|All Or Nothing
Episode 131: It Happens
July 28, 2010
Circos Cibi Italiani Restaurant was crowded with patrons. At a table that comfortably seated four people Ryan and Angela
Bradshaw waited for Savannah who was late. She had called earlier in the day from the Tucson airport to say she was
coming into town and wanted to see the both of them.
“I hate that she is always running late,” Angela sighed. “You know my time is just as important as hers.”
“Do I need to order you another drink?” Ryan joked. “You seem awfully tense. Is everything okay?”
She forced a smile and nodded. “I’ve just had a really long day is all,” she lied, thankful that Ryan had been on-site and
not in the office.
“I’m sure she’ll be here any minute…” he was saying as Savannah entered. “Awe and there she is.”
“I am so sorry that I’m late guys,” Savannah apologized with kisses for both Angela and Ryan. “There was in issue with the
rental car at the airport, I came right here. How are you?” she glanced at Angela, who said nothing.
“Ryan is she upset because I’m late?”
“I’m not upset,” Angela defended. “I’m just tired. I was just telling Ryan that my day seemed stressful. Anyway, I’m fine and
very happy to see you.”
“Thanks!” Savannah beamed. Her hair was lighter than Angela had remembered it to be in March and she seemed much
more carefree. “I say we order another round of drinks because have I got a business proposition for the two of you,” she
resignation effective immediately,” Sabrina informed him.
the door a long time ago. If it were up to me and me, alone I would have fired him years earlier. He was a smug and
arrogant SOB who had a blatant disrespect for me as his superior,” she paused. “I know that you’re father conducted
business a little differently than I, but the days of the good 'ole boys club are long gone.”
suit that Cathy Tucker’s filed…” her voice trailed off.
can’t cancel. Why don’t you reschedule it for tomorrow morning?”
start working on first thing when you get here in the morning.”
going on right now, on top of the wedding, I just can’t do it myself.”
if they have problem to get over it.”
with her please.”
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New York City, 8:45PM (EST)
“Good evening,” she smiled. “I’m running a little late so my party should already be here. The reservation is under Amy
“Awe yes of course, Ms. Malone has just arrived. Please follow me.”
“I was just about to call the service and see if the driver had gotten lost,” Amy smiled. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Um…” Jodi thought for a moment, “a Vodka Martini,” she directed towards the waiter who had just arrived. “No traffic was
horrible tonight it seemed like. I was really this close,” she gestured, “to just getting out and walking the rest of the way.”
“I guess that explains why…” her voice trailed as her BlackBerry started to vibrate, “not here yet,” Amy finished her
sentence. “Jodi will you excuse me? I have to take this call…”
used to work with. She was part of the conception of the company so we should files on here in storage, send a couple of
the interns down there and pull all the documents associated to her.”
Also get me a current address and any recent information you can find.”
“I’ll get with them first thing,” she assured him. “What did you say her name was?”
“Jacquelyn. J-A-C-Q-U-E-L-Y-N,” spelled for her. “Jacquelyn Vanderbilt.”
“That was the office there was an issue with…” Amy held her hand up, “I’m not going to talk about that tonight,” she
smiled. “How is Bradley doing?"
Jodi sipped her drink and thought about that for a moment. “Well I guess I should ask how much do you know about the
She shook her head, “Not much. The last time I talked to him was about a year ago. I just feel awful about how distant we’
ve grown over the last few years. He really was the closest thing I had to a father figure in my life.”
“I’m sure he understands,” she reasoned. “It’s hard to stay in touch with people. After my divorce, I told Jaxson’s mom that
I would keep in contact with her but people slowly just drift apart and before you know years have passed. It’s sad but
more often than not that’s the reality.”
“I suppose you’re right. But the lawsuit please don’t tell me that he’s still dealing with that?”
“No,” she shook her head. “Valerie was able to settle out of court with the parents. Bradley’s medical license and
reputation are still intact, but he resigned from the hospital.”
“Yeah a few months ago.”
“And what’s he doing?”
