Authors: Latrivia Nelson
The Lonely Heart Series
Latrivia S. Ne
RiverHouse Publishing, LLC
5100 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38117
Copyright © 201
by Latrivia S. Nelson
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This book is dedicated to the women and men in my life who have supported me through this trying year
and to Mom.
This book would not have been possible without the loving warmth of God, the courageous efforts of Karen Moss to even deal with me in my hysteria, the patience of The Carter Malone Group, the dedication of the RiverHouse staff and the inspiration of my dear children, Tierra and Jordan. I would be remiss if I did not also thank a host of supporters, fans, readers, fellow publishers, friends, family and special loved ones for their prayers, kind words, emails, texts, tweets and kisses. I love you all.
The Contingency Plan
Congressman William Orrin’s Headquarters
Tuesday, November 2, 2000
The political machine was a capricious thing. One wrong move and today’s top leader could easily be tomorrow’s chop liver, served up to the American public with a side of entertaining commentary and knee-slapping opinion polls. And the one thing about it was that no one was safe. If your name was on the ballot, then you were fair game.
Standing in the middle of the war room of William Orrin’s campaign headquarters, Charlie looked at all the banners in the dark - the sparkling red, blue and white letters that had once held so much promise but had lost their luster over the long hours of the day – and suddenly felt lost.
Orrin had lost. But so had she. Ironically, howe
er, Orrin seemed to have walked away from his concession speech with his self-respect still intact. Charlie had made her entire life about this campaign. She was graduating a semester later than her peers, because she had taken time off for the campaign.
She had fought with her mother about her dec
sions regarding her future, because
she had chosen to be here
. She had turned down a good job in Vermont, so that
she could be here
. She had invested herself 100 percent so that
she could be here
. And now, that here was no longer an option, she didn’t know where to go or how to begin to pick up the pieces.
In the darkness of the room, she felt as forgotten as the signs that she had canvassed South Florida with for months.
The painful part was that the loss was not by a landslide but by a very thin margin, less than five points. The news had nearly choked her when she found out. She went over and over the numbers the day before with the rest of the team. They were leading by three the night before. Three. But none of that mattered now. Floridians had spoken.
Orrin was out, Graham was in.
They had played dirty pool to keep the red state bleeding crimson and their man had won – a fat, balding white man with long, old money and no intention of helping the starving, impoverished communities or the overburdened middleclass. At least her rich, white candidate was for the people – the lesser of two evils as her professor had called Orrin. Just the thought put her into a worse mood, which was why she cut off the thought of tomorrow’s America and went over to her tiny little desk to face today.
Led by three, lost by five.
She hit the desk with a closed fist and then began packing up her life.
It was now eleven at night and all of the staff had taken their leave hours ago. After hugs, kisses and a few good cries, they gathered their personal items and memorabilia to remember the campaign by, and then closed up shop at the headquarters for good. At least for the next three years. But Charlie had stayed, even after Orrin left. She just wanted to sit there for a while and take it all in.
But she wasn’t alone. One person had stayed back with her.
Sully Orrin, William Orrin’s little brother, came out of his corner office and looked over at the intern at her desk, packing up her things in a yellow file box. She was quietly working, head down in disappoin
ment, probably fighting tears and learning her first lessons about the real world.
He felt bad for her; honestly, he felt worse for her than he did his own brother. William had other options. He was already established in the financial sector, a partner at their father’s firm. William would be alright.
Charlie, on the other hand, had invested ever
thing into this campaign. She looked at his big brother like he was the future of their state, like she knew what he was capable of and hoped that one day he would go from the House of Representatives to the Senate to even the White House.
Charlie was like that
. She dreamed big, if she dreamt at all.
Now her little vision was shattered, and if nothing else, she had to learn the hard way that politics were fickle. He had warned her on more than one occasion, but she had turned a deaf ear, insisting that the people of South Florida would speak out against the incu
bent and elect a man that could “save them.”
He was liked that once. Thirteen years ago when he was 18 and on the campaign trail for the first time, he had experienced the same roller-coaster of em
tions. It was then that he had learned that the pain of failure and the joy of success were on the same spe
trum but on very different ends.
Feeling the responsibility to cheer her up, he fina
ly pushed himself to say something. “You wanna go grab a bite to eat?” Sully asked, arms folded across his wide chest and the fine fabric of his blue Brooks Brothers Oxford shirt. He leaned against his door with his Italian loafer propped up against the side and watched her from behind.
Releasing a long sigh, she deflated. “Sure, why not,” Charlie said, without turning around. She wiped her tears again quickly as they fell on her paperwork. “I just need to finish packing this stuff up…” Her voice trailed off. A sniffle followed. Feeling herself breakdown, she started to sob. “Why did this have to happen, Sully?” She paused in her packing, and clenched the sides of the box with her long, slender hands.
“You know if some of our key advisers had taken this campaign as seriously as you did, we would have never lost,” he said, hoping to lift her spirits.
“It wasn’t the advisors that made us lose,” Charlie said even sadder. “We didn’t get out to vote.
There weren’t nearly enough of us that took the time to make this Tuesday count.”
Sully walked up behind her and lovingly wrapped his arms around her small frame. Nuzzling his nose into her curly braids and pushing his hips into her backside, he kissed her soft, wet cheek. “This is life, Charlie.” He looked across the room at the half hung banner leaning against the wall and felt his stomach drop.
