Him and Her

Chapter One

Old Faces and New Fiascoes

Everyone knows that every fashion magazine company has its own Miranda Priestly—the stubborn, hard-to-please bitch with a heart of stone and a great talent for fashion and management. Vogue, People, and Vanity Fair all have them. But as for Clique magazine? Well, let's just say that if Miranda Priestly was the devil in Prada, then Raphael Whitby Jacobs was Satan in Armani.

'Satan' was presently sitting in his large office chair, glowering at his poor PA, who seemed to be close to tears. Sunlight was dancing into the large, plush office from the wide windows, illuminating the room with a cheerful glow. Modern, tasteful pieces decorated the area, and the wall behind the desk boasted of a blow-up painting of the cover page of Clique's April 1998 issue, their most famous and successful one. Yet, Anne, the PA, noticed none of that—she was too busy steeling herself to the tirade that was to come.

"I specifically said to send two copies of this month's issue's cover—one for the design department, and one for me. And is there a copy of that design on my table right now? No! I thought I stated everything so simply that even an imbecile with half a brain could get it, but apparently, you haven't even made it to imbecile yet. Tell me, how much I-am-stupid potion did you drink last night that you failed to remember such a simple instruction?"

"I'm sorry sir," Anne said with a wince at her boss's harsh tone. She'd been working for Mr. Jacobs for over two years now, but she was still as unnerved and even almost scared when her boss was mad as she was when she'd first started working here. Because when Raphael Whitby Jacobs was mad, he could yell. A lot. "There was a miscommunication, and--"

"Excuses will not get that copy on my desk," he snapped with a glower. "It will, however, give me an excuse to fire your incompetent ass."

And despite the feeling of being put out, Anne was relieved—he was threatening to fire her, which meant that his yelling was about to be over. Besides, Mr. Jacobs threatened to fire his employees—her, especially—on an almost daily basis, so she knew exactly how to handle it from here on. Shaking off earlier feelings, she straightened and said, "Of course sir. It won't happen again. You'll have the copy on your desk in a second."

"I'd better," he replied shortly. "Or there'll be hell to pay. Now get out of here and do something useful."

Anne inwardly sighed in relief. Finally. "Yes sir." And with a turn of the heel, she left the room.

Raphael—or Raff, as he liked to be called—rubbed his temples tiredly, sinking back in his seat. Idiots, the lot of them. To botch such simple instructions…he didn't know what he had done to deserve such absent-minded employees.

He turned his head to the side, where a board full of Post-its and design ideas rested on the wall, and slowly, he began to feel better. He liked that board—it was disorganized, messy as hell, and didn't fit in with the rest of his office, but it reminded him of how far he'd come. He wasn't just some random graduate from Branwood High anymore; he was Raphael Whitby Jacobs, Editor-in-Chief of one of the hottest magazines around.

The machine on the side of his desk beeped, startling him from his thoughts. Pressing a button, he called out, almost lazily, "Yes?"

"Mr. Roberts is on the line, sir."

"Okay, patch him through." Raff waited a few seconds before his best friend's voice floated into the room. "Hey, Dean."

"Hey," Dean Roberts said in return. "Tell me, which employee of yours did you terrorize this time?"

"I don't terrorize them," he said with an eye-roll; Dean asked this question almost every time he called. "I merely educate. This business is tough, and I have no use for people who are either stupid or can't tell their Jimmy Choos from their Manolo Blahniks."

"Rrrriiggghhtt…you lost me when you said, 'educate'. So, tell me, Raff, is your 'education' the reason why so many people resign from the magazine and tremble in fear when they hear your name?"

"They don't deserve to be here if they can't handle it," Raff replied simply. "You know what they say, after all: If you can't stand the pain, then don't wear high heels." He paused for a moment before saying, "Anyway, you're coming tonight, right?"

"Tonight? Why? What's the occasion?" Dean sounded appropriately confused.

Raff groaned. "I'll give you a hint. It starts with 'Party' and ends with 'To celebrate the launching of a new fashion line and the magazine's anniversary.'"

