She looked relieved. “Not a thing.”
“I was kind of a dick. Making you run around to fetch my coffee, and go out of your way if I wanted something different for lunch.”
“That’s part of my job, Mr. Lawson. I’m here to make your life easier so you can focus on what’s important. I never minded doing those things because you were always appreciative. Every member of your staff respects you. And that’s unusual when it comes to large corporations.”
“In that case, can you possibly get me a coffee? The brew in the breakroom tastes like shit.” I held out my coffee cup and winked at her. “And I think we should have Ruby provide the morning pastries. Although I might never get anybody out of the breakroom if I do.”
She took the almost full coffee cup from me and dumped it out at the sink across the room as she said, “I wondered how long it was going to take for you to figure out how bad it was. I bring my own every morning.”
“I think we’re all coffee snobs,” I observed. “We have too many excellent options here.”
Shirley tossed the empty cup in the trash. “And I’m always willing to explore those options for you,” she said matter-of-factly. “I usually get my second cup while I’m there in the coffee shop getting yours.”
“Then I guess it works out well for both of us,” I answered.
“It does,” she said with a smile. “Would you like me to arrange for Ruby to deliver pastries?”
“Naw. I can talk to her when I get home.”
“She’s still staying with you?”
I nodded. “She’s actually agreed to take me on permanently.”
“You’re getting married?” she asked with surprise.
“We’re not quite there yet,” I said thoughtfully.
“She seemed like a lovely woman when I met her,” Shirley said sincerely.
“She is,” I shared.
“I didn’t know she was a pastry chef.”
“She’s not just a pastry chef. She’s the pastry chef. Ruby is providing pastries for Indulgent Brews.”
“They’re the best in the city, in my opinion,” she answered.
“In a lot of peoples’ opinions,” I corrected. “Ruby isn’t formally trained, but her stuff is incredible. Most of her skills come from experience and creativity. She’s like a pastry guru.”
“Then I’d definitely like to call her,” Shirley said jokingly. “Your services here have been sliding, and are getting worse every week.”
“I’ll talk her into doing some stuff up for us. I never thought about it, but if everybody is in agreement, I could contract her to work with us and get rid of the bad donut guy.”
Shirley raised a brow. “You do realize that even if she doesn’t have a shop, word will get around, and everybody will be clamoring for her sweets.”
I raised an eyebrow back at her. I hadn’t realized that my assistant was so knowledgeable about launching new products. “I hadn’t really thought about it, but I think it’s an excellent plan.”
“Agreed,” she stated. “Bring on the pastries. If they’re good, they’ll sell themselves.”
I opened the file as soon as my assistant left the room, only to be interrupted by a voice I was hoping I wouldn’t hear today.
“You’re here. What are you doing here?”
I looked up again and watched my brother, Carter, seat himself in a chair close to my desk.
On the surface, he looked like any other businessman. Dressed in a custom suit, and without a single hair out of place, he appeared as though he was perfectly capable of taking on the entire world.
But I could see the brother I knew underneath the façade, and Carter wasn’t faring well.
“To answer your question, I believe I own a third of this business. I’m back in the offices to finally move on with my life.”
“Can you do that?” Carter said in a cutting tone. “Because if I remember right, that wasn’t going all that well. You’ve been pretty much holed up at home since the accident.”
“I’m recovered,” I snapped. “And I don’t need you to remind me how difficult that was.”