Archive for September, 2011

Frances Del Monte was sitting on the sofa in the waiting area, holding a mug of coffee, tears streaming down her cheeks, when Genevieve and Miguel unlocked the salon door and walked in. Liam was beside her with his arm wrapped comfortingly around her shoulders, trying to console, but to no avail.
            “Why didn’t he tell me, Irish? That’s what I don’t understand. He usually tells me everything.” Fran began sobbing again.
            “Genevieve, would you mind closing the blinds on the door so people think we’re closed.” He looked back at Fran. “There, there Franny. We’ll sort this out.”
            Genevieve did as she was told, while Miguel walked to the staff room to get a drink of water. Really, he just wanted to get out of the way. He disliked seeing people upset. It made him uncomfortable. Genevieve remained with Liam and Fran.
            Suddenly Fran brightened and straightened up.
            “Irish, I want to go home.” She glanced over at Genevieve. “You can come too, G.”
            Genevieve looked at Liam, who looked bewildered.
            “What purpose would that serve, Fran? It’ll just make Mitch feel ganged up on. We have to come up with a better plan if we’re going to work this out.”
            Fran looked dejected. Her shoulders drooped again and her eyes began to well up with tears. Then Genevieve piped in.
            “I have a solution.”

* * * * * *
Later that night, Liam took his usual seat in the back corner of The Foxy Lady. Savannah Porsche was dancing when he arrived, which made him slightly uncomfortable. He hadn’t been back to the club since their tryst the night of the big showdown. Was she expecting him to see her after tonight’s show, to meet her backstage? He wasn’t sure he was prepared to deal with the rejection she was sure to feel, but he also wasn’t prepared to continue seeing her. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Savannah. She was a decent person, and beautiful. There was really no reason in the world he shouldn’t be interested in her, or at least no apparent reason. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something didn’t feel right. He had moved out of his womanizing phase long ago, and knew he was ready, after all these years, to let that special person into his life. Someone to replicate the feeling of love he’d had years ago with Simony Chiavary, his first love, his only true love. Liam didn’t know why he felt ready for more, or what exactly it was he was looking for, but being around Savannah, sweet as she was, didn’t fill him with what he wanted to feel. The sex, he admitted, had been good. She knew how to pleasure a man, and he hoped he hadn’t lost his touch either, even though it had been a while, but he just wasn’t interested in her.      
Savannah shimmied down the onstage pole, wearing only a thong, as tassels danced upon her ripe nipples. Maybe I should rethink things, he thought, and for a quick flash was tempted. The situation was perfect. He came to The Foxy Lady on a regular basis. It could be that simple, a weekly or twice weekly rendezvous, nothing more. What harm was there in having a little fun, for god sakes?  But he’d done that before and it had brought him nothing but heartache. Too many damaged women, too many ruined marriages, somebody always got hurt. Had he turned a new moral leaf in love and lust, just as he had with his life choices of leaving the criminal life behind? Still, he could feel the aching bulge in his pants rise, the desire.
At that very moment, Genevieve arrived and sat down beside him.
“Hi.” She smiled, and Liam felt all at once comfortable and at home. The ache in his groin subsided, but his desire hadn’t left, just somehow shifted. Within seconds Della appeared at the table.
“What are you doing sitting down on the job, missy? Aren’t you due to go on next?”
Della, who had a heart of gold, now towered condescendingly above young Genevieve, her hand on her hip, tray balanced with the other. She glared down at her.
            “Della, relax,” Genevieve said, not the least bit phased. “I took the night off. I’m here with Irish on another job; an assignment I’d guess you’d call it.” Genevieve reached over and smiling, touched Liam’s hand. Della just stood there with her mouth hanging open.
            “Della, it’s okay,” Liam said. “I asked G for assistance with something. It’s no biggie. I just need the help of someone in-the-know around here.”
            Della looked deflated. “Well, I’m in the know, sugar. Don’t I count?”
            “Of course you do, Della, and you’ll find out what’s going on soon enough, promise. In fact, when you get a break, come and join us. We’ll fill you in.”
As always, Liam was inclusive of those who he considered dependable, and who he cared about. He knew Della was both.
            “So, can you bring lady G here a Highball, and me my usual, Ginger on the rocks?”