"You suck at giving hints," Dean replied shortly. "And I didn't really forget—how could I? After all, you've been repeating it over and over for the past few weeks….I lost count after the 87th time."

"Oh, shut up," he said with another eye-roll. "But you're going, right?"

"Yeah, of course, I wouldn't miss it," Dean said. "And if I did, you'd probably never stop giving me grief about it."

"Nice to see that you know what's good for you," Raff said with a small smirk as he leaned back in his chair. "Tonight's going to be great, I know it. Nothing will go wrong, and it'll be the talk of the town come tomorrow."

"You sound awfully sure of yourself," Dean pointed out.

"Of course," he replied, without the slightest hint of apology for his arrogance. And why should he? After all, he was Raphael Whitby Jacobs, Editor-in-Chief of Clique, soon to be acclaimed designer, and overall a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry.

He was who he was, and, as far as he was concerned, love him or hate him, he couldn't care any less—just don't forget it.

v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v

Selena Richmund glared at today's paper with such indignant ferocity that it was as though she was going to burn a hole through it. "Unbelievable," she thought with disgust as her eyes scanned through the announcement.

She heard the sound of footsteps and turned to see her collegue and friend, Sharon, enter her office. "Hey--" Sharon couldn't get in another word because at that instant, Selena walked up to her and thrust the newspaper into her hands.

"Can you believe this?" she demanded. "Read that page, you'll be appalled."

"Clique to Host Anniversary Party and Fashion Launch," Sharon read out loud. "Raphael Whitby Jacobs set to turn the face of the fashion industry." Eyebrows furrowed, she looked up from the paper.

"See?" Selena almost shrieked. "Isn't it the most evil thing you've ever heard of? Tell me you're appalled, please!"

"Uh…" Sharon stepped back slightly. "I'm appalled?"

"Oh nevermind," Selena said, throwing her arms up in surrender. Sighing, she walked to her desk and sat. Her office was spacious enough—as a Professor for Advanced Trigonometry and Calculus at Branwood University, she was entitled to one. And yet, the room felt small and almost claustrophobic as she recalled the news.

"Selena, what is the big deal?" Sharon asked with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, so Raphael Jacobs is launching a new line, it's his magazine's anniversary party….so what? Why are you acting like the apocalypse is about to happen? Frankly, I'm glad Jacobs is launching a new line," she said, smiling slightly. "I've always liked his clothes."

Selena gasped in outrage and pointed an accusatory finger at her colleague. "Barbarian! Have you no sense of shame, of guilt?" she cried.

Sharon shook her head inwardly and groaned. Selena Richmund might be renowned for her mathematical knowledge and teaching ability, but it never ceased to surprise how, in one instant, she could transform from her composed, rational self, into someone who acted out of the ordinary, not understandable, and like she didn't have two Ph.Ds.

"I'm sorry, I don't speak 'Selena'," Sharon said, deadpanned. "Translate, please."

"Raphael Whitby Jacobs has been using the skins of animals for his newest line—some of them endangered. Trust me, I know; we've been keeping a close eye on his company, ever since an insider tipped us about it," she explained impassionedly, even throwing her arms to create gestures. It was a good thing the rooms were more or less soundproof and the door was closed, otherwise, it would've created quite a scene.

'We've' was the Advocates for Animal and Environmental Rights. Selena had been a dedicated member ever since she was introduced to the group in college, and throughout the rest of her career she'd become one of the most passionate members.

"And now, they're having a party. A party, of all things, to celebrate a new line of clothing which features the skins of animals who were once alive, and who can never be brought back. From what I've heard, he's trying to pass it off as faux or lesser-quality material, but we know the truth, and we've got the papers to prove it. Drinking champagne and celebrating the death of a large number of animals just so they could have some pretty fur coats…it is the lowest form of low, and I will not have it!"

As she said this, Selena brought her palm down to slap her table. The sound echoed across the room, and frowning, Selena brought her hand back up and surveyed it. "Okay, maybe I should've left out the hitting part," she added hastily.

