Brittany’s red lips on the giant billboard dominated Times Square, merely two days after Carl showed her the studies he’d created.
The next day, the ad was trending on social media and fashion blogs. Amanda was pleased and congratulated Vanessa’s team for a job well done.
Valerie commended Amanda for the strong message of their campaign. “I’m glad I sent you to that cruise, Amanda, I wouldn’t have thought of an ad like that. It’s really powerful.”
“Thanks, Val. The idea actually came from Carl, our creative director, who is also into the lifestyle, by the way. He got inspired when he saw my collar.” She said.
“Maybe we can invite Carl and Brittany to the cruise party?”
“Yeah, good idea, I’ll tell them.”
Val’s phone rang. She picked up and listened but didn’t say a word. Her vibrant color drained from her face. “Okay, I’ll tell her,” she said and hung up.
“That was Bruno, he said we should check the news. Apparently, Agatha wasn’t so happy about the billboard ad.”
“Of course not, it’s gonna shoot them down.” Amanda said.
“That’s also the reason why she leaked a photo of you wearing a collar in your burgundy dress. She told the press that Aglow’s CEO is a pervert and wants to promote BDSM through that billboard.” Val gave her a pained smile. “What shall we do now? Take down the ad?”
Amanda pressed her hands to her face. “Let me think, Val. But no, we are not taking down that billboard because there is nothing wrong with it. I will fix this.” She trotted out of Val’s office. Fire and fury consumed her.
Without much sleep, she came to the office quite early the next day. Not even Alex could comfort her with his magical touch. No matter what she did, she couldn’t brush off the overwhelming anxiety Agatha had caused her. She couldn’t let a smear campaign destroy the company.
She was crying when Joan came in with a pile of documents she left on her desk.
“Carl is here to see you, Miss Fox, should I tell him to come back later?” Her voice a half-whisper.
“That’s okay, please let him in.” She said, and dubbed her cheeks with tissue.
“Good morning, Miss Fox,” Carl said as he entered the room. “I’m so sorry about what happened. It’s my fault.”
“I approved it, Carl, I’m responsible. There is nothing wrong about that ad and you know it. Is Brittany okay?”
“She’s fine, thanks.”
“There is something we have to do to correct this and save the company. I have to do something, but I don’t know where to start.”
“Miss Fox, may I suggest something? It’s a bit radical, but it might work if you’re up for it.”
“What is it?”
“Grant an exclusive interview with a respectable network, or perhaps Olivia Pratt? She’s a good anchor and a powerful voice for women, I’m sure she can do you justice if you want to shed light on our lifestyle.”
Amanda stared at Carl who seemed to radiate some kind of light. “You really are an angel, Carl. I will do just that, thank you.” She smiled at him and called Joan on the intercom.
“Joan, I want you to contact Olivia Pratt. Tell her I want to give her an exclusive interview.”
“Okay, Miss Fox, I’ve been flooded with calls all morning from the networks. I’ll call Olivia Pratt now.”
“Are you going to admit you’re in the lifestyle, Miss Fox?” Carl said.
“Do I have any other choice? Honesty is the best policy, right?” she said.
“I’d better go back to my station. If you need my help, I’d be here in a flash.” He smiled.
“Thanks, Carl. Oh, by the way, Val wanted to invite you and Brittany to a Hallow Eve’s party.” She fished the invitation from her drawer and handed it to Carl. “I hope this circus will be over by then.”
“I’ll tell Brittany, I’m sure she’d be delighted, thanks.” He smiled and walked out.