“I want to try something new,” Jacques muses. He runs a long brush through my hair before gathering it in his fingers.
“We’ve heard that before,” mumbles Michonne from inside my closet. She comes out carrying a casual Balmain jumpsuit. Still too fancy. I shake my head, and she rolls her eyes but disappears to try again.
“What would you say to a lavender ombré?”
I catch Jacques’s eyes in the mirror. “Seriously?”
“Why not? Let me dye you, doll!”
I look at my long, chocolate-colored locks and shrug. “Sure. Why not? As long as it won’t take too long; the signing starts in three hours.”
“I have the perfect outfit if you’re going with lavender!” Michonne calls out. She has the gait of a fashion model and better style than I could ever hope to have. I have no doubt she will deliver.
“If we work fast, we can do it,” Jacques assures me, already pulling out a drawer to grab the dye. “You’re going to look fabulous!”
I wasn’t one to be too concerned with my appearance, but I was known to change my look now and again. Being under the spotlight for the last year had taught me a few valuable lessons about yoga pants and T-shirts as an acceptable public outfit.
“After what happened,” Jacques whispers, “we need to make a statement! Show them you’re not taking that bullshit lying down!”
With all that had been going on lately—the infamous snub, the red carpet incident, and X’s presence—I could use a change and a little more confidence. “All right, Jacques. Do your worst.”
Two hours later, he spins me around toward the mirror, and I gasp. “Oh. My. God.”
“You are a magician,” Michonne squeals in glee as she runs over to stand behind me. “Eloisa Rae Morgan, you are killin’ that color!”
She’s right. The pastel color clashes with my brown locks, but somehow Jacques makes it look completely seamless and trendy. I love it.
“Thank you,” I say a little breathlessly, catching his eye in the mirror. “As always.”
He winks and bends over to kiss my cheek. “As always. Now let’s get that makeup done.”
As he applies my lip liner, Michonne shoves a black corset top under my nose. “This. With your new True Religion skinnies and Michael Kors open toes. Casual enough for an album signing, but edgy enough to make a statement.”
Picturing the outfit in my mind, I nod.
“You are going to look fabulous,” she agrees, rushing into the closet to grab my jeans. “X is going to lose his mind when he sees you.”
I freeze. What the hell does she mean by that? “What does X have to do with anything?”
Michonne peeks her head out the closet. “Girl, that man is fine. I know he’s only been here one day, but please don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”
“I have,” Jacques chimes in, reaching to grab my lipstick. “And I don’t usually go for the masculine type. But that rough, boyish face is near perfection.” Jacques shivers comically, and I roll my eyes.
I picture X in my mind and reluctantly have to agree. Strong, corded muscle and scorching heat rolling off him in waves, and a gaze so intense it almost hurts to look at it. But there is no way I would admit to it. “So what? He’s an arrogant, invasive pain in the ass. Did I tell you he broke into my phone?”
“Ooh, a man that takes control,” Machine responds, walking out of the closet, skinnies in hand. “I like it.”
“Then why don’t you go after him?” I deadpan, joking, since I know Michonne is already in a happy relationship.
She gives me a look and reaches under my bed to grab my shoes. “I don’t need a man. You do.”
“I do not.”
Jacques blows out a breath. “Don’t tell me you’re still hung up on that drummer. What was his name again? Jasper?”
I scoff. “You know his name is Joel. And no, I’m not. We haven’t spoken in months.” Which had done wonders for my sanity. Joel and I had dated for three years, and our breakup really hit me hard. In the beginning it was wonderful. It had been all about the music. The music brought us together, but the music also tore us apart. He changed—for the worse—when he got a small taste of fame. I finally had the courage to start ignoring his calls, and I hadn’t looked back since.
“Thank God that’s over,” Michonne declares. “You don’t need a man who’s intimidated by your success.”
That wasn’t the reason we broke up, but I keep that to myself, the wound still raw. Luckily, my phone saves me from having to respond. A text message from X flashes on the screen, and I narrow my eyes as I read the words.
X: We’re leaving in ten minutes. Don’t be late, or I’ll come up to get you.
I suppress the urge to growl in frustration. The man could use a lesson in tact. I don’t know if it’s me he is so frustrated with or if he’s just like this in general. I suspect the latter.
“There. Pretty as a peach,” Jacques says as he touches my face up with finishing powder. “Knock ’em dead.”
I glare at the text message in my hand. Oh, I will.