            “You got it, sugar.” Della winked at Liam, and glared again at Genevieve, but less icy this time. She really just had to show who was boss, and that was fine with Genevieve.
            “So, G, is everything ready to roll?” Liam looked into her big, brown eyes and for a moment lost himself. He knew she replied because he saw her lips moving, but the words did not compute, like they were floating in a fine mist around his brain. He stared into her eyes and she continued to gaze back into his, as if waiting for a reply.
            “Sorry, G, what did you say?”
            “Yes, Irish,” she laughed out loud. “Ready to roll.”
            The music changed and a new dancer appeared. Mindy the Maverick, dressed in a bulky array of colored feathers, including a boa and headdress, suggestively peeled off one layer at a time as she strode provocatively around the stage. The audience, mostly regulars, knew the outcome, so they cheered and whistled loudly as each item hit the floor, every discard baring a little more flesh. By the time the music would end, they knew that Mindy Maverick would be lying completely naked upon the stage, legs spread to the imposing center spotlight.  
            “Hey Irish, hon, how ya doin’ tonight?” Savannah Porsche slithered into the seat beside Liam and nuzzled up close. She had no scruples and was determined to hone in on Liam like he was her prize. Completely ignoring Genevieve, she placed her hand on his thigh and began rubbing it rather erotically.
            “I’ve missed you around here, Irish. Care to pick up where we left off?”
            Genevieve smiled to herself. Then, looking squarely into her eyes, she reached over and gently but firmly lifted Savannah’s hand off of Liam’s leg.
            “Excuse us, Savannah. Irish and I were just in the middle of an important business discussion. When we’re finished, and if he so desires, he’ll come and find you. For now, do you mind?” Genevieve gestured with her eyes the exit doors, then back to Savannah. Without knowing why, Liam lifted his arm and placed it around Genevieve’s shoulders, scooting his body closer to hers. She kept her eyes evenly on Savannah’s, but inside a flutter of nerves stirred in her belly. Savannah, not sure how to react, stood up indignantly.
            “Well, I can certainly smell a ho if I’m near one, Ms. G, and you stink. If you want him, you can have him. He ain’t worth it, believe me.” Liam turned beet red, but Genevieve didn’t notice. She was too busy watching Savannah storm off, savoring the moment. In a way she felt badly. She had nothing against Savannah, or at least never had, but she resented the way she had moved in on their privacy like a know-it-all, making a point of claiming possession of Irish. The nerve! Genevieve was well aware that they’d had their night, but it didn’t mean she owned him.
Della arrived with their drinks, and trying not to stare, placed them on the table on top of two cocktail napkins she had set down. Suddenly, Genevieve was aware that Liam’s arm was still around her shoulders, and wondered what Della was thinking. Liam seemed not to notice.
“Well, if you two have all that you need, I’ll just leave you alone.” She continued to stare at them, and Liam and Genevieve stared back. “My break’s at eleven thirty. Don’t go away. I’ll be back then.” With that, Della turned on her heels and walked back to the bar.
Liam and Genevieve sat there together for a couple of minutes, until the music for the next act flooded the silence.
            “Irish,” Genevieve said, glancing up at him with dark, inquisitive eyes. “You weren’t using me to get rid of Savannah, were you?”
            Liam looked down, and for a moment remained very quiet. The club was filled with the usual cacophony; late night clamor of clinking glasses, raucous laughter, jovial shouting, and music, but the space surrounding the two of them at Liam’s corner table was one of peaceful contentment. Silence hung in suspended anticipation. Then he turned to Genevieve. He did not remove his arm from around her shoulder, but gently squeezed as he said,
            “I would never use you, G.”
            Before he knew it they were lip-locked in a rapturous embrace, and for the first time in many years, Liam Irish felt passionate heat again, not just in his loins, but in his heart.

TITILLATING TUESDAY PAGE TURNERS

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by Madison Lake No Comments
Chapter 10 – MIGUEL

             “Come on in, G. The water’s great.”

            Genevieve sat on the beach in her red halter-top bikini, watching Miguel body surf. The sand was soft and warm underneath the blanket he had laid out for her. She was hot, with the sun beating down on her, and the water did look inviting, but not enough for her to join him. Miguel caught another wave then walked up from the shoreline to greet her, shaking his wet head of hair over her dry, sun-stroked body.
