(I apologize in advance for the length.)
Given her history of playing the titular Good Girl role on the TV Show Morgan’s World for almost a decade, Cassie could understand why studios might not want to cast her in certain roles. With her bright blue eyes, thick, golden-blonde hair, and features that perpetually remained “adorable” even as she approached her mid-twenties, it’d make sense if they didn’t want to cast as, say, a bloodthirsty barbarian or a period-piece serf toiling in the fields. But… she should have been able to get some work since the show ended, right? It’d been years since she played the perky, effervescent Morgan. She deserved a shot to show what she could do.
“I heard that project has gone through seven rewrites, anyway,” her friend Jessica insisted. “It’s going to suck.”
Cassie smiled half-heartedly, knowing Jessica had no idea how many writers were involved in the movie she’d been denied a role in. But it was still nice of her friend to try to make her feel better.
Sipping her iced coffee as they strolled aimlessly down the street lined with a mix of bohemian shops, cafes, and alt-style stores, Cassie couldn’t help but reflect on the sheer irony of the fact that she had to wear a ball cap and heavy sunglasses and to keep her signature locks gathered back in a messy bun to minimize the chances of being recognized by fans even at mid-day of mid-week, and yet no one in the industry wanted to give her any work outside of a few shampoo commercials.
Did she need the work? No. Her parents had been smart and protective and decent, so she was already set for life. But she wanted work. She loved to work, loved to perform. But, somehow, she’d become trapped in her own too-recognizable-to-be-employed body.
“I’m sure something will come up,” Jessica insisted. Also a former child actress, her parents had also been smart with her money but not so smart with their daughter, and so her love of the craft had never developed. As a result, the stunning brunette was more than happy to settle for the occasional script-doctoring gig just to keep her toes in the industry. Despite her early success, Jessica hadn’t become quite as famous as Cassie, and so the ball cap, immaculately-highlighted ponytail, and sunglasses she also wore were donned more out of sympathy than necessity, so Cassie wouldn’t stand out as someone trying to be incognito among the rabble.
Of course, blending in with the rabble might have been easier if Jessica’s white sundress and light pink sweat jacket didn’t give her the appearance of a social debutante looking for a tennis match at the local country club.
But Cassie appreciated the effort.
With a sigh, Cassie continued her half-hearted walk. “Maybe I just need a change. Do something else for a while. Do you think I could be a script doctor, too?”
“You’ve yet to write a complete sentence in an email much less a script.”
Cassie took a few more steps before realizing Jessica was no longer next to her. Turning, she saw her friend examining a poster-filled storefront window. Behind her and unnoticed to her, Cassie realized that a couple of folks had marked them and knew who they were. At the moment, they were trying to be nonchalant about it, so Cassie just sipped on her coffee. If they eventually grew brave enough to ask for a photo, she’d politely decline but offer a ‘like’ or reply if they posted a note about meeting her later on twitter. That was sometimes better than an autograph these days and usually got people to leave her alone without cluing in others nearby that she might be someone worth noticing.
“Can we keep moving, Jess?” She asked. If they lingered too long, the people might get brave.
Jessica took a step back from the window, glancing upward. High in the window, above the concert and vintage movie advertisements, was a sign scrawled with purposeful sloppiness that said Walk Ins Only, followed by a stylistic pair of shears.
Jessica looked at her. “Does the change have to be professional?”
Cassie’s eyebrows scrunched together, but before she could say anything Jessica had grabbed her hand and pulled her into the storefront with the eclectic window. The posters over the lower half of the window had blocked any view through, much in the same way the sign posting the shop’s hours and more movie posters gave an opaque covering to the front door.
Although the shop was well lit, Cassie had to pull off her shades and blink a few times when she came in from the sunlight.
It was a barbershop. Or, on second sight, an odd hybrid of a barbershop and a salon. The waiting area was sparse, with harsh looking, simple seating rather than chaises or plush sofas, but unlike barbershops, there were several shampoo sinks and three low-backed stylist chairs. Only one was occupied, however, by a handsome fellow with dark purple hair that he wore shaved close on the sides and swept back from his rugged features.
