Cold Blast - 20

By Cathy



Mara heard the hotel door close and watched Sam's reflection from the balcony door. She smiled when she noticed he was rushing. He was an hour late because as usual something came up and the meeting ran over time. Margaret had called to let her know they were running behind and she changed their dinner reservations.

"Sam, I'm out here."

"Hey. Sorry about the time. Just give me five minutes to change," he said sticking his head out the balcony door.

"I changed the reservation so you can slow down a little. And note the emphasis on the little," Mara teased.

"'Kay! I'll take ten minutes then. CJ is having dinner with Danny."

"She is? Wow! I'm impressed she said yes. I suppose she is making Danny take her off property."

Sam laughed, "No they are going to a restaurant with Clock in the name."

"Ah! The Clock Tower is in the Marina area. She's eating a light dinner, which can only mean she's either craving ice cream sundaes from Jimmie's or the wicked cakes from Voyagers."

"Ice cream sundaes?" Sam repeated with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"Yeah, Jimmie's is an old fashion soda fountain circa 1950. I take it you want one?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Hey, is the soda fountain still in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History?"

"I didn't know they had one. Donna would know for sure and probably Josh or Kathy."

"Sam, is the Jefferson Memorial still there?"


"How do you know so little about the city you live and work in? You should know every neat place to eat in the city by now."

"I'm a very dedicated worker."

"No, you're a tunnel vision geek. You, my friend, are going to know everything about this city by the time I'm done, 'cause we are playing tourist until I'm satisfied you can pass the exam."


"Yeah, on Washington, DC. It may be written or it may be oral and I'm telling you now, you will ace it."

"If I don' t?"

"It will be a cold day in hell before I have sex with you."


"I'm serious Samuel. You are a brilliant man, but you didn't know who the Roosevelt room was named after and Teddy's pic was in the room. It's pathetic Sam and I love you too much to let you settle for less than the best from yourself