"Are you serious?" Sharon said with slightly widened eyes. "But…wow, that could be a huge scandal if it comes out. It could ruin them, it could ruin him!"

"Exactly," Selena said, eyes suddenly glinting. "Raphael Jacobs hasn't changed a bit since high school-he's still the same arrogant ass who'll use anyone and do anything to get what he wants. This time, he's gone too far, and he must be stopped."

There was an odd sort of smile on Selena's face, one that Sharon didn't like one bit. "Selena, what are you planning….?"

"Oh, nothing," Selena assured her hastily, but the odd little smile still hadn't left her features, and for some reason, it made Sharon nervous. Because when Selena Richmund got something through her head, she usually followed through it, and to hell with the consequences. "Nothing at all."

"Uh-huh," Sharon said, her tone blatantly suggesting that she didn't believe her at all. "Look, whatever you and your group are planning to do, just please don't forget about your job. Raphael Jacobs is well-connected and influential; he could use that against you if you fight him publicly. Just please be careful; this is a good cause and everything, and I do support it, but I don't want to see you get ruined because of it."

"Don't worry," Selena said as her smile only grew. "After tonight, it's not my life that's going down the drain. Not mine at all."

Privately, Sharon made a mental note to call her cousin who worked for the magazine and see if she could keep an eye on the party, just in case.

v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v

Raff looked down from the balcony of the Grand Branwood Hotel's largest hall, a triumphant smirk highlighting his features. Upbeat music from the live band floated below, and everywhere he turned, he could see people dancing, drinking, or talking as they laughed—generally having a good time. The fashion show had just ended, and more people than he could count had already gone to compliment him, not just on his new line, but also on the event. The media was eating all of this up with delight, bur Raff didn't mind—after all, there was nothing like good publicity to jumpstart a new project. The party was a success, and he damn well knew it.

He took a flute of champagne from a passing waiter and sipped it slowly as he began to descend the stairs. It wouldn't do to hide from the guests; he was the host, after all. He had just made it to the main floor when Dean approached him with a grin.

"I've got to say, Raff," Dean said, giving Raff a good-natured slap on the back. "You definitely outdid yourself this time."

"And you're surprised?" Raff replied dryly. "See, what did I tell you? Everything is perfect, down to the very last detail. Just as it should be."

Dean refrained from giving another you're-too-sure-of-yourself comment and shrugged instead. Directing his gaze away from his best friend, he saw a tall, beautiful blonde woman approaching them, stunning in red. He nudged Raff urgently, but it took a few seconds before he finally looked up and gave Dean an eyebrow raised in questioning. "Too late," Dean said simply.

Sure enough, before he knew it, Raff felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He turned—and cursed inwardly. "Hey, Brianna," he greeted, forcing a smile into his features. "Having fun?"

"Of course, but I'd have more fun if you were with me," Brianna said, giving him a small but obviously flirtatious smile. "You've been so busy with the launch, and I've been so busy with the photo shoots that we've barely seen each other in awhile, and I miss you." She paused when she saw the odd look on Raff's face. "Are you alright, sweetie? Did I say something wrong? All I said was that I missed you…There isn't anything wrong with hat, is there? After all, we are dating."

Dean was behind him, but Raff had no trouble picturing his wide-eyed expression and distinctly heard a sound of disbelief. "Uh, right," Raff said, stalling for something to say. "Listen, Brianna, we need to--"

"Miss Harrison!" A reporter said, walking up to them. "Would you care to share a few words with us? You know, just a few comments on Mr. Jacobs' latest success, as well as your upcoming projects?"

Brianna laughed and gave the reporter the sort of smile that had made her one of the industry's most sought-after models. "Of course." She turned to Raff. "This'll only take awhile, okay? I'll just be a minute, and then I'll be back. Maybe then," She smiled flirtatiously again. "We can have some real fun." And after kissing him on the lips, Brianna walked off, reporter in tow.

Raff breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the pair leave. Suddenly, he felt himself being tugged until he was standing in a quieter part of the room, with barely any people. Annoyed, he gave Dean a look.

"What?"

