Walker Chapter One: Night and Day

•January 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Mount Lee, Santa Monica Mountains, Los Angeles County, California

Wednesday, January 12, 1994

3:45 AM

She let her eyes fall closed, smelling the salt water as she inhaled a deep breath of the late night breezes blowing inland from the nearby ocean into her lungs. She opened her eyes again slowly, taking in the brilliant glow below her. The wind whipping up the Hollywood hills swirled her raven hair around her shoulders, as she turned her head from side to side, silently surveying the sea of lights laid out in a grid-like pattern stretching to the horizon on every direction. The most blinding luminescence originated from the towering glass skyscrapers of downtown, whose brilliance dwarfed that of the darkness-piercing floodlights that from below illuminated the white facade of the megalithic fiberglass capital letter on top of which she stood.

Already the first heavy droplets of morning dew were weighing down her wind-blown tresses, and glistening on the surface of the figure-hugging jet-black latex bodysuit she wore. However, it was not until she felt, rather than saw, the first rays of the early morning sunlight breaking over the treetops of the hills behind her that she recognized that she had been standing on that spot for the better part of the past four hours.
Just then, the mobile wireless handheld device on her belt began vibrating silently against her hip. She plucked it off; her gloved fingers flying over the keys, and then held it up to read the message.

She heaved a heavy sigh, immediately suppressing the bust of irritation that flared in her mind that, even from thousands of miles away across oceans and continents on the other side of the globe, the woman could still manage to nag at her.
She turned on a pivot away from the city before her, tossing her hair behind her, and walked to the edge of the under lit white façade, hearing the rhythmic tapping of the stiletto heels of her thigh boots against the fiberglass resonating throughout the gigantic letter’s hollow interior.
In the corner of her mind to which she banished her annoyance, she knew that her frustration was more with herself than with her elder, with thus far being unable to fulfill her mission, even after all of the months she had spent on assignment here in California, and at the certain knowledge that, as the woman’s goal was to teach her lesson, she would never be permitted to return home to Eureka for good until she did.
She stepped off of the edge of the façade without a second thought, and dropped with ease the dozen or so meters to the ground, landing in a one-knee crouch. Almost before she had stood, with a blur and the rustle of leaves, she disappeared into the surrounding trees.

Alamo, Nevada

4:56 AM

The sun was breaking over Papoose Mountain when she slowed to a halt as she approached the imposing edifice of the behemoth warehouse. Stepping up to the door of the warehouse, she stood still as a statue as she waited as the laser beam scanned her retina and the pad took her handprints, before the door popped open with a whoosh of pressurized air. She took a deep breath as she stepped inside the door to enjoy the coolly climate-controlled air from the salt flat desert morning. She barely even glanced up at the crystal chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling above, nor at the polished parquet floor at her feet, hearing only the click of her boots’ heels rhythmically on the marble tiles echoing in the high-ceiled hall.

Stepping into the lift, she barely felt the inertia of acceleration as it plummeted, only her hair feeling the near-zero-gravity weightlessness effects. She stepped from the lift and strode purposefully along the main street.

The few residents who noticed her watched her out of the corner of their eyes, as they hurriedly busied themselves with sudden intense interest about the various tasks they were performing as she passed by them. In spite of being a familiar face around the town, as she had been resident there longer than any of the others presently working, she was keenly aware that, in her present outfit, she did strike an intimidating figure.

Finally she arrived at the bottom of the steps that led up to the Greco-Roman temple-like town hall building. Deliberately, already planning out in her mind just exactly how it was that the ensuing exchange would go, she carefully climbed the steps.
Passing between the marble columns of the entranceway, she found herself in an expansive circular rotunda, it’s domed ceiling invisible in the shadows high above her.

However, her view was focused on the set of steps leading up to the command and control center overlooking the atrium. Each step she ascended illuminated with the glowing and, as always, indecipherable rune-like script, and she once more made yet another mental note to someday find the opportunity to ask her elder, the person who had designed this building and supervised its construction, how many years ago she could only guess, what the writing on the steps meant.

In the control room, working furiously at consoles on opposite sides of the small space, were two men in their late thirties, both with long hair and wide, round wire frame glasses“Good morning, Steve.” She greeted the older of the two men, the one nearest her, before turning to address the other. “Bill, I understand congratulations are in order.” The younger man beamed at her mention of his marriage two weeks earlier. “You two are up early this morning.” She commented, as she reached the center of the room, and turned to face the forward window. “Yes, ma’am.” The two men chorused.She turned her head slightly to nod to the man she had greeted as Steve. He reached over and hit a button beside his monitor.

She turned to face the window in front of her as it dissolved into a three-dimensional holographic image of the face of a tall, golden-haired woman.
“Good morning, Special Agent Walker.” The older woman’s English accented voice greeted her, “Welcome back to Eureka.”
“How are things in Paris?” The raven-haired woman asked.
“Great strides are being made on the Sanctuary, which should be completed by the end of this decade. Have you found anything yet, Walker?”
The Agent shook her head. “Nothing yet, ma’am.”
Another quiet night in Los Angeles?”
Walker nodded. “Again.”
“You should be returning home before it gets too late.”
Walker nodded. She knew what her supervisor meant. She needed to make it back to her apartment in Los Angeles under cover of night. If anyone were to see her in her current attire in daylight, she would require a complicated, and in all probability permanent, extraction from the resulting fiasco.
“I’ll be back in the States as soon as my work here is completed.” The older woman promised, jerking the other’s wandering thoughts back to where, and when, she was.
When the woman had signed off, Walker thanked both of the men at the consoles, before retracing her steps to the lift. Before she knew it, she was once more out in the cool Nevada night. Here too, though, she could sense in the air the impending dawn. She quickly oriented herself in the direction of Southern California’s Pacific coast, and sped off in a swirling billow of dust.

Burbank, California

5:67 AM

Ever since deciding to settle down in the city, Walker had always felt more than somewhat rueful of the necessity for her to utilize her honed covert operating skills in order to silently and secretly enter even her own the apartment.

Once safely inside, the door to the outside securely locked behind her, she reflexively removed her thigh-high boots, purposefully stripping off the figure-hugging bodysuit in order to preserve it the most pristine and wrinkle-free condition possible for the following night’s outing.
‘One among the compensations of being nocturnal;’ Walker thought to herself, finding she could not hide a sly grin; ‘She needn’t be concerned with peeping toms spying on her while she undressed.’

After washing herself thoroughly in the shower, so as to be sure of removing all traces of desert dust and dirt, she emerged from the bathroom and sat at her vanity. She reached out to grasp her fingers around the hairbrush, feeling the power inside it pulsating against her hand. She ran the teeth through her long hair, careful to cover every strand, leaving none untouched.

When she had finished, she put the brush down and turned her head from side to side, inspecting her transformed appearance in the mirror.

She inhaled deeply as she got up and turned to the walk-in closet to dress for the day. ‘Oh, to live just one life at a time.” She thought.

Book III: Chapter 5: Let Me Be the One

•January 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Atatürk Kitaplığı

Friday, January 4, 2064

2:49 PM

Kristin Ludlowe clicked closed the handheld phone, and put it down heavily on the counter. She stared out the wide windows, across Gulhane Palace Gardens Park to the Ancient Gate, her eyes sightless and unseeing as her mind raced a mile per millisecond, attempting vainly to assimilate and process the news she had just heard.

Still in a dazed stupor, Ludlowe turned and strode intently purposefully down the hall to the Topkapi Sarayi Palace.

Jeremy Brooks was observing the conference between the four leaderships. The American, Russian, and Italian leaders were making progress in the negotiations, though it was the shoo-in visiting delegation from the leadership of the Arab Nations that were doing the vast share of the talking. Jeremy mostly kept his eyes’ gaze fixated on the two Presidents, particularly especially the young American Head of State; the Prime Ministers of Italy, and of Turkey itself, for majority part sitting back and overseeing the proceedings.

Unexpectedly, he felt soft hands rest gently on his shoulders over the back of his chair; and Kristin Ludlowe leaned down over his seat.

“I need to speak with you.” The Director of Communications said quietly, close into his ear; and Jeremy noted a thinly tight tension, crisp and sharp, to her ordinarily melodious voice. This, with the long slender fingers planted on his shoulder blades gave him all the information he needed to know concerning urgency and expediency.

Jeremy pushed back his chair and stood, putting down his laptop notebook onto the tabletop.

“I apologize.” He said aloud, slowly and carefully. “Pardon me.” He turned to the American President; “Excuse me. There is something that has come up and requires my attention.” He returned back to face straight ahead. “I am sorry, President Krusztcheckova.” He addressed the Head of State of Russia directly across the table from him. Nastassia nodded in acknowledgement, as Jeremy turned around and walked away from the table.

Following the raven-haired Communications Director, in the hall adjacent to the Ahmet Harem, Jeremy came across Leopold Spencer waiting for them outside the Boveda Library. The President’s Deputy Chief of Staff greeted them with a wordless nod.

“So,” Jeremy said as Kristin moved to stand beside Leo; “What is the news?”

“There’s a situation.”  Leo stated, in a deadpan monotone.

“It’s about Ken.” Kristin said, turning around to face him.

“What about him?” Brooks inquired.

“He… I mean; we, well…” Ludlowe stuttered, stammering.

The Communications Director was evidently having difficulties stating the problem; and so Leo decided to pipe in, in an attempt to rescue his colleague.

“We lost Ken.” He told Brooks, interjecting.

Jeremy stared at them both uncomprehendingly; confounded bewilderment sketched across his face. “Whatever could you mean; ‘lost’ him?” He asked.

Leo sighed heavily, deeply resenting being the bearer of bad tidings. “Ken’s plane went off of our scanners—” He trailed off as Brooks’ eyes flew wide open, his mouth opening and closing wordlessly.

“Where? When?” Jeremy inquired.

“Less than an hour ago now; somewhere over the Western Rocky Mountains.”

Brooks nodded, his carven face etched; eyes wide staring unseeing at the far corner of the darkened library beyond the adjacent hall doorway.

“Alright.” He said, slowly, his thoughts swirling. “Okay.” He turned around to gaze forlornly and forsaken back at the American Head of State at the Conference table behind them, and his shoulders slumped visibly as he groaned weighty. “Somebody is going to have to tell her—” He turned back to face them, staring at him; “… The President.”

Both the Communications Director and the Deputy Chief of Staff looked at the President’s liaison expectantly.

“No.” Brooks stated resolutely. “I couldn’t.” He said, definitively. “I won’t do that.”

Kristin nodded, assenting empathetically, sympathetic to her colleague not wanting to deliver such a profoundly disquieting announcement to the young woman who had been his lover for these many months.

Not even bothering to look to Leo, knowing the Manhattan Brooklyner and former Congressional Chief of Staff had the empathetic sensitivity of a Doberman rottweiler, Kristin sighed with a groan, throwing up her hands resignedly; “All right, I will do it.” And she turned and started striding back over to the table.

Katherine Janney had been discreetly glancing over at Jeremy periodically throughout her discussions with Nastassia. She had spotted her Raven-haired Communications Director approaching from the direction of the Museum of Archeology, seen her lean in over her Liaison’s shoulder, speaking, briefly, close into his ear.

He stood, and was looking directly at her as he apologized, but then turned in order to excuse himself to the Russian Head of State; and then turned and followed Ludlowe away down the hall.

After a brief exchange with a shorter figure in doorway outside the Library, she guessed was Leo; glancing over again, she noted Brooks’ shoulders slump weighty. Then her lover turned around to gaze at her, and the expression on his features was one which she would find hard to forget, and would be burned into her memory for years to come. His eyes staring wide, sightless and unseeing, to everything but when he stared directly; the flush drained from his face as he blanched visibly, his features gaunt, face pale. He stared back over at her, his gaze forlorn.

Soon, she saw Kristin coming striding up over to her.

Leo had rushed off to notify the Presidential Secret Service Detachment of the situation; Jeremy Brooks observed forsaken from the shadowy hall doorway as the Director of Communications spoke quietly into the young President’s ear, just as she had his just minutes earlier. He watched with sympathetic compassion as the Katherine, startling, turned abruptly to face her best friend with disbelief. But Kristin nodded, and the young American President hung her head, shaking it slightly, and her mouth moving open and closed, though no words came.

Janney stood, the chair legs sliding against the marble tile floor resonating like an iron nails on slate in the resounding silence which had descended over the Conference Table with the arrival of the Raven-haired Presidential Advisor.

Her swirling mind preoccupied, the American President neglected to excuse herself, as she turned and strode hurriedly away. The outcries of protest from the shoo-in visitor Arab dignitaries were expediently silenced by a stone freezing glare from Krusztcheckova.

Janney slowed as she reached the doorway of the hall outside the Library, and Jeremy hurried to catch up, patting Ludlowe on the back with a soundless mouthed “Thank You.”

Falling into step-for-step stride beside the President, he reached his arm carefully around her shoulder, lightly patting her shoulder comfortingly with his hand, which, reaching up, Kate covered with her own. She did not turn to look at him, her gaze still staring straight ahead far down the hall in front of them. Even so, as they walked side by side, their steps and strides nearly in sync, the young American leader did move over closer to her liaison and counselor, and, holding his hand softly in hers, she pulled herself wrapped more securely into his arm’s gentle embrace; clearly finding his presence and companionship reassuring.

“We need to get in contact with the Vice President.” Janney said finally at long last, low and tonelessly, as they approached the Southwest outside doorway of Palace Museum. “Leo’s already on top of that.” Kristin assured her. “He went right off to call Teddy in St. Louis.”

