Bob Johnson reached out and grabbed his daughter's hand. "Laney, you know I'd never ask you to do anything you don't want to do. Are you sure you can handle this?"
Laney Johnson smiled at her father. She squeezed his hand, then wandered to the window of her father's DC office building. "Dad, you and Mom met like this. You always raised me to know that the possibility of my marriage being arranged existed. If dating this guy for 6 months means we can get the funding to push the clinical trials on the Alzheimer's drug through, I really don't see how I can refuse."
"So you're telling me you're putting your independence on hold for the good of the people?" her father asked, quirking an eyebrow at her. At Laney's smile, he sighed and said, "I knew we should never have left you with your grandmother for all those summers. That woman is incorrigible."
"It was better than the summers you left me with Grandmother Yukimura. Grandma J just remembers where she came from, that's all. Grandmother is downright terrifying. "
"I don't think she ever really forgave your mother for marrying me and moving to America. You know your grandmother always felt our family was entirely beneath her. She had dreams of your mother marrying into a family more 'suited to their stature,' as she would say."
"Like the Ootoris?" Laney sipped her coffee. "What do we know about this guy, Kyoya? I know he has his MBA from Harvard and he's getting his doctorate in applied economics at Georgetown, but what's he like?"
"The Ootoris are sharks," Bob said. "But they're smart sharks. Very, very smart sharks, and Kyoya Ootori is one of the smartest in the family. It's fairly well known that even though he's the third son, he's quietly making a play to eventually become his father's heir. He's been very subtle about it—nothing that would embarrass his older brothers. But he's definitely ambitious. Still, from what your grandfather has gathered, though, Kyoya might be a little warmer than the rest his family. He's stayed in close contact with a group of friends from high school—they're definitely from some of the most prestigious families in Japan, but they have a reputation for being a little … eccentric."
"Why aren't we assuming he's only friends with them for their family connections?" Laney asked.
"Grandfather seemed to think that the friendships were deep and genuine, particularly with his best friend, Suoh Tamaki. The Suohs and the Ootoris did some business a while back that would have cemented the families' alliance; there doesn't appear to be a significant need for Kyoya to continue to suck up, as it were."
"Grandfather has to be the biggest gossip in all of Tokyo, I swear. I will never understand how he and Grandmother manage to live together."
Bob laughed. "It brought merit to their families, so they did what they had to do. But I think underneath it all, your grandparents have grown to love each other."
"You're such a romantic, Dad," Laney laughed. Just then her father's assistant stepped in. "Ootori Yoshio and Ootori Kyoya are here, sir. I've shown them to Conference Room 3."
Bob got up from his chair and gave his daughter a quick hug before ushering her out of his office. "You ready, baby?"
"Looks like I don't have much of a choice."