The Perfect Candidate – Chapter 5

Senator Chris Evans

Dinner was an exercise in self-control.  I had to bite my tongue more than once to keep from sounding off against the stupidity that was rampant at the table.  I was proud of myself for staying quiet.  Although I am sure for entertainment value alone Patrick would have enjoyed me going off on someone.  

I noticed that the esteemed Ms. Hamilton was seated at the table next to us.  I couldn’t seem to escape the woman.  I did notice that she had the table eating out of her hand, though.  She commanded the table and had everyone engaged in conversation and they weren’t even discussing the legislation.  She didn’t even seem to be speaking about politics.  I think Patrick was right, I didn’t like her because she challenged me and because I was mildly entranced by her.  

When the dinner plates were cleared and everyone began mingling around the room, I joined the fray.  I declined several invitations to dance and moved as far away from my table as I could.  In fact, I even moved away from Patrick.  I knew he would head off to wheel and deal on his own.  

As my Chief of Staff, he was always trying to work an angle for me.  I think most of the media thought I hired him because he was my brother-in-law and I was just being a nice guy.  But it was more than that.  I could trust Patrick and, in DC, that goes farther than anything else.  Plus, if people took him for granted, they would let their guard down around him and they would speak freely.  That would always work to our advantage in terms of gathering intel.  It didn’t seem to be public knowledge, or people seemed to forget, that Patrick was once a member of the Marine Special Forces and had a unique skill set of his own.  

The other thing Patrick O’Neil had was charm.  The social scene in DC was perfect for him.  While he had stayed out of the dating pool since his divorce, it was nice to hear that he had dipped his toe back in recently.  I am sure Adeline helped with putting him and Mary together.  I would need to thank her for that.  

While Patrick worked the middle of the room, I moved toward the front of the room and noticed that Greer had moved toward the back.  This would be perfect.  I could keep my distance and work my own agenda.  The information Ross had given me earlier in the night regarding Briarwood Technical was on my mind.  I wanted to know who knew what and when it was coming to Committee.

~ * ~

Before I knew it, it was nearing eleven and I was making my way toward the exit.  I had wanted to speak with Senator Frank Stewart but had not been able to locate him during the evening.  So, imagine my surprise when I spotted him near the back of the room with Senator Grant Tennyson.  Both of these gentlemen were on the Armed Services Committee and would have information regarding Briarwood Technical that could benefit me greatly.  It just so happened that they were standing with Ms. Hamilton. I could interrupt her attempt to get their votes and get the information I needed all at once.

Yes, it would be an extremely rude move.  Yes, it would be highly inappropriate and unprofessional, but I really didn’t care.  What I’m leaving out is that she’s done this to me before.  I was in the middle of a negotiation, a few months ago, on a bill.  I was conducting a discussion with several key members of a Committee in a small alcove in the Capitol and Ms. Hamilton interrupted us.  She stuck her nose into the conversation and began arguing her point.  The argument got heated and the two of us went toe-to-toe.  The other parties walked away and it was just the two of us with voices raised, practically screaming at one another.

I fired off a letter of reprimand to her firm that indicated she was grossly unprofessional and inappropriate in her demeanor and tactics.  She inserted herself into a conversation that she had not been invited to join and escalated it into an argument.  I made it clear that I did not appreciate it and I would take every advantage to not work with her again.  

I had no idea if the letter made its way to her desk.  I had to assume so, as the next encounter I had with her, she walked away and called me a pompous fuck under her breath.  She was the only lobbyist in town that I had such a contentious relationship with.  The others did well to send emails or call and take my declines for meetings and move on.

I approached Senator Stewart and pretended as if Ms. Hamilton was not even present.  I simply extended my hand to him. “How are you, Frank?  I’ve been trying to find an opportunity to speak with you all evening.”  I then turned to look directly at Grant Tennyson, making sure Hamilton didn’t have a chance to sneak off with him.  “Hey Grant, good to see you.  I actually need to speak to you as well.  We have this new security bill coming up that will be going through the Intelligence Committee, I wanted to see what your thoughts were on it.”

I didn’t want to tell them that I wanted to talk about Briarwood, at least not in front of Hamilton.  I didn’t want her to know that I was aware of her working on that contract.  It was easier for me to bring up something innocuous to get her to leave us alone so that I could bring up what I wanted, and it worked.  I could see that she was not happy as she walked away.  Part of me felt bad for what I had done, but not bad enough for me to go and apologize.

I talked to Stewart and Tennyson for almost thirty minutes before bidding them goodnight and heading home.  Patrick had met me at the back and we walked out together.  We agreed that we would meet for breakfast tomorrow morning at my house to go over everything from the party and set up a strategy for the coming week.  While I didn’t want to go to the party in the first place, I had to admit I did feel as if it was worth it.

~ * ~

The next morning, Patrick came into the kitchen looking a little worse for wear.  It was almost ten, so much later than we normally see each other in the office on a regular work day.  It was crazy that we were both so worn out considering neither of us was drunk when we left the hotel last night.  We were home right around midnight, which is only an hour or so later than my normal bedtime during the week.  I don’t need that much sleep, but for some reason, I felt as if I was half-dead and Patrick looked half-dead.

