Reunited with the Lassiter Bride(10)

By: Barbara Dunlop

Evan gave her a puzzled look, but Conrad jumped right in on the topic.

“Could you tell what it was?”

“Blue and pink lines. The elephant’s name was Sunny. Cost me five hundred dollars.”

That got a grin from Conrad. “The elephant’s probably more talented than that artist, and he charges millions. One of the kids bid at an art auction last month, and I nearly had to mortgage my house.”

She found herself glancing around while she tried to imagine how much you’d have to bid at an auction to warrant a mortgage on this particular house.

The butler returned, and while Conrad was distracted, Evan smoothly switched glasses with Angelica, discreetly downing her drink. She couldn’t help finding the action chivalrous. She attempted to refuse a second drink, but Conrad insisted, so she accepted, declaring the scotch delicious.

“You probably want to see the patio,” Conrad said to Angelica, sounding like he didn’t particularly want to show it to her.

“I would love to see the patio.”

He gestured. “Well, come on outside. Evan here says you’re going to convince me the scandal is over, and it’s safe to be associated with the Lassiters.”

“The scandal is over,” she assured him as they stepped outside.

Soft, recessed lights came on in the perimeter gardens, whether triggered by motion sensor or an alert staff member, Angelica couldn’t tell.

“And you’re at the helm now?” Conrad asked her.

“I am.”

Conrad looked to Evan.

“She’s at the helm,” Evan agreed. “And she’ll do a fantastic job.”

Though she knew he was only playing a part, Evan’s words warmed her.

Conrad got a cagey expression on his face. “Angelica, while I’m deciding whether or not to lend you my mansion, what would you say if I told you Norville Productions had a series we think would be perfect for Lassiter Broadcast System?”

“I’d tell you at LBS we have always created our own programming.”

“And if I reminded you that I have something you seem to want?”

She paused. “I couldn’t offer you quid pro quo, but I can tell you I’ll get your idea in front of an acquiring executive, and we’ll take a look at it.”

“But no promises?”

“We’ll give it full and fair consideration.” She was sincere in that. Just because they’d never commissioned a third-party program for LBS didn’t mean they never would.

“And your brothers?” Conrad took a healthy swallow of his new drink. “Are they aware that the scandal is over?”

“They are. They’re each involved in the corporation in different ways.”

“But not on the media side?”

“Not on a day-to-day basis,” said Angelica. “But the family it united.” It was a bit of a stretch. There were certainly some fences left to mend, but Angelica was confident her brothers wouldn’t say anything publicly that would disparage her father or the family.

“And Jack Reed?” Conrad asked, giving yet another nod to the butler.

Angelica hadn’t even touched her second drink. Luckily, while Conrad momentarily turned away, Evan once again deftly switched glasses with her, drinking it himself.

“Jack is completely out of the picture,” she said. “There was some confusion about his role at first, but he was also acting on my father’s wishes.”

Conrad arched a bushy brow. “Your father wanted his company to be taken over and split apart?”

The butler returned, and they all exchanged their empty glasses for fresh drinks.

“My father,” Angelica admitted with frank honesty, “set it up to test how I would react if that became a possibility.”

Conrad cracked a grin. “A wily old coot, was he?”

“I would say so.”

Evan joined in. “Everyone passed the test with flying colors. The family pulled together, and Lassiter Media is going to thrive.”

“They didn’t pull together right away,” Conrad noted.

Evan gave a shrug and took a hearty swallow of what was now his fifth glass of scotch. “Nobody does the right thing right away.”

Conrad gave a wheezing laugh at that.

“First we look at the angles,” Evan continued. “Then we decide what we want. Then we decide what’s best. But the last decision is the only one that counts.”

Angelica forced herself to take a sip of her drink. She wished the glass contained a liquor she enjoyed. She needed something to counteract her burgeoning appreciation of Evan. He sounded quite sincere in his defense of her behavior.

“And what about you two?” Conrad asked, glancing from one to the other.