Blown away

A/N: The story was written in *one* go after I was fed up transcribing an interview for my practical training at university in April 2001. It's "based" on the film "Blow Dry" with Alan Rickman – that I haven't seen yet when I did this piece.

Pairing: Phil Allen / Charlotte Twain (OFC)

Rating: PG 13 (not for action but for naughty thoughts)

Summary: Charlotte Twain was't quite prepared when she entered Phil Allen's barber shop to have her hair done... (From Charlotte's POV)

Dedication: For Suzy, thank you for inspiring me with these wonderful snaps...



*

No one on earth could feel like this

I'm thrown overblown with bliss

There must be an angel

Playing with my heart

I walk into an empty room

And suddenly my heart goes boom!

It's an orchestra of angels

And they're playing with my heart

Eurythmics

There must be an angel (playing with my heart)

*

The phone rang. It was early evening and I had just arrived home. Answering the call I found out it was Karen. Silently sighing I sat down. Receiving a call from her at this time of the day meant some strenuous minutes. Actually hours.

We had been meeting at school and she used to call from time to time. Back at school we never spent so much time together so I wondered what she wanted from me. I didn't dislike her, I just never considered her a close friend. But I wasn't able to tell her. Maybe I was just too sentimental and hoped that spending time with her would bring back the feeling of my youth. And probably that was her reason, too.

She seemed to read my mind and asked if we could meet the next day as she realized I wasn't talking too much.

"And Charlotte, would you go to the hairdresser's first, please?"

She was insulting me; I should have reprimanded her. Actually I would have done so to any other person who said such a thing to me. But when it came to dealing with Karen I realized the easy way out was to pretend to follow her requests instead of starting a debate. Though I felt insulted I knew she didn't even realize she had done it.

She was referring to a meeting about two years ago. It was a week after my thirtieth birthday. Crossing that magic line I just had to change. So I got my hair cut down to an inch and had it coloured blue.

To say she was shocked would be a euphemism.

A look in the mirror affirmed Karen's request. I really should go to the hairdressers. Sighing I hung up the phone.

***

Considering all possibilities - and especially their consequences - I slowly walked towards the hairdresser's I had spied across the street and quarrelled with my poor life's fate. It had taken me all day to come down to follow Karen's instruction. So I tried to delay what I had to do to the very last minute. It was half past six and I had no appointment. Probably if I was lucky they'd send me away. So I could tell Karen that at least I tried...

What else could life offer to me? I was a thirty-two year old singled woman and a strenuous friend from back at school made me go to the hairdresser...

Sighing and letting go of any hope I decided to enter the lion's den.

A blonde woman, younger than me, walked up to me.

"Hello, may I help you?" Her eyes were clear but she seemed to be a little stressed.

I cleared my throat. "Actually I wanted to have my hair cut."

She smiled a little smile. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Er, no."

"I'm sorry." She said and pointed to the right. My eyes followed the motion of her hand and I saw an old lady and a young man who sat in front of large mirrors.

A tall man wearing dark trousers and a dark shirt with short sleeves stood behind the man and was cutting his hair. He was talking to him and smiling at his reflection in the mirror.

Lucky me, probably I would have to make an appointment and wait weeks until I could come again to finally have my hair cut I thought and turned towards the woman in front of me again.

"We're only open until seven and you see..."

Before she could continue I put on an understanding face and nodded. "Yes, yes, I see. Well, then..."

"But you could make an appointment ." She walked over to the bar and turned over the leaves of a desk diary. "What time and day would you prefer?"

"Well, I had hoped I could be lucky to get my hair done today even without an appointment ." I cleared my throat again.

"I'm truly sorry Madam, but..."

A dark voice interrupted her. "Problems Janet?"

His voice sounded to me like a kind of authority that wasn't to be overheard and not questioned but was calm and not obtrusive at all.

Instinctively I turned my head to the source of the sound. The tall man looked our direction. He had to be Phil Allen I suddenly thought; I read his name on a small label on the door.

The view amplified the impression I got from the sound of his voice alone. I corrected myself about the authority in his voice. Probably it wasn't really just authority but experience and age, too.

Janet shrugged her shoulders but before she could speak I answered for her.

"No, I just thought I could have my hair cut today..."

He raised his eyebrow. "What's the matter Janet?"

"I have to leave early today, Mr. Allen, I have an appointment at the dentist as I told you."

If there was something I was absolutely not longing for it was these kinds of situations. This turned out to be more awkward than meeting Karen without a proper haircut. It seemed I always was seeking out and finding the trouble spot just to directly hit the bull's eye. Probably I could get out of this.

"I don't want to cause any unpleasantness." I paused and was struggling for words. "I, I can make an appointment and come back another day..."

Amusement shone from Allen's face. "If you don't mind having your hair cut by a man, you could sit down." He pointed over to some chairs. "I'll be at your service immediately."

I had to hold onto myself to not roll my eyes. This was too embarrassing. If I'd now turned and walked out, what would he think of me? I just had to stay and get through this.

"Er, thank you very much." I said and managed a little smile while Janet helped me out of my coat.

*

Soon Janet's old lady was finished. Janet showed her the result with a small mirror she held behind the lady's head so the result could be seen in the larger one in front of the lady. She was very pleased with her new haircut and praised Janet's abilities.

The lady paid and Janet brushed the hair on the floor together and left. I was skimming through some magazines Janet had given me. Most of them were not of interest to me. Recipes, diets and rumours. Very interesting - if one was into these things. So I put the magazines aside and looked over to the last customer.

Allen just reached for the hair dryer and caught my gaze in the mirror. I couldn't sort out the look he sent over to me from his intense hazel eyes. Feeling the blood rush to my face I cast down my eyes. You can't stare at others in that way, I told myself. But as quickly as I looked away I caught myself sizing him up.

He was tall, probably around six feet and two inches or even more and his movements were fluid and elegant. Though I couldn't clearly see, I guessed his hips were slim. I estimated him to be in his late forties or early fifties, his once dark hair was sprinkled with grey, and he still was very attractive.

I reprimanded myself and blamed it on the hormones or the stress caused by having to meet Karen. I was here to get a new haircut, not looking for a man, though he was a very appealing one.

