Adam had duly waited until his eighteenth birthday to come out to his parents. They were outwardly accepting, but unfortunately, their attitude towards him did change significantly overnight. His mother never called him darling, and his father didn't call him, son. He felt he was being ignored every time he walked into his home. He was a sort of accepting young adult, and he had figured that would be the last reaction he would get from them, but it could have been much worse for Adam Sutton, he was also so very stubborn.

 Homelife started to become unbearable after a week or two, his mother was preoccupied all the time and she hardly spoke to him, his father was so tied up in work he never saw him, he thought they both were ignoring him, and probably hoping he would just go away, so he only had one choice. He accepted that they didn’t love him anymore, and he would never give in to their horrible attitude towards him. So after one unbearable night of avoiding them, he gave up, he packed his things, then during the night, he left quietly, closing the back door forever behind him. Walking out alone into the late-night he felt a loss but elated he finally had some freedom, and as he took one last look at his family home he took a deep breath, lowered his head, and walked out of their lives, vowing never to return. He loved his family dearly and it hurt to make that decision but he was an adult now and was wanting to give them some space to deal with his revelation.

  He never tried to stay in touch with them, and of course as far as he knew, which hurt him the most, they never even looked for him. He was all alone with nowhere to go, so he slept in the park until the sunrise broke through the clouds, he could now head into his new workplace and start his adult life for real.

 He had finally finished his apprenticeship, his total results placed him in the top five hairdressing students Australia wide, so he had found it easy to get a job in a trendy salon in Brisbane. Trish was one of his new workmates, she was a couple of years older than him, and they had quickly become firm friends, and with Adams credentials, he was very much in demand by the salon's clients, and in no time he had a constant flow of personal clients of his own.

 At first, he worked mainly on fashion parades and photoshoots, that’s where the salons big money came from, and because he got extra money for this work, he had managed to save some at long last, and that’s when he decided could survive and leave home. Trish helped him get a small apartment in her block, almost the same day, he had moved out of his family home. She then helped him gather up enough old furniture to make that small flat his new home.

 Up to this stage, he had limited experience with other guys, but he was confident he could pull just about any guy he fancied in. His style was the brooding rock star look from the seventies, his long thick dark brown lanky hair was styled to the max, he never went out on the streets, or to work, looking like he needed a good wash. He had become an expert at looking sharp at all times. He was naturally muscly and had what is called a swimmers body, it was shaped well in all the right places, he was very lucky to have that type of body.

 His look was something that came naturally to him, it wasn't learned in any textbook, he had the wow factor, and his grooming skills were exquisite. He was also a huge fan of the Deco era, the fifties, and sixties and sometimes the seventies, anything that was vintage he loved, and it showed up more in the way he dressed. He had invented his very own style to perfection. He would team a white t-shirt and a crisp dark-colored opened necked shirt that was never buttoned up at the front, teamed with jet black straight-legged jeans with turnups, and pointy-toed boots, they were his passion, this is what he called his basic uniform. It wasn’t comical it was just pure chic and style.

 For all his youthful unblemished olive skin Adam wasn’t a pretty boy, he had a wise face with a square jaw, and people mistakenly thought him being a little older than he was. He was handsome, deadly seriously handsome, he always thought his soft pink full puffy lips were his best feature, but more common than not it was his Azure blue eyes that drew the most comments. They bordered on bright violet in certain lighting, he turned heads when he walked into a room. His thick dark eyebrows were manicured to the max, and his long dark lashes curled up naturally, both men and women adored him, and he found it very easy to make friends, especially with his customers and workmates at the salon.

 One such client was a Mrs. Adele Banks, an elderly lady who had the same constitution as Adam, she never ventured outside without her makeup, handbag, gloves, and a sun hat, if it was a fine sunny day. Old school always turns heads, she had the look. She had done quite a lot of modeling in Europe in her younger days and knew all of the in-crowd, the stories she told fascinated Adam, to the point he sometimes was living in that wonderful time with her. She had married well and had lived a stress-free life with her husband in Brisbane.