“And the Joint Chiefs?”

“Condi is awaiting your call.” The President nodded, her shoulders straightening, and she released Brooks’ hand from her grasp.

Grand Faros Regency Armada

World Park, Sultanahmet

Friday, January 4, 2064

8:34 PM

Jeremy Brooks sat at a table in the street-vendor sidewalk tap café across an alley from the ground-floor entrance of the hotel.

“We can’t just pick up and leave.” Lacey Moss said. She was speaking in the general direction of an oblong domed quadruped device in the center of the donut-shaped glass table.

“I’m concerned about the Arab delegation.” Said Gina Everett, standing leaning one hand on the back of a fiberglass chair beside the canopied table. “The Arabs may very well take umbrage; think we might have contrived the plane crash just to have a reason to put an end to the negotiations and walk out the door on them.”

There was the hiss of a mumbled assenting murmur from the other end of the line.

“What do you think Jay?” Alexia’s melodious voice issued from the device. The other two people at the table turned to face Jeremy, who did not appear to visibly respond, staring across the street, to the golden-gleaming spires of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral towering over above the rooftops of the buildings opposite the hotel.

“Jeremy!” Gina called, and he turned slowly.

The device on the table whirred softly; and, though she had watched it a dozen times and seen it a dozen more, Gina still startled slightly as a three-dimensional glass panel rose up from the center of the device on the circular glass table, and the face of Alexia Brooks, sitting in the Communications Bullpen in the West Wing, appeared on the screen.

“Is everything going all right with you?” she asked her brother.

Jeremy turned his face from the screen to cast his gaze up to the balcony of the fourth-level floor hotel suite room.

Alexia looked at her younger sibling sympathetically; “You’re worried about the President, aren’t you?”

Jeremy nodded slowly, absent-mindedly; “I’m concerned.” He said at last, slowly, and quietly. “We surely must get her back to Washington at the soonest possible time.”

Moss leaned forward in her seat, detecting a ‘however’ coming.

“But I worry she may need more time, to cope, than we shall be able to grant her.”

Katherine Janney sat on the edge of the bed in the fourth-floor suite. Her elbows rested on her knees, as she leaned over, hanging her head, running her fingers through her long reddish-auburn hair.

“It could be worse.” Kristin Ludlowe piped up, from where she sat in a chair in the corner of the shadowy-lit room.

“It could always have been worse.” Katherine said, not lifting her head.

“What I meant;” Kristin said, speaking carefully; “Was that it could very well have easily been somebody more import—” She stopped herself before she said something the President would make her instantly regret. “…Someone in the Line of Succession.”

“It might have been the Vice President.” Janney agreed. “Which is what Ken almost was.”

Ludlowe perked up, cocking her head to one side at the strange tangent.

Kate raised her face to stare forward at the beige wall across from the bed. “Ken nearly got the nod for VP after my nomination at the Convention; did you know that?” She asked, talking to no one in particular, and the Director of Communications shook her head.

“Yeah.” The President told her. “Matheson already had Rob lined up as his Veep; and so if Teddy had turned us down when I got the nod; Ken was my natural choice for as a running mate.”

She twisted her face to look over at the suite doorway down the hallway, her gaze penetrating beyond the closed hotel door, deep in her memories of the past. “Ken would have made a great Vice President.”

Kristin nodded in agreement. “Yes he would.” She said. But then her face quirked to one side curiously. “Who, then, would be your Chief of Staff?” She inquired.

For the very first time all that day long, the faintest trace hint of a grin crept its way onto Katherine’s face, as the young President turned her head to face her best friend, staring the older raven-haired woman directly in the eyes. “It would have been you.” She told her, bluntly.

When Kristin Ludlowe stepped out of the doorway at the base of the winding spiral marble staircase, and strode slowly over across the smooth flat cobblestone street toward the direction of the table where her deputy and fellow assistants were sitting, she appeared just as worried as Brooks felt.

“We are going to need to leave at the latest possible opportunity.” She said, coming strolling over to the table, and unconsciously, perhaps, echoing Jeremy’s voiced concern from minutes earlier.

“What excuse could we possibly come up with to use?” Gina said. “The leaders of the Arab delegation will have a fit!”

“That shouldn’t be a trouble for much longer.” Leo called, trotting over to them. He paused when he reached the sidewalk near where Kristin was standing, visibly winded. He waved his handheld notebook pad as he leaned bent over, catching his breath.

“I got a hold of Slatterly’s office.” He said; and Kristin and Brooks nodded. The former Deputy and now-acting White House Chief of Staff had been requested to contact the leaderships of both houses of Congress and Secretaries of Cabinet Departments in the order that they appeared in the Constitutional Line of Presidential Succession. Thomas Slatterly, the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of State and Foreign Affairs, was the fifth on the list.

“I was speaking with one of my contacts at State;” Spencer explained. “When they happened to mention that the leaders from the Arab Nations would be returning to their countries in time for Sunday Morning dawn.”

“There is going to be a black suit and tie formal reception on Saturday Evening.” Ludlowe told them.

“Here, then;” Brooks spoke up at long last; “is what I shall propose.” He had been listening too much of what the Press Secretary and Communications Director had been saying, and now all faces at and around the table turned to him, including the eyes of his sister, through the three-dimensional holographic projector screen in the center of the table.

“We go dark all of next day.” He turned to the communications staff. “Miss Moss, No statements, no remarks, and no addresses.” He  focused on Everett; “No Press Releases, Gina, not even a memo, all tomorrow.” The Press Secretary nodded in agreement.

Then he lifted is gaze to zero in on the new arrival. “The President does not leave the outside doors of this hotel, Leo.” He stated, gesturing to point up at the balcony that was the President’s Suite.

Jeremy’s eyes never made direct contact with the young Deputy’s, however; remaining just off of Spencer face enough to signify to Ludlowe that he was speaking most primarily to her, the President’s long-time best friend.

Jeremy then addressed his sister through the view screen. “Then, later, we put on a show.”

Feeling, rather and seeing the others’ puzzled looks upon him, as he did not look up from the center of the tabletop; Jeremy elaborated, explaining.

“The President is in no condition to be particularly social anytime in the foreseeable couple of days.” Out of his periphery, he noted Kristin nodding emphatically.

“So, by our not putting her out visible all day, the President should be ready and prepared, at this shindig formality tomorrow, to present a convincing enough façade of composure and pleasantry to avoid revealing any weakness in our tenuous position to the Arab delegation.”

He looked up then, having explained the fundamentals of his scheme, at his sister, Kristin and Leo.

“Then we put the President on Air Force One, and we have her securely back home in the Cottage by eight o’clock Monday morning.” He sat leaning back comfortably in his chair, though less so upon finding that his seat had no back.

Museo de Arqueología de Estambul

Byzantium, Constantinople

Saturday, January 5, 2064

Jeremy Brooks stood waiting quietly just outside the canopied, crimson-carpeted walkway that funneled and directed guests arriving in the driveway to the carven stone steps leading to the ornately elegant swinging glass double doors of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, in what had once been the Ancient City of Byzantium, within the old walls of Constantinople.

Behind and beside him stood Leopold Spencer, the newly appointed acting White House Chief of Staff, looking impatient and uncomfortable in a similar-looking tuxedo to the suit Brooks managed to wear with dignity.

On his shoulder, and elbow stood Lacey Moss, the President’s Deputy Director of white House Communications; decked out elegantly in a figure-hugging gown of glistening leafy-green silk, matching her emerald eyes as it shimmered with the shifting of her legs underneath.

Jeremy’s appearance of composure, however, belied his own uneasy and disconcerted restlessness.

He had slipped out of the Presidential Suite of the Pharos Regency hotel while the Commander-in-Chief herself remained in an adjacent room engaged on a teleconference with the Secretary of the department of State and Foreign Affairs at the White House in Washington.

‘If Alexia could see him now.’ Brooks thought to himself, somewhat ruefully, thinking of his older sister, the Director of Foreign Policy Communications for the White House.

Leaving the Head Executive to shower and dress for the evening’s affair, Brooks had efficiently and expediently donned the black dress pants and long-sleeved button-down collared shirt he now wore in one of the Hotel lobby’s lounges. Then, hailing one of the Executive limousines, and tossing on a slimming pinstripe jet-black suit coat in the cab, he had arrived at the entryway of the Anthropology museum to come across Spencer and Moss already standing where they now waited.

As the sleekly aerodynamic shape of the Presidential Limousine, designated Wolf Pack One, approached the walk along the driveway into view, Jeremy’s uneasiness swelled.

Moss had informed him that the American Chief of State planned to wear a constrained and conservative formal deep-black gown, something not seen before from this President, in order to pay sufficient homage and tribute to her oldest friend and advisor, Kenneth Welsh, presently lost someplace in the Western Rocky Mountains.

Brooks was concerned that too drastic a transformation in the American leader’s style of dress could potentially lead other leadership delegation parties to rightfully suspect instability, and therefore weakness, in the stature of the American government leadership.

As the cab pulled to a halt in front of the walkway, the door popped open.

The first to emerge was the White House Director of Communications, Kristin Ludlowe, the young President’s best and closest friend and advisor. The Raven-haired Director was dressed lavishly in a deep violet-purple strapless dress, which displayed her shapely curving figure liberally. She nodded respectfully to Spencer, clasped arms with her Deputy, and then turned her head to one side to flash a knowing smile at Jeremy. Ludlowe and Moss followed the scarlet carpet up the carven steps to the Museum entrance, with Leo hurriedly trailing close behind the two women.

Just then, as Jeremy turned from watching them ascend the stairway, back to the car, he saw a shape form from the darkness of the cab’s interior, emerging from the open limousine doorway in front of him, as sleek and jet-black as the cab itself, and he withheld a gasp. Then he caught the sheen of polished molten copper, and his lips parted as his jaw went slackened, as President Katherine Alexandra Janney stepped from the limousine cab’s open doorway, and onto the crimson-carpeted walkway.

If there was, indeed, to have any moderation in the American President’s appearance, the style of the young Executive’s dress let show very little visible sense of restraint. That is, it showed quite a lot.

Katherine wore a sleek jet-black figure-fitting strapless dress. The deeply plunging bust line amply displayed her full décolletage, and the dress hugged to every rounded curve of her figure like a satiny coat of light-absorbent paint. The thick mane reddish-auburn hair cascaded in molten waves over her shoulders.

The strapless gown left her shoulders bare; and Brooks noticed a chill shiver course through her supple six-foot frame in the early January evening air, as he courteously held out a gentlemanly elbow and she slipped her forearm through his; and they climbed the steps.

As a pair of uniformed Secret Service officers held the glass double swinging doors open, the museum gallery beyond was lined on all walls, sides, edges and corners with skillfully crafted artificial representations and facsimiles of the masterwork artifacts from well over two millennia of historied civilizations; Greek, Roman and Medieval.

The other nations’ parties were clustered in distinct groupings along and around the four corners of the main hall, with the visiting Arab delegation and the hosting Turkish leadership flanking on either side of the ornate glass doorway. As was customary, very nearly all-idle conversation in the hall fell silent as the American President made her entrance with her escort, and followed by a trail of her Senior Staff Aides and Advisors.

President Nastassia Krusztcheckova led at the head of the Russian leadership delegation, meeting President Janney’ party halfway across he middle of the hall.

“Katerina.” Nastassia greeted her, as Kate grasped the hand, then forearm of her ebony-haired fellow Head of State, the other pulling the American leader in for a momentary sisterly embrace, pecking quick kisses on either side of each other’s cheeks in a customarily traditional Slavic greeting.

“And hello once more again, Professor Brooks.” Nastassia greeted, shaking Jeremy’s hand.

“Good evening, President Krusztcheckova.” Jeremy replied, bowing to lightly kiss the top of the back of the Russian leader’s hand.

“I will be anticipating to be having been reserved a dance for later in the evening.” Krusztcheckova said.

“Of course.” Brooks replied, standing straight and nodding respectfully.

Kate was grinning broadly as they turned away from the Russian leadership, and Krusztcheckova continued across the floor of the hall in the direction of the doorway.

Janney was just pushing past, through the bustling crowd, on a path to greet the head leaders of the other foreign delegations; when, his arm wrapped around hers threaded through his elbow, Brooks tugged to the side, pulling Katherine toward the nearest corner edge of the floor. There he walked her backwards to the corner, pinning back her against the wall, and pressing his lips to her mouth in a passionate kiss.

“What was all that all about?” Kate asked, dazed, as their faces parted, her passion-glassy eyes appearing hazy.

Jeremy peered at her closely. “I’m just grateful to see you smiling again.”

Kate inclined her head to the side, inspecting him studiously. Then she grinned appreciatively.

His arm around her hips, he lifted his hand to rub up and down her upper back between her shoulders. “Come on.” He told her. “It’s for ‘glad-hand and grin’.”

Later in the evening, Jeremy strolled leisurely past the Four Bronze Horse of the Triumphal Quadriga, as the band changed from Rhythm and Blues Jazz to an easy rhythmic, more soulful blues tune, and was admiring a statue of the Archangel Gabriel, gazing up with his hands clasped together behind his back, when he felt them seized, firmly, by familiarly slender hands, as the President tugged him away from the sculptures, pulling him out into the main gallery.

Taking his hands more gently in her soft palms, Kate planted one firmly on her hip, and held the other, threading her long slender fingers through his. She ran her other arm up over the back of his suit jacket, her slender hand coming to plant on the back of his neck. Taking a deep breath, she faced him then directly, her eyes meeting his upwards through her lashes as they began swaying with the tune.

