Jessica Belle Lavigne stood up to her full 5ft 10 inches height, her beautiful face contorting in anger after reading through the email sent to her by the owner of Tasty, the famous magazine company in London where she worked as the executive editor.
Jessie let out a frustrated sigh, wondering what Ms. Lenore Bernard, the CEO of Tasty meant by rejecting her request for promotion.
Jessie had been working in the company for four years and although she was one of the most respected journalists in the company because of Whispers, the column which she had been writing for two years after getting promoted from a regular journalist to the executive editor, she still didn't think she was where she wanted to be.
Despite the very fat paycheck which she received two days earlier than others did, Jessie wanted more, she deserved more.
When the former Editor-in-chief of Tasty, Bianca Banks had a miscarriage and resigned, blaming her loss on the stress of the job, Jessie saw it as an opportunity to take her place and applied for a promotion.
It never crossed her mind that her request was going to get declined. Becoming the chief editor would finally give her the sense of achievement she had been searching for and also shut the mouth of her unsatisfied mother.
Shutting all thoughts of her rather annoying mother out of her mind, Jessie tried to come up with reasons why Lenore would reject her request.
Whispers was the major reason why everyone loved Tasty. At the time when she started working at Tasty, it had only been at an average level of success and everyone could attest to the fact that after the introduction of Whispers, the magazine was finally able to get the most sales than what they had ever recorded in Europe.
Whispers was a segment of Tasty which featured six pages of juicy celebrity news and gossip, relationship reports, matchmaking, scandals as well as fashion tips.
Jessie alone knew how hard it was for her to continue writing the column. It wasn't easy to get the latest scoops and gossip that would interest readers and ensure that every bit of it was fresh and interesting.
Jessie picked the office phone on her desk and called Lenore's secretary as well as Jessie's best friend, Chanel.
Chanel answered the phone after two rings and Jessie quickly fired her question, "Is Lenore in?"
"Good morning Ms. Lavigne, I'm having a nice morning, thanks for asking. What can I help you with Miss?" Chanel asked sarcastically.
Realising her lack of telephone manners, Jessie answered, "I'm really sorry Chanel. It's just, I need to talk to Lenore. Let her know that I want to meet with her."
"Okay Jessie, I'll let her know. I hope everything is alright, though?" Chanel queried.
"Thanks, I'll let you know later," Jessie replied before ending the call and pressing her hand to her throbbing forehead.
Chanel and Jessie had been best friends ever since Jessie started working at Tasty Magazine.
Though quite different in their ambitions, with Jessie having big dreams of becoming a famous columnist and Chanel being satisfied with her job as the assistant to the CEO of Tasty Magazine.
Picking up the annual sales report for the year, Jessie sashayed out of her office.
She smiled at Chanel while passing by her desk and confidently made her way to Lenore's office.
After knocking twice, she heard a chirpy "come in," from Lenore and walked into the large office.
"My beautiful Jessica, there must be a special reason for you to visit my office today, not so?" Lenore asked in her smooth, but slightly French-accented voice.
"I was here yesterday to discuss next week's publication of Whispers and with all due respect Lee, I believe you know why I'm here this time," Jessie answered addressing her with the nickname only she was allowed to.
"Why don't you have a seat and tell me about it, Jessie, because I simply don't know why you're here," Lenore signaled for Jessie to sit with a mischievous smile.
"Why did you refuse my request for a promotion, Lee? After all the sacrifices and hard work I've put into this company, I deserve the title of Editor-in-chief! Bianca's gone, why don't you take a look at our sales report for this month since I've been handling her work?" Jessie complained, before passing Lenore the sales report.
Lenore simply ignored her shouting and smiled in a scheming manner before replying, "I know, you're the key reason why people love our magazine so much, but I'm doing this because I have a task for you."
"A task? What could that be? You know that was the same thing you told me last month and even after getting the scoop on Ivan Parker's cheating scandal, just like you requested, I wasn't promoted," Jessie frowned, before taking a seat on the couch in the office.
"Oh Jessie, don't ruin your beautiful face with that frown, you'll be needing to smile more often from now on."
"What do you mean?"
"Now let me explain this. I want you to get me an even bigger scoop than Ivan Parker's, but first have this," Lenore replied before handing her a wedding invitation card.
It was no secret that the gorgeous thirty-five year old, French brunette, Lenore Marie Bernard, famous for being one of the youngest females to establish her own magazine company at age twenty-three was finally getting married that weekend to Cesare Cavelli, a wealthy, Italian businessman with a long chain of hotels to his name.
Though all the employees at Tasty Magazine already knew about Lenore's wedding, they were yet to receive an invitation to the wedding, so Jessie was a bit surprised to receive an invitation from Lenore.
"I don't understand Lee, why are you giving me this? What happened to 'None of you workers are worthy enough to attend my wedding if I'm ever going to have one.' Wasn't that what you always said?" Jessie teased.
Lenore laughed out loud before explaining in her chirpy voice, "I want you to attend my wedding this Saturday, not because you are an important guest, but because it would be the first step to completing the task I have for you."
"What? I'm not really following from here, Lee," Jessie frowned in confusion.
"I want you to get a scoop on the former playboy musician, turned businessman, Chase Reed. He'll attend my wedding ceremony tomorrow because he and my darling Cesare were classmates in boarding school."
