Spilled Coffee

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This is my first story, so any feedback you have would be appreciated! Thanks for reading.

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Maeve was 25 years old, with bright blonde wavy hair that went to the middle of her back. She was working at a tattoo parlour in Vancouver as a front desk attendant, helping people get checked in for their appointments and handling payments. Kyle who owned the shop had lots of clients coming in throughout the day, most of who Maeve got to know well, usuals who loved Kyle’s work and came to him often. 

On Friday afternoon, a guy Maeve didn’t recognize came into the shop. He had dark, black hair, shaved on the sides and back but longer and curly on the top, with tattoos along his arms, disappearing into the sleeve of his fitted t-shirt. Maeve imagined that he probably had more under his shirt, a thought she quickly dismissed upon realizing she was imagining this stranger topless. 

“I’m looking for Kyle?,” the sound of his voice interrupted Maeve’s internal monologue and she re-entered the living world. 

“Of course! Let me get you checked in. Did you have an appointment?” She started to pull up the system to look him up when Kyle came out from the back room. 

“Jesse! I didn’t know you were coming by today! Thinking of getting something small during your break? It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in here.” Jesse and Kyle continued chatting as they headed into the back room where Kyle’s station was. 

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After a short while Kyle called to Maeve from the back for her to bring him and Jesse a coffee from the staff room. Maeve went back and brewed the coffee, bringing it out in our ceramic mugs, since it seemed like they were staying for a while. Jesse was sitting on the chair, while Kyle was tattooing a small, cartoon panda onto his arm. Maeve got distracted by the series of tattoos along Jesse’s arm and accidentally tripped, spilling coffee onto the floor and some onto Jesse’s lap. 

“Oh shit! I am so sorry! I got distracted for a moment. Let me get some paper towels and clean this up!” Kyle chuckled and motioned to the paper towel roll on the counter. Maeve quickly wiped up the spilt coffee, and apologized again for getting the coffee on Jesse’s pants. 

He smirked and told her not to worry about it, then added “but you could come by my barber shop and let me cut your hair to make it up to me, if you feel so inclined.” 

Maeve paused her wiping, her body going still. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to make more work for you..” she managed to blurt out in her nervous state. 

“Not at all. Come by when you’re done your shift and I’ll squeeze you in.” Jesse said with a smirk that continued to grow as he looked over her reddening cheeks. 

Maeve looked to Kyle to see if he would somehow get her out of this, but he just remarked “She’s done at 6, she’ll pop across the street then.” 

Maeve went back to her desk at the front of the parlour, unable to focus on any of the work in front of her. How had she agreed to get her hair cut by this guy? And today, not even enough time for her to mull it over and back out. And Kyle hadn’t given her any room to back out, even telling him when she got off work. She watched the time click by, and almost jumped when Jesse and Kyle came out of the back chatting. 

“Catch you later!” Kyle said, 

“Sounds good, and I’ll be seeing you,” Jesse responded pointing at Maeve, “just after 6.” And he headed out the door. Maeve’s whole body froze, not even responding to his comment or noticing when Kyle had started to mention that Jesse didn’t need to pay for tattoos since they traded services. 

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When 6 o’clock rolled around, Maeve pretended to be busy at the computer, trying to prolong her shift to delay her walk across the street to Jesse’s barber shop. She hadn’t even realized there was a barber shop across the street from the tattoo parlour until today. 

Kyle came out of the back and announced, “Another day done! Alright, I’ll get tidied up here, you can head on out to see Jesse, I’m sure he’s waiting for you.”

Maeve wandered across the road, trying to build some semblance of confidence as she opened the door to the barber shop. Not even realizing the sign on the door read ‘Closed.’ She found Jesse alone, sweeping up hair on the floor as she came inside, and he lifted his head with a small grin as the door swung close. 

“I see you found the place okay” he observed, and Maeve found herself slightly smiling at his friendly and casual welcome. “So,” he continued, “why don’t you come take a seat here while I finish sweeping up,” motioning to the chair where he was sweeping up various lengths of hair on the floor. 

Maeve dropped her jacket and bag on a chair along the wall and moved slowly to the chair as she took in the set up of the shop. She could already feel herself getting nervous and found herself fidgeting with her cuticles as she looked for things to distract herself. Unfortunately, the scissors and clippers on the counter in front of her did no good for calming her racing heartbeat. 

Jesse came to stand behind her in the chair interrupting her thoughts, and she found herself noticing his facial features in depth for the first time: his sharp jaw lines, a smattering of freckles along his nose and cheeks and the slight overlap of his two front teeth as he grinned at her, almost like he noticed her nervous energy. 

“Feeling okay?” He asked her, the one side of his mouth lifted further in a smirk she had come to learn was his usual teasing look. 

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Maeve responded as surely as she could despite her palms feeling suddenly sweaty. 

“You look a tad nervous,” he noted quietly, his smirk slowly growing. 

Maeve looked back down at her hands not wanting him to see the rush of blood that was creeping up her neck. “Not at all.” 

