For the first time since Genevieve had started working at the salon, she was late. Liam tried calling her cell but she wasn’t picking up. Meanwhile, he managed to keep Amy Richardson somewhat entertained, which was no small feat.
Amy was twenty five, had married into money, and was extremely entitled. She drove around town in a canary yellow mustang convertible, flaunted expensive bebe t-shirts that invariably showed her midriff, wore three inch wedge or spiked heels, and kept her wrists and fingers covered in finely cut diamonds. However, her high maintenance regime included weekly visits to Snippets, which basically paid the rent on Liam’s seven hundred square foot salon, so despite urges over the years, to tell her off, Liam bit his tongue, and put up with her many demands.
“Where the hell is she,” Amy whined, looking again at her watch. “I’ve been here for fifteen minutes. You know Leonard will not be happy if I show up late for our lunch date.”
Leonard was Amy’s husband, eighteen years her senior. He was filthy rich, money he acquired by taking over his father’s oil business after he had passed away from a sudden heart attack. Determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps, Leonard had enrolled in technical college in hopes of becoming an aircraft mechanic, after a torn ligament in his knee dashed his hopes of a pro football career just after he had been recruited. After the funeral, twenty two year old Leonard was approached by his father’s good friend and financial advisor, as well as his father’s attorney. Both men laid it on the line: quit school, get a quick lesson in the oil business, and take over the company, worth an estimated 2.6 billion dollars. It was an offer he could not refuse.
Amy and Leonard had no children, and had been married for three years. Liam wasn’t sure if Amy wasn’t able to have kids, wasn’t interested in having kids, or just wasn’t ready yet. Neither he or Genevieve could ever get it out of her during her weekly visits, even though they both tried. In fact, neither of them could get much personal information out of her. Amy was a merciless gossip, which may have been the reason why she kept her own private affairs to herself. She kept her topics to Hollywood movie stars, designer fashions, and cosmetic surgery. Even though Amy was young and beautiful, with straight auburn hair, large dark eyes, and a slender yet womanly figure, she was obsessed with botox, face lifts, and breast implants, for starters. Who knew what she had planned for middle age! Liam felt certain that if she ever left the salon for more than a year, he wouldn’t recognize her if he met her on the street.
The timer went off for Liam to remove Samantha Muller’s color from her hair. Amy began showing him some of her favorite shoes from the most recent Vogue, and he was running out of ideas to keep her occupied, when Genevieve walked through the door.
“Where have you been,” he whispered too loudly as he moved away from Amy and herded Genevieve toward the staff room.
“We’ll be right back,” he said to an inquisitive Amy.
Genevieve kept walking, ignoring Liam. He followed her into the room, ready to give her heck, which for Liam meant a light hearted talk, when he stopped short. He closed the door.
“G, what happened?”
Genevieve had removed her sunglasses, showing off a purple and yellow shiner on her left eye. She appeared unemotional, almost numb. Liam walked over to her and reached his hand gently toward her eye, as if to stroke it. She flinched, and he automatically pulled away. Then he took her hands in his and held them, lightly rubbing the tops with his thumbs.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” Genevieve didn’t answer.
Just then there was a knock at the door.
“What are you two doing in there?” It was Amy Richardson. “Irish, you do realize I’ve been waiting here for almost half an hour? This is terrible service. Genevieve, I need you to come out here this instant and do my hair!” Liam and Genevieve looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“Be right there, Amy. And…I’m so sorry,” Genevieve replied.
“Amy, have a seat in your usual chair by the window. Genevieve will be right out.” Then Liam turned to Genevieve so Amy couldn’t hear.
“Listen, G, take a minute and fix that bruise so it isn’t so glaring, and get out on the floor. Let’s get through this day and talk later. I think we’re finished at four.” Genevieve nodded and disappeared into the restroom. By the time she got to her, Amy was fuming.
“What kind of service is this around here? I’ve never been so neglected in my life!”
Genevieve started to massage Amy’s scalp, combing her fingers through her dry, over-treated hair. Her fingertips dug deeply, and within minutes Genevieve could feel the effects as Amy’s neck and shoulders began to relax.
“So, how’s Mr. R?” Genevieve asked, keeping Amy’s attention diverted. Amy’s eyes were now closed. Luckily she seemed to have forgotten how upset she was.
“He’s fine, G. You know Leonard. He works, and he works, then we go away to Monte Carlo or St. Lucia so he can unwind, and then he works some more. He likes it.”
“Must be nice,” Genevieve said sincerely.
“So tell me G, have you met the one yet?” Genevieve tried to skirt the question but she could tell by the way Amy was looking at her that nothing would steer her away from getting an answer.
“No,” she said flatly, then changed her tune to keep Amy engaged. “Well, I did meet a guy, here at the salon. He came in for a haircut, and well, you know…” they both laughed. “We kind of hit it off.”
“Well, now we’re talking,” said a very interested Amy.
“Yeah, he’ll be fun for a while, but he’s definitely not the one.”
“So, when are you going to see him again?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Genevieve, contemplating the question. “I guess it is my turn to call him back. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
“He’s not the one who gave you that shiner, is he?”
Genevieve stopped combing and looked at Amy in the mirror. Amy was staring back at her, all knowing, rather pleased with herself. Rather than create any more curiosity on Amy’s part by avoiding the question or changing the subject, Genevieve decided to be blunt. That way, she might ward off any further inquiries.
“No,” Genevieve said. “That would have been the gang leader and his goons who roughed me up in the back alley of the after-hours strip club,” she added matter-of-factly.
“Oh my god, G, you really do have a wild imagination. You should write books, you know?” Amy laughed some more, and Genevieve joined her.
“So, Ms. Amy Richardson, what are we doing today, a touch up color, maybe a trim?”
Liam Irish locked the front door to the salon at 4:05 pm, and flipped the CLOSED sign around to face the street. The late afternoon sun was glaring through the windows, so he turned the blinds to block it, and walked to the back of the salon to where Genevieve was busy cleaning up. He cut to the chase.
“G, you can’t let him do that – to you, or anybody, do you hear me?”
Genevieve was sweeping hair up off the floor, her head down, completely absorbed in her thoughts.
“G…G, do you understand?”
Suddenly she burst out with a reply. “What do you think, that I like this or something? Of course I understand, but what am I gonna do? He’s kind of got me by the balls.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I work for him, Liam. You know, dance, strip. I can’t afford to quit, and he knows it. It’s like he owns me, just like I was telling you last night at the club. And if I quit, he’ll make sure I can’t get another job at another club in this town, and he’ll make my life miserable just because he and his goons can.” She stopped and thought for a moment.
“Liam, you have no idea.” Genevieve wiped her eye and shrugged, as if in resignation. “It’s my own fault. I got involved with him, now I have to suffer the consequences.”
Liam looked at her with concern, but then with indignation.
“No you don’t, G, so get that thought out of your head right now. We’ll figure this out, okay? Just give me some time to think, that’s all. There’s a lot going down right now. I need to process it. I need to figure this out, alright?”
“But Liam,” Genevieve pleaded, with tears in her eyes. “This is not your fight. You shouldn’t get involved.”
This was the second time he saw Genevieve’s vulnerability, the first being last night at the club. He was surprised, given her outward cockiness, but then realized she too was human. Her precocious personality was just an outer protective shell. He was now getting to know the real Genevieve.
“Too late, G. I already am involved.”
…stay tuned…Chapter 8 will be posted next Tuesday, August 30th…