Heads always turned when Rose McCarthy walked into a room. Nearly six feet tall, she was ramrod straight, and impeccably put together with faultless style, long graceful legs, and her snow-white hair cut in a chin-length rounded cap. Her piercing blue eyes missed nothing. She could terrify anyone with a few well-chosen, soft-spoken, eloquent words, or comfort and delight a young employee with generous praise. For twenty-five years, she had been the legendary editor-in-chief of Mode Magazine.
Gentle, polite, supremely competent, she ran it with an iron hand, with the ultimate grace and discretion. She was known for excellent judgment, wise decisions that always benefited the magazine, her dedication, and love of fashion.
She always wore a touch of color somewhere, or an interesting, eye-catching accessory, a ring she had found at an ancient, dusty jewelry shop in Venice, a bracelet from a Moroccan bazaar, a scarf, a pin, an unusual piece of some kind. Her elegance was in her bones. She usually wore black, but then would surprise everyone with a strong color occasionally. No one could ever manage to emulate her, although they tried. No one looked as perfectly turned out as she did at nine in the morning, or any other hour of the day. She was wide awake and alert the moment she got to the office, and never stopped all day. She pushed her employees hard and expected the best from them, but she was infinitely harder on herself than on anyone else.
Her background was fascinatingly contradictory. Her father had been a much published, highly respected British historian, who had taught at Oxford. Born and raised in London, she attended Oxford for two years at her father’s urging, but never liked it. Her Italian mother was a well-known expert on the paintings of the Italian Renaissance. She was from a large aristocratic family. Rose’s daughters teased her that she was Italian at home and British at work. There was some truth to it. Rose’s mother had been as emotional as her father wasn’t. Rose had learned from them, and flourished as an only child, with love and support from both her parents. She loved visiting her mother’s warm family in Rome frequently. She spoke fluent Italian, French, and English, and after two years at Oxford she had attended the Sorbonne for a year, which she liked much better. Her passion and instinct for fashion had surfaced at twenty, when she was living in Paris. She returned to London then, became an intern at a well-known British magazine, and within months London had fallen in love with an American banker, Wallace McCarthy. On an impulse, at twenty-one, she moved to New York for him, got a low-level job at Vogue,
fought her way up through the ranks, and became an associate editor by the time she was thirty. Eleven years later, at forty-one, she was offered the position of editor-in-chief of Mode Magazine,
and had made it the vast success it currently was. She was the soul and spirit of the magazine, and set a high standard. Twenty-five years after she took over, Mode
was one of the most influential magazines in the fashion world. Its success was unquestionably credited to Rose. Her husband, Wallace, was proud of her, and always supportive of her career. Their marriage was important to both of them, rock solid and a priority for her. She was a powerhouse in the office, and a loving wife at home.
True to her British upbringing, she never said a word about her personal life at work. She rarely mentioned Wallace in the office, although he was the center of her life at home. And in the midst of her steady rise to stardom as a fashion editor, she’d given birth to four daughters who she privately admitted were the joy of her existence. She hardly ever talked about them during her daily life. She was a consummate professional, had taken a minimum of time off when she had them, and returned to the office, ready to work. When she came back from maternity leave, she was as slim and stylish as ever, with every hair in place, ready to focus on the magazine again.
Her forty-year marriage had been stable until her husband’s death four years before.
Only her faithful assistant, Jen Morgan, who had followed her from Vogue
and was still with her, ever knew anything about her personal life, or how truly heartbroken she was when Wallace died after a shockingly brief illness. More than ever afterwards, Rose was extremely close to her daughters and spoke to them often, but as had always been the case, when she was at the office, she was all about Mode
, and nothing else. Her career had always been her passion, but it became her refuge too, once Wallace was gone. Her two lives never intersected. She had created an incredibly successful magazine, and a family of four young women who were very different, but immensely close to each other and to her. She was proud of them and the lives they led as adults.
She had always made time for her husband and their daughters, but now that she was widowed and the girls had grown up, she dedicated herself even more to her work. Sometimes it seemed as though she never left the office. She was often there when everyone else came in. An early riser, she liked getting a head start, and left the office late every night. She had compartmentalized her time for years between husband, children, and job, and now her work had her full attention and took up the lion’s share of her time. She adored her daughters, but they were busy with their own lives, which she felt was as it should be. She didn’t interfere with them, nor make demands on their time. She filled her days and nights with what she did for Mode.
She lived and breathed the magazine, and every detail and issue had her full attention. Nothing escaped her notice.
She looked around the table on that particular May morning with a cool smile. The important senior editors were at the meeting, as well as the full creative board. She always listened to what they had to say, but Rose had the final word. If asked, all of them would have said that she was fair. She didn’t impose her opinions on them, but when they heard her reasoning, they often recognized that her instincts for Mode
were right. She loved it almost as a child, like a living, breathing human being, which it was to her. She didn’t guess. She knew what was right for Mode
, and in twenty-five years, her mistakes could be counted on one hand.
They were having an early planning session for the massive September issue they published every year. All the major fashion magazines did, but Mode
’s September issue was the most coveted by all. It became a collector’s item every time and was as iconic as Rose herself. She was a fashion legend and everyone wanted to see what Mode
was telling them about the styles for the coming winter season. Women redesigned their whole look and wardrobe according to what Mode
told them about their makeup, their health, their hair, and what they should wear. Mode
didn’t impose anything on them. Their readers begged for what Mode
had to offer.
Copyright © 2021 by Danielle Steel. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.