"Why?" She leans her hip against the wooden doorframe. "So he can tell everyone that Nova will rise from the ashes? I wonder how long it will take for that to happen."
I don't say anything. I only shrug before she turns and walks down the hallway toward her own room. I'm silently grateful that she didn't wait for me to reply. I couldn't tell my best friend that I have no idea what my lover is going to say in that meeting. I'll hear his plans for the future at the very same time everyone else who works for him does.
I approach Tyler's apartment building with just a few minutes to spare. I thought about arriving to this meeting early, but I honestly didn't see the point. If he wanted me here before the masses showed up, he would have told me.
Utter silence was the response after I sent him a text message this morning asking how he was. I sent another, almost an hour later, to see if he needed me to help with anything else. He didn't text me back so I focused on my day, using the time to organize my closet and start a mystery novel my mom bought me months ago for my birthday.
I reach for the curved metal handle of the glass door but the doorman is quicker. He pulls it open from the inside, waving his hand in a wide arc inviting me into the lobby.
"I'm here to see…"
"Mr. Monroe," he interrupts with a dip of his chin. "I never forget a pretty face. I've got a standing order to send everyone straight up as they arrive."
I toss him a smile as I make my way across the lobby and step into the waiting elevator. As the lift rises, I run my tongue over my lips. They're dry. I'm anxious. I've felt unease tugging at me since the fire.
As the elevator dings and the doors fly open, I step off. I hear voices immediately. I walk quickly down the corridor, hoping that I haven't missed anything important. I stop once I reach Tyler's apartment, the door completely ajar.
The space is packed with people. From the looks of it, every person who worked at the restaurant is here. I recognize most faces but there are a few that I can't place. The one face I'm desperate to see must be lost somewhere in the crowd. I can't even hear the sound of Tyler's deep voice.
I wait patiently as people move into the apartment at a snail's pace. I should have arranged for this to be at my place. The living room there is twice the size of this.
I admit the thought did cross my mind but it felt like too much. I didn't want Tyler jumping to the conclusion that I was making decisions for him. He only asked me to contact his employees to get them here. I did that.
"I want to thank everyone for coming."
I edge up to my tiptoes. Usually that gives me an advantage when it comes to seeing beyond a group of people. Today it does nothing. I'm not wearing heels. I opted for sandals to go with the sundress I put on this morning. I can't see anything but the backs of a few heads. I push my way forward and thankfully, there's an opening that I snake through until I spot Tyler.
He's standing with his back to the window. People are seated on the furniture, while others have taken a place next to him. He's wearing a white dress shirt and black pants. He's also freshly shaved and showered. He looks more in control than he has for the past few days.
"I know you're all just as devastated by the fire as I am," he begins, "I'm grateful that no one was injured."
Everyone listens in silence as he continues, "I haven't doubted for a minute what our next step will be. We're going to get Nova up and running as soon as we can."
There's an audible collective sigh of relief. People start whispering to one another before Tyler darts his hand in the air again to hush them.
"Hunter and I are currently scouting available spaces." His eyes scan the crowd, skimming right past me. "Until then, your wages will be covered."
"What?" An unfamiliar man's voice bellows from behind me. "We're going to be paid even though we're not working?"
I turn to see if I can find the person who just asked the question, but it's pointless. There are even more people in the room than when I first arrived.
"The Nova team is the best I've ever worked with." Tyler's voice cracks as his hand runs through his hair. I instantly notice the bandage is gone. "I won't lose any of you. You'll be paid bi-weekly for the next two months. I know it's not a lot of time, but I'm determined to have Nova open again by then."
Someone starts applauding, and although it doesn't envelope the entire room a few people join in, me included.
"Once we've secured a new space for Nova, I'll need you all back full-time to help with set-up and prep. I'll send you updates via group text twice a week. I want us in touch."
"We're going to make new Nova better than the old one." Maribel moves from where she was sitting to stand next to Tyler. "We'll all do whatever it takes."