It was an early Friday morning. The sun’s rays peeked through linen white clouds. The weatherman said it would be one of the warmest summer days in July and Lila’s dewy skin confirmed this as she walked down Brooklyn blocks.
Out-of-school kids were already outside sipping on sugary blue drinks, jumping rope, or sitting at the curb waiting for the ice cream truck to turn onto their block blasting that familiar tune. Lila strode past them on her way to work, scooping her thick brown hair into a bun so the sweat on her neck could dry. She lived about a mile away from the shop she worked at and always walked there to make up for not going to the gym as often as she would’ve liked.
Lila was a barber at a little hole-in-the-wall barbershop called Kuts Kings. As the only female barber, she was often subjected to typical chauvinist conversations where her female perspective was always beckoned but still outnumbered and overruled. Talks about bra sizes and guesstimated fellatio skills whenever a female walked through the doors of the shop was done as casually as talks about the final scores of basketball games. While other women found some discussions in the shop to be appalling, Lila’s no-nonsense attitude and her own unfiltered commentary made her seem like one of the guys.
She loved her job. Her eyes blinked open sometimes an hour before her alarm clock went off and she’d hop out of bed with a smile pulling at her lips, eager to take on the day. She loved it even more because every day she got a chance to lock eyes and share the same space with the shop’s owner and head barber. His name was Emmanuel, but everyone called him Manny and he was all man and the only thing missing in Lila’s life.
Manny was exactly the type of guy Lila consistently fell for. The type that guest starred in her fantasies or whenever she closed her eyes to play with the pink pearl between her soft thighs at night.
Tall, Puerto Rican with dark bedroom eyes and hands large enough to lift her up with ease. But it was his deep baritone voice wrapped in his Brooklyn-Spanish boy accent that kept her up past midnight, feigning to have him whisper nasty things into her ear.
It all started when Lila sauntered into Kuts Kings almost three years ago in the middle of what was considered Brooklyn’s coldest winters. She was inquiring about a “Barber Wanted” ad on Craigslist and nearly swallowed her tongue when she first laid eyes on Manny.
His walk commanded all of her attention.
Lila was immediately impressed with the shop’s setup. She took notice of the overly extravagant champagne-colored chandelier that hung at the center of the shop and the faux-marble that covered the counter tops of every barber booth. There was one large mirror that stretched over the booth counters from one end of the shop to the other. At each barber station, the mirrors had at least one ripped page taped to it.
Pictured were a variety of half-naked video models.
But nothing impressed her more than Manny. He wasn’t like the other barbers and customers that day who ogled at her curves when she pulled off her down jacket. They practically stripped her naked with their eyes before she could even ask for the owner. It was and has always been all about business with Manny. Even when she licked her lips as he spoke and gave him her best come-hither eyes. He made it seem like she had no effect on him.
“Show me your skills,” Manny requested as he dusted off the black leather chair in front of Lila and sat down. Lila watched as he grabbed a black barber cape from the chair beside him, placed it around his neck then snapped it in place with his long fingers. She liked that he already trusted her enough to be her test client having just met her.
Lila flipped open the silver lock on her barber case and pulled out her black and silver clippers. She swung him around in the chair to face her and leaned over him to align her clippers’ blade with Manny’s hairline. She could have pumped the chair’s hydraulic pump to elevate the seat to her level, but she wanted to give him a view down her cleavage. As she leaned forward and closer to Manny, she inhaled the scent of his cologne warming on his skin. The scent caused a small moan to escape from her lips as she exhaled.
Manny’s eyes went exactly where she wanted them to go, into the shadows of her tight V-neck sweater. His eyes were fixed on her breasts that reminded him of ripped grapefruits… ready to eat. He watched as they swelled and rose every time she took a breath. His eyes continued its seductive journey down to her slim waist then they glided over the curve of her wide hips.
Lila tried to suppress a smile when she caught Manny biting his bottom lip with his eyes buried in her cleavage. When he looked up at her and their eyes locked for a moment, he cleared his throat then quickly shifted his eyes away from hers.
“You know,” he said as the buzz of the clipper moved along his hairline, “you could always pump the chair up. Bending over like this ain’t good for your back.” He looked up into her big brown eyes again, their lips mere inches from each other. In that moment, Lila forgot there were other people in the shop besides her and Manny. It felt like it was only them two, in their own world, distracted by lust.
A hint of a frown fought to form on her lips but she stopped it. She regained her focus and reminded herself exactly why she walked into Kuts Kings on that bitterly cold afternoon… for a job.
