Page 30 of The Shy Bride

“We can go by their showroom and try the piano out today anytime.”

He looked at his watch. “Where are they located?”

She told him the address in west Seattle, which was admittedly closer to her home than his building downtown.

He nodded. “If we go now, we can make it back in time.”

“I thought you took most of the day off?”

“I did, though I still have a meeting later this afternoon.”

“It won’t take that long.”

“I did not think it would.”

“Then what do we have to be back in time for?” she asked in confusion.

“Lunch. It will be ready at eleven-thirty.”

“Isn’t that early?”

“I eat breakfast at six-thirty and you ate only an hour later.”

“I’m surprised your nutritionist doesn’t have you snacking midmorning with a later lunch.”

“Normally, you would be right, but today is special.” Because he was taking it off?

“How did you know I use a nutritionist?” he asked. “I don’t remember mentioning that.”

She shrugged, tucking her cell phone back into her purse. “Lucky guess. Keeping yourself fit would be top priority and what you don’t have time to do yourself, you would pay for.”

“You can’t do business from a sick bed.”

“Oh, I’m sure you can. Furthermore, I’m sure you have.”

“Not as effectively. And Zephyr goes all Greek patriarch on me when he finds out about it.”

“I bet you do the same to him.”

“Naturally. I can take care of whatever needs seeing to, but Zee stubbornly refuses to see that and get proper rest.”

“And he feels the same when you are ill.”

Neo just shrugged.

Cass grinned. “You’re two peas in a pod.”

“We just know who we can rely on.”

“Each other.”

“Yes.”

“No one else?”

Neo didn’t answer, but she didn’t need him to. It was obvious. They were two men who had learned early not to give their trust easily. Which made the fact Neo saw himself as her friend and had offered her a key to the top floor of his building even more amazing.

She could not remember feeling so accepted, not even with her parents. Maybe especially with her parents.

Neo had never been in a store like the one Cass took him to.

It was located in a converted Victorian house. The entire ground floor had been remodeled into a showroom for the wind instruments and pianos the company sold. The interior designer had done an outstanding job of creating an environment that showed off each instrument to its best advantage. And the acoustics had been enhanced with subtly engineered ceiling panels to maximize the splendor of sound the instruments made.

He was given a sample of the result when Cass picked up a flute, and after wiping the mouthpiece with a cloth provided by the salesman, played a mesmerizing melody that froze Neo in place.

When she was done and put the flute down, he cleared his throat. “I thought you didn’t like to perform.”

She blushed, looking around at the almost empty store. “That wasn’t a performance. It’s only the flute.”

“It was beautiful.”

“Thank you, but I was just messing around.”

Interesting. “I thought you only played the piano.”

“I dabble on the flute, is all. I wanted to learn the guitar, too, but my parents discouraged it.” She brushed her hand over the flute. “They thought I should keep my focus.”

“If that’s dabbling, I wonder what you would have achieved with a little less focus on the piano.”

Cass’s smile was nothing short of beautiful. “Thank you. I love the sounds a flute can make.”

“I think under your hands, any instrument would sound amazing.”

She shook her head. “Flatterer.”

“Not at all.”

“I love music.”

“It shows in your compositions.”

“You really listen to my CDs?”

“All of them. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite though because no matter how many times I listen, that changes almost daily.”

She blushed and turned away, toward the glassed-in, soundproofed room that held the piano they had come in to see.

He followed her. “Surely you are used to such compliments.”

“Actually, no. One of the side effects of my not performing is that I don’t hear from many of my fans. And when I did perform, my father and manager made sure I spoke to the big money music aficionados, but not normal people who listened to my music just to make their day a little brighter.”

“We have already established I do not define normal.”

“But you are nothing like the patrons I was told to cultivate, either.”

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