The Power of Tighty Whitey's
I hate packing. If there is one thing that I enjoy about having money it's that I'm on a chartered jet to New York, while people I have paid are back in my LA home packing all of my belongings and closing up the house.
I had quit my job as CEO of a well known publishing company in LA with no notice after my father called me last week in a panic.
The man he had chosen as the CEO of our family company had been a long time friend of his, Aro Volturi. Aro had single handedly almost bankrupted Cullen Publishing on several occasions. Due to the hard work and diligence of key employees, the business was re-built each time. Last week Aro left the country, at this time his whereabouts are unknown, as is the $126 million dollars of company funds he took with him.
I squeezed my eyes shut remembering the sound of my father's voice as he begged me to come to New York, "Please Edward, if Cullen Publishing survives this disaster there must always be a Cullen at the helm from this day forward. We can never trust an outsider ever again regardless of how well we think we know them."
My father had never been cut out for this business, it had been his father and my namesake who was a publishing tycoon and amassed the empire that Cullen Publishing formerly was. My father went to Medical School and under his watch the family business slowly disintegrated.
He immediately had the company's portfolio's sent to me over night and I spent the rest of the week and the entire weekend pouring through six boxes of financials discovering that of the 100+ magazines the company was currently publishing only a handful were making a profit. Of those making a profit, one stood head and shoulders above the rest. A fashion magazine called Haute made 10 times the profit of all of the other magazines put together.
As I began looking into Haute I found that this had been going on since the current Editor in Chief, Isabella Swan took the helm a year and a half ago.
She had been promoted from within as interim Editor in Chief but had made such a drastic turn around to the bottom line within 2 issues that she was made permanent. Her second issue was historic as far as publishing went; she actually put herself on the cover. When I first heard about it my initial reaction was disgust for that kind of arrogance, I soon learned that she had made a shrewd decision and the idea was ingenious.
On that cover she wore a strapless black Valentino gown. The gown was floor length with a slit to her thigh and she wore very high heels. Her long mahogany hair was styled reminiscent of Veronica Lake. Her lips were blood red making her pale skin look luminous and almost translucent. Her eyes were dark and smoky and she looked like sin. She was surrounded by male models in tuxedos who were vying for her attention but she ignored them all leaning against a column in front of the New York City Ballet, a glass of champagne in one hand and her blackberry in the other, the headline read, "Redefining Haute".
Inside was a letter from the editor letting readers know that Haute understood them. Their readers loved designer fashion but the average reader couldn't afford it. Haute began a monthly insert called "Haute Stuff". It told of places to find great deals, how to spot fakes online and at thrift shops, and how to shop vintage, etc. Overnight sales almost tripled making that issue the highest selling edition up to that point. She had trampled those numbers since, and although it was quite impressive, it was none of those reasons why I had secretly kept that copy of a woman's fashion magazine at the bottom of my top desk drawer for almost a year and a half.
On the back cover was another picture of Isabella Swan wearing a pair of men's tighty whiteys, and a wife beater. The shadows of her nipples shown through slightly but in an almost innocent way, it was something you would expect your girlfriend to lounge in while you watched TV in bed. Her hair was down and tousled, it looked like she had just had sex. Her makeup was very natural looking, and her face looked clean and bright with lips that were light pink and plump. The caption underneath read, "Beautiful in everything you wear". She was heart stopping beautiful. I had a reaction to that picture every time I looked at it, hell every time I thought of it. The success of that issue was a testament to the power of tighty whiteys.
Haute magazine had been single handedly keeping Cullen Publishing afloat and that had to change immediately. It was time to trim the fat and shut down some of the magazines that had been dead weight for so long and reorganize others that had potential.
In the back of the jet Jasper Whitlock my most trusted friend was sleeping off a bon voyage party hangover. We would spend the rest of the week deciding which magazines to cut and which to reorganize and then the following week delivering the news.
