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And now to continue lunch with Charisse and her family…please enjoy!
“What?” cried Charisse. She couldn’t have possibly heard Daddy right. Ma Charisse was hers. He was a silent partner. He couldn’t just order her to sign over ownership to Marie.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is about Conor isn’t it?” said Marie. She leaned back in her chair and crossed one leg over the other.
“Conor? What does he have to do with my salon?” asked Charisse. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see other customers glancing at them. She needed to calm down. But this was her salon. Her baby.
Roy tilted the martini glass around and wouldn’t look at either of them. Charisse feared he might snap the slender stem with his chubby fingers. His head was turning redder and redder but he remained mute.
After a minute, Marie said, “I bet Conor wants your salon because Daddy lost those ships. But I fail to see how signing it over to me is going to do any good.”
“Because I need you as a buffer,” Roy finally said. “You’re better at pushing back than Charisse is. You won’t just do whatever Conor tells you to do with the business without fighting back.”
“Now hang on,” said Charisse. “You’re just a silent partner in it. I own that salon. Even if he buys you out as silent partner, he won’t be able to tell me to do anything.”
She frowned as her dad refused to look at her. He kept tilting the martini glass around and around on its base.
He said, “Just sign it over to Marie and everything will be okay.”
“I don’t want to run the salon,” said Marie.
“I’m not doing it,” said Charisse.
The martini glass fell on its side. Roy righted it and said, “Look, Charisse will still run it. All you have to do is push back at Conor whenever he wants to change things.”
“But he won’t have the right to change anything,” said Charisse.
Roy at last stared back at her and said, “You know these tycoon types. He bought into my company a little bit and now he owns the whole damn thing. Just do as I say.”
“Forget it,” said Charisse, feeling like a teenager. Except when she was a teenager she’d never fought back. She’d always been the good girl. She clasped her hands in her lap because she knew they were shaking. Even as an adult, she always did what her father said, but not this time. She’d built this salon up from nothing. She wasn’t going to turn it over to Marie.
“Look, baby doll, I hate doing this to you. I offered him three of my paintings, but for whatever reason, he wants in on your business. It’s like he’s bored. It’s something new for him to play with. I just don’t want you caught in the middle of this.”
“But you don’t care about me at all,” said Marie.
“That’s not true. You know you’re better at this sort of thing than Charisse. You have more back bone.”
“Hey, I’m sitting right here,” said Charisse. Though she knew what her dad said was true, hearing the words twisted her heart. No one believed she could do anything herself. They always thought she’d let people walk all over her. Like with Josh.
But she’d done the salon herself, and she wasn’t going to give it up to Marie.
Roy reached around and fiddled with his coat. “You’re great at cutting hair, and nails and make-up, but you’re not ready for the likes of Conor Grishin to come in and start barking orders.” He produced a sheet of paper and put it in front of Charisse. “Just sign this and everything will be okay.”
The paper said simply “I Charisse LaRouche turn over my partnership of Ma Charisse to Marie LaRouche.”
“I’m not signing this. There’s nothing in here about my salary, or what will happen to my employees.”
“Everything will stay the same, I swear. I didn’t have time to fill in all those details. And hopefully Conor will get bored, and sell the partnership back to me.”
Charisse stood. Her legs shook, but she steadied herself with a deep breath. “Forget it. Ma Charisse is mine. Conor even told me I’d make a good CEO yesterday. I can handle him on my own.”
“Good for you,” said Marie, also standing. “I’ll walk you back.”
“You girls are making a big mistake,” said Roy.
“No,” said Marie. “You made the mistake with the ships and now we have to deal with the fall out as usual. Let’s go.”
Marie took Charisse by the elbow and led her away. Charisse stared back at her father. He looked crushed, like he couldn’t believer his daughters had betrayed him. But Marie was right. They hadn’t been the ones to lose the ships.