Season for Love
Velvet Carter

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Sebastian stood there in shock. He opened his mouth to speak, but he didn’t utter a sound. Finally he said, “What about the show?”

“Not your problem anymore. I think you need to start your own company, since you have such strong opinions on designs. It’s unfortunate, but we can no longer work together. I’ll have security escort you to your office so you can get your personal things.” Lark started to leave, but she turned back.

“In case you didn’t understand the legal jargon in the contract, there’s also a clause that states all of the designs you created while employed by RR are company property. If you try to take any sketchbooks or upload company files, I’ll have no choice but to sue you for breach of contract.”

“We’ll see about that! You can’t get rid of me that easily! I’ve invested too much time and energy in this company to just walk away.”

“You don’t have a choice,” Lark said calmly.

Sebastian made a hissing sound and stormed out of the room.

Lark hadn’t intended to fire Sebastian that day, but she wasn’t going to allow anyone to speak down to her and treat her with such blatant disrespect. Lark was more than a fair boss, and she didn’t have problems with any of the other employees. Although she ran a tight ship, the work environment at Randolph on the Runway was creative and productive.

“What’s the name of the designer who’s coming in at two?” Lark asked Angelica.

“Dash Migilio. I emailed you a copy of his résumé and bio. Also, here’s a hard copy.” She handed Lark a folder.

Lark opened the folder and scanned the information as she walked. “Impressive.”

When they reached the conference room, a tall man dressed in a gray European-cut suit was standing at the window with his back to the door. Lark cleared her throat and he turned around.

Lark took a good look at the handsome stranger. He had curly, coal-black hair, an olive complexion and warm, greenish-brown eyes. His face looked like that of a young Warren Beatty. Lark scanned the length of his toned physique. She could feel her throat becoming parched as she stood there staring at the gorgeous man. Normally, she wasn’t attracted to younger men, but this guy had her full attention.

“I’m sorry I’m early.” He walked toward Lark and extended his hand. “I’m Dash Migilio.”

“Hello. I’m Lark Randolph,” she said, still studying his chiseled face.

“I know. I’ve seen your picture in the trades numerous times. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person.” He beamed a bright white smile.

Even his teeth are perfect, Lark thought. “Please have a seat. This is Angelica, my assistant, and she’s going to sit in on the meeting.”

“Nice to meet you, Angelica,” he said, extending his hand.

And he’s polite, too!

After they were seated at the conference table, Lark took a breath and refocused. She had been momentarily taken aback by his good looks and charm, but now she needed to move on to business. She glanced down at his résumé.

“I see that you interned at Ralph Lauren.”

“That was during my senior year at Pratt. I worked closely with several designers there. The experience was invaluable.”

“After graduation you worked with Andrew Marc for a few years.”

“Yes, I was a junior designer and learned a great deal about the outerwear business.”

“You’ve only been employed by male designers. Do you have a problem working with women?” she asked point-blank.

“Not at all,” he said, smiling.

Ohh...I could get lost in that smile of his.

Lark cleared her throat, trying to free her mind of unprofessional thoughts. “There’s a twelve-month gap on your résumé. Why?” she asked.

“I spent a year in Italy at my family’s estate. I’m a first-generation New Yorker. My parents are from Florence, where they own a textile mill. The plant manager had retired, so I took over until they could find his replacement. They eventually promoted the assistant manager, but I stayed on for a while. I love Italy and enjoy spending time there whenever I can.”

“So you’re familiar with textiles?”

“Yes. I spent many summers in the mill. I know everything there is to know about fabrics.”

Lark nodded her head. She liked what she was hearing so far. “Why didn’t you stay on at your family’s company? Sounds like that business is in your blood.”

“It is, but I’m a designer at heart. After my extended holiday, I came back to New York to continue my design career. Much like Mr. Lauren and Mr. Marc, I plan to make my own mark in this industry.”

Lark immediately flashed back to her argument with Sebastian. Although she wanted a talented designer on her team, she wasn’t about to hire another person who undervalued her talent. “Mr. Migilio, let me be clear from the start. As the creative director, I work closely with the lead designer. Although I’m the chief operating officer of Randolph on the Runway, I have a degree from FIT, and I design, as well.”

“That’s awesome,” he said, flashing his one-hundred-watt smile again. “As far as I’m concerned, the bottom line should be what designs will catapult RR ahead of the rest and make our company the best in the business.”

Our company? He’s thinking like a team player. I like that. Lark nodded her head again. “I totally agree. Can I see your portfolio?”

“Sure.” Dash reached into his leather messenger bag, retrieved a silver tablet, powered it up and handed the device to Lark.

Lark began swiping through pictures of his designs. His work was indeed impressive and unique. He had a keen eye for detail. There were pictures of women’s clothing, menswear and even accessories. The more she saw, the more she wanted to see. Dash was talented beyond belief. His work was a cross between Gianni Versace and Valentino—classy with an edge.

Lark swiped her finger across the screen once more, and this time, instead of seeing another one of his unique creations, staring back at her was a picture of Dash in aqua-blue swim trunks, lying on a beach next to a pretty blonde woman in a skimpy red bikini. Lark didn’t say a word. She stared at the picture, her eyes roaming over Dash’s manly chest and well-defined abs. Lark could feel herself heating up as she admired his half-nude body.

“ you like what you see?” Dash asked.

“I sure do.” Lark smiled. She swiped past his personal picture, turned off the tablet and handed it back to him. “I’d like to offer you the position of lead designer.”

“That’s great! I’m eager to start as soon as possible.”

“I like your enthusiasm. However, the offer is contingent upon a thorough background check. If your references come back positive, then the position is yours.”

“No worries there. I left on good terms with all of my former employers.”

“That’s good to hear. Angelica will take you to the human-resources department so you can fill out the necessary paperwork.”

Dash stood up. “I look forward to working with you, Ms. Randolph.”

“And I with you. Please call me Lark.”

After Angelica and Dash left the conference room, Lark went over to the window and stared out. “I hope offering him the position isn’t a mistake,” she said underneath her breath.

Lark had reservations about working with someone she was physically attracted to. She thought about calling down to HR and rescinding her offer of employment. Lark pondered the situation for a moment instead of making a rash decision. There was no denying that Dash’s talent would benefit the company, and with the new spring/summer line going into development, RR desperately needed a top designer. Besides, he was at least ten years her junior and Lark had never dated a younger man. She preferred her men to be more seasoned. And thinking back on the photo she’d seen on his tablet, he was probably in a relationship with the blonde in the picture.

Lark took a deep breath. Hiring Dash was right for the company, and with her personal life on hold for the moment, work had taken precedence once again.

Chapter 3 (#ulink_c4844329-57b8-527c-a68b-54958e208f6d)
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