It would be at the end of the second week that Cullen Publishing would be throwing a cocktail party to welcome in a new era. All the editors and key staff would be attending as well as the Cullen Family including my bother Emmett who had refused my father's invitation to be the new CEO at Cullen Publishing. I had been surprised at Emmett's refusal at first but after speaking with him I understood why. Emmett already foresaw the necessity of cutting 30+ publications from the line up and he was simply too nice to do it.
I looked at my watch to see that we would be landing in about 30 minutes. Jasper and I would be having lunch with Emmett at The Plaza before meeting with Isabella Swan. It was imperative that if news started leaking she would feel secure that her job and magazine are safe. The last thing we needed was our only money maker jumping ship due to unfounded rumors.
I closed my eyes to catch a quick nap; it might be the last time I sleep for some time.
"Alice, aren't you nervous at all?" I asked while squirming in my chair.
Alice giggled at my discomfort, "Why should I be nervous, you're the one on the hot seat, not me."
"Har har Alice, you know if I go down your going with me. Anytime they cut off the Queen's head her minions are always the next to go." I gave her my most ominous look.
"That's true but I see my Queen getting out of this unscathed. You're going to wrinkle your dress if you keep fidgeting like that Bella and wrinkling Chanel is a crime against fashion, so cut it out."
I sighed looking down remorsefully at my dress. I was still trying to figure out how I got into this mess. How in the hell did klutzy, plain, looks like she dresses in the dark Isabella Swan become the editor in Chief of a fashion magazine? I was supposed to be working at the New Yorker or the Economist for god's sake! Well, the good news was that at the time of my promotion the magazine Alice was working at was folding so my first order of business was to bring her, and the top people she trusted over to Haute including associate editors, assistant's, photographers etc.
I immediately stole her right hand gal Rosalie. Rosalie looked like she belonged in front of a camera, not behind it. I took a hit to my self esteem every time I looked at her. Rosalie was loyal and honest and took an immediate liking to me and that was a rarity for her. Another thing I liked about Rosalie, she was absolutely cut throat and there were a lot of shady people at Haute that needed to go.
I gave Rosalie a list of staff members that had to go and they were gone within days, then I gave her a raise and a corner office. Rosalie was currently taking a call out in the foyer of The Plaza where we were having lunch, after which we would head over to the corporate office where we would meet with Cullen Publishing's new CEO Edward Cullen. God I just hope he doesn't have his head completely up his ass like Aro.
Our server arrived at our table with our lunch closely followed by Rosalie.
"I was just eavesdropping on the hostess and guess who's on the other side of the restaurant having lunch." Rosalie smiled mischievously.
I raised an eyebrow at her as I chewed my burger.
"Edward Cullen!" She answered rolling her eyes. Rosalie was working under the assumption that he was an arrogant trust fund baby unworthy of her respect. I would never admit it out loud but I pretty much mirrored her sentiment.
I looked at my watch, we still had 30 minutes until our meeting began. I waived the server over, "Box these to go please." Rosalie and Alice threw daggers at me.
"What the hell Bella?" Rosalie snapped, she got even bitchier when she was hungry.
I rolled my eyes at her, "Can it Rosie, we'll eat in the car on the way over. I want to make nice with the new boss man." I smiled wickedly.
The server brought our boxed lunches back to us in a large bag I asked him to have it taken to the car, we couldn't be seen carrying a sack lunch for this next maneuver.
I had learned early on in my career as editor in chief to carry personalized note cards with me everywhere, I took one out and jotted a quick note handing it to the server.
"Please deliver this and a bottle of Glenfiddich 40 Year Old to Mr. Edward Cullen's table with my compliments and add that to my bill." Then I handed him a $100 bill. "Make sure to do it as we are waking out," I winked at the handsome server who smiled like a co-conspirator.
We waited until the server gave the nod and started towards the table, "Let's go ladies," I said. We stood and made our way to the door, Alice, Rosalie then me bringing up the rear, and just as I got to the door I turned and met his eyes for just a moment waving and turned on my heel to leave.
