"Hi, Leanne. Is this your first time at Scheherazade's Spa?"
The customer nervously clutched her purse in her lap and glanced around the room. "Yes." Her eyes narrowed as I snapped on a pair of gloves. "Um…a friend of mine told me the signature facial is painful."
I spun around and leaned back against the counter, standing a respectful two feet away from the middle-aged woman sitting on my table.
"It's not, trust me. It's actually kind of relaxing."
Leanne raised her eyebrows as she brightened, instantly making herself look about five years younger. "Have you had the signature facial yourself?"
"I get one every three weeks. Can you tell? I'm actually forty-seven."
Forty-seven was very obviously much older than my actual age. Luckily, Leanne did exactly what I hoped she would.
"Okay, you convinced me. I should've had this done ten years ago," she said, half-joking. But there was an edge of anxiety in her face. She still wasn't sure about the facial.
"Ten years ago? But you must've only been nineteen at the time," I said. Then, I smiled at her, in a way that made her flush a little bit. Meanwhile, the voice of Eliza Vreeland floated through my mind, a memory out of one of my very first training sessions at the spa.
Flirt with the women, if you have to. Just make sure the client ends up getting the signature facial. Once they see the results, they'll be a customer for life.
Leanne giggled one last time, and I knew that I'd successfully closed the sale.
As she lay down across the massage table and held her eyes closed, I pulled two bottles out of the mini fridge. One was filled with the spa's secret formula for our signature facial. The other contained the activation potion.
"Do you have any music preferences? We have classical, ambient, tribal flute, and rain sounds," I said as I mixed the formula in a little plastic bowl.
"Some rain would be nice," Leanne said.
I went to the tablet on the counter and scrolled to her selection. A few seconds later, the room filled with the rhythmic tinkling of soft rainfall.
"This is going to feel cold," I said.
I dipped a soft brush into the prepared formula. Leanne flinched when I dabbed it on her forehead.
"Just relax," I whispered.
The formula for the signature facial was a translucent, pale pink fluid. As I spread it over her forehead and moved down the sides of her face, Leanne's eyebrows knitted together, and her temples pulled back with tension.
"It…stings," she said.
"That's normal," I assured her.
After covering her entire face, I turned away to retrieve my next tool. The derma-roller was an inch-long cylinder covered in tiny spikes with an ergonomic handle, meant for rolling over the skin.
"This is the worst part. Just bear with me," I said.
I began to roll the tiny spikes over Leanne's face, and her flinch deepened into a full-on frown. Her hands tightened into fists at her sides, clutched so tight that the tendons rose in her wrists.
I didn't blame her. The roller was creating teeny, tiny tears in her face, to allow our formula to enter her skin and repair her from the inside out. The formula itself was derived from shifter blood. I knew this because I'd provided the blood myself, back when I was still a shifter.
Of course, the public didn't know any of that.
"Almost done," I whispered.
I finished passing the derma-roller over her face and covered her body with a black, Egyptian cotton sheet.
"It's over," I said, to myself as well as Leanne. "How are you feeling?"
Leanne's shoulders relaxed. "Not too bad," she admitted.
I smiled to myself.
"Once again, I'm Aiden. I'll be stepping outside while the facial soaks in for twenty minutes. Relax and enjoy."
Leanne sighed quietly as I dimmed the lights. Then, I dropped my gloves into the wastebasket, closed the door, and stepped out into the hallway.
Carla appeared from around the corner. She was one of Eliza's witch minions, and she also worked at the spa. I clutched my heart at her uninvited appearance. Her thin eyebrows disappeared into her black, blunt-cut bangs, but she didn't apologize for scaring me.
"Sarah's here to see you," she said. "She brought a shifter with her."
Her mouth twisted disdainfully when she said the word shifter.
"Thanks, Carla," I said sourly. "Keep an eye on Leanne in room three for me."
I walked through the back hallway and emerged into the reception area. Sarah was there, as promised. Like Carla, Sarah was also a member of Eliza Vreeland's coven. Today, she was accompanied by a young man in a sheriff's deputy uniform.
The nametag pinned to his shirt simply said, Camp.
It forced me to a stop.
This was Josh Camp, bitten shifter and mate of Black Paw alpha Kaden Daniels.
I gave Sarah a questioning look.
"Don't worry. He's only here to ask you a few questions," Sarah said.
I crossed my arms. "About what?"
Josh took a step forward, drawing my attention.
"About how Eliza cured your shifting ability," he answered.