The Influencer and the Donation, Part 4

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Hello friends! This installment is…quite a bit different from the three that came before it, but it was getting lengthy so I decided to move the haircut you’re probably expecting to the next part (which is already well underway). Not to worry, you still get plenty of hair play and cutting here! And for those who missed the previous chapters, links are below.

Part 1Part 2Part 3


After it became clear that the pandemic lockdowns would extend well beyond the two weeks that were initially promised, Anya, Beth, and a few other friends whose families no longer lived in the area agreed to form a “pod”—they would socialize with each other more or less as normal, but committed to limiting the time they spent with people outside their group. The single people in the pod were strongly discouraged from dating new people to reduce risk to the rest of the group, which was why Anya hadn’t been on a date in almost a year. Not that she’d been dating much before that; her divorce was finalized only about a year before the coronavirus showed up and while she’d gone on a few dates, there was nothing too frequent or at all serious.

There were no rules, however, about dating someone who was already in the pod, which Jack was. So Anya didn’t feel any guilt at all when she and Jack left for dinner.

The pair managed to score a last-minute reservation at a trendy restaurant that had set up a cluster of heated “dining yurts”—just large enough for two people and the requisite dining furniture—on its back patio. They ordered a round of drinks and fell into easy conversation. There was none of the awkward small talk you usually have to suffer through on a first date. They’d known each other too long for that.

When their server arrived with the cocktails, Anya shifted slightly to make room and realized that in doing so, she’d knocked her napkin to the ground. She leaned over to pick it up. “Oooh, I love your hair!” a voice from above—the server’s, presumably—exclaimed.

Anya grabbed the napkin and sat back up, placing a hand on the back of her neck and giving her head a little rub. “Oh, uh, thanks. It’s new.”

“Well, it looks amazing. I’ll be back to take your order in a few minutes.”

As the server walked out, Jack grinned slyly at Anya.

“What?” she asked.

“I told you it looks great.”

Anya felt the color rise in her cheeks. “I thought maybe you were just being nice.”

“Hey, 40,000 Instagram Live followers can’t be wrong, either.” He looked down at his phone. “Make that 40,366. And counting.” Anya hadn’t planned to post any photos of her new undercut till the morning, assuming the video evidence would be enough till then, but Jack had shared a few of his photos while Anya was getting changed for dinner. She expected her own audience would be equally enthusiastic when they saw her post tomorrow.

The conversation moved on to other topics. Wine flowed, and at some point Anya realized Jack had moved his chair so it was almost next to hers. He stroked her arm as he talked and now she was moving her chair closer and now Jack’s hand was not on her arm but the back of her neck, slowly caressing the fresh undercut at her nape. They leaned toward each other and shared a kiss.

After a few moments, Anya slowly pulled herself away. “Did you, uh, still want pie?” she asked. She was referring to the homemade blueberry pie currently cooling on her kitchen counter, but immediately realized the question sounded euphemistic and couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. “I mean actual, literal pie,” she asserted.

Jack smiled at Anya and, with the hand that wasn’t still touching her, pushed aside the dark wavy hair that had tumbled into his face. God, was he always this good-looking? Anya wondered to herself.

At that moment, the server re-entered the tent. “Did you want to see the dessert menu?” she asked.

“Just the check, please,” Anya and Jack answered in unison.

They were back at Anya’s within twenty minutes.

***

Jack opened a bottle of wine while Anya served two slices of blueberry pie onto the dessert plates she retrieved from a cabinet. “Ice cream?” she asked him.

He looked up from the glass he was pouring. “Of course.”

As Anya searched her freezer for the ice cream, Jack was able to once again get a clear view of her new undercut, framed by the small french braids Beth had done earlier that evening. He’d seen so many models with similar haircuts over the years, but he didn’t remember being this enthralled by any of them. The difference, he realized, was that it was Anya’s hair he was looking at. It wasn’t about the new style so much as it was about the person wearing it.