“Nothing I don’t think, unless something’s changed.”
“That’s terrible,” she sighed. “And your parents how are they?”
“Good,” she forced a smile. “Dad and Sharon are still together and mom she’s engaged…”
“For the love of God!” Amy picked up her phone again. “Jodi I’m sorry I have to…”
“Go take it, I’ll be fine,” she assured her.
Amy made her way from the table and the maître d’ greeted, “Good evening sir?”
“Hello,” the man responded. “You know I think I see my date over there,” he pointed. “I’ll be fine.”
“Of course,” the maître d’ answered. “Enjoy your dinner sir.”
Making his way towards the direction Amy stood her BlackBerry pressed against her ear, his eyes caught a glimpse of
Jodi. “Is that…” he questioned.
He shook his head in disbelief, “Well as I live and breathe,” he declared. “Jodi Hayes!”
“I beg your pardon,” she turned in her chair to face him, “I’m sorry you must…” she stopped when their eyes met for the
first time in years. “Smoke? Smoke Watson! What are you doing here?”
“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” he laughed and the two quickly embraced in a hug. “I cannot believe of all the
people in New York City I run into you.”
“Oh it’s something all right,” she cut her eyes at him.
“Is Jaxson here with you?”
“No…” Jodi shook her head. “It’s Bradshaw again,” she informed him. “Jax and I got a divorce a few years ago.”
“Oh…I had no idea. I’m really sorry to hear that.”
“Thank you,” she sat down in Amy’s place. “I would invite you to join me but…” she searched for the right words.
“I’m actually meeting some people here for dinner, but thank you. My fiancée actually he told her. One of her friends is here
in the city and the three of us are having dinner…”
“There you are!” Amy exclaimed as she returned to the table interrupting Smoke. “It’s about time,” she kissed his cheek.
“Jodi said that the traffic was horrible tonight. Is that what kept you?”
“Yeah,” Smoke shook his head as it suddenly became clear for the both of them that Amy was his fiancée and Jodi was
“This is the man you’re engaged to?” Jodi questioned with a sarcastic laugh.
“It is,” she took offense to the laughter. “You find something humorous about that?”
“Not so much humorous,” Jodi explained. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t laugh it’s just the irony here is far too great. Smoke was
engaged to my sister April…” she reached for her purse on the chair opposite her, “only he wasn’t in love with her…he
was in love with another woman. Isn’t that right Smoke?”
“Would you just give me a chance to explain?”
“Absolutely not,” she said firmly as Amy watched in confusion. “I know how difficult it is for you to get the picture the first
time Smoke, but like I told you then there is not one single thing that you can say to explain away why you did what you did
to my family and to April,” she hissed. “If you understand nothing else, then you understand that.”
“All right what the hell is going on here?” Amy demanded. “The two of you clearly have some unresolved history with one
another. Someone please explain it to me.”
“I’ll leave that up to Smoke since he clearly wants a chance to explain himself,” Jodi announced. “Amy I appreciate the
invitation and the fact that you wanted me to meet the man you’re going to marry, but I had known it was him…well I
wouldn’t have wasted my time. Good night.”
“Jodi please don’t go.”
“I lost my appetite. Good bye…to the both of you.”
At the front door, Jodi waited quietly for the driver to pull the car around the block and was shocked when she felt his hand
on her shoulder.
“I will ask you only once to not touch me. You're sick and disgust," she told him. "The mere sight of you repulses me. What
Amy can possibly see you is beyond me."
“Why are you acting like this?” Smoke with drew his hand. “Amy said that the two of you are good friends. Your book is the
only thing she can talk about lately, besides the wedding. She looks forward to your trips, so I don’t understand I thought
you would be happy for her.”
“Amy and I are business associates before anything and don’t dare confusion my friendship with her for my contempt for
“Careful now starting to sound like your grandmother…” he warned.
“Let me make something perfectly clear to you Smoke…” she hissed in a low whisper. “Nothing would give me greater
pleasure right now than to slap you across the face. Perhaps you should be a little more careful in your selection of words
so I don’t have reason to.”
