Conor strode back to his car. This fucking family. Even her mother was messed up.
Raul said, “I’m sorry Mr. Grishin. I did not realize she still doesn’t know where her mother is.”
“We’ll talk about it during the drive.”
Raul held the door open. “There’s nothing to say, sir.”
Conor dropped down into the seat. Raul would never gossip. He had to be the most honest person he knew. Raul shut the door and walked around to the other side. When he got into the car, Conor said, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you recognized Marie?”
“That wasn’t exactly your best date, sir. I never thought you’d see her again. And you’ve been quiet about who you’ve been pursuing for two weeks. I didn’t realize it was Charisse.”
Conor leaned his head back and wiped his hands down his face. He counted Raul as one of his few friends, but he hadn’t wanted to talk about Charisse with him. Raul had been with him when Elise had died. It was stupid, but he worried Raul would disapprove of him getting involved in a serious relationship. He realized now it was an extension of his own guilt.
Conor said, “I’m sorry. I had a really bad start with Charisse and have been fumbling to show her I’m not the bastard she thinks I am.”
Raul inched the car forward and glanced in the rearview mirror. “Until I arrived, it looked like you were making considerable progress.”
Conor shook his head and stared at wall after wall after wall of buildings. New York was grating on him. He’d need to get away soon, and he wanted to take Charisse with him. “I don’t know. That family is so messed up that it seems impossible to get close to her. How did Charisse turn out so well?”
Raul smiled like Conor had asked about his granddaughter. “She was born with a sweet nature.”
Sweet was right. It was no wonder that Roy and Marie tried to protect her, but she didn’t want that anymore. She was asserting herself and taking ownership of her life. He loved that about her.
The car hadn’t moved very far. He could go back and try to talk to her some more. No, she’d made it clear she didn’t want to talk about her mom. He said, “I don’t suppose you could tell me where her mother is, or why she left?”
Raul stared at him through the rearview mirror again. He spoke as if he chose each word with care. “Her mother is Puerto Rican like myself. The island lifestyle is very relaxed. Her mother had a difficult time being the perfect Manhattan wife.”
Conor frowned and turned his gaze back towards the rigid buildings. He’d bet Ma Charisse that her mother was back in Puerto Rico. She was probably the one sending the fucking coffee. But then wouldn’t Charisse know where she was? He’d be sure to ask her about the coffee. Maybe he could help Charisse find her mother.