Allen dried his customer's hair and again I caught his gaze in the mirror. He raised his eyebrow and smiled. I felt a shiver run down my spine and wondered how I would manage to get through this without getting myself into trouble. I couldn't help the feeling of being blown away by his appearance and the looks he shot at me. I wasn't prepared for this. It felt like I was caught off guard, I felt like a knight without his armour, naked and vulnerable. Not ready to defend myself from something I couldn't sort in. And if I were lucky it would just be my own oblique perception.

Trying to focus my mind on something else I grabbed the magazines again and found a sports magazine I hadn't already skimmed through. I was just in the middle of an interesting article about the history of the Hawaii Ironman as a dark voice cut into my thoughts. Looking up I noticed Allen standing about a yard away in front of me. The young man had left and I hadn't even noticed.

Feeling like being caught reading a comic during a lesson back at school I blushed and quickly put the magazine aside and straightened. Not trying to hide the amusement in his voice he asked me to walk over to get my hair washed. He made a gesture to the other side of the room. I realized there was no one else around and felt nervousness creep up inside. My heart was slightly beating faster as I heard his steps on the floor as he followed me.

"Would you please take a seat?" Allen's voice stirred my deepest inner and I thought it was good to be finally sitting. I felt like my legs wouldn't have carried me any further, my knees were like jelly. I leaned back my head and he adjusted the height of the basin in my neck.

"Is it comfortable that way?"

I was close to replying, everything else would have been comfortable. Because I realized lying in that chair with my head laid back and my neck straightened like that made me feel even more weak and vulnerable than I hoped sitting down would help me gain some self-assurance back. But I knew I couldn't tell him this so I just said: "It's fine, thanks." and stared at the ceiling. The edge of the basin pressed against my neck and I hoped it would be over soon. I felt him work on the mechanic and adjusting the basin again and closed my eyes. But suddenly it felt as if it was made for my neck only. As I opened my eyes Allen's face appeared in my view - upside down. His eyes were blinking.

"That's much better, isn't it?" It took me an instant to sort out his expression, he was obviously smiling.

Relieved I honestly replied: "Yes!"

"Do you know if you are allergic to any shampoo?" He ran his hands through my hair as he was asking. I held my breath as I felt his touch. My heart was beating a few times until I realized what he was doing. Pictures from "Out of Africa" appeared before my inner eye. Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. How gentle he had been washing her hair... Before sentimental feelings could overflow me I took a deep breath. He had been asking a question I'd better answer before he could get suspicious.

I wanted to shrug my shoulders but felt the basin stop my movements. "I don't know of any allergy."

He nodded. "I'd suggest..." He lowered his head and tuned his voice down. "... you'd take your glasses off." His face was only inches away from mine.

I could smell his cologne and my eyes were fixed on his lips. Though I only could see them upside down they seemed very sensual to me and naughty thoughts flashed through my mind. As my gaze wandered along his face and met his eyes I felt the blood rush to my head. Again. Quickly I reached for the glasses and took them off.

Before I could think of where to put them he reached out and took them off my hands. His fingers touched mine and I felt like thunderstruck.

"I will put them aside so you can get them back later, right?"

I wasn't able to speak so I just nodded. He was so sexy but he didn't even notice what his voice caused me to think and feel. To see him that relaxed and cool made it only worse for me. My heart was beating fast and I wondered how I could cool down. My thoughts strayed to the meeting with Karen I had later in the evening and I felt like I was thrown in a pool of ice cold water. I had to smile, fine if at least once the thought of her could help me out of a tricky situation!

Allen switched on the water and I closed my eyes. He put one hand on my forehead to avoid the water running down my face and I felt the warm water flow over my head.

"Is it comfortable?" His voice was almost tender as he asked.

Knowing just too well why I didn't open my eyes as I replied. "It's just perfect."

I felt my features soften and the muscles in my neck and shoulders relax as his hands brushed gently though my hair. Suddenly I felt the water stop and I opened my eyes. I watched him making foam of the shampoo by rubbing his palms together. As he caught my gaze he raised his eyebrows and smiled. I smiled back and closed my eyes again, trying to think of something else but his beautiful strong hands.

Who knew what he could read from my looks? But if I had my eyes closed he wouldn't be able to read anything from them. Even if I was giving into naughty thoughts of what these hands would be able to do if only given the chance to... Would his palms feel warm against my skin? If he would make his touches light and soft? Would he be a teasing touch or...

Then his touch on my head interrupted my thoughts abruptly, shifted them back to reality for some moments.

I had to hold onto myself not to sigh so pleasant did it feel as he massaged the foamed shampoo into my hair. So I just took a deep breath instead. I decided to enjoy it as far as possible; it had been a while since I had been treated with such skill. It had been a more... private occasion but it had been very comforting, too. I wondered why it had to be a call from Karen that made me go to the hairdresser's. If I had known how pleasant this could be I would have come much earlier...

"Excuse me ma'm, would you think me very curious if I asked where you're from?"

Startled my eyes flew open and I must have been looking very puzzled because he explained. "It's a little town and everybody knows everyone. But I've never seen you around."

It wasn't really curiosity that made him ask, I decided, he was a hairdresser and he was used to do small talk. Probably the silence had been too loud and he wondered if I was shy and just wanted to get a conversation started.

"No, I'm not from around here. I..." I paused. "I'm meeting a friend tonight from here and was kindly asked to see that my hair would be done properly." The corners of his mouth crinkled but he didn't say a word so I continued. "I've been busy all day and not able to go to the hairdresser's sooner. And so I dropped by as I was walking down the street."

Again his eyebrow rose and a shiver ran down my spine. "To see that your hair's going to be cut properly."

I didn't fight the smile tugging at my lips caused by the irony in his voice. "You could say that."

A furrow appeared on his forehead and he shot an intense gaze at me. "And if you hadn't found a hairdresser's by accident?"

"To be honest, I was hoping for that..." I cleared my throat. "Well, if I wouldn't have been lucky... It wouldn't have been a problem, too."

His eyes were narrowing but the intenseness of his gaze stayed. The movements of his hands stilled for an instant. Through small slits he stared at me. "You do not much like going to the hairdresser's, don't you?" He smiled and his hands continued their task on my head.

I frowned. "Er... Well." I didn't have the heart to tell him he was right, some hairdressers talked too much. I felt it would have been close to insulting him. And this after he was so kind to do my hair even without an appointment . But I also didn't want to lie to him. So I took the mean.

