At twelve-thirty, Sara went to the salon’s reception lounge. There was Crystal, punctual as ever. Sara liked her for that. Lots of clients thought you had all the time in the world. But Crystal always treated Sara like a professional.
‘Are you ready, Crystal?’ Sara asked as she walked into the room.
‘Hi, Sara! Sure am,’ Crystal said with a wide smile.
When she’d gotten Crystal settled into the large, black, leather styling chair, Sara said, ‘OK, let’s talk about your hair.’
‘I think I want something really different this time.’
‘What’d you have in mind?’
Crystal grinned conspiratorially. ‘I want to go blonde. I mean platinum blonde. My brows, too.’
Sara nodded slowly, and stepped back a moment. She tilted her head slightly to one side and narrowed her eyes a little. ‘You want me to be honest?’
‘I don’t know that it would work well on you. Your eyes and skin tone would go much better with maybe a lighter shade of brunette, or even auburn. Platinum’s too cool. You’re better off with a warmer shade.’
With just a hint of edge to her voice, Crystal said, ‘Thanks, Sara. But I really want to go platinum. You can do that, can’t you?’
Sara got the hint. ‘Of course, we’ll do whatever you want. Just give me a couple of minutes to get everything ready, and I’ll be right back.’
‘Thanks.’ Crystal’s smile returned and she relaxed a little. This was all going to work out beautifully. Screw Brad and his opinion! She could handle this job. All she had to do was use the new ID to open that account. Then the money’d be perfectly safe. One of these days she’d have to put Brad in his place.
Sara finished putting everything she’d need on a tray. Poor Crystal! The only reason a pretty woman like that went blonde was if her husband was cheating on her. At least that had been Sara’s experience. Well, it wasn’t going to make a difference if the guy was that much of a snake, but if that’s what Crystal wanted, maybe it would make her happy for a little while. She shrugged, picked up the tray and went back to where Crystal was waiting for her.
Two hours later, she was done. Crystal looked at herself in the mirror and laughed with pleasure. ‘This is fantastic, Sara!’
‘Thanks,’ Sara said, not quite able to hide how happy the compliment had made her feel.
‘Let me pay you, and then I’ll be out of your way.’ Crystal fumbled in her bag, accidentally dropping her wallet on the floor. The wallet burst open, and Sara quickly reached down to pick it up. That’s when she saw the ID. She looked at the ID, then she looked at Crystal. Her mouth opened slightly as she looked at the ID again.
‘What – what’s this about?’ she asked.
‘I really wish you hadn’t seen that,’ Crystal said slowly. ‘I really do. It’s going to make everything more difficult.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m sorry, Sara. I like you. But there’s nothing else I can do.’
Ten minutes later, Crystal walked out of the salon as calmly as she could. She wasn’t happy about what had happened, but she’d had no choice. At least she’d remembered to wipe off the shears before she left. And as busy as the place was, it would be a while before anyone noticed what had happened. Besides, if anyone saw her leaving, they saw a blonde, not a brunette.
After a quick stop in a public restroom to put in the blue-tinted contact lenses, the next stop was First Citizens Bank. Brad had given her the name of a banking officer he knew there, who wouldn’t ask a lot of questions or put a lot of obstacles in her way. She walked into the lobby, left her name and settled down to wait. A few minutes later a tall man with salt-and-pepper hair and rimless eyeglasses came towards her.
‘Monica Blevins?’ he asked.
‘Yes, that’s me,’ she said, rising to her feet.
‘Nice to meet you. I’m Trent Carlow.’ They shook hands and Carlow ushered her into his office. After they were seated, he asked, ‘Now, how can I help you?’
‘Well, I’d like to open an account.’
Trent smiled to himself as he watched Monica. Brad hadn’t told him he knew her, so this was an extra bonus. Trent had been waiting for this ever since Monica and her loverboy had screwed him out of fifty thousand dollars. This was going to be good.
‘Do you remember me, Monica?’ he asked softly.
‘Remember you? No.’ She shook her head. ‘Should I?’
‘Doesn’t matter. I remember you. You and Petey took me for fifty thousand. I haven’t forgotten.’
She’d seen the look in his eyes. ‘Wait,’ she said, looking down. ‘I don’t know anyone named Petey. I’m here because I heard that there wouldn’t be too much hassle opening an account. You have the wrong person.’
‘I don’t think so. Your license says Monica Blevins. You look like her too.’ He got up and was around to her side of the desk before she knew what was happening. He grabbed her arm and said, ‘Come on. We’re going to have a private conversation.’
‘But I’m not Monica! I’m not even a blonde! My name’s –’
‘Shut up!’ he hissed. ‘I don’t give a damn what you call yourself. I know who you are.’ Her arm still in his grip, she didn’t have any choice as she felt herself lifted to her feet.
Brad glanced at the time displayed on his telephone. No question, Crystal had been to the bank by now. That had been a neat trick, he thought to himself, getting an ID in the name of Monica Blevins. When Petey told him what happened with Trent, how he and Monica had worked it, Brad was sure he’d found a good way to deal with Crystal. Trent had been waiting to meet up with Petey’s girl again. An ID switch and Crystal wouldn’t be a problem for Brad any more. In a way, he was sorry. She’d been useful. But that’s what happened when you got too ambitious. Brad didn’t need anyone coming up behind him like that.