Charisse unpacked boxes of shampoo and conditioner in the quiet of Ma Charisse Monday morning. Strains of Mozart played gently in the background, and the scent of coffee pervaded without any stylists dying hair or giving manicures.
Letti helped her unpack and listened to her tell an abbreviated version of what had happened between her and Conor, leaving out the part about being pregnant.
“I still can’t believe he disappeared for three days after dragging your butt all the way to the Hamptons,” said Letti. “But that necklace is gorgeous. When are you getting the matching ring?”
Charisse blushed at her teasing, unable to come up with a retort. The hope had been drifting through her mind ever since he’d asked her to move in with him. She was fine with showing her pregnancy at a wedding, but she’d really like to get married before the baby arrived.
Letti laughed at her turning red. “You’re hoping he asks you soon. You’re gonna go live the life of the rich and famous after all.”
“It’d be more like the life of the rich and reclusive. But that’s enough about me. I want to talk about you and how the week went. How did you like being in charge?”
Letti turned her head to the side and gave her a long look out of the corner of her eye. The blush on her prominent cheekbone appeared darker. “Why? What did you hear?”
“Nothing aside from what you’ve told me. I haven’t talked to any of the other lady luvs. But things are changing, and I’d like to know what you thought of running the salon for a week.”
Letti flattened her full lips. “I won’t lie to you. I loved it. I think I even took it too far because I have a manicurist lined up to do an interview with you. We can’t keep having the stylists fill in there. Everyone needs to be able to focus on their specialty.”
Charisse beamed. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. And I’ll be happy to interview the manicurist. I’m going to be cutting my hours back, and I hoped you’d be the permanent manager. Would you like that?”
Letti squealed. “I’d love that! But why are you cutting your hours back? Conor doesn’t want his girlfriend doing blue collar work?” She put her hands on her hips and glared.
Charisse held her breath and shook her head. “Not at all. There’s two reasons. First, I want to open a second location in the Hamptons. I saw a boarded-up salon out there that had the perfect location. Conor and I are going to be fifty-fifty partners in it.”
“Yes! That’s fantastic. But you said there were two reasons.”
Letti screamed and hugged her. “Oh my gosh, that’s so great!”
Charisse heard a pounding at the door and pulled away. She smiled and waved when she saw Conor and Raul. She said, “He’s taking me to an appointment and then to visit Daddy in the hospital.”
She hurried to unlock the door. It was easier to lock it than hear another of Conor’s lectures about her safety.
“How’s the business in China?” she asked as they walked in.
“Glad I’m not there,” he said. “Hey Letti, I’m guessing Charisse told you the big news.”
“I’ll say. There was plenty of it.”
“I’ll be back in about an hour to help some more,” said Charisse.
“Nope,” said Conor. “Raul’s staying, and I’ll be coming back, but you’re going home after we visit your dad at the hospital.”
“But I’m not tired…”
“We made big plans for tomorrow,” said Letti, “So rest up this afternoon.”
“Big plans? But it was just going to be a small celebration…”
Conor took her hand and led her out the door, waving to Raul and Letti. He said to Charisse, “I’m keeping it small, but it’s still going to be big.”
Charisse grinned. She had no idea what Conor had in mind, but it was nice to have something to look forward to for a change.