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Season for Love
Velvet Carter


Dash opened his messenger bag and took out a folder. “Here you go, signed and delivered.”

Lark took the folder and placed it on the drawing table. “Did you have an attorney look over the contract so you know what you’re signing up for?” Lark didn’t want a replay of what she had experienced with Sebastian.

“Yes, I did, and he pointed out the proprietary clause.”

“You do understand that everything you design for Randolph on the Runway is the property of the company?”

“Of course.”

“And you don’t have a problem with that?” she asked.

“No, not at all. My creativity is endless, and while I’m here, I plan to give you a hundred and ten percent.”

“Great. That’s what I want to hear. Now let me give you the dime tour and show you to your office.”

Employees had started to arrive and settle in as Lark and Dash made their way across the opposite end of the floor. The loft offices of Randolph on the Runway had been redesigned by Lark, who had worked closely with an architect to create an inviting environment. The former outdated space had been dark and cramped. The renovated offices were now hip and chic, with cream leather seating and sleek teak furniture. There was colorful abstract artwork on the exposed-brick walls. The interior offices, framed in floor-to-ceiling plate glass, were visible from the corridors, giving the entire space an open and airy feel.

“This is our kitchen. The refrigerator is stocked with water, sandwiches, salads and healthy snacks. There’s a single-cup coffee machine, which also makes tea. This drawer,” she said, pulling out a drawer to her left, “is filled with take-out menus from nearby restaurants.”

“That’s good to know. Sometimes when I’m working, I don’t want to interrupt my flow by going out to lunch.”

“I know what you mean. Sometimes when I’m on a roll I can work straight through lunch. Come on—let me show you the rest of the space.”

Lark led the way out of the small kitchen and continued down the hall. She stopped in front of a closed door, opened it, stepped inside and turned on the lights. “This is the showroom.”

“I love the exposed-brick walls and vaulted ceiling.”

“Thank you. I had the entire space redesigned. I wanted a loft-type atmosphere. This is where we keep our collections, meet with buyers and fit models for upcoming shows.”

Dash went over to a rack of clothing and browsed through the items. He pulled out a dress. “This gown reminds me of the dresses they wore in the forties. The rose taffeta material looks authentic. What happened to the seams?” he asked, holding the ripped gown.

“It’s a long story that I’d rather not retell. But I’m glad you like the dress. It’s one of my designs.” Lark was pleased that Dash had commented on the gown. She knew her instincts about the dress had been right all along and it felt good to be validated by the young designer.

“You’re quite talented.”

Lark felt herself blushing as if she were the new hire and he were her boss. “Thank you. Let me show you to your office before my morning meeting.” She turned off the lights and walked out with Dash following closely behind.

“This is your office,” Lark said, entering a well-appointed room. The space was almost identical to Lark’s, but smaller, with a teak desk, drawing table and sitting area. “The junior designers who’ll be working under your supervision sit out here,” she said, stepping back through the doorway and gesturing toward four cubicles.

As she was talking, a short, shapely brunette dressed in cargo pants and a T-shirt and wearing shades approached them. “Good morning, Ms. Randolph.”

“Hi, Jessica. Let me introduce you to Dash Migilio, our new lead designer. You’ll be reporting directly to him as stated in the email that Angelica sent out.”

Jessica lifted her sunglasses and stared at Dash. “I’m really going to love coming to work now,” she mumbled.

“Excuse me?” Lark asked.

“Oh, nothing.” Jessica moved closer to Dash and extended her hand. “So very nice to meet you, Dash. Or should I call you Mr. Migilio?” she said, batting her eyes.

“Nice to meet you, too, Jessica. Dash is fine.”

“You sure are,” Jessica said, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Lark gave Jessica a disapproving look. “Jessica, if you’re going to have a problem working with the new lead designer, I’ll be happy to move you over to Aisha’s team,” Lark said sternly.

“No need, Ms. Randolph. I won’t have a problem working with Mr. Migilio,” Jessica said, changing her tune.

“Jessica, when you get a chance, let me see what you’ve been working on,” Dash said.

“Sure,” Jessica responded. She made her way to her cubicle, but not before turning around and giving Dash another appraising once-over.

Jessica’s lustful glance didn’t go unnoticed by Lark. She was going to admonish the young designer, but Lark really couldn’t blame Jessica for staring at Dash. He was without a doubt worthy of a second and even a third look.

Once Jessica was out of earshot, Lark turned to Dash and said, “I like the way you handled that.”

“What?” he asked.

“The way you ignored Jessica’s not-so-subtle innuendos. You acted as if she weren’t drooling all over you.”

“Lark, I’m a professional. I don’t mix business with pleasure. My personal life is just that...personal.”

“Good to hear, because I think she’s developing a crush on you. I can move her over to the other team if need be.”

“Trust me. I can handle Jessica and any other employee who tries to make an inappropriate advance.”

Does that include me? Lark wanted to say, but of course she didn’t. She knew she had to stop thinking of Dash in a lustful way. He had been hired to do a job, and unfortunately, that job didn’t include seducing the boss.

Chapter 5 (#ulink_3df9ef6a-13fc-51a2-828a-d40a7a8a1a1c)

Lark was meeting her best friend, Darcy McCay, at a day spa in Union Square for an afternoon of relaxation and pampering. Lark and Darcy’s relationship had started off a bit rough when they’d first met at Randolph on the Runway. Lark had moved up from the drafting department, where she had worked for six months learning the art of pattern design. Lark’s grandfather felt she had spent enough time in that part of the company and had promoted her to the ready-to-wear division to study under Darcy, a senior designer. Darcy was a few years older than Lark and was eager to teach the ingenue, but Lark proved to be quite a challenge. Instead of soaking up the information Darcy was dispensing, Lark had her own opinions about how the line should be designed.

“Instead of putting the split in the back, why don’t we place it off center?” Lark had said.

“No, I like the split right where it is,” Darcy had replied.

“Most designers place the split in the back. Don’t you want to stand out?”

Darcy had looked up from her sketchbook. “Excuse me?”

“Don’t you want to make your mark on the industry?”

“I have made my mark. The inside-out jumpsuit I designed won the Council of Fashion Designers Award a few years ago.” Darcy’s voice had been filled with pride.

“I remember seeing that jumpsuit in the trades. It was so unique and different. I had no idea you won a CFDA. Congratulations. But I still believe the split should be moved.”

“I realize this is your family’s company, but I’m currently your boss, and the final decision is mine. Your grandfather sent you to my division so I could take you under my wing. Please do us both a favor and learn what I’m trying to teach you.”

From that day on, Lark did more listening than talking, and as a result she gained a wealth of knowledge from the senior designer, not only about the business of fashion, but about life. Lark had always been mature for her age. She hadn’t gone out binge drinking like most of her college classmates had. She’d preferred hanging out with Darcy whenever she had spare time. They would dine at four-star restaurants, go to fashion industry events and relax at Darcy’s summer home in the Hamptons. Darcy would school Lark on nuances of men, teaching her to not act eager and desperate when a man was interested. Darcy had told Lark that men were hunters, and that they liked the art of the chase. Lark was an only child, and she thought of Darcy as an older sister and willingly took her advice.
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