January 2019 Story Horoscope in Catsup

Nicky has a string of romances, starting way back in grade school. This particular story was first published by AllRomanceEBooks and then became part of Mudflat Magic, Book 5.

Horoscope in Catsup

My friend Nicky judges a man on his height and looks. With that sort of judgment going for her, she collects about what you’d expect.
Nicky is gorgeous, big eyes, full mouth, beautiful long hair, a model’s figure, and almost six feet tall. She attracts every man who sees her. What she ends up with are the following:
She gets men who want arm candy to show off. They forget to mention that they are already married.
She gets guys who think she’s rich. On Nicky, discount store clothes look expensive.
She gets guys who are habitual one-nighters. Okay, they used to be called traveling salesman but nowadays it’s an epidemic.
So you can guess what I think when Nicky phones and says, “Claire, I have met the most wonderful man! Will you do our horoscopes?”
It’s a been-there, done-that thing. I work at a downtown office and astrology is a sideline.
“Only time I’ve got free today is my lunch hour. Meet me at the coffee shop,” I tell her.
When I get there, Nicky is her usual self, long hair in casual waves, dress that fits like tailor-made, and heels so high she towers over all the struck-dumb males in the place.
We pick up our coffees and a sandwich to split and find a small table in a back corner.
“He’s perfect,” Nicky says and tells me her new man’s birth date.
I reach out my open hand and Nicky slaps one of those little plastic catsup envelopes onto my palm. I tear it open, dip in a fingertip and carefully draw two circle horoscopes in catsup on the vinyl table top. Hers and his. Nicky leans in close to block the view of passersby.
“Okay,” I say, “here’s the Moon today in a water sign, and it’s opposing your natal Venus.”
Nicky is no astrologer but we’ve done this exercise so often, she knows a lot of the terms. “Too much emotion, right? So where’s his Mars? How about Jupiter?”
His Mars squares her Venus, not good. She won’t believe that, so I do my usual, try to warn her off easy.
“Nicky, what I see is trouble if you try to rush.”
“You want me to stall him?”
I give Nicky my usual clichés.
“Give this guy time.” Because by next week he’ll be gone, I don’t say. “He shows real promise.” Like, he's setting you up to ask for a loan. “Play it cool.” Meaning, carry cash and leave your credit card at home.
If I say my thoughts aloud, Nicky will defend him. I’m not about to encourage her to think up positive arguments for this new lover.
“Nicky, what’s his job?”
“He’s a hair stylist. Right now, he’s between jobs.”
“Bet he’s a looker. And tall.”
“He’s perfect. I mean to make it permanent,” she says.
Don’t go ordering a wedding dress, I don’t say.
Nicky is friendly and reasonable except when I hit her stubborn streak.
A few days later Nicky phones me at the office to tell me that her new guy is doing a demo for a hotel salon owner and Nicky is his model.
“He’s just finished my shampoo, so relaxing. They serve coffee and there’s music and the place is full of flowers, wait, what are you doing?” she exclaims.
I can hear a low voice in the background. “A tiny bit of trim. You talk to your friend while I finish this, Nicky--”
“Stop! Claire! Help! Save me!”
Nicky screams so loud, I drop the phone. The hotel she mentioned is only a block from where I work.
I rush down the street and past the doorman to the lobby. It’s all thick carpet and velvet couches and elegant people. I spot a hallway of shops, rush down it, skid into the plush beauty salon.
Nicky stands in the center of the shop shrieking at a tall handsome guy. If he didn’t have a scissors in his hand, I think she might attack. He’s cut her long hair very short, dipped on one side.
A small plump woman stands between them saying, “There, there, dear, please calm down.” Swinging toward the man, she hisses, “You! Out!” so I presume she’s the owner.
“Gosh,” I say, “guess he’s still between jobs.”
As he stomps out of the shop, Nicky pulls a towel over her short, dripping wet hair and bursts into tears. She sees me, grabs my arm and drags me out to the hotel lobby.
A different tall and handsome guy follows us. He rushes to catch up.
“Darling,” he says to Nicky, “I am so, so sorry.”
“Who the hell are you?” she shrieks.
He puts an arm around her shoulders. “I am the man who is going to save you.”
Nicky glares at him. “You can’t save me unless you can make my hair grow back right now.”
“Oh, sweetheart, if I could, I would. But let me just say. When you first walked into the shop, I thought you had the most beautiful face I’d ever seen. With you hair short, I now realize you have the most exquisitely shaped head I have ever seen.”
“Do I?” Her voice drops to her husky whisper.
He says softly, “I’m Andre and I am going to style your hair without cutting off another single precious lock. And I am going to continue styling it for you until it is back to its original length. Your smile is the only payment I require.”
Nicky’s eyes glisten through tears. I look around and it’s obvious that every man in the lobby has fallen in love with her.
With Nicky as his regular customer, every woman who sees her in the shop will hope this Andre guy can make her look like Nicky. He’ll have a waiting list a year long. Clever Andre.
Or I could be wrong. Nicky gives him a small smile and now he’s got that same gleam in his eyes as all the other men.
Does that mean that next week I’ll be doing Andre’s horoscope in catsup? 

Copyright (c) Phoebe Matthews

This page contains a short story each month for Phoebe's Newsletter readers.
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