Reunited with the Lassiter Bride(2)

By: Barbara Dunlop

“The decorators are here.”

Angelica squared her shoulders and gave her assistant a determined nod. “Thanks, Becky. Please show them in.”

Angelica knew her decision to renovate the top floor of the Lassiter building and relocate the CEO’s office was going to cause a lot of talk within the company. But she also knew it was her only option.

Maybe if the power transition had gone smoothly she could have moved directly into her father’s office. After all, she’d been at the helm in all but title prior to her father’s death. But with the original will leaving control to Evan, the transition had been anything but smooth. And now she needed to put her own stamp on Lassiter Media. She’d decided to convert the top floor boardroom into her own office and turn her father’s office into a boardroom.

“Angelica.” Suzanne Smith entered the room first, followed by her partner Boswell Cruz. “It’s so good to see you again.”

Suzanne’s expression and tone were professional, but she couldn’t quite hide the curiosity lurking in her eyes. The Lassiter family’s troubles had been all over the media these past months. Angelica couldn’t really blame Suzanne for wondering what would happen next.

“Thanks for coming on such short notice,” said Angelica, moving forward to shake both of their hands. “Hello, Boswell.”

“Nice to see you again, Angelica,” he returned.

“Tell me how we can help you,” said Suzanne. Her expression invited confidence.

“I’d like to build new office. For me. Right here.”

Suzanne waited for a moment, but Angelica didn’t offer anything more.

“Okay,” said Suzanne, gazing around at the polished beech wood paneling and the picture windows on two sides of the room. “I have always loved this space.”

“It’ll give me some extra light in the morning,” said Angelica, repeating the rationale she’d decided to use for the move.

“Light is good.”

“And J.D.’s old office is closer to the floor’s reception area, so it’ll make a more convenient boardroom.” It was another perfectly plausible excuse that had nothing to do with Angelica’s real reasons for making the switch.

Boswell had a tablet in his hand and was already making notes.

“Anything in particular you want to keep from J.D.’s office?” asked Suzanne. “Furniture pieces? Art?”

“Nothing,” said Angelica.

The twitch of Suzanne’s mouth betrayed her surprise at the answer.

“Maybe keep the historic Big Blue mural,” Angelica added, rethinking the sweeping decision. “It can hang in the new boardroom.”

The painting of the Lassiter ranch in Wyoming had hung in J.D.’s office for over a decade. Moving it would cause talk and speculation, possibly even more speculation than Angelica’s moving her office to the opposite end of the thirtieth floor.

She wasn’t turning her back on her roots. And, despite what the tabloids had surmised, she had forgiven her father. Or at least she would forgive her father, eventually, though maybe not all at once. Emotionally, she had to sort some things through first.

“That’s it?” asked Suzanne. Her tone was neutral, but it didn’t quite mask her surprise. Some of J.D.’s pieces were very valuable antiques.

“We can put the rest in storage.”

“Certainly. Did you have any initial thoughts on your office?”

“Lots of natural light,” said Angelica. “I like the fresh feel of the atrium, so plants for sure. Not ultra-modern, no chrome or anything. And I don’t want bright white. But definitely lighter tones, neutrals, earth tones perhaps.” She paused. “Am I making any sense?”

“This is all good,” Suzanne assured her. “It gives us a nice starting point. Now, you’ve got plenty of room in here. You’ll want a desk area, a meeting table, and a lounge area. Would you like us to include a wet bar? A private washroom?”

“Only if you can do it discreetly. I want it to look like a business office, not a playboy’s downtown loft.”

Suzanne’s alarm showed on her face. “Oh, no. It won’t look anything like that.”

“It would be nice to be able to offer refreshments.”

“Done,” said Suzanne. “And we’ll make it discreet, I promise.”

The door opened and Becky appeared again. “Ms. Lassiter? Sorry to interrupt. But your three o’clock is here.”

“We’ll get out of your way,” said Suzanne. “Would the end of the week be soon enough for some mock-ups?”

“End of the week is fine,” said Angelica.