“I can’t find the ice cream,” Anya finally said, closing the freezer. She turned to face Jack, who didn’t avert his gaze quite quickly enough. “Were you staring at me?” she asked.

“No. Yes. Kind of? Your hair, it…”

Anya’s hand flew to her shorn nape. “God, I’d kind of forgotten about that. You don’t hate it, right?”

“Did I not encourage you to leave your hair up when we went for dinner?” Jack approached her, placing one hand on her waist and the other at the back of her neck, where he could run his fingers up her nape. “I like your hair,” he affirmed, leaning in for a kiss. “I like you.”

Anya purred softly, leaning into his kiss. She wrapped both arms around his neck and soon his hands had moved to her hips and he was picking her up and setting her on the white quartz countertop. She wrapped her legs around him from her perch on the counter and crossed her ankles, pulling him in closer. “So no pie then?” she asked as his mouth moved from her lips to her neck.

“Later,” he mumbled, unbuttoning her shirt and gently easing her down onto the counter. She propped herself on one elbow and used her other arm to reach for the back of Jack’s sweater and pull it over his head, then eased her arms out of the sleeves of her now-unbuttoned shirt and unhooked and removed her bra while Jack finished removing his sweater. He stood back for a moment and studied her with his photographer’s eye. He had, of course, seen her in a bikini before at some pool party or another but it was different now, the way she was reclining back on the counter in the black lace bra he hoped she had put on with him in mind. He looked at her flat stomach, her full breasts, the ridges of her collarbones and the hollow of her throat. Her arms and shoulders, toned by a combination of yoga and hours of kneading pastry dough. That mouth he sometimes caught himself staring at while she talked but now couldn’t wait to get back to kissing. Her perky nose, her blue eyes, and of course the red curls that framed her face so perfectly.

And Anya studied Jack, too. She had also seen him at pool parties in the past, so she knew what was awaiting her under his sweater, but she had never noticed it before. His broad shoulders and muscular chest and defined stomach. The light brown hair distributed across his torso. And above that, the face that had been smiling at her all evening, with his slightly crooked smile and strong jaw and chiseled cheekbones and blue-gray eyes that were so often unreadable. That flop of wavy hair falling across his forehead. “Please tell me you’re not just going to stand there looking at me all night,” she finally said to him.

He laughed, and turned his attention to her pants. Undoing the fly, he put his hands on either side of her jeans and gently tugged. She lifted her hips to help him slide them off, leaving nothing but the black lace panties she had selected to go with the bra that of course she picked out with Jack in mind. Anya tried to remember whether she had ever found herself mostly naked on a kitchen countertop before. Maybe once with her ex-husband? But her attention was immediately brought back to the present as Jack dropped her pants on the floor and took hold of her panties, removing them with little effort. Anya started to sit up so she could help Jack with his pants, but he placed a hand on her shoulder, gently but firmly. “Not yet,” he said. He kissed her again, but quickly allowed his hands and mouth to wander lower. He gently sucked and nibbled at each breast before continuing his path downward.

Arriving at her mound, Jack paused, looked up. “Is this okay?” he asked Anya. She responded by moaning softly and angling her hips up toward his face. He ducked down briefly, throwing Anya’s legs over his shoulders and then pulling her body toward him, close to the edge of the countertop, then began to kiss the inside of each thigh. He noticed with approval that she wasn’t fully bare between her legs. Trimmed, well maintained, but womanly. Jack wrapped his hands under and around Anya’s thighs and used one hand to spread her lips to provide him with better access, then began to suck and lick her clit. He noticed her breathing change, felt the muscles of her inner thighs contract where they rested on his shoulders and tighten around his face. She arched her back, moaned, then moaned again, and finally Jack could feel Anya’s muscles relax as she laid there, panting lightly.

Suddenly, Anya began to giggle. Jack ducked back out from under her legs and looked quizzically at her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s just not remotely what I was expecting would happen when you showed up at my house this afternoon.”

