Cold Blast - 12
Mara neither felt nor heard Sam leave in the morning. She woke up shortly before eleven with a mild bounce back headache, decided she could live with it and made herself breakfast. She touched base with her not amused assistant who flat out told Mara her impromptu vacation was going to cost her. Cheryl will forgive me eventually especially when she finds out she gets to be the boss now she thought. She called the Ambassador's residence to let the butler know she was going to stop by, picked up the first two binders of Protocol and was out the door.
Mara fell in love with the mansion on sight, the deep red bricks, black shutters and Victorian architecture made her heart skip a beat. She pressed the small white button on the intercom and the black rot iron gate opened. She paused on the steps, planting tulips along the edge of the walk way in her mind. The front door was opened by a formally dressed butler who gave Mara a condescending grin.
"Hello Miss Whitford. I'm Charles Enright I've been Butler to the Ambassador for thirty years do come in."
"Thank you Charles, the house is very beautiful."
"Yes it is Ma'am." He closed the door behind Mara and lead her in to the sitting area. "Would you care for a drink Miss Whitford?"
"No thank you Charles, please call me Mara."
"Would you like the grand tour Miss."
"No I'd rather walk around on my own. I'm capable of knowing a bedroom from a bathroom." Mara joked. (Oh yeah he doesn't care for me.)
( I have to work for a woman wearing leather pants who obviously doesn't know a Butler does not call his employer by her first name. Maybe it's time to retire.) "Yes Miss Whitford."
"Are you the only employee Charles?"
"No Miss Whitford, Mrs. Jacobs is maid, Mr. Jeffries is the executive chef and Mr. Waverly is his assistant."
"No one is live in?"
"No, I have a key. My day begins at 6 am. I let Mr. Waverly in at 6:20 to prepare breakfast. Mrs. Jacobs arrives at 8:30 just before the Ambassador leaves and stays until 5 unless a dinner or reception is being held. Mr. Waverly arrives around 4 to prepare the dinner. I leave after dinner is served. Of course if an event is planned we stay until the clean up is complete."
"Thank you Charles." (I don't need my breakfast or dinner made for me, hope they can find a job quickly.) Mara noticed a red headed women in a gray maids uniform walk by. "Hi you must be Mrs. Jacobs. I'm Mara Whitford."
Pleasure to meet you Miss Whitford. The Ambassador told us you'd be replacing him on Monday. If I may ask has a date been set yet?"
"December first and please call me Mara. I hope you don't mind cats."
"No Miss... Mara I have two of the little rascals myself."
"I have just one but he is a handful."
"I was just going up to the master bedroom would you care to join me?"
"Thanks Mrs. Jacobs."
She looked right at Charles and smiled. "Please call me Anna." (You can stay I like you.)
Mara followed Anna up the stairs and poked her head in to two guest rooms and a study before reaching the master bed. She hated the decor but the room was about the same size as her own with the added bonus of a window seat that looked out on the fabulous garden.
"Oh I love the garden."
"You should see it in the spring when the flowers and the cherry blossom trees bloom."
"I can't wait I'll be throwing intimate parties out there all the time. Tell me Anna is Charles always so...." (Damn snobbish and condescending now how can I say that more diplomatically?)
"much of a tight ass ?" Anna finished with a knowing smile.
"Yeah." Mara laughed.
"I'm afraid so. He does an excellent job but I'm sure he thinks this is his home and that he is the employer. The Ambassador told us that you were unconventional, very laid back and avoided red tape like the plague. I had high hopes for you and I think Charles started thinking of his retirement funds worth."
"Well Anna things will definitely change once I'm Mistress of this house starting with that ugly uniform. It's gone as long as you look clean something along the lines of Khakis and an oxford shirt, black jeans and a sweater set..."
"Office casual, that would be great."
"Exactly, I must confess I've never had to deal with a house hold staff and I don't like the idea of it. I love cooking it relaxes me so I don't have a need for a chef let alone two unless I'm throwing a lavish large party then help would be great. I have a maid who comes in twice a week to clean for me but I imagine with all the wood in this house it takes a lot of care."
"It does but truthfully I could get it all done in three to four hours I don't need to be here for nine."