He seemed surprised by the girls’ sudden entrance, and didn’t even close the tattoo magazine he was reading as he looked at them.
“Hello there,” he said, the barest twinge of a Texan accent marking his words.
“Hi,” Cassie managed. She hoped her appraisal of him wasn’t obvious as he rose from the chair. He wasn’t ripped, so to speak, but the muscles beneath the Celtic-styled tattoo sleeves on each arm were obvious, and his dark blue t-shirt hugged his fit torso nicely.
Without exchanging any more words with him, Cassie felt like he was the living spirit of the shop around him. She didn’t know why or how; just that the collection of previous-century advertisements and current music acts decorating the walls carried a same casual spirit his comfy-looking jeans did. She felt at ease here, even just in the way he didn’t immediately badger them to see what they wanted.
“This is a hair salon?” Jessica asked.
The man glanced at the seats and sinks behind him. “I hope so, or I made a terrible mistake this morning.” He stepped forward, holding a hand out to Jessica. “I’m Frank. This is my place. We don’t take any appointments but, as you can see, there isn’t a wait at the moment. So how can I help…”
The subtle tilt of his head and the way his eyes narrowed gave his thoughts away as his eye bounced back and forth between the girls.
Cassie put her sunglasses back on. “Nope.”
“But my friend is constantly being confused for her,” Jessica said. “So I just suggested to her that maybe she should try a new look. Something completely different, so she doesn’t have to worry about anyone thinking of that Morgan character when they look at her. What do you think, Cassie?”
After saying Cassie’s name, Jessica turned to Frank. “Also a coincidence.”
He nodded, somehow conveying the message that he absolutely did not believe her and that he absolutely wouldn’t speak of this to anyone.
“I’d be happy to help. Just do me a favor and lock the door so no one else wanders in and … gets confused before we’re done giving you a new you. You know of social media-y people can get when they think they’ve seen a celebrity.”
Cassie pulled off her sunglasses and her ball cap, letting her thick hair fall free around her shoulders. She fluffed it a bit, feeling its stick-straight, silken lengths between her fingers as they traveled from root to tip, down past her breasts and almost to her waist, each and every strand ending in one heavy line she’d paid thousands of dollars to have perfected just a couple of weeks ago.
The same length she’d had it since childhood; the same length Morgan had worn it through the entire run of Morgan’s World. She hadn’t even been allowed to cut her bangs during the show’s run. Never colored, never highlighted. While other teenagers were experimenting and finding themselves, Cassie was contractually obligated to keep her hair as Morgan would, and the producers insisted Morgan would never alter the show’s golden fleece.
So why did Cassie still wear it the same way four years after the show ended?
She smiled at Jessica and Frank. “Sounds about right to me.”
“Alright then,” Frank cheered. As if performing a magic trick, he pulled a pale, striped cape out of thin air and had it waiting for Cassie by the time she reached his chair. Behind her, Jessica was halfway through asking how to lock the front door when she finally managed to with a click.
“Are you sure it’s okay to lock the door?” Cassie asked as the cape fluttered in front of her from behind and floated down across her lap.
“Absolutely. I’m the boss, so I make my own hours. And it’s not like I have any appointments to worry about keeping, right?”
“How do you keep the lights on, then?” Cassie asked. She lifted her hair, gathering it atop her head and baring her long, slender neck to the stylist. The cape seemed light and perfectly flimsy, yet somehow really heavy — but maybe that was just the weight of expectations.
“A few very well-paying regulars and a bit of a trust fund,” Frank explained as he snapped the cape snuggly around her throat. “Life is too short to run the rat race just for some extra money you don’t need, you know?”
Cassie grinned, casting a look at Jessica’s reflection in the mirror.
“No, I’d know nothing about that,” the brunette insisted. She was carefully removing her own ball cap, freeing her ponytail to bounce and sway as it hung well past her shoulders in a slow, perfect swirly curl. She hovered nearby, just inside the stylist’s work area as she watched him begin to run a comb down the sleek lengths of Cassie’s golden hair.
