KINK (in the Built anthology)
I was in hell. The black and gold hell that was Glorious Creations, and escape was at the top of my list.
I flipped the thermostat on, praying this time it would work. Repairing the salon’s older-than-dirt air conditioner had meant spending most of the morning in the thick Houston heat, but I’d damn sure rather be out there than in here with all these women.
Four of the seven barber chairs were occupied, plus the two old women under the dryer and a couple more getting their nails done. I could feel all of them staring at me as I moved around to close the front door. Posters in the reception area settled into place on the walls and the sound of female chatter immediately picked up.
I turned toward the break room, ready to make my escape when an elderly woman with snow-white hair lifted the dryer.
“D’Angelo, how’s your mama doing?” She was tiny, with almost wrinkle-free skin that made guessing her age pretty much impossible. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her.
I barely slowed my pace to answer. “She’s fine, ma’am.”
My aunt would have my ass if I was rude to her customers. I bit back a sigh and stopped directly under a vent, letting cool air wash over me. The woman lifted the lid to the hair dryer and gave me a smile meant to charm. I did likewise and waited to see what she wanted. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I want you to have my grandbabies,” she announced—loudly.
I stared at her, a “fuck no” lodged somewhere in my throat, while every woman in the salon cackled or expressed their own desire for me to father their child or grandchild. If I had a nickel for every time some woman, old or young, had said the same damn thing to me, I’d be a rich man.
Rubbing the whiskers on my chin, I turned and glanced at my aunt through the mirror. Apparently, not shaving wasn’t the deterrent I’d hoped it would be. Aunt Glo shrugged, a smile on her face. What the hell could I say? “Thank you, ma’am.”
“I’m surprised anyone wants his babies with that fuzzy head of his,” my cousin, Vivi, practically shouted from the far end of the shop. She stood behind her chair, in the middle of a weave, her own tiny braids held back from her face by a rubber band. Vivi was a looker, she knew she was a looker and made sure anyone within a fifty mile radius knew it too.
“Nothing a haircut and shave wouldn’t cure,” a busty blonde announced from her nail station.
I’d noticed her on an earlier trip from the A/C unit located out back to the thermostat by the front door. But then, how could I miss her?
She tucked her long, tanned legs underneath her seat and winked at me. Her tiny pink bandana print skirt barely covered her ass and matched a pair of painfully high-heeled shoes the same color. Pink and blue and blonde; in her own way, she was as out of place in the salon’s black and gold surroundings as me.
My aunt sauntered over and planted a kiss on my sweaty cheek. “You should put that poor woman out of her misery,” she said. One penciled-in eyebrow crested, dipped and crested again while she spoke.
“Her granddaughter would scare a Rottweiler,” I murmured.
She snorted with laughter and rubbed my cheek. “You so pretty, D’Angelo,” she teased in a sing-song voice. “That’s what they all say about you.”
“I know.” I sighed in resignation. I wasn’t conceited; I’d heard all my life how pretty I was, and I hated it. Not that my brothers were ugly—far from it—but my light skin and green eyes had always attracted a lot of attention, and not always the good kind. I got down to the business at hand. “You need a new compressor, Aunt Glo.”
She waved off my bad news and turned her back to me, prepared to finish up a wrap on the woman in her barber chair. “Come see me Saturday morning for a haircut, young man.”
Bubble gum and rubber bands would probably have been just as effective as anything I could do with a wrench and a prayer, but Aunt Glo was cheap. We’d just have to baby it along until Dad could convince her to shell out some real dough for that compressor.
“Thanks for waking me up, Aunt Glo.” Looked like I’d just have to wait until Sunday to catch up on my sleep.
I settled in the chair, coffee clutched in one hand, as my aunt whipped a silver colored cape out, covering my jeans and t-shirt.
“My pleasure.” Smiling serenely in the face of my sleepy glare, she dug out a wide-tooth comb and her clippers.
I lurched forward and turned to look at her. “Just a trim–please.”
“Trim, my ass, boy. You’re not gettin’ out of my chair until you let me do something with that nappy-ass head of yours. Now turn back around.”
My hair wasn’t nappy, just curly, but Aunt Glo wasn’t a woman you argued with. Sighing, I did as she’d instructed.
“If you’re a good boy, I’ll give you a manicure when she’s done.”
“Che-rise!” my aunt’s shout ended on a laugh. “Girl, you are shameless!”
“I was just kidding,” Cherise drawled from her spot behind us.
Smiling to myself, I turned to face the mirror again, focusing on the blonde in my line of sight. Today her hair was pulled up in a funky ponytail like something out of I Dream of Jeanie. Even though her ass was covered by a pair of capris and her cleavage was hidden by a sleeveless turtleneck, she still looked hot enough to make me need to adjust my jeans.
Now that was something to wake up to.
“Don’t even think about it, boy,” Aunt Glo practically growled, her voice low enough so only I could hear her warning.
“’Bout what?” I knew damned good and well who and what she was talking about. The first tug of the comb at the top of my head made me wish I hadn’t given in quite so easily about getting a haircut, though.
“You know what!” She pulled again, harder this time for emphasis, almost driving the vision of Cherise giving me something more than a manicure right out of my head.
I could practically hear my aunt’s foot tapping as I tried to take a sip of my coffee. “She talked to me first, Aunt Glo.”
“Boy, I worked hard to get that girl out here.” She scowled at me through the mirror. “Including five trips to Baytown to see her, and I sure don’t need you mucking things up.”
“Would I do something like that?” I bit back a grin then winced, praying she’d finish torturing my head soon.
“What are you into now, D’Angelo?” Vivi asked, appearing at my elbow. The smell of warm sugar and grease from her bag of donuts teased me as she sank into the empty barber chair beside us.
“You could share those,” I said.
“Cherise,” Aunt Glo hissed again, interrupting my bid for breakfast.
“Oh, no!” One eyebrow shot up as Vivi leaned forward and crumpled the now-empty bag. “You don’t want to hit that.”
“That was rude,” I said, pointing to the bag she was holding.
It looked like breakfast would have to wait, too.
“Who said I wanted to mess with her?” I whispered, hoping Cherise couldn’t hear us from where she sat just a few feet away.
“That—“ Vivi tilted her head in Cherise’s general direction “–is bi-sexin-all!”
I nearly dropped my cup of coffee before I regrouped and took another look at Cherise. “She’s bisexual?”
“I don’t care what she’s doing as long as she’s here when she needs to be here and paying me my money on time.” Aunt Glo’s voice was low and firm as she added, “And neither should you.”
“You’re full of shit, Vivi,” I muttered.
“Go ask her yourself,” she challenged, arms crossed over her tiny chest.