"I don't know the particulars so I should ask do you get paid hourly or for doing your job on salary?"
"I would like to see you before I leave in the morning but once you are finished maybe you could call me to see if I needed anything done and if not you could leave."
"Oh Miss... Mara that would be wonderful I could take a course or two at Georgetown in the late afternoon."
"Sounds fine to me. I guess I better let you get back to work."
"Thank you Mara, I'm looking forward to working for you."
"With me Anna, working with me." Mara corrected with a smile.
Mara checked out the closet space in the room and sighed. There was not nearly enough room for half her wardrobe let alone Sam's things. (I guess I should actually ask Sam to move in with me instead of assuming he will. Of course he'd be nuts not to want to live in this house with me. Hmm I could convert one of the guest rooms in to a dressing room.) She looked at the study in more detail trying to decide how to lighten the room up. She liked the larger guest room and decided to use the smaller one as the dressing room. She decided to take advantage of being inside the house not sure how often the Ambassador would let her come in as it was still his house. She dashed down the stairs calling out to Charles on her way down.
"No need to yell Ma'am." Charles said disapprovingly as he rounded the corner.
"Sorry, I didn't know where you were and I didn't feel like looking for you."
"There is a bell Miss Whitford you ring it once to summon me, twice if it is urgent."
"Well you can chuck that out the day I move in. I will not summon you as if you are a cow being called in to pasture."
(How about the bell stays and I chuck you out instead.) "Yes Ma'am. What did you require of me?"
(I require you to stop being an insufferable elitist twit.) "I would like a tape measure please."
"I'll go find you one."
Mara wandered in to the kitchen and found a short blonde man wiping down the kitchen
"Oh yes, hello Miss Whitford. I don't suppose this is the proper time to inform you of this but I believe you will need plenty of notice to hire my replacement. I've been offered a position at the Hilton."
"Congratulations I wish you the best of luck."
"I could suggest a few chefs who might be available."
"Oh that won't be necessary but thank you for the offer." (One down one to go.)
"Ah there you are."
"It would have been a more efficient use of your time to call me Charles." Mara said. (Two can play at this game.)
"Here is the item you requested."
"It's called a tape measure Charles." She replied sarcastically.
"Yes Ma'am." Charles said through his teeth.
Mar took the tape measure out of his hand, a pen and notebook out of her purse and returned upstairs. She stopped on the top of the steps and called down to Charles.
"Yes Ma'am" (She's doing this just to annoy me.)
"Could I have a glass of pulp free orange juice please."
"I'll go get you one now Miss Whitford."
(Stop calling me Miss Whitford!) "Thank you."
Mara measured all the upstairs room with Anna's help and called Mr. Waverly to help so
she didn't have to see Charles. Once she was satisfied she had the correct measurements
she bid the staff good bye and headed to the White House.
"What do you prefer Teddy?"
"You know Mara you aren't too big to be put over my knee and smacked."
"Ooh Toby I always knew you had a kinky side." C.J. said dryly.
"Bite me Claudia Jean."
"Yup looks like Toby is in to the rough stuff." Mara cracked.
"Oh I hope your head explodes you evil witch." Toby teased before walking away.
"I see you're feeling better."
"Uhuh I finally was able to drag my butt out of bed around eleven. That shot just wipes me out and leaves me with a rebound headache but it's only a mild one this time so I haven't taken anything for it. Thanks for taking care of me."
"Anytime Brat, I knew it would be easier for you if I just took over, you'd probably still be explaining to Sam what was wrong."
"He's not that dense C.J. and he's had a migraine or two of his own just not to my degree. Imagine he just has to take Excedrin Migraine."
"Hey what's Imitrex going for these days?"
"Twelve usually cost me $230."
"Ouch, I still have one left from the last time you gave me two."
"C.J. that is like three years old, get rid of it I'll give you a new one."
"Kay so what have you been doing with yourself?"
"I went over to look at the mansion and measure it. It's gorgeous, I like the maid, I hate the Butler and the chefs just have to go. One gave me his notice so I just have to get rid of the head chef."
"I'll take him."
"You need him I don' t."
"When Sam starts putting on weight I'll know why. You know you could invite me over once a week."