Cassie loved the feel of Frank’s work, and closed her eyes as he took those long, slow strokes through her hair. Despite the clearly professional intent of the interaction, the way he smoothed her mane with one hand after each pass of the comb, and then how he ran his fingers down the lengths in framing her face and falling in front of her shoulders to make sure every tress was in the right place made her truly believe he was seeing her as a person, and not just a head of hair his paycheck relied on.
“So what are we doing today?”
Cassie met Frank’s gaze in the mirror, and then Jessica’s. Then her eyes flicked to a simple sign hanging among the posters, one that’d noted the end of the waiting area and said “Any ponytails past this point shouldn’t expect to leave.”
She imagined Morgan getting out of the chair and running from the salon screaming.
In fact, she was pretty sure that might have happened in one of the later seasons.
“Whatever you think is worth doing,” she finally answered. “I don’t want to be confused for Morgan ever again.”
She bit her lip and grinned as she nodded quickly, not completely trusting herself to say yes.
In the background, Jessica giggled nervously.
“Alright, then. No reason to beat around the bush then, right?” His smile was bright and beautiful, and almost set Cassie’s stomach at ease as he reached forward to grab a small spray bottle from the shelf below the mirror.
It took more than a few spritzes from the bottle and a decent bit of assistance from Frank’s comb, but eventually Cassie heavy mane was sopping wet, suddenly several shades darker and clinging to her neck and cheeks and the barber’s cape hanging from her shoulders.
After he set the bottle down, Frank pulled something from the stylist’s holster at his hip. He slide his left pinkie back from her left cheek, teasing her ear with a soft, gentle caress before he gathered a thick lock of her famous tresses and pulled them away from the rest. In the mirror, a flash of silver reflected the light from above, and Frank made a long silver sliver dance along the captured lock about the midway point of her ear. The rasping sound it created dominated Cassie’s world for the fraction of a moment, an insistent roar that announced the end of an era.
When it stopped, Frank nonchalantly dropped a heavy, severed lock into her lap. More than eighteen inches of envy-inducing, golden blonde hair plopped against her left breast and then slid to the floor.
Cassie’s gasp wasn’t even finished before Frank took hold of another thick lock and sliced it away with the same controlled strokes. The movements of his razor blade were barely noticeable but the damage they wrought was anything but, and within seconds Cassie left ear was somewhat covered but definitely not hidden.
In the mirror, Jessica stood with one hand clasped over her mouth, her eyes widening as Frank gathered another doomed collection of Cassie’s beautiful locks, the soft back of his fingers teasing her nape before the silky tresses in his grasp no longer covered her neck and shoulder but, rather, only decorated the tiled floor of Frank’s shop. Again and again he gathered her golden fleece and sheared it down to a relatively ridiculously short length, leaving raspy, shaggy lengths that barely covered her cute little ears and long-hidden nape.
The insistent rasping of his razor never stopped, nor did the rapid pounding of Cassie’s heart as she felt her head grow lighter and lighter with every rhythmic comb-collect-lift-and-slice. As more and more of her nape became subject to the soft breeze created by the shop’s ceiling fan, Cassie began to wonder what her agent might think — what her friends and occasional paramours… what her fans and admirers would wonder.
But no, this was about her, and as Frank kept working, kept making his blade dance and kept dropping her gorgeous hair to the floor, she knew this was what she wanted and what she needed. How could Cassie expect anyone else to move past her time as Morgan if she never had?
After watching the final long lock land in her lap with a plop, Cassie looked up at the short-haired woman in the mirror and laughed. “Oh my god!’ She had a mullet. A terrible, awful, hilarious looking Carol Brady-era mullet.
“This is just the rough cut,” Frank said with a smile.
As if to prove the point, he gathered what were now Cassie’s bangs forward, never letting her see just how long they were when brushed forward. Instead, he twisted them and then set his razor to the soft, damp locks. When the remnants sprung free from his efficient swipes, he playfully mussed them and then began attacking individual tresses and locks, dropping tiny little bits no more than an inch long into Cassie’s lap as he worked. Though it consisted of small lengths compared to the initial chops, that pile grew and grew and just kept growing as Frank revisited every lock of hair on Cassie’s head. Gradually, the locks he was dropping grew longer, some measuring two and three inches in length, and Cassie could feel her head somehow becoming even lighter. More and more of her skin felt naked against the air, and Frank’s fingers spent more and more time caressing and brushing against her scalp as they searched for more locks to tame.
