Oh Captain my Captain! Daddy is trying to set Charisse up on a date and she doesn’t want to go. But does she have a choice?
Charisse gaped. This could not be happening. Daddy couldn’t really be trying to set her up now. She stood up in a shocked trance.
The captain held his hand out to her. She took it like a slow motion camera was controlling her. The grip was so firm that she feared her fingers would get crushed.
“Please call me Armand,” he said.
She realized the accent was South African. He was surprisingly soft-spoken considering the handshake.
“Join us, join us,” said Daddy.
Charisse glared at both men until she realized they were waiting for her to sit down first. She thought about waiting until they were as uncomfortable as she was, but instead she sat.
Daddy gave her a quick frown and then smiled at Armand, “We were just having a little spat like fathers and daughters do. You know how family is.”
Oh God, she was not in the mood for this. Then a worry flashed through her head. Daddy had said he’d spoken to Conor. Had he mentioned this lunch? Things were already strained with Conor. Their relationship might break entirely if he thought she’d agreed to this lunch setup.
“Yes,” said Armand. “Even though I don’t see my parents very much, when I do, there’s always a fight about something.”
He spoke to Daddy but glanced out of the corner of his eye at Charisse. It made him look sweet, like he was shy. He was probably embarrassed he’d been talked into this. He was older than her, most likely older than Conor since he was a captain.
The waiter came over to take his order. Charisse was relieved when her father focused the conversation around the captain. Armand spoke of what happened at sea as if it happened all the time and he had done nothing special. She admired his humility, which probably made her father think she was interested in him. She was just trying to be polite and wishing she could excuse herself soon.
About halfway through the meal, Daddy said, “So we’re having a big banquet for Armand and his officers. It’s going to be at the Waldorf.”
Armand sat up as if that was a practiced cue. He wiped the corners of his mouth with a napkin and said, “Yes, I know it’s sudden, but it would be an honor if you’d come to the banquet with me.”
Charisse blushed. She wasn’t about to go to a banquet with Armand when she’d just turned down Conor for the same event. She stuttered out, “I’m sorry. You did a wonderful job saving your crew and ship, but those things make me nervous. I really don’t think I’d make a good date for you. I’d probably spill soup on you or something worse.”
He grinned and said, “The only thing worse would be to go to the banquet without you. Spilled soup is only a minor inconvenience.”
Wow. He was smooth.
Before she thought of a response, her father jumped in. He laughed as if it were a great joke between them. “She’s always talking like she’s the klutz in a room. But everyone always admires her poise.”
Charisse clenched her hands into fists in her lap. Her father wasn’t going to let this drop. She’d have to excuse herself now and flee to her salon.
Armand said, “Why don’t you have dinner with me tonight, Charisse? You’re right, a banquet is no place for a first date.”
“Tonight is not…” she began and was interrupted by her father.
“That sounds perfect,” he said, pushing the earrings toward her plate again. “An excuse to wear the new jewelry I got you. And tomorrow you and I can go to the bank, and I’ll sign over the trust fund to you. Friday night can be a celebration for you both.”
Blood roared in her ears. Her vision dimmed. She could make a scene that the poor captain didn’t deserve to be a part of, or she could agree to everything. And if she made a scene, she’d never get the trust fund money and never get her salon back. She’d go out with Armand tonight, but she’d turn him down for the banquet.
She forced herself to look at Armand and smile. “You can pick me up for dinner tonight at my salon, Ma Charisse. But it should just be casual. I was sick yesterday, and I’m not up to my best yet.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I promise, nothing fancy.”
“You were sick? You didn’t tell me that,” said Daddy.
She ignored her father. To Armand she said, “Does 7:30 work?”
Without glancing at her father or picking up the earrings, she stood up, said goodbye to Armand and left the restaurant.
It wasn’t until she was sitting in a cab that she realized meeting at the salon was a terrible idea. But she was stuck. She hadn’t gotten the captain’s phone number.
Thanks for reading! Please come back tomorrow!