Running Mate(4)

By: Katie Ashley



Suddenly I felt very stupid for overreacting; jumping to paranoid conclusions was one of my worst character traits. “I’m sorry. It’s just…no one on my level ever gets to see you, least of all have a meeting with you. I couldn’t help but assume I was being fired.”

“No, Miss Monroe, you are definitely not being fired.”

“Then what exactly is going on?”

“Senator Callahan has something he wishes to speak to you about in private.”

“You’re shitting me.” My extreme shock had apparently rendered me foul-mouthed. Mortification rocketed through me, and my cheeks flushed. “Excuse my language. This is all very unexpected.”

Mr. George just chuckled. “It’s quite all right, Miss Monroe. I find my mouth runs away with me sometimes as well.” It was hard to imagine Mr. George ever being less than completely straitlaced.

My knees started shaking in my Choos. I couldn’t possibly imagine what Senator Callahan wanted to speak to me about. The part of me that wanted to see the glass half full imagined he wanted to promote me to a higher position in the campaign, but the pessimistic side of me was much, much bigger, especially after the morning from hell I’d had so far.

But then an icy feeling of unease crept its way up my spine. Although most days I struggled with self-esteem just like any other woman, I still knew in my heart of hearts that I was a decent-looking girl. What if Senator Callahan had seen my picture and decided he wanted to have his way with me? Even though he could easily be considered a silver fox, there was no way in hell I would ever use sex to further my career.

It was then that I quietly began humming “He Had It Coming” from the musical Chicago. After spending middle and high school immersed in musical theater, I often resorted to humming show tunes whenever I was nervous. Most of the time, I managed to find a tune to go with my current mood.

As the driver opened the limo door, Mr. George patted my back. “Stop worrying, Miss Monroe. Your job is safe, but better yet, you are safe.”

At his knowing look, a relieved breath whooshed out of me. “I’m glad to hear that, sir,” I replied as I dropped into the limo. I slid across the seat, leaving plenty of room for Mr. George, who eased down beside me.

Once we got on our way, Mr. George dug a mini bottle of Moet out of the mini-fridge across from us. “Would you like some champagne?” he offered.

Although it would have probably settled my out-of-control nerves, I decided I should pass. After a breakfast of champions comprised of black coffee and donuts, I wasn’t sure my stomach could handle the bubbles. Besides, I needed a clear head for what was about to happen, and alcohol wasn’t going to make me sharp. There was also the less than desirable fact that champagne always made me burp, and the last thing I needed was to gross Mr. George out after cursing around him.

“No, thank you,” I politely declined.

With a wink, Mr. George put the champagne back and handed me a bottle of water. “Just so you know, I wasn’t trying to ply you with alcohol to make a pass at you.”

A flush of embarrassment tinged my cheeks since that thought had crossed my mind. “That’s not what I was thinking,” I lied.

“It’s exactly what you were thinking, along with the fact that you didn’t think drinking would calm your anxiety about your meeting with Senator Callahan.”

I widened my eyes. “How could you possible know that?”

“Because the whole limo ride to see a powerful man thing would seem nefarious in most people’s minds. Throw in the fact that you are an attractive young woman and it makes it seem even seedier.”

“Well…I…”

“Since I could read your apprehension, I thought a sip or two of alcohol might calm your nerves.”

“Did you also anticipate that I refused on the grounds that champagne makes me burp?” Oh Jesus, did I actually say that out loud?

Mr. George chuckled. “No, but I know what you mean. It gives me the worst indigestion.”

I smiled. “Let me guess, you worked in profiling before you switched over to campaign work?”

“You’re very good, Miss Monroe. I worked thirty years with the FBI. Becoming a campaign manager is part of my retirement.”

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