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Happily Ever after Is Just a Rumor

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May 24th, 2010 5:01 AM Greenwich mean time


Daniel was having a good dream or at least it started out as a good dream. He was standing in the hollow halls of Mode with Betty by his side as they celebrated their 100th issue together. His father was standing off to the side, smiling at him proudly.


The fact that Bradford was there was the reason why he knew it was a dream. Not only has his father been dead for almost 3 years, but he was actually visibly proud. Bradford was never proud. This completely explains why his father shot him in the stomach seconds later, after he hands the magazine over to Wilhelmina on an actual silver platter.


I'm not the average girl from your video
And I ain't built like a supermodel
But, I Learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen


If it wasn’t for the fact that Betty’s stupid iPhone, blaring India Arie at 5:01 AM, woke him up from a nightmare, he would have tossed the stupid thing at the nearest wall. They didn't fall asleep until a little after 1:00 AM after Amanda's late night phone call and the impromptu make out session. Really, Daniel just wanted to curl up with his girlfriend, especially after a Bradford-related nightmare.


He was worried. He was worried about taking over mode UK. He’s well aware that he wasn’t half the magazine person Wilhelmina was. What if he completely fucked everything up? Could he really run the magazine by himself with no Wilhelmina or Betty to save his ass when he inevitably screwed up?


He was worried about everything falling apart with Betty. He’s been in love with her so long that maybe the reality of being in love with her won’t meet his expectations or more likely he won’t meet her expectations. Could they really be more than just friends? Should they? He didn’t have the answers to those questions. Maybe that’s why it took them so long to get to this point, but as he watched her still sleeping peacefully, despite the music blaring from her phone, Daniel decided that the risk was worth it.


It was at this moment he decided to wake the sleeping beauty up with a kiss. If Daniel just happened to take advantage of the tank top Betty was wearing for some skin to skin contact that was just a bonus.


"Five more minutes, Hilda." She said groggily despite the fact that Daniel was stroking her chest area seconds earlier. He immediately stopped at her words only to see her giggling at him.


"You did that on purpose." Daniel threw a pillow at her.


"Of course I did." And she threw it right back at him.


"That's good. I was starting to get worried there. The only siblings that probably wake each other up like that are Skywalkers," he joked and Betty glared.


"Hilda preferred throwing cold water on me. Although, Justin was very grabby as a baby, but I really didn't have anything to grab until I was about 16." Betty explain.


"Yes but the cleavage fairy made up for it in sheer quantity. I enjoy the fact that you're my first girlfriend that is a natural D." He said as he leaned down to kiss her as one hand cupped her left breast.


"You're not going to do that right now are you?" She asked as she pulled away from his kiss slightly but did not push his hand away.


"Yes. Why do you think I got you the 12 hour mouthwash?" He asked before trying to return to kissing her, but she pushed him away again.


"Is this weird?" Betty asked.


"What do you mean?" ‘Please don’t tell me this is a mistake,’ Daniel started chanting in his head over and over again.


"We're going straight from being just friends to living together. We have not even gone on a date yet. Technically we have been together for three days and we've already gone farther than I had with most of my other boyfriends by that point."


Okay at least she did not tell him that she wanted to break up. Also, little Daniel was very happy about getting further with Betty by this point, then Matt or Henry. Especially Henry because Daniel still hated the guy even if he had the girl right now.


"It's not weird, it's just different. If you want to go on a "date", we can do something next weekend. Is it really necessary?"


“Not really, but, but dating is what normal people do. They get to know each other and then they move in together.”


“Then we’re completely covered in the dating department.” Daniel remarked. “Actually, we’ve been dating for the last four years, if you really think about it. How many deeply meaningful conversations have we had over Chinese Food when we were working late? How many times did I come over to your apartment with pizza and I ended up spending the night because we fell asleep talking?”


“Enough that no one in my family said anything about you having a toothbrush at my apartment.” Betty replied.


“The thing is, Betty, we know each other in a deeper way than probably anybody else that we dated before. It's not as if I need to go on a date so I can find out your favorite color is indigo or that you have a tendency to binge eat French fries when you're nervous. I know all these little things already. Just like you know I absolutely hate the color orange but wouldn't agree to change the color scheme just because it would make Wilhelmina happy."


"You know you can change the color scheme now. You are the one in charge. I know that absolutely terrifies you. I’m pretty sure you were having a nightmare about it. That woke me up before the alarm." Her words did not surprise Daniel at all.


"That's why this is not awkward. You know I'm absolutely afraid of being at Mode UK without you, mom or even Wilhelmina to save me when I fuck up everything." And Daniel was sure he was going to fuck everything up in the most spectacular way possible.


"You're not going to completely F everything up." It sounded so adorable that even when they were alone together she would not use profanity. He was personally looking forward to breaking her of the habit. Eventually, at least in the bedroom.


“It’s okay to be scared Daniel. I'm absolutely terrified of running a magazine on my own. Everything except for the name of the magazine, I get the final say on and I'm absolutely terrified. It's okay because I know you believe in me. You'll be fine because I believe in you." She leaned over to embrace him and he took the opportunity to give her an earth shattering "I want to take your clothes off, but we don't have the time" kiss.


"See this is why it is weird." She said pulling away.


"Are you uncomfortable with this?" He sincerely doubted that. He was an expert at reading Betty’s body language and it was obvious that Betty was very aroused.


"I'm not uncomfortable. It's just getting used to having a physical relationship with you. I’m so used to not being able to kiss you when I want to. And now I can and it’s an adjustment."


"I get it. This is the first time in forever that I have done a relationship that did not go straight to sex. I do not want to mess this up. I am really not sure I can live without you. At the same time you can obviously tell that I would like to go further than just kissing." He said pointing to the obvious evidence to the truth of that statement.


"I always thought that was your normal reaction first thing in the morning. I mean every single time we have slept in the same bed you have woken up with a…" She couldn't bring herself to finish that sentence. Her cheeks were a bright cherry red. He thought it was just too adorable.


"Hard on. If you can cause one, you should be able to say the word." He said, as he pressed closer to her.


"Fine you win. Every time we sleep in the same bed, you always wake up with an erection. Are you happy now?" She said this with her beautiful pout that made him want to kiss her again.


"Very, although we're going to have to work on your dirty talk. Also, I seriously doubt I got an erection every single time." Instead of responding verbally she just looked away from him like that one time she caught him without a shirt on walking out of Amanda's apartment.


“Have to pee now.” Betty said hastily getting off the bed in an effort to get away from him.


"You mean every single time? Even the first time and the times right after Molly's death?" She just turned around and nodded her head yes.


"Great my body knew before I did. I did not know I was in love with you until the summer DJ stayed with me before we knew he was Alexis's son and not mine."


Daniel was still bitter about that. Okay he was bitter that most likely Amanda’s kids were not his either because he would definitely make a better dad than Matt. He really wanted children but life wasn’t fair. Thankfully he would get to see his nephew more now that he was less than a three-hour drive away. Other than Betty that was the best thing about moving to London.


"You knew two years ago?" She asked with a hint of shock in her voice, bringing Daniel back to the conversation at hand.


"Kind of, but I went straight into denial." And denial involved several stupid decisions and falling in love with Molly.


"That explains the State Department liaison on top of the copier." And apparently Betty was aware of that.


"I try not to think about that. We really wasted two years?"


"Maybe we were not ready two years ago. Besides I would have never met Matt and you would have never met Molly. That means Connor would have never ended up with Wilhelmina and Matt would've never found Amanda." There was Betty trying to find the silver lining and everything. That was one of the things he loved about her.


"Instead of two happy people we have six happy people." He said sarcastically because he wasn’t sure about the other two couples. He was worried about Amanda and he didn’t trust Matt at all. You don’t dump Betty, using the fact you don’t want to do a long-distance relationship as an excuse and then sleep with Amanda just hours later. That wasn’t right.


"Don't forget about your future god son or daughter."


"Maybe it was a good thing." Daniel said as he pulled her back into bed and began kissing her again. At that moment, Betty's phone started blaring music again.


"I assume you hit the snooze button?" Daniel asked as he pulled himself off of her. He tried to think unsexy thoughts like his mom kissing her now ex-boyfriend.


"When I don't get enough sleep like last night, I usually sleep through the first alarm. I'm guessing you don't need to get ready yet. I do. You probably can go back to sleep." Betty said reluctantly as she left his embrace and their bed.


“I wish. Candy is coming by in less than an hour to do a pre briefing before the 8:00 AM walk through with the two managing editors. Then I have a 9:00 AM staff meeting where I tell everybody that the crazy American is their new boss. At 11 AM I have a meeting with the first internal candidate for the position of creative director. Also at some point I have to fire the old creative director."


If he actually shows up today. From the few parts of Candy’s email that he did read, Daniel was aware that his soon to be former creative director, made his own hours. That was why he was going to be the former creative director very soon.


"At least you don't have a 7:00 AM breakfast meeting with a potential advertiser." Betty ground.


"That's tomorrow. I wouldn't be averse to having lunch with my favorite editor from London Hub magazine today." Daniel walked over to her to kiss her one more time.


"I'll check my schedule as soon as I use the bathroom." At that Betty made a dash for the bathroom connected to their room.


"Good idea. I'm going to go use the bathroom down the hall otherwise there's no way I'll be ready in time." Yes, Daniel ended up taking a very cold shower. He would have preferred to take a ‘hot shower’, but there wasn’t any time.



"Candy you're a god." Daniel grabbed the cappuccino out of her hand, the moment his brilliant assistant walked into the house.


"He's only saying that because you brought coffee. Apparently, he hasn't figured out where his new coffee maker is yet." Betty remarked as she grabbed her purse just before leaving for her breakfast meeting. Her car was already waiting outside.


"I know where my coffee maker is. It’s still being shipped over here a long with the furniture I wanted to keep. Where's your coffee maker?" Daniel asked.


"Matt's probably using that right now or rather in a few hours. Although you really should just go buy a new coffee maker. You know your old one will not work here." Daniel forgot about that.


"I will add it to the "things to order" list. It will be here tomorrow." Candy said pulling out her iPhone.


"Why is Matt using your old coffee maker?" Daniel asked, concerned about her earlier comments about Matt.


"I'm subleasing him my apartment completely furnished. He sold his loft in March during the entire breakup fiasco and Amanda will not move in with him right now. This way they are close to each other, but not on top of each other." Daniel liked that idea. He saw firsthand how badly Matt hurt Amanda by breaking up with her the way that he did and he genuinely felt that Amanda deserved better.


"How long do you think that will last?" Daniel asked her.


"Probably longer than me and you having separate bedrooms." Daniel frowned, hoping that they wouldn’t move that fast. But he didn’t say anything, instead, he leaned over and kissed Betty. They kept kissing until he heard the sound of a camera. However, Daniel did not turn around until Betty was walking down the front steps of their house.


"What are you doing?" He asked after realizing it was his assistant taking pictures of him and Betty.


"Monique asked me to get a picture. She wanted proof." Candy said replacing her camera/phone in her bag.


"You do remember you work for me now?"


"Unfortunately, yes.” Candy sighed. “We need to go over the advertising budget for the last six months before we go over your schedule for today. Did you read through any of the pre-briefing materials that I left you Friday before you came over here to surprise Betty?"


“Only enough to know that David Pratt believes in a three hour workday." He admitted reluctantly


“Apparently you believe the same thing. Did you do any work this weekend or did you just have a sex marathon?" Candy asked in annoyance.


"I'm not like that anymore." His new assistant gave him a look that he was positive she got from Monique. It said "I know you're lying to me".


"I didn't have sex this weekend. I may have spent the majority of the time making out with Betty." He told Candy defensively.


"You really don't make this job easy.” His assistant sighed in annoyance. “OK, we have an hour for me to brief you on everything going on. You're so treating me to lunch this week at the best restaurant in town for making sure you don't look like a complete ass in 2 hours." Candy then threw a bagel at him before dragging him to the kitchen for her briefing.



By the time they got into the town car, his head hurt. Candy went over so much data that he felt like he did in college when he crammed for an exam after not showing up to class for the entire semester. Thankfully he was actually sober, this time. The situation in London was even worse than they thought it was. Not only were they being killed by the magazine owned by his girlfriend's new boss, they have been hemorrhaging advertisers since the EIC scandal broke a few months ago.


As they were riding in the car to the office, he flipped through the last four issues of Mode UK. If it wasn't for the cover and the occasional London landmark he would swear this was the American version of the magazine. The layout was 95% identical to American Mode. There were some local advertisers but the majority were American companies. There was no real local culture reflected in the pages. Not that he really knew what would be appropriate, he just realize that the magazine seemed too American.


Daniel’s Déjà vu experience continued as he walked into the Mode offices. The layout was so similar that if you closed all the blinds you would think you were still in New York. At least he won’t get lost.


“Am I the only one who feels like they’re trapped in the twilight zone?" He asked Candy as they walked through the halls.


"I'm thinking more of a TV show with a budget that was so low they couldn't redress the location to make it look different. This is just too creepy. It looks exactly like Mode New York, before the last round of renovations."


"I think that's exactly what your former leader was going for. Faye was apparently into everything being exactly the same internationally." This was said by a dark hair woman who was obviously of Indian ancestry.


"You must be Sumreen the managing editor for features?" Daniel extended his hand uneasily. Did they even do handshakes in England? Maybe he should have read through the e-mail Monique sent him on cultural sensitivity.


"You must be the owner of the company. I knew things were bad, but I didn't think they were bad enough for you to come out here. You're not here to close down the magazine are you?" The young woman sounded worried.


"No, I'm here to save the magazine."


"Good, I just bought a new house and I hate job-hunting." Maybe things were not that different after all.



"So how did your breakfast meeting go?" Daniel asked Betty when he called her during the 10 minute break before his 9:00 AM with the entire staff. He was feeling slightly less stressed after meeting with Sumreen and Diana, the managing editors for the creative side of the house. Both women were brilliant and quite capable of doing the jobs they actually had. Unfortunately, they were not ready to take over a magazine completely; especially when the incompetent creative director over ruled every single one of their ideas to make the magazine more viable. Diana and Sumreen were both trying to make the magazine more local. David wanted things to stay as they were during the Faye Somers regime.


"It went well. I only used the wrong fork twice.” Betty joked. “I'm starting to wish you took me on more of those boring meetings to get advertisers. Trying to sell the magazine to prospective advertisers is harder than I thought it would be."


“I know you can do it though.” Daniel said, trying to be encouraging. “You're the one who taught me how to sell a magazine instead of just selling myself. You will be brilliant at this in no time."


“I think you’re underselling yourself right now. You’re better than you think you are. At least with Mode people knew what to expect. I'm selling everybody on something that they haven't even seen yet. We barely have mock-ups of the first cover together." Betty said worriedly.


"You'll be fine. Are we still on for lunch?"


"Barring some catastrophe. I have to go, my new assistant just walked in. Love you."


"You know this is the first time I've heard you say that to me over the phone." Daniel smiled, before he realized that she was already off the line.


"Daniel are you done in their having phone sex with your girlfriend?"


“No, I’m arranging for lunch of my girlfriend. If you can make sure that time is freed, that would be good."


“So you’re just scheduling lunchtime sex a.k.a. book club meetings? You get to make those appointments yourself.” Candy quipped.


“No wonder Monique gave you to me.” Daniel mumbled under breath.


“I made her schedule those appointments herself as well, especially after that one time I caught her boyfriend under her desk." Candy explained as she placed the book in Daniel’s hands.


“I don’t blame you. What’s this?”


“Your daily book. It’s something Monique did, but I think it will be useful for you. It has everything you need for the day, including all the briefing materials I sent you this weekend you didn’t read. I have the top three resumes for the candidates already in there. You will meet with Diana at 11. You are scheduled to take care of the David issue at 10."


“Has David shown up yet?" Daniel asked regarding the elusive David Pratt.


"He is probably still passed out drunk in his flat. The man shows up to work pissed 90% of the time." Sumreen told him as she walked into his office.


"What's wrong with him showing up to work angry all the time? That was Wilhelmina's normal disposition and it made her more efficient." At that moment Sumreen and her colleague started laughing at him. Candy deliberately had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing.


“That means drunk here. I assume you were too busy sticking your tongue down Betty's throat to look at the local vernacular cheat sheet. I also put it in to your weekend briefing materials. Honestly, why do I prepare this stuff if you don't read it?" Now Candy was giving him a look that said, ‘I would eviscerate you if I didn’t need this job’. Even Betty has given him that look once or twice.


"I promise I'll read it tonight." He will, otherwise Candy may kill him. Actually, her glare may do that alone.


"You better. I hate to see you make a complete fool of yourself when you freak out because somebody refers to a cigarette by that same word that those idiots call your girlfriend's nephew." The three were still laughing way too loud for his comfort.


"It's going to be a very long day." Daniel mumbled under breath as he made his way to the conference room.



Thankfully, Daniel made it through the meeting without making a complete ass of himself. That in itself was a miracle. Someone did say something about the fact that he didn't sound like someone from New York. The one thing everybody was afraid of was losing his or her job. Between Connor robbing the company blind last year and the trouble with the recent scandal, most of his staff were already looking for other jobs. His main goal was to keep everybody calm and to stop using company resources to send out said resumes.


In the afternoon, he would be having one on one meetings with all the department heads and accounting. Even without that, he already had a pretty good idea what was wrong with the magazine. He just wasn't sure how to fix it. The first thing he was doing was changing the color scheme. Orange was just not a very fashionable color


It was 10:30 AM and David still wasn't here yet. Daniel is pretty sure he never showed up this late except that time he was trying to live down to everyone's expectations. Since David wasn't there, he called Diana in for the interview early.


Although he loved his office in New York, he did not want to have a replica of it in London. The first thing he was doing after getting the magazine stabilized was having his office renovated. Also he was adding a couch for ‘book club’ meetings.


"I am actually surprised you are even considering me for this position." Diana told him as she sat down for her interview.


"I prefer to hire in house if possible, although there'll be some other candidates from other magazines that I will be interviewing later." The truth of the matter is a lot of people did not want to apply for a job at a magazine that seemed halfway to the cemetery and Mode UK seriously qualified.


"You and Sumreen did a very good job of keeping this magazine from completely falling apart. There’s a lot of promise there.” Daniel praised “Why do you want to be creative director of Mode UK?"


“Well, I’ve been doing the work for the last six months I might as well get the pay increase.” Diana joked before giving her real answer.


From the 45 minute interview Daniel could tell that Diana definitely had Wilhelmina's instincts, even if she was a somewhat nicer person. Unfortunately, those instincts were not as developed due to less time in the industry. But Diana definitely knew the magazine. More importantly she was willing to shake things up to survive. She had all sorts of ideas on how to make the magazine more marketable.


Right as the interview was ending the elusive David Pratt finally showed up. As predicted by his two managing editors he was obviously inebriated and smelled like a liquor store. He was currently trying to make a pass at Candy. This just pissed Daniel off in a very American way.


"Candy, Diana wants to talk to you about a few things for my schedule for the next couple weeks." Candy ran into his office as quickly as possible understanding exactly what Daniel was doing.


"Who the bloody hell are you? This is my magazine and I'm the one in charge." Daniel learned during his time in New York that if you had to tell people you were in charge, then you had no idea what you were really doing.


“I’m Daniel Meade, better known to you as the owner of this company. In light of recent events, I have decided that I need to spend some time here at the London offices. Maybe you can step into my temporary office so we can discuss what’s going on here." Daniel suggested trying to get him to leave the very public area. He didn't want to fire the man in front of everyone.


That didn’t happen. Instead, Daniel spent 15 minutes being yelled at by a man who obviously was not happy about the home office sticking their nose in his business.


After looking at his watch one more time, he gave up and fired David in front of the crowd that was gathering. By that point his new favorite person besides Betty called up security. They arrived just in time to keep David from throwing a glass paperweight at his head. Daniel was convinced that he did the worst thing ever as they dragged David out of the office. He seriously doubted anybody will respect him after this. He walked back into his office where Diana and Candy were hiding the entire time.


"Can you push the graphics meeting back to two and push everything else back an hour?" Daniel asked warily as he grabbed his jacket from his closet.


"Considering everything today is "get to know you" meetings, I think I can do that." Considering Candy did not seem annoyed with him, she probably heard everything that happened with Mr. Pratt earlier in the day.


"Tuesday there'll be more job interviews and some advertiser meetings. Wednesday will be your very first photo shoot." Diana told him.


"Did you already hire the models?" Daniel asked.


"David did last week. That's the only thing he was really good at. They all fit the anorexic Mode girl image." Diana seemed very upset about that.


"That's good. Fire them all.” Diana opened her mouth wide in shock. “From now on healthy models only. Also, you can add a few beautiful women who actually look like our readers." Daniel said as he walked out the door.


"Where are you going?" Candy asked him.


"For a walk," he said without even looking at her.


Within 20 minutes, Daniel realized wandering around London by himself was a mistake. He got so lost trying to find Betty's building that he had to call the car service. Inside waiting for him was Betty, the first thing he did was kiss her.


"Maybe you should close the door first?" Betty said breaking the kiss.


"That would probably be a good idea." He said as he closed the door and went back to kissing her. He wondered if Betty had a relationship like this before that was so physical. After a few more minutes, he placed his head on her lap and sighed deeply.


"I'm assuming it was a really bad morning?" Betty asked with concern in her voice.


"Really bad. The magazine is a mess. The offices look exactly like they do in New York because Faye had this crazy idea that all Mode magazines around the world should be identical right down to the placement of semi colons." Amanda’s mom was apparently that crazy.


"It can't be that bad."


Just to prove his point he had the car stopped at a newsstand so they could pick up the latest issue of Mode UK. They were also able to pick up a copy of French Mode as well.


"Okay you're right. It is that bad. This looks like what the magazine looked like before you and Wilhelmina took over." Betty said as she looked over the magazine at the cute little Thai restaurant they found.


“This is probably one of the main reasons why the sales numbers are falling so drastically." Daniel told her.


“But there are probably other reasons. What else is going on?" Just because she asked the question he started smiling again.


"I'm not sure if it's going to be a good thing or bad thing to have a girlfriend that can read me so well. I had to fire someone today. It went badly."


"How badly?" she asked him.


"He tried to throw a glass paperweight at me but was stopped by security." Betty winced at his explanation.


"At least security stopped him." She said this in a way that made him laugh a little. "Everything couldn't be that bad. There had to be something positive about this morning."


"Candy is unbelievably good at her job and I am shocked that Monique was willing to let her come with me to London.” Daniel started to explain happily. “The two managing editors who have been keeping the magazine afloat for the last three months are both brilliant. There are a lot of good people on the staff. In addition, I implemented the magazine's new diversity approach to models."


"What does that mean?" Betty asked confused. That’s when he remembered that she was already gone before he and Monique had that discussion.


"The models in Mode now have to look like the beautiful people you come across in everyday life and not stick figures. Too bad you work for the competing publisher, otherwise I would put you on the cover wearing nothing but black lace. You would have looked so hot in the Million-Dollar Bra." He punctuated his words by kissing her shoulder. Apparently Betty wasn't used to him talking to her like this and she started choking on her water.


"It's too soon for that sort of comment?" Daniel asked as he tried to help her.


"Just a little, at least when we are in public.” Daniel did not consider the back of the town car public, but Betty probably had different rules. “I've never had a boyfriend who has seen me like you before."


"You do remember that your last real boyfriend painted nudes of you?" Very hot nude paintings.


"I didn't pose for any of them." He wondered when it would be the right time to tell Betty that he actually owned every single one of Matt's nude paintings of her.


"It doesn't matter. You are still a very beautiful woman." There was that Betty blush again that he loved so much. He quickly reached over and kissed her gently.


"Enough about the chaos at mode UK, tell me about your morning? It had to be less stressful." He watched her face truly become alive as she told him about everything that happened that morning. She seems so confident and in control as she talked about hiring more members of her staff and working on putting together the first issue that will come out in July.


Apparently starting a magazine from scratch was just as stressful as trying to save one from completely going under. Maybe he had the advantage because this wasn't the first time he kept a magazine from collapsing.


She looked so stunning as she talked about her magazine. She talked to him about being so happy to be getting her own assistant and getting to write the stories she wants to write. He couldn't help but reach over and kiss her again.


The entire walk back was spent holding hands and exchanging kisses before he had to let her go. He had no choice otherwise he was going to be late for his 2:00 PM meeting.


The afternoon meetings went significantly better than the morning except for a few angry phone calls from the now former Creative Director. He must admit that he had to look up a few of the more colorful insults in Candy's guide to British curse words. They even spelled ass differently here.


At 3:00 PM everyone at mode UK learned that Monique Osborn was the new co-owner of Meade publishing. He was pretty sure he heard a chorus of cheering. Although that may be some leftover celebrating from this morning. Daniel is now well aware David Pratt was not a very well-liked person. Even though most people hate Wilhelmina, they respected her professionally. David didn’t even manage the respect part.


It was now almost 6:30 PM and his severe lack of sleep last night was catching up to him. Was it really only a few years ago that he could go clubbing all night and survive a full day of work? Then again, maybe it was the dry way the accountants were delivering the bleak news that was sending him into a coma.


He missed that accountant that looked like that Star Trek guy. At least he knew to tell jokes during these meetings to keep Daniel from passing out. Did it really take 45 minutes to tell him that they were completely screwed unless he managed to get ad sales up by 75% in the next 30 days? Graphs would have really helped. As he exited the meeting, Candy was there handing him another cup of coffee.


"Why are you giving me more coffee? I thought I would be leaving at this point." He just wanted a warm bed and a hot Betty in said bed. Was that really too much to ask for?


"While you were dealing with the accountants, the photographer for the Wednesday shoot called and wanted to meet with the new EIC. He was a little angry when he found out he would be working with models that actually look like people. He's in your office. He also tried to hit on me three times." That explains why Candy seemed very annoyed.


"I will talk to him. Just in case…"


"I already lined up two possible photographers. I've emailed their digital books to you."


"Seriously why did Monique let you come to London?" Daniel asked again. Candy was brilliant.


"I think she is still upset about that one time I left her at an advertising event at a club to hook up with some guy. You never know with my old boss." Candy shrugged.


As he walked into his office he was prepared to go over all the reasons why they were doing the new diversity approach that he and Monique agreed to when he saw the last person he expected in his office.


"Becks what are you doing here?" He asked slightly surprised. He hasn’t seen the guy and nearly 3 years. At some point over the last three years he stopped communicating with his former friend. It was not anything drastic. They just went from emailing each other every week to doing so, once every four or five months or so. He actually hasn’t heard from Becks since November Fashion Week last year when he emailed Daniel to tell him he wasn’t coming. Daniel was actually upset about that because he needed another friend after the Molly fiasco.


"Complaining to the idealistic dick who decided to change all the models in my shoot at the last minute. In general, I've been hanging around Europe taking a job here and there. What are you doing here?" ‘Some people never change.’ Daniel thought to himself.


"We decided that we needed a presence out in Europe and I volunteered. More specifically, I am the idealistic dick who changed all the models in your shoot at the last minute. I am the new EIC." Daniel said with a smirk.


"Let me guess, Wilhelmina finally took over." And then he frowned.


“Wilhelmina is no longer with Mode.” Daniel responded swiftly. “I'm here to fix the problems here at Mode UK. One of the problems is by not showing models that actually look human, we're alienating part of our readership." The man was looking at him as if he completely lost his mind.


“Who are you and what happened to that guy who used to challenge me at fashion week to see who could hook up with the hottest model there?"


"He grew up." He heard his beautiful girlfriend say from the hallway. Betty was carrying pizza and a bag filled with magazines. "I don't think I've seen you since Bradford's funeral."


"If it isn't my replacement. I see the plastic surgery fairy paid you a visit.” Becks replied snidely. “Apparently, you're still Daniel’s assistant."


"Not really." Betty said as she walked over and gave Daniel an earth shattering kiss right after she placed everything on his desk. He was pretty sure Becks was not breathing at the moment.


"Actually I am the assistant and Betty is his soul mate," Candy said bringing in drinks and his two managing editors with her.


"Daniel's life partner here is the new EIC of London Hub magazine. She's the reason why he's here in London. She's also the brilliant one who suggested a research party to look over the competition. She just snagged back issues for the last two years."


"I have to look through them anyway to get an idea of what other magazines in my company are doing. At least this way I get to spend time with my favorite person, if that is okay?" Betty smiled at him


"Diana, Becks has some concerns with the new direction of the photo shoot Wednesday. Do you mind going over the new story boards you are working on with him; unless you have something else you'd rather do?"


"I'll do anything that means I'm still employed. I was so looking forward to meeting the reason why you were the only straight man in this entire office not looking at my chest area today." Diana shrugged.


"Are you sure you want to spend your evening doing this?" Daniel asked turning to his girlfriend.


"I told you I had to do this anyway. I am just enjoying doing it with my favorite person." Betty kissed him again.


"They are absolutely adorable," S said just as Diana pulled a completely shocked Becks into the hallway. It was for the best since he really did not want the two to start fighting. So maybe the two not getting along may have something to do with the deterioration of his relationship with his old college friend.


"That is because they're finally out of denial mode," Candy replied snidely as she grabbed a slice of pizza.


He really didn't pay attention after that because Betty was currently sitting on his lap making snide comments about the magazine of her new parent company. Despite everything, he made the right decision coming to London.

To be continued

The song for Betty’s alarm in this chapter is Video by India Arie.

Chapter Text



May 24 2010


Marc stared at the clock drinking his coffee completely shocked he was not only up this early but completely ready at 6:43 in the morning. It was for the best. There would be a 9:00 AM press conference this morning where Monique will announce that she now controlled 50% of Meade publishing. An hour before the conference there was going to be a meeting of all the editors and creative directors at Meade.


Due to the current lack of a creative director at Mode, he and Megan would be sharing the responsibilities of that job until a replacement was found. This meant he had to be at work an entire hour earlier than normal to attend the meeting. Monique promised pastries and lattes.


If his date with Troy had not gone so badly last night he would be more upset about getting up this early. Last night truly was awful and he was in bed by 11:02 PM. Sometime over the appetizer course last night Marc realized he and Troy had very little in common. This became apparent when he tried to actually talk to Troy instead of letting him use his mouth for much better purposes. It turns out there wasn't much for them to talk about.


Smalltalk wasn't possible and really if they were dating and not just screwing around they should be beyond that but they weren't. Conversations about their families were completely off the table. Troy came from an accepting family and Marc hasn't spoken to his mother since he told her the truth three years ago. Marc's daddy issues were not much better mostly because his daddy issues involved a dead dad.


He and Troy couldn't even hold a conversation about music because Troy has awful taste. Marc discreetly downloads the latest Backstreet Boys album to his iPhone and Troy kept talking about the virtues of the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber. Marc still preferred Justin Timberlake. At least he could fantasize about him without feeling dirty.

His new boss liked to joke that your iPod is perpetually stuck sometime around the time you were in high school or college, he's starting to believe her.


He didn't realize Troy was so young before this moment. He was only seven years younger than Marc but it seemed like a lifetime. Maybe life experience matters more than age. Troy just moved out of his family home six months ago. Marc had to be self-sufficient by the time he was 18 if he didn't want to spend his life in a broken closet trying to appeal to a woman who will never love him for who he truly is.


That is why last night Marc came to the unfortunate conclusion that they really did not have anything to talk about besides work (nor did he actually want to talk to Troy that much). They didn't even like the same TV shows. Troy didn't even like shopping which was sacrilegious. How can you work at a fashion magazine and not like shopping? Even Betty liked shopping, granted it was shopping for her nephew but she still enjoyed it.


Any other conversation about work was off-limits right now. Everything Marc is currently working on was top secret. He and Monique along with Megan, who was rescued from Player Siberia, have been working on new material for the magazine for most of last week.


He could not tell Troy that he was the new managing editor for the creative side of the magazine because that announcement wouldn't occur until today. He could not tell Troy about the new direction that the magazine would be going in soon. He could not talk about how unsure he was about the new direction. Marc was never good at adapting to new things.


He cannot even talk about the real reason why Wilhelmina decided to leave because that was not public knowledge yet (nor would it ever be because they were still covering up for Tyler).


Even if he could legally discuss the situation he wasn't sure if he could talk to Troy about losing his mentor. It feels weird not seeing Wilhelmina on a daily basis. He missed their work relationship despite the power imbalance but he can't talk to Troy about that because he is not sure that the freshly out of college child could understand.


This made Marc also realize that he could not talk to Troy about anything else related to his personal life either. He couldn't talk to him about his decision to stay at Mode despite the fact he missed Wilhelmina in his professional life. Marc doubts Troy would understand despite the fact that that professional relationship is over, he still going to maintain a friendship with Wilhelmina and he will still be at Wilhelmina's jailhouse nuptials.


He most definitely cannot talk to Troy about Amanda. He could not tell him about how he was secretly upset that Matt was taking his place in her life now that he was back. He's even jealous that the man is taking over his midnight snack runs and the baby-stuff shopping. That was supposed to be their thing.


There's no way he can tell Troy about how angry he was about Amanda keeping her relationship with Matt a secret from him until the first breakup. He found out about their relationship at the same time he found out she was most likely carrying Matt's child. He felt like she stabbed him in the back. Amanda is his best friend, his platonic soulmate. They're not supposed to have secrets and yet she didn't trust him to know about Matt. That still hurt.


He cannot talk to Troy about being worried that Amanda will leave him behind now that she was becoming a mother and starting her own business. It is not as if they can go back to clubbing now that she is carrying the next heir to the Hartley fortune. He doubted she would leave the baby with Matt just so they could go to jockstrap night at Boy Town after junior makes his grand debut in October. (Marc chose not to examine why he believes that he will be free to go to Jockstrap night after the littlest fashion queen is born.)


Before, when Amanda was with someone, it did not seem to matter. It was always just about sex. She went to that person for sexual gratification and she came to him for emotional support. For the first time she got both from Matt (well, that was the case for now at least). He must admit that he is a bit jealous of that because he has sexual gratification with Troy but he knows he doesn't have emotional support. He is starting to wonder if maybe emotional support was better than sexual gratification. Which is why he didn't get any 'coffee' last night with Troy after dinner.


He could never talk about any of these things with Troy. Their relationship just was not that close yet. He was wondering if he and Troy could ever get to that point. If he cannot talk about this stuff with Troy then where was the relationship going? Was there even a point? Was he settling just because he was lonely?


He could have talked about this stuff with Cliff. He could always tell things to him that he usually only ever felt comfortable talking to Amanda about. He has been thinking a lot about his ex-boyfriend recently. Even before his conversation with Monique at Holston's wake, Cliff has been on his mind.


He really did not appreciate the good thing he had with Cliff until he was surrounded by the Matt and Mandy show. He just assumed it was normal loneliness cause by the fact he was surrounded by couples that triggered his trip down memory lane. Even Justin had a boyfriend and his mom just married the love of her life. Wilhelmina was back with Connor. Everyone was happy with someone except for him, who was obviously settling for the first man available. Even perpetually clueless Betty and Daniel finally made it out of denial land and were living happily ever after in London.


Candy sent him cell phone video of the happy couple making out in their living room. The happy scene made Marc want to vomit. Seriously, why does she get all the hot guys?


Even though he technically had a boyfriend, he still felt lonely. People in love who truly understood each other and trusted one another surrounded him. He had that once upon a time, but not with Troy. It's only now that he realizes how truly badly he fucked that up. Yet, he was still going through the motions because it was better than being completely alone surrounded by people in love. Maybe this is his penance for throwing such a good thing away.


It probably did not help that he saw Cliff briefly at Monique's going away party as he was going to warn Wilhelmina that Daniel was looking for her. Ironically, Janet Jackson’s song Got ‘Til It's Gone was playing in the background as he saw Cliff in the crowd. It was probably in honor of how much they will miss Monique, but the line "How'd I ever let you get away?" meant something completely different to Marc just feet away from the one that got away.


He didn't get to speak with him because Monique and Daniel dragged him into her office despite how much he wanted to. He saw pictures of the model boyfriend making out with a Gossip Girl or something so he hoped for Cliff's sake that he kicked the guy in the dick before moving on. Unfortunately, work came first even if he really wanted to know what was going on with Cliff.


Much to his surprise, Monique and Matt's plan worked. Wilhelmina was leaving the Company. What was more surprising was Monique wanted him to stay at Mode with her. She offered him not only a full editor position but also a managing editor position that oversaw the creative aspects of the magazine. There hasn't been a managing editor for that part of the magazine since Sheila quit after Wilhelmina became part owner of the magazine because of her almost Meade baby.


He was almost going to follow Wilhelmina to Isabella Press. Marc almost did what he always does. He did not want to leave Wilhelmina after her recent near death experience. He was well aware of the second part of Monique's plan. Just as he was about to say no he saw Cliff walk in front of Monique's door talking to some stupid guy that was not worthy of him. (Was that the closet case of a model's replacement?)


Seeing him reminded Marc of the last time they talked almost a year ago at that award banquet. He promised him that he wouldn't let his fears keep him from something good again. So far, during the last almost 12 months, the results have been mixed.


He took Daniel's job offer to be his assistant when Wilhelmina left the company temporarily. He went right back to doing her bidding shortly after her return, even though she made him a junior editor. Nothing really changed with the new title; he was still picking up Wilhelmina's dry cleaning and buying her accessories for her latest evil scheme. He was acting as an enabler. He might as well pull the trigger himself that night, because his presence was allowing Wilhelmina to keep doing the same dangerous things.


His personal life wasn't much better. The whole thing with Troy had been a fiasco from the beginning. The thought of being in a real relationship scared him and now that he was trying for something real he wasn't sure if Troy was the right person.


Professionally, if he stayed with Wilhelmina nothing would change. He couldn't learn anything else from her. He couldn't stay. He had to take this job for himself. He couldn't break his promise this time. He couldn't let his fear control him. As Madonna's jump now played in the background, he took the metaphorical jump and accepted the position. He wondered if his ex would be happy.


Maybe last night's date with Troy was a disaster because he couldn't stop thinking about his ex. The more he thought about Cliff, the more miserable he became on his date last night with Troy. By 10:00 last night, he made some excuse to leave early when Troy invited him over for a 'nightcap'. He purposely went out with Troy on a Sunday so he would have a built in excuse to leave early. (He was turning down sex, were things really that bad?)


He should have stayed out an hour more because he walked in on Amanda and Matt having straight people sex on the couch. He is going to have to disinfect that before he sits on it again. He had nightmares about that, which is probably why he slept awful and woke up long before his alarm.


He was less than pleased when he saw Matt walk into his kitchen and go straight to the refrigerator as if he actually lived there. He also took Marc’s other cup of coffee which was just wrong. He can now hear Amanda doing her now daily morning prayers to the porcelain gods in the bathroom. That explains why Matt grabbed a ginger ale out of the fridge. See, Marc would have been standing next to the door with Amanda's special baby tea and mouthwash.  Instead of drinking coffee that wasn’t even his. Matt was just being lazy.


"Why exactly did you sublet Betty's apartment, if you're over here all the time?"


In the past, Amanda's boyfriends, and he uses the term loosely, were usually out of the apartment before he would be up for the day. Matt was there all the time. However, Matt was not a boyfriend; Matt was the father of her child.


"I'm trying to be supportive of my girlfriend who's carrying my child." Matt said in irritation. His words made Marc angrier. Where the hell were you when Amanda was freaking out over being pregnant? Nowhere. You were too busy trying to save the world to realize you were breaking her heart.


"He's going to be here a lot Marc. Besides we have an opening for a third, now that Betty is in London." He heard Amanda yell from the bathroom as she started to brush her teeth.


"I guess since you are the one responsible for her no longer being a size two, you should get to partake in the misery of Mandy being pregnant. At least I haven't had to go on a tampon run since January. I should thank you for that." Actually, he missed their monthly excuse to eat chocolate and ice cream together.


"I'm sure the tampon runs are better than 1:00 AM trips to get Phish Food ice cream and crunchy jalapeno potato chips." Marc giggled a little when he saw Amanda smack Matt upside the head as she grabbed the ginger ale from his hand.


"Sorry, it must be the baby hormones."


"You do realize you won't be able to use that excuse anymore eventually." Marc pointed out to his friend.


"I'm going to enjoy every minute of it. How did your date with Troy go last night?" Amanda asked as she drank her ginger ale and started to make her way to the refrigerator. Thanks to Amanda's pregnancy they actually kept food in the apartment now. Now that Monique was in charge, Mode employees were encouraged to eat three balanced meals a day.


"Badly. You do remember I walked in on the two of you on the couch before 11. I never complained about you having 'fun' in the apartment before Amanda, but could you please do what you did last night in his apartment?" Or at the very least not on my couch. It's very hard to get cum stains off of the fabric and no he's not going to think about the fact he learned that when dating Cliff.


"Sorry. It's the baby hormones. The book says increase sex drive is perfectly normal at this stage." Marc rolls his eyes when she said that. He knew that she was going to blame everything possible on baby hormones for the remainder of her pregnancy. It would be adorable if it wasn't annoying.


"So how did dinner go with momzilla?" Amanda glared at him.


"At least she didn't try to eat her future grandchild," he was not shocked to hear Matt say this. Monique told him stories about her country club reputation and none of it was good. "She told me to give Amanda a check to go away. That is probably just as bad. We left before dessert, after I told her to go to hell."


"That was bad. Yet the experience was still better than when I came out to my mother." Which just pointed to how dysfunctional his family truly was.


"You're braver than me. I have not even worked up the courage for the "guess what mom I’m bi" conversation. I'm sure that conversation would go even worse." Marc managed to pick his jaw up from the floor before Amanda started asking for her craving of the day. Seriously, why did all his female friends get the cute guys? (Not that he would actually sleep with Matt because he was an asshole. Yes, he was still bitter about the guy dumping Amanda right when she found out she was pregnant because of Megan's little stunt.)


"Do we have any more of the honey wheat bagels? I think we are out of salmon cream cheese too. The baby doesn't like the regular stuff." At that comment, he made a mental note to order groceries during lunch.


"We will pick something up on the way there." Matt said as he gave her a kiss on the forehead.


"What do you mean "we"?" Marc asked with irritation in his voice. Marc was really looking forward to some Matt free time with his BFF even if it was just the walk to work. He needs to talk to somebody about Troy.


"I need to be there for the press conference and the Mode meeting." Matt said as he went over to his apartment to finish getting ready.


"But this was going to be our time together. We always walk to work together except during that time where you stopped working there." Marc said a few minutes later outside the apartment as they were waiting for Matt to join them.


"Technically I am just answering the phones as I function as one of Monique's wedding planners. I'll be back to stealing things from the closet for my own clients as soon as the wedding’s over and Monique gets a new assistant." Marc doesn't believe her.


He’d rather her be Monique's assistant again. At least there's constant money in that. Honestly, Marc doesn't trust Matt not to just wake up one morning and disappear. Maybe Amanda should take the check because at least the money will still be there in six months, whereas he wasn't that sure about Matt.


"I don't think it counts as stealing anymore when your unborn child owns a portion of the parent company." Marc snaked instead. At least there is the trust fund being set up. Amanda will have that unless the baby turns out to be Daniel's. Then at least she'll have a competent partner and the baby will have a decent stepmom as well.


"You're probably right. Is Troy going to be your plus one?" Amanda asked from out of nowhere. "I'm working on the seating charts today and I need to know how far to keep you and Cliff away from each other."


Of course Cliff was invited. Actually, Marc would not be surprised if he's in the wedding party because he was friendly with Gio even when they were dating and he is best friends with Monique.


A part of Marc wasn't even sure he would still be with Troy by the time the wedding rolled around. However he didn't have a chance to phrase that because instead of waiting for his answer Amanda became too busy with making out with Matt the moment he walked out of his apartment. Watching them together made him feel more alone than before, if such a thing were possible.



He was slightly happier going into the editors meeting because Monique showed him the cell phone video of Daniel firing someone in London. The audio quality wasn't that good, however, the angry and shocked expression the victim was wearing still came through. He was positive that was the moment Daniel told the idiot in question that he was the owner of the company. Daniel Meade finely got a backbone. He knew Wilhelmina would love to see this. Marc was actually halfway to her office before he remembered that she wasn't at Mode anymore.


Some of the expressions on the editors' faces were just as priceless as Monique told them that she was now the ‘bitch in charge’. Yes she used that phrase specifically and she actually caused someone to choke on a muffin. He knew that Monique had been looking forward to the editors meeting, when she tells everyone that she is their new boss, for weeks. She enjoyed the misery of certain people.


However, there was one EIC more caught off guard then all the others, Carl of Outdoor Life a.k.a. the muffin choker. Of course his shocked expression could have something to do with the fact that he assumed she was the coffee girl just five minutes earlier despite the fact that she has been an EIC for over two years. He was sure the guy was less than happy with the fact that Monique had to give him the Heimlich. She was a better person than Marc because he would just let him choke.


He was almost positive Damien lost consciousness for a few moments during the excitement. His shock did not last long, because within minutes he was making snide comments about Monique; either her buying her way to the top or fucking her way there. Damien shut up quite quickly when she reminded him that his contract was up in three months. Wilhelmina would be so proud of her little ducklings going off into the world and slaughtering their own minions.


The press conference went as expected. The only shocking news to the outside world was Monique taking over the company in the United States with Claire and Daniel becoming the Vice President of European operations and relocating to the London offices. His position at Mode UK was a closely guarded secret at the moment. No one saw this coming when Wilhelmina resigned a few days ago.


Monique left them with a promise of many new things to come in the next few months such as the DC shoot or the promise that would be around for another century. He knew the truly shocking material was saved for the Mode staff meeting at 11 AM. Although she did mention the company's new diversity forward approach for all Meade publications.


Suzuki was kissing Monique's ass after the conference trying to get the real story. One glare from her and he was running the other way. Mandy told him all about what happened Friday during the one on one interview. This was also when she told him that they could not have lunch together because she was meeting with Spencer later in the day. He was happy that she was reconnecting with her father but Marc was getting very frustrated with the fact that his best friend had so little time for him right now.


"Marc I need to talk to you for a few minutes before the main meeting." Monique said grabbing him away from Amanda as she literally drug him into her new office. She had already successfully taken out many of the Daniel elements. Although the blackout blinds were still firmly in place. He may no longer be an assistant but everyone has heard about Candy having the misfortune of walking in on her boss during a special ‘briefing’ with her boyfriend. Marc didn’t want to deal with that.


"What for?” Marc asked as he followed behind. "You have all the presentations right? I gave them to Amanda on a memory stick before the press conference. She did not flush the stick down the toilet again did she?" That would be such an Amanda thing to do.


"No, that's not it. You know I'm going to be very busy the next few weeks doing the interviews for the creative director position and trying to finalize my wedding." Monique started.


"Please tell me you're not going to make me choose place settings. I had enough of that with Wilhelmina's wedding to Bradford." Marc shivered as he flashed back to that disaster. It almost made Marc grateful that very few places allowed him to get married, almost.


"I'm just glad prison weddings don't require as much fanfare or menu tastings." There is also the fact that Wilhelmina is no longer on speaking terms with anybody in her family. They did not even bother to call when Wilhelmina was in a coma. He knew Nico was still persona non grata but he was at least expecting something from the senator.


"That is what I am paying Amanda and the army of crazy wedding planners my mom forced me to higher for. I am paying you to do magazine stuff. Therefore, I need you to take point on the Brianna West-Hartley shoot this week and the DC shoot.” As well as the interview Monique managed to score with a certain DC power player about her daughter’s upcoming wedding that was literally fit for a princess. Marc was certain that will end up being the cover article for August.


“I will be stopping by the shoot Thursday to see how things are going, but it is mostly going to be your vision. The DC shoot will also be your vision. Really, I’m just going down for my bachelorette party that Alex will be throwing for me with Amanda’s help. DC is the only place we can meet because of schedules." Marc only knew about her friend Alex because Monique needed his help to track down various shoes for the sneaker aficionado.


Yes, it’s a big deal that she’s putting him in charge of Thursday’s shoot. It will be the center spread for the July issue. He was happy to be trusted with that much responsibility, until he remembered what would be involved with a West-Hartley photo shoot.


"I assume as usual, Brianna is going to be in the spread?" Marc was just a little worried about spending time with the designer. He hasn't seen her since he came within minutes of throwing up on her shoes last year at a certain awards banquet that he would like to forget. Never run into your ex-boyfriend after finding out you lost your dream job to Betty, that he tried to steal from her because your Yeti instructor (that coerced you into sleeping with her) stole her dream job. That just leads to near alcohol poisoning, public vomiting, and not remembering how you managed to get home.


"Of course. Is that going to be a problem?" Monique asked genuinely concerned. He was somewhat shocked his boss was concerned with his well-being.


"If I say yes, you're going to give the shoot to the bitch that despises Amanda." And he really did not want to help Megan get a head.


“Yes, but not because I’m playing head games with you. Megan is not a very good person, but she is the only one I trust besides you to get the shoot done right without pissing off the designer."


And unfortunately it wouldn’t be that hard to piss off the designer, in this case. Brianna used to be a fixture at Mode until early 2006 when she and Faye Somers had a falling out of biblical proportions. It was only her personal relationship with Monique that resulted in temperamental designer coming back to Mode.


"Fine, I will do it." Marc agreed reluctantly. He was a grown-up professional. He can deal with spending time with his ex-boyfriend’s former girlfriend. Especially because rumor had it that she managed to blackball Cliff’s evil model ex-boyfriend. He respects her for that alone.


"That's good. I should probably let you know that one of Breanna’s conditions to display her latest collection in the pages of Mode is we used her favorite photographer.” Monique just happened to say this, smirking.


"Cliff is doing the shoot Thursday?" Fuck. He does not need to deal with this right now.


"As well as, the DC shoot." Curse her.


"You're not playing matchmaker again are you?" Because this just seemed like something she would’ve done to Betty and Daniel to get them out of their ridiculous denial.


"Of course not. Don't you trust me?" She seemed too happy when she said that.


"Not at all."


“Look, it is possible to be friends with an ex. My ex is actually throwing my bachelorette party.”


“A Backstreet Boys bachelorette party. Were you his last heterosexual relationship?” Monique just rolled her eyes at him.


“You don’t have to be best friends with Cliff but I need you to be a big boy managing creative editor. I am not missing out on one of the best photographers in the business because you are just starting to realize what you lost when you fucked him over.” Monique said sharply. “Do we understand each other?


“Perfectly,” Marc said just before following her outside for the mode staff meeting.




This Mode staff meeting will probably be remembered for years. One of the more memorable moments included Nikolai making nasty comments about how Monique got this job. Apparently it’s a popular consensus that no matter how talented you are, you can only become EIC of mode by fucking your way to the top. That was such a ridiculous assumption. Everyone knows that Faye did not start sleeping with Bradford, until after she became EIC. Monique’s response was to just stare him down with a look that would have made Wilhelmina shiver just a little.


Marc was sure he was just mad that he lost a small fortune in the "When will Betty and Daniel get together" pool. Was it Marc's fault that he used insider information to make a bet along with the other members of the Detty conspiracy group? They were the ones to finally get the two clueless people together they deserve the money. Besides Nikolai was an idiot for not seeing what was going on between Betty and Daniel from the beginning.


Nikolai was also shooting daggers at him when it was announced that he would be taking over the managing editor job that Nikolai wanted since the position was vacated almost a year ago. Megan received the same angry response when it was announced that she was returning from her Player exile to be managing editor for features.


The former leader of the Mode rumor mill was not as well liked as she thought she was. Most people were happy when Daniel transferred her to Player. People were laughing at Betty's going away party when she practically fainted when Matt and Mandy started making out on the dance floor. However, even if Monique didn't like someone personally she still respected a person's talent. This was one of the things that set her apart from Wilhelmina.


There was cheering when Monique announced their new paid internship program. Monique personally was going to work with several high school and college interns, who would most likely fill in as her assistant unless Marc successfully convinced Mandy to stay on.


These students would be entitled to a very sizable scholarship for their hard work. The high school students would receive free scholarships to one of the most prestigious private schools in the city. Nepotism was encouraged and first choice would be given to friends and family of Mode employees. He already knew that Daniel persuaded Monique to choose Justin as one of her interns this summer and for the next school year. Justin was already helping Marc with his schedule until he found an assistant.


"Now that the more administrative parts of this meeting are out of the way, let's get to the important stuff. I have been in charge for exactly one week and so far things have gone exactly the way they have for the last four years. We have been putting finishing touches on the 100th anniversary issue and I felt it was best to not rock the boat. However, things are going to change around here and I'm not just talking about the fact that you're now allowed to actually eat during your lunch break." That got a chuckle from most of the table.


"Now that the last issue of the old regime is on its way to the printers, it is time for a new vision." Monique paused as Amanda started the computer presentation. On the screens behind her flashed the traditional image of the Mode girl.


"For the last 100 years we have been selling people the ideal Mode girl. For as long as I or anyone else can remember she has been this half way anorexic girl who only cares about wearing the latest styles and going to the best parties. Also, the majority of the time she was about as light as a piece of paper. Is that image really in line with contemporary values? Do your readers actually look like that? The concept of the Mode girl was not always like this. The Mode girl, just like the fashion industry itself, has changed over time." Behind Monique, images of the ideal Mode girl through the last 100 years were displayed on the screen.


"Now that the magazine world is on the cusp of a revolution, it's time for the Mode girl to change. It's time for her to come in line with modern ideas of femininity." Behind her the images of the mock covers that he and Monique have been working on appeared on the screen.


These images would have been displayed, if Amanda didn't run out of the room to go throw up again. Matt, who was sitting in on the meeting at Monique's request, followed behind her. Megan was giving her the death glare as she ran out of the conference room. Marc is halfway convinced that Monique decided to bring Megan back to Mode because being around a pregnant Amanda would be punishment enough.


"Megan unless you want to go check up on her, can you please take over the presentation? I'm sure the baby's daddy can handle everything." More snickering from colleagues that hated Megan followed.


"First of all the Mode girl of 2010 is not a girl anymore. She is a woman. She is a woman that comes in all different sizes and skin tones. She is a woman who did not necessarily grow up with western values but she still wants to be beautiful on her terms. She may even be transgendered just like our former EIC Alexis Meade. She does not want to be just the best dressed at a party or at a club. She just wants to be the best. Her outward appearance is just a reflection of her inner beauty. She cares as much about the Black Power suit as the little black dress. This doesn't just mean healthy models, this means diverse models of all types. We are going to reinvent the fashion magazine. We are going to redefine what is beautiful. We are Mode magazine. We don't follow trends, we make them."


He was expecting shocked faces instead he heard loud applause. He also saw Nikolai get up so quickly that he almost broke a chair. Marc should be worried about that. Instead, he was mentally preparing himself for Cliff day and how to avoid lunch with Trevor.


Chapter Text

Matt is unsure if he should be annoyed that he needs to leave his lunch with Amanda and her father early or grateful. Matt is going to go with grateful, even if the reason is a 2 PM meeting at the Hartley Center located in the Harlem neighborhood. He likes Amanda’s father, but things were awkward and he kept glaring at Matt whole the time.


Hartley Industry had invested a lot of money into the neighborhoods re-gentrification and the Hartley Center was a part of this. In a former life, the Hartley Center was an apartment complex. Inside was now a mixture of classrooms and office space with an emergency shelter.


Matt wasn’t sure why he was at the center except he received an email from his aunt’s assistant telling him he had the 2 pm with the director of the center Alana Ramos. The director was waiting for him when he arrived. She appeared to be only a little bit older than him, 35, at most. She was sitting in her office wearing jeans and a T shirt with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.


She seemed a little shocked to see him walk into the offices wearing jeans from Target. Just because he was wealthy, had a designer aunt, and a girlfriend who was trying to be a celebrity stylist did not mean his wardrobe came from the pages of Hudson. Actually, that was the reason why most of his wardrobe came from Target.


"Thank god you actually know what you're doing.” She said before offering him a cup coffee which he politely declined. “If you showed up here wearing $2000 shoes and with a camera crew following behind you I was going to send you home immediately."


“I think my mother did that once.” Matt half mumbled.


“At the Midtown offices, maybe. She would never come here unless it was for a groundbreaking ceremony even with the re-gentrification." That was unfortunately true.


“I am not my mother or my father for that matter. I'm sure Carmen Rodriguez told you I worked with her team in Gaborone for almost four months.”


“Yes, she gave you a glowing recommendation, but you also cut her a personal check when her funding got cut.” Matt sighed.


“I enjoyed my work there and that's why I volunteered to work here until I start school again in January.” Thanks to the Hartley name, he managed to get a spot at the University of Manhattan law program next year. “I did write a series of articles for Player magazine about my experience but the money I got from that was what I gave to Carmen. Does that mean I'm a celebrity cashing in on a good deed? "


"Not really but that is because Carmen has had an uptake in volunteers. Not to mention all the people that have written checks which means she is less dependent on the whims of your mother and the kindness of your aunt.” Alayna frowned when she mentioned Aunt Briana. There had to be a story there. “If you enjoyed your time so much in Gaborone, why are you here?"


"Family emergency." That was true enough. Tyler certainly counted as a family emergency, Even if he was responding to treatment. Somehow Aunt Briana convinced Tyler to stay with her for a few months when he gets out soon. The Tyler thing is to remain a closely guarded Hartley family secret.


"That's what Carmen said. I don't buy that excuse because if you really had a true family emergency, it would be all over the tabloids.” Unless it was a secret so dark that it was successfully buried for decades in North Dakota because his father was a dick. “Why are you back?"


“If you’re discrete not everything makes the tabloids. My girlfriend is pregnant. I didn't know about it until I came back for a real family emergency that we’re trying to keep out of the press because it involves rehab.”


“I assume in circles where they refer to rehab as ‘the spa’ that probably would be an emergency. Also, kudos for keeping the fact you even have a girlfriend, let alone a pregnant one, out of the press. It would make sense for you to want to come back before the baby was born.”


“She’s almost 5 months. And I didn’t even know she was pregnant before I left because she wasn’t pregnant when I left.” Alayna glared at him. “Or maybe she was just barely pregnant. She wasn't planning on telling me until after I got back so I would finish my time there without worrying about her. Apparently, we celebrated a little too hard before I hopped on the plane to work with Carmen."


That was true enough. He left out the part about him breaking up with her because he thought she was still sleeping with her ex who happened to be his ex-girlfriend's true love and his half-brother’s other brother.


“And by celebrating too hard, you mean without a condom." Her tone was slightly snide.


"Were you aware that birth control pills become less effective if you forget to take them for three days because you’re too caught up with each other to remember?" He had no idea why he was telling her this, but there was something about her that put him at ease.


"50 years later and people are still getting caught by that. The fact that you're not running away from that responsibility tells me you'll fit in here. I'm really tired of having volunteers that leave because things are not as easy as they thought they would be. Jody barely stayed and that’s probably because she needed as much help with learning to be a mom as the girls," she sighed. "At least I now know why I received a very interesting call from the head of the charity this morning."


"Does this involve my mother or my father?" He said with a sigh. Throwing money at the problem was what his parents did.


