Hello lovely readers! If you missed the first part, please go back to Monday’s post and begin! If you’re all caught up, please enjoy meeting Charisse:
A coffee aroma mingled seductively with the vanilla scents of the shampoos and conditioners used in Ma Charisse. Massaging shampoo into the scalp of a customer, Charisse drew in a quiet breath and added, “I know, right?”
“I mean how could she possibly think taking my husband’s Ferrari for a joyride like she was in freaking Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would be a good idea?” said Tanya, flailing her crimson nails in the air like little flashes of anger.
“I can’t believe she would even try something like that. Last year she was such a good student.”
“Right? Never have children. They’ll only make you crazy.”
Though she kept shampooing, a pain in Charisse’s womb hit her and faded—a reminder of her miscarriage last year. She rolled her lips together and swallowed her desire to open up to a customer. They didn’t come to hear about her problems. They came to tell her theirs. “I’m going to rinse your hair now. I can never hear over the water, so hang tight for a minute.”
She pulled the sprayer out and pressed the trigger. At least tears didn’t leak out of her eyes anymore at the mere mention of kids. She’d been such a wuss in the past.
Charisse rinsed Tanya’s hair, conditioned it and rinsed it again. The patter of Tanya’s chatter kept Charisse from diving too far into gloom. She led Tanya towards her booth, listening the whole time to more stories about the wayward daughter.
Gilded molding reflected the light of a crystal chandelier in the center of the salon, bringing a smile to Charisse’s face—here she was a success. Six crème colored salon chairs, three on each side, with fleur-de-lis designs were all filled with customers except, of course, for hers. A stylist, or her lady luv as she called the women who worked for her, stood behind each chair, nodding enthusiastically at whatever the customer said. An antique desk guarded the front, attended by a 19-year-old holding a phone to her ear with one hand and clicking through the schedule program on a computer with her other.
Her salon was perfection.
Charisse pushed aside the memory of the miscarriage. Despite the tragedy in her personal life, she’d made Ma Charisse an up-and-coming salon. And she intended to keep it that way. Always better for a salon to be up-and-coming, than past its peek.
Tanya sat in the one empty chair and said, “Are you sure I don’t need my roots touched up? I swear I saw gray this morning.”
Charisse combed through Tanya’s hair with her fingers. “No, no. You dyed it last week. Nothing is showing yet. If you dye it again this week, you’ll have a nest of dry hair and never come back to me.”
Tanya grinned. “Now you’re the kind of daughter I need—always watching out for me.”
Charisse grinned back. “I’m sure your children will come around. They love you. They just might be twenty-five or thirty before they realize it.”
“You can’t be much more than twenty-five yourself. Is that when you decided your mom was all right?”
Charisse stepped over to her counter to grab her scissors and comb. Skirting personal issues again, she kept her back to Tanya and her face turned away from the mirror. “I’ve always been daddy’s girl, but only because my mom disappeared when I was little.”
She walked back around Tanya to begin work while Tanya offered apologies, but there was no fear of explanations because her sister Marie flung the door open to announce new drama.
“What happened? Are you okay? Did you get robbed?” cried Marie as bells clattered against the door. Wind blew in and set the crystals in the chandelier swinging and their reflections dancing on the wall.
“What on earth are you talking about?” asked Charisse.
All her lady luvs stood frozen, armed with scissors and combs, some with dye brushes. All the customers craned their necks to see who was causing the commotion.
Marie fished in her Prada bag and pulled out her smartphone with the jeweled case.
“Daddy said to get over here right now. He said it was an emergency.” Marie clicked across the tile in her Gucci heels, holding up her phone as she went.
Charisse gave Letti, her first employee, a pleading look that said, “Please get back to work.”
Letti turned back to her client and started chattering. The rest of her stylists soon followed.
“Excuse me for a moment,” Charisse said to Tanya. She stepped away and stared at the text message while pulling her own phone out of her back pocket. After looking at her phone she said, “I’ve got nothing. I have no idea what Daddy wants. Tanya, this is my sister Marie.”