As they danced, and as the song continued, Brooks could not help but note that Katherine moved closer to him with each of their circuits around the main gallery floor. It appeared the young President could not seem to get close enough up to him; pressing her chest tightly against his, her arm tightening at his back. He also noticed that Janney continued to inhale deeply with almost nearly every other alternate breath, exhaling with weighty sighs. They danced, thereby, without a word passing between them, and, as he gazed at her face, Jeremy watched as the President’s eyes left his and drifted toward closed, her fingers strumming gently over the back of his neck.

As the song wound towards its finale, the President slowed their steps, the pair having spiraled back around once more to reach the near-approximate center of the hall’s floor. She reached down and again took his hands in hers. So holding his hands, Kate lifted their arms over her head in order to twirl around once on her heels underneath them. Her back to him, she lowered his arms around her, crossing her arms under her chest over her middle.

His arms around her sides, her hands holding over his on her hips, the President started twisting her shoulders back and forth and began swaying her upper torso from side to side.

Again, Jeremy could not help but note that Kate pressed her backside behind close into against him, as she used her crossed hands over his to tug his arms closer and tighter in around her sides. Her eyes once more drifted shut, every muscle in her body released its tension, and her deep heavy breathing eased as she squeezed herself closer into his arms’ soft embrace. Jeremy put his chin over her right shoulder, as Kate rested her golden-copper-maned head back onto his left, and gently rocked them together slowly back and forth from side to side as they moved, rotating in increasingly small gradual spirals around the center of the dance floor of the Museum’s main hall.

As the music faded to an end, and Jeremy and Kate stopped dancing, Jeremy turned his face to the side over the President’s shoulder in order to press a kiss lightly to the side of her neck, as Janney lifted her head up off of his shoulder, raising her head in order for Jeremy to turn back to face forward, in time to see President Krusztcheckova surrounded and trailed by her entourage of aides and assistants.

“Katerina.” Nastassia said, as she walked up to the pair. “I would like to meet someone.” The form of a middle-aged man materialized in the shadows behind the Russian Premier, and subconsciously, Katherine felt Brooks’ arms tighten reflexively around her sides, almost imperceptibly; causing a slight grin to crease Janney’s lips at her lover’s unconscious protectiveness of her against all comers.

“This is Miroslav Mikhailov.” Nastassia was saying, gesturing in the direction of the gentleman behind her, as he stepped forward beside her to greet them. “Mikhail is my chief political strategist.” He was an older man in his late fifties, with receding dark but silvering graying hair, a heavily wrinkled brow, and deep creases lining his face around his marble-grey eyes and thin-lipped mouth. “My… what would you call? Chief of Staff.”

It lasted barely an instant, and was nearly imperceptible, but, with his face so close next to hers, Jeremy caught it. It was there; the most minute nervous tic of momentarily repressed expression at the mention of the title. If Nastassia or any of her aides noted the twitch of barely suppressed emotion, none let any notice show.

The Russian Premier turned her attention over to the Professor, as, Kate having let go of his hands about her sides; he unwrapped his arms from around her middle, and released her from his embrace. “Doctor Brooks; if I am not very much mistaken, I do believe you owe me a long-promised dance.” Krusztcheckova said, stepping forward, and offering to him her hand.

“I most certainly do, indeed.” Jeremy replied, his proper English Nobility accent acute, taking the Russian President’s hand in his and bowing courteously to touch his lips to it gentlemanly.

He stood straight and held out an elbow, and the Premier threaded her slender arm through with a warmly gracious smile.

The tune the orchestra was playing was mid-twentieth-century rhythm and jazz rendition of what Brooks thought sounded to be late fifteenth or early sixteenth century philharmonic symphony rhapsodies.

Straightforwardly as always, when they halted on the main hall’s dance floor, Nastassia took his hands in both of her and placed them firmly on her hips. She looked up at his face, a number of several inches taller that her, and twined her arms about his neck over his shoulders as they began dancing.

As they moved, it seemed to Jeremy as though the Russian leader appeared to grow in height out of the corner of his peripheral vision. Then, minutes later, she was face to face with the taller man, standing erect to her full height on her high heels.

As Jeremy turned to face her, to look at this oddity; she locked her eyes on his intently. The first words out from her lips, breaking the silence between them, could not have shocked him more. “I know about Kenneth Welsh.” Krusztcheckova told him, staring directly and intently into his eyes.

Brooks was shocked speechless, and it took him a good long moment to find his voice once more. “How?”

Nastassia inclined her head to one side as she studied him. “I have known your young Ekatya for a great deal of time longer than you have, my dear Doctor.” It took Jeremy’s struck mind a flash of a beat to cognate she was talking about the American President. “Katya” was the Russian variation of Katherine’s name.

“When I happened to mention my title for Chief Mikhailov.” She grinned thinly. “Well, Let us say I knew well enough to notice my dearest poor young Katerina flinch, and the pain on her face she tried so valiantly to disguise.”

She looked back at him then. “My father was assassinated, poisoned with his own medication, by his step-brother-in-law, my wicked evil uncle Ivan.”

Jeremy believed that he knew where about this narrative was heading, and so remained silent and did not interrupt; but instead carried on dancing with the Russian leader as he listened attentively.

“It was not very long at all after my father died that I first encountered young Katerina.”

She gazed up at him as he looked down at her face. “So I knew to recognize an expression of the pain of loss of a loved one when I see it.” She explained.

Nastassia slipped one arm off of his shoulder and threaded the fingers of her hand through one of his, lifting his arm high over her head, twisting her hips and twirling on her heels as he spun her around under his arm. “I also saw you register the same expression.” She continued as she turned.

Difficult to deceive this one; all Sympathy to the one who is foolish enough to try.’ Brooks thought, as Nastassia circled back around, and caught herself with her hands pressed against the chest pockets of his tuxedo.

“It was then that I realized that there must be something that is not right with Katerina’s Chief of Staff.” She concluded. Her head inclined downward, she inspected the fastening of his bow tie. “I have known both of them for more than long enough to have learned that Katerina loves him dearly.” She said, running the fingers of her hands over the lapels of his double-breasted coat; “As someone much more than a dearest friend.”

She looked up at him then, her eyes searching his features; for what, he couldn’t know.

“Something has happened to him?” She inquired.

Brooks’ first reactive impulse had been to deny it; in order to keep the foreign delegation in the dark and maintain the façade as they had agreed. However, something in the intensity with which the Russian Premier blue-grey eyes bored into his face told him that Nastassia cared about his young American President’s well-being enough that she could be trusted; that she could be relied upon to be the one person whom they would reveal all to, depending on her loyalty, not to him, nor to them, but to her old friend; her “Ekatya”.

He nodded slowly, solemnly.

Kristin Ludlowe watched the British-Nobility-appearing Science Secretary dance with the elegantly gowned Russian Prime Minister, noting with some interest how the Russian Premier was leading in her ballroom waltz with the Ecology Professor.

She noticed Krusztcheckova press closer to Jeremy’s double-breasted suit coat, and the Communications Director cast a quick, hurried glance over to where her best friend, the American President, was chatting small-talk with another of her fellow world leaders; the Prime Minister of Italy, insecure whether or how the young woman would react or respond in another getting so uncomfortably close to the man who had become her lover. But the American leader was oblivious to the actions of her close personal partner, as her discussion with the Italian Premier was interrupted by the reunion of the President’s own daughter with her Italian counterpart, the youngest daughter of the missing President of Italy.

As Ludlowe returned to observing the Russian President, she watched as Nastassia asked an inquiring question, and she saw Brooks’ expression as his eyes went wide; then as Jeremy nodded. She watched, as it was the Professor’s turn to lean in close, murmuring and whispering something long and slowly low into Krusztcheckova’s ear. When he finished whatever the secret was, and Jeremy withdrew his mouth from her ear, Ludlowe saw the Russian President pull her head back in surprise and alarm, and, after Brooks nodded once more; for the remainder of their dance, Nastassia maintained a similar expression of shock as she remembered seeing on the Professor’s face the afternoon before, and which expressed the surprise and disbelief that she herself had felt earlier the previous day.

After the music faded, Jeremy led the still slightly stunned and dazed Russian leader over to the nearest table, nodding to her to follow along with, and pulled out a chair to sit her down.

Krusztcheckova looked up as Kristin approached the table, and her face instantaneously alit. Jeremy was expedient in the introductions.

“President Krusztcheckova of the Russian Federation, this White House Director of Communications…”

“Kristin Ludlowe!” Nastassia exclaimed, rising out of her seat to embrace the taller Raven-Haired woman in a welcoming hug. “It’s good to see you!”

“Hello, Nastassia.” Kristin said, planting her chin on the young Premier’s shoulder.

“What has happened?”  Krusztcheckova sat back down, as Jeremy came to sit down across the table from her, and Kristin leaned her arms atop the back of his chair. “Tell me everything.” She noticed the look in the glance that passed in between Brooks and Ludlowe; and so amended gently: “Start at the beginning.”

As Brooks and Ludlowe took turns telling and explaining the story of Kenneth Welsh’s ill-fated flight to California, Krusztcheckova, for the large part, mostly sat back and listened, only merely asking the occasional question.

When the story wrapped up, Nastassia looked back and forth in between the two White House Staffers.

“This occurred yesterday afternoon. Why have you not announced this before now.”

“We didn’t want to…” Brooks began, before Kristin jumped in with an explanation.

“To announce the loss of the President’s senior political counselor and advisor in the middle of a major international diplomatic conference meeting…”

“…Would have displayed and demonstrated a plausible weakness in the negotiating position on the part of the American Presidency, which less favorable government parties would have surely seized advantage upon.” Krusztcheckova concluded, nodding.

“We are planning and fully intend to make a make a complete and full disclosure in a public announcement once we are situated in Washington.” Kristin told her.

“And when is…”

“We are departing at Midnight tonight.” Jeremy stated.

“Until then, in the mean time…” Ludlowe prompted

“You are requesting my silence.” Nastassia surmised, glancing between the both of them. “That I help you conceal this secret, to keep this in confidence?”

Jeremy nodded. “And not only for the sake of America’s diplomatic posture…”

He turned to cast a glance back over his shoulder to the young American President, still sitting at another table with Prime Minister Ventrinsca of Italy. Nastassia followed his gaze in time to notice Katherine Janney turn and glance in the direction of where her liaison sat as well, just as Jeremy turned his head back away.

“You really do love her, don’t you?” She asked, leaning over the table toward him, staring him straight directly in the eyes. Out of the corner of his periphery, Jeremy noticed Kristin looking hard at him as well. She had evidently been wondering the same question, also.

Sitting upright straight erect in his seat, Brooks met the Russian President’s eyes and matched her direct gaze with his own. When he spoke his answer, his voice was deep and low, earnest and sober.

“I do.”

Nastassia sat back in her chair, the directness of his reply having made its intended impression; and even Kristin seemed struck with the brevity of the straightforward response.

“Very well, Mister Brooks.” Krusztcheckova said after a long minute’s thought and consideration. “It will be my silence that you shall have.”

“I thank you for your considerate compassion, your Excellency, Madam Prime Minister.”  Brooks said, bowing slightly at the waist as he stood and took her hand, kissing the ring on her finger as he had when they first met the previous day before.

Turning away from his conversation with the Russian Prime Minister, Jeremy smiled as he passed Julia and Cariana Mekadi dancing close together, the Italian heiress with her back to the first daughter, Cariana’s behind bottom against Julia’s front, the two young ladies facing one another face-to-face.

He made his way across the museum hall to where Katherine was standing and turning from her discussion with Premier Ventrinsca. He did not even give her a moment’s opportunity to greet him as he met her. Before she had gotten a chance to react, he wrapped hi hands around either side of her hips, pulling her to him and closing his mouth over hers in a devouring kiss.

President Katherine Janney did not think, she couldn’t. Jeremy’s lips against her were soft and gentle, yet insistent and commanding in the same moment, and the probing kiss immediately stole away what little breath she had been able to take in before his mouth met hers, and with it her capacity to form coherent thoughts, or to do anything but feel; as she sensed her body respond, even as her mind reeled. Her arms encircled his neck, coming to palm the back of his head in her hand pressing his face against hers as she parted her lips to deepen the kiss; losing herself in the sensations elicited by his fingers stroking the skin of her sides through the second-skin silk of her figure-hugging dress, and of his lips caressing hers. She kissed him back with all the fervor she could muster form the quixotic passion she felt for him.

It took many times longer for their faces to separate than the kiss itself had lasted, the seal between their parted lips being broken agonizingly gradually. It was a small eternity of several long minutes before either of them slowly opened their eyes Kate’s pearlescent sapphire emerald meeting his deep dark blue pools through long dense, lowered lashes her bright eyes glassy with a passionate haze. Then a broad smile creased the lips that still hovered mere centimeters from his own, as stray tresses of golden fiery fell to veil her glowing bright eyes. She remained in his arms’ embrace, pulled pressed close against him, as they at long last pulled their faces away from one another.

All conversation and discussion in the museum hall had died down rather abruptly as every face and pair of eyes on the floor turned to the tall, beautiful young President of the United States, in her elegant dress, as she sensuous responded into the kiss by her aide and advisor. And Jeremy and Kate both remained wordless as they each swept the room, looking around them.

Katherine’s knees suddenly wobbled unexpectedly, and she teetered unsteadily on the verge of her legs giving way underneath her.

Brooks elicited mumbled murmuring whispers from a few some scattered throughout the room as he slid one hand from her hip and waist to slip it nonchalantly underneath her backside.