"I assume your Father because cameras will eventually be involved. For an extra $200,000 for our 2010 operating budget, all I have to do is assign you to the new mom and dad program. At least I now know your family is not trying to cover up something really bad with money, like pedophilia. At least I don’t think that’s the case. How old is this girlfriend?"




"There is no scandal in that." Alayna paused for a moment. “Unless she was your student. You didn’t sleep with a student and accidentally got her pregnant?”


“No. We did work together. But I was never her immediate supervisor.” Alayna exhaled in relief.


“That’s good. I can only handle the really sordid situations once a decade.” Alayna said before grabbing her phone and firing off a text message that he couldn’t read.


“I wish my mom saw things the way you do. She’s angry. I didn’t accidentally impregnate one of the country club girls."


“Does she realize the country club girls are more likely to be golddiggers?”


“Not at all.”


"How much do you know about what we do here at the Hartley Center?" Carmen asked as she gestured for him to follow her out of the office to the main part of the center.


"I know the center has several after school programs that provide everything from academic tutoring to a hot meal." And he knows that because he actually paid attention at one of his mom’s ridiculous fundraising parties last year.


"That's right. Our main goal is to provide students from age 4 to 19 with what they need to excel academically. Some people need academic help, which is why we have everything from tutoring to computer labs.” Alayna told him as they passed by the labs. The computers weren’t new, but rather castoffs from the Hartley offices. Although they couldn’t be more than two years old.


“Some people need a safe and quiet place to study which is why we have several study rooms and a library. That’s on the floor above us” She said pointing to the elevator.


“With the economy as bad as it is some people just need not to go to bed hungry, which is why we serve dinner to a lot of the students who are here. We even provide backpack lunches for kids to take home for the weekend.” That explains what a group of volunteers were doing in the room outside of Alayna’s office.


“Sometimes, we even provide a place to stay.” He’s led to a room with lots of bunkbeds and tiny plastic dressers. Sparse but clean. There is even a toy chest in the corner filled with stuff animals.


“We can house about 20 children as an emergency shelter. I’m hoping to get more beds, but that’s not all that we do here.”


"What else do you do?" Matt asked.


“From the article in Player and our earlier conversation, you mentioned that you worked with the AIDS education program. Did you actually do that or was that just an exaggeration for your article?" It was obvious that Alayna did her homework on him.


“Yes, I worked with the AIDS education and prevention program in Gaborone. I did explain to teenagers how to properly use condoms to prevent disease and pregnancy. You're not going to make a snide comment about me not listening to my own advice are you?"


“Do you regret the fact that you did not take your own advice?


“Not really, I just wish that we planned things out. Although, in my defense we did use condoms almost every time.”


"Almost doesn't count."  Alayna countered.


“It does when your girlfriend is also on the pill and you both passed your last STD tests with flying colors.”


“That apparently she wasn’t taking according to directions.”


“This is why I do not feel comfortable talking to teenagers about the importance of contraceptives after such a massive failure on my own part. Unlike everyone else in my family I don't like being a hypocrite." That made Matt the white sheep of his family, but he didn’t care.


“I don’t say that because I don’t want to help, because I do, but I think I would make a much better tutor to the little kids anyway. Since I am a writer, I think I would be a really good English tutor.” Matt offered instead.


“I already have Jody running our humanities tutoring program. She’s a big fancy editor of a big fancy magazine and she enjoys taking her red pen to my various reports a little too much.” Matt frowned at her words.


“It’s not hypocrisy, it’s learning from your own mistakes and I say that as a recovering alcoholic. It’s much better to come into that room from a place of experience.” Alayna said thoughtfully.


“You may have a point.” Matt decided not to mention that he is a recovering sex addict.


“Even if the mistress of the red pen was still on maternity leave, I could not let you loose on my kids as an English tutor. I told you the money was contingent on you working with the new mommies and daddies program. We need every penny we can get here." Alayna told him as they walked into a room where several very young girls were trying to diaper dolls.


Okay, not all of them were trying to diaper actual dolls. There was one real baby with curly hair that sort of reminded Matt of his girlfriend’s roommate and best friend. He could tell every girl in that room was pregnant. Some of these girls looked younger than the sister of Monique's fiancée. That made him wonder who the almost newborn belonged to.


"There is a very big difference between accidentally getting your girlfriend pregnant at 28 while using precautions, then it happening at half that age. Some of the girls in this room are not even 14 yet." Alayna said to him in a near whisper as they stood observing the room full of students.


Of course at that moment he wasn’t really paying attention because the ghost of YETI programs past walked into the room, without even looking at him. Although that may be because she went straight for the newborn. While not quite newborn, the baby must be at least two or three months old.


"This program is designed to help young girls and sometimes their partners prepare for having a child. We cover everything from the importance of prenatal care to what will happen in delivery. We also provide a crash course in parenting." Alayna explained.


“Which I found invaluable. Having a surprise child at 48 can be just as daunting. I originally thought Jade was menopause.” Jody said walking over to the two. It wasn’t until she reached their side did it dawn on his former mentor exactly who he was. He could tell by her lips parting slightly.


“I knew this was referred to as the Hartley Center but I didn’t think any of the Hartley’s would actually be here.” Jody said to the two.


"You know I’ve never been like the rest of my family.” Matt shrugged.


"You are a lot like your aunt." Jody remarked as she rocked the young baby in her arms.


By the way she was behaving this was obviously her child. Jody was not pregnant when classes concluded last April, unless she got pregnant right at the end which would match with the age of the child she was clutching. Although she just found out she was pregnant by the end of the course that would explain why she took Betty’s job. It’s amazing what one would do for their children.


"You two know each other?" Alayna asked.


"I’m friends with his aunt Breanna and he was one of the last I mentored as part of the YETI program.” Jody explained, causing Alayna’s eyes to shift back, between him and Jody’s child.


"He’s not?” Alena gestured to the baby.




"You did say it was somebody from your…"


"So why are you here Matt?" Jody asked cutting Alayna off.


“Because of baby Jade I think you should just focus on the tutoring program. Therefore Matt will be taking over teaching this class. Although I would be really happy if Jade could come visit.” Alayna said, reaching her arms out for baby Jade. Jody instantly handed her over.


"You want me to teach a class on parenting? I know nothing whatsoever about being a parent. I just started reading Oh Fuck; I Am a Parent Now two days ago. I didn't even have good examples. I was raised by the nanny."


“Considering your aunt taught me how to change a diaper, I think you will be fine.” Jody remarked and Matt could see that as being true. That just seemed like something his aunt would do.


“She was the one who threw a copy of that book at me two days ago.” Matt remarked.


 “Jody was in the same boat as you last year, but as you can see, baby Jade is doing just fine. Aren’t you sweetheart?” Alayna cuddled the baby.


“Besides, from what I heard your girlfriend is due in late September and you’re going to need all the help you can get. But that’s why we’re here." That’s when Alayna placed Jade in his hands, who promptly started to scream. Fortunately, he held his baby cousin enough to be able to deal with this.


"This isn't some evil scheme for my parents to get me to leave Amanda and our child? It wouldn't surprise me.” Matt said as he started gently rocking baby Jade. “Their bad example is why I shouldn't be around children." Thankfully, the small child stop screaming.


"If you were that type of person I wouldn't let you near these girls or baby Jade. I did my research. Do you really think I'm the type of person to read Player magazine?” Jody could be heard snickering from the background. “I must admit I was kind of shocked by the type of articles in there. I thought it was Hustler without the porn."


“I think Monique was going for Playboy without the porn from the era when they used to publish interviews with Malcolm X." Jody answered before Matt could.


"Honestly, this place needs all the volunteers it can get. With my maternity leave ending this week, they’re going to need someone else. You were one of the best in my class so I know that you’ll be good with this.” She praised.


“Okay, I’ll help.” Matt reluctantly agreed, wondering what he just got himself into.




“So you’re telling me that our YETI instructor took my dream job because she accidentally got pregnant by one of our classmates?" Betty asked for clarification because she couldn’t believe what Matt was telling her. You don’t have an accident kid at almost 50.


When Matt text messaged  in the middle of the night her time telling him to call when she had a chance she was hoping that he would tell her what happened to the rest of her clothing or maybe an update on how things are going between Amanda and his mom. (Apparently it went awful and Amanda keeps throwing up on everyone.) Finding out her former mentor screwed her over to take care of her unborn child was not something she was expecting.


Although at least now she can understand why it happened. She’s not even that angry because if she took that job, she would never be here in London, even if she was slightly annoyed that her 12 o’clock was running ridiculously late. She was supposed to be meeting with her new boss right now but he’s running so late that they will have to reschedule.


Of course, the guy being late gave her time to call Matt. It also provided Betty with an opportunity to find out why only one box of things arrived from New York. Because she left for London two weeks earlier than originally planned, Justin and Hilda promised to pack up the rest of the things in her apartment and send them to London and everything arrived yesterday. Except everything did not arrive because she is sure she had more than one box of things.


She knew she should have done all the packing herself. At least she was smart enough to pack Daniel's things at her apartment herself. She did not want to explain to her nephew, sister, or ex why her best friend not only had his own dresser drawer in her apartment, but he also kept condoms in it. (Really, they should stop lying to their selves much earlier.)


"Yes. Her name is Jade and she’s almost 3 months old."


"Which lines up with her getting pregnant right around our final project and she probably knew about the time of the job placements."


"Or found out right about then, and panicked." Matt suggested.


"And therefore took my job." Betty sighed.


"Probably. Especially if she actually did get pregnant by one of our classmates. They probably would have kicked her out for something like that." Betty knew Matt was right about that.


"I wish she would’ve told me that. I would’ve been a lot less angry. I saw what Hilda went through firsthand. So I understand. By the way, if you are going to teach you should probably talk to my sister. She can fill you in on the female perspective. They’re not even moving until the end of the school year as not to disrupt Justin schedule.” Betty suggested.


“I’m sure we will run into each other during the wedding planning process because your whole family has been drafted into it. So children really do change everything?" Matt asked.


"Apparently so. So you really think Jody slept with one of our YETI classmates?" That he still couldn’t believe it.


"Possibly although I didn’t ask. I wonder who though?"


"It could be almost anybody in our class except for you and Marc." She can’t believe she’s speculating about this with her ex-boyfriend.


"There are a few others because the baby is very light. Actually, baby Jade has hair like Marc. If he was bisexual, I would be 100% positive the baby was his." Betty swore she heard coughing in the background or maybe choking, followed by the rustling of sheets. God, she hoped she didn’t interrupt those two doing things she doesn’t want to think about ever. Even though she knows that they did do those things since Amanda is pregnant.


"Amanda… Amanda… Hey I have to go. Amanda just woke up and morning sickness is evil.” No, it doesn’t bother her that Matt and Amanda are together. She has accepted it quite fully and this is not awkward at all.


“That’s okay. Take care of your girlfriend.” Betty said into the phone just as she noticed the flash of the camera. She turned around to see Daniel with phone in hand along with a bag of carryout.


"Aren't you supposed to be at a business meeting?" Betty asked as Daniel placed everything on her desk and went over to give her a very gentle kiss on the lips. He tasted like his favorite caramel mocha cappuccino.


"The representative from DLS's daughter is highly allergic to strawberries. One of her "friends" gave her a strawberry roll up and told her it was cherry. Mrs. Windfall left just after I gave my presentation. Although to apologize for cutting our meeting short, she did buy a year's worth of advertising. I thought I would spend the rest of my lunch with you, if that's okay?" Considering that he was already opening containers, he already knew this was going to be okay.


"That's perfect. I was kind of board and was about to start going over my notes for the EIC meeting tomorrow morning." And maybe she was trying to figure out who else in last year’s yeti class had curly hair.


"I seriously doubt you had nothing to do." Daniel pointed to the stack of papers on her desk.


"Mr. Dunne was unavailable for our meeting to approve the final layout and we can't finalize the content for the first issue until that happens. I did just get off the phone with Matt. I still don’t know why only one box of my things arrived at the apartment yesterday. Although I did find out that my YETI instructor stole my job because she managed to find herself scared and accidentally pregnant at nearly 50." Daniel then proceeded to listen to the whole sordid story.


“Should I be worried about the fact you now more upset about your missing clothing than finding out the real reason why you lost your dream job last year?” Daniel asked, bemused.


“It worked out for the best. I’m glad that I’m here in London with you.” She leaned over to kiss Daniel on the mouth. Part of her is now sure that if she did not take this job in London, they would still be dancing around each other. They needed something big to change their dynamic and her leaving was the thing that finally forced them to acknowledge their feelings for one another. “I just wish I had my favorite purple fuzzy sweater. This office is freezing.”


“We can pick something up after work. We still need a coffee maker anyway. You know it was probably Justin and his sense of style." He said with a laugh.


“Probably, although I'm sure he had help from his mom.” Betty said with a pout. In addition to her wonderfully, warm, purple, fuzzy sweater being MIA, her favorite pair of polka dot sweatpants were among the things that had not arrived. She loved those pants.


“There's no way I'm going to be able to get back at him all the way from London."


"Did I mention a certain nephew of yours is coming in August for a one month internship at Mode UK?"


"My overprotective sister is letting Justin come here for a month? She barely lets him go into the city alone. This is just an excuse to get my family here. I love it." She said smiling as she hugged him.


"I knew you would. Your sister will be flying here with him, but he's going to stay with us for the rest of the summer." Daniel said as he started feeding her.


She thought it was kind of cute. She wasn't sure she ever had a boyfriend that she was like this with before. It was pretty normal for her and Daniel to share food. It was also normal for Daniel to feed her. What was different was kisses were now involved. She is just starting to see how much they acted like they were together before that was a reality. It made her even more certain that London was the best thing possible for their relationship in a weird way.


Betty loved the way he tasted as she felt his mouth consume her. She loved that thing that he did with his tongue. It was as if he was exploring every crevice of her mouth with that organ. At some point they stopped eating but she wasn't sure because Daniels hand started massaging her upper thigh underneath her skirt.


"We really shouldn't be doing this." Betty told him as she felt Daniel put her on top of her desk as his mouth never broke contact. Of course, the words came out as a disjointed moan as his overheated mouth made its way to her neck.


"You don't have any appointments for a while and I did remember to close the blinds. I promise we won't go too far." She didn't respond as he marked her with his teeth. She was mentally contemplating how to cover these particular bite marks for the rest of the day. Now she really wished her scarf collection arrived yesterday. She had a magenta one that would go perfect with this suit.


She heard the remnants of her lunch fall down to the floor as Daniel started kissing and sucking on her collarbone. She almost thought she heard a noise when he began to unbuttoned her suit jacket.


"Am I interrupting something?" When she heard the noise Betty completely froze and pushed Daniel off of her. He fell right on his backside.


Unfortunately, the person who barged in on this very private moment was her brand new boss, who was standing in the doorway. Instead of feeling like the confident businesswoman she was, she felt like that 19 year old girl who got caught making out with her boyfriend on the porch. Yet her boyfriend was laughing.


Instead of being mortified like her, he brushed himself off and introduced himself as confidently as possible. Daniel was sleeping alone tonight for not locking the door and for forcing her to listen to a lecture on proper office behavior from her new boss. They were definitely getting the purple cappuccino machine, even if it didn't match the rest of the kitchen. And Daniel was so paying for her new fluffy purple sweater.




Amanda splashed cold water on her face, trying to calm down. For the first time in weeks, it wasn’t baby sickness that sent her into the bathroom.


She and Marc shared a lot of secrets. He was the first one she called when she found out that Faye Somers may be her biological mother. He was the one that went with her to get tested when one of her former hookups notified her of his HIV status.


She is the only one who knows how miserable Marc was after the Cliff fiasco. She’s the only one who knows that he was the only person that Marc ever loved. She was probably the only one who knew Marc still loved him. It was pretty obvious by all his ranting yesterday. It was also very obvious by the way he keeps avoiding his actual boyfriend. She knew Marc well enough to know that this was going to be messy.


Although obviously not as messy as the Jody situation will turn out to be. That’s because Amanda is 99% sure that Matt’s first instincts were right. But that’s because Amanda is probably the only one who knows for sure that Marc had sex with Jody in exchange for her recommending him to various magazines.


Marc would panic. He couldn’t deal with this at all. Actually, Marc was still trying to pretend the Jody thing didn’t happen at all. He also gets weird every time he sees her reading parenting books with Matt and Marc abandoned her at the store as she was comparing breast pumps. Which is understandable considering she didn’t exactly handle finding out she was pregnant very well. She’s not sure that Marc would do any better, and he was the smart one of the couple.


Maybe there was no reason for Amanda to panic. Maybe Matt was wrong. She couldn’t tell Marc what was going on until she was sure and she had to be sure about this. Thankfully, she still had an extra DNA kit in the house from her search for her own father.


“Amanda, are you okay?” Matt called from outside the door. Amanda wonders how long she was in here panicking about this. Probably long enough to make Matt worried.


“I’m fine.” Amanda said opening the door. "I didn’t even throw up this time. I just felt like I needed to.” She lied.


“I’m just so happy to know that the ice cream you made me get at two in the morning agreed with the baby.” Matt joked.


“You don’t get to joke about this. You’re the one who got me this way.” And you left me to deal with it.


"Which is why I came with ginger ale and saltines.” Matt hands her a mini care package.


Maybe the ginger ale will help her calm down. Maybe this could be a good thing. Yes, the breast pumps freak Marc out, but he loves going baby clothes shopping with her (if Matt’s not there). Maybe her dream of their children playing together could still happen. However, she would put her daydreams about cohosting the perfect slumber party with Marc on the back burner until she had confirmation, which meant making contact with Jody.


"I feel better already. When is the next time you have to be at the center?" And Matt was her only connection right now.


"I don’t take over classes until after the wedding. I figured you needed me to do things for you."


Dammit. There goes her idea of just tagging along with Matt to a class.


"Will you be meeting with Jody before then?"


“Probably not. She’s really busy with going back to work next week. She was the one who suggested my start date.” Matt said as he started rubbing circles on her back.




"I was just thinking maybe we could invite her out to dinner. I need to spend more time with people with kids. With Jody being a new mom, she can provide me with tips about the best playgroups for muffin.” Especially if Jody’s muffin turns out to be Marc’s muffin.


“That’s a good idea. I’ll ask her after the wedding. With things being as busy as they are with the wedding planning I’m sure your schedule wouldn’t allow something like that until after the wedding, anyway." Matt kissed her cheek.




"Sure, it can wait until after the wedding.”


No, it can’t.


Amanda knew she couldn’t wait that long, but she wasn’t going to tell Matt that. She would think of something.

To be continued

Chapter Text


Chapter 4: You Can’t Use Diamonds and Pearls Anymore to Say ‘I screwed up’


Candy arrived at the Meade-Suarez house at 6:30 AM with more coffee and Daniel’s briefing materials for today's meetings. The great cappuccino machine debate was still going on and Daniel sent her a text message at 5:00 AM begging her to bring coffee. Because she only lived a couple of blocks away at the town house actually owned by Monique's very rich aunt, it was easier to meet Daniel here.


She was accompanying Daniel to a 7:30 AM breakfast meeting with London Beauty Inc. that promised to be a disaster. It would take a miracle to make a sell. The American firms that have European entities are still buying ad space, but their European counterparts were not. It was also becoming quite obvious that many of the companies pulling advertising were just using the scandal as an excuse to save face. There is something else going on.


As soon as Betty let her into the house she knew something was off. Monday they were all over each other in a sickeningly sweet teenager in love way. Now Betty was polite but distant from Daniel. She didn't even bother kissing him goodbye. They were acting like the last time they were not on speaking terms except there was no screaming. Even though she was at another magazine at the time, everybody knew when Betty and Daniel were fighting. It became the hottest gossip around complete with cell phone video and daily website updates.


"What did you do wrong?" She asked the moment they were alone in the town car 15 minutes later.


"I didn't do anything. Nothing's wrong, everything is perfectly fine." Daniel said in a way that told her something was wrong. He was too defensive.


"Then why didn’t Betty kiss you goodbye? You were all over each other Monday. For a moment I thought I was going to have to get a hose." Candy smirked at him.


"It's nothing. I surprised her with lunch yesterday after my meeting ended abruptly." Daniel started to absently flip through his binder.


"That should have got you bonus points, not your girlfriend being super polite as she tries not to throttle you."


"I may have convinced her to make out with me on top of her desk at some point. Her boss may have walked in on us as I was starting to remove articles of clothing. He may have given her a 20 minute lecture on appropriate behavior for an EIC that I listen to from down the hall. She may have slept in the guest room last night." Daniel said that last part with a sigh.


"That's why you were late yesterday for your two o'clock. I had to cover for you. You owe me chocolate for that. I don’t like covering up your afternoon delight.” Candy was slightly annoyed.


“I’m sure I owe a lot of people chocolate even though there was no actual delight involved.” Daniel sighed.


“For me, you should just set up weekly chocolate deliveries. This is probably going to be a regular thing but you’re going to need something better for the girlfriend. I suggest getting her something expensive and shiny. Nothing says ‘I am sorry I fucked up’ like diamonds’" Candy tells him.


“I don’t think I did anything that warrants an emergency trip to Tiffany’s." Daniel sighed and Candy wanted to shake him just a little bit.


“No, I think a Tiffany’s trip is necessary. She slept in a different room. She gave you a glare this morning that could freeze your coffee. Most importantly there was no kissing. You seriously fucked up.”


“I would lecture you on appropriate workplace language, but it would be useless because you were at Player for too long.” Daniel sighed again. “I don’t see why this would require jewelry. I’ve done worse.”


“I know. But we’re not in Manhattan anymore. Betty just started that job less than two weeks ago and now everybody is going to think she is the office slut. If you overheard the conversation with her boss, the entire office heard it. Gossip is an international pastime and people are going to want to know as much as possible about the new woman in charge. We both know what those rumors would be about." Candy could not believe she had to spell this out for him.


"People have been saying those types of things about me for a long time. Actually, people have been saying those sorts of things about me and Betty for a very long time. They’re just rumors. They don't mean anything." Daniel shrugged it off.


“It means something this time. Rumors can do a lot more damage than you think. How long did it take for people in the publishing world to see you as more than a screw up?”


“Some still don’t take me seriously. Although most do since Molly died.”


“Daniel really think about that for a moment. Despite benefiting from rich white male privilege, it took people seeing you be a good husband to your dying wife before anybody saw you as more than the guy who fucked all the models and only got his job because his rich daddy gave it to him. Even then some still don’t take you seriously like the Lafayette’s from yesterday. You are actually a smart guy, but people only believed what the tabloids told them. Megan wasn't the only one who thought Betty got her job on her knees. A lot of people at Mode and some of the other magazines at Meade didn't take her seriously because of all those rumors about the two of you. I don’t think she wants to bring that baggage with her."


"Those rumors made it to other magazines?" He asked in shock.


"There were blogs. You should know this.” Candy side but then Daniel’s rich white privilege blinds him to a lot of things.


“I will send you the URLs. All it took was a picture of Amanda on top of your desk to convince Matt that she was cheating on him with you. Your shady reputation precedes you. In this instance it's going to do a lot of damage to Betty's career because people don't know her yet." She can see recognition instantly in his eyes.


“Were definitely going to have to schedule a Tiffany’s trip. And unfortunately, she will recognize all my usual "I'm sorry I'm a fuck up" presents. I need to come up with something new. Is it too soon for an engagement ring?"


"Probably," although candy is sure Monique would be happy to hear that he is considering it.


When Betty walked into her office building that morning everybody stopped talking. Her years of being a social outcast told her that was never a good sign. Betty wished she already hired her personal assistant because that way she would have someone to tell her why she was getting nasty looks.


Things got worse when she made it to her office suite. Lance Williams her features editor made some snide comment about her special lunch meeting yesterday. Her creative editor Dominique kept asking her how a woman like her ended up with a notorious playboy. However, they were the only ones who had the balls to say such things to her face. The walls were incredibly thin and she could make out the whispering.


The editors meeting was also an exercise in awkwardness. The meeting probably would have been uncomfortable anyway because she was the new person in charge of a brand new magazine and no one really knew her yet. It was worse because she knew everybody was talking about yesterday’s incident before she even walked into the room. It was like high school all over again, except people were talking about her sleeping with the quarterback equivalent instead of the guys spilling a Slurpee on her. Betty is having trouble deciding which type of gossip is preferable.


During her actual presentation, Betty was positive no one was listening to her. Actually Dominique and Lance were exchanging text messages speculating about who she had to shag to get this job. They weren’t exactly being subtle about it.


Despite that, things were still going better than yesterday's private meeting with her boss. Half of the items that she wanted to include in the first issue were cut. After being yelled at in a very British way for the thing with Daniel, she was also told that she wouldn't be writing any articles except for the letter from the editor. He told her that her job was to manage the magazine not create new content.


She was halfway tempted to ask him why he hired her in the first place if she wasn’t allowed to write but she bit her tongue. Betty was already in serious trouble for the things she did in her time with Daniel earlier. Honestly, she was more disappointed than angry. Actually she was more frustrated than anything else, which was why Daniel got to spend the night on the couch. Yes, she now realizes that she took her frustration out on the wrong person. But now everyone is speculating about her sex life.


There was one bright spot in her day the deputy creative director from London Style, Natalia Winters. She would be consulting with Betty until she managed to get her entire staff in place. Unlike her actual staff. She paid attention to Betty’s presentation. She gave Betty some really good ideas about how to make the first issue better.


"Thanks for actually participating. Are the meetings always this tense here?" Betty asked her when she saw her in the restroom afterwards.


"Only when they have an excuse to be extra British. In this case they had a brand new person to trash." That statement seemed strange coming from someone who had a very British accent.


"I assume I'm the person they are trashing." Natalie just nodded her head. Betty wasn’t even that surprised.


“If they weren't being so vicious, it would be normal curiosity. You're new. Everyone wants to know why he hired you to be the EIC of the new magazine at 26." Natalie said as she applied her lipstick.


“And I’m sure they’re being extra vicious considering they all stopped speaking the moment they saw me." She personally wish they would just say everything to her face.


“Gossip is the international pastime. Everybody knows that your current boyfriend was your old boss, especially after yesterday’s display. I'm surprised your relationship has not made it into the tabloids yet, especially the British tabloids. We tap your phones here even if you’re a minor celebrity and Daniel Meade is still a celebrity here. There is a lot of speculation right now regarding why he moved to another country so suddenly." That was an understatement. The most popular was Wilhelmina was blackmailing him with the existence of his secret British love child. The whole thing gave Betty a headache.


"You mean other than trying to keep the European part of his company open during the current financial crisis." Betty sighed.


"People are always looking for something juicier. Everybody who knows your biography, you went from assistant to EIC in four years. You managed to beat my old friend Monique's record by an entire year and she had several more years of experience. There's all sorts of blogs about your relationship with Daniel Meade. It's only natural people will assume…"


"That I got my job on my back.” Betty finished for her when Natalie was unable to come up with a way to say something like that politely.


“I’ve heard it before, although Marc was the only one saying it." Marc never said it in a malicious way. It was more of a joke.


“I’m not so sure considering this time around. Everyone is saying that Lindsey was the one who got you on your back." Her mouth dropped open in absolute surprise. She was even too shocked to defend herself.


"After today's well thought out presentation, I know that's not true. Your work speaks for itself. You did a good job today even if everybody else was too busy gossiping about you on their iPhones and blackberries. I had the exact same problem you did in the beginning. A lot of people had misconceptions about me as well. You remind me a lot of myself. Eight years ago I moved to New York to be a managing editor at Isabella. It's hard being the new girl in town when everybody is talking about you behind your back."


"That's where you know Monique from." Betty said as realization dawned on her.


"She's a good friend. We work together for years. I'm even invited to the wedding in a couple of weeks. She is where I got all the good information from. She asked me to make sure her friend's girlfriend doesn't get eaten alive by the vultures at Lindsey Publishing, which is why I agreed to help you as you get your team in place. We need to schedule a lunch some time so I can get you up to speed on all things Lindsey publishing. In the meantime let me give you some advice.”


“Which is?”


“First, if you're going to shag your boyfriend in the middle of the day in your office, lock the door and make sure Dominique's assistant is not around. She is your office gossip mill. You are in a committed relationship. You can do whatever the bloody hell you want. Don't let them make you feel dirty for what you do." Natasha said sternly.

"We were not even having sex. We were just kissing." Betty was sure her cheeks were pink.


“It doesn’t matter what actually happened. The only thing that matters is what people think happened. According to the rumor mill our mutual boss walked in on you performing oral sex on Mr. Meade." And now her cheeks were a bright crimson. Really she shouldn’t be surprised. She knows that Megan has said similar.

"This goes into the second thing, don't listen to what other people say about you. They are just jealous idiots. They will probably say the same nasty things about me or anyone else who is a threat. Be the editor you want to be and tell everyone else to go Fuck themselves. Go out there with your head up. Let them say what they want."


"My sister said the same stuff to me in high school." After that, their mom said something similar to Hilda during her senior year when she was pregnant with Justin.


"Isn't it a shame that nothing has really change, except we now sit at the popular table and you’re shagging the quarterback?" Natasha said as she made her way towards the door.


“Apparently high school never ends.” And apparently it was the same on both sides of the Atlantic.


Daniel’s breakfast meeting went worse than she thought possible and Candy was already expecting it to be a disaster. Not only did they not buy any advertisements for Mode, they also pulled out of several other Meade magazines. Unfortunately, her boss was too lovesick to care. She was currently listening to him grovel to his girlfriend via voice mail.


"Look I know you're in a meeting right now, but I thought I would leave this on your voice mail so you won't yell at me. I finally figured out why you were so upset and I’m sorry I fucked things up for you at your new job. I'm not as stupid as everyone says I am. I'm sorry I forgot to lock the door and they are probably saying nasty things about you behind your back. You know it's not true. You deserve everything you get. Anyway, I love you and I'm sorry." Daniel ended the call as the town car pulled up to the Meade building.


"Wonderful voicemail.” Candy snickered from beside him. “You already sound like a guy who has been married to her for years. You two have been together for less than a week and she already has you by the balls."


"You do remember you work for me?” Daniel looked at her incredulously. “We seriously need to have a talk about professional behavior. I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth."


“Remember, I was at player for two years. We had our own definition of professional decorum. You are not going to fire me until you at least get a cappuccino machine in your house.” Daniel glared at her again. “It’s true and you know it.”


“Because I can’t function without caffeine right now, especially with all these early morning breakfast meetings.” Daniel complained.


 “Will get you another cup on the way because you have a meeting with Sumreen as soon as we get there to go over features articles for July and August. After that, you have more job interviews for the creative director position.” Daniel literally groaned.


"Do any of these people actually have talent or have any clue what they’re doing whatsoever?" He asked with a sigh as they got out of the car and walked into the building.


"Not really." She read most of the resumes the night before and they were just awful. Most were highly underqualified to say the least.


“I’m not even surprised.” Daniel said as they stopped at the coffee cart in the lobby. She allowed him to get an expresso before she continued speaking.


"After that you need to stop by the fashion shoot to make sure Diana has not killed the photographer yet. Actually forget Diana, I'm going to kill him. When you were being all happy couple with Betty in your office Monday night, he propositioned me four times after you sent me over to play buffer because you didn't want to. I thought I was done with coworkers pinching my ass when I left Player." She said getting on the elevator.


"I will talk to him. He is not that bad.” Candy glares at him. “Okay, maybe he is that bad, but I’ll order you a cookie bouquet. He’s mostly harmless but he is just stuck in college mode. However, he is a really good photographer." Daniel said defending his former acquaintance.


"I'm not saying he's not talented. I've seen his work.” Candy added reluctantly I know he used to be your friend, but he's a dick. The only good thing about this whole thing is watching him get shot down by Diana." She said as they stepped inside the elevator.


"You're a professional. You can do this. You know the deal with Monique and me. If you do well you will be a junior editor by this time next year. You need to get used to dealing with the talent." Daniel sipped his coffee nonchalantly


"I didn't get hit on this much by the photographers at Player." She said under her breath as they made their way into the Mode suite from the elevator.


"Isn't that because Monique worked with Cliff or Margaret Say most of the time?" Daniel smirked as they walked into his office.


"I hate it when you're right. How did your other assistants deal with this problem?"


"I'm not sure. It didn't happen that often. I will ask Betty as soon as she speaking to me again."


Less than four hours later, Candy was ready to kill the photographer. She didn't know what was worse him hitting on all the models or him hitting on Diana. At least he left her alone for most of the morning as she dealt with everything arriving late. They were doing the fall business wear collection for the August issue and she was sure the photographer was a little upset because the women were fully dressed. Why did all the talented photographers have to be assholes? She missed Cliff.


During the lunch break, she decided to confront the asshole before one of the models punched him. It would be difficult to get another photographer in the middle of the shoot if Becks ended up in the emergency room.


"Can you please stop hitting on Diana and the other models? Just because you're hot, doesn't mean everybody wants you. Since we're using real women instead of little girls who almost look like boys, most of them can see through your shallow exterior." She said as she grabbed a water from the catering table.


"Did you just say I was hot?" He said with a cocky smile that would work on most women but not her. Actually she wanted to punch him. Bastard.


"That's the only thing you got out of what I just said?” She asked in annoyance. “Why am I not surprise? You are so full of yourself that you raise narcissism to an art form. The only thing you’re accomplishing right now is getting. on the ‘will never hire again’ list.”


“I doubt that.” Becks responded.


“You do not have a chance with Diana and everyone else here is too intelligent to fall for your pickup line of the day. My suggestion is to act professional, if you know how to do such a thing, and do your job. You can concentrate on getting laid after work like everyone else." Candy practically yelled at him.


"I'm a multitasker. It's only a matter of time before Diana gives in. I saw the way she was looking at me Monday. I doubt that she is married or with anyone. The only photographs on her desk were of her and her sister." She wondered if she should take pity on the idiot and let him know that the woman Diana was kissing the cheek of was her partner. She's only been there a couple of days and she already knew Becks was missing the most important thing Diana valued in a lover.


"Like that matters to you.” She scoffed. “Even though I only met her a couple of days ago because I came out with Daniel from New York, I’m pretty sure you’re not her type."


"Unlike everyone else here you were around when Daniel started dating Betty. You were probably already his assistant. How did that happen? Every time I try to talk to him, he comes up with some excuse to leave the room. I know they were close before I started doing more overseas jobs, but she's not his type." That statement pissed her off.


"You mean because she's not a sigh zero or because she actually thinks for herself? She's not supermodel beautiful, but she is beautiful." Candy said in Betty’s defense. Also in her head she was reminding herself that she cannot punch out the help (but she really wanted to).


"I'm a photographer. I can see beauty even under some of those god awful outfit she used to where. Daniel never had the same skill."


"You'll be amazed what can happen in two years. If you always knew she was beautiful, then why did you make your plastic surgery joke Monday?" Candy took a drink of her water.


"It's our thing. It's hard to be pleasant to someone who essentially stole your best friend.” She could pick up on the bitterness in his voice.


“I feel like there’s a story here.”


“From the moment they first met there was this connection between the two of them. The closer Betty and Daniel got, the less time he had to spend with me. He does not want to go to a club because Betty wouldn't like it. Besides he promised he would take Betty to see some romantic comedy because Henry was in Tucson with that girlfriend he knocked up. We don't do our normal bet at fashion week because he says it's demeaning to women. Of course during the middle of the show he gets this certain look on his face as Betty walks down the runway. It was as if he’d just realized she was the most beautiful woman there. It was already starting." He said with a shocked expression on his face as if he’d just realized what was really happening back then.


"I didn't start working for Daniel until a couple weeks ago and I still saw this coming. The whole building did. I was working at another magazine where my boss was the mastermind behind this thing at the time. You saw the beginning of this years ago. Why are you surprised?" She asked slightly annoyed.



"I don't know maybe because I was expecting to find that person I left behind two years ago. I didn't expect to find Mr. Diversity who now sees women as people and not fuck toys." ‘Or maybe you’re just disappointed that he’s moved on and you haven’t?’ However, Candy doesn’t know the guy well enough to say something like that.


"It sounds like he was already starting to change.” She said instead. “What exactly happened between you two? In the car this morning on the way to the meeting from hell he told me all sorts of stories about your college escapades." Candy was definitely curious and she knew Daniel wouldn’t answer the question.


"Betty. He just didn't have time for me anymore. I started taking jobs overseas and he stopped returning my emails.” Which is pretty much how Candy lost contact with most of her college friends except for Doris and her husband Blaise. “Two years later, I come back and find out they’re living together. I did not see that coming. Daniel Meade does not do commitment."


"From your earlier statement I can tell you were not invited to the wedding." How could he not know about that? It was everywhere.


"Betty and Daniel are married?"


"Not yet." Although Candy wouldn't be surprised if Daniel decided to look at engagement rings when they go to choose new apology gifts at Tiffany’s.


"I'm talking about Daniel and his first wife Molly. How could you not know about that? Everybody knew about that. He put their wedding picture on the cover of Mode last year. The story got even bigger after she died. Several websites featured stories about the international playboy who marries the dying plain Jane schoolteacher; because it generated tons of hits. How can you not know about this? Were you living in a cave?"


"Possibly. I was doing a photo essay for National Explorer in Afghanistan for about six months last year." He shrugged.


"Is this another pickup line? I thought you were a fashion photographer, not a real photographer? Then again, my friend Cliff did the occasional serious job. He was nominated for a MAMA but lost to some no talent idiot."


"I'm full of surprises. I missed a lot. How about we go to dinner tonight and you can tell me everything." She was positive this was another pickup line.


"Not a chance in hell." Candy said as she ran over to Daniel and Diane talking in the corner.


During his second interview of the morning Daniel began to truly miss Wilhelmina. She would have had this person crying within minutes. By the third interview, Daniel was developing a slight headache and was thankful that they decided these things would only be 20 minutes. That movie executive that Hartley hired was more qualified to be a creative Director than this person. At least she knew how to pretend to know what she was doing.


By the fourth interview, he let Sumreen take over as he secretly sent apology text messages to his girlfriend. He was sure that the candidate saw him playing with his phone during the middle of the interview. He really didn't care. There was no way he was hiring someone who thought Jimmy Choo was a brand of candy. Even Betty knew labels when her personal style was at its most unique. (Although that was probably Justin’s doing, but it still counted.)


During the fifth and final interview of the morning he text messaged Betty's sister to find out the best apology flowers to get her. He knew her favorites were daisies and orchids. Henry got her daisies all the time, so there was no way he would send that. He would pick up some orchids for the house, but that wouldn't work right now. Besides that's what he got her in February for his "I'm sorry I was an asshole" present during the fashion week thing.


"Did you really have to play with your phone during the interviews?" Sumreen asked him with angry eyes.


"It was either that or fall asleep. Not a single person was remotely qualified for this position. I think most of the interns I met yesterday know more about the fashion industry. One would think there would be more people applying for this job if the economy is so bad right now.”


"No one wants to work for a company that will be out of business in six months. It probably didn't help that the guy in charge was sexting his girlfriend during the interview." Sumreen glared.


"I was not sending dirty text messages to my girlfriend." She gave him a look similar to the look his mom gave him when she knew he was lying to her.


"They were apology messages." He then preceded to tell her the whole story. She was still laughing.


"First, if you plan on doing anything like that here please lock the door. My 14 year old daughter is one of the interns that will be assigned to work with you in a few weeks and I don't want her to walk in on anything inappropriate." Daniel was shocked by that statement. Sumreen barely looked 30. He should know better. Hilda was not even 33 yet and Justin was 15 going on 16.


"You have a daughter? You don't seem old enough to have a 14 year old daughter."


"My husband says the same thing, but when you've been married for 15 years you stop believing what your husband says. I was 20 when I had her." Daniel had no idea she was married.


At Mode New York, almost everyone that worked there was single. The hours were not exactly conducive to family life. Wilhelmina was one of the few people who had children. That didn't go so well. During the date from hell a few years back, Wilhelmina told him that the only reason why she sent her daughter to boarding school was she didn't want her to be home alone after the divorce when Faye made her work 23 hour days. Maybe he really did need to get to know the people that were working with him now.


"Since you've been successfully married for so long, do you have any ideas for a good "I'm sorry I was an idiot" gift?


"At this point in my marriage, the best apology present is for the house to be completely clean, my favorite dinner on the table, and our daughter staying at a friend's house." Sumreen suggested.


"I don't think that is going to work." Daniel said as he started walking to the photo shoot.


"Probably not." That was the last thing he heard.


10 minutes later he found Diana in the studio going over wardrobe choices for the second half of the shoot. She was currently making an intern cry.


"Was that really necessary?" Daniel asked.


"Not really but I have to take my frustrations out on someone. I can't kill whoever was responsible for half the wardrobe showing up 3 hours late.” Diana said with annoyance. “I can't kill the photographer because we are in the middle the shoot and he used to be your friend. Although now you seem to be avoiding him. I can understand. I can't deal with someone who spends half the shoot trying to sleep with me or the models."


"I am not avoiding him." Daniel said defensively. “I am just busy. I did talk to him before the shoot. I thought that would keep this from happening." So maybe he essentially said stay away from his assistant. So maybe he left as quickly as he could to avoid certain questions. He was sure Becks got the idea.


"For 30 seconds. You only mentioned Candy by name. He probably thinks the rest of us are fair game. I don't have a problem with him hitting on me. My girlfriend might, but I personally don't care. It's just annoying."


"You have a girlfriend." Daniel asked in shock. He really didn't know anything about the people he was working with.


"Are you that surprised I have a girlfriend?” Diana glared.

“Just because I like women, doesn't mean I don't enjoy wearing the latest designs. Who I sleep with has nothing to do with my sense of style or my ability to do my job."


"Not really. I stopped judging people by stereotypes the moment I met this beautiful yet badly dressed woman who completely changed my life. I am thinking of doing some sort of dinner party to get to know everybody as soon as my girlfriend is speaking to me again. If we are going to keep this magazine from going under, maybe we should actually know something about each other." Daniel suggested.


"That would probably be a good idea. I still want to know the story of how you two got together. As for an apology present, I would go with chocolates. That usually works when I do something stupid. My girlfriend has a sweet tooth. Although it needs to be good chocolate, not that nasty stuff that you Americans call chocolate. I had an American Hershey bar once. It was dreadful." Diana made a face.


"I will remember that." Maybe he can just go with the cookie bouquet that he’s sending Candy but with a little something extra.


"In the meantime, you can stop avoiding your friend over there and talk to him about his behavior." At that moment Candy came running over.


"Sorry, you're going to have to do that. I just came to get my assistant back. I need her to go over strategies for the Birmingham meeting." It was obviously an excuse.


"That's tomorrow and you're mispronouncing it. This is why we need to go over the briefing material now." Candy said pulling him out of the studio before Diana could say anything.


"You owe me. This is why you keep me around." His assistants said to him leaving him in the hallway. She seemed almost as happy as he was to be out of there.


Chapter Text


Amanda sat in her office surrounded by wedding stuff on the verge of throwing up again and she was only half certain that it was because of a certain muffin making her sick, her muffin anyway. Marc’s possible muffin was making her stress nauseous. That's probably the real reason why she threw up on Monique and company yesterday.


It's been a day and she still hasn't figured out how to confirm that Marc managed to impregnate his yeti instructor when he slept with her out of career desperation. Amanda almost went to Monique for help but threw up on her instead.


Because she has so much to do, Amanda has no choice but to stop worrying about the muffin problem and focus on wedding stuff. With two weeks to go most of it was done except for the details and she was in charge of getting the details right. Today she had to remind the bridal party about their final fittings. That meant calling Gio’s cousin that kept hitting on her and Monique's college friend Melinda who is really mad at Monique right now because Suzuki is a dick.


The fashion journalist finally broke the story about Daniel leaving for London for his frumpy assistant 'Betsy Sanchez' last night. Melinda was very unhappy, especially when Amanda accidentally told her that Monique helped set up Daniel with his new girlfriend. Amanda didn't realize that Monique wasn't telling Melinda those details because she was the one who took over Molly's classes after her death (and apparently Melinda was never informed of Molly’s last request). A warning about her being sensitive to the Daniel moving on issue would have been nice.


Now she only had to call Daniel about the fitting. Although she was happy for the excuse to call him because he's one of her closest friends and maybe he can help her figure out what to do with Marc. Considering how much he has slept around, DJ could not have been his only paternity scare. Maybe he knew the best way to approach potential baby’s mama for a paternity test.


"So hypothetically, you have a friend who made a really bad hook up decision the year before that they totally regret and don't want to talk about. Then you start hearing rumors about that regretted hook up having a three-month-old daughter that looks exactly like your friend. How do you go about confirming that he killed the rabbit?" Amanda asked Daniel. As soon as he answered the phone. She didn’t even bother to say hello.


“I didn’t even think you were aware of that reference. Actually, I didn’t even know you knew the word hypothetical. Did one of my former hook ups show up at the Mode offices claiming that I am the father of her newborn?” Daniel asked, sounding very skeptical.


“If the baby is only three months old, it's definitely not mine. I was too busy with Molly to even think about sex, especially after I lost her."


"According to Betty’s diary, you had an erection every morning of your post funeral Betty sleepovers phase.” Amanda pointed out.


“Sometimes I really wished you would respect personal boundaries better,” Daniel sighed. "Or at all. Let the lawyers handle this. It's very apparent this is obviously fraud since you are the only living person I've had sex with since September 2008."


"I told you it was hypothetical." She said a little too loudly.


"Whenever someone tells you a situation is hypothetical it's not hypothetical at all." Daniel shot back.


"OK it's not hypothetical, but it’s not about you.” Amanda gave up. But she wasn’t going to tell him it was Marc just yet mostly because he probably wouldn’t believe her. “One of my friends really did sleep with somebody they shouldn't have and now they may have a kid and I'm not sure what to do about it. If I tell them without proof they're going to freak out worse than you did when you found out about DJ."


"I did not freak out about DJ." Daniel argued.


"This is why I miss you being here because you can’t see me glaring at you right now." Amanda quipped.


"Are you sure this is not about me? You don't have a lot of male friends. Well male friends that have sex with women. We both know Marc is never going to accidentally knock someone up." Amanda laughed nervously at his joke before deciding it was time to change the subject as fast as possible.


"So you haven't slept with Betty yet?" Hey, he did tell her that she was the only person he has had sex with that is still alive since the State Department liaison sex tape fiasco. That meant nothing has yet happened with Betty, which she finds a little hard to believe.


"Amanda, I'm not used to this time conversion thing yet but shouldn't you be working and therefore keep this conversation focused on me having to deal with a possible fake paternity suit?" Daniel asked specifically to avoid her question.


“It’s not you. I am working. I'm calling everybody to remind then about the final wardrobe fitting for the wedding. Because you are all the way in London, Miss West-Hartley is sending her partner from the Paris offices to do your fitting at the Mode offices Friday at 3 PM your time. Monique also set up a meeting at the same time for you to talk with the head of advertising for the European division of the company. Monique already emailed Candy, but got her out of office message saying she would be at the photo shoot all day."


“She was but now she sitting in my office hiding from the photographer. Don’t stick your tongue out at your boss. I can send you back out to Becks.” Amanda assumes that he is talking to Candy. “I'm a little surprised that Monique is setting up advertising meetings for us. I am not used to having a partner that actually helps me succeed instead of stabbing me in the back, mostly figuratively."


"She tries her best not to be Wilhelmina.” Amanda explained. “She also wants you to call her at 5 PM your time to talk magazine and wedding party stuff."


"How did she talk me into being in the wedding party? I'm still your escort right?" Daniel asked.


"No you're going to be Gio's little sister’s escort. The one who is really mean and snotty. I think you met at Monique’s not a Christmas party, when you were pretending not to make out with Betty under the mistletoe.”


“She’s friends with Justin, so we’ve met a few times.” Daniel told her.


“Anyway, Gio’s aunt threw a fit about keeping everything even. Maybe she did that because I threw up on her yesterday during the planning meeting, after I threw up on Monique. You are also going to be standing on Monique's side now. I think she asked you just to make sure that you would be back to give her the ultimate wedding present of you and Betty making out at the ceremony." Amanda had her phone ready to capture that moment.


"That may not be happening.” Daniel sighed. “It depends on if Betty is speaking to me again by the time the wedding happens.”


"Did you screw up again? Did your relationship make the news in the UK as well?"


"I did not screw up. Which outlets are gossiping about my personal life today?" Okay Daniel was apparently no longer following fashion TV America, which was good.


“Just Suzuki.” And now everybody else is running with it but she is not going to be the one to tell Daniel that. “Why isn't Betty talking to you?" She asked deliberately ignoring the paper question.


"We may have gotten caught by her boss making out on her desk. I forgot to lock the door."


"How did that happen? You always remember to lock the door. You were always really good at stopping when you heard people coming. You're great at sneaking around." Amanda knew that from personal experience. Although it wasn’t a good experience at the time.


"I kind of forget basic things when I'm around her."


"You're in love. I like you in love." Amanda smiled.


"I've been in love before." Daniel sounded almost offensive.


"Not like this.” Definitely never with me. “You know that if Molly wasn't dying you would've never married her.” Amanda told him bluntly. “Even Monique refers to it as a "make a wish wedding" and she was Molly's best friend." He did not respond to what she said.


"What you did wasn't that bad. At lease you didn't break up with her when she was pregnant with your child because you thought she was sleeping with someone else even though she wasn't without even bothering to talk to her about it." So she was still a little upset about what Matt did, even though they were back together.


"What have you been making Matt do to make up for that?”


"Do you really think I absolutely need crunchy dill pickle potato chips at 3:00 AM with a specific brand of dip? I'm planning on making him as miserable as possible for the remainder of this pregnancy." Not that he knew why she was sending him out for extra crunchy dill pickle potato chips at 3 AM.


"You made me do the same thing." That was true.


"You are the reason why he broke up with me.” Sort of. “Also, we were still not 100% positive about the baby's paternity at the time. Speaking of making you and Matt miserable, your mom wanted me to tell you that before the wedding that Saturday you, Matt, and Tyler are joining her for brunch at the hotel where the wedding is taking place." That was met with several curse words before Daniel finally calmed down.


"How is my little brother doing?" Daniel asked with a sigh. She should be happy he said "my brother".


"Good. He is getting out of rehab permanently right before the wedding. You would know this stuff if you called him.” But you won’t, Amanda thought to herself. “You're as bad as Matt. Sometimes I think you two are the ones related by blood. You act too much alike."


"Can I bring Betty?" Daniel asked, ignoring her earlier comments.


"If she's talking to you. I suggest starting with getting her a really good "I'm sorry I'm an idiot" present. Since it’s Betty, it doesn’t have to be expensive but it should show that you actually care. But whatever you do, do not get her business cards again. That’s already a dumb gift, especially when you couldn't even remember that you got her cards last time you fucked up.” Amanda berated him.


"It was a practical present." Daniel said defensively.


"It's not a romantic gesture at all. Betty was just too nice of a person to say how much she hated them so she just buried them in the same door where she kept her snacks. I found two boxes buried in this desk once I started cleaning. Marc says that I am nesting." That’s when she threw a baby book at him. Maybe she should force him to read the book. (Besides, if Matt does what he normally does, Marc is going to be the one helping her with this baby anyway. He should start studying, even if he doesn’t have his own muffin.)


"What about flowers?" Daniel suggested.


"Again don't get her the same thing you got last time. One can only have so many orchids. Also whatever you don’t get Betty anything you got for the girls you slept with but couldn't remember their names long enough to personalize the card. That is just going to make things worse. Although they were really nice flowers, but they really didn't make up for being in love with someone who couldn't even remember your name." Amanda was not on the verge of tears when she said that last part. Okay she was, but it was the stupid baby hormones.



“I am really sorry about that. I was a little screwed up after Alex died or rather when I thought Alex died and…”


“I forgive you. At least you didn’t break up with me the day I found out I was pregnant because you thought I was sleeping with someone else and you didn’t even bother to give me the benefit of the doubt to ask me what was going on. And hey, at least you are actually sincere when you apologize, I’m not sure about…” Thankfully, the baby sickness kicked in, before she said anything else. Also on the positive side, she managed to completely miss her phone when she threw up into the trashcan.



Betty was going over the resumes for the various people she just interviewed for her assistant position. She was a little upset that Lindsey had his personal assistant sit in on the interviews, but she didn't have a choice. It didn't help that the woman let her know that her relationship with Daniel did in fact make the local tabloids.


Of the five people she interviewed, the only person she liked was Betsy Williams. She just happened to be the former assistant to Daniel's predecessor at Mode UK. Betty was just about to check with Sumreen about Betsy's qualifications when her phone rang.




"So I talk to your boyfriend and he's really sorry about not locking the door." She heard a very familiar voice say quickly without introduction. “Although I would like to hear your side of the story.”


"Amanda is that you?"


"Who else would be calling you? It's not like you had any other friends besides Daniel and me. Now you just have me because you're dating Daniel." Did Amanda have to remind her of that right now? Before she could complain to Daniel when her boyfriends were acting like complete idiots. Now she did not have that.


"Christina." Betty shot back, annoyed. Because she did have Christina too, which was definitely more friends than what she had in high school. However, Christina was not as good as Daniel was, especially because things with her husband were not necessarily bad, but complicated. And it wasn’t as if Christina was really ready to share what was going on with her.


"She doesn't count. She's all the way in Scotland." Betty just rolled her eyes.


"She lives closer to me now than you do. She's coming over to visit soon." Which Betty was really looking forward to.


"That's good. Maybe she can talk you into wearing the dress that I chose for you for the wedding. If you're talking to Daniel again by that point. He is really worried and asking everybody for ideas for apology presents. I suggested he get you anything but business cards or the flowers he used to get his fuck friends." She knew that Daniel was worried. True to form, she already had 15 voice mails from him on her cell phone alone. She should probably call him but she was still upset but mostly at her colleagues and she didn’t want to take out her anger on him again.


"I'm not surprised. I'm fine with any apology present as long as Daniel actually gets it himself." Betty sighed.


"You're using your "everything's OK when it's not" voice. What’s going on? What Daniel did wasn't that big of a deal." Not wanting to explain herself to Amanda she chose to redirect the conversation.


"Why did you pick out a dress for me? I'm not in the wedding party." She wanted to know about that anyway.


"Matt's aunt wanted to design a dress for the woman who can completely unnerve her former sister in law. They absolutely hate each other. She adores you for driving Victoria crazy, even without meeting you. Because Cliff is doing all the wedding pictures, he wants you in all the shots with Daniel. Besides you two look really hot together. No wonder everybody thought you two were fucking even before you two got together." Great even Amanda thought she was a slut.


"I'm not hot. I'm not sexy. I'm not the type of girl who has sex with their boyfriend on top of their desk in their office. I'm definitely not the type of girl who gets their job by performing oral sex on their boss." Betty said, annoyed.


"You never heard about you going down on Daniel in the men's room at Mode during the entire race of the phoenix thing?" She was sure Betty knew about that stuff


"It was Community of the Phoenix. Daniel told me about that. It was just a rumor." She said with a sigh.


"Those of us who know you know that it was just a rumor. We love you exactly the way you are. Your round and complicated." Betty was certain that’s the Amanda version of trying to be reassuring but it wasn’t working right now.


"See you just made another crack about me not being beautiful." She was used to that sort of thing from Amanda and Marc, but it was still annoying.


"I said you were round, not unpretty. I'm just as round now. I have to send you the pictures of the baby belly.” That’s when her cell phone dinged with a picture of very pregnant Amanda. “My belly button just popped. Matt said it’s adorable. I feel like an elephant in designer clothing. Thankfully they make designer clothing in maternity sizes. Evil Megan called me the good year blimp when I came into work yesterday."


"That's because Megan is a…" Betty couldn't think of a word to say that wasn't an expletive.


"Complete bitch who wants to fuck Matt."


"I wasn't going to say that. I was going to say mean person." She lied.


"That's because you're still Betty underneath the brand new wardrobe. You're too nice, but I know you want to. Megan was the one who started the bathroom BJ rumor and the rumors about you only getting your job because you and Daniel were sleeping together. Jackie may have helped, but it was all Megan. She was just jealous. She was trying to break you and Matt up permanently. Now I am her new target."


"The rumors are starting here too, all because Daniel couldn't remember to lock the door." Betty explained.


"Vicious backbiting and nasty rumors have nothing to do with what happened yesterday. People will be talking behind your back no matter what, especially when you really are better than they are. It happened to me all the time in high school."


"I thought that was just Mode?"


"The rumor mill is everywhere. They're talking about you because they hate you. They hate you because you're smart, successful, beautiful, and you have a really hot boyfriend who is so in love with you that he moved to another country just to be with you. It's just jealousy, ignore the bitches. You’re too good." Amanda said almost wisely.


"He came to fix Mode UK. I just happened to be here." Amanda just laughed at her words.


"Is that really what you believe? Daniel was planning on giving Wilhelmina complete control of Mode U.S. and come to London without a plan. Just for you. When Wilhelmina took Monique's offer, Monique was the one who talked him into taking over Mode UK since she couldn’t do it anymore." Amanda explained. Betty never heard any of this before.


"He came here for me?" She asked, still not quite believing Amanda.


"He's never loved anyone like he loves you. Not even Molly. Let me let you in on a little secret; the beautiful people hate you because you can just as easily be one of us. Under those layers of god-awful clothing that you used to use to cover yourself up there has always been this beautiful person screaming to get out. I don't think you dressed like that because you didn't know better. It was obvious by your third month at Mode you knew what looked good and what didn't. You were just afraid."


"I was not afraid." She argued. She knew it was a lie. Amanda was getting a little too close to the truth of the matter.


"Yes you were. You looked scared to death to get your braces off. Daniel had to hold your hand the entire time. Although maybe that is what you wanted?” Amanda said thoughtfully for a moment.


“You have always been beautiful and good deep down inside. That's a really rare combination. Other people want to get rid of your goodness. Don't let them. But don't tell anyone I said that."


"When do you get this smart? I actually understood what you were saying. That's a rare thing for me." Betty told her.


"I think it's the baby and being forced to spend time around geniuses. Matt AND Monique have like a combined IQ of over 300. Call Daniel. He is so desperate that he just text messaged Matt for ideas on a good apology present. My boyfriend is not amused, especially because he called him out on the Megan break up again." That was not good.


Daniel just walked out of his 4:00 PM meeting with features. Half of the writers were actually doing well, the other half were clueless. He already knew he would have to fire more people and the thought alone was making his headache worst. (Especially because he was trying to figure out who Amanda’s friend was that got somebody pregnant last year, and had no idea. Maybe it was Kenny from accounting. They were kind of friends).


He checked his personal phone one more time before calling Monique but still nothing from Betty. Daniel did have a text message from Candy letting him know that the shoot was going better now that Becks stop hitting on all the models. Becks sent a message about being sorry for what he said to Betty Monday and asked if Daniel and Betty wanted to go out to dinner next week. Daniel really didn't want to answer that text message and only partially because he wasn’t sure if he still had a girlfriend to go to dinner with. He still had nothing from Betty. He put up his cell phone and called Monique on the landline.


"So I see my assistant did something today besides throwing up." Monique joked in greeting.


"Amanda is really good at her job." Sometimes.