I kept it cool but as I settled in the back seat of the Towncar I practically shouted at Rosie and Alice. "Did you see him?" They both shook their heads, "I think I just had an orgasm," I sighed and let my head fall back. "I'm in trouble girls."
Emmett was already seated at a table when we arrived for lunch. It had been a while since we'd last seen each other so we spent some time catching up and laughing at each other's exploits. We were just finishing up our lunch when the server brought over a bottle of Glenfiddich 40 Year Old and handed me an envelope. Jasper and Emmett both raised their eyebrows at me, and I looked to the server, "Who?"
He gestured towards the door, "The woman who is leaving sent it with her compliments."
Just then she turned and met my gaze waving for a brief second, Isabella Swan, "Did she just smirk at me?"
Emmett and Jasper both laughed, "Open it dude." Emmett urged.
I opened the envelope to find Cartier stationary, very heavy cardstock, it reeked of sophistication and class. I unfolded the page and at the top in sapphire blue calligraphy her name was hand scripted "Miss Isabella Swan" and in a girly flourish underneath she wrote, "Welcome to my neighborhood, here's to a great start!" Before I could stop myself I brought the note to my nose and inhaled and then closed my eyes waiting for it.
"Dude, what the hell was that?" Emmett scoffed.
I stared at the bottle for a moment and then waived the server over, bottles of Glenfiddich 40 Year Old are expensive but she bought this one from the bar at The Plaza.
"How much was this?" I asked.
"Three thousand five hundred dollars sir," He answered. I smiled smugly; despite myself, I was intrigued by her. I looked to the server again.
"Were you her server today?"
"What did she have for lunch?"
The server smiled, "She ordered a bacon cheeseburger with sautéed onions and French fries with ranch dressing. She had a coke to drink with that, not diet." With that he turned and left. I looked back at the bottle on the table.
"I think I just came in my shorts."
Emmett laughed, "I didn't think women ate like that, ever!"
"That wasn't any woman that was Isabella Swan." I said quietly.
Emmett and Jasper stared at me mouths gaping.
"Wait, you're telling me that the Editor in Chief of the most profitable and elite fashion magazine in existence was just sitting in the Plaza Hotel eating a bacon cheeseburger and fries?" Jasper asked in disbelief. "I think I just came in my shorts," he laughed.
I grabbed the bottle and threw some bills on the table, "Come on, we can't be late."
We settled in the conference room just a few minutes early and Emmett's secretary buzzed us at 1:30 promptly to announce the arrival of Isabella Swan.
"Show her in please," Emmett answered.
In the same order that they exited the restaurant they walked into the conference room, first a tiny woman with spiky black hair and the bluest eyes I had ever seen. Her face was clear and bright and her walk was so light it bordered a skip. She was dressed impeccably, but not in standard business attire, she looked very fashionable, obviously an associate editor at Haute. Following her was a very tall blond that could only be described as magnificent. She wore a tight fitting black dress that wrapped around and tied in front and as if her natural height wasn't enough she wore sky high stiletto sandals.
Last to enter was Isabella, my breath hitched as I saw her up close for the first time. She wore a black sheath dress that stopped just above her knee and looked to be cashmere. The accompanying jacket a tell tale sign, Chanel. Classic, just as she is. Her long hair was pulled into a loose bun at the nape of her neck and looked to be secured by a single exquisite pin. I would have emptied my bank account to pull that pin out and run my fingers through her hair. Her legs were bare and she wore black sandals with blood red soles, probably a gift from the great designer himself. By the time my gaze finally got to her face and saw those plump pink lips I had dreamed about so many times I had to resolve to stay seated or risk a sexual harassment suit.
