Bargaining with the Bride(5)

By: Allison Gatta

She plopped onto her leather couch and dreamt of oblivion. But then she kicked her legs onto her bulky, worn coffee table, and found notes from her secretary staring back up at her.

With a sigh, she sat up and took the letters in hand. Phone messages. The first, from her sister, Eliza, who needed advise on how to handle their mother. The second from her mother, asking again if it would be inappropriate to wear white to the wedding and when she would finally get to meet Lance.

In response, she crumpled the messages into tiny balls and then tossed them at the can behind her desk. She'd deal with her family and the wedding, but for right now it was time to enjoy her freedom. She'd gotten rid of the noose around her neck. The anger and stress of the afternoon faded away and a kernel of joy hatched in her belly. She was free.

And that solid five seconds of enjoyment was pretty awesome. But it wasn't enough to stave off the panic that was quickly setting in.

She was relieved to be rid of Lance, definitely, even if the way things went down were a little less than flattering to her ego.

Whatever. No point in getting mad again. That was all in the past.

Still, the wedding loomed overhead, way too present to be shoved away as easily as Lance had been.

She couldn't call it off. Her father had spent a fortune on it, not that it was even a drop in the bucket of his wealth. And her mother… She stared at the crinkled message, laying inches from the trashcan, and considered getting up to kick it. She couldn’t begin to fathom the emotional warfare her mother would wreak if the wedding was canceled.

The damn thing was only a month away. People had made plans. Gifts had been sent. Hotel rooms had been booked. For all intents and purposes, it would be better to get married and then divorced. Then, at least, she could say she’d tried.

But the idea of calling Lance…

Her stomach twisted. No, Lance was entirely out of the question.

What a miserable freaking day.

Heaving a sigh, she lifted herself off the sofa and peeked her head out of the door to her office. Everyone was just about packed up for the day, making their goodbyes before they headed out to their cars and made their way home. Well, at least there would be no witnesses for her parade of misery.

She turned on the little stereo that sat behind her desk and pumped the bubblegum eighties pop she listened to whenever she was depressed.

"It's a nice day for a white wedding, indeed," she mumbled to herself in time with Billy Idol's crooning. Reaching into the bottom drawer of her desk, she pulled out one of the little bottles of vodka she'd kept hidden away for a special occasion.

This might not qualify as special, but it was certainly an occasion.

She poured herself a glass and settled into some work. Tomorrow, the next day—those could be nice days for white weddings. Tonight, she would lose herself in her spreadsheets and sort the rest out later.


Quarter after six. The debriefing had gone well yesterday, but there were still some loose ends to be tied up. Matchware was playing hardball with them, and if Garret Adams didn’t have solid data for them by the end of the month, he could kiss the merger—and the move to a high rise in the city—goodbye.

The logistics he could deal with and his brother, Brooks, could certainly handle the schmoozing. But the innovative research…

He sighed. There wasn't much time for planning a full-scale roll out of the new system, but maybe if he talked to Natalie and Rachael he’d be able to get some ideas.

Garret rounded the block of cubicles, heading toward the largest door—his own. He read over the gold wording emblazoned on the frosted glass: “Co-owner and lead scientist: Garret Adams.” It felt like a pat on the back every time he caught sight of it.

With a contented grin, he opened the door and then sat his briefcase on his desk. The best part about showing up so early was that nobody was expected to be in the office for another three hours. Plenty of time to send e-mails, manage new expense reports, and start the day off with a jolt of productivity.

Maybe he could even solve the Matchware issue.

All he had to do was get his first cup of Joe and get moving.

He headed to the kitchen on the far left of the office, past the rows upon rows of cubicles that made up his own personal beehive. It was a perfect oasis, a ghost town, without all of his worker bees buzzing around him on their cell phones and laptops, trying to push their mission up to the next tier of production.

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