“Madam your car has arrived,” the maître d’ announced.
“Thank you,” she smiled at him. “Smoke it’s painfully clear to me that you have learned absolutely nothing over the years.”
“That’s not fair to me Jodi…”
you did to my sister was disturbing and sinister. After everything that she went through,” Jodi shook her head in disgust,
“you are a repulsive, disgusting excuse for a man. Now for the second time this evening, goodbye Smoke.”
She turned and headed towards the door when he made one last attempt to reconcile with her one-time future sister-in-
law. “Will you at least give me a chance to explain?”
“Go to hell!” she shouted drawing the attention of onlookers. “No. You don’t get a chance to explain anything,” Jodi
seethed. “You nearly destroyed April for your own personal satisfaction and as far as I’m concerned…” she shook her
head in frustration, onlookers still staring. “Go to hell,” she whispered and left the restaurant.
“Of course I do.” Angela’s mood had lightened thanks in part thanks to her third appletini of the night. Ryan took note and
thought ordering a fourth maybe a little excessive, but threw caution to the wind.
“Well he’s an investment banker who’s originally from Baltimore,” Savannah continued. “He moved to Las Vegas in 2001.”
“What did you say his name was?” Ryan questioned before flagging the waiter down and canceling his drink order.
“You know I think I read about him in a finance magazine or something fairly recently,” Angela noted.
“He opened the Palazzo in 2007 and then just last year was an intergral part of opening City Center,” Savannah beamed.
“He’s positioned himself as one of the top power players in the gaming industry. In fact he’s venturing out on his own in a
sense and he's in talks with other investors…he’s planning to open his own casino.”
“Really?” Ryan questioned. “Isn’t that a little risky in the Vegas market?”
Savannah shook her head, “It is, but Preston is smart he wouldn’t even consider doing this if there wasn’t a high return
value in the long run. The project is still a few months from behind finalized he wants to get everything in line first.”
“What does that mean?” Angela questioned.
“I showed him your work, the both of you and he’s impressed. He asked me to come here and setup a meeting with the
Ryan Bradshaw Interior Designs.”
“You showed him our portfolio?” Ryan questioned. “He liked it?”
Savannah shook her head. “I did,” she beamed with excitement. “He wants to fly you both out for a meeting as soon as
Angela’s sour mood returned as evident by the look on her face. “Preston is excited about seeing what ideas you both
have for the property.”
“Is that a fact? Where is he then?” Angela questioned. “My time is valuable and I quite frankly don’t have time for any client
who doesn’t have the professionalism to seek me out himself.”
“Angela it’s not like that.” Savannah was hurt. “Preston would be here, but I offered to come on his behalf. I thought you
would be thrilled to have this opportunity.”
“We don’t need your help Savannah securing a job,” she snapped. “Ryan and I cannot go blindly into a meeting not
knowing what the customer wants. I’m sure we’re talking about an extravagant lobby, thousands of hotel suites and
rooms, restuarants…the list goes on and on.”
“Which is why we should be thrilled about the opportunity,” Ryan stressed heavily. “No matter who told us about it.” He
looked at Savannah, “Thank you. I’m thrilled about this I’m not going to lie.”
“Of course you are,” Angela sighed, her cell phone ringining in her purse. “Savannah forgive me for not jumping up and
down like a child her birthday…but I just don’t know enough about this project yet to committ to a meeting. Excuse me…”
she answered her phone, “This is Angela…”
“What the hell was that about?” Savannah asked. “I’ve never seen her act like that before and that snarky comment she
made to you.”
Ryan shook his head, “I’m having some cash flow issues is all,” he explained. “As for her attitude I don’t know. She was
acting like this before Christmas last year and eventually it stopped.”
“Obviously whatever was bothering her as returned,” Savannah raised her eyebrow. “Ryan, I don’t know what type of
agreement that you and Angela have but if she’s unwilling to sign on for this job I’m more than sure Preston will agree to a
meeting with just you. He found many of your designs exciting and fresh.”