"Raff, I thought you broke things off with her already!" Dean groaned.

"I did," Raff said with a scowl, annoyance and exasperation deepening the sour look that had replaced his cheerful one. "I left her a message a few days ago. I even asked Anne to call her so she could say it for me. Apparently, she hasn't gotten the memo yet…or gotten the message through her head."

"You asked your PA to break up with your girlfriend for you….again," Dean said flatly, shaking his head. "Raff, you can't keep doing this. When you end things with someone, you could at least do it personally."

"Then what's the use of having an assistant?" Raff retorted. "Besides," he smirked. "I can't really blame her for still wanting me, now can I?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "I bet that's one of the reasons why you're in this business," he said. "Being the boss and meeting beautiful women—the two loves of your life."

"You know me well," Raff replied, corners of his mouth upturned in a grin. "Anyway, I'll break up with her properly, just not tonight. You know Brianna; she's known for her hissy fits, and I don't need that kind of thing happening at my party."

"Ah, yes, because you have to preserve your wonderful image, right?" Dean's voice was sardonic.

"And once again, you've proven that you have something in that head of yours," Raff patted Dean on the shoulder in a teasingly patronizing manner. "Come on, let's get out there. I don't want those people to thing their host has gone missing in action."

Raff mingled with the crowd. He drank, he laughed, he agreed to having his picture taken. This was his night, his magazine's anniversary and his new fashion line launching, and nothing at all could spoil it--

The sound was faint at first; the music drowned it out completely. But as it got closer, it got louder, and slowly, people turned to see what was causing all the ruckus. Raff, himself, turned to look--and for a moment, he simply stared.

The guards were trying to block the entrance of the party hall, but they were no match for the mass of people they were trying to shoo away--the mass of people who were wearing identical green and white shirts and holding placards that bore different messages. And they were all shouting one thing:

"BARBARIAN!"

The guards were finally pushed aside and the group, all wearing identical expressions of determination and indignation, marched fully inside the hall, much to the surprise of the party goers. The music faded to a halt, but the air was still punctuated by the gate-crashers cries. "SAVAGE!" "SHAMELESS!" "DESPICABLE!"

Raff was still rooted to the spot, his mind working in overdrive. Slowly, he began to recover from his initial shock, and, upon fully realizing that his party had just been ruined, anger took over as the dominant emotion. Eyes followed him as he marched towards the group and yelled, "Who the hell do you people think you are?"

"Why don't you ask yourself that question, Jacobs?!" a random person from the group called out.

"Yeah, who do you think you are?" another person added.

"And what makes you think that you have the right," a female voice, much calmer than the others, but nonetheless incensed, said as it's owner, a woman with wavy, dark brown hair and green eyes stepped away from the group and walked over to him. "To destroy countless lives in order to gain a little profit?"

She was directly in front of him now. The woman as much shorter than he was, but she still looked up to him with a sever glare. "Still the same jerk from high school—you haven't changed a bit." She paused. "Dickwad."

There was only one girl who ever called him that, and he thought he'd rid of her when they'd graduated from high school. They'd never really gotten along, even if they had mutual friends, and he had been glad with the knowledge that he'd probably never get to see her again. And yet, here they were—somewhere, Fate was probably laughing its head off.

"Selena Richmund," he acknowledged flatly.

"Glad to see that you still remember," she said with a tight smile. "And here I was thinking that you'd forgotten the people you knew before rising to the top."

"Oh believe me," Raff replied darkly. "I've tried forgetting. Especially about you."

"Selena?" Dean's voice was incredulous as he jogged over to them, suit and all. The protesters were still speaking, and in the back of his mind, he could register camera flashes, but Raff paid no mind to any of that—to him, right now, all that mattered was that that annoying little princess had come back from the depths of who-knows-where to make a mess out of his life yet again.

"Hey, Dean! It's been awhile since I last saw you," Selena said warmly, her features pleasant for a moment as she gave him a brief hug.

"I know," he said with a small grin. "I see you still haven't changed."

Selena gave him a rather sharp look. "And I see you still haven't improved your taste in friends."