“Then tell me you’re not nervous while looking me in the eye.” 

Maeve lifted her eyes to see him staring intently at her, waiting for her response eagerly. 

“I’m not,” she began, eyes still on him, “not.. okay, maybe I’m a little nervous.” A laugh escaped Jesse’s mouth as he took in her admittance and the red in her cheeks. “Even so, you can start the trim whenever.” Maeve declared, feeling bold, wishing she could take back her slip of weakness letting Jesse know she was nervous. 

“Well, we can start with a trim, but then we’ll move into the actual haircut.” 

“What do you mean the actual haircut?” Maeve responded surprised. 

“You agreed to come and let me cut your hair, not just trim it.” Jesse said, as he moved around to pick up a pair of scissors and started looking over them casually, “so we can trim it first and then I can cut it, or you can let me start the real cut right away, up to you,” his eyes lifting back up to meet hers. Maeve struggled to find a way to respond to him as he held the scissors in his hands and talked about a cut, not just a trim. He must have noticed the hesitancy in her body language because he put a hand on her shoulder, and met her eyes in the mirror.

“Trust me, it’ll look good when I’m done cutting it… but,” and he moved around her stopping right in front of her, back to the mirror so as to block her view from anything by him, leaning up against the counter, “once I start the actual cut, I’m in control. Until I’m done.” 

Maeve’s heart rate increased, but the rest of her stopped moving, she might have even stopped breathing. “Okay then.” She managed to get out, despite the knot in her throat. 

“Okay then, so am I starting with the trim or heading right into the cut?,” Jesse continued, his gaze fixed on her, not letting her hide under his watch, she looked down quietly responding, 

“The cut.” 

Jesse’s eyebrow lifted to match the smirk pasted on his face. He moved around her, to put down the scissors in his hands and pick up a clip. He then started by twisting her hair up into different sections separating the top section from the bottom and the sides from the back. Maeve noticed how methodical and focused he was as he prepared her hair for the cut. Afterward, he grabbed a tissue strip and wrapped it around her neck, then shook out a black cape and wrapped it around her neck. 

“Are you going to tell me what your plan is?” Maeve let out, slowly realizing she was fully at his mercy. 

“I’m not going to tell you anything, but I am going to let you watch in the mirror,” he said as he smiled slightly. He let down the lower layer of her hair, combing it out slowly. 

“It’s going to be short.” he said in a matter of fact way, as he tilted her head forward so her chin rested on her chest, he then lifted the scissors and Maeve could feel cold metal sliding along the nape of her neck before hearing the slicing of scissors closing on her hair, millimetres from her scalp. She inhaled a sharp breath as she realized this wasn’t going to be a sort-of short haircut, or even a bob, it was going to be very, severely short, and she could do nothing to stop it.

Jesse continued to cut the hair at the back of her head, and then moved to her side where he slowly pushed her head to the opposite side, hands gentle but firm as they did so. She didn’t think she could have stopped him if she tried, she felt paralyzed with fear and his hands and movements were sure and steady. He left the hair here a bit longer, but not much, exposing her ears. Something she would have to get used to, and not for a short time, but for the time it took that hair to grow back. Probably years, she realized slowly, taking in the reality of the short haircut. He moved to her other side, repeating the same technique. This time, when he took her head in his grip to tilt her head he caught her eye in the mirror and Maeve quickly returned her glance to her lap, where long pieces of blonde hair had collected on the black cape. 

“Still only a little nervous?” he muttered quietly, not having to speak loudly since he was so close to her working around her ear. 

Maeve looked back up at herself in the mirror, trying to pretend all her nerves weren’t on edge and said quietly, “Maybe.” 

He nodded subtly as he continued slicing off most of the hair along the side of her head. Eventually he got to the top section, letting it down from its clip, making her realize how much hair he had already cut off. The lengths so jarringly different. And then he started to cut that off too. Leaving it 3 inches from her scalp, whatever he had in mind, it was short. He was efficient in lifting the hair with the comb and slicing off the hair that hung beyond the comb. She realized he was going for some sort of short pixie cut, one that she couldn’t hide behind and would have to learn how to style. If there was even enough hair left to ‘style,’ at the end of this. 

“You won’t be able to hide behind your hair anymore,” he mused as if reading her thoughts. Maeve could only manage to respond with a “Hmm,” not wanting to let on that the statement was true and scared her more than she thought. 

When it seemed like he was done cutting the top, Jesse moved to put the scissors away and Maeve started to breathe out in relief, until he paused at the counter and picked up a small pair of clippers. He quickly checked the guard on them and then removed it, swapping it for another one that Maeve couldn’t see from where she sat. If she had been nervous up to this point, it was nothing compared to now. She dug her nails into the palms of her hands under the cape trying to keep her breathing steady as he came behind her with the clippers in hand, a focused look on his face as he pushed her head forward again as he had at the start of the cut. 

“Don’t move,” he said firmly, “I don’t want to cut you.”

