Page 26 of The Shy Bride

“Not such a pipe dream anymore.”

“No, but even more than that, I’m a huge fan of yours. Though I didn’t know it.”

“You didn’t know it? This I’ve got to hear, but not while it will make you late.”

An hour later, still reeling from the knowledge Neo was a closet fan and now considered her a friend, Cass listened to her latest self-recording on her MP3 player and took notes on what was lacking in the composition. She hadn’t been exaggerating when she told Neo she had work to do, too, but her implication she could only do it at home might have been stretching the reality of the situation.

She didn’t want to spend all day, every day, at her piano bench, so she had started working on self-recordings early on. She loved the flexibility her tiny MP3 player gave her. She could listen to it while exercising, cooking or practicing her Kanji writing. Or sitting at a table in an empty conference room in the Stamos & Nikos Enterprises building in downtown Seattle.

She’d bought her first one on the recommendation of another musician she knew online and had upgraded with each new technological advancement.

A tap on her shoulder alerted Cass to someone else’s presence.

She pulled one of the speaker buds from her ear and looked up. “Yes?”

“Mr. Stamos wanted me to make sure you have everything you need to make you comfortable.” Miss Parks, Neo’s personal assistant, lived up to her voice and attitude over the phone.

Blonde, in her forties, she wore her pale hair in a sleek chignon and dressed in a female power suit by Chanel, but it had to be from a previous year’s collection. Because this year the designer had gone whimsical, adding ruffles and lace that would look out of place on the businesswoman. Just as the polite query sounded out of character on her tongue.

Miss Parks clearly felt offering refreshments to her employer’s piano teacher was beneath her.

However the woman had absolutely nothing on Cass in the “annoyed nearly beyond endurance” stakes. While Cass sat in a strange conference room, in a huge office building filled with strangers, even more strangers were tearing her house apart.

She didn’t even attempt to hide her bad temper when she gave the blonde a curt, “Water would be nice.”

Never mind tea. That might soothe her and she didn’t feel like being soothed.

Without another word to the snarky PA, Cass put her speaker bud back in her ear and returned to work. A bottle of water and a glass with a slice of lemon showed up at her elbow a few minutes later.

Bad mood or not, Cass remembered her manners and looked up to give the deliverer a polite thank-you, only to clash eyes with a man every bit as overwhelming presence-wise as Neo.

Even if she hadn’t recognized him from publicity photos, she would have known he couldn’t be anyone but Neo’s business partner, Zephyr Nikos.

CHAPTER SIX

THE clearly charismatic Greek smiled. “No problem.”

She yanked her headphones out of her ears. “Um…”

“I’m glad to get the chance to meet you in person.” Zephyr’s smile would have been lethal if she hadn’t been inoculated that morning with a kiss from Neo Stamos. “Neo isn’t your only fan around here.”

She put her hand out. “Thank you for buying the piano lessons, Mr. Nikos, and I’m glad you enjoy my music.”

“Zephyr, please. And don’t thank me yet, you’ve only given Neo a few lessons.” He leaned against the dark solid wood conference table. “The jury’s still out on what kind of student he’ll make, but my gut tells me that if he sticks with it for the full year, you’ll earn every one of the hundred thousand dollars I donated to charity on his behalf.”

Cass let her lips tip in a wry half smile. “I’m sitting here working from my MP3 player instead of my piano because he’s got a team of construction workers and security personnel tearing apart my home. I’m under no illusions he’ll be an easy student to have.” Or friend for that matter.

“They’re replacing a few doors and windows, that is hardly tearing the place apart,” Neo said from behind Cass, his tone chiding.

She pushed her chair back and looked at him over her shoulder. “Are you done with your meeting?”

“I am.” He raised a single dark brow at Zephyr. “I thought you had a full schedule this morning, Zee.”

The other gorgeous Greek shrugged his broad shoulders. “I had a minute and I decided to meet the reclusive Cassandra Baker.”

“It’s hardly a public appearance,” Neo said, sounding borderline irritated. “She graciously agreed to spend the day with me while they do necessary security work on her home. She is not here for your entertainment.”

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