"I just don't like making an appointment. When I feel like having my hair cut I need to have it done immediately. If I first have to make an appointment and wait some days I might change my mind and not want to go there again."

He nodded and seemed to be consumed completely by his task again. I waited an instant but as he didn't reply I closed my eyes again.

"And now you're here just because you were asked to?"

I couldn't quite figure out if it was a question or a statement. Anyway, if he had known Karen, he wouldn't have said such a thing.

"Well." I started and the memory of Karen's shocked face made me grin. "Yes." I affirmed and opened my eyes just to stare into two hazel orbs wearing a really puzzled look. "About two years ago a friend cut my hair down to an inch." Holding up my hand I showed the length with two fingers. "And then we coloured it blue."

He raised his eyebrow and nodded. "You coloured it. Blue." The tone of his voice was dry. I wondered if I said something wrong. But before I could answer my own question he continued. "A quite incisive alteration I must say, if you don't mind." He switched on the water and washed out the foam.

"You could say that. I thought it was time for a change. But to be honest, it was a colour that wasn't waterproof. But the effect it had was just the same as if I had been using waterproof colour."

"Oh really, did it?"

"Yes." I just said and smiling I silently enjoyed Karen's panic attack. "I left a permanent impression."

"Ah, your appointment." He wasn't just very attractive and using a nice cologne. He also seemed to have brains or to be very intuitive.

Still grinning I affirmed. "Yes and every time we meet I have to see that my hair's done properly."

Instead replying to my statement Allen was reaching for a towel and putting it on my forehead he asked me to lift my head. I did as he asked me to and he started to rub my hair through the towel. My head was shaking and I had to grin as again naughty thoughts flashed through my mind.

It was a strange situation indeed I resumed. He was a tall, attractive man with a sexy voice and wonderful hands and there was no one else around here. There was just one little thing being wrong: these very promising assumptions didn't guarantee a romantic ending - for I was at the hairdresser's and it was his job to behave in a friendly way. If this caused my thoughts spinning around like a roller coaster it wasn't his fault, I told myself. I was in a special situation, I just had started a new and exciting job, I was still licking my wounds because of a man who had left me three years ago and would meet a fellow from back at school I hadn't seen for months. Finally I came down to the excuse that I was nervous and not able to sort in the emotions that were overflowing me.

Startled I turned my head and looked up. He had touched my shoulder, probably he had been talking to me and I haven't heard him while being in my own thoughts. My heart was racing in my chest and I had to take a deep breath.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!" He excused and I noticed his fingers lightly pressed against my collarbone.

I took a deep breath to cool down. "No, don't mind! I'm sorry. I... I just have been lost in my thoughts. Did you say anything?"

"Yes, I asked if you could be so kind to get up and walk right over?" He pointed to the chairs and asked with what seemed to me like a little apprehension in his voice: "Do you need your glasses?"

I shook my head and got up. "No, it's not that bad at all."

Only as I passed the mirrors I realized he really had been touching me. I almost could feel the touch of his palm on my shoulder and his fingers on my collarbone. A strange feeling spread in my stomach, I felt light and lifted. I had to come down to earth again, I told myself and tried to focus on something less stimulating. Energetically I took wide steps over to the chair he had been pointing at. From the corners of my eyes I could see my own reflection in the mirror and I realized how silly I looked with that towel wrapped around my head.

Allen had a cape hung over his forearm. He pulled back the chair and shifted it as I sat down. With an elegant movement he slung the cape around my shoulders and closed its collar. Then he unwrapped my head and started to comb my hair.

I watched him in the mirror in front of me. His motions were efficient and accurate and therefore seemed to be elegant to me. He laid his head from one to the other side and I found out that more interesting than watching him comb my hair were his features while he was concentrating on his task.

My eyes were fixed on his face in the mirror and as he looked up he caught my gaze. Like being caught in the act I cast down my eyes as he half smiled at me.

He probably had felt my looks; he didn't seem to be dumb so he surely would notice how attractive he appeared to me. I tried to stay cool and told myself that I wouldn't be able to leave so soon. I would have to get through this, and it would take at least another thirty minutes. There had to be something I could be thinking of to prevent my thoughts straying again on slippery ground. If only he wasn't that attractive! If I had been warned I could have prepared myself, but he had hit me out of the blue. I had been completely unprepared, shields down and was now overwhelmed... Damn! I couldn't close my eyes until it was all over... Suppressing a sigh I opened my eyes again and he was already looking at me in the mirror.

"How would you like to have it?"

Just starring at him in the mirror I felt the blood rush to my face. My heart was beating so fast he surely had to hear it! What I was thinking of as he asked me wasn't to be told in public. At least he would not be able to read my mind I told myself and wondered how I could be sure of that.

Feeling his intense gaze linger on my face I stammered. "Er..."

Allen put his arms behind his back and leaned down a little bit. Within an instant my thoughts raced faster than the speed of light and before my inner eye I could see him place a little kiss on my cheek. Smiling ironically he raised his eyebrow and tuned his voice down. "No idea, hm?"

Suddenly I was absolutely sure, he knew exactly what effect his behaviour caused in me. The picture exploded like a soap bubble. I swallowed and nodded. Trying to muster a smile I cleared my throat. "Well, indeed I haven't ... er ... wasted a thought on that. It's been a while since I've been at the hairdresser's. And if I didn't have this appointment tonight I..." The words sputtered out of my mouth before I was able to think. I felt so stupid. There was that sexy man and I was just talking nonsense. But he just smiled and nodded so I continued. "Well... What about cutting the tips?" I suggested.

He still smiled and his gaze seemed to be drifting of as if he was thinking of something. I starred at him and waited for his reply. As his eyes focused on mine again he placed his hands on the back of the chair.

"No, I think..." He started and put one hand in his side and then continued with a very determined voice and face. "I think you definitely need a change." Sceptically I looked at him in the mirror. He seemed to be sure what he was talking about and I felt insecure. His encouraging smile brightened my mood. So I asked him what he meant. A secretively smile appeared on his face. "If you let yourself be surprised... It wouldn't be a complete change, but it will flatter your type."

