A/N: Sorry for not posting on Wednesday. My Grandfather passed away so I had to be with my family.
Hope every one of you is doing good. To my Bengali readers, a very happy and prosperous Bangla new year to you all.
As Carlisle pulls up the latest headlines of the day after taking the first sip of his morning coffee, he almost spits it out when his eyes catch a headline:
Online Tabloid Accuses Senator of Sexual Abuse: Senator May File Harassment Charges.
Slamming down his coffee mug, he puts on his glasses and reads the article earnestly. It reads-
A lesser known online tabloid, Inside Out, has published an article about a struggling actress who was sexually abused by a “powerful member of the senate having the initials of J. B.”. This actress who has been left unnamed claims she has been forced to have physical relationships with the senate member by means of blackmailing. With only the Senator and future Mayoral candidate, Jacob Black, having the heretofore mentioned initials in the senate, it can be construed that the accusing finger has been pointed right at him.
There are speculations that the Senator may file harassment charges against both the staff reporter who penned the article and the tabloid itself. Isabella Barone, the daringly imprudent reporter of Inside Out was unavailable for any comments at the time of this report.
“Isabella …” Carlisle murmurs to himself. “Isabella Barone.” Dropping the newspaper on his desk, he stands up to go on a search for Alice Brandon, his Chief Editor, his coffee long forgotten.
“Alice!” he calls out when he spies the elegantly styled head full of raven colored hair.
At the sound of his voice, Alice turns around and her dark eyes fill with her smile as she greets him. “Carlisle! Hi!”
Carlisle can’t help but smile back in return, well aware of her school-girl crush on him and knowing how absurd it is. “Hey, boss lady,” he greets back, walking up to her. “Do you have a minute?”
“For my star reporter?” she asks flirtatiously. “Always. Your office or mine?”
“Yours,” Carlisle chooses, so that he can leave when he’s done pitching his idea.
With the click-clock of her heels, Alice leads the way, leaving Carlisle to follow her. Once they’re in her office, she closes the door and takes a seat at her desk, motioning Carlisle to follow her suit.
He shakes his head, letting her know that he’s okay with standing. When he’s sure he has her undivided attention, he starts, “So have you had the time to go through the headlines today?”
She nods before raising a questioning eyebrow at him. “Anything pique your interest?”
With a nod, he answers, “The story about the Senator. I think it can be something big …”
Alice starts to shake her head even before he’s finished talking. “No, no, no, that’s not happening. We have to keep our focus on the Olympics right now. Besides, that’s probably just a publicity stunt.”
“A publicity stunt?” Carlisle repeats ridiculously. “Who says that?”
“I do,” Alice says, her expression hardening a little. “So does the Board of Directors. You might not remember, Carlisle, but the Senator is a friend of your cousin brother, who just happens to be the owner of this news agency.”
Carlisle scoffs. “Since when do we cater news to suit my brother? Or his friends for that matter? A news is a story people deserve to know. And as a reporter, I cannot let it be on my conscience that something like this go untold by us.”
“I’m not saying that it needs to go untold,” Alice remarks, rubbing her temple with her fingertips. “Why don’t we leave this story to the one who found it originally? Isabella … whatever? She might be a struggling reporter. Why not let her have her five minutes of fame?”
Carlisle feels an anger spreading through his chest. Trying to keep his rage at bay, he tries to reason with her. “She’s probably a rookie, Alice. If the Senator feels like she’s ruffling his feathers, he’ll sue. Then she’ll have to face the wolves alone. She’ll crumble under the pressure and this news will die down. But if we back her then no one will dare to come directly at her.”
Alice makes a tutting sound out of irritation. “Why do you care if the wolves come at her? She’s a reporter, right? Well, then she should know how to handle an article she wrote.”
Alice holds a hand up to stop him. “I’m done talking about this, Carlisle. Why don’t you go and get ready for the interview with the Olympic swimming team?”
“Is that your final word?”
“On that topic?” Alice asks and then adds, “Yes, although, I should tell you to change your tie if you can, that yellow clashes horribly with the navy suit.”
Carlisle stands up slowly from his seat and then reaches for a sheet of paper lying on her desk. “May I use this?” he asks politely. When Alice nods with a quizzical look on her face, he scribbles a sentence on the back of it and then places it in front of her.
The paper reads:
From this moment on, I, Carlisle Cullen, resign from my position at TBC News.
“Is this a joke?” Alice asks, looking flabbergasted.
“You decide,” he answers before turning around and walking out of the doors.
Once he’s back to his home, unemployed for the first time since he can remember, he pulls up the number for Isabella Barone in the directory. Taking a deep breath, he presses dial.
One ring. Two rings. Three rings.
Then someone picks up the call and a soft feminine voice asks from the other side, “Hello?”
“Isabella Barone?” he asks.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“This is Carlisle Cullen, from TBC News.”
“Oh!” A silence falls over the phone for a moment before the voice gushes, “Wow. Are you really Carlisle Cullen? I’m a big fan of yours. You’re my idol, you know? You inspired me to pursue this career. I’m a reporter, by the way.”
He feels a smile stretch over his lips as he realizes that the little girl he used to play around with has grown up to become more like her mother than she could ever imagine. “Thank you,” he says once she’s quietened down. “I’m calling about your article … about the Senator.”
“Oh!” Her voice sounds muted as she says, “It’s not a lie. I’ve been bombarded with questions about it, but I have an authentic source.”
Hearing her defensiveness, Carlisle says quickly, “I’m not doubting you.”
“You’re not?” She sounds surprised.
“No,” he answers. But I have a proposition for you.”
“Yes, give me the story.” When he hears her sharp intake of breath from the other side, he hastens to add, “I’m not trying to steal your story, Ms. Barone, but I really think you’ve chewed off more than you can digest. I can help you there.”
“So …” she says slowly. “You want my article because you want to protect me?”
“Yes, you and your source.”
“Wow,” she whispers. “You must think I’m super dumb, don’t you?”
She cuts him off. “No, you listen. I wrote this article and I am going to defend it myself. I don’t know if you’ve gotten your legendary articles by paying off some unknown journalists or what, but let me make one thing clear to you, Mr. Cullen, I am not for sale, nor is my story. Have a good day.” With that she hangs up.
For a moment, Carlisle stares at the phone in his hands before a smile starts to form on his face. “You can’t stop your Uncle Carlisle from protecting you, Mary,” he says as he starts typing out an email on his phone. After sending it off to the now familiar address, he dials a number. Come what may happen, he’s going to protect that girl with everything he has.
A/N: Hope a lot has cleared up with this chapter.
But we’re not done weaving the mystery yet. So sit tight.
Share your thoughts with me and leave a review.
Thanks for reading.
See you on Monday.
Have a Happy Easter.
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