The gentle touches and the slow nodding movement they resulted in was almost hypnotic, but the trance was broken when Frank’s slicing paused just long enough for him to lift Cassie’s chin. He played with her bangs a bit more — something she was absolutely thrilled he could do despite the fact that she didn’t know how they looked as he took away a few more tiny bits here and there.
From the side, Jessica stepped into view, her hand still over her mouth. “It looks so awesome…” she whispered.
When Frank finally fluffed Cassie’s remaining locks one last time and then stepped away, she could finally see what Jessica meant. Whereas just a few minutes beforehand her crowning glory flowed down in a shimmering mass well past her shoulders, now it’d been styled in something that looked to be a cross-breed between a pixie and a shag, with wild, suddenly-lightweight locks dancing in all directions. There was no parting to see, and frisky, flattering bangs crested over her forehead with some pointed locks reaching just past her eyebrows while others came up just short. From her forehead to her crown, what had once been a stick-straight head of hair was messy and playful, with four- and five-inch lengths splayed this way and that, only to easily and gracefully blend in with two-inch lengths surrounding her ears before transitioning to a soft fringe that suggested how lovely a place her nape would be for someone’s kisses and caresses.
The color itself had changed some, with the majority of natural golden highlights now decorating the floor rather than her crowning glory. She wasn’t a brunette by any means, and she was certain her now dirty blonde length would lighten in the sun quickly enough, but then she noticed Frank stirring some mixtures in a small bowl as he wore plastic gloves.
She smiled brightly, loving all of the possibilities this presented.
“What do you think so far?” He asked as he worked.
Fishing her right hand out from under her cape, Cassie reached for her nape and felt chills rocket up and down her back as he fingers slipped through the unbelievably abbreviated length that remained. “Oh my god… I think I love it.”
“Only think?” He asked.
“She never makes a decision quickly,” Jessica told him.
Frank was suddenly behind her again, turning her attention, literally, away from Jessica with a gentle touch to the side of her head. Carefully, he began to coat her beautiful blonde hair with something much, much darker. Cassie get like she should ask what it was, but, at the same time, she wanted to wait to find out when she saw the final product and not a moment before. And so she just sat there, biting her lip as Frank carefully applied the dark goop and her All-American blonde color slowly, inevitably, disappeared beneath it. Not even her brows were spared, and she couldn’t believe just how silly she felt when she saw herself in the mirror.
“How long do I look like a goofball who had a bad run-in with a tar pit?” She asked.
“Not too long,” he assured her, snapping the plastic gloves off his hands. Glancing at Jessica, he nonchalantly nodded toward the empty seat next to Cassie. “Why don’t you have a seat?”
Jessica blinked. “I’m sorry, what?”
She watched the unreasonably handsome stylist move behind the chair he had gestured toward. “Come have a seat,” he said, patting its back softly. “We have some time to kill, right?”
Jessica swallowed, instinctively reaching for her ponytail and gathering it in front of her right shoulder. “I… I wasn’t really planning on having it cut.”
He shrugged. “Barely anyone here does. That’s the reason we only do walk-ins. Spur of the moment changes are the most fun. Right, Cassie?”
Cassie grinned, clearly enjoying watching the exchange.
Jessica started stroking her thick, lush hair with both hands. “I just… I’m not sure…”
Frank patted the chair again. “Come on. You can’t let your friend go through this alone, can you?”
Cassie raised a dye-covered eyebrow. “This was your idea, after all.”
Yes, Cassie was right about that, but the idea was for Cassie to get a new hairstyle, not Jessica.
“But I haven’t… I haven’t really thought about it,” she stammered. Her feet were shuffling against the tile floor, and terror began to build up in her chest as she realized they’d moved her a step closer to where Frank waited on their own accord.
“You’re already past the sign anyway,” Cassie told her, gesturing behind her.
Jessica turned, and saw the sign.
