At breakfast, Jonathan could barely contain himself as he thought about the next item on his agenda. Aubrey asked if he was ok after catching him grinning at her a few times. He had been waiting for this day the moment she agreed to work with him and be his unofficial heir. She wasn’t thrilled, however, about taking a detour before work. She had a meeting with a vendor and didn’t want to be late. Though he promised they would not be late, she continued to fight him.
“Where are we going anyway? And why do both of us have to go?”
He only grinned and patted her shoulder. “Aubrey…just trust me, ok? You will be early for your meeting, and I promise you’re gonna love where we’re going. It won’t take long at all.”
She rolled her eyes and left with him reluctantly. He couldn’t help but chuckle at her resistance. It reminded him of the time shortly after her teenage birthday when she was angry at herself for dropping the pepper shaker in the eggs. Everything always had to be done perfectly. That attitude would be a huge asset in her career, but it could also be her downfall. She never made room for error, and if she wasn’t careful, she would end up having impossible expectations and drive her teams right out the door.
It was a beautiful day, and Jonathan would have preferred to walk, but that would have taken longer and sent Aubrey over the edge. They arrived at an empty lot in the neighborhood across the river. He could see the steam oozing from Aubrey’s ears and knew what she was thinking. That made him smile even more, but he had to keep a straight face so he wouldn’t give it away so early.
“Daddy, where are we going?”
She rolled her eyes.
He needed to start talking before she strangled him and ran off to work. “Aubrey…you’re amazing in the restaurant. I think you were born to do this, but that also makes me heavily biased…”
“You’re my daughter. I’ll always think you’re the bee’s knees regardless of what you do.”
She snorted. “Bee’s knee’s, daddy?”
So much for being cool. “Anyway…I needed to know if anyone else saw what I see, so I asked around.”
She looked nervous. That perfectionist spirit was restless.
“I asked Archer, Savannah, Tiana, and Aylin how you were doing as a manager and if they would enjoy working for you.”
She swallowed. “W-what did they say?”
Keeping a straight was so difficult. “Tiana said she couldn’t work for anyone who wasn’t passionate about food.”
She flashed a quick smile and nodded.
“Archer said you’d be a good boss.”
Her stiff, thin body loosened just a tad.
“Savannah said you’re very serious…”
Her face fell.
“…and for someone as young as you, it’s necessary. She said managers need to have a backbone, and she won’t work for anyone who is weak.”
She looked confused. “So…which one am I?”
“I think you know.”
She smiled hesitantly. “And Aylin?”
Her message was the best of all, and Jonathan found his chest puffing and shoulders squaring. “She would absolutely work for you. What she appreciates most is your attitude. She had concerns when you first started working–they all did. They were afraid you’d come in with your nose in the air and try to run things being the boss’ daughter and all.”
“Of course. But, you’re not like that. You worked hard and started from the bottom. You took it upon yourself to learn everything there was to know and were not afraid to ask for help. She also said you have a sweet personality, and anyone who doesn’t get along with you needs their head examined.”
“She really said all of that?”
“Sure did. I also took the liberty of asking some of the customers about you.”
She tensed up again.
“All the elders say you’re a ‘lovely girl.’ Others have been happy with you too.”
He had her. It was time for the epic announcement!
“You’re ready, and everyone agrees. I think it’s time for you to move onto bigger and better things.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“Do you know where we are?”
Her chest heaved faster and faster. He could tell she knew what was happening but was still a bit confused.
“This is the future site of your restaurant!”
Finally, the smile on his face could match the smile in his heart. “You heard me, kid. YOUR restaurant! I bought this land, and you’re gonna build your first restaurant! We can’t afford anything big, and it won’t be as chic as Viviana’s, but it’ll be yours!”
Her mouth dropped, and she looked like she tried to start many sentences, but they failed to complete. She had no words for him and simply fell into his arms.
“I’m so proud of you, Aubrey. I have no doubts you’ll do well. I’ll miss working side-by-side with you, but this is what we worked for, right?”
Her tears wet his neck.
“Thank you, daddy,” she managed to squeak out.
“I love you. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.”