Raul, his driver, rolled the window down, and Conor leaned over to let him know to be back in an hour. When he stepped next to Charisse, he couldn’t stand not touching her anymore. He slipped his hand into hers and relished the warmth of someone new—the warmth of Charisse. He’d been imagining their clasped hands for so long that the moment was surreal. Until she tugged her hand out.
“Just lunch,” she said.
Undeterred, he said, “Come on, I only hold hands with my favorite business partners.”
“We’re hardly partners.”
Ouch. He needed to steer the conversation away from the contract. It’d been stupid to mention it.
Even though it was Saturday, cars honked at each other and cut each other off. He hoped the cafe was quiet so he could think of something else to talk about. Or maybe he should just confront the contract. Probably everything would come back to it.
He stopped walking and caught her by the elbow so she stopped too. Another couple walking towards them had to drop hands as they split and walked around Conor and Charisse. When she turned to him, he set his hands on her shoulders.
“I’m sorry I ever signed that contract taking ownership of Ma Charisse. I did it to get to know you better, but I also have to confess I did it to punish Roy. He lost the company a lot of money. And then he lied to me. He’s been a good CEO in the past, and I just didn’t want to fire him. But Marie’s right. I should’ve left you out of it.”
Charisse took his hands off her shoulders, but she clasped his fingers instead of letting them go. “I know you’re sorry, and I accept your apology. Marie says I should just take the salon from you, but it feels wrong. Would you offer it so willingly if I was a son instead of a daughter?”
“If you were a son who I was crazy about, yes.”
Charisse smiled. He loved the way her eyes lit up.
He squeezed her hands, wishing he could kiss her. He said, “You’ve started the paperwork; I’m sure you’ll get the loan. Let’s call it square and spend the weekend together.”
“I was holding myself back from saying a week in Puerto Rico.”
Her eyes softened into a dreamy expression. “I’ve wanted to go there with you since your coffee text this week.”
“Really?” Desire for her surged at the knowledge she’d been thinking about them together. He must’ve misheard her.
She straightened her back and said, “I mean I really want to pay you for the salon before this goes any further.” She tried to walk away, but he caught her hand and pulled her back.
He said, “If we both want this to happen, we shouldn’t wait to spend time together.”
“Then let’s enjoy our lunch. A week more isn’t long to wait, and that’s when I should hear about the loan.”
She was breathtaking even when she was serious.
“I’d really like to kiss you right now,” he said.
Charisse widened her eyes for one second. Then to his amazement she stood on her toes and brushed her lips across his. He wanted to grab her to him and kiss her longer but decided to be grateful for what she’d given him.
He heard a low rumble and Charisse clutched her stomach. She blushed again. “Sorry,” she said.
“I’m super hungry. Let’s go eat.”
He smiled and slipped his hand back into hers. This time, she held on.