"I know she is. She is just having a really rough pregnancy.” Especially because her boyfriend is a jerk who doesn’t even realize how much he hurt her. Now he has yet to respond to Daniel’s text message from during the meeting about the entire Megan fiasco.


“It's getting worse. I'm probably going to have to find another assistant by the time the wedding happens. If things keep getting worse, I'm positive her doctor is going to put her on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. If I'm lucky I may have my team of interns broken in by then." He really didn't want to know what she had in store for Justin.


"If you're really lucky you might have your new creative director broken in by then." Daniel joked. The search had to be going better for her than it was for him.


"Not happening. The only person I have so far that is remotely qualified for that job is Marc. He doesn't have the formal experience, but he knows how to do the job. He has been watching Wilhelmina do it for the last six years. Unfortunately, if I promote him any higher than I already have I'm going to have a mutiny on my hands and there's going to be rumors going around about Marc getting this job for his excellent oral skills, and I’m not talking about public speaking.” Monique said in all seriousness, which made Daniel giggle.


"That's not going to happen with you in charge. If I was still there maybe, especially if they knew about some of the things I did in college to make Bradford angry. However, everyone knows you’re not Marc’s type." He said with a laugh.


"Marc slept with his very female YETI instructor." Daniel dropped his phone. There is no way he heard what he just thought he heard.


"What?" Daniel spluttered out once he retrieved his phone from the floor.


“The rumor has been floating around for a while and Marc confirmed it after a few shots. He was so desperate to get an editor's job that he was willing to do anything, even have sex with a woman.” That means that Marc was the hypothetical person Amanda was talking about earlier, which makes perfect sense, considering what Betty told him yesterday.


“I’m not going to hold it against him, because I can understand being extremely desperate to get away from Wilhelmina. If I know about it, everyone is going to know about it.” Especially if anybody has friends at the magazine that Jody works for. Actually, he’s surprised, but rumors aren’t even the worst, considering there is actual tangible evidence of the affair.


Oh fuck!


“I just can't deal with that stuff right now. People are vicious. Nikolai is already saying things he shouldn’t to the press. He's the one who told Suzuki about you moving to London for Betty. I got Suzuki to keep quiet about you being the new EIC of Mode UK until the formal announcement in exchange for confirming the story and an invitation to my wedding.” At least, that means that his coworkers were not responsible for the current media blitz. That was good to know.


"It's fine. I'm sure after yesterday's incident it was going to become public knowledge anyway that Betty and I are dating." He then preceded to tell Monique everything that happened the day before. Although he purposely left out Betty forgiving her yeti instructor for stealing her dream job, because apparently Marc St. James, of all people managed to get her pregnant at nearly 50. That was too absurd for Daniel to wrap his head around right now.


"I don't think it's as bad as what Candy told you. I told you this industry is vicious. They will make stuff up anyway. You just have to prove that you're her boyfriend, not the boss who used to fuck her in the copy room. I'm suggesting more romantic lunches and maybe an office dinner party. It's the perfect solution." Monique suggested.


"I'll talk to her tonight to see how bad things really are. As for your situation, just hire someone on a one year contract and then move Marc into the position next year." Especially because Daniel thinks he could use the money. Kids are expensive.


"I don't think there's anybody I can hire on a one year contract. Maybe I should just not have a creative director position. I could just split up the duties. Is your search going any better?" Daniel groaned at the question.


“That bad?” Monique asked.


"At least you have Marc.” Even if he’s going to come with some interesting baggage. “The interviews are so bad today I started text messaging Betty this morning."


"What about someone in house?"


"Unlike you, I need all the help I can get. Diana is a possibility. Unfortunately, things are too unstable to move her. Maybe in a year or two, but not right now. We lost another advertiser."


"Fuck." Monique exclaimed.


"That's what I said in the car. They did not just leave Mode. They pulled out of all of our publications in Europe and Asia." It was giving him a headache just thinking about it.


"I wasn't going to say anything, but I know someone who may be willing to take the job."


"I'm desperate."


"I can tell. Otherwise, I would not be telling you this. I have a friend who I worked with at Isabella who went to London Style because of some family crisis. Your dad was trying to get her for Mode UK, but was unsuccessful due to David truly being a Pratt.” Which doesn’t surprise Daniel at all because the man was a jerk. He would scare anybody off.


“She's coming to the wedding in a couple weeks and when she called to RSVP she mentioned how much she wished she could come back to New York to work for me. The woman in charge at London Style is a bitch. There's just no other word for this woman. She is just that horrible. She makes Wilhelmina seem pleasant. Then there is the fact that Lindsey does not let his top people do any writing. She does not like that policy." He had a feeling that if Betty was under that policy, she wouldn't like it either.


"What does this mean for me?" Daniel asked, intrigued.


"Natalia absolutely hates her job, but she has to stay in London because of a really messy family situation that I can't get into. It's just too personal." Daniel understands that too well.


"My mom is a recovering alcoholic who killed my ex-girlfriend's mom. My sister used to be my brother and faked her death because she was afraid to tell us that she wanted to transition. I thought my nephew was my son. Finally, I share a half-brother with a guy who I may have accidentally stole my current girlfriend from. Oh, I forgot, earlier this year me and that same guy were caught up in the middle of a "whose baby is it" drama involving the daughter of the woman my mother murdered. No one's family situation can be more complicated than mine."

They made tele-novellas about stuff like this.


Although a gay guy getting his almost fifty something advisor pregnant, the one time he has sex with a woman for the sake of advancing his career, rates pretty high on this scale of absurdity. Actually, the fact that Amanda figured this out rates pretty high on the absurd scale. She’s a lot smarter than anyone gives her credit.


"You have a point. Although, hers comes pretty close. What I'm saying is that we might be able to get her to come to Mode UK with a good offer and a flexible schedule. There is just one complication." He knew there would be a ‘but’. There always was.


"Briana is willing to give Mode U.S. and Mode UK exclusive rights to her new wedding collection."


"How is this related?"

"She wants Betty in the shoot."

"Why? She's never met Betty."


“Anybody who Victoria Hartley despises is a friend of Briana's. One of her dresses was specifically made for Betty. If we want the collection, we need your girlfriend to be in the photo shoot. To get Betty in the issue we have to get a release signed by Lindsey Publishing. If you poach the creative director from London Style for your magazine, we're going to lose the exclusive. We need this exclusive." He realized they needed the exclusive without Monique saying anything. At that point he was looking for his emergency bottle of Tylenol.


"Too bad we didn't know before I signed Betty's release form. We could have used it as leverage." Dammit.


"I did not know how unhappy she was until a few days ago."


"Talk to the lawyers to see how badly we need the release form.” And then he will personally call Shawn his special lawyer for personal indiscretions to see if he can help Mandy with the Marc problem before it becomes a public relations headache. It’s best that Monique not know about this since she has other things to worry about.


“Maybe there is a loophole for the U.S. magazine. Apparently, there was no conflict of interest with Betty functioning as the New York correspondent for London Style when she was working at Mode U.S. When does your friend's contract end anyway? Maybe we can wait it out if she's interested.”


"Four months if they don't opt to renew. Considering how weak the creative director market is right now, I'm sure they're going to renew." Monique may be right about that.


"I really miss Wilhelmina. Evil schemes and contract loopholes were her specialty. I hate having ethics." Daniel lamented.


"Did you just say you missed Wilhelmina?" Daniel heard a voice say from the door.


"Hey I have to go. Betty is here. I'll call you tonight to go over everything else." As soon as I talk to Amanda and Sean from legal about the Marc problem.


"You didn't have to end your conference call."


"Yes I did. I been calling you all day." He wanted to hug her, but Daniel wasn’t sure she wouldn’t slap him. It’s been that type a day.


"I'm sorry, I didn't return your calls. I had a bad day at work yesterday and today and I was taking it out on you. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find the perfect assistant?" Betty plopped down on his couch in a way that told him she was exhausted.


"Not until I had the perfect assistant. Although in all honesty, all the good ones just fell in my lap.” Even though she wasn’t quite Betty, Candy was really good. Even Amanda was really good. “I'm sorry my horrible reputation is probably getting you a nice nasty reputation. How bad were the rumors?"


"Bad. Apparently everybody thinks I slept with my current boss to get my job because I was sleeping with my last boss." He winced when she said that.


"I'm sorry." Hey, at least it’s better than the Marc situation, mostly because none of it’s true.


"It's not your fault. At least that rumor has not made the tabloids.” The UK tabloids anyway. Fashion TV on the other hand was a nightmare because Nikolai was a prick.


“Fortunately, for you I had a nice talk with Amanda and one of the few nice people at work.” Daniel was happy that Betty found the few nice people at work. Everyone seemed so cold last time he was there.


Daniel also hoped that Amanda did not have the hypothetical friend conversation with Betty because either Daniel will end up spending more time on the couch because she thinks that he’s the dad of the hypothetical baby or Betty will figure out who her yeti instructor got pregnant by and therefore be mad at Daniel because he knew before her. (And Daniel wasn’t going to tell her because it was not his secret to tell even if it’s going to lead to couch time because Marc was a friend as well, sort of. They’ve bonded a lot over keeping a pregnant Amanda functional.)


“Apparently people only make up nasty rumors about people they are jealous of and feel threatened by." She said walking to the couch with him behind her. Daniel was already making a mental note to send Amanda a thank you muffin basket. Or maybe he should send shoes because the baby is making her throw up all the time. He’ll ask when he calls her about the Marc thing. And he had to talk to her about it because he knows she can’t deal with this on her own.


"Usually," he said taking a seat next to her.


"I've never had people jealous of me before." He finds it hard to believe considering how Kimmy behaved before. But it was obvious to him that Betty didn’t see it that way.


"Everybody was jealous of you." He said wrapping his arms around her and kissing her on the forehead. "I was jealous of you. Do you have any idea how great you are? There is this goodness in you that I will never achieve. You’re also the most beautiful woman in the world. Your sexiness comes from there."


"Apparently in the corporate world you can’t be sexy, beautiful and intelligent at the same time." Betty sighed again.


“Alexis once told me that she had an advertiser take her less serious specifically because she now had breasts.”


“Your sister is probably one of the few that knows about this from both sides.”


“Definitely.” He kissed her forehead. “Just because I would love to show you the fun of copy room sex at some point in the future doesn’t mean I don’t value you as a person and a writer because I really do and I think that’s what matters.”


“I know that. I’ve never cared what other people think before. Why should I start now?”


“That’s the Betty spirit I love.” He smiled at her.


“Although don’t expect the copy room thing to ever happen because I’m not really that adventurous. The most daring thing I ever did was try to eat ice cream off of Henry's stomach. I told you how bad that went." He couldn't help but laugh at that.


“I remember you telling me that story to cheer me up this summer. And honestly it went so badly because you need to be the one covered in chocolate syrup." That got Betty to blush. He loved it when she blushed. "We're fixing that. We can do it tonight. Think of it as my apology present for screwing up. We can go pick up your favorite flavor and everything." So he may have had Candy look up where he could find all of Betty’s foods as an apology present. He was planning on bringing her a bag full of her favorite junk food as a peace offering. However, this would work too.


"Doesn't that involve actual sex, which you don't want to do yet?” Which was true. They both decided it was best to wait for a while. They needed to get used to the transition before they throw another element into the relationship.


"Not necessarily. It depends on your definition of sex." She started blushing again at his words.


“This would kind of be a first for me as well because most of my previous girlfriends, if you can call them that, did not do food.”


“You never tried this with Amanda? I was her roommate for a year. I saw things that no one should ever see and the ice cream thing would be something she would do.” Daniel doesn’t want to know what she saw Amanda doing.


“The first time around, Amanda and I were not in a place where we trusted each other enough to do this.” And he probably needs to send her a muffin basket to apologize for that screw-up alone, actually. That’s why he’s going to help her figure out what to do with the Marc situation because he owes her a lot. “The second time around she was too busy listening to me be mad about Matt. Actually I was listening to her be mad about Matt." They have really weird relationship.


"I will admit that entire thing was a mistake.” Thank God. “What about Molly though?" Betty asked.


"Molly was too sick to do anything like that. Technically our marriage was not even legal because we were never able to…" That's when Betty kissed him in a way that made him forget where he was until the snide comments of his coworkers broke through.


"I told you if you were going to have sex with your girlfriend in the office lock the door. All I ask is for you to lock the door." Sumreen was giggling so she wasn’t actually that offended by it.


"Okay now I know why you're with her.” Becks said from the hallway. Why was Candy still with Backs? He thought that his assistant was trying to avoid him like the plague. “The sex must be nuclear. It's always the quiet ones."


"Okay now we are even." Betty smirked at him.


"You did that on purpose?"


“Yes. I asked Sumreen to stop by when she was done with her phone call so I could talk to her about Betsy who used to work here. I’m thinking about hiring her as my assistant." Betty told him as she started to get up from the couch. “Not only will I be back in your bedroom tonight, but I feel like ice cream.”


Of course, this was whispered in his ear. No one but Betty probably realized why he was grinning like an idiot.


“That’s good. She’s such a sweetheart. Although you probably need a better recommendation than that. So you should probably step into my office.” With that he was left behind with Becks which is why he quickly made an excuse to call the lawyers. No, Daniel wasn’t ready to address why he would rather speak with his legal team than his old college friend. He just wasn’t emotionally ready to talk about it yet. He wasn’t sure when he would be.

Chapter Text



Matt was expecting to wake up next to his girlfriend considering she slept over. Instead, he woke up alone. Matt was sad but focused on more important things like the bathroom. That was when he overheard his girlfriend in the middle of a conversation with someone in the living room. It wasn't until he was washing his hands after he was done, that he realized his girlfriend was in the middle of a web chat with her ex. He didn't let it worry him because it was probably work-related.


"Shawn just emailed. I have a lunch meeting with him today because that's the only time I have free." Matt wondered why his girlfriend would be meeting with Daniel’s personal lawyer. Could it be baby related? He hoped not.


Matt doesn't hate Daniel. It's kind of hard to hate a guy when you share a half-brother. Although, he doesn't hate Daniel, he still is a little wary about his relationship with Amanda. (Especially because there’s still a chance Amanda could be pregnant with her ex’s child.)


“I know it’s chaos over there, but it’s better to deal with this type of situation before things get complicated. Like DJ showing up from out of nowhere complicated." Why did he mention DJ?


"I know. I just don't know how to tell him about this if what happen did happen." Who are they talking about?


"Anything but letting him over here you in the bathroom."


"I'm sorry."


"No you're not." Daniel laughed.


"Thank you for helping me with this Marc situation." Matt exhale that that. Relieved that everything was about Marc although he is still confused. Why would any mark related problem involve the need for Daniel’s lawyers?


“You're welcome.”


"Now let's talk about the important stuff. Betty told me in a text message that your 15 year old nephew saw her topless, covered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Why did you open the door during ice cream sex?" Only Amanda could ask that question in complete seriousness.


"We were not having ice cream sex."   Amanda glared at the screen. "I was eating ice cream off of her stomach in the kitchen not the living room. It just so happens that you can see the kitchen table from the living room. I wasn't aware of that until yesterday."


Just because he didn't hate Daniel did not mean he wanted to hear details of anything he did with Betty. It was time for a strategic retreat to the bedroom.


"First of all, if you get off from an activity, it is sex. You should know better.” Amanda chastised. “Why were you having ice cream sex in the kitchen?"


"We're not having—never mind Amanda." Daniel sighed in annoyance before continuing. "Betty didn't want to get chocolate sauce on the sheets." He just rolled his eyes as he picked up the pre-approved outfit chosen by his girlfriend waiting for him in his room.


On top there was a note that his aunt was coming over at 7:30 AM sharp to go to breakfast. He wondered if it would be rude to take a shower when Amanda was chatting with someone? He got his answer when Amanda glared at him as he tried to make his way back to the bathroom. Then signaled for him to come over and sit next to her. He essentially told her no and went back into the bedroom where he could still hear too much.


"Oh please. You had ice cream sex in the kitchen because you couldn't wait long enough to get to the bedroom. You never could. We broke a coffee table in November." Matt doesn't want to think about the logistics behind that at all. 


“What I really want to know is why you stopped and actually open the door?"


"I wasn't planning on it, but Betty made me after the knocking got loud enough to wake up the neighbors. It was the right thing to do considering DJ was on the other side of the door."


"Which is why you ended up giving a 15-year-old a true sex education." His girlfriend joke.


"Not funny. Betty was too mortified to even ask him why DJ was there before she retreated to our room. Which is bad because I don't believe the London field trip excuse and Betty's the only one who can get the truth out of the teenager. Unfortunately this morning she could not even make eye contact." Matt realized he was completely over Betty when he broke out laughing.


"Amanda, this is serious."Daniel reprimanded.


"I'm not laughing anymore." Amanda said choking back an almost giggle. "That's my baby’s daddy laughing in the background."


"Matt, it's not that funny. For all I know DJ could've ran away from home and Alexis has yet to return my phone calls." Daniel yelled at him.


"Oh yes it is." He said walking over to the computer. He could see the irritation on Daniel's face. Good.


"If he doesn't tell you the truth by the end of the day I will talk to him." Amanda offered.


"Thank you."


"Also don't worry about Betty. I just sent her a text message telling her that DJ probably would have seen your chest anyway when he eventually came across your collection of nude paintings of her." Amanda quickly ended the web chat before Daniel could start yelling at her.


"Did you have to tell her that? She had no idea that Daniel bought all the nude paintings of her. I am not spending another day dealing with "how do I fix this" text messages from Daniel." or angry text messages from Betty, which would be worse. It's going to be a very long day.



His aunt and her bouncy ball daughter Alexis (that everybody calls Lexis) arrived 35 minutes later at exactly 7:30 AM. Ever since Lexis mysteriously arrived five years ago he's considered Lexis to be his niece rather than his cousin. Family relationships are always a little skew when your aunt is less than 10 years older than you are. Even as her favorite nephew he has no idea who Lexis's father is because his aunt would not share.


"Is it just me or are you slumming?" His aunt said kissing him on the cheek as he got into the car. "This explains why Victoria is so panicky."


"Amanda already lived here and there was an apartment available next door. Spend a couple of months in another country in the real world and you'll have a completely different definition of luxury." He said as he extended a hand to his girlfriend who was already having difficulties getting in. She was technically 20 ½ weeks pregnant but she was starting to look like she was at least 26.


"Hi, baby Lexis. What are you doing here?" Amanda asked as she kissed his baby cousin on the cheek. Apparently they’ve met before. Probably when she was at the studio working on the dresses for the wedding.


"Aunt Bictoria said I was going to be your little kid until Uncle Matt came back to his senses." Matt was unsure that the mispronunciation of his mom's name was an accident.


"I thought she was your cousin?" Amanda said looking directly at him.


"She is. The uncle is only an honorific fortunately in this case. Your mom called me yesterday." His aunt explained with a laugh.


"She actually called you?" He couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice. "The last time she called you voluntarily dad was in intensive care after an accident. What did she say?"


"The last time she called me voluntarily was to schedule your career intervention two years ago because you actually listen to me. I just think it's funny that you have finally chosen a path for yourself and she wants you to change your mind." His aunt side.


"She thinks it's a mistake."


"Of course she does because she's a stone cold…word I can't say in front of my daughter. Anyway, your mom asked me to talk some sense into you."


"What exactly did you say to that?"


"I can't repeat it in front of Lexis. I think it's funny that she even called considering I support your decision fully. However, we did reach a compromise.”


“Which is?” Matt asked warily.


“You and Amanda will spend the whole entire day with Lexis so you can find out how difficult being a parent really is. It works out because my nanny has suddenly come down with a case of the "my boyfriend is in town" flu. Otherwise I would've arranged for my friend Jody to have a baby free weekend." She explained as Amanda got a weird expression on her face before she started babbling a little bit.


"I had that once. It's the best flu ever. I should get that next week sometime. I'm sure it would be better this time with a real boyfriend." He just smiled at her. Considering how much she's been throwing up lately Monique would probably encourage it.


"Due to the fact I'm supposed to council teenagers about being a parent starting in two weeks complete with spending time with Jody's baby, I think I'll get enough practice. Dad set it up." He said that last part with a groan.


"That was me. My name is on the Hartley foundation as well. You can use the practice and Jody can use the help considering she's too terrified to tell her baby's daddy the truth." Like you. However, Matt wanted to get through this practice without a fight breaking out with the one family member he actually likes.


"I should've known. It seemed too much like caring for dad."


"Your parents care about you in their own narcissistic way. I found out that your suspicions were correct. Your mom pressured Spencer into not making the announcement." His aunt explained.


"Why?" Amanda asked with a touch of anger.


"The normal reasons: image, money, and power." Her words just made him very sad and extremely wary.



Marc sat in Wilhelmina's apartment munching on half a low fat no sugar added blueberry muffin as they watched the nominations for the 2010 MAMA awards. It was a tradition for the two to watch the nominations together in Wilhelmina's office or at her apartment. Of course this year it was different because Wilhelmina was actually eating her half of the muffin. You need to eat after almost dying.


Another thing that was different was he was skipping the morning managing editors meeting with Monique to be here with her blessing. Strangely enough she actually believes family is more important than work.


He has been coming over a lot in the last few weeks even though he no longer works for Wilhelmina to make sure she actually follows doctor's orders and is truly on the road to recovery. Dr. Whosits or whatever got very upset over Wilhelmina's sex marathon with her fiancé. He was there for the screaming session that followed. He never thought there would be a doctor brave enough to yell at Wilhelmina Slater, but he was wrong.


He was actually surprised that they were still friends. He was worried that Wilhelmina would be upset that he chose to stay at Mode. She wasn't. She actually let him order himself a really nice bottle of champagne on her credit card to celebrate his promotion.


The other thing that was different this year was Wilhelmina didn't have an office at the moment, even if her things haven't left the Mode building yet. It was like the ghost of Wilhelmina Slater still haunted the halls of Mode even if she didn't. With Miss Everybody-Is-Beautiful-Osborn in charge Wilhelmina's Mode is becoming just a distant memory.


Finally, he was at Wilhelmina's so he could have a few more precious hours without having to see his ex -boyfriend. He was already uncomfortable just going back and forth in e-mails with Cliff over the last few days for today's shoot. He was a complete coward who could not even pick up the phone to ask a simple question. E-mail was just impersonal enough that he can pretend he's not talking to his ex-boyfriend.


"It's almost sad that this will be the last time we will be watching the nominations together." Marc said in an effort to distract himself from his earlier boyfriend - he means ex-boyfriend thoughts.


"I don't know why. I planned to be nominated next year. Isabella under my guidance will receive a nomination next year easily. I'm sure once Monique turns Mode into the New York Review with style, Mode will get nominated in one of the other categories. She did receive her second consecutive nomination for best men's magazine for the 21st Century Masculinity issue."


"Has my EEO friendly replacement found a creative director to fill my shoes yet?" Apparently, there still wasn't any love lost between the two but there may have been a complement in there.


"No one can replace you. It's completely impossible for somebody else to wear your Prada heels. Even if they were the same size, they just do not have your flair." He said in the voice he reserves for Willie flattering.


"You're not on my payroll anymore, you don't need to suck up to me."


"Willie, I only say these things because they’re true. She is only nominated again because she put Adam Lambert on a cover surrounded by sexy fireman and some really famous basketball player that I can't remember the name of. Just the concept alone deserved the nomination. Although I wonder if a magazine with articles such as "The Secret Life of Players on the Down-low", "I'm not a bitch, I am just a player in a skirt", and "Players change the world: I found my soul in Gaborone" is still a men's magazine despite the high level of cleavage that fills the pages."


"Most of the old readers do not actually read the articles, they are just looking at the picture of the doctor wearing a skirt that shows her cheap hooker panties wearing 4 inch heels that belonged to women of that same profession. The 30% increase in readers over the last two years were from people who actually read the articles. I'm sure she's hoping the readers of Mode are just as clueless. It's going to be a lot easier to pick up on the fact that the models now have breasts and then the articles actually have substance. Your only hope is getting a creative director strong enough to challenge her, otherwise you'll never get to enjoy the perks of being a managing editor. Don't worry, I will have a desk ready for you as soon as she runs the magazine into the ground." She said in her normal Wilhelmina way.


"Thanks for the offer, but I think we'll be ok despite the lack of a Creative Director. Yesterday's choices were horrible. Betty knew more about the fashion industry during her blue poncho days." Marc shivered.


"She allowed you on the interview panel?" Wilhelmina asked just as Tyra Banks, the host for this year's event, took to the screen.


"Since I worked with you she said I was the most qualified to find a decent Creative Director." He said quickly before the nominees were announced.


"For best fashion magazine 2010 your nominees are Vogue magazine for the Young and Modern issue, Isabella magazine for the Young Hollywood Style issue, Mode magazine for The Million Dollar Bra issue." He expected Wilhelmina to be happy, but she wasn't.


"I can't believe we received a nomination for an issue that I sabotaged. God really must love Daniel. There's no point in watching the rest of this. It has lost all credibility for me." Just as Wilhelmina went to cut off the television the host continued.


"For the first time in MAMA history, Mode magazine receives a second nomination for the 100 Years of Swimsuit Style issue." For the first time ever Wilhelmina Slater was completely speechless.


That speechlessness continued when Both Mode magazine and Player magazine were nominated for  magazine of the year. It was the first time that either magazine was nominated for that particular honor.


Betty also received a nomination for best article for "Confessions of a Fashion Misfit" from the Million-dollar Bra issue.


Cliff was nominated for the Lambert cover. Marc really wasn't that surprised. His work has gotten even better since the breakup. Maybe he would actually win this year.


The absolutely truly shocking moment of the morning was Matt Hartley receiving a nomination for writing the articles he wrote for Player. Marc may or may not have crushed his muffin when that particular nomination was announced.



Betty sat at her desk editing articles (in hard copy for the sake of her scrapbook). Once Lindsey gave final approval for the content for the first issue she became inundated with work. She almost wished for two days earlier when she was semi board and could have lunch with her boyfriend.


Unlike Mode, with a staff of just under 200, London Hub currently only had 14 staff members including herself making life extremely busy. She was still hiring, but she probably will never have more than 25 people. Most of the work will be outsourced or done by freelancers. This meant that Betty was going to have to become familiar with every aspect of her magazine that she was allowed to touch. (Yesterday Lindsey decided to hire a photojournalist who used to work with National Explorer without consulting her that will start with her new assistant Betsy a week from Monday.)


As she started to review articles for the first issue Daniel showed up to her office with a bag of takeout that included all of her favorite foods. She didn't have time yesterday to ask him about what Amanda told her due to the ice cream thing and DJ showing up. But his actions were showing her that Amanda was right about Daniel taking the job in England for her.


"I'm happy you’re here." She said kissing him on the lips gently. "But, I thought you were supposed to be in meetings all day and couldn't get away for lunch?" She was so busy any way that she was planning on eating at her desk from things scavenged from the vending machines anyway.


"That was before my nephew showed up mysteriously on our doorstep without an explanation other than he was on a school 'field trip' and wanted to check out the new house. I decided that Diana could take a few of the meetings by herself so I could focus on DJ." He pointed to his nephew speaking in French with the guy everybody thinks should have her job.


"Why is he still here? Not that I don't love your nephew, but isn't he supposed to be on a field trip?" Honestly she was a little nervous about being around DJ after what happened yesterday.


Also, there was no way she was going to ask Daniel about the naked pictures that Matt painted of her with DJ there. Maybe she shouldn't be so upset about that because if Daniel had all the pictures that meant no one else did. Why did Amanda tell her that in a text message?


"He refuses to go back to the hotel this morning or meet up with his tour group. Contrary to what I thought an hour ago, there actually is a field trip. Thank god Alexis put me on his pre-approved "people who can take care of DJ" list otherwise things would really be bad right now."


"You thought that he lied about the field trip?" Betty asked.


"Yes. Since you have more experience dealing with allusive 15 year olds with mood swings, I thought you could get an explanation from him if you're comfortable speaking with him." 'After everything he saw yesterday.' Thankfully, that part was left unsaid.


"Otherwise Amanda volunteered but I'm afraid to have her talk to DJ.”


“Because she still hasn’t learned the importance of being discreet with children sometimes?” Or anybody else for that matter.


“Exactly, but we need to know what's going on. I know my mom will start calling as soon as she knows DJs here." She forgot that Justin and DJ were the same age because they seemed nothing alike. "Amanda knows so you know that my mom will know in an hour."


"Or less." She sighed regretting her earlier text message. She just needed to talk to somebody about what happened.


"I really hope she doesn't tell my mom about the kitchen thing. Candy is a great assistant, but is just not as good as you were at putting off people I really don't want to talk to."


"I don't think I am the best at that. I could never come up with anything as good as sympathy morning sickness." Betty smirked at him.


"When did you hear about that one?" Daniel said with a groan as he covered his faced with his palm.


"Your mother told me after I found out about the baby. I can't believe I thought that Amanda was developing bulimia again." She also couldn't believe she missed the fact that Matt was still infatuated with Amanda. She really can't believe that she missed all the signs that Amanda was pregnant or in love with Matt.


"People believe what they want to believe. Everybody thought you were ugly because you chose not to dress in the latest styles and had braces. Nothing could have been farther from the truth." Daniel said giving her a chaste kiss on her lips.


"Are you sure you really need me for this. Can't you find out what's going on from Alexis?" She said hesitantly looking at him.


"First of all, how many 15 year old boys tell their mom what's going on in their life?" She instantly thought back to the fact that Marc knew about Justin's first boyfriend before they did. Then there's the fact that right now her father has no idea she's living with Daniel in the true sense of the word and not just being roommates.


"You're right, Justin doesn't tell my sister everything," or really anything half the time.


"Think of it this way, your sister and Justin have a very good relationship and yet they still don't tell each other everything. With DJ and Alexis it's worse because she was completely absent from his life for the first 13 years and is technically his biological father." She forgot how messy that relationship was.


"Another good point, but you should still call her. At least let her know he's okay." She said as she pulled him in for her own kiss. At that moment she wondered if she should closed the blinds.


"I already tried that. I couldn't get a hold of her. She's not picking up her cell and her assistant said she couldn't be reached for the next few days because she was at a corporate retreat." Daniel's voice sounded highly skeptical.


Daniel's relationship with Alexis is still very complicated. The DJ situation and the fact that Alexis did not even bother to come in for Molly's funeral made the situation even more dysfunctional.


Betty only knew about Alexis becoming the president of a small company that Published books in France six months after leaving New York because Claire told her. Apparently, Alexis wanted to make a name for herself independent of her family and that's why she didn't work for any of the European versions of Meade publications. Of course, Daniel would not go over this with her because Alexis was a very painful subject for him.


"Okay another good point. What about the grandparents?" Betty said pulling Daniel to her as they sat on the edge of her desk together.


"Betty, most people don't have families as good as yours. DJs grandparents only wanted custody of him so they could have a piece of the trust fund that Lucy left him. They were already booking modeling jobs for him before Lucy's body was cold. They saw him as one big checkbook, like they used to see her. I never told you the real reason why they sued me for custody when we thought I was DJs dad because I legally couldn't, but I will tell you now. Apparently, they were looking forward to a very large child support check. When they tried the same stunt with Alexis, she sued for full custody and won." Betty stood there shocked for a moment, not believing anybody could be like that.


She knew DJ didn't want to go back with his grandparents. He was absolutely terrified at the thought of going back to France to be with his grandparents. He also knew that Claire pretty much despised DJs grandparents and tried to avoid them at all cost when she visits France. However, Daniel never told her it was this bad.


"Why didn't you tell me before besides the legal thing? If it was that bad, I wouldn't have convinced you to give DJ back to his grandparents."


"I didn't know until later and then I couldn't say anything about certain parts because of a gag order which I am technically violating right now. Everything fell apart the week of Molly's..." Which now explains why Alexis wasn't there.


"I won't say anything," She said kissing him again.


"The ability to stay in denial about certain aspects of your life is a genetic thing in my family that we are apparently very good at. We didn't know how bad it was until Alexis hired a private investigator after they hit her with a monster child support lawsuit. Did you ever wonder why it was so easy for Alexis to get full custody in another country, especially in light of the fact that she narrowly escaped prosecution for pushing Christina down the stairs?" Daniel asked.


"I really never thought about it. I just thought that the judge felt it was best for DJ to be with his biological parent. Maybe I should have known better. DJ was so desperate to stay." Now she felt horrible about that speech she gave Daniel two years ago. If she knew how bad it was she would have fought to keep DJ with them.


"Daniel you have to know if I knew I would have helped you hide DJ myself."


"I know. You can't change the past. I need your help now. He trusts you and respects you. He will tell you things that he won't tell me."


"I seriously doubt that after last night." She said remembering the shock look on his face. Just the thought of spending time with DJ right now made her squirm. But Amanda knew things that even she didn't know and would say too much.


"He's a 15 year old boy. Most of the shock was caused by getting to see a beautiful woman topless in the flesh." That got Daniel a smack on the shoulder as she started to blush again.


"See that's exactly why I don't want to have lunch with your nephew. That had to be like walking in on your parents having sex. I've done that before and I was emotionally scarred for life." She sees a smile from him when she says this.


"I had the misfortune of walking in on my parents as well. Actually I caught my mom with her new boyfriend. That is much more traumatic. Other relatives are nowhere near as bad. Besides we were not actually having sex despite what Amanda said when I talk to her this morning." At that moment her phone started playing Justin's ring tone.


"Aren't you supposed to be in first period right now?" She asked her nephew as she did the time conversion thing in her head.


"My algebra teacher came down with the flu or more accurately the "my girlfriend is in town flu" and they don't have a substitute. It's going around campus right now." Justin snickered.


"As long as I behave myself, I can watch the MAMA announcements on my phone. I just wanted to let you know that you were nominated."


"You mean Mode got nominated again?" She asked switching the phone to speaker so Daniel could hear.


"Yes but that's not what I'm talking about. Actually Mode got nominated for the Shakira cover and The Million Dollar Bra issue." She was surprised.


"What? That has never happened before." Daniel said in shock. Just then, Daniel's phone dings to signal a text message. It was a congratulations message from his mom. Since she did not ask about DJ she must not know yet.


Her work phone was starting to ring and she could see about 15 messages pop up in her inbox with subject lines like "congratulations Betty" and "we knew you would do great things". There was even one from Marc that said "I hate you and you better let me pick out your outfit".


"Yes Mode was nominated in the best fashion magazine category twice. The magazine is also up for Magazine of the Year. However, that's not why I called. You're nominated for writing Aunt Betty. Your article "Confessions of a Fashion Misfit" was nominated for best writing in the monthly magazine category along with Matt's article series. Hey, I got to go. The teacher who's watching the class is starting to look at me funny. Congratulations Aunt Betty." As soon as Justin hung up she heard her sister's ring tone. She never got to answer the phone because her boyfriend pulled her into a congratulatory kiss that had her almost knocking things off her desk again. They are definitely going to have to learn not to make out on the desk but not today.

To be continued…


Chapter Text



Breakfast was a quiet affair, mostly because Aunt Breanna actually likes her, which is more than can be said for the rest of her boyfriend’s family. Or at least it was quiet until Matt started getting text messages congratulating him on being nominated for a MAMA. He was completely shocked he received a nomination for writing. Actually, he choked on his orange juice. Amanda wasn’t. She knew Matt was brilliant. Although judging by the text messages, only Betty and Monique agreed with her. She could tell that Matt was really unhappy that his mother and father did not offer their congratulations.


As Matt’s baby cousins started to make a mess of the restaurant. Amanda thought it was a good idea to send a “congratulations” text message to Betty and Daniel. Okay she told Betty congratulations, but she hopes she loses to Matt. Daniel was different.


Princess Amanda: congratulations on getting nominated for the million-dollar bra issue. I’m sure you have fantasies of Betty wearing that every night. Or maybe you just dream of her naked. Whatever works for you.


Betty’s boyfriend: please don’t send text messages like that. DJ just read that.


Princess Amanda: He’s 13. What do you think 13-year-old boys do in their private time? When they’re not hitchhiking their way to England to visit their uncle.


Betty’s boyfriend: Actually there really was a field trip that DJ is refusing to participate and which is why he was here to read my phone.


Betty’s boyfriend: Tell Matt congratulations for me. It is an honor to be nominated, but we both know Betty’s the better writer and will be taking that trophy back to England with her.


Princess Amanda: And they’re both going up against Marc’s possible baby’s mama who wrote an entire series of articles about becoming a first time mother at nearly 50. Why did we not realize this was a possibility?


Betty’s boyfriend: Because I canceled Betty’s subscription and I banned all copies of the New York Review from the building after Jody screwed over Betty figuratively. Although if I knew that she screwed Marc over literally I would have been more vigilant.


Betty’s boyfriend: I still can’t believe he had sex with her. I’m sure vast quantities of alcohol were involved. I’m kind of surprised the rumor mill didn’t leave copies of that magazine on his desk.


Princess Amanda: He was desperate. And they did and I threw up on it before he read it.


Betty’s boyfriend: Not desperate enough to really leave Wilhelmina behind.

Betty’s boyfriend: Also, I’m a little concerned about the baby sickness. You should probably check with your doctor.


Princess Amanda: It’s different now. Kids change everything. And I have a doctor’s appointment next week, I’ll ask about it then.


Betty’s boyfriend: We don’t know that for sure yet if Jody’s daughter is also Marc’s daughter.


Princess Amanda: Check out the link to Jody’s article.


Betty’s boyfriend: She looks like Marc in miniature. This is like the worst kept secret ever.


Princess Amanda: Which makes me want to get confirmation sooner rather than later. Aunt Breanna is friends with Jody. She said that Jody’s keeping the identity of the baby’s father a secret, but maybe she actually does know.


Princess Amanda: I trust Breanna and if she tells me that Marc is a daddy then I’m willing to break the news before we figure out a way to get a DNA sample.


Betty’s boyfriend: Breanna is not going to talk. She has yet to confirm or deny the paternity of baby Alexis, even though I’m 99% sure I know who the biological father is. And I mean that to me personally, not the press. And I think I have a right to know.


Betty’s boyfriend: Just hold off on anything until you speak with the lawyers. Let the lawyers do the dirty work.


Princess Amanda: Why do you think Breanna should tell you who Alexis’s father is?


Betty’s boyfriend: DJ just tried to make a pass at Diana which is probably going to piss off her girlfriend. I have to go, but whatever you do don’t talk to Breanna about this yet.


Betty’s boyfriend: She could tip Jody off and then she’ll end up taking an assignment in the Sudan and we will never see her again.


Princess Amanda: You are avoiding the question but its fine. I’ll call you after lunch with the lawyers.


Amanda placed her phone in her purse before turning her attentions to her boyfriend and his family. She had no idea how a small five-year-old could create so much damage. There was strawberry syrup on the carpet and blueberry pancake syrup on the ceiling. Amanda was too busy texting Daniel to know how that happened.


 The table was completely covered in water and orange juice. But then again so was baby Alexis. Amanda clutched her stomach, hoping that her darling baby would not be like that. Then she remembered the picture of her decimating pudding cups at a corporate picnic when she was two years old and started to cry a little bit. How was she going to deal with all of this if Matt does what he always does and runs away? He ran away from her once, what’s to say that he won’t do it again?




Thanks to his aunt not being an evil person breakfast mostly went well except Amanda burst into tears just as they were leaving. He’s not entirely sure if they were happy tears because of the MAMA nominations or frustrated tears because his almost five year old niece managed to get pieces of her breakfast everywhere. They left a $75.00 tip after Lexis manage to get blueberry pancakes syrup on the ceiling. He wondered if Lexis was doing it on purpose.


He hopes it’s not because Amanda overheard his telephone conversation with Spencer when she was preoccupied text messaging. It turns out his mom really is that big of a bitch and Matt was already coming up with ways to pay her back.


30 minutes later (after his aunt changed Lexis into her backup outfit), they walked into Monique's Office where she was sitting down with Claire Meade discussing something about the company. The last few weeks Matt has been getting used to being around Claire Meade. Most people would hate the person who was responsible for the implosion of their parents’ marriage, he didn't (especially because they managed to keep going through the motions for another decade after Tyler was conceived).


His parents’ dysfunctional marriage was not why his childhood was awful. It was awful because his parents were awful people who only cared about themselves. Matt’s life wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses before his parents divorced. It actually got better afterwards. Staying together for the sake of appearances when you’re obviously incompatible is good for no one.


 Besides he's pretty sure his parents would have found some other reason to hate each other like Tiffany Jagger. Matt's pretty sure she was the assistant who his dad impregnated during the early nineties because she practically disappeared in the middle of the night in 1994. One day she was trying to talk him into participating in the junior artist program at the University of Manhattan and the next day Jack Rodriguez was his dad's new assistant (three months later, he found out that mommy and daddy were going to live in separate houses).


He really couldn't hate her because Claire was more of a mother to Amanda than anyone else ever was (Amanda’s adoptive mother wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of upcoming grandmother hood). Claire was the one who was there for Amanda when no one else was, including Matt. She was even there when Amanda took the pregnancy test. For that reason alone he was okay with their child calling Claire Meade grandmother. Besides, maybe if his father wasn't such a dick, this woman probably would have become his stepmother.


That being said, he was shocked to see his aunt hugging Claire Meade as if they were the oldest of friends.


"You know each other?" Matt asked quickly as he held his cousin who was trying to get out of his arms.


"We've known each other for a very long time. Your aunt and Alexis went to school together. They were the best of friends up until the accident." Claire explained.


"Alexis and I became best friends when we functioned as the cover for my big brother and his secret girlfriend.” Breanna explained. “When your dad was sleeping with Claire behind your mom's back they covered things up by saying that they were taking the kids out for a play date. Your dad never liked spending time with me. I should have known something was up."


"I don't remember you ever mentioning having a friend name Alexis." He said changing the subject.


Talking about the brother/sister relationship between his aunt and father usually resulted in his aunt getting completely wasted. It was too early in the morning to deal with a drunk aunt. Besides he was curious. He was sure his aunt would have mentioned something like that when she decided to name her five year old daughter Alexis. She always said that she named her daughter after a dear friend who died.


"Yes I did. I told you that I named Lexis after my BFF Alex. Alex always said that if she ever went through with the gender reassignment surgery she would change her name to Alexis. After I thought she died, I thought it would be fitting to give my daughter the name she always wanted. It turns out she wasn't dead."


Of course they’re talking about Claire’s daughter and Tyler’s half-sister Alexis Mead. Matt has only spoken with her on the phone a few times because she was long gone from Meade before Matt arrived there. He vaguely remembered several newspaper articles about Alex Meade returning from the dead as Alexis at fashion week 2007. He also remembered his aunt losing consciousness at her show that same year. In his head he started doing the math and realized that his aunt’s Paris exile began slightly after the presumed death of Alex Meade.


"Have you spoken to Alexis since she came back?" Claire asked.


"At first, when she came back I tried calling, but she never returned my calls and I stopped trying. Although that was mostly because her assistant at the time was a complete asshole." Amanda nodded her head in agreement.


"Maybe you should try again." Claire said looking strangely at the little girl he was holding. "She lives in France now with her son DJ."


"Alexis has a son?" His normally unflappable aunt asked in a state of shock.


"Yes and it’s a small miracle we managed to keep that out of the press. We originally thought that Daniela was Daniel's son, which is why he has the nickname DJ short for Daniel junior. But apparently Alexis slept with her brother’s girlfriend without a condom.” Claire explained as his aunt started counting to 10. She looked pissed for reasons that Matt couldn’t understand.


“Although, I think he likes Daniel better than Alexis. I mean, DJ showed up at Daniel and Betty's house last night when he was eating ice cream off of Betty’s stomach in the kitchen." He was just grateful at that moment that Amanda didn't refer to it as ice cream sex.


"Excuse me while I go call my daughter and son to see why my grandson is in London with his uncle. Matt we're having a press conference in 30 minutes regarding this morning's nominations. I expect you to be there." With that Claire Meade was gone.


"That's okay. We're just going to go to the closet to try on Amanda's dress. Do you want to stay here or do you want to come with us." She asked her daughter.


"Can I play dress up?" Baby Alexis asked batting her eyelashes.


"Sure, that's my favorite thing. We can play dress up together in the closet." Amanda said as she grabbed Lexis from him and kissed him goodbye. His aunt followed behind.


"That works out well because I need to talk to you as your aunt is putting the finishing touches on the maternity bridesmaid gown." Monique said to him.


"About what?"


"Daniel and I had a very interesting conversation yesterday and Claire agreed with my decision. Because you have a share in this company I thought I would talk to you before I made a big announcement." Monique explained.


"I thought we agreed that I would be a silent partner and you would control everything." That was the whole point of the trust. Monique had her mother’s business sense and was better suited for the cutthroat world of publishing.



"That doesn't mean I don't value your input. You're a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for. Besides, you are an award nominated writer now and I think maybe you should have a more formal position here with an actual office.", Matt wasn’t expecting Monique to say that, nor was he expecting to be named a Junior director of anything, let alone special programs and outreach at Mode.




Marc walked into the offices at 9:45 AM, barely missing his ex-boyfriend at the muffin cart getting his usual blueberry muffin and normal coffee. It means nothing at all that he ran into the elevator when he saw his ex. Maybe it had a little to do with the fact that Troy happened to be standing in line behind him. He doesn't have to be at the photo shoot for 45 minutes and he's not going to deal with any boyfriend drama—he means ex-boyfriend drama- before then.


As he stepped off the elevator, he was expecting to see Monique holding court with the press. She was a master at manipulating the press. Instead, Claire was the one leading the press conference with Matt answering questions about his articles from Player, his role with the company, and rumors about his relationship with the daughter of the late Faye Somers. Nothing like finding out someone you really don't like just received a promotion that they probably don't deserve via a press conference.


At Mode, Matt will be the junior director for special projects and the coordinator for Meade's charity outreach programs. Marc wondered if it would be petty to throw his Starbucks at him.


If he did, at least it would get Amanda to stop hanging all over the asshole. If they want to keep the existence of their relationship and the fact that Matt is the father (99% probable but Marc is still hoping for a Daniel upset) of her child from the tabloids they really need to stop making out in front of the press core. It was probably already too late by that point anyway but it was still sickening. Megan who was standing on the other side of Claire looked ready to kill. He personally hopes that the baby causes Amanda to throw up ending the kiss.


The press conference was over as soon as Suzuki started asking questions about Betty and Daniel's relationship and the identity of the new EIC of Mode UK.


"You do realize that you and the billionaire boy are going to be on the cover of every tabloid from here to Jakarta after that." He asked after the press conference as they were walking to Monique's office after Amanda told him that Mistress Monique wanted to see him before he had to deal with his ex-boyfriend along with Cliff’s ex-girlfriend that he was still best friends with.


"That was the whole point." Matt said as they made their way to the elevator. "Aunt Brianna told me this morning that my mom was the one who pressured Spencer in to not making the announcement about being Amanda's dad. She didn't want anyone to find out about the baby. Spencer acquiesced because he was worried about what my mom would do to Amanda if he didn't go along with it. At least that is what he said when I called him. I decided it was time to let everyone know anyway."


"You missed the best part. Matt thanked me personally and told everyone the reason why he left early was because I was pregnant."


"Sorry I missed it." Marc said sarcastically.


"If it wasn't for the fact your mom is probably having a heart attack right now I would not have allowed you to turn the press conference into a personal spectacle." Claire said as she followed behind the three.


"You completely ruined my family. I think I deserve something." Matt said in a way that obviously wasn't serious.


"Considering your parents stayed married for several more years, I doubt that it was my fault. I believe Tiffany Jagger was the indiscretion that ended that marriage according to the country club rumor mill. However, considering what a horrible person your mother is, I'm positive she didn't need any help.” Marc agreed with that. Wilhelmina was cuddly by comparison.


“Amanda when you get done with Monique, could you please try to call my son and get him to explain why my nephew who was supposed to be on a school trip to London showed up at his house last night? He is not taking my calls. If that does not work, try Betty."


"Will do." Amanda said in a way that told Marc that she probably already knew half the answer to that. But Claire was gone before she could even realize that.


When they walked into Monique's office a few moments later she was standing in the middle of the room on a table wearing just a black bra and panties surrounded by wedding dresses. His boss seemed oblivious to everything going on around her as she screamed in to her head set. Judging by the conversation it was mommy Monique on the phone. Again, someone that almost made Wilhelmina cuddly.


Viviane Windom-West was a legend in the New York social scene. Marc met the woman for the first time a couple years ago at some charity dinner that he went with Wilhelmina to when she was dating Wilhelmina’s father briefly.


At the time, Marc didn't know she was Monique's mother. They had different last names and Monique looks more like she could be Wilhelmina's child than the daughter of Viviane Windom-West. It was obvious she didn't recognize him when they met in January at Matt's gallery show, if she really believed he worked for Player.


"I had no idea Player or Mode would be nominated this year. Most magazines don't get nominated two years in a row." Monique's screamed this as he saw Brianna place a small girl in Matt's arms along with a designer purse. "Please take her somewhere else before Mo teaches my daughter new four letter words. Be good for Matt and auntie Mandy, baby."


"Yes, I chose that wedding date specifically to ruin your perfect rehearsal dinner. Mom I love you, but not all of my decisions are based on the best way to piss you off." That statement drew his attention back to Monique's conversation.


"Do we even need to have a rehearsal dinner? This is my second wedding. I think I know what to do." Matt and Amanda were running out of the room with the small child at that point.


"Are you still mad about the fact you were not there for the first wedding because we eloped?” Marc could hear a faint yes in the background.



“Why? You wouldn't have come anyway because Jordan was just an assistant. I'm shocked you are going to this wedding, because I'm marrying the sandwich guy." That led to more arguing and Vivian Windom-West, asserting that she’s nowhere near that shallow because when she serves dinner to the homeless on Thanksgiving, it’s not a photo op.


Also, apparently Vivian never liked Jordan because he was six years older than Monique and they started their relationship when the EIC was barely legal. Where mommy Windom-West respected Gio was he took responsibility for his sister after their parents died and started his own business. Because she respects Gio she wants decent wedding pictures to show off to all her friends and is mostly concerned about the lack of rehearsal leading to bad wedding pictures.


"Cliff is an award winning professional, even if he got robbed last year.” Totally true. “He can get good shots with a disposable point and shoot camera with bad light and no planning. He doesn't need to practice to get good images." At that moment Monique covers the microphone and asks him for her blackberry. At least this distracted him from thinking about Cliff.


"No I can't do the rehearsal dinner Thursday because I'm still going to be in DC. We're not going to get back till Friday morning." At that point Monique switches the phone to speaker mode. He quickly took over the conversation when Monique asked for his help. Of course she asked in French.


"Hello mommy Windom-West. This is Marc St. James, one of your daughter's colleagues. We met in January at the Matt Hartley gallery show."


"So you're her new assistant?” Okay she really didn’t remember him from when she was dating Wilhelmina’s father. “I bet you're happy to be out of Player."


"Amanda is her assistant. She is the one who threw up on your shoes Tuesday." That piece of gossip was already circulating through the Mode offices. "I am one of her managing editors and the one in charge of the DC shoot."


"She is still your boss. If she said so you could be back Thursday in time for the reception." Technically true, but Monique is not that type of boss.


"Yes she is in charge and she's a wonderful boss.” Much better than Wilhelmina, and it hurts him to think that. “However, there's no way we're going to be able to get back Thursday in time for a dinner. I think we're shooting at the State Department that day until midnight. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get the Ben Franklin room for a photo shoot for a fashion magazine? The most practical solution would be to do the dinner sometime Friday afternoon.” Marc suggested. “The awards banquet doesn't start until 8:00."


"Civilized people don't eat dinner at 4:00. However, a rehearsal luncheon would be great. Mo can invite all her underlings and it could be a pre gala event as well." He just rolled his eyes at that.


"That's fine as long as I control the guest list." Monique shouted back.


"As long as you don't invite your father and his new slut, I don't care." At that moment he could tell the designer was happy that she got her daughter out of the room.


"See that's one thing that we agree on mom. If I could get away with it, I wouldn't invite him to the wedding. I'm definitely not going with that arcane tradition of the father giving away the bride. You’re walking me down the aisle because you were actually there." Monique told her mother.


"He would have to have been your father in the first place instead of a sperm donor to have that right. I am happy that you were nominated even if we are going to have to completely change the rehearsal dinner. But I have a meeting for Windom-West foundation at 10:30 that I need to get to."


"That's fine. I'm in the middle of trying on the wedding dress. I'm currently standing in front of my staff wearing my underwear. I will see you tonight at the Suarez house for the final menu tasting."


"I don't see why we have to go all the way to Queens for a menu tasting." Mommy Windom-West complained.


"Because the chef who I have taking over for the unimaginative catering company prefers to work in his own kitchen. You know neither one of us want bad food at this wedding." he heard Monique say to her mother.


“This is very true. Angelina would never let me hear the end of it." Marc would later find out that Angelina was Angelina Williams of the Upper East Side Williams and Vivian Windom West’s arch nemesis since their days together at Brown.


“Angelina is definitely not on the guest list. I can’t stand her."


“I can’t either. I’m perfectly fine with you not inviting her. I never wanted her there in the first place." With that mommy Monique was gone.


"You owe me for that." Marc said as he smiled at her.


"Trust me you will love the surprise I have for you later today. I even found you a special helper for the DC shoot." She said cryptically but Marc didn't get to ask questions.


"Now that you're done yelling at mommy dearest can you please put on your wedding dress? I seriously doubt Marc wants to see you in your underwear for the remainder of this meeting." Breanna said from the sidelines.


"I don't have a problem with it. I live with Amanda. I've gotten used to cleavage popping out all over the place a long time ago. I am a complete professional Miss Windom-West."


"You two already know each other?" Monique asked as she slipped one of the dresses over her matching underwear ensemble. The fact that she was wearing a matching ensemble gave Marc hope that his new boss really knew what she was doing.


"I was there when she told Wilhelmina to go to hell during fashion week 2005." Marc explained.


"Actually, I told Faye Somers to go to hell and told Wilhelmina to go fuck herself. It was the pregnancy hormones.” That means that Breanna was pregnant before the Paris exile, which means that all the rumors about her getting knocked up by some random guy in Paris were obviously wrong.


“We also ran into each other at the MAMA awards last year. We have the same ex-boyfriend. You already know that, otherwise you wouldn't have told me to be nice." Breanna glared.


"You're not doing a very good job." Monique said as she adjusted herself to fit the bodice of the dress.


"Did you get a chance to go over the concept mockups I sent your assistant?" He asked trying to keep things professional (and prevent a fight from breaking out).


"Everything looks good. I have a few changes we can talk about after I make sure the backup dress for the shoot fits. Seriously can you hold still?" She said as she started to do up the bodice. The dress was gray and strapless.


"I don't remember Vera Wang being this hands on." Marc mumbled to himself.


"She's also not that violent." Monique said.


"It's a Hartley thing. We're very hands on. In this case, it's a personal favor to my friend and my nephew who now owns part of this company. Monique and I have known each other since my first wedding dress was featured on the cover of Wedding Bell when she was not even legally old enough to get married yet." Breanna explained.


"Basically I'm giving her a chance to piss off her brother since she was never willing to come back to Meade Publications when he had a stake in the company. What do you think of the dress?" Monique twirled around on her desk for him to see.


"To say "I do" it looks fabulous. For the cover, you don't have the breast to pull that off." He said honestly, because he learned quickly that Monique doesn't require the same ass kissing as Wilhelmina. If it's not right she expects him to say something.


"That's what I thought but no one listens to the designer." Breanna complained.


"Fine. It’s so unfair that Mercedes got big breasts and I just ended up with a big ass." Monique said pulling the dress off quickly and throwing it to the couch. Instead, she missed and it landed on the head of the person walking into her office. He should've known it was Cliff because his whole body started to tingle.


"Cliff if you get muffin on the prototype, I will strangle you and not in a fun way." His heart instantly began to speed up as soon as she mentioned the name. He's a professional. He can work with his ex-boyfriend. Besides he's completely over Cliff. He has Trevor now. Oh wait his name is Troy. Actually, Marc can't remember right now because he's too busy staring at his ex who in that outfit is making Marc wish he wore a slightly larger pair of pants this morning.


"That's your muffin, not mine." Cliff stopped and looked at him for a moment and didn't say a word. Marc really didn't know what to say. He was about to congratulate him on his nomination this morning, but Monique beat him to it. She also forced him into his fate of spending the entire day with his ex-boyfriend by dismissing the two to go down to the shoot.


He was so distracted by Cliff that he accidentally ran into the doorway leaving Monique's Office. Oh yes, this is going to be one very awkward day.


Monique stood on the table again in her underwear watching the very awkward reactions.


"Those two are more fun than watching the secret mating rituals of interns. They’re obviously in love otherwise Marc would not have gone headfirst into my door." She said as soon as the two were to the elevators and Brianna started to pull her down.


"I can't believe you successfully talked me into setting up my ex-boyfriend with his ex-boyfriend and your new managing editor. You know what Marc did to him?"


“Most of Meade publications knows about the neighbor fuck up. And it’s still better than what that model did to Cliff. Marc panicked and screwed somebody when he thought they were on a break. The model made Cliff think that he was in love with him so he could get better jobs. Marc regrets what he did and the model didn’t regret what he did until he was blacklisted from every single fashion magazine on the East Coast.”


“I never thanked you for that.”


“I didn’t do it, Marc did.”




“The Mode rumor mill is legendary and Marc easily found out about what Cliff’s now ex-boyfriend did and he took vengeance Wilhelmina style. It’s the main reason why I know Marc is still in love with him.

I don't think they would be giving each other those glances if their feelings for each other were not mutual. I also think Marc would have been coordinated enough to not hurt himself leaving my office. I’m sure I’m right.”


“Love isn’t always enough.” Monique said sadly. “Some people should just not be with each other. Maybe sometimes you shouldn’t forgive.”


“But you forgave Cliff, so maybe he should pay it forward.” So it took Cliff a little while to figure out that he played for the other team. And poor Breanna found out by catching Cliff give his roommate fellatio. “Trust me you're much more forgiving than I ever would be, if I caught my boyfriend screwing around. However, you forgave him. I'm sure there's a possibility that he will be able to forgive Marc and maybe get back together again."


"College is a time of experimentation.” Breanna said as way of excuse. “I accepted what happened and eventually we became friends again, but not lovers. I think the best we can hope for is the two of them getting through this issue and the DC shoot without killing each other or running into more furniture."


"That's a first step. If you remember correctly you and Cliff didn't become friends again until after your other best friend died and you broke down in tears at a photo shoot at Isabella that Cliff was working on." Monique pointed out with a smile.


"Alex didn't die, she just became Alexis completely."


"You didn't know that at the time. Alex did not even say goodbye to you."


"Yes she did. Exactly 40 weeks before Lexis was born." That last part was mumbled under her breath so much so that Monique barely heard her.


"What are you saying? Didn't she have a girlfriend back then?"


"I need to go find Matt and my daughter." Brianna said as an excuse as she started to run out the door. She did not even bother to grab the dresses.


"Brianna," Monique called after her as she put her suit back on. However, her friend was long gone.


