“Smells like a beauty salon,” I say.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Stacia paws her hand at me and turns to pack up her stuff. When she passes by, she rests her hand on my shoulder, her gaze fixed on my hair. “All right. Looking good. One down. One to go.”
She shuts the door behind her when she leaves, and I glance over at Aidy again, and this time she’s tying some black tool belt contraption around her waist, loading it with brushes and other implements.
I watch her shoulders rise and fall as she drags her hands down her sides, and when she turns to me, her chin is tucked against her chest. Her pale blonde hair is parted deep on the side, above her right eyebrow, and she wears her hair tucked behind her ear on the right side. Lifting her gaze into mine, something about her registers as familiar. I feel like I’ve seen that face before, I just can’t place it.
“Hi.” Aidy avoids eye contact.
I can’t tell if she’s nervous or if she hates me. Probably the latter.
Her hand lifts to my face, her fingertips gently grazing the underside of my jaw, and she tilts it from side to side.
“Warm undertones,” she says. “You’re a W-45.”
Whatever that means.
She returns to her makeup spread, retrieving a bottle of liquid makeup and squirting it onto the top of her hand. Standing to my left, she produces a brush from her apron and dabs the tip into the tan-colored product.
Clearing her throat, she studies my face. “You have great skin, Mr. Amato. You don’t need much of this at all. We just want to make sure the lights don’t wash you out.”
Her voice is robotic, almost mechanical, like she’s focused on doing her job and little else. Nothing about her screams that she’s excited to be here, right now, inches from me, her hands on my face.
I sit still, hands gripping the sides of the makeup chair like I’m some kind of nervous. Truth is, I’m not nervous. This is just really fucking awkward, and I’ve never been good at ignoring giant elephants or acting like shit didn’t happen.
“Is it weird?” I ask.
“Is what weird?”
“Pretending like you didn’t tell me to fuck off last night?”
Her lips flatten and she exhales, hard. She knows exactly what I’m talking about.
“Or are we going to carry on like that didn’t happen?” I add.
“You made my nephew cry,” she says.
“Yeah, and I felt like shit about it afterwards, which was why I offered to mail him an autograph . . .” my voice crescendos.
“Hold still, please, Mr. Amato.” She cups her hand beneath my jaw, holding tight. Her gaze is concentrated, brows furrowed as she dabs something under my eyes. She seems to spend a lot of time there, and I knew I had dark circles since I don’t sleep much these days, but I didn’t think they were that bad.
“You know, you were the second person to tell me to fuck off yesterday,” I say. “That has to be some kind of record.”
Her other hand freezes, brush still pressed against my skin. “Second? Who was the first?”
“Some crazy chick trying to leave her diary on my doorstep.”
Her tongue skims across her lower lip and her lips pull into a smirk. “Is that a regular occurrence for you?”
“Oddly . . . yes.”
“You get a lot of stalkers?”
“Not as many now that I’m retired.”
“This crazy chick, was she hot?” Aidy asks, one brow arched.
My lips jut forward. “I don’t know? That’s an odd question. Didn’t really get a good look at her. She was in sweats and a ponytail, that’s about all I remember.”
“Dark gray sweats with neon green piping?” she asks. “Gray sweatshirt to match?”
I glance to the left in an attempt to jog my memory. “Yeah. Yeah, I think so? Something like that?”
“I think I know her,” Aidy says, nodding, her voice serious. “Batshit crazy. Hangs out around here because she’s obsessed with athletes. Actually, I think I saw her outside the studio this morning. She’s probably waiting for you. Might want to slip out the back door when you leave.”
I stare straight ahead, watching our reflections in the vanity mirror, and I catch a hint of her mouth twisting at the corners.
“You’re fucking with me.” I glance up at her.
“I am?” She smiles for the first time this morning, but it disappears in an instant.
“All right, fine. I deserved that.” Scratching my temple, I watch as she dabs her finger into a pot of something with a bit of a pink tone to it. “What the hell is that? You’re not putting blush on me.”
I get that she wants to retaliate for the autograph thing, and fine, whatever, but I’m not going to sit here and let her make me look like a goddamned clown on national television.
“Relax,” she says. “It’s natural, see?” She drags the color along the back of her hand and shows me. I barely see it. “It gives your complexion a bit of a warm glow under those harsh lights. It’s got some warm undertones and a little bit of fleshy pink. It goes on your cheeks and lips.”
Exhaling, I settle back into my chair as her fingertips dab some into the apples of my cheeks. She returns her fingers to the pot, picking up some more product before moving toward my lips. With slow, feather-light strokes, she applies the natural hue, her fingers grazing and sending a rush of cheesy teenage tingles down my spine.