“This silent treatment sucks,” whispered Cris as he snuck up behind Cass.
She spun around, gave him her best glare and walked off.
Well shit, that went well, he thought sardonically. The rest of the night had been the same. Every time he got close enough to talk to her, she either turned her back or found an excuse to go somewhere else. I have to fix this colossal mess I’ve made. And I guess if it’s a bar she wants, I’ll do my damnedest to hear her out and help make it happen. She’s too important to me for something like that to mess this up.
Finally as the night drew to a close, Cris followed her into his office, closed the doors then ceremoniously leaned against them. “Cass, we aren’t leaving this room until we come to some sort of truce here. We seriously need to discuss our future, and that includes opening another bar, not just living arrangements, so please, don’t leave here alone tonight. Stay with me so we can talk this out.”
She sighed softly which he took as a good sign that the worst of her anger was spent. “You’re right Cris, we do need to talk, it’s just that it’s too soon for – .”
Cris cut her off. “No, not here, we can talk at my house or yours, I don’t care which, and I promise to hear you out, but you have to hear me out too.”
Cassie turned around, took her apron off and tossed it on the couch. “Okay, let’s go to your house, because if things get heated, Veronica doesn’t need to hear that.”
He chuckled at her remark. “We aren’t going to be fucking Cass, just talking.” The words tumbled out before he could think, and he knew immediately he was in deep shit by the gasp that came out of Cassie’s mouth.
“Oh my god Cris,” she said as she whipped around to face him, “you seriously have a one track mind. I was talking about a heated discussion! And quit calling it fucking, that just makes it sound lewd.”
”I know, I was only … never mind … let’s just get out of here before I make things worse. The sooner we get home, the sooner we can work through this and the sooner I can make sweet love to you. Better?”
”Stop patronizing me you, you … you dick!”
Cris couldn’t help but laugh at her struggling for an insult. He shouldn’t enjoy winding her up so much because one day it might seriously bite him in the ass, if it hadn’t already. “Sorry, I’m trying here okay? I love you very much Cassandra.”
“You’re just lucky I love you back,” she said with a pout.
“Oh I know that’s true,” he agreed wholeheartedly then pulled her stiff little body close and placed a soft kiss on her temple. He would’ve preferred to kiss her pouty lips as he did earlier, but knew he had to earn it this time. One day I’ll understand her signals, he thought, or I’ll die trying.
Cris’ house ….
“Here,” said Cris and handed Cassie a glass of wine then sat next to her, “Just to help us both unwind and relax, loosen our tongues a bit too. Honestly, I don’t want you holding back Cass, I need to know your feelings and thoughts about everything, and you need to hear mine as well so we can move past this.”
Cassie greedily gulped almost half the glass.
“Whoa girl,” he said, a bit shocked because he knew she wasn’t a big drinker, “that bottle was expensive, you should savor it.”
“Sorry, I’m nervous, okay?” she snapped. “The things you said today, well it forced me to think about stuff I was trying to ignore, and I got a little scared, a lot scared actually, since we’re being honest.”
She just punched him in the gut with her honesty. “I know love,” he said softly, knowing that he’d pushed her way past her limit and that’s why she was so unnerved. “That was the worst possible way to bring up a conversation about our future together. So, why don’t we talk about the bar situation first, before we jump into that.” She nodded her head and he could see her thankfully relax a little. When she didn’t say anything, he took the lead. “So, what did you have in mind, because clearly you’ve been thinking about it?”
She smiled for the first time since this morning, making him feel even more like an ass. This was what she needed and I fucking blew her off, he reprimanded himself, no wonder she’s so upset with me.
“We need to get with my dad,” she began, “he has all the population stats and could tell us quickly if this even makes any sense. Then, if he gives us the green light, we need to scope out a place to build. Cris, I’m really worried all the commercial lots will be gone soon, Newcrest is growing like crazy. Walker even moved there, yet he works in San Myshuno. Well, I think that was why they built Newcrest to begin with, to be a suburb of San Myshuno.”
“Okay, fair enough, we can do that, and what about financing?” He hated to bring that up, but it wouldn’t just magically happen and he wondered what her ideas were. Is she expecting me to put the money up or co-sign a loan? he wondered silently, I have some money I’ve invested for the future, not necessarily to expand my business, but if she wants this so bad, I suppose if needed I can dig in.
