This guy has big brass balls to have her meet him at The Ivy. Used to be, Brie's primary concerns when arriving at a place like this was how she looked and who might be there to see her, but as she hands her key to the valet and walks through the white picket fence, she realizes she forgot to wear makeup.
Now that she's here, she is nervous. She checks in with the hostess, who leads her to a seat on the patio underneath an umbrella. Mr. Sullivan has not yet arrived. She orders a mint iced tea and is checking her email when his Maserati vrooms up to the curb. She watches him shake the valet's hand and trade some bullshit back and forth even after he has spotted her. She makes eye contact, and he pretends only now to notice her and starts making his way to the table.
"Stephen," she says, extending her hand. "We've never formally met."
He removes his dove grey sport coat but keeps his gold-rimmed aviators on.
"Come to think of it," Brie says. "I don't think we ever ended up connecting by phone."
The waitress arrives and asks him if he would like his usual. He looks at Brie's iced tea. "Just the tonic."
Brie watches him as he settles into his seat. "Do you bring all your clients here?"
This is where he takes off his sunglasses. He is classically handsome with a very nice haircut, but there is something off about his eyes. "No, not all my clients," he squints. "My father had a specific affection for Marian."
A trio of Teslas arrive curbside. The lunchtime rush has begun.
"Had?" she says. "Did your dad pass away?"
"Oh," he says. "No. Not yet." His eyes stay closed too long when he blinks. "But he's in bed now. There's a 24-hour nurse... you know, my mother's all weepy at his bedside... all sorts of drama."
The patio is filling up with expensive people. "God," Brie says. "I'm so sorry. He's such a nice man. He used to come in with cookies that your mom had baked. She must be devastated."
He is checking out the people on the patio. "Yeah I guess." He turns back to Brie, annoyed. "Is that why we're here, to talk about my parents? Let's talk about Marian. She really bit the shit. I'm glad you stepped in and did something. I was just about to." He opens the attractive leather briefcase that sits on the chair beside him. "I brought some papers for you to sign. We need to create some formal barriers for Marian, to prevent her from doing any more damage. She is to have no access to financial documents, accounts, reports moving forward." He hands her the stack. "If you want to protect the company."
Brie starts to page through them. "Are these legal documents?" She looks up at him. "What's the purpose of this? I've assumed management of the company. Marian is out of state, focused on getting healthy. I'm not concerned about her right now."
The waitress returns and begins to describe the specials, but he cuts her off. "Lobster cobb."
Brie quickly scans the menu. It all makes sense now. When your accountant drives a Maserati and eats forty-dollar salads at lunchtime, it's got to come from somewhere. She smiles at the waitress. "Make that two," and then she turns back to Stephen, whose upper lip has formed a sheen of sweat. "So I take it your father's no longer engaged with day-to-day business then. You're running it all on your own?"
"Yeah," he says, scratching at his cheek. "Yes. That was the plan all along."
Conan O'Brien is being seated at the next table over.
"I think Marian was under the impression that your father's old partner had assumed supervisory responsibilities when your dad fell ill. There was always going to be a Certified Public Account handling our account." She pulls out a stack of invoices striped with yellow highlighter. "It looks like Mr. Greenberg stopped billing nine months ago. From that point, it's just you and someone named H. Price billing at the same rate as Mr. Greenberg."
YOU ARE READING
Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...