Spotting Lahoma across the shop, she spun around, inciting a scream from the child. “Lahoma,” she shouted over his giggles, “have you got time to give Jason a haircut? Slade’s too busy down at the barbershop.”

“We can work him in, honey, as soon as one of the girls is finished,” Lahoma said. “Come on over here and get one of Logan’s fliers.”

The blonde’s eyes met his, and contempt hardened her features again. Letting her son slide down her back, she blew her wispy bangs out of her eyes and came toward the beautician, who held his flier with her rubber gloves still wet with red dye.

“I already got one,” she said. “I put it in an appropriate place.”

Grinning, Logan turned back to the patrons. “Now if you ladies wouldn’t mind passing some out,” he said, “I’ll give you a few extra fliers.”

“I’ll take some,” a woman beneath a dryer called.

Mildred sat up, the red dye forgotten in her hair. “I’ll take some too.”

“Anybody else?” Logan asked. “You won’t regret it. Anybody you talk into coming will owe you a lifelong debt.”

“Sold,” his nemesis said, her eyes dancing. “Give me the whole stack. I’ll be rid of them in five minutes.”

He chuckled and withheld them from her. “I don’t think so. Besides, you’ve got that haircut to wait for. And this place is chock-full of lovely young ladies who’d be more than willing to come to the aid of a newcomer in town.”

“Oh, brother.” She grabbed her son’s hand and headed back to the door. “Come on, Jason, let’s go.”

“Aren’t you going to get him his haircut?” Lahoma called after her.

“I think I’ll go wait for Slade,” she said. “The air’s a little hot in here. And Lahoma, you should really finish Mildred’s hair before that peroxide eats through her scalp.”

The door clanged shut behind her, and Lahoma slapped her red hands on her face. “Oh, my word, I forgot!” She ran to where Mildred sat with dye dripping down her forehead, hastily pushed the red head back into the sink, and turned the water on.

Logan grinned and watched out the window as the blonde woman ambled up the sidewalk. “I don’t think she likes me.”

“Sure she does,” Lahoma said. “Carny gets along with everybody. You just have to get used to her. She’s been a breath of fresh air to this town.”

“Carny?” he asked. “What kind of name is that?”

“She was brought up in a carnival,” Lahoma replied.

So that was it. She had street smarts. That might get in his way.

Mildred’s eyes rolled back in her head as Lahoma scrubbed her scalp, and in a voice just short of a groan, she

said, “Carny Sullivan. She moved here when she married Bev’s boy, Abe.”

“Then she isn’t a native of Serenity?”

“Carny?” Lahoma chuckled. “Heavens, no. But she’s sure brought life to it. Abe was no good, though. He lit out a year after he brought her here. Wound up dead in Amarillo. Barroom brawl, they said.”

“And she stayed?”

“Of course she did. She’s one of us now. We love her, even if she does do her own hair.”

Laughing, Logan offered his goodbyes to the ladies and went back outside. Carny and her son sat on the bench outside the barbershop, a block down. He strolled toward them as if in no particular hurry.

She was probably in her late twenties. That savvy edge she had, that mature expression on her face, that lack of innocence only made her more attractive to him.