Dani looked around her shop and smiled. It still amazed her how much it was thriving.
She’d never been book smart. She’d never been one to settle down. She’d never been one to plan on anything in life other than her next adventure.
Yet at one point she knew she had to figure out her future.
She had to decide how she was going to support herself because she wasn’t going to rely on her parents that loved her unconditionally even though she gave them every reason not to.
So several years ago her next adventure ended up being her career. When she’d made a decision, she’d told her parents and they supported her like she hoped they would. Then they helped her make it happen.
Several of her stylists were cleaning up their stations and getting ready to call it a night. She had twelve chairs here that were all rental chairs when they were occupied. Not all worked every day but most came in for part of it. If they weren’t here, then they weren’t making money. That had always been her motto.
Personally, if they didn’t show up, it didn’t change much for her, she still got her rental income, but it made the shop more desirable to have it flowing with clients and she pushed that attitude on them.
The best thing she could have done was to have such a diverse group of stylists. She even had one male and that had been hard to come by. She’d never tell her other stylists, but she gave him a discount on his booth rental to secure him with the hopes he’d get the word out and she could find a few more men to fill her remaining two chairs. She had stylists knocking down her door to work here, but she was holding out for the right ones.
She never in a million years thought she’d be as successful as she was currently.
Well, she looked successful, but her bank account was still pretty bare more times than not.
Everything she had went back into her business: Dee’s.
No one called her Dee. Not anymore.
Her name was Danielle and she went by Dani, but very few asked where the name “Dee’s” came from.
It was better that way. Her parents knew and that was enough. It was the only way she could think to honor her sister at the same time proving that she could make something out of her life. That her parents’ undying support was worth something.
“Dani. Your seven o’clock is up front.” She turned to see Patricia standing there, one of her first stylists when she opened the doors to Dee’s three years ago. “He’s hot. How the hell did you score him?”
“No clue,” Dani said, smirking. “I haven’t seen him myself. How hot is he?”
“Major hot. Like potato out of the microwave and lost my fingerprints hot.”
Dani rolled her eyes. Patricia always used food to make references. “How do you know he’s for me?” she asked, wanting to yank on Patricia’s chain a bit. Patricia was young and naive and fell for the teasing ways of the group more often than not.
“He asked for you,” Patricia said seriously. “I was cashing out my client when he came in the door. I was kind of hoping he was just a walk-in and I could snatch him up like a kid reaching for cotton candy at a carnival.”
“How can you be so skinny when all you do is talk about food?” she asked.
“I’m not any skinnier than you are,” Patricia said.
“True. But my problem is I never sit down to eat even though I love food.”
“You’re going to love the guy up front like I do Ben and Jerry’s on a hot summer night after my last boyfriend told me he found another love.”
Dani laughed and walked past Patricia. “I’ll go get him and see if he holds up to my chocolate chip cookie dough.”
“Screw chocolate chip cookie dough. This one is pecan sticky buns,” Patricia said winking. “If you get my hint.”
“I get it,” Dani said, knowing Patricia managed to pique her interest.
She got to the front and had to stop at the sight of the male specimen in front of her. Holy ever-loving hell he was smoking. Smoking like the grill at her granddad’s on the Fourth of July just waiting for the ribs to be seared. Okay, Patricia was rubbing off on her now.
“Hi, you must be Sam,” she said, holding her hand out to the tall, dark, and luscious man in front of her. Midnight wavy hair that she was dying to run her fingers through. A body that easily towered over her five-foot-seven-inch frame. He wasn’t built with a gym body, but he was slim, trim and oh so delicious to every one of her senses.
“I am,” he said back. His voice was just as deep and rich as the ice cream Patricia and she were comparing him to minutes ago. “And you’re Dani?”
“That’s me. Why don’t you come on back to my chair?”
“I appreciate you getting me in so fast,” he said.
“Not a problem. How did you hear about me, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“My mother gave me your card,” he said, wrinkling his nose adorably. Oh man, a guy who listens to his mama. Could anything be sweeter in her eyes?
“I never got your last name when you set up your appointment. Who’s your mother?”
“Diane Fierce, but I don’t believe she is a client of yours. She said she sees someone else here, but I didn’t get the name. She grabbed your card off the shelf. Said you were the owner and that she’d seen you cutting other men’s hair. Curly hair, and she insists I need someone who can handle it.”
She was thinking of all sorts of ways she could handle Sam Fierce right now. And none of them had to do with hair.
“Well, you can thank your mom for me. I’ll find out who does her hair at some point, but I appreciate her passing my name on.”
She turned and walked back to her chair, knowing he was following and wishing she was behind him so she could get a look at his body in more detail without him knowing. She wondered if he was doing the same to her. She hadn’t missed the way his eyes lit up when she introduced herself to him.
