Charisse’s mind was in the zone as she brushed dye on Tanya’s roots. Tanya’s daughter had thrown a party while Tanya was out of town with her husband, and the cops had been called. Charisse was always surprised when customers told her these stories because she always kept her life to herself. She didn’t want people knowing the dirty details of contracts and billionaires. She hadn’t even been able to tell her lady luvs yet that she’d be gone all next week or tell Letti she’d be in charge. But Tanya seemed to revel in complaining about the disaster.
The bells hanging from her door clattered, and wind blew through her hair. The chandelier above spun, causing a disco ball effect around the salon walls. Charisse whipped around to see Daddy standing in the doorway.
“I forbid you to date Conor,” he yelled above the one hair dryer and all the gossip.
All the chatter ceased, and Letti turned off her dryer. Beneath Charisse’s hands, Tanya turned to get a better view.
Rage pushed words out of Charisse’s mind. Daddy hadn’t been in the salon since opening day. He couldn’t start ordering her around now.
“Can we have this discussion in the breakroom?” she managed to get out.
He had no tie, and the top three buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a sweat-soaked undershirt below. He stomped over to Charisse and said, “I thought I was clear at our lunch the other day that you wouldn’t get your trust fund if you didn’t go out with Armand.”
“The breakroom…” said Charisse, but Daddy ignored her.
“I didn’t pay Josh to disappear so you could take up with the likes of Conor. How the hell am I supposed to buy him off?”
Charisse felt drop kicked like a football. “What do you mean you paid Josh to disappear?”
“He was a douchebag. When he finally came to visit you the second day, I got rid of him.”
“You got rid of him?” The English language must’ve vanished from her mind after all because she didn’t understand a word Daddy was saying. Did he know Josh had been hitting her?
“Here honey,” said Tanya, standing up. “I think you might want to sit down.”
Charisse sank into the chair. Everyone was hearing this. The whole salon knew her business now.
“He still wanted to be with me?”
“Oh, Jesus Christ, Charisse. I love you, but you haven’t got a clue about anything. Who cares if he still wanted to be with you? You needed to go to the hospital that day, and he forced you to go to the party. Conor’s exactly the same way. Look at what happened to his wife.”
She stared blankly at Daddy. She had no idea what had happened to Conor’s wife. But it didn’t matter. Josh had come to see her. She didn’t know if she should hug Daddy or hit him for interfering. In a trance, she stood up and walked back to the breakroom. Her father followed and at least stayed quiet until they were inside and Charisse sat at a table.
“Baby, all I’ve ever wanted for you is happiness. I’m sorry about the salon, I really am. Tell Conor to get lost, and I’ll buy you a new one.”
Charisse wanted to blow up the salon and forget about it all. She’d tried to keep her integrity intact by insisting on buying it with her own money, but who was she kidding? It was always Daddy’s money to begin with. And now she’d hit rock bottom by offering her body to Conor in exchange for it.
But she couldn’t stomach taking more money from Daddy. She didn’t even want to know how little or how much he’d paid Josh to disappear.
“I don’t want your money. I’ll work for Conor for a while, and maybe I can save up enough to open a new place in a few years.”
“Work for Conor? Didn’t he offer you the salon? Are you dating him or not? He said he was taking you to the banquet.”
Charisse stared up at her father. She didn’t want to go to that damn banquet. But she wasn’t going to let her father know that. “It’s complicated between me and Conor, and you’re not helping by setting me up with his employees. I’m grown up now. Stop meddling in my life.”
“Fine. You want to live like a grown-up? No trust fund. No apartment.”
Charisse stood up. “You can’t kick me out of the apartment. That’s Mother’s. Where the hell is she anyway? Did you pay her to stay away too?”
Daddy’s eyes dilated and his face swelled at the mention of Mother. After glowering at her, he turned and stormed out of the room, muttering curse words to himself the whole time.
“Children are ingrates!” he yelled.
“Amen,” she heard Tanya say.