In the morning, Charisse awoke to an empty bed, but she still smiled. Conor had said he’d be leaving early to make sure everything was ready at the salon. She couldn’t wait to see what he’d done.
She enjoyed a cup of cafe con leche as she walked into the closet the size of a small bedroom and stared at the side filled with all the clothes Raul had bought for her at the start of the contract. Though the clothes were lovely, she smiled more that Conor had devoted half his closet space to her already.
Her smile faded to a frown. The small celebration she’d wanted now sounded too big to wear her usual designer jeans and blouse. She should wear something a little fancier, but there seemed to be only jeans or floor length gowns.
She heard a knock at the door and called, “I’m in the closet.”
She kept staring at the gowns, hoping she’d missed a more casual dress.
Raul cleared his throat. “Mr. Grishin thought you might want to wear something new to your celebration today.”
Charisse turned and caught her breath. Raul held a perfect red dress with a low V-neck and quarter length sleeves.
“I was just wishing something like that would magically appear. Thank you.” She took the dress from Raul and grabbed a pair of black Louboutin pumps. She’d do her hair in a French twist with a ponytail. Everything was coming together.
During the ride to the salon, she tapped her toe restlessly and forced herself to eat some trail mix Raul had given her to put in her purse. He’d been like an overjoyed grandpa-to-be since they’d told him about the baby. Hopefully Marie and Daddy would be as happy when they found out. She frowned trying not to think about Gianna.
When they arrived in front of her salon, she barely waited for the car to stop before she jumped out. There was a huge crimson cloth banner across her sign. It had a white fleur-de-lis at either end, and in the middle was written, “Grand Re-Opening of Ma Charisse.”
All her lady luvs were standing outside talking. They were an eye-catching mix of styles and bright colors like a group of exotic birds. When they saw her they exclaimed things like, “What’s going on?” and, “When were we closed?”
She hugged each woman, saying how good it was to see her again. Marie came up and hugged her too.
“Marie! I’m so happy you’re here!”
“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss this for anything. I was up all night doing the flower arrangements for it.”
“Are you serious? Thank you.” Charisse hugged her again.
And then she saw Conor and Letti standing guard at the front door. Conor wore a grey pinstripe suit that was even more elegant than the suit he’d worn with Lana. The cobalt tie over his black shirt set off his eyes, and she admired his smile when he turned and winked at her.