“Any ponytails past this point shouldn’t expect to leave.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat again. As she tried to think of an argument to relieve the peer pressure being applied, a rustling behind her preceded the feel of two delicate hands reaching for her ponytail. One gripped the base of Jessica’s hair as the other took hold of the elastic holding the thick, bouncy locks in place and tugged. Cassie tossed the scrunchy into a nearby trash can with much more authority than she had any right to, and then wildly shimmied her hands through Jessica’s long, silky locks, spilling them into and around her face.
Jessica bit her lip as Cassie took hold of her shoulders and turned her toward the chair, insistently trudging her closer to it before letting go and returning to her own seat.
Jessica looked down at the chair, her fingertips reaching up to play with the ends of her mussed, softly curling hair. She turned toward the mirror in front of the chair, taking in the sight of the tumbling, golden brown waves framing her face in a perfect center parting and falling just past her breasts. Noticing that the thin, white sundress did little to mask her natural response to feeling like Cassie and Frank were taking control of her, she zipped her pink sweat jacket closed to hide her stiffening nipples.
She stepped back and slowly sank into the chair, feeling Frank’s hands press on her shoulders as if to somehow lock her into place until her hair’s doom was dispensed.
“Good girl,” he rumbled once she was seated, and an unwanted, unexpected bolt of delight and pleasure and embarrassment raced up and down her spine. Of all the times for someone to stumble onto her praise kink by accident…
His hands slid up from her shoulders and into her wild waves, working to gather the wealth of beautiful brunette locks back into a thick, swingy, barely-curling ponytail. With a gentle tug and a lift touch of a fingertip beneath her chin, he turned her head from side to side as he made a thoughtful sound.
“You have absolutely gorgeous features. I know women who would kill for your cheekbones. Feels wrong to let them be hidden.” His grip loosened just enough to let her cast her eyes downward to avoid showing off her renewed blush. “I’m going to assume that since your friend tossed your hair tie because she thinks we need to get rid of this,” he continued, playfully tossing her ponytail a bit.
In the next chair, Cassie giggled evilly as she leaned back and spun her chair from side to side, not even remotely hiding the fact that she was filming the interaction.
“I… Please, I like my ponytail…”
Jessica hated how much she sounded like a little girl pleading her case, but it was all she could muster.
“I know, darling, but change can be good.” He gathered the ponytail into a twisted bun. “Hold this for me?”
She did as he asked, placing two hands on the thick bun and she watched him pull out a cape identical to Cassie’s and flick it open. It really was her chance to run, she realized, but… that might disappoint him and, even as the cape fluttered down over her, trapping her beneath it’s light weight, she didn’t want to do that.
He removed her hands from her hair and guided the soft locks so they fell in front of her shoulder as he fastened a paper strip around her neck — something she realized he hadn’t done for Cassie — and then snapped the cape closed snuggly. Her hair was then gathered back again and allowed to fall down the back of the chair as he combed it, each long stroke sapping some of her nervousness away.
She watched him work in the mirror, his eyes intently focused on the long waves in front of him. After several moments of repeated combing, he turned his attention to each of her temples, using his pinkies to begin creating a parting level with her eyebrows. Once he gathered the bulk up, he used the comb to fine-tune it all, and then twisted and secured the captured locks with a heavy clip.
Her pulse quickened as he nudged her chin downward, again rumbling “Good girl” in that voice that wasn’t quite a whisper but wasn’t quite his normal voice either.
“Please, not too short…” she begged.
“There’s no such thing for you, darling.” He separated the long locks that still fell free to either side, letting them all settle in front of either of her shoulders.
With her arms trapped under the striped cape, the golden brown waves hung toward Jessica’s lap, resting lightly against her unwillingly sensitive nipples. Of all the days not to wear a bra…
A low rumble popped to life behind her, and one of Frank’s hands rested against the crown of her head, keeping her chin down as a plastic comb pressed against the nape of Jessica’s neck. Cassie’s outsized squeal made Jessica question whether it was actually a comb, and the way it vibrated against her ultra-sensitive skin as it moved upward told her it wasn’t.