I had to smile at his big words. He wasn't just sexy and used a sexy cologne; he was also clever and had humour, too. What a sexy combination, I silently sighed to myself and started to quarrel with fate. Such a man just had to be ... occupied. Feeling a little disappointed I shifted my thoughts back to the present. "But what if it doesn't flatter my type? What if I'll find it..." I hesitated to use the word 'ugly' because I couldn't imagine I wouldn't like whatever he would do with my hair.

He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. With a theatrical gesture he tried to wipe away my hesitation. "There will be no if cause." His voice was dark and seemed to be tolerating no discussion.

I laughed. "Well, if you say so." Seeing him blink at my image in the mirror I felt little kamikaze butterflies in my stomach.

Allen lifted his index finger and told me that I shouldn't see the result before it was completely done. I threw a last look at my shoulder-long hair and shrugged my shoulders. So it has to be, I thought.

He shifted the chair to the front side of the room. He placed it in a way that I was only to be able to have a look in the mirrors by turning my head to the right or the left.

He had placed a moveable container next to him on which his instruments were lying line by line. As he was reaching for the pair of scissors I asked him how he could know what flattered my type.

"Excuse me Mister Allen, I don't want to be mean, not at all! But how can you be sure what is flattering my type and what isn't? I mean you don't know me..."

"Well." He started and paused for an instant. "I have been doing this for more than twenty years now. Sooner or later you start to see what kind of haircut flatters people's faces and what haircuts ... don't."

I thought about what he had told me. Probably he was right. Didn't I also from time to time notice people who were looking absolutely strange, people of which I thought they'd look better if they just had a different haircut? I smiled.

"But what if someone comes in and wants to have a haircut that absolutely does not fit his face?" I asked and wondered if he'd think me naive.

He stilled his movements and laughed. "Well, that's happened from time to time."

I asked him if this wouldn't be a pain in his neck to have to do things he wasn't convinced by. His voice was a little bitter as he told me that this would be hard sometimes but most of the time he would enjoy what he was doing.

I started to feel better, less nervous and more secure from drifting off to naughty thoughts again as he was standing behind me and cutting my hair. He asked if I would mind if he sat down. I said no as I imagined how it felt to stand around all day so he placed a stool behind my chair to sit down.

He must have sensed I wasn't quite in the mood to talk because he didn't talk to me. I wondered if he was waiting for me to say something. But what could I have asked him? The weather was bad, the politicians even worse and I wasn't interested in football. I didn't want to do small talk so I shut my mouth and closed my eyes.

I heard the constant sound of the scissors cutting my hair and his steady breathing. Only as it was so silent I noticed his breath on my neck and realized how close he was to me. I sent a silent prayer up to the heavens, hoping, my skin wouldn't creep - or him not to notice at least. My heart was slightly beating faster and I felt those butterflies in my stomach preparing for take off. His cologne was fogging my senses; it was fresh and spicy. Nervously I shifted on the chair and he said something like "Shush, don't." His voice sounded concentrated and relaxed but it stirred something in me I couldn't quite control.

It was like his words touched me, touched my skin all over... I could feel the skin in my neck start to creep and shivers running down my spine. And he just said two simple words, two words so by the way. He hadn't even said something sexy and my heart was beating as fast as if he had recited a Shakespearean sonnet... What if this velvet voice said something sexy intentionally? I didn't really dare to imagine...

What kind of situation had I gotten myself into? What was the heroine about to do next? I asked myself like I had been reading on the last page of the comic magazine almost every week when I was a teenager. Would she survive the sexy menace? Would she be able to get out of the danger situation? If this was a comic, would Popeye be able to help me - or at least Goofy? I smiled at this thought. At least I had managed to get my thoughts back on safe ground for a while; I just had to hold on a little longer.

I decided to repeat old poems I learned back at school. I tried to but somehow couldn't concentrate. So I started to enumerate the correct sequence of songs on my favourite records. I managed two albums and was about to think of "Flowers in the dirt" by Paul McCartney as Allen shifted the stool to my left side.

I tried hard to avoid the thought of how close he was and went back to my task. Though it was my favourite LP I could hardly remember the first track. Finally I got it; it was "My brave face". I smiled and encouraged myself to go on. I tried to think of the end of the song, tried to hear the music in my ears. A line appeared in my ears, "She makes me go so wrong..." it was a duet with a man named Costello, I remembered. Elvis, yes, Elvis Costello. I continued the line and tried to find the refrain. "You want her too". But was that really the second track? Before I was able to find the answer I felt him touch my cheek with the back of his hand. It was like my heart was missing a beat. With a casual tone he excused and went on. I sat there petrified and tried to re-animate my heart that was out of order. Again I felt light and lifted, like all the blood of my body was rushing to that little spot in my cheek he just had been touching by accident. Suddenly my heart went on beati! ng and my lungs were filled with fresh air again.

Silently I cursed and reprimanded myself. He had to touch me. Had to touch my head, my neck, my ears, my cheeks. It was his job, he was cutting my hair and he wouldn't be able to do so without touching me. I just couldn't decide if I should add unfortunately or fortunately.

Allen went on cutting my hair and touching my cheek from time to time. Every time he did was like the first, shivers ran down my spine and my heart missed a beat. But some time I told myself that no matter what feelings he caused in me - not intentionally above all - this all would soon be coming to an end - at least when I went out the door. It was most likely I would not see him again and besides he was too old and I was too young and he surely had his obligations. Having told myself this I relaxed.

I came to the conclusion that it was okay to be attracted to him for he was absolutely sexy. And it was okay to have naughty thoughts. As long as I would be able to behave in a proper way. But that was as far as it would go. So I leant back and enjoyed what I'd got.

After a while that seemed to last an eternity but though too short, exactly at that point at which I started to really enjoy it he put aside his scissors and the comb. He leant down to my left ear and whispering he asked: "Curious?"

I was about to tell him the truth: 'The only thing I'm curious about is the way you might be kissing my breath away...' But I succeeded in ignoring my weak knees, behaved myself and nodded.

"I'm sorry but you still have to wait a little while." He said and I could imagine his irresistible smile.

"That's your trick, Mister Allen?" Suddenly I felt safe and invulnerable.

He stepped around and looked down on me. Raising his eyebrows he asked: "What's my trick, Mrs...?"