Damn. That was a horrible sight
Charlie turned around and gazed up into his eyes, a look of defeat clouding her perfect Nubian features. “Well, I would say it isn’t fair, but I already know what you would say to that.
Life isn’t fair
Sully smirked, wiping her face at the same time with his thumb. An idea popped into his head, naug
ty by perfect in its design. “Let’s just go back to my place and grab a bite to eat. Okay? I’ll fix your favo
. We can both have a good cry and then maybe a good
“Is this your way of cheering me up?” she asked with a half-grin on her face.
“This is my way of moving on, Charlie. There were only two options when we set out on this jou
ney. Win or lose. Well, while we gave it a good try, we lost,” he said with finality in his deep baritone voice. Lifting her chin, he frowned, wrinkling his freckled nose. “We lost.” His eyes burned into her and their connection was instant.
Charlie saw his disappointment then. She knew tonight he needed her as much as she needed him. Burying her head on his thick muscular chest, she tightened her grip on him and sighed. “Sometimes life sucks, Sully.”
He couldn’t help but laugh at her comment. Leave it to them to sum up their entire 12-month campaign to a bunch of overused clichés. “Come on,” he said, tugging at her soft hand. “Let’s get out of here. I’ll grab your things in the morning when I come back. Just get your purse.”
Downtown Miami was absolutely breathtaking at night. On the 25
floor of the Belmont luxury condos, Charlie looked over the balcony at the beachside ocean view under the bright full moon as Jimi Hendrix’s
played on Sully’s stereo system and sudde
ly felt at peace for the first time in weeks.
The foamy tide rushed onto shore and brought with it the notion of hope. She looked around the city in awe. Even 2,500 feet up in the air she could still smell sea water in the cool breeze and hear the sound of bustling cars and Latin music below. It was like living in limbo between city life and an exotic resort. It was the best of both worlds – but only for those with money.
And Charlie didn’t come from money. In fact, she came from the opposite of money. She was raised in Ft. Lauderdale by her single mom, Margie, who worked as a bar maid and a substitute teacher for most of her adult life. The two of them had leased a small two-bedroom bungalow for the whole of her chil
hood and teenage years. So, this new life of hanging with ivy leaguers and socializing with rich politicians was a completely different atmosphere than she was used to.
However, unlike most of the young people who were drawn like a moth to a flame to all the cosmetic trappings, she was pulled in by the promise of pr
Clutching a chilled bottle of Corona beer in her hand, she leaned on the silver rail with her shoes off and her bare feet nestled into green grassy-like rug as she drifted off into an abyss. A thousand thoughts assailed her. Graduation. The impending search for a job. Her relationship with the smoking hot guy fixing her dinner. Each issue was equally important, sep
rate and yet all intertwined.
Inside the upscale condo, Sully busied himself making his famous Sloppy Joe sandwiches and watched the recorded game of Dolphins against the Cowboys on the kitchen flat screen television. She couldn’t tell if he was genuinely in a good mood by his constant whistling or if he was just putting on for her sake, but she appreciated his effort.
“We missed a good game,” he screamed, chopping up onions and bell peppers to put into the hamburger meat. “We’re probably the only people in the city who didn’t see it for ourselves last night.”
“Did the Dolphins win?” she asked, taking another sip of her beer, but she didn’t really care. Football was Sully’s thing. It had always been.
Dropping one last helping of pepper into the bowl and adding oregano, he washed his hands under the faucet and wiped them with a towel. “Don’t know yet. I mean, I could fast forward, but anticipation is half the excitement, you know.”
While it was hard to do, Charlie pulled herself from the picturesque view of the ocean and looked through the patio doors at the view of her boyfriend. It was still hard to believe that they were together. Sure, she’d wanted him since the first time that she’d laid eyes on him, but she never thought that they would happen. And now that they had happened, most days, she felt like she was living in a dream. The downside, however, to living in a dream was that eventually she’d have to wake up.
There was a lot of outside pressure on Sully, and she knew it. Everyone was counting on him to be as promising as - or maybe even more than - his big brother, Will. He was afraid that if they – his family- found out that he was sleeping with an intern, his family would find a way to end it. Coming from money, Sully was expected to marry one of the women down at the club whose father was a partner at either the family’s firm or another equally profitable one.
They probably expected him to marry a
with an Ivy League education and trust fund, not a
not a girl whose mother never made it out of the poverty bracket, who benefited from welfare and used free clinics. And while she was hopeful about the change of society, she wasn’t dumb.
Socioeconomics still was the order of the day.
Luckily, she and Sully had managed to keep things quiet during the campaign, but just because it had been quiet didn’t mean that it hadn’t also been pa
sionate. Six months they had been seeing each other, and it had been pure magic. Of course, since she’d only been in a couple of relationships, she didn’t have much to compare it to, but she knew magic when she felt it. There were fireworks between them, and they ignited every time that they were alone.
In between fundraisers, private dinners, meetings and rallies, they had stolen time away for each other. The only problem was that in the process, they had never discussed what would happen after this ca
paign. And now, reality was knocking at their door and demanding to come in.
Prior to them getting together Charlie knew that Sully had a reputation in South Florida for being a playboy, but not in an overt way. He always kept his indiscretions quiet,
but women talked
. And at every event, there was a woman who would approach him about the old times, offering to make new memories later. He would always decline the other women gracefully and end up wrapped into a human pretzel with her.