***

When it was Anya’s turn to reciprocate, she grabbed a cushion off of one of her kitchen chairs to protect her knees and then knelt in front of Jack, easing his pants and underwear down to his ankles and waiting while he stepped out of them. He was already hard, as she had expected, and she took him into her mouth, placing one hand on his shaft while she worked. With the counter behind him for support, Jack was able to take both hands to Anya’s head, not to force her to take him more deeply but so he could feel the soft velvet of her nape. As he did this, she moaned softly, and the vibration made by that sound enhanced the pleasure he was feeling

A few minutes later, when Anya got up from her cushion and invited Jack to finish things in her bedroom, he told her he had a better idea. He quickly retrieved a condom from his wallet, still in the pocket of his discarded trousers, and after Anya helped him roll it onto his shaft, he guided her back to the kitchen counter and encouraged her to turn with her back to him. By this point most of Anya’s hair had escaped the bun Beth had placed it in earlier, but the french braids at her nape were still in place, lifting the back of her hair away from her head just enough that Jack could still get a peek of the red fuzz peeking out under a curtain of curls. He slid one hand up her back and buried it in her hair, then made a fist so that he pulled her hair, assertively but not aggressively. Her head snapped back and she caught her breath slightly, then moaned. “Good?” he asked. She nodded enthusiastically, or as enthusiastically as she could with his hand still tugging at her hair. With his other hand, Jack guided Anya to lean forward and rest her forearms on the counter, and then he inserted himself between her legs. He kept the one hand in her hair, gently pulling her head back while running his thumb over her soft undercut over and over again. The other hand rested on her hip for leverage most of the time, sometimes running around to the front of her torso and massaging her clit or her breasts for a moment before returning to her hip. With each thrust he was able to kiss a new spot on her back, her neck—whatever he could reach. They finished together, collapsing on the countertop.

“Now, about that pie,” Jack whispered into her ear. “We might need more energy for round two.”

***

Beth had been right, Anya thought, looking at her tousled hair in the mirror the next morning. When her hair was down you really couldn’t tell there was an undercut there at all. The new cut was cute, too. Not that much shorter than it had been the week before, but it more effectively framed her face and drew attention to her eyes. Anya briefly contemplated telling Beth she was ending the fundraiser here, but knew the optics of bailing on it after just one week weren’t great. She hoped she’d like the next cut—whatever it was—as much as she liked this one. And more than that, she hoped Jack would appreciate it as much as he seemed to appreciate this one.

Anya brought one hand to the back of her head, under her hair, and softly rubbed her buzzed nape. She had noticed, amongst myriad other sensations the evening before, that Jack’s hands kept traveling to that spot. She had not ever known him to be a short-hair guy—all of his ex-girlfriends she was aware of had long or long-ish hair—but he certainly seemed to like her new haircut. Either that or he was at least trying to make her feel better about it.

Anya chose to believe the former, so she threw her hair into a top-knot, leaving her nape exposed, and walked back into her bedroom.

“Your phone has been buzzing,” Jack said, smiling as her as she approached the bed.

“Probably Beth,” she said. “She can wait a little longer.”

But clearly, her best friend of more than a quarter of a century could not, in fact, wait any longer, because as Anya leaned in to kiss Jack, her doorbell rang. “Shit,” she said, pulling away. “I forgot Beth left her stuff here last night. That’s got to be her coming to collect it.”

“Should I go?” he asked.

Anya shrugged. “Up to you. It’s not like she’s not going to know you stayed here. Your car is still out front.”

Anya pulled a robe on and ran to the kitchen, where her and Jack’s clothes from the night before still lay in a heap on the floor. She quickly tossed the clothing into her bedroom so Jack could get dressed, and opened the front door just as Beth was about to ring again.

Beth smiled knowingly when she saw Anya’s robe. “I noticed Jack’s car is here,” she said, entering the house. “I can only assume that means he’s here, too?”

Jack sheepishly entered the living room, pulling down the same sweater he’d been wearing when Beth saw him the night before. “Er, hiya, Beth,” he said.