"It's Miss." I corrected and smiled. Did he try to flirt? "Twain." I said. "Charlotte Twain. Like the American author." Smiling I stood his intense gaze. What had made me tell him my name? A part of me wondered why I had been so cheeky and was afraid to insult him while another was considering ways to knock him off his feet and what to do with him then...

He put his hand on his hip and repeated his question. This time his voice seemed even darker. "What's my trick?" He paused for an instant." Miss Twain?" The way he said my name made my skin creep again and I couldn't continue lying to myself about the reasons why I had told him my name.

"Making people agree to have their hair cut in a way they can't watch you and then asking them if they're curious. Of course I am but what am I being told? That I have to wait. So when I finally get to see the result it's almost impossible for me to tell you I wasn't happy with the result. Not that I think I wouldn't like what I see, but it's a clever psychological manoeuvre."

He smiled all the time while I explained. As I finished he bowed his knee. Deliberately I overheard my heart that was beating as loud as claps of thunder. Looking into my eyes from the same level he spoke to me. "Weren't you told that hairdressers are the better therapists? Doing people's hair is seventy percent psychology and twenty percent creativity."

"And the missing ten percent?" I asked triumphant.

He sighed and my eyes watched him taking his wonderful hand from his knee to touch his lips. "Oh, the last ten percent!" He leaned forward and as if telling me a secret he shielded his mouth. Whispering he told me: "The last ten percent is being able to hold a pair of scissors." He blinked his eyes and smiled.

Getting up he asked if I wanted my hair coloured. I told him that I was okay with my own colour and smiling he reached into the container for a hair dryer. I sat on the chair and wondered if he had been joking or telling me the truth about hairdressers and therapists.

"You have to tell me if it's starting to get unpleasant, Miss Twain." He said as he switched on the dryer and I nodded.

It was pleasant to feel the warm air on my head and his hands running through my hair. Gently he combed it and I closed my eyes, revelling the feeling as long as possible. I didn't care that my skin was creeping as he touched my cheeks, even if he noticed he would have to blame it on the hot air from the dryer.

Finally he switched off the dryer and put it aside. He grabbed a small mirror and turned the chair so I could see the result. He had been right, I hardly recognized myself in the mirror. I just sat there and starred at my own reflection.

This was really a change. The hair was shorter than I thought it would be. The sides and the neck were cut down really short but the hair on top was left a little longer.

"Oh, your glasses!" He turned and went to the basin. While he fetched my glasses I had a look at myself and wondered how he could have known this would look fine in the end.

He came back and without a warning turned the chair. Startled I looked up with my heart not just slightly beating faster. As he leaned down my fantasy spread its wings to fly, but all he did was carefully placing the glasses on my nose and putting the bows on my ears. As he rose again my fantasy crashed down on the grounds of reality and I watched him reaching for the small mirror again.

"I hope you are pleased with the result?" He asked and the smile on his lips was almost shy.

I opened my mouth but I hardly was able to speak. Maybe I had been too sensitive but how could I have been daring to even consider telling him how wonderful it had felt to have him do my hair? Not to think of these thoughts his touches had caused me to think... So I just nodded. "Yes. It's... wonderful" I shook my head. "How ...?"

The smile on his face grew broader. "How was I able to know?" He cast down his eyes and I got the impression he even blushed a little. Obviously he was a shy person deep inside, I thought.

"It's absolutely perfect!" I said and turned my head to the left and then to the right to have a look at his creation. "I always thought about cutting my hair down to that size but never ... dared to..."

He smiled and hid his hands behind his back. "If it's all to your satisfaction..." He started and reached into the container again. This was an understatement, definitely! But I felt contradicting and praising him would have been embarrassing. So I just smiled and nodded. Pulling out a small brush he started to brush away the small bits of hair from my neck. Quickly I put off my glasses and he continued on my forehead.

As he took away the cape I got up and saw the hair that was lying on the ground. Smiling he pointed down: "It seems it was worth it." Nodding I smiled back and put on my glasses again.

He helped me into the coat and I pulled out my purse. He shook his head and pointed at the poster on the door: "Models wanted".

"But I can't accept that." I tried.

He nodded. "Yes, you can." He went to the door. "It was a pleasure to do your hair, Miss Twain. Will you recommend us?"

I smiled though I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of not paying for his great work. "Another trick, Mister Allen? Doing one customer's hair absolutely perfect for free and then asking him to recommend your salon?"

The way he smiled back assured me, he didn't feel insulted. Different emotions swept through and over me. For an instant I felt something like familiarity. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders. "Probably?"

I offered him my hand and he took it. His grip was firm and his hand was warm. The familiarity was carried away by a wave of sadness. Probably the sudden certainty, this firm grip of his hand around mine would be the only touch of him I'd ever get. But this emotion disappeared as quick as it appeared. "Of course I will recommend you, Mister Allen. To be honest, I didn't know how fine it could be to go to the hairdresser's to have my hair done until I came here."

He was laughing a heartfelt laugh. "Thank you for the compliment, Miss Twain. I hope you'll enjoy your date!" I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Well, I'll see."

He still held my hand and I caught myself hoping he wouldn't let go of it. I looked up and met his gaze. There was something I couldn't read. Something I didn't dare to ask what it was, afraid to hurt or being hurt. Some things shouldn't be tried to become reality. It had been wonderful to imagine him and me but this was the end. I would leave his salon and he would be staying here. I tried to fool myself for good and told myself, I probably wouldn't even remember his name by next week...

"Have a nice evening." I heard his soft and warm voice cut into my thoughts and instinctively replied: "Thanks, the same to you!" He still held my hand, only as I looked down, he seemed to notice and quickly let go of me.

Smiling he reached for the handle and opened the door. I felt the fresh air and I tipped up the collar of my coat. Smiling at him a last time I went out and heard him close the door behind me.

The breeze not only seemed to cool my face but my thoughts, too. It blew away the melancholy I felt the moment I heard Allen close the door behind me. And with every step I took the excitement I had felt around him seemed to disappear bit by bit. The further I walked from the hairdresser's the bigger the space grew the thoughts of Karen occupied in my mind.

She wanted to meet me in the Pub we had met in before. And only as I stood in front of it I realized it was just a few minutes from Allen's salon.

