It Happened One Wedding Page 33

She started the PowerPoint presentation she’d prepared on her laptop. On the screen in front of them, a color-coded graphic of the United States popped up. “The blue dots indicate the existing locations of Vitamin Boutique stores. But with the right strategies and management, this is where I think the company can be in five years.” She clicked the touchpad of her computer, and the screen changed, indicating a significant increase in the number of stores, spread throughout the entire country. “I think we can add roughly 400 stores in five years time.”

“And how are we going to do that?” asked Rick, the most senior of the investment committee’s members.

Sidney answered without hesitation. “First, we would expand into California and Florida, where the company already receives a significant number of mail orders through its catalog. After that, we’d use site-selection models to help us identify potential additional store locations.” After explaining the need to choose sites with high visibility—primarily endcap locations in suburban strip malls and corner stores in urban areas—she went on to discuss the need to bolster the company’s online presence and expand direct sales through its Web site. She explained how she intended to recruit top talent for Vitamin Boutique’s executive team, the need for the company to increase customer loyalty by implementing a rewards card program, and how they should employ an aggressive pricing strategy, perhaps discounting as much as twenty-five to forty percent every day.

Then she put up the final screen of her presentation, which contained the bottom line. “In five years we’d take the company public via an IPO, and I estimate that we’ll exit at ten times earnings. If that happens, I think we’ll have a group of very happy investors.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Michael said, which got a chuckle out of everyone.

Sidney folded her hands on the table, preparing to be grilled. “I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.”

Bring it on.

 • • •

THE FOLLOWING SATURDAY, Sidney watched from the back of her living room as twenty-five women oohed and ahhed over the serving platter Isabelle unveiled from its gift box.

The bridal shower was a success.

This was no small feat, considering she’d had all of three weeks to pull it together, and had to work within the guidelines set by both Isabelle the excited bride-to-be and the crazy pregnant lady.

We should have flowers for centerpieces on the tables. That would be so pretty! Just no roses, lilies, lavender, or anything else with a strong scent. Flowery smells make me puke.

Sid, I saw the most adorable three-tiered minicakes in Martha Stewart Weddings. They’d be perfect for dessert! But tell the bakery that they have to use buttercream—the thought of that pasty, sugary fondant makes me puke.

Ooh, let’s have fun drinks!

No alcohol.

Simon’s mom will be driving back to Wisconsin after the shower, so it can’t start too late.

We’d better not start too early, unless you want me to throw up all over the egg salad finger sandwiches.

Actually, nix the egg salad finger sandwiches. Yellow food makes me puke.

And so on.

From her post in the back of the room, Sidney took a sip of her ginger ale and orange juice, glad to finally have a break now that the guests had been served lunch and dessert. Maryann, one of Isabelle’s bridesmaids, was writing down the gifts brought by each guest, and the other two bridesmaids were in charge of passing Isabelle the presents and reboxing them once they’d been opened.

Trish came in from the courtyard, where the catering company had set up a bar, and walked over to Sidney.

“You planned a lovely party, dar-ling” she said, mock extravagantly, while tipping her champagne flute to Sidney’s in cheers. Then she took a sip and made a face. “Except what’s up with the virgin mimosas?”

“Half of Isabelle’s friends are either pregnant or breastfeeding,” Sidney said, going with the tiny white lie she’d prepared in response to this very question. “It seemed like the alcohol would go to waste.” Indeed, a sizable portion of the women surrounding Isabelle were wearing cute summery maternity dresses. “But I did tell the bartender to stash one bottle of champagne off to the side, if you’re interested.”

“Reid is watching Jonah, which means I have a weekend afternoon all to myself for the first time in nearly five months. Hell yes, I’m interested,” Trish said.

They sneaked out to the courtyard, giggling surreptitiously as the bartender poured them champagne. He then added a splash of orange juice to each glass so no one would realize what they were drinking.

“It’ll be our little secret,” he said, with a wink at Sidney.

Drinks in hand, Sidney and Trish returned to the back of the living room just in time to see Isabelle open a set of crystal water goblets.

Trish leaned in, whispering. “He’s cute.”

“Who?”

“The bartender. You look great in that dress—you totally should chat him up.”

Sidney glanced over her shoulder and took a second look at the bartender. Sure, he was cute, but he was also young. “He’s, like, twelve.”

Trish grinned wickedly. “If he’s serving alcohol, he’s legal.”

“Come on. I’m probably ten years older than that guy.” Sidney blinked as the truth of that sunk in. “Oh my god, when did I get to be ten years older than that guy?”

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