“Good morning, Jack. I take it you two had fun last night?” Beth asked, before turning toward the kitchen to collect the tools he had left the evening before.

Anya was glad she’d thought to wipe down the counters that morning while Jack was still sleeping. “Coffee?” she asked.

“Always,” Beth replied. She watched her friend turn to the coffeemaker, taking note of her exposed nape. “I take it you’re getting used to your haircut?”

Anya placed a mug in front of Beth and smiled quickly in Jack’s direction. “I’m learning to appreciate it.”

“I hope you don’t like it too much. It’s not going to last for long.” Beth reached for her phone and navigated to her photos app. “Want to see what I have in mind for next week?” She slid her phone toward Anya, who immediately stopped smiling.

“What?” Jack asked, moving beside her and looking over her shoulder.

“We’re not doing that,” Anya said. “I veto.” On the screen was a woman in profile. The entire side of her head was buzzed to almost nothingness, and a strip of long dark curls fell from her forehead to her shoulder blades. Her hair was styled to look like a Roman Centurion helmet…or a pony’s mane. As striking as the woman was, Anya just couldn’t imagine going from her current cut to such a radical style.

Beth looked at her friend for a moment, feigning offense. Then she laughed. “I’m kidding. We aren’t going there, if only because it won’t leave us much else to do after. This was a fan suggestion. I just wanted to see your reaction.” She took the phone back from her relieved friend and swiped through a few more photos. “Here you go. This is choice number one. For real this time.”

Anya took the phone back and studied the cut. Like her first option last week, this was sort of a modern, curly shag, but it was a few inches shorter than the haircut in the first round photo and several inches shorter than Anya’s hair was now. Whereas the previous photo had the longest layer falling to the model’s collar bone, this model’s hair stopped at the base of her neck, barely brushing her shoulders. The rest of the hair was heavily layered, with the shortest layer other than the bangs hanging to about the tops of her ears. “It seems like you really want to see me in a shag, Beth,” Anya said to her friend.

“I do, and if you’d ever let me give you a real haircut before this fundraiser you’d probably have had one already. It’s just a great style for curls, and it goes well with your features. Don’t you think, Jack? Wouldn’t Anya look great with this cut?”

“I’ve said before and I’ll say again that Anya is going to look great no matter what.”

“So diplomatic,” Beth said, reaching over Anya’s shoulder to swipe to the next photo. “And here’s number two.”

The second photo consisted of four frames—the same style from the front, back, and both sides. This model’s hair was cut into a layered mid-length bob, ending an inch or so above her shoulders. Anya calculated that she’d be losing about six more inches of hair here…more, actually, because the left side of the model’s hair was pulled back to reveal an undercut that started at her sideburn and curved around her ear before continuing toward her nape, which also appeared to be buzzed. Anya instinctively raised her left hand to her hair, pulling it back behind her ear. The nape undercut had been daunting enough, but at least it was easy to hide. She thought about vetoing this style, too, except then she remembered how delicious it had felt to have Jack run his fingers along her nape the night before and she considered what it might feel like if he had a larger area to explore.

As if on cue, Jack, who had been standing beside her looking at the photo over her shoulder, slid his hand up Anya’s back, under her hair, and to her buzzed nape. Anya closed her eyes briefly and let her head become heavy in his hand.

Beth noticed this and smiled. “Not as scary as it might have been before?” she asked Anya.

“Not as scary, no,” Anya conceded. “But still…very different. And either way it looks like I’m losing a lot more length than with the last round.”

“Just giving the people what they want,” Beth teased.

“Can you walk me through the two cuts, just so I know what I’m signing up for?”

“Sure. The first one is pretty self explanatory, though, I think. I’d section your hair and cut it. Simple.”

“Okay but how much are you cutting?”

“We don’t have to go quite as short as in the picture but given that you didn’t lose too much length last time, I expect your donors are going to want to see more hit the cape this time around. So I we’ll cut at least four inches from the bottom layer, and bring the other layers up proportionately until the shape seems right.”