To be continued




Chapter Text


Marc should be happy that he was doing his first truly "solo" shoot since becoming a Managing Creative Editor. Instead, he was 30 seconds from an asthma attack. He was absolutely terrified. So far nothing on the shoot had gone right and he wasn't just talking about the fact that his ex-boyfriend was the photographer. The design team was an hour behind putting the set together and the agency sent the wrong models.


Apparently they thought Monique was joking when she said they would now use models that were "pretty but people size." At least that's what they told him when he called to yell at them. The models he needed would be arriving in an hour.


It really didn't matter anyway because most of the looks for the shoot weren't there yet. The only things they had were the items that their OCD designer brought herself. Said designer stuck around long enough to take a couple of quick shots on the half together set before disappearing the moment old woman Meade walked into the studio.


(He is still trying to get used to the fact that he is not supposed to insult Claire every time she walks into the room. Working for someone other than Wilhelmina is quite difficult.)


Brianna sent Marc a text message 20 minutes later saying an emergency came up and she would be sending a stylist over to put everything together. This wouldn't be a problem if Brianna would let them do the shoot the normal way. Breanna’s micromanaging tendencies are as bad as her brother’s, not that he would say that out loud.


Worst of all, his boyfriend is currently stalking him. At some point in the muffin line Cliff had let it slip to Troy that he was working with his ex-boyfriend on the Brianna West-Hartley shoot. Despite all indications otherwise, Troy was actually able to figure out that Cliff was talking about him. Now his boyfriend was being even clingier then he was after they returned from the Bahamas. It was so unprofessional.


Actually, thinking about it now, Cliff being here might be the only thing going right on this shoot. Marc always knew that Cliff was extremely talented, but he was rising to another level right now among the chaos. For example, Cliff was able to understand the direction notes Brianna sent through text messages. Though, even Cliff found it odd and he has known her for well over 15 years.


"I've been working in this industry for over a decade and this is the first time I've got directions via text message. I think this is flaky even for her." Cliff whispered.


Some of the more egotistical photographers probably wouldn't have put up with that. With Cliff there they may actually be able to save the shoot from going completely to hell. Maybe.


The whole time Cliff was making little jokes to make him feel better.


"If we gave all the models a muffin, I think they might be able to fit in the outfits." He quipped when the model agency put Marc on hold.


Cliff also distracted him with conversations about silly little things. It amazed him that despite all the bad blood between them, he slept with someone else and all, they were able to joke around like this and have really deep conversations about Cliff's favorite movies. (It probably helps by comparison to the baby model his breakup with Cliff was almost amicable).


He remembered Cliff saying that he wanted them to be friends again, but he didn't think that he meant it. If Cliff wanted them to be friends he would try as long as he stopped running into furniture in Cliff's presence. Besides he needed a new friend with Betty in London and Amanda in Matt land. Even Justin had a boyfriend. (Marc decided to ignore the little voice in his head that told him that he was only with Troy so he wouldn’t be alone.)


"You absolutely have to watch the BluRay special features for Star Trek 2009. It's absolutely hilarious. I can't remember which writer it was, but anyway he started talking about the fact that we were essentially watching Kirk and Spock fall in love with each other.” Cliff started to explain as they were waiting for the new models to arrive. Next time, he would make sure to book the models himself.


“Then he catches himself and says it is not in a romantic way but like Butch and Sundance. I was rolling my eyes and laughing the entire time. It was too funny."


"I always knew there was something going on with Butch and Sundance. They were so the original Brokeback Mountain." Marc snickered. It was obvious his boyfriend did not get it, but Cliff did.


They ignored Troy when he asked who Butch and Sundance were. This is what he gets for dating someone who is barely out of puberty and hasn’t watched a movie made before 1992. Now he knows how Cliff felt when he only wanted to watch the Bring It On films on movie night.


"Seriously, why are they so freaked out about big gay space heroes? Do they realize that Little Johnny and Jamie in middle of nowhere America will keep buying Star Trek merchandise even after realizing that the jokes about Jim Kirk sleeping with everybody really do mean everybody? It’s so obvious he’s pansexual."


“Not yet," Marc replied. "But I think they will eventually. It will just take one brave person and probably a change of writers in this case." Marc suggested.


"And about six more years. I’m sure I’m going to be able to elope in Vegas first.” Marc is just going to ignore the fact his stomach gets really tight at the thought of Cliff marrying some random guy in Vegas.


“Not that I really should be surprised. Claire almost killed the now award nominated Lambert cover until Monique offered to buy any issues left over from the initial printing. If it wasn't for Monique, I seriously doubt I would ever be asked to shoot anything for Player magazine. It just takes one person to change things." Cliff said in irritation.


"It's easier to marginalize us if they assume we're all into Broadway and Lady Gaga. Prada forbid gay or bisexual men are into bar fights and monster truck rallies, work as firefighters or that are in the military." Marc said in response.


"Did they really think pairing Spock with Uhura would make people stop thinking Jim and Spock were sleeping together? I think it made it worse. I like to tell myself that Jim's absolutely shocked expression in the transporter room was because he was upset that Uhura was kissing Spock because he liked Spock."


"But Spock and Uhura are so cute together." Both he and Cliff glared at Troy before he was done speaking. Wait was he still there? He was so caught up with his conversation with Cliff he completely forgot that Troy was standing next to him trying to grab his hand yet Marc kept pulling away.


"I'm not saying it wasn't cute. I'm saying the entire point of their relationship was to eliminate the possibility of a queer reading of the film. Not that they did a really good job of it, even the cover work made me think threesome." Cliff snickered.


When he noticed Troy’s shocked expression Marc added. "Don't get offended, it's an academic term." Why was Troy still here?


"Maybe one of the writers or the editing team was being really subversive and that's their plan?" Marc suggested.


“Now that would be groundbreaking. But I doubt that they would do something like that. Besides I think they're trying to protect you know who." Marc knew exactly who he was referring to although Troy looked obviously confused.




At that moment his benevolent boss arrived to rescue him from an annoyed Troy. Bless her.


"Troy, seriously what are you doing here? You're not assigned to this project. I'm not paying you to cling to your boyfriend like fake leather in hundred degree heat. Just because you're sleeping with my brand new junior creative director, doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. Get To Work. Now." Monique practically yelled at him in a voice that would make Wilhelmina proud. He was starting to really like this woman.


"But he needs my help." Troy said in a very whiny voice that was giving him a headache.


"Tell her that you need my help." Troy pleaded with him, but honestly Marc didn't want him there. He was making this entire thing more uncomfortable if such a thing were possible.


"I don't really care if he does need your help. You're supposed to be with Megan right now. I may be nicer than Wilhelmina, but I am a bigger bitch than she could ever be. Honestly Troy, I have no problem firing you." He’s sure Monique actually wanted a reason to fire Troy. "Get to work." With that, Troy was running out of the studio.


"Did you have to scare the almost teenager off like that?" Cliff asked her.


"Yes. You're the one who sent me a desperate text to get Marc's fan-club off the set." This is why he loves Cliff... He means, greatly respects in a professional capacity and only a professional capacity because he screwed up their romantic relationship so badly because he was a pathetic little coward.


"You did that on purpose?" Marc asked with a mixture of shock and respect.


"You can thank me later. If you're going to be my new Junior Creative Director you are going to have to grow a bit more backbone. I want you to be vicious when you need to be. Avoidance solves nothing. How hard is it to tell your boy toy that you're only fucking around with him because you're lonely and don't have time for a one off anymore because I have you so busy at your new job?"


"Junior creative director?" He asked her slightly surprised and choosing to ignore the rest of her tirade.


"All the creative director candidates we interviewed for the last few days have sucked." He knows since he was there.


"You are the only person who I know that actually knows how to do the job. So I'm putting you in that position at the junior level. Basically you'll have most of the same responsibilities but with 30% less pay and the same office."


"I'm the new Creative Director?" Marc asked in absolute shock.


"You're the new Junior Creative Director. That means you're not able to make any major decisions without me or Claire signing off on them, but you'll have a lot of creative freedom."


"But I'm still the Creative Director?"


"Only in the sense that the creative managing editors all report to you, but you report to me and Claire. There's a difference. Though when Wilhelmina comes to give you her old office please act surprised and don't tell Amanda yet."


"Of course," He replied quickly slightly in shock.


"Now can you please tell me where the designer is and where are the models?"

He and Cliff just looked at each other for a moment before they told her what happened.


With a family like hers, nothing should surprise her anymore, especially anything involving her daughter. When your child comes back from the dead with a brand new gender, the bar for being shocked is now ridiculously high. She already had one surprise grandchild from Alexis, what was another? She doesn't know how she knows it, but she is positive that Alexis "Lexis" West-Hartley is her granddaughter.


The assumption is logical. At Alex's funeral/dinner party the only person who was more distraught than her, after the alcohol wore off, was Brianna. She was so upset that it took two assistants to carry her away as she screamed and cried in grief. Not even Jordan, her son's girlfriend at the time, was that upset. At least not until the two of them got in a shouting match that the catering wait staff had to break up. Only now does she know that the waitress who stopped Brianna from strangling Jordan was Betty’s sister.


The meeting where Brianna cut ties with Meade Publications was legendary. It was right after Fashion Week 2005 that Brianna pulled advertising from every single magazine printed by the company. The rumor mill was well aware of the screaming and name calling directed at Wilhelmina and Faye Somers during that infamous meeting.


The Mode rumor mill doesn't know that after that meeting Brianna went directly to Bradford's office interrupting the lunch Claire was having with her husband. More accurately, she was drinking her way through lunch when an enraged Brianna ran into the room. She was now aware that her alcoholism was at its worst during the months right after Alex "died."


Filled with anger and rage, Brianna ran up to Bradford and started hitting him as she blamed him for Alex's death. Tears were streaming down her face the entire time. Nearly five years later, Claire remembers everything Brianna said to Bradford that day, despite the high level of alcohol flowing through her veins, even if she did not understand it at the time. Only in hindsight does she understand Brianna's words and pronoun choice.


"You killed her. Alex's death is your fault. Why couldn't you love her the way she is—was? It was not an accident. You know it was not an accident. She killed herself because you couldn't love her." After punching Bradford again, she collapsed to the floor completely unconscious. Her husband chose not to press charges blaming Brianna's outburst on her grief. That should've been another sign. Her husband usually was not that forgiving.


Claire accompanied her to the hospital where she overheard the doctor tell Brianna she was 12 weeks pregnant or rather she got pregnant exactly one week before they all assumed Alex died. Maybe she should have realized something was going on when Brianna let her sit in on the ultrasound. However, Claire was too drunk at the time to truly understand the significance.


A week later it was announced that Brianna was taking a leave of absence from her company, yet, no mention of the pregnancy was made. Eleven months later, at Fashion Week 2006, Brianna West-Hartley debuted her fall collection, and her daughter, to a stunned crowd. Suzuki St Pierre's predecessor could not even get the identity of Lexis's father out of the close lipped fashion designer. It was the biggest mystery in the fashion industry since Faye Somers started wearing elastic waistbands during the early eighties.


Yet she figured it out so easily on this day. Claire knew instantly the moment she looked into Lexis's eyes. They were hazel green but they were still her daughter's eyes. They were still Alexis's eyes.


The fact that Brianna was out the door the moment she walked into the shoot practically screamed at her that her assumption was correct. However, she needed more proof.

Cliff was too distracted trying to work a photo shoot with his ex-boyfriend that was obviously falling apart to know why his friend ran out so quickly.


Her sharp as a tack EIC obviously came to the same conclusion because she was trying to track down the elusive designer as well.


Claire considered calling her former lover, but she doubted he would know anything. Brianna's relationship with her brother has always been complicated even when she was a little girl. Claire seriously doubted Brianna would confide anything in Cal. Besides, she wasn't ready to speak to Cal Hartley again, not after what he said about their son.


She tried to call Alexis again, but couldn't get a hold of her. Claire knew the retreat excuse her assistant gave was a lie, yet she didn't push. She would have her assistant or maybe even Amanda try again later. When it came to family matters, Amanda was much better at being discreet.


That only left Brianna's nephew Matt who was playing Barbies with Lexis in the sex room/storage room on the giant bed. Amanda was also sitting there with cell phone in hand surrounded by laptops and wedding stuff. Amanda was probably the only person she knew that could be more productive in a bed than at a desk. Although it probably helped that the secret sex room had its own working bathroom for easy throwing up. She was just about to walk into the room when she heard Amanda begin to speak.


"This is your friend Amanda. Remember, the one you almost got pregnant? The one who helped set you up with the love of your life? The one whose name you actually call in bed? At least Matt can keep his girlfriends straight at climax." She could actually see Matt cringe when she said that to her son. It was obvious that was who Amanda was leaving the voicemail for. She almost started to laugh when Matt tried not to explain what his girlfriend meant by the term climax to Lexis.


“Now you pick up the phone. No, I’m not meeting with the lawyers until 4 PM my time because of some emergency, which is good because a lunch meeting would probably induced vomiting right now. No, I didn’t say anything to Breanna about the Marc thing.” Claire wondered why Amanda was meeting with the lawyers but felt it was best not to interrupt.


“We have bigger problems. I may have let it slip to your mom that DJ is with you and now she wants to know what’s going on. The Marc thing is different, because your mom needs to know. Did you just hang up on me?" Amanda said angrily as she dropped her phone to the bed.


“Your son is a jerk.” Claire almost wanted to laugh at that. “Just for that I’m going to tell you that DJ arrived at their house last night just in time to see Daniel eating ice cream off of Betty’s bare stomach." It became harder not to laugh when Matt reached over to cover his cousin's ears.


“Really, Daniel should be nicer to me after all the times I’ve helped them with his little chili cheese puff. I’m so done. I’m not even going to call Daniel back and let him know that DJ was not traumatized by the ice cream sex. Or that DJ hung up on me as soon as I asked him why he was in London. Those two really are related." Amanda said in frustration.


"She's done Matt. You can uncover your cousin's ears now." Claire said as she walked closer to the bed. "From what I heard, Daniel doesn’t want to talk to me. Please tell me you left that message on his cell phone. I could see him screening your calls in front of half of his staff."


“I think that might be why he picked up on the last call. I tried calling his cell phone earlier but he did not pick up. Don’t worry. I called Candy first and she told me that Daniel was listening to my voicemails live and that he was alone." She’s not even surprise Daniel was doing that.


"That's okay. We will try again later." Claire said, rubbing her temple in frustration.


"This takes me back," Claire said picking one of the Barbies up.


"When your mommy was little she used to force Alex—Alexis to play Barbies with her. I see you are doing the same thing with Matt." She smiled fondly at Little Alexis.


"I don't think Brianna had to force Alex/Alexis to play Barbies with her." She heard Amanda mumbled under her breath.


"It's nice to see my latest junior director playing Barbies with his niece/cousin during working hours." She said sarcastically.


"We are only here because scary chart lady can't figure out what office to give to Matt and this is the only room in the building that doesn't cause baby sickness all the time. It helps that it has a private bathroom so I don't have to listen to snide comments from Megan every time I throw up. Do you think I can just put my desk in here for the next five months? I'd definitely prefer to throw up in the private bathroom."


Turning this room into office space may not be such a bad idea. Daniel and Wilhelmina started using it as a storage room after they stopped people from using it as an employee lounge. With Monique's special plan, they are definitely going to need more office space.


"Considering the one responsible for causing the baby sickness is part owner of the company I don't see why not. We need to find a better use for this room besides a storage closet.” Also, it would be nice to exercise the ghost of Faye Somers out of this building. She didn’t need a physical reminder of the woman screwing around with her husband (even if she did the same thing).


“The morning sickness must be a Hartley thing. I wasn't sick at all with Daniel or Alexis but I think I lived in the bathroom with Tyler." Claire saw that Matt became uncomfortable when she started talking about his brother.


"I don't think that's true. Matt's aunt said she didn't get sick at all during her pregnancy. Although that may have been her mom's DNA. Matt did your mom get sick with you?" It was obvious that Amanda was trying to change the subject.


"I don't know. My mom finds that subject too unseemly to talk about." He shrugged.


"Maybe it comes from Lexis's father." Claire said providing Matt with an opening to talk about it.


"I wouldn't know. No one in the family knew that Briana was pregnant until she came back from France with Lexis, except for my dad. She was so adorable that we did not ask questions." Matt said hugging his cousin.


After spending almost four decades on the Upper East Side, she could easily translate Matt’s statement. He basically just said he has no idea who the father was and was not going to ask questions for the sake of propriety.


"I don't have a daddy." Lexis said in annoyance. She made the same face Alexis made when she was annoyed. This made the three adults realize they were talking about her as if she was not there. That was number six on the do not do this parenting list.


"Mommy says I only have mommies, but that's okay because it makes me special." Claire blinked a couple of times in shock before continuing.


"Did your mom actually say "mommies" sweetie?" Claire said sitting next to the little girl on the bed. The girl nodded her head. Just like Alex—Alexis did at that age. Maybe she’s reading too much into this. Everybody knows that Breanna is pansexual. Maybe Breanna finally met somebody and it was serious enough to prepare her daughter for a new mommy. Of course, Lexis’s next words completely shattered that delusion.


"She showed me a picture of my other mommy. She looks like you." The little girl said quietly before going back to playing with her Barbies, not realizing that she just shocked her uncle and apparent grandmother. Seconds later, Amanda's mouth dropped in shock as if she just got it, but maybe it had something to do it the text message she just received. Everything seemed to stay quiet for a while.


"Hey baby girl, your mommy just asked me to be the stylist on her fashion shoot because she had to run to an emergency meeting." That was obviously an excuse. "Do you want to come with me as I play dress up with the big models?"


"Can I bring my Barbies?" The little girl looked at Claire again with a touch of annoyance. Definitely an Alexis look.


"Sure." With that, Amanda was gone from the room with a girl who was most likely her granddaughter.


"You think she's your granddaughter?" Matt said after a few seconds later in a tone of voice you reserve for the most shocking moments of your life.


"After that conversation, I know she's my granddaughter."


Most people assumed Amanda was an idiot. The truth of the matter was she was smarter than most people gave her credit for by design. Over the years she became extremely good at playing into the stereotype of the dumb blonde. Sometimes she did it just to mess with Betty's head. She obviously knew Betty wasn't the first Hispanic female justice. It was just fun to freak her out sometimes.


Matt didn't buy into her dumb act and neither did Monique. In reality, she was good at reading people and reading between the lines. The look Matt gave her was an obvious sign that she needed to get Lexis out of there as quickly as possible. She was happy Brianna gave her an excuse to monitor the secret mating rituals of the semi-beautiful (until she had to meet with the lawyers to figure out the Marc may have gotten someone pregnant situation). Watching Marc and Cliff dance around each other was almost as much fun as watching Daniel and Betty dance around each other before the two finally got a clue. Even if it meant she was sending text messages to various vendors from the edge of the studio.


After silently watching Marc and Cliff act like Betty and Daniel used to when they were denying their feelings, she decided to let Marc know she was there by tapping him on the shoulder.


"What are you doing down here? And why are you carrying a little girl clutching a Barbie for dear life wearing an identical outfit to model number four?" Marc asked her right before he yelled at his assistant to see if the wardrobe for the rest of the shoot was there yet. He so needed her help. Thank God the lawyers changed the meeting time.


"Mommy made it for me. Mommy makes me a new wardrobe for my Barbie dolls every season."


"Of course your Barbie dolls have the latest styles.” Marc said smiling at the little girl. Maybe he can do the dad thing. “If your mom was actually here right now she would be helping me figure out what outfit model number six should be wearing." Or maybe not. There came the sarcasm.


"That's why I'm here. Briana asked me to fill in for her. She had a fashion emergency to take care of. Don’t worry, Baby girl and I are going to help with the shoot."


"I know you are good at this, but I'm not sure if I'd ever want to work with a five year old unless his name was Justin Suarez. Can't you leave your future cousin-in-law with your boyfriend? You know I’m not a kid person."


“You going to have to get over that really quick,” she pointed to her stomach, making them think that she was only referring to her baby.


“You’re right. Valentino knows if Matt will be around in six months.” She wants to glare at him, but she’s thinking the same thing; deep down inside. “But really your boyfriend should be responsible for his own family.”


"Matt had an impromptu meeting with Mommy Meade, so I'm in charge of baby girl for the duration. On the bright side, Baby girl and I wanted to see if you and the chubby one have managed to disappear into a storage closet yet to do grown-up things. Please say yes! I saw you two laughing and joking around earlier. You are so cute together. He's so much cuddlier now. I just want to hug him." Amanda told him practically bouncing.


"I'm going to blame that last statement on the pregnancy hormones. I'm not doing anything with Cliff because I have a boyfriend who keeps sneaking down here every 5 minutes even though Monique threatened to fire him twice if he keeps bothering Cliff.”


“Why are you with him again? The sex can’t be that good.” At that moment Marc put his hands over Lexis’s ears.


“Since you roped me into helping you co-parent, the first thing we are going to work on is not saying inappropriate things in front of small children. Especially when it’s not true.” He said removing his hands from Lexis’s ears.


“Besides, I’m not going to do anything with Cliff that a five-year-old should not hear about even if Troy wasn't crashing the photo shoot. Cliff and I are trying to be friends or at the very least be professional to each other. I am completely over my ex."


"You mean "friends" like what Betty and Daniel kept saying they were for the last four years? We all know how accurate that statement was. Last night Daniel's nephew walked in on him licking chocolate sauce off of Betty's Little Bettys in the kitchen.” Marc covered Lexis’s ears again. The parenting gene is already there. Good.


“According to the rumor mill, you were so distracted by your chunky former boy toy that you ran into a door more than once. That's probably the reason why Troy is following you. They're probably filling his head with all the nasty things that everybody thinks you're doing with Cliff. Besides, you don't seem happy that Troy's here?"


"I love Cli – I mean Troy.” Amanda just smirked that his Freudian slip. (Yes, she knows what the word Freudian means.)


“Why am I telling you this? You seriously need to stop saying stuff like that in front of a small child. Forget small child, I did not need to hear those things. Oh god, I did not need that visual. Heterosexual sex is creepy." Marc said with a visible shiver.


"Don't be mad at me. Nobody becomes a good mommy the moment they get pregnant. I'm learning. Being a mommy is hard." And being a father is probably just as hard even if Marc is not going to have to shove a bowling ball out of his special place.


"You are the one who made Uncle Cliff cry." Baby girl said interrupting their conversation.


"I did not make Cliff cry." Marc said in his defense. "We are friends now."


"Mommy said you broke Uncle Cliff's heart into a million pieces. She called you that word for boy parts that I'm not allowed to repeat. Aunt Jody called you that word too because you never called…" Lexis stops speaking. The moment that Cliff placed a hand over her mouth. Aunt Jody had to be YETI Jody. And if Jody was mad that Marc never called again, that meant that Marc is so the daddy. Did Cliff know?


"Don't children say the cutest things?" Cliff said, lifting Lexis into his arms. Amanda instantly realized he was trying to keep Lexis from saying way too much like she did earlier. Did he know about baby Jade? It wasn’t like she could ask him because if she said something and he didn’t know then that would completely kill any chance Marc had at getting the chubby one back. She wanted Troy gone by whatever means necessary before her muffin popped from the oven that is her uterus.


"Alexis you're going to be my special helper today. Marc and Mandy need to get all the pretty people dressed so I can start taking pictures." At that moment, the wardrobe finally arrived and she was able to get to work, which allowed her to not think about all the baby mama drama going on.


"Tyler is Lexis's cousin and uncle." Amanda said 45 minutes later after they kicked the last model out of the dressing room. She was desperate to tell somebody and at least she could trust Marc. Also, she was tired of keeping Jade a secret and at least she could tell Marc this.


She really hoped they were done by 3:30 PM, so she wouldn’t have to come up with some excuse for why she needed to see Daniel’s personal lawyer. Matt barely believed her excuse about running an errand for Daniel when they called earlier to reschedule her meeting.


"What are you talking about?" Marc asked, confused.


"The recently female Alexis knocked up Matt's aunty dearest right before she faked her death." She explained.


"That explains why my designer ran out of here so quickly. I'm so jealous. Why does that bitch get all the hot men? Such a waste." Marc lamented, not realizing that he totally told her that he was still into Cliff. She knew her BF way too well. Of course that’s the entire reason why to meet with the lawyers soon.


"Speaking of absolute waste, did you confess your feelings for the chubby one yet?” ‘Or did you at least tell Troy to go away for good?’ Even Amanda had enough decorum to not say that question out loud even though she really wanted to.


"That is the second time that you called him that. I thought chubby one refers to Betty."


"She's in London probably making all those bathroom BJ rumors true. Your former boy-toy, who I know you're still in love with, is the new chubby one. He reminds me of a teddy bear. You know I don't buy that "just friends" thing at all. Neither does Troy since he's stalking the shoot. He didn't leave until you threatened to call Monique back down. The fact that you forced your boyfriend off the set tells me something big is going on. I'm your best friend. You tell me everything."


"You don't tell me everything anymore because you're too busy with your baby's daddy. Why should I tell you anything?" Because I’m trying to verify that you knocked up your YETI instructor before I tell you that you’re a dad.


"You're so cute when you're jealous.” She says, instead trying to deflect the situation. “You'll always be my favorite. I've just been busy with the baby and trying to start a new career when I keep throwing up all the time. At least today I am actually working. But I think Matt's mom is sabotaging my new company.” And her life in general because she’s an evil bitch. “However, I still know you and I know there's something going on. You kicked Troy off the set." And out of the dressing room. He did it six times in the last 45 minutes. Troy was very persistent.


"It's not a big deal. I'm just trying to keep the talent happy." Amanda just glares at him.


"I'm sure you want to keep the talent very happy. You want to give Cliff lots of happies. Just so you know by happies, I mean orgasms." Marc has his head in his hands at this point.


”At least there’s not a five-year-old in here at the moment.”


"Is it safe for me to come in?” Justin said reluctantly from the doorway with clipboard in hand. Monique must’ve drafted him to help.


“But look, there’s an impressionable teenager for you to corrupt. Save me from her.”


“I’m just here to help with the fashion. By the way, your boyfriend paid me twenty bucks to keep you away from your ex-boyfriend and best friend. For some reason he thinks you're sleeping with Amanda and Cliff.” Amanda couldn’t help but snicker. That was never going to happen. Although maybe Troy knew about the Jodi thing and thinks his boyfriend is bi and not Kinsey 5 under duress. “Is there something I should know? Are you still in love with Cliff?" Justin said with hands on hips.


"Why does everyone think I am in love with my ex-boyfriend? I love Tracy – I mean Troy.”


‘Because you keep getting his name wrong.’ Amanda literally had to bite her tongue to keep from saying that.


“Justin what are you doing here? School isn't over for several hours. Your mom threatened to do horrible things to me if I let you skip classes to hang out at Mode.” Marc told his protégé


"Great subject change. She knows I'm here. Considering that half of my teachers have the ‘I don't feel like being at work today flu’ my mom signed me out so I can do something constructive today besides text message my boyfriend. Apparently, Austin's mom Tiffany is upset about last month's cell phone bill. Is it really my fault that she won't get Austin an unlimited plan? Austin's step-dad is so cheap. She and the step monster won't let Austin come to DC in two weeks if we keep texting all the time." Justin pouted.


“Note to self, get you two corporate phones. Fine, you can help Mandy while I go talk to my boyfriend about backing off a little." Marc ran out of the room annoyed.


"So he is still in love with Cliff?" Justin asked as soon as Mark was gone.




"Do you know why Monique offered me fifty dollars to lock Marc and Cliff in the closet?"


"She's playing matchmaker again.” Amanda sighed. “Honestly, she needs to start a web site."


"Troy doesn't stand a chance."


"Not at all." Not if she had anything to say about it. Marc was a daddy, Troy definitely had to go.


“Also, you should know that Daniel text message me 30 minutes ago asking me to make sure you get to the lawyers. Although I have no idea why. You’re not carrying my future step cousin in there?”


“I don’t think so,” Amanda said before deciding that she needs at least one more person to help with operation get Jade a good step daddy.


“I need your help,”


“With what?”


“You know that Betty and Matt are going up against their former YETI instructor because she wrote a story about being a first-time mom at nearly 50.”


“Yes. Also, before you ask I also know what Marc did with said YETI instructor.”


“Rumor mill?” Amanda asked.


“Actually, he told me last fall when I was still in denial mode. I found out way too much about the prom from hell.” At least it was a full six months before Marc told someone else. That was comforting.


“Did you Google the article?” Amanda asked.


“Not yet.”


“Google the article.” Justin quickly pulled out his phone only to drop it a minute later after completing his search.


“I’ll get you one of the corporate phones later.”


“She looks like a mini Marc. How did the rumor mill not leave this on Marc’s desk?” Justin asked shocked.


“They did. I threw up on it.”


“You have to tell him.” Justin implored.


“I will as soon as I get confirmation.” Amanda reassured him.


“I think the picture was confirmation.” Justin snickered.


“Your future uncle still wants me to talk to lawyers first. We are meeting at 4 PM, even though it’s going to put me even farther behind schedule." Amanda explained in frustration.


“That explains Daniel’s text message.”


"I also need your help with making Troy go bye-bye. It’s even more crucial now. Do you want Troy as someone’s stepdad?” Justin shivered at her words.


“I’m all for getting rid of Troy.” Justin said with a wicked smile.


“Good. I just need you to distract Marc when I go meet with the lawyers and then we’ll go from there.” Amanda explained.


“And keep Troy at least 50 feet away at all times?” Justin asked.


“Of course.”


To be continued.



Chapter Text


From: Fashion_TV_News_alerts

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 15:00:11


Subject: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


The MAMA's Have Gone To The Fashionable.


In an unprecedented showing, Mode magazine was nominated for an impressive five MAMA awards including magazine of the year, the most ever for any fashion magazine. But what we really want to know is if the exile former EIC Wilhelmina Slater will show up looking absolutely fabulous. She has not been seen in public since her near-death experience late last month.

[Click to read more]


Trouble in Isabella Paradise

Rumor has it that Isabella Press is now suffering the same financial troubles Meade Publications encountered last year and there isn’t a single hot embezzling Australian in sight. The new Isabella EIC Penelope Graybridge, brought on in November 2009, has done little to boost sagging sales or to successfully bring the hardcopy magazine kicking and screaming into the digital age. If Isabella doesn't get some hard cash soon their wardrobe department will be getting their latest styles from Target.

[Click to read more]


Whose Baby Is It Anyway?

Since fashion week 2006 people have been wondering about the daddy of the absolutely adorable and fashionable Alexis "Lexis" West-Hartley, daughter of fashion industry Queen Brianna West-Hartley. Speculation has reached a fever pitch after the elusive fashion designer was seen visiting the former almost boy toy of Claire Meade at an exclusive rehab facility in the Appalachian mountains outside the city. The family resemblance is uncanny. Could he be baby Lexis's father?

[Click to read more]



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: WuByron

Time sent: 5/27/2010 15:32:11


Subject: Do you even try to be a journalist anymore?


You really need to start sending out your resume so you can get the hell out of fashion Siberia before you lose your soul and journalistic integrity completely. Although, I think it may already be too late. Seriously, Byron what the hell were you thinking writing trash like that about Brianna? What happened?


(Although, I really did like the flattering things you said about Mode in the first piece. That's the only reason why I'm sending you an e-mail instead of showing up at your house. You know your wife will let me in because she loves me.)


This is the most ridiculous story you have ever posted. How have you not figured out who Tyler really is yet? Do you actually think Brianna is sleeping with a 28-year-old in rehab?


Honestly, Byron I thought underneath your Suzuki St Pierre façade you were still a capable journalist. I guess I was wrong.


I cannot believe that you ran with a story so stupid and inaccurate. Oh wait, yes I can. You still think Tyler was Claire Meade's cougar toy. I expected better from you because at least you know how to fact check or have you given up all hope of ever getting out of fashion hell.


Tell your wife hi and I will see both of you at my wedding. Did you tell her yet that you will be going as your fashionable alter ego? You know she’s not going to be happy, mostly because she’s going to have to show up with your cousin.


I think I found you a nice "date" that won't piss off your wife. He's one of the photographers nominated for a MAMA. He is cute and cuddly, but just got out of a bad relationship with some asshole Model that was just screwing him to get ahead. He needs a safety date and you are as safe as they come.


PS: You owe me a really good wedding gift for publishing something that idiotic. I want something fabulous, otherwise I'll be giving my next exclusive to the fine people at Fashion World.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: West, Brianna

BCC: VP_Meade_CM; HartleyMA (Mode)

Time sent: 5/27/2010 15:41:31

Subject: Brianna, we need to talk


Brianna, where are you? The shoot is almost over and you are nowhere to be seen. More importantly why did you not tell me that you slept with Alexis again before she became Alexis? Your baby girl already let the cat out of the bag, there's no point in denying it now. Everybody know she has two mommies, one of which looks like Claire.


Running out of here like the hounds of hell were chasing after you pretty much confirmed everybody’s speculation. Fortunately, Amanda did a very good job of taking over despite the fact that everything went wrong. You owe her like three boxes of chocolates for saving your shoot.


PS: I love my wedding dress but do you really think gray is appropriate for a wedding. I mean, I think my mom sees this as a funeral, but I don’t want others to see it that way. But then again, Vivienne is a bit of a traditionalist and will freak out just a little bit if I wear anything other than off-white. Maybe that's a good thing. I live to freak Vivienne out.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: VP_Meade_CM; HartleyMA (Mode); AmandaTS

Bcc: EIC_ModeUK_DM

Time sent: 5/27/2010 16:27:26

Subject: Fwd: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


Please read below. This could be bad. Even the press is starting to ask questions. The fact that Suzuki noticed the family resemblance between Tyler and Lexis is not good. Thank god, he put two and two together and got 69. I sent him a separate e-mail about how stupid it was, but I doubt he's going to back down. If he actually starts doing research, he might figure out the truth.


I don't know what's worse, people figuring out that Tyler is Cal Hartley's son or people figuring out that Alexis Meade is the mother/father of Lexis West-Hartley. This is going to be a media disaster. I think we need to put together a PR strategy just in case. We will talk tomorrow morning. I need to leave early to meet with my culinary savior for the wedding and Antonella ditched the town car that was supposed to pick her up after school.

Call me if there's an emergency. I will be on my Blackberry.



From: AmandaTS

To: Betty Lover DM

Subject: I hate your lawyers

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:22:18


I think we’re going to need different lawyers. Apparently this set is more familiar with making paternity suits go away. They were kind of thrown off by the fact that I want to prove Jody’s child is Marc’s child. They’re not used to that. I had to explain the situation twice.


They can definitely help once we get confirmation and things get ugly. But they have no idea how to keep things from getting ugly. All their ideas involve court orders and process servers and I don’t want to go that way.


I don’t know Jody very well, but I don’t think she’s keeping this from Marc to be malicious. I think she’s scared. I was. And at least I’m still at an age where the pregnancy is a possibility. Jody’s like menopausal.


If Matt did not have to come back because of the Tyler situation, I don’t think I would’ve told him. I’m still afraid that he’s going to wake up any moment and just leave because he’s bored of me and fatherhood. I have this unfortunate tendency to fall in love with people who I love more than they will ever love me. I just feel like Matt is another person on that list.


According to the lawyers because of the way little Jade was conceived, Marc would have a really good shot at getting full custody if the courts found out the truth. A good lawyer could argue that it was sexual assault. We all know that Marc would never have had sex with her if the new job carrot wasn’t dangled in front of him. Maybe she’s afraid of that and that’s why she didn’t say anything.


I know I’m a little terrified of Matt or even his mother just coming in and taking the baby. He’s a Hartley. He could afford the best lawyers in the world and I wouldn’t have a chance.


I’m not the best person. I’ve done all lot of bad things. I drink too much. I did before I got pregnant and pregnancy sobriety is hard. I did a lot of drugs. Fucked the wrong people. The only thing I ever physically cared for before getting pregnant was my dead mother’s dog and I couldn’t even keep him alive. What does that say about my parenting skills?


I mean, the courts may decide that a barely 30 Junior creative director is more suited to take care of the toddler, then a 50 something editor who screws her students. I’m sure you already know that Monique gave Marc Wilhelmina’s old job and just tacked a Junior on the end of it. Like that’s going to keep the rumor mill from being bitchy about it. We know Marc did most of the work, but the little people can be nasty sometimes.


He’s off celebrating with the toddler boyfriend. They make the baby extra-nauseous when they’re together. I wish Marc would realize he’s too good for that kid, especially because we both know Cliff would make a much better step daddy.


PS: I’m now 99% positive that baby Alexis is your niece. Earlier today, she said she had two mommies. Maybe Brianna is another member of the scared mommy club. Although your sister did fake her death while she was pregnant with Lexis so maybe she had a reason to keep things to herself. I don’t know. Matt is trying to talk to her about it when she picks up Lexis in a couple of hours, which is why I’m being sent to Queens by myself.


He thinks that she will actually talk to him if I’m not around.


From: AmandaTS

To: VP_Meade_CM; HartleyMA (Mode); EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:27:51


Subject: Re: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


How can they think that Brianna slept with her own nephew? That's so creepy and kind of incestuous. Although, I’m pretty sure baby Alexis is Tyler’s niece and cousin, so things are a little weird already. Matt your family is weird.


From: HartleyMA (Mode)

To: VP_Meade_CM; AmandaTS; EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:38:11

Subject: Re: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


I’m not going to argue that point. We really are that weird but we’re not incest weird.


Besides, most people don't know Tyler is my brother or even Claire's son. We are trying to keep it that way because my dad is an asshole. Considering we’re not even supposed to know about the possibility of baby Alexis being a Meade, I don’t think anyone else will either.


Monique, I think putting together a PR packet might be a good idea. If this goes public, we need to be able to beat my dad at his own game. Brianna is supposed to pick up Alexis in hour and we decided that I’m going to stay behind and talk to her. That means Amanda will be doing the menu tasting alone, but I think it’s for the best.



From: AmandaTS

To: VP_Meade_CM; HartleyMA (Mode); EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:42:11

Subject: Re: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


I forgot about that. Hey can you please pick me up a snack. Maybe some buffalo wings from down the street with some jalapeno poppers. Also, bring some cheddar cheese dipping sauce for the chicken. I need a snack for the ride to Queens.


Oh and baby wants ice cream. You owe us.

We love you.



From: HartleyMA (Mode)

To: VP_Meade_CM; AmandaTS; EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:49:11


You are aware that you’re going to Queens to taste food, right? Do you want anything else while I'm out? I love you too.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: VP_Meade_CM; AmandaTS; HartleyMA (Mode)

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:49:11

Subject: Re: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


I think that talking to your aunt alone is a good idea. Amanda, if you want a ride, we can swing by and pick you up in 20 minutes. My mom is taking way too long to choose an outfit so were running behind schedule.



From: AmandaTS

To: VP_Meade_CM; HartleyMA (Mode); EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:52:33

Subject: Re: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


Monique, a ride would be good. I don’t want to throw up on a random cabdriver or the subway. That would be awful.


Throwing up now. I hate you. Bring ginger ale. Lots of ginger ale.



From: VP_Meade_CM

To: EIC_Mode_MOR; HartleyMA (Mode); AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:59:11

Subject: Fwd: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


Do you realize that the three of you are hitting reply to all every time you send a message?


Amanda, I will find an intern to bring you a tea that helped me. Maybe once you stop throwing up you can try calling my son again on your way to Queens with Monique. I'm going to try e-mail.




From: WuByron

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 18:03:11


Subject: RE: Do you even try to be a journalist anymore?


I can find my own fake date. Probably my wife’s cousin that looks like Paul Rudd, the one that works for your company. Since he’s single again, we’ve “reconciled”. Everybody knows about the model that got blacklisted for screwing over Cliff St. Paul, literally. I’m not going anywhere near that. Marc St. James is already starting to build a reputation for himself as more than Wilhelmina’s puppy. You should be happy. It’s a dangerous reputation.


I know everything I wrote was absolute bullshit. That was the point. As Marc Twain once said “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

I think you personally would rather have the lies out there. The truth would be a PR nightmare.


As the father of an adopted child, I know that some things shouldn’t be reported by Suzuki.

Besides lies pay better and braces are expensive.



From: AmandaTS

To: VP_Meade_CM


Time sent: 5/27/2010 17:59:11

Subject: Fwd: The Suzuki St Pierre Report for May 27, 2010


Thank you for the intern and the tea. It helped. Good luck. I tried to call Alexis earlier, but all I got was voicemail. Considering the message I left, I’m surprised she didn’t call me back.


From: VP_Meade_CM


Time sent: 5/27/2010 18:05:11

CC: EIC_SuarezBR(London Hub); Betty_at_home

Subject: Why is my grandson in England?


Since you and your girlfriend are not responding to my phone calls, voicemails, or text messages and are equally ignoring the same from Amanda, I have resorted to sending an e-mail. I shouldn't be surprised; your sister is not answering my calls either. She does that from time to time.


Why did DJ show up at your house last night? In addition, if you are going to have sex in your girlfriend’s office or on your kitchen table using ice cream, please remember to lock the doors. You’ll be amazed what the mode UK receptionist will tell me when you’re ignoring my calls.



From: VP_Meade_CM

To: Meade_Alexis

Time sent: 5/27/2010 18:09:21


Subject: How are you?


Alexis, this is your mother. How are you doing? I've tried calling your office but they said you were at a retreat. I thought you should know that DJ mysteriously showed up at Betty and Daniel's house last night. You may want to check in on your son.


Also did you have sex with Brianna West-Hartley when you were dating Jordan? Matt Hartley happened to be babysitting his cousin that shares your name today and she mentioned that her other mommy looks like me.


I suggest maybe you stop ignoring her and call. Or at least call me and explain what’s going on. I’m your mom. I love you. I’m definitely not going to judge considering the Tyler situation. Love is complicated.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: WuByron

Time sent: 5/27/2010 19:45:11

Subject: RE: Do you even try to be a journalist anymore?




Also the fact that you’re quoting Marc Twain in an email tells me that you really need to find another job. I know braces are expensive but seriously, you’re better than this.


Also, I can understand you not wanting to get involved with the Cliff St. Paul and Marc St. James drama. Unless you want to help me get those two morons together or at least civil enough with each other that they can become the work power couple of the fashion industry. I know they can make some beautiful covers together. Their names alone say that they’re made for each other.


I agree centrifuge may be necessary but I still want a good wedding present. I’m having to put up with my mom criticizing every single one of my life choices. I need something to make up for the chaos.



From: WuByron

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/27/2010 19:49:21


Subject: RE: Do you even try to be a journalist anymore?


I like your mom better than my mother-in-law. Although that’s probably because she’s one of the best contributors to the Fashion TV Cares Charity and she doesn’t treat my wife like shit at most of her board meetings because Julie is just the lawyer.


I don’t want to have anything to do with your plan until I get to cover the fashion wedding of the century between your new creative director and famed fashion photographer Cliff St. Paul. I wish you luck though, because that story would pay for two weeks in the Bahamas.



From: Monique_At_Home

To: Gio_At_Home

Time sent: 5/27/2010 19:55:11

Subject: Where Are You and Have You Seen Your Sister?


Seriously, why can't you text message me like a normal boyfriend. Why did I get you an iPhone again if you're never going to use it? Anyway, my mom is driving me crazy and I'm about to strangle her in a house filled with people. If she says one more thing about how experimental the food was I really will hurt her. Help me.


You're supposed to be the good, supportive fiancé and be here for me. Seriously, do you really expect me to believe you absolutely needed to go ingredient shopping 10 minutes before me and my mother got here? Baby, I know you too well.


If you want to have sex any time between now and the wedding you will get here as soon as possible. It's almost 8:00 PM. I don't need you for sex. I need you to hold my hand and make sure I don't hit my mother or get completely smashed in front of my employees. You know I’m really not supposed to drink.


Also wherever you are hiding from me, is your sister there? She was originally going to come with Justin but that was before he showed up to Mode early. She didn't get in the town car after class and she's not responding to my calls or text messages. Justin is having equally little success.


I hope she's not with that boyfriend of hers. I hate him. I seriously don't trust him not to take advantage of her. We so need to put her on the pill. I hope that things will calm down once we're all in Manhattan.


Anyway call me, e-mail me, text message me, or better yet show up. I love you. You better get here. I have a surprise for you.


PS: If you really are actually at a grocery store, can you please bring some saltines for Amanda? She threw up on our driver twice. My mom was not impressed. She ended up riding with us, because Matt stayed behind to wait for his MIA aunt to pick up Lexis.


From: Gio_At_Home

To: Monique_At_Home

Time sent: 5/27/2010 20:10:19

Subject: Where Are You and Have You Seen Your Sister


No problem. I did need to leave for more ingredients. As I was shopping I ran across my sister getting groped by the slime ball in question. We'll be there in a few minutes.


Make an appointment with your girl doctor for after the wedding for my sister. I don't expect her to do any better than I did.


From: Justin_Hart_Austin

To: Betty lover DM; EIC_ModeUK_DM

Time sent: 5/27/2010 23:34:18


Subject: Grandpa knows about the ice cream sex thing with Aunt Betty


Hi Daniel - it is your favorite future nephew. I just wanted to let you know that grandpa knows about you and Betty coming up for the wedding on the 11th and the ice cream sex from yesterday. Amanda accidentally let it slip when she was trying appetizers for the wedding. Actually she let it slip when Monique and her mom started arguing again right after Monique and her pseudo daughter stopped arguing about Antonella's boyfriend.


(I hate the guy. He calls me the other F word all the time. I am so happy that I am going to private school next year.)


I really thought I would stop finding out about my aunt's sex life after she moved to England. I don't need those visuals. When I stay with you guys for the internship please lock the doors and stay off of the kitchen furniture. I have no desire to learn about straight people sex. Although I am perfectly okay if I get a pseudo niece or nephew sometime soon. (Let's be honest any child you and Betty have will be more like a niece or nephew than a cousin.)


Also, your mom offered me 20 bucks if I would contact you and see why DJ was at your house. She says call her back as quickly as possible. How did your mom get my cell phone number?



From: Betty Lover DM

To: Justin_Hart_Austin

Time sent: 5/20/2010 3:22:11

Subject: Re: Grandpa knows about the ice cream sex thing with Aunt Betty


HR and the emergency phone list. She has access to everybody’s cell phone number. I will call my mom as soon as I know why DJ is here. Teenagers are hard. Maybe you can try texting or emailing him? I know you guys hung out a few times when he lived in New York. Did you guys stay in contact?


Betty and I haven't done anything yet that could give you a brand new cousin nor are we planning on it anytime soon. Condoms were invented for a reason. (You better actually be using them if you're doing certain things with your boyfriend. STDs are not fun.) Your future niece or nephew will be very well-planned, if we get to that point.


We were not having ice cream sex. I was just eating…


Actually I'm not going to explain what Betty and I were doing until you're older or maybe ever. God, I can't believe I'm having this conversation with the 15 year old nephew of my girlfriend.


Your aunt is going to kill me if she finds out her dad knows. You definitely will not get any cousins/pseudo-nieces or nephews that way. How much is it going to cost me for you to keep quiet about this to your aunt and to get your assistance in persuading your grandfather to not kill me when we get there on the 11th for the MAMA awards?



From: Betty Lover DM

To: AmandaTS

Subject: RE: I hate your lawyers

Time sent: 5/28/2010 3:45:18


I’m sorry. You know I love you, but as a friend. Probably my best friend, now that Betty and I are dating.


I’m not even surprised that baby Lexis is Alexis’s daughter. I suspected from the moment that Brianna returned to New York with her daughter. She looks like a baby Alexis with short curly hair. Maybe somebody from the rumor mill told her about what’s going on and she’s freaking and that’s why she avoided you yesterday. Which is all the more reason to be careful with the Marc situation.


We can find different lawyers. I think we should. If you’re worried about Matt taking the baby if he becomes bored with you then you definitely should look into writing up a custody agreement. Maybe even put a child support arrangement in writing. The trust is pretty ironclad, but that’s because Monique is the one putting it together. I want to protect you in whatever way possible. I will not let Matt hurt you. But I’m scared that he will because he doesn’t necessarily have the best history of being reliable. Cover your bases.


If you want you could try talking to Jody. Go to her mom to mom. Maybe send her an email. You can mention that you saw the article and realize that, baby Jade looks exactly like your best friend.


Or maybe you should tell Marc the truth now before he finds out by accident. Both Matt and I fainted because we found out accidentally so maybe you should try to find a way to break the news to Marc gently. Maybe he should be the one to ask for the test. I just don’t want this to turn into a DJ situation with little Jade showing up to the Mode offices to surprise Marc in 12 years.


PS: Why did you tell Betty’s dad about the ice cream sex thing that wasn’t actually ice cream sex?



From: AmandaTS

To: Betty Lover DM

Subject: RE: I hate your lawyers

Time sent: 5/28/2010 4:33:18


Because it was the only way to defuse the chaos. Monique and her mom should only be allowed in the same room together for five minutes at a time.


I’ll think about it. And you’re right. I don’t want Marc to find out by accident. I’m just not entirely sure the best way to go about this. I feel like a need an ally from the other camp.


Also, I will think about setting up a custody agreement. Monique’s already mentioned it a few times, especially with the mess regarding her own dad. I’m just worried that if I asked for something like that he will get mad at me and run away from everything. That’s what his mom wants. Actually, she just wants to write me a check to make me go away. Maybe that’s why I’m up writing to you at 4:30 AM.


Okay, that and I threw up twice already this morning. God I hate morning sickness.



From: EIC_SuarezBR(London Hub)


Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:03:11

Subject: Re: Why is my grandson in England?


Great, now your mom thinks we had sex in the kitchen. I think you need to call your mom now.


From: EIC_ModeUK_DM

To: EIC_SuarezBR(London Hub)

Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:13:11

Subject: Re: Why is my grandson in England?


Not until we know why DJ is actually here. Did DJ say anything to you this morning on the way to work with you?


Sorry for leaving so early this morning for my way too early breakfast meeting. I promise to make it up to you by bringing whatever you want for a late lunch this afternoon before your fitting.


Really, what's so bad about us having sex in the kitchen? I thought by the fact you wanted to try the ice cream thing that you were into things besides missionary. Not that I'm not okay with only doing missionary style, I just want to know what you’re comfortable with before we progress in that way.


From: EIC_SuarezBR(London Hub)


Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:18:11

Subject: Re: Why is my grandson in England?


You're right we shouldn't call your mom until we know something. DJ still hasn't told me a thing. I think I am going to have to ask my sister for advice. Maybe Justin could help. They’re almost the same age.


Bring pizza and maybe some pasta. You know what I like. I think DJ is more likely to open up to us here than at a restaurant.


I'm not saying no to sex in the kitchen. I just don't like the thought of other people knowing about my sex life. I don't even want to think about what would happen if my dad found out about the ice cream thing.



From: EIC_ModeUK_DM

To: Candy_Anderson (ModeUK)

Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:13:11

Subject: Help with apology present


So somehow my wife’s father found out something about my relationship with Betty that I really don’t want him to know? How do I break the news and what do I get her to say I’m sorry?



From: Candy_Anderson (ModeUK)


Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:15:11

Subject: Re: Help with apology present


I thought we agreed you are in charge of your own apology presents? But if you’re desperate try a wine and chocolate tasting set because she’s definitely going to need the wine and chocolate. Also are you aware that you referred to her as your wife?



From: EIC_ModeUK_DM

To: Candy_Anderson (ModeUK)

Time sent: 5/28/2010 5:17:11

Subject: Help with apology present


It slipped and that’s actually a good idea.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/28/2010 06:19:01

Subject: I’ll be working at Mode for the next three weeks.


I got your voicemail and unfortunately, Monique has engaged my services to put her stamp on mode now that she’s in charge. So unfortunately I can’t help you next week. And no I’m not going to get out of it, even if it means spending quality time with my ex-boyfriend. Which really isn’t that awful anymore.


Marc was the editor supervising my shoot yesterday. He was the perfect gentleman keeping his new boyfriend 50 feet away from me at all times because I think Marc is only with him because the boy obviously gives good good head. Which is fine because the boy toy is probably with Marc for the same reason that he who shall not be named was sleeping with me.


They obviously have nothing in common and Marc knows it. At least Marc and I can have discussions about hidden subtext in Star Trek. I don’t think the new boy toy knows what hidden subtext means. Okay, now I’m really worried that this guy is just playing Marc.


By the way Brianna’s almost five-year-old almost told Marc that he was baby Jade’s daddy. Thankfully, I was able to stop her before she said way too much. You may just want to tell him that before he finds out from a precocious child. Marc and I are going to have lunch at Demetrius at 3 PM. Maybe you should stop by with Jade, it’s beyond time that you’ve told him the truth.


He was really good with Lexis yesterday. A natural father really. He’s also helping his best friend Amanda with her baby because the baby’s daddy is flaky, like got her pregnant and then ran off to another continent to find himself flaky. He’s Brianna’s long-suffering nephew, so I think you met him last week. I’m sure you’ve heard more weird stories from her. Marc is stepping up to raise someone else’s kid. Shouldn’t he know about his own? I think he would fall in love with her the moment that he sees her.


I’m not going to tell him because it’s not my place, even though I don’t like seeing him hurt. But I really think you should.


To be continued



I don’t think I’ve given Candy a last name before, if I did it’s Anderson now

Chapter Text



From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr

Time sent: 5/28/2010 7:30:12

Subject: Greetings from Queens


Hey, Uncle Daniel said that you’re staying with them in London for a few days. I’m so jealous. Actually, I’m jealous that you were able to ditch school without being forced to go back. I wish I could help Marc today, but I have to go to class. Even though half the teachers aren’t there because they’re trying to pull off a four-day weekend.


How do you like the new house? Is it pretty or grossly hideous? Did Aunt Betty put doilies everywhere yet?


Things are going okay with Austin. His dad hates me or rather his step dad hates me because he’s not exactly okay with the fact that Austin is not heterosexual. He’s hoping that it’s a phase. I’m actually a little worried about Austin being around him. I hope I’m just being paranoid, but after what Marc went through with his mom, I’m a little scared. I guess not everyone can have good parents.


How are things going with you and Alexis? Are you guys fighting? Is that why you’re hanging out with uncle Daniel and Aunt Betty?



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 7:35:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Nor will I ever so just stop speculating. Jade has you as her good male life figure. She doesn’t need anyone else.



From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: Betty lover DM

Time sent: 5/29/2010 14:00:11

Subject: Re: Grandpa knows about the ice cream sex


For my silence about grandpa knowing about the "ice cream sex" thing I want to go to the MAMA awards. To keep grandpa from killing you I'm going to need a European shopping spree solely for back-to-school purposes. I need to look good at my new prep school come September.


However, I already emailed DJ out of the goodness of my heart. Although I may not tell you what he says unless he is a danger to himself or others



From: DanielleMjr

To: Justin_hart_Austin

Time sent: 5/28/2010 8:21:34

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens

Not everybody has good parents. My mom Lucy didn’t. She never wanted to be a model they made her. She was there piggy bank. They took a lot of her money.


I don’t like visiting them and Alexis was going to make me spend the summer with them because she has to be in America this summer and I can’t go with her.


I don’t want to go there. They treat me like a doll.



From: Betty lover DM

To: Justin_hart_Austin

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:02:11

Subject: Re: Grandpa knows about the ice cream sex


I can live with that. I guess I'm telling your mom they're presents again. You're getting so good at extortion. You're going to do so well at Mode.


I’d rather have DJ talking to somebody. I’m just worried. You don’t run away like he’s doing unless there’s something wrong.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:18:11

Subject: Re: I never told you who Jade’s father is


You didn’t have to. I was in love with Marc St. James for a long time. Maybe a part of me still is and I would know those eyes anywhere. I’ve also seen baby pictures of Marc. Jade is his mini me. I know Jade is Marc’s daughter, there’s no point in lying to me.


The publishing scene in New York is not that big, not now anyway. Personally, I’m surprised no one has left a copy of your article about first-time motherhood on his desk yet. It’s just a matter of time before Marc connects the dots. He is not an idiot.


Just come to lunch. We just spent 20 minutes talking about his efforts to find the perfect crib for Amanda. There’s no point of you being scared. I don’t think he’s going to flake out on you.



From: Betty_At_Home

To: Beauty_by_HSuarez

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:31:23

Subject: Help! How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


Considering how bad the rumor mill is at Mode you probably already know that Daniel's nephew showed up Thursday completely unannounced. I will not tell you what he walked in on in case you don't know already.


We have no idea why he wants to stay with us and refuses to stay with his class on the field trip. He is not answering my questions and Alexis is not returning phone calls. Daniel has called her 20 times over the last two days. We even tried pizza bribery last night with DJ and got nothing. The only thing he wants to talk about is how I handled mom dying of cancer.




From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr


Time sent: 5/28/2010 10:03:21

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens


And that explains why you ran away to London. Actually, that explains why you ran away to New York two years ago. There are a couple of kids in my acting class whose parents are like that. They’re just checkbooks to them, or worse clients.


Why not explain to Alexis that you don’t want to be there? Maybe you could talk to Uncle Daniel and see if you can stay with him? Worse comes to worse I could talk to my mom. We have an extra room in the new house. Your grandmother is also an option. Even with your Uncle Tyler, I think she’s really lonely with Daniel being all the way in London.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 10:14:16

Subject: RE: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Marc was a complete idiot when it came to you, so I have low expectations. He flaked out on you. You almost married that guy, and instead of telling you he was scared, he fucks someone else. I can’t subject my daughter to someone who’s going to just run away when it gets hard



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 10:17:13

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


And you knew all that and you slept with Marc anyway. I was mad and angry at the time. Maybe we should talk things out. Because at least Marc didn’t screw up as much as the last boyfriend. At least at some point in our relationship, he actually cared about me which is more than I can say for the last guy.



From: Beauty_by_HSuarez

To: Betty_At_Home

Time sent: 5/28/2010 10:32:25


Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


Food bribery only works on you and probably Amanda. For Justin it usually takes clothing or Broadway tickets to get anything out of him. It really just depends on what DJ is into.


Whatever you do don't yell. That worked out really badly last night when Monique started yelling at her boyfriend's sister for doing inappropriate things with her boyfriend. I'm surprised the girl didn't break the window when she ran out of the house slamming the door. Did I mention how happy I am that my son is gay so I don't have to worry about him getting someone pregnant?


Anyway, if bribery doesn't work just read his Facebook page.


From: DanielleMjr

To: Justin_hart_Austin


Time sent: 5/28/2010 11:01:43

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens


Mommy Alexis doesn’t have a choice. The custody agreement is strange. I cannot live more than 1500 km away. Alexis doesn’t know I found the papers. She’s paying them €500 a month to not fight her in court.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 11:35:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


No, it was worse because you actually loved Marc. Yes, the Bastard used you to further his career, but you didn’t love him. Honestly, he was a rebound. He hurt you, but not in the same way.


I slept with Marc to get back at him for hurting you. I knew he was sucking up to me to get a recommendation. So I decided to take advantage of that. I did not plan on the condom breaking, but that’s what happens when you have sex once every five years.