“Dad has a banker he works with at C&M, and, well, I have some money.” She whispered the last part almost as if she was embarrassed by it.
“You do?” he asked mildly surprised. I thought she only had what I paid, he thought, however, her parents are loaded so maybe she had a damn trust fund or something.
She nodded her head. “Yeah, my parents took out life insurance on all of us when we were born. When Alex died, they gave half to Grayson and put the other half in trust for me. He used his to pay what his scholarships didn’t while he was going to medical school. He’s doing his residency now in Del Sol Valley and already has a job lined up as an ER doc starting this summer.” She smiled lovingly when she spoke of her brother.
“You love your brother don’t you?” asked Cris.
“I do. He’s awesome and so smart. He and and his fiancée are finally getting married at the end of the summer and you’ll finally get to meet him. Anyway, my portion of the money has been tucked away in stocks and has been growing. When I turned 21, it was released and is now mine to do with whatever I want. I just haven’t felt like I had a right to it, until now, I wanted to use if for something that was important, like Grayson did.”
“I see,” he said, suddenly understanding exactly how much this bar really meant to her. She would never want to feel like she was benefiting from her sisters death by spending the money frivolously. “So, can I ask how much?” Even $100,000 would only be a drop in the bucket to what they would need.
“Of course, the policy was for $1 million, we each got half. Even though it’s grown over the years, I know it won’t be enough to do everything, but it’ll help buy the land and possibly complete the building. We’ll likely need some additional funding at startup. Stocking, furniture, advertising, hiring staff, etcetera.”
“Damn,” he said, trying to take it all in, “you really have been giving this some serious thought. I had no idea.”
“I’m not just another pretty face you know,” she said, a huge smile splitting that face. “I also figured we could use Blue Velvet’s good name and maybe instead of Blue Velvet, name it Red or Purple Velvet and do themes of one of those colors. I don’t know, or maybe just keep the same name. But, if we expand further, we could pick another color. So all of our clubs will be colors and it will be easy to know which is which.”
Cris started laughing and looked at her tenderly. “This is part of the reason I fell in love with you. Do you realize you are calling the clubs ‘ours’? I know how invested you are in the Blue Velvet, and if we go into this venture together, Cassandra, it will officially be part yours, I can’t let you put up that much money and not bring you on as a full partner.”
Cassie’s smile vanished. “Oh Cris … no I couldn’t.”
“Cass, I have some savings as well, so we may not need to take out any loans to get started. And honestly, that was part of the reason I put off taking it too seriously. I didn’t want to go into debt again, but with your contribution, it makes sense to go ahead and set up a full partnership. You make the Blue Velvet what it is as much as I do, I’ve told you that before. So, let’s make an appointment to talk to your father and if he says it’s a go, we’ll get an architect to start drawing up plans and talk to an attorney about the partnership.”
Cassie launched herself into his lap and threw her arms around him. “Oh thank you Cris! I love you! This is so exciting!” Then she kissed him and he had to use all of his willpower to pry her off of him.
“Okay sweetheart, now that that’s all settled, we need to talk about us.”
“What’s wrong with how we are,” she asked pouting.
“You know exactly what’s wrong,” he said, “I want to move our relationship forward or at least have a plan to move forward. If we are going to be business partners building Purple, or whatever we decide to call it, then we also should be talking about our future together, because this partnership isn’t short term, and requires a lot of commitment.”
“Oh …” she said and he could see the wheels turning and was dying to know what she was thinking. “Cris! I just thought of something when you said Purple. We could make it a wine bar! Get it Purple? Grapes? Wine?”
“Yeah, that’s actually a great idea,” he said nodding his head. Her enthusiasm was contagious and his wheels started turning. “The atmosphere would be more upscale and would cater to a slightly different clientele which just might attract business from both San Myshuno and Willow Creek as well as Newcrest. Plus, it wouldn’t compete with the Blue Velvet either. Win win. Yes, Cass, that’s a damn good idea!”
“I know you want to talk about us, but now that Purple might actually be happening, I’m just so excited, I can’t shut off my brain.”
“I know love, and you have me excited too, but let’s try to focus on us instead for a minute.”
Cassie suddenly go serious. “Cris, all day long, all I could think about was us.”
“Sweetheart, that’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past month. But for now, why don’t we table my ridiculous proposal, but know that’s where I eventually want to wind up with you, Purple or no Purple, and next time I ask, you’ll be swept off your feet like you deserve.”