“Will I be able to put my hair up in a ponytail after?”

“Most of it, yeah  the shorter layers in the front might not want to stay up, but that’s what pins and barrettes are for.”

“How does it work with the undercut?”

“Totally fine. Honestly that part will still be hidden when you have your hair down. I could take it a little higher just to thrill our audience but I wasn’t planning on changing it for this style.”

“Okay. None of that is too scary. What about the second option?”

“I’d probably tackle the sidecut first. Because you already have the nape undercut I’d need to give a little thought to how to connect the side to the back. Would you be open to doing it on both sides? It might be easier to tie to your nape in that way.”

Anya hesitated. This was beginning to sound like a pretty big change. “I don’t know…”

“It would still be pretty subtle,” Beth explained. “The sidecut will stop about an inch above your ear so even if it’s buzzed down on both sides you can hide it pretty easily when your hair is down. And I’m not saying I would for sure do both sides. It would be a game-time decision.”

Anya looked to Jack, who was still stroking her nape with his thumb but refused to chime in. She sighed. “I trust you, Beth,” she finally said. “If you determine that’s the best way to do this, you’re the expert.”

“So are we good?” Beth asked.

“No, but we will be.”

“Great, because I’ve got to run. I have a hair appointment of my own to get to.”

“Oh?” Anya knew better than to point out that it seemed as if Beth had only just had a hair appointment. Before the pandemic limited salon-based businesses and Beth made the choice to protect her compromised immune system by tending to her hair herself, the stylist was known for changing her hair frequently.

“Yeah. I noticed while I was watching the video from last night that my undercut is starting to look a little shaggy. So I called my friend Danny to see if he could squeeze me in this morning to get it tidied up.” Beth finished collecting her implements. “You two enjoy the rest of your morning.”

The stylist saw herself out. As soon as he heard the sound of the front door closing, Jack took Anya’s hand and led her back to her bedroom. He was suddenly feeling ready for another round.

***

Beth entered Danny’s salon. He was actually closed that day, but he never really could say no to Beth, and anyway this meant they’d have the place to themselves. “Thank you so much for seeing me on your day off, Danny,” she said, walking toward his station. When she reached him, she held her hair up and turned to show him her undercut. “It’s just that when I saw this on video I thought it was starting to look a little shaggy.”

“Anything for you, Beth,” Danny said sincerely. “Although honestly your undercut doesn’t look that bad. It’s been what, three weeks or so? You could easily go another week or two before the growth really gets noticeable.”

“Yeah, but you know me better than that.”

“I do. You like to keep things sharp. But I suspect this isn’t just about tidying your undercut? Are you already bored with my creation?”

“No! I mean, I love the style. And I’ve been getting lots of compliments. But, well, I’ve always been a little fickle, haven’t I?”

“So what are you thinking, then?”

“I don’t know. Maybe take the undercut higher?”

“How high?”

“Above the ears.” She gestured to a point about an inch and a half above her left ear. “Show it off a little.”

“And what about the rest of your hair?”

“I leave myself in your capable hands.”

“Well okay then. Have a seat and we’ll do the undercut first, then I’ll give you a wash and we’ll see what else we want to do today.”

Beth sat in Danny’s chair. He draped a cape over her and secured it at her neck. Then he took up a hairbrush and gently ran it through Beth’s silver-blonde hair to make sure it was free of tangles. He’d been dong Beth’s hair since they were both in cosmetology school—well, he and some other stylists Beth trusted had been doing her hair, depending on what she was looking for—and he loved working with her. He also just enjoyed getting to hang out with her. He’d been happy to open up for her that day because that meant they could take their time and not be interrupted. Danny put his brush down and picked up his comb, placing the at the spot Beth had indicated, above her left ear. He traced a straight line around her head from there to the same spot above her right ear, pinning everything above the line to the top of her head.

“Sideburns?” he asked. Beth shrugged. Danny studied her face for a moment, considering his options, then pulled a bit of hair from in front of both ears away from the hair he had left hanging down and pinned it to the rest of Beth’s hair. “Let’s keep them for now, and then we can decide later.”

