Page 28 of The Shy Bride

“Why?”

“It shows a side to you I don’t think you exhibit elsewhere.”


“What if it does?”

“Tit for tat. You want to know and have already made efforts to discover stuff about me I don’t usually share with strangers, or anyone for that matter.”

“So, you think you should know similarly personal things about me?”

“Exactly.”

“You drive a hard bargain, Cassandra.”

“I must. I got you to take time off work, even if that wasn’t my intention.”

“Yes. And speaking of, the rest of my morning is clear.”

“You plan to entertain me?”

“I do.”

“That’s not necessary. I do have my MP3 player and a pad to take notes on,” she admitted with some shame for her crankiness with him earlier. “And this room is nice and quiet, no distractions…well, except your business partner.”

“He bought me my first CD of your music. In fact, he bought all of them for me over time. I am embarrassed to admit I never checked for the artist so I could buy them myself, though I listen to your music daily.”

“That explains how you could be a fan without knowing it.”

“Yes.”

She shook her head. “I love music, as you know. I can’t imagine not trying to find out who created and played music I enjoy.”

He shrugged, but it was obvious he meant it when he said he was embarrassed by his oversight.

She reached out and squeezed his forearm. “Hey, I don’t have a clue who designed and built my house, but I bet you know.”

“It was part of the security consult report.”

“I skimmed that bit.”

“Are you trying to make me feel less idiotic?”

“Definitely, because you aren’t even sort of stupid. Is it working?”

“Yes.”

“So, you took the morning off.” That still boggled her mind, but she’d decided that morning he needed the break he was so determined she take.

She wasn’t going to backslide and let her fear of being in the way stop her from encouraging him to leave work behind for a little while.

He nodded. “I thought I might take advantage of your undivided attention and that we could go shopping for my piano? Since both are available.”

“I see.” She bit her lip, considering whether or not she could psyche herself into going shopping with the man.

If she wanted to get him out of the office, she’d have to.

It didn’t promise to be a pleasant morning for her, but if they stayed out of crowded malls, she should be able to manage her anxiety levels.

And he made her feel safe, like being with him she could do things that normally were beyond her comfort zone.

“Online.”

“What?”

“We can retire to my penthouse and do the shopping online,” he explained.

“Really? You don’t mind? But honestly? You should always test out a piano before buying it.”

“Do you think if I had an employee buy the instrument that I would have gone to test it out before purchase?”

“Um, no? But since you have put yourself under the aegis of my expertise, I will have to insist on it. However, we can narrow down our external shopping trip through visiting Web sites and making a few phone calls.”

He looked pleased with her for some reason. “That sounds good.”

She stood up. “Lead the way.”

Before he had a chance to open the door, it swung inward and his PA stood there. “Mr. Stamos, I have Julian from Paris on the line in your office.”

“Handle it.”

“But, Mr. Stamos—”

“I told you, I am taking the morning off.”

That caused the blonde to give Cass a frown that turned into a death glare when she noticed the untouched bottle of water on the table.

Cass grabbed the bottle. “I’ll just take this with me.”

“I have water in my penthouse,” Neo said, sounding bemused.

“There’s no sense wasting it.” Miss Parks had been annoyed enough at having fetched it for Cass in the first place.

Though Zephyr had delivered it, Cass didn’t want any more black marks in the other woman’s book than she already had.

Neo put his hand out, indicating Cass should go ahead of him. “Whatever makes you happy.”

The PA’s already stony expression went positively sour.

“Do not keep Julian waiting, Miss Park.”

The older woman nodded and left without another word.

“You call your personal assistant Miss Park?” Cass asked.

“That is her name.”

“It surprises me that you use surnames with each other.”

“She’s worked for me for six years and that’s always been the way she’s preferred it.” Neo didn’t sound like he cared one way or another.

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