            “Miguel! Must you shake water all over me?”
            Miguel plopped himself on the blanket, playfully rolled on top of her, and smothered her with his sopping body. At first she resisted, but even in her agitated mood she couldn’t help give in to his mischievousness behavior. She was a sucker for spontaneous fun.
            They made out, there on the blanket, in the sand, for a long, luxurious while. For some reason she found his salty kisses very sensual, maybe because his lips were so full and wet. He groped around her warm body cautiously, as they weren’t the only ones on the beach. Miguel was sensitive about privacy when it came to matters of the heart and body, unlike Genevieve, who was much more of a free spirit. He had considered himself to be a bit of a risk taker when it came to sex, but on meeting Genevieve, he realized she had him beat. He found her sense of reckless abandon highly seductive, which was one reason he simply could not stay away from her. Her beauty, charm and now her aloofness were all a turn-on as well. How ironic, he thought, that he should be chasing a woman who seemed disinterested. It gave him all the more reason to conquer her.

            “You are so lovely, ma chérie. How does someone as beautiful and talented as you, end up working in a place like that?”
She shifted under his weight uneasily, so he swept her up in his arms and swung her light limbs around to his lap so he could look at her.  
            “A place like what?” replied Genevieve, looking back at him.
            “You know, the salon. I mean, you’re good and everything, but I see you doing so much more with your life.”
            After she had let her guard down with him, it annoyed her to be questioned like this. She began to get irritable again. Why, she wondered, was he sticking his nose into her affairs? She turned from him and picked at the week-old polish on her toenails that was already chipping away. After a minute or two, Miguel seemed to get the picture.
            “Never mind, G. Sorry I even brought it up. It’s none of my business. I just see so much potential in you. That’s all.”
            “You sound like my mother.” She answered with an aggravated laugh.
            There was a long silence while they both sat listening to the waves roll in after crashing on the hard-packed sand. If they listened carefully they could hear each bubble burst with a soft hiss before drifting back out to sea.
            “Hey,” Miguel suddenly said, as if an idea just popped into his head. “I know of this secluded cove just down the beach. My buddies and I used to go there to drink and surf and hang out. Do you feel like walking? If you do, it would be a much better place than this.”
Miguel gestured to the growing number of people descending on the once wide open space of sand and dunes. Even if she was leery of his intentions, she couldn’t argue with the facts. She stood up and shook loose sand from her swimsuit.
            “Why not.”
The two wandered down the beach for a little over a mile. Being the gentleman, Miguel carried the blanket, picnic lunch, which included a thermos of wine, and G’s bag of belongings. The wind was warm and westerly, and felt cool against the burning Florida sun. Genevieve splashed through the incoming tide as they wandered along, kicking up foamy water as she went, but Miguel noticed she didn’t venture far. At one point he made his way to her side where he tried to take her hand, but she brushed him off coolly, as if playing hard to get. It made Miguel wonder, but he pushed no further.
Soon they approached a large cluster of rocks where very big waves crashed intermittently, and the only way into the cove seemed precarious. At this point, Miguel did grab Genevieve’s hand and she didn’t argue. He led the way forward, watching the tidal currents, gauging the timing and power of the waves.
“Okay, G, when I say go, run like the wind, and don’t let go of my hand. Understand?”
Genevieve, who was always up for adventure, was quiet. She wasn’t used to tampering with nature, and the ocean frightened her. When she was a young girl, she was at the seashore with her mother and father. She and her sister were building a sandcastle close to the water’s edge, where the sand was damp and firm. They hadn’t noticed that the tide was coming in when a rogue wave came and swept her out. All she remembers was frantically trying to grab at anything, the sand, the rocks, but being unable to hang on, or to stop herself from being pulled out with the current. Then, her father’s hand reached out to grab hers and, with a heavy pull, he hauled her out of the undertow. Ever since that time, her wariness of swimming or playing too deep in the ocean had kept her at arm’s length.