Because of Beth’s existing undercut, there wasn’t that much hair hanging down on the back of her head, but the hair hanging over her ears was thicker. Danny took a lock directly above Beth’s ear and held it out to the side. Then, he took up his shears and casually chopped the hair about an inch from Beth’s scalp. This was the sort of thing that sometimes made Danny’s clients cry, but Beth seemed unaffected by the sight of six inches of severed platinum hair now hanging from Danny’s left hand. He dropped the hair into her lap and took up another lock, held it up, and cut it just as short as he had the last, playfully dropping this hair, too, into Beth’s lap.

Grab, lift, chop, thud. Grab, lift, chop, thud. Beth knew these sounds all too well. She knew what it meant when that slicing sound was made so close to her ears. She had had so many short hairstyles over the year that the anxiety that accompanied these sounds had long abated. The excitement, however, had not.

Soon, Beth’s slightly grown-out lilac nape undercut was revealed beneath a patch of short platinum tufts. When the last length was severed from over her right ear, she smiled a bit to herself. She knew what was coming next.

Danny placed his shears on his counter and took up his clippers, affixing a number three guard. He turned the machine on with a pop and placed it just in front of Beth’s ear, then made a small pass with the machine up to the part he had previously traced. On the second pass, he gently folded Beth’s ear down to make sure he didn’t leave any longer hairs hiding there. A few passes later, he was able to put his left hand on top of Beth’s head, gently encouraging her to tilt her chin down. With his right hand, he placed clippers at the base of Beth’s neck, running over the original undercut as well as the newly-shorn strip of hair above it. Tufts of silver-blonde hair and a dusting of short lilac hairs landed on Beth’s shoulders. Danny continued passing his clippers over the expanded undercut area, careful not to leave any hair longer than three eighths-of an inch.

Beth closed her eyes through this part, enjoying the sensation of the vibrating machine as it peeled hair from her head. It had been kind of fun to let her hair grow during the lockdown but god, it felt good to have those clippers on the back and sides of her head.

Danny finished buzzing down the last of the blonde tufts of hair, then switched his clippers to a number two guard and began to taper the undercut, running the buzzing machine up the back and sides of her head, not quite as high as he had before. This, he did again with his number one guard and then one last time without a guard at all, so that when he was done the hair that remained on the back of Beth’s head transitioned seamlessly into her bare skin.

Danny picked up his smaller edging clippers and traded around the outline of the undercut, defining her hairline and the curve around her ears. When he was finished, he ran his fingers up the back of Beth’s neck and head.

“Mmmmm,” she said. “I could let you do that all day.”

“Well then it’s a good thing we have all day, then,” Danny said. He examined the undercut, where silver-blonde and hints of lilac mixed with Beth’s natural brown. “We should at the very least do something about your color back here, unless you wanted to do it yourself when you get home?”

“Nope, I came here for the full service treatment,” Beth said.

“So I take it you still don’t have any strong feelings about anything else we do today? Cut? Color?”

“Surprise me.”

Danny led Beth to the shampoo sinks to wash her hair. He massaged her scalp, making sure to linger a bit longer on the newly buzzed parts, knowing Beth would appreciate the extra attention. If he was being honest with himself, he rather appreciated being able to show her that attention, but he didn’t know that he could tell Beth that. He finished his massage and continued to wash and condition Beth’s hair. After it was thoroughly rinsed, Danny swathed Beth’s head in a towel and led her back to his chair.

“Last chance to have an opinion about what I’m doing here,” he said.

Beth made eye contact with him in the mirror and playfully raised an eyebrow, or at least Danny thought that was what was happening behind her heavy bangs. “You’re in charge.”

Danny unwrapped the towel from around Beth’s hair and tossed it aside. He carefully combed her long bangs forward, and then combed the rest of her long bob into place. Without sectioning her hair, he picked up his shears and placed the blades about an inch below Beth’s chin. “How in charge?” he asked, studying her face in the mirror. She looked at him impassively in the mirror and did not say a word. He closed the blades, angling them slightly upward, and four more inches of silver-blonde hair slid down the front of Beth’s cape.

