Friday, March 25, 2011

Chapter One: Life as she knows it

She glanced over her shoulder, slipping the last hundred dollar bill on the stack before tucking it safely in the box with the rest. Neat rows of Benjamin Franklins stared back as she snapped the other remaining four stacks in next to them. She skimmed her finger along the edge of the brushed steel box and flicked the heavy combination lock.

“Two hundred and forty three…four…five…” She walked her fingers over the stacks and frowned. That can’t be right.  Papers scattered and she rose out of her chair to make sure bills hadn’t scattered around her on the floor. “Dammit.” She raked her hand through and her hair slid back into the chair, took a deep breath and recounted them.

It was all here. It was always all here.

Jerking the draw open she reached in and felt nothing. Where in the hell was it? She crawled under her desk, five thousand dollars just doesn’t vanish into thin air. Had someone found her stash? Her heart knocked in her chest as she rose and dusted herself off.

Just calm down and think Devon, think!

Jonathan had been in here earlier but he couldn’t have? He wouldn’t have. She paced the room and rubbed her temples, she needed coffee. She needed an insane asylum too but since that wasn’t an option and she wasn’t truly insane coffee would do. She blew out her breath and slid back into her seat and rubbed her palms down her pants.

One by one she lifted each stack of bills out of the box and started again. She smiled as she lifted the square of paper she kept at the very bottom of the box and unfolded it.

Kia Kaha Devon.

Three simple words but one very important message. Stay strong, stay safe.  Her finger traced the edge of the paper before she closed it again. Under the simple note was another small piece of paper, a receipt.

Her shoulders eased as she realized it was a receipt for four thousand and ninety-nine dollars from Bathworks inc. The damn sinks in the extensions! Of course, far out this was ridiculous. She quickly arranged the stacks and slammed the lid down and cranked the lock.

Devon bent down and slid the box into the hollow back of the desk and slid the draw in tucking it safely in the back. She stood, flicked her hair back from her face and applied some lip gloss. It was ok, things were exactly where they needed to be.

The hum of the head driers, the spray of one of the sink stations, and the rattle of curlers outside her door made her smile. That was what she worked for, and that would help her make good on her promise to herself. 

"Dev? Are you in there?"

Bugger! "Coming!" She grabbed her apron and looped the strings around her waist tying it at the front. She quickly fluffed her sunny cap of hair in the mirror and opened the door. Her eyes widened as Jonathan stood in his apron complete with a large slash of red across the front. "What the hell happened?" She leaned in and dragged her finger through it. "It's not blood is it?"

He blinked. "I wish. Mrs Rutherford's hair colour."

Devon coughed. "She's going red? Are you sure?" She grabbed a clip and pinned the sides of her hair back.

Jonathan rolled her eyes. "Yes I'm sure.  I reminded her, oh…three hundred times that she had the perfect shade of blonde, and not to mess with perfection. But no, red is in.  And sure enough she's ready to string me up by my balls for it."

"Oh lord." Devon fussed with his collar until it lay just right. Freaking great, just what she needed. They had a number of appointments to get through today, and she needed to do the end of the month books before the night was out. Her Friday night would consist of wonton soup and stacks of financial bullshit. Wasn't she just the luckiest girl in the world? She could hire an accountant, in-fact she probably should have, but that would mean giving up control of her books and that just wasn’t happening.

"Sorry babes, I thought I had her under control but she's asked for you. Miss Scott." 
Devon smoothed down her apron and linen pants and walked out to the salon floor. The familiar smell of hair toner, honeyed wax and chamomile tea lifted her spirits. She didn’t even have to force a smile. Allure was nestled in the heart of Soho. It had taken two years to get it established. She'd built from the ground up. Starting with basic beauty routines, and then expanding into specialities in hair design, and spa treatments for any budget, she’d finally added on a coffee shop a few months prior. She'd never expected Allure to be as successful as it was.  Jonathan, her manager and best friend, played an integral role in each stepping stone from fledgling new business to what they were now.

Beauty First magazine had called them "Soho's best kept secret in beauty" and raved that her shop had better value than some of the overpriced beauty clinics in New York City. She had just finished an extension out the back which would be fitted for two more rooms where she'd hope to set up microdermabrasion and laser treatments in the fall.

Her heels clicked on the marble floor as she made her way over to Mrs Rutherford's station. Each station was personalized before a client arrived so they were comfortable in their surroundings thanks to a meticulous client database Jonathan had invented. It made Allure classy and personal and kept her customers coming back for more. She forced the smile on her lips and walked in front of the caped woman who was dressing down one of her assistants.

"Mrs Rutherford," she gently swung the chair around to face her.

"Miss Scott, it's about time! Your staff is the most incompetent I've ever seen. If I didn't love this place so much, I would bring my business back to Manhattan."

She kept her voice calm and low. "I'm sorry you feel that way. Mrs Rutherford. Why don't I have Jackie get you a new Perrier and lemon, just the way you like it." She nodded towards Jax, she was a sweet kid that Devon loved, but someone like Mrs Rutherford could chew her up and spit her out. "And we'll discuss what the issue is with your hair. Jonathan tells me you wanted to go red?"

