Nat and Lis pulled into the shopping center parking lot. Beside the salon sat a brick oven pizzeria, the state store that always carried the Spanish wine Lis discovered in college, and a second-hand kid's clothing store.
Lis inhaled deeply. "Man, I need some of that pizza. Grab dinner after we're done tonight?"
"Oh absolutely," Nat grinned. "My first outing as the new me." Lis rolled her eyes exaggeratedly and the girls continued into the salon.
When they emerged a few hours later, Lis looked much the same. It was an inch or two shorter, but her hair possessed the same golden hue as earlier in the day. Nat, however, was transformed in exactly the manner she'd hoped. She couldn't keep her hands out of her hair. It now fell just below her collar bone, in a blunt cut that suited her perfectly. The chestnut color caught the fading sunlight as she twirled and flipped her strands.
"What do you think?" Nat asked Lisa, beaming.
"Eh, it's alright," she joked. "I'm glad you like it though."
Nat tossed the pen she'd been holding at her friend. "Seriously. Is it too drastic?"
"No way. It is the exact appropriate amount of drastic change. You still look like you, don't worry."
"Good. I was going for drastic, you know."
"Yep, and mission accomplished." Lis tipped an imaginary hat to her friend. "Now. Let's get some of that pizza. Please."
Nat stood in line for the girls' dinner order while Lis grabbed a table and their drinks. She watched her reflection in the glass of the counter display, turning slightly now and then, in order to see her hair from different angles.
"No way, is that Lisa Wentworth?" A voice broke into her reverie from behind. It was Ben, an old friend from college she hadn't seen in years.
"Ben! Ohmygosh," she breathed, "how are you!?"
"Oh, I'm good. You know, the usual. I'm just in town for the weekend, my brother is getting married. Ick."
Nat laughed. "Not in the wedding spirit these days?"
Ben gagged. "Is anyone ever in the wedding spirit? I swear, even my brother and his fiancé wish they were just eloping and bypassing all this nonsense. Or, you know, common law marriages are great, I hear.
"Back to the important things. You know Lisa Wentworth? How'd that happen?"
"Yep." Nat replied. She sometimes forgot that her best friend's reporting career made her a bit of a local celebrity. She thought it was sweet that she'd stumbled upon a fan. "Want to join us for dinner?"
Ben's grin widened. "Yeah, I do."
"Alright then. Meet me over there when your food is up, and I'll introduce you."
Nat twirled on her heel, pizza and fries in hand, and made her way back to the booth. Lis sat flipping through a magazine. She looked up as Nat approached.
"What? Why are you grinning like a five-year-old on an Easter egg hunt?"
"I just ran into an old friend." Nat paused. "He's an admirer."
"Umm did you tell him you're taken? Man, I need to tell Bill to get on with it already, you look a heck of a lot more available than you really are. At least I think that's the case." Lis squinted at Nat. "But maybe not. Maybe you're the one who needs to have a chat with our dear pal, Bill."
"Oh come on now, Lis," Nat laughed. "This old friend is an admirer of yours. It seems you've wittily worked your way into his favor. I invited him to eat with us."
"You did not! Nat!"
"Lis. He's a looker and he's a lot of fun. Just trust me on this."
"Famous last words, hmm?" Lis smiled.
Read the first installment of this story here.