The ladies took their seats with no fanfare and for a brief moment the room remained still and quiet until Isabella laughed lightly, "Well, we aren't going to get a whole lot accomplished like this so I'll take it upon myself to begin. My name is Isabella Swan and I am the Editor in Chief of Haute magazine." She gestured to her right. "This is Miss Alice Brandon she is the Associate Editor in Chief at Haute and the creative force behind the success of the magazine." She then gestured to the blonde. "And this is Miss Rosalie Hale."
I raised an eyebrow and looked briefly and Emmett and then Jasper who had similar expressions of confusion. "And what is Miss Hale's title?" I asked.
Bella smirked and shrugged a little, "We don't really like to limit Rosalie with labels but I guess if we had to, her official title would be Senior Assistant to the Editor in Chief".
I was more and more intrigued and amused by this woman as each second passed. "Does she have an unofficial title?"
Bella turned to Rosalie. "Rosalie do you have an unofficial title?"
Rosalie turned her ice blue stare at me and I almost shivered.
"I guess it would be Head ass kicking, ball busting, you better be meeting your fucking deadlines and doing it under budget because I will fire your ass and UPS your personal shit to your home address, In Chief. Oh, and call me Rosalie, that Miss Hale shit doesn't fly."
I was going to love hating Rosalie, and I didn't need to look under the table to know that Emmett had a boner. Isabella and Alice both looked to be trying to repress their laughter, they obviously saw that coming.
My lips twitched, this was going to be a very interesting meeting, "I am Edward Cullen, and I'm the new CEO of Cullen Publishing." I gestured to my right, "This is my brother Emmett Cullen, he is Vice President of North American Operations and of the 3 of us at this table he has been with the company the longest so at least in the beginning you may find that I refer to him quite often."
I looked to my left and did a slight double take, Jas was eye fucking Alice pretty thoroughly from across the table and she looked to be a willing participant. I kicked him slightly under the table and then resumed the introductions. "This is Jasper Whitlock. He is Senior Vice President in charge of operations, which basically means that he's the non-Cullen version of Emmett. Now that we are all acquainted I would like to thank you for the welcome gift that was very considerate of you, Glenfiddich 40 Year Old is my favorite."
Isabella smiled warmly at me. "Yes I know." She responded smugly. "Glenfiddich 40 Year Old on the rocks."
My eyes widened in surprise. "Very impressive, how did you know?" I caught myself leaning in and pulled back slowly hopefully before anyone noticed.
She smirked at me in response. "It's my job to know things like that Mr. Cullen. Now, to what do my ladies and I owe this great honor of having been bestowed the very first appointment with the new CEO of Cullen Publishing?"
"Miss Swan, I may not know what you drink but I can tell you that your magazine is by far the most profitable publication under the Cullen Publishing umbrella, were you aware of that?"
Another smirk. Fuck if I don't want to kiss that smug little smirk right off her face.
"Rosalie," she said turning to the blonde. We all turned our attention to Rosalie who smiled, reveling in the spotlight.
"Haute Magazine is the most successful magazine sold by Cullen Publishing, it has 10 times the number of subscribers than the next most successful Cullen Publishing magazine, and it makes 23% more in sales at the news stand and brings in 163% more in ad sales. Its operated expending 6% less than the next most profitable Cullen Publishing magazine and 36% less than our competition, which is Vogue. Basically we do everything better and for less money because we're smarter, faster and we know what the hell we are doing."
I need to hire that woman away from Haute.
I cleared my throat and glanced at Emmett who was currently eye fucking Rosalie, who in turn was starring daggers at him. What the hell is going on with these guys?
I cleared my throat to get their attention. "Yes, excellent. I just wanted to give you advance notice that Cullen Publishing will be doing a mass reorganization beginning as early as next week. With that in mind, I wanted to assure you that as far as Haute is concerned there will be little if any changes requested so if the rumor mill starts flying, as we know it will, please be at ease that they are in fact just rumors."
I smiled at the ladies reassuringly and I'll be damned if I didn't get the exact opposite reaction to the one I expected.
"When you say little to no changes, what exactly do you mean?" Isabella asked.
