Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Change of Pace

We've had a lot of raging hormones, how about ending the day with a little drama? This, too, comes from Power of the Press in The Halls of Power:

She had spent Sunday at home, ignoring the clutter as usual to instead make a pot of thick garlic soup and homemade bread. The bread especially was therapeutic, the endless kneading alleviating some of the tension knotted in her shoulders. Even now, hours later, the house still smelled wonderful as she curled up on the couch in front of her fire, reading issue briefings and just relaxing.

Her cell phone startled her when its ring shattered the quiet, but she smiled seeing Dylan’s name come up on the display. Nestling back into the cushions, she opened the phone. “Hey there.”

“Hey there yourself,” he answered, sounding pleasantly surprised at her response. “You sound perky tonight.”

“Well, I had a pretty good day for a change. I made soup.”

“You made soup?”

“And bread.”

“You made soup?”

She laughed. “Yes, I made soup.”

“I love your soup.” He said it in the same rich, throaty voice he used making love to her, making her tighten in all kinds of intimate places.

“I know you do,” she answered, enjoying the sensations he created in her. “That’s why I saved you some in the freezer. I might even try to get it out to you past the embargo if you promise not to try to heat it up yourself.”

“Mmm.” She could almost see him closing his eyes in pleasure at the thought. “How can I ever repay you?”

She let her own voice grow sultry. “I can think of a couple of ways.”

“Believe me, sweetheart, so can I.”

It felt good to be flirting with him. Like things might be normal again.

“I’m glad you had a good day, though,” he went on, more serious now. “It might make the reason I’m calling a little easier to take.”

Her comfortable bubble of delusion burst, turning the pleasant knot of desire in her stomach into biting, leaden trepidation. “What happened?”

“There’s going to be an article in the Washington Times tomorrow accusing us of being in collusion to manipulate public sentiment on key issues. That I’ve been writing articles at your behest to shape opinion in your favor.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“Maggie, they found an article I wrote.”

She couldn’t breathe. “You never interviewed me.”

“No,” he agreed, “but I did a profile on you when you were spearheading the Northeast Energy Infrastructure Taskforce.”

“But that was last year. We hadn’t even met yet.”

“All that matters is that I wrote it. This is going to keep things alive for a while, sweetheart. I’m sorry.”

A cold numbness settled over her as she processed his words. If what he was saying were true, if people actually believed the report, then it would mean an end to any credibility she had as a legislator. She thought about the people she represented, how much they relied on her to be able to do her job effectively, and she knew with sickening certainty that there was only one thing she could do. “No, Dylan, I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For all of this. I should have known better, should never have started seeing you in the first place.”

His voice through the phone had gone flat. “What are you saying, Maggie?”

“I’m saying I can’t see you anymore.” It tore her apart just to say the words.

“No. I refuse to accept...”

“Do you think we have any choice?” Anger tinged the sense of loss dragging her under. “There is no other way. At least now I can make a statement acknowledging it and apologizing.”

“You can do that without dumping me.”

“No.” He wasn’t seeing the reality of the situation, making it that much harder for her. “Don’t you see, if we’re still seeing each other, no one’s going to believe I’m sincere.”

“You could have said something before now.” His words were clipped and accusatory.

She laughed harshly. “Do you really think that would have made a difference? I’m still a powerful woman having sex without benefit of marriage. Once those damned reporters got their hands on this, there was no way they were going to let go of it until they had torn me to shreds.”

“I’m one of those damned reporters, remember.”

“A fact which only makes them all the more relentless. This isn’t going to end, Dylan, not if we’re still together.” Her fingers cramped from clutching the phone so fiercely. She was grateful she couldn’t see him. If she had to look into those warm, pleading eyes of his, she’d never be able to do this. “I’m sorry. You’re probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me. But I have people who are counting on me, people I’m responsible for, and I have to put them first. I can’t do my job with all this hanging over my head. Please try to understand. It’s not about you. It’s just what I have to do.”

“I understand.” He still sounded so unrelenting. “You do what you have to do, sweetheart. But don’t be surprised if I do the same. Good night, Maggie.”

“Dylan, wait!” But it was too late, the dial tone already sounding in her ear. The phone fell unnoticed from her fingers as what she’d done sunk in. She loved her work, found so much satisfaction in what she did. But with Dylan, it was more than that. She was actually happy. And she had given all that up to quiet the rumors and innuendo. She’d be able to do her job again. But at what price?

She sat there, curled up small, trying not to think about it as she stared at the dying fire. Because she already knew the answer. It was going to cost her everything.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This type of drama tugs at the heart.

Little Lamb Lost

9:06 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

love it

9:09 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Man, I love politics, and I love romance, and I love ... well the sex part goes without saying, I think, and I'm buyin' this book!


9:48 PM  
Blogger KimW said...

That's a terrific excerpt! Definitely makes you want to read more.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Pam P. said...

I need some more pages, Philippa! LOL

10:20 PM  
Blogger robynl said...

Keep the excerpts coming; I'm loving it.

11:25 PM  
Blogger robynl said...

Wow, isn't that nice when someone loves your cooking.

11:43 PM  

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