"Pardon? Where do I come in then? What does this have to do with me?" Jessie asked, confusedly.
Lenore might have been beautiful, elegant and intelligent, but sometimes she struck Jessie as a tad bit too obsessed with gossips and scoops on celebrities.
Over the four years Jessie had been working with her, Lenore had become more than just her boss. She considered Lenore as a friend, well that's probably what she should, given that she insisted on Jessie addressing her with a nickname and also the special treatments she got from her.
Inviting Jessie to her awesome wedding party which was going to feature influential guests from the top class of society, as well as celebrities was just one of the evidences of Lenore's special care for Jessie.
In her second year of working at Tasty Magazine, there was a rumour surrounding the office that Jessie was the illegitimate daughter of Lenore's wealthy and womanising father, Alfred Bernard. As much as that rumour was never proved true, none of the staff was able to comprehend why Jessie enjoyed such favours from their CEO.
"Chase Reed, the wealthy restauranteur? How could I possibly get a scoop on him? No one has ever been able to figure out why he changed his playboy lifestyle and quit music to continue his family business," Jessie said.
"Oh please, Jessie. Don't act like you don't know your worth. The reason why I'm giving this job to you is because I know how capable you are. With your beauty and intelligence, I'm sure you'd be able to get an exclusive interview of Chase."
Noting that Jessie was now more interested in what she had to say, Lenore continued.
"As I was saying, Chase Reed is going to attend my wedding party. He promised my darling Cesare after he made a super large donation for the charity foundation that Chase's mother established."
"Okay, but how come Chase agreed to attend your wedding party? What sort of donation could that be? As far as I know, he hasn't been attending any public events. He's been very scarce from the eye of the press," Jessie asked.
"You might not know this, but that foundation means a lot to Chase, especially after his mother passed away. I asked Cesare to make that donation so that Chase would have to attend in a way to show his gratefulness and you know my darling Cesare, he'd do whatever I ask. It was a lot of money he donated, you know? Cesare is such a darling, not so?" Lenore asked with dreamy eyes.
Having no time to listen to Lenore's constant praises for Cesare Cavelli, Jessie said, "Please continue. I'm not interested in learning how awesome Cesare is."
"Of course you're not, he's exclusively mine. So what you're going to do tomorrow is to try as much as possible to get close to Chase. Introduce yourself as the younger sister of my wedding planner, Susanne Dubois. Your name would be Jessie Dubois."
"I don't like this plan, I can't do that," Jessie stood angrily.
"Come on Jessie, you're a natural beauty. Just flirt a little with Chase, he might have shied away from the public eye and stopped being a womanising musician, but that doesn't mean he'd be immune to your charm. You've had someone like Jacques Bernard under your spell before."
Jessie frowned at the mention of the name of the famous and handsome novelist whom Jessie was dating four years earlier. Things ended very badly between them and Jessie still got irritated whenever their relationship was brought up.
"I'm sorry, Jessie. I know you're still not ready to talk about Jacques. I was just trying to express how much charm you have on the male species," Lenore apologized.
"It's fine, it doesn't bother me anymore. We live in different countries. I don't care about him," Jessie lied.
"Okay, so will you consider this, my darling Jessie?" Lenore asked with pleading eyes.
"You must really want this scoop, don't you?"
"Of course, I do. I live for news. Our magazine has to be the first to expose Mr Reed's big dirty secrets."
"Okay, I don't like this idea. I mean you're asking me to seduce someone just to get enough gossip to write about, Lee. That's not right, I don't think I can do that," Jessie stood up in protest, pushing her raven-black hair back and placing her hands akimbo on her well-rounded hips, with her grey gaze fixed on the scheming Lenore who had a mischievous smirk on.
"Oh come on, Jessie, it's not like I'm asking you to sleep with him. I simply want you to get close to him, entice him with your beauty. He'll surely fall for it and when he does, he'll give you details about why he gave up on his career as a top musician," Lenore said with her chocolate-brown eyes flashing with determination.
"You've really got a thorough plan, haven't you? Let me know just why you must get a scoop on Chase Hunter. Maybe if you gave me a credible reason, I'd consider this whole thing."
"I'll give you a million dollars, plus the promotion you so much want if you're able to get this done. Think of how much your life would change when that happens."
"I want to understand why this is so important to you Lenore. What if we publish the secrets and the sales are not even worth this whole thing?"
"Leave that for me to worry about. What you should know is that a certain someone has offered me a lot of money to expose Chase Reed by doing this. Now are you in?"
Thinking about how she would finally get the approval from her family which she had always wanted and how much money was involved, Jessie replied after a minute, "Your wedding is this Saturday, that's four days from now, right?"
"Yes," Lenore replied in French.
"It's in Paris. You of all people should know that I don't want to go to my hometown yet."
"No one said you have to go to your hometown. Sure, my wedding is happening in Paris, but that doesn't mean that you have to meet your parents, if that's what you're so afraid of."
"Don't bring them up, please," Jessie hissed.
"Fine, there's no way that you guys will ever meet there. The wedding is happening at the best hotel in Paris. Trust me with your mother's lowly status, she can never meet you there."
"I hope you're right, Lee. I'm in then," Jessie finally agreed.
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