“Did you hear the rumors?” Abbi asked.
Grace looked at her beautiful aunt and current CFO of Thomas and Jane LLC, Abigail Jane, and saw more confidence and poise in the woman than she’d seen in an entire boardroom of men.
“That Wallace is on the hunt?” Grace asked as Abbi sat in the guest chair of her dad’s old office, “Yes, I heard.”
“Over my dead body was the first thing I thought.” She smiled and turned away from the window and leaned her long frame against the pane. “Then I thought about all the people out there,” she nodded toward the team of amazing employees they’d earned, groomed, and grown to love over the years. “And I don’t know. I made a promise I wouldn’t change what was important about this company, and that’s these people. If Wallace takes us over, sure, it would be a nice payday – but what happens after that?”
Abbi turned, following Grace’s gaze, and looked down the long bank of beautiful wooden desks. She nodded.
“I agree, it should never be about the money. Do you realize the number of shares they would have to buy? The amount of money? I’d be lying if I didn’t say, at my age, it seems appealing to-”
“If you say retire I’m going to greet you as old aunt Abbi for the rest of my life.”
It wasn’t a feeling of disappointment, but she was certainly surprised her aunt would ever want to leave. In her mind, she had always thought of Abbi as her other half, the Jane to her Thomas. She grew up admiring Abbi as she watched her hold her own in what was usually a room full of powerful men.
Grace looked at her aunt, a dark-complexioned, black-haired beauty. The polar opposite of Abbi’s brother, Raymond. Grace had gotten her blonde hair and light complexion from her dad. For the first time, though, she noticed the overworked lines that shadowed below her beloved aunt’s eyes.
“Abbi, you know what this means to me. To us.” She turned and looked out.
“I know. It could be a busy couple of weeks.” Abbi tried to remember it was business – yes, at the end of the day, it was business. But for this precious, ambitious, girl – woman – she had the blessing of calling her niece, she knew it reached far beyond personal. “I don’t think we’ll have much of a choice, should they decide on a takeover.”
“We do have a choice. We have options. We can force options.” Grace’s head turned at the comment, and her body followed to face Abbi straight on. “Giving in would be taking the easy way out. Wallace will take this place and slowly dismantle everything we’ve worked for.”
Grace paused for a moment to gather her usually organized thoughts and held up both hands to stop Abbi from commenting.
“We – you, dad, mom, everybody out there – we’ve put in too many hours, too many tears. Too many relationships were built here not to try. Who knows if they will still have their jobs on day two?”
Abbi watched, bemused, as Grace moved to the window once more and gestured toward the bank of desks. This beautiful girl, who, if the Wallace deal happened, wouldn’t have to work another day in her life, was standing here worried about everybody but herself.
It was time to be the aunt.
Abbi met Grace at the window and watched Fall begin to settle over a Minneapolis scene. In a month or two it would be covered in snow. The leaves on the trees lining the city sidewalk had already begun to turn their September yellows. She draped an arm around Grace’s shoulder as she tried her best to comfort.
“It’s only a rumor, for now. But rumors usually start for a reason. Take your two weeks off, rest, try not to think about this, and we’ll deal with whatever we need to when you get back. There is a lot that will need to happen if, well, it happens. Even then, after the due diligence process, Wallace could decide it’s not worth it. Until then, we keep working,” she said firmly.
Grace laid her head on Abbi’s shoulder, closed her tired, aching eyes, and silently prayed that no matter the outcome, she would make her dad proud.