“Do all of your employees call you Mr. Stamos?”
Neo frowned. “Yes, I suppose. Why?”
“Does Zephyr’s personal assistant call him Mr. Nikos?”
“No. Again, why?”
“You keep people at a distance more than he does.”
“Just because Zephyr doesn’t think I make friends, doesn’t mean I don’t. I made friends with you, didn’t I?”
If he considered steamrolling her into making substantive changes on her house as making friends. But that wasn’t really being fair to him, either. “Yes.”
“You sound uncertain. I thought we’d already established we are becoming friends.”
“You’re a pretty forceful kind of guy, aren’t you?”
“You do not get to where I am being a pushover.”
“No, I don’t imagine that you do.”
“That does not mean I always have to have things my own way. I’m taking piano lessons, aren’t I?”
“Yes.” And he’d taken the morning off when he never took time off so that she would be comfortable. Steamroller, or not, Neo had the makings of a good friend. “Where is your penthouse?”
“At the top of this building. Zephyr and I share the top floor for our living quarters.”
“Considering the size of this building, your apartments must be huge.”
“Part of the penthouse floor is taken up with the pool and workout facility.”
“You have a pool?”
“Zephyr and I share it.”
“Wow. I’ve thought about having one installed in my backyard, but then I wouldn’t have much yard left and I’d only get to use it a few months out of the year.”
“Seattle’s climate isn’t conducive to year-round outdoor living,” he agreed.
“Not like Greece.”
“Living here has its compensations.”
“I’m glad you like it here.”
“Yes, I wouldn’t have a new friend otherwise.” He grinned, his expression nothing short of pleased. “Just so.”
“Still, I envy you the pool.”
He laughed warmly. “Finally, something my billionaire status makes you want to have.”
“You’ve got enough people wishing they were you.”
“Are you saying I don’t need another fan?”
“Oh, I’m a fan all right.” Especially of his kisses, but she was nowhere near outrageous enough to say so.
“I am sure.”
“I mean it. You’re a great guy.”
That startled another laugh from him, though she couldn’t imagine why. “You cannot know what a refreshing attitude yours is for me.”
“Thank you. I think?”
“Definitely. As for the pool, you are welcome to come use ours anytime you like. I will make sure you get a keycard for our top floor.”
He couldn’t know how tempting that offer was. She loved to swim, but public pools were more than mildly daunting for her. Or perhaps he did, considering the research he’d done on her condition.
Regardless, it was more than generous and not a gift she would dismiss on any level. “Thank you.”
“Not at all. What are friends for?”
She was smiling as she followed him to the private elevator that serviced his and Zephyr’s offices and penthouse floor.
Finding the piano turned out easier than Cass expected. She hit it lucky with her first phone call. She’d called her own supplier with little hope they’d have something in stock locally, but they had just taken a Steinway baby grand in as trade on a new, bigger Irmler parlor grand for another professional pianist who lived on Bainbridge Island.
“It’s something of an extravagance, but the price and immediate availability are very tempting,” she told him after the initial phone call. “And you’ve got the space in your sitting room.”
Neo’s apartment was huge and although it had obviously been furnished by a professional, it was pretty minimalistic—almost sparse.
“An upright would be considerably less expensive.”
“Yes, but not equivalent in tone or performance. That is your standard by which you judge a monetary outlay, right?”
“More or less. Yes.”
“If you’re serious about learning the piano, you may as well practice on an instrument of true quality.”
“You are seduced by this piano’s pedigree.”
“Maybe a little. A Steinway isn’t to be sneezed at and it really is a bargain.”
“You’re very animated. I like seeing you like this.”
She felt herself blushing.
He shook his head, but smiled. “Is it available to test out like you want?”