Home > Save the Best for Last(3)

Save the Best for Last(3)
Author: Jennifer Probst

“Oh no you don’t!” Malia said, taking a sip of her iced tea. “You’ve done enough interfering. Mike needs to figure this out himself. In the meantime, we need to mind our own business.”

Chiara began to laugh. “As if Tessa could ever do that. She’s a helper through and through. Even if you don’t want it.”

“What is this, pick-on-Tessa day? I still sense there could be something special between them. Mike is just scared. He needs to step up if he wants to set things right with Emma.”

“We’ve done all we can and it’s now up to them. Hey, how did your makeover with Autumn go?” Malia asked.

Tessa caught her obvious effort to change the subject but reluctantly followed. “Great, I guess. She’s got the confidence to go after the guy she wants, and I have no doubt he’ll fall for her. She’s revealing her new appearance at the office holiday party.”

Chiara tilted her head. “Then why don’t you sound happy? Autumn’s story has had a ton of hits on the site. She has quite the following now, and whatever happens, she’s learned her self-worth.”

Unease itched beneath her skin. Since it was a new feeling, Tessa wasn’t sure what to do with it but tried to explain. “Has she discovered her true worth? Or has she only used her physical appearance to win someone who was never meant for her in the first place?”

Malia gasped. “You’ve never doubted the process before. She asked for a promotion and got it, right? That’s so much more than appearance. You made her realize she has power.”

Tessa stared moodily at her salad. “Maybe. Maybe not. Why does change always seem to revolve around a guy?”

Chiara shrugged. “Readers love watching a My Fair Lady moment. Anything that reminds them there are possibilities within themselves.”

“I don’t know, I’m just wondering if I need to reset my focus. I know the makeovers are successful and a big part of Quench, but I feel like I’m missing out on a key element.”

“What?” Malia asked.

“I’m not sure yet. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.”

Chiara nodded. “You will. How are the internships going? You have five now, right?”

The launch of the new internship program at Quench had given Tessa a new direction she loved more with each day. The program matched interested high school and college students with jobs within the company that would help them learn new skills and find their passion. Tessa had volunteered to oversee the program. “Yes, and so far they’re all doing well. Maria is excited about photography, and Magda has been surprisingly good with her.” Magda was Quench’s main photographer and was known to be temperamental, moody, and a bit standoffish with people she didn’t understand or like. Thankfully, teenagers seemed to escape her wrath—unlike cute, cuddly animals—and Maria’s snark was a perfect match. “Willa has been learning a lot with me for the beauty and fashion column, and Kelsey has been great with Scott.”

“It’s nice to have another male around,” Malia said, stealing a fry and munching happily. “I love that he wants to learn about administration and is eager to start at the ground floor.”

“Kelsey knows everything about the business because she’s learned all the areas,” Chiara added, deciding to copy Malia and grab a fry from Tessa’s plate. “Admins are the most powerful people in the room, and Kelsey is like my right hand. Which leads me to a topic I wanted to bring up with both of you. I’ve been doing some research, and you know that last survey we got in from readers?”

“Yeah, you said there was nothing to worry about,” Tessa said, pausing to stare at her friend. “Are there gaps we’re missing?”

“Actually, yes. Quite a large one.”

“What is it?” Malia asked.


Tessa couldn’t help the groan that ripped from her lips. “Ugh, who cares? Sure, sports are important in society and the world. I watch the Olympics. I know how passionate people can be, but it’s another reason we don’t have a political column—Quench is a place to come for self-care, not to fight about which team is better.”

Malia tapped her lip thoughtfully. “I used to feel the same, but times have changed. The sports world is a big draw for women, and female athletes have become the new celebrities so many look up to. It may be time we delve into the market.”

Chiara gave her a look of sympathy, but her voice was firm. “Agreed. I know you hate the idea, Tessa, but we can’t cut out an entire segment of readership because we personally don’t like it.”

Personally, she wanted to throw an old-fashioned tantrum to keep her beloved site free from sports maniacs, but the businesswoman in her refused to buckle. “Have you considered the expense and time it’d take to build an entire division from the ground up? We’d need to hire writers with experience and create a specific slant for the types of stories to feature. Do we really need to take this on right now when the foundation and internship program are still new and growing?”

Her friends shared a glance. “Maybe,” Chiara finally said. “I’d like to create a comparison model and get Yvonne to crunch some numbers. But my gut is saying to take the leap. Better now than later, when we’ve identified a hole in our audience that’s too big to fix. We still have time to get on board and make it what we want.”

“I’m with Chiara. We need to have a serious discussion and bring it to the team,” Malia said.

Tessa let out a breath. “Fine. Majority rules. But I’ll be checking my own stats on this.”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Chiara said with a grin. She rested back in the booth and groaned. “I just wish I could get more sleep! I took Veronica to the doctor again and asked when she would finally begin a decent sleeping pattern.”

“What was the answer?” Malia asked with sympathy.

“To be determined. Sebastian and I have been trying different things, but I’m beginning to think she’s a vampire. Never wants to go to sleep in case she misses something good.”

Tessa laughed. “My kind of girl.”

“Sebastian has a big retirement party this Friday night, and I wish we could go together. I miss dressing up and having date night.”

“I thought you were doing that regularly?” Malia asked.

“We did for a while, but it’s easy to fall away from it. Pj’s and an early night seems easier.” Chiara made a face. “I miss my husband, though. We rarely go out anymore, and I love date nights. Is that bad to say?”

Empathy flared. Chiara was passionate about all the roles in her life, but as many women did, she judged herself a bit too harshly at times. “Absolutely not. Why can’t you go with him?”

She shot them a guilty look. “I don’t want to ask Mike to close the restaurant again, and you both are so busy. It’s okay—I’ll make sure to get something on the calendar soon.”

Malia frowned. “I can try to reschedule the family dinner.”

Tessa shook her head hard. “No way—I can watch Veronica. Didn’t I tell you my date canceled?”

Chiara stared at her with suspicion. “No. Are you lying?”

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