"Want to come over to Sam's on Sunday I'm doing lunch for Abbey and Jed."
"Umm no Sam can bring me the leftovers for lunch on Monday. I love The First Family especially when I don't get to see them one day a week."
"Kay suit yourself. So where is my little seal?"
"Either he's on the hill and Josh is at the Pentagon or vice a versa."
"Well I'm camping out in your office. I've got to get these read."
"Protocol, procedures and some other thing."
"Yeah I suggest you read it then."
"Once I'm done with these there is only 11 or 12 more."
"No wonder you got a migraine. I'm going to get coffee want something?"
"A very dry martini."
"One ginger ale coming up."
Mara settled down on C.J's couch placing a pillow under her knees to support the binder. She tapped a pen against the binder as she read. Thirty pages in she figured out why there was so much information to digest. It wasn't that the Ambassador had that much to do it was the fact that she had no diplomatic corps background. Everything the present Ambassador had learn through twenty five years of diplomatic service Mara had to learn in two weeks. C.J came back and put a cold ginger ale in her hand.
"I really wanted the martini."
"Yeah well if I can't have one you can't. Wouldn't you get more done at Sam's?"
"No it's too quiet there, I get more done with distractions."
"You are so strange."
Mara and C.J. got back to work occasionally stopping to tease each other. Toby hit Mara in the back of the head on the way out and laughed when Mara warned him she'd get him back. Donna came in and accepted Mara's invitation to lunch on Sunday promising to send Sam in to see C.J when he got back. Mara tagged along to C.J's press briefing and sat right beside Danny.
"Hey, do I know you?"
"How quickly they forgot, I cracked you up in Vancouver."
"Vancouver, hmm oh yeah Miss because they like us."
"What are you doing here?"
"Cause I can't find Josh, Toby just ignores me, Leo knows me too well, The President would be more than happy to listen to me but he's a little busy running the country so that leaves C.J."
"Sam's an easy mark."
"Yeah but A he's not here either and B I like him."
"You were the lady in red that Sam danced with all night."
"Guilty as charged."
"Would you care to comment on the nature of your relationship with one Sam Seaborn?"
"It is the White House's policy not to comment on the personal lives of it's staff." Mara deadpanned.
Danny laughed. "You hang around C.J. too much. Off the record?"
"Why do you care?"
"I like Sam and I figure maybe C.J being surrounded by happy couples would give her some ideas."
"She's very stubborn Danny I don't think that would work."
"I guy can hope can't he?"
"Sam's my... I don't want to go back to Ottawa on Monday."
"Danny? Mara? Unless you have something to share with the class zip it so I can do this thing." C.J gave Mara her behave or else look.
"Busted" Mara and Danny whispered at the same time.
Mara found the briefing very boring and stood up when C.J asked if their was any other questions.
"Why don't you tell them something interesting for a change?"
"Why don't you tell the press something they don't know."
"Mara's a pain in the ass folks."
"We know that."
Mara whipped around to see who was knocking her. She looked behind a few rows and grinned at the CTV Washington Bureau chief.
"Mike didn't I arrange your one on one with the Prime Minister for next week? I'll be back in my office Monday afternoon. "Mara said menacingly.
The rest of the assembled press chuckled while C.J rolled her eyes. "What do you suggest I tell them?"
"Hmm how about why J... The President picked Notre Dame instead of Harvard."
C.J smiled at Mara (Not a bad idea we could use some warm fussy press.) "Does anybody care?"
C.J's question was met by a resounding combination of yes and tell us. "Well folks seems he was seriously thinking of becoming a priest."
"What made him change his mind?" Danny asked.
"He realized he'd bore his congregation to death" C.J quipped. "No seriously he said he met Abbey. Now I don't know about you but that warmed my heart when he told me. That's it for now guys." C.J left the podium and pulled Mara away from Danny.
"Great question Mara. You scared me to death when you stood up but I'm glad I didn't ignore you."
"Hey I can spin with the best of them. I've had to do it more times than I care to admit."
"I think I'm going to find a little gem like that to end every Tuesday with. I've got a meeting with Leo I'll see ya later."
"You'll know where to find me."