She didn’t want to show her fear to Miguel, let alone explain that because of her childhood experience she would rather turn around and go back, than proceed to his secluded cove. However, before she could protest, Miguel pulled her forward and they were knee deep, running through white, foamy water, like two galloping horses. Surprised and elated, Genevieve felt a freedom she’d never felt before. Was it because she trusted, and was finally letting go of her fear of the ocean, or was it the sheer delight of splashing in waves completely free and uninhibited. She laughed out loud, tossing her head back, kicking up her heels in delight. Miguel smiled broadly to see her so happy, pleased that her mood had shifted from edgy to one of high spirits. They reached the far side of the rock bluff well ahead of the next series of waves that came crashing down behind them.
“That was amazing,” Genevieve gushed. “I’ve never done that before. It was…it was so liberating.”
As they darted up the white sandy beach, they realized it was completely void of people.
Miguel smiled, drew her in and held her close. She let him hold her, hearing nothing but the gull’s cries and the fierceness of the tidal currents collide with the shore. Suddenly his lips were on hers, and she responded, hers wet and willing. His tongue entered easily as she opened her mouth and tilted her head toward his, giving herself to him. This feeling of freedom was pure ecstasy to her, and she felt it right through to her bones.
As his tongue reached toward the back of her throat her body pressed closer to his. She found his free hand and placed it on her stomach, guiding it slowly downward. He dropped the load that he had been carrying to release himself fully to her. He had waited for this moment since they first met, since their first encounter. He didn’t intend to lose it now. His fingers groped until he found her creamy wetness beneath the red bikini that had now slipped down away from around her hips. He could hardly restrain himself, but she pulled away teasingly, running back toward the sea, enticing him to chase her. And he did. When he caught up with her, her top was off and she was dancing circles in the sand, splashing in the water’s edge, arms outstretched. Miguel was riveted. He stopped, savoring the moment. She was absolutely beautiful, and seemed so happy. When she was finished spinning he grabbed her and pulled her close to him again. His eager hands grasped her bare breasts. He tugged on her nipples then gingerly cupped their fullness in his palms, squeezing perhaps a little too urgently. He reached for her mouth with his, kissed and sucked hungrily. His hands slid slowly from her full breasts to where her bikini bottoms used to be, and which was now smooth, bare skin. With little effort, Genevieve shimmied out, letting them fall into the dry, hot sand. She stepped one foot out and reached it up to Miguel’s waist, then ran it around to his groin, pressing her toes onto his stiff, erect member. Barely able to balance on one foot, Miguel lifted a teetering Genevieve up, and carried her over to an alcove in the rocks. Not that anyone was around, but somehow it gave him a feeling of privacy for them to be as free and open with each other as they wished, which at this point was a lot.
  When Miguel set Genevieve on top of a patch of warm, dry sand, she immediately nestled in to create a comfortable place for their bodies to lie. Her legs opened and he came down on her passionately. She let his tongue have her in every way possible. When he was finished, and she was ready, he entered into her moist opening, groaning in ecstasy. With eyes closed, she allowed herself this indulgence, this moment of pleasure. However, every sensual touch, every tug of her nipples, every wet and eager kiss, and every erotic thrust, she envisioned Irish. 
…stay tuned…Chapter 11 of Salon Antics will be posted next Tuesday, September 27th…

TITILLATING TUESDAY PAGE TURNERS

Posted on: September 13th, 2011 by Madison Lake No Comments
CHAPTER 9 – THE LADY
Miguel’s plan was to whisk Genevieve up the I-195 E to Surfside for the day. He knew a couple of secluded beaches where they could fool around. After their risqué encounter on the floor of Snippets the day they met, he figured she’d be up for some fun in the sun, but he soon realized his plan was not going to happen. Genevieve was now busy helping Liam out in the salon, even though it was her day off. Damn Irish, he thought. What does he have that I don’t?
            “I made plans for us, you know,” Miguel said to Genevieve, as she helped Kathy to her chair. “It’s your day off, for crissakes. Don’t you want to get the hell out of this blasted heat and head to the beach?”
He was almost pleading, but her interest in him seemed lost. He couldn’t figure out what had happened between their lustful tryst and now. Mind you, they hadn’t seen each other since that day, but that wasn’t his fault, nor was it to his liking. He had called her every day, but talking on the phone just didn’t have the same effect as spending time together. He liked Genevieve – a lot. Not only was she drop dead gorgeous, she was smart, sassy, and he had to admit, part of the intrigue was the fact that she was unavailable to him. If they spoke regularly and got to know each other, he thought she’d realize he felt more for her than a passing fling. He wanted to be her boyfriend, but getting close seemed next to impossible.

