightly separating the stray hair from my bangs at the top of my head.
“Priya,” he cautions again. “Don’t move.”
I gulp when I feel the blade moving a little bit of the hair from my bangs, then progressing towards my left ear, once he’d sprayed it lightly. He’d sectioned off quite a bit above my ear and I feel the wetness in my crotch only growing. He continues the same along the other side and then wipes a cloth over my temples as always.
Once he’s done, he ruffles my bangs again with a smile and then tuts. “Right, the bangs.”
Grabbing the comb off the table, he smooths down my bangs down my face until the very end of my nose.
“I always knew I’d give you short bangs at the end,” he chuckles. “It’s going to look so good on you.”
Short? Short? How short?
Before I can even internally freak out, I hear the whir of the clippers and his words, “Don’t move babe.”
I feel the clippers pressed against the top line of my eyebrow, not even a millimeter between the two. Had it been any lower, I’d have lost some of it for sure. Two inch locks slight down my lips and into my lap.
Arjun goes along my forehead and he only needs to press it thrice against my it to get the job done. Switching it off, he grabs a pair of thinning scissors and goes along bangs, giving it a soft look. Having gone through completely, he swipes them to the side and smiles.
“Looks good on you.”
I know better than to think it’s over now.