The pitch of the machine changed sharply when it encountered her hairline, and Jessica’s jaw dropped as much as it could with her shin already lowered. It sounded as though lawnmower were running up the back of her neck, barely allowing her to hear the, “You just have to be a little brave for me,” that Frank said.
Those words, plus the continuing nibbling of the machine against the curve of her skull of it continued to rise, pushed Jessica closer to orgasming right then and there than she ever would have believed possible. She clenched her eyes shut and forced herself to grit her teeth as her hands clutched the armrests of the chair, her thighs pressing together tightly beneath the cape as she tried to keep her dignity.
After pulling away near her crown, the clippers were reset at Jessica’s nape and once again plunged up into her hair, rumbling and roaring the whole way up. She opened her eyes and saw her long hair beginning to slide away, the beautiful, silky waves coiling into thick curls in her lap every time Frank pulled the nibbling clippers away and brushed his hand forward over her right shoulder. Soon, his finger was on her ear, teasing it with a tiny caress before bending it forward to let the clippers pass by as they completed their harsh task, harvesting more of the gorgeous locks that she so carefully tended for her entire life.
As the clippers sheared away the last bits of long hair hanging free around her right ear, Jessica’s eyes widened at her reflection in the mirror. Aside from the swath of locks gathered and clipped up at her crown, the shiny lengths hiding her left shoulder gave the impression this was a normal day like any other. But the right side… oh god, the right side couldn’t have been more than a half inch long, at most. Everything about her — her ear, her jawline, her neck — all of it was naked and free like it’d never been before.
Before she could truly comprehend it all, she was guided to look downward again, and rewarded with another “Good girl” as her eyes settled on the growing mass of her gorgeous hair that continued to grow in her lap. There was another pass, another gentle brush of a hand across her left shoulder, and then another swath of soft tresses joining its brethren in her lap.
“This is just so amazing,” Cassie commented s she continued filming. “I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
Jessica couldn’t, either. She only risked a sidelong glance toward her friend and her phone when Frank set about making sure her left ear was just as naked as her right, but then she was guided down once more. After he changed the head on the clippers, e attacked her nape again, pressing more nibbling rumbles to her nape and up and down her spine, but never taking the clippers as high as he had before. Then he changed the head again, but never went as high with that one, either. Soon, it was the clipper’s bare blades that were teasing Jessica’s neck and around her ears, adding some scraping and light scratch, like overeager nips and bites from a partner when their bodies tangled together in bed, as her once-long locks were taken down to the skin.
Once the clippers were set down and seemingly forgotten, Jessica considered letting the breaths he’d been holding onto go free. She desperately wanted her heart rate to return to normal, but there was little hope of that as she watched Frank release the thick, long locks he’d trapped atop her head. They never fell around her, though, as he kept them within his grasp just long enough to create another ponytail — a pale imitation of the one she wore less than an hour ago — and grab his scissors.
The crunching that ensued was horrifying, crashing against Jessica’s ears as Frank worked his blades against the thick, healthy locks Jessica still had. They resisted well, but their cause was lost and soon enough, the very last remnant of Jessica’s enviable mane was dropped into her lap.
Spritzes of water followed, then some harsh combing that replaced her usual middle part with one on her righthand side. The length on top, hanging down into her eyes and against her left cheek, looked completely ridiculous and almost brought a chuckle out of her, but she only had time for a smile before Frank’s efficient fingers began gathering and shearing the relatively long locks. He created a rainfall of wet, dark brown hair, his fingers sliding over and through what remained of Jessica’s tresses — he’d slide his hand along further than he wanted, then pull a u-turn to gather and lift the now-dark locks before shearing off everything but the very last inch or two against her scalp. Somehow, though terrifying, the rhythmic motions and caresses and touches were invigorating, and Jessica once again had to grip the arms of her chair, digging her nails into the soft leather as the ruggedly handsome semi-hipster from Texas took a woman millions of people were familiar with and sculpted her to match an image of her only he held.
She knew many of her male fans still paid attention to her because of her long hair. She knew anyone who followed her career and appearances assumed she would show up with flowing, highlighted locks… But now those locks were mostly gone. And the highlights? They were all gathered in her lap. As she watched Frank continue to work, herding the same locks of hair between his fingers to be shorn shorter and shorter again and again, she wasn’t even sure there’d be enough to highlight at all when he was done.
