CHASE BROTHERS: MAKING CHASE BY LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2007, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Now Available in Trade Paper!
Tate Murphy sat in the comfy chair at her station, sipping coffee and looking out the window. It was a Saturday in the very beginning of February. Winter had been cold but spring was beginning to imagine itself. The trees carried buds, heavy with leaves and the air wasn’t quite as chilly as it’d been even a week before.
All in all, a lovely day. Soon to be even lovelier. One leg crossed over the other, foot slowly kicking back and forth, she waited for her morning visual donut. Matt Chase.
Ah, there he was. Hot damn, her body lit up when he pulled his truck into the lot adjacent to the salon. Hopping out, he hefted a duffel bag over one shoulder and loped across the street.
“Good Lord the man looks good enough to eat,” Tate murmured as she took a drink of her coffee. Faded jeans showed off long legs and a nice, trim booty. A hoodie sweatshirt fended off the cold but didn’t stop her from seeing the work-hard body beneath. He was in dire need of a haircut and she had no trouble admitting she’d love to get her fingers in it. A bit shaggy, it curled up just around his ears and touched the back of his collar. A color like burnt sugar.
Although he had on cool-looking sunglasses, she knew the eyes beneath were a light green, fringed with chocolate lashes. Mmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.
“Ah, I see his hotness has arrived.” Anne, co-owner and her next youngest sister, stood next to her, leaning into the chair.
“Kinda makes me want to set a fire,” Tate said, one corner of her mouth lifting.
“Um, I smell something burning already. Your panties perhaps?”
Blushing furiously, she spun, laughing at Anne’s outrageous comment. “I’m gonna light a candle for you. Three.”
Anne joined her in laughter. “You just about raised me, I expect I need all the help I can get.”
“Hey, divas, did I miss him?” Beth, the last owner and next youngest sister after Anne approached to refill everyone’s coffee cup.
“Yeah, he just went inside. But there’s always lunchtime.” Sated for the morning, Tate stood and began to get all her tools in order, making sure her station was stocked and ready for the day.
Four years before, Tate and Anne had decided to buy the rundown old house at the far end of Main Street and renovate it into a hair salon. They’d scrimped, saved, worked multiple jobs and got the down-payment together and then had spent months doing the renovation work themselves. Luckily, they had a large, and free, workforce. With eight Murphy kids and two spouses to help, they’d been able to paint, knock out walls, drywall, replace the plumbing, landscape, and apply for all the proper permits and licenses. Hell, they’d even put up a new roof. A few months after Anne graduated from beauty school, Tate left her old salon in Riverton and they opened the doors to Murphy’s Cuts and Curls.
Two years after that, Beth came in as part owner and ran the business end of things. The salon was a family affair. Beth had been helping out with the books when she’d offered to buy in at a smaller share. The place would wither and die without her to, well, do everything that needed doing. Not only did she handle the books and deal with ordering supplies but if someone needed a shampoo she could do that too.
Truthfully, Tate had wanted a fancier name but their youngest sister, Jill, who was getting her degree in marketing, told them that if they kept the name folksy but not too cutesy, it’d make people more comfortable.
Jill must have had something, because from the moment they’d opened, they’d done a brisk business. Women stopped leaving town to get their hair done. Tate and Anne offered everything from the giant hairspray helmet the women like Polly Chase preferred to the stylish razor cuts her daughter-in-law Liv currently sported. It made Petal seem a friendlier place to Tate, who always had felt an outsider there.
Tate made a decent living. Enough that she’d been able to help Tim and her other siblings pay tuition at the University of Georgia for their two youngest siblings. Before that, she worked to pay for her younger brother Nathan’s college and master’s in teaching. They’d all worked together to help out when the others had needed it and that’s what counted.
“Anne, your first client of the day is a color, I’ll send her over to Tate for the cut,” Beth announced as she made another pot of coffee.
Tate looked at the place she and her sisters had built from the ground up and pride swelled her heart.