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Authors: Bridget Siegel

Domestic Affairs

BOOK: Domestic Affairs
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domestic
affairs
domestic
affairs

A Campaign Novel

BRIDGET SIEGEL

Copyright © 2012 Bridget Siegel

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the Publisher.

For information address Weinstein Books,
387 Park Avenue South, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10016.

ISBN-13: 978-160286-169-5

First Edition

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For my mom and my dad,
who gave me the world and then
taught me to reach for the stars

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE: THE WAKE-UP CALL

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

domestic
affairs
PROLOGUE
THE WAKE-UP CALL

O
livia opened her hazel eyes, her vision still blurred from the night before. She glanced at the clock lighting up the hotel room: 7:03. She'd been working campaigns long enough to understand that an extra chair beside the bed in a hotel room in Iowa made that room a presidential suite. She thought the bed felt a little softer than the one in her own room, which, as she connected the dots, she realized was downstairs. Her room barely allowed space for a bed, let alone a chair. And there was no way she could have overslept on that rock-hard mattress. This room was painted dull beige and above the bed was the obligatory landscape portrait that hung in every hotel on the road, the painting of the idyllic view that should have been outside the window but was not.

This hotel in particular was in the parking lot of a strip mall. Literally. Right smack in front of a Super Target. Which actually, Olivia had thought when they pulled in the night before, was pretty great. That was campaign frame of mind: you pulled up to a hotel that had a totally useful store nearby, and it far outweighed the fact that you would be sleeping in a parking lot.

I should probably stock up on some stuff I need
, she thought.
I wonder how much I could fit in my suitcase. Probably not much.

When traveling with a candidate on commercial flights Olivia did not check luggage. That lesson, Campaign Lesson #5 in politics, became
crystal clear the first time she traveled with a gubernatorial candidate. Only a year out of college and thrilled to be filling in for her sick finance-director boss on a two-day trip to Texas, she had packed in preparation for any and every situation that could possibly arise. She would never forget the annoyed look on the candidate's face as they waited for her luggage on the carousel. She was new then so he didn't scream, despite the fact that her bag was the very last to come across the conveyor belt. Threw off the entire day's tightly–packed schedule. Now, four years later, equal to about sixteen campaign years, if she made a mistake like that, the politician paying her salary would blast her so severely that an onlooker might suspect imminent murder. Needless to say, Campaign Lesson #5 was to pack light. Wrinkle-free suits could look totally different with a new shirt, and a black shift dress worked for everything.

Maybe I could fit a small box of Q-tips and the Neutrogena face wash I like.

The buzz of a BlackBerry shifted Olivia out of her Target trance. The blinking red light beckoned. It couldn't be anything that bad. She had checked her messages before falling asleep two hours earlier. Post-sex BlackBerry check. It was the campaign equivalent of a postcoital cigarette, though admittedly far less sexy. Still, the thought of what awaited yielded a flurry of worries.

Where are we on the budget? Do I have enough calls scheduled today for the governor? Will Henley come through with the fifty he promised? What if Alek's check doesn't get here in time?

She reached for the BlackBerry and as she shifted, the arm around her pulled her back in. God, his timing was good. He tightened his hold on her slender waist and she decided to let him. Usually, on most mornings after, she'd feel as claustrophobic as Scarlett Johansson in
He's Just Not That Into You
when her boyfriend in the movie, E from
Entourage
, is sprawled on top of her and she can't escape. But with him it was different. There was a space right between his chin and broad shoulder where she fit perfectly. She thought his body was flawless, strong enough to hold her tight but not so muscular that he bulged out of an oxford shirt. Even the feel of his steady snore was sexy to her; it was more like calm, heavy breathing and it just took her over. He was it, everything she'd always wanted in a man. In these rare moments of
closeness away from the craze of everyday campaign life her insecurities washed away, and she knew this was love for both of them.

Rrrrriinnnngggg.

“Go away,” he mumbled as he pulled her closer. He ran his hand across her stomach and then her back as she turned toward him. “You're going to make me answer that, aren't you?” His eye was half-open. “Wouldn't it be better if we just found something else to do until it stops ringing?”

“Noooo. I'm afraid not,” Olivia said. “No time.”

“Think of it this way,” he said, grabbing her by the hips. “I'd be in a much better mood. And that would be good for everyone.”

She pushed him off. “Pick up the phone.”

The truth was that she wanted him as badly as he wanted her. Or more. But the hotel phone was never a good thing. It was a given that everyone kept a constant eye on their BlackBerry, so if someone was using a landline, it was urgent. He took her advice, as he did most of the time. She could barely hear the voice on the other end and yet the caller might as well have had a megaphone to her ear.

“You've been caught with your pants down.”

“I what?”

Suddenly they were both very awake and very aware of their surroundings. As the terror sank in, a flutter of emails, texts, calls, and moments whirled through Olivia's mind.
Which message did they find?
This feeling of terror was exactly as she had always imagined it would be: instant and crashing.

“What is he talking . . .” She didn't have to whisper. Words were barely coming out of her mouth and his face was flushed white.

