“Can I help?” says a heavily accented voice.
It’s then I realize the door to the salon is open, and a woman is standing there, looking at me.
I must look like a crazy person, just standing out here staring at the place.
“Oh, um, yes, I have an appointment…to get my nails done.” I hide my hands behind my back. “My friend made it for me.”
“Oh, you are Andi?” She smiles at me.
“Yes,” I answer tentatively.
“Wonderful! Come in.” She steps back, waving me in. “I’m Martina.”
She presses her hand to her chest. When I see how nice her nails are, I cringe again at my own bitten mess.
“I have you booked in with Alma. She’ll be out in a few minutes. Sit down.”
I’m ushered into a chair.
“Would you like a drink?”
“Coffee would be great. Thanks.”
Martina disappears through the salon, leaving me to panic about being here. The salon is a hub of activity with women getting their hair done. They all look stylish and glamorous, and I’m none of those things.
I’m actually considering bolting when Martina appears with my coffee.
“Here you are.”
She hands it over, and I take it from her.
I’ve just taken a sip of my coffee when a well-groomed dark-haired woman in her thirties steps around the counter.
“Andi.” She greets me with a smile. “Would you like to follow me through? I’ll bring your coffee.” She takes it from my hands.
Nervously, I follow her down a corridor and into a room.
“Take a seat. So, what are we doing today?”
“My nails…they’re kind of a mess.”
“Okay. Can I see?”
I realize that I’m sitting on my hands again. “Sorry.” I give a nervous laugh. Then, I pull my hands up and rest them on the table in front of me.
She doesn’t seem appalled, which is a good thing. Either that, or she’s really good at masking her disgust.
“I’m a mechanic,” I explain.
“And I bite my nails,” I carry on awkwardly. “But I have somewhere special to be tonight, and I need them to look nice…if possible.”
“Don’t you worry. I’ll have your nails looking amazing in no time.”
One hour and thirty minutes later, I walk out of the salon, feeling like a new woman. Well, a new hand woman, that is.
They feel so soft, and my nails are painted blood red, a darker shade than my dress, which Alma said would complement it. She did something called a paraffin wax on my hands to help soften the skin. I’ve never heard of it before, but I want to have one done every day. So relaxing. While I was waiting for the paraffin wax to work its magic, Alma gave me a pedicure, so my toes now match my fingers.
I’m a girl almost ready to go. Just the rest of me to sort out now.
Letting myself into our hotel room, I drop my bag on my bed and flash my nails at Petra.
“Very nice. Right, get yourself in the shower and wash your hair, and I’ll fix it up for you and put your face on.”
“Not a lot of makeup though.” It’s not really me.
“I’ll keep it light. You don’t need a lot.”
“What about my hair?”
She stares at me for a long moment. “With that dress, I’d normally say up, but you never have your hair down, so I think you should wear it long with loose waves.”
“You’re the boss,” I say with a wave of my hand. Grabbing my toothbrush, I drop some paste on it and start scrubbing my teeth. “Are you going out tonight?” I call from the bathroom.
“Yeah, gonna go out for a beer later with the boys,” she calls back.
I spit and rinse. Shutting the bathroom door, I hop in the shower.
Half an hour later, I’m shaved to within an inch of my life. Legs, bikini, and underarms are all baby smooth. I dry off and apply my body lotion. Then, I pull on some shorts and a tank.
I come out of the bathroom with a towel on my head. “I’m all yours.”
I pick my phone up, and I sit down at our makeshift dressing table, which is actually a desk with a mirror propped against it, and I check my messages.
There’s one from Carrick.
How did the shopping go?
I got a dress and shoes. ?
Glad to hear it. I’ll pick you up at 7:30 p.m.
See you then. x
I hit Send before I realize that I put a kiss at the end. Why did I do that? Oh God, what if he gets the wrong idea and thinks—
Oh, whatever, I really need to stop worrying and just enjoy myself.
“Ready?” Petra stands behind me with a hairdryer in one hand and a makeup bag in the other.
“Ready.” I smile back.
“What do you think?”
“Petra…I love it.” I smile back at my reflection, touching a hand to my hair.
She has done an amazing job. My hair is in loose waves down my back, and my makeup is neutral and pretty.
“Are you professionally trained?” I ask her.
“No, but my mum is a stylist. You pick things up.”
My mother’s a model, and the only thing I picked up was her good genes.
“Well, thank you, Petra’s mum. Actually, what time is it?” I glance at my phone. “Shit! It’s twenty past seven. Carrick will be here in ten minutes.”
Grabbing the dress and my new underwear set, I go into the bathroom.