Not too short, she had asked.
No such thing, he had insisted.
And as much as she never, ever would have admitted it—as she watched the boyish pixie cut come to form atop her delicate, feminine features, she realized he had been right.
When his shears finally stilled, Jessica estimated that, in comparison to the literal feet of hair that had gathered in her lap, her head was decorated with, at most, lengths that may have reached an inch and a half. Cowed into a neat side-parting that faded down to nothing around her ears and nape, the style was probably more notable for the amount of skin it showed off rather than the amount of hair styled into it.
Frank stepped to her side, cupping her nape with his warm hand and gently running it up against the velvety remains of her hair until he could playfully muss the rest. “What do you think?”
“How… how did I wind up with even less hair than she did?” She asked, pointing to her friend.
“Don’t bring me into this!”
“Damnit. I wish I’d thought of saying that a half hour ago…”
Frank pulled away the cape, spilling the collected masses of Jessica’s former mane to the floor. “Unfortunately, there are absolutely no give-backs. Come on, darling. Let’s go get you washed up before I finish with your friend over there.”
As Jessica was taken to have what remained of her hair shampooed, Cassie chewed on her pinkie nail and watched the video she had taken of Frank’s clipper work again and again. She couldn’t believe how easily Jessica’s beloved locks slipped away, or even how easily Jessica had been talked into giving them all up. She’d always adored her long hair, and here she was now, years away from having any sort of ponytail, much less one as impressive as hers had been.
Trying to convince her to keep the new boyish style was going to be fun.
Glancing back toward the wink where Frank was currently tending to his other customer, Cassie grinned when she saw the telltale shifting and kicking of Jessica’s feet. The poor woman was so easily embarrassed and so easily flustered… Cassie knew once she heard the first “Good girl” that Jessica would be putty in Frank’s hands.
Considering how red the other woman’s cheeks were as she came back from the sink, Cassie had been correct. A couple of well placed praises, a few carefully tendered “darlings,” an the woman who’d always had tumbling waves of golden brown hair had been left with a crop that could only be described as dark brown — not a single bit of lightened locks in sight.
And she looked absolutely amazing for it.
Once Jessica was seated and her soaking wet hair had been restyled, Frank pointed toward Cassie and motioned for her to follow him. Stepping over the piled of long blonde tresses that still littered the floor, she followed and was treated to her own long, soothing treatment as the coloring was removed from her now-short hair.
Just the idea that she was short-haired made her giggle as Frank massaged her scalp, and she had to reassure him that she wasn’t ticklish when he asked. “I just never really expected to actually do something like this. I always assumed I’d need to be long-haired and blonde to keep working.” She took a steadying, appreciative breath as Frank began to blot the excess water from her hair. “I guess I’m about to find out whether that was what was holding me back.”
“You’re going to look amazing, no matter what the suits in the industry think.”
Unlike with Jessica, Cassie’s cape remained around her shoulders when she resettled in the same stylist chair. It was beginning to feel like a poncho of sorts, and she actually wouldn’t have minded it too much if it’d been easier to get her hands free of it. Once settled, Frank asked if she was ready to see the results.
This time, it was Jessica’s turn to start filming.
Cassie nodded, and Frank undid the towel that had kept her wet hair hidden…
Cassie’s bright blue eyes — her beautiful, crystalline blue eyes — simply glowed as they were suddenly framed and teased by jet-black locks. Wild and untamed and with hints of blue shading in certain lighting, the shortened tresses didn’t seem to know what to do now that they were freed from their former weighty length, and they certainly didn’t seem to care that gravity was a thing that existed.
“Holy cow…” Cassie murmured.
“You wanted different, right?” Frank asked.
“She definitely got it,” Jessica replied.
“I certainly did.” Cassie grinned at the raven tresses teased the pale color of her ears and cheeks and neck. She didn’t think it qualified as a goth look, but given the right makeup, she certainly could pass as one if she wanted.
