My Front Page Scandal

By: Carrie Alexander
Chapter 1



One good yank and the biker dude’s distressed designer jeans came off.Brooke Winfield glanced at the featureless bulge between his legs, reminded of playing dolls with her sisters. Joey was always the first to strip the Ken figurine to his plastic skin and make indecent overtures to the girl dolls, while Katie held disco parties for hers. Brooke didn’t actually play at all.

She’d been more concerned with designing the dolls’ wardrobes and staging elaborate scenarios in their dream house.

“Thirty years old and I’m still dressing dolls,” she said to the nude male mannequin while she folded the jeans. With his boyish chest and aquiline nose, he was too high-fashion to make a believable biker dude. A leather bandanna and the tattoos she’d painted on his slender forearms were only surface dressing.

Brooke caught a glance of herself in the mirror on the back wall of the display area. The surface was what people noticed. Her surface, as usual, read ninety percent Boston conservative and ten percent creative—today, signified by the jangly tin fish earrings she’d bought last year at the Bazaar Bizarre, a punk-rock arts-and-crafts fair.

Ten percent. Brooke knew that it was time to flip those numbers. Recently, she’d decided that she was finished with conforming to the Winfield rules and expectations. She didn’t want to wind up like her deceased mother, who’d hidden the truth about her previous life right up to the end to fit in with her conservative in-laws.

With a sigh, Brooke returned to dismantling the window. It, at least, had caused a splash, even though the display sold only the illusion of rebellion.

Three-hundred-dollar jeans weren’t changing anyone’s world. Certainly not the trendy Bostonians who thought nothing of slapping down the plastic to buy a fashionable garment they might wear only once.

She unscrewed the mannequin and lifted the torso and limbs onto the trolley, then climbed back inside the window display. O.M. Worthington was an historic, ultra-exclusive department store on Newbury Street. It catered to longtime customers, with personal services and the promise of remaining unchanged since the Mayflower.

Alyce Simmons, the head fashion buyer, had enlisted Brooke’s help to push the stodgy store into a more profitable era. Their first collaboration, the leather-heavy Gaultier window display, had caused a few raised eyebrows among the staff, as well as the store’s clientele. The only reason they’d gotten away with it was that Old Man Worthington himself had approved the concept. Even an octogenarian could see that the store must boost their youth appeal or they’d never make it to their third century.

Brooke stripped the female mannequin next, starting with a Cruella-meets-Anna-Wintour wig. She paused to twirl the sleek ebony bob on her finger. Her impulse was to pop the wig over her own bland, brown hair, which remained scraped into a tidy bun after twelve hours at work. She wasn’t the kind of woman who had wild, untamable hair. She didn’t even have tendrils.

Nor did she follow her impulses.

Except for the security guard, she was alone in the store. Tall curtains had been drawn across the street window, enclosing the display area in complete privacy. She could do anything she liked and no one would know.

Normally, what she liked was to complete her work as efficiently as possible.

After every task had been check marked on her clipboard list, she’d go home to a comfy evening of hot chocolate, L.L. Bean goose-down slippers, and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. If she was feeling restless, she might break out her watercolors and work on a pretty landscape or floral still life.

Boring.

“So why not?” She patted her hair. Do the unexpected, for once in your life.

The past few months had been rocky. Her mother had passed away after a lingering illness. Her sister, Katie, had fallen in love with a man that Brooke had once dated. She’d turned thirty and had suddenly realized that her life was not challenging or exciting or even fresh.

Thus, she came to the decision to indulge herself a little, to try new experiences, maybe meet a few men who didn’t look as though they’d stepped directly out of the pages of Young Bostonian. But all she’d done up to now was buy a tank of tropical fish, say a firm, “No, thank you,” when her Great Aunt Josephine had asked her to chair a Ladies’ League clothing drive and reluctantly agree to become a member of Martinis and Bikinis, a somewhat scandalous social club for women.

Katie had joined the group first, after all three Winfield sisters had received invitations in the mail. She’d become enthusiastic about the Martinis and Bikinis directive of challenging women to step out of the box by issuing them dares—wild tasks such as finally telling off your sexist boss or riding in a convertible with your own top down. After Katie’s rousing success with the club, she’d encouraged her sisters to step up and discover their own inner wild woman.

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