This is just the first draft. Excuse any typos or errors! Feedback would be helpful.
The two companies were on the opposite ends of the entrepreneurial spectrum. At fifty plus shiny floors, The Schroeder Group’s headquarters oversaw a multitude of enterprises from modern shopping centers that dotted the landscape of America, a Hollywood production company, to a chain of family friendly restaurants. The high rise employees were thankful for their jobs with The Schroeder Group being one of the leading job contenders of Ivy League graduates. Its founder and energetic leader was thirty-nine year-old Andrew Schroeder. Well respected and a hard worker, he didn’t have the chance at an Ivy League education. Instead, he worked his way through state school and founded The Schroeder Group with his first thousand dollars he saved.
That was seventeen years earlier, just days after the elopement of Sarah Lane, owner of the small flower shop opposite the grand Schroeder high rise. She was naïve at eighteen, eloping with a man she thought was her knight in shining armor who would take her away from her abusive parents. He took her away from that, that was certain, but it was a case of going from the frying pan and into the fire. Tommy showed Sarah within the first week of marriage what his fists could do. By the time she was thirty-two, he’d abused her enough to be arrested and sent away. The divorce was just as quick as the wedding.
For the last two years of the marriage, Andrew had been worried about Sarah and was glad that for the last year he had not seen some of the signs of the abusive marriage. Every Wednesday, unless he was out of town for business, he left the office just after one, picked up a bouquet of daisies, and had his driver take him to the assisted living facility outside of the city where Aunt Helen lived. Andrew spent the afternoon playing cards with her and then stayed for dinner. She was the only parental figure he knew and she meant the world to him. As soon as his business allowed, he moved her out of the sketchy nursing home and into Pleasant Woods.
It was through these weekly trips to Sarah’s Blooms that Andrew and Sarah became acquaintances. Lydia and Sarah were the only two full-time employees of the small shop and Sarah typically held down the store in the early afternoons while Lydia Robinson went on deliveries. Andrew and Sarah would chitchat briefly as she rang his standing order up and then he would be on his way. She was always no-nonsense but Andrew still enjoyed the short conversations.
Things were going well for Andrew. The Schroeder Group was rising on the Fortune 500 list and all his business ventures were successful. He owned outright his penthouse and a handful of vehicles but still employed a driver, mainly to give an old friend a job. Andrew had money. He knew it showed in his vehicles, home and clothing but not in his behavior. He didn’t see himself above others. Andrew worked hard for his money and enjoyed the spoils from it but he still felt like an everyman.
His days started in his home gym – weights and running on the treadmill or time spent in his private lap pool. He rose early to workout – 4:30am – and he was in his office by 7:30 at the latest. Andrew stayed until 5 West Coast time in case any of his management team out there needed him. He made up for leaving early on Wednesdays by hitting the office on Saturdays. He wasn’t afraid of working hard and honestly, Andrew enjoyed the quiet of the executive floor,
But what he missed as of late was a female companion. Andrew had a long term relationship – five years – with Evelyn but that fell apart four years earlier. He took a few months off before enlisting the help of a matchmaker. Now that was an experience. For two years he dated various women and while most were nice, none of them were very deep and so he gave up that tactic a year ago.
Andrew was at the point in his life when he was ready to settle down. He wanted someone to go home to and one day, he wanted to have children. Aunt Helen had provided him the best childhood she could but Andrew missed having the type of childhood that many people had and he looked forward to being a hands-on father.
And, of course, he was a man and he missed the intimacy of a woman.
But he pushed that yearning to the back of his mind and focused on his work. Andrew was working on three important deals and contemplating creating a sports arm of The Schroeder Group and entering the world of auto racing. Every day he had a standing meeting with the four senior managers of the opportunities. The closer he came to closing each deal, the more focused these meetings became. Andrew was also doing more traveling in regards to these deals, something he wasn’t always happy about. He was a bit of a homebody and having to travel left him anxious but in his line of work, travel was unavoidable.
He was back from a trip to California and it was a nice day off since it was the 4th of July. It was a long weekend for the business world since the holiday fell on a Thursday but Andrew planned to spend a few hours in the office the next day. He had to start closing in on the final decisions of the three deals that had consumed much of his time lately. It was time to pull the trigger on them or give them up.
But for the moment, he was in relaxation mode. Andrew grabbed another beer from the refrigerator and returned to his chaise lounge on his deck of his Upper East Side penthouse. The sun was nearly down and the fireworks would soon be starting. He thought back to the previous 4th. It was one of the last days of Andrew’s relationship with Felicia. She was the epitome of all the women he’d seen since Evelyn left him. Self-centered, a touch vapid, and more interested in the superficial. Andrew called it off with Felicia over a bottle of red wine from his winery in Napa. He had expected a few tears as had happened with some of the other women but there were none. She was more disappointed that she was no longer going to accompany him on a business trip to London.
After Felicia, Andrew severed ties with his matchmaker and focused his energies even more on his business ventures. Maybe he was trying too hard to find someone. Aunt Helen, in her classic Aunt Helen way, told him that maybe he should stop trying. “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen,” she had said and then whipped him at the poker game they were in the middle of.
Did I need to have a companion? he thought and took a swig from the bottle. He stood and walked to the edge of the terrace and at the shadowy Central Park. Andrew had his work and it kept him busy for over sixty hours a week if it was a light week. He had kept that pace up when he was dating both Evelyn and the string of women after her. Perhaps that’s where things had gone wrong? A couple of his companions had complained but not very loudly so he never felt the need to alter his work week. And really, he couldn’t. His business needed him that much. Andrew took another drink. Maybe as long as he had The Schroeder Group to oversee, there could be no one by his side?
Sarah was working on the 4th of July. There was a wedding planned for the following evening and the bouquets, boutonnieres, and flower arrangements needed to be started. Lydia, Sarah’s best friend and fellow worker had plans with her family on Long Island so Sarah decided to start the order herself. She didn’t mind the work. It kept her hands busy and when her hands were busy, her thoughts were muted. Working with the flowers helped so much more than the slew of psych meds she took. There was a peace among the petals and fragrances and arranging the flowers just so to make something beautiful to lift up someone’s life.
Tomorrow’s bride had gone classic – white roses – and because of the holiday, red and blue ribbon.
TO BE CONTINUED