Okay, I'll admit, I've never had my hair done professionally. Even before when my anxiety wasn't as bad, I could never afford to waste the money when I could just do it myself. My hair is fried and chopped wonky but I haven't exactly had anyone to impress recently.
So, when we walk into the posh salon, I am pleasantly surprised. It looks like the ones in the movies, four basins for the washing and four seats in front of mirrors to do the actual styling. "Are you alright with getting your hair done? Clara is really sweet." Marielle asks, gently grabbing my elbow and pulling me towards another woman.
She's tall - maybe 5'9 - with gorgeous pink hair that is in an elaborate braid, flawless makeup in all sorts of colours and a metallic colour on her lips. She's wearing a boring uniform that's grey, I would love to see her in clothes that actually meet her aesthetic. "Hi darling! I'm Clara." Her voice has a Tennessee twang with a soft rasp to it that makes me feel all warm inside. She's probably in her late thirties and seems like a motherly type, I decide that I trust her.
"Hi, I'm Cass."
"Well I know that, honey! Are you okay with me doing your hair today? I'll make sure you can see what I'm doing, sweetie so you don't get frightened."
"I don't want to be a burden."
"It would be my pleasure, what are you thinking today?" I give her and the girls a look that clearly says, I don't have a clue about hair please help me.
"How about take a little of the length off? It's already at her waist, maybe bring it up and add layers to frame her face?" Lexie starts.
"Yeah, maybe add some lighter colour at the ends and around the face to bring out the green in her eyes." Saviour continues and I sigh in relief, I trust them to know what they're doing.
"Sounds fantastic, take a seat here, honey." Thankfully, Clara puts me in the chair closest to the door and both men sit in the seats to my right so I can see Breaker from the corner of my eye. Making me relax slightly, knowing he's close enough to stop anyone who would hurt me.
Clara moves slower than the other hairdressers do but I'm extremely grateful for her patience. She chats away happily and I find myself having a nice conversation with her, she has a husband and he's in the army so she's alone a lot. She doesn't have any kids but she's always wanted them, they just struggle to find the time to actually make a baby.
She got into hair and makeup when she was only fourteen, she was experimenting with it in her room with all sorts of colours. Apparently she's fried her hair with bleach more than once but just loves bright colours so has to keep doing it. I asked her why and she said that her hair expressed her personality and she wanted to give anyone's dull day a little bit of colour and I fell in love with her.
The other three finish before me, for one their hair was in a much better state and two, their hairdressers didn't have to worry about them dissolving into a panic attack. Once the bleaching, cutting and drying is finished, Clara softly curls my hair into waves and I fall in love with my appearance.
I didn't realise how important hair is to one's looks but I feel like I look older, more mature and well put together while I normally look like a hobo. My hair actually shines and frames my face perfectly with golden strands peeking through the brown and brushing against my shoulder blades. She took a lot of the length off and my head feels a lot lighter since my hair is so thick.
"You look amazing, lovely!" Saviour praises and I laugh, thanking Clara afterwards with a tentative hug. "Come on, onto nails. You think you're up for it?"
"I think so." I reassure her and follow along behind them, looking behind me to make sure Breaker is following. Him and Hunter nod from right behind me and we head into the back room which is massive. Lined either side with nail desks filled with tools that look like torture devices, I eye them cautiously and drift closer to Breaker who squeezes my waist in comfort.
I take a seat at the end with Breaker in the seat next to me. I'm thankful that the girls get this whole place shut down just for us because I would feel claustrophobic if the room was filled with women. Especially considering how close the desks are to each other.
The nail lady sits opposite me and smiles, she's young, probably early twenties with the coolest lashes I've ever seen. Her nails are long and vibrantly coloured but once again she's trapped in that boring grey uniform. "Hi Cass, I'm Rachel, what are we doing today?"
"Hi, umm, can we keep the natural nail and put some colour on it?" I question, having a vague idea of how nail salons work since Hendrix's mum worked in one.
"Sure, I'll put gel colour to make it stay longer and since your nails are already long I'll just shape them for you. Is that okay?"
"Yes, thank you." She gets to work and I relax, I can see everything she's doing and what she's reaching for and Breaker is practically glued to my side. Granted, he is on his phone but I know he'd notice if something was amiss.
She keeps the shape long and the colour is natural, just makes me look less like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards as I usually do. This time I finish before the others because they're having powder spread on their nails and the creepy tools that I saw earlier are making awful grinding noises as the techs work away.
I spin in my chair, excited that I could spin in circles and make myself dizzy, but I stop facing Breaker who looks mighty bored. I lean forward and rest my chin on his shoulder which makes him put his phone down and laugh softly. "Are you bored, Mr.B?"
He leans forward so his lips press against my ear, I figure so that no one else hears him talk, and I shiver at the sensation. "How can you tell?" I snort and he laughs louder, pulling back so he can look at me head on. I poke my tongue out at him and he crinkles his nose back.
"Right! Massages next!" Lexie cheers and my body freezes in panic. I can handle haircuts and nails but laying face down on the table - naked, might I add - while they touch me without me being able to see. No, thank you!
"Can we go get coffee please, B?" I practically beg, knowing that he's caught the fear on my face. I saw their cafe across the street and I only relax when I exit the building onto the street. "Is Hunter gonna be okay protecting the three of them on his own?" I take B's hand as we cross the street without even meaning to but he doesn't shake me off so I just keep my hand in his, fighting the urge to swing it back and forth.
"Saviour doesn't need protecting, Rory, they'll be okay. Let's get you some coffee." He pulls his hand forward so that I go into the cafe before him and the staff immediately start scrambling when they see the cut. We get to the till and a very pretty girl stands there, she's probably only a few years older than me and she has her makeup applied flawlessly. I wish I could do that but whenever I put a lot on I always end up looking caked.
She's wearing a black apron with a nice blouse underneath that reveals her cleavage and a necklace that spells Tiffany. Her hair is pulled back into a blonde ponytail but the darkness of her roots and eyebrows tells me that she is a brunette, I'm sure she'd be gorgeous either way. "Hi Breaker." She greets, twirling a strand of hair around her finger as she stares up at him with deep blue eyes.
The only confusing part of this interaction is that if she knows his name then surely she knows he doesn't talk but she expects a reply. "What can I get you?" Tiffany asks and Breaker leans down to whisper it to me, I giggle softly as his scruff tickles my neck and I feel him smile on my skin.
"Umm, could he have a cappuccino and could I have a mocha please?" My voice is quiet since I can hardly function doing basic things, I probably would've broken down by now - at least on the inside - if Breaker wasn't keeping me warm with his chest against my back.
Tiffany smiles tightly and starts making the drinks, I go to pay but she says it's on the house because it's a Rider establishment so I tuck the ten dollar note into the tip jar and thank her for the drinks. She smiles sincerely this time and I find her even prettier like that.
"Here you go, B." I slide the warm mug in front of him while he stares at me with warm eyes until my cheeks turn pink.
Hold it together Rory.