She’d rather have the mock-ups in the next ten minutes, but patience was one of the characteristics she was practicing at the moment. Patience, composure and a work-life balance.

Before his sudden death, her father had complained that she worked too hard, that she needed balance in her life. When he’d taken away her position at Lassiter through his will, she’d been forced to reevaluate her balance.

She’d made progress, and she’d promised herself to give it a fair shot. She was even thinking about taking up a hobby, and maybe a sport. Yoga, perhaps. People who did yoga seemed very serene.

“We’ll be in touch,” said Suzanne as she and Boswell left the boardroom.

The door closed behind them, and Angelica took a moment to focus on her composure. Her next meeting was with her close friend Kayla Prince. Kayla was engaged to Lassiter Media account executive Matt Hollis, so she’d been along for the ride on the family discord over the past five months.

Angelica knew that many of the Lassiter Media executives worried she’d put the company at risk by working with corporate raider Jack Reed and attempting to contest the will. And her recent single-minded focus on regaining control of the company meant she hadn’t seen much of Kayla or any of her other friends. She could only imagine what Kayla might have heard from Matt at the height of the conflict.

So, when the door opened again, she was ready for anything. But Kayla surprised her, rushing through the door and quickly pulling her into a warm hug.

“I’m so glad it’s over,” said Kayla. She drew back to peer at Angelica. “You okay now? Congratulations. You deserved this all along. You’re going to be a fantastic CEO.”

Angelica’s brain stumbled for a moment, and then a warm rush of relief nearly buckled her knees. She hugged Kayla back. “I’ve missed you so much,” she confessed.

“Whose fault is that?” Kayla asked on a laugh.

“Mine. It’s all my fault. Everything is all my fault.”

Kayla drew back again, this time briskly rubbing Angelica’s upper arms. “Stop. That’s enough. I don’t want to hear you say that again.”

Angelica was about to protest, but then she spotted Tiffany Baines in the doorway. “Tiff?”

Tiffany opened her arms, and Angelica rushed to greet her other close friend.

“Angie,” Tiffany sighed. “It’s so great to see you at the office.”

Angelica took a step back, sobering. “I’ve got a lot of work to do here.” She glanced at Kayla as well. “There are a lot of fences to mend and a whole lot of decisions to make.”

“You’ll do great,” Tiffany stated with conviction. “There’s nobody better than you to run Lassiter Media. The stupid will put you in an impossible position.”

“I could have handled it better,” said Angelica.

“How were you to know it was a test? What if it hadn’t been a test? What if your father had truly lost his mind and left the family company to Evan? You were right to fight it.”

“I think you’re the only person in the world who feels that way,” Angelica said to Tiffany.

“I doubt it. But it doesn’t matter. What matters now is that you’re going to be an amazing success.” A mischievous grin grew on Tiffany’s face, and she shifted her attention to Kayla. “Go ahead. Tell her.”

“Tell me what?” Angelica took in Kayla’s matching, wide grin. “What’s going on?”

“We’ve set a date,” said Kayla.

“For the wedding?”

Kayla nodded.

“That’s fantastic news. When? Where? How big?”

Kayla laughed. “End of September. I know it’s quick. But they had a cancellation at the Emerald Wave. We’ll be oceanfront in Malibu, just like my mother always dreamed we’d be. We can have the ceremony right on the cliff. I know it’ll be spectacular.”

“It sounds perfect,” said Angelica, ignoring the tiny spear of jealousy that tried to pierce her chest.

It was too late for her own fairy-tale wedding. That was simply the reality of it all. And she was genuinely delighted for her friend.

“Now that we’ve finally made plans, I can’t wait to marry Matt.”

“Of course you can’t.”

“I want you to be my maid of honor.”

The jealousy was immediately obliterated by a wave of warmth. Angelica was surprised and touched. “I’d love to be your maid of honor. After everything—” she stopped, gathering her emotions. “You are so sweet to ask.”

“Sweet, nothing. You’re my best friend. You always have been, and you always will be.”

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