“Both of us have to agree upon all business transactions and we both signed Do Not Compete agreements.”
“That’s a shame,”she signed. “For an up and comer like yourself this is exactly the ticket you need.”
He hung on her every word and if she was trying to sell him on the idea of taking this job, it was working. “Will you excuse
Angela ended her conversation and headed back to the table when she rounded the corner to find Ryan charging after her.
“We need to talk…” he announced.
“No we don’t,” Angela corrected him. “Not at least I have to go. That was Andrew something has happened at BC, yet
another catastrophe brought up by Sabrina’s poor leadership no doubt.”
“You had no business acting the way you did back there,” he gestured toward the table, ignoring her attempts to leave.
“How exactly was I acting Ryan?”
“Like a hateful bitch, to be perfectly honest.”
Angela taken aback back by his boldness astonished that he had called her out on her attitude. She would admit her
attitude was such but Ryan calling her out on it was so out of character for him.
“For the sake of our friendship and our business I’m going to pretend that you didn’t just say that. Plus I have to go I said,
we’re not having this conversation right now.”
“As far as I’m concerned the decision has been made,” Angela told him. “We’re not taking a meeting with Preston Miller
and we're certainly not taking this job.”
She stood in front of him for a brief moment before asking, “Is there anything else?”
“I want out of my contract,” he declared. “Or at least modify the no compete clause and let me have a shot at this. You don’t
want the job and it’s clear to both of us that I do, let’s find a way to make it happen.”
“We’ll discuss that later. Please tell Savannah I had to go. Good night…”
April had recently been elected the new president of the Hillview PTA Association at Emily’s school at the end of May. This
was her first meeting.
She rifled through her purse before finally finding her phone, “Hi Connie…I wanted to let you know that the meeting ran a
little late and tell you I am on my way home…” she paused as Emily’s babysitter explained everything was fine and that
Emily had already gone to bed.
“Have I told you lately that you’re wonderful?”
“Okay, I’ll see you soon,” she ended her call and dropped her phone back into her purse.
“You looked pretty comfortable up there,” a man’s voice from the back of the nearly empty room told her.
|Previously on "All Or Nothing"
suddenly opened. I apologize.”
little disappointed. My mother was planning to come out with me the next time I came and she wasn’t able to get away this
“Oh really?” she questioned. “I’m sorry Jodi. I would have loved to have seen Natasha.”
that’s any consolation prize,” she smiled. “I finished my edits on the book and I have to perfectly honest with you, I’m quite
“You are?” she questioned. “I hope you’re not just saying that because we’ve known one another for so long.”
“Believe me when I say I’m not,” Amy assured her. “I relish in the fact that you took on such an undertaking by writing this
novel in first person narrative. It’s a fresh and exciting new voice.”
“Thank you,” Jodi said with a certain air of relief in her voice. “I was worried when I first started. It’s just that with this story I
wanted something that was different. You know?”
She shook her head. “You were able to capture the essence of every one of your characters in the most vivid way. They’re
well developed, have personality and they are dramatic,” Amy laughed. “I haven’t seen this from a freshman author in a
very long time.”
“I’m going to start blushing if you don’t stop,” Jodi pulled her hair behind her ears. “This means so much to me it really
does Amy, thank you. I’m excited to see where we’re headed next.”
“Let me give you this back,” she handed her a copy of the manuscript. “You’ll see I’ve made my notes throughout go
ahead and read them over. Once we both agree on the changes I’ll have the in-house copy editor take a look.”
“And after he’s finished?”
“It’s going to take her,” she corrected with a smile, “a few weeks depending on how full her calendar is.”
“So what do we need to be doing in the meantime while we wait?”
“You’ll need to start thinking about the cover. I’ll schedule a call with the art department to begin brainstorming ideas.”
Amy tapped her finger on the desk, which she often did when she was thinking. Jodi mentally noted to herself that Jillian
would do the same thing and she smiled.
“I need you to start thinking about the dedication and working on your biography. My assistant will schedule a
photographer and she’ll send you the details…” she thought for a moment longer. “Oh!” she smiled, “Once the copy editor
is done we need to schedule a meeting with marketing to discuss the book tour.”