But I’m not mad about that. Jade is the best mistake I’ve ever made.



From: Betty_At_Home

To: Beauty_by_HSuarez

Time sent: 5/28/2010 11:40:11

Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


Yes, you have mentioned repeatedly how happy you are that Justin is gay. He could still get a girl pregnant. He could be bisexual.


I've tried the Facebook thing already. Most of it is in French and Marc is the only sort of friend I have who is fluent in French and I’m not asking him to help translate.


I have to go. I am supposed to be meeting Daniel at his office for my official dress fitting.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/28/2010 14:47:32

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


So finally you admit the truth. I just think you need to tell someone else. And no, I don’t think he’ll take Jade away from you. Is that what you’re afraid of? You shouldn’t be.


I’m going to be in DC next week. Scouting locations for the mode DC spectacular issue. You could meet up with him while I’m gone. Or wait until I get back and I can schedule something and play intermediary.


Honestly, I think he really likes kids. He keeps little packages of saltines in his messenger bag for Amanda in case she gets baby sick. He also took a mentor role with Justin because his biological father was problematic. And considering what Marc said about said biological father, I’m pretty sure he’s never going to want to be that type of dad.


I think this might be good for Jade. I think it would be good for you too. You shouldn’t have to be a single parent when you don’t need to be.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 14:54:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Part of me thinks you just want me to tell him about the baby because the new boyfriend that you hate will run away if he finds out Marc has a kid. It’s not healthy to hate your ex-boyfriend’s new boyfriend this much, unless you still have feelings for him?



 From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr

Time sent: 5/28/2010 15:14:11

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens


That sucks. But I’m pretty sure London is closer than 1500 km or at least close enough. He was really mopey when you had to move back to France until Alexis managed to get custody. Okay, maybe he knew what was going on. Seriously, you should’ve told me, we are friends. I do get the service stuff. I know I got lucky with it, grandparents, but my biological dad. Things weren’t always that good.


A part of me is kind of happy that he’s not alive to make snide comments about my boyfriend, or the fact that I have a boyfriend. I think you would be disappointed in that. I know it’s probably awful to think that because I know both you and my mom would love to have their mothers back but I don’t feel that way. Not like I should.




From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/28/2010 16:31:13

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


That would just be a bonus. I really don’t like that guy. He practically ruined my shot yesterday. He also kept interrupting us all morning while we were choosing shots. Nobody should be that insecure. I would say the relationship is just about sex, but he turned Troy down when the guy clumsily hinted at lunchtime sex.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/28/2010 18:25:32

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Are you really talking about the love life of your ex-boyfriend and my daughter’s father?

Maternity leave cannot be over soon enough.

I need more adult friends.



From: Beauty_by_HSuarez

To: Betty_at_home

Time sent: 5/29/2010 8:22:12

Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


I suggest using translating software. Did you hear anything from DJ's mo– does DJ consider Alexis his mom or his father?


How did the dress fitting go yesterday? Can you send pictures? I can't believe you're going to be in a photo shoot for a fashion magazine. I need good news. Moving is driving me crazy. I wish the school year would hurry up and end, so we don't have to spend time between the new house and Queens.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/29/2010 8:35:15

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


You could come with me to brunch Monday. I’m doing this Memorial Day thing.



From: Betty_at_home

To: Beauty_by_HSuarez

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:02:11

Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


The dress fitting went fine. No, I can't send you pictures. I'm not even sure they brought the actual dresses for the shoot. Daniel says Brianna is a bit on the paranoid side. For example when she was dating Alexis in high school, she wouldn't let Daniel tell anyone. Although maybe she knew about what happened between Daniel's mom and her brother. Who knows?


I may not get to do the fashion shoot anyway. They're still trying to get Lindsey Dunne to sign off on it. Daniel agreed to let them use publicity from my MAMA nomination to help promote London Hub but the lawyers still haven't signed off on it.


DJ refers to Alexis as his mother but he uses the English word even if he is speaking in French. He uses the French word to refer to Lucy even when he is speaking in English.


I tried the translator software but there really wasn't anything there. We're going to do the tourist thing today, as well as, some serious shopping.



From: Beauty_by_HSuarez

To: Betty_at_home

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:07:11

Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


Daniel's brother slash sister dated Matt's aunt in high school? That's a little disturbing.


I have another suggestion on how to get DJ to open up. If he wants to talk to you about anything focus on that subject. Maybe he's telling you something in an indirect way.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/29/2010 8:26:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Is Marc going to be there?



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:35:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.




From: Betty_At_Home

To: Beauty_by_HSuarez

Time sent: 5/29/2010 10:32:21


Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


It's not really that creepy. Alexis and Brianna are the same age. Daniel said they went to the same school. Okay maybe it's slightly creepy due to a certain thing I can't tell you about but neither one of them knew about it at the time.


I think your idea is working. But I'm a little worried that he only wants to talk about how I felt when mom died. I'm starting to worry that something is really wrong.



From: DanielleMjr

To: Justin_hart_Austin

Time sent: 5/29/2010 10:05:14

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens

Mommy Alexis feels that way about Grandpa Bradford.


I think mom is sick. She’s acting like maman Lucy did before. She told me about the cancer. She keeps getting calls to the house from America from numbers that I don’t know.


My English is not perfect, but I understand enough that she’s going to be meeting with a lot of doctors in America. I think she’s really staying in America for the summer to get treatment.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/29/2010 15:35:12

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


Not happening. But maybe when you come back from DC. You can help me figure out how to tell Marc. I should probably talk to some lawyers first.


 From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr


Time sent: 5/29/2010 19:02:11

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens

I think your English is pretty good. Better than some of my relatives in Mexico anyway.


You should talk to your mom. Maybe you’re reading into things. But parents do have a tendency to keep things from you. I don’t even think my mom is entirely sure that I know that she had a miscarriage. I think she knows that I know because I left her a condolence poem. But we’ve never really talked about it. But we should’ve.

If you’re not ready to talk to your mom about this tell Uncle Daniel or Aunt Betty. I think they can help you out.



From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr

Time sent: 5/30/2010 6:01:14

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens


It’s easier to use Google translator when writing an email. I just write it out in French and then translate it. I know enough English to fix the grammar stuff.


Mom Alexis calls every night, but I don’t want to pick up the phone because I don’t want to hear the bad news. I already lost one mom. I don’t know if I can do it again.




From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Subject: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group

Time sent: 5/30/2010 08:32:21


For those of you who remember this list from The_Detty_Conspiracy_Group days, welcome back. Also welcome to Betty and Daniel for this round of the conspiracy.


Yes, we had all sorts of crazy emails like these when we were desperately trying to get you two together. Since that mission is completed our current mission is trying to get Marc back with Cliff.


Thursday's photo shoot went quite well with minimal interference, although we are seriously going to have to do something about the boyfriend. Does anybody have any cute gay friends that we can set Troy up with?


Also according to my intelligence sources Marc is going with Cliff to brunch tomorrow on Memorial Day.



From: Betty_At_Home

To: EIC_Mode_MOR, Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/30/2010 08:34:21


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


There was a mailing list?



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/30/2010 10:02:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


That may be a good idea. I’m going to need a good lunch when I get back. Monique has me going to DC with Nikolai. The guy is a condescending prick.




From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: Betty_At_Home; EIC_ModeUK_DM; Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/30/2010 10:12:21

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


Yes, there was a mailing list. Daniel was on it once he figured out that he was in love with you.



From: Betty_At_Home

To: EIC_Mode_MOR; EIC_ModeUK_DM;

Time sent: 5/30/2010 10:15:21


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


When was that?


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Betty_At_Home EIC_ModeUK_DM;

Time sent: 5/30/2010 10:20:21

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


Right after Fashion Week 2010 when he figured out that he may or may not have got Amanda pregnant. It actually occurred on the same day. Do you remember when I fainted in the bathroom? I was in shock because your current boyfriend finally confessed that he loved you.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/29/2010 10:35:42

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


A condescending prick who has applied to every magazine in Manhattan. He tried to fill in for me during maternity leave, but was found lacking. He didn’t respond very well to losing out on the job. Although I’m sure you mostly hate him because he was mean to your boyfriend.



From: Betty_At_Home

To: EIC_Mode_MOR; EIC_ModeUK_DM;

Time sent: 5/30/2010 11:02:21

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


You're trying to get Marc and Cliff back together after Marc cheated on him with my neighbor? Isn’t that a little problematic?



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Betty_At_Home; EIC_ModeUK_DM;

Time sent: 5/30/2010 11:12:21

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


When you say it like that it sounds absolutely horrible, but it's not like that. It's obvious they still love each other. Marc walked into a doorway Thursday because he was so focused on Cliff. Everyone will tell you that Marc completely ignored Troy at the shoot.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/30/2010 12:07:11

Subject: I never told you who Jade’s father is.


I am so not surprised at all.


From: HartleyMA (Mode);

To: EIC_Mode_MOR; AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 12:32:26

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


Monique, thank you for never putting me on that mailing list. Were you setting me up with Amanda just to get me out of the way? Mandy, were you my consolation prize?



From: AmandaTS

To: HartleyMA (Mode); EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/30/2010 12:35:29

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


Oh please. Like I would be anybody's second choice. Can we have cybersex? I'm bored because Marc is with Troy right now and I am not throwing up.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: HartleyMA (Mode); AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 12:38:22

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


Do you realize that I am still being cc on these messages?


Please stop sending dirty e-mails to your boyfriend when I can read them. Isn't he across the hallway right now at his apartment?


Can you come over tonight to help with wedding plans? I know its Sunday, but I need your help. My mom wants to redo the seating chart. Is it too late to just go to Vegas?



From: AmandaTS

To: EIC_Mode_MOR,

Time sent: 5/30/2010 12:48:21

Subject: Wedding Plans


I don't know if I can arrange something in Vegas so soon for the bachelorette party. Plus, your friend, Alex would be really mad since we put together the perfect party in DC. That guy is really well-connected. He got you tickets and backstage passes to the Backstreet Boys concert on the 11. Daniel told me that you actually slept with one of the members and you use their "most likely to make you cry" songs to torture people. I'm your best friend, you have to tell me which Backstreet Boy you Slept with? Is Gio going to be okay with you being around your Ex?


I can't come over right now because Matt is coming over to have real sex in a few minutes. I can come over tomorrow after we go to Matt's mom's Memorial Day party if I survive.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: AmandaTS

Subject: Re: Wedding plans

Time sent: 5/30/2010 13:04:37


The Vegas thing was a joke. I still want to do the DC party, especially because Alex would kill me if I back out. We haven’t seen each other and forever. Gio is really okay with me being around Alex.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: AmandaTS

Subject: Re: Wedding plans

Time sent: 5/30/2010 13:11:26


That still doesn’t answer the backstreet boy question? Seriously, which one?



From: EIC_Mode_MOR,

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 13:16:24


Subject: Re: Wedding plans


I answered the question. If you haven’t figured out what the answer is, I’m not going to tell you.




From: Beauty_by_HSuarez

To: Betty_At_Home

Time sent: 5/30/2010 14:01:48


Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?

You're reading too much into DJ's questions about our mom and cancer. Has Alexis called about the DJ situation yet?



From: Betty_At_Home

To: Beauty_by_HSuarez

Time sent: 5/30/2010 14:10:21

Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


No and that's why I'm worried. Do you remember when mom first got sick and she told us that she was visiting her family in Mexico when she was really at the hospital? I can't help but think that's what Alexis is doing. If she was at a retreat, she would have called. If she's at the hospital, then she's not going to be answering phone calls or e-mails.


I don't know if DJ can handle losing another mom. I don't know if Daniel can deal with Alexis being dead again. You saw how bad Molly was. I'm not sure he can take it. It breaks my heart when he's hurt like that. Okay now you have me crying as I type this.



From: Beauty_by_HSuarez

To: Betty_At_Home

Time sent: 5/30/2010 14:23:21


Subject: Re: Help: How Do You Get A Sulky Teenager To Tell You Anything?


Betty, maybe you're reading way too much into it. You're speculating and that could lead to you coming to the wrong conclusion. Call me if you need me. I love you and I'll be there for you.



From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: Betty lover DM

Time sent: 5/30/2010 14:28:11

Subject: I think DJ will be okay eventually


I can’t give you specifics but there’s some stuff going on between DJ and your sister that they’re going to have to work out. The only thing you can do is make sure DJ knows that he has people in his life that really care about him. I think he’s a little scared of ending up with his grandparents for an extended period of time, but I didn’t tell you that.


Monique showed me pictures of Aunt Betty’s bridesmaid dress. She looks fabulous.



 From: Justin_hart_Austin

To: DanielleMjr


Time sent: 5/28/2010 14:43:11

Subject: Re: Greetings from Queens


I get it. I now have an aversion to Snickers bars because mom gave me one before telling me that my father missed my performance of West Side story because he was shot to death at a convenience store. I still get itchy when I go near places like that. But if you keep hiding from your mom you may never hear the good news. Maybe you misunderstood things. Maybe there’s nothing going on.


But even if it the worst happens, you have a family now. Uncle Daniel loves you. I think the only reason why he didn’t fight for you last time is because he thought that you wanted to be with your grandparents. We both know better now.



From: VP_Meade_CM

To: Meade, Alexis

Time sent: 5/30/2010 15:21:21

Subject: Alexis call me


Your brother finally called me and explained what's going on with DJ. Unfortunately, Daniel and Betty don't know why he showed up at their house and refuses to leave. We're all worried that you haven't called us. Alexis' what's going on?



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: West, Brianna

Subject: Call Me

Time sent: 5/30/2010 18:14:32


Brianna it's been four days. You haven't returned my calls or e-mails. You actually had your assistant pick up baby Lexis from Amanda's apartment Thursday night. That in itself tells me something is going on.


I'm not mad at you. I don't even think Claire is mad at you. Unlike Lucy, you had a much more complicated situation. Matt is not mad at you but he finds the whole situation just a little creepy. Technically Tyler is your daughter's uncle and cousin. Other than that fact, which was completely not your fault because nobody knew, the situation isn't that bad.


Okay so you slept with a guy who had a girlfriend at the time and then faked his death the week after he got you pregnant. Then she comes back from the dead as a woman and doesn't call you again. "What could you have done?"


I promise I won't judge you. Call me.




From: AmandaTS

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/30/2010 18:27:21

Subject: Have you spoken with Bieanna recently?


I don’t think we’ve met yet but I’m Amanda Tannen Somers, the assistant of Monique Osborne and the girlfriend of Matt Hartley, your former student and the guy you’re working with now. Okay, I think we did meet a couple of times because I crashed Marc’s classes when he was in the yeti program. He’s my BFF.


Anyway, the reason why I’m writing is we haven’t heard from Matt’s aunt since Thursday morning when she ran out of the building because we all started asking questions about who Alexis’s daddy is. It turns out that we should’ve been asking who Alexis’ other mom is. But anyway because of that Brianna has dropped off the face of the earth and were a little worried.


I don’t know why she’s keeping the truth from us. We won’t hate her for it. I know I won’t. I get it. Matt only found out about the pregnancy, because Monique set it up that I would tell him by accident. I was kinda terrified. But she doesn’t need to be. Anyway, if she contacts you could you please let me and Matt know. He’s really worried. So am I and you know that’s bad for the baby.




From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/29/2010 15:35:12

Subject: FWD: Have you spoken with Bieanna recently?


Cliff, please read the email below. Did you say something to her?



To be continued

Chapter Text



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 7:06:21

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


No, I didn’t say anything to Amanda. I should but I didn’t. But Amanda is smarter than she looks on the outside. If she can remember the name of every single piece from Breanna’s fall 2008 collection, I’m pretty sure she can figure out that your daughter looks exactly like her best friend. Also, Marc tells Amanda everything so she probably knew about the incident.


See this is why I think you need to tell Marc sooner rather than later. Other people know and somebody will tell him eventually. Whether it Breanna’s five-year-old daughter or his best friend. Don’t you want him to know from you? You know you’re going to be less likely to have to resolve your custody issues in a court of law if you deal with this now.




From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 7:21:24

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


Nobody has heard from Breanna or her daughter since Thursday, so the latter will not be a problem.

I’m willing to meet with Marc when you get back from DC. I just want to speak with a lawyer or two first. Maybe Breanna herself if she actually responds to any of my messages, but considering she’s hiding from everyone that’s probably not going to happen.


But what should I do about the friend? Unlike Breanna, I can’t hide and hope that it will go away.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 7:47:21

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


I agree that maybe speaking to a lawyer first would be good, especially because you’re so afraid. I will talk to Amanda about the Jade situation. She may not know and the whole ambiguously worded email is just coincidental.


You should write her back about not being in contact with Breanna. I’m sure they are genuinely worried.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 9:06:31

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


Unfortunately, I have not spoken to Breanna since last Wednesday. I will let her know that you want to talk to her if she calls or emails me.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: West_Hartley design

Time sent: 5/29/2010 9:13:12

Subject: It’s all falling apart.


Apparently your daughter has a very big mouth and in addition to telling half of Meade Publications that Alexis Meade is her other mommy she almost told Marc that Jade is his daughter. I don’t even know how she figured that out. Did you say something to her? I need help figuring out how to tell Marc this news and unlike you, I can’t hide in Paris until it all goes away. Actually, I can’t even leave the country right now at all.


Do you know a good lawyer?



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 9:20:43

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


I did email Amanda and thankfully have yet to hear back from her. Have you spoken with her? Does she really know about Jade? How did brunch go with your ex-boyfriend?




From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 13:11:13

Subject: Missed you at brunch today.


Hey Amanda, it’s Cliff. I was so sad not to see you at brunch today. You’re usually always with Marc.

I want to talk to you about a couple of work things for the DC shoots. I assume that you’re going to be working as my stylist on most of it?


Also, I spoke to my friend Jody and she told me that you were trying to track down Breanna. Honestly, I think you should just give her a couple of days. When she’s ready to deal with everything she will contact you. I honestly think she didn’t expect everyone to figure it out so quickly.


I mean she should have because Alexis looks a lot like her biological father, but maybe she just assumed that no one would think that because Alex was dating Jordan at the time. My friend is doing the same thing with her daughter. Although she assumes that it will work out better in her case because her daughter’s father is supposed to be a member of my team exclusively. However, he is a bit ambitious and will sleep with his professors just to get ahead.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:23:21

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


The third annual Fashion TV Cares Memorial Day Brunch was great until Marc’s boy toy showed up. Marc didn’t even invite him. Nikolai got him an invitation because he has some passive aggressive thing going on with Marc due to the promotion. He’s even trying to sleep with me to make Marc jealous. The trip to DC is going to be God awful. I think I would’ve preferred a week long business trip with Marc the week after the breakup.


Unfortunately, Amanda wasn’t there but I did send her an email. I am still waiting for a response. Also, since Marc was mostly concerned with avoiding his boyfriend I don’t think Amanda told him about Jade even if she doesn’t know.



From: HartleyMA (Mode);

To: EIC_Mode_MOR; Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:32:24


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


My mom’s annual Memorial Day Gaila was absolutely awful today, but something good did come out of it. I may have ran into a former boyfriend of mine that may be Troy's type and who happens to be really single. I’m still surprised mom invited Andy to her boring as hell Memorial Day soiree. Of course she invited him to the event for the sole purpose of convincing me to dump Amanda.


She still thinks he was just a friend instead of a boyfriend. Anyway, Andy wished me luck and asked if I knew of any hot available guys for some charity event he needs to go to at the end of June. Clingy boy toys are his favorite.



From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:30:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


 You know that Marc is a daddy?




From: Betty_At_Home

To: HartleyMA (Mode); Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:38:21


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


You're bisexual? Is this new? You never mentioned anything about a former boyfriend when we were dating. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just something that I think I should’ve been told upfront.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:41:56

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.





From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:44:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


You know about Jade and you’re not running for the hills so I guess I should take that as a good sign.


Also, since she told you directly, I guess that means I don’t need to figure out how to secretly DNA test a three month old. My conversation with Daniel’s lawyers about that did not go well at all. Now I need to find lawyers who are not assholes.


From: HartleyMA (Mode)

To: Betty_At_Home; Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:48:21


Subject: Re:Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


You never mentioned being in love with your best friend when we were dating so I guess we're even. That’s definitely something that I should’ve been told upfront. I would’ve had no trouble being your placeholder if I knew I was just a placeholder.


Unlike you I did mention something about my ex. I told you that Andy help me out during our break up after you cheated on me with Henry. (I was only ok with you cheating on me with Daniel because you were actually in love with him.)



From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:51:46

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Yes, I know for sure that Marc is Jade’s father. And I’m not running because I don’t think Marc is the type of person who would run off on his own child. Fuck around with me when we’re dating? Yes. But not screw over his kid. He’s definitely devoted to you to the point where he is looking at high chairs in his free time.


Should I be worried about the lawyers? Does Marc know?



From: Betty_At_Home

To: HartleyMA (Mode); Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:52:32


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


First, I thought that it was Andi with an "I". Second, nothing happened with Daniel until recently. At least I had the decency to wait more than 48 hours before I slept with someone else.


Not that I'm not happy that Amanda finally has a decent boyfriend. She deserves to be happy. Also, congratulations on the baby again.



From: EIC_ModeUK_DM

To: AmandaTS; EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/31/2010 13:59:21


Subject: I think my girlfriend is going crazy but I love her anyway.


I've been watching this conversation on my blackberry as I watch Betty become more and more upset. She just started screaming at her computer and threatened to write an article series about stupid ex boyfriends who get their new girlfriend pregnant less than two days after the breakup. She is scaring DJ. She's scaring me.


From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:01:03

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


No Marc doesn’t know. I only talked to a lawyer because Daniel asked me to for the sake of getting help with DNA confirmation before I tell Marc. If I told him there was a possibility of him having a kid and then it turned out to not be true. Marc would be hurt.


I didn’t even tell Daniel. I’m may have asked him for advice on the best way to tell somebody that they’re going to be a dad. Then Monique told him about the Jody thing and Matt told Betty, who told Daniel about Jody’s daughter that looks like a Marc clone. He managed to put everything together on his own.


Look, Marc has been screwed over by his family a lot but I think he still really does want a family. A real family to be with him. At the same time, he’s not used to being happy so he self-sabotages. Everybody knows about the Vogue incident. This is what he did with you.


I was threatened by you and scared of losing my best friend because you were the first guy that he ever really loved. Honestly, that scared the hell out of him. I neglected my best friend duties and allowed him to completely screw you over because he was scared and I’m sorry about that. I should have kept him from doing what he did and I’m sorry.


This time around, I won’t let him sabotage his relationship with Jade. Babies deserve more than that. I’ll be a better friend than last time, to both of you. I promise.



From: HartleyMA (Mode)

To: Betty_At_Home; Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:01:48


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc/Cliff forever conspiracy group


Please do not pretend to be innocent when we both know you're not. You really expect me to believe nothing happened? I know about the not-a-Christmas party make out session and I know about you kissing him the week before we got back together in the Bahamas. Let's not even begin to mention the emotional cheating. You have been in love with Daniel longer than you have known me.

Again, I would’ve been okay being a placeholder if I knew that going in.




To:EIC_ModeUK_DM; AmandaTS;

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:04:21


Subject: Re: I think my girlfriend is going crazy but I love her anyway.


Daniel - let Matt and Betty have this out now. You know her better than I do and even I know that your girlfriend has a tendency to hold things in. This needs to come out now. It is better to have this argument with each other in e-mail than at my actual wedding. Amanda and Betty are still friends and you and Matt share a brother. She's not going to be able to avoid him. You, Amanda, and I have been waiting for this to happen for months. Just let them argue now. If she starts to break things get DJ out of the room and get some really good chocolate. Maybe you could just go for sex. That might help the tension levels.




From: Betty_At_Home

To: HartleyMA (Mode); Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:09:47


Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


Matt, before you start throwing stones please remember that you now live in a glass house too. Before Amanda got pregnant she got completely wasted at Monique's not-a-Christmas-party and practically told me about you coming over to her apartment the night you thought you got me pregnant and kissed her.



From: EIC_ModeUK_DM

To: AmandaTS; EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:15:21


Subject: Re: I think my girlfriend is going crazy but I love her anyway.


I've already sent DJ upstairs. I think I'll try for a massage instead of sex if this crazy plan doesn't work. Do you think maybe we should let them know that they're still CCing everyone and we can see this entire argument?




To:EIC_ModeUK_DM; AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:17:12


Subject: Re: I think my girlfriends going crazy but I love her anyway.


Probably, but this is so entertaining. Got to love reply to all!



From: HartleyMA (Mode)

To: Betty_At_Home; Marc/Cliff_lovers_Conspiracy_Group

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:19:32

Subject: Re: Welcome to the Marc /Cliff forever conspiracy group


Yes, I kissed Amanda at her apartment and she pushed me away. I went to her after I saw you and Daniel being all in love with each other at your house. I found out later that you actually told him you thought you were pregnant before you told me.


You have always trusted him more than me. I’ve made peace with that because maybe that’s the way real love should be. We never had that.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 14:35:19

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Sometimes love isn’t enough. I’ll be honest, yes I still love Marc but there were problems in our relationship. Unfortunately, love doesn’t automatically get rid of problems.


Plus with Jade in the picture, Marc is going to need to focus on her for a while. It would just be a bad time to restart a relationship that goes beyond the platonic. I care about Marc enough to want him to focus on being a good dad.


Plus, I don’t think our previous relationship had the best foundation. Maybe we need to be friends first. Sex is not everything. Actually, I feel like it makes most relationships more complicated.


Do you have any ideas on how we can tell Marc about Jade? I got Jody to agree to meet with him, but I would really like for things to run as smoothly as possible.




From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/30/2010 15:01:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Especially when you accidentally get pregnant.


And I get that love is not everything. I love Matt but I don’t know if it’s all going to work out or if it will fall apart at any moment and it’s not just me now that I have to worry about if things go South. I mean, when it was just me I could deal with him dumping me from Botswana because he believes the rumor from that bitch that hates me. But we have a kid now and our child has to come first.


I told Matt earlier that I really wanted to spend more time with Jody because we needed to have more friends with kids. I haven’t replied to her yet. Let me just write her back thanking her for her update on Breanna and then suggest a dinner party the Friday after the wedding.


Hopefully by that point, Marc will have dumped the toddler and we won’t have to actually share a meal with Troy. I assume you’ll be there for emotional support?



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 15:30:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Yes, and if Marc has yet not already broken up with the toddler before that point, I’m sure he won’t be around much longer. People who still act like they are 12 years old don’t date people with children.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/30/2010 15:30:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


I completely agree. I’m sure he is the type of guy who would just run away. He would make an awful step daddy. That’s the whole reason why I’m a part of the breakup conspiracy.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 15:35:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


You are actively trying to break up Marc and Troy?



From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 15:41:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Yes. Mostly because he’s not good at all for Marc. Plus, I think Marc is only with him because he is lonely. I mean, I know that I have been so caught up with Matt and the baby that I haven’t been the friend I needed to be so Marc is looking for affection elsewhere and Troy is a needy baby puppy.


I don’t feel bad about it because honestly I don’t think Marc even likes him. Also, the sex can’t be that good because Marc keeps returning to the apartment by 10 on date nights. Also he went with you to brunch. Not the toddler. When the toddler showed up, he started sending me desperate text messages. That’s not a sign of a good relationship.


 He’s happy right now and that has nothing to do with the boy toy. I mean, he’s literally dancing around the apartment talking about everything you guys did. He gushed about your outfit. Now I know you’re a professional photographer and you can see beauty in anything but you don’t like dressing up unless you have to.


I mean, he’s so giddy he agreed to me planning a dinner party with Matt’s new coworker at the Hartley foundation offices in Harlem. He didn’t even ask who she was.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 15:43:12

Subject: Re: Missed you at brunch today.


Which will work out in your favor when he finds out it’s Jody.


I don’t think you should be actively trying to break up Marc and the toddler. I think it will fall apart on its own. Just be there for him when it does.



From: AmandaTS

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 15:49:12

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


Thank you for getting back to me. Please let me know if Breanna calls. Matt’s kind of afraid.


Since you are going to be working with my boyfriend, would you like to come over for dinner? I can’t really cook, but I know all the best take out in the city. Also with the baby coming, I kind of need to make friends with other people with small children. Babies are terrifying and I need all the help I can get.


Are you available on Friday the 18th? We would love to have you at our house.




From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:02:12

Subject: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


You set up a dinner party so I could tell Marc about the baby, then, didn’t you?



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:04:12

Subject: Re: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She??


Amanda was the one who suggested it, but yes. Yes Amanda knows and she is not going to tell Marc before the party. She wasn’t planning to until her lawyers talk to your lawyers about setting up a paternity test. But since that’s no longer an issue, she’s willing to help us set up a meeting for you to tell Marc yourself.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:06:02

Subject: Re: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


I hate you



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:09:32

Subject: Re: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


No you don’t. This is for your own good. More importantly, it’s for the good of your daughter. Jade deserves to have her dad in her life and I know Marc is going to want to be a part of that life.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:16:22

Subject: RE: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


You’re still in love with your ex-boyfriend. You’re far from impartial.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:18:10

Subject: RE: Have you spoken with Breanna recently?


Sure I would love to come. Besides Jade is going to need more friends. And it always helps if her friend’s parents are in the same industry as me.

I’ll see you in 2 ½ weeks.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 17:49:22

Subject: Re: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


It will be fine. Besides it is better if we tell Marc in a controlled setting than if he finds out by some other means. Daniel Meade of all people figured it out on his own and it took him three years to realize he was in love with his best friend. Be glad he’s in London and firmly believes that you don’t tell somebody something like this over the phone.



From: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 5/31/2010 18:01:12

Subject: Re: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


Christ. I figured that out when he made a donation to get an extra Yeti spot. I know you’re right. I am just not sure if I’m ready for this.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 5/31/2010 18:03:28

Subject: She Really Does Know Doesn’t She?


Thankfully, you’ll have two weeks to get ready for it.




From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Mode_Users

Time sent: 6/1/2010 11:32:21

Subject: Message from Editor-in-Chief Monique Osborn-Rossi: Changes at Mode


For those of you who were not at the staff meeting this morning, there have been some major changes in the organization of the magazine beyond my new last name. We will not be having a new creative director come on board. Instead, Mr. Marc St. James will become our new Junior Creative Director taking over most of the portfolio once held by Wilhelmina Slater. Mr. Matt Hartley will become the new Director of Public Outreach for Meade Publications. He will also be working on very special projects for Mode magazine including a serious about celebrity passion projects.


In a world where everybody has their own fashion blog we have to differentiate ourselves. These are just our first steps in the evolution to become a new Mode.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: Mistress Monique

Time sent: 6/1/2010 14:15:12

Subject: About DC

I love you. I really do. I even put up with you trying to set me up with my ex-boyfriend because I’m pretty sure this is your coping mechanism for getting over Molly’s death. Yes, I know what you’re doing.

I will keep looking the other way if you replace Nikolai on the DC shoot. I can’t work with him. He’s a prick. He hit on me yesterday just to piss off Marc. I have a series of inappropriate phone calls from him on my voicemail. I will pursue sexual harassment charges if I have to. I can’t deal with people like that.


From: NikolaiH

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Bcc: Mode_Users

Time sent: 6/01/2010 18:13:01


Subject: Re: Message from Editor-in-Chief Monique Osborn-Rossi: Changes at Mode


Fuck you.


I can't believe you hired Marc to be the new creative director. Everybody knows the Junior at the front of that title is supposed to make people less upset that you gave him a job that he doesn't deserve when six months ago he was still picking up Wilhelmina's dry-cleaning.

Is he blowing you too? It wouldn’t be the first time. We all know how he got the opportunity that he squandered at Vogue. There is living, breathing, evidence of that.


Consider this my resignation. I fucking quit you sanctimonious Bitch.


Sent from my iPhone



From: Mistress Monique

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 6/1/2010 9:15:12

Subject: Re: About DC

It’s not an issue. Nikolai no longer works at Mode because he decided to throw a hissy fit because Marc got the job he wanted without even applying for it. I think I have a replacement but I’m going to have to check with him.


Hey a little ex sex will make you forget all about the stupid little model who did not see how great you really are. Really, at this point anything to get rid of Troy. I feel like I need to file a restraining order against the guy on Marc’s behalf. He’s a baby stalker with a crush.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: NikolaiH

Time sent: 6/1/2010 19:32:21

Subject: Message from Editor-in-Chief Monique Osborn-Rossi: Changes at Mode


Nikolai, I accept your resignation. That's too bad because I was planning on making you the new managing editor for the creative department. Or at least I was before I got reports of you sexually harassing one of my photographers and you threw a hissy fit. Oh well, I guess I'll be giving that job to someone else now.


I suggest, because you just essentially accused me of hiring someone for a position solely based on sexual favors, that you don't ask me for a letter of recommendation.


From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: Mistress Monique

Time sent: 6/2/2010 7:05:12

Subject: Re: About DC

I heard. He bcc’d all of Mode when he resigned.

I know you hate Troy. Honestly, I don’t even think Marc likes Troy, but this is not the time to interfere. Marc is going to have too much going on in his life for you to play matchmaker very soon. Back off, Emma.


PS: Did you read Jody’s nominated article about being a first-time mom at 50. You better hope nobody at Mode reads that, considering what else was in Nikolai’s resignation.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/01/2010 7:26:21

Subject: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues


Hey, Marc I'm going to need a list of possible people to take over the Managing Editor position for the creative side. Nikolai just quit after he accused you of getting your job by sleeping with me. Moron.


Also because he just quit, I need you to go with one of the photographers for a few days and check out a lot of the locations for DC. We aren't going to have a lot of time to shoot at the State Department or Congress and we need to set things up. I just wanted to make sure we don't have a repeat of the United Nations shoot.


I'm actually surprised the State Department is letting us shoot there after that fiasco. You know someone there knows about it. It was probably the talk of the UN General Assembly last year.


From: Mistress Monique

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 6/2/2010 8:32:12

Subject: Re: About DC

They don’t pay me enough to deal with this.

Now I’m going to have to send Marc with you to DC just so I can do damage control without him here. I hope the mom tells him very soon because finding out by accident really sucks.


Be thankful 90% of the rumor mill is convinced Marc is a Kinsey 7 despite the scale only going to 6, Marc’s boy toy included. Thankfully, the 10% have only been leaving hard copies of that article and Marc’s office. Justin has been shredding them.

Apparently Justin already knew.


From: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 6/02/2010 8:35:01

Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues


I’m not even surprised. I know because he bcc’d everyone and threw in a jab about me sleeping with Jody for good measure. He's a vindictive asshole. He's hated me for a very long time.


Although, I can't believe you're using him as an excuse to play matchmaker. You were never planning on him going to DC. I am so on to you. In case you've forgotten, I'm the one who helped you manipulate Betty and Daniel.

You don't want me to go down to DC to scout locations with my ex-boyfriend. You want me and him to play tourist in love. I will respectfully decline.


By the way, I don't love him anymore. I don't know where you got that idea from. I love Trevor.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/2/2010 08:47:21

Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues


You really think I'm going to use you like that, especially because Cliff told me not to. By the way Cliff asked me to remove Nikolai after he made an unwanted pass at him at the Fashion TV Cares Brunch. I was going to have to find a replacement no matter what because I don’t tolerate sexual harassment at all.


By the way, your boyfriend's name is Troy. You can’t love someone you don’t know the name of. 


If you decide not to go I guess I'm going to have to send Troy to scout locations in DC. I don't have anyone else to send because they're all working on other projects or trying to fix what our favorite dick sabotaged before he quit via iPhone yesterday. Thank God Daniel instituted the save on a flash drive rule after the last time we lost an entire magazine due to a disgruntled employee. Fortunately 90% of everything was saved off-line somewhere else.


Also, with the Jody related gossip circulating around the office, I think you need to lay low in DC for a little while.


From: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 6/2/2010 9:08:21

Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues

Damn you

I can’t put Cliff through that. I also don’t want to have to drive down to DC to get him out of jail when he strangles Travis.

You are just as evil as Wilhelmina and I truly mean that as a compliment. What time do I leave? By the way, we better have separate rooms.



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: Mistress Monique

Time sent: 6/2/2010 9:35:12

Subject: Re: About DC


I’m okay helping with damage control. I already convinced Jody to tell Marc after the wedding. Keeping him in DC until the wedding might be the only way at this point to keep them from finding out before she tells him. It’s too obvious, if you know the Jody thing actually happened.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/02/2010 09:41:27


Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot


Of course, you will have separate rooms. I'm not that evil. Cliff is a friend of mine. I could never do that to him. Because DC really isn't that far away from New York you're driving down. I'm sure you'll enjoy the quality time. By the way, how was your Memorial Day brunch? I was so busy yesterday that I forgot to ask. You were at the Fashion Cares Gaila brunch and not as a +1. That must’ve been great for you, especially because of the company.


PS: Your boyfriends name is Troy. Seriously, why are you dating him? Are you really that lonely? Get a pet or have you thought about adoption. I think you would make a good single-parent. You’re doing great with Amanda.


From: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Time sent: 6/02/2010 09:45:21

Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues


Did Cliff tell you about Memorial Day?

After Holston, I don’t think I’ll ever have a dog again. And let’s be honest, Matt is going to flake out and I’m going to be the only steady male figure in Amanda Junior’s life. Well, the only one that will be there on a daily basis in a changing diapers sort of way anyway. So I think that counts as adoption.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/02/2010 09:48:21

Subject: Re: Special project for the DC shoot and other Mode staff issues


Marc, I am talented. I also have excellent resources and good Intel and my mom just happens to be on the board of the charity event you were at. I'll have an intern send you more information for DC.


I’m hoping you’re wrong about Matt, but I’m worried too. We just have to be there when it all falls apart.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: West, Brianna

Time sent: 6/2/2010 10:01:21

Subject: Are you okay?


Are you okay? It's been almost a week and nobody's heard from you. It wasn't even this bad after my first husband died. Let us know that you're okay. Your assistant can't keep making excuses for you for forever. Although, she's come up with some really good excuses. A last-minute trip to Europe, after you received some mysterious phone call Friday morning. Do you really expect me to believe you're in France right now? I'm this close to having Victoria Hartley come over to your apartment. You know I wouldn't threaten you with that unless I was worried.



From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 6/2/2010 13:11:13

Subject: Warning

Marc just told me that Monique is sending him with you to DC because Nikolai is an asshole. Are you going to be able to go the whole trip without accidentally telling him about Jade?



From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 6/2/2010 13:21:17

Subject: Re: warning

I already knew about Nikolai quitting and Monique told me that she was sending Marc because of something Nikolai said when he quit. Basically, at this point it’s less likely for Marc to find out about Jade in DC than in New York because the rumor mill will obviously be putting the pieces together.


From: AmandaTS

To: Images_by_St._Paul

Time sent: 6/02/2010 13:27:09

Subject: warning


I’m going to kick Nikolai in the balls. If I see him again. Six people already asked me if the rumors are true and I’ve had to lie except to Troy. I told him to ask his boyfriend. He’s purposely not telling Troy about going with you to DC.


By the way he keeps calling him Tony, Travis, and even Terrence. I just don’t get why my best friend is staying with someone he doesn’t even like.


From: Images_by_St._Paul

To: AmandaTS

Time sent: 6/2/2010 13:35:17

Subject: Re: warning

That’s probably a good call.

I think Mark is lonely. People do stupid stuff when they’re lonely.


From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/02/2010 16:39:12

Subject: Last minute things for the DC trip


Hey Marc,


Before you leave tomorrow I thought I would let you know I need everything including the pre-information and the site locations by Monday morning for the DC shoot by e-mail. However, if you want to spend some more time in DC away from your boyfriend with your ex-boyfriend be my guest. I’ll pay for it personally. Just make sure you get back in time for my wedding and Wilhelmina's wedding.

You'll know that she'll kill you if you're not there.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/02/2010 16:39:12

Subject: Last minute things for the DC trip.

I hate you.



From: EIC_Mode_MOR

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

Time sent: 6/02/2010 16:39:12

Subject: Last minute things for the DC trip.


No you don’t. You just hate that I keep pointing out the Troy truth. You don’t even like him. He started yelling at you in front of subordinates this afternoon because of the Jody rumor that got kicked up to another level by Nikolai. That was ridiculously unprofessional. I’m going to have to send him to counseling for slapping you.


He also accused you of sleeping around with Amanda and Matt. You deserve better. You don’t have to go back to Cliff. Although I do want you to be professional with him. But don’t stay in a bad relationship because you’re lonely, especially with someone that likes to hit. That’s the most important thing my mom ever taught me.


Everybody expected her to stay with my dad even though he managed to get the help pregnant with me. That’s what society women did back then. Instead, she adopted his bastard child, took half of his company, and tossed him out the door. Now she is one of the biggest names in the hospitality/real estate industry and he is pimping out Windom-West brand ties at Macy’s with the new trophy wife.


From: Byron at home

To: Monique at home

Time sent: 6/2/2010 23:32:21

Subject: Wedding present


Hey Mo, I think I found the perfect wedding present for you. My wife will give it to you tomorrow when she meets you at your fiancé's restaurant for breakfast


PS: Breanna is back in the city. I have pictures. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with some BS story to explain it.


From: West, Brianna

To: EIC_Mode_MOR

Subject: Re: Are you okay?

Time sent: 6/3/2010 06:32:21


Hey Monique, it's me. My assistant wasn't lying to you. I am in France because something big came up. I will tell you about Alexis' situation when I get back next week. I'll be there in time for DC but just in case bring Amanda as a backup.


PS: Your wedding dress is not gray, it is silver.


From: West_Hartley design

To: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 6/3/2010 09:55:21


Subject: Re: It’s all falling apart.


My baby girl did you a favor. It’s much better than it comes out now. Trust me on that. At least you’re able to control how Marc finds out.


I’ll be back soon I’m just visiting Jordan and her mom for a few days in Cleveland. You know that they both adore Lexis.

My attorney Shawn will call you.



From: Monique_Owens

To:Wanda _S

Time sent: 6/3/2010 13:02:13

Subject: Wedding present from your future sister in law


Wanda - I am so looking forward to the wedding Tuesday morning. I know my big brother is so excited to become your husband after his little moment of stupidity last year. It's perfectly OK that you're having your wedding five days before mine. My friend Byron just gave me the most interesting wedding present. He gave it to me when I had lunch with his wife this afternoon. I'll tell you about it if you'll meet me for coffee at Gio's restaurant Friday. Call Mr. Weiner to set up a time.


Are you still planning on using Isabella to take care of your post retirement needs? There may be a little problem with that. Amanda's boyfriend's mom is interested in using Isabella herself. I'll tell you all about it at during coffee.



From: NikolaiH

To: Creative_Director_Mode_MSJ

BCC: NewYork_review_EIC_JP

Time sent: 6/03/2010 13:49:21

Subject: Isn’t this a family resemblance is uncanny.


Everybody now knows about you getting your Yeti spot the same way you obviously became creative director at mode, on your knees. Unfortunately, I can only prove the latter. I really thought you would have figure that out after my last email went to the entire office, but apparently you’re not that smart.


Congratulations you have a kid from when you screwed your Yeti instructor to get a job you didn’t deserve. I guess we should all be happy you can’t get Monique pregnant since she doesn’t have a uterus anymore. Less spawn of Satan that way.


File name Jade St. James. JPEG


To be continued.


Chapter Text

It was 1:45 PM and Marc was trying to get everything together before he left the office for the long trek to DC by van, because Monique was evil. He was sending some last minute e-mails as he was waiting for Cliff to show up. Okay, maybe he was hiding from his boyfriend in his office, but he really did have to send out a few assignments for the next few days based on this morning staff meeting.


Two weeks ago, Marc would have been absolutely terrified at the thought of spending nearly 5 hours in a car with his ex-boyfriend but he was over that. He was actually looking forward to it. Surprisingly, it was just as easy to talk to Cliff now as it was when they were still together. With Amanda in Matt land he needed somebody right now.


Their easy camaraderie during the shoot from hell last Thursday was just the beginning. Friday, after working with Cliff on post production aspects of the shoot, they had lunch at Cliff's favorite restaurant. He had so much fun talking about whatever. It was almost like they never broke up, except for the lack of kissing.


It was easy for Marc to talk to Cliff about his fear of Matt taking his place in Amanda's life and life without Willy. He even confessed to Cliff his fears about his new job. He just felt comfortable opening up to him.


It hurt when Nikolai sent his nastily worded resignation to all of mode. Instead of commiserating with Amanda over his monthly slice of pizza, that he rarely had anymore, he called Cliff. Cliff convinced him that he actually deserved this job even if he was absolutely terrified of running three simultaneous shoots in DC next week.


Of course this happened after they spent all of Monday together at the Fashion Cares Memorial Day brunch. He was actually having a great time making fun of people's outfits before Troy showed up and Nikolai tried to hit on Cliff, the Bastard. Marc is sure Nikolai was responsible for Troy being there.


Marc loves spending time with Cliff but Troy hates it. He essentially accused Marc of still having feelings for his ex-boyfriend at the brunch in front of two Gossip Girls and an aging popstar. Marc is starting to think Troy has a jealousy problem. Troy also wasn't very happy about Marc being friends with Amanda either. Thanks to other things Nickolai said in that email, Troy was convinced that he and Amanda were fuck buddies. He probably should’ve lied and said that the Jody thing was just a rumor but he couldn’t do that. The whole thing was made worse by Matt making a threesome joke.


He would like to blame Monique for this. He remembered the mind games that she played with Matt last year. Although, Betty and Daniel were doing things that Matt should have been concerned about, for example, Daniel was checking out Betty's ass during every single staff meeting when Marc was doing no such thing. But it’s starting to become apparent that Troy’s insecurities are not being fanned by Monique.


Today's lunch involved more of Troy's insecurities when Marc told him about spending the next four days in DC, alone with Cliff, before the first team arrived Monday. Marc would only be coming back late Monday for Wilhelmina's wedding before leaving Tuesday immediately afterwards for the DC invasion. If it wasn't for the fact that DC is less than a 3 hour train ride from New York, Marc would have never agreed to do this.


 Wilhelmina was already upset that Marc wouldn't be around to help with the last minute wedding preparations this weekend but understood that his job came first. Okay, she understood after she threw something at him. She was even happy about his promotion. She let him order another bottle of expensive champagne on her credit card to celebrate when she gave him the metaphorical keys to her old office.


Because Marc knew Troy would throw a tantrum about the entire DC thing he waited to the last possible moment to tell him (because yes, he was a coward and he’s still wearing concealer from telling him about Jody). That was a mistake. Never tell your current boyfriend that you're spending four days alone with your ex-boyfriend when there are clothes-staining foods around. Pomegranate juice was difficult to get off of any fabric. Although still better than the Jody reaction.


Troy wanted to come as his assistant, but Cliff just did not like Troy. Maybe it had something to do with Troy giving Cliff the glare of death every time he was in proximity, but really that really wasn't important.


And honestly, Marc didn’t want Troy there even though he lied and said that he did. However, he used the excuse of the Empire State building shoot for explaining why Troy could not come.


It wasn’t a complete lie due to budget constraints and the fact that Monique wanted to essentially scrap everything Wilhelmina and Daniel did before they left, the Mode team was working on the July, August, and September issues simultaneously. They were actually going to be shooting for three different issues when in DC. And Troy needed to do his part which meant staying behind in New York and doing the job Megan needs him to do.


Unfortunately Troy just wanted to follow him around like a lost puppy instead of doing his job or even letting Marc do his. Troy was unhappy that Marc had been working late recently with Monique and Megan on content for the next three issues. Marc doesn’t want to look too closely at the fact that he’s happy he has an excuse to get out of his last two dates with Troy.


Marc now finds it somewhat ironic that Troy is asking him to abuse his new job to take Troy with him. But Marc is not going to do that. He promised Monique that he would treat Troy like any other employee, which meant leaving him with Megan. Troy didn’t like that. That’s how Marc ended up covered in pomegranate juice as well as being publicly accused of sleeping with his ex-boyfriend.


He did not need that on top of the Jody rumors being whispered around. Apparently, he fathered her secret love child. Where did they come up with this stuff? Maybe the pomegranate juice incident will displace the Jody stuff. He knew video from the incident was already being sent around.


Marc pushed all of that stuff out of his mind as he sent one last assignment to his team from the safety of his office. He needed an assistant to send these types of emails, a full-time one anyway. Justin still had school stuff. He really needed to conduct some interviews with potential assistants when he got back.


He's actually happy that he'll have his own minion to do his dirty work and pick up his iced cappuccinos. Also, an assistant would be able to keep Monique out of his office right now. The first thing he was doing after Monique’s wedding was getting an assistant. Maybe a big one, with muscles.


“Are you here to tell me to dump Troy due to the pomegranate juice incident?" Marc asked Monique in irritation when he saw her in his office.


“That’s your call. Although you can do better than someone who has abusive tendencies.” She said pointing to his disregarded shirt that was now in the trash. You can’t get pomegranate juice out.


“Do you have your list of other candidates for the managing editor position now that Nikolai has officially defected to Isabella? We didn't have time to discuss it after the staff meeting this morning and I would like to get somebody in place before my honeymoon." Monique explained.


"He went to Isabella? How do you know that?" Marc asked giving her a puzzled look.


“I worked there for years. I even managed to convince a few of my old friends to come here. We can talk about it later. It's not relevant right now. There are more important things to talk about."


"You mean like my relationship with Troy and your attempts to sabotage it?" Marc asked darkly.


"Your relationship with Troy is anything but important. Everybody knows you don't love him, including you. I don’t have to do what I did with Matt because you will do all the work for me. Besides, we have bigger problems.”

“Such as?” Marc asked annoyed.


“One of my other sources told me that someone else may be trying to buy Isabella as revenge against somebody associated with the Meade Empire. I just don't know if they are targeting Wilhelmina or someone else. My source wouldn't say. I sent Wilhelmina a message using the emergency contact e-mail address that Connor gave me."


 That automatically worried Marc. That particular address was usually only employed in extreme emergencies or when direct communication could be used as evidence in a court of law.


"You used a new e-mail account right?" Marc asked.


"Of course, Marc I am not an idiot. The evil one received an email from Connor’s sister congratulating her on her upcoming wedding and asking her to meet for coffee tomorrow about 45 minutes ago. That reminds me I still have to buy a present. What do you get two people you absolutely hate?" Monique asked cheekily.


"You're Connor’s sister?" Marc asked in a panic. This information terrifies him and he starts to go for his inhaler as he feels his lungs constrict.


"Calm down and do your breathing exercises. As far as I know, I am not his sister. Although, my dad did sleep around a lot on business trips so who knows. I wouldn't be that surprised if I had a half sibling in Melbourne. Monique Owens is a cover I developed a long time ago. I used it a couple weeks ago when Wilhelmina was in the coma so they would let me see Connor to tell him about it in person. I needed to use something she would recognize." Monique explained.


"You had me worried there for a moment." Marc said as he put his inhaler back in his pocket.


"You need to be worried, although not to the point of having an asthma attack. If Wilhelmina calls you give her that address and don't ask too many questions. You need plausible deniability." Monique was out the door at that.


It was nice to have a boss who did not want him to end up in jail because of one of her crazy schemes. He didn't have time to think about it anymore because Cliff was standing in his doorway with a camera bag and one small suitcase.


"Are you ready to go?" Cliff called from the doorway.


"Yes." Marc said pointing to the three suitcases sitting in the corner of the office that used to be Wilhelmina's. (Half of her stuff was still there.)


"You realize we are only going to be in DC for a week, right?" Cliff asked, staring dubiously at his suitcases.


"Actually you're going to be there for a week and I'm coming back Monday for my pseudo-mommy's wedding and then I am taking the train back with the second team Tuesday afternoon. Although, I might just leave the luggage in your room if that's okay?" Marc asked.


"That's fine. I would hate for you to have to carry three huge trunks back and forth to DC. You need to learn how to pack.” Cliff shook his head. “I'm bringing one little tiny bag, a camera case and a laptop to load the photos on."


"Not all of us can pull off T-shirt chic the way you can." Marc quipped.


"Oh, how flattering." Cliff said sarcastically. "Can we please just get to the car? I would like to be out of the city before rush hour starts in less than 2 hours."


"You are always so worried. Everything will be fine." Marc said just as Cliff took the keys from the rental van off his desk.


"I'm driving. I don't trust you. My insurance didn't cover stupid boyfriend behavior last time. There's no way I'm letting you behind the wheel of any car, even if it's not mine." Cliff explained as he grabbed one of Marc's suitcases and started for the elevator.


"Do you have to keep bringing it up? I had a medical emergency." A.k.a. going into an asthma/panic attack because Betty found the Tiffany wedding ring.


“Yes. The insurance company would’ve covered if I knew. But I was too pissed off to ask why you completely wrecked my car after you told me that you only wanted to marry me because you cheated on me. Maybe we should have had a longer talk once I was no longer pissed that you, but it’s too late to do the right thing now.” There wasn’t anywhere near as much anger as Marc thought there would be.


"You two broke up because you slept with someone else? You were engaged?" Marc heard Troy ask from behind him. This is not good.


His lungs started tightening up again at the sound of his boyfriend’s angry voice. In the interest of avoiding a scene like the one in the cafeteria this afternoon Marc maneuvered Cliff, along with all their luggage, into the elevator without answering Troy's question.


"Avoiding your boyfriend already? Is there trouble in paradise?” Cliff asked as the elevator made its way downstairs.


"There's no such thing as paradise." Marc said as he laid his head on the side of the elevator and reached for his inhaler. He looked down to see his cell phone vibrating because Troy was already calling. That just made his breathing more erratic. As he took the first puff of his inhaler he had an ominous feeling that this was going to be a very long weekend.


Thursday June 3, 2010 8:57 p.m. Greenwich mean Time

Daniel was sitting inside the Mode closet watching his girlfriend try on outfits for her first TV appearance tomorrow to promote her new magazine. She was obviously nervous because she was actually obsessing over her appearance. He found this adorable and terrifying at the same time.


DJ was down the hall in Daniel's office e-mailing Justin or doing whatever 15-year-olds do when they are ignoring everyone. Daniel was half-tempted to get one of the IT people to break into DJ's account so they could figure out what's going on with the quiet teenager, but Justin would never forgive him for spying on their conversations. He was just going to have to honor the agreement.


It had been over a week and they still did not know why DJ doesn't want to go back to France or his school. He and Betty finally broke down and told his mom what was happening a few days ago. Even she could not get DJ to talk. Only Justin knew and he wouldn’t say anything because he felt it wasn’t a dangerous secret and DJ would tell him when he was ready.


Apparently, Alexis must have known that DJ was in London because Daniel's lawyer received temporary custody papers yesterday and arrangements were made for DJ to finish the rest of this semester via e-mail. Those messages only made Daniel more concerned. He called Alexis 35 times since he heard from his lawyer yesterday alone and yet not one returned. He tried not to think about that as he watched his girlfriend play dress up.


"Are you sure this is OK? I'm essentially borrowing an outfit from the Mode closet to promote a competing magazine." Betty asked peeking out behind a rack of outfits wearing a cherry red business suit from next month's featured designer that showed off her curves. Daniel was currently imagining himself stripping that suit off of her after a very long day at the office in the town car.


"I don't think the readers of London Hub will overlap with the readers of Mode that much." He said as he was mentally unzipping the tight, in all the right ways, skirt that was a little bit shorter than what Betty normally wore.


"You know what I mean. I don't like this outfit. It's too tight and red." Betty said as she went back behind the rack and quickly threw the discarded jacket over to him. He didn't understand why she was hiding behind the rack when he has seen her naked more than once today. That was the fourth outfit she had tried on so far and she'd hated everything. He had never seen her this self-conscious before.


"You look good in anything and there's an entire website that proves that. It's fine for you to borrow something. It's a perk of dating the EIC of a fashion magazine. Your boss's assistant didn't call you until 25 minutes ago to let you know that you're going to be appearing on London Morning to promote your magazine tomorrow. It's almost 9 PM and most stores are closed or will be closed soon. I know you're not going to want to wear something that's already in your closet. Betty, this is the only option." He said giving her another outfit.


"Trust me, I get it. If it wasn't for you goofing off with DJ this weekend I may have made it to another store besides Dirty Little Secret and had something in my closet. I guess I should just be happy that because of Monique's new policy about 'human size' models there is stuff in here that is actually my size." She says with a sigh grabbing the next outfit from him. This gave him the perfect view of her cleavage framed in black and red lace.

"You are the perfect size." He said with a happy smirk and a leer at her well-endowed chest area.


"I'm talking about my entire body, not the part that you're currently staring at. Make eye contact, Mr. Meade" She said as she started to put the dress on. "Do you remember that time I went clubbing with Christina and ran into you?"


"You mean the time I told you to leave me alone and I ended up needing you anyway because I got blackmailed? Did I mention how sorry I am for acting like a complete dick back then?" He couldn’t apologize enough for some of his stupider behavior.


"Yes, you have … several times. Anyway, before we went out, we raided the closet. The only thing that fit me back then were the shoes. Can you zip me up?" Betty said as she walked around the rack of dresses. She looked really good in the sleeveless dress that was very good to Betty's curves. Very, very good.


"You're taking this dress." He whispered as he gently worked the zipper making sure that his fingers gently caressed the flesh underneath.


"I don't think this is right for a morning TV show. It's too formal." She said moving to the mirror but not breaking contact.

"But it's absolutely perfect for tomorrow night when I take you out on a real date. I think the press has finally died down enough that we can go out in public without DJ as a diversionary tactic.” And he’s pretty sure he can leave said teenager at home without him running off to another country. “Besides, you need something more formal for business dinners or maybe even the MAMA's next week. You still do not have a dress."


"And whose fault was it that I ended up spending 3 hours in a lingerie store? Maybe I should be happy that I don't have to buy something for Monique's wedding." Betty pouted.


"You were not complaining when you found out you could get custom bras to wear under that dress."


"Good point. I'm still not getting a $4000 dress, even if it looks really good. I may be an EIC now but I don't make anywhere near your salary. I actually make slightly less than I did before because you were overpaying me." Betty said as she started to take the dress off.


"No, you don't.” Daniel corrected her as he pulled the dress back down over her. Much to his own displeasure. “First, you were doing the conversion wrong in your head. Also, I negotiated a higher salary for you in exchange for signing the release."


"You did what?" She asked in shock.


"I wasn't going to let you come to London to live on Ramen noodles. It doesn't matter anyway because I'm the one getting you the dress. As you just pointed out, I can afford it." Daniel said kissing her neck and collarbone.

"You just can't buy me everything. It's not the 1950s and I'm not a kept woman. I'm practically living in the house for free alre—." He cuts are off as he moves from her neck to her lips capturing them in a kiss that stopped her from speaking.


"Are you going to kiss me every time we argue?" Betty asked him with kiss swollen lips.


"Maybe. Is it working?" He asked with a lascivious grin.


"No. I'm not getting the dress. At least not until I can afford something like this on my own."


"Fine, although you should still borrow one of the more upscale styles for the interview. I guess I'll go grab you some things from the sexy for less shoot next week for tomorrow." He said pouting.


"Thank you." She said as she lightly kissed him.