***

I felt more comfortable than I thought I would. To my surprise Karen liked my haircut and we were enjoying ourselves. The pub got more and more crowded and around a quarter to nine she had a look at her watch.

"Oh, damn! I'm sorry, Charly." She sighed. "I promised Dan to be home soon, you know. He has to get up early tomorrow and I agreed to walk the dog before going to bed. But if you like you can come along and have a cup of tea before you drive back home."

I smiled. "Okay, let's go."

As I got up I saw him. Allen. Though I never would have admitted it to myself I had been hoping to see him again. He sat at the bar, in front of him a small glass, half filled with a light brown fluid. He seemed to be depressed. For an instant I felt pity. Then Karen caught my attention again and he faded out of my focus.

The door was opened and a crowd of men shuffled in. We had to take the way along the bar to get out. As I passed Allen, a guy jostled and I bumped against Allen's side that was about to turn around. Instinctively I grabbed his arm to avoid stumbling and he grabbed my elbow.

He turned around completely, not letting go of my arm and our eyes met. I felt my heart miss a beat and the same strange emotion like I had back in the salon while he was cutting my hair. The moment seemed to last an eternity. Everything and everybody seemed to be fading out of focus, there was only he and I and his intense eyes. My senses were flooded with sensations. I got aware of his cologne; he also seemed to have shaved. But probably I just hadn't been looking close enough before. His cheeks seemed to be so soft, so very temptuous, inviting me to touch them. He smelt like just having left the bathroom. I felt the warmth radiating from his body and had to fight the urge to get closer. The strength of his muscles, the upper arm I had grabbed to give myself protection on and the grip of his wonderful hands on my elbow. The soft cloth of his suit...

Finally he smiled and a dark velvet voice was talking to me like through cotton. "That's your trick, Miss Twain, hm?"

With shaking knees and trying to keep my voice steady I asked back: "What's my trick, Mister Allen?"

"Ambush harmless customers from behind." He raised his eyebrows.

"Oh."

Before I could say more the guy came back and pushed me again to bump into Allen. This time I was pressed between his spread legs and against his chest. My cheek was touching his and as I was finished with sorting in the sensations I was afraid to black out. I just had to turn my face slightly and I would brush his lips with mine, could kiss him, his oh so sensual lips. I just had to bring up my hands and I could be touching his face...

Quickly I pulled back. This was dangerous ground, very slippery, thin ice. I shouldn't even think about it, I reprimanded myself and casting down my eyes I murmured an excuse. As I looked up again there was something in his eyes, just for an instant that could have been ... desire. Before I could verify my impression that something was gone, hidden behind a friendly smile. Had it really been there or did my perception play tricks on me? I caught myself wishing it had been desire, wishing the moment while I had been resting against his chest, his heart beating against mine, would have been lasting longer, much longer...

I felt I was in danger of losing myself in his eyes, in wishes I shouldn't be thinking of as Karen's voice sunk the fantasy island the sexy man in front of me and I were caught on.

She pulled at my coat but my eyes were still fixed on Allen. I turned my head to her and nodded. "Yes, I'm coming."

Taking a last glance at Allen I tried to absorb his picture, the features of his face, these sensual lips, these intense eyes. I wondered if I'd see him again. "Goodbye, Mister Allen." I said softly.

There was a little bit of melancholy in his look as he replied as softly as me. Then Karen manoeuvred me out of the crowded room.

***

Six weeks later I decided I couldn't go on like that. Since I had met Phil Allen I wasn't able to enjoy anything.

I wasn't able to concentrate at work though I finally had the job I've always been hoping for. No food did taste the same, I even lost weight. I couldn't sleep and if I finally fell asleep I dreamt of him. When I woke up in the middle of these dreams I wondered why he wasn't there beside me. I was sad and just couldn't get him off my mind.

I had to see him again and find out if I had been dreaming all this or if there was something going on between him and me. Of course I couldn't walk into the room and ask him if he had been flirting with me. I'd "simply" have my hair coloured. Probably I could talk to him and would find out more.

***

The door was already closed and there was no light burning in Allen's salon. There had been too much traffic I was too late... Probably I could meet him in the pub. But he also wasn't in the pub.

Feeling depressed I walked down the streets of the little village. I questioned my decision to come here. What if he really had been just flirting with me and there was nothing more? What if...

I sighed; these questions wouldn't lead me anywhere. Only asking Allen would bring the answers I needed to get. But there were so many things that scared me.

Karen had told me about him. Rumours, but if only half as much as she had been telling me was true, he really was pitiable. But what were my feelings for him like? Was it pity after I knew that little about him? Could it really be affection? Not to talk of ... love? Or was it just physical attraction to a sexy man?

With my hands buried in the pockets of my coat I was walking around. Though I was starring down I wasn't noticing where I was going, nor was I paying attention to what was going on around me. If I had been I would have noticed the little raindrops that soon started to become a heavy shower. Looking up I tried to sort out where I was. It wasn't too far from the pub, so I decided to get there as soon as possible. I turned round a corner, my collar pulled up and ducking from the rain as I bumped into someone. Looking up I met a pair of hazel eyes. Emotions flooded me and I hardly could sort them in. We addressed each other with our names at the same time.

"Mister Allen!"

"Miss Twain!"

He had also been pulling up the collar of his coat with his hands and now let go of it. The surprise in his eyes turned to a smile. He obviously wasn't able to say anything. I swallowed; he still remembered my name...

We stood in the pouring rain, starring at each other. All I felt was gladness to see him again, I didn't mind if I would get soaking wet, if he would just go on smiling at me that way that melted me away. I didn't mind he didn't say anything. What could he have told me that was more appealing than the bright gleam in his eyes? Nothing ever said would be able to make up that intense gaze...

I brushed off the hair from my forehead and he did the same. Finally he asked: "What are you doing here?"

Following a sudden inspiration I replied: "Er, getting soaking wet?"

He stayed serious as if it wasn't funny what I had said. He just nodded: "I see, I see. And what else?"

I felt my heart beat hard and fast. "Actually I thought about having my hair coloured but as I arrived at your salon it was already closed." Allen shrugged his shoulders. "I'm sorry but I did close a little sooner today."

"Oh, don't mind."

