Finally back with another Sample Sunday from my next release, In Spite of it All. An official release date will come next week. But for now, here’s another sample to get you ready. 🙂
And click here if you missed the first one!
(Note: Sample is copyrighted, unedited, and subject to change)
I was committing the ultimate sin.
After leaving the shop unsatisfied for three months straight, it was time for me to cheat… on my barber.
Chuck had been cutting my hair since I was a kid, from the booster seat and beyond. But now that he and I were both getting a little older, things just weren’t the same.
It wasn’t that he’d ever fucked my hairline up, or nicked a bald spot, or even made me wait half a day to get in the chair. I just never left the shop looking fresh; more like I was still in between cuts.
So it was time for a change, which meant finding a completely new shop since switching chairs definitely wasn’t an option.
I walked into Clyde’s Cutz, and was immediately impressed by the modern feel that completely contradicted the old-timer logo and outer window display. What I expected to be the usual, family-owned barbershop with worn, tattered chairs, magazines from three years ago, and a vending machine filled with stale candy and chips people didn’t even eat, actually looked brand new with nice leather chairs, current technology, and even a counter display of their specially-made products for sale.
The barbershop was filled with the usual, familiar chatter of sports, women, and pop culture that I had grown up on. And business was obviously doing well, all of the chairs except for one buzzing with a client.
“Yo… what’s up, man? What can we do for you?” one of the barbers asked as he whipped the cape off of a client who was already checking their hair in the mirror.
“Just lookin’ for a basic cut, bruh. Nothin’ fancy. Just a little off the top, clean my face up a bit, and… Princess?”
Tiana looked almost as shocked as I was as she headed to the only empty chair with a bucket of hair products in her hand. She sat it down on the booth, dusting her hands on the vest embroidered with the Clyde’s Cutz logo that she wore over her jeans and t-shirt before approaching me.
“Kelvin. Wow. Hey. What are you doing around these parts?”
I scrubbed a hand over my hair, mainly to prove I wasn’t stalking her when I answered, “Tryna get a quick cut before I head to work. Your chair open?”
She peeked back to her booth to check as if things would’ve changed that fast before she answered, “Uh… yeah, sure. Go have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
Before I could make a move, she took off towards the door she had just came out of. And while I was a little distracted by the sway of her hips I hadn’t gotten a chance to really see when I first met her at the lounge, I was sure to follow her directions and head to her booth.
The barber from before was busy sweeping up the hair from his previous client as he said, “You lucked out, chief. T’s chair is hardly ever open.”
“Yeah? So she’s good, huh?” I asked, a little nervous since I had never had anyone else cut my hair before.
But I felt a little more comfortable about my decision when he answered, “The best around. Almost better than her daddy was when he worked here.”
“Her father was a barber too?”
The guy nodded, sweeping the pile of hair into a dustpan. “Yep. Him and my old man Clyde owned the spot together before he passed away.”
Damn. So her pops is gone?
So many questions ran through my head at the thought. How old was she when it happened? How did she take the loss? I could pretty much assume she didn’t have issues if she took up the man’s craft. But then again, what if she had only done it out of spite? To prove she was better than him?
“What about Clyde? He still around?” I asked, trying to balance out the conversation so I didn’t sound like a creep.
“Yeah. But his heart hasn’t really been it since his partner passed, so he only cuts a couple times a week.”
Before I could dig deeper and make my way back around to Tiana’s story, she popped up from the back of the shop with another bucket of products, carrying them to the front of the shop and setting them on the counter display then making her way to the booth.
She placed her hands on the back of my chair, turning me around towards the mirror and observing my hair before she asked, “Alright, so what you in for, Kelvin? You want me to fade you up? Or you want somethin’ more trendy, like one of those damn curved parts that lead to nowhere?”
I couldn’t help but laugh, knowing exactly what she was talking about while also knowing how far removed I was from the trendy go-to’s. In fact, the trends had never really been my style, mainly because Chuck refused to do that shit.
“Trends come and go. But a solid touch-up is forever,” he used to say in an attempt to convince me I didn’t need a mohawk, or a flat top, or any of that other shit he just didn’t have the skills to do or the will to figure out. And while I might’ve appreciated it now as an adult, as a kid it annoyed the hell out of me.
“I just need a little off the top, princess. Freshen up my line, tighten up my goatee, and we’ll call it good.”
She nodded through the mirror, draping a cape over my body and turning me back around as she answered, “Simple enough.”
I lifted my chin so she could secure a neck strip, then I waited patiently as she got her equipment in order. And while the barbershop was buzzing with chatter throughout, my focus was completely on her the second I heard the buzz of her clippers behind me.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were a barber, Tiana?” I asked as I felt the first small patch of hair fall off of my head.
She remained focus, her clippers not skipping a beat when she replied, “When was I supposed to?”
“I don’t know. Somewhere between the boo-hoo and Boy Bye perhaps.”
This time she pulled the clippers away from my head, laughing hard enough to draw a few eyes from the other customers.
“Oh my God. Shut up,” she whispered not too far from my ear before going back to work.
“I guess I better listen before you fuck my head up, huh?”
This time she smacked her teeth, zipping off another patch as she answered, “I take my job way too seriously to have you walking out of here with a fucked up haircut, Kelvin.”
While I appreciated her commitment, I also knew my hair wasn’t the only thing I was talking about, though I couldn’t figure out what it was about her that had me so intrigued. I mean, she was fresh off of a break-up which meant I really needed to be avoiding her at all costs. But she also had a gentle, low maintenance air about her that was just… attractive.
Even in a jeans and t-shirt, rocking a loose ponytail at the top of her head and only a few obvious hints of makeup, she still managed to look like a star.
Like a princess.
“I’ve never had a chick touch me up before. Never had anybody other than my oldhead cut my hair at all,” I told her, choosing to take the conversation down the path she had already set.
This time she was right in front of me, holding my head still with the tips of her fingers while zipping at my hairline with her liners in the other hand as she replied, “Well it looks like he pushed your line back a little too far. And he didn’t exactly do this widow’s peak of yours any justice.”
“Damn, princess. Is my shit really that bad?”
She pulled the liners away from my head, brushing the stray hairs off before going back at it.
“No, no. It’s not… bad. It’s just not as good as it could be. I got you though. You have nothing to worry about.”
Love is not on the drink menu.
At least not for Tiana St. Patrick as she nurses the broken heart caused by her ex after their sudden, unexpected, yet incredibly necessary break-up.
But when a generous stranger offers to jumpstart her healing process, and doubles down with a chance encounter at her business, she can’t help but wonder if his presence is worth something more than just a helping hand even though he seems to be exactly the type of guy she should be avoiding at all costs.
Kelvin Watson is a man on a mission. Between the lounge he co-owns with his big brother, and the ladies that frequent it, it’s no secret that he has plenty to keep himself busy.
Still, when a particular patron catches his eye and then manages to ease her way into his heart with her easygoing vibe and natural charm, he can’t help himself in pushing for something more. And when more turns into a discovery of past indiscretions, present reservations, and future obstacles, Tiana and Kelvin find themselves attempting to navigate their budding romance, in spite of it all.
(Note: This book is a spin-off of, Love at First Spite. While it can be read as a standalone, it does contain major spoilers for that title.)