Conor held his hands out for quiet and said, “I know I only worked with you ladies for a short time, but I think all of you are great. And you deserve to have an owner far more knowledgeable in the salon business than I am. So I’m happy to announce that Charisse has taken over as full owner of the salon.”
Her lady luvs turned and gathered her up in more hugs. She glowed from the inside out as she soaked in all the affection.
Conor said, “As a parting gift, I’ve given all of you a gift bag at your station.”
The lady luvs gasped, and Letti said, “They’re amazing. You’re going to feel like you’re at the freaking Oscars.”
After another round of exclamations, Letti said, “All services today are free for the customers. Mei will be keeping track of what you do, and you’ll be paid by Mr. Grishin. So hustle because we expect a lot of business.”
Letti opened the door with a dramatic swoosh and said, “Have fun!”
The lady luvs rushed to hug Conor and then rushed inside.
Charisse held Marie’s hand and said, “I can’t believe this.”
“You haven’t even seen the inside!” said Marie.
Conor came up and kissed her. “Come on. All the excitement’s inside.”
“Marie and I were here super early to get the salon ready,” said Letti. “So get your butt in here.”
Charisse stepped through the door and froze.
In the chandelier Marie had woven red, orange and yellow roses with baby breath sprays and green leaves popping out. A chain of roses and carnations lined the crown molding, and each station had a rainbow bouquet of gladiolas in crystal vases.
“Marie, you outdid yourself. The flowers are incredible.”
“Thank you,” said Marie, beaming. “I think I’ve come a long way.”
Charisse wrapped her arm around Conor’s waist and squeezed. In the back waiting corner, instead of a coffee maker was the Chihuly-style champagne fountain Charisse had seen at his mansion party. Mimosa bubbled out of the large glass flowers.
“I saw the fountain from my window on Saturday and thought it was lovely. I can’t believe you brought it all the way to New York.”
“I thought it’d be perfect for your mimosas,” said Connor.
The lady luvs ignored all the decorations and shouted out as they went through what looked like cream Louis Vuitton clutches with gold chains. Each clutch had “Lady Luv” embroidered on it in gold.
“What did you put in there?” whispered Charisse.
Conor whispered back, “Just gift cards.”
Marie said, “Gift cards for shoes, dresses, massages…anything a stylist would drool over. You have one too, but it’s different.”
Charisse glanced at her station and saw a similar clutch next to the vase he’d bought her from Tiffany’s—it seemed so long ago now.
“Can I open it?” she asked Conor.
As they walked to her station, she gazed at the reception desk. It was covered with red and gold gift bags. “And what’s in those?”
“Samples of our products for the customers,” said Letti.
“God, you spent a fortune on this,” said Charisse.
“Worth it,” said Conor.
When they reached her station, Raul came in and joined them. “Would you like me to start serving the mimosas now?”
She didn’t let Conor answer. She said, “Not yet. Denise, Raul’s your first customer today. Shampoo, trim, manicure with hand massage. Pamper him. He deserves it.”
After a quick look to Conor who gave him a nod, Raul’s face softened into a smile, and he allowed Denise to lead him to her station.
“Open the purse,” said Marie.
She reached out with a shaking hand, having no idea what he would’ve put in there. She unsnapped the clutch, opened it and saw two golden roses with a tiny diamond center sparkling back at her.
“No way!” She pulled them out and held two earrings in her hand. “They’re beautiful.” She removed the hoops from her ears and put in the rose earrings. “Thank you.”
Conor held her tightly and whispered so only she could hear, “The set isn’t complete yet.”
A thrill shot through her spirit. He must mean a ring. She held her breath and steadied her emotions before she pulled away.