Shades of Grey
Part 5

"Answer, Josh," Donna whispered as she heard the fourth ring. One more ring and Josh's voice mail kicked in. She pressed '1' to leave a message. "Josh. Did you forget your meeting?" She paused, for once not knowing what to say. "Call me. Please." She hung up, chewing on her bottom lip.

Maybe she was being ridiculous. Maybe there wasn't a problem. Josh would show up, and she would feel stupid for worrying. She wouldn't tell him, of course, but he'd know. He'd smile and tell her he was a big boy and could take care of himself. And everything would be okay.


Donna glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearly three o'clock. Josh had never been this late. Sure, he'd blown in a few minutes before a meeting, or sometimes up to ten minutes late, depending on who was waiting for him. As far as she knew, Senator Collins was not on her boss' be-late-on-purpose list. She'd managed to convince the Senator that Josh had been unavoidably detained. The Senator had agreed to take his lunch and then return. He was due back at any time.

Worry filled the pit of her stomach, and she was moving before she realized it, her pace becoming more urgent with every step. She reached the Communications Bullpen and spotted Sam's assistant at her desk.

Cathy looked up at her approach. "Donna, I was going to call you. Have you seen Sam?"

Donna positioned herself so her back was to Toby's office. "No. I just tried to call him, but I got his voice mail. Do you think you could page Sam?"

Lines creased Cathy's smooth forehead as she picked up the phone and dialed Sam's number.

* * * * *

Toby circled the last of his edits on Sam's latest work and set his pen on the desk. Reading as he moved, he stood and headed for his deputy's office. He looked up over the rims of his glasses and saw the vacant desk. Where the hell was Seaborn?

With a huff that lifted his shoulders, Toby whipped around to the Bullpen and spotted the cluster of bodies around Cathy's desk. Cathy, Bonnie, Ginger...and Donna. Toby bristled.

"What is this today?" he demanded, his voice decibels above its normal tone. "Nobody has anything to do?"

Activity in the Bullpen stopped for several seconds as the staff members cringed, wondering what had set Toby off. They continued on with their work, considerably faster than before. All but the four assistants.

Toby fixed Donna with a glare. "You! I thought I told you to call your boss."

"I did," she said. "He didn't answer."

Caught off guard by the lack of defensiveness in Donna's voice, Toby took a mental step back. "Oh," was all he could think to say.

There was worry etched in their faces. He could see that now, and a pang of guilt reminded him that his New Year's resolution was to watch his temper. And he'd certainly watched it do some flaring. So much for resolutions.

The four women were watching him, waiting. Toby worked his jaw. "Cathy, did you page Sam?" he asked, much softer than before.

"A couple minutes ago. We're just waiting for him to call back."

Toby nodded. "Donna, where did they go to lunch?"


"Call them and see if you can find out if they're still there, or when they left."


"Ginger, call Margaret and tell her I'm coming to see Leo."

His assistant nodded and returned to her desk to make the call.

Toby watched as the women dispersed, all but Cathy who tried to get back to work with little success. She kept glancing at her phone as if willing it to ring. Toby understood.

He returned to his desk, slow and pensive, and set the speech on his blotter. He didn't want to believe anything was wrong, but.... Toby drew a hand over his beard. Sam held a lot of pride in his job. If he could answer, he would. What were the odds that both Sam's pager and Josh's cell phone were not being heard?

Toby glanced at his phone, watching Cathy's extension. "Come on, Sam," he said on a breath.


The Communications Director turned and saw Ginger standing in his doorway.

"Leo just got back," she said.

Toby nodded. He offered her a weak smile as she hovered near the door. He wanted to tell her everything was going to be all right, but it was hard to convince someone else when he wasn't certain himself. He just had a bad feeling....Toby squared his shoulders as he left his office, trying to at least remain outwardly calm for his staff. Not that it mattered. The simple fact that he was going to see the Chief of Staff was enough to set everyone on edge.

Don't do this to me, Sam, he thought as he made his way to Leo's office. Don't do this.



Shades of Grey - 6




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