12 Months Later

Brooke stood outside the office of the CEO, nervously looking at the Secretary guarding the door.

"Hi, Sarah. What type of mood is she in?"

Sarah smiled. "Not too good I am afraid. Ms. Wilson had to let somebody go today, you know how she gets."

Brooke groaned. All too well. "Really…do you know who?" she asked hopefully.

Sarah shook her head. "You'd better go in. Good luck." She opened the door.

Brooke entered the office. "Good morning, Nikki," said Brooke, cheerily.

Nikki looked up. "Good morning, Brooke. Nice of you to see me at such short notice. Please take a seat," she offered.

Brooke settled in, unsure of what her boss wanted her to talk about.

"Now, I have noticed business around here has been a little slow, not much of a challenge for you I suppose."

"Uh, its okay. I am sure it will pick up in a month or so," hoped Brooke.

"Yes. Meanwhile, I have people, well paid people I might add, sitting around twiddling their thumbs."

Nikki reached into her drawer and pulled out three files and put them on her desk in front of Brooke.

"Brooke, I want you to interview these three applicants and select the best one for your position," said Nikki in a matter-of-fact tone.

Brooke's jaw dropped. "What…you're replacing me? I can't believe it." Brooke was getting angry realizing that it was she who was getting the sack, and all weekend at home Nikki had never let on once. She looked at Nikki, waiting for some sign that this was a prank, but she knew Nikki never joked about business with her during working hours.

Brooke stuttered. "If only you'd come to me sooner, I could have explained or something."

"When I find that one of my best managers has time to fill up the coffee tin, I have a problem."

Brooke scoffed. "What? Oh come on…I can't believe this," she growled.

"Well, it's obvious that you don't have enough work. Be honest…you know there are no challenges here for you anymore, Brooke."

Brooke shook her head. "But it's…but…" Nikki waved her quiet.

"Brooke, unfortunately sacrifices have to be made, and as Wilson CEO it is my role to see that they are carried out. So as difficult as it is…I had to let Cole Winters go from our other office this morning."

Brooke looked up. "What…you sacked Cole?"

"The other side of the town is booming with business, yet we are not. We should be getting flowback, which is also not happening. I need someone over there that I can trust, that has motivation as well as the ability to manage staff. He no longer was up to the task, so…the position is yours."

Brooke's head was spinning, she couldn't speak.

"Brooke, I am offering you the Executive Manager role over there. I know I can trust you. You have good motivation and I can help you manage staff until you get the hang of things. It's a good opportunity."

Brooke spoke, "I dunno…" Doubt was creeping in.

Nikki dropped her CEO act and moved from behind her desk to lean in front of Brooke.

"This is your break," said Nikki softly.

"Nikki…I don't know if I am ready, I don't know if I can…"

Nikki lifted Brooke's chin. "I think you are ready…and I know you want to," she smirked.

Brooke's eyes flickered then dulled. "You didn't give me the job because…you know?" she blushed.

Nikki's face flashed with annoyance. "Brooke…you know I don't work that way. But if you feel that this is too overwhelming or you're worried people might think I am playing favorites then I will hand it over to someone else," she said as if she couldn't care less.

Brooke shook her head and got to her feet. "I don't want to let you down," she said.

"Good, then don't. You start in the position next week," encouraged Nikki.

"Okay, I will get those interviews organized."

Nikki headed back to her chair. "Yes, please do…" she paused, trying to hide her smirk. "I'd really like a nice young executive. You know, someone that would please me," she said, teasing.

Brooke's face was deadpan as she looked over the applicants. Then she snickered. They were all thirtysomething males. "Hmm, I will see what I can do. Thank you for this opportunity. I will not let you down." Brooke turned on her professional tone as they both subtly flirted.

Nikki just rolled her eyes at the statement.

Brooke reached for the doorknob when Nikki called her.

"Oh…one other thing Ms. Davies," she said, as serious as possible.

"Yes, Ms. Wilson," Brooke said, turning.

"It's your night to make dinner," Nikki smirked.

Brooke nodded. "Yes, so it is. Well, don't be late then," she playfully warned.

Brooke floated back to her office. She walked up to the large window overlooking the city and put her hands on her mouth to catch the elation. She looked out and muttered quietly to herself, "Yes…"