“A book tour?” Jodi questioned. “No one mentioned that.”
“Yes I know. I was able to convince upper management that you are worth the investment. Now all the details have yet to
be finalized but they were thinking something small to test the waters.”
“How small are you thinking?”
“Five cities to start with,” she explained. “Maybe bump it up to seven depending on how much buzz the book generates.”
“This…this is more than I ever thought possible. I had no idea it was going to become something this big,” she tried to
wrap her head around the idea.
“You’re okay with that aren’t you? This is Random House. They don’t pump thousands and thousands of dollars into just
“Of course, I understand that. I originally had such reservations about writing this story in the beginning, let along having it
published. I mean you know just as well as I do there are very personal things in here,” Jodi tapped the manuscript, “that
are masquerading as fiction.”
“I’m going to speak to you as your editor and not your friend for just a second okay?” she paused as Jodi nodded her
head. “If I were you I would quickly wrap your head around all of this and quickly. This book is going to be a huge success.
For that matter you’re going to a huge success."
It’s just that I intentionally had reservations first about writing the book and then even having it published. You know just
as well as I do there are very personal things in there masquerading as fiction, that’s all.”
“Okay,” Jodi answered. “Okay!”
“Perfect,” Amy said as she picked up her telephone on the third ring. “Tell him I’ll be there in less than five minutes,” she
instructed and then hung up. “I’m sorry I have a meeting I completely forgot about.”
“Oh that’s too bad,” Jodi frowned. “I was hoping I could take you out to lunch.”
Amy gathered her notepad and BlackBerry and said, “I can’t do lunch but maybe dinner tonight? And remember you did
bail on me the last time you were here.”
“I did,” she admitted. “Okay so then dinner. Any suggestions?” Jodi asked they handed for the elevator.
“I’m particularly fond of The Carlyle on east seventh-sixth, say around eight -thirty tonight.”
“That works for me,” she smiled.
“Perfect. I’ll arrange for a car to pick you up and you’ll get to finally meet my fiancé tonight,” Amy beamed.
“Well that is something I look forward to,” Jodi told her. “I will see you tonight.”
Bradshaw,” she introduced herself, “and you look very familiar. Where have I seen you before?” she thought for a
“Ian O’Connor,” he extended his hand again. “I was Emily’s teacher last semester.”
“No you weren’t!” April covered her face to hide the embarrassment. “I’m so sorry that I didn’t recognize you.”
“I’m not wearing a suit and tie,” he joked.
“And that’s what I’m going to blame it on,” she laughed. “What brings you out to our PTA meeting?”
“I heard that April Bradshaw came from a long line of women who liked wielding a gavel and I thought I had to see that
“Oh is that a fact?”
“No,” she answered. “I should warn you that I also come from a line of very smart and savvy women.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Indeed,” April answered. “Mr. O’Connor you wouldn’t happen to be flirting with me at a PTA meeting would you? In front of
the cold coffee and chocolate chips cookies no less.”
“And if I were?”
“Well…” she thought for a moment. “I would be inclined to ask why it’s taken you so long,” April smiled.
“Are you going to tell me what that was about?” Amy questioned. She polished off her third drink of the night. “There was
genuine hate in Jodi’s voice when she found out the two of us were engaged. I know you had a past with April Bradshaw.
What exactly did you do to make Jodi act that way?”
“I never told you because it’s not something that I’m proud of,” he admitted. “Can we just go back home and forgot this
night ever happened? Please? Do you think we could do that?”
Amy shook her head, “No I don’t.”
She took his hand in hers, “Smoke I need you to tell me why Jodi Bradshaw was furious with you when she found out we
were getting married.”
Smoke shook his head…”Amber! Amber!” he called out for her. Desperation suddenly fell over the room and he didn’t
know what to do…”Amber please,” he begged. “I know that you can hear me…I know you’re in there. It’s Smoke…”
April’s eyes gleamed over and she stood there speechless as the man she once loved called out for another woman – a
personality that she had fought against for years.