 Adam and Adele had a wonderful relationship, she would sit in his chair and tell him about all the adventures she and her now late husband had, and Adam loved talking to her about the good old days. He soaked up her fifties-era like a sponge, her sixties Mod era was fascinating because she lived in London at that very trendy time when fashion styles were changing just about every hour. She loved the way he attended to her hair, and the sweet gentle nature of his understanding if she was having an off day because underneath all that ladylike exterior was a very ill, sad frightened soul.

 When she was getting worse health-wise, and couldn’t make the salon anymore, he did a deal with her. He would go to her place and attend to her hair on his days off. They always had afternoon tea, and he took charge of her grooming, the deal was she had to tell him a different story each time they met, and he listened intensely at her wonderful crisp words. She would make a big deal out of it too by ordering far too many tea cakes from the local bakery, and sometimes when he was there, he would give her a good shoulder massage or they would just talk about new trends or makeup, but mostly their conversation subjects had to do with grooming and fashion throughout the years. Adam was well-read, and they laughed at many of the photos in her extensive photo library that Adam loved to look at every time he was in her wonderful company.

 When Adele Banks passed away, Adam was at her bedside, he had just finished moisturizing her now dry skin, she had lost a lot of weight over the past few months, but he still did her lipstick and eyes. She took her last breath while he held her hand, then he sobbed miserably for the loss of his very dear friend. He didn’t want to intrude on her family so he had slipped into the funeral and sat up the back. He listened to many stories about her wonderful life and he was glad to be holding just a little more of them in his heart.

 The lawyers appeared out of nowhere a few days after the funeral and Adam was invited into their office to sit in on the reading of her last will. The letter he received had indicated that he had been mentioned in Adele’s will. This shocked him, so when he met with one of his clients who was a solicitor, he instructed her to send a letter back stating, he will not be claiming anything from his dear friend's estate. He also had stated that this was her doing, not his wish. He asked the solicitor to put a footnote on the letter saying he was deeply saddened at their loss, and he would like to extend his condolences to her family.

 That confused the lawyers and they called a private meeting with her immediate family, and the result was, he would be given no option. It was their sisters wish to do something magical for her friend Adam, her hairdresser and confidant and that left the final decision to her only sister Meryl.

 The next letter was to instruct him to be at their city office at a certain date and time to discuss this further. He had no option but to go speak with them, and relay his thoughts face to face. He dressed smart casual as always, but to anyone on the street, he looked like he had just stepped out of an old fashion magazine.

 He sat quietly in the reception area at what looked like a very old bank, which some of it was still in use today. The receptionist showed him through to a large conference room, an aging woman and a balding man in a suit were sitting at one end of a very large table. It was beautifully carved with at least twenty four matching mahogany chairs and polished like a mirror.

 “Please sit down with us Mr. Sutton, would you like a coffee?”

“That would be very nice Mr. Walsham, thank you.” The elderly lady lifted her eyebrows and looked across at Adam.

 “May I call you Adam?” Mr. Walsham said.

“Of course you can, but I need to say right from the start,  that if this is a meeting is to talk me out of claiming the bequest, with due respect, I’m all for it. I will sign anything you want just don’t drag me through the courts. I can’t afford it, and I don’t want it, sir. I have some wonderful memories of Mrs. Banks, and that’s more than enough for me.”

 He heard a giggle coming from the very staunch looking lady.

“Adam, this is Meryl, Meryl is Adele’s younger sister.”

“I am very pleased to meet you, I should have known by your bone structure you were a close relative. She had an amazing shape to her face too.”

Silly thing to say, but he did mean it, this woman would have been very attractive also in her younger days.

He shook her offered hand then after the coffee and biscuits arrived he relaxed a little, and was now ready for anything they were going to throw at him.

 “My sister was my best friend, she and I were inseparable when we were growing up, and I loved her like no other. I always looked to her for my inspiration, and I always thought she was the most beautiful woman on this planet. After she married Fred, he bought her back from London to her home here, and her family, and here she stayed until recently.” She smiled, reflecting on the past.

 Adam listened to Meryl’s story.

