He wants to show her there's more to life. If she'll let him.
Book 3 in the Celestial Springs Salon Series
Winter Duncan has to have control. Someone around Celestial Springs Salon has keep things together or it’ll turn into one of those trashy, gossip salons, and her mother’s vision will be lost.
Her life is that salon.
Because there’s nothing else left for her — divorced after twenty years of marriage, kids grown and gone, and a husband who really likes to show off his new trophy wife — all Winter has is the salon and her family.
But they don’t keep her warm at night. Truthfully, though, she hasn’t been warm at night for a long time, even before the divorce.
Then she meets this guy who turns her on like she’s never known. But is he man enough to show her how to chill out every once in a while?
Celestial Springs Salon Reading Order:
“I am letting you go,” I said to Sasha, our new nail technician at Celestial Springs Salon.
“But… But, Winter, I didn’t do anything!” Sasha García said, slapping my desk as she protested.
The salon was the most affordable but still upscale salon in Barrum, Kansas.
I took great pride in that fact.
I worked really hard to make sure that Mother’s dream didn’t turn into a nightmare.
And I did not tolerate people trying to screw with my mother’s salon.
I raised my eyebrow at her. “Sasha, in the six months you’ve been here at Celestial Springs Salon, you’ve broken rules and been written up for them. Everything from not charging clients properly for their services to using company products for yourself and not paying for them.”
She shook her head, tears in her eyes. “I didn’t do that!” And she started muttering in Spanish.
While I didn’t fluidly speak Spanish, I was pretty sure I knew when I was being cursed and called names in the language. I had enough bi-lingual employees to learn some of the curse words. Or at the least, recognize when I was being cursed at.
I raised my eyebrow. “Sasha, you’re fired. Pack your stuff.”
I should have waited until the end of the day, but I heard her telling her client that she could pay her directly for the upcharges.
I doubt she knew I was there because she wasn’t a stupid woman.
I followed her to her locker in the back, and then to the nail table to pick up her belongings.
Eyes were on us as we walked through the salon.
I hadn’t been able to outright catch her doing anything like that, but I knew she was up to something. Our salon was a commission salon, so the stylists got a weekly paycheck. Every transaction was recorded and then credited to the proper stylist. Paychecks were written from those records.
For the work Sacha was doing, she certainly wasn’t getting paid for it. If she was making deals at her station, well, that was a huge breach of contract.
Sasha continued muttering and generally making a scene.
But of course, she did. It was a Friday, and the salon was busy.
She wanted a scene.
I could give her one.
She sat at her table and pulled out a bag, her words slipping between English and Spanish, and she started tucking things into her purse.
I crossed my arms, watching her pack her belongings in a couple of bags.
This was not my first time firing someone. Her little emotional show didn’t bother me like it might have someone else.
Especially when she got louder as she “accidentally” picked up salon property.
And I got to remind her exactly what was hers, and what belonged to the salon. Which only brought on more theatrics. She tried to fight with me over things like a dish or bottle of product, but I wasn’t falling for it.
My name Winter isn’t just a name, after all.
My coffee was as black as my soul.
That was me.
The other nail technician, Jody, was finishing up her client’s nails, and though she tried to keep her head down, she was certainly looking. Of course, her client was blatantly watching.
No shame in Miss Erin, that was for certain.
Sasha continued with the name-calling in Spanish while she packed. This time, I did recognize some of the curses.
As usual, all the conversation on the floor died out as this scene played out.
Even the dryers seemed too quiet for the show.
I just wanted Sasha out of the shop. She was stealing from me, and I didn’t tolerate that.
When she finished, I glanced at her. “And Sasha, be careful who you call a fat cow or an evil witch in another language. You never know who can understand you.”
Her eyes opened big, her face ashen, for just a second, then she glared at me.
“You’re a mean, nasty woman, Winter Duncan, and I will get you for firing me.”
“Give it your best shot,” I muttered. “Now get going.”
I glanced around the salon floor.
Conversations and voices returned, and everyone pretended they weren’t looking my way.
But they were.
I knew they were.
Sasha tried to walk behind the receptionist desk as we headed to the front of the shop.
Fortunately, Autumn knew—I’d texted her before I called Sasha into the back—and arm-barred her from coming behind the desk.
“I need my clients,” Sasha snapped.
“We’ll tell every client that calls for you where you’ve gone,” Autumn said.
“Sure you will,” Sasha snapped. “I want that computer.” She reached for the computer where all the records were stored of clients.
And with a speed that surprised me, Autumn grabbed her, spun Sasha around, and pressed her against the wall. Sasha struggled, a cry coming out, and Autumn released her, but Sasha could only scurry off away from the desk.
“Louie teaching you things?” I asked Autumn.
“He said it’s never bad to know stuff,” she replied. “Especially working in a salon on the front like this.”
“Always a cop,” I muttered.
“I want my client lists!” Sasha snapped, slapping her hand on the desk.
“You’re not getting in my computer,” I replied. “Now go on. You have my word, anyone that calls, we’ll tell them where you went.”
“What good is your word?” And Sasha proceeded to spit on the floor.
“Oh fuck, you did not,” Autumn said, and she charged toward Sasha. Of course, so did I. No one spits on the floor in my shop.
Sasha, however, hightailed it out of the salon, cussing all the way out the door. It sounded like she tried to put a curse on the shop, her words so angry and vehement.
“Should I call Louie?” Autumn asked, her gaze on Sasha as the woman walked toward her car, still carrying on in the parking lot.
“No,” I said. “Not yet. She’s angry. People act out when they’re angry.”
“Oh, I’ll throw down if I have to,” I said. I didn’t cringe, but Autumn did because I’m sure I sounded horribly old with that one.
I thought I sounded old.
“Yeah, okay,” Autumn said. “You really want me to refer her nail clients?”
“Of course. That’s the ethical thing to do.” I said.
Autumn snorted. “But?”
“But also offer for them to come back here with Jody or Grace for a fifteen percent discount on services.”
“Naturally,” Autumn said with a grin.
About that time, Mother came out of the backroom, still in her massage scrubs.
“I’ve taken care of the nail problem,” I said.
Mother nodded. “Oh, good.” She sighed. “Winter, what would we do without you?”
You’d be bankrupt in a week, I thought to myself. Because it was true.
They couldn’t live without me.
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