Running Mate(7)

By: Katie Ashley



I smiled. “I’m sure she would.”

“While I thank you for your candor, Miss Monroe, I’m more interested in what you know about my son.”

“Thorn or Barrett?”

“Barrett.”

When I glanced at Bernie, he nodded his head. Once again, I prepared to give my best book report. “Barrett graduated top of his class at Yale and now works for The Callahan Corporation. He was unable to follow in your military footsteps like his older brother, Thorn, because he was deemed unfit for service due to a congenital heart defect.”

“Very nice. I see you presented me with the G-rated version of my son’s life.”

“He does have a reputation of enjoying partying and playing the field,” I added, although that was putting it politely. Barrett’s handsome face was always splashed across the society section of the Washington Post, and he usually had a different girl with him in every picture—thought they always fit the same mold of being blonde stick figures. Since Barrett lived in New York City, he hadn’t been by campaign headquarters yet. Even if I had been out of the office at an event, I was sure the other office girls would have let me know.

While both Callahan sons would be considered very good-looking, Barrett seemed to have hit the jackpot when it came to the hotness lottery. Both men had a muscular build, although Barrett was leaner. Thorn was blond and blue-eyed like his mother where Barrett had Senator Callahan’s jet-black hair and greenish-gold eyes. It made for a winning combination. It also didn’t hurt that Barrett oozed sex appeal. From the videos I’d seen of him on TMZ, he had a confident swagger when he walked, along with a megawatt cocky grin. I didn’t know what it was exactly, but he just had that star quality, the it factor.

“Yes, you are correct about Barrett’s extracurricular activities.” He slid the manila folder in front of him over to me. “Within the contents of that file, you can read about the findings of an image consultant hired by the campaign, or I can briefly sum it up for you.”

“I’m fine with hearing it in your own words, sir.”

A pleased expression came over Senator Callahan’s face at my declaration of trust, and I wasn’t bullshitting him. I couldn’t have possibly worked for his campaign if I didn’t believe in his character.

For a moment, I saw a flash of Barrett in the senator’s more relaxed face. “Basically it boils down to the fact that with his playboy ways, Barrett is a liability to my campaign.”

I furrowed my brows at him. Talking about Barrett Callahan wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured this meeting going. What could I possibly to do to help Senator Callahan with such a problem?

Then the reason I’d been brought there finally hit me. “You want me to get Barrett involved with some volunteer opportunities with the campaign to improve his image.”

A curious smile curved on Senator Callahan’s lips. “Actually, I was thinking of another way you could help my wayward son.”

“And what’s that?

“While having Barrett appear at campaign events or even charitable ones would certainly help, it wouldn’t do a lot to change the public perception of him. I’m looking for something a little more drastic.”

“What exactly are you thinking?”

Senator Callahan leaned forward in his chair. “What I’m about to ask you is highly unorthodox, and it is something done out of sheer desperation.”

I gulped. I wasn’t liking the direction the conversation was taking at all. I started wondering what would happen to my job if I suddenly made a break for the elevator. Of course, I’d have to grab the magic key card from Bernie before I bolted. “Okay,” I replied in a half-whisper.

“I need you to pose as Barrett’s fiancée through the remainder of the campaign.”

After sitting there in stunned silence for a moment, I busted out laughing. As I replayed Senator Callahan’s words over in my mind, I continued dissolving into hysterics. The idea that I had been brought here to be a potential fake fiancée was absolutely ridiculous. It was the kind of thing you’d expect from the old Ashton Kutcher show Punked.

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