 “The reason I am talking to you today is that, whatever she was perceived as to the outside world, it was her inner thoughts and beauty that was on show to her closest friends and family, you are one of those friends Adam. I know she didn’t tell you about her son John. It has always been too painful for her to talk about him, with anyone. But she did have a son, who she adored. He was ripped from her heart one terrible afternoon in Vietnam, where he took the full force of an explosion to save his fellow soldiers. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. After that horrible incident, my sister became a recluse, and we hardly spoke face to face because she just wouldn’t talk about her pain to anyone.” It was a revelation that Adam didn’t know and he was saddened for his friend.

 “She never said a thing to me, but I did notice a young man in her photo albums and wondered that maybe something awful had happened to him," Adam said quietly as he dropped his head.

 “Well something did, and it nearly destroyed her. The reason I’m telling you now Adam is because of a few things, she was no fool, and neither am I, her only living blood relative. You changed her, you made her laugh again, and you gave me my beautiful sister back. You made her life bearable, whether you knew it or not, and for that alone, I thank you.”

 Adam went into shock and his eyes welled up, he didn’t expect this sort of reception from Adele’s family, and he certainly wasn’t being her friend to cure her of anything, he just adored her the way she was.

 “I am speechless, it wasn’t my intention to have you go over painful memories, and I certainly don’t think I made Adele relive them either, we were good mates. I loved her company, and I do know she liked mine.”

 “It’s your eyes Adam, those almost bright violet-blue eyes, they are the same color as her dear sons. She told me one day she only had to look into your eyes and all her pain disappeared. You did do some healing whether you were aware of it or not, and I thank you sincerely once again.” She smiled.

 “I’m not sure you have anything to thank me for, if I helped you both in some small way then I am overjoyed. But as I said I wasn’t her friend for what I could get out of her. I just loved her for what I saw in her, a beautiful soul that loved the same things as me.”

 "Well she was no fool, she would have pegged you as a money-hungry shop assistant straight away, and please don’t get offended at my words, Adam. I am only trying to explain to you why you must take the bequest. She was very insistent that her best pal should get something from her estate, and now that I have met you, I am more than certain she was right in making that decision.”

“I don’t want anything, please Meryl, let’s not even go there. Life’s too short to argue over trinkets or money please I thank you, but no, I don’t need it.”

 “Very well Adam, will you sign this document then?” Mr. Walsham the lawyer asked. Adam took up the pen and signed his bequest away, or so he thought.

 “Good, and thank you, we must do tea one day. I think I would like to get to know you a little better Adam Sutton. If my sister believed in you, then I would like to see what she saw too, and I think I have seen a little of that today, Jack you can tell him now.” She smiled.

 “The document you have just signed is your acceptance of Adele’s bequest, Adam. I will now get the ball rolling and finalize her will.” He opened a box and handed Adam an envelope and a set of keys. Adam had the feeling he has just been had, and whether he liked it or not they were giving him the bequest. He wouldn’t argue with them over it, and what’s a few dollars anyway, to them it will only be a drop in the ocean from what Adele had told him in private. He decided to be quiet and just to accept the gift graciously.

 “All I can say further is thank you. You know my feelings and it’s hard to accept your kindness, but thank you.” Adam smiled then Meryl said a little too excitably.

 “Well don’t dilly dally Adam, open it.” She moved to sit on the edge of her chair.

 He felt embarrassed as he quietly opened the envelope, he pulled out a bank cheque and a piece of paper with a city address on it. He nearly dropped his lunch when he saw all the zeros on the check, almost a million dollars had been bequeathed to him from his dear friend, what the hell did he do to deserve that much money.

 “The money is to set you up in a salon of your own, and the address is where you will find your new city apartment. As I said my sister wasn’t a fool, she knew that these two things were important to make you very happy, a salon of your own, and a proper home. And if you need any more help legally or financially she has also instructed us to help you in any way we possibly can. Congratulations Adam, and welcome to the family.”

  She stood up and walked around the table, she had Adam in her arms in an instant and whispered another thank you into his ear.

