It Happened One Wedding Page 68

“I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help,” her father said when he answered, immediately getting right down to it.

She knew her father was out of town, having taken a couple days off work to go golfing with some friends in Pebble Beach. Presumably, he’d misunderstood the nature of her request. “Oh, I don’t need you to go through the stuff. I just wanted to check when it would be convenient for me to come by the house. If I drop by tomorrow evening, will Jenny be around to let me in?”

“Sidney . . . I don’t have any of your mother’s wedding things.”

“Sure, you do.” When she was a kid, she had often sneaked up into the attic to play dress up in her mother’s wedding gown, veil, and shoes. “Her dress and everything else she wore is in the attic, in that old wardrobe we inherited from Grandma.”

“The wardrobe’s gone, along with everything inside. Back when Liza redecorated the house, she cleared everything out of the attic to make room for the furniture we were no longer using. I asked Jenny to check yesterday after you called and, well, it looks like your mother’s old stuff got lost in the shuffle.” Her father sounded contrite. “I’m sorry.”

Sidney stared out her office window, focusing on a tour boat gliding along the Chicago River as she processed this information.

Her mother’s wedding dress had gotten “lost in the shuffle” when Wife Number Three had gone on some stupid shabby-chic design overhaul, undoubtedly to scour the house of all signs of Wife Number Two. It was so exactly the kind of response she expected from her father, she didn’t know why she was surprised.

Yet still, she had to fight back the burning in her eyes. And something in her snapped. “Of course that’s what happened. Thanks, Dad.”

He paused, as if surprised by her comment. “It’s not my fault, Sidney. I didn’t even—”

Yeah, yeah. She cut off the excuses. “Don’t worry about it, Dad. I’ll come up with something else for Isabelle. I have to get going—I need to finish preparing for an interview.”

She said a quick good-bye, then stared at the phone after hanging up. Drawing on her three years of expensive New York therapy, she reminded herself that not everyone had a close relationship with their parents—and that she was okay with that.

Sure.

She took a deep breath, collecting herself and quelling her disappointment. Then she straightened up in her chair and returned to the task at hand.

 • • •

BY THE TIME they got to the pasta course at Vivere, a contemporary Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown, Sidney felt confident that she’d found Vitamin Boutique’s new CEO.

“I have to admit, I was really excited to get Gabe’s call,” Karen said. “Ever since I heard that your firm bought Vitamin Boutique, I’ve been eager to see who you’d bring on board.”

Sidney eased back in her chair, curious about something. “Here’s my question: with the offer from PetSmart already in your pocket, what is it about this opportunity that has you interested enough to interview with us on such short notice?”

The fifty-two-year-old executive nodded at the question, looking polished and confident in her gray skirt suit. “The PetSmart position would be great, don’t get me wrong. But with Vitamin Boutique, I see a potential for expansion that’s just . . . exciting,” she said, speaking animatedly. “The company has a strong brand and loyal customer base here in the Midwest. To achieve the kind of growth your fund will want to see in five to seven years, you need someone who will lead the way in expanding and capitalizing on that base. I’m completely sold on your vision for the company, Sidney. I think Vitamin Boutique can be a nationwide retailer, and I’d be thrilled to be part of the team that makes that happen.”

Sidney smiled, liking Karen’s enthusiasm. They got down to brass tacks and outlined the terms of the compensation package she and the consultants had come up with. As expected, there were a few minor points that needed to be negotiated, but by the time dessert had arrived, they’d reached a deal.

“Welcome aboard,” Sidney said as she shook her new CEO’s hand.

They left the restaurant and began walking back to her office, which was only a few blocks away. It was a gorgeous summer afternoon, the type of day when Chicagoans flocked outside and enjoyed living in such a vibrant, charismatic city. Having been focused on the business side of things all morning, she and Karen chatted amiably about more personal topics.

“It’s actually a perfect time for me to move,” Karen said. “My youngest—my son—just went off to college, so my husband and I are officially empty nesters.” They stopped at a street corner and waited for the light to change. “Do you have children?”

“No,” Sidney said, ignoring the ticking sound coming from her biological clock. “Where does your son go to school?”

As Karen answered, Sidney noticed that a man waiting with them at the street corner—tall and attractive with sandy-blond hair, probably in his early thirties—was looking over at her. He seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him.

He smiled. “Sidney, right?” He stepped around the people between them and held out his hand. “Tyler Roland. We met briefly a few months ago, at Morton’s. You were having lunch with Michael Hannigan, and I stopped by the table to say hello.”

Now she remembered. “That’s right. That was the day I flew in for my interview. Good memory,” she said, impressed that he’d recalled her name.

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