This is the last week for Episode 1! I’ll be posting the last two scenes on Wednesday and Friday. Thanks so much for reading!
Conor’s cheek stung. “I’m sorry.”
Marie rolled off his lap and slid all the way over to the door. “Take me home.”
He turned and stared at her, sobering only slightly. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
He pressed the intercom and told his driver to take them to Marie’s apartment. The memory of Charisse standing surprised when he’d entered the apartment filled his mind. He wanted to see her again, but there was no way that was happening tonight. Besides, he’d had a good time with Marie.
He tried to placate her again. “I really did have a great time with you at the party. You’re an artist in a crowd.”
“Why didn’t you just ask Charisse out?”
“She called me a rat bastard, and you didn’t.”
Marie gazed out the window. “Maybe she was right.”
Conor drew in a long breath and let it out. His dick felt like it had whiplash—she wanted him, she didn’t, she wanted him, she slapped him. Anger began to push back at his feelings of regret. She’d been good at the party, but he didn’t need to keep social connections that much. He could let them all go and still be richer than a fucking third world country. He must’ve had ten drinks, what did she expect? He could’ve said any name; he could’ve called her Elise.
God dammit. Why hadn’t he called out Elise?
After a long silence while Conor roiled, Marie asked, “So what are you doing about the building?”
The muscles on his face tightened, and he resumed his business mask. He sat up, adjusted his clothes some and turned to face Marie. “Usually I’d take it over, refurbish it and hike up the rent–”
“You can’t do that to Charisse.”
Drunk and with a frustrated dick, Conor snapped back. “What the hell is with you guys protecting her? From what I’ve seen, Charisse can hold her own.”
“What do you mean? How was Daddy protecting her?”
He was too drunk to play this game. He’d been trying to spare Marie’s feelings, but that was only making things worse. “Before your dad offered me the building, he wanted me to take you out on a date. He showed me pictures of you, and I saw one of your sister too. When I asked about her, he tried to make me forget about her.”
“That asshole. I knew it. So this is really why you asked me out?”
“No! I didn’t want anything to do with you–”
Marie punched his arm. “What the hell is so wrong with me?”
“No, I didn’t mean it that way. I meant I wasn’t about to take you out in trade for lost money. Even I have scruples.”
“But you would’ve taken Charisse.”
“No, it’s not like that.”
“I think it’s exactly like that, but she will never ever be yours. Daddy would never allow that, and she hates anyone in a suit.”
“Even her dad?”
“If she’d ever grow up and see him for what he is, she would.”
Sobered somewhat by the argument, he tried to figure Marie out. “Why do you put up with it?”
He felt the car slow and pull over to the curb.
She grabbed his tie and pointed her finger in his face. “You get this straight. I have never done anything I didn’t want to do. More than one of his arranged ‘dates’ has wound up with a black eye. He calls it matchmaking, and I think he really believes I might marry one of these guys. So don’t judge us. And stay the fuck away from Charisse.”
She opened her door into traffic, and a driver honked at her. After she slammed the door, the privacy glass rolled down. Raul, his driver, handed a Scotch on the rocks across to him.
Conor took it and said, “Thanks,” before slamming it down.
Roy still owed him for the lost ships. A painting or two would be letting him off easy after all the shit he’d had to put up with today. Roy and Marie wanted him to stay away from Charisse, so she was exactly what he’d go after. Tomorrow he’d call Roy’s bluff on the building and see exactly what the silent partnership deal was.
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