Claire had been summoned to Senator Clancy Alexander’s office late Sunday afternoon. It was a highly unusual request any day of the week, but on a Sunday?
She arrived at his office at 4pm and was told to sit in the lobby until he was ready for her. Ten minutes went by and Claire had had enough.
She stood and went to the Senator’s secretary, stating with an indignant tone, “The Senator can call me when he’s ready, I’ll be in my office.”
Walking down the hall, her thoughts were spewing with contempt for the man. What’s his game? The Bill Hancock debacle, these two yahoos are in this together. Running scared, they are. The realization hit her hard, the fact that she was suddenly a powerful woman. These men needed her vote.
Just as she sat at her desk, the phone rang, “Senator,” Clancy cleared his throat. “You must forgive me. I know how valuable your time is, so if you would give me just a few minutes, come back. There will be no wait.”
When Claire entered his office, Clancy stood to shake her hand, a smirky expression planted on his face. “Claire, please.” He put his hand out, gesturing for her to sit on a sofa. “Good to have you come on such short notice. I hope you like my home-like setting.” He poured her a glass of wine, whiskey for himself before joining her. Sitting next to her, he handed her the wine, and made a toast. “To many more times together.” He clicked his glass against hers, and tasted his drink. “My wife is out of town for the week. I’m afraid we haven’t been getting along too well lately.” He moved a little closer to her. “I like your style, Senator. I want to spend some time with you, if you know what I mean?”
Claire felt a rush of anger erupt inside her. She jumped up, spilling the wine over Clancy’s trousers. She set the glass down on a table, and glared at him. “What do you want, Senator?”
He stood and walked to her, he put his hands on her shoulders. “Come on, Claire. It’s obvious now, isn’t it? I only want what you’ve given so generously to other men.”
She stepped back in horror, shocked, not understanding. After regaining her composure, she said, “You are out of line, sir. I’ll forget this ever happened if you apologize and agree never to do this again.”
“Claire, I was talking to my granddaughter the other day. She and her mom were vacationing in Mexico. She was talking from the balcony of their hotel, and said to me, You know what, Pappy? From my window, I can see colorful birds, an iguana, two deer, and the most amazing vegetation. Palm trees are everywhere. Claire, you want to know how I responded to this beautiful child?” He waited, but heard no response.
“I told my granddaughter, Honey, that is wonderful. I too have something unusual. I have a mole in my house.” Clancy put his head back and laughed. “How’s that new friendship going with Rachel Ross, Claire?”
He went behind his desk and pointed to a nearby chair. “Sit, Claire. We have some business to discuss. You obviously aren’t in the mood for a sexual encounter this afternoon.”
Claire stood near the door, ready to run. His actions were insidious, gross, ugly. “Senator, I need you to stop speaking to me that way. I don’t know what’s going on, but it needs to stop now.” She turned to leave, but stopped when she heard his response.
He raised his voice. “Sit down, Senator. I have some pictures to show you. Oh, you’re going to love these.” He handled some documents that lay on his desk. “Oh, here’s a good one of you and the Ambassador to Chile. You remember your pricey sex excursion in Colombia last year, using tax payer dollars? That poor man’s wife, this will indeed be devastating if word gets out. Now, forgive me if I came on too strong with you, but after seeing these photos, I thought you’d be game to help out a lonely old man such as myself with my desires. After all, you were there for Senator Hancock. I mean, you’re single. It makes sense that a woman with your beauty would have sexual needs that aren’t being met.”
Claire turned around, showing contempt, hatred for the man. “Anything you have will be easy to disprove, this is a joke. A sick joke that isn’t going to get you anywhere.”
“Ah, I just love the 24-hour cable news, don’t you? They love this stuff, it will be at least a good week of gossip for them. Do you really think your version of the story will be as much fun for them to discuss? I can hear them now, the pundits on every network going over and over their surprise at the secret life of Claire Winslow. By the time they finish with you, it will be too late for anyone to hear the truth. That’s the beauty of the media. My God, they’ve made themselves so easy to manipulate. Poor poor Claire, what will happen when we run another candidate against you? We’ll have to do that, you know. The public will understand why you need to go. All those disappointed fans of yours, what a shame.”
Clancy pushed a button on the phone and asked Bill Hancock to join them. He smiled at Claire, “Checkmate, Claire. Now sit down.”
Bill entered, and took the seat next to Claire. “Hey, sweetheart.” He leaned in close to kiss her.
Claire slapped him and looked at Clancy. “You boys have made your point.”
“No, Claire. I don’t believe we have, not yet anyway.” Clancy smiled at her. “Our bill is going to the floor on Friday. We have the votes for this to pass, with your help of course. All I want from you is a simple yes. Without it, you will be defeated in November, I guarantee you that.”
She couldn’t be in the same room with these men anymore. She stood, her voice strong, “You make up a hideous scandal, make me out to appear like a sex-craved woman who uses her position as Senator to gallop around the world with different men, all financed on the backs of the tax payers,” she sneered. “It’s ugly, but hardly original, Senators. You could have impressed me with something a little more clever.” She left the room without confirming her vote.
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