Once he was seated, she grabbed a cape and put it over his shoulders and fought the urge to inhale the mountain fresh scent of him that just impaled her nostrils as he shifted in the chair. Better than cologne in her eyes any day. Nature always won over artificial, but there was definitely a time and place for that bottled scent too.
“So what are we doing with your hair?” she asked, trying to focus on the task at hand.
“Whatever you think can be done to it. I’m pretty busy and finding time to get this done is difficult. If you want to go a bit shorter so it holds me over, you can do that.”
Even better. He was giving her a free hand. “Do you like to just wash and go or do you style it?”
“Wash and go. I don’t have time to style it, or if I do, by the end of the day it’s a mess anyway. I’d grow it long and put it in a ponytail, but my mother would start to call me Sammy or Hagar again and I’m not in the mood for that either.”
She burst out laughing, getting the Van Halen reference. “Sounds like your mother has a pretty awesome sense of humor.” The frown Sam shot her in the mirror almost made her lose it, but she held on, picked up her spray bottle, then stopped. “I should have asked if you want me to wash your hair first. It looks like you just did so I was going to spritz it, but it’s your choice.”
“I just showered, so yeah, wetting it down is fine if you want.”
The thought of him in the shower shouldn’t be filling her mind, but it seemed she had no control over anything.
She picked the clippers up and grabbed a comb, then started to sheer off his waves. She really liked them, but could tell if he didn’t spend time taming them they’d control him rather than the other way around.
“I’m going to go pretty short in the back and sides and maybe leave the top a bit longer.”
“Not too long,” he said. “I don’t want to look like a hipster. I’d never hear the end of it from my brothers if I did.”
She grinned. “I won’t make you look like a hipster. So how many brothers do you have?”
“Two,” he said.
“You’ve got to be the oldest.”
“Why do you say that?” he asked.
“Because you’ve got an air to you that just shouts authority and leadership.”
He snorted, but his grin said he was taking it in stride. “I’ve been told that a time or two.”
She was guessing it was more than a time or to.
They chatted back and forth during the cut about nothing in particular. Nothing personal about each other, other than he had two younger brothers. “So what do you think?” she asked before she put the scissors down. She was done in her mind, but if he wanted it shorter, she’d give him what he wished.
“It looks great. How about dinner?” he asked her suddenly.
“Tonight?” she asked back.
“It’s a bit late tonight. Another night?”
Going on a date with a man that she didn’t know a thing about other than his name? She hadn’t done that in a long time. She hadn’t been reckless in longer than she could remember.
But would it really be reckless? His mother was a client here. She knew his name. She could do an internet search on him. It’s not like she hadn’t been on blind dates in the past.
“Why not,” she said.
“Geez, you don’t have to sound so excited over it.”
She burst out laughing. “And inflate that ego of yours?”
“I like you,” he said. “Most women wouldn’t point my ego out to me.”
“I’ve been told I’m not like most women.” She figured he was just flirting and would blow her off at some point.
“Even better. So what is your last name, Dani?” he asked, pulling his phone out.
“Rhodes.” She took his phone and programmed her number in there. “Give me a call when you aren’t busy and I’ll try to make it work.”
“Oh no,” he said. “I’m not leaving here without having the date set. Let’s check our calendars.”
Guess he wasn’t going to blow her off. She pulled her phone out. “My last appointment this Monday is at five. I should be ready by six if all goes well. How about you? Or we can pick another day, but I work later most of this week.”
“I’ll pick you up at six thirty on Monday. I don’t have anything on my schedule that could hold me back. Not unless there is an emergency and hopefully there won’t be.”
She wanted to ask what type of emergency, but decided that could be a conversation for their first date. “Then I’ll see you on Monday.”
Once Sam was out the door, she walked back to her station to clean up. “Did I hear you just made a date with him?” Patricia asked.
“What are you still doing here?” Dani asked back. Patricia normally left after her last appointment. Right now there were only four girls in the salon finishing up.
“I wasn’t leaving until I knew for sure what was going on with the hottie in your chair. His last name is Fierce, right?”
“Yes. Wow, Patricia, I didn’t realize you eavesdropped so much.”
“I wouldn’t except Sheryl heard his name and said she does his mother’s hair. I think he’s a doctor.”
Dani spit the water she’d been drinking out of her mouth. Doctors didn’t hit on her. “Why does she say that?”
“Because she said Diane is always bragging about her three boys. One is a doctor, one a professor, and one an architect for the family firm.”
“Family firm. Guess he’s got some moolahs behind his name, then?”
“It seems it. Let’s just find out,” Patricia said, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “Oh man. Not just a doctor but a surgeon. Look at that shot of him.”
Dani grabbed Patricia’s phone out of her hand and looked closer at the picture of Sam in a suit and tie, his hair longer and slightly messy in the picture. Now she understood why he said it’d get out of control by the end of the day. Probably from caps during surgery.
“Hot damn. I’m going on a date with a doctor.” Who would have thought it?!