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Outside Bev’s office door, Honor gave her a sympathetic smile. There was something rather weary about it, as if she’d had to smile many such smiles over the last few weeks.
Back in her own office, Laura closed the door and turned the sign to Do Not Disturb. Her secretary, Demelza, glanced over with interest as she played with the neon-pink feather at the base of her long black plait. Demelza’s style was high-end Minnehaha: fringed beaded ankle boots, denim minidresses and round coloured sunglasses. Most of Demelza’s summer was spent at the type of exclusive festivals that did not admit ordinary members of the public.
Demelza stopped playing with her hair and made a ‘T’ sign with her forefingers, one of which was tattooed with a tiger. Laura nodded. A cup of tea would be welcome, even one made badly by Demelza, who had yet to grasp the most basic secretarial duty. She was hopeless at her job but brought a certain joie de vivre to things, as well as an eclectic contacts book which had come in very useful . Demelza knew everyone from Cabinet ministers to cabaret dancers, and most of them were her devoted slaves.
Laura sat down at her desk and stared at the copy of Simpleton that Bev had given her, almost literally as a parting shot. The smoothly beautiful face of Savannah Bouche smiled kittenishly up at her and Laura felt the Poison Pixie’s knife twist painfully between her ribs.
She had been given an impossible task, and yet somehow she had to make it happen. The volley of threats Bev had issued as she left the CEO’s office were still ringing in her ears. If she didn’t succeed in making the advertising ratio 75 per cent, the Poison Pixie would sack her. But much worse than that, she would make Society an online-only magazine.
Laura did not want to be sacked, but she absolutely could not bear to think of her precious publication disappearing, quite literally, into the ether. She got a daily kick out of seeing Society on the news stands, holding its own among international heavy hitters such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. The idea of its beautiful glossy cover with its distinctive title never being seen again made her want to weep.
It would be such a waste, too. She was doing something with Society that no one else was doing with any publication anywhere. Her magazine was utterly original and the formula was a success; her many journalistic awards attested to that. It had all been achieved by sticking to certain principles, such
as refusing to give interview subjects ‘copy approval’, or the right to change the article as they wished and make it bland and boring. Nor had she ever run ‘puff’ pieces which extolled advertisers. And had she not just recruited Alice, who was shining a hard, bright light into some of luxury’s darker corners? She had to protect all this, Laura reminded herself fiercely.
Even so, her heart sank. How could she, whilst attracting advertisers in the numbers demanded, particularly at the enormous rates charged for pages in the magazine?
Laura sank her head on her arms in despair. Perhaps she should just walk out now, throw in the towel and save herself the agony of inevitable failure – failure in the eyes of all her journalistic peers, too. If she left straightaway her chances of getting another job would be better. But could she leave in such circumstances? Without even trying?
Slowly, she raised her head again. Her dark eyes, reflected in the glass panes of her office, were steady and resolute. Laura had a stubborn streak. She believed in herself. She had overcome great odds in the past and this was just the latest challenge. Her father, she knew, would have thought the same. Peter Lake never walked away from a difficult situation. In the end, it had cost him his life.
Laura smiled at her reflection. She would overcome somehow – together with her trusty staff members. They would all pull together and come up with the answer. They would start with an emergency editorial meeting.
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About Wendy Holden
Here you will find bookish posts I have added to the blog! This will include book promotions and content I have come up with.