Marie nodded over while pressing her fingers on her screen. Charisse slipped her phone back in her pocket. She began trimming and styling, hoping Marie didn’t stay too long or blab what the dire emergency was. Daddy had lost three ships at sea last month. Well, not personally, but his company had. They were all holding their breath to see if the board fired him.
Tanya didn’t resume her stories of motherhood, appearing far too interested in whatever Marie might say. Marie sighed and dropped her arms to her side. Her purse slid down, but she caught it. “Daddy won’t say why. Just that I need to stay here. I have a cocktail party tonight, so it looks like you’re styling my hair.”
Charisse’s scissors clipped faster. It wouldn’t kill Marie to ask nicely once in a while. Charisse didn’t mind doing her sister’s hair, but Marie always just assumed she would.
Marie went to sit down in the waiting area and froze halfway to the cushion. “Oh my fucking god. I can’t believe it. Conor Grishin just stepped out of his car.”
Tanya stood up and turned to face the window. Charisse almost nicked her scalp, but managed to pull the scissors away in time. She put them and the comb in her apron pocket and turned to see everyone in her salon staring out the window.
She sighed. Without even giving the window a glance, she grabbed a bottle of water from her counter and began to drink. All hair styling would be on hold while her whole shop watched the matchmaking efforts of her father. It seemed like Marie had gone out with half the CEOs in Manhattan, no matter their age. She didn’t know why Daddy wanted to marry Marie off so badly. Marie had no interest in the institution.
But a billionaire was a new high. Maybe he’d sweep Marie off her feet and everyone could live happily ever after.
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod,” said Marie as she wrung her hands in front of her chest. “I look like shit today. Can you fix my make-up in like five seconds?”
Charisse put her bottle of water back on the counter and gave a sisterly laugh. Marie’s long black hair was perfectly coiffed, her jewelry was a little flashy, but that was Marie. Her sheer camisole gave elegance to the solid camisole underneath, and the jeans were designer and well cut to suit her long legs.
Charisse walked over and hugged her sister. “Calm down. You’re gorgeous. He’ll fall for you fast and most likely be the man to convince you to give marriage a try.”
Tanya said, “You look fantastic. Is your dad setting you up with Conor Grishin?”
“Oh, thank you. You’re so sweet, both of you.” Marie soaked up any compliment like sunblock on her fair skin. “That has to be the ’emergency’ Daddy was talking about. Did you know he knew him?” Marie turned to Charisse.
Charisse shrugged. “You keep up with his social circles more.”
“He’s coming!” squealed the receptionist. She ran back to her chair, which seemed to be the signal for everyone to return to their places. Tanya sat back down, and Charisse turned the chair so that Tanya could see through the mirror what was going on as long as Marie stayed where she was standing.
Marie took several deep breaths. Charisse resumed trimming Tanya’s hair. It was only when the bells on the door jangled that Charisse realized it was strange that her dad would send Conor Grishin there to meet Marie. He tried to keep Ma Charisse a secret as much as possible. He thought working as a stylist was beneath her.
The receptionist started to say something, but Marie interrupted her, “Conor Grishin? It’s so nice to finally meet you. I’m Marie LaRouche. I believe my father sent you over here.”
In the mirror, Charisse saw Marie hold out her hand to shake. She couldn’t see Conor, but Marie’s hand stayed out empty far too long. Her azure manicure seemed to turn deeper shades of blue the longer she held her hand out. How dare he snub her sister that way, especially if he was being set up with her? Finally, Charisse saw a hand reach out with an expensive cuff covering the wrist.
As they shook hands, Conor said, “Yes, your father sent me. But I’m here to talk to Charisse, not you.”
I hope you’re enjoying reading as much as I’m enjoying writing. Please follow my blog so you don’t miss anything! More will be posted Friday!