She didn’t need to hear it; Lila knew he found her attractive from the way he tried to suppress his smile when she looked him in his eyes. But it was those same eyes that were giving him away. Lila was definitely a woman Manny would pursue if she were walking past the shop and not applying for a job in it. As a potential employee, the freaky thoughts he was having of taking her into his back office, bending her over his desk, and filling her to capacity with every last inch of him was completely unacceptable… so he thought.
After putting the finishing touches to his haircut, Lila received compliments like aight, she’s legit and that’s a dope cut from the other barbers and a few customers. Manny stood in front of the wall-length mirror examining his haircut with the assistance of a large hand mirror to get a better look at the pristine line-up on the back of his head.
He nodded his approval.
Lila walked out of the shop that day with a new job, a couple of appointments, and damp panties all thanks to Manny.
From the moment they met, Lila has had her eyes on Manny along with untamed desires of getting to know him outside of the barbershop on a non-professional level.
Fast-forward to that summer morning…
As Lila pushed open the shop’s glass door, she was instantly forced into a heated discussion regarding two of the popular topics the men loved debating over: women and their asses.
“Lila,” Davon said looking up from his client’s head and pointing his clippers in her direction. “Will you please tell these fools that Kim Kardashian’s ass is real?”
Here we go, Lila thought to herself. She pulled the strap of her leather satchel over her head then dropped herself down onto her barber chair. She crossed her legs, inhaled deeply, then looked in Davon’s direction with an annoyed look. She knew she had no choice but to delve into the topic of the day.
Some of the barbers had been debating for the past couple of days over the realness or fakeness of Kim Kardashian’s ass and Lila was over it.
“Honestly, do any of you really care if her ass is fake? I see most of you drooling over fake titties every day,” she said pointing at the various photos of video girls taped to Davon’s booth.
“Shit, I care,” Davon’s client Jermaine said while spinning around in his chair to face her.
Lila swapped the air in front of her as if to say whatever. “Please Jermaine. You were just up in here the other day lusting after Nicki Minaj’s ass.”
“Her ass is fake?!” he asked, stunned.
The men laughed collectively then went right into debating about the validity of Nicki Minaj’s ass.
While they continued, Lila’s eyes darted around the shop searching for Manny like an animal searching for its daily prey. She was slightly obsessed, but it was a healthy obsession. Lila hadn’t had sex in two years and felt she was long overdue.
Her nights were long, usually consisting of her staring out of her window while tucked in bed wondering what Manny was doing and if he was thinking about her, too. Being the only source of soft caresses against her pink nub until she fell asleep was getting old. She needed a man on top of her, Manny to be exact.
“What’s up, Rahim?” She motioned to her client before dusting off her chair. “I’ll take you now.”
Lila was busy shaping up Rahim’s cut when Manny stepped out of his office from the back of the shop. He instantly had Lila’s attention as he walked over, greeting the customers and other barbers with pounds and head nods.
His walk always did it for her. Manny walked like a boss. Confident and strong. His chest poked out, shoulders never slouchy. He had a little hood but sophistication to his character and the way he conducted himself. To her, he stood out like a gem with his toffee-colored skin, broad shoulders, and dark eyes that reminded Lila of shiny black pearls. She felt her walls contract a little when he briefly looked her way.
Damn, he’s fine, she thought to herself.
Lila was beautiful herself and could have Manny if she really wanted to. Except she couldn’t because of the rule. Manny had a strict no fraternizing rule set in place after Lila started working there. Lila was Kuts Kings first female barber and Manny didn’t want anything or anyone messing up his money with drama. Soon after the rule was set in place, Lila suspected the rule was more for him than anyone else.
Manny’s booth was located right next to Lila’s, so he had no choice but to see her every day.
Though Lila was stunning with thick brown hair, the same color of her eyes and lips he once compared to singer Rihanna because of her pronounced cupid’s arrow, Manny liked Lila’s style the most. She was very feminine but had a tomboy charm about her. She consistently wore outfits that accentuated her assets, something she did purposefully hoping he would notice.
That morning, underneath her black barber vest, she was dressed in a white tank, pencil skirt, and strappy jeweled wedges that showed off her pretty red toe nails. She always painted her nails red because she knew that was his favorite color.
“What’s up, L?” he said with his back facing her. He’d begun cutting his client’s hair and couldn’t look away.
“Hey,” she responded. Her tongue swiped against her bottom lip, her eyes still fixed on the center of his back. His back was broad with tight muscles that could be seen through his barber vest. It turned her on every time she thought about running her red finger nails up and down the concave of it, leaving scratches from the bomb sex she knew they were capable of having.
That thought reminded her of the night they almost hooked up in his back office almost a year to the day.
Lila hated staying late to close the shop because of the endless hair sweeping and having to walk back to her apartment late at night. But that night she was cool with it because it was just her and Manny closing.