“The trade deal. They know we spoke about it in Colombia.”

And breathe. Well, for her. He switched into yell mode. It was amazing how quickly he did that. She wondered if it was a guy thing to be able to switch emotions as easily as shifting gears in a car.

Regardless, her breath resumed and it was back to reality and the start of a day. And the realization that it was 7:18—past the hour when it would be safe for one of them to slip out of the other's room, way past the hour when she could afford to be daydreaming. She jumped out of bed. She hated this part. It was the instant 180—one moment
would be perfect and the next, reality would come crashing in, leaving her sneaking out of a room she shouldn't have been in to get away from a man she shouldn't have been with.

She glanced over at the man who had left her world. He was yelling so intently that he barely noticed her slinking around the bed looking for her bra.
Just as well
, she figured as she grabbed up the rest of her clothes and tied back her hair. A kiss good-bye or a “See you at work, honey” didn't seem appropriate anyway. It was time, yet again, for the ultimate walk of shame.

As Olivia slipped into the hallway the significance of the late time hit her. This hotel had two elevator banks and she wasn't supposed to be walking out of this one. Not such an issue at the usual four a.m., but it was now seven thirty a.m., and the news of her walk back to her room could spread around the world as fast as a sex tape featuring Kim Kardashian.

Please, let the world be still asleep. Please, please, please.
She pleaded with the universe.

As the elevator doors opened she put her head down and pretended to read her emails. But she couldn't help taking a quick peek up. Reflex.

Shit.
She put her head right back down.

Jacob had a seat at breakfast with a prime view of the elevator, waiting, no doubt, to catch her boss before someone else did. He was the worst-case scenario; he would know exactly where she was supposed to be and where she was coming from. Head down, she turned a quick corner, confident that he hadn't noticed. But her heart raced, shaken that she had come so close. As she power-walked to her room she kept her eyes to the floor. Now she was in an appropriate part of the hotel, but it didn't matter—she knew the path she had just taken was wrong.

What am I doing?
By the time she reached her room, the shame and fear had boiled up from the knot in her stomach into warm tears. She leaned against the closed door and slid down to the floor as she cried.

Seriously, Olivia, seriously?
She berated herself.
What am I doing? How did I get here?

She knew how she got here. It was like it had happened yesterday. And a lifetime ago.

ONE

C
ould we maybe try a different route?” Olivia half-shouted through the Plexiglas to the cab driver as she hung up from what had seemed like an endless conference call. She looked down at her BlackBerry and watched the time turn to 4:04 p.m.

Traffic never failed to appear when she was running late.
More like Parked Avenue.
She looked down at her watch, annoyed that she had not left herself more time.

Well, at least Jacob is used to my being late. He'll know to make up an excuse for me.

Jacob Harriston and Olivia had worked together on a congressional campaign in Connecticut five years back. Right before he started working for Landon Taylor. Campaign colleagues were a lot like summer camp friends. Some you kept in touch with more than others, but either way, there was a bond that couldn't be entirely broken regardless of space and time. They had been through a war together. Slept on the floor of a dirty office while doing the seating for concert halls full of supporters, huddled together while getting yelled at by candidates and donors or both, did shots together as thunder rumbled minutes before huge outdoor fundraisers. They were in constant contact for months in a row.

Still, a year could pass after a campaign with both people being too busy to ever check back in. Jacob's call two weeks ago had caught
Olivia completely by surprise. They needed a national finance director for the Landon Taylor presidential campaign, he said. Olivia had first assumed he was calling her for a referral to someone she had worked for. It had not even crossed her mind that they would be offering the job to her. “I've told them I think you could do this better than anyone,” Jacob said. She stammered through a response, assuring Jacob she could raise many millions of dollars in eighteen months, without actually thinking about whether or not this was true. In reality, she had worked on only three campaigns and had not even attended two national conventions, let alone been responsible for getting a candidate there—she had only just reached her twenty-seventh birthday. The job of national finance director of a presidential campaign was reserved for someone with greater seniority, management skills, and experience. She had heard buzz that Jacob was taking the reins of the campaign, stepping up as the unofficial campaign manager and bringing in a younger, fresher staff, but she couldn't believe he would go this far.

The two weeks since that call had catapulted Olivia into interviews, e-mails, and an emotional tizzy that left no time to reconsider anything. Not that there was anything to reconsider. This was her dream job. Being the national finance director of a presidential campaign was the apex of a fundraiser's career. She couldn't remember ever hearing of anyone near her age doing it.
Youngest national finance director in political history
, she proudly thought at least three times an hour, imagining the headline in the paper, the bio box that would hang next to her head when she was called in to comment on her favorite CNN show. This was it. The big leagues. The presidency. And not just any presidency, the imminent presidency of Governor Landon Taylor, her political hero. This would be the first time she actually met Taylor, so he could sign off on the hire that Jacob and the rest of the upper-level staff had approved—her. One of the most important days of her life, and she was running late.
Only five minutes.
She looked down at the clock on the dashboard.
Seven minutes.

BOOK: Domestic Affairs
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