Read Senate Cloakroom Cabal Online

Authors: Keith M. Donaldson

Tags: #Suspense, #ebook, #book

Senate Cloakroom Cabal (7 page)

BOOK: Senate Cloakroom Cabal
3.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Thank you. Your call is very special to me.”

“Yes, well, you are the special one, Laura. I'll let you go.”

Finally. “Thank you. Goodbye.”


I punched in Jerry's private line as I went to the kitchen for a tissue. He answered on the second ring and gave me his code line that said he was in a meeting. I still blurted out the news. He burst out with excitement. I heard him explain to those in his office what had happened. I could feel his electricity.

“I'll wrap up here quickly,” he said, letting those present hear him. “I'll be home within the hour.”

I asked him to call Anna. I then called my assistant, Mary. She wanted to know who had called me and how I had been told. Little things like that meant a lot to the woman's sense of order. I called Lassiter. As controlled as my editor always was, I could hear in her tone that she was excited.

Next, I called Max, but got Delia, the officer who was Max's right arm.

“He's somewhere in the building,” she told me.

My excitement must have been obvious.

“Is this an emergency?”

Delia knew of the close relationship between Max and me. “I have wonderful news to share with him.”

“I'll find him and have him call you. And whatever it is, I'm glad for you.”

“Thanks, Delia. I won an award for writing, the Pulitzer, and I want to tell Max before the announcement is made public, which could be at any moment.”

“I've heard of that award. It's heavy stuff, ain't it?”

“The heaviest. Have him call my cell phone.” I felt out of breath.

“I'll find him if I have to set off an alarm, and I won't tell him,” she promised.

I went to the kitchen for a bottle of water and downed it completely. I took three long, deep breaths, and during the last one, my cell phone rang. It was Lassiter.

“Mr. Probst called again about your meeting with the publisher. I think you should come in right after lunch.”

“I will.” We chatted a few minutes, an eternity for my scrappy boss.

When Max called, we had a wonderful, reminiscence-filled talk.

Jerry arrived a few minutes later.

“Lassiter wants me in early this afternoon,” I told Jerry as he walked in the kitchen. “Mrs. Osterman is eager to see me, and tomorrow the blush would be off for them. You know how it is with yesterday's newspaper.”

“Fine. I'll drive.”

We hugged. “I'd appreciate that,” I said, my arms still around him.

“I'll drop you off tomorrow too,” he said, rubbing my back. “With your picture on the front page, public transportation is not the mode you should take.”

“Oh yeah. Things
change now, won't they?” I said, still holding him. Then my body began to shake, and I let the emotional tears flow.

He held me until I relaxed, then got me some tissues.

“Let's have a little lunch,” I suggested in an unsteady voice.

“I'll take care of that. You rest. Anna will be here any minute. I'll explain what's going on. You're going to need all your energy for this afternoon.”

“Lassiter was genuinely happy for me.”

“Of course she was. She nominated you, didn't she?”

“I know, it's, well, you know . . .”

Anna came in and was concerned over my tearful state.

“I'm fine, Anna. It's good news.”

She nodded, but still looked concerned.

“I'm going to take a shower. I put Tyler down forty-five minutes ago, Anna.”

A little after 1:00, Jerry and I walked into a whirlwind of people, and a mini newsroom celebration erupted. I was so thankful Jerry was with me. We finally made it to Lassiter's office. Max was there. We hugged. Jerry had called him. He had a congratulatory card from the chief, who had also called Lassiter. My editor introduced me to Mr. Probst.

She and I talked briefly, then Mr. Probst ushered Jerry and me to the publisher's plush office. It was a memorable, gentle time. Mrs. Osterman and Managing Editor Barton Williams were gracious. We had tea and chatted.

It was over in about an hour, and Jerry and I were on our way home.

“I felt like I'd been in the presence of royalty,” I reveled.

He smiled. “It was a very special time.”


enator Dalton sat in her office drinking her morning coffee and reading the
Washington Daily Star
's front-page story about its Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, Laura Wolfe. Roanne remembered the gruesome stories about a serial killer slaying pregnant women and stealing their fetuses. One victim had worked for Vice President Grayson. She buzzed Michael and asked him to come in.