One of the other barbers, Omar, needed to leave early to pick up his 2-year-old from his mother’s house. His mother was pissed that she was late for her date and had been blowing up his phone to come and get his child.
“Apparently, mama gotta get her some, too,” Omar said with disgust. So when Omar begged Lila to cover his closing shift, she was cool with it because that meant it would be her and Manny, alone.
After sweeping the floors and wiping down her station, she briefly thumbed through the latest issue of Ebony magazine. Soft music played from Manny’s office and Lila was curious as to what he was up to in there.
“You need any help in here?” she asked poking her head through the office door which was halfway opened.
Manny’s office was very basic – one wooden IKEA desk, a metal counter, a leather office chair that he sat on and a metal filing cabinet. Tacked to the bare wall behind him was the first $20 bill he earned from cutting a customer’s hair on opening day five years earlier. His office is a big contrast to the shop itself, much more modest. The main attraction was his desk that had papers and receipts scattered all over it. The smooth R&B music Lila heard playing came from his small clock radio.
“No, I’m good,” Manny replied still looking down at his calculator, adding up the numbers printed on the receipts. He briefly looked up to see Lila closing the office door behind her.
“Actually, can you count those stacks and see if you get the same total I did?”
He pointed at two rolls of cash that were hugged by a rubber band, laying on the metal counter. Manny watched as Lila walked over to the counter keeping a close eye on how her peach-shaped booty moved beneath her jeans. His gaze was locked as he reached in his desk draw for his metal case of Altoids, placing the white mint on the tip of his tongue.
Unbeknown to her, he was checking her out. His eyes moved from her hair that was up in her usual messy bun, down to the crest of her ass. When she leaned over the counter to grab another roll of cash, the hem of her shirt hiked up over her waist, revealing the small end of a tribal tattoo etched on her lower back.
He formed a steeple with his fingers over his lips and continued to drink her in visually.
“I got $3,482,” Lila said glancing over her shoulder.
Manny cleared his throat and sat up in his chair quick. “Aight, thanks,” he said returning to calculating the remaining receipts on his desk.
Lila stared at Manny’s long fingers as they tapped the numbers on the calculator, imagining those same fingers stroking against all her pleasure zones between her thighs. She was so busy staring that she didn’t notice Manny looking right at her.
“What you looking at?” he asked turning to face her. He ran his fingers along the trail of his trimmed goatee, waiting for her to respond.
“Your desk,” she lied. She balanced herself on her hands and pulled herself up onto the counter to sit. “You should clean it.”
“Whatever. A messy desk is a good sign that business is great.” He stood to his feet and walked over to the counter where Lila was seated to retrieve the cash she’d just counted.
Lila felt this was her chance to make her move. She poked her chest out and leaned in his direction.
Manny glanced over at her and said, “You can go home if you want.”
“You seeing anybody?” Lila asked ignoring his suggestion.
“Why?” he turned to face her.
Lila inhaled the scent of him and felt that familiar pulse between her thighs.
“I’m just curious.” It took all of her at that moment to keep from pulling Manny into a kiss. Those were the lips she imagined many nights kissing her all over her body and they were just an arm’s reach away.
“Not at the moment. I got too much on my plate.”
“So what do you do when you get horny?”
She bit her tongue purposefully for the unfiltered thought that left her lips.
“What did you say?” he asked shocked but still intrigued.
Lila let out a nervous giggle. “You heard me, Manny. You may not have a girl but I know you must be gettin’ it in with someone. So, who’s the lucky girl?” Lila turned to face him, now crossing her legs and staring right into his eyes. Her heart felt like it was trying to fight its way out of her chest and the heat between her legs made it seem like she was keeping a furnace in her jeans.
He positioned himself in front of her. “You want to be a little more direct with me, L?” His voice sounded deeper and sexier. It made Lila skip a breath. He pushed his hands into his jeans pockets and looked her right in her eyes.
A seductive smile pulled at the corners of Lila’s lips.
She uncrossed her legs then leaned over to grab him by his shirt to pull him closer. Surprised he didn’t resist, she tightened her grip on his shirt and pulled harder until he was so close she could feel the warmth of his breath on the tip of her nose.
“Nah, we shouldn’t be doing this,” Manny protested.
Lila touched his lips with her finger to quiet him then clasped her tiny hand around his wrist. She brought his hand to her waist and moved it down to her hips.
He tried to look away, but she redirected his gaze back in her direction.
“Just kiss me, papi?”
How could he say no to that?
Manny couldn’t help but to give in. His hands were shaking a little when he lifted her chin. He placed a kiss on her cheek then on her neck, right above her collarbone, her sweet spot.
END OF CHAPTER PREVIEW