“I have you.” He told her quietly, barely breaking their mutual silence as his words were little more than a murmur. “It’s all right.” He held her up, pressing her against him, and doing his level hardest not to focus on his fingertips feeling the pliant, pliable flesh of the curve of her behind through the thin close-hugging silk of her skirt, not to mention the press of her pelvis up tight against his own. “I’ve got you.”

Katherine’s eyes had fluttered closed as the wave of light-headedness had come washed over her, letting her head hang loosely to one shoulder. Now, as she bounced lightly, gently in his arms, as if she weighed nothing, Kate lifted her head to face his gazing down at her, opening her eyes as she turned to meet his gaze.

“I love you.” They spoke the words in the same moment, their voices chorusing in unison even as the thought in their minds synced together. Kate’s hushed voice carried a tone of amazement and revelation to it, as though she were just now rediscovering the depth of her feelings for him, her eyes wide and glowing. While Jeremy’s voice was relatively loud by comparison, a pronouncement, his tone was that of one stating a fact, and the resolve that shone in the depths of his eyes broached no argument from her.

A broad smile spread across the President’s brightly colored lips, from one bejeweled ear to the other; sand it was followed closely behind by a beet-red blush flushing her cheeks as blood rushed to back into her face, as though she finally at long last recognized the milling crowd of bystander onlookers and passersby who had gathered around the beautiful American leader and her consort.

Kate was still smiling, however, as she seized his hands firmly in both of hers, tugging and pulling him toward the direction of the hall’s dance floor; the bustling crowd parting before her in a wedge like a splitting maul though gelatin, as the orchestral band picked up an increased tempo, what Brooks recognized as and Africanized Flamenco merengue, guaracha or guaguanco, to their music.

The densely crowded dance floor cleared as the American Leader and her liaison escort mad their way to the center of the hall.

The President’s smile turned lascivious as she used her hands gripping both of his to tug him to her, pulling him lose against her; and her smile never wavered or faded as she seized a commanding lead with him in dancing a cha-cha-cha lambda salsa samba rumba that was as sensual and sensuous as the brightly colored lips creased into an undeniably enticing half-grin of deeply focused concentration, and as sultry and fiery as the gaze in the bright green eyes that never left his own with movements of their feet and hips.

The couple concluded their number with Jeremy dipping Katherine low to the floor, the fingers of his hand once more holding the pliable curve of her backside, his lips caressing tenderly over hers as he kissed her softly and gently on her wide-open mouth, and Kate wrapped her arm around his shoulder, the palm her hand cupping the back of his neck, and she threaded her long fingers through a shock tangle of his dark hair.

The diplomats and delegates surrounding the dance floor gradually broke into a round of clapping applause, evidently recognizing the genuine passion that underlies, only very thinly veiled, behind the “Forbidden Dance” that had once so very famously been described as a “Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire”.

Kate’s fingers tickled and teased at the hairs on the back of Jeremy’s neck as their lips parted, opening her eyes gradually and slowly, the lascivious smile on her sensuous lips making it impossible for him to resisting kissing her once more again as their righted themselves and straightened, Katherine cupping the side of his face and head in the palms of her hands.

They were both of them breathless and winded, breathing heavily and ragged, as the pair turned together, hand in hand, the American President waving to the assembled crowd, Brooks bowing gentlemanly at the waist, before making their way back to the row of tables and chairs.

Kate sat down in a chair at the table in the front row near the dance floor that was the furthest from the bustling milling crowd. Brooks took his seat in the chair directly behind his President.

During their dance, Jeremy could not help but have noticed that the young President’s body remained tense, almost strained, as each movement of the dance was carried out with all of the fluid but forceful energy of an elastic rubber cord.  It seemed that the fiery fervor of her raunchy dance was fueled, if mostly from her desire and passion for him, than at least in part by pent-up hostility and aggression that she had kept bottled inside, towards what or whom he could not know. Although given the past days’ event that had transpired, he felt confident that he could make an educated guess.

Sitting in the chair behind the President as she sat at the table, Jeremy Brooks spent the better art of most of the rest of the next hour massaging her shoulders. Katherine Janney permitted her eyelids to drift closed, and let her muscles loosen and release, allowing her head to loll lazily back and forth from side to side. Jeremy ran the palms of his hands over her bared shoulders above her strapless dress, his fingertips kneading the tendons and muscles of her shoulder blades, and rubbing his palms up and down the sides of her neck.

2012 in review

•January 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

2012 in review.

2013 in review

•January 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

2013 in review.

Book III: Chapter 5: The Second Time Around

•January 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Air Force One [BA -943]

Over The Maldives Islands, The Indian Ocean

Wednesday, January 2, 2064

12:28 PM

Jeremy Brooks sat in the Secretariat Office Staff Section eleven rows back from the main primary passenger cabin, talking on his handheld mobile phone to his sister, Alexia, who had returned to Washington ahead of time the day before.

“… Last thing anyone heard, Ryan was in Denver.” He commented idly; “Have you talked with Rob?”

“He’ll be meeting Ken in LA.” His sister assured him.

“Leo has the airplane flight situation ordered?”

“Leaves BWI on Friday.”

“Thanks Lex.” He said, a bit too quickly, as he looked up and spotted the President descending the stairs from the second floor, and striding up the aisle in the direction of his seating row.

“Love you too, Sis. We’ll be coming home there by next weekend.” He said; Clicking off and flipping the phone closed as Janney came over to him.

“Your sister?” Kate asked, as she sat down in the seat across from where he was sitting. The President was dressed in a wide deep low-cut plunging neckline ivory-silvery blouse; and a fitted pleated did-not-quite-reach-her-knees-length short pinstripe pencil skirt, made of a thin material. He shook his head and blinked to refocus his vision on her face, as Kate crossed her legs, the short fitted skirt riding up her thighs, and giving him a view up under her pleated skirts as she leaned back in the seat across from his.

Jeremy nodded. “She’s Secure and sound back in Washington.” He was vain in attempting to disguise the self-evident sense of relief on his face and in his voice, and Kate smiled empathetically. Jeremy and his older sister had grown by far closer since the President had hired him to work in her administration in the White House, than the two had in the decades since they were young growing up together in Hudson, Wisconsin. Having two older sisters of her own, Katherine understood the weight seeming lifted from her lover’s shoulders upon learning his sister was safe.

“She’s back at the White House?”  Janney queried, and this time it was Jeremy’s turn to grin knowingly at the tinge of longing in the young President’s tone that came with the mention of her home.

He nodded. “Says the Cottage will be there and ready waiting for us when we get to Washington next weekend.” The President looked pleased.

“So;” Jeremy said, after a lengthy silence had settled between them I the ambient cabin, voicing the notion that had been on his thoughts throughout the plain airplane voyage that afternoon, and surveying the young President across from him studiously “This is quite the little coalition of the ready, willing, and able that we have been putting together report with over just these past several days. Isn’t it now?”

He felt, rather than saw, Kate eyeing him inquisitively, and so he continued, checking them off on his fingers with hand gestures as he spoke. “Well, we had the French in a meeting with the Italians in Rome last week; just the other day we had the British in a conference with the Australians in Sydney.” He glanced up at her face, finding her nodding and smiling pleasantly.

“And now, just the day after tomorrow, we’ll be meeting with the Russians in Istanbul.”

Kate nodded in agreement, acknowledging that the same had been occurring to her in that way.

“We’re putting our world back together.” She stated their mutual conclusion aloud, factually, as she got up from her seat, moving forward. She settled again into his lap, pressing him back into his seat.

She slid her fingers under the lapel of his coat, laying her palm on his chest as she huddled her shoulder into his, cozying against him.

Jeremy’ fingertips ran over the gently sloping scoop neckline of her blouse, as he turned his head to nuzzled through the cascading mane or golden copper. “We?” He asked her softly, close to her ear. “Together?”

Kate raised her face from his lapel, her eyes inspecting him. “Why not?”

Jeremy shrugged lightly. “We return to D.C. next week; you’re going to have to go back to becoming the President again, leader of the developed democratized world…” He kissed her cheek caringly; “…And a single working mother of a teenaged daughter at that to boot.” He dropped his gaze from her face, to watch his fingertips on her neckline. “I go back to being your Ecology Science Advisor, with my West Wing corner office and my apartment in Georgetown…” He turned his face to look back up at her; “…Also your employee and subordinate.”

Katherine’s lips creased deeply as she bit her lower lip in a ponderous grimace. She, too, then lowered her face, casting her gaze down to the neckline of her blouse, and she nodded her head slowly against her own neck, her closing her eyes from his fingers moving over her chest.

Janney swung her feet out of the aisle and repositioning herself atop his lap. Sitting with her back leaning on his chest, she swept her long legs over his.

“Madam President.” Kristin Ludlowe came striding hurriedly and purposefully up the aisle from the spiral staircase leading to the second floor level of the aircraft. “Ma’am…” She came to a halt upon finding the young Chief Executive sitting on Jeremy’s lap, huddling cuddled close against her Special Liaison Cabinet Science Secretary; “Excuse me, Doctor Brooks;” She pardoned the intrusion to the Ecology Professor. “Madam President, I’m sorry to bother you;” Kate looked up from the lapels of Jeremy’s suit collar at her Director of Communications, her blue-green eyes opening gradually; “…But we have an incoming communiqué from Istanbul; relayed to us through Abu Dubai.” The Commander in Chief’s attention perked up notably, her interest piqued by the passing reference to the Arabian Metropolis now below them. “…From a man who claims to be Desaline Telibani.”

“What?” Janney sat up in Jeremy’s seat with a start.

“I thought that he had died.” Jeremy said, grunting as Kate’s supple frame shifted abruptly on his lap.

“So did we, as well, Professor.” Kristin assured him.

“Is this truly for real?”

“We have no way of knowing for sure.” Ludlowe admitted. “He tells us that he will be refusing to talk to anyone unless and until he speaks with the President.” Jeremy and Kristin both eyed the young Head of State speculatively. “He requested after you by name, Madam… Pharos.”

At the naming of her Secret Service code-sign, the President pushed up off the armrest of the airplane seat behind her back, and leaped off from Jeremy’s lap and onto her feet in the aisle


Over Abu Dubai,

United Arab Emirates of Oman-Qatar

Wednesday, January 2, 2064

3:40 PM

“Those unholy sanctimonious sons of goddamned bastards!” Jeremy looked up from the pad he had been working with facing in front of the wall mirror in the bathroom of the residence suite on board Air Force One; when he overheard Katherine scream of outrage, and the resounding thunderous crash of the airplane cabin door slamming closed. He watched the reflection in the mirror as Janney storm straight past the doorway to the bathroom. She didn’t see he was there, not hesitating a moment long enough to notice him.

Waiting a few minutes, he turned and made his way out of the bathroom and into the Residence’s hallway. Walking slowly, he entered the bedroom at a leisurely stroll; to find the young President pacing frustrated, stomping angrily back and forth across the floor of the relatively small suite’s bedroom.

“What’s gone wrong?” He asked her.

“It’s the Arabs.” Janney pronounced, as though that explained the whole answer. Then she halted her pacing, almost as if recognizing that it did not entirely.

“The United Arab Nation-States demand a seat at the table in Istanbul.”

Jeremy was never-ceasing to be impressed by the aura of evident contempt thinly veiled in the young President’s voice whenever she spoke concerning the members of the leading members representing the countries in the Arab Middle East. The origin of the emotions of hostility was evident, but the depth of her resentment consistently made an impression. She profoundly and severely disliked those representative leaders.

“And now;” Kate announced “Telibani…” She spoke the name with a huff, through clenched teeth, letting it trail and hang. She inhaled heavily, catching her wind: “… is giving them a designated distinguished place on the East Asian side of the Bosphorus from Istanbul.”

She turned to face him then, stopping her pacing. “It looks as though the UANS intends to crash in to disrupting my negotiation discussions with Nastass— …President Krustzcheckova.”

Jeremy eyed her speculatively, not entirely convinced with her outrage. “What is all of this really about?”

Katherine inclined her head to the side as she looked at him laconically. Then she hung her head, casting her gaze downward, toward her feet. “It’s just… I’ve been thinking—”

“We are going to be returning to Washington in a week, and I’ll be living in the White House with Jewels;” She flicked a glance up at him; “You’re going back to your apartment in Georgetown.” Jeremy nodded. “But, we‘ll be working closely together all the time every day;” She smiled engagingly; “And I foresee you’ll be sleeping the night over at the Residence more often than not.” Jeremy grinned, but the President’s voice turned sobering.

“So for any practical intent and purpose, and in all real ways;” Kate told him, as she turned to shuffle her feet over the carpet towards the delta-chevron-shaped bed; “We’re going to be living together.” She turned back toward him, and plopped herself back down onto the bed.

“And the last time I lived closely together in a house with anyone;” she looked up at him from where she sat on the edge of the middle of the bed; “It really did not quite end out all that very well.” She rested he elbows on either side of her, lowering her shoulders to hang her head between her knees. Jeremy nodded understandingly; though he could not resist a snide half-grin spreading across his face, and was unable to disguise the light chuckle in his voice. “That is what you have been freaking nuts about?” he asked, incredulously.

Katherine planted her hands on the bed mattress covers behind her, and leaned back, tossing her hair behind her and lifting her head to fix him with a sardonic glare, puffing her chest out with indignation.

Jeremy, having challenge keeping his gaze from wandering to the stretch hem of her blouse’s scoop neckline, shook his head lightly in amazement. “My eldest brother is a git.”