“Shut up!” she whispered.
“Amber please, please fight against her. You’re strong enough to do this…it’s our wedding day…”
“SHUT UP!” April roared. “You are a sick bastard,” she declared as her hand snapped across his face. “You’re in love with
The realization suddenly sank in. “My God! You are in love with her aren’t you?”
April choked back her tears, but they began falling and she stood there in silence unable to take her eyes off him. “I
trusted you,” her temper flared. “And you…you love…” the mere thought turned her stomach and she thought she was
going to be sick.
“I have a daughter,” she reminded him.
“Amber would never do anything to hurt Emily,” he told her. “She loves her.”
“I agreed to marry you,” April shouted. “I did!” she declared. “And just so we’re both clear, I’m talking about April right now.
Amber never accepted your marriage proposal.”
“I know you did,” he admitted. “And I wanted to marry you. But Amber emerged and she was excited about our
engagement. Her face lit up when I walked into a room. She was excited about the wedding in a way that you never were.
Amber’s spontaneous attitude and her outlook on life was what I had been missing and yes…” he admitted finally, “I feel
in love with her.”
“You’re a fool,” she declared. “Amber was different because she was a completely different person! We share a body
Smoke and that’s where the similarities end.”
April paced the room. “After everything that I went through, everything you saw me go through with her…I went to hell and
back because of Amber and you fell in love with her.”
“Yes. I’ve already said I did!” Smoke told her. “And she fell in love with me too.”
“You’re delusional you know that? Amber didn’t know the meaning of love,” April exclaimed. “You know how I know that
she didn’t know the meaning?” she questioned. “Because she ran around and slept with every single man that looked her
Tears rolled down April’s cheek as she recalled her alternate’s past. “You were just one in a long string of men who showed
her a little attention and gave her the time of day. Do not stand there and try to convince me that she loved you. Because
she didn’t, she never did. The only man Amber ever loved in the way that you think she loves you was Josh Denman. And
I know that because I was here, I am her you pathetic son-of-a-bitch!”
Her hand snapped across Smoke’s face and he stumbled backwards…her words stung more than the slap across the
face. He stood there speechless.
“What in the name of God is going on here?” Jodi demanded from the doorway. “We were supposed to start five minutes
ago and I can hear you yelling clear down the hall.”
Her fury had turned to embarrassment and she announced, “There isn’t going to be a wedding.”
“April please…” Smoke pleaded with her. “I do love you.”
“No you don’t,” she assured him. “You love the physical me, but you don’t love me.”
She turned to her sister, “For the last six months Amber has been the prominent personality,” April explained. “I was able
to overpower her literally a half-hour ago.”
“Are you are alright?” Jodi hugged her.
“I’m fine. Obviously, the integration failed and we can all thank Smoke for that. Amber reemerged because of the stress of
the wedding and here’s the kicker Jodi – he fell in love with her.”
“Smoke fell in love with Amber,” she repeated. “He’s known from the very beginning that Amber was in control and for his
own selfish reasons he told no one.”
“Is this true?” Jodi stepped in front of her sister.
Before he could answer April spoke, “I never wanted to marry you. How could you do this to me? I am ashamed and
humiliated,” she choked back her tears.
April slid off her engagement ring and dropped it to the floor, “I never want to see you again,” she shook her head. “And I
pray to God you burn in hell!”
“Amber…” he called out rushing to the door, “Amber! Please don’t go.”
Jodi stepped between him and door, “Over my dead body are you going after her,” she scoffed. “I’m not entirely certain
about what just happened here but if what April is saying is true…” she cut her eyes at him. “And it is,” Jodi realized.
“You don’t know anything about it Jodi.”
“That’s right I don’t, not yet anyway. But if you want my advice I would get the hell out of town and not look back. Because
once I do know everything if I ever see you again, oh there will be hell to pay.”
has nothing, nothing to do with us. Despite what Jodi Bradshaw or anyone says for that matter, I’ve changed. You
|* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
April’s train followed her down the hallway as she made her way to Smoke’s suite at the Southern River Hotel. Her
mascara ran down her cheeks, the black around her eyes smeared.