"Although you're wearing whatever I pick out." He was already mentally calculating the minimal amount of fabric that Betty would be willing to wear on morning television.


"As long as it's not something that requires me to wear a trench coat over it."


"I would never do that." She gave him her normal 'you're not fooling anyone' looks.


"However, my birthday is coming up in 47 days and I know how much you hate shopping. You can make it a lot easier on yourself if you just showed up to my office in a trench coat and maybe those high heels that Wilhelmina made you wear last year." Daniel said as he kissed her neck again.


"You are too much. Unzip me?" He did exactly as she asked although he had a bit of fun with it. She shivered a little as his fingers made contact with her now bare back. He quickly pulled the silky fabric down to her hips as his mouth started to make contact with the newly exposed skin.


"I just asked you to unzip the dress, not get me naked. There still people in the building even though it's late. DJ is here." That's been his girlfriend's excuse for the last week. They haven't done anything beyond mild kissing in eight days. Not that they were actually having sex before, but he was at least able to touch her more intimately before. Although it didn't seem like she was really protesting right now as he kept touching her.


"I locked the door and paid DJ 20 Euros or maybe it was Pounds to not interrupt us. Why do you think I am in here helping you instead of our closet goddess Nadia? Besides, it's the closet. Nobody is ever fully dressed in here." Daniel said as he pushed the dress down her hips and on to the ground as he quickly placed a kiss at the curve of her back. He was pleasantly surprised to see her wearing the matching black and red panties from the set he picked up for her this weekend.


"I still do not have a dress for tomorrow." Betty said as she stepped out of the dress. She moved to pick up the dress from the floor as Daniel maneuvers her to the couch where he was sitting earlier, all without his hands leaving her body.


"Go with the hunter green Brianna West-Hartley suit with the vintage lace camisole from DLS that you have at the house. Unlike most of the other designers, Brianna actually knows how to make things for short women with sexy curves." He said as he played with the black lace of her underwear.


"Not that I don't love your curves, but you look better in stuff that's designed for your body. I also suggest you pair it with the cream lace push up that gives you just the right amount of cleavage." Of course, when he says the word cleavage his mouth made contact with her neck as his right hand started to massage one of her breats through the fabric.


"You have this all figured out, don't you?" Her voice was breathy as she said this. If she was really worried she would have stopped him by this point. Instead, she turned around to face him so she could undo his tie and help unbutton his shirt.


"It's one of the perks of having a boyfriend that actually understands women's fashion. I've never had a girlfriend I could play dress up with before."


That wasn't completely true. There was Molly, but he didn't exactly help with the makeover process. Besides he was smart enough not to mention his first wife when his girlfriend was straddling him wearing nothing but a pair of sheer panties and a black and red lace bra that would be off as soon as he unfastened it.


"I know you want to wear your B necklace," he said gently removing the necklace that meant so much to his girlfriend. Because it was so important to her he usually took it off before they did anything. He didn't want to accidentally rip it off her in the moment.


"I think you should wear the necklace I got you for your last birthday. It would go better with the outfit. You can keep your B necklace in your pocket so it'll be close to you."


"The one that you got from Macy's?” Betty asked. “I did not even think you knew where Macy's was. Actually, I didn't know Macy's had costume jewelry that nice. I love that necklace. It goes perfectly with the earrings your mom gave me two years ago."


"I never told you it was costume jewelry. Actually it's from Tiffany's but Monique suggested I put it in a Macy's box so you wouldn't freak out." He said pulling her into another heated kiss. She would definitely freak out if she found out he paid $22,000 for it.


"You got me a necklace from Tiffany's when we were still just friends?" She said pulling away momentarily only to change positions. "That is a girlfriend present." Of course, Betty is saying this as she is removing his shirt and placing kisses down his chest.


"You're my girlfriend now. Otherwise you wouldn't be leaving teeth marks on my chest or letting me do this." He quickly unfastens the black piece of lace and tosses it to the other side of the closet. Just as he was about to drive headfirst, so the speak, his cell phone started playing We Are Family a.k.a Alexis’ ring tone.


"Fuck, now she calls." He said with a groan of frustration as he backed away from Betty who was actually at that point starting to unbutton his pants.


"Why are you stopping?" She asked actually pulling him back. Apparently, she learned from last time.


"That is Alexis's ring tone." Daniel commented before grabbing his phone. She understood without further explanation. If anybody else was calling he would have let it go to voicemail. Actually, if it wasn't for the DJ thing he would let it go to voicemail. Okay, he was already half tempted to keep going but Betty was already up looking for her bra.


"You have excellent timing Alexis." He said sarcastically. "After over a week of avoiding me, you call when Betty's sitting on my lap 97% naked with your son safely paid off to not walk in on us." Daniel said with a lot of anger and severe discomfort.


"You actually picked up the phone?" Alexis asked in shock.


"I blame my good hearted girlfriend and the fact that your son is hiding in our townhouse without explanation.” And the fact that I’m actually worried about you. “We would really like to know why he accidentally walked in on us in the kitchen last week. I'm going to put you on speaker so Betty can hear."


"I guess congratulations are in order. It's a shame that I found out from a newspaper headline last week. I wish you would have called me."


I would if you actually would’ve picked up my calls, Daniel thought darkly.


"I thought DJ would tell you.” He responded instead. “You could have called too." Betty was giving him the eyes of death, which meant she didn't believe that excuse at all. He could already tell that he wasn't getting any more from her tonight.


"DJ is not speaking to me right now, unless it involves asking for money or getting out of spending the next few months with his grandparents.”


“Why were you going to make him spend time with his grandparents?” Daniel asked. “They are awful people.”


“Because I am going to be in the U.S. for business for a couple months and you can’t leave a teenager alone for that long of a period of time." By the way Alexis was speaking Daniel was sure she wasn't telling him everything.


"He hates his grandparents. There has to be better options? Why can't he come with you? Or if you’re working too much to keep up with DJ, why can't he go to New York and stay with mom? She's practically adopting Amanda's new baby and Amanda for that matter. I think she misses you even though she has the replacement child." Daniel said referring to Tyler.


"I will try to stop by NYC in a couple of weeks. I know my son hates his grandparents, but I didn't have a choice until two weeks ago. You moving to London was a really good thing."


"Why is that?" Daniel asked.


“I didn’t want you to know how far I had to go to keep things from getting really ugly at the custody hearing.”


“It was already ugly.” Daniel mumbled under breath. He knew all about the money that Alexis was paying Lucy’s parents to stay away.


“But DJ and the press don’t know about most of that and to keep it that way I had to make certain concessions. The custody agreement basically states that DJ may not live more than 1500 kilometers from his grandparents.” Alexis explained. “That completely rules out mom unless she comes here, but now that she is president of the company I doubt she has time. It doesn't really matter unless you and Betty are available. Would you two be willing to let DJ stay with you this summer?"


They already had this conversation yesterday when the lawyer mentioned the temporary custody papers. He was not only surprised by the custody papers but by the fact that they were joint custody papers. Betty was actually the one who talked him into signing, before they even knew why. This surprised him because of the way Betty freaked out around Henry's kid in April and had a massive panic attack when she thought she was pregnant with Matt's child. However, maybe it shouldn't. DJ and Betty have always gotten along except when he was spraying her with silly string.


"Of course, Betty and I already signed the papers yesterday. I just would like to know the real reason why?"


"Stupid lawyer. He wasn't supposed to send anything until tomorrow." He heard Alexis mumble under her breath.


"Alexis, why does DJ need to stay with us? I don't believe the 'this is for a job' excuse. I don't think DJ would be so freaked out if it was just that." This time Betty was the one asking questions. "Are you okay?"


"You've always been very perceptive, Betty. There is something else going on. I'll tell you everything tomorrow night. I'll be flying to London instead of going home. I'm actually at the airport right now getting ready to leave. Sorry, I didn't call earlier. The conference was so intense that I didn't have time to check my messages. I called DJ every night but he was not answering my phone calls. We'll go out to dinner tomorrow and I will explain everything afterwards. I'll be there around seven your time." Alexis was almost babbling right now. That’s not good.


“Why can't you tell us now? DJ's been asking me questions about when my mom died." Betty stated but Alexis was already gone.


"She hung up on us." Betty said as she finished buttoning her shirt


"So I guess we're not picking up where we left off?" He joked, but he was also buckling his belt again.


"I am just not in the mood right now and I don’t think you are either.” Except sex was his number one coping mechanism when he was scared and he was a little terrified at the moment. Betty made him feel better.


“Your sister just signed over temporary custody of her son to us with some really strange excuse and not a lot of explanation. Also, did you notice that she just said she was at a conference?" Betty asked pointedly.


"What's so important about that?" He said as he begrudgingly handed Betty her top.


"Her assistant said she was at a retreat, but she just said she was at a conference. Obviously, she's lying. And there is the fact that your nephew keeps asking me questions about when my mom was sick. Come to think of it, he also asked me questions about my dad's heart attack a few years ago. I'm just too worried to do anything. I'm sorry. Maybe later."


"It's okay. I'm worried too. I'm just the opposite of you. Sex is my normal coping mechanism for stress." And fear.


"So you still want to fool around because you're scared?" She said giving him back his shirt.


"Pretty much." Daniel answered honestly.


“That doesn’t surprise me. Later." Betty said as she stood on her tiptoes to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek.


"I thought you didn't want to do anything in the house?" Daniel asked slightly confused.


"We're going to have a teenager living with us for the next few months. I'll get used to it. He will probably be too busy listening to music and text messaging his friends to care." Betty said as he gave her a chaste kiss on the lips.


"I think this is why I love you."


Have you ever really loved somebody in a way that made no sense? Have you ever loved someone as a friend, a lover, and practically a member of your family simultaneously? Have you ever loved someone in a way that was all consuming and could never end no matter what they did to you? Even after nearly six years of not being in that person's life, you would be willing to sit with him or her in a tiny doctor's office at one of the best heart centers in the United States going over new treatment options.


Yet there she was at the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic sitting in one of the many waiting rooms with a sleeping baby Lexis on her lap as she listened to Alexis Sr. lie to her brother about what was going on. Maybe she should have left baby Lexis with the nanny, with Matt or even Auntie Jordan, who was in town visiting her mom for a few days, a.k.a. the doctor they were consulting with in Cleveland.


This had to be hard on the little girl because it was hard on her. However, too many questions would have been asked (except by Jordan because she knew too much) and all things considered, her baby girl deserved the opportunity to see her other mother.


In between flights and doctor visits the two had been bonding. Maybe that was because four-year-olds are very forgiving. It could have also had something to do with the Alexis sponsored toy-shopping spree. Breanna is going to have to get a seat on the plane for all of Lexis’s new stuffed animals.


"You told him you were at the airport. Also did you have to be so cryptic? Now you know they're going to be even more worried." She said in a pseudo-whisper trying not to wake up the baby. The Cleveland Clinic is not exactly the most kid friendly place, even if she had videos for Lexis on her iPhone and new dolls to play with. After the past week, she could understand why her daughter was now asleep on her lap.


"This is coming from the woman who's been dodging her friends and family since last Thursday. You don't have room to talk. It will be true in a couple of hours." Alexis sighed.


"I emailed Monique. She knows where I am and I told her I will tell her more when I get to DC next week. I'll call Matt later because he has enough to deal with already with his psychotic mom, Tyler, and the baby. There's a big difference. My situation isn't life threatening. You always hide things."


Of course, she didn't tell Monique that she was now in Cleveland instead of France. Last week's conversation with Alexis had been complicated. But then again any conversation that starts out with 'I may be dying' always is. The cause in this case was heart failure. Let's just say that Bradford left Alexis something other than the Meade empire or that stubborn as a mule personality.


"Again this is coming from the woman who hid the fact that I got her pregnant from the entire world.”


“Jordan knew the truth.” And Jody and apparently Cliff because the man was ridiculously observant.


“It makes me feel so much better that my ex-girlfriend knew that I have a daughter before I did.” That came out at breakfast, a fairly uncomfortable breakfast when she explained how she got Alexis an appointment so quickly with Jordan’s mom. “Some people are convinced you secretly adopted Lexis from somewhere in Africa despite her light complexion."


"I don't know why. She looks exactly like you but with slightly darker skin and naturally curly hair. What was I supposed to do Alexis?” She asked bitterly.


“I thought you were dead. I was alone and my half-brother was trying to convince me to terminate the pregnancy for the sake of my career. You and I had been together since the first grade. I have always loved you no matter how you looked on the outside. I kept all your other secrets, why couldn't you trust me with that?" Breanna wasn’t going to cry, even though she really wanted to.


"I wasn't planning on coming back. Wilhelmina convinced me that revenge could be best accomplished if I returned."


"Yet you didn't call me even after I made every effort to get in contact with you. You're the one who ignored me for four years." This wasn't exactly the right time or place to have this conversation. They've been putting off this conversation all week. You don't exactly want to have a screaming match with somebody who's in the third stage of heart failure.


"I thought you had moved on. I had no idea that Lexis was my daughter until I heard a voice mail from Amanda asking me if I knocked up her boyfriend's auntie five and a half years ago." She wasn't that surprise by how Alexis found out considering the way Matt found out that Amanda was pregnant. She blames herself.


"I should've moved on. I couldn't. You did not even remember me when you had amnesia. Instead, for the last week I have been wandering around Europe and the United States visiting cardiologists as I've tried to manage my company via BlackBerry and iPad. I even called in a favor from your ex-girlfriend.”


“Who is apparently Lexis’ godmother? I can’t wait to tell her on the drive to the airport how angry I am that she didn’t mention that three years ago.”


“And you forgot to tell her that you were in an open relationship, so I think she’s entitled to not tell you things. Why couldn't the doctors discover the dilated cardiomyopathy when you were in the coma?" She said under her breath.


"They were a little preoccupied keeping me from dying at the time. Also, dad wasn't exactly forthcoming with his health problems. Family history is a major part in diagnosis." Alexis responded.


"Keeping your mouth shut is also a family trait apparently.” Breanna said bitterly. “DJ probably ran away to Daniel's house because you hid being sick from him for almost two years. That's almost the entire time you have known him. I assume he's a smart kid from what you told me. I'm sure he knows."


"As for the amnesia, I blocked out everything related to getting gender reassignment surgery. That meant I didn't remember you because you were with me during doctor shopping and you taught me how to put on makeup. You're the only one who really knew me." You knew the situation was bad when Alexis changed the subject to that particular topic.


"What is it with you and doctor shopping? You must have dragged me around this country and several others to over 15 different doctors to find the best to do the surgery. You are doing the exact same thing now. I'm sure they have good cardiologists in France. The guy we spoke with on Monday seemed to know what he was talking about."


"I already have a good cardiologist in France. I'm not responding to the drug treatment. The thing with the alcohol didn't work either. You heard what the doctors here said this morning. It's time for a surgical option."


"Yes, it sound exactly like what the cardiologist said Monday in France and yesterday in New York." They snuck back into New York Tuesday night without anybody knowing she was back in town. She didn't stay at her apartment just in case someone stopped by. By Wednesday afternoon they were on another plane to Cleveland to get a third opinion. At least the doctors in Cleveland presented more surgical options. Now they were waiting to discuss the test results and more options.


"This is one of the best places in the world for cardiac care. I don't want to be my father. Sometimes I wonder if he even fought to stay with us. He knew he was sick and he didn't tell us. I want to see DJ graduate."


"What about your daughter?" She never got to hear Alexis's answer because they were called back to see the doctor again.

Cliff was about 30 seconds from throwing Marc's cell phone out the window. Since they left Manhattan 4 hours ago, Troy has been calling every 10 minutes. He was shocked that Marc was putting up with that type of behavior. Okay, actually, he’s surprised that Amanda isn’t trying harder to break those two up. Actually, he’s surprised that she has to try at all. Cliff would have dumped any boyfriend who acted like this months ago.


"Seriously, did you have to choose a song by Justin Pieper as your ring tone for your boyfriend? I should have used this trip to introduce you to grown-up music." He said under his breath in annoyance. Seriously Marc, the sex can’t be that good.


"I think his last name is Bieber. I can't stand it either. He was an absolute brat at his photo shoot last year." Marc mumbled almost to himself as he silenced the phone again. Marc refuses to turn the phone off because apparently he’s waiting for a phone call from Wilhelmina.


“I’m not surprised. Why is it on your phone? That's even worse than the N*Sync ringtones you used to have."


"Like Green Day is any better. N*Sync is classic. Troy must have programmed it in along with his smiling picture. You can't say anything because you have BSB songs on your iPod." The only song he had on his iPod from their catalog was Treat me Right and that was because Monique added it a long time ago.


"It was one song and it reminded me of you. Why are you with Troy?" He didn't mean to ask the question but he did anyway. It just came out.


"I love Troy." Cliff laughed at that.


"No you don't. I know you Marc and I know what you're like when you're in love. At the very least, I thought I did. The fact that you're letting all of Troy's calls go to voicemail makes it really obvious, this is not love." Also the fact that you are bruised is really not love. If Troy actually hit Marc, he didn’t even want to think about what someone like that would do to baby Jade.


"I'm just not answering his phone calls because we are discussing work related things." Marc said in his defense.


"Ten minutes ago we were discussing if Spike could kick Edward's ass in a one on one match. Can you even carry on a conversation with Troy? You and Troy have absolutely nothing to talk about. The only things you two have in common are that you work for the same company and prefer sex with men." Also, you may not know it yet, but your dad and Troy should not be around children.


"Do we really need to have anything else in common?" Yes.


"I don't know, you tell me. I watched you two interact with each other. It was like watching my parents at my graduation two months after their divorce." A divorce caused by abusive and obsessive behavior.


"That's not true. Troy and I talk about all sorts of things." Marc said in a way that told him he was obviously lying. He just wasn't sure who he was lying to.


"Like what?"


"The meaning of life." Marc said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.


"Nice try. Honestly, why are you with Troy?" He said taking a moment to look at Marc, even though he should really focus on the road.


"If I said it was only because he is hot, would you believe me?" Marc said with a Side.


"Not at all. If that was your only requirement for a perspective boyfriend we would have never dated. I know you care about things besides appearance." Cliff said honestly.


"You do remember I tried to hide the fact that we were dating from all my friends?" Unfortunately, he did remember that incident, and so did Jody. It was one of her early excuses for not telling him about Jade.


"Yes, but you never left me on your doorstep overnight. Thank god you live in Chelsea. That poor boy would have been dead in certain other neighborhoods." Cliff said remembering everything Amanda told him.


"You heard about that?" And so did Jody which is another reason why she’s afraid to tell you about your daughter.


"The entire building heard about that. Monique told me after Amanda told me. It made me feel a lot better about the fact that you cheated on me. Now I know that it was nothing personal. You just sabotage every relationship." I hope you don’t do that with Jade.


"Did you ever think that maybe that is why I am staying with him? Maybe I'm tired of every single one of my relationships falling apart because I ran away the moment things got serious. I don't want to be alone." Marc said honestly and Cliff almost felt like crying. He also felt like stopping the car and showing him one of the many video files of Jade.


“I’m glad that you finally realized what you were doing before, but that’s no excuse to stay in a bad relationship, this time around. You should not stay with someone you don't love just because you're afraid of being by yourself, especially someone who tosses juice at you and leaves bruises. That was my parent’s marriage."


“Thankfully, the only children I’m planning to bring into our relationship is Amanda’s because, well, Matt is just that flaky.”


“You never know.”


“I know the Mode rumor mill is accurate 99% most of the time, but that I actually managed to conceive a love child during the last time I tried straight sex, I think I would’ve known by now.”  It took all of Cliff’s willpower not to snort at that. “I mean, she was menopausal and even if she wasn’t. I think I would’ve heard from her lawyers by now. This was all just some ridiculous rumors started by Nikolai just to screw with everything or part of Monique’s matchmaking game. We need to find her a new hobby.” Marc suggested. “So far the Jody rumor has resulted in me trying new concealer.”


“I agree with finding Monique a new hobby.” After you dump your boyfriend.


Cliff wasn’t entirely sure how to attack Marc’s denial or even if he should. Jody doesn’t want him to know the truth yet and Cliff doesn’t want to be the one to tell him unless he has to. Except Marc already knew he was just lying to himself. That did not surprise Cliff at all. “You don’t read the New York review do you?” Cliff asked deciding that he was going to have to speed up the timetable. But first he needed to gauge how far in denial Marc really was.


“No, what does that have to do with…” Marc was cut off by Diva blaring from his cell phone. Thank god it wasn’t the toddler calling again.


"Hey Willie. Long time no call. We're on our way to prepare for the DC shoot.” Cliff exhaled in relief. Now, at least Marc could cut off the phone for the last 45 minutes of their drive.


“I have to go because Nikolai had a hissy fit and quit via iPhone Tuesday. Oh, you were CCed too.” Cliff wasn’t surprised about that. He also received a copy of that message. Actually Cliff is pretty sure that was the genesis of the Jody rumor.


“I guess they haven’t taken you off the email system yet. Anyway, it turns out Nikolai is already at Isabella. That traitor! Not that there is anything wrong with someone going to Isabella. You won't believe it, the super budget conscious Monique is making us stay in Arlington." Marc said into the phone almost looking happy except when he talked about the hotel. Which was fine with Cliff because he really should talk to Jody first before approaching Jade territory.


"I don't know why you're complaining. It's still the Ritz Carlton. It's not like it is the American Hotel that was featured in State of Play." Cliff mumbled.


"It's a Ritz Carlton located in Arlington on top of a shopping mall." Marc argued back.


"It's a Fashion Center." Cliff shot back.


"If it has a Gap, it's a mall. Sorry Willie, I got distracted. I don't know why she sent the e-mail except that something's going on with Isabella. Apparently, someone wants to use it for revenge against someone else. I will text message you the coordinates." Cliff was happy that Mark was distracted with Wilhelmina. As long as Marc was busy doing something else, he could avoid the Jade conversation. Even better Marc than being on the phone with the toddler.


Cliff tried to tell himself that he didn’t like Marc’s current boyfriend for Jade’s sake. Growing up with an abusive father, Cliff would not wish that on anyone. It really had nothing to do with the fact that maybe he still loved Marc. He was doing this all for his goddaughter and Troy was not good enough for his goddaughter.


His goddaughter was the reason why he took a phone call from Jody five minutes later, after Marc went back to reading his email. Obviously, he really didn’t want Cliff to keep poking holes in his relationship with Troy. Even though he hates talking on the phone when driving, even with speakerphone, he still accepted the phone call. He would regret that in about 30 seconds before he had a chance to tell Jody that he would call her back once they were at the hotel when they could talk privately about his next assignment for the New York Review, Jody started talking.


“Nikolai’s an absolute prick. He told Marc that Jade was his daughter via email and he BCCed me on it. If you’re with Marc, can you please break his blackberry so he doesn’t read the message. I assume he hasn’t yet because I haven’t received an angry phone call.”


‘Fuck.’ Cliff mumbled as he looked over at Marc. Now Cliff is really glad he’s driving because they would’ve had another medical related car accident due to Marc losing consciousness.


“Too late. He knows because you just told him. I’ll talk to you later.” Jody owed him the best assignments for the next six months for dealing with this.

To be continued.

Chapter Text

“Great, now I’m going to have to apologize for making snide comments about Matt fainting when he found out Amanda was pregnant.” Marc said as Cliff handed him a bottle of water. They were pulled over at a gas station so Marc could pull himself together.


He still felt like he was going to throw up at any moment. But at least he was conscious. Also, his inhaler kicked in. He was going to need to make a pharmacy run if this kept up.


“No, you won't because you absolutely hate Matt.” Cliff replied with a smile.


"Because he’s going to leave Amanda as soon as things get too hard, he already did it once this year alone. Not that I did any better." He has a kid. He has a daughter that he hasn’t even met yet. Worst of all Cliff knew. No. Worst of all Nikolai knew and honestly, it’s a small miracle that he didn’t send that last email out to the entire office.


"You didn’t know because Jody didn’t tell you." Cliff said as he rubbed gentle circles on Marc’s back, trying to get him to calm down.


"She tried. At least that’s what the mini West-Hartley said last week before you conveniently got her to shut up." Marc took another drink of water. He should’ve asked Cliff to get alcohol but he doubts this Maryland gas station would have anything nice.


"Obviously not very well. You don’t run away from your responsibilities. You would have stepped up the moment she told you the truth. I completely believe that." Cliff said trying to reassure him.


"I ran away from you." Marc on the other hand wasn’t so sure. “That’s number one on my biggest screw ups ever.”


"Are you going to do it again?" Cliff asked.


"I pride myself on being better than Matt Hartley. I did regain consciousness significantly faster than he did." Marc joked to cover up the fact that he was absolutely terrified. He had a kid. How the hell did that happen?


Okay he knows. Jade was conceived on the day of Daniel’s Make-A-Wish wedding as the result of Marc's career backup plan. Sleeping with Jody is not the most questionable thing he’s done for the sake of his career. It wasn’t even the most immoral. That would be switching out the psychiatric medication of Wilhelmina’s sister.


"I still wonder if I should take you to the hospital." Cliff said worriedly as he put an arm around Marc.


"I do not like going to strange hospitals in strange cities. The water is helping." Okay the fact that Cliff is holding him is helping. But he can’t think about that.


"You feel like you’re going to throw up at any moment?" Cliff said, knowing him too well. Why did he screw this up? Terrance is going to freak out when he finds out about Jade and that Cliff was rubbing circles on his back and trying to calm him down.


"God, yes. We are gay men. We’re not supposed to have surprise children. This is something straight out of the Birdcage." Marc never thought about having kids. Okay, that’s not true. He figured sometime around 35, if he and Amanda were both ridiculously single he would swallow half a bottle of Viagra and they would save a small fortune on in vitro. Then Matt happened. And then apparently Jade happened. Well, at least they’ll be able to take mommy and me classes together.


"Except Jody slept with you because she was mad at you for cheating around on me, not because you wanted to see what all the fuss was about." Cliff commented.


"I’m going to pay for that mistake for all eternity." He should have never slept with that guy. He should’ve never panicked the way that he did. He should’ve talked to Cliff and explain why he was so scared. He should’ve begged him for forgiveness because he was the best thing Marc ever had.


"I don’t think a child is a punishment for sins. Especially not Jade. She’s cute as a button and I can already tell she’s such a sweetie pie." Cliff was definitely the best thing he ever had. He loved his daughter. Marc has yet to even meet her and Cliff already loves her. If he said one bad thing about Jade right now, Marc is certain that he would be walking to DC.


"Of course she is. I do not make ugly kids." Although, truth be told, Jade could end up dressing like Betty during her bad years and Marc would still think that she was adorable.


"You really do. She has your eyes and your hair." It was reassuring to hear Cliff say that. It wasn’t that he doubted what Jody said. She didn’t even know that he was listing so there was no point in her lying. It’s just this is a lot to take at once.


"Really?" And yet, part of Marc was absolutely terrified that it may not be true. This was his one-shot at this unless Matt really does scamper off for parts unknown, leaving him to deal with Amanda.


"Nikolai sent you a picture. Didn’t you open it?" Cliff asked.


"I lost consciousness before I clicked on the JPEG." That’s when Cliff passed Marc his cell phone. It’s an image of Jade in Cliff’s arms. He is relieved it’s not Jody. Marc is not sure he can look at her right now. He lost three months of his daughter's life. He missed out on the first ultrasound and the first time hearing her heartbeat. Those are important moments, and he missed all of them.


(Yes, he’s read all of Amanda’s baby books, twice. Including the surprised parenthood book she forced him to read last week.)


"She really is adorable.” And definitely his. She looks so much like Marc at that age. She could be a clone.


“Although that outfit has to go. In between scouting locations, we are going to find a decent baby boutique." Just because his daughter will still be adorable even if she dresses like Betty doesn’t mean that he’s going to try to head that off early. Thankfully Jade will benefit from a father who actually understands women’s fashion. At this moment Marc realized that Cliff was grinning at him.


"Okay why are you smiling?" Marc asked.


"Because we haven’t even called Jody to talk about this and you’re already ready and willing to jump into fatherhood. I told her she had nothing to worry about. And I was right." Cliff’s comments made him feel warm and fuzzy inside, and pissed all at the same time. That’s been most of his emotions for the last half an hour.


"I really don’t want to talk to the person that concealed my child away from me for a year, but I’m going to have to."


"I think she was scared."


"She was afraid I was going to pull what Justin’s father did?" Marc asked annoyed because he wasn’t that person.


"That you would sue her for full custody." He wasn’t expecting Cliff to say that.


“I really should.” Because he was absolutely furious with Jody right now. Not only for keeping Jade from him, but for the reason why she slept with him in the first place. “But I’m not.” Mostly because he was terrified of screwing things up. “Besides, they would choose her anyway."


"You know what happened under New York State law is considered sexual assault. Jody coerced you into having sex with her. That’s grounds for terminating her parental rights." Seriously, how did Cliff know this? Marc really hates the rumor mill.


"I’m not going to do that. Not unless she keeps me away from my daughter." The words feel simultaneously foreign and like it was always supposed to be this way.


"She was planning to tell you in two weeks. Amanda had a dinner party all planned out then Nikolai had to be an asshole." And that explains why Amanda wanted him to make nice with Matt’s volunteer work friend. Of course, Amanda completely neglected to mention that Matt was working with their Yeti instructor.


"Because that’s what Nikolai does.” Seriously, how did he find out? “Amanda knew?"


"She figured it out as soon as Matt mentioned his old Yeti instructor had a daughter that looked like you." Because Amanda knew what happened with Jody.


"I’m not even surprised. How did you figure it out? Or did Jody actually tell you?” How long has Cliff been keeping this a secret?


"I suspected it as soon as Jody told me that she was pregnant, especially because of the fact that she kept her pregnancy a secret until six months in. Although it wasn’t that hard for her to keep it a secret because we weren’t speaking to each other for a while.”




“I didn’t like what she did to you in my name. It’s the entire reason why I reached out to you at the MAMA awards last year. Anger doesn’t solve anything.” Cliff took his side after everything. Marc couldn’t believe that. He didn’t deserve that. Not really.


“I didn’t know for real until I saw Jade with your eyes. Even then Jody didn’t actually tell me until a couple of days ago and even then I forced her to." Marc is not surprised.


"And you forced her to tell me or at least plan to tell me? She was never going to do it on her own, was she?"


"I don’t know. She did try." Cliff said, not making eye contact. Marc was going to take that as a no.


"I never got a call from her. So I would really like to know how she tried to contact me." Cliff doesn’t say anything. Instead, he takes back his phone and sent a text message to somebody. In seconds there’s a reply.


"According to her text message, she left a message with Amanda for you to call her back. But she didn’t tell Amanda that she was pregnant." And considering Amanda was really mad about the Jody sleeping with him thing that message obviously went straight in the trash.


“No wonder I never heard. She waited months to give me your ‘Fuck you’ message." Because Amanda was a weird protective friend in some ways.


"I kind of wish she didn’t give it to you at all now. I’m not mad at you anymore. You’re still better than the last boyfriend." Only because he was a prick. Marc thought bitterly at Cliff’s words.


"Because he treated you like crap and used you for career advancement only. He had a girlfriend on the side the entire time you were together.” Marc absolutely despised his successor.


“How do you even know that?” Cliff asked.


“Rumor mill.” Marc responded with a shrug of his shoulders. “Don’t worry, he can’t even get a Sears catalog right now."


"I’m not sure they still make those." Cliff joked.


"All the more reason why he can’t." Marc snarked.


"Are you ready to keep driving to DC?" Cliff asked.


"I think so. I don’t feel like of going to throw up anymore."


"Progress." Cliff said as he pulled away. Marc immediately missed his physical contact.


"Do you want to talk to Jody?" Cliff asked as he put the key in the ignition.


"No, but I will eventually. I have to but not right now." Marc had many things to do. Call Jody. Set up visitation to meet his daughter for the first time. Get a room together for Jade. Does that mean getting a new apartment or asking Amanda to actually move in with Matt? The latter is not something he really wants to do. He should probably start looking for three bedrooms for a giant nursery for two. He and Amanda are going to be the best co-parents ever.


"You don’t have to. The lawyers can work it out." Cliff suggests.


“That means I have to get a lawyer.” Marc groaned. He doesn’t even know where to begin. Wilhelmina probably would know where to go but is not sure he wants to tell her about this just yet.


“It’s been handled. Amanda’s been doing a lot of the leg work for you.” Cliff explains.


Which completely explains all the articles about custody arrangements that Amanda has been reading lately. He was almost hopeful that Amanda realized that Matt probably wasn’t going to stay around and she needed to prepare for the worst.


“My parents mostly stuck to working through their lawyers.” Because they absolutely hated each other. However, Marc knew better than to say that out loud.


"How did that work out for you?" Marc asked, rolling his eyes.


"I’m a productive member of society despite the fact that I cannot invite either parent to come with me to the MAMA awards because they can’t be in a room together without the cops being called. And if I invite one without the other, I am never hear the end of it." Cliff explained sadly.


"I feel like my child deserves better than that." Marc tells him.


"All children deserve better than that. Maybe it’s best that you wait until your calm down to talk to Jody." Cliff suggests.


"I’m not sure when I will calm down. She kept my daughter from me for months." Marc wasn’t going to get that time back.


"It was a very badly kept secret, though." And Marc feels like an idiot for not seeing it. He definitely should have got it when he saw the name of the article Jody was nominated for but he didn’t think it was about her personal experiences with motherhood. He definitely should have read the article.


"Yes, most of Mode and Amanda knew."


"And Daniel." Cliff added.


"Oh God, the idiot figured it out first." Okay, Marc really felt stupid right now. Monique, he would’ve understood because she’s friends with Cliff and absolutely brilliant but it took Daniel Meade four years to figure out he was in love with his assistant.


He got you a lawyer that he’s paying for.” Okay maybe he shouldn’t be that harsh with Daniel.


“Hopefully not the one that couldn’t keep DJ in the country."


"Nope, he got you the one that kept DJ away from his abusive grandparents. At least that’s what Amanda told me. Thankfully they have a New York branch." Now he’s definitely going to have to be nice to Daniel for a while.


"I’ll call once we get to the hotel."


"Here take the phone back. I have thousands of pictures of Jade in there.” Cliff said, pointing to his phone.


"Is it okay if I send some to my phone?" He wanted some pictures for himself. But he knew that Cliff was very protective of his images, being a professional and all.


"Of course it is. She’s your daughter."


"Yes she is." And that thought absolutely terrified him. He was a father. But Cliff believed he could do this and if Cliff believed in him then Marc was going to try his best to prove the man right. He owed him that much.


June 4, 2010 6:23 AM Greenwich mean time


Betty sat in the limo between her boyfriend and his nephew drinking her second coffee of the morning. She's pretty sure she only got three hours of sleep last night. She blames Daniel for that. It was after 11 when they finally got back to the town house after stopping off for a late bite to eat.


Daniel thought it was best to tell DJ about Alexis coming to London on Friday in a public place. That really didn't prevent a scene that involved lots of cursing and crying in French. (She is really going to have to work on her language skills.) DJ already knew because Alexis left him a voice mail, but it did not make his reaction less volatile. It was obvious that DJ wasn't looking forward to spending time with his mom but he wouldn't explain why.


The only thing that made the 15 year old happy was finding out that he would be spending the summer with her and Daniel instead of being shipped back for quality time with his grandparents. DJ really did not like his grandparents at all.


DJ was also not as happy about the fact that he would be an intern at London Hub instead of Mode. (This is when most of the French cursing occurred, actually.) Following in his uncle's footsteps, DJ has a slight fixation on the models. After an incident involving DJ being kicked out of a photo shoot by Diane, Betty and Daniel decided that DJ would be spending the summer as her intern. At least this way she would have somebody to tell her what's going on when her staff starts talking about her behind her back in French.


At this point, Betty thought it was possible to get at least five good hours of sleep. Instead, Daniel decided to show her what was so good about oral sex. It amazed her that even after three other major relationships there were still certain aspects of physical intimacy that she was completely ignorant of. Maybe because her heart wasn’t into those relationships as much as she thought. There was no point to over analyze it because the past is the past and Daniel was her future.


 After getting over the initial awkwardness of doing ‘things’ with her best friend, she felt comfortable trying new experiences with him. Every time he kissed her, she became breathless. Every time he touched her, she became lost. If she wasn't so worried about the entire Alexis situation the night before, things probably would have escalated in the closet. Instead, things ‘escalated’ when they got to the house and DJ was safely tucked away in his room sulking about Alexis’ pending arrival. Really, this shouldn't surprise her because she’s dating ‘I’ve been treated for sex addiction’ Daniel Meade.  She's personally shocked they've gone 14 days without having sex. Actually, she was more shocked he wanted to wait awhile. Although she did enjoy herself at the time. She also discovered why Daniel had plenty of women interested in him, despite the bad way he treated a lot of his dates when they first met. Okay, he really was that good. She is really glad he grew out of that because she didn’t want to give this up.  


"Baby, are you coming?" She heard Daniel say bringing her out of the memories of the night before. Their limo was now at the back door of the studio. DJ must already be inside because she didn't see him.


"What did you say?" She asked just as she was coming back to her senses.


"I said are you coming inside. We are here at the studio. Are you okay? You look a little red. Are you still worried about today? You will do great. You have dealt with Suzuki St. Pierre before; you'll be fine with the British equivalent of Matt Lauer and his happy sidekick." Daniel told her as he placed a reassuring hand on her back.


"I'm not worried. I'm fine. My mind just went somewhere else." She said giving Daniel a kiss not really caring if the press was around as they got out of the car together.


Most people were already sure that she and Daniel were more than friends before they actually started dating anyway. Suzuki's article last week just added more fuel to the fire. They were not exactly denying that they were a couple, but they were not really confirming it either. As everything else in her life she just decided to let people assume whatever they wanted. It was her life and she was entitled to privacy.


"Judging by the red blush that I find so adorable, I say that you're thinking about all the wonderful things we did last night. I'm looking forward to a repeat tonight." He said giving her another kiss that was slightly inappropriate for being in public, mostly due to hand placement.


"Unfortunately, we have to deal with your sister first. How can you be so cheery after just three hours of asleep?" she asked giving him another quick kiss.


"I think it's you. Your normal bounciness is infectious. Although we could probably test out the locks in my office if you want to come over for lunch." There was that evil smirk from last night again.


"I think I have a meeting that I have to attend at that time. I hate you. I probably have bags under my eyes." She said jokingly.


"You only hate me because you love me and my tongue. At lease, you are not nervous anymore. You are the most beautiful woman in the world. Besides, you are still glowing from last night. It's covering up the sleep deprivation. When did you start caring about your appearance?" He asked genuinely concerned.


"I have always cared about looking professional, not pretty. Showing up to an interview sleep deprived is not professional. I hope you're right and nobody notices." She said with a sigh as Daniel pulled her out of the car.


"Trust me; I used to do this all the time. Now let's go inside so we can introduce England to the very talented Betty Suarez." Daniel said as he pulled her into the building.


Daniel should have known this had the potential to go horribly wrong. The short notice the day before should have been the first sign that something wasn't right, especially for someone like him who has spent his entire life in front of the press. Daniel knew firsthand how a simple interview could go explosively wrong. The Sophie incident still stands out in his mind. He doesn't know how many times he has gone on television to talk about the latest issue of Mode when the conversation instantly turned to his private life. Actually, that usually happened.


Really, they should've both known this was going to happen. This was Betty's first interview since their relationship went public last week. No one has really confirmed or denied that he and Betty were a couple, but they were not actively hiding it. It was only natural that people would be curious. They didn't prepare for this and that was completely his oversight.


The interview started out innocently enough with Lindsey introducing Betty to the two hosts of the show. He spent a few minutes talking about the upcoming Wedding issue of London Style and made a few jokes about the trouble at Mode UK.


David Pratt has been generating all sorts of negative press for Mode since he was fired last week. The speculation about his relationship with Betty and his sudden relocation to London has at least kept people from paying attention to David trashing his former magazine to some degree.


At least he and Betty talked about how to handle Mode questions and the David situation last night. They both agreed that she would stay quiet on the matter because it was in her best interest to stay neutral regarding the London fashion magazine wars. As much as he loved her and wanted her support publicly, he knew that for the sake of her career she could not take sides.


Then the male host Kevin asked Betty if she knew for sure that he was the brand new EIC of Mode London. That's how a simple interview about London Hub started to spiral out of control.


"I can't answer that question. We'll all have to wait until the next issue comes out on the 17th." Betty answered calmly taking a small drink of her water.


"You obviously know the answer to that question since you were snogging him behind the building with his hand stroking your bum." The blond woman named Karen said with a thick accent that he could barely understand. Daniel wondered if she was doing it on purpose. Most newscasters neutralize their voice so that they can be understood by everyone. As she said this, images of Betty and him making out from earlier appeared on screen.


Wait, what does snogging mean? Is that the same as shagging? He really should have paid more attention to Candy's guide to British slang.


"I am a very private person and so is Daniel. I am here to talk about the first issue of London Hub that comes out next month, not my relationship with Daniel Meade." Betty said pointing to the screen. "I thought I was done talking about Daniel Meade's personal life when I stopped being his assistant years ago." Betty said calmly taking the high road as she avoided looking at the image of the two of them being very intimate.


The two talk show hosts did not like that and went for blood. That's when the perky British lady started asking Betty questions about how she went from being Daniel's assistant a year ago to being the EIC of a brand new magazine.


Daniel was planning on killing Marc next Friday when he was in New York for obviously blabbing about what happened. It had to have been him. Nobody else knew about it outside of the parties involved. Questions about that particular incident were asked as invasively as possible with lots of sexual innuendos. Okay maybe it’ll just take Marc’s lawyer away because he couldn’t make a three-month-old fatherless. This was embarrassing.


Ms. British Mary sunshine also brought up the blog incident from February including the speculation regarding their relationship status. Betty handled all of their questions with her normal grace as they started accusing her of getting ahead because of their personal relationship.


They even brought up Molly and the fact that Daniel was apparently in a serious relationship less than a year after her death. If Daniel was reading between the British lines correctly, they were essentially saying that he was sleeping with Betty when Molly was dying. How dare they bring Molly into this. Even though he was with Betty now, a part of him will always love her. Feelings don’t disappear overnight. But Molly is gone and he literally had Molly’s blessing. She forced Monique to play matchmaker. You can’t get more of a blessing than that.


Daniel should be used to hearing these types of comments. Nothing being said was worse than what he has heard Megan say a thousand times. Of course, Megan never said such things on live morning television or accused him of cheating on his then dying wife. At least she had the decency not to do it in front of him.


"Personally I would like to know how someone like you with such 'humble' beginnings became involved with a notorious American playboy. His antics are legendary here. I heard his father actually hired you so his son wouldn't sleep with the help. I guess that didn't work." Kevin mumbled that last part under his breath.


To make the situation even worse they actually posted a photograph from the Betty bad outfit web site on the screen for the entire viewing public to see. Daniel was reminding himself that he cannot make Marc’s daughter an orphan but Betty stayed calm.


"Daniel Meade has never been the person that everybody assumes him to be. He's smart, funny, and actually cares about things other than what's in season. Since I met him four years ago, he has become one of the most important individuals in my life. He has always been there for me. He is my best friend. We have always had a very close relationship." Betty responded. His heart melted at her words


"This is why there's been speculation about your relationship for years. It's gotten worse in the last two weeks especially in light of a segment on America's Fashion TV. You are obviously more than friends. He moved to London to be with you. There are even pictures this weekend of you and Daniel walking out of a lingerie boutique together. Again there is that photograph from earlier this morning.” That they put back on the screen.


“He is standing offstage watching this entire interview. You can't honestly expect anyone to believe that you two are just friends?" She pointed to a collage of Betty and Daniel in various moments of intimacy.


That's when Daniel saw the camera swing around and focus on him. He decided the best thing to do was to just wave at the camera.


"Since you are here Daniel, you might as well tell us if you're the new EIC of Mode UK. Can somebody get a mic on him?" The annoying woman said to one of the producers. Before Daniel knew what was happening, he was sitting on the couch next to Betty.


"Honestly Karen, I'm just here to help straighten things out at Mode UK after the last EIC left suddenly due to personal medical issues." He said going into the cover that he and Monique came up with. "I do own half the parent company and I feel that Mode U.S. is in the capable hands of Monique Osborn-Rossi." He said giving Karen his award winning fake smile.


"So you're not just here so you can keep shagging Miss Suarez?" That question just pissed him off but he was stopped by Betty's hand before he could say anything stupid. Unfortunately, Betty's gesture gave them away without saying a word more than that photograph from this morning ever could. The gesture was more intimate than any kiss could have been.


"The truth of the matter is we are in a relationship." Daniel answered because there was no point of really denying it anymore. Things calmed down after that and Karen started actually asking Betty questions about London Hub.


He was completely unaware that he kept holding Betty's hand the entire time. Again, that is why they couldn't be ambiguous anymore.


Then just as they were about to go into commercial the other host Kevin said something utterly idiotic thinking that they were already in break. Considering he used an expletive that had to be the case or he was completely unaware that his microphone was still on.


"She must be a good fuck for him to be with such a homely girl."


Honestly, Daniel doesn't remember walking over to the man. He doesn't remember throwing a punch. He does not remember DJ saying he was acting like an idiot in French or security pulling him back. The first thing he remembers was seeing the extremely disappointed look on Betty's face.


"Daniel, what the hell were you thinking? At lease when you hit Matt last year, there weren't any video cameras around." Candy asked as soon as Daniel walked through the door of the Mode offices.


Betty probably would ask him the same question if she had time before Lindsey's assistant pushed Betty and DJ into a town car. DJ text messaged him from the car to let him know that Betty was very angry.


"Candy, I don't know what I was thinking. I don't even remember doing it." Daniel said in his defense. He was too angry to really think at the time anyway.


"Let me refresh your memory." Candy said as she handed him an iPhone playing the clip.


"It's been an hour and it has already gone viral. Miss Mary sunshine of London already posted a comment on twitter about the incident." The thing Daniel likes best about Candy is they have the same sense of humor and the ability to never remember names.


"Has Monique called yet?" Daniel asked with a sigh as he made his way to his desk. He knew she would be mad at him.


"No, but that's only because it's 2:56 AM in New York. I expect a phone call around 6:00 AM her time." So did Daniel.


“Marc did call though, because he’s up late dealing with the Nikolai related fallout involving some woman named Jade and a coldhearted witch named Jody.” Well at least Marc now knows that he’s a dad and therefore probably having a worse 24 hours then Daniel is right now.


“What did he say?”


“He did not post about the coin toss thing. That was Megan and she apparently only knew about it because Amanda has a big mouth. He also thanked you for the lawyer. What did Nikolai do that required you to get Marc a lawyer?” Thankfully, before he had to answer Sumreen walked into the office holding her phone.


"My daughter just sent me a video file of you punching out that pratt from London Morning. Good for you. The whole interview was a setup. Someone probably gave the dimwitted duo everything because they are too stupid to do their own research. Everyone hates that imbecile." She said somewhat happy. At least someone on his staff supported him.


"Oh god. How bad is it?" Daniel said as he sat down at his desk and put his head down.


"Actually, it is not really that bad. Although that was not exactly the way we wanted to introduce the brand new EIC of Mode UK to the British people. Many people thought what they were doing to Betty was really mean, other people just like to hate on everything. As Sumreen said he's not very well liked." Candy said with reassurance. The only reassurance Daniel wanted was from Betty. However, he was too scared to call her right now.


"I think it's perfect. Daniel is so in love with his girlfriend that he punched someone out. Any publicity is good publicity. They love you on twitter and on the blogs." Diana said as she joined the conversation.


"Legal repercussions?" Daniel asked. Usually it was his Mother or Betty that handled things when he did something stupid. Now he was on his own.


"Kevin is in serious trouble. Apparently, you can't say ‘fuck’ before 9:00 PM on broadcast British television." Candy answered him with a bit of sarcasm in her voice.


"I have an ex-girlfriend that works at the studio. He's most likely going to be suspended without pay for about two weeks." Diane said sitting down on one of Daniels couches.


"I meant me." Daniel clarified.


"According to the same source the network is putting pressure on him not to press charges. Don't be surprised if the network calls you in a couple of hours. They're going to probably use this as leverage to get an exclusive." Diane was probably right.


"I'll talk to the lawyers anyway." Candy said just as her phone began to ring.


"Hello Mode Magazine, Daniel Meade's office. This is Candace Rivera speaking. How may I assist you?" Candy answered the phone using her real name.


"Yes, he's here Mrs. Meade. Yes, he already knows what he did was extremely stupid. Although in his defense, you should have seen the first part of the interview. I'm planning on calling the lawyers. Personally, I think we should sue the network for what they did to her. Can we sue for defamation of character in England? They basically implied that Betty only got ahead at Mode because she was sleeping with Daniel, even when Daniel was married to Molly." There was a pause for a moment before Candy continued.


"They called you. I guess that makes sense since it is just barely 3:00 AM in New York. I'll talk to the network to see if we can work something out. Let me transfer you to Daniel's phone." Candy said pulling the phone down.


"That was your mother. She's not very happy. I'm going to see if I can get her a clip of the full interview so she will calm down. The lawyers called her. Apparently Cindy from legal watches the show every morning in the office." Just then, Daniel heard his phone ringing. He knew it was his mother.


"Hi mom," Daniel said to his mother as he mentally prepared for the most interesting lecture of his entire life. He was completely screwed.

To be continued

Chapter Text

After being woken up by the London legal team a little after 2:00 AM this morning her time and a very long conversation with her middle child about appropriate interview decorum, there was no point in Claire even attempting to go back to sleep. She would have to get up in less than an hour to get ready to pick up Tyler with Matt and Amanda anyway.


Tyler was coming home for good after his extensive stay in rehab after the Wilhelmina incident. That alone would make Claire happy except he didn't want to stay with her. Their relationship was still tenuous at best due to her lying about his father. Tyler would be staying with Matt in his tiny apartment in Chelsea until his Aunt Brianna returned from wherever the hell she was hiding.


The Brianna situation involving Claire's possible new grandchild was another thing, causing Claire to lose sleep. The recluse designer has been incommunicado for almost a week except for a few e-mails to Tyler. Claire really didn't know where to start with that situation. Claire has always been suspicious of the relationship between Alexis and Brianna. But the two would always argue otherwise. She knew better now.


After getting dressed and pouring herself a much needed cup of coffee, she called Monique to discuss the Daniel situation. After the wonderful job Monique did on the Wilhelmina shooting incident, she knew the Mode EIC would be the one most qualified to fix this.


Monique was not surprised at all by her early morning phone call. The new EIC was up most of the night dealing with a teenager who kept throwing up and some crisis in DC that she didn’t want to talk about. Therefore Monique was already conscious when her former assistant Candy sent her the information pack containing an unedited version of the entire interview. Monique was already well briefed on the situation before Claire said a word. What did shock Claire was the Mode EIC's reaction or rather her lack of reaction.


"Honestly, something like this was bound to happen." Monique said nonchalantly before continuing. "In less than a week, it will be one year since Molly died. Even though he is with Betty, I know this is going to be a difficult time for Daniel. Anniversaries are always hard. You know this from personal experience. I was expecting something much worse than punching the British dick. I actually slept with Alex, someone who is not your daughter, during my one-year anniversary breakdown. Then, a few weeks later at fashion week I got arrested for punching Wilhelmina." Monique confessed.


"That's one of the best things on your resume. I suggested that Bradford offer you a job for that reason alone." Claire said with a laugh.


"My mother didn't see it that way when she had to bail me out of jail with Molly. This is manageable. After watching the nasty things that guy said about Betty and Molly, I wanted to punch him." She could see that the editor did have a point. Claire remembered pushing Wilhelmina into Bradford's grave at his funeral.


"I had hoped Daniel had moved on from such violent outbursts. I thought we were through with this sort of thing after the incident with the Community of the Phoenix last year. We should all be happy that Matt didn't press charges after that particular indiscretion at the U.N. That had the potential to be worse than the Airport incident." Claire mumbled under her breath remembering the incident at LaGuardia when Daniel returned from Tibet and the thing that managed to get Meade publishing banned from the U.N. for life. She was still trying to smooth things over with the TSA and the U.N. because of Daniel’s actions from last year.


"The U.N. incident is still causing problems almost a year later. That thing almost prevented us from getting to use the Ben Franklin room at the State Department next week because it was the talk of UNGA 2009. I had to promise that Daniel would be nowhere near DC and I had to bring up the fact that we had video footage of a certain counselor affairs officer doing inappropriate things with Daniel on a copy machine. I heard that person's next assignment is somewhere in Iraq." Monique actually laughed as she said this last part. Claire was just happy that Monique was working with her and not against her.


"I assumed now that Daniel was with Betty and living in London on his own, I wouldn't have to be constantly cleaning up his messes." She said voicing her inner thoughts aloud.


"You're not. Daniel punched the idiot out on British television and Daniel with the rest of the London team will handle the fallout. I have a sick child, a wedding that is starting to fall apart, finalizing my ownership of Meade, and three photo shoots to deal with in the next 10 days. I do not have time to baby sit someone who doesn't need a babysitter and neither do you. I have full faith that Daniel can deal with this himself. You need to focus on Tyler today. Daniel is a grown up now." Monique’s words did not comfort her.


"Yes a grownup who hit someone on national television." Claire voiced her doubts.


"On the bright side Daniel did punch someone, who according to twitter, ‘deserved to get his ass kicked’. Daniel went to London to be his own person. He went there to find out if he could run Mode UK without you, Wilhelmina, or Betty holding his hand. It's time to let go." Claire would mention something about Monique's constant coddling of Amanda but chose not to for the sake of civility and not being labeled a hypocrite.


"I seriously doubt that Wilhelmina did any handholding. She took every opportunity to sabotage Daniel." Claire said with a snide and bitter laugh.


"Wilhelmina would not have even bothered to sabotage Daniel if he was not a threat. Damien was so under qualified for his job; I did not need to do anything to make him look bad. He did it all on his own. Wilhelmina had to deliberately try to make Daniel look like a fool. Daniel has real potential and I believe he can do good things in London without you and I coming to the rescue. Daniel needs to deal with this on his own. If things get bad, we intervene but according to Candy, things are under control. When you called Daniel to cuss out your baby boy they were already discussing how to fix it."


She knew nothing about that. She was too busy actually yelling at Daniel to find out how he was going to make the situation go away. She did not even know the entire story until she watched the video clip that Candy sent her. She felt foolish as she watched the entire thing.


"He is my son. I'm going to worry." She said stating the obvious.


"Trust me I get it. I just spent the entire night with my 15-year-old even though I had to get up way too early this morning for a business meeting with my favorite fashion vampire. Just focus on Tyler right now. If there's anything that develops because of the London situation that will affect U.S. interests I'll take care of it, otherwise let's just let London deal with it." Monique said reassuring her.


"You're right." Claire acquiesced. Monique's argument was too valid to completely ignore.


"Speaking of possible family issues that could cause a major scandal, Brianna contacted me yesterday." Monique's voice became very quiet as she spoke.


"She called you?" Claire asked.


"She emailed me. There's less chance of an argument breaking out via e-mail. She says she's in France, supposedly. She's planning on telling me the entire story when she gets back to the states." Claire could hear the obvious skepticism as she spoke.


"You don't believe her?" Claire asked.


"Not when there's footage of her leaving one of the best hospitals in New York with Alexis Wednesday afternoon." Again, she could hear anger in Monique's words.


"That's not unusual." Claire said, not understanding what she was hearing from Monique.


"Sorry, let me clarify. Brianna West-Hartley was seen leaving a Manhattan Hospital Wednesday with your daughter Alexis. Did you even know she was in New York? Suzuki e-mailed me those fabulous images last night. He wanted to get a quote from me confirming his story because Brianna is an old friend and his wife made him check with me first. The images and story will hit the Suzuki report website around noon because that’s as much time Byron was willing to give." Monique said with an irritated sigh.


"Alexis would not come to New York without seeing me. Are you sure that it was her? Amanda's gynecologist looks exactly like my daughter." Claire asked ignoring the possible implications of another scandal.


"That's because Alexis showed her plastic surgeon a picture of Dr. Meir before the surgery.” Monique remarked. “I am very sure that's your daughter in the pictures. I seriously doubt Alexis junior would be hugging the good doctor like that. I'm guessing Briana disappeared to tell Alexis what happen first."


Monique's explanation seemed perfectly logical to Claire. That would also explain why Alexis has been unavailable for the last week except for those phone calls to DJ that her grandchild ignored. That could even explain why DJ is currently hiding at his uncle's house in London.


In between yelling, Daniel was able to tell her about Alexis finally calling him last night and her coming to London tonight. If she wasn't helping Tyler get settled in, she would be on the first flight to Heathrow airport.


"Suzuki has pictures of the three of them together? Suzuki has a wife?" She asked finally realizing the press team may have something else to worry about this weekend besides the London incident. Even though Monique suggested that they stand down, she is still going to have the team prepare a statement regarding Daniel's actions this morning just in case. They already had something prepared for a possible situation involving Alexis West-Hartley.


The existence of such a picture would prove what she already knew in her heart. Alexis West-Hartley is the biological daughter of her oldest child.


"Yes, I guess Daniel never told you the truth. Suzuki is really family man and adoption advocate Brian Wu. I know all of this because Brian’s wife works for my mom’s charity. Let’s just be happy that Byron knows that he can make more money with fake stories than the real ones. He’s purposely putting out bogus information to protect Alexis Junior. If Suzuki did not have a soft spot for kids, we would all be fucked. Right now he’s framing it all as the two becoming friends again.” Claire exhaled in relief. She did not want to deal with another scandal right now.


“Briana and Alex’s relationship was the best kept secret in Manhattan for years. I didn't know anything was going on until after we believed Alex/Alexis was dead." Monique said quietly.


"They were never really friends were they?" Claire asked already knowing the answer. She’s known for years, despite all the denial.


"They were the best of friends who just happened to have sex with each other. They've been sleeping together off and on since freshman year up until the faking of the death." Claire actually dropped her phone when she heard that.


"They started their sexual relationship at 14?" Claire asked shocked. If that were true, she was personally surprised she did not become a grandmother earlier. Apparently, her oldest child did not pay attention to Bradford's safe sex lectures.


"That is what Briana told me. They were each other's first, but it was an open relationship. They kept it all a secret because Bradford hated her simply due to the fact her last name was Hartley until she broke off all ties to start her own business." Not the first time she wondered how much damage she did to all of her children because of her affair with Cal. Fortunately, the conversation was cut short by another phone call. "Claire, I have to go; Marc is calling. We’re still dealing with fallout from the Nikolai thing."


“I understand." Claire said dismissively still lost in her thoughts.


30 minutes later Claire found herself being forced to slide in the backseat of Matt's baby friendly new car to pick up Tyler from rehab. They would have taken a limo but the seating arrangement made Amanda baby sick. Everything made her baby sick.