Mara returned to C.J's office, turned the radio on and forced herself to keep reading in-between pencil drum solo's. She was too busy singing Areosmith's Jaded to hear the door open. Sam watched from behind as Mara's shoulders moved to the music while she sung along with Steve Tyler using the pencil as her microphone. He waited for the song to end and started applauding. The sound startled Mara sending the pencil flying across the room.
"Bloody hell don't do that to me Sam. You know you should wear a little bell or something."
"That would ruin the stealth mode I've worked tirelessly to perfect." He said with an adorable grin.
"Sam shut up and kiss me." Mara sighed.
Sam knelt down beside the couch, held her face in his hands and slowly kissed his way around her lips before parting her lips giving her a kiss that left them both breathless and the protocol binder on the floor.
Donna cleared her throat loudly grinning at them both. "Now that is a kiss I'd give you a 9 for passion and 10 for technique Sam."
"I'll take it thanks Donna."
"Anytime. Toby is looking for you Sam and since Josh is due back soon, the meeting will be in Leo's office in half an hour."
"I almost forgot you are suppose to take me to the Smithsonian thing Tuesday night. The President hand picked us to represent him. Leo said something about only trusting us not to embarrass him since he can't keep sending C.J to everything."
"I think so."
"Well you have yourself a date then."
"I guess we can leave from here."
"Uhuh. Mara I've got to go see.."
"A man about a horse." Mara laughed at her own joke that neither Sam nor Donna got. "Toby I know so go, I'm a big girl and can stay here and read all on my own."
"You mean perform don't you?" He said slyly.
"Leave Sam you are no longer amusing me."
Sam stuck out his tongue and left the room pulling Donna out with him so Mara could get back to reading. C.J floated in and out of the room while Mara continued reading occasionally stopping to read C.J something she found amusing or stupid. It was a little after five when Mara had finished and headed to the supermarket. She picked up everything she'd need for lunch on Sunday and the basic food essentials she couldn't live with out. Sam knocked on the door slightly after seven, tired and worn out. Mara greeted him at the door with a smile and a gentle kiss.
"Dinner will be ready in five minutes Sam."
"Kay I'm going to change."
Sam came out barefoot wearing jeans and an old Princeton sweatshirt. He wrapped his arms around her waist and left a kiss on her neck. "What's for dinner?"
"Filet mignon with my special baked potatoes, mushrooms and snow peas."
"Sounds great any dessert ?"
"Hot fudge sundaes."
"Yum you know I'm going to have to start working out again now that I'm being fed."
"Sam I can think of a few ways to get a great work out that doesn't require
leaving this house, hell it doesn't require leaving bed." She said saucily.
Mara laughed, "Looking for Mr. Right but you'll do."
"I love you too." Sam said sarcastically.
"Go sit down you geek and tell me about this thing that you have to take Donna to."
Sam told her all about the Smithsonian fund raiser and the disaster that happened the year before when they had sent Josh and Toby. After diner they sat down to watch some TV then made ice cream sundaes. Mara picked the bowls up brought them to the sink and went to take a fast shower. She came out in Sam's robe and sat in his lap playing with the fine baby hairs at the back of his neck.
Sam wrapped his arms around her and sighed, "Do you have to go back on Monday?"
"Yeah I do, I have work that needs to be done, I have to prepare Cheryl to take over, I have to take Killer to the vet to get his papers signed, I have so much to do and such little time to do it."
"Promise me you'll finish as soon as humanly possible and then get back here where you belong."
"I promise. If I remember correctly I owe you two rewards for being such a good sport over the weekend. Care to retire to the bedroom ?"
"Mara I'd love to but I'm going to miss you enough while you're gone. I don't think I could take knowing what it's like to make love with you and have you in another country. I can only take so much frustration."
"Poor Sammy, I can see your point especially since I'm spectacular in bed. "
"I sort of assumed you would be. I'm not too shabby myself."
"I'll be the judge of that...eventually. Think you could handle making out?"
Sam didn't answer her, instead he lowered her down to the couch proving her could handle a hot and heavy make out session. Mara for a change had no complaints and she told him that she'd never enjoyed kissing quite so much in her life. Sam started to tell her about the origins of kissing so she silenced him with a kiss of her own. They both dozed off waking up a little after 2 am and headed to bed.