She approached Room 3121 and inserted the key card she had gotten from one of the groomsman minutes earlier. He
was standing looking out the window. The sun was shining today, just as she had imagined it would be as a little girl.
April announced her arrival, “How long have you known?”
“What are you doing here?” Smoke spun around quickly when he heard her voice. “You heard your mother last night. It’s
bad luck for us to see one another…” he paused. “Have you been crying? Babe what’s the matter?”
“Smoke…how long have you known that I’ve been Amber and not myself?” she questioned. “Answer me!” April
demanded, “How long!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about April…” he told her. “We integrated Amber months ago. She’s been integrated and
you’ve been in control since then. Don’t you remember?”
“Don’t you insult me! I’m not stupid Smoke. This is my body and I know it may come as a shock to you and everyone else
but I know when Amber has been in control,” she looked at him with disgust written all over her face. “And even if by some
chance I didn’t…” she seethed, “all I had to do was look in the mirror.”
“What? Why are you saying that April?” he was hurt. “I asked you to marry me and you said yes.”
“You pressured me into marrying you,” she corrected him. “I know that I said I would marry you but I didn’t want to. I never
wanted to marry you Smoke!”
|* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Your assistant wasn’t at her desk,” Caress entered Sabrina’s office. “I hope you don’t mind that I showed myself in.”
“Not at all,” Sabrina gestured for her to sit. “Can I get you something to drink? I can order up dinner if you haven’t eaten
yet,” she suggested.
“Wow! You must really want something big. Bribing me with drinks and dinner…”
“Yes well contrary to popular belief I’m not the cold, heartless bitch everyone makes me out to be.”
“Oh since when?” she questioned with a condescending tone in her voice. “What my father could possibly see in you is
“Well then it’s a good thing I’m not marrying you,” she stood. “Are you done throwing out insults? I would like to get down
to business if you don’t mind.”
Caress rolled her eyes as she reached for her binder from the briefcase leaning against her chair, “I’m ready whenever
Sabrina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “The sign in the front lobby underneath The Bradshaw Corporation did
you happen to notice what it said on your way in?”
She shook her head, “No. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“It says Sabrina Davis-Bradshaw, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors,” she informed her.
“Very soon it’s going to say the same thing, preceded of course by Sabrina Bradshaw-Banning.”
“You can’t be serious? You intend to keep Andrew’s last name?”
“That’s not the point Caress,” she told her. “The point is when you come into this building with the intent of doing business
with my company I’m in charge. I’m not your father’s fiancé or your future step-mother or your sworn enemy or whatever
other childish names you’ve thought up for me. Within the confines of this building, I am in charge. I am your boss. You
work for me and I’m the woman who signs your check at the end of the day.”
Sabrina resumed her seat behind her desk the city lights of River’s Edge twinkling below her high-rise office. “Should you,
as a professional businesswoman find yourself unable to separate your personal feelings from our work here, then I
suggest we part ways now. When it comes to this company, because believe it or not I respect what Phillip Bradshaw built
here and I’m not playing games with that. So you tell me right now what is it going to be.”
Caress adjusted her skirt, “Fair enough,” she answered. “I have been doing the PR work for this company since Jodi was
the CEO. God himself only knows that the two of us never saw eye-to-eye on many things. I’m sure that we can find a
cohesive way to work together.”
“Good. Thank you for that,” Sabrina handed her a copy of Smithfield’s resignation. “You’re aware of the issues that we’re
currently facing as a company correct?”
“The negative press from Tucker’s suicide, the civil lawsuit and Cathy Tucker is going on Nancy Grace next week. I just
found out on the way over.”
“Damnit!” she swore under her breath. “Well that folder contains a copy of the CFO’s resignation, effective three hours
“All right well then we have our work cut for us don’t we?”