Cassie grinned deviously. “Unless I ask you first.”
Cris threw his head back and laughed. “You would seriously do that wouldn’t you? Take away my thunder?”
“Maybe,” she said still grinning, “so yes, for now let’s put that on the back burner and let it simmer until it’s nice and tender. So, about us, I’ve given a lot of thought to moving in with you. I’m already here at least 75% of the time anyway, and have clothes, makeup and toiletries here, so I thought maybe I could just let Veronica stay in my house and not make her pay more. It won’t matter to me financially.” She suddenly got a panic stricken look on her face. “Oh wait, crap, I’d have to pay you rent. Oh god. Why did I just assume I could live here free? I would have to …”
Cris was mentally high fiving himself when she started to backpedal. “Cass…stop baby. Of course I’m not going to make you split the bills with me. That’s ridiculous, I don’t need your money. But if you want, you can buy groceries, how’s that?”
“I feel so foolish. I don’t want to be a kept woman. I want to contribute.”
“Sweetheart, you’re forgetting already, soon we’ll truly be partners when we open up Purple, so you’ll be contributing a helluva lot to my bottom line and to yours too.”
“So, we’re really doing Purple then?” asked Cassie.
“Here,” he said and handed her phone to her. “Text your dad and set up that appointment so we can get the ball rolling on Purple. Then we’ll talk about moving you in with me where you belong.”
Cassie and rolled her eyes while she texted her father and got an immediate response. She looked up pensively. “Mom and Dad asked us to meet them for lunch on Wednesday. I think they want to interrogate us.”
“Tell them yes. And don’t worry, I promise to be on my best behavior, because not only are they your parents, but your dad will determine whether or not we can open the club and I don’t want you to be disappointed.”
“Done…” she said after she sent a text back and smiled up at him.
The loving look she gave him caused stirrings below his belt. “You know,” he said, trying to ignore his body’s reaction to her, “we’ll need a business plan.”
“A business what?” she asked looking terrified.
Cris chuckled. “Don’t worry, we can use the one I drew up for the Blue Velvet and tweak it for Purple. We can work on it tomorrow so we can give it to your dad. Now, can we please get back to us.”
“Okay,” she said, “I insist that I buy the groceries and pay for the cleaning service. I have to do something Cris!”
He loved her independence, but he knew that wasn’t the underlying reason for her initial hesitation. She was afraid of the commitment. But it seemed the prospect of going into business together is getting her over that hump, he thought relieved, even though it’s going to be a shit ton of work, dammit she’s worth it and her idea is sound.
“Cris … is that okay?” she asked sounding worried, “you didn’t say anything.”
“It’s perfect my love. You’re moving in, groceries and maid service are now your responsibility. Housing costs are mine. Plus we’re going to become business partners and build a fancy wine bar. Your infusion of cash will make it much easier to do it without having to worry about debt payments eating up profits. And if it does well, in a couple of years, we’ll recoup our investment and from then on out it’ll be gravy.”
“I’m so excited! Can we move on to the fucking part – augh – you’re such a bad influence – I mean the ‘making love’ part since we’ve talked and made some huge decisions? My ovaries won’t stop unless we trick them into thinking you’re gonna put a baby in me.”
“God, I love you so much,” he said and laughed. “But that reminds me, we didn’t touch on children.” He got serious and tenderly touched her face. “For sure that is something we need to discuss. I really want at least one little Cassandra or Cris running around. I know you’re not ready to even consider it, so I won’t push it other than to plant the seed in that beautiful head of yours.”
“Cris,” whispered Cassie, her voice thick with emotion. “I didn’t say I didn’t want children, just not yet. I’m sorry I was so bitchy today.”
“Hell, I deserved it.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” she said and climbed back into his lap. “I love you so much Cris,” she said before she crashed her lips onto his, filling his heart with her words.
“I love you too,” he said when they came up for air. He kissed her forehead and leaned her back on the loveseat. “From now on, we talk,” he said, his voice deep, “then make love,” he whispered in her ear and tickled it with his tongue before moving to her neck, “not more or less of one or the other,” he murmured and kissed there too, eliciting a moan from his lover. He looked up at her, “more of both Cassandra, more of fucking both,” he said thickly, and claimed her lips again.