Hairdresser, and more to the rich and famous, Cilla's life becomes extremely complex as she struggles to cope with her other job as an intergalactic spy. Her handler lets slip she’s in touch with a competitor. Who could it be?
My name’s Cilla. I’m thirty, five-feet-two, with a mass of unruly curly red hair, and work most days as a freelance cosmetologist. I will come to you for a small additional fee. I do it all, from haircuts, shampoo and styling, to manicures, pedicures, facials, and even bikini waxes. I think my real job is as a family friend, who listens without making any judgments. That’s not my place. I do make suggestions though. I have my regulars, people’s hair I’ve done for years, and they’ve crossed the line from client to good friend. That’s my day job. My other job is much more personal. Some would call me a whore, and strictly speaking that’s true. I do have sex. I do get paid... extremely well. If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have laughed and said good joke. I still don’t think of myself that way. Okay, I’m slim with an hourglass shape. It’s not too big up top, but big enough and I’ve got a nice tush. I work out, and my job keeps me fit. However, it’s my third job that’s currently giving me a headache.
It was midafternoon, and my appointment book had unexpectedly filled up. Even though I allowed half an hour to chat and added in plenty of travel time, I was running late.
“Oh my, I completely forgot.”
Jean, my client, asked, “Forgot what?”
“I’m sorry, talking to myself. Can I make a quick phone call after I put you under the dryer?”
“Give me a magazine and you can do what you like. I won’t hear a thing.”
I smiled. Yes, it gets pretty noisy under there. After Jean was settled with a glass of water within easy reach, I phoned Dave. “Hey there, change of plan. Can you pick me up from home?”
“No problem. You obviously want to make a good impression.”
“Yes. I don’t understand. Bengy already knows what I can do, so why no calls? Anyway, we’ll eat well. I’m starving... I missed lunch. It’s your favorite, spicy Indian food at the Star.”
“That’s a top of the line restaurant... and way too expensive for me. See you in two hours.”
I finished Jean’s hair and drove home. The traffic was awful and Dave arrived before I was ready. “Give me five. It won’t matter if we’re a few minutes late.” I fluffed his black wavy hair and looked up at him. He was a good eight inches taller, but slim like me with the same Nordic blue eyes. “Why don’t you let me style your hair? That barber’s cut is all wrong for you.”
“No, if you had me in your chair, I would tell you all my darkest desires.”
“You mean there’s more?”
Dave laughed. “I look at you. You’ve changed a huge amount in the last couple of years. Back then, you were in a long-term relationship with Gilly. Now... I don’t really know what you do. I should try and tame your hair. Would you tell me your darkest secrets... and suppressed desires?”
It was my turn to laugh. I punched him. What would I do without my best friend? Our relationship is platonic only. I love him as a brother. His feelings for me, however, are different, but I can’t change mine. That’s one path I don’t want to go down.
We walked into the Star, a fashionably five minutes late. I was dressed in black slacks with a loose fitting green top. This was business. We’d been lucky, surface street traffic had been nonexistent, and all the lights had been green. Otherwise, the five could have easily been twenty minutes.
We were escorted to a private booth at the back of the restaurant. Bengy got up and kissed my hand. “Hi.”
“Mr. Yalprey, this is my friend and business associate, Dave Jones.”
“I’m pleased to finally meet you.” He shook Dave’s hand.
The waiter was hovering.
“Dave and I’ll share one of those large Indian beers.”
Bengy added, “And bring a bottle of Pinot Noir. Please open it to allow time for the wine to breathe. Don’t forget your usual starters. We’ll order in ten minutes.”
“Excuse me. I think my phone is vibrating.” I took it out of my handbag and fiddled with it for a minute. “I don’t know what happened, never mind. We love this place. It’s a little on the expensive side for us.”
Bengy laughed. “If you wanted a picture of me, you should have asked.”
I tried not to look guilty, but he was right. I had snapped a picture. Bengy Yalprey was my handler, and a very mysterious alien. I’d already done a couple of jobs for him. It felt good. I had helped resolve an intergalactic war that had gone on for over a hundred years. Unfortunately, I’d been infected by a mysterious race called the Id, and was carrying a number of their embryos. I suppose you could say it was an open-ended pregnancy. Bengy wasn’t aware of my condition. That had happened months ago. I felt fine, and physically nothing had changed. I assumed the embryos were dormant... or... I didn’t know what to think as I showed no signs of being pregnant.
“You told me I was hired. I signed your contract, but there haven’t been any calls, and no money... not even a retainer. Are you still worried I’m infected?”
“Can I talk freely?”