Page 14 of Dirty Promise

We say our goodbyes and I instantly fall asleep without even changing out of my clothes. When my alarm goes off at 7am, I can barely open my eyes. As miserable as I feel, getting to know more about Max was well worth being a zombie the rest of the day. It’s a good thing I’m a cosmetologist and not a nurse or in some other vocation that involves life or death situations—though I suppose some of the women whose hair and makeup I do will disagree.

After I shower and dress, I go to work. I must look like hell without makeup on. I decide to do it while I wait for my first client to come in. It’s kind of a requirement to wear it since that’s literally my job.

I’m sitting at my station, priming my face when Melody, who is at the station next to me, taps her long stiletto nails on her table to get my attention. When I look at her, she has a smile stretched across her face.

“What?” I ask.

We aren’t great friends, but we’ve gotten closer since Kia passed. Everyone at work has been so supportive.

“You’re glowing,” she says.

Looking in the mirror, I don’t see it. All I notice are the bags under my eyes and my red and blotchy skin. “You’re joking, right? I look like shit,” I say.


“Well, yeah, you do, but under all that shit you’re glowing.” I roll my eyes and put on concealer to hide the bags. It looks much better. “Did you get laid?” she asks.

I swear the girls in here have a sixth sense about these things.

My mind instantly goes to Max, his hard body, those smoldering eyes, that panty-dropping smile of his. I force back the smile that’s threatening to mangle the dismissive expression I try to pull off.

“Oh my God, you totally did,” she says. “You have to tell me everything.”

While each of us works on our clients, I tell them the story about Kia and the envelopes and about Max. How I didn’t even like him at first because he was a cocky jerk and how everything changed.

Our clients, who normally ignore our gossip and idle chatter, join in the conversation, asking questions and giving their opinions. Everyone is saying different versions of the same thing: he’s a keeper.

Of course, I counter with, I don’t even know him that well. Our ‘relationship’ could very well just be a booty call situation and I’m reading far more into it than what’s actually there. But the girls aren’t hearing it.

“Okay, that’s enough,” I say. “Time to talk about someone else.”

I finish up on my client. It’s a bride’s maid look with red lips and a halo eye. Despite the distractions, it turned out amazing.

“You look beautiful,” I tell her and send her off to the next station so Tiana can do her hair.

As I’m putting my makeup back in my kit, I see movement in my mirror and look up. Max is standing at the entrance of the store with Lydia, the store manager. She stands behind him so he can’t see her, and she is jumping around, pointing at him to get the other girls’ attention. It works and they look kind of confused until he walks toward me.

My heart is beating a mile a minute. I forget to breathe and my head gets light and I start to sway, feeling like I will pass out. I don’t know why I’m so nervous to see him again. Maybe because he’s on my turf and I know everyone is going to have something to say about it. What is he even doing here? I mentioned where I work in one of our texts, but I didn’t think he was really paying attention because he didn’t say anything about it after. Clearly, he was. He must have looked up the address.

I can feel my co-workers’ glittery eyes watching my every move—and his. He can probably feel it too, which would explain the shy smile and the flushed cheeks.

“Hi,” he says when he’s standing in front of me.

“Hi.”

I want to give him a hug, but are we there yet? I’ll wait for him to make the first move when it comes to PDA.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, making sure to lift my voice so he knows it’s a happy surprise.

“I was hoping I could take you out to lunch.”

The girls around me make swooning sounds. I try to ignore them.

My lunch break isn’t for another hour and I have a client coming in any minute. “Oh, I—”

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