"Well, we will be asking for a 10% budget cut across the board, it will be completely up to you as far as where those cuts are made but 10% is what we are asking." I was still smiling and confident that this was very little to ask of a magazine working on Haute's budget but she cut me off before I could get any further.
"You can ask all you want but the answer is no, I will not cut a dollar from my operating budget nor will I even consider it." She was completely calm, her face smooth and professional, a complete contradiction to her words.
"Miss Swan, I apologize, I misspoke. Your boss, the man who runs the company which employees you and coincidently happens to be me, is demanding a 10% budget cut. I understand it may be difficult deciding where it is best to make such cuts so I have taken the liberty of analyzing your operating budget. These are some suggestions I have put together. Jasper, if you will please."
Jasper passed the file to Isabella, which she opened and scanned the first few pages of and then flipped it shut with a flick of her wrist.
"I think it is time for you and I to speak privately Mr. Cullen," She regarded me with utter disdain and it made my dick twitch mercilessly.
Alice and Rosalie both rose from their seats and headed towards the door, I nodded for Jasper and Emmett to take their leave as well.
Once we were alone Isabella got up and picked up the folder heading for my side of the table where she set the folder in front of me and sat at the edge of the table. I had to lean back a little to look up at her. I marveled at the brilliance of this move, she was showing me who was in charge and as much as I wanted to throttle her for testing me I wanted to applaud her equally.
"Your suggestions seem to center around salary decreases, freezes and lay off's. That is pretty much what I expected when you brought up the subject of budget cuts and that is why my answer was and is no. In addition, the next time you decide to question my intelligence in front of my staff you are going to see exactly why it is that my magazine is the most successful, not only in this company, but in its genre. Rosalie was right on the mark when she said we do it better, faster and with less money than anyone else. If you pull a penny from my budget, you will be diminishing the quality of the product I produce and I'm afraid that I would not be able to put my name on a poorly produced product. Being a Cullen I imagine this is something you understand completely."
All I understand right now is that I want to throw you down on this conference table and fuck you until we both pass out from exhaustion or dehydration, or both!
"Miss Swan, you are currently under contract with Cullen Publishing, baseless threats do no one any good and make it difficult to take you seriously." My statement came out much harsher than I intended but was true nonetheless.
She leaned in close until our faces were only inches apart. "You should really get yourself an assistant that is worth a damn Mr. Cullen, perhaps Rosalie could recommend someone. My contract is up this year, in 4 months to be exact so we should be re-negotiating soon, very soon. I am going to leave this folder of fantasy with you; perhaps your incompetent assistant can spend their time recycling it. You should also know Mr. Cullen that a contract would not stop me from leaving if the integrity of my name came into question. I would let you take me to court on that, but seeing as how Cullen Publishing has no cash flow right now I don't see that happening unless you get a loan. I doubt any bank is going to be willing to back you at this point as the risk is ridiculous but, I may be willing to front you the cash at a reasonable interest rate. And, speaking of Cullen Publishing's cash flow problems, Haute has single handedly saved this company 4 times in 18 months. I have already decided how I will generate extra business to get us back in black this time. Perhaps your secretary can call and schedule a time for us to meet and discuss the details."
With that she pushed off of the table and took small, quick steps, which caused her hips to wiggle in the sexiest yet most adorable way I had ever witnessed. She stopped to pick up her bag and then continued, before pausing at the door. "By the way, enjoy that bottle of Glen," and with that she was gone.
A few moments later Emmett and Jas came back into the conference room.
Jas looked uneasy. "Well, how did it go?" He asked.
I smiled at the door Isabella Swan just left through. "I think I just came in my shorts!"
Could I be any more excited about this story?
If you have read my other stories you will know that this one is a bit different for me, I was a little tired of teenage Edward and Bella so I have made them a bit older this time.
Also, I have never done this before but because this story is fashion oriented I will be posting links to the characters outfits in my profile if they are described in the story.
Please hit the review button and let me know what you think.