Miguel had always found it far too easy to meet and hook up with beautiful women. Because of this, he had taken all of them for granted, enjoying brief liaisons that he would end when things began to heat up or get too emotional. So far this practice had worked for him. He was never lacking in companionship, dates, or great sex. It wasn’t that Miguel was a bad person. He treated all his women well when they were together, and ended things on a good note, which is why he had so many female friends. Sometimes he wondered if they might be waiting to see if he became available to them again, but then, that was just his narcissism talking. But Genevieve was different. This was the first time Miguel had to work at getting a woman’s attention, and keeping it. He wasn’t used to this kind of chase. If that day at the salon was a fraction of what the two of them were capable of, he wanted more. Genevieve’s indifference simply made her all the hotter, and made him devilishly interested and wildly horny. 
Just then the front door opened and in walked Frances Del Monte. Genevieve looked up at her, unable to disguise her surprise.
            “Wow. I guess you weren’t expecting me, were you, G?” called Frances, responding to Genevieve’s reaction. “Irish around?” 
            She nodded in the direction of the back room. “He’s mixing color.”
            “Well, tell him I’m here, would you, sweetheart? I’ve got to get a quick bang trim…and see him about…another matter.”
            “Sure,” answered Genevieve, playing it cool. “Just have a seat, Fran. You might have to wait till he applies the color on Kathy’s hair, but I’ll let him know you’re here.”
            “Hey listen, don’t worry about me. I’ve got all the time in the world.” Fran let out a loud cackle and took a seat in the waiting area with a pile of People and Star magazines to thumb through.
Genevieve was dumbstruck. After just disclosing to Liam, in detail, all the new dirt about Mitch, and the pending sale of The Foxy Lady, she couldn’t believe their luck. Getting more information was going to be much easier than they expected.
Within minutes, Liam emerged and went straight to his chair where Kathy was patiently waiting. Genevieve moved aside to make room for him.
“Check out your new walk-in.” She gestured in the direction of the waiting area, where Fran had her nose in the Star. She didn’t even notice them looking at her. Liam smiled knowingly at Genevieve.
“How timely. Did you call her?”
“Nooo! She came in for a ‘bang trim’, but she says she has something to discuss with you.”
“I was just kidding, G. But I must say it is timely. I wonder what she wants to talk about?”
As he ran his skilled fingers through her hair to determine how to cut it after the color was processed, he peered over at Fran, trying to figure out what was so important for her to come in. Then he noticed Miguel, who seemed uncomfortable standing in the wings waiting for his date. Genevieve seemed in no hurry to get out of there.
            “Hey buddy, if you’re going to hang around, you may as well make yourself useful.” Liam was trying to help out by including him, but Miguel seemed to take offense.
            “I would, Liam, but I’ve made plans for G and me to go to the beach today.” He looked over at Genevieve, who had her head down while sterilizing some combs. “G, you almost ready?”
            Genevieve looked up, first at Miguel, then at Liam, as if to get permission from one of them. They said nothing. She wanted to stick around to hear what Frances had to say. After all, she was the one who told Liam everything she had overheard at the club, and she was the one who could access more information, if and when necessary. After confiding in him, she was now confused, and annoyed, that Liam was not being more forthcoming about having her stick around the salon. Frustrated, and not knowing what else to do, Genevieve relented. She left the combs soaking in Barbicide and stormed off. Miguel triumphantly followed, without looking back. When she got to the door, she hollered, “If you need me, Irish, I have my cell with me.” Then, reluctantly, she closed the door.
            “Aren’t they cute together?” said Kathy. Liam smiled uncomfortably as he watched then go out the door.
            While Kathy’s bleach processed, Liam seated Fran in the seat by the window, out of earshot.
            “So, Franny, need a bang trim do you?”
            Fran sat down in breathless exasperation. “Oh, Irish. I don’t know what to do.”
            Liam looked at Fran in the mirror as he draped a black cape around her shoulders and ran a comb through her hair. Her bangs seemed fine, but Liam knew that was only an excuse to come in for a chat, and if Fran came to talk, it was usually important.
