It Happened One Wedding Page 80

“Once we get rolling, the plan is to open one new store each week, and to maintain that pace for two years,” she said. “Now I just need you guys to tell me where to put those stores.”

The consulting team, made up of market and product research specialists, sat around a conference table taking notes. “And the plan is to start with California and Florida?” asked Brandon, the senior VP of business development.

“Yes.” As Sidney knew from working with Brandon and his team in the past, their research would be a two-part process: first, the team members would analyze consumer purchasing preferences and the existing retail density within potential market areas. Then they would travel to the various sites they were eying and evaluate those locations for things like proximity to a major highway, the ease with which customers could exit and enter the traffic flow, and the store’s visibility and prominence.

Once everyone had their marching orders, Sidney set up a follow-up call in two weeks to discuss the team’s research and their recommendations for the first wave of store openings. After her call ended, she grabbed a sandwich for lunch and decided to treat herself to a brownie from the bakery around the corner from her office—the same bakery from which she’d ordered the desserts for Isabelle’s bridal shower.

When she saw the minicakes on display in one of the glass cases, a memory of the first night she’d spent with Vaughn popped into her head.

Any chance you’re going to pull something out of there that comes in an extra-large? I feel like a giant.

She turned right around and walked back out of the bakery. Who needed a brownie, anyway?

She’d been doing a good job of not thinking about Vaughn this past week and a half. Mostly. There’d been that one time, when she’d asked Isabelle how he’d done in the triathlon, but that just had been making conversation, really. Fine, maybe she’d been mildly interested, knowing that Vaughn had trained for eleven weeks and that he’d wanted to perform well, but it wasn’t like she’d been wishing she’d been there to see him cross the finish line or anything. Pfft, heck no. Then there’d also been that other time she’d inquired about his undercover investigation—Isabelle’s total lack of knowledge about whether he was being careful while hanging out in those dark, sketchy places had been singularly unhelpful—but obviously that was just because she didn’t want Simon and Isabelle to be down a best man at the wedding. That would . . . throw off the symmetry of the bridal party in the photos.

When Sidney got back to her office, the receptionist stopped her in the lobby.

“You have a visitor, Sidney—a Ms. Ginny Gastel.” The receptionist gestured to the waiting area.

Sidney blinked, surprised to hear the name of her mother’s friend, who she hadn’t seen in over fifteen years. She turned around and saw a blond woman wearing beige pants and a light summer sweater getting up from one of the chairs.

She walked over with a smile. “Oh my gosh, Ginny. I walked right by you.”

“Sidney, it’s so good to see you. It’s been a long time.” Ginny set down the large shopping bags she carried and hugged Sidney in greeting. Then she pulled back. “Look at you. The last time I saw you, I think you were fifteen? Sixteen, maybe?”

“Somewhere around there. Here—let’s head this way, to my office, where we can catch up.”

Ginny cast an admiring eye around the sophisticated office as Sidney led her down the hallway. “I see you followed in your father’s footsteps.”

“Sort of. There are some differences between hedge funds and private equity funds, but I’ve found that people tend to get really, really bored whenever I talk about that. So I’ll spare you that part.”

Ginny laughed as she followed Sidney into her office. “Well, you’re obviously doing very well for yourself.”

Opting against the formality of her desk, Sidney gestured to the pair of cream leather chairs by the floor-to-ceiling window. “Please, make yourself comfortable. Can I get you something to drink?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Ginny said, resting her bags on the floor by her feet. “I won’t be staying long—I need to run a few more errands before heading back out to the suburbs for a house showing.”

“You’re still in real estate, then?” Sidney shut the door and sat down in the chair opposite Ginny. They chatted and caught up for several minutes, which naturally led into the topic of Isabelle’s upcoming wedding.

“Only three days away, I hear,” Ginny said. “And you like Simon?”

Sidney was a little surprised that Ginny knew both the wedding date and Simon’s name since neither she nor Isabelle had talked to her in years. Presumably, she’d heard the details from a mutual acquaintance. “Simon’s great. He makes Isabelle very happy.”

“If he’s anything like his brother, I can see why.”

Sidney cocked her head, completely caught off guard by that. “You know Vaughn?”

“I wouldn’t say I know him, I suppose. But the couple of phone conversations we’ve had have certainly left me quite impressed.” She looked confused that Sidney seemed confused. “You do realize that the whole idea was his, right?”

Sidney had no clue what that meant. “I’m sorry, I’m missing something here. What was Vaughn’s idea?”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “Oh, no. Did I screw this up? He didn’t say it was a surprise. I’d planned to come downtown today, so I offered to swing by your office and give it to you myself. He gave me your work address and, well, here I am.”

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