Maeve didn’t think she could move if she tried, frozen in place by the sudden buzzing sound coming from the clippers as he popped them on and placed them at the edge of her nape and ran them up the back of her head, shivers going up her spine at the feel of the clippers.

At her slight movement, Jesse paused pulling the clippers away from her head carefully and found her eyes in the mirror, an edge of warning in his gaze, Maeve stilled, and muttered a quiet “sorry” under her breath, trying to stay as still as possible. Jesse went back to his work ensuring everything was evenly faded. Afterwards, he flipped the clippers over and placed them at the bottom most edge of her neck cleaning the hairline to a sharp border. 

He continued to the side of her head, pulling her ear down as ran them along the hairline around the ear. He then ran them along the comb, creating a sort of fade into the upper sections of the haircut. Maeve realized how focused he must be, as he hadn’t said a word since he started with the clippers, absorbed in his work, his attention fully on her. She suddenly felt nervous at the warmth in between her legs as she realized this, and felt that she didn’t want it to end. 

“Are you usually this serious when you work?” She asked lightly, trying to pull his focus from his work, to delay the process, prolonging it. 

He paused, lowering the comb and clippers from her head and turned to meet her gaze in the mirror eyebrow lifted, “Are you watching me that closely to notice? I thought you would be so focused on all the cut off hairs in your lap, or the drastic change in your appearance.”

She maintained eye contact as she responded, “Maybe I can focus on more than one thing at a time.” 

He chuckled in response, realizing she was still nervous, but less tense than she had been at the start of the cut. “I thought the clippers would have made you more nervous, but it seems they’ve made you chattier.” 

Maeve paused as she realized he was thinking about how she was responding to the clippers, her calm demeanour slipping slightly. “I thought it was a good time to learn more about the person so confidently chopping all my hair off.” 

“I wouldn’t call this chopping all your hair off, but I could make that happen if you want,” he responded casually. 

Maeve stuttered a response, “uh.. no that’s okay. It’s looking fine at this length.” 

He continued as if he hadn’t just offered to shave her head, “I’m from Toronto, but moved here to be closer to family. Opened up the shop a few years ago and met Kyle when I looked for artists who tattooed in the area.” 

They continued to chat about how each of them had arrived in Vancouver, and Maeve felt herself slowly settle in and start to enjoy Jesse’s touch as he moved her head around as needed to clean up the haircut. Evening things out with small snips here and there, small tuffs of blonde hair falling around her. He then turned to the counter and pulled a small container out of the drawer, taking off the lid and dipping his fingers into the paste, and started rubbed his hands together distributing it before returning behind Maeve and starting to work it through her shortened hair.

The product gave her short pixie cut some movement, kind of bed-heady as if she had woken up like this.

Casual but cool.

She realized she liked how it made her look, and that he was right when he said it would look good in the end. He then took out a fluffy brush and brushed all around her neck and by her ears, getting rid of all the tiny hairs that remained from the cut. He continued undoing the cape at her neck, and taking off the tissue settled around her neck. 

“So,” he began, “what do you think?” as he looked at her fully in the mirror, the slight lift of one side of his mouth returning as he took in his own work as well as Maeve as a whole. 

Maeve could barely recognize the person in the mirror, she looked like someone with more confidence than she felt she had, with a tendency for spontaneity, and she didn’t mind how her ears were visible, the gold hoop in her cartilage piercing on display. 

“I think..” She stammered, “I think I like it,” and she realized she was being honest. It was drastic, and different, but she liked it, it suited her. 

“I knew you’d look good when I was done,” Jesse said as his gaze brushed over her in the mirror, then he turned and pulled out a smaller hand-held mirror to show her the back. It was short, the edges of the cut clean along her neck, he had been meticulous and careful in the details, she realized. 

“You should stand up and check it out in the mirror,” he continued as he put away the mirror. 

Maeve stood and looked in the mirror, taking it all in, when Jesse came up behind her and took her hips in his hands, gentle but firm, the same as when he moved her head when he was cutting her hair, and slowly spun her around to face him. Eyes locked on hers, as he pushed her slightly back until she was pressed against the counter in front of the mirror. He looked over her hair again, checking the edges and fingering the pieces on her forehead, fixing them how he wanted. 

Her breath caught in her throat as his gaze swept from her hair to her eyes and she saw a sense of desire in them. 

Her heart nearly stopped as his gaze moved again to her lips and he let out softly, “Can I?” 

Maeve paused, not fully understanding, “Can you what?,” she responded quietly.

“Can I kiss you? I know I’m in control here, but I still believe in consent.” 

She smirked at that, grateful for his respectful honestly, “I think you can more than kiss me,” as she leaned in and let their lips brush. 

He lifted her onto the counter, and Maeve let her legs open to the sides as he leaned in. His hips pressed against the inside of her thighs and he slowly lifted his fingers to the nape of her neck running them along the shortened hair. She moaned lightly at the brush of his touch, gentle and cool with the air brushing past that she had only started to notice now that there was no long hair covering her neck. 

It was going to be a long night indeed. 

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