This story is a continuation from here.
Gabriel inhaled deeply and looking down at the girl strapped on the barber chair. Rachel was now a sobbing mess. She cried her heart out as she watched her long Rapunzel-like hair shorn off mercilessly with scissors and clippers.
And the haircut was nothing average. It was downright brutal—a knee-length hair forcefully reduced down to shortest pixie with buzzed nape and sides while she sat helplessly bound to the chair.
Gabriel bent down a little and wiped away her tears with the heel of his hand. “Rachel, stop crying, girlie. Believe me…I am doing this to keep you safe.” His voice was strangely sympathetic towards her.
“You…you kidnapped me. You cut my hair,” Rachel whimpered accusingly. “How the hell am I safe with you? I want to go home. Please, let me go.”
Gabriel couched down, placing his huge, masculine hands on her thighs. “I owe you a lot of explanations. And I promise you, I will answer every question you have. But right now, I am going to untie you and take you somewhere comfortable. Will you promise to cooperate?”
Rachel wanted to scream ‘no’ but she knew she was powerless against him. But the fact that he was giving her a choice—whatever little it was—made her nod in acquiescence. And Gabriel, in return, lovingly smiled at her while he untied her hands and legs and helped her out of the chair.
Rachel struggled to stand on her own and her wobbly legs gave away making her collide against Gabriel’s masculine frame. And he wasted no time in picking her up in his arms and carrying her into a huge bedroom. Rachel sat on the bed, hugging her knees pressed against her chest and buried her head. He gave the girl a moment or two to gather herself and then sauntered closer. Stroking her freshly cut hair, he lifted her face and turned her towards the mirror—placed on the opposite side of the bed.
Rachel couldn’t recognize herself. She felt as if an unknown woman was staring back at her reflection. Her hands unconsciously reached up to feel her buzzed nape and sides. It was almost nothing except for the soft stubble. She gently ran her fingers around the crown area, exploring the short hair which was reduced to one-and-half-inches, as per the instructions of Gabriel. Fresh tears oozed out of her tired, red eyes while Gabriel held her firmly in his arms.
“Why?” she whispered against his chest.
“Shh. I will tell you everything, Rachel. All in good time,” he coaxed, helping her down on the soft mattress and pulled the comforter over her body.
“Why don’t you lie down for some time, sweet girl? And once you wake up, we will have the long pending conversation. Okay?”
Rachel blinked, unable to form a coherent reply. Her mind was clouded and she found herself struggling in a daze. He’d bemused her completely. On one hand, she was kidnapped and forcefully shorn while on the other hand, he fed her and made her feel comfortable.
Gabriel pressed a quick kiss on her forehead and walked out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Rachel rested her head against the pillow and drifted to sleep, against her best judgment, as exhaustion took over her body and mind.
She woke up several hours later as sun rays illuminated the bedroom, spreading its warmth. As she groaned and forced herself to sit up, her eyes gaped when Gabriel came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. She quickly averted her gaze, turning away. The man merely smirked and walked into the closet silently.
What a sweet, innocent girl, he thought. Little does she know how much had he waited to save her from her wretched stepmother.
“Rachel, we need to talk,” Gabriel said, setting the newspaper aside on the breakfast table.
Rachel was very compliant, for a captive, and had showered and stepped down for breakfast. It wasn’t like she didn’t want to escape, but she didn’t know how. The house was awfully guarded and Gabriel hardly left her side. Although he was more than polite in his behavior, she was well aware of his dominance and temper. Also, she had no idea of her own address or the place where she was presently held. Questions rattled her mind as she absentmindedly chewed on the bacon when a deep, rich voice suddenly startled her.
“Rachel?” Gabriel said again, his voice a little gruff this time.
“Huh? Sorry, I was…what were you saying?” she asked meekly.
“What do you know about your step-mother?”
“She…” Rachel struggled for sometime before whispering, “I want to go home.”
Gabriel drew in a long breathe and looked sternly at her. It was about time to let her know about the reality of her situation, the truth behind her abduction and the necessity for the haircut to change her look.
“I asked you a question, Rachel. Please answer that. If I have to ask you again, this conversation won’t be as pleasant as of now.”
Rachel gulped. She steeled her nerves and managed to mumble, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
“That’s what I thought.” Gabriel pinched his nose and began explaining her the whole situation. “Our fathers—yours and mine— were best friends, almost brothers. While your father ran a very successful business of a clothing line, my father was into automobile production. You were an infant when your mother passed away, shortly after your father married Olivia. It was after their marriage, your father realized she was nothing but a vicious, gold digger. Sadly, he didn’t realize until your step-mother killed him.”
