Title: It's a Blonde Thing
Author's Note: I'm pretty sure Paige's hair color was brown by the time she and Richard split on the show... but I made her a blonde for the purposes of my story, deal with it :) Happy Birthday Helen!
“You want me to work where?” Paige Matthews stood in the kitchen, listening to the person on the other end of the phone, a puzzled look on her face. “Oh… okay. Yeah, sure, I’ll do it. Give me the address.” She reached for a pen and tablet and scribbled down a few things. “All right, I’ll be there at 10 am. Thanks!”
Piper and Phoebe looked at her expectantly as she hung up the phone and headed for the coffee pot to fill her mug.
She joined them at the kitchen table and took a long drink from her mug before she started explaining.
“That was the temp agency.” She paused for more coffee.
Piper and Phoebe exchanged an exasperated look. Ever since her split with Richard, Paige had become difficult to deal with sometimes.
“We gathered as much. What job are they sending you on now?” Piper, ever the diplomat, tried to ease into the conversation.
Phoebe, however, decided to take the direct approach. “And what possible supernatural repercussions is it going to have?”
Paige scowled at her sisters over the top of her coffee mug.
“They want me to work in a hair salon.”
Piper and Phoebe both raised their eyebrows, waiting for further explanation.
“I’m going to be answering the phones, scheduling appointments, and taking the customers money when they are done. Apparently it’s a small shop and the owner is friends with one of the coordinators at the agency. They need me to fill in for a week because the regular receptionist is in the hospital.” She paused for a moment and shot Phoebe a glare. “And you know I never find out what the supernatural aspects of my temp jobs are until I get there. But I’m guessing there will be one, so what are you guys up to today?”
“I’m dropping Wyatt off for a play date at the Morris’s. Sheila agreed to keep him for me today while I get caught up on some paperwork at the club. If I get done early enough, we might take the boys to the park for a picnic this afternoon. I’ll make sure I keep the cell on if you need me.”
“And I will be at the office all day. We have editorial meetings. Jason called and put out a directive that we are not being competitive enough and we need to come up with something to make us stand out.” Phoebe’s face fell a little at the mention of her ex-boyfriend’s name.
Paige got up and hugged her sister. Both of them had recently ended relationships with men who couldn’t handle their Charmed destinies. Unfortunately, Phoebe’s ex was the owner of the newspaper where she worked.
“Thanks honey. It gets easier every day to hear his name and not cringe. Luckily I haven’t had to talk to him or see him yet. I know he’s keeping his distance because he’s not ready either though. But if you need me, call the office and tell my secretary to interrupt me in whatever meeting I’m in. I’ll leave word with her that you may be calling and no matter what she is to get me if you do.”
Paige smiled at both of her sisters.
“Thanks guys. I really do appreciate all of your support lately.”
Piper replied for both her and Phoebe, “That’s what sisters are for.”
Their sweet sisterly bonding moment was interrupted by the chiming of the cuckoo clock.
All three got startled looks on their faces when they realized it was 8 am already.
Phoebe jumped up from the table, nearly spilling her juice.
“I have a meeting in ½ an hour. I gotta go. Bye!” She blew kisses at Wyatt, who had been happily playing in his playpen and rushed out of the kitchen.
Piper wasn’t far behind. She quickly cleared the table and ran over to the playpen to pick up Wyatt.
“We have to get you dressed and head over for your play date,” she cooed at the baby. “Wave bye to Aunt Paige.”
Paige blew a kiss at Wyatt as Piper rushed out of the kitchen with him in her arms.
“Well,” she said out loud to herself, “I guess I need to go get dressed and go to work too.”
At 9:55 am, Paige tentatively pushed open the door to the salon. Bells tingled softy above her head, announcing her arrival.
A tall woman with dark red spiky hair rushed over to her.
“Please tell me you’re my temp.”
Paige smiled and stuck out her hand. “I’m Paige Matthews.”
“Oh I’m so glad you’re here!” she exclaimed. She glanced at the clock hanging on the wall. “And you’re on time. What a relief! I’m Jamie and I own the shop. We’ll be getting our first customer around 10:30 so let me show you everything you need to know.”
By 10:20 when the two other hairdressers came in to work, Paige felt like she had a pretty good handle on the phone system and the scheduling book. She looked up and smiled at the two, hiding her surprise that they had the exact same hairstyle as their boss.
By noon Paige was exhausted. She had never imagined that a small beauty salon tucked at the end of an out of the way dead end street would be so busy. All three hairdressers worked non-stop. Paige felt like she had answered a hundred phone calls and made at least that many appointments. The weirdest thing was that many of the customers who came in the shop had the same color or style of hair, if not both, as Jamie and her employees. It definitely was giving Paige a weird vibe.
At 1:30, Jamie gave Paige a twenty dollar bill and asked her to run across the street to the sandwich shop for their standing order. She was told to order whatever she wanted also. Relieved at the chance for a break, Paige took the money and went to the sandwich shop.
She smiled at the woman working the counter. “Hi! I’m here to pick up an order for Jamie at the…” the woman cut her off.
“Here it is. That’ll be $12.59.”
Paige frowned a little, surprised at the woman’s abruptness. “Um, can you also add a turkey sandwich on whole wheat? No cheese, but I would like lettuce, tomato, and mayo.”
The woman looked slightly embarrassed. “Sure, if you have a seat right there, I’ll get that ready for you.”
