Back in college, the bras-before-bros sisterhood decided to live for achievement in the boardroom, not the bedroom. Rosalind Betters embraced that philosophy, pursuing her career and little else. But when her last single friend, Kamakshi, announces her engagement in of all things, an arranged marriage, Rosalind reevaluates the merits of matrimony. In her typical gung ho fashion, she names a date, books a venue, hires a caterer, and picks out a dress, all before finding a groom. Taking a lesson from Kamakshi and too busy to do otherwise, Rosalind hires San Francisco’s best headhunter, Xavier Hommes, to find her better half for her.
At first, Xavier thinks Rosalind is one of the eccentric personalities for which the city is famous. As the search starts, however, Xavier finds himself hating his task for reasons he never would have suspected. If Rosalind really wants a man who will make her happy, she need look no further. As W-Day approaches and Rosalind starts falling for someone Xavier himself headhunted, he walks the line between professionalism and passion, trying to decide if competing to become Mr. Betters is worth the risk to his commission, his reputation, and Rosalind’s happiness.
“I’m going to be heading out to celebrate with my friend tonight,” Rosalind explained. “Any chance you could take my clothes from the bag here and drop them at the cleaner?”
“More than happy to.”
It was then that Rosalind noticed that not only was Carmen following her up to her, it was odd that she was about at all. “Wait, why did you come over?”
Carmen’s eyes darted towards the floor indicator light as it moved from three to four. “Just wanted to make sure you got in all right, is all.”
The smile Carmen was laboring to suppress didn’t elude her.
“Oh, my god, Carmen. Is there something upstairs you’re not telling me?” Bubbles may have been bursting around the corners of her mouth. At least that’s what it felt like.
So when the door opened on the fifteenth floor a moment later, Rosalind sprinted. It had been a lifelong dream of hers to walk in to a room and unexpectantly find it filled with balloons, streamers, and friends. She had wondered why there weren’t more calls right after the new broke as it was. The fact that all her friends must be waiting for her above suddenly solved that mystery.
Throwing open the door, she ran inside and blinked rapidly.
No streamers, no banners, no twinkle lights.
Just Kamakshi, who beamed from her position in the middle of the entryway, a bouquet of daisies in her arms.
“Congratulations!” she shouted as she rushed forward and took her best friend in her arms, jumping up and down like she’d just won the Showcase Showdown. “I knew you were up to something great. This is awesome. I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks.” Rosalind tried not to sound like she’d just had one of the biggest let downs – albeit self-imposed – in her adult life. Instead, she just lifted an arm, put it around her friend, and hugged her back, sighing again, “Thanks.”
Carmen shuffled in behind, her head turning left and right, searching. “Where is everyone?”
“Everyone?” A beam of hope lit Rosalind’s features as she pulled back and dashed her head in ten directions.
But all it took was Kamakshi’s inability to meet Rosalind’s gaze to answer that question. As though realizing she’d realized the disappointment her with the response brought, a string of rushed explanation burst for from Kamakshi’s mouth.
“I knew when you said you were going for a potentially game-changing meeting in Washington, you meant it. But I didn’t want to plan anything to extravagant, just in case it all fell through. Plus, I’ve barely seen or talked to you in weeks in I didn’t know how stressed you were or if you home was in complete chaos. I mean, I sent out texts to everyone in the gang, but I only had an hour’s notice when I knew for sure and…”
“Kamakshi, you are the most anal retentive person I know when it comes to planning out each moment of your day,” Rosalind declared by way of cutting off her friend. “You schedule your dentist check-ups two years in advance. Just, tell me the truth, when did you really plan this?”
“A week ago.”
She may actually cry. Okay, her friends all had their own lives and jobs and some even had families now, if she remembered correctly. But still, there was a whole office of workers just a few miles away that should be just as happy about this. “And my team from BetaHouse?”
“I didn’t want to involve them too early. I was afraid they would blab,” Carmen admitted. “I did give the office manager a call on my way over here to see if anyone could come, but they said they had already clocked out for the night to celebrate and most of them were three bottles in. I didn’t think you’d want them stumbling over her half drunk.”
“Okay, okay. That makes sense.” Rosalind planted her hands on her hips and looked at the floor, as though she were forcing her feet to stay under her. “But… None of the gang said they’d come over?”
Kamakshi diverted her gaze. “Well, not without cause.”
Her long, silky black hair fell against Rosalind’s shoulder as she guided her towards the living room. Carmen closed the door to the elevator lobby and dashed off to the kitchen, reemerging a moment later with a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
“Jamie’s at home taking care of the baby. Lani couldn’t fly up from L.A., she and Jack are leaving for a cruise in the morning. Liz really, really wanted to be here, but she’s visiting her in-laws in London this week. And Nichole. Well, you know about Nichole.”
“No, I don’t. What about Nichole?” Somehow, Rosalind’s upper and lower teeth had declared war on each other, not out of anger, out of fear and confusion. The clenching stopped, however, when her imagination took off. “Oh, my god, is she dead? Kamakshi, tell me she’s not dead. I know I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been that busy. I would notice if one of my best friends died.”
“No, she’s fine!” Kamakshi took the flute Carmen offered. “She moved to Dubai with her husband. You don’t remember me telling you about that Arab millionaire she married? Yup, he’s heading up his daddy’s construction firm.”
“Wait! Nichole is married?” Shell shocked was putting it mildly. “And Jamie had a baby? Like, a baby human?”
“Last spring. Ben. He’s almost a year old. He is so cute! Last week he started doing this thing where he… Raz, you don’t look well. Sit down. Carmen, help me?”
Together, they hooked arms with Rosalind and maneuvered her around a glass coffee table with chrome accents, then lowered her to the white leather sofa. Her body surrendered to the couch with a gentle moan of the leather under her lithe frame.
“Drink this.” Carmen pushed the flute into Rosalind’s hand.
Without looking anywhere but dead ahead, Rosalind pressed the glass to her lips, tilted it back and in one fell swoop, downed the entirety.
Kamakshi bit her bottom lip. “Maybe we should have gotten her some water instead.”