He ambled forward to start strolling over toward her. “Such a plunked wanker.” Janney actually grinned, looking up at him as he took a step to the edge of the bed. Her eyes tracked him as he lowered himself carefully to one knee at her feet in front of her, his face coming level with her eyes. “I am not like him.” He caught her gaze and held it, their faces inches apart, and looked into her eyes intently. “That is not I.” He said earnestly. “You know that.” He saw her roll her eyes melodramatically, but still he held her in his gaze. “Even so;” He said, and closed the distance separating their faces; “You know what they all say…” He captured her lips with his in a compassionate kiss. “…Some things are indeed better the second time around.” And the young President smiled. “I just don’t want to lose this,” Her eyes traced over the outline contours of his features; “…Again—” Jeremy put the fingers of his hand over in front of her mouth, and she paused. Raising himself up on his knees; “Don’t you worry about that.” He lifted his hand away and pressed closer in to her, as she dropped to her elbows on the mattress. “I’m not leaving you anywhere.” His lips closing over hers and lowering her back onto the covers, he followed her, as she lifted her hands from the covers, and he held her in his arms, kissing her long and lovingly on the mouth.

Lying with his body covering over her own, he lifted his face from hers. “Will has nothing in relation alike to me.” He murmured to her compassionately. “Oh?” Kate withdrew, pulling her head back away and eyed him studiously, “Really?” her arms around him running her fingers up and down his back and  neck. He swung his face to the ceiling, rolling his eyes, and sighed melodramatically with a groan. “Very well, all right.  It’s not exactly ‘nothing’.” He turned back down to face her, staring up at him. “Wanton faithless vamp minx!” He grumbled facetiously, and Kate gasped and squealed as he closed his mouth over her clavicle where her shoulder met the side of her neck, nipping lightly at the side of her throat with his dully blunted front teeth. Slipping his hands along her middle underneath her chemise, he played his fingers up and down over her sides. Katherine twisted and wriggled atop the bed mattress, panting in quickening gasps as he nudged, poked, and prodded her relentless with his teeth and fingertips.

He pulled his head back and observed her head flopping to the side to bury the side of her face in the covers; studied her face, her eyes fluttering closed as her breathing steadied.

Her full chest pressing against his torso, and straining the bust neckline of her chemise as she inhaled deeply; the muscles in her body loosening underneath him, as she relaxed, depleted, on the bed.

Lying back on the mattress, head tossed to one side her eyes lightly closed as she pillowed the side of her face into the covers, her chest rising and expanding as she breathed evenly, her body relaxed; Jeremy doubted whether he had seen anything more beautiful in his life.

Kate only just opened her eyes when, standing without a word, Jeremy reached down and lifted her from the mattress, carrying her in his arms to lay her down near the headboard of the bed, laying her gold-copper-maned head back to sink deep into a soft pillow. He once more again dropped himself to sink to one knee; while he straightened and smoothed her blouse and skirt, running a hand along the length of her legs before pulling the covers up over her. He leaned forward and brought his face to hers to kiss her lovingly and compassionately, as he folded the blankets around her shoulders with his hands over her chest. “Come stay with me.” She murmured against his mouth as their lips parted slowly at long last, her bright blue-green eyes catching his, full of promise.

“You need to sleep.” He told her, withdrawing his face away from her with a great strength of willpower.

“We should be landing in Turkey in another few more hours.” He combed his fingers through her long auburn hair, splayed out across the pillow around her head. “I’ll make sure to wake you before we prepare for our descent into Istanbul.” As he brushed disorderly tresses of hair away from her eyes, and ran his hand over the side of her cheek, and down her throat to her shoulder; her saw those same eyes drift fluttering closed, as her head flopped over onto the pillow, and she fell almost instantly into a deeply asleep.

Alex Hill popped his head in the hastily mostly closed door as Jeremy stood and straightened., turning slowly, almost visibly reluctantly, from the shapely President’s sleeping figure lying under the covers on the bed.

He raised his hand to put a forefinger to his lips in a sign for silence to the young Executive Aide. Alex withdrew his head from the doorway; as Jeremy turned away from bed, and made his way carefully and soundless out of the Presidential Suite’s bedroom. Alex was standing next to the door jamb when he emerged from the suite. Without a ward, he cupped his hands under the side of his cheek and closed his eyes, signaling that the President was sleeping peacefully.

Alex nodded, and closed the door quietly behind him, hesitating momentarily before following the Cabinet Secretary toward the staircase to the lower floor of the aircraft.

Alex Hill observed the man in front of him studiously, as they descended to the first main level of the plane; how the Wisconsin science teacher carried himself with the straight-backed uprightness of a gentleman of lordship and nobility; wondering to himself over about how the University Professor maintained such a professionally unbiased balance between the duties of his position as Cabinet Secretary of the Sciences, his reality of being the President’s choice for her boyfriend and lover.

As was usually the case, the President’s young aide could not find fault cause to argue with her particular choice for a partner and companion. Jeremy Brooks was an extraordinarily strong, fit, and capable man, yet exceptionally modest, courteous, and polite.

And now, with Leo Spencer on assignment far out a field, and Kenneth Welsh busy preparing the White House in Washington for their anticipated long-awaited return to D.C. later that month; Jeremy had also inherited, not entirely by default, the liaison responsibilities of being the President’s de-facto Head of Staff and closest chief advisor, an added charge which he seemed, by all appearances, to be shouldering extremely well.

Air Force One

Ankara, Anatolia, Asia Minor

Wednesday, January 2, 2063

4:18 PM

“She won’t do it.”

“She should.”

“She won’t.”

Kristin Ludlowe glared up at Jeremy Brooks in front of her as they ascended single-file the spiral staircase to the second floor. “She should walk in the door, sit down;” Jeremy attempted to intercede, but Kristin pressed on;  “they should sit down together and—”

“She would be walking out the door, alone.” Jeremy returned her gaze with cold seriousness.

Kristin repeated. “They should just sit down and—”

“It will not happen, I assure you.” Brooks shook his head firmly.

“It is what should happen.” Ludlowe rebutted.

“Not if you-know-who has anything to say about it.” Jeremy stared back at her, deadpan.

“No.” Ludlowe cautioned. “Do not get the girl involved into this.”

“I am afraid I shall have to if you pursue it.” He turned away as they passed the Senior Staff Conference room.

“Will you even ask her about it?” Kristin said. “Before you go off and do something more dramatic.”

“It will not be done.” Jeremy repeated, self-assuredly. “She won’t allow it to happen.”

“Just ask her.” Kristin told him, as they turned past the doorway to the Executive Office.

“Very well.” He consented. “I will broach the subject…” He told her, with all the remorse and regret of one volunteering for a self-sacrificial mission of martyrdom.

Ludlowe nodded agreeably and turned to start walking away down the hallway.

“… But not this evening.” He added, surreptitiously, earning Kristin to glare around back at him. Seeing his self-satisfied deadpan look, he saw her roll her eyes, shaking her head as she strode away.

“Is there something that I can do for you, Professor Brooks?”  The request came from a well-built muscular man standing beside the door with the placard ‘Executive Residence’, as Jeremy approached.

“Good evening, Richard.” He answered, addressing the officer, Rick Hadley, by name, as he strolled up. “It’s time for her Excellency’s wake up call.”

“Yes Sir.” The Secret Service Agent said, swinging open the door and permitting Brooks access to entrance into the President’s suite.

Strolling up the corridor past the bathroom, Jeremy shuffled over across the bedroom. Tugging one of the chairs from the table along the wall over to the bedside, he sat beside the bed.

Katherine lay, still fast asleep, as though she hadn’t rested in weeks, the side of her face buried in the pillow, one hand shoveled under the pillow behind her head, her other arm flung onto the cushions above her head, which were blanketed with a feather-light covering of reddish-auburn tresses of her hair, splayed out behind her.

Her eyes closed, her face placid and serene, a light contented smile creasing the corners of her lips as she breathed steadily and evenly.

He sat there for several long minutes, just watching her sleep. Reaching out, he ran his fingers along the crown of her head, where her hair parted, caressing the back of his hand down the side of her face.

Katherine Janney awoke to the gentle caress of a hand over the side of her face, as Jeremy ran his fingers through her long hair, she opened her eyes gradually, and turned her head to the side to see Jeremy seated in a chair at her bedside, stroking her hair with his outreach hand.

Kate smiled warmly at him. “Hi.” She whispered.

“Hello dear.” He replied in a murmur. He leaned in down and pressed his lips to her mouth in a tenderly loving kiss, and Kate lifted her free hand to cup the back of his head, deepening the kiss.

“Why didn’t you stay here with me? Why did you have to leave?” She mumbled, as their lips separated at last, still half-asleep.

“You did need to really sleep;” He told her quietly, gazing at her lovingly. He kissed the side of her face below her ear, and a sly half-grin quirked the corner of his mouth; “And I somehow doubt that either of us would have caught much rest had I remained in bed with you this afternoon.” She looked back at him adoring.

Kate laid her hand the blanket over her chest, and Brooks covered her hand with his.

“We’re getting ready for our approach into Istanbul.” He told her, patting the palm of his hand on her chest. “You should get up.”

Kate sat up in the bed, slowly, stretching her arms behind her. She had taken off her low-cut blouse, and wrapped her upper torso in a sheet as she sat up. Jeremy leaned over to press his lips to her bare shoulder, as Kate hung her head, her hair falling around her face like an auburn curtain, shaking her head from side to side as she cleared the fog of cobwebs from her mind.

Jeremy leaned forward in his seat, reaching out to part the veil of her hair, and ducked in to look at her face, her eyes closed in the reddish semi-darkness; and she turned her head to face, not opening her eyes as she met his mouth with her lips in another caring kiss.

Kate flung her head back as their faces parted, tossing her hair behind her shoulders.

“Okay.” She said

“All Right.”

Kate nodded decidedly.

She pecked his cheek lightly. “Let’s get to it.”

Havalimani International Airport

Yesikoy, Istanbul, Turkey

Wednesday, January 2, 2063

5:23 PM

When Katherine emerged from the suites, the first thing she heard was the sound of a keyboard.

She followed the tune, to find Jeremy waiting for her at the top of the spiral staircase, seated at the grand piano in the bar, single-handedly playing a duet of Loesser and Leabu’s ‘Heart and Soul’.

He looked up and spotted her down the corridor, his fingers deftly transitioning to a stylistically interpretive rendition of “Hail To The Chief” as she approached. Kate smiled at him, as she came to the landing at the top of the staircase. Jeremy stood, and courteously waved her forward, following close behind her as they descended the spiral flight of stairs.

No sooner had they reached the bottom of the stairs, then the young President tripped and stumbled over the bottom step when the body of the plane jolted and bounced, as the behemoth aircraft touched down on the runway at the airport of the Turkish capital. Jeremy, acting almost instinctual, reflexively reached out down to grasp the Head of State around her middle, pulling her back from the albeit small ledge at her feet; and Kate grabbed tightly onto the side guard railing of the staircase as the airplane skidded to a halt on the tarmac. She turned her head to murmur a quiet “thank you”, as she descended the bottom step and they continued up the aisle toward the front of the plane, as the craft taxied to its terminal.

Alex Hill was waiting behind the stairs to the cockpit, next to the forward hatch doorway. He held up the President’s jacket out for her; which Kate slipped into as Air Force One came to a stop and the doorway slid open, the gangway extending like a ramp.

Katherine inhaled a deep breath, letting it out with a heavy sigh, her shoulders straightening. Her arms hanging straight at her sides, Kate felt Jeremy’s hand find hers, wrapping around it securely; and she cast her glance over to find him looking at her, his eyes studying her carefully, and she smiled thinly at him, her fingers squeezing his hand assuredly. And together they turned and stepped out of the forward hatchway of Air Force One.

Jeremy reached up to grasp the hood of the President’s long coat, and pulled it over her head, as Kate slipped on a slim pair of dark shade glasses, tucking her tresses of copper hair inside the hood, and behind her ears; and she wrapped her arm around his as they walked out across the jet way.

Taksim Square, Gezi Park

Beyoğlu, Gümüşsuyu, Turkey

Katherine strode down the steps at the lead of her entourage of Senior Staff advisors, surrounded by a circle of Secret Service Agents. Across the Square, winding its way around and through the flower garden topiary, another group of dark-suited people could be visible heading approaching from the opposite direction. As they stepped onto the plaza and reached the centerpiece sculpture of the square, Kate noticeably accelerated, hurrying steps ahead of her entourage, and, walking to the side behind her, Jeremy saw another, similarly distinguished individual figure likewise separate itself from the other group.

The two individuals rounded the outer border rim of the fountain. They met halfway, in front of the sculpture as Katherine wrapped her arms around the other in an enthusiastic embrace, which the woman returned compassionately.

Jeremy rushed hurriedly forward to intercept the two ladies, noticing out of his peripheral, the dark-suited Secret Service agents closing in on the fountain sculpture, tightening the perimeter on their Chief of State. Kate released the other woman from their embrace as Jeremy came up behind to stand beside his President.

The other woman reached out to pull back her woolen hood, letting dark hair free to her shoulders, and she swept it back behind one ear as she turned her head to face the newcomer. Jeremy’s breath hissed from his lungs as he recognized the face, with its pearlescent eyes and full mouth, beneath the raven hair. “Nastassia…” he whispered through his teeth, and the woman smiled at him.

“Professor Brooks,” Kate addressed him, jovially, “Permit me to introduce Nastassia Krusztcheckova, President of the United Republic of Russia.” She gestured indicating the raven-haired lady opposite.

“Stazia;” She continued, this time speaking to her dark-haired fellow President; “I would like you to meet Doctor Jeremy Brooks, Secretary of the Department of the Environment, Ecology and the Sciences.”