This really was not really happening! Like a teenager I stood there, getting absolutely soaking wet, talking silly small talk and not able to fight the feelings he caused in me, not able to tell him, not willing to break the spell, hypnotized, mesmerized. Simply in love.

We starred at each other for a while and only as someone shouted from the other side of the street "Hello Mister Allen. Did you forget your umbrella?" we burst out into laughter. The spell seemed to be broken. He pulled up the collar of his coat and reached for my hand. "Come! You're soaking wet and it's not far to my place."

Hand in hand we ran to the salon and entered the room. It was dark, only the street light lit up the room a little. He closed the door again and helped me out of the coat. He put it on a hook and his own wet coat beside mine. I was cold a bit so I slung my arms around my chest to warm myself. The rain had gotten through the coat and my sweater was also wet. Fooling myself would be futile, I knew exactly that I wasn't just shaking from the cold creeping to my bones. He walked into the room and came back with some towels. He put one around my shoulders and handed me another one. I put down my glasses on the bar. As I was about to dry my hair he gently touched my arm.

"Wouldn't you prefer having it washed before you dry it?"

Before I could answer he placed his hands on my shoulder and led me over to the washing basin and made me sit down. Within an instant the height fit me and he asked me to wait a moment. I closed my eyes and waited for whatever would be.

Everything had been happening so fast I hardly had been able to think about it. Had been sadly walking around in town and crashed into the man I had a crush on. He took me with him and again I was alone with him, this time the omen was different. But who knew what would happen further?

Before I could continue one single light was switched on. The room was flooded with a soft yellow light. I rose from the chair and starred into the direction he had disappeared to. He came back and smiled. "Sit back, please."

With closed eyes I did like he said. He hadn't just turned on the light he also must have been switching on the heat. Letting out a soft sigh I stretched my limbs.

"Feel fine?" He asked with a gentle voice while switching on the water. I wasn't able to pretend anything so I nodded and said so. He did everything like the time before but this time I didn't dare to look at him. As I felt him touch my forehead I had to suppress a shiver.

Of course he noticed it. "Relax." He whispered. "Are you cold?" Thankfulness washed over me, he was a gentleman, offering me a chance to get out. I decided to take the chance. This time.

"Just a little bit." It wasn't the cold or the heat that made me shiver. I knew he knew it was he - but how could I tell him? If I wasn't able to think of something else I soon would be shaking all over and not be able to lie to him about the reason.

"I turned on the heat." He said slowly while massaging the foam into my hair. "What did you think of?"

"Excuse me?" I asked back. What was he referring to?

"You mentioned you wanted your hair to be coloured." I almost could hear the smile that must have been shining on his face. "What colour did you think of?"

I considered the possibilities. Did he know it was just pretence? He wasn't dumb, he surely knew. "Er... I don't know for sure. The same tone, just a little brighter to highlight the colour probably." I finally said.

"I wouldn't colour it." His voice was almost dreamy and stirred me up inside. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep control if he went on like that, touching me so gently and talking with that voice. I was helpless, drowning in his voice, his touches and he probably didn't even notice. But he had to know, he surely did know...

I didn't know what was driving me as I asked him for the reason. "Why?"

"I don't know." I could see him shrug his shoulders before my very eyes. "I like the colour of your hair." He said casually.

Would someone, not being interested in you say such things? Hairdressers would be telling this different if it was just professional interest. But was this proof enough he was interested in me? And even if he were interested, would he be sharing my feelings? Would he also probably like me, find me attractive? Being in love and trying to use one's brain seemed to be excluding each other I thought and smiled.

"What's so funny?" He wanted to know as he washed out the foam.

"I just wondered what the man across the street might be thinking..."

"He might probably think the right thing..." Allen said and switched off the water. As he put the towel on my forehead I lifted my head and he wrapped up my head.

Suddenly I was sure, this was still a game. I realized the rules by following them. Don't lay your cards open on the table too soon. Beat about the bush, drop hints and look for innuendos. Display baits, hoping to be the first to catch and not to be caught too soon and having to be the first to admit. If I wanted to find out what was going on I had to play along.

"And what is the right thing?" I asked and looked into his eyes. There was the same thing I had seen in the pub as I bumped into him face to face. He smiled. He didn't reply but I could imagine what he didn't dare to tell. I decided not to push him too far. Time is on my side, I told myself and changed the topic. I got up and pointed down at the chair.

"It's your turn, if you have no problem to have your hair washed by a woman." I raised my eyebrow and starred at him challenging, wondering if he would recognize his own words. His smile told me, he did. Without a word he sat down and I did like he had been doing.

With the towel wrapped around my head I stood there and washed his hair. He laid back and had closed his eyes all the time I was busy on his head. His breathing was steady and he seemed to be completely relaxed.

As I put the towel on his head he reached for it and his hands were touching mine. I didn't pull back and his bigger hands covered my smaller ones. His eyes flew open and this time he didn't hide what I had seen before, what I needed to see to be sure. Carefully I pulled back my hands, my heart beating fast.

Now that I was sure he felt the same I suddenly wasn't so sure anymore. I thought I more than liked him. But did I really? Was it really more than sympathy?

I was looking for a stool to sit down, I was shaking, my knees were weak. In a darker corner two were standing near the wall. He noticed my look over to the corner and smiling he took my hand. Without saying a word he led me to the darker side and made me sit down on of the stools. He sat down on the other and pulled mine closer. I wasn't able to say anything; I wasn't even able to think at all. All I was able to do was to wait for him to do the things he did.

Spreading his knees apart he pulled my stool even closer until my knees touched his inner thighs. I pressed my thighs together and put my hands on my lap. What was I afraid of? Didn't I want to be close to him like this? Contradictory emotions rushed through me and I didn't know what I should feel.

He smiled gently and started to rub my hair dry.

I closed my eyes and didn't even try to suppress the shivers running up and down my spine. Damn, what was I supposed to do under such an assault? It felt so good but doubt rose in me. What Karen had been telling me had touched me and though I really wanted him to kiss me I was scared to hurt him again.

His hands slowly slid down my neck to the lower jar. Next he would touch my mouth and then we would kiss. I wanted this but I was afraid, too. Before I finished the thought, his thumb lightly brushed over my lips. I felt his head bend over to mine. Still I was able to resist.

"Wait, wait, wait..." I murmured and reached for his hand.

