The Party is finally here. What’s in store for Charisse and Conor?
Conor buttoned up his white shirt, leaving the collar open. Charisse loved him. He couldn’t stop thinking about the moment on the porch when she’d told him, even as Raul went over the party checklist with him.
“Is this a Picasso party?” asked Raul.
“What?” asked Conor, coming out of the fog of new love for a moment.
“You have two extra buttons at the bottom of your shirt, and one side of your collar is higher than the other.”
Conor looked down. Sure enough, he’d totally mismatched the sides of his shirt. “Shit,” he said, undoing the buttons.
Raul stepped up to him, brushed his hands aside and redid the shirt for him.
Conor’s thoughts returned to Charisse. “Did you leave a pot of coffee in her room?” Conor wished she’d been able to get ready for the party with him, but all of her clothes and makeup were set up for her down the hall. She’d also wanted to take a nap, and he hadn’t wanted to disturb that.
“Yes,” said Raul. The disapproval in his voice resounded through the bedroom.
“I’m not forcing her to go,” said Conor.
Raul kept buttoning without answering.
“I’m not like Josh,” said Conor. The similarities between the two parties had been bugging him since he and Charisse had arrived at the mansion.
“I would never compare you to him,” said Raul, finishing the buttons and stepping back.
“But you think I’m forcing her to go.”
“No, I just think you could do more to encourage her not to.”
“I told her to stay at the cottage and rest. You know how she is. You said you couldn’t keep her out of the kitchen while I was gone.”
Raul’s phone dinged. He pulled it out of his pocket and settled his face into a blank expression, though his eyes drooped as if he were weary. He wore his customary blue suit with the collar open. It was a casual evening party, so Conor hadn’t asked the staff to dress up.
“The first guest has arrived,” said Raul, still staring at the phone.
Conor said, “Seems a little early.”
“You haven’t thrown a party in three years. Yours were always renowned for their taste and elegance.”
Conor paused, realizing that it was the first party he’d thrown at the mansion without Elise. He really was moving on. With a deep breath of resignation, he said, “The plan is to be nice to Becca. A genuine nice like when we used to get along. It was Charisse’s idea to get her off my back.”
Raul tilted his head. “Understood. Are you ready?”