Charisse stood, rattled by the unexpected call from Josh mixed with the tug at her spirit to reach out to Conor. It was the same feeling she had the first time she saw him—the desire to get to know him, to date him.
She waited for his corporate expression to slide back over his face, but it didn’t happen.
“Hello,” she said after what must’ve been forever.
Conor set his umbrella to the side and took off his coat. She had a coat rack right next to the door that he took advantage of. “Everything all right?” he asked when he finally gazed back at her. He wore a light blue shirt with a cobalt tie. Did he actually match his clothes to his eyes or just instinctively know what made them shine almost like jewels?
She couldn’t believe how genuine he was being. Surely it wouldn’t last. She pushed several long strands of curls away from her face and over her shoulder. “Yeah, I was just playing around with the music idea you had. I’m going to use the Pandora system, but I brought in some Mozart to try it out.”
She pressed play again, needing something to fill the silence she was sure would happen while they waited for her father to arrive. So much for power plays.
“Pandora’s a good idea. I like their mixes.”
Okay, he didn’t exactly sound triumphant. She was over-thinking everything.
“Could I get you some coffee while we wait for my dad? I haven’t been able to get a hold of him, but I assume he showed up at your office at five?”
Conor ran his finger underneath his collar like his tie was too tight. “I’d love some coffee, but Roy’s not coming.”
“What?” she pulled one of her curly locks around and twisted it in her fingers.
“He didn’t need you there to sign his partnership over to me.”
Charisse blinked. What an idiot she was. She didn’t even know the particulars of a contract for her own business. “Oh, well. I guess you didn’t need to come here after all. I’m sure you have other meetings to go to. You mentioned how busy you were on the phone.”
“It turned out I didn’t have any at all.”
She stared up at him. His four-o-clock shadow and mussed hair gave him the air of a Time’s Square billboard model. Then the picture of him on the couch with Marie pouring a shot down his throat flashed by. If that’s what he liked, Charisse wasn’t his type. She needed to keep her relationship with him strictly business. She opened her mouth to ask if he wanted to see the rest of the salon, but he spoke first.
“Did you like the white roses?”
She released the strand of hair and it sprung back into place. Her voice softened. “I like them very much. They were a big hit with my lady luvs.”
“My pet name for the women who work for me. I’m sure it sounds silly, but I like to keep things light here.”
“Nothing’s silly if it works. I could tell you have a good report with them.”
She blushed, pleased with the compliment.
He continued, “I think the roses add a bit of romance to the salon. I’d be happy to have some delivered once a week.”
Her blush deepened at the word romance. He was not speaking like a slick tycoon who took over businesses in his sleep.
She said, “But that would cut into your profits considerably. You only get twenty percent and those roses have to be worth quiet a bit. I’ve just now begun to turn a profit.” At least she hoped it was still only twenty percent. If her father could sign over his part without her, who knew what was in the new agreement. Maybe she should ask.
He walked closer to the desk. His voice was almost husky as he spoke. “How about that cup of coffee? The one I had yesterday was the best one I’d ever had.”
His sapphire eyes pierced into her, jangling her nerves, which made her talk too fast and too much. “Well I never would’ve been able to tell yesterday. You grumbled through the haircut and barked orders about music and chocolate and then asked my sister on a date even though you looked at her with disdain the whole time.”
She wanted to slam her head against the desk. This was no way to start a relationship business or otherwise.
He laughed. A full body shaking laugh.
She frowned and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”
“I like it when you tell me exactly how you feel. It saves a lot of guess work.”
Charisse turned on her heel and strode back to the coffee. “Is that why you want in on my business? Because I amuse you?”
She heard her phone ring again. Maybe that was Daddy and he could explain what happened with the contract.
As Conor walked back to her, she heard the phone coming with him. His voice was sharp when he spoke. “You don’t amuse me. I find you refreshing. Is this someone you wish to talk to.”
She was reaching for the coffee pot, but she turned around at the anger in his voice. She stared at the phone.
She stepped back like Conor had pushed her. “Just drop it,” she said. “Maybe it’ll break and I’ll have an excuse to get a new number.”