"I'm sorry you have to sit in the back Mrs. Meade. Amanda gets really nauseous when she sits in the back of the car or really any other time. Actually, she has been throwing up a lot. The doctors said its normal, despite the lack of weight gain, but I don't believe her. I am personally hoping Mandy stays unconscious until we get to the rehab center." Matt said as he pointed to Amanda who was sleeping up front clutching a bottle of ginger ale and the purse featured on page 46 of last month's issue. Claire also noticed the box of saltines and the paper bag in case of another incident in the front of the car.


"That's fine." Claire said as Matt started the car.


The ride was eerily silent after she asked a few more questions about how Amanda was handling the baby thing and the doctor's appointment Monday. She almost wished Amanda would wake up so she wouldn't have to deal with this quiet car. She even called Betty to have somebody to talk to. However, the call was very short due to the fact DJ was the one who answered and he did not want to talk to her, especially about his mother. Meaning that the distraction from the silence lasted less than five minutes.


Her relationship with Matt was complicated at best and that did not make for good conversation. What exactly could they talk about without encountering some taboo subject? There were only so many conversations you could have about work related matters, most of which were discussed when Amanda was still conscious. Even then the conversation could only last so long before, encountering an emotional landmine of sorts. Just like her own children, Matt was another victim of her affair with Cal. That cast a shadow on all of their interactions.


Tyler was an uncomfortable topic for multiple reasons. Just like Daniel, Matt was mad at her for keeping the existence of his brother from him for so long. Although unlike Daniel, Matt understood the gravity of the situation Cal put her in. Matt knows what type of person his father truly is, more than Claire ever did.


If she knew who Cal really was 30 years ago, she would have never fallen for his many lies. None of them would be in this situation, if she just said no. Matt understood why she did what she did even if there was still resentment there. Because of that, Tyler was a subject that was best avoided.


She did not want to talk about anything related to Brianna either. Claire was still getting over the fact that she had no idea how deep or long-lasting the relationship between Brianna and Alexis really was. They were together for nearly 20 years. Was she really in that deep of an alcohol haze back then? How could she miss all the signs from when they were teenagers? If she knew, she would have supported her child unconditionally.


Claire also couldn't help but wonder why her daughter Alexis and Brianna were exiting that particular New York Hospital. A DNA test could have been done anywhere. Why was her daughter photographed with the mother of her child exiting a medical facility that specializes in cardiac care? Why didn't Alexis contact her Wednesday if she was in town?


She tried to call Alexis immediately after ending her conversation with Monique but received no answer. She really wasn't that surprised. That has been the pattern for the last week. She hoped that Alexis really was on a plane to London.


Claire also did not want to talk with Matt about his cousin/niece, Alexis West-Hartley. After this morning's conversation she was 100% positive Matt's adorable cousin was her granddaughter. They already talked about that particular issue several times before this most recent information surfaced. She saw no point of bringing up the issue again.


A part of Claire understood why Brianna kept her daughters paternity a secret. She had a feeling that Cal said some of the same things to his sister that he said to her years ago. Instead of running to South Dakota, Brianna ran to France. Unlike Claire, Brianna was brave enough to raise her daughter despite the nasty articles in the tabloids and the glares of her family. Yet, Claire was still mad that Brianna never told her the truth.


Any conversations involving Cal or Victoria Hartley were to be avoided at all cost. Claire was still hurt by Cal's rejection of their son. According to Amanda; Matt was not on speaking terms with either of his parents. Both individuals trigger various unpleasant emotions and memories. It was impossible for any pleasant conversation to be based on Matt's parents unless they were bashing both. As cathartic as that may be this probably wasn’t the time.


Fortunately for Claire, the silence was broken by the sound of nineties boy band vocal stylings blaring from Amanda's cell phone. A semiconscious Amanda grabbed her phone from her bag without actually opening her eyes.


"Marc, how was your night with the chubby one?" Amanda asked into the phone. She assumed chubby one referred to the photographer working with Marc to prepare for the DC shoot.


"I told you Cliff is now the chubby one and Betty is now Daniel's sexy chunky play toy.” At least Claire wasn't the only one cringing in the car when Amanda said this to her best friend. Matt looked slightly disturbed.


“I’m glad he told you the truth." The truth about what? Claire thought to herself.


 “Or rather you overheard. It probably worked out better than the dinner party idea. Don’t panic. Daniel’s lawyers are good and will work things out. You don’t even have to talk to her.” Why did Marc need a lawyer?


“Don’t worry about Jade right now, at least until the lawyers confirm your meeting Monday. I will help you get everything together when you get back. I can even arrange for Justin’s other mom to go with you, since I’m going to be busy. But right now use Cliff as a nice distraction. Maybe it’s a good thing I packed your special toiletry bag. I’m kind of surprised some of the things in there were expired considering you have a boyfriend. Trouble in paradise?"


Claire actually heard Matt groan and Marc yelled through the phone that he and Cliff were just friends, and he had way too much to deal with regarding Jade before his voice returned to normal and she could no longer here the other half of the conversation. Who was Jade?


“First of all, Jody is totally a bitch and she really should’ve told you earlier. Second, I was planning on telling you, or rather have her tell you soon. Third, you and the chubby one are so not friends. I keep getting this ‘I know you want to jump him’ vibe every time you two are in a room together. I used to find it disturbing but now that I'm not alone anymore, I'm okay with you tickling his ginger, especially because he went to bat for you against your baby’s mama. That definitely says he still cares. Why do you think I put "provisions" in your luggage?"


Claire was trying to figure out what Amanda meant by baby’s mama. With Marc that doesn’t make sense unless the allegations in the Nikolai letters were true. No wonder Monique switched over to Marc this morning. "Your argument is ridiculous. You don't love Trevor otherwise you would actually remember his name is Troy." Claire couldn't help but laugh at that.


"I don't think it counts as cheating if you can't remember your significant others name." Amanda said with a laugh.


"Bradford said the same thing, but it was the other way around." Claire mumbled under her breath.


“Plus he would be an awful step daddy for baby Jay. You’re a father now. That means your daughter comes first. Yes, it happened because you slept with Jody to get a job but hey at least you saved a ton on in vitro and adoption.” God, it was true. At least this one will only be making the rounds of the Mode rumor mill, as long as nobody knew that Marc slept with a woman just to get a job. Thankfully, Wilhelmina’s ovaries were too shriveled for her to be the mother.


Claire wished she could hear Marc's part of the conversation because she was becoming more confused as the conversation continued. Then again she wasn’t sure that would help. She loves Amanda like a daughter, but sometimes Claire wondered exactly how much coke Faye did during her pregnancy. At least she was able to actually stay sober for her pregnancy with Tyler. She knew for a fact that Faye could not do the same.


"Wait there's video footage of Daniel groping Betty in public on the web? What web site?" Amanda said just before pulling up the actual footage of Daniel and Betty doing very inappropriate things in a London alleyway. Oh she doesn’t have the energy for this.


Yes, they were only kissing, but it was one of those kisses where it looked like they were only minutes from ripping each other's clothes off. If things kept up like that she would be getting a new grandchild very soon. At that moment, Matt was trying very hard to pay attention to the road instead of the fuzzy audio of the 'love sounds' coming from the two oblivious lovebirds. Amanda was too lost in a conversation about Daniel's kissing technique to notice Matt's extreme discomfort.


"Daniel did what? Why, am I not surprised? Send me the URL." Claire was positive Amanda and Marc were talking about the London Morning incident before Amanda pulled up the clip of her son punching someone out on British television.


"I got to show Matt the whole thing when he's not driving. This is funnier than when he punched my now boyfriend last year at the U.N. Why did we not post that? Daniel is so in love with his little churro. Who sent that to you?” Amanda asked, but unfortunately Claire could not hear Marc’s response. She assumes Monique or the lawyers. Marc was now creative director at Mode. He would be on the list of people that the lawyers would call during a crisis.


“You got to love Google alerts. Good thing, Megan was the one responsible for telling everybody about the coin toss thing. You kind of owe Daniel for getting you the good lawyers. You’ve already had to teleconferences in less than 24 hours and they almost have your first visitation set up.” Amanda explained before pausing to desperately look for her ginger ale.


“Matt can we pull over I think I am going to throw up again." Amanda said before proceeding to ruin the interior of Matt's new car along with Amanda’s new $2000 bag because Amanda didn't grab the 'baby sick' bag on the floor in time.


After finding a car wash in the middle of nowhere and losing an hour to clean the car, they continued on to get Tyler. She was actually surprised they only lost an hour.


She was sure that Tyler was much happier to see his brother and Amanda than her. Although he hugged her, she felt the stiffness in his arms. She couldn't help but notice his angry gaze as he pulled away.


The car ride back was less silent but that was only because Amanda and Tyler chatted the entire time on everything from Monday's doctor's appointment to her trying to build her relationship with her biological father. (Although discussion about her new creative director’s adventures in fatherhood were not discussed. Which was a pity because Claire really would like to know more about what happened.)


Amanda was unhappy that Spencer was not ready to acknowledge her publicly due to Victoria Hartley's interference. It hurt her to hear Tyler sympathize with Amanda. Claire realized she was doing the exact same thing. No one knew that Tyler was her son. Although Cal's involvement cannot be mentioned for various reasons, including Matt's power play weeks ago, she could still come clean herself. It’s apparent that Claire owes Suzuki a favor for purposely misdirecting the press, regarding Alexis Junior.


The other reason why the ride home was significantly less quiet, was she was pulled into an emergency teleconference with Marc and Monique. Claire did not get to ask him about his daughter because they had another Nikolai induced crisis is to contend with. The two day photo shoot at the Department of State was cut back to just one day and their interview with Secretary Clinton about being the mother of the bride was canceled. Monique was blaming Isabella and surprisingly enough Lindsey publishing the entire time. Being upset about Isabella using Intel from a disgruntled former employee Claire could understand but not about her angry rant against Lindsey publishing. She must be missing something.


It seems that Isabella will be shooting at the State Department the day before Mode and most likely now had the exclusive with Clinton about Chelsea's wedding. Monique alternated between cursing Nikolai, Isabella and her own father for what happened. Apparently her father used to be friends with the former president. According to Monique‘s sister, Mercedes, there was a ‘falling out’ recently.


“I can salvage this. We still have the interviews and other things needed for the piece about illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching. That's the only reason why superstar actor and conservationist Andre da Vinci even agreed to be on the cover of the August fashion cares issue." Marc said trying to prevent a meltdown.


“You really don’t need to be dealing with this on top of the Jade thing. This is a fucking disaster. We only reason we still have the da Vinci photo shoot is because Nikolai knew nothing about it. I'm positive our little defector completely fucked us over, if my father’s antics did not. Like we need any more drama. Great, the fashion vampire was right." Monique said screaming. Claire had a funny feeling she was talking about Wilhelmina.


“I fucking despise that bastard." She heard Marc mumble though she could still hear him. It made her wonder exactly what Nikolai did to him. Marc rarely employed expletives at work.


“Well, considering he told the entire magazine about Jade, you have every right to hate him. You don’t bring kids into this. This is war.” Monique declared angrily. “I have some friends at the Smithsonian and I will see if we can arrange for something new on short notice. It looks like you and Cliff will be doing the tourist thing scouting for new locations tomorrow. Will you have time or do you need to meet with the lawyers?”


“I’m still too upset to even talk to Jade’s mom right now. The lawyers are handling everything and they can do that without me. I can use the distraction anyway.” Marc explained.


“As I witnessed in regards to my sister’s divorce, it is always best to discuss custody arrangements when you can actually be in the room with the other person without trying to strangle them.” Claire agreed with that advice. “Claire, if you know anyone in the DC government that could help facilitate some permits that would be good. E-mail everything to my temporary assistant L'Amanda." Monique said before opening the call at other options.


If it wasn’t for da Vinci, Claire was almost ready to cancel the State Department shoot completely because Isabella was doing the exact same thing. Then she was emailed footage of the Marshall Wing entrance from one of Monique’s contacts. The architecture of the historical building was brilliant. Let Isabella have the Ben Franklin room she had a better idea. At least working on the crisis gave her something to focus on other than the fact her youngest child hated her.


The uncomfortable ride to the city also involved three stops to allow Amanda to throw up, as well as an equally uncomfortable lunch at one of the better restaurants in town where discretion was just as important as the food. She realized as a no longer nauseous Amanda tried to eat half the menu that Matt was just as uncomfortable with the situation as she was.


Matt loved his Aunt Brianna, usually. When things were falling apart and his parents completely ignored him she was the only one really there for him. He knew she was the one to trust when he found out that he was going to be a father. He also knew that his Aunt Brianna was the one to turn to when he found out he was no longer an only child due to his father's lack of respect for the institution of marriage and his ability to use a condom correctly.


At the same time, his aunt was 'flaky'. She was known to disappear without notice or lock herself in her design studio for weeks at a time when inspiration struck. There was a reason why she was the only one who didn't judge Matt for his constant career changes. She has been more reliable since Alexis was born but honestly, Matt wasn't that shocked she supposedly took off for Europe without telling anyone just so she can avoid questions about baby Lexis's paternity. This was just who his aunt was.


He wasn't very surprised that 20 minutes ago he received a text message from his father asking what the hell his aunt was doing in Cleveland except for the fact that his father actually contacted him. (Even the Cleveland part did not throw him. Baby Lexis’s godmother did consider the city home base because her mom was there and his aunt did go to see her all the time). He has received a lot of these messages over the years whenever Brianna went off the deep end. He's pretty sure his aunt has received the same type of messages from his mother in regards to his own actions.


Matt was so annoyed that he actually responded with "I don't know but I'm too busy having lunch with the child you wanted Claire to kill to find out." Matt did not receive any more messages from dear old dad after that.


The fact that he was with Tyler was the real reason why he was upset with his aunt. Because of her last minute trip to Europe to most likely tell Alexis Senior that she is the other mother/biological father of Alexis Junior, Matt was stuck dealing with the Tyler situation. In this case, it meant picking up his half-brother up from rehab with Claire and having Tyler sleep on his couch until Aunt Brianna decides to return to New York.


According to a phone call received from Monique last night giving him permission to be off today, that would probably be next week sometime but then again she completely lied about being in Paris. During this phone call Monique also e-mailed him pictures of the happy family leaving one of the best cardiology centers in Manhattan. Again, knowing his aunt the way that he did, he is not that surprised.


Matt also blamed his girlfriend for his predicament (and he was already annoyed at her for not telling him that his former yeti instructor really did get impregnated by Marc.) A couple of days ago during one of their regular phone calls, Tyler mentioned how uncomfortable he was with staying with Claire until Brianna got back from her urgent 'business trip'. Amanda was the one who suggested that Tyler stay with him, without even consulting him. Matt didn’t want Tyler there, but he didn’t want to turn his brother away either.


"I just want to let you know that the apartment really isn't that big. I am actually subletting it from a friend because I sold my loft when I was doing volunteer work in Africa." Matt said as he circled the block looking for a parking space.


The thing he hated the most about his current apartment was the lack of parking. He decided to spare Tyler all the details about why he was currently subletting an apartment from his ex-girlfriend so he could live by his current girlfriend because she was still mad at him for not trusting her. As soon as Amanda was okay with the idea, he was finding a nice four-bedroom apartment with underground parking. Also with Marc’s adventures into fatherhood, Matt wonders if Amanda is even less inclined to move in with him than before. He knows that she’s going to want to be there for her friend.


"That's fine. I've lived in worse. As long as you have a comfortable couch, I will be happy." He noticed a very sad look on Claire's face as Tyler said this.


"Tyler, the offer still stands if you want to stay at my house until Brianna gets back. I have plenty of room." Claire said from beside Tyler in the back.


"It's fine, Claire." Matt could see that Claire was unhappy that her own son was referring to her by her first name.


"Mrs. Meade, it's fine. It will give the two of them time to do the sibling bonding thing.” Amanda interjected. “Matt is Tyler's only brother that's still living in the states. In addition, Matt's apartment is alcohol free because no one trusts me around anything alcoholic.” Amanda actually sounded annoyed with that.


“I don’t know why everybody stresses about me being around alcohol. I'm not going to do anything that stupid. Oh wait, that reminds me I forgot to show Tyler the footage of big Brother Daniel punching out some asshole British Matt Lauer want to be this morning." His girlfriend said passing her phone back to Tyler.


"At least he's not punching me again. I think he has anger issues. Has he considered therapy?" Tyler asked after viewing the footage.


"Probably and no I don't think he's considered therapy.” Matt remarked. “Don't feel bad he punched me out last year during the middle of a photo shoot." It was at that moment. Matt finally found a parking space.


"That was so not Daniel's fault. You accused him of screwing Betty." Amanda answered back.


"I thought they were dating now? Actually, I thought they were dating when I first got here. Every time I tried to talk to her, he would freak out. They just seemed too close to be just friends." Matt was too busy parking the car into the just big enough spot to respond to his brother. However, Claire and Amanda did it for him.


"Seriously, how could everybody see it but those two?" Claire mumbled under her breath.


“Betty and Daniel both knew the truth and have for a while. They were just too terrified by it to actually do anything. It took Betty moving to another country for Daniel to actually make a move." Amanda said as she unfastened her seat belt and proceeded to get out of the car.


After grabbing Tyler's one small suitcase out of the trunk, they began walking to the apartment. When they turned the block, they could see dozens of reporters waiting for them. It had to be bad when Matt is not even sure what scandal they’re there to ask questions about. He really hopes it’s about a yeti instructor trading sexual favors for job placements, but he doubts it. Did they find out the Tyler truth? Thankfully, their questions focused on Betty and his aunt. He was ridiculously thankful for that.


When Suzuki started asking him about his aunt's relationship with Alexis Meade, Matt finally understood his father's text message from earlier. If Amanda would have checked her e-mail in the car, she would have found a video file of baby Lexis sleeping on Alexis senior’s lap and calling her mommy, taken at the Cleveland clinic yesterday. Half the reporters were trying to get him to confirm that Alexis Meade fathered Alexis West-Hartley before her gender reassignment surgery. Seriously, why couldn’t this be about yeti instructors screwing students? Technically, under New York State law that can be considered sexual assault.


The other half of the reporters were trying to confirm that he ended his public relationship with Betty Suarez because she was carrying on an affair with the then married Daniel Meade. His only response to their questions was to laugh and congratulate Betty on her new relationship. He was half tempted to let them know that Daniel’s deceased wife was actually responsible for setting the pair up from beyond the grave. Although, he doubted that Betty would be very happy with him if he did that.


Thankfully, Amanda was able to sneak Tyler into the apartment as the reporters turned on Ms. Meade. Once Amanda came back out the reporters focused on her and because his girlfriend loved the camera, she gave them what they wanted.


"Daniel has been a good friend to me for over five years. He is one of the greatest people I know. He was there for me when I found out that Faye Somers was my biological mother and I was there for him when Molly died. He loved Molly very much and would never have consider cheating on her. Those rumors are completely false." Now, if Amanda would have ended her speech right there things would have been great unfortunately his girlfriend was sometimes too blunt and honest for her own good.


"He was way too in denial about being in love with Betty last year for anything like that to have happen. Molly knew about his feelings for Betty but Daniel didn't. That's why Molly asked her best friend to play postmortem matchmaker for the two most oblivious people in the universe.” Matt is 99% sure that at least one reporter will have a picture of him, putting his head in his hands at this point.


“Why is everybody making such a big deal about it? It's not like Betty is the first person Daniel slept with after Molly died. That was me, sort of. But don't worry, it was just sex." God, oh God, why did she have to say that?


At that point, both he and Claire were literally pulling Amanda into the building to keep her from saying anything else. Before they were even up to their floor, Claire was on a conference call with the press department and Monique. No one was brave enough to actually yell at Amanda because that could trigger a pregnancy crying jag. Those needed to be avoided.


30 seconds later his phone started ringing. He tried to ignore it, but the person kept calling. Finally, he answered the phone only to hear the voice of his mother screaming at him about his supposedly loose girlfriend who probably was pregnant with someone else's child. God, this was not a good day.

To be continued

Chapter Text


Wilhelmina honestly wondered how she found herself waiting for her former rival down the street from the Mode offices, in a deli of all places. She was currently staring down the horribly dressed woman with a bad dye job who was trying to get her to order something other than a high priced bottle of water. Wilhelmina was shocked the restaurant with the horrible decorum actually sold something other than Dasani.


She was somewhat surprised to receive a message from Monique via her emergency e-mail account yesterday. Wilhelmina was not even sure how Monique got that address. Originally, she assumed Marc gave her the address until her conversation with Connor yesterday afternoon during their last visit before the wedding Tuesday.


"I gave her that address a couple weeks ago in case of an emergency.”


“She’s not actually your sister?” Wilhelmina asked Connor between kisses.


“No, Monique is not my biological sister, even if her father did have offices in Milbourn and was prone to sample the local population." Connor said with a laugh. Wilhelmina was very familiar with the reputation of Monique's biological father. The older Wyndham-West was a ruthless businessman who fucked everyone over literally and figuratively for the sake of making another dollar. He allegedly had Mafia ties and grabbed Wilhelmina’s ass on more than one occasion.


"I didn't think so, but I had to ask. You never know with a father like hers. It would have been perfect black mail material. Why did she refer to herself by that name?" Wilhelmina asked right before returning her mouth to Connor’s. She loved his kisses. As ridiculously romantic as it sounded, when his lips touched hers, she felt like another part of her soul had returned to her. Nico’s father never made her feel like this. She was no longer an empty soul filled with darkness. Almost dying was worth it because it brought her back to the one person she loved the most.


"One time when Molly was very sick in the hospital years ago, they wouldn't let Monique in to see her because she wasn't 'family’, despite her mom being on the board. Monique and Molly told the doctor that Monique was her fiancé's sister.”

“Well she is light enough for it to seem plausible.” Wilhelmina remarked.


“She used the same cover last month to sneak in here to tell me about the shooting in person. In case you didn't make it, she didn't want me to find out about it the same way she found out about her first husband's death. No one should find out about something like that on CNN." She could detect sadness in Connor's voice but it did not prevent him from pulling off her top.


After losing several good suits last year due to Connors 'enthusiasm', Wilhelmina started wearing more casual attire that could be removed faster for their now bi-weekly conjugal visits. She just didn't feel like sporting the prison house chic look on every fashion website in the world again. Although, she doubted that happening now that most of the industry thought she was 'retired'.

If the Isabella buyout keeps going as badly as it has so far, her retirement may be a bit more permanent than originally intended. Although, the thought of living on some private island with Connor without worrying about the latest styles or the fashion magazine wars was more appealing now than before. At least it would be something tangible even if the boredom would begin to set in by the second week.


“Osborne has always been a sentimental fool. That's her biggest weakness." Wilhelmina said with a snicker as she began to pull down Connors jumpsuit. Yet, a part of her was happy about Monique's sentimentality. If Monique was not such a sentimental fool, Wilhelmina would not have her Connor back. For that reason alone, she acquiesced when her future husband asked for Monique to be at their wedding.


"It's also her biggest strength." Connor said quickly. "Sometimes caring can be a good thing. Monique contacted you for a reason. I suggest you meet with her. It's obvious that she knows why things are not going as smoothly with the Isabella deal as it should be. I looked at the numbers myself. Isabella Press is probably two months from bankruptcy at most. They need a cash infusion, badly, along with some competent help. Yet, instead of taking your offer seriously, they want you to take over for that idiotic woman who ran their flagship magazine into the ground. There is obviously information we’re missing." It was hard for Wilhelmina to pay attention to his words because his fingers were doing that thing that made her want to call him the names of various deities.


"I know the lack of interest from Isabella seems suspicious. Unfortunately, my contact Carlo knows nothing." Wilhelmina said just before pulling him in for another earth-shattering kiss. Carlo was a slimy Bastard, but he usually had good Intel but he had nothing on this.


“Osborne is the only person I know that is as connected as you are and is just as ruthless. She is a pit bull underneath her sweet and innocent façade.” Wilhelmina was well aware of that.


“She did work at Isabella Press for several years and was well liked. She knew about the blood in the water months before anyone else did. She also doesn't screw over people that she owes. You're the one who rescued her from Player purgatory and therefore she owes you." Connor said as he pulled down the drawstring pants she was wearing, so that they could make the most of their hour together. His mouth barely left hers, even as he spoke. They were getting very good at multitasking.


"I'm the one who put her in Player purgatory. I had no idea she would flourish in the seventh circle of publishing hell. She only survived because of those connections that come from mommy dearest. Mrs. Wyndham-West is one of the biggest players on the Upper East Side. That's why she got such great covers." There was no way Wilhelmina would ever admit again that Monique made Player a buyable publication because of her actual skills.


"This is coming from the daughter of a senator. How exactly did you manage to get biweekly conjugal visits before the wedding, again?" Connor asked as he destroyed another $400 custom bra due to his impatience.


Her father, the Senator was willing to give her tangible things such as conjugal visits with Connor instead of things like his love and affection. He did not even send her a card when she almost died. He didn't even think about leaving the campaign trail to actually see his dying child in ICU. Then again, he never visited his other daughter during her extended stay at Serenity Hills. At least, she made time to stop by every once in a while along with a monthly care package to her sister. Although her father did use her near death experience to promote his stance on gun control. Helping her spend time with Connor was his way of not actually caring about her.


"You made your point Owens." She said in an angry tone. "This is our last conjugal visit before the wedding Tuesday and I want to enjoy it. I don't want to waste it talking about Monique Osborn or whatever her last name is now. Just shut up and fuck me." Wilhelmina said as she pushed Conner on to the way too small prison bed.


Wilhelmina was brought out of her memory of the afternoon before with Connor by the sounds of Monique walking into the restaurant. She was screaming at someone on the phone as the girl behind the counter flipped her off. If it wasn’t for the pre-wedding Botox, Wilhelmina would smile.


"First of all Cara, this is my wedding. Daniel is my friend. If I want him to be in the wedding party, he will be. If he wants to bring his new girlfriend to the wedding, he can, especially because she’s friends with my fiancée. As much as it hurts me to say this, Molly is dead and she is never coming back. Daniel has the right to fall in love again. His girlfriend Betty is actually a really good person despite whatever the hell they are saying about her on British television.” Monique pauses for a moment to listen to the other person. Unfortunately she’s too far away for Wilhelmina to hear that part of the conversation

“That stuff is definitely untrue. You shouldn't believe everything you see on You-Tube. Not everybody gets ahead in this world by spreading their legs." Most people would find her tone civil but Wilhelmina knew that she was 30 seconds from killing someone.


At the same time, the girl behind the counter started shooting hateful glares at Monique as she walked behind the counter as if she owned the place, grabbing whatever she wanted. Considering this was her boyfriend's restaurant, she probably did actually own the place.


"No, I don't think it's too soon for him to be with someone else. You don’t get to put a time limit on somebody else’s grief. That’s not your place. This isn’t about you!” Monique pauses again.


“Yes, I know that they’re living together. Your point is?" Monique said into the headset as she started slamming doors behind the counter.

"Contrary to whatever they were saying on British TV this morning Daniel was not sleeping with Betty behind Molly's back. The fact that he punched out the guy does not mean the accusations were true." Again, Wilhelmina could hear the anger in her voice as she saw the not skinny fashion EIC put together a breakfast sandwich that would take hours to burn off.


"You know if you don't want to be in the wedding anymore fine. I bet Betty would make a much better bridesmaid. She can take your place. If you're going to be that judgmental, I don't want you there. Personally, I think you and your husband refusing to come to my wedding for the pettiest reason ever is a good thing. I think Andrew is an ass and according to my new creative director his best friend Nathan from college isn't just a 'friend'. He’s run into them at Westside Cabaret more than once. I didn't want to say anything because unlike you I didn't want to repeat a vicious rumor until I was sure that your husband is on the down low. You and he may want to have a nice little chat about his weekly visits to Boy Town." With that Monique ended the call as she started screaming expletives into her headset.

"Its moments like these I wish I had a phone that I could actually slam. I need to break something." Monique said to no one in particular in the small deli as she walked back to Wilhelmina carrying two breakfast sandwiches, the same type of bottled water that Wilhelmina was currently drinking, and a set of keys.


"Wonderful speech, I almost respect you for that. I see you're still cleaning up Daniel's messes. I know that call had something to do with Daniel being stupid. What did he do this time?" Wilhelmina asked actually caring what Daniel did. She was starting to miss Daniel in a 'now she's bored without the scheming' way. She had a lot more free time now that she was no longer planning his demise. She misses it.


“I’m surprised you don’t know considering Marc was the one who called me and alerted me to the London incident.”


“I haven’t spoken to Marc since yesterday afternoon. He does have a life outside of me.”


“Yes, he really does. And you probably should call him very soon. That phone call was nothing. It was just more wedding insanity from one of my so-called friends. It was better than the call from my sister this morning when I found out my father was not only responsible for me getting blacklisted by a certain DC power couple, but he is bringing his now pregnant girlfriend to my wedding. My sister now claims she has Ebola, just so she can avoid quality time with our former friend turned future stepmom."


"At least her monkey does not have rabies." Wilhelmina mumbled under her breath remembering the weak excuse her daughter came up with to not come to her wedding to Bradford. She did not even bother to invite her this time because as far as Wilhelmina is concerned she has no daughter. Marc is the closest thing she has to a child. At least he cared if she lived or died. She will never have grandkids, but she doesn’t need them. The discussion of possible nuptial disasters made Wilhelmina happy she decided to go with a small wedding this time.


"What? Never mind. My wedding would be going to hell right now regardless of Daniel Meade's involvement. Some people just need a scapegoat. Daniel is not a complete fuck up or anywhere near as incompetent as you think he is. He is doing a really good job in England right now. He even got British rock superstar Katie Kay and her brand new American comedian husband Richard Snow for next month's cover."


"He actually did something right for once. I'm impressed." Wilhelmina said coldly.” Although, knowing his luck the couple will be divorced before the cover comes out.”


"Don't sound so cynical. I don't even think you believe Daniel is really an incompetent fool. You put too much effort into making him look like an ass to truly believe that." Monique said as she started to walk to the door again.


The thing that Wilhelmina hates the most about Monique Osborn, soon to be Rossi, was she is too good at reading people or more importantly she was too good at reading Wilhelmina. Monique picked up on things about her that most people ignored.


"Follow me, we're not staying here." Monique said as they walked out the door to an empty storefront that used to be one of the few restaurants Wilhelmina found tolerable about two blocks away. Monique quickly unlocked the door as Wilhelmina followed behind her into the space under construction. The new restaurant was mostly finished, but equipment still littered the area.


"You didn't actually bring me here to kill me?" Wilhelmina asked as she walked over to one of the finished tables and sat down. Even though she was healing nicely after being shot by the crazy illegitimate spawn of Claire, she was still unable to stand for long periods of time. Her doctor was actually making her rest. At least her time away from Mode was good for something.


"Do you really think I'm stupid? Why would I try to kill you on my own property? Marc even knows that we’re here. By the way, you should really call him after this. Some of the Nikolai stuff turned out to be a little more truth than we thought.” Wilhelmina wondered what she was referring to exactly.


“This is Gio's wedding present and I would hate to get blood on the new carpets before opening day." Monique joked before she pulled out one of the breakfast sandwiches from earlier and gave it to Wilhelmina.


"I think blood splotches are about the only thing that would help these dreadful carpets. What's this?" Wilhelmina asked eyeing the sandwich suspiciously.


"If you could hold out on the snide comments about the décor until opening weekend, I would appreciate it. I know you usually live on $10 bottles of water and the occasional heart of a newborn child but that is breakfast. Supposedly, it's the most important meal of the day." Monique said taking a drink of her water.


"I know that. You are drinking the same water. I mean what is in it. I do not eat any of the artery clogging things that you are currently consuming such as cheddar cheese or bacon. You are getting married in eight days. Shouldn't you be starving yourself?" She said looking at the fashion EIC eating a cheddar cheese and bacon sandwich on a French baguette.


"I've lost 6 pounds in the last week due to stressful wedding arrangements, a teenager who doesn't listen to anything I say, and a MIA dress designer. If I lose any more weight, my dress is going to fall off me. You need to eat as well if you want to be healthy enough to suck the blood of the innocent in your next career, as well as give Connor a good honeymoon conjugal visit.” Wilhelmina was fighting the urge to throw the sandwich at Monique’s head.


“Marc would kill me if I let you starve and he has other things to worry about beside you. That thing you're looking at with such disdain is a sun dried tomato, spinach, and feta cheese egg white omelet on low fat six grain bread. I had Dominique make your food before I got here. I don't trust her to prepare anything for me because she would probably season it with arsenic." Wilhelmina was not entirely sure Monique was being sarcastic, considering that icy glare exchanged earlier.


"What did you do to piss her off?" Wilhelmina asked taking a tentative bite of the sandwich. It was actually edible.


"Dominique is Gio's business partner and former girlfriend. Technically, they were still together when I started dating my current fiancée. She's a little bitter about the wedding next week. If it wasn't for me, she would probably be the one walking down the aisle with Gio. In an effort to not be a bitch, I don't say anything when sourdough girl gives me the middle finger or calls me nasty names and refuses to let me buy her out on principle."


If Wilhelmina was ignorant of the true nature of Monique Osborn like everyone else, she would be shocked but she knew better. She wasn't dealing with sweet and innocent Betty anymore. Monique lived in the gray.


"I always knew you had balls Osborn." She said with a bit of respect.


"I'll take that as a compliment. I'm kind of busy dealing with doing three issues at the same time; the impending fallout from Nikolai’s little stunt with the emails when everyone finds out some of it was true, and additional wedding chaos triggered by this morning's incident on London Morning. I don't have time to play around.” Wilhelmina really will need to call Marc. It is so hard to keep up with the latest gossip completely on her own.

"I would like to get this conversation over with as quickly as possible. Yesterday our favorite fashion reporter provided me with…" Monique was cut off by her phone ringing. Apparently, the call was important and she excused herself to talk to whoever was on the other side.


“Please stop talking because I don’t have the energy to deal with your bullshit. I know you saw Daniel and Betty together at my celebration party last year. Why are you shocked by what you are seeing in the gossip columns today? At the time, they were still just friends. I do not know why you are so upset now when six months ago you were actually congratulating him on the fact that he was dating again. You don’t get to decide how other people’s relationships progress. That’s not your call."


Apparently, Daniel did something very juicy with the former unfashionable one. She personally hoped it wasn't public sex again.


“Everything they’re saying are absolute lies. Molly may have been dying at the time but she knew exactly what was going on between her husband and his best friend. If you don't want to come to the wedding anymore, that's fine. I don’t feel like paying $500 a plate for hypocritical people. I will just donate your wedding party favor bag to charity." Monique screamed again as she ended the call before taking off her headset and threw it across the room.


"Daniel did screw up?" Wilhelmina asked.


"I told you before, Daniel didn't screw up. His relationship with Betty is no one's business but his and Betty's, including Molly's good meaning friends who just happened to be my friends who I’m starting to think only hung out with me because of Molly and the fact that I’m wealthy. If Marc were less busy with the Nikolai fallout, I’m sure he would’ve sent this to you but I guess it falls to me right now" Monique said as she pulled up the video file on her phone and passed it to Wilhelmina.


Why couldn't Daniel punch somebody out on television last year when she was trying to steal the company from him? If she knew Daniel being with Betty would make him do stuff this stupid, she would have encouraged their relationship years ago.


"You think he would have learned his lesson about hitting people in public after the incident with Matt?" Wilhelmina commented offhandedly.


"Even I would've hit the guy under the circumstances. Whoever set up that interview for Betty on London morning was preparing a hit.”


“Of course I don’t know, Daniel is very good at stepping into that sort of thing all on his own.” Wilhelmina remarked


“I think that was more about Betty than Daniel. Although, he was collateral damage. Personally, I am thinking somebody who was pissed off about the not white American getting an EIC position at a hot new magazine at 26 arranged for this. Everyone hated me when I did it at 27. She even broke my record. That was the most obvious set up I have seen since the Sophie incident years ago. You didn't e-mail a copy of your 'Betty black mail file' to anyone?” How did Monique even know about that file? Did Marc tell her? She really did need to call him after this meeting.


"No, I did not forward that file to anyone. I actually respect Betty. She is a good writer and she will make a good EIC of something not related to fashion. She has good instincts, although I personally believe she needs a few more years to refine them before she is thrown into the deep end. She should be able to swim with the British sharks anyway, as long as she avoids the burrito cart." She said as a backhanded compliment.

"Her taste isn't that bad. She actually looked really good in that interview. She's not even fat, just not anorexic." Monique defended Betty.

"Daniel or her fashion friend probably chose that outfit. You are right, the incident seems suspicious. The whole thing does seem like something I would have done to make Daniel look bad. Unfortunately, Daniel never had a serious girlfriend other than the dying school teacher/Betty Suarez placebo and even I draw the line at using a dying woman in one of my takeover Meade schemes." Wilhelmina was not as heartless as everybody assumed she was. She drew the line at denying her sister’s psychiatric medication and even then it worked out for the best. It seemed that her sister's body was not handling her medication very well and that fact was only discovered when she was hospitalized again. She probably would’ve died if Marc didn’t switch out the medication.


"It's nice to know you have some morality. I thought you lost that when Wanda sold her soul to become Wilhelmina.” Monique snarked. “As hard as it is to believe, certain British TV hosts have less ethics than you do. In an effort to make Betty look like a fool this morning, in addition to accusing her of getting her brand new job by spreading her legs, they essentially said she got her old one by screwing Daniel when Molly was on her deathbed." Monique said angrily. Wilhelmina was smirking internally because the Botox wouldn’t let her do more than that.


"I hate Daniel and I know that's untrue. He would never do that to Molly or Betty. Unfortunately, Daniel always had too much morality for that. It made him a good person, but a bad Mode EIC. Even if Daniel gave Betty the junior editor position because they were sleeping together, that doesn't make her any less qualified. I would not let her have that position if I didn't think she could do it. Unlike the simpleminded fool Daniel, I don't allow my emotions to influence business decisions.” Wilhelmina remarked.


"That would mean actually having emotions. Look, I know she is qualified. You know that she is qualified. Anybody who has ever met Betty, knows she is a caring and intelligent person, who would never do anything wrong except for a few indiscretions like kissing Daniel when she was still dating Matt." That last part was mumbled under Monique's breath.


"What?" Wilhelmina asked in mock shock. She remembered Daniel telling her about this incident when they were stuck in the elevator after he tried to kiss her.


"I will show you the pictures from my not a Christmas party later. It doesn't matter, because Matt kissed Amanda the week before. You know Betty would not do something like that. That is why I'm not angry we're dealing with a public relations nightmare because Daniel punched the guy out. I personally wanted to join in.” Again, this does not surprise Wilhelmina, considering what Connor told her previously.


“What I do not get is Lindsey standing there like his new star employee is not having her character assassinated? Even though my friend who works for him said otherwise, I thought he was a pretty outstanding guy."


Even though Monique is less trusting than certain pie in the sky idealist, she was still somewhat naiveté. When it came to the bottom line everybody was ruthless. His behavior did not seem too unusual, especially if Lindsey had another reason to hire Betty. Wilhelmina knew for a fact that Lindsey could be just as heartless as her when it was absolutely necessary.


"I would have done the same thing if I could get something out of it. I assume this is not what you want to talk about?" She said quickly taking another bite of the delicious sandwich. Not that she would ever tell Monique that it tastes good.


"Not really. Let's just get to it before I get another nasty phone call from another of my soon-to-be former friends. According to our favorite fashion journalist, Isabella is desperately looking for a buyer because they are in worse financial shape than us after your future husband robbed Meade blind.”


“That I knew Osborne.” Wilhelmina remarked as she took a drink of her water.


“However, the thing is you are not the only possible savior in town. Matt's mom along with some unnamed European Publishing House is trying to buy Isabella Press." Wilhelmina knew something like that had to be going on considering how badly the negotiations have been going.


"I thought you said that no one else was interested. Although, that does explain why I keep getting offers to take over as EIC of Isabella instead of becoming the president of the company." The offer was slightly insulting. They wanted to pay her 30% less than what her salary was in her previous position without the profit sharing. Did they really think she was that desperate? With the money from the sale of her shares of Meade she could start her own magazine (or website because even she realized that print media was dying) if she wanted to. Maybe it was time to do something different. It was a possibility anyway.


"That's what I was told by my contact but apparently the deal with Victoria Hartley and that unnamed European publishing house is being kept very quiet until the deal is final. If it falls apart they are afraid it may cause Isabella's stock to go into the toilet completely. Unlike Meade, Isabella Press is publicly traded." That makes sense in a weird way that irritated Wilhelmina. She was actually impressed with Monique’s ability to get Intel.


"That explains why they’re not taking my offer seriously." Wilhelmina said with a sigh.

"You're the plan B. If things fall through with Victoria Hartley and the unnamed European investor, you are the fallback. I personally believe Victoria only wants to buy Isabella to piss off Claire. Their rivalry is getting worse now that Matt bought a piece of the Meade Empire for himself and Claire is supporting Matt's decision to stay with Amanda."


Wilhelmina personally believes the rivalry comes from the fact that Claire screwed Victoria's husband but she didn't say anything. It looked like Wilhelmina was going to be spending the afternoon at the tennis club to find out what is really going on.


"Then I'll just have to make sure the deal falls apart." Wilhelmina said already putting a plan together starting with making friends with Victoria Hartley again.


"How are you going to do that? None of my contacts at Isabella were able to provide me with a name of the European party. All I could find out was that the other buyer is a publishing powerhouse in the European markets. The company owns several fashion and lifestyle magazines in most of the major European markets but have no presence in the U.S. They are looking to diversify their portfolio. The company is currently branching out into non-fashion publications with a European version of the New Yorker. That is also why they're interested in Isabella Press because of their many other non-fashion magazines including Out In Business and Politics Now."


Wilhelmina was shocked that Monique didn't see the connection. It was absolutely genius. Why didn't she ever think of anything that devious?


"Does this mysterious publisher have a new magazine called London Hub?" Wilhelmina asked waiting for Monique to get it.


"You think it's Lindsey Publishing?" The new Mode EIC asked skeptically.


"He has the money and an extreme hatred for Mode magazine no matter what country it's published in. He and Bradford hated each other. There was this incident a couple years ago at London Fashion Week where I had to post bail for Bradford after an altercation.”


“What?” Monique asked shocked. “When was this? Why have I not heard about this before now?”


“Because you probably were still in a training bra at the time. Faye was able to keep it out of the press. Apparently my old boss was screwing Lindsey too and Bradford found out." That was just the tip of the iceberg for that particular feud but she wasn't going to tell Monique everything.


“This doesn’t surprise me. He did say no to Betty participating in the West-Hartley shoot next week at my wedding. Also, Candy said that the interview was scheduled so last minute the Daniel allowed Betty to borrow an outfit from the closet because she didn't have time to go shopping." Wilhelmina smiled when Monique confirmed her assumption that Daniel chose what Betty was wearing.


“As you stated earlier, Lindsay saw everything and did nothing.” Wilhelmina said pointing out the cruel truth of the matter.


“He acted as if he knew exactly what was going to happen. At least that’s what Daniel said when we talked"


“There you go.”


"But what does using Betty like that have to do with Mode? She is no longer a Mode employee even if she is dating the EIC of Mode UK. That stunt will most likely affect sales of the first issue of London hub." Monique remarked.


"First, remember any publicity is good publicity. You should know this. Everybody is going to want to read the first issue to find out more about the controversial person putting it together. Once they read the first issue, everyone will realize Betty got her job on her own merits and not by spreading her legs for Daniel Meade. That stunt was not about making Betty look bad. It was about making Daniel and Mode look awful. That is important because Daniel's the competition now. He needs to make Daniel look like a fool. When I left, Mode UK was bleeding advertisers because of the instability of the former EIC. I doubt the new one punching out the British Matt Lauer will bring those advertisers back." Wilhelmina said pointedly.


"You have a point. I have a few contacts at London Style. I was planning on calling anyway to get a non-bias read out on what happened this morning. Candy is way too protective." Monique said quickly.


"You might want to ask your contact what the press department is doing to make the situation go away. If they are doing nothing, then you know the truth." Wilhelmina said as she took another bite of the actually edible sandwich.

"I will look into it. I have to go. I have an 8:00 AM Meeting with Kenny from accounting and then we're shooting on location at nine." Monique said getting up from the table.


"There's just one more thing." Wilhelmina said as she got up from the seat.


"Normally, I wouldn't say anything but consider this your wedding present. Even though we both know Betty has potential, the new job in London was too good to be true. There has to be a catch. I always knew that the key to Daniel's success was Betty. I was just not aware it was because Betty believed in Daniel and that actually made him try.”


“You were never munch for pep talks.” Monique smirked.


“Not all of us can be perky on the outside and the bitch on the inside.” Wilhelmina shot back. Before continuing. “I always thought if I separated the two, Daniel would fall flat on his ass and I could take over. Unfortunately, their connection was always too strong. Maybe someone else is trying the same thing."


"You think this is what Lindsey did? He hired Betty for a job in London to make Mode U.S. more vulnerable." She could hear the skepticism in Monique's voice.


"It's a possibility. If that is the case, it backfired on him." Wilhelmina said the last part in a near whisper.


"Why am I not surprised?" Monique said as she pulled two white envelopes out of her purse and handed them to Wilhelmina.


"What's this? Also, why is there a copy of the New York review in here?" Wilhelmina asked.


“Jody’s article about being a first-time mom at 50 might be good reading for you.”


“That ship has sailed.” Wilhelmina remarked thinking about the trouble with conceiving William.


“This is Nikolai scandal related. I was hoping Marc called you himself last night but he needs you on this one with his biological mom long gone. Does the baby on the front page look familiar to you?” That’s when she noticed Marc’s eyes and hair looking back at her.


“Of course something that ridiculous in the emails was bound to be true.” She’s almost disappointed that she didn’t figure it out before, especially because she knew about Marc sleeping with Jody.


“Marc found out yesterday.” Which explains why Marc did not return her calls last night. So much about her earlier thoughts about never getting grandkids. Apparently, she already had one and the child’s mom was older than her.


“The second thing is an invitation to my wedding. I'm going to need help getting Marc to see the truth. And he’s going to need emotional support. He is still a little panicky per our earlier phone call today.” Wilhelmina would not find that surprising at all. She was absolutely petrified the first time she found herself pregnant under absolutely horrible circumstances. These things would be better for Marc, he would be able to raise his child. She would see to that.


“I figured you would want to help me set up your good kid with the love of his life/good potential stepfather for his new bundle of joy. You do owe him for six years of loyal service. The other is your wedding present." Monique said with a small smile as Wilhelmina took the envelopes from her hand as they walked out the door.


"I wasn't sure what to get, so I made reservations for you and Connor once he gets out at his favorite bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere. I think you'll like it. I will see you Tuesday before the wedding". That was the last thing that Wilhelmina heard Monique say as she found herself a cab. Of course she was already dialing Marc’s number at that point. She wasn’t at all surprised she got his voicemail.



“How did your call with the lawyers go?” Cliff asked as Marc walked back into the living room of their suite, after his way too early conference call with the legal team. Although, considering the fact that Marc didn’t sleep last night and had a late night conference call with the lawyers as well, it really didn’t make much of a difference.


“Better than during last night’s call. It probably helped that I didn’t throw up. They’re going to try to work some sort of visitation before they start working on more permanent arrangements.”


“That’s good.” Cliff said, motioning him to come to the table to eat breakfast. He actually ordered Marc’s favorite omelet. He could kiss the man… If they still had that type of relationship.


“But that means I’m not going to be able to go to Amanda’s doctor’s appointment.” Marc said before taking a bite of the omelet. It was really good.


“I’m sure she’ll understand if you call her and let her know what’s going on. You probably should anyway.”


“You’re right about that, especially because she already knows. I shouldn’t put this all on you.” But at the same time Marc was glad Cliff was here last night. He needed support, even if it was in the form of Cliff holding his hand during his first conference call with the lawyers.


“We are friends. This is what friends do.”


“True. I’m kind of used to Amanda being my only friend.”


“You have more friends than that.” Cliff smiled at him.


“I do now.” Even if his stomach felt like it was filled with actual butterflies.


“By the way your phone played Diva multiple times during your conference call.”


“That was probably Wilhelmina.” Marc wouldn’t be surprised. And she did have a meeting with Monique this morning. That’s why he reluctantly put down his fork and grabbed his cell phone off the table.


“You know you can wait until you’re done eating to retrieve the voicemail.”


“Unless I need to help Wilhelmina or even Monique hide the body.” Because he can entirely see Monique using Wilhelmina’s phone to throw off the police.


“I don’t think either of them would leave a voicemail for that,” Cliff remarked just as Marc pressed one to play.


“So Monique informed me I’m a grandmother a few moments ago.” Marc groaned at the words. He was also regretting putting this on speakerphone. Yet, Cliff wouldn’t let him switch the settings.


“Although considering I’m a year younger than your daughter’s mom, I prefer that term not be used. I’m not Claire Meade.”


“Perish the thought,” he heard Cliff mumbled under breath.


“Call me when you’re ready to talk because you’re obviously going to need my help. I still have the custody lawyers that took Nico away from her Bastard father. You’ll do fine. Just make sure you’re actually there. That’s my biggest regret with Nico.”


“You should probably call her back.”


“I will after our meeting at state. Besides her calendar shows she’s at the tennis courts right now.”


“You still have her calendar?”


“Friends, give each other access to their calendars all the time. I should totally do that with you. Since were friends now.” Cliff smiled at him before going back to his omelet and when Marc sees that type of smile, he’s not sure friendship is the right word. Maybe that’s why he will find Amanda’s phone call so annoying in 10 minutes. At least that’s what he’ll tell himself. Marc’s denial skills are the only thing getting him through everything right now.


One of Daniel's better ideas recently was to have DJ be her intern this summer. Even Lindsey thought it was a good idea, but that may have something to do with the fact that he was friends with DJ's mom before she lost her battle with cancer. Anything was better than Daniel’s decision to punch someone out on live television.


DJ was currently filling in as her assistant until Betsy arrives Monday. It also helped that DJ could translate her coworkers nasty comments about her, the French ones anyway. She did feel bad about exposing a 15 year old to that much cursing.


Today DJ was stuck not answering her phone calls and filtering her emails. The magazine has received 126 phone calls in just over 6 hours. The e-mail count was currently at 8592. DJ sent her some of the more positive e-mails. She is also pretty sure that he probably sent some of the others to his uncle.


Her personal cell phone wasn't faring much better. Thankfully, due to the time difference she had a few hours of peace this morning that coincided with several morning meetings with her staff. However, everyone who works with Daniel was calling her to offer their encouragement, telling her not to pay attention to the 'jealous no talent wankers'.


Monique also called her a few hours ago to tell her not to pay attention to idiots and to let Betty know she went through the same thing when she took over Diversity Business and later Player. In her case, she supposedly got her job by sleeping with both Alexis and Daniel.


By 6:00 AM east coast time, that peace was over. As expected the first one to call was Justin. The incident was all over YouTube and the lead story on the American Version of Fashion Buzz. Apparently, Suzuki missed Daniel and his ability to generate a good scandal greatly.


After that, her father called. She is pretty sure her dad wished he was the one to punch the guy. It turns out he does know that she and Daniel are actually living together. After that uncomfortable conversation, she gave her cell phone over to DJ for the rest of the day.

DJ was actually really good at not answering anyone's questions. He must get that from Alexis. Now DJ and she were trying to have a quick late lunch before her 3:00 PM emergency meeting with Penelope, the head of the PR Dept. or whatever they call it here.


The only thing going in her favor was Mr. Dunn thought Daniel's actions were endearing and would most likely increase London Style sales by 10%. He also said something about Daniel being a much better person than Bradford ever was. He was not worried about what the scandal would do to London Hub.

"People will not doubt your abilities once they read your first issue." This made her feel a little better.


Hours later, DJ was giving her the highlights of her earlier phone calls as she ate a sandwich.


"Grandma called. She apologizes for raising an impulsive idiot and wants to take you to the spa Friday before the MAMA awards." DJ told her.


"Tell her yes. Did you actually tell your grandmother why you're hiding at our house?" Betty asked.


"I could but then I would have to tell her why I woke up at 1:00 AM to hear you referring to my uncle as god." DJ said with a mysterious smile.


"You heard us?" A shake of DJs had made her blushed profusely.


"You scream very loudly."


"Fine you win. However, I think I know what's going on. Unwell parents can be tough. If you need someone to talk to I'm here." She was hoping DJ would say something but he didn't.


Fortunately, her phone rang disrupting the uncomfortable silence. She didn't recognize the ring tone. She thought she fixed everything after Amanda reprogrammed her phone months ago on the way home from London fashion week. The fact that DJ talked to this person in French did not help Betty figure out who he was talking to. After a few moments DJ covered the mouthpiece before he spoke to her.


"It's Ms. Slater." With that Betty took the phone out of DJ's hand.


"Hello, Wilhelmina?" She said tentatively into the receiver.


"Good to know that you're smart enough to have your minion filtering phone calls right now." Wilhelmina said harshly.


"DJ is not my minion. He's my nephew—I mean Daniel's nephew." She said quickly correcting herself. DJ just smiled next to her.


"It seems like you're already thinking like the next Mrs. Daniel Meade. Although, I guess it's probably going to be Mrs. Meade-Suarez." Wilhelmina said in her normal Wilhelmina way.


"Daniel and I just started dating." Betty responded defensively.


"Yet according to London Morning television you're already living together. You do move fast Suarez."


"You saw that? You didn't provide any of that material to London Morning?" Betty asked.


"Why does everyone think so little of me? I am not that petty." Betty wanted to correct her but thought better of it.


"Nobody who knows you will believe those lies. Even if you did get your last position at Mode because those bathroom oral sex rumors were true doesn't mean you're any less qualified to do your job. I was your boss too. Who you sleep with, has nothing to do with your skill set and although it took you four years to learn how to dress properly you know what you're doing when it comes to putting a magazine together. Although, I do wonder what you see in that idiot.” He’s a good person. Betty thought to herself, but did not interrupt.


“However, his complete willingness to make a fool of himself to defend your honor may have something to do with it." Betty smiled at that.


"I'm with him because I love him.” Betty finally spoke up. “He punched the idiot out because he loves me." She should probably call him and let him know that she wasn't really mad at him anymore.


"Love isn't known for its common sense.” Betty agreed with that wholeheartedly.

“No matter what anybody says about you, you know who you are. That is something that I have always admired about you. Do not let anyone else tell you you're not good enough for your job. I would suggest you tell all of them to go fuck themselves, but you are too good of a person for such vulgarity. Prove them wrong by doing your job to the best of your ability. When they see your first issue, they will all know why you were hired for the job at 26." Before Betty could register the fact that Wilhelmina Slater was giving her a pep talk the line was dead. Seconds later she heard Daniel's ring tone playing.


"Oh good, I'm so happy you picked up instead of DJ again. I was worried you were still pissed off at me." Daniel said as soon as she picked up.


"I'm not mad at you. I've done some equally as stupid things. You’re well aware of the water slide incident last year and remember the e-mail argument a couple of days ago with Matt." She said trying to make her boyfriend feel better.


"Good point." Daniel said with a happy tone.


"Something bizarre just happened."


“Did Amanda send you an e-vite to Marc’s baby shower? She was planning to throw one as soon as he knew and I wouldn’t be surprised if she tried to have it while we’re in New York." Daniel said with a laugh.


“No, but that would be equally as shocking if I didn’t already know.” Betty was slightly less angry about losing the New York Review job right now because of that, but only because she’s a good person.

"Wilhelmina just called me."

"Did she say anything to you?" She could instantly hear the worry in his voice.


"She just gave me a pep talk. She told me not to listen to what everyone was saying about me and just focus on doing my job."


"Oh god, the world is ending. I think that's the third sign of the apocalypse.”


“Maybe the pseudo-grandkid is giving her a heart." Betty suggested.


“Who knows? Wilhelmina is right.” Daniel continued. “You are the one who always told me not to pay attention to what people say about me. You should do the same." She smiled at that. Just then, Penelope walked into the office.

"Hey, I have a meeting. I'll see you tonight. I love you." She said quickly not wanting to end her phone call.


"I love you too. I promise not to punch anyone else out." With that, she began her very fun PR meeting that focused more on promoting the first issue than what happened today. Betty couldn't decide if that was a good or bad thing.


To be continued.

Chapter Text



Christina arrived to the Lindsey Publishing building a little before 7 PM on a typically Dreary Monday evening in London. After dealing with a receptionist that made Amanda seem like a genius, she found her way to the London Hub offices to see her best friend confidently discussing the next issue with her employees.


Betty seems so different now compared to the poncho-wearing girl Christina first met four years ago and it was not just the lack of braces or the new wardrobe. She had this new aura of self-confidence that was missing before. This was important considering the guy next to Betty was rolling his eyes the entire time.


Daniel already informed her many of the things going on at Betty's new office when he called her Saturday, including certain angry and bitter coworkers who were jealous of Betty because she got the corner office that she always deserved. Then again, similar rumors were floating around Mode before Christina left for her new life in Europe. The green eyed monster was a universal constant.


Christina was supposed to come last weekend to visit Betty and her new boyfriend but William had an earache and there was no way she was leaving her baby boy alone even if she trusted Stewart to take care of his son (and honestly, she really did not). Things with her husband were complicated at the moment. She sold her soul and body to Wilhelmina to pay for his necessary medical treatment. Now after everything he fell right back into the bloody bottle again. She was keeping that information to herself. There was no need to burden Betty with anything else.


She thought it would be weeks before she would get to see Betty, until late Saturday when a slightly tipsy Daniel called her and begged her to come see her best friend. He was worried that all the name calling and dirty business of the publishing industry was getting to Betty, along with the press camped outside their house. If Daniel was willing to call her, she knew something was seriously wrong. He sweetened the deal by offering to feature her as the hot new designer of the month in the next issue of Mode UK. How could she resist that offer?

She was concerned anyway. They did have tabloids in Scotland and she already knew the latest gossip. She knew things were serious when she tried to call Betty Friday and her boyfriend's nephew picked up instead. Christina wondered if her best friend could take being part of a very public couple. Part of Christina thought that was why Betty resisted her feelings for Daniel for so long. The British tabloids were 100 times more ruthless than Suzuki and company could ever be. By midday Friday, Christina stopped paying attention to the news because she got tired of hearing the ridiculous things that they were saying about her best friend. Really, you'd think they could come up with something more plausible and original than Betty stealing a dying woman's husband.


Christina knew for a while that Betty and Daniel were more than just friends. She was Betty's best friend and Daniel was Betty's other half. Christina realized that Betty had feelings for Daniel by the end of her second month at Mode because her friend would always come down to the closet all the time with some sort of Daniel related issue. Even when Betty was completely infatuated with Henry, Gio, or Matt the conversation would eventually become about Daniel. As much as her friend protested, Christina knew that Betty was in love with Daniel in a non-platonic way. She was just happy that those two finely got together.


Instead of interrupting the meeting, Christina sat in the back watching her friend interact with her staff. For a moment, she thought she saw Daniel's old drinking mate who was always trying to convince various models to sleep with him during their fittings. She immediately dismissed the idea because the person in front of her was dressed in a suit and tie. Also, this individual was the only one in the room not acting like a bloody pratt.