The woman, in her mid-fifties sneered at herself in the mirror. "And look what he's done to me."

Devon sifted her fingers through the woman's cherry red hair. "It's a very dramatic change for you, but it works. It brings out the green in your eyes." Jonathan, as per usual, had done an impeccable job on her hair and there was nothing wrong with the execution at all.
The woman’s rings glinted in the low lights of the salon as she touched where Devon's fingers had been.  "You think so?"

Devon studied her. Evelyn Rutherford was a tough woman. A real estate tycoon in the area and her opinion on anything was always taken seriously. "Honestly, while the red is gorgeous, I do miss your blond. How about we keep the red underneath and we bring the blond through in foils?"

Evelyn held her poker face and nodded. "OK---but you have to stay here while he does it. I'm not convinced.” Her chin lifted and her eyes sharpened. “You're fixing it if it doesn't work. For no charge."

Devon smiled and nodded. "Of course. Jonathan, can you mix a 5G?"

His lips curved and his brow cocked. "Of course boss." Jonathan would ream her later at having the magic touch. Even for rich snobby princesses she managed to always appease people without too much effort. Jackie returned with Mrs R's Perrier and gingerly placed it on the counter.

"Thanks Jax, can you go and make sure the private booths are ready for the facials I've got coming in at three?"

"Of course, Miss Scott." 
She leaned back and surveyed the rest of her salon and as promised, she watched Jonathan apply the new colour to her hair. Out of habit, her gaze drifted out the window as people bustled down Mercer on a Friday afternoon. People watching was an addiction.

Her heart skipped in her chest as man in a sturdy leather jacket, mirrored shades, and cinnamon hair peered in her window. She could feel his eyes, even with the glasses. Her fingers twisted the ties of her apron as she managed a casual smile. He didn't smile, he pulled back looked up at the signage of her shop, pulled out his cell phone and continued walking. 

Well, that was weird. 

Drawn to the window, she peered down the street as he walked away. Her stomach twisted when he stopped, looked back over his shoulder, then picked up his pace. Had he recognized her? She shook off the feeling. You’re being ridiculous.

She wandered to the reception desk and scrolled down the screen for the next few days. Booked solid. She'd taken a risk when she opened this place. Businesses in Soho didn't always take off like hers and she'd lived pretty lean in the beginning. Still did if the apartment upstairs was anything to go by. It was a gorgeous loft style apartment in dire need of a touch up or three. But, in this city reputation was everything, and by word of mouth she'd cultivated a good one and a strong base of clients. It was people like Mrs Rutherford that paid her bills. As much as she hated sucking up, she genuinely loved her job. And this was hers, all of her and not many people could truly say that.

Jonathan joined her after then next batch of colour was left to set and sighed. "Saved my ass again Devon. My balls are thankful." 

 She chuckled and flipped over the visitor’s book to a fresh new page and laid out the sharpie. “That’s my job. Schmooze."

"Do you want me to stay back tonight? I know you've got a lot on."

She smiled, Jonathan would give his right arm for her if he was asked. "No, I'll be fine darling." She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "But thank you."

"I just worry about you all gorgeous, locked away here at night. You know if I wasn't taken - you and me we'd be it right?"

Devon snorted, "I couldn't afford you. Is this new Armani?" She fingered the buttery silk cuff of his shirt.

"Released last week." He grinned proudly.

"Lucky I pay you well," she teased. And he was worth every cent.

He pushed his heavy rimmed glasses up his nose and winked. "Yes ma'am." Jonathan's five foot nine well-built frame was impressive. He dressed immaculately, and shirts were made for his wide shoulders and slim hips. His sandy blond hair was neat, but had some flair, just like him. He had an eye for colour which made him a great stylist and he was the best coffee barrister she knew. His lattes were to-die-for.
Jonathan and her made a great team and it was by chance that he came to work for her in the beginning and looking back now she knew he was every part of the success of the place as she was. Not only was he reliable and trustworthy, they now had a rock solid friendship.
She had a team of five stylists and beauticians. Each of them came through her doors with one specialty, but she'd up skilled them all-and paid them to do it. She was rewarded with nothing but hard work and loyalty. Her staff were her family.

"Can I tempt you with a coffee before your next round of appointments?"

"Oh God, yes! A shot of Hazelnut in whatever you do. You know how I like it."

Jonathan picked up her candy pink travel mug. "You watch the dragon and I'll make the coffee."

Devon bit her lip, what the hell would she do without him? Hopefully she'd never have to find that out. Jonathan pushed a latte into her hands on his way back to Mrs Rutherford. Devon floated around, making sure that the dragon was always in her line of sight. She took three more major bookings for her wedding and special events girl Charlotte. She worked on-call but the amount of bookings she was getting she was going to have to carve out a permanent spot for her. It was spring. She loved New York in the spring. All the pretty flowers bloomed out of flower boxes and mini gardens all over her city. Things just seemed brighter.