The key point, and most important fact, was that she no longer looked like a teenage cheerleader. No, without the ridiculously long locks overwhelming her, she actually looked like someone who could buy a beer without being carded. She looked like someone new; someone completely different.
And, she hoped, not like someone who had a complete mental breakdown. She turned her head this way and that, running her fingers through what was left of her long hair again and again, coupling every new angle with a new expression, absolutely delighted with how her now-dark eyebrows accentuated every emotion playing across her features.
“If you think you could sit still for a moment or two…?”
She looked to Frank’s reflection and saw him standing behind her with his comb and scissors.
“Just to see what touchups are needed.”
Cassie did manage to sit still as Frank endeavored to make sure he had achieved the perfection in her look that he strove for. Not very much was cut, but he gathered and lifted lock and lock to make sure each had the difference in length and volume he had hoped for. Soon a hair dryer was revealed, the warm air contrasting the pleasurable chills Cassie felt every time Frank’s fingers slipped through her wild locks. Once her hair was dry, the scissors returned, discarding little clippings here and there, specks of black landing among a sea of gold on the floor.
While Frank worked, Cassie watched Jessica examine her reflection in the mirror. The brunette’s hands only left her elegant nape or the shorn sides above her ears to play through the brutally short locks atop her head. Cassie felt a little guilty for goading her friend into taking the plunge, but, hopefully, Jessica would come to realize just how stunningly she carried it off and, if nothing else, it either give her more time to do her writing or it would let her stand out from the crowd enough to get more work in front of a camera if Jessica ever decided that was what she wanted.
“Okay, that’s that,” Frank finally said. There was a whoosh of movement as the cape whipped past Cassie’s line of sight, and then she was looking at herself in the mirror once again. She couldn’t see any difference that resulted from Frank’s latest shearwork, and she was fine with that. The fluffy, wild, pixie/shag had won her heart, as had the new color that felt as dark as midnight.
It was a completely new Cassie; a completely new look, and, hopefully, a new starting point for her career. With luck, a jet black crop that was as schizophrenic as it was sexy would be what she needed to finally leave Morgan behind in everyone else’s minds.
“This was my idea, so I’ll handle the bill,” Jessica insisted. Cassie pretended to agree, but listened carefully for the cost so she could repay the favor in kind at some point in the future.
As she stepped up behind her friend, Cassie noticed a wall of polaroids behind the counter, all of them seeming to be satisfied clients of the shop beaming bright smiles the camera’s way.
“Do we get to go on there?” Cassie asked.
Frank blinked. “I… I would love you to. But I didn’t want to ask because you seemed to be kind of incognito, so… you know.”
Cassie waved that idea off. “I’m not looking to escape notice. I’m hoping to get noticed, actually. Just not for how I used to look, if that makes sense.”
“Kind of,” he replied.
When the shipowner came around from behind the counter with an old polaroid camera, Cassie slipped under Jessica’s waiting arm and placed her own behind her friend’s back. As they struck a few different poses, she simply couldn’t resist caressing Jessica’s clippered nape, hoping to have hidden how much she enjoyed seeing the resulting tremble of delight.
After saying their goodbye but before they could leave, Frank handed each of them a business card with nothing more than a handwritten, individual password and a web address on it: not (dot) onlywalkins (dot) come.
“I mentioned that I have a few select clients that can get appointments. Welcome to that club, if you’re interested.”
Cassie raised an eyebrow as she glanced at Jessica and then back to him. “Yeah, I think you’ll be hearing from us. And maybe a few friends.”
“But we promise to send them in person,” Jessica replied. “Once they stop squealing about what we let you do to us.”
Once outside, Cassie stood in the middle of the sidewalk and smiled widely at Jessica. No ball caps were necessary, it seemed, as the lazy afternoon crowds flowed around them without notice.
“Mission accomplished?” Jessica asked as she hooked her arm into Cassie’s and started walking.
“Maybe. Hopefully,” Cassie replied. She pulled out her phone and snapped a selfie of them both as they walked. “I think we’ll find out for sure about five minutes after I send this to my agent.”
This was another whose length got away from me, but hopefully you enjoyed it. As always, any comments or critiques are welcome and appreciated, and I promise to fix any typos that escaped my notice over time.