Page 13 of The Shy Bride

“Mr. Stamos is not in the habit of asking the opinions of others.”

“Really? I never would have guessed,” Cass replied just a tad sarcastically. Then she winced at her own behavior. She knew Neo was just trying to make things better. He’d simply gone about it the wrong way. Because no matter how she might wish otherwise, he did not understand. “Cancel the locksmith.”


An unmistakable huff of annoyance sounded over the line. “I will inform the locksmith his services are not required at present. Mr. Stamos will be made aware the delay is at your demand.” The frigid tones of the personal assistant should have frozen the phone lines.

“You do that. You can further inform your boss that if my practice session is interrupted by the locksmith, or any of his other employees, he will spend his next lesson listening to me prepare my own music rather than teaching him his.”

The silence that met her words actually brought half a smile to Cass’s face. It was an empty threat, but it had felt good saying it. Would Neo see the humor in it, or would he lack understanding of that, too?

“I shall pass on your message verbatim,” the other woman finally said.

“Thank you.”

Neo was furious with himself. He should have called Cassandra and warned her about the locksmith, even gotten that annoying manager of hers to be there to supervise the changing of the locks. Instead, he’d left instructions with his PA as he always did and this was the result.

He had to smile at Cassandra’s threat however. Getting a private concert from the superbly talented pianist would hardly be a hardship. Regardless, he felt badly. Which was a completely uncommon reaction for him. So was the acknowledgement that he had messed up. Both of which were the reasons he was calling Cassandra on his personal cell phone, in the middle of a corporate conference call with the project team in Hong Kong.

He muted his headset and listened with one ear while dialing Cassandra’s number and then listening to the line ring.

“Hello?” she answered on the third ring, sounding downright cranky.

And why he should find that charming rather than annoying he could not have said.

“You sent my locksmith away.”

“Actually, your personal assistant sent him away. I did not answer the door.”

“Why?”

“I thought he was another reporter.”

Neo had to stifle a groan at his own idiocy. He should have expected that. “I meant why did you send him away?”

“Why didn’t you ask me if I wanted my door lock changed?”

“It needs to be done. You can’t remember to keep your door locked.”

“I don’t forget; I just choose to leave it unlocked when I know someone is coming.”

“That’s not much of an improvement.”

“I don’t plan on leaving it unlocked anytime soon, if that makes you feel any better. I don’t want reporters walking in on me unannounced.”

“Some would, regardless of trespassing laws.”

“Yes, the person who climbed onto my deck certainly wasn’t worried about trespassing.”

“For all your unwillingness to entertain strangers, you are much too lax when it comes to your personal safety. The locksmith was only a stopgap measure anyway. You need a full spectrum security consult.”

“Not going to happen.” There was not the slightest uncertainty in her voice.

Neo had gone against tougher negotiators than the renowned pianist. “Consider it a gift for opening your home to me.”

“Are you saying this is for your safety?”

“Would it help you accept it if I did?”

“For an honest man, you’re awfully adept at manipulation.”

“Thank you.”

“I am not letting a stranger into my home.”

“I was a stranger when you allowed me inside for my lesson.” But he could see now that he’d made a grave miscalculation in sending over an unknown locksmith.

Zee warned Neo that his impatience could cause problems and this wasn’t the first time his friend had been right.

“Not entirely. One, I had prepared myself for taking on a new student. Two, I did my research, learning all I could about you before you came. And three, my manager told me if I didn’t do the lessons he would quit.”

“You got past being overwhelmed by me—you can deal with the security consultant.”

“No.”

“Cassandra, you are not being reasonable.” She laughed, the sound both exasperated and amused. “I am unreasonable?”

“Yes. It will only take thirty minutes, an hour at the most.”

“It’s not just about the time, but that is a consideration.”

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