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Professor.” Krusztcheckova said, turning to Brooks.

“The pleasure is mine, I‘m sure.” Jeremy replied, bringing her extended hand to kiss it, while eyeing her carefully.

The rest of the American President’s entourage caught up to the two leaders, followed soon by the Russian delegation; and the two leaders turned and walked together across the park.

As they approached the door of the Ceylan Intercontinental, the Russian President turned her younger compatriot. “You have chosen wisely, Katerina.”

“What did you say?”  Katherine turned to stare at the other inquisitively. “What are you talking about?”

Krusztcheckova turned to nod her head to side over her shoulders, and Janney looked back to see Jeremy, who smiled brightly at her.

“He is a most honorable man.” The Russian Premier said, still walking straight forward through the swinging doors of the hotel.

Kate had to hurry forward to keep up as they entered the lobby foyer; “What do you mean?”

Nastassia turned to stare back at her young friend pragmatically. “He is your lover.” She said, bluntly.

Kate appeared taken aback, unsure how to respond; they had spent so many months adeptly disguising their relationship; but the flush that reddened her face must have betrayed her, and the other nodded with a grin. Kate shrugged, acquiescing.

“A wise choice.” Krusztcheckova repeated, walking ahead across the hotel lobby. “He is a good man.”

“Yes.” Kate replied, in a low tone, as though preoccupied with her own thoughts; not looking at Nastassia as she glanced discreetly back at Brooks strolling through the doors close behind them. “Yes he is.”

Krusztcheckova continued ahead to the government forum, with Leopold Spencer close behind her heels, to meet with Leo’s Turkish counterpart as Chief of Staff; leaving President Janney, with her de-facto chief advisor, to wait in the top-floor lounge of the Cyan Intercontinental Hotel. Katherine paced around in circles, reading through report booklets.

“Stazia— I mean, President Krusztcheckova likes you.” She told him, casually conversational, as Jeremy walked back into the lobby from the foyer.

“Does she?” Jeremy said, acting surprised; “That’s… good.” He slowed, noticing Kate looking up at him from her reading, her blue-green eyes noticeably flashing testily.

“She seemed to know everything all about you… pretty well.” The President said, and Jeremy slowed to a stop in his steps.

He sighed, nodding. It would pointless to try to plead ignorance in this instance. “We’ve met.”

“Where? When?”

“Berlin, in April.”

Kate, initially startled with his straightforward honesty, was taken aback, and stared at him with a look of surprise tinged with betrayal.

“She introduced herself only as Nastassia. We had several dinners. She had heard reads of my publications on troposphere super-cells, and seemed to want to know more about how deep-Earth seismic disruptions could affect stratospheric climatic phenomena in the Northern Pacific.”

“You had dinners?” Kate inquired, emphasizing the plural.

“You had just appointed me as a new Cabinet Department Secretary.” Jeremy told her, pointedly. “She never gave me any reason to believe that she was the President of Russia.”

The President looked doubtful.

“President Nastassia Krusztcheckova—”

“She went by using the last name ‘Gorbzerga’.”  Jeremy informed her.

“Her uncle, Ivan.” Kate affirmed, nodding finally. As she returned to the booklets in her hands, her face was unreadable beneath the hood of her coat.

“Hang it.” Jeremy strolled over to stand in front of her. He reached out to stroke his fingertips under her chin, nudging with his knuckles to raise her face to level with his.

“Hey, you.” He said, with a grin when he saw her face. Kate did not meet his gaze with her eyes.

“You all right?”

She glanced up and over at him at him, then looked away again. But Jeremy saw it, in her eyes, in that brief momentary glance, that glimmer in the glistening blue-green pools.

“Those ‘Arabs’ really got to you, didn’t they?” He said, referencing back to their talk on Air Force One just earlier that day. Kate grinned thinly, grateful for his euphemism.

“I understand.” She said finally, quietly. “There is nothing I can blame you for.” The implication behind her words, to her partner, was clear: ‘She is a very attractive person, it is not your fault if you were enticed to her.’

Knowing the intended meaning of what his companion was thinking; Jeremy shook his head, and Kate turned over toward him.

He reached out to encircle his arms around her waist. “I love you.” He told her, as she looked up to face him.

Her eyes glanced down and to the side, as if she had spotted something on the shoulder of his shirt. “I know.”

She looked up at his face, and her eyes met his through her dark lashes. He reached up to run his fingers through her long hair, and she raised her head to level with his, as he took her face in his hands, pressing his lips to hers in a kiss that expressed more than mere words. Jeremy returned his arms to about her hips as Kate cupped the back of Jeremy’s head and neck in the palm of her hand.

Several long minutes later, there was a knock at the heavy metallic door, and moments after, the door opened and Leo Spencer stepped foot into the lounge, just as Jeremy’s and Kate’s faces parted, her eyes zeroing in on his intensely.

“Ma’am President?” Leo called to her. “Oh!” He halted in his tracks, seeing the two lovers embracing in front of the window, overlooking the waters of the Bosphorus, and the ancient walls of old Constantinople beyond. “I’m sorry to interrupt anything. Excuse me.” Jeremy saw even Kate roll her eyes, and he sensed the apology for intrusion was something less than ingenuous. The President turned her head slightly toward her acting Chief of Staff.

“They’re ready for us… for you, Ma’am.” Leo told her, gesturing toward the elevator doors of the hotel.

“Thank you, Leo.” The President said, not shifting her eyes’ gaze from Jeremy’s face. “I’ll be right down there in a few more minutes.”

Atatürk Kültür Merkezi Taksim

Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Regency Golden Armada

[World Park Sultan Faros President Imperial]

Divanyolu Piyerloti Cemberlitas, Sultanahmet,

Istanbul, Turkey

President Katherine Janney stood on the top-floor balcony of the World Park Regency Armada hotel suite, leaning over, her forearms resting on the railing, her head lowered almost to her clasped hands in front of her as she ran her eyes’ glance along the street below the balcony, past the sidewalk-side cafe. An overhanging awning covered those on the hotel side of the street. Even those tables and chairs visible across the street from the hotel sitting empty, the only motions on the street alongside the hotel were the minute movements of the black-suited Secret Service agents posted at the edges and corners of the canopies.

Katherine raised her head, tossing her hair back behind her shoulders, as she lifted her gaze past the end of the street, to the view of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Cathedral glowing silvery blue and golden maroon less than a mile away.

She heard the sound of a door latch opening behind her, and then a door closing on the opposite side of the room from the balcony on which she stood. She lifted her forearms off of the railing, to rest the balls of her palms on the chill marble-covered metal. She was still staring transfixed at the glowing Cathedral in the distance when she sensed, rather than heard, the man stepping out of the glass screen door onto the balcony. Coming up behind her, Kate felt Jeremy wrap her middle in his arms.

Entering the top-floor suite of the Grand Faros hotel, Jeremy Brooks, looking around the room, had expediently spotted the President standing isolated out on the balcony. Quietly putting down his suitcase on the chair beside the work desk, and without a word, he had strided over to the door, shuffling silently over the carpeted floor of the suite.

Katherine had raised her gaze to the glowing-gold Cathedral in the distance just as he had stepped out the door onto the balcony. Strolling over to her, he had circled his arms around her from behind.

Kate straightened as Jeremy planted his chin on her shoulder, lifting her hands from the cold marble metal balcony railing, to place them on top of his covering her middle. Gradually, she laid her head back onto his shoulder, weighty, with a sigh.

“Wir waren zusammen sein werden.1” Jeremy murmured in her ear, his voice low and husky. “Wir sind füreinander bestimmt.2

The President, who spoke fluent German, smiled at his awkward wording and bumbling pronunciation; her eyes lightly closed as she leaned back against her lover’s chest. “Je suis immuablement et le pl[2]us affectueusement vôtre.3” She replied in perfect French, without opening her eyes, as she turned her face to the side on his shoulder, to meet his mouth with her lips in a loving kiss.

His arms wrapped around her hips, Jeremy’s fingers began unhooking the button clasps of her coat over her middle, just below her chest. As their mouths separated, Kate lifted her hands from covering over his, and turned around within his embrace in order to face him, just as his hands finished unbuttoning her coat. Kate spread her arms behind her while he slid the coverall overcoat off of her.

Katherine shivered as the chill early January wind up off of the street below wafted past the silken sleeves of her blouse shirt, and he returned his arms to wrap around her as she planted her face into his shoulder.

Jeremy had sensed it as soon as he had first touched her this evening; a tension in her muscles; and he sensed, with his arms wrapped around her sides, that the quiver currently coursing through her did not come because of cold.

“Just cool down.” He told her, quietly. “Let’s keep calm.” He softly kissed her cheek, and her ear, lightly with his lips; and Kate released a weighty, haltering sigh from her lungs, her entire frame loosening as he wrapped her tighter into his arms, lifting her over the threshold of the doorway back into the hotel suite, nimbly hooking one foot under the door handle in order to slide it closed behind them.

He kissed her again as they moved to stand beside the foot of the bed, before he let her onto her feet.

Noting the passionate fervor of his mouth on hers, Katherine momentarily half-anticipated him to push her down onto the mattress. Instead, his arms around her waist, hands holding behind he shoulders, he lowered her easily down on the blankets. Laying her head atop the pillow, he surely removed her stiletto-heeled pumps, off the foot of the bed, taking a few moments to massage the soles of her stocking feet, before lying down on top of the covers next to her.

Not for the first time, the strain on the position of her chosen profession was really starting to seriously get to the young former Oregon attorney, as was clearly evident as Jeremy his hand to the President’s forehead, running his fingers slowly through her long golden-auburn tresses. Kate closed her eyes as he ran his hand over the side of her face, pressing her cheek into his palm. Jeremy could feel her tremble of thinly repressed distress as he moved his hand down the side of her neck, fingertips tracing her throat to the neckline of her blouse.

He laid his head on the pillow next to hers, murmuring, in what he hoped was a reassuring tone, close in her ear, as he rubbed her clavicle where the side of her neck met her shoulder with one hand, while the fingers of the other began carefully untying the fastenings on her blouse. Running his hand down the front of the chemise camisole underneath, as the bustier separated, he pulled the heavy thick blankets over the President’s torso, as Kate’s head flopped to one side, and she nuzzled her face deep into the pillow, her eyes falling closed.

Jeremy lay next to her, gently rubbing his hands softly over her shoulder above the chemise camisole, as her trembling slowly dissipated, and her breathing eased steadily. He spread himself out beside her form, his head propped on his arm atop the pillow behind him; silently watching her sleep, his eyes scanning over her placid features imprinting the serene image indelibly into his memory.

Before Jeremy knew himself, he felt his eyes gradually drifting shut. Patting his hands on the wall behind the headboard of the bed, Brooks dimmed thee lights in the suite to their lowest. Jeremy lowered is head onto the pillow beside Kate, his eyes still gazing adoring at the young President’s face. He slung his long arm securely around her still-deeply sleeping figure, lightly pulling her in closer to him, as the woman beside him sighed in her sleep. Then he let his eyes close, and was soon momentarily contentedly asleep.

1 “We were made for each other.”

2 “We are meant to be together.”

3 “I am most unalterably and affectionately yours.”

Book III: Chapter 16: Happy New Year

•December 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“Some say that we are players. Some say that we are pawns.
Live a life of solitude until we find ourselves a partner, some to relate to.

My friends are all so cynical, refuse to keep the faith.

We all enjoy the madness because we know we’re going to fade away.”

Robbie Williams

Kirbilli House

Sydney, Australia

December 31, 2063

8:04 PM

Jeremy Brooks straightened the bow of the tie on his two-piece suit, looking sidelong into a mirror above the mantel of the Kirbilli House’s engraved fireplace, an then turned back to the discussion he had been involved in with the English Interior Minister. It was halted in the same moment that all conversation in the room was interrupted, all of the dignitaries’ heads being diverted. Jeremy turned with the others around him, and his lips parted just a little bit in spite of his hard efforts not to gape.

President Katherine Janney glided into the living hall, dressed in a scarlet red low-cut strapless wraparound dress, with deep cutouts along either side of her midriff, the brassiere bust appearing only connected to the long fitted skirt by the crisscross to the wrap of the gown, and a deep v cutout in the middle of the bust line down to her middle; her hair done into a curling bob around and about her bare shoulders.

The President’s niece, Julia, wearing a low-cut black halter-strapped dress; straps wrapping around either sides of her arms just below her shoulders, strode confidently and assuredly into the room from a separate hall. Her long hair was swept behind the back of her neck and combed straight down her back; translucent sheer dark-shaded silk covering her chest and shoulders attaching between the shoulder straps and the rounded bust line to the halter.

Standing side by side, the two, President and First Daughter, resembled embers and coal; with Kate’s mane of red-gold copper hair and flaming fiery red dress, and Julie’s raven-ebony-hair hair and deep jet black dress.

Katherine glided over to the discussion group; and Jeremy reached out over to slide his arm around her waist, drawing her into him; and she lifted her hand to the side of his face, kissing him tenderly on the mouth. When their lips separated, they turned to see the Interior Minister looking at them admiringly.

“You two have a date?” Broderick asked.

“Not yet.” Jeremy answered.

“We’ve both been very busy since July.” Kate told him, running her fingers over Jeremy’s ear and cheek. And it took a beat for Jeremy to recognize that the young Chief Executive had completely misconstrued the thrust of the question, before his lover elaborated: “Mostly formal events and quiet hotel room dinners.”

