Susan Cardinal waved her phone at Abigail. Abigail glanced from her architect to the young man who had nervously stood up from his seat. Ethan, a young representative from McBane Properties, was clearly out of his element. He straightened his slightly oversized suit and swallowed hard.
"Ms. Carson, I'm Ethan Clarke. I represent McBane Properties, and I have a... proposal concerning your company." As Ethan spoke, Susan discreetly covered the model of the community center with a cloth, protecting their confidential work from the competitor's eyes.
Abigail scrutinized Ethan, a hint of amusement in her eyes. She leaned back in her chair, folding her arms. "A proposal, Mr. Clarke? Let me guess, your company wants to acquire Morris and Carson Developments?"
Ethan's eyes widened, surprised at her direct guess. He nodded, trying to maintain his composure. "Yes, Ms. Carson. We believe that in the wake of recent events, a... consolidation might be beneficial. We're prepared to make a very generous offer."
Abigail's smile was polite but cold, like a frosty winter morning. "Consolidation? How quaintly put. But let me be clear, Mr. Clarke. Morris and Carson is not on the market. Not now, not in the foreseeable future." Ethan's composure cracked under the weight of Abigail's words. His rehearsed enthusiasm ebbed away, leaving a visible unease in its wake. He opened his mouth to continue, but his words stumbled out, disjointed and unsure.
"Yes, but... I mean, surely there's..." Ethan's voice trailed off, the certainty he had carried with him into the room now a distant memory. His eyes darted around, seeking some sort of lifeline in the elegant, unyielding face of Abigail. With a final, faltering attempt, he added, "We just thought... it could be mutually beneficial..." But the words hung awkwardly in the air, unanswered. Defeated, he straightened up. "I... I see. Thank you for your time, Ms. Carson." He turned, each step towards the door a silent admission of his failed mission.
Abigail watched him leave, a small, knowing smile playing at the corner of her lips. After the door closed behind Ethan, she turned her attention back to Susan. Abigail smiled to herself; she was proud of the bright and talented woman she'd plucked out of obscurity. Hanging on to Susan was one of the reasons Morris and Carson Developments were still in business.
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