“What the fuck were you thinking Brewer?!”
Patrick winced at his boss Rachel as she waved his printed story in the air in the small conference room of The Toronto Watcher. It was almost as if she were trying to shake the story out of its existence. Her long red hair was pulled into what he’d internally dubbed her ‘stress bun.’ It either meant shit was about to go down, or had just gone down. He felt both were apt descriptions at the moment.
Rachel took a moment to pinch the bridge of her nose and take a deep breath. Patrick had seen the action done many times in their history in and out of work.
She snapped the paper in front of her and began reading out loud:
She quickly brought her glare to Patrick as if demanding an explanation for this single line. Patrick said the only thing he could think of.
Fallen socialite David Rose only needed 24 hours, and a $1.2 million wedding, to bring one man’s love life and career to a grinding halt.
“You always say I need more eye catching openers.”
“That’s not the point Brewer! The point is you wrote a story about someone with their jilted ex as your main source. How would you like it if someone wrote your biography but only used me as their source?” She slammed the paper on the table between them.
Patrick flinched again. It was never fun when she mentioned their former engagement, even passively. “I tried to find David Rose,” he said before Rachel could continue. “The man has been a veritable ghost since his family lost their money.”
“I’ve had to deal with a Rose family lawyer all morning so he can’t be that off the grid. The paper doesn’t need a defamation lawsuit.”
“I didn’t print anything that wasn’t true,” he defended.
Rachel gave a disbelieving scoff. She lifted the paper again and continued to read aloud:
She skipped a few lines before continuing.
Noted photographer Sebastien Raine thought Rose was the love of his life and was ecstatic in the lead up of their high profile wedding. No expense was spared and on the eve of their nuptials, Raine even took it upon himself to stay at a hotel instead of the couples’ penthouse when Rose said he wanted to maintain the tradition of the grooms not seeing each other until the ceremony itself.
Rachel turned to Patrick again. “There were no charges filed against David Rose. Raine didn’t even file a police report.”
When Rose was still a no show an hour after the ceremony was to start, Raine went to the penthouse to investigate only to discover the apartment completely emptied of Rose’s personal items and a compromised at-home studio Raine maintained for his photography. Memory cards and computer hard drives that contained months of work had been taken. The only things left behind were a check to pay for the missing equipment and a note that simply read ‘For damages rendered.’ Both were signed by Rose.
“He said he was still hoping for a reconciliation,” Patrick said. “And the after effects to his career weren’t felt until later when a chain of big names refused to work with him.”
“Which shows no connection to David Rose,” she countered. “Patrick, you’re usually so thorough about this sort of stuff. What happened?”
Patrick thought about what to say next. Should he go the apologetic or defensive route? “Everything about Rose’s broken engagements was true,” he said. Defensive route it was. “The man has left three different people at the altar and that’s well documented.”
“One true fact doesn’t make a true story Patrick.” She sounded exhausted. “We’re going to have to print a retraction and you’re suspended until further notice.”
“Wait, what?! Rach don’t do this.”
“Patrick my hands are tied. I suggest you use this time to figure out where you want to go professionally from here on out.” With that, she left the room.
Patrick couldn’t believe it. For months Rachel had been telling him to be more bolder and more exciting in his human interest (ie. gossip) stories. He hadn’t even wanted to write that sort of stuff, but when the new owners of the paper did away with the business section, he had been forced to scramble and beg Rachel for one of the openings in the society section. He did give his ex-fiancée credit in that she had taken a chance on him even after he’d broken her heart.
He thought his story of the Runaway Rose was everything a reader would be looking for. A scandal involving theft and a fiancé in the wind. Who wouldn’t want to read that? Especially when Patrick’s cursory digging discovered two more jilted fiancés David Rose left at the altar. Sebastien had been in the middle since David had previously been engaged to artist and designer Ritchie Gehrig and later on almost married a woman after the Rose family lost their fortune. Patrick had tried, but Fianceé #3’s name remained a mystery.
He stood up to leave when he saw a bright yellow sticky note on the floor. Rachel must’ve dropped it on her way out. Deciding there was no harm in attempting to get karma points, he picked it up, fully intending to return it to her when the information scribbled on it caught his attention.
Rose family attorney
A phone number was written underneath and it gave Patrick an idea. If Rachel wanted him to have a more well rounded story, he could do that by seeking out the Runaway Rose himself. He could use the lawyer’s number as a starting point for office location and go from there to find the elusive Rose family. He was going to go the extra mile and put in whatever legwork necessary to get David Rose sitting in front of him for an interview. He snapped a picture of the sticky note with his phone and left the room, confident in his solid plan.