            “What’s going on, Fran?” Liam asked, in all seriousness. Fran did all she could to remain composed. She looked over at Kathy nervously. Then she whispered as softly as Fran could manage. “I think my Mitch is having an affair!”
            Liam was shocked. This was not what he expected to hear and he didn’t have an easy fix for her like he so often did. He was speechless, Fran continued.
            “I just never thought my Mitch would be the type, Irish. I mean, he’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but is he really the type those sleaze-bag gold-diggers are looking for?”
            Liam couldn’t help but smile at Fran’s way of framing the situation.
            “Franny,” Liam said in a soothing voice. “What makes you so sure Mitch is having an affair?”
            “Well…” Fran took a deep breath. “He’s been acting really strange the past few months. You know, we used to sit around after dinner and watch TV. The Bachelor Pad was one of his favorite shows, but don’t repeat that.” She winked. “Anyway, he’s started going out after dinner. Said he had,” and she mimed air quotes, “business to do, and that he’d be back soon, but really, he wouldn’t get home till one or two in the morning. That’s the oldest line in the book. What does he take me for, a dummy?”
            It was a difficult situation. Was Fran ready to know the truth about her husband and his ‘business’ affairs? Could she handle the sordid truth? Which was worse, knowing her husband had invested in the underground club industry and was now dealing with thugs, or that he was having an affair? Liam took a chance.
            “Franny, listen.” Liam took a moment to compose his thoughts. “Okay, well, you see Fran, you don’t know this about me, and you do know more than most people know about me, but,” Liam paused, again waiting to find the right words. “Fran, what people do in their spare time is nobody’s business. I mean, everybody has a personal life, and some of it may be just that – personal.” Liam was snipping her bangs as he spoke. Fran watched intently in the mirror, her face changing from inquisitive to nervous, to a bit concerned.
“You see, one of the things I enjoy in life, Fran, is women. I like women.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that, Liam. Not that it would have mattered,” she added with a blush. Liam hardly noticed the blunder.
“So, something I do in my spare time, is I like to go for a few drinks after work. I sometimes go to the, to the…The Foxy Lady strip club.
He took a deep breath and waited, scissors held in suspended animation. He glanced over at Kathy, busily flipping through her Elle magazine, and wondered if she overheard their conversation, or even funnier, whether she had ever stepped foot in The Foxy Lady before. He doubted it, but there were stranger things.
“Oh, I know all about The Foxy Lady. My father, bless his soul, gave The Lady to my husband, Mitch, after he passed. It was in his will. Father started that club, back in the forties. It was a happening joint, back in its heyday. Live jazz, classy burlesque. None of the cheap girls you see nowadays.” Fran gazed into the mirror deep in thought. “Yeah, those were the days I’d bet. But,” she sighed. “That was then, and this is now.”
Liam, hardly believing what he was hearing, pressed on.
“So, you know about it then, the business, The Foxy Lady?”
“Of course I do. What does this have to do with Mitch, and his affair?”
“Fran, Mitch isn’t having an affair. Mitch is trying to keep from being swindled out of The Foxy Lady by a bunch of low-life gangsters. He goes out to the club at night trying desperately to hang on to the business for your sake. That’s what your Mitch is doing.”
An eerie silence suddenly fell on the room. Fran turned a ghostly white, her newly cropped bangs falling in crooked angles across the top of her forehead.
“That’s ridiculous, Irish. Mitch sold The Lady five years ago, to some guy named Dominic.”
…Stay tuned…Chapter 10 of Salon Antics will be posted next Tuesday, September 20th…
RE-POSTING  CHAP 8 BEFORE POSTING CHAP 9 ON TUESDAY

Miguel was waiting at the door when Liam arrived to open the salon. It was ten o’clock.

            “Morning, Miguel. What are you doing here so bright and early? Not in need of another haircut already, are you?” Liam said sarcastically, as he turned the key and opened the door. Miguel didn’t seem to notice.
            “No, I have a date with Genevieve,” he said. Liam looked amused.
            “Really? Why are you meeting her here? It’s her day off. Why not pick her up at her place?”
            “I don’t know,” replied Miguel, who seemed to be realizing this for the first time. “She just said she had some unfinished business at the salon, and to meet her here, that’s all.”
