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James was waiting for Bette with a cup of coffee when she walked through the gallery doors. Alice called and told him she was on the way after breakfast. Bette glared at James. She grabbed the cup from his hand a little too forcefully and took a slow sip. James did not lose eye contact. Bette considered everything James had been to her over the years from the first day he showed up at 9am for a 1pm interview to the way he soaked up every aspect of gallery business to the way Bette had grown to depend on him to the way he handled Franklin and other difficult people she didn’t want to deal with to the way he anticipated her every move. James was more than her employee. More than her right hand. James was her family.
“James, you’re fucking fired.”
“You’re not firing James,” Tina said.
“Like hell, I’m not.”
“No. You’re not,” Tina said sternly and put her hands on her hips.
Bette and Tina stared at each other. Neither of them backing down.
Bette remembered earlier this morning when Tina again made it clear that she wasn’t firing James.
Tina cleared her throat.
“I will talk with James about your schedule,” Tina said slowly.
Bette started to say something. Instead, she just nodded.
Bette exhaled slowly while still glaring at him.
“The only reason you’re not fucking fired is because of Tina.”
They both knew that wasn’t the only reason. Still, James was grateful Tina interceded on his behalf.
James exhaled. He didn’t realize he had been holding his breath since Bette walked through those doors. He could finally breathe. Without wasting any more time, James gave Bette a synopsis of the sales from the weekend.
“Here are the updated numbers from KiKi’s opening,” James smiled as he handed Bette the spreadsheet.
Bette wanted to know what the fuck he was smiling about. He was still in hot water as far as she was concerned. She wasn’t going to fire him but she did plan on torturing him a little bit. She glanced at the spreadsheet and was about to say something snide to James when she looked back at the spreadsheet again. This time more thoroughly. She looked up at James who was all smiles at this point.