Beth chuckled. “Twenty minutes ago you were giving me shit for being bored with the last style you gave me, and now you’re the one making major changes.”

“Hey, it’s not every day that someone gives me carte blanche with her hair.”

“I wouldn’t trust just anyone, you know.” Beth and Danny shared a brief but meaningful moment of eye contact in the mirror; she broke it off first. “Now hurry up and finish this cut because I look ridiculous.”

“Oh yeah?” Danny teased. He raised his shears to the same spot on the opposite side of Beth’s face and without another word, closed his blades. Another four-inch lock of damp platinum hair landed with a plop in Beth’s lap.

“Okay but for real now,” Beth said, laughing. Danny sectioned off what remained of Beth’s bob, leaving the bottommost layer hanging down. Using the locks he had just cut as a guide, he proceeded to make small snips at a slight angle, eventually stopping at a high point just above the spot where Beth’s head and neck met, below her occipital bone. He returned to the front and repeated his action on the other side, so that when he was finished, some of Beth’s undercut was exposed. Then he let the next section down. This time, instead of making horizontal cuts, he held his scissors vertically, cutting upward at a slight angle.

When Danny finished cutting, or at least when it seemed as if he had finished cutting, he blow dried Beth’s hair while using his hands to tousle it, and then took a step back so that both he and Beth could admire his handiwork in the mirror. She was left with a heavily textured inverted bob and the similar long bangs to what she had come in with; Danny had cut only enough length to account for three weeks’ worth of growth, but he had added some texture here, as well. Danny studied Beth from all angles, and then quickly grabbed his comb and separated the top few layers from the rest of the bob, quickly pinning the hair into place. Then he picked up his shears again, combed the right side of Beth’s bangs down, and sliced into some of the long hair that hung beside them, so that her bangs continued to wrap around the right side of her head. A small lock of hair about five inches in length slid down the cape, and the very front of Beth’s undercut was revealed. He moved to her left side and combed her bangs down again. Snip! Another small five-inch lock of hair hit the cape. Then, Danny  pulled down the sideburns he had previously separated from the rest of Beth’s hair and, grabbing his edging clippers, removed the tendrils from her head entirely. Looking satisfied, he let the top layer down again, and then tucked both sides behind Beth’s ears. “You wanted to take the undercut higher so people could see it, right?” he said to Beth, running one finger over the buzzed area that was now only partially concealed by her silver-blonde hair. Beth tilted her head in a way that Danny couldn’t read. Was she enjoying the feeling of his finger stroking her freshly-buzzed hair, or was she simply annoyed? He stopped abruptly, afraid he might have crossed a line with his friend, and let his hand fall down to his side. “Let’s get you colored.”

Three hours later, Beth was looking in the mirror at a woman wearing a heavily banged, visibly undercut, textured and inverted bob the color of the sea after a storm. Shades of blue and green blended into each other in a way that looked almost iridescent. Beneath the ripples of color, Danny had dyed Beth’s undercut a deep indigo blue. She had worn so many styles and colors over the years, but this look was definitely new. She turned her head from side to side, tucking and untucking her hair from behind her ears. Then she ran a hand up the back of her neck and under her bob, to her neatly tapered back and sides. Whether from the look of the cut or the feeling of the buzzed hair, Danny couldn’t tell, but Beth broke into a huge smile.

“You like?”

“I love it!” she replied. “Just one thing, though…” Of course, as a professional herself, she’d have something to say here. “The color. It’s absolutely gorgeous. But I know how fast blues and greens can fade.”

“Yes, but I know how often you like to change things up. And besides,” he added. “If you do decide to keep it for a while, it just means I get to see more of you.”

Beth left Danny’s salon a few minutes later with a new haircut the sneaking suspicion that her old friend might soon become something more.

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