            Miguel walked straight in and sat down in the waiting area. His tight white t-shirt showed off his naturally tanned skin, as well as his taut muscles. At thirty eight, Liam was fifteen years older than Miguel, and more than fifteen pounds heavier, and had long ago given up hope of ever sporting a body like that. He had always been taller and broader than most of his peers, which, over the years, gave way to a look which suited him, and that he felt comfortable with. He looked neither fat nor out of shape, just big, and he liked it that way. Although he wasn’t an athletic man, he did spend two hours a day, Monday through Friday, at the gym, and walked the seven blocks to work. That, he felt, was enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  
            He took off his lightweight cardigan and draped it over the back of his desk chair, revealing tattoo sleeves on both arms.

            “How long did it take you to get all those tats?” Asked Miguel, as he stood to take a closer look. “I’ve been thinking about getting one myself.”
            “You have, have you?” Liam said, with a touch of condensation in his tone.
Everybody, it seemed, wanted a tattoo nowadays, especially when they saw the art covering his arms. Liam wondered if somehow it made men feel more masculine and women feel more empowered.
He had gotten his first one – a blue and green eagle on his left bicep – when he was fourteen and running with one of the local street gangs, before they had gone big-time. Later, he had acquired random tattoos in jail and from biker pals he had met in jail. Long after he put his dark days behind him, he filled in the sleeves with more positive and romantic visions to signify his future life. Stars, ships sailing on gentle waves, into an emblazoned sunset, hearts, birds, and symbols of luck and fate, intertwined with venomous snakes, sickles, dripping blood, skeletons, to create a picture of, he hoped, moving forever forward. It was important for Liam that all his body art worked together to paint the full story of his life.  
            “So, have you thought about what tattoo you want, or how you want to begin your story?” Liam asked, interested in teaching young Miguel the ways of tattoos.
            “Yeah, I was thinking of having Genevieve tattooed across my biceps, like a Celtic band, you know?” Just then the front door opened, and in walked Genevieve.
            “Well, speak of the devil,” Liam couldn’t help announce, annoyed by Miguel’s foolish remark. Everyone knew tattooing the name of a lover on your body meant trouble. Miguel was so young, Liam thought.
            “What do you mean, devil?” Asked Genevieve, looking around, worried.
            “Oh, we were just talking about you, that’s all. Miguel here was telling me he was thinking of tattooing your name as a Celtic band around his bicep. What do you think?”
            “Irish! It was going to be a surprise,” Miguel blurted. Genevieve looked absolutely mortified.
            “Miguel,” Genevieve almost screamed. What were you thinking?” Miguel looked down, red faced and sheepish.
            “Listen, you two,” Liam broke in. “I’m sure that’s all it was. Miguel thinking.” He paused. “He saw my tats and we just started talking, that’s all. I really don’t think he meant to actually do it, at least not yet, did you Miguel? I mean, not until you’re at least married or something.” Liam winked at Genevieve, who couldn’t help but grin. “What I want to know is, what are you doing here on your day off? Kathy Jacobson is due to arrive any minute, so if you need my help, G, now’s the time.”
            Liam opened the appointment book and scanned the day’s clients. H/C – K. Jacobson. C/C – B. Makelki, C – D. Boyd, C – P. Petroni, and so on. He was booked till five. Miguel, meanwhile, had stepped close to Genevieve and put his arms around her waist. He drew her in for a kiss, when she pulled away, seemingly still annoyed at his thoughtless idea. Liam pretended not to notice. She turned to him.
            “Got a minute then, Irish? It won’t take long.” Then she walked straight back to the staff room and opened the door, leaving it ajar for Liam. He looked at Miguel, standing alone in the middle of the salon floor.
            “Be right back, mate. Oh, and if Kathy comes in, just ask her to have a seat. I’ll be right with her.” He patted him on the back. “Thanks, man.”
Liam followed Genevieve, closing the staff room door behind him. Once inside, he noticed how jumpy and edgy she was, not her usual bouncy and exuberant self. It bothered him.
            “What’s up G? You’re not perturbed about that silly tat idea, are you?”
            “Yes. But no, that’s not what’s really bothering me. It is weird though, you have to admit.” They both laughed.
            “Actually, Irish, I’ve got some news from the front.”
            “The front?”