Caress opened her binder and began jotting some notes. “First things first…schedule a meeting with legal include
Andrew, Pamela and myself,” she began, “we have to get this lawsuit off the table. I’ll work with the legal team to draft a no
comment clause in the settlement and hopefully we can keep Cathy Tucker off the circuit for good.”
“I’ll have that setup as soon as I can get Pamela into the office.”
“You maybe the face of the company but Pamela and Andrew are the brand. You need to announce publicly a candidate
for Tucker’s seat on the Board of Directors.”
“That’s easier said than done. The shareholders have rejected at least six applicants that I’ve presented to them.”
“It should have done weeks ago,” Caress advised. “The board doesn’t have time to be nit-picky. BC took a major hit when
Tucker blamed the company for his suicide. The three of you need to go out there together and say you’re devastated
about his death…”
“We are devastated,” she assured her.
“Don’t need to convince me, you need to convince the remaining board members, their wives, their children and the
“You’re right. So what do I need to do?”
“The Bradshaw Corporation while deeply saddened over the death of a valued member of their family knows that no one
can take the place of the legacy and the work that Donald Tucker done here at this company for over thirty years. However,
in these uncertain economical times a corporation must surround themselves with the best and the brightest and it is with
that in mind that the shareholders of The Bradshaw Corporation name, whomever, as a candidate to the Board of
“Now all we need is a nominee,” Sabrina sighed.
“And it has to be someone damn good because Smithfield leaving is not helping the creditability of this management
team. You can’t afford anyone else to jump ship.”
“Tell me something I don’t already know Caress.” Sabrina leaned back in her chair, “Any suggestions on who to
“Kendra,” she answered without missing a beat. “She’s smart, she’s young and she has a diverse background in fashion,
cosmetics and BC. Not to mention the good she can do with charities and awareness against drunk driving.”
“You’re not suggesting that I exploit Jered’s widow are you for the sake of the company?”
“Absolutely not,” she assured her. “I’m stating the obvious. Kendra is qualified to sit on any BOD in this country why not the
one who’s name she shares?”
“I have more ideas but you need to work on these things first. Let’s clean up the current issues and then we’ll move from
there. I’ll be in touch.”
“I’m sure you will,” Sabrina said. “Thank you for coming in.”
Sabrina reached for her phone and dialed an unfamiliar number.
“Voice mail,” she whispered. “Hi, it’s Sabrina. I need you to call me back when you get this, 555-467-2310. Bye.”
|* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Angela dropped her eyes on the sofa and noticed the light from her bedroom peeking out from bottom of the door. The
scent of vanilla hung in the room, she smiled pleased that he had remembered that it was her favorite. She made her way
down the hall and slowly began to disregard items of clothing along the way.
Her silk sleeveless blouse followed by her high heels. Her skirt hit the floor closest to the door and a shiver of vivid
recollection went through her body. As she reached to open the door, knowing what was on the other side all she was
able to do was smile.
As typical, her brain told her this was wrong, “He’s married. He conspired with the woman who killed your nephew. What
will your mother say? What will Andrew say?” The thoughts raced laps in her mind, one not overpowering the other.
Her heart had something else to say, “You love him. He sort of cares for you and that’s enough for you. He’s sexy as hell.
You love him.”
Granted the she knew that leaving was the right thing to do. The elevator was only feet away…she could get on, go up to
her apartment and he would never know she was here. Nevertheless, she would know and if she didn’t knock…
Without hesitation, her fist firmly rapped against the door.
“Angela…” Justin answered the door. “Are you all right? You don’t look so good. Why don’t you come in,” he finally
She took a seat on the couch and looked around the apartment, “Are you alone?” she finally asked.
“Of course,” Justin told her. “Angela…”
“I was wrong.” She shook her head and when she tried to speak again her words were broken, “I was wrong to make
demands of you like I did.”
Angela took his hand, “There are things about me that you don’t know,” she confessed. “But when I was with you I felt safe
and I knew I wasn’t alone.”
There was a long pause of silence. “I need to feel safe again…”
|* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
called,” she said making her way across the room to the bed.
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