Broderick, having asked whether they were engaged to be married, nodded somewhat mystified and turned back to Jeremy, who shrugged, his eyebrows quirking, with a crooked sidelong half-grin. The Interior Minister nodded, and turned away to return with the British delegation.

Kate reached up to sweep her long golden –copper tresses behind her ears, turning to search the bustle for her daughter, to find Julia enthusiastically greeting Cariana Mekadi, the daughter of the President of Italy, with the Italian heiress dressed in a strapless long white wrap-around gown. Wearing black and white, the two young ladies shared their dark, almost black hair.

The first song the band struck into was, appropriately enough, 2012’s “Millennium”, and the young President twined her arms around Jeremy’s neck and shoulders.

Jeremy placed his hands about Kate’s waist, cupping his palms over the skin left open by the deep cross-section cutout of the dress around her middle.

Jeremy, his arms around the young President, felt a trembling shiver run through her; which Kate did a proficiently fine way of disguising as she shook her head around, tossing her long auburn hair behind her shoulders; wrapping one of her forearms around Jeremy’s neck, running her fingertips down the hairs along his spine, even in a way as he played his fingers over the bared skin in the deep triangular cutouts around Kate’s midriff.

Kate swung her hips from side to side with movements of her feet, her torso swaying back and forth, her arms over Jeremy’s shoulder wrapped around his neck, as he cupped his hands about the sides of her midriff.

The pair faced one another, holding each other’s empathic gaze steadily. Jeremy, for his part, steadily drew the young executive in closer toward him, until he and the President were mere inches apart. Within a beat of the music and the back and forth swing of Kate’s hips, Jeremy pulled her to him, and when her upper torso pressed against the button clasps of his double-piece breasted suit tuxedo jacket, she threw her head back with a laugh, swinging her face and mouthing along with one amongst her favorite lines of lyrics from the turn-of-the-century song.

The President was interested, if unsurprised in noting that Julie was dancing close with Cariana, standing behind the Italian heiress, the two young ladies holding each other by the waist as they swung, pressing their hips together against one another, facing each other.

Katherine wrapped her hands around the back of Jeremy’s head and dipped her face in, pressing her mouth to his in a passionate kiss as the music of the song faded to an end; her eyes drifted closed as Jeremy returned her kiss with motion of his lips against hers.

His mouth parted her lips from his even just as she released him from her embrace, glancing over to see Julie hugging Cariana, both smiling, and laughing; which, as she had not seen in a while, Katherine was glad for.

Jeremy’s arm was still about her waist as they turned together back toward the bustling milling crowd.

The musicians continued on with their play list of mid-to-late twentieth, and early twenty-first century rhythm and jazz selections as the pair sidled up to open beverage service, Jeremy ordering a large glass of hard Irish Apple Cider, which he shared with his partner. With such a form-tight and abbreviated dress, Janney was certain with little doubt that any other man in his rightly sane mind would have been staring at her torso. But Jeremy kept his eyes fixed on her face, as she took the tall roundly fluted glass from him, his gaze inspecting and studying closely and carefully every plane and gentle curve of her sculpted features, the play of shadows and shadings from the dance floor lighting.

The pout to her glistening red-pink lips, crowned with an incongruous moustache of carbonated bubbly foam at once made her irresistibly adorable to him, and Kate drew her head back as, pinning her back against the corner wall with his hands on the bar, he pushed his face in, capturing hers and kissing her softly, almost tenderly, the movement of his lips against her mouth prompting her eyes to drift closed, as she blindly tried to put the large, tall glass back on the table. As though, reading her thoughts through their melded lips, he, without looking, intercepted her slightly somewhat frantically swinging hand with his, plucking the fluted from her fingers, and setting it on the counter off to their side behind her, even as she yielded to the soft press of his mouth on hers.

Their deeply passionate romantic interlude was only then broken up with a politely modest throat-clearing cough from behind them. Their mouths parting, Jeremy and Kate’s eyes’ gaze remained locked on one another as their eyes opened, and they turned.

Brittany Forrest-Nelson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, stood beside one of the tables. She was decked out in a low-cut halter-neck-strapped shining bright turquoise Sapphire blue dress, her umber-mahogany hair combed straight, rippling down the back of her neck and cascading over her shoulders in flowing waves. The color of the dress accentuated the brilliance of her ocean-sky liquid blue eyes, gleaming as they were fixed unwaveringly on the American President’s escort.

“Might I care to have this dance, Mister Brooks?” She said smoothly.

“It would be my pleasure, Madame.” Jeremy replied with a bow her direction. He took her proffered hand in his and brought it up to him, being careful not, Katherine noted, to press his mouth to the skin of her hand, but rather touching a light kiss to the stone of one of the rings on the back of her fingers. He straightened, turning back to his own Executive.

However, he was only barely able to manage a soft and gentle kiss on Kate’s lips, by the time the British Premier seized his hand holding hers, and started to lead him off out onto the floor.

Jeremy looked back at his partner, as he was pulled away. Kate was gazing back at him, a tight, evidently rigidly forced smile creasing her features, as she put her hand to her pouted lips, sending him a blown kiss in his direction.

He had scarcely turned back about as he very nearly walked into colliding with the English Minister, who had halted and spun on her heels to face him. As he skimmed awkwardly to a stop in front of her, Nelson again took the hand of his she had seized firmly in hers, reaching down to place his palm firmly around the side of her hip. She did the same with his opposite, before draping her arms over his shoulders, just as the orchestra had launched up a rendition of Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”, distorted enough so as to sound more alike to Bing Crosby’s “Swinging on a Star”.

Katherine’s fingers tightened substantially around the fluted champagne glass in her hand, as she stiffened at how closely Brittany squeezed her torso into Jeremy’s hips. His head craning over his shoulder, Jeremy noted Kate’s face creasing, her lips detailing a thin line. Catching contact with her eyes, her frowned softly, shaking his head gently, his eyes glimmering sympathetically.

Katherine acknowledged with a terse smile, the flickers of jealous resentment fading and dissipating significantly.

As the orchestral number came to an end with an instrumental French trumpet solo and wind horn jam, Jeremy removed his hands from Nelson’s hips, as the Prime Minister released her arms from around his neck.

“I thank you Professor.” She pronounced, splaying her dress skirt, and bending ever so slightly at the knees, merely a formality in the case, as the was several half a dozen inches shorter than he.

“It was an honor, your Excellency.” Brooks replied, granting her a quite formal proper, slightly flourished, bow at the waist.

He found his young President sitting at an oval table, finishing off apparently her sixth small tonic martini, and speaking, rambling in tangents, to what appeared, as Brooks checked against a memorized list, to be the whole of the British Parliament’s Ministers to the Australian Foreign Secretariat. She did not appear to acknowledge as he approached the tables, as he came deliberately up behind her.

“Excuse me. I apologize, Gentlemen and ladies.” He allowed, placing his hands firmly on the young leader’s bare shoulders, prompting her to startle, straightening reflexively. “I’m sorry, Ministers and Secretaries, but the President has an important message to take concerning a prior imminent engagement commitment.” He continued, giving the executive’s shoulders a gentle squeeze not to refute his ad-libbed statement. “Excuse us.” He added, as the Parliamentarians stood and strode off, each seeming to appear urgently busy with something or another.

The President let her head fall back onto the padded neck of the chair, her long red-auburn hair tumbling down the back of the seat, as she lifted her eyes to stare up at her liaison’s face.

“All right.” She groaned, sighing; her Franco-German accent coming through as she murmured. “What was that about?”

“You appear becoming somewhat substantially excessively inebriated.” Jeremy told her, not glancing down, but rather instead scanning the room speculatively with his gaze.

“What was that did you say?” She inquired disoriented, reaching up and running her fingers to trace over the buttons securing the folded-closed lapels of his tuxedo suit.

He looked down at her then, casting his glance down at her face, still staring backwards up at him, her lips puffed into a fish-like pout, and the skin of her carven features flushed almost pink, with the exception of the now-hazy watery deep-sea blue-green eyes, which inspected the planes of his own face inquisitively.

“You are drunk.” He explained, being sure to keep his proclamation low. He bent over, reaching down to lend her his arm as she got up out of her seat.

“So…” She mumbled questioningly as he assisted her at getting to her feet. “Whatever’s so all bad about getting drunk?”

“You ask that to a cup of water.” Jeremy answered, as he led her on his arm and shoulder off away from the crowded milling bustle, and towards the direction of the doors to one of the outside balconies. “Here you go and I’ll find and get you one.”

It was a gorgeously clear night, with barely a cloud visible to be seen in the sky. The city on the opposite bank of the Harbor bay shining aglow like crystal, the stars glittering in the deep dark sky overhead like diamond sequins in velvet, and with the moon to the east hanging amidst puffing wisps of clouds about above the horizon.

The President had been raucously whistling what Jeremy guessed was the tune to “Moonbeams in a Jar” as they had moved across the hall’s floor, but had halted and ceased whistling immediately the moment she felt the chill wind, which swirled in whipping gusts up off of the southeasterly inlet, intensifying the already-cool late December night air, impact her flush exposed skin. The bracingly crisp night breeze, almost paradoxically seemed to have a soothing effect on her drink-induced meanderings.

Jeremy and Kate stood, leaning on the engraved railing of the mansion’s balcony, quietly for several moments, and he cast a glance over at her. She stood silently beside him, elbows resting on the sculpted handrail; eyes’ gaze cast up at the twinkling city lights opposite and the brilliant stars beyond, as each reflected glimmering in the still-placid deep blue waters of the bay inlet; for many long minutes.

Jeremy lifted one hand to caress his fingers lightly up and down across the satiny soft skin of the side of her bare back. She quivered ever so slightly at his gentle touch, and not merely from the stroke of his fingertips over the minute hairs standing on the flesh covering her back.

Recognizing her chill-shivering tremble, he straightened and removed his jacket, laying it spread over the President’s naked shoulders. Kate accepted the chivalrous gesture graciously, nodding in acknowledgement as she, too, pushed off the safety guard rail to stand straight, and smiling warmly at his kindness as she tugged the coat even more snugly around her.

They turned, Jeremy holding out his elbow, and Katherine, her smile brightening, slipped her arm around through his, and walked through the double doors, as they were opened and held by Secret Service Agents, back into the hall.

Arm-in-arm, they made their way through the milling bustle of the crowd to find a seat at one of the far tables at the edge of the floor. Jeremy chivalrously pulled out a chair for the President to sit down, before taking a seat himself. Janney sipped hard cider from the tall fluted glass, staring down at the bubbling golden-blonde-colored liquid in the glass between drinks, as Jeremy rubbed his palms over her back through his tuxedo’s sports coat, and massaged her shoulders with his fingers, his arms around her.

Jeremy recognized the look of the expression on her face, and in her eyes. He had remembered seeing it before. It was, he surmised, a sort of down-shoot of her razor-whip-sharp and quick-witted brilliance; that, every once in a while, now and again from time to time; she had to take any given quiet moment to herself as closed-off computing time, in order to properly clarify and process recent happenings catalogued within her own mind, with its eidetic photographic memorization, and near-instant recall, for details.

The President remained still, her face glazed over as if flash-frozen as she stared deeply through the glass of cider, her head rocking loosely back and forth with the movement of his hand on her back, and of his fingers kneading her shoulders through his suit jacket.

Jeremy was also able to serve to divert and fend off lower-echelon foreign bureaucrats who wished to want a moment of the President’s attention for their own means’ purposes.

As the glass neared its empty bottom, Jeremy noticed the young Chief of State’s eyes starting to periodically drift towards closing, as she rocked with his rubbing of her back and she at a last reached up with one hand, to fold it over atop his upon her shoulder, stilling his fingers’ massage, a profoundly contented smile spreading across her placid features.

Gradually, Janney turned her head over to face toward him, their eyes locking.

“I love you.” She said softly, hardly more than a murmur, as if she were rediscovering the feeling, which she had misplaced far away. Her eyes’ gaze on his told of a similar revelation. Jeremy thought he was ready to reply that he loved her as well, but yet found himself so enthralled by the expressiveness in those same, deep, brilliant eyes, that he was only able to respond with a hushed “I know”; before she brought her smiling lips toward him, to capture his in a deep, passionate and loving kiss that in instants drew away from him his capability of remembering to breathe. Before he knew himself, he had his arm wrapped around her shoulders, pulling her in closer, as her hand over his on her shoulder lifted and went to cup the back of his head.

With the lifting of her arms, his sports jacket slipped from her shoulders onto the chair back behind her, and his hand on her shoulder resumed his fingers stroking caress across the expanse of her upper back left bare by the plunging back to her dress.

Kate’s lips parted from him gradually, her eyes flickering open again. Their gazes locked on each other’s eyes as their faces separated slowly.

They sat across the table from one another, gazing into each other’s eyes; Kate looking at him over the fluted rim of her still quarter-full of golden bubbly cider, her brilliant blue-green eyes glimmering brightly in the dimly glowing light. This for several long minutes, before there was a tap on Jeremy’s right shoulder, and he broke staring contact with Kate in order to turn his head around to the side to see the President’s Personal Aide Alex Hill, and with Leo Spencer the Deputy Chief of Staff standing behind him.

“Excuse us.” Charlie said; “I’m sorry, Madam President?” Leo nodded his head to the side. The President nodded, glancing back at Jeremy momentarily as she got up out of her seat. She bent down, reaching over to hold the side of his face for a quick kiss of her lips on his mouth as she passed him. Then she walked away from the table, following her assistants, and disappeared into the crowd.