            “Yeah, the club, you know, The Foxy Lady. Another new development.”
            “Oh, okay then, out with it.” Genevieve had Liam’s full attention now.
            “Della overheard Dominic talking about how he and his cronies were going to fudge the books at the club, again, to make it look like he is now making more money than Mitch did when Mitch ran the place. Apparently Dom and his cohorts have been monkeying around with the numbers to make it look as if Mitch was losing money so that Dom could make his move to take over. He’s offering Mitch a super low price to buy him out, because Mitch thinks things are financially bad, when they’re really not.”
            “Are you sure about this, G?”
            “One hundred percent sure. Della spoke with Betty, Mitch’s old bookkeeper, who was told to leave her job about a year before all of this shit started. Apparently this guy, one of Dom’s thugs, paid Betty off after telling her that things were going to change, and that she should take the money or risk losing her job and being left with nothing. Sounds like he pretended he was working for the government, like he was trying to scare her or something.”
            “And how did she find out it was a hoax?” Asked Liam, now more curious than ever.
            “The new bookkeeper, Sandra, who works for Dom, is friends with Betty. Of course they keep their friendship a secret, but like a lot of jobs, bookkeeping is a small world.”
Liam stood for a minute, rubbing his chin and contemplating what to do.
            “So now we need to get to Mitch, fill him in on what’s been going on, and somehow try to help him. That will be the hard part.”
            “But getting to Mitch won’t be,” said a slightly cocky Genevieve, with a smile on her face.
            “What do you mean, G? I have no idea who Mitch is or where to find him.”
            “Oh, you’d be surprised at the contacts you have in that little black book of yours. We hairdressers aren’t nosey for nothing.”
            “What?”
            “Does the name Frances Del Monte ring a bell?”
            “Frances? Sure, she’s one of my best clients. Known her for years. What could Frances possibly have to do with this?” 
            “She may have nothing to do with this, but do you know her husband?”
Suddenly the light bulb went on.
            “Oh my god, Mitch! That’s the Mitch from the club? Who would have guessed? Apparently not me.” They giggled. “I guess I need to be way more attentive and inquisitive when shampooing.”
            “Apparently,” repeated Genevieve.
The door knocked and Miguel’s voice could be heard telling Liam that his first client, Kathy Jacobson, had arrived.
            “Thanks, Miguel. Be right out,” Liam answered. He looked at Genevieve. He noticed the lines around her big brown eyes, strained earlier, had started to soften. Her mouth was not as terse and was back to being plump, red and luscious, and her arms were now uncrossed and dangling by her side. He felt better seeing these small changes in her demeanor.
            “Gotta run, G, but thanks. Really appreciate your confiding in me like you do.”
            “Who else is there?” She replied in a meek voice.
            “Well, Della, for one…and Miguel.”
            “Are you kidding me? Della, sure, but Miguel,” she lowered her voice. “No way! I probably shouldn’t have led him on in the first place. I wasn’t thinking…”
            “G, really, I don’t need to hear all this,” Liam cut in, not wanting too much information.
            “No but…” Her voice broke off. “Well, you know how it is sometimes.”
            Liam nodded agreement, even though he didn’t feel that these days he really did know ‘how it was’ anymore.
            “Okay, well, we’ll talk soon,” Liam said, stalling the inevitable of getting to work. It occurred to him he could stay in the staff room talking to G all day, and wondered what that realization was all about.
            “Okay.” There was an uncomfortable moment where neither of them knew quite what to say or do, where no one wanted the moment to end. Then Genevieve stepped forward and grabbed his wrists and held them. Standing on her tip-toes, she craned her neck up and kissed Liam with her full, moist lips, on the corner of his mouth. It wasn’t directly on his mouth, but it wasn’t on his cheek either, and her lips lingered there for much longer than if it was just a friendly peck. Liam’s loins immediately kicked in, and without being able to stop it, he instantly had a full and hard erection. If Genevieve had felt the rise in his pants, she pretended not to notice. Graciously, she looked up and backed away, giving him the space he needed.
            “Alrighty then,” Liam said, blushing. “Best be getting to work now.”
Liam turned on his heels without looking back. He was afraid if he did, he may never walk out that door. 
…stay tuned…Chapter 9 will be posted next Tuesday, September 13th…