Paige was just about to ask the woman some questions about the beauty salon when her phone chirped. She glanced at the display and was happy to answer and talk to Phoebe.
“Hey Phoebs! How are the meetings going?”
“Oh they were peachy. I don’t even want to talk about it. We ended early and I’m home now. What is going on with you? Figure out your supernatural angle yet?”
Paige lowered her voice. “Um. Not yet, but I’ve seen some weird stuff. I’m across the street getting lunch right now.”
“What kind of weird stuff?”
So Paige launched into her story about the similar hair styles and how crazy busy the tiny shop was. She also lowered her voice and filled Phoebe in on the weird behavior of the woman working at the sandwich shop.
“Well, Paige, it does sound weird, but it’s not much to go on. Let me check the Book of Shadows and see if I can find anything about spiky red headed demons or something.”
Paige noticed the woman at the sandwich shop studying her intently. “Uh, Phoebs? I better go. Call me if you find anything.”
She hung up the phone and walked up to the counter to pay for all the sandwiches.
“So you’re the new girl, huh?”
“I’m just a temp, here for a week to cover while the regular receptionist is in the hospital.”
The woman snorted.
“Regular receptionist? They ain’t had a regular receptionist since that Jamie took over the shop from her mama. They last a few weeks, all of them end up with that spiky red hair and then they disappear.”
“Yep. Every few weeks a new one starts coming in here. The first few days she’ll be happy and perky and then all of a sudden one day she’ll dye her hair that dark red and then a few days after that she cuts her hair off so it’s all spiky. Then a few days after that, one of them hairdressers comes over and gets the lunch and then it starts all over again.”
Paige nervously patted her long blonde hair.
“Well, I don’t think that will happen this time.”
“I sure hope not.” The woman smiled at Paige as she handed her all the sandwiches.
It was nearing 6, closing time, when Paige heard the tingling of the bells that indicated someone coming through the doors. She looked at the book to see if there was an appointment on the books she had not noticed.
“I’m sorry, we’re about to close for the evening and I don’t think you have an appointment,” she started to say without even looking up.
“I know I don’t have an appointment.”
Paige looked up and was startled to see Phoebe standing there.
“Phoebe! What are you doing here?”
Phoebe cast a furtive glance around the shop. “Where is everyone else?”
“In the back cleaning up. We’re just about to close up for the night.”
Phoebe lowered her voice and leaned in so Paige could hear her.
“I did some research. These hairdressers are vanity demons. They maintain their youthful looks by sucking the energy from young women. They are pretty low level and I prepared the vanquishing potion. I didn’t bother bringing Piper because I figured we could handle this ourselves and she was enjoying a picnic in the park with Sheila and the boys when I called her cell.”
Paige sighed. “I knew there was something up with that weird red spiky hair. So, what’s the plan?”
“Plan for what, witch?”
Phoebe and Paige looked up and saw Jamie and her two hairdressers advancing towards them.
“Guess you found out our little secret. I was shocked this morning when I realized you were a witch. But I was relieved when I realized you had no idea I was a demon. I’m not sure who or what tipped you off, but we had already decided we needed to get rid of you right away. We were just a little too late. Oh well, now we’ll get two witches instead of just one.”
Phoebe managed to slip a bottle of potion into Paige’s hand as they both prepared to fight. All three demons advanced on them, athames in hand. The demons froze when they heard the bells tinkling above the shop door.
Paige and Phoebe shared a frightened glance. The last thing they needed was an innocent getting in the way.
“Didn’t think you’d need the power of three today?”
Paige and Phoebe whirled around, shocked to see Piper standing there.
“Piper, how’d you know where we were?”
“Chris saw the potion and the Book in the kitchen. When he realized what you two were doing, he came and got me at the Morris’s and brought me here.”
“Power of three?” Jamie and her demons shared a glance. “You’re a Charmed one?”
“Sure am. And now we’re going to vanquish your sorry asses.”
The demons were advancing again. One attempted to plunge an athame into Piper. With a flick of her wrists, Piper blew the demon to smithereens.
The other demon hairdresser was attacking Phoebe. Despite her martial arts training and levitating power, Phoebe felt like she was fighting a losing battle. She threw the vanquishing potion, but the demon ducked out of the way. Paige noticed her sister’s dilemma and threw her own bottle of potion at the demon She hit her mark and the demon disappeared in a flash of flames.
Now it was the power of three versus Jamie.
Jamie started to retreat to the back of the shop. Phoebe jumped up and levitated to her, kicking her squarely in the head. Jamie stumbled and started to fall. Piper lifted her hands to blow Jamie up but Paige stopped her.
“Wait a minute. This one is mine. Potion!” She orbed the potion from Piper’s hand to her own. She walked over and stood above the cowering Jamie.
“Paige, please don’t do this. Why don’t you become one of us. It will be far more rewarding than being a Charmed one,” Jamie pleaded.
Paige looked at her thoughtfully.
“Sorry, I can’t do that. It’s a blonde thing.” And with that, she threw the potion, vanquishing Jamie.
She turned and smiled at her sisters.
“Thanks for your help.”
Piper smiled. “No problem. But next time, call me and let me know what’s going on, okay Phoebs?”
Phoebe blushed. “I figured we could handle it on our own. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m glad Chris saw what we were up to and sent you over. Guess we’ll always need the power of three.”
The sisters shared a smile.
“Come on, you two,” Paige stretched out her arms. “I’ll take you home."