When he entered, she held up the paper, front page facing him. “Have you read this?” she asked, pointing to Laura's picture.

“Not yet.”

“She's quite the investigator. She went against the flow, survived two suspicious accidents, and withstood heavy criticism over her persistence to dig deeply into the life of one victim who had worked for the vice president.”

“I remember. Seemed there was a sexual scandal or something.”

“It appears this Laura Wolfe was right in her speculations. She led the FBI to the killer and has just been awarded the Pulitzer for investigative journalism.”

Michael was ambivalent.

“She battled the odds,” Roanne said pointedly. “She went up against the powerful and was undaunted by various attacks made on her person and her name . . .” She let that hang. Come on,
, she urged to herself,
don't make me spell this out.
“Replace sexual misconduct with political misconduct . . .”

Slowly his expression showed some comprehension. “Are you thinking . . . but what does she know about the Senate?”

“What did she know about the White House?”

“May I?” he asked, indicating the paper, which she passed to him.

His eyes scanned the front page, and he moved to the inside page, where the story continued. Roanne watched him, envying his photographic memory.

“Oh, I see she uncovered some fraud in a city government and turned the tables on some cops in—”

She smiled. “Exactly. She often put her career—”

“And life, it seems,” he interrupted.

“Well, we don't want that.”


“She may be the perfect answer to our problem—to investigate the fall of Tutoxtamen. We've got plenty to get her started.”

“Yeah, but she's a beat reporter for the Metro section. She was assigned—”

Roanne pressed him. “I know, but maybe we can entice her with more than just the ‘unapproval' of a drug. Perhaps we can get her thinking that there is something much bigger happening.”

“But what? We don't even know.”

“Because we can't ask the questions. Or at least I can't.”

He nodded. “So how do we get her interested?”

“You call her and set up a meeting with me. Somewhere quiet. My condo, for instance.”

“Isn't she going to be busy with this Pulitzer thing for a while?”

“I'm a United States senator. Ms. Wolfe has a very curious mind . . .”

He nodded and went back to reading the article.

“Tell her we have suspicions about some possible illegal activity,”

Roanne prompted her AA. “Tell her it's beyond partisan politics. Tell her it's something that affects millions of Americans. Tell her there's a possible collusion between the pharmaceutical lobbyists and some senators.

“Give her until tomorrow—or until you can put together a good synopsis on Rogers, the testing results, and the FDA's reasons for turning down Tutoxtamen. Don't use any names, other than mine, of course. If she balks, tell her she'll get all the names if she decides to take this on.”


erry dropped me off at the paper, as promised. With my picture above the fold on page one, my anonymity on metro would have been short-lived. I remembered Max saying I'd probably start using my car to commute. He was right, but I don't think he had fame in mind.

Mary was not at her desk. I wrote her a note requesting a parking pass for the company garage. Cards and flowers filled my cubicle. Suddenly, Mary was alongside me. “Ms. Lassiter awaits both of us.” We went to the editor's office.

“It seems like every local news outlet—radio, TV, print, cable channels, and C-SPAN—want a piece of our Pulitzer award winner,” Lassiter said. “Mary, you're her gatekeeper today. Van will move your other reporters elsewhere.”

Van Peoples was Lassiter's assignment editor.

“Van's talked with the TV folks. We'll be using the executive conference room, and they'll do their one-on-ones there. Each gets ten minutes. Van will ask everyone to sit in, to help save some time. He also suggested the conference room be set up sports-style, similar to post-game interviews in pro football and golf. Laura, you'll sit in the center with Mrs. Osterman on one side and Barton and me on the other.”

I appreciated not having to stand. I could see this was a big day for the
as well as for me. No one from the paper had ever won this particular Pulitzer.

“Van will be with you during the one-on-ones.”

Unlike after the serial-killing story and all the fuss over me then, Jerry reminded me that I was the story this time. He encouraged me by saying, “Act grateful. Remember, what you did was a big deal. Winning the award is a big deal. Some humility is called for.” I agreed.

