Elliot held a place in my past, and while it wouldn’t always be easy, I knew he wanted a place in my future, however small. Pushing him away wasn’t fair to either of us.
We’d parted with promises to see each other again at the wedding.
The wedding. Fiona and Alli were rounding up the final details, and my belly burst into uncontrollable butterflies whenever I imagined it. I smiled inwardly. Slowly but surely, everything seemed to be falling into place around me. After everything Blake and I had been through, we deserved this time.
I lingered on that thought when I heard a familiar voice enter the office. I rose from my desk and met Alex in the main area. In a flash, I remembered Alli had put him in my schedule for this afternoon.
“Erica, great to see you.” We shook hands.
“You too. What brings you to the area?”
“I have family here. My sister just had a baby, so I thought I’d come out for a bit.”
“Oh, congratulations. That’s great.”
“Thanks. Who knows when I’ll get around to having kids, so figure I should bask in someone else’s joy. Saves me on diaper duty too.”
I laughed. “Did you want to just catch up on the numbers?”
“Yeah, hey, let me buy you a coffee and we can chat.”
“Sure.” A couple minutes later, we were situated at a small table at Mocha, the cafe downstairs.
Simone was busy, so one of her helpers took our order and quickly returned with two iced coffees.
After some small talk about the weather, Alex reached into his blazer pocket and pulled out a check. “I wanted to give you this while I was here.”
I took it and tried to mask my satisfaction at the healthy number on it. The partnership between our two companies had become increasingly fruitful, and the financial stability this opportunity had given us was a reward all its own.
“Thanks.” I folded the check and waited for him to continue. We usually had our meetings over the phone about routine things, so I was curious what specifically had brought him into the office to speak with me.
“Things have been going well,” he said.
“Definitely. I’m so grateful we were able to connect.”
He drank from his coffee and set it back down carefully. “I agree. That’s actually why I wanted to stop in. I have a proposition for you.”
“What is that?”
His lips pursed slightly. “I want to buy Clozpin from you.”
My jaw fell, and a satisfied smile turned up the corner of his lip.
“I know this probably comes as a shock. That’s why I wanted to talk to you about it in person.”
“I can’t deny that it is. What spurred this?” I had never seriously considered acquisition as an option. We’d been fledging for so long. Only recently had we had the numbers to really show an upward trajectory.
“Simply, our partnership and the value it’s bringing to my company.”
“This has been great for us, but obviously your site is way more established. I guess I didn’t realize the impact it was having for you.”
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “I am where I am because I see potential on the horizon before most people do. I see potential with this business and with you leading the team here. I have capital. You have Landon, which means you have access to capital too. But I have the infrastructure in place to take your concept to the next level right away. And if I’m going to do that, I want ownership stake.”
I nodded. “Wow. I don’t really know what to say. I’ve never even considered something like this.”
He seemed more serious then, as if friendliness were giving way to business now. “I understand. You should take some time to think about it. If it’s something you’d like to talk more about, I’d want to see some more detailed financials so we can come up with a valuation. Obviously I want to offer you something more than fair.”
“Um, okay.” With shaky hands I grabbed my coffee. He’d completely blindsided me with this.
“Do you have any thoughts or questions for me, with this in mind?”
My mind spun as I tried to imagine what this could mean for me and the business, not to mention the people who now relied on it. “I guess my main concern would be the team. What would happen to everyone’s jobs? I’d want to make sure everyone was secure.”
“Sure, we can work all that verbiage into the sales agreement. In fact I think it’s important that you, specifically, stay on and continue to run the business. Basically I want you to keep doing everything you’re doing. I’m giving you the opportunity to cash out early but still run operations.”
I nodded again, trying to wrap my head around all this new information. “I’ll have to think about it, okay?”
He smiled, his business persona softening. “Great. Talk to Landon about it and let me know what questions you might have. If you want to send me some of your financials this week, I can shoot you off an offer. That might help your decision too.”
I let out a shocked laugh and rubbed my forehead. “Okay, sure.”
We shook hands and he left me to consider the magnitude of what he’d just proposed.
Stunned, I stared out the windows of the cafe. Alex was right. I had to talk to Blake, because my gut wasn’t telling me if this was a good idea or a terrible idea. I was simply stunned.
“Who’s the suit?” Simone collected Alex’s coffee cup and shot me a curious look.
“Alex,” I answered quickly, trying to mask my suddenly off-kilter mood. “We partnered a little while ago. He just wanted to talk business.” I was careful not to mention Alex’s proposal, lest she mention it to James. I had a lot to think about before bringing the possibility of an acquisition to the team. Though I was eager to get their input on it, I wanted to talk to Blake first. He had the greatest stake in the business, and he also had more experience with all of this than I did.
“I hope you don’t mind me using the cafe as an office. I should probably pay you rent for all the work conversations I end up having here.”
She laughed, a throaty sound that rang over the steady murmur of the cafe. “Yeah, right. You can pay me back in drinks. Speaking of, when are we going out next? I’m hearing rumblings about a bachelorette party.”
I laughed nervously. “Has Alli drafted you into her plans yet?”
“Oh, yeah.” She winked, a wicked grin lifting her lips.
I nearly choked on my coffee. “Oh, no. The look on your face is seriously worrying me.”