Dean brushed that aside. "What are you doing here? I mean…" He looked past her to glance at the shouting protesters. "What's all this?"

"I'll tell you what this is," Raff cut in with a glower. "She and her stupid group are gate crashing the most important event of the season to gain some publicity--"

"And here I thought you couldn't get any more pathetic and sink any lower," Selena's voice was cool once more, and that surprised Raff slightly—when they were in high school, she usually had no problem yelling out her frustrations and anger, but now, she'd changed tactics. "You want to know what this is, what we're doing here, Dean? No problem."

She stepped away from the two men and walked to an open space; the cameras followed greedily. "Listen up, everyone," she called out. "I have a question for you: How many of you are wearing a Raff Jacobs' creation right now?"

As if this were a schoolroom, hesitantly, a number of hands raised.

"And when you bought said creation, when you decided to wear it," she continued. "Did anyone of you stop and remember that the garment you're about to put on—or a part of it, anyway—actually belonged to someone else? Like a dead animal, perhaps? Didn't any of you even think about how many creatures, how many endangered species were killed just for you to have that stole, or that coat?"

Murmurs floated across the room, but Selena continued on, happily aware of Raff glaring at her. "Oh, wait, silly me. Of course none of you would be able to think about things like that, because none of you knew. And no one knows that particular fact because for the past few years, Raphael Jacobs has been keeping that sort of information under wraps, a well-guarded secret. He's been lying to everyone for years now, passing off his furs and materials as really high-quality faux, but I can assure you, it's the real thing, and we," She pulled out a binder from her bag, "Have the documentations to prove it."

"You can't prove shit," Raff snapped angrily, reaching for the binder but failing to get it out of her grasp. "Because you're the one who's lying. I don't use endangered animals for my clothes, that's absurd!"

"We'll see who's lying," Selena practically sing-songed as she flipped the binder open. "August 12th," she read out. "A receipt made to Raphael Jacobs…for a shipment of furs. Another receipt made to Mr. Jacobs…from a rather large animal-skinning factory. And another one—"

"Enough!" Raff roared, once again trying to steal the binder from her grasp, and failing. The camera flashes were giving him a headache, yet he turned to the reporters anyway. "These are obviously fakes, a smear campaign against my company by a diehard group who's underappreciated and under-funded--"

"And yet we're not the ones who slaughter endangered animals for money," Selena retorted. She addressed the media then. "Many people know who I am; I've given lectures at various places, and everyone knows my reputation. Do you honestly think I'd risk all that just to gain a little publicity?"

"No," Raff snarked. "You're doing this for publicity….and to ruin my life, just like you always do. Swoop in unwanted and turn everything into a big, giant mess."

"You think I'm doing this to ruin your life? You think this is simply about you? Urgh, you're unbelievable!" Selena exclaimed angrily, eyes flashing as she yelled for the first time that night. "You and your company took goodness knows how many animal's lives just so you could have those clothes, and all you care about is me making you look bad in front of the press? There's no guilt, no shame, only anger for your image? You are just--" Selena drew in a sharp intake of breath.

She turned once more to the reporters, who were hanging on to every word. "Anyone who wants copies of the contents of the binder, as well as in-depth interviews, see me outside." She gave Raff one last glare, which he gladly returned. "Have fun salvaging your company after this, Jacobs."

"Don't worry," Raff gritted out, anger seething from his clenched fists. "I will."

She smirked and picked up her placard. The shouts once again grew louder as she and her group walked slowly out of the hall, the hoard of reporters following after them like dogs after a rather tasty-looking bone. As the disappeared, the remaining people turned slowly to stare at Raff, whose eyes were still trained towards the entrance, mouth set in a thin line.

"What the hell is everyone looking at?" he demanded suddenly, and almost immediately, the music started back up again and people quickly turned their heads away. Shaking his head, he turned to leave and found himself face to face with Dean.

"Not. A. Word."


So, how was that for our first chapter? Stay tuned for our next one, which will be written by another one of us. Thanks for reading (and hopefully reviewing)!