The news conference part lasted a little over forty-five minutes.

It drained me, and I asked for a short break. I went to the restroom and washed my face with cold water. I took some deep breaths and called Jerry, who answered immediately.

“How'd it go?”

I laughed. “Very well.”

“I haven't been able to work. I went out for a walk.”

“Sweetheart, I was fine.” I took a small hairbrush from my bag.

“What's your schedule?”

“I've got TV one-on-ones next. Van will be with me.” I placed my phone on the counter, putting it on speaker so I could brush my hair and touch up my makeup while we talked.

“How many, do you think?”

“Half dozen or so. There's not a lot more I can say that I haven't already said.”

“Yeah well, you know reporters; they've got to ask the same question three, four—”

“Hey! I'm a reporter, too, you know,” I said, leaning closer to the phone for added emphasis.

“Yeah, but you get it right the first time.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Fields,” I said, putting my things back in my bag. I adjusted my dark-blue jacket over my pale-blue shirt. I looked very much the executive, unlike my normal harried, nothing-in-place look.

“I'm having lunch in the Executive Dining Room with Barton Williams and Lassiter. I'll call you after that. Love you.”

“Love you.”

The interviews all went well. Most took less than the allotted time. They mostly wanted to know my feelings about being pregnant while tracking a serial killer who was killing pregnant women and to know about my relationships with the White House interns. The lunch was delightful. I felt that some of the extra attention from Barton was his way of saying he was sorry for almost having me fired.

Back at my desk, Mary had sorted out messages, cards, and hard copies of emails and faxes. She handed me some pink message slips. “I thought you might want to reply to these. There are only two.”

“Max and who else?” I said, taking them.

“A friend, if I remember correctly.”

I looked. “Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, looking at the second slip. “Kat Turner. You're right; we did part friends.”

“Well, I'll leave you to the rest. I have . . .” she paused, grinning. “I forgot. I don't have anybody else to assist today.”

The newsroom had celebrated my scoop, breaking the serial killer story. Maybe this second celebration was a little like winning two Oscars in a row. It was great for the recipient, but others might be saying “enough is enough.” There was still the luncheon Mrs. Osterman mentioned, but I thought I'd better get out on the beat and get my hands dirty. Although never
one of the gang
, I felt I had better act like one.

Mary interrupted my musing. I was still standing, staring down at my desk.

“Too daunting a task?” she asked.

“I'll be glad when the celebrating is over and I can get back to work. After today, we need to downplay all this and let me mess up my office.”

“No more decorations, I promise.”

I smiled. “You're like a kid.”

“Maybe it's more like my having kids; I know what pleases them.”

“Well, you certainly please me. Let's go through all this together, if you have the time.”

“I'm all yours,” she smiled. “This really is a big day.”

We sorted out the messages: friends, insiders, outsiders, and ones we didn't know. Mary placed each group into a file folder, giving it a name.

I called Jerry and filled him in.

“You sound a little weary,” he said, concerned.

“Can you pick me up before four?”

“I'll call you when I'm in the car.”

I called Max and told him about the media bash.

“I'll be sure to watch as many channels tonight as I can.”

I matched his tease. “What, you're not going to tape them?”

“Please, I'm not a teenager. I don't know how to run one of those tape machine things.”

We laughed. It felt good.

“Oh, I almost forgot. One of my callers was Kat Turner.”

“My, my. That is very special. Tell her I hope she is doing well.”

I picked up the message slips, which now numbered five. One puzzled me. It was from a Michael Horne, administrative assistant to Senator Roanne Dalton. He wanted to congratulate me on the Pulitzer and to know if I could meet with the senator in the next couple of days.

BOOK: Senate Cloakroom Cabal
3.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Distraction by Sierra Kincade
Loving You by Maureen Child
The Youngest Hero by Jerry B. Jenkins
Desired Affliction by C.A. Harms
Dark Place to Hide by A J Waines
Maddy's Dolphin by Imogen Tovey
Only Forever by Linda Lael Miller
Dust to Dust by Ken McClure
Outcast (Supernaturals Book 2) by Jennifer Reynolds