Minutes later just as Betty was about to break up the meeting, she finally noticed Christina standing off to the side. In seconds, she was trapped in a hug by her best friend.


"What are you doing here?" Betty asked her excitedly not letting go.


"I'm doing an article and photo shoot for Mode UK this week. Your boyfriend wanted it to be a surprise." She said smiling.


"I am surprised. I am so glad you are here. We have so much to catch up on. Did you bring William and Stewart?" As soon as her husband's name was mentioned, her smile faded a little. Because her friend had so much going on, Christina did not mention that her marriage was a bloody mess. She would tell Betty eventually, but not tonight.


"William is with my assistant/nanny at the hotel. We can stop by after dinner, otherwise I will bring him over tomorrow during a break. He misses his Aunt Betty. If things were different you may have been his sister in law." Christina said referring to the fact that for the first few months of her son's life they all thought he was Daniel's little brother.


"Then again that would mean that you would be related to the devil herself, Wilhelmina Slater." Christina said smiling.


"She is not that bad. She actually called me Friday afternoon to tell me not to listen to what anybody is saying about me." Betty told her as they walked into the main lobby of the London Hub offices.


"She gave you a pep talk?" Christina paused for a moment as Betty nodded her head yes.


"I guess hell did freeze over. If anybody knows about not caring what other people think, it would be her. How are you holding up with the bloody press dragging your name through the mud?"


"That is the least of our problems. The tabloids are more focused on the father of Amanda's unborn child and other Hartley paternity issues right now. You have no idea what's gone on this weekend." Betty said with a sigh.


"I thought Matt was the father. That's what she said when she was here in April." She told her friend quickly as Betty walked back into the conference room to pick up her things.


"It's complicated. Did everybody know Amanda was pregnant before me? Never mind, I do not want to know. I have to take care of a few things and then I'll meet you in the office." Betty said as they passed by the man who looked exactly like Daniel's former friend.

"Who is your beautiful friend Betty?" The one staff member who was treating Betty with some respect asked.


"I can't believe you forgot about Christina, Becks. She was the one who was dressing up the models that you were drooling over. Now she is one of the hottest new designers in Europe." Betty said with a quick smile. Christina was trying to cover-up her shock.


"I meet so many people in my line of work, I tend to forget the specifics. Betty, do you still want to meet at 10:00 AM tomorrow to discuss ideas for my first photo essay for the August issue?" Becks asked being much more polite than she remembered.


"That should work. Could you e-mail Betsy or DJ to make sure you are on my schedule?" Betty told him civilly.


"I'll do that. I am sure Daniel has plans for you tonight so I won't keep you any longer. Tell my friend not to do anything I wouldn't do." With that, the man was gone but not before Betty mumbled under her breath, "there isn't anything you wouldn't do."


"That was Becks? What is he doing at a magazine that doesn’t feature half naked women?" Christina asked in complete shock.


"Becks, is the brand new photojournalist hired for my magazine by Lindsey without consulting me. Did you know that Daniel's former best friend did several articles on the war in Afghanistan for National Explorer magazine? He just happened to publish his non fashion works under a different name." Betty explained.


"I was not aware that he knew how to do anything but hit the shutter button on a camera. We are talking about the same arse who used to bet your current boyfriend the grand total of a dollar to see who could sleep with the hottest girl at fashion week?"


"Unfortunately, yes. People change. Or more accurately, they like to hide behind various masks. If Daniel is not that person anymore, then it is possible for Becks to no longer be the person he was four years ago. Actually, he may have never been that person in the first place. In all fairness, I didn't believe it until Daniel e-mailed me his portfolio of non-skinny girl images."


"You are eternally an optimistic. Do not ever lose that." Christina said as she followed Betty to her office.


"Besides it's good for Daniel to have another guy friend in the area considering everything that's going on right now." Betty said, as she walked into her office to put down the bundle of papers that she was holding, before grabbing another packet.


"I guess being accused of cheating on your dead wife on national television would be difficult for anyone to deal with." Christina told her.


"That's the least of our trouble. You remember when I told you about DJ showing up on our front door a week and a half ago without explanation? We found out why Friday night and it’s just a tragically complicated situation. Then again, you should probably already know that DJ is no longer an only child.” Christina just gives Betty a very confused look.


“How could you not know this? Various versions of the truth have been discussed on every channel and blog in America and the UK at the very least." Betty's irritation was obvious as she spoke this.


"I stopped watching the news after they started accusing my best friend of sleeping with a married man. Besides, I wouldn't trust anything said by people who would say such vicious lies." Christina said squeezing her friend's hand.


"Thank you." Betty said with a tear in her eye. "Let me give these to Richard and then I will tell you everything that happened this weekend."


"You can tell me on the way to dinner. We are supposed to meet Daniel at 8 PM."


"Trust me I'll be back as quickly as possible." Betty said as she ran out the door.


June 4, 2010 6:32 PM Greenwich mean time

Honestly, by this point in his relationship with his older sister Daniel shouldn't be shocked by anything she does. This is the same person who faked her death and then popped up two years later after an extensive gender reassignment surgery at NYC fashion week solely to get revenge on their trans phobic father. Therefore, it really should not surprise him at all his sister would show up in England with her on again off again longtime lover and a five-year-old daughter that Daniel knew nothing about. This whole stunt screamed Alexis.


He knew that Alexis West-Hartley existed; Daniel just had no idea that she was his niece. It was not that he was completely unaware of the possibility because he knew of his sibling's very complicated relationship with the designer. He even knew that Briana cut all ties with Meade Publishing because she initially blamed Bradford for Alex's 'death'. Unlike everyone else she didn't think the ski accident was an accident, she thought it was a successful suicide.


At NYC February Fashion Week 2006, the year before Alex announced her re-birth to the world as Alexis, Daniel asked the recluse designer directly if her daughter Alexis was his brother's child. She denied it and told him through teary eyes that Alex would never do something like that to Jordan. It was a lie. Now all these years later he wonders whom Brianna was trying to protect (especially because apparently Jordan was Alexis Junior’s godmother).


He is not even that upset finding out about another family member he didn't know about. It was starting to become a little too normal in his family (considering how much his father slept around he is still surprise he hasn’t found a half sibling from the man somewhere out there yet). Daniel is mostly upset about the fact he found out about his brand new niece via the Google alerts that Candy set up to monitor the entire situation. The only thing making this slightly more tolerable is that Briana agreed to give Mode UK the exclusive on why she kept the paternity of her daughter a secret for so long. Daniel was looking forward to reading that article.


Daniel was currently waiting for an angry phone call from his mother when she found out about this. Then again, she probably already knew. For the last week, his mom has been asking him questions about his sister's long and sorted relationship with Brianna. Now Daniel knew why.


"I guess I should thank you. Due to everyone finding out you fathered Alexis West-Hartley before gender reassignment surgery nobody is going to care about my relationship with Betty or if I cheated on Molly before she died because they are trying to figure out your crazy relationship with Brianna.” They were following poor Jordan around the clock in Cleveland.


“Then again, because you could not keep your dick to yourself when you still had one everyone will think I am the same way. Unlike you, dad, and mom, I actually believe in monogamy and the sanctity of marriage. Thank god the media did not know about Tyler otherwise we would all be completely FUCKED." Daniel yelled at his sister in the privacy of his office.


He should be happy that Diane offered to take his brand new baby niece to her office while Sumreen had the exclusive interview of a lifetime. He really did not want an innocent little child to hear him yelling at her other mommy for being a complete ass.


"Will you please calm down? The situation isn’t that sordid. Jordan didn’t even freak out this bad." His sister asked him.


“Because she probably knew from the beginning. This is calm. I haven't tried to punch you yet." Daniel said in an icy cold voice.


"I just found out my sister had a child I knew nothing about from the internet. I think I have a right to be upset about what you are putting DJ and everyone else through. Although I must admit, it was a wonderful shot of mother and child together that they probably have on every single web page in this country and several others by now. At least I now know why DJ showed up at my house completely unannounced eight days ago. I would have freaked out too if I found out I had a sibling that I didn't know about." Daniel said slamming his hands on his desk for emphasis.


"You did freak out when you found out about Tyler. Daniel, you attacked him and then you proceeded not to talk to mom for a few weeks unless it involved conversations about the girl you got pregnant." Alexis spat back just as bitterly.


"First of all, I attacked Tyler before I found out he was my half-brother. It doesn't count because I thought he was mom's much younger lover at the time." Daniel said in his defense.


"Like that is any better." Alexis scoffed at her brother.


"I'm sure you took things so well considering the fact that you were aware that you slept with your half-brothers aunt. You two have been sleeping together off and on for over 20 years. This family is so incestuous. Also, I did not get Amanda pregnant, Matt did." Daniel said that last part as an afterthought.


"You're right about this family being incestuous." Alexis said rolling her eyes. "DJ doesn't know about having an almost five year old sister, yet. I did not even know until last week when Amanda a.k.a. the person you may or may not have gotten pregnant called me and asked me if I knew I knocked up her boyfriend's Aunt Briana. Briana has been keeping Lexis a secret from everyone, except for apparently Jordan.” Alexis said to her brother in an angry voice.


“Who you are definitely not on speaking terms with after you cheated on her and then faked your death.” Daniel remarked.


“Well, we are again now. If I knew earlier, I would have told you." Alexis tells Daniel sincerely.


"DJ really doesn't know?" Daniel asked his sister quickly as he walked out the door to his assistant's desk.


"That's why I was coming here to tell him in person. I didn't want him to accidentally find out. It's too late for that." Alexis said with a sigh as she followed him out of the room.


"Maybe it's not. DJ is with Betty at London Hub. He is her intern this summer. DJ's other biological mom was very good friends with Betty's new boss. The entire London Hub office is on media blackout after what happened this morning." Daniel explained before turning his attentions to his assistant.


"Did you get a hold of Betty yet?" Daniel asked Candy quickly.


"According to Dick… sorry Richard, who I think is just a little upset that Betty got the job he wanted; Betty, DJ, and the creative Director Dominique Marcel are at the Friday editors meeting. It was supposed to end at 6:30, but it's running late." Candy responded and Daniel exhaled in relief. Maybe just maybe they can keep DJ from finding out the truth from Google.


"Candy, I need you to run over to Lindsey Publishing and get DJ. Bring him to your house. The vultures don't know you so you should be able to get out of their unseen. I suggest taking the back door. Make sure he does not check his e-mail or any other media until we get to your house. Take his cell phone if you have to. I will call Betty and let her know what's going on. We will meet you there in 45 minutes as soon as we lose the press."


"Considering your acting the same way Monique did, when she made me pick up her then new boyfriend's little sister from school when their parents were killed, I am not going to ask you any questions. I will send you a text message when we are both safely in a cab on the way to my house. DJ loves me, so he won't ask any questions." Candy said grabbing her purse.


"Thank you.” He owes this woman a metric ton of chocolate. “Also, don’t tell him about Alexis being here."


"Got it, boss." Candy said as she walked to the elevator.


"What are you doing?" Alexis asked him quickly following Daniel into his office again.


"Protecting my nephew, unlike you." Daniel spat bitterly. "If he was already freaking out about something less significant than finding out about Alexis junior then I don't want to see what will happen if he finds out about his new half-sister via Twitter." Daniel said as he walked back into his office to get his briefcase and Blackberry.


"Good point." Alexis said following behind him.


"I want to know what the hell is going on Alexis. Why did you sign over custody of DJ to me and Betty? Why have you been lying to us for the last week about your whereabouts? Where were you when you called me yesterday?" Daniel asked Alexis looking her directly in the eye.


"Maybe we should wait until we meet up with Betty. It will be easier if I tell you both at the same time." By her demeanor, Daniel could tell that was an excuse. Alexis makes a lot of excuses.


"I'm tired of waiting Alexis. I just want to know what the hell is going on. Betty and her sister are so close they tell each other everything. I know we will never have that type of relationship but…" Daniel stopped abruptly because he was not able to finish.


"Do you really want to know what's going on?" Alexis asked in a near whisper.


"Yes." Daniel said just as quietly.


"I may be dying." Okay, he could not have heard her right. That was not possible.


"What?" Daniel asked in complete shock.


"I'm in stage three heart failure, I was calling you from the Cleveland Clinic, where I was trying to find a way to make sure I live long enough to see both my children graduate from high school. Jordan, whose mom is a cardiologist there, was helping us." Daniel fell down onto the couch, not really knowing how to respond to that. At least now, he understood why DJ ran away. He wanted to run away too.


The present

"The heart failure was caused by cardiomyopathy. It's genetic in this case. The same disease was a contributing factor in Bradford's death. Alexis didn't really know about it until she got to France. She finally went to her doctor because she was tired all the time even though she was not working anymore. Do you remember that she gained a little weight before she left? Apparently that was the reason why." Betty said quietly as she tried to explain to Christina everything that happened in the last few days.


She was personally thinking cancer not heart failure given the way DJ was acting as well. As both of their experiences with the disease. This was probably just as bad. After things calmed down Friday, she did a ton of research on cardiomyopathy. It was usually easier for Betty to deal with a situation if she knew all the facts. This could be really bad.


"I'm trying to forget about that entire time considering she tried to kill me and framed her brother. Not that I don't understand her desire to kill the spawn of Satan herself." Christina said joking before becoming serious again.


"Poor Daniel," Christina said with genuine sympathy.


"I remember finding out about Stewart being sick. It must be hard for him even though he and Alexis are not close." Betty could hear the genuine sympathy in her friend's voice.


"Daniel is dealing with it the way Daniel deals with things. He cried Friday night once it was just me and him. He stayed strong as we told DJ about everything at Candy's house. He was the one who got DJ to come back for pizza with the munchkin and me. She is so adorable. He even stayed strong during the extremely uncomfortable phone call with Mrs. Meade late Friday night and the even more uncomfortable video conference Saturday afternoon our time. However, both times once we got home Daniel just fell apart. I haven't seen him cry that much since Molly died." Betty said this part with a whisper.


"I am sure you made him feel better." Christina said this with a wink.


"We're not having sex yet." Betty said quickly. Technically that was true, unless you considered oral sex to be sex.


"I didn't say that. Wait you're not shagging yet?" Christina asked giving her an absolutely shocked look.


"Daniel wants us to wait for a while." Betty said in response.


"I find that hard to believe." Christina scoffed. "When I was in New York that boy would sleep with anything in a skirt. Do you want to wait?"


"We've been friends for so long it's hard getting used to the fact that we are more than friends. I think we both need a little time to adjust the fact that we are together as a romantic couple before we do anything else. This is not going to be a short-term relationship. This is it. In light of everything else going on, I think it's a good decision." Betty said finally admitting to someone that Daniel was the one.


"You're right, it's best you two take things slowly, despite the fact you’re living together. Though, I don't see your boyfriend as the snuggling only type." She knew Christina was referring to Daniel's old behavior like earlier.


"Neither did I, but Daniel has always been able to surprise me. I think he just enjoys spending time together. Though, we have been doing more than kissing but not the grand event yet." Betty started bushing profusely as she told her friend this.


"What have you been doing?" She loved Christina to death but she enjoyed talking about sex just a little too much. She is personally surprised Amanda didn't tell Christina all about the ice cream sex fiasco. Great, even she was calling it ice cream sex now.


"Things," Betty said taking a drink of her bottle water.


The only thing they haven't done yet was traditional sex involving actual penetration and at this point she was slightly shocked about that. They did a lot of various not sex activities when DJ was forced to spend time with his mother and brand new sister Sunday. She has known for a while that Daniel's normal coping mechanism for dealing with problems is sex. She was perfectly willing to help Daniel deal. Although this time, she did make him talk to her Sunday afternoon after Daniel spent half of Saturday secluded in a bar with Becks.


"Fine, ruin my fun. I have to live vicariously through someone," Christina said quickly


"You are a married woman. Why do you have to live vicariously through me?" Betty noticed that Christina flinched the moment she asked the question.


"I'm a married woman with a child and a brand new business. I don't have time for fun, vicarious or otherwise." Christina responded a little too quickly. It almost sounded like an excuse. What was her friend not telling her?


"How is Daniel's nephew dealing with everything?" Betty knew then her friend was hiding something from her but she did not press. The obvious subject change told her that.


She was not sure if Christina was actually concerned with how DJ was handling everything. DJ and Christina did not get along during his time in New York but that may be because he destroyed one of her original designs with silly string during the time Betty was on vacation trying to find herself.


"Badly." That was the understatement of the year. There was lots of screaming, yelling, and throwing things were involved. DJ called his mother, Brianna, and his new little sister various expletives in French before running out of Candy's apartment. Brianna and her daughter just happen to be fluent in French. According to Daniel, Briana's biological mother was from Gabon and her first language was French. Briana apparently passed this onto Lexis. Lexis started crying hysterically before DJ was even out the door. Betty was trying to get baby Lexis to stop crying with the promise of pizza while Daniel went to calm down his nephew wherever he was hiding.


"I'm surprised DJ was willing to spend both today and yesterday with his mom and brand new sister." Betty said to her friend in all honesty.


"DJ ran away because one of Alexis's doctors accidentally left a voicemail that DJ found right before his school's field trip to London. The doctor said just a little too much and DJ being the bright young man that he is came to the right conclusion about his mom being sick. Apparently, Alexis was keeping the entire thing from him to protect him like my mom did with me. He completely freaked out, which is why DJ showed up on our front door last week and has refused to leave."


Betty understood why DJ ran away probably better than anyone else. Although Betty did not run away to another country when she found out her mom was hiding the fact she was very sick with cancer, she hopped on the subway by herself and spent the day at the Central Park Zoo and F.A.O. Schwartz. It was better than her sister's coping mechanism of getting pregnant on prom night.


"Poor baby. I know the boy has already lost one parent." Christina said sympathetically.

"I think that's what he's afraid of most, along with being sent back to his grandparents that he hates. Fifteen is normally hard enough without this sort of stuff. Because of this stupid custody arrangement with DJ's grandparents, DJ can't go with Alexis while she is receiving treatment in the states."


Betty thinks that is half the problem. Having a sick parent is horrible but being forced to stay away just makes it even harder to deal with. The added stuff with the brand new sister was just the metaphorical cherry on top of this entire disaster.


"So that's why you now have temporary custody of a 15 year old? Is there anything that can be done about that?" She remembered telling her friend about that last week when she canceled coming over because William was sick. Of course, Betty left out the ice cream sex thing. It was bad enough that supposedly her father knew about it.


"Right now, it's the only option. Even though Daniel is mad at Alexis, he is still going to help any way he can. I feel the same way. Brianna is going to try to petition the courts to give her temporary custody so that DJ can be with his half - sister. She has French citizenship, so it might be easier for her. However, that's only if DJ wants her to do it. At this point, I'm not sure DJ is going to want that. Things are really complicated." Betty said with a sigh. At least she now understood why DJ was asking her all those questions about sick parents.


"So what else happened this weekend? You mentioned something about questioning the paternity of Amanda's baby." Betty frowned at Christina’s question.


"I think that's a conversation for later." Betty said quickly not wanting to talk about the latest thing Matt's mom was doing to ruin his relationship with Amanda. It was best to focus on the real crisis.


June 4, 2010 8:02 PM Greenwich mean time

Daniel finally caught up with DJ about a block from their actual house in a little park nearby. Thankfully, it looked like the reporters decide to follow someone else that night or maybe they still thought they were all still at Mode.


"I would ask you if you were okay but I know the answer to that question is definitely not okay at all." Daniel said as he sat next to his nephew.


"I'm not going back. I am definitely not apologizing to her." DJ said angrily in English. That was a good sign. When he is really mad his nephew switches to French like earlier at Candy's house.


"I understand being mad at Alexis. Your mom has a tendency to do things like this a lot. You do remember that she faked her death for two years because she thought that was easier for us to take than her going through gender reassignment surgery? Not telling us things, is how she shows she cares about us in her warped little mine. Really, her not telling us about being sick and showing up with a five year old is the same thing. It's how she shows she loves us." DJ nodded quickly.


"Are you mad at her?" DJ asked him.


"I am absolutely furious, but according to my girlfriend that's perfectly normal with family. Again, it's another way to show that you care. Alexis told me herself that she was keeping the heart failure thing from you to protect you. She knows how hard it was for you to lose your other mom and she didn’t want to worry you. When there was still hope." DJ scoffed at that, as if he thought his mother was crazy. Daniel didn't completely go by Alexis's logic either.


"What about my brand new sister?" That was the cherry on top of this entire situation, Daniel thought to himself.


"I think it was a surprise for her too. Remember to actually use a condom." Daniel said as an afterthought.


The fact that his sister had two children when she never wanted to have any irritated the hell out of Daniel. He wanted to be a dad more than anything in the world and wasn't yet. Alexis was a reluctant mother due to her own reckless behavior when she still had the ability to impregnate. It wasn't fair.


"I already know that." DJ said snidely.


"Apparently your mother didn't when she was still technically your father. Even though it will be hypocritical for me to say this, you probably shouldn't do anything for a while. I can tell you that I value my relationships with Molly and Betty a lot more than any of the meaningless sexual encounters I had before. Even sex with Amanda was better once we were actually friends. How did this become a safe sex conversation?" Daniel asked his nephew in puzzlement.


"This conversation occurred because my mom has no concept of contraception." DJ said smiling just as Daniel received a text message from his girlfriend. He could not help but laugh at her message.


"Betty had to promise your new little sister pizza to get her to stop crying. You should probably know that she is fluent in French.” DJ groaned at that. “Anyway, Betty wants to know if you want to come too."


"Will mom be there?" Daniel quickly typed in DJ's question and sent it to Betty. His girlfriend quickly responded with no.


"It's just going to be the four of us and maybe Candy if that's okay?" DJ smiled as soon as he mentioned Candy. Daniel was pretty sure his nephew had a crush on his assistant.


"Candy can come." Yes, that smile screams crush along with the double entendre.


"Just remember that Candy is 25." He warned his nephew. He will have to talk to Candy later.


"You're almost 10 years older than Aunt Betty." He didn't see the point of correcting DJ because DJ has referred to Betty by that title since he was 13 they just never told Betty.


"I didn't try to get with Betty when she was 15 and still in her New Kids on the Block t-shirt phase or was it Nsync or Backstreet Boys by that point. There is a very big difference between an almost 36 year old dating a 26-year-old than a 25 year old with a 15 year old. In the State's we call it jailbait or pedophilia. So are we going to have pizza with your little sister?"


"Fine," DJ said in acquiescence before they left the park.


"Daniel's nephew has a crush on Daniel's assistant?" Christina asked Betty as they waited for Daniel to show up at the restaurant. They barely survived the gantlet of press coming into the building. She decided to take the opportunity to plug her next show in London in August. She learned this wonderful technique from Amanda. That should keep the vultures away from her for the next few days.


"That's the only thing you got from that story?" Betty asked her friend as she took a drink of her wine as they patiently waited for Daniel to show up. Apparently, his last meeting of the day ran late.


"Yes." She said with a smile.


"Okay, yes DJ really does have a crush on Daniel's assistant. It's adorable the way he acted around her at the restaurant. He even pulled out her chair. Then again, it was adorable how DJ acted around Lexis. He is already going into big brother mode around her after he apologized. I have pictures." Betty said as she passed Christina her cell phone. On the screen were adorable pictures of brother and sister playing Wii together and another image of the two hugging at the restaurant.


"That may have something to do with the fact that he now has somebody to talk to in French behind our back that understands exactly what he's going through. I really should have kept up with those French classes." Daniel said as he took the seat next to Betty with a young lady with dark hair taking the other empty chair.


"Actually, it may be a good idea for you to work on your language skills now that you are in Europe. I think it will help with the designers that say nasty things behind your back. I can look into it tomorrow." The young lady said.


"Could you see if you can find someone that will take both of us? I really do not want DJ translating what Richard says behind my back anymore. I'm learning all sorts of French curse words." Betty stated.


"Got it, I'll call Betsy tomorrow to see what times are available on both your schedules." The young woman stated quickly.


"Thank you. Sorry Christina, I forgot to introduce you. This is Daniel's wonderful new assistant Candy." Christina was actually surprised that Betty did not seem jealous of Daniel's beautiful assistant. "I'm only here because Daniel owes me dinner for keeping an advertiser this morning from throwing shoe samples at him."


"So you're the girl that Daniel’s nephew has a crush on?" Christina asked taking another drink.


"Yes but with him it's adorable with Daniel's friend Becks it's creepy." Candy said with a shiver.


"He's not that bad." Daniel said defending his friend right as he leaned over and kissed Betty on the lips. Christina was sure she saw at least seven flashbulbs go off.


"So you actually want me to date him?" Candy asked her boss.


"No way in hell. He knows everyone at Mode is off limits; otherwise, I will make a call to Alexis's surgeon. I'll remind him tomorrow when we meet for lunch." Daniel said protectively.


"That threat makes no sense." Christina said out loud.


"I'm referring to the doctor responsible for her gender reassignment surgery." Daniel responded.


"Good threat." Betty said with a smile.


"I got it from your father. He called me this morning. There's no way we can get out of staying at your house this week when we go back to New York." Daniel said quickly as he motioned for a waiter.


"Oh God, he didn't call about the Amanda thing did he?" Betty asked him quickly taking a very big drink of her wine.


"No, he already knew about that entire thing. Amanda told him everything in March."


"Why was I the last one to know?" Betty asked Daniel.

"It was Amanda's secret to tell and she didn't want you to know. At least Amanda told you before giving birth, which is still sooner than Mark found out about Jade." Daniel said squeezing her hand and kissing her on the cheek. Christina was wondering who Jade is.


“That is true. I get that Amanda was scared. My dad knew and is still okay with us?" Betty asked with puzzlement that Christina did not understand.


"He was just happy it wasn't you." Daniel said with a smile that made Christina even more confused.


"What Amanda thing and who is Jade?" Christina asked wondering what the hell they were talking about.


"I'll tell you later." Betty said as she played with her wine glass just as Candy said. “Marc has a daughter with an editor from New York Review.” Both Daniel and Betty glared at her.


“What! I’m still on the Mode US rumor mailing list.”

“This is a story I want to hear.” Christina said completely surprised. Marc was definitely the last person she would think to have a kid.


“Then email Marc.” Daniel said with a glare to his assistant, before starting a discussion about the appetizer options.



To be continued.


Chapter Text



Marc is 100% convinced that he has never met a Monday that he’s actually liked and that includes a Monday shoot with a unnamed former boy band member that taught him the truth regarding the phrase ‘never meet your’ idols. However, somehow this Monday managed to top it.


He thought it was going to be a good Monday after the lawyers managed to work out an afternoon visit with Jade and more importantly, Monique agreed to let him leave midmorning, so he could make the appointment. He is still shocked that despite Monique’s fiscal responsibility policy, she allowed him to come back to New York for his first visit with Jade and to attend Wilhelmina's wedding the next day on the company dime. It probably has something to do with her resenting her own father, but Marc is going to take it.


With all this successful per-product work that he and Cliff did this weekend, Marc thought he could come back to Manhattan after a quick inspection of the Capitol Hill location, giving him ample time to mentally prepare for the Jade meeting.


Instead he spent the morning on the Hill supervising the congressional shoot from hell because Megan needed to be across town finalizing a deal to use the National Zoo and other Smithsonian Properties this week (because they refused to do it yesterday) and the other photographer was totally incompetent. Thank the gods of fashion that Claire Meade and Meade Publications give obscene amounts of money every year to the Smithsonian and know the right people to get permits on such short notice. Unfortunately they just don’t do Sundays.


Thank God Marc found a wonderful gift for Jade at the zoo, otherwise he would’ve been annoyed at not being able to finalize everything yesterday. Okay the zoo was great, mostly because Marc had more fun looking at the pandas in 100° heat with Cliff Sunday (as they talked about taking Jade there some day) than in his entire relationship with Troy.


Marc tried not to think about that until this morning when Troy ran up to him in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton like a puppy whose owner returned after being away for the weekend. He did not enjoy how clingy Taylor was being and neither did Cliff apparently. He noticed Cliff rolling his eyes from beside him. Marc had so much fun with Cliff running around DC trying to find an alternate location for the wedding shoot this weekend that he completely forgot that he even had a boyfriend.


Okay he also found out he had a brand-new daughter and was dealing with the lawyers most of the weekend trying to straighten out this entire chaotic situation. Shouldn’t he actually want to lean on his boyfriend for support when something this major happens in his life? Instead his support system consisted of Amanda, Wilhelmina, Cliff, and Daniel of all people.


And yet, Marc could not bring himself to even call Troy and tell him that he was now a dad. He told himself this weekend that it was because he wanted to do it in person. Instead he decided to avoid Troy until he was back late Tuesday with Amanda there for emotional support. He purposely sent his boyfriend away with Megan, giving her some ridiculous excuse about Cliff demanding that Troy be kept away from him as part of his contract. It was partially true.


“I don’t believe you. Cliff doesn’t even demand candy bars." Megan said, giving him an annoyed look. "Besides, if Cliff was going to bar somebody from the set, it should be you as his asshole ex-boyfriend. You did cheat on him. Maybe you should finalize arrangements for the zoo shoot and start prep while I spend the day at Congress."


How the hell did she know about him cheating on Cliff? Then again, she is the biggest gossip at Mode for a reason. Please, for the love of Prada, don’t let her know about Jane. He wants to at least get through this week before everyone knows that he really did knock up his YEIT professor.


“Sorry, but I have to be back in New York by midday for an important meeting which means I can't make the meeting with the Smithsonian at 11 a.m. Also, I trust Cliff to carry on by himself, so you get quality time at the zoo, setting up for tomorrow. Besides I was up until 2:00 AM working out the specifics with Cliff for today after spending most of yesterday scouting locations because a certain former colleague of ours fucked us over by going to Isabella.” And basically told most of the office about the Jody screwup in the process.


I'm not going to leave you with my story boards just so you can take over after I put so much effort in it. Also, I am not going to be back until late tomorrow and you will be doing the shoot at the National Zoo alone. You need the time to get familiar with the place and come up with ideas because you don’t want to use anything that Cliff came up with.” That was their first argument of the morning. He really should put off interactions with Megan until he has had at least 3 cups of coffee.


“Because shooting wedding dresses at the national zoo should be more than just shooting wedding dresses at the national zoo?” Megan shot back.


“And Cliff storyboards did more than that. Not that you care or actually looked at them. Also unlike you, Cliff actually likes me and we work well together. Probably because I’ve never criticized his work.” Marc couldn’t help but put that out there. He just happens to find my current boyfriend as irritating as my best friend's now deceased dog. You owe him because you referred to him as my chubby lover when we were dating behind his back. He's my friend now. How do you know about the cheating thing?" Marc asked, already knowing what most likely happened.


"Your best friend has a big mouth and I was at the party too." Of course she was there.


"Why do you despise Amanda so much? What did she ever do to you?" Their feud was becoming so bad the two women needed to be kept apart at all times.


"I don't hate her because hate takes too much energy. I just think Matt can do better than the brainless Barbie doll." Megan said as she checked her Blackberry again.


“Yet you spent a lot of energy on manipulating Matt into breaking up with her when she was pregnant." Marc said angrily. He knew all about the dirty details of that incident, including dealing with a hysterical Amanda for a few weeks.


"I didn't know she was pregnant. Not that it changes things. She probably put a hole in the condom herself. I had to spend several months at Player because of that stunt. Let's just move on. I will keep your boy Troy occupied this morning running around the National Zoo and the Smithsonian prepping for the wedding shoot." Megan said leaving him behind with an angry glare.


Marc was surprised she acquiesced so quickly, until he checked his email sent to his personal phone, which led to Cliff taking it away from him to keep him from throwing it at a wall. God, he hates her.


Capitol Hill was absolute chaos, which is why his quick stop to help set things up ended up lasting hours. He should have known things would go badly There were 120 outfits, 10 models, six various locations within the complex, and two photographers. He knew Clint could handle it. But everyone else, not so much. His throat was raw from barking out so many orders. Thankfully, DC models listen.


The cherry on top of the disastrous morning was the family values senators and representatives along with their staffers coming by looking longingly at the models. There were representatives from all parties because apparently creepily gazing at scantily clad women was the great equalizer when it comes to the good ole boys club of Congress. He wasn't surprised. Wilhelmina told him about the Congressional sexual-harassment slush fund.


This group of distinguished gentleman (assholes) included Willi's daddy who was probably looking for the third Mrs. Slater among women who were younger than his granddaughter. Actually, Marc was pretty sure one model went to the same French boarding school at the same time as his only granddaughter.


Marc was highly annoyed by the fact that Wilhelmina's father had time in his busy schedule to come down and look at the models in various states of dress, but not to attend his daughter's wedding tomorrow. What type of father does that? Marc did not understand why Mr. Slater couldn't miss some stupid vote. Marc was turning over the shoot to a junior employee just so he could see Jade today.


Then again, the senator didn't bother to see his daughter when she was in a coma because of the primaries, so Marc wasn’t really shocked at his absence. Marc was never going to be that type of dad. Jade would always come first. No matter what. Which is why he was becoming more frustrated by the minute.


He was just about to tell Mr. Slater to go to hell, in a very polite way, when Cliff suggested he check on the other photo shoot before he managed to get Mode kicked out or get himself arrested and therefore miss his train to Manhattan.


Even though Cliff's suggestion was probably made for the sake of not losing another location, he did need to check on the other photo shoot going on simultaneously in the capitol complex before his train left in an hour. There is nothing like business suits and statues of old politicians to sell magazines. Unfortunately, the other photographer was going in a completely different direction. Despite Marc’s explicit outline, doing things with the statues that was disrespectful to say the least.


It goes without saying that Marc ended up missing his train. Wilhelmina would have killed somebody if this happened on one of her shoots. Marc was halfway there because they were making him miss time with his daughter. It took Marc two hours to get things stable enough for him to leave.


This also resulted in a phone call to Justin where he spilled everything so that his sort of assistant could get him on the good train back to Manhattan. Thankfully Justin was a miracle worker and did get him on the good train. Despite Justin’s skill, his lawyers had to beg Jody’s lawyers to push back the meeting by an hour, so he could get there. He didn't even get to see Cliff again to say goodbye because if he had gotten to Union Station just five minutes later he would have missed his train.  (Which is the reason why he only had his Blackberry and laptop with him because he sort of forgot to retrieve his personal phone from Cliff.)


Thankfully, the lawyers that Daniel hired to help him with the Jade situation were good and being in the business, Jodi understood why he was late. Or maybe Cliff called and complained about everything. Evidently, she agreed to push back the meeting and did not say anything about it when she handed Jade over to him. Actually, she said nothing to him the entire time.


The meeting with Jade was great. The meeting with Jody was awkward. She didn’t even look at him. Apparently, all communications were going straight through their lawyers. Marc even handed the gift he got for Jade to the lawyers to give to her. Marc was just grateful that he wasn’t alone with just the attorneys for company.


Part of him wished Cliff could’ve been there, despite how weird their relationship was at the moment. He had definitely been Marc’s constant over the last few days helping him get used to the idea of fatherhood. But Cliff had to keep the photo shoot going.


However, Justin being a good friend and fantastic assistant, managed to convince his mom to not only pick Marc up from Penn Station, but to accompany him to a very stressful first meeting with his daughter. If it wasn’t for her keeping him calm, he probably would’ve thrown up twice on the lawyers which would have made everything worse.


His hour with Jade today was the only good part of the day (not counting his subway ride to Capitol Hill with Cliff that morning). He’s not quite sure how somebody so sweet and sunshiny could come from him, but the three-month-old is perfect. Everything fell away when he held his baby girl. Jade just made everything feel good and wonderful. It was what he needed after his very bad day, until Jade spit up on his shirt. He forgot that babies have weaker tummies than supermodels. Thankfully Marc always carries an extra shirt.


Unfortunately, the hour was up much too soon, leaving Marc alone with the lawyers to discuss the plan. They had a few more supervised visitations scheduled over the next few weeks to help him get used to fatherhood and set things up with Jade. Jody’s lawyers were willing to give him every other weekend. Marc wanted a 50-50 custody agreement. He has a feeling that the lawyers are going to get a lot of billable hours trying to negotiate that. The whole thing was so exhausting that he fell asleep on the ride to Chelsea. He didn’t wake up until Hilda pulled up in front of his apartment complex.


“Are you actually going to be able to get upstairs by yourself?” Hilda asked as he got out of the car half asleep with his travel backpack and the photo album that Jody’s lawyers gave to him in hand.


“Yes, mostly because you’re never going to find a parking space this time of night.” Marc joked.


“That is true.”


“Thank you for coming with me. I owe you shoes. You didn’t have to.” Marc told her, genuinely grateful.


“We’re friends. We are practically raising a Justin together so of course I’m going to be there with you for something like this. And I’m proud of you for stepping up. You didn’t have to.” Hilda tells him. She said something similar when she picked him up from Penn Station.


“Yes I did. She’s my daughter. I don’t want to think about not being in her life.” Marc tells her, honestly.


“You’re ahead of Santos.” Marc can hear the bitterness in Hilda’s voice.


“I’m trying not to be either my father or Justin’s biological father.”


“You’ll do OK. You brought a great gift and you’re already planning more visits. Besides, you have no reason to be scared. You’ve been helping me raise a Justin for the last four years and teenagers are so much worse than babies. Although now I’m going to have to have the contraceptive talk with Justin again you know in case he’s not 100% gay. Actually I should make you do it.” Hilda joked.


“Actually already did.” When he first told him about sleeping with Jody months ago, but that’s a conversation that he is not having Hilda right now.


“You got this. I’ll email you the rest of the baby pictures later. Also, I’m available Friday, if you need somebody to go with you to that meet up.”


“I’m hoping Cliff will be available since he’s a friend of Jody, but I’ll let you know.” Marc said as he closed the door to the car and started to make his way up to his apartment.


It was after 10 when he arrived at his apartment to the sounds of Amanda crying and breaking things. He just barely missed the shoe being thrown at his head when he walked into the door. Considering everything else that has gone wrong today, this should not surprise him at all.


"You are the worst best friend ever." Amanda said as a pair of next season's West-Hartley shoes hit him in the stomach. "This is all your fault." Amanda said as she threw something else at his head. Marc barely ducked in time. If it wasn't for all the practice he acquired when he was Wilhelmina's assistant, he would have a concussion right now. She had a tendency to throw things.


"What did I do wrong? You knew I wasn’t coming with you to your doctor’s appointment because of Jade. I promise to make it up to you as soon as you stop throwing shoes at me. Hilda took pictures of my daughter throwing up on me. Besides, you shouldn't hurt innocent shoes like that." Marc said, as if he was approaching a wild animal ready to pounce at any moment. A pregnant Amanda was just as dangerous. Amanda was unstable before the pregnancy hormones. It was 1000 times worse now that she was pregnant and Betty was not around to keep her from hurling things at people's heads. He wondered for a moment if Jodi was like this when she was pregnant with Jade.


"Don't you dare play innocent with me, Marc. You have always loved Wilhelmina more than me. I hate you, fucking asshole." Amanda said in tears as she threw a pillow at him.


"Amanda, don't hurt Marc.” Tyler said walking into the room.


“Yes, please listen to your boyfriend’s brother. I have a daughter now.”


“Don’t care,” Amanda shot back at the speaker.


“This isn't good for the baby. I brought you more ice cream." Marc heard Tyler say, holding two containers of regular Ben and Jerry's Phish food. Amanda was preoccupied enough with the ice cream that he was able to get out of the apartment unscathed. Within seconds, he felt himself being pulled into Betty's former apartment by a worried Matt and Monique.


"Why the hell did you not warn me that was going to happen?" Marc asked the pair standing in front of him.


"We have a system for when Amanda is having a code 12 pregnancy moment. This was a code 13! She wasn't that upset about me missing her doctor's appointment, was she? I really wanted to be there, but I had to see Jade and prove to her mom that yes, I’m going to be in my daughter’s life. I thought Amanda understood that." Marc wondered out loud having no idea why Amanda was this upset. She was not even that upset when Daniel announced that he was moving to London. Amanda actually helped him pack.


"We tried, but your phone is currently in the possession of your ex-boyfriend and I didn't have your Blackberry number. You left it at Congress.” Matt explained.


“I know. I would’ve missed my train if I went back and got it from Cliff and I trust him.” Marc explained.


“Of course you do.” He heard Monique mumble under breath.

“You actually do have my Blackberry number so you have no excuse.”


“It’s been going to voicemail for the last three hours.” At Monique’s words, he realized that the battery had died at some point in the last few hours.

“You could’ve called Justin who knew that I was with his mom. She was there with me to meet Jade since Amanda was at her doctor’s appointment.”


“Don't even mention the disaster that was the doctor's appointment this afternoon. What happened probably was your fault. Thanks to you, my girlfriend is not speaking to me. Actually she would rather spend time with my half-brother who was recently released from rehab." Matt told him in a cold voice filled with anger in irritation. Then again, Marc would be upset too if his significant other preferred to spend time with a crazy would be murderer.


"It wasn't Marc's fault, completely. Amanda is mad at you because of your own stupidity.” Monique said in Marc's defense, glaring at Matt the entire time.


 “Wilhelmina will use any piece of information to its fullest. We don't even know if Marc said anything to Wilhelmina yet. I thought I told you last year to stop blaming other people for your mistakes."


"I'm standing right here. What did I supposedly tell Wilhelmina that led to my best friend throwing shoes at me?" Marc said indignantly.


"Did you mention to Wilhelmina anything whatsoever that would give her any indication that Amanda had a doctor's appointment Monday." Monique asked him calmly.


"I wouldn't tell Wilhelmina something like that. She doesn't like me talking about my other friends or having a life outside of her. She is getting better, but we don't exactly have slumber parties where we paint our nails and gossip about guys.” That’s when Matt points to the giant congratulations on your new baby bouquet that came from Wilhelmina that was filled with designer baby items.


“Yes, I told her about Jade, but Monique told her first. I also had to tell her that even if I got back in time Monday to help her with last minute wedding stuff and the lawyers did not arrange a visitation with Jade, I would probably have to go to Amanda's next ultrasound instead. She was not happy, but that was mostly because she thought my lawyers could do better." At that point, even he realized it was his fault even though he didn't know what happened yet. He really regrets calling Wilhelmina back after her voicemail Friday morning.


"What did Wilhelmina do?" Marc asked with a sigh as Matt continued to glare daggers at him.


"I told you it was his fault." Matt said angrily.


"Stop talking Matt. You are responsible for your own choices." Monique said glaring at Matt with a voice that resembles Wilhelmina's angry tone. "Marc, it wasn't your fault and Wilhelmina really didn't do anything except be Wilhelmina. According to various sources, Victoria Hartley is trying to buy Isabella press with the aid of an unknown British publishing powerhouse for the sole purpose of getting back at various people including her own child. That's what the evil one and I talked about Friday morning." Monique started before Matt continued for her.


"According to my mom's personal assistant who still likes me, Wilhelmina showed up to the tennis club Friday afternoon, most likely in hopes of verifying the information. When she couldn't get anything, Wilhelmina mentioned in passing about Amanda's doctor's appointment Monday in an effort to most likely gain my mother's trust. You're the one who gave her that information." Marc really didn't care about what Matt said, he was completely furious for another reason.


"She tried to play tennis less than two months after being shot in the stomach. What was she thinking? She is going to hurt herself." Marc said in concern.


"Good to know you're such a good friend. This is Wilhelmina. You and I both know she always puts her own personal health at risk in an effort to get ahead. I hoped things would be better once she left Mode, but this mess with Isabella isn't making it easier, but you have bigger things to concern yourself with now, like your daughter." Monique said pointing out the obvious. "We needed to know more about what's going on and to do that Wilhelmina used Amanda as the sacrificial lamb. This is what she does." Monique said in Wilhelmina's defense, sort of.


"A Willie doesn't change her horizontal stripes overnight." Marc said with a sigh before continuing. "How exactly does mommy Hartley knowing about Amanda's doctor's appointment result in the current situation?" Marc asked.


"Matt is going to have to tell the rest of this story. I only know what Amanda and Claire told me. I was in a team prep meeting for the second group going down to DC tomorrow for the zoo and the Smithsonian shoots. Please tell me Megan has everything under control. If Isabella scooped us again, somebody is going to die." Monique said angrily.


"Everything is set for the shoot at the National Zoo. We have the permits and the models. The Vera Wang, Montana So, and West-Hartley dresses are currently stored under lock and key at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City. Again why are we staying in Virginia?"


"I got a special discount because I know the owners and the Pentagon City location was where they could accommodate us on such short notice. We are taking up two floors of the building." Monique pointed out.


"Good point. I'll show you the proofs of everything we did today before I left after I find out why the hell Amanda is throwing really expensive shoes at me." Marc almost screamed.


"Fine. It begins with the most uncomfortable doctor's visit known to man." Matt started reluctantly.


8 hours earlier

This was the most painful visit to the doctor Matt has ever had in his life, and he wasn't the person sitting nearly naked in front of four other people only covered by a thin sheet of paper. Then again, Amanda was not exactly bothered by nudity, considering she put on the paper gown in front of everyone including Tyler who was invited to this family outing much to his personal dismay.


It was much easier to deal with his half-brother when he was in rehab. Having Tyler live in his apartment was extremely uncomfortable for Matt, even though it would only last until Brianna returned from Europe tomorrow with her baby's mama. At least Tyler was taking the fact that he was little Lexis' uncle and cousin quite well after the transatlantic teleconference from hell Saturday. Tyler did have the decency to cover his eyes when Amanda stripped in front of him. Claire had to explain that Amanda was very comfortable with nudity, and that's why she had no issues getting naked in front of everyone.


Matt assumed nothing could make this uncomfortable afternoon worse than the fact that his girlfriend's gynecologist looked exactly like his aunt's lover or whatever the hell Alexis Meade was to her. He never wanted to see his aunt again after being forced to endure uncomfortable conversations with his parents and being followed by the press for her sake. However, that wasn't going to happen because he had a dinner meeting with his aunt Wednesday.


Now the moment that truly made this the doctor's appointment from hell was his mother walking through the door with a court order, a couple of cops, and her lawyer.


"What the hell are you doing here mom?" Matt asked in anger. He remembered the bitter conversation they had Friday after she found out that Amanda used to date Daniel.


"I just want to see my new grandchild." His mother said in a sweet voice that was beyond fake. Matt will not even repeat what she said about Amanda Friday when she called after Amanda’s unscheduled press conference.


"You made it pretty obvious Friday that you want nothing to do with me or your grandchild. Why are you here?" Matt asked annoyed.


"I am looking out for my only child. You don't even know if the baby is yours. Since the other possible grandmother is here, I thought I should be here too." She said sardonically glaring right at Claire. There was definitely no love lost their.


"This child is mine." Matt said in anger, looking his mother directly in the eyes.


"You don't know that because Amanda is no better than her whore mother and would probably spread her legs for anyone. You also refused to get a DNA Test. I thought I taught you better than that." His mother said condescendingly.


"Do you think calling me a whore is insulting, because it's not. Everybody calls me a whore. For someone who went to Brown, I thought you would be more creative. We decided against performing a DNA test until after the baby is born because of the risks associated with doing the test in utero. Also, the point of conception was determined to be most likely around the first time I slept with Matt. There was almost a month between that encounter, and the last time I slept with Daniel. There is no point risking a miscarriage to know for sure now, when neither possible father really cares." Amanda said stating the logical reason why Matt agreed with Daniel and Amanda not to test until later.


"Yes, but what about all the people in between. Are you another possible father?" His mother said dismissively pointing to Tyler. This accusation pissed Matt off.


"More like the uncle. Don't you recognize the family resemblance, Victoria?" Claire answered with a wicked smile. She probably got great satisfaction in telling his mother this, like this. Her only regret is that she can’t pull out a camera right now without seeming ridiculously gaudy.


"He's your son?" His mother asked nonplused.


"He's my brother." Matt answered with a smile. “I always wanted another sibling. It looks like daddy gave me one.”


"Your brother?" His mother asked in momentary confusion.


"But he's also Daniel's brother." His mother said nothing regarding his clarification. Instead, she continued her mission to humiliate Amanda for the sake of 'protecting' him.


"Due to Miss Tannin-Somers-Cannon's questionable reputation, I feel it's best to have the DNA test to prove the paternity of the child now. For all you know Matt, she could be using this to get money." Victoria said as her lawyer handed the court order to the doctor.


"I don't want one penny from Matt. I'm not using this baby to keep him with me or to get a piece of the Hartley fortune. I was not even planning to tell Matt I was pregnant after he left me because he thought I was sleeping with someone else when it was an absolute lie." Why did his girlfriend have to bring this up now?


"You were not going to tell me?" Matt asked her realizing what she just said.


"Why should I Matt? You dumped me because you didn't trust me without even talking to me. I bet somewhere in that mind of yours you probably think this DNA test is a clever idea because you don’t believe me when I tell you that Daniel is the only other person I’ve slept with in the last year." You could hear the anger in his girlfriend’s voice as she spoke.


"Amanda." He said as he grabbed her hand, but she pushed him away.


"I think we should leave and give those two some time to talk. In the meantime, I would like Amanda's lawyer to look over those papers." Claire said quickly pushing everyone out of the room.


"I don't have a lawyer." Amanda mumbled from the bed.


“Yes you do. The same firm helping Marc. Why do you think they’ve been asking you so many questions about your own situation? Don't worry; I will take care of everything." Claire whispered in Amanda's ear as she kissed her on the forehead.


"Matt, do you trust me?" Amanda asked the moment everyone was out of the room.


"Yes." He answered quickly.


"The only person I have had sex with other then you since I developed feelings for you was Daniel. I only slept with him because you went back to Betty. I wanted to hurt her the way she hurt me. I already loved you even back then. I stopped sleeping with Daniel after you kissed me, because I realized I was fooling myself." Amanda told him in tears.


"I thought you stopped sleeping with him because he called you Betty in bed." He said repeating the story that she told him.


"That was the other reason." She said quickly.


"Even though your gynecologist believes that you conceived the baby in January, you could have conceived in December. You know what the baby books say." He said pointing out the obvious.


"I know that. That's why I agreed to do the test after the baby was born just to be certain. You want to do the test now, despite the risk to the baby?" She asked him looking him directly in the eye.


"I've found it's best to humor my mother." He said quietly knowing how much worse this could get. He could not believe she got a court order.


"That's not the question I asked you, Matt. What do you want to do?" Amanda said with anger.


"I know. I don't know what I want." He answered her honestly.


"You never know what you want, Matt. Do you want me? Do you want this child? Maybe in that mind of yours you're hoping the baby is Daniel's so you can run away. Children are a lifetime commitment. Maybe you're hoping if Daniel got someone pregnant, Betty will just fall back into your arms." Amanda said almost hysterical.


"I don't want Betty." He said trying to grab her again, but she pushed him so hard he fell over.


"I don't care, Matt. All I care about is if you love me. If this child I'm carrying is someone else's child that I conceived when I was not in a relationship with you and you were in a relationship with someone else, will you still love this child?" He thought about her question. Could he really raise another man's child? He wasn't sure.


"You can't answer me. Don't worry about it. Your silence tells me everything I need to know." Amanda said getting up from the bed with her backside showing to walk over to the door.


"Can you do the test?" She asked her doctor standing right outside probably listening to the entire thing.


"Yes, we can do it today." The gynecologist replied.


"Let's do it." Amanda said walking back into the room.


"Amanda," Matt said trying to grab her again.


"Don't touch me. I love you, but it's obvious that you don't love me. Just get the fuck away from me right now. I don’t need you and I don’t want you." Amanda said in tears as she walked back into the room.


"It's better this way Matt. You should be with a girl who is more of your station." His mother said callously as she patted him on the shoulder.


"If Amanda is pregnant with your grandchild, you'll never see him or her. You'll never see me again either way. As far as I'm concerned, I have no mother." Matt said angrily as he physically pushed her away. He was so done with her.


"I think I understand why my biological father cheated on her with you. She's an absolute bitch." Tyler said from behind him and Matt couldn't agree more.


The present

"I can understand why she hates you right now. I don't understand why she hates me." Marc said after he heard the entire story.


“It’s nothing personal. Amanda hates everyone right now. She is mad at me for not being there and she is probably angry at you for the same reason, even though you had a really good reason not to be there. The fact that Matt thought it would be a good idea to tell her that Wilhelmina was responsible for telling Victoria about the appointment just made things worse." Monique said with a sigh and a glare directed at Matt.


"The only people she doesn't hate currently are Tyler and Mrs. Meade. They've spent the majority of the afternoon bashing my mother." Matt said sitting down on the couch that once belonged to Betty. You can tell that it was hers because of the loud colors.


"Claire went out for takeout right before you got here." Just then Amanda walked into the apartment with ice cream in hand.


"I'm sorry I threw shoes at you." Amanda said quickly.


"It's okay, Amanda." Matt started.


"I wasn't talking to you, you heartless bastard. I was talking to Marc. Claire just brought pizza. Do you want a slice? You can tell me how things went with Jade. Since, unlike some heartless bastards, you are stepping up and taking responsibility for your actions and your daughter. You totally deserve pizza for that." Amanda said as a peace offering.


"Sure. I was too nervous to eat on the train. Not that the food was any good. I couldn’t even get carrot sticks. I didn’t have time to pick up anything good at Union Station because I would’ve missed the train. I also have baby pictures." Marc answered as he held up the album from Jody.


"Monique can come too. Everyone but the heartless bastard." Amanda said pointing to Matt.


"Amanda, I'm sorry." Amanda hushed Matt with one finger before she walked out the door.


"You said everything you needed to say this afternoon. Part of me hopes this child is Daniel's because, unlike you, he had no trouble with the idea of raising another man's child with the person he loved." Amanda said icily.


"What are you talking about?" Matt asked her.


"When Betty thought she was pregnant last year with your child, Daniel offered to raise that child with her even though they were not dating. That's how much he loved her. You will never love me like that. He was willing to raise another man's child because he loved her, when I'm not even sure you're willing to raise your own child. He moved to another country to be with her and you couldn't stay in this country to be with me. Shit, Marc has known about his daughter for less than a week and arranged for visitation before the DNA results were finalized. So fuck you. I’m done." With that, Amanda was out the door.


"You are so screwed." Monique said as she grabbed her bag. "You can show me the proofs and pictures of your daughter at your apartment. I could use a slice of pizza and cute baby pictures. Cute baby pictures always make me feel better. I wish I was still drinking." Monique said with a sigh.


"We don't have alcohol, but we probably have chocolate and I definitely have lots of pictures of Jade.” Marc said as he unplugged his now partially charged Blackberry so he could show Monique and Matt a few.


“I just met Jade today and I know that I love her more than anything else. I wouldn’t have even cared if the DNA test went the other way because she’s mine. I don’t know what’s wrong with you. You screwed up so badly Matt that jewelry is going to be required to fix this." Marc said as he walked out the door.


"Trust me I know that." Matt said quietly. If Marc turned around at that moment he would have noticed the Tiffany's box in Matt's hand that resembled the box he found in Cliff's glove compartment almost two years earlier.


“Are we okay?” Amanda asked her friend after she handed him half a slice of pizza and a spinach and goat cheese salad. Apparently Claire went to the good place. They were in Marc’s room, because at least that would give them a little privacy and she was supposed to be on bed rest for a little while. Also, Marc looked like he was about to pass out. She wonders if he’ll actually eat his food. Oh well, more for her.


“You apologized and I understand.” Marc said, motioning for her to lie down next to him on the bed. “I’m sorry I accidentally told Wilhelmina about your doctor’s appointment. She’s just been extra nice about the Jade thing and I said too much.”


“I’m mean for not telling you about Jade.” Amanda clarified as she moved to lie down next to him. “I mean if I told you earlier you would’ve been able to get in more than an hour, rushed visit today. Also I could’ve been there.”


“It’s OK, I think being in DC with Cliff gave me time to process things which is something that I needed before seeing Jade. Also I wasn’t alone. Justin convinced his mom to come with me. He really is a good assistant.” Marc told her as he took a bite of pizza.


“But I still should’ve been there. Meeting your daughter for the first time is something that your best friend should be there for.” Amanda laid her head on his shoulder.


“I understand why you weren’t there though.” He placed an arm around her. “You had to take care of your baby and I had to take care of mine and unfortunately we couldn’t straighten out the schedule. We are parents now. Sometimes we have to put our kids first.” Marc tells her as he runs his fingers through her hair. She instinctively curls into him.


“Which is scary. How did we end up parents?” Amanda asked


“Bad hook up decisions and questionable prophylactics.” Marc said with a smirk


“But I don’t regret it. I just wish Matt wasn’t such an asshole.” Amanda laments.


“I don’t regret it either. I never thought I would become a dad, but I’m happy that Jade is here. I just wish Jody would’ve reached out to me earlier. I missed so much.”


“She did. Actually, the night of the awards last year. She called while you were getting tipsy with the ex-boyfriend. I wrote the message on the back of a receipt, but I found that receipt when we moved over here. Here, have a cheese stick.” She offered.


“Well, that is better than the girdle thing.” Marc said, taking the cheese stick from her and eating it in one bite.


“Sorry.” Amanda said sheepishly trying to hide behind her plate.


“It’s not your fault. I was really drunk that night. That is never going to happen again.”


“Because we’re parents?”


“Exactly.” Marc placed an arm around her to reassure her.


“I always knew that Matt was going to leave eventually. He’s not one for commitment or the long term. He never finishes anything. I just thought it would last until I actually delivered. How am I going to do all this by myself?” He can hear the panic in her voice. He felt that panic himself when he found out about Jade days ago.


“Neither one of us is dealing with parenthood by ourselves. We have each other and Mode has daycare. We can start looking for a three bedroom in our price range next week. Thankfully, our price range is actually something decent now since I’m a creative director. So I think New Jersey is off the table.”


“I hope so. But you’re less alone than me because you have Cliff.”


“He’s Jade’s godfather. He’s helping me muddle through this because it’s best for his goddaughter.”


“Who should totally become her stepfather.” Amanda shot back.


“We are friends. I’m also dating Trevor.” Marc said defensively. She couldn’t help but roll her eyes.


“You’re dating Troy. Actually, I’m kind of surprised you’re still dating Troy. I assumed he would’ve ran away faster than Matt from possible parental responsibilities.”


“I haven’t told him yet.” Marc confessed.


“That’s going to go well. It almost makes me glad I’m not going to DC anymore. That is so going to blow up.”


“I needed to focus my energy on Jade and the shoot. I didn’t have time to deal with Tony drama.” Amanda decides not to even bother correcting Marc this time.


“Which is better than Matt drama.”


“I’m sorry he’s an asshole.” He placed an arm around her.


“It’s not right, but it’s okay. If Hilda could be a single mom at 16, then I can be a single mom now. I don’t need him.”


“You really don’t.”


“As soon as I’m done eating, you’re so showing me pictures of my goddaughter.”


“Of course. I’ll even tell you all about Jade throwing up on me.” That made Amanda giggle.


“Of course she did.”


“So, is Jade going to have a boy play mate or a girl play mate?”


“One of each.”


“I’ll call the realtor. We will start looking for apartments Monday.”


“Thank you.”

To be continued.