Rachel gasped in horror. But Gabriel quickly placed his hand on hers and continued. “Olivia thought, as his wife, she would be the one taking over the business. But what she didn’t know was that your father made a different arrangement already. He named you—his only blood and heir—as the successor who would have complete legal rights once you reach the age of twenty-five. And till then Olivia would only be your legal guardian and trustee and nothing else.”
“This is the very reason she kept you alive so that the moment you turn twenty-five, she would then coerce you to transfer everything in her name and probably kill you, too.”
“How…how do you know so much?” she asked in a croaked voice.
“My father was out of the country the night your father was killed. Just before his death, he managed to call my father, pleading him to take you away from her. But you were merely a child. Olivia did her best to keep you hidden until a few days ago. The only problem was that we didn’t know how you looked or anything other details. You only existed in paper and I was tasked to track you down.”
“So you are saying that she wants to kill me?”
“Yes. But she can’t reach you anymore. You will stay here, with me, hidden. But I don’t want to restrict you to a room, Rachel. I want you to have the freedom you have missed in all these years. And about the haircut,” he cleared his throat, “consider it a little sacrifice for your freedom. You are unrecognizable to naked eyes with this hair but nevertheless, beautiful and feminine.”
“How long do I have to stay hidden?”
“Two years, until you turn twenty-five and take over the control of your father’s business that is rightfully yours.”
Rachel took the whole morning and afternoon off, pondering again and again over the conversation she had with Gabriel. He gave her enough proof to believe that he wasn’t the enemy for sure but at some level, he intimidated her. Several rules were also laid down for her as long as she stayed under his protection. While none of the rules were ridiculous or cruel, she dreaded when he declared about her monthly haircuts.
A month passed by with Rachel settling down in the house. She’d found herself happy and content with her newfound freedom. She was allowed to go anywhere and everywhere but with a bodyguard. Gabriel was also getting used to the warm presence of the beautiful girl in his house and found himself being too protective of her well-being.
Meanwhile, her stepmother was desperate to find her but had no clue of her location.
About two months later, one day Gabriel walked into her bedroom unceremoniously. “Can you get ready in half an hour?”
Rachel glanced up from the book in her hands and furrowed her brows. “Are we going somewhere?”
“Yes. I made an appointment with John last week. Your hair has grown out, Rachel. It’s time for a trim,” he announced.
Rachel, somehow, made her peace with the last, drastic haircut she had received and was slowly getting comfortable. But to be shorn again in a barber chair filled her with a new dreadful sensation. Her stomach dropped at his announcement. She chewed her lip nervously, unable to refuse the direct command of Gabriel as the man didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
“Gabriel, my hair is still short. Can we please skip this month?”
He stepped closer and regarded her with a stern look. “No. You are getting a haircut today, Rachel, and that’s final. Now it is up to you how you want it to happen. You can come with me to the barbershop or we can strap you down and give you a haircut. Now, how do you want it to be?” His voice was dangerously calm and low, leaving no room for an argument.
Rachel scowled for a moment but complied. She got ready and hopped into his SUV. Gabriel for a moment considered taking her to a salon rather than a barbershop but he knew John too well to trust him with her haircut. The first time when John had suggested giving her the haircut, Gabriel couldn’t believe how drastic yet wonderful it’d looked.
Long hair was always associated with a woman’s beauty but Rachel was an exception. In fact, to a large extent, Rachel was starting to accept the fact that she looked exquisite without her long hair.
Gabriel entered John’s barbershop with Rachel. To her surprise, the place looked as magnificent as any salon or spa, not that she was very aware of. It was a unisex barbershop but she looked around to find most of them are getting an extremely short haircut. It was unknown to her that John’s Barbershop was renowned for shortest haircut and hairstyling in the city.
“Gabriel,” John greeted him with a smile and then turned to her. “How have you been, Rachel?”
“Good,” she answered shyly.
“Gabriel already booked an appointment for you. Why don’t you both make yourself comfortable on the couch there? I’ll be shortly with you guys.”
“Sure,” Gabriel replied and placed a hand on the smell of her back, gently ushering her towards the couch.
Rachel sat beside Gabriel, wringing her clammy hands on her lap. Her eyes fell on the chair where a girl sat with her long mid-waist hair cascading down the white cape tightly tied around her neck. It reminded her so much of herself that she couldn’t take her eyes off. A barber stood behind the chair and gathered the girl’s hair in a low ponytail before brushing the length carefully.