Sydney, Australia

December 31, 2063

11:55 PM

Later that night, Jeremy was discussing the British Royal Family’s response to the Southeast Indonesian tsunami’s impact on Northern Australia with his Italian counterparts, the heads Interior, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Conservation Ministries. He glanced over the Minister’s shoulders to observe young Julia, surrounded by the younger aides and Agency secretaries, elaborating expressively the situations scenarios, and circumstances which had precipitated her not attending George Washington University.

The overhead lighting fixtures dimmed for a beat then flashed brightly, indicating the night’s featured main event. Jeremy got out of his chair and trailed the other dignitaries, mingling in amongst the milling crowd bustling towards the doorways to the outside balconies.

As the group moved out onto the Northern balcony, and hustled to a standstill, Jeremy continued on along the terraced portico, past the crowd of Representatives. It was moments before he spotted the first black-suited man standing erect and almost immobile along the safety guard railing. ‘Just follow the Secret Service Agents.’ He thought to himself; and sure enough so it was.

He discovered her standing in the near-direct center middle of the portico balcony, arms crossed across her chest, hands clasped in front of her, her head bowed to her breast. Her polished golden-copper hair fell about her face with a veil, the tresses rippling over her bare shoulders drawing his gaze down the plane of her back to her waist as he approached and came up silently behind her, wrapped his arms around her and pulled her gently back against him in one smooth fluid motion. She startled at the press of the buttons of his tuxedo coat against her spine; her head lifting from its bent, her hands unclasping in front of her to hug protectively over her chest, as she straightened reflexively upright.

But almost as soon, as Jeremy wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on her bare shoulder; in that same moment, his lover’s posture relaxed, her bare back fitting closer to his chest like masonry, as she lowered her arms to fold her hands over around his upon her midriff over her middle; and Kate turned her head to face him as he lifted his chin from her shoulder, her mouth finding his in a loving kiss.

A brilliant red-orange flash in the Northern sky interrupted their passionate interlude momentarily across the harbor from the mansion, and a bursting clap that rolled across the waters of the bay. Their lips separated, and together they turned toward the sky over the dark waters of the inlet, as a number of more colorful explosions flashed in the suddenly silent and starless night, commemorating with fire the dawning of the New Year.

There was, at one point later, a minute or so pause between bursts, and Jeremy felt Kate’s whole form seem to melt, her back forming into his chest as though attempting to meld the two surfaces together, her waist pressing back into his hips, as she did her most to fold herself more closely into his embrace.

But then the next burst of explosions sounded, and the young President jumped, pressing her backwards closer to him. He wrapped her securely in his arms and held her tighter around the sides of her midriff, squeezing her securely against him.

Kate tilted her heads to one side as, nudging the tresses of her golden copper mane aside with his nose, Jeremy pressed his lips in a kiss to the side of her neck, her eyes drifting closed as he worked his way up to a pulse point of the temple behind her ear. He kissed his lips down the long slender column of her throat to endow special attention onto the tender juncture of her clavicle, the crook where neck and shoulder joined, with his lips.

Katherine reopened her eyes to watch the fiery blasts in the sky, but nonetheless every muscle in her upper torso going loose, as she yielded control of their movements to him. Holding her in his arms around the sides, he began swaying her hips from side to side with his, rocking back and forth with the percussive beat of the explosive bursts before them. Jeremy moved his hands over her middle, his fingers caressing the deep triangles of bare skin across the sides of her midriff.

As the display of fiery explosive blasts wound and ramped to its climax and finale, Jeremy lifted his chin from the crook of her neck and shoulder, to press his lips to the bare skin of her back. Katherine reached up with one hand to lift his face from her back; holding him lightly by the chin with her long fingers, as she turned her head to press her lips to his mouth in a passionate kiss, full of many promises of much more things to come; her eyes locked on his as their lips parted sent a crystalline-clear message: ‘Just not yet. Not here.’

The rest of the crowd of foreign dignitaries started to file trickling back inside the doorways to the Mansion. Kate stayed a while, remaining securely wrapped in the warm embrace of the man she loved, as Jeremy stood behind her, his arms around her, his chin resting on her shoulder.

She had reached down as the fireworks ended, folding her hands over his cupped around the sides of her waist, stilling his swaying of their hips.

Kate lifted her hand to massage her fingers through the tousled tufts of Jeremy’s matted hair, as her lover kissed his lips across her bare back, before lifting his face from her shoulder as his hands lifted their hold on her hips, and she turned in arms’ embrace to face him, even as he released her. She pressed her face to him in a quick kiss, a broad smile forming on her lips as they parted from his; as she broke away from him, and turned towards the direction of the doorways to the mansion, seizing his hand in hers as she started back inside.

The entered the doors to find the New-Years reception back in full tilt. They noticed Julia dancing, in what was, Jeremy surmised, an arranged pairing, with the young aide to an Australian Parliament Ministry Secretary. Julie had the distant, far-away vacant look in her eyes that her aunt could remember seeing on her daughter’s face so very many times before. Julie was, Kate guessed, fantasizing that the young man she was paired dancing with was, rather instead, her boyfriend Ryan Seabourne, whom she had not seen since the evacuation of Washington in August.

They spent the next couple of hours sitting at different separate tables, making conversation with Prime Ministers Forrest-Nelson and Ventrinsca and their personal Aides, Special Advisors and Secretaries.

Jeremy wrapped up his talk with the British Foreign Ministry Communications Director, and got up out of his chair just before the Orchestra’s band began to play a rendering rendition of Mancini’s “We Pass This Way”, but which was tuned to sound alike to “Moon River”.

Jeremy strode purposefully over to where the young President was having words with the Italian and Australian Foreign Press Ministers of Public Relations.

Katherine stayed her diatribe as she felt, rather than saw, Jeremy move behind her, turning her head to look back at him as he rested his hands on her shoulders; and Jeremy noted with interest that she had let her hair down.

“Excuse me.” He said, though he saw that it would not be necessary, as the harried advisors looked up at his approach, their eager enthusiasm for being freed from the browbeating un-disguisable. “Madame President;” He said, stepping to the side of her chair, and more fully into her field of view. “May I have this dance with you?”

The bright smile that grew on Kate’s face spread from one jeweled ear to the other. “You may indeed, Mister Brooks” She replied, taking his proffered hand in hers.

They walked, hand in hand, out to the center of the dance floor, the milling crowd parting in waves before the President and her escort.

Using her hand in his, Jeremy spun the President in several twirls on her heels, drawing her to him, his hands holding her sides, as she twined her arms around his shoulders and the back if his neck.

“I love you.” Kate murmured in his ear, as she rested her chin on his shoulder, and he pressed a light kiss to the side of her neck, as their hips swayed back and forth from side to side.

They moved together in silence, not even really dancing, so much as just shuffling from one foot to the other, from side to side, moving in slowly turning circles around the center of the floor. As he held her in his arms, Jeremy could sense Kate settling into his embrace. He felt, rather than saw, her eyes drifting closed, and she released her deep breath in a heavy sigh as she settled her chin weighty onto his shoulder; and Jeremy was compelled to wonder what it was that the Foreign Ministry Public Relations Press Communications Special Advisors had said to or told the young American President to compel such a reaction.

Two hours later, the guests began to file from the hall and out of the mansion. Forrest-Nelson and Ventrinsca were waiting by just inside the Northeast doors. “Good night, Camerlo.” Katherine said sweetly, as the Italian Prime Minister kissed her on both cheeks. “I’ll see you tomorrow night in Istanbul.”

“Goodbye, Madam President.” Brittany hugged her friend and fellow Chief of State tightly around the shoulders. “Until next time.” She added, turning her glance to Jeremy at the President’s side, as he shook hands with the Italian Premier. “Doctor Brooks, Farewell.” She nodded to the Professor.

“I thank you, your Excellency.” He responded, with a light bow towards her.

“Come on, Jules.” Janney called out behind her, and Julia looked up from where she and Cariana were sitting at a small table, chatting excitedly about their rendezvous’ in Turkey.  “It’s late. Time to head back to the House.” Julie stood up to embrace her friend and fellow heiress counterpart, and hurried over to join her Jeremy at her Aunt’s side.

Brooks held out his arm, and Kate, smiling broadly once more, wrapped her hand onto his forearm, as the groups of the three Nations’ leaders parted their different separate ways; Jeremy and Kate turning heading down the hill. They reached the lookout and turned down the stone stairs toward the harbor. The two followed the tree line down the sloping field, while Julie skipped across the open yard, making a direct beeline for the Admiralty House where they had been staying. Reaching the walkway path, they turned and strolled south along the top of the ledge of the cliff bordering the bank of the inlet bay.

As they walked, Jeremy’s arm wrapped around his coat covering Kate’s otherwise bare shoulders, they gazed out across the harbor at the lights of downtown Sydney just beyond, twinkling beckoning like undying stars outlining the eastern horizon, with the near-full moon hanging suspended above them. Kate laid the side of her head onto Brooks’ shoulder, pressing her one hand to the breast of his jacket as they strolled. Jeremy lifted his other hand to stroke his fingers softly through her long golden copper hair, even as he turned his face to the side to lightly kiss the crown of her head, and Kate rubbed her hand over across his chest as they strolled along the path.

They reached the tree line, and soon the canopy of the shrubbery bushes had enveloped them, letting only shafts of moonlight waft through the overhanging branches, barren of leaves in the midst of a harsh winter.

Taking advantage of the permeating semi-darkness, the pair turned towards one another in the same moment, Jeremy enveloping the young President in his arms even in the same moment as Katherine seized the sides of his head in both of her hands and pulled him to her, pressing her parted lips to his mouth in a fervently passionate kiss as he squeezed her body to his. His arm around her back, his hand went to grip her shoulder, pressing her chest close into his own; his arm wrapped around her waist pulling her hips to him. Her hands cupped the back of his head and neck as she tenderly mashed his lips with hers.

Their lips parting at last, Jeremy kissed his mouth across her cheek to the pulse point of her temple, and them to press his lips to the side of her throat, as she lightly nipped at the tip of his earlobe with her kittenish two front teeth.

“I love you, too.” She murmured close into his ear; her breaths heavy sighs. “So much.”

Jeremy released her from his embrace finally, and they once again turned together to resume strolling along the path beneath the canopy of branches overhead, toward the warmly inviting glow of the mansion on the hill to their right.

Jeremy held Kate by the hip, his arm around her waist, as they turned, where the cliff-side path ended, to ascend the slight rise up to the House.

The arrived on the second floor to find Julia, still in her halter-strapped black dress, standing in front of a mirror and combing her long raven ebony hair over her bare shoulders. Jeremy stepped into their bedroom to remove his tuxedo suit jacket and bow tie, leaving the President in the process of assisting her daughter stripping off her low-cut off-the-shoulder dress.

Now in his button-down long-sleeved light grey dress shirt, having cleaned his mouth and teeth and washed and brushed his hair, Jeremy poked his head into the bedroom at the far end corner of the floor, in time to see the President pulling the bed’s folded blankets over Julia’s already half-sleeping form and tucking them in around her daughter. She bent down and leaned in to lightly kiss the top of the girl’s forehead. Then straightened upright and turned noticing Jeremy standing in the half-open doorway, gazing on the motherly family moment with compassionate affection in his deep blue eyes, her eyes locked on his as she smiled warmly at him.

She turned then away from her sleeping daughter’s bedside and glided over toward him, still in her red wraparound dress.

He turned back away into the hall, as the President exited girl’s bedroom, closing the door silently behind her. She turned to him, as he slipped his arm around her waist. She turned toward him and reached up to grab the lapels of his collar, tugging his over to her, her back to the wall, as his arms around her waist pinned her against the wall behind her, as she brought his lips to her in a loving, expert kiss. Their lips moved against one another as their eyes drifted closed momentarily.

Then Kate used her fingers around his collar to lightly push him back away from her, his lips parting from her mouth. She reached down and took his hand in hers and led him beside her down the hall.

Jeremy and Kate stood at the table in the kitchen, sharing tall glasses of champagne, toasting, for the first time together by themselves, the prosperous conclusion to their Italian-mediated talks with the British and Australian government representatives.

Brooks felt the President studying him, and looked up from his drink to see Kate’s eyes gazing at him over the rim of her fluted wine glass.

“What are you thinking about?” He asked her, quietly.

“Going home.” The President answered in a murmur; Her chin in her hand, elbows resting on the countertop.

“Looking forward to returning back?” Brooks asked, and she nodded.

“I’ve missed it.”

“We’re getting to Washington in two weeks.” He reminded her.

“Two weeks.” She repeated softly with a smile, and raised her glass.

“To Washington?” Brooks proposed holding his glass out to her.

“To the Cottage.” Katherine amended, reaching her arm toward his.

“Cheers here.” He acknowledged, as the rims of their fluted glasses clinked merrily.

Kate withdrew her arm as their flutes retracted, and leaned in across the counter. Jeremy did likewise, and their lips met over the tabletop in a compassionate loving kiss.

They quietly finished sharing their glasses of wine together in silence.

Katherine put the empty wine bottle and champagne glasses on the table, and came strolling casually around the counter toward him; gliding slowly on her heels in the long scarlet dress, as she ran her hand over the metallic Formica surface.

She reached out and took his right hand in her left, dipping her face in to kiss him lightly. She took his hands in both of hers, leaning away and extending her arms as she tugged him up out of his chair and around the counter.

“Come on, let’s get to bed.” She murmured, with a ‘hither to me’ look in her bright eyes, partially veiled by stray strands of her hair; as she pulled Jeremy towards the stairs, and led him up to their bedroom, quietly closing the door behind them.

2013 in review

•December 30, 2013 • 1 Comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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