 These were the events that happened to Adam Sutton as he began his life as an independent adult, he had only just turned twenty one when all this occurred. The events after that meeting were swift, and Adam was on a rollercoaster ride for many months. Meryl and he did become firm friends along the way and the extended family and friends used Adams's new salon exclusively, bringing some very upmarket clientele with them.

 The apartment was a sub-penthouse in the heart of Brisbane, a huge green Art Deco building dating back to the thirties, it was superbly designed, and the untouched interior had been styled and crafted by an expert artist, it was situated at the head of the river with small ocean views, Adele chose this one well. Adams's passion for Deco surrounded him every day, from when he walked into the grand entrance, to stepping inside of his awesome apartment, he was surrounded by the style he loved. He couldn’t fathom what it must be worth in today’s market, but he accepted his dear friends present, and when he would sit on the vast balcony alone, he often thanked her silently for making his life a lot easier, and he missed her dearly every day.

 He opened his salon just down the road from the apartment building, about a three hundred meters walk away. The building he bought was an old grain store warehouse, he had the front cleaned and restored and installed big stained and clear glass windows. The big old oak doors with highlighted side panels of multi-colored glass were of the era he loved. He then painted the interior to look like a flat white canvas, He fit it out with everything he and Adele had adored, from huge Venetian mirrors hanging from the twenty-foot ceiling to the biggest multi-colored chandeliers the salon's size could cope with. He had glass shelving that was loaded with trinkets from the past, but not too many, he didn’t want to overcrowd the salon. It was a magical place to work in and the modern contemporize inner skin highlighted those wonderful old mementos that Adam had hand-picked.

 There were eight work stations all with everything the stylist would need and each stylist was responsible for their tools of the trade. His prices weren’t sky-high, but they were up there, he kept them a little above the normal walk in walk out salon ones, and his workmates were all hand-picked for their particular skills, not their looks. He ended up with six full-time stylists and four casuals.

 His business took off at an alarming rate, but he never forgot his humble beginnings, he always took care of what he called, his regular off the street customers, and he never refused a client no matter what they wore, or how they looked. The first stylist he hired was his friend Trish, he also made her the manager because of her great organizational skills. She was also pretty damn hot, and she looked good at the reception desk, her personality and patience entertained many a client.

 The only downside of his salon's location was, it was a few doors down from the Australian Federal police's headquarters. But the upside was some seriously hunky officers went by, going about their daily business. He didn’t get any clients from that building, which didn’t bother him one bit. Among the police officers and Detectives that walked past his salon every day were also a team of soldiers who protected the government holdings in the city, they had a full two floors of offices in that building. He had heard that most of the military men were billeted in a block of apartments about a mile away in a back street.

 Life was good to Adam, and just after his twenty-first birthday, he was at the top of his game business and professionally wise. He no longer did the catwalks or weddings, he had a team of casual staff members on his books for that side of the business, it bought in big money and so did the clubs and theatres that were dotted around the back streets in his area.

 He was also extremely lonely by this time, he had never found himself a regular partner because he was too busy to look for one. He relied on a quick head job in the local park toilets, or some office building restroom to satisfy his urges. He also went to the clubs with some of his colleagues, and never went home feeling randy. He always scored a quickie in the club toilets, or in the cruisy dark alley that ran behind his favorite one, the G club. But he was still lonely and missing a big chunk of companionship in his life.

 He was pretty pleased with himself business-wise, but he was still so alone inside. It wasn't because he didn't get any offers for following updates or clandestine meetings, it was because his work got in the way. He loved what he was doing, and he was very good at it.

 That was until one day early in July. The autumn months had arrived and there was a chill in the air when Adam arrived for work. He opened the front door and stepped inside, his nostrils reacted to all the wonderful sweet perfumes that a salon made naturally with all the sprays and lotions that are applied throughout the day.

 He took a deep breath and headed for the tea room to put the hot water urn on, the girls and guys will want a coffee when they arrive, with this chill they will need something to warm them up. He also tidied up the basket that held the cup of soups, noodles, and biscuits, then added fresh rolls that he had bought at the café in his apartment block.

He sat at the tea room table listening for the bell and that’s when his real story began.