Rachel held her breath in anticipation. The barber retrieved a shiny pair of scissors and placed ponytail between the blades. Very slowly, the blades snapped open and close, making a scrunch-noise on its way, and severed off the semi-long, thick mane off her head. Rachel finally exhaled, bewildered at the sight of the long hair being chopped off within a minute. To her utter surprise, the girl smiled at the barber through the mirror—expressing her satisfaction.
How could she smile? Rachel thought. The girl’s hair was now merely a medium bob. The barber started combing the short length once again, parted the hair into four parts and then picked up a comb and clipper in his hand. Rachel understood that the haircut had just begun. The man lifted a section of hair on her back, leaving an inch or so from the scalp, and simply ran the clippers while hair rained down unceremoniously.
Lift. Clip. Repeat.
This method continued again and again until her back was reduced to nothing but an inch. Next, the barber deftly reduced the sides to an inch as well. The girl smiled once again when the barber ran his fingers through the freshly-shorn areas. Clearly, she was enjoying the haircut contrary to what Rachel imagined.
He resumed the haircut around the crown. He lifted a section with his fingers, leaving a small portion from the scalp and cut it off in a snap. The severed hair coiled down her face onto her lap, joining the rest of the clippered hair. He worked on her crown and front with the utmost precision, carefully taking each section and snipping it off. After that, the already short hair was blended with the back, sides, and front. Finally, when he took a fine-tooth brush and combed the hair.
He bent down slightly and whispered something into her ears, making her grin happily as she nodded. Rachel could not understand and gape blankly at them. Next, he was walking toward a tray and picked up a large clipper in his hand. Walking back, he positioned himself behind her once again. Rachel gnawed on her lower lip nervously, as if she was the one on the chair. He placed the left hand on the girl’s head, gently pushed it down, touching her chin to her chest. The clippers hummed to life and he plunged them into her hairline—slowly and steadily climbing upwards. Ruthlessly, the clippers mowed through her hair raining tufts of hair all over her neck.
The barber slowly lifted her head, allowing her this time to watch her short hair being shorn to nothing. He folded her ears and ran the clippers around it and all over the temple while the girl watched with absolute delight. Rachel was shocked at how gracefully she was enjoying her head being buzzed. The barber cupped her chin with one hand, fixing her eyes straight into the mirror, and then he ran the clipper from the crown to the front. The girl closed her eyes—not out of fear but thrill and pleasure—relishing her head being buzzed as snippets of hair rained down her face. The barber made several passes—again and again—until her head was nothing but buzzed down to stubble.
Rachel, now, was completely in awe and watched the haircut with rapt attention. The ecstasy of watching a woman being shorn was a completely new experience and she didn’t realize that the thrill would be so enchanting. Her attention didn’t falter for once. She watched how the barber spread the shaving foam around the hairline and sides and carefully scraped the straight razor. Now, the sides and back were shaved clean while the top of the head had buzzed hair. It was an extreme haircut for a woman, but the way the girl was smiling from ear to ear made Rachel curious and slightly enthusiastic.
Rachel wanted to feel the pleasure of the vibrating clipper buzzing her neck and sides. For the first time, after entering John’s barbershop, she was slightly looking forward to her haircut. Although the apprehension of getting her head shorn didn’t leave her mind—she was willing.
While Rachel was engrossed watching the girl buzzed, Gabriel looked at her intently. He sensed her fear as well as the enthusiasm of receiving the impending haircut. And nothing made him more excited than this. Gabriel was planning for a shorter haircut for her this time as he loved her in short hair more than anything. But this time he wanted Rachel to be willing and eager to bend her head to be shorn.
John appeared once again and strode towards the couch. “So, Rachel,” John said, startling her slightly, “are you ready for the haircut?”
Rachel’s cheeks flushed as her mouth parted. Excitement, thrill, nervousness, and dread coursed through her veins and she could only manage to nod at John, swallowing a knot in her throat.
Gabriel smiled knowingly at her and then glanced over to John. “Oh, I think she is absolutely ready for it, John.”
“Alright, let’s get her settled on the chair,” —John pointed— “and cape her, then.”
Gabriel took Rachel’s hand and walked her over to the barber chair, helping her settle on it. He stepped back slightly and watched her being caped to prepare her for another extreme haircut.
To be continued…
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