“Coffee’s ready, if you want some,” I announced as I looked up from the newspaper spread out on the bar in front of me.

Patrick grunted and pulled a cup from the cabinet and poured some before shuffling over to stand across from me.  “I got a call last night after I got home,” he announced before taking a drink.  “Had to listen to a screaming Preston Miller.”

My eyes shot up, “What?  Preston Miller called you?  What the hell for?”

“Oh, seems he was was not amused with your little stunt of busting in on Greer and her meeting with Stewart and Tennyson.  Especially since you had the balls to send him a reprimand when she did that to you.” Patrick took another drink from his coffee cup.  “You never told me about that, Chris.  When did that happen?”

I ignored his question and focused on the fact that Miller called Patrick.  “Did Hamilton go crying to Miller about that incident?  Are you fucking kidding me?”  I stood up from the bar and kicked the barstool over.  I was furious.  To think that Hamilton went and cried to her boss about what happened and then he called and bitched to Patrick about it.  How childish.  If Miller had a problem with it why the fuck didn’t he just come to me directly?

“Hamilton didn’t say a thing to him, I asked that question myself.  It seems that Preston was at the party and he was watching her carefully all night long.  He witnessed the episode himself.  He also witnessed the episode earlier when you two ran into one another and had words.”

I turned back and looked at Patrick. “He was watching her? Is there some sort of daddy issue there?”  I know I visibly shuddered when I said those words.  I was beginning to think of Hamilton in a completely different way now.  

Patrick started laughing and took another drink of his coffee.  I couldn’t figure out what he thought was so funny.  I just kept watching him, waiting for him to let me in on the joke.  When he didn’t, I finally yelled at him, “Can you clue me in on what if so fucking funny?”

He sat his coffee cup down on the counter and then walked around to pick up the barstool I had knocked over.  “Are you not concerned as to why you are so upset about this situation?”  He moved from my side over to the kitchen table.  He took a seat, propping his feet up on one of the other chairs and folded his hands across his lap.

I turned around to face him, my hands on my hip.  The man had seriously lost his mind.  “I’m upset over this because it’s creepy that Miller was watching her.” I took a step closer to the table and pulled a chair out.  “I’m upset because Miller called you and read you the riot act over my conversation with Stewart and Tennyson and his concern that I hurt Hamilton’s feelings.”

Patrick watched me as I sat down.  I expelled a breath and then slapped my hand on the table. “And I’m upset because you’re taking too much delight in this.”

Patrick began to roar with laughter.  “Oh my God, that is the best part of this.  You are so worked up and I’m loving it.  But honestly, it was a dick move and you know it was.  Miller didn’t talk to Hamilton last night so I have no idea if she has her feelings hurt, but you have to admit you were out of line.”  Patrick waited to see if I would respond or give him anything to latch onto but I didn’t.  “Come on, Chris, you can’t tell me you weren’t trying to get under her skin just a little?”

“Fine, maybe I was just a little.  She’s naïve if she thinks that her job is always going to be easy and every piece of legislation she has will be a cakewalk.  She needs a thick skin to work on the Hill for God’s sake.”

“You owe her an apology.”

“Fuck that, I’m not apologizing to her.  If I owe anyone an apology it would be to you for having to listen to Miller last night.”

~ * ~

The remainder of the weekend, I tried to put the entire telecom event out of my head.  I tried to ignore the argument with Patrick and what I knew about the phone call from Preston Miller.  The problem was I couldn’t get the Miller issue out of my mind.  It kept bouncing around in my head as to why Miller had such an interest in Greer Hamilton and why he watched her like he did.

I considered researching Hamilton and Miller but figured that would be creepy.  That would make it seem like I cared just a little too much.  Maybe there was a family relation or Miller had an unhealthy obsession with Hamilton.  In all honesty, it wasn’t any of my business.  But if Hamilton was going to handle the Briarwood Technical contract and have to deal with me on a regular basis, it meant that Miller would be watching me, too.  

~ * ~

Every Monday, I had a standing lunch with Senator Andrews.  We would rotate as to who would buy and who would pick where we would eat.  This week it was Adeline’s turn to pick the restaurant and my turn to buy.    Today, she decided to go a little farther than normal and we went to Station 4.  Neither one of us had a full schedule in the afternoon and figured we could take an extended lunch.

We were seated in a back corner of the restaurant.  They were relatively busy but the noise wasn’t overbearing.  The restaurant was a casual dining restaurant so it was comfortable to sit and chat.  

“Tell me, how was the event on Friday evening?” Adeline asked with a hint of mischief. “Did you get into any trouble?”

I rolled my eyes and shook my head.  She already knew and was busting my chops.  “Crap, you’ve heard already, haven’t you?”

She smiled and took a sip from her water glass. “Well, you know Mary and Patrick are seeing one another, right?  So, yeah, I might have heard a story or two.”

