Holy Cannoli! Sales continued to surprise me over the Thanksgiving Weekend. I didn’t even do a special Black Friday deal because I was so busy. But if you haven’t bought my Holiday Cafe Series, or my other books, my whole catalogue is rebated at All Romance for Cyber Monday!
For a quick behind the scenes glance, Thankful Hearts is my Best Seller this month. Veteran Hearts has the most total free downloads even over The Beautician and the Billionaire. Veteran Hearts is no longer free and continues to surprise me with how many people are now buying it! Masked Hearts is my highest rated book with seven 5 star ratings on Amazon.
Here’s to hoping December is even better!
And now, on with the story!
Charisse bowed her head and clenched her fists. She didn’t deserve the bitchiness. She’d been able to tell Conor off the first time she’d met him. It was time she asserted herself to her family too. She looked up and said, “I’ve always made room for you, even when I had a full schedule. And you never even so much as thanked me. So if you’re gonna be rude about it, go back to giving me the silent treatment.”
Surprise flicked through Marie’s eyes. But then she crossed her arms over her middle with her purse hanging from her wrist. “I had my eye on Conor Grishin for a long time. You barely even knew who he was.”
“Because I don’t care about money. I had no reason to like him until I met him.”
“So you do like him.”
Charisse expelled a breath like she could let out all the frustrations of the week with it. “Yeah, I think I do. But it’s all so confusing. You won’t talk to me. And Daddy gave my salon to Conor. He owns it now because I didn’t read the freaking contract. How could Daddy do this to me?” Her voice cracked at the end. She didn’t want to cry. She’d done enough crying for the last year over Josh.
Marie continued to frown. She probably wanted to say ‘I told you so’, maybe even laugh at her foolishness. And then Marie’s eyes softened. She dropped her arms, slung her purse to a salon chair and walked over to embrace Charisse. Charisse wrapped her arms around her sister with relief spreading through her veins.
Charisse said, “I’m sorry about Conor. I really didn’t think you liked him still.”
Marie said, “I did, but mostly I was jealous. The whole time we were on our date, he was thinking about you.”
Charisse pulled away. “I’m sorry, I didn’t–”
Marie brushed a few curly strands of hair out of Charisse’s face. “It’s not you’re fault you’re sweet and beautiful. It’s just hard to be up against all the time.”
“What? I always feel completely over-shadowed by you.”
“I’m all flash. You’re substance.”
Charisse hugged her again, not knowing what to say. Unfortunately, they hadn’t cleared everything up. When she pulled back she dared to ask the question that had been burning to get out the past few days. “What’s the deal with Daddy setting you up with business men as some sort of…I don’t even know what to call it.”
Marie released her, and Charisse feared she had angered her all over again. When Marie dropped into a salon chair, Charisse did the same.
Marie said, “It’s not entirely what you think. A few years ago, Daddy was complaining about a business deal. The man he was talking about turned out to be someone I was interested in. I asked him to set me up on a date with him, and maybe I could smooth things over for Daddy while going out with someone new. It went so well, Daddy decided to do it again. And then again. Except he quit asking if I wanted to and just assumed I would. He acts like he’s doing me a favor, but some of the men. Really? Especially the ones closer to his age than mine.”
“He’s taking advantage of you,” said Charisse.
“Well, welcome to the world little sis. I guess you’re finally waking up.”
Charisse pushed her toe against the ground and made the chair spin around. When she faced her sister again, she stopped the chair. “I don’t mean to be so naïve. But you guys are my family. If I can’t trust you, who can I trust? I can’t believe Daddy gave my salon to Conor.”
“I’ll try not to say ‘I told you so’ about reading the contract. But I can’t believe you like Conor knowing he signed the contract and owns you.”
“He wants to give me the salon, no strings attached.”
“Then take it!”
Charisse spun the chair around again and watched her salon whirl by. “I should. It just seems wrong. It’s my own fault that the salon isn’t mine anymore.”
“Get over it and take it. Conor can handle the loss.”
“I know. But I hate hand outs.”
Marie spun her own chair around. “Oh blah, blah blah. You’ve worked your butt off at this salon. It wouldn’t be a freaking hand out.”
Charisse didn’t want to argue since they’d finally made up. “Want me to do your hair and then we’ll go get some dinner? You can tell me where you’ve disappeared to all this time.”
She stood up and walked back to the wash stations.
Marie followed and said, “Conor actually came through with the interview at a flower shop, even after I ruined your little moment the other day.”
Charisse whirled around. “You have a job?”
“I thought I’d give this work stuff a try. Flower arranging is tougher than I thought.”
Charisse gawked for a moment and then snapped her mouth shut. Anything she said might be taken the wrong way. She didn’t want Marie to quit working just because she approved or whatever. But she’d always thought work would be the best thing for Marie.
Maybe she could fix things out with Daddy too. Her stomach twisted. Or maybe she could ignore him a little bit longer.