"What's wrong Charlotte?" He seemed alarmed but his voice was silent. Putting his hands on my shoulders I could feel composure flow from him to me.

I leaned back, tried to fight the excitement creeping up inside that fogged my mind. He even remembered my first name...

"I find you very attractive, Phil." I started. "But I'm afraid that I might hurt you or that you might hurt me." I didn't dare to talk about his ex wife that had left him years ago for another woman. "I'm absolutely not sure about my emotions, I just can't sort them in. I've been hurt and I know you've been hurt too." The words sputtered out of my mouth.

He covered my mouth and his other hand reached for my hands that gestured nervously. "Falling in love means taking risks. You can't stop falling in love just because you've been hurt once." His hand slid to my cheek but his thumb went on caressing my lips.

I starred into his eyes. He wasn't just telling me this to make me feel better, to persuade me. He meant every word he said. Probably he was right. I felt I must have been falling in love but I didn't really know what I was afraid of.

"Relax." He whispered into my ear and I felt my resistance melt. "We have all the time you need." If there was some intention he had in mind, I felt, it was to convince me to trust my own feelings. Leaning forward he took my hand and gently kissed it. His look was lovingly and I realized he was right. It made no sense to try to force myself into something; I had to slow down first, to relax. Exhaling deeply I imagined to force out all anxiety.

Suddenly I realized we still wore the towels wrapped around our heads and burst out into laughter.

"What's so funny?" He asked puzzled.

Still laughing I reached forward and started to rub his hair dry. "I just never saw a hairdresser sitting in his own salon with a towel on his head."

He raised his eyebrows and shook his head, it was a funny sight and I wasn't able to stop laughing. Irritated he pulled down the towel from his head. I was shaking all over and then I bumped against his chest.

I stopped laughing and just starred into his eyes. His face was only inches away from mine. Suddenly I realized how much I actually was longing to kiss him. I decided to follow my intuition. I raised my hand to touch his face but it seemed to last an eternity. While my fingertips hovered over his cheeks I felt again the pain I had been going through these lonely nights as I only was imagining how it would feel to be this close, to touch him.

He sat absolutely still, watching my every move. His eyes grew dark and I could see his wanting burning bright. I felt, he wouldn't express his longing to kiss me until he was sure I would want it as much as he did. I could lean over and claim his mouth, but I decided to take it slow. As much as he needed to be sure I really wanted to be kissed, as much did I need to take it slowly step by step.

Letting out a soft sigh he closed his eyes as I carefully I touched his cheek with my fingertips. I had to hold onto myself not to give into this temptation and kiss him right now. I could sense his longing to touch me, but I also couldn't stop what I had started, not yet, not by now.

"Look at me." I said softly and smiled at him as he opened his eyes again. There was so much I wanted to tell him, so much I should have been telling him. But I wasn't able to talk. All I could focus on were his eyes and my fingertips that caressed his face. Lightly my thumbs brushed over his lips.

Hearing him whisper, "Kiss me, please." finally disabled me. Closing my eyes I leaned forward and felt his lips touch mine. They were soft and warm. I felt him pull me on his lap and even if there had been any "buts" in the back of my mind, I wouldn't have been even able to try to fight it. He put his arms around me and I let myself melt into his embrace. With his touches he fuelled the fire his looks had been kindling in me. But I wasn't afraid anymore. So it might be, I thought, let me drown! I don't care as long as it's him I'm drowning with...

***

Some months later I was talking to Karen on the phone. As I hung up the phone and entered the living room again Phil didn't even look up from his book. I leaned against the doorpost and watched him sitting in his chair, pretending not to be interested in anything else but his book. He was good at this I admitted to myself silently smiling.

"Did she say anything?" He asked with obvious inconspicuousness.

I smiled and decided to play the game. "For example?"

He looked up and shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, nothing. Just asking." Then he turned to his book again.

Slowly I walked over to him. He looked up. As he closed the book I sat down on his lap. Putting my arms around his neck I softly said: "No, she didn't ask me to go to the hairdresser's to have a proper haircut when we're going out tomorrow."

Phil raised his eyebrow and gently touched my cheek. "Ah really, didn't she?"

I nodded.

"Do you think, there's any reason for this?" The corners of his mouth were slightly crinkling.

I nodded again. "Yes, I think so." I affirmed with determination.

"Could you please be so kind and tell me?" His voice was soft. He knew I would not be able to resist.

I leaned down and tenderly kissed him. As I broke the kiss I smiled. "Well, the last time I met her I must have left a permanent impression."

"Do you have any explanation?"

"Yes." I slowly nodded. "I found a wonderful hairdresser that seemed to meet her requirements."

"Oh! Really?" He said and smiled. "That wasn't in my intention."

I felt the furrow on my forehead deepen. "Could you please explain?"

Phil's features softened and his look became tender. Gently brushing a stand off my forehead he explained. "As I did your hair all I wanted to do was to meet your requirement, not anybody else's."

I smiled at him. "Yes?"

He nodded and with a dark warm voice that sent shivers down my spine he said: "Oh, yes."

"Would you say, you liked me from the first moment I entered the room?" I leaned over and gently pulled at his earlobe. Well, if he was cheating with his sexy voice, I had to play my joker. There were only a few weak spots he had. His earlobes were one... I felt him shivering. As he was letting out a soft moan I smiled.

"Well, like would be the wrong word, Charlotte." He cleared his throat.

"Which word would be better then?" I insisted.

"Well... I found you quite attractive and..." Before he could continue I laughed.

"Phil, I have to admit something..."

"Tell me." He whispered and my skin started to creep.

"I also found you quite attractive. But I was confused. It took me six weeks to admit it was more than finding you very attractive." I remembered the sleepless nights and the tears I cried before and sighed as I felt him in my arms now.

"If we hadn't met by accident..." He started and his gaze drifted off. "I tried to find your name in the phone book..." He paused. "I was hoping, I'd see you again..." He whispered the last words and pulled me closer.

"Really?" I asked and gently brushed over his hair.

Slowly nodding he confirmed. "Really." He smiled and gently brushed his fingertips over my cheek.

I smiled. "Thank God the weather's so bad in England. If it hadn't been raining..." Before I could continue, he pulled me down to claim my mouth to kiss me.

THE END