Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. When we last left the story, Josh had been trying to contact Charisse and actually showed up at the salon while she was in The Hamptons with Conor. Episode 8 opens the next day in New York City with Charisse and Marie catching up at lunch. Enjoy!
Charisse took a long sip of her coffee, trying to keep her attention focused on Marie. She’d spent a grueling morning spilling details of her relationship with Josh to Conor and his lawyer. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know about some of those things, especially a current boyfriend. Mortifying was the word for the morning.
Marie sat across from her, chatting away about how wonderful Armand was and how tragic it was he’d had to return to sea. Charisse set her coffee down and smiled. The old socialite Marie would’ve shrugged the relationship off. But the Marie who’d gotten a job arranging flowers and who now wore flats instead of heels might actually be in love.
Fortunately for both of them, Marie still knew how to schmooze a hostess. Friedman’s was packed, but Marie had gotten them a table right away. Charisse was glad for the noise of the crowd: less chance of people overhearing their private conversation.
“Do you think you could talk Daddy into transferring Armand to a job on a ship that at least docks in the States?” asked Marie.
Charisse stabbed a bite of cranberry, chicken and spinach. “Sorry, Daddy and I haven’t spoken since the banquet.”
“I still can’t believe he brought a private investigator to that. He’s lucky Conor hasn’t fired him. Where was he when Josh was…”
Charisse’s set her fork down, suddenly not hungry.
“I’m sorry,” said Marie, reaching across the table and taking Charisse’s hand. “That was insensitive of me. I’m trying to be better about that.”
Charisse’s eyes widened for a second, surprised further by Marie’s change of character. “It’s okay. I haven’t told you everything that’s been going on. Josh has been calling me and actually showed up at the salon yesterday when I wasn’t there. I’ve spent the morning filling out paperwork for a restraining order. I wish I could go back to ignoring everything that happened with Josh because I’m pretty sick of dealing with it.”
“Josh is freaking here?” asked Marie, slamming her glass of wine on the table.
“Do you want me to take off work and camp out at the salon? I’ll kick his ass if he comes by again.”
Charisse squeezed Marie’s hand, her gratefulness welling up. “I think Letti has it covered. But thank you.”
“At least you’re taking steps to keep him away. I’m proud of you.”
Charisse drank in the sisterly affection. Conor was working on major problems with a business he owned in China, so she didn’t want to lean on him for support all day.
Charisse lowered her voice. It seemed like there was always someone listening at a restaurant who shouldn’t be. “He’s moving back to New York. He wants to make peace because he thinks we’ll run into each other at parties.”
Marie gripped her hand. “He can never make peace after what he did to you. You stay on top of that restraining order.”
Charisse nodded, but before she could say anything, a woman stepped up to their table. Charisse recognized her pointy chin and fake smile right away: Becca.
“How fortunate to run into you here. I’ve been wanting to have a chat with you, but Conor refuses to give me your number.” She gave a brief nod to Marie. “Hello, Marie. It’s been ages.”
Marie dropped Charisse’s hand. “Not long enough.”
For a moment Charisse thought Becca would actually walk away, but she turned to a nearby table with a spare chair and asked to take it. She pulled it around and sat between Charisse and Marie.
“I’m afraid I’ve got business with Charisse. I guess Conor killing my sister didn’t scare her away,” said Becca.
“Conor didn’t kill your sister,” said Charisse, touching the necklace of miniature gold dipped roses Conor had given to her. Her whole body flushed with anger.
“Excuse me, but you weren’t around three years ago.” Becca glared at the necklace.
“And you weren’t around when the accident happened.” Charisse stared down Becca, who’d looked up at her words. The confidence in the watery blue eyes seemed to falter.
To her surprise Becca looked away first and cleared her throat. “Fine. That’s my issue with Conor and not you. My problem with you is having you at my welcome home party. I don’t want you there.”
The flush from Charisse’s anger didn’t go away. A sense of vertigo crept over her. She was sure the room would spin if she stood up. She hated confrontation.
“Conor wants me there, so I’m going.”
“It’s my party, and you aren’t on my guest list…”
“Shut the hell up, Becca,” said Marie.
Becca turned and gaped at Marie.
Charisse let out a sigh of relief. Some of the heat left, but she still felt dizzy.
Marie continued. “You’ve got a lot of nerve moving to our city and making demands.”
“Your city? What are you, a mobster now?”
Marie leaned towards Becca. Her long brown hair fell over her shoulders in waves. “Do I need to remind you why you fled to Chicago after college in the first place?”
Becca smashed her lips together. “I saved your father’s ass by buying a ton of stock when his shipping company was down. I expect a little gratitude from you.”
“You bought the stock to make money, not as a favor. Charisse is going to that party, and you’ll leave her alone.”
Becca glared like she was going to argue more. Instead she stood up, shoving her chair back. “You better control yourself at the party,” she said to Charisse. “I don’t want a big scene.”
Confused and angry, Charisse struggled for a reply but didn’t get one out before Becca stormed off.
Charisse said, “Why would I make a scene?”
“She obviously doesn’t know you at all,” said Marie.
“Thank you for getting her to back off. What do you have on her?”
Marie frowned and shook her head. “That’s top secret. But if she gives you trouble again, just remind her who your sister is.”
Charisse nodded. She hadn’t even known they’d gone to college together. She said, “I’m not feeling great. Want to go back to the apartment? Raul gave me some new info about mother.”
Marie had been watching Becca slink through the tables of Friedman’s. At the mention of their mother, she turned back to Charisse and said, “Yeah. I’ll take the afternoon off. We’ll kick our feet up and share some dark chocolate.”
Charisse smiled. “I need mine with a side of coffee, like a whole pot. Otherwise I’ll end up falling asleep mid-sentence.”
“Fine with me. I’ll just do your hair extra pretty for when Conor comes to pick you up.” Marie gave her an evil grin.
“Never mind! I’ll stay awake for sure now.