She cleared a few emails, scheduled in a couple of appointments, and clicked save. She stood back and her little world ticked over in front of her. Some days she could barely believe she'd built this place from the ground up. She'd come a long way from the girl that arrived in this country from little New Zealand. And now, look at this place. She straightened the cinch of one of the floor length mesh curtains and fluffed up the vase of lavender roses on the table. Perfect, everything inside her own little world that she could control was perfect. 
Jonathan rinsed Mrs Rutherford's hair and Devon watched, sipping the best coffee in the world as he dried out the colour. She smiled against the lid, damn if she wasn't good, the colour was gorgeous.

"Oh my," Mrs Rutherford brought her hand over her mouth. Devon strolled over and flicked a golden strand back from her face. It had blended in and offset the cherry red in a style that bled sophistication on these streets.

"You look gorgeous Mrs Rutherford." 

She nodded still fixated on her image in the mirror. "I do, don't I? Oh Devon...." She carefully patted the sides of her hair as if was made of glass.

Jonathan raised a brow and mouthed, "Devon?"

Devon smiled, she'd never used her first name as long as she could remember. "You’re welcome Mrs Rutherford, now is there anything else we can do for you in the near future?" Always an opportunist, she booked the client for their next appointment, before they left the salon--more often than not.

"Oh yes, I read a brochure on the new mud facials you're giving. You'll have to book me in for one of those, as well as my monthly manicure and pedicure."

Devon nodded and set her coffee down. She twisted her ring as Mrs Rutherford flipped through her organizer muttering about dates and benefits. She didn't know how people lived such a fiercely over-social life. It would drive her nuts. She booked in the dates that Mrs Rutherford was free and smiled as she walked out of the salon, one satisfied client.  She spun around and lifted her mug in salute. "And that is how it is done." She winked and took a sip.

"She called you Devon! I thought the anti-Christ was coming, she never uses first names unless they are her children and even then I've heard terrible things."

She laughed, "Jonathan you really are a drama queen sometimes, how does Logan cope with you?"

Jonathan wiggled his eyebrows, "I'm good in bed."

"You better be spectacular in bed baby, as hell..." Devon chuckled, she did love Jonathan. As a valued employee and as close as she had to a great friend.

"Stop teasing or I'll set you up on a date with one of Logan's friends again..."

Devon's eyes popped and she snorted coffee. "Oh, no truce—you win." She shivered.  God that was not an experience she was lining up to repeat. She glanced at the clock. "OK sunshine, I'm going to prep for my facials, send Bella in when she arrives." She left Jonathan at the fort and walked into the facial room, tea tree and eucalyptus oils were warming and she flicked the lemon candles into life. Perfect, she smiled. Everything was exactly where it was meant to be and just the way she liked it.  


  1. Can't wait to see how this one plays out!!

  2. Hmmm...I'm a little concerned about the money..that's a lot to have sitting around. I'm afraid Jonathon may not be as trustworthy as she thinks.

    Eagerly waiting for HIMSELF to make an appearance in the shop. LOL

  3. OK....Why would HE recognize her?!?!?
    Why is she hiding this much cash in her office?!?!?
    Don't make us wait too long for the answers!!!

  4. A wonderful start! Can't wait for more to develop...

  5. Oooh, I'm intrigued!

    Recognize her? From where? And what's the deal with the $?

    And I love the characterization even in this small bit. Can't wait to get to know Devon & Jonathan more!

    Genie P

  6. Already very interesting. And I have to say that I think Jon is gonna crash into her "perfectly" organized world - and I don't know that she will like it at first!

  7. Already hooked lol. Love the way you started it :) Looking forward to this story! Your a terriffic writer!

  8. OH MY GOD! T... you better not hold us in suspense forever with this one... I NEED the next chapter.... I'm HOOKED again!

    And how do I find this salon... oh I so need to go there!!!! :) (Sambora/Jovi Girl)

  9. Intrigued about the story from the past and the $$$. Can't wait for the Leading Man to appear! Hooked already!!!

  10. You've got me sucked in already! Anxiously awaiting Devon's secret (for a long time to come, I'm and wondering what kind of special services our HRH will be lining up for. ;o)

    Great start, and I can't wait to see what kind of adventure you're going to take us on this time!!

  11. Fantastic start! Can't wait for the inevitable meeting.

    Thank you xx

  12. Thank you so much guys! I was a bit nervous to let this one go out into the world but I have now and I'm glad it's started off well! hehe. I think you'll love Devon :)


  13. Yay - I'm glad you've finally posted this! Loving it so far. Can't wait to see how this story unfolds. Waiting impatiently for the next installment.... :-)

  14. Muauauahhahahaha!

    I know what's going to haaaaapppen.
    That's just crass to do.

    *coughs delicately*
    Great Start Kiwi! I love that opener with the $. *rubs hands together*
    And then the fly by night look in the shop to just poke us to life.

    Love Jonathan. I think he's going to keep her grounded just enough for a certain someone to turn her upside down and on her ass.

  15. Great start Kiwi!!!! Can't wait to see where this story goes! :)


Will you share her secret?