10. The Remaking of Katrina Thomas
"You need to look different," Caruso said, looking me over with a cynical eye. "You're a pretty girl, Katie - it'll be hard to turn you into someone else."
I didn't know whether to be honored or creeped out.
"What would you think of having a light brunette shade, as opposed to this white blonde? I'm afraid your hair color is rather distinct. We don't want you to turn heads."
I gathered a fistful of hair in my hand, feeling protective. "Are you going to make me look completely different?"
"We're going to make you look as different as you love Ella."
The words were like a knife to my conscience, and I looked away. "Okay," I said, trying not to let any shakiness into my voice. "You're right. That was sort of selfish of me to say."
From across the room, little Anneliese let out a high-pitched squeal. I looked over and smiled despite myself. She was awfully cute, that little one was. Perhaps she would be a good distraction for Ellie; I didn't know. Chilled, I closed my eyes. Was I really about to trust someone who I'd only just met?
I opened my eyes. As though sensing my nerves, James looked up and offered me a small smile. He probably knew better than to be too friendly to me at first. Giving James a tight-lipped smile back, I wondered if this was all just a dream. It would have been so much easier if it was.
Leaning my head back, I watched out of the corner of my eye as Caruso took some hair supplies from one of his many closets.
"How about a perm?" Caruso asked. "You know - one of those things that makes your hair all curly."
I shrugged. "Will it be hard to take care of?"
"Only as hard as you love Ella."
I shook my head. "Are you trying to guilt-trip me?" I asked, trying to keep the growl out of my voice.
"And what about colored contacts? And glasses with false lenses? You'd look very different that way." Without waiting for my response, Caruso took out a large box that was filled with all different kinds of glasses. "What do you think of these?"
I stood up and walked over to the box. Selecting a dark-blue rimmed pair of glasses, I put glanced in the mirror. I did look quite different. And with colored contacts, the transformation would be absolutely brilliant.
"Alright," I said. "I'll do the dyeing, perm, contacts, and glasses. I want to look completely different." I paused. "What about James?"
"I already did James."
"Then what about Ella?"
Caruso glanced over at Ellie. "She ought to have the same hair color as you," he said. "I can give you a rather loose-curl perm, then give Ella a tight ringlet perm. Or I could chop her hair off - you know, give her a bob haircut. And colored contacts, if you think she's up for them."
I shook my head. "It might only draw suspicion if her friends notice," I said. "She could have glasses, too - bad vision runs in families."
"Good thought," Caruso said. "In fact, we won't give you glasses, Katie. The two of you look so similar in real life - we wouldn't want you to look too similar in...fake life."
"Fake life," I muttered.
"And should we dye Ella's hair?" Caruso asked, tapping his chin thoughtfully.
"I think so," I replied. "And I like the idea of giving her a bob cut. She'd look really cute."
Within several hours, everything was put together. I looked in the mirror and saw someone completely different. Instead of the straight white-blonde hair, green eyes, shaggy blonde eyebrows, and freckled cheeks, I saw a strange woman with curly light brown hair, dark brown eyes, well-shaped brunette eyebrows, and freckleless cheeks.
When I looked at beautiful little Ellie, though, it was even stranger...