Celestial Springs Salon , Book 2

Book Cover: Autumn Falls
Part of the Celestial Springs Salon series:

Coming home isn’t what Autumn Jones wanted to do, but when one no longer can afford the wanderlust, one has to go home.

But as soon as her wallet fills back up, she’s gone again.

No strings on her, not now, not ever.

At least, that’s what she thinks, until she runs into the one thing that always made her stumble.

Louie Castle. Now a police officer for Barrum, Louie upholds the laws for the city. Though bumping into Autumn immediately makes him want to forget the rules he’d pledged to uphold.

How did the red head get a hold of him so fast and so hard? Especially when he knows she’ll be out of his life as quickly as she came back.

The last thing Autumn wants is to be a police officer’s perfect little wife.

Even if it is for Louie.

Excerpt:

September

“Oh wow,” I said, running my hands through normally tattered locks. “Audra, this is amazing.” I couldn’t remember the last time my hair looked both natural and healthy. I kept bright colors in it for so long, I didn’t actually think Audra, or anyone, for that matter, could save it without cutting it all off. The pitfalls of a nomadic existence–my hair became an experiment, each stylist trying to make it better than the last.

Audra raised her eyebrow. “You doubted me Autumn? I might be offended.”

I let the strands glide through my fingers. “No, it’s not that. It’s just… I thought it would be so boring.” I had decided, since I had to be the receptionist at Celestial Springs Salon, I should look a little less like my niece Emma’s monster dolly.

But I didn’t want to look like an uptight conservative, either.

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Instead, Audra had woven browns and golds and coppers into the formerly fire-engine red hair I sported when I came home, and made me still look, well, bold. Just not like I belonged at a store in the mall.

“And when you tweak your makeup, soften up the eye liner a bit,” Audra said.

I nodded. “Yeah, I can make this work.” I fluffed the straightened hair–my hair was never straight unless I spent an hour with a flat iron. “Though I may need you to style it every day.”

Audra snorted. “Uh huh. You can’t afford me.”

I probably should have given Audra a hug, but ever since I came back from Chicago this past summer, I was not a fan of hugs.

Usually, behind the reception desk was close enough contact for me.

So I poured on my overly cheesy grin to compensate. “Thank you! If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.”

“A required twenty percent tip on every future client’s bill would be nice,” Audra said.

And from the look in her eye, I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not.

“Oh wow, Autumn, that’s gorgeous,” Nicole said as she finished her client’s blow-out style. Though, I had to guess that’s what she said–over the inherent salon noise, I couldn’t be sure.

I was going to take it as a compliment and move on.

I paused when I heard the click of heels through the salon chaos and turned just in time to see my sister Winter Duncan coming out of the back. Winter was the salon manager, or basically the big meany who kept the unruly hair stylists and nail technicians in line.

“Nice,” she said, nodding to my hair. “Now, are you going to get those lunches? I called them in a half an hour ago.”

Well, shit, I guess I was. “Sure sis.” I grinned at her, but I didn’t say what I wanted to say, like, oh, why don’t you click-clack down there and get them yourself, because my hair–which should have cost me damn near a paycheck–was only going to cost me the price of the products, and I wasn’t finished admiring the new ‘do.

Winter nodded, but from the way she stared at me, I had a sinking feeling she knew exactly what I was thinking.

So I smiled bigger and darted out the door toward the deli a few doors down from our salon in the strip mall. I shook off my sandals when I got outside, because — eww — hair salon plus open toed shoes equals messy feet, and so not going there.

Winter glared at me through the front window, so I waved at her, and slipped my shoes back on, and headed down the way.

Most of the time Winter and I got along–being just over a decade apart made her seem more like an aunt than a big sister.

But it also meant Winter treated me like I was twelve.

Still.

“Any day now,” I muttered to myself. “I’ll get the call any day now and then I’m out of horrible, smelly Barrum, Kansas.”

If I had my way, I’d never come back. The damn place was a . small town trying to be a big city. We had all the chain department stores and the malls with all the usual mall-stores. We had all the national restaurants, and since this was the Midwest, more steakhouses and authentic Mexican restaurants than you could shake a stick at.

And of course there was the military base–lots of military families in and out as well. Some stayed–though I don’t get why anyone would. We’re practically the bad cheek zit of the country.

There were so many better, prettier, nicer places to live in the country. Places without wind, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Not to mention winters so cold you wanna cry, and summers so hot you want to tear your skin off…

“This place sucks,” I said.

“Well, that answers that,” came a man’s voice.

I spun around.

And tried not to choke.

Louie Castle stood there, dressed in his police officer’s uniform, looking his usual well-kempt self. Even his shoes were clean and perfect. I had made a point to avoid seeing my ex-boyfriend since he came into the shop back in July to get a haircut. At least now I knew his schedule, and I could avoid him whenever he came in.

Today I might have made an exception–but it had nothing to do with him, it was his partner.

On a leash next to him, was a dog with tan fur and black ears. The fine looking German Shepard sat perfectly still, not moving.

“Oh, what a pretty dog,” I said as I started to kneel down.

The dog sort of turned his nose up at me. Well, if it’s possible for a dog to do, I swear that he did.

Yep, he had to be Louie’s –only Louie would have a judgmental dog.

“Don’t, Autumn,” Louie said. “We’re working.”

I raised my eyebrow. “And what makes you think I’m not?”

His gaze ran over me. “Really?”

I put my hands on my hips. “I’m on my way to get sandwiches for the shop, if you must know.”

“So you’re still here, then.”

“Obviously.” I started walking toward the deli.

“When are you leaving this time?” Louie’s voice echoed behind me.

“As soon as I can,” I said. Though why he wanted to know boggled me. Ever since I left town right after high school, he decided I was prime evil on a stick.

This was the nicest he’d ever been to me when I came home for a short stay.

“Well that’s good. Because I’m way too busy to spend any time with you.”

I turned to look back at him. “I didn’t ask you to.”

His gaze ran over me again. “You were going to.”

“No I wasn’t.” Okay, maybe I was.

For old time’s sake.

Well, since I had my hair done.

Maybe.

Louie just smirked and walked away, and I swear, the dog actually laughed at me.

COLLAPSE
Autumn Falls

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