I sat back in my chair, letting my shoulders sag.  “I ran into Hamilton, literally, right after I got there.  We might have exchanged words but it wasn’t bad.  She actually stood up to me.  But later in the night, I did interrupt her while she was presumably trying to get votes.”

“Oh Chris, why did you do that?”

“Well, in the words of Patrick, I was pulling a dick move.”  This time I was the one taking a drink from my water glass.  I was suddenly feeling sheepish.  I didn’t like to admit this sort of thing to Adeline.  I never wanted to look bad in front of her.  “She gets me all worked up, I just can’t explain it.”

Adeline watched me just waiting for me to continue.  I could tell she was judging me but didn’t want to speak until she was sure I wasn’t going to say something further.  Of course, I wasn’t sure what else she wanted me to say.  It was like an old-fashioned standoff.  

The silence finally got to me and I broke down. “No, this doesn’t mean I like her.  I know that’s what you think.  But she doesn’t get me worked up in that sense.  She’s a lobbyist, Adeline, you know they drive me nuts. I hate their belief that every piece of legislation needs to be passed when half of them are not good for the country.  The majority of those idiots are nothing but paid pit bulls who do everything they can to get something through.  They do it for money and not for the good of the people.  They have no scruples and it’s disgusting.”

A faints smile formed on Adeline’s lips.  She took a sip of her water and as she put her glass back on the table she finally spoke. “For someone who doesn’t know why she gets you all worked up, you certainly have one hell of an explanation.”  She sat back in her chair and just smiled at me, watching me carefully.  “My dear boy, I think you have a love-hate relationship with Ms. Hamilton.  You love to hate what she stands for.  But I think deep down you do admire that she has a little hutzpah and doesn’t back down so easily.”

“I hate the job she has, but she does seem to be unwilling to back down from a challenge.   Although she never did call me for my vote on this telecom bill.”

“Do you like her, personally I mean?  Does she interest you?”

I damn near choked and I wasn’t even drinking anything.  “What?  You mean do I have feelings for her?”  Adeline nodded.  “Hell no, I don’t have those types of feelings for anyone, I’m married.”  I thought about it for a minute and realized that didn’t come out the right way.  “I still have feelings for Bitsy.  I still think about her all the time and I can’t think of another woman.  You know that, Adeline.  It wouldn’t be right.  No, I don’t have any sort of romantic or sexual thoughts about Ms. Hamilton or any other woman.”  

I grabbed my water and took a drink.  I could feel my face beginning to flush and I hoped the cool water would bring my temperature down.  I didn’t want to have this conversation with Adeline and definitely not in public.  I just hoped I sounded convincing.  It was true, everything I said.  I didn’t have any romantic feelings for Greer Hamilton.  I wasn’t looking to have a relationship of any sort with her.  The woman drove me mad.  I hated her stand on every political issue and I didn’t want to work with her.  But I was also angry that her boss was meddling in her career and watching her every move.  That creeped me out, but I wasn’t about to tell her.  She might get the wrong idea if I told her.  She’d think I cared and then I’d have to explain that I don’t and it would spiral out of control.

“The more you protest, the more I think there’s something there,” Adeline said quietly.  

“Can we change the subject, please?”

~ * ~

It was late in the afternoon as I walked down the hall toward my Senate office.  Adeline and I had turned our conversation from my ‘relationship,’ or lack thereof, with Ms. Hamilton to Congressional topics.  We had several covered several upcoming bills that were coming up for votes that we were going to need to join forces on.  We also had discussions over the upcoming Presidential election.

We currently had a Democrat in office. One who had been there for two terms and could not run for another.  There was a lot of buzz as to who would be running in the general election to get the nomination.  Adeline, a staunch Republican, was interested in my take on the frontrunners.  Honestly, I wasn’t very fond of any of them.  

Brian Tanner was a billionaire businessman from Northern California who ran a technology firm and was running.  He had absolutely no political experience, but he had business acumen out the ears.  Every business initiative he started turned to gold and he never sugar coated what he said in interviews.  He was wildly popular and people gravitated toward him because of it.  I wasn’t a fan.

There were several Governors and Senators that had thrown their hats in the ring, but Tanner was getting the most press.  When you have the money to virtually buy the media exposure, almost everyone else doesn’t matter.  I told Adeline that the DNC would need to find a strong candidate to rival Tanner if they had any hope of keeping him from being the nominee.

When I walked into my office, I found Patrick sitting on the couch.  This was odd, he normally sat at his desk and then followed me into my office.  “What are you doing in here?” I asked, my tone was a little gruffer than I had intended.

“I’ve been waiting for you to get back.  I was beginning to wonder if you and Adeline had run off.” Patrick sat his laptop on the cushion next to him and then leaned forward.  “I received an interesting call today and I think you need to sit down.”

Instead, I turned to face him and leaned up against the front of my desk.  Resting against the desk and crossing my feet at the ankles and then crossing my arms across my chest.  “Okay, let’s hear it.”

“The DNC would like for you to consider running for President.”

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