We’re nearing the end of Episode 3. Tomorrow will be the finale followed by the release of Episode 4 and the box set on Thursday. I won’t be blogging Episode 4 until after Jan. 1 because I’m working on a box set for The Holiday Cafe series. Please enjoy:
Charisse’s lips tingled from the contact with Conor. She placed her fingertips on her lips to calm them while she unconsciously tightened her other hand in his. Passion flooded through her just like the day they’d made out in the back of her salon. She wanted to run and kick all her customers and lady luvs out so that she and Conor could resume where they’d left off before Marie had showed up. Her body didn’t want to wait for the loan to come through.
Conor held the door to the sandwich shop open. Charisse took a deep breath and stepped in. Her insides had turned gooey like butter spread over a warm croissant. It was much harder to turn him down in person than over texting or the phone. His presence seemed to fill a room and consume her emotions.
She loved to see him laid back in blue jeans and a black button-up shirt rather than a suit. His hairstyle was carefully mussed with not too much finishing cream, and he hadn’t shaved. He was scruffy and cuddly all at once.
She attempted to keep calm while she continued to hold hands and turned her attention to the woman behind the counter waiting to take their order. The sandwich shop was more hipster than most Manhattan places with strands of white lights hanging across the ceiling, and selfie pics on the walls. There was a small printer in the corner of the shop where customers could connect their phone and print out selfies they took as they ate huge hoagie sandwiches.
Charisse opted for the more petite club sandwich on focaccia bread. Conor got the Philly cheesesteak served on a giant pretzel.
“You know you’re gonna need a knife and fork for that, right?” said Charisse.
“I don’t know. I think it’d be pretty sexy to eat it with all the meat falling out when I picked it up.”
Charisse laughed and headed toward a booth in the back while still holding his hand. With a mix of regret and relief, she let go so that he could slide into the seat opposite her. She wanted to sit next to him, but she was glad he was respecting her wishes to keep the lunch casual. If only she could force herself to do the same.
She fidgeted with a salt shaker sitting on the end of the table near the wall, wondering what to say. Usually when she was nervous, words spilled out of her mouth of their own accord, but Conor seemed to have struck her speechless.
Conor cleared his throat and said, “I hate to ask this, but I also hope you feel like you can talk to me about it. Have you and Roy sorted out what happened?”
Charisse released the salt shaker and placed her hands on her lap with her head bowed. “No. I can’t bring myself to talk to him. He’s been calling me since that day in your office, but I haven’t answered the phone.”
“Want me to tell him off like I did that Josh guy?”
Charisse smiled and looked up. Conor’s eyes were serious, not laughing like hers. She sobered and shook her head. “That’s the thing. I need to face these problems myself. I shouldn’t have let you answer the phone for me when Josh called, but I just couldn’t…” she trailed off. She didn’t want to talk to him about Josh. She switched gears. “Marie and I have at least made up.”
“Really?” Conor leaned back in the booth and relaxed his shoulders. “Does that mean she won’t bite my head off the next time she sees us together?”
“Well, no guarantee of that. She’s capricious and could get mad at me over who knows what, and then all bets are off as far as you’re concerned.”
“I don’t know how you get along between your dad and your sister. You must get your sweetness from your mother.”
Charisse bowed her head again and didn’t answer.
“I’m sorry. That was out of line.” said Conor.
“No, it’s not that. I haven’t seen my mom since I was little. She left us and I don’t know where she is.”
Conor reached across the table with his palms up. Charisse placed her hands in his. The touch comforted her.
He said, “All right, I’m done talking about your family. Where do you want to travel the most? We’ve talked about Puerto Rico, Yosemite and Versailles. Which one would be your favorite?”
She tilted her head while she considered, relieved by the change of subject. The sandwiches arrived before she answered, and she had to let go of his hands.
“That’s a tough decision. But I think Puerto Rico wins today. Tomorrow it might be Versailles.”
“No fair. How can I get us tickets if you’re gonna change your mind?”
She smirked. “I’m not going to Puerto Rico with you this week. Soon I’m going to have a loan to pay off.”
He held his hand to his heart like she’d shot him. “So many obstacles you’re tossing at me. Let’s settle on the Hamptons then for the weekend.”
She laughed. “Forget it.” She took a bite of her sandwich. She could imagine nothing that she wanted to do more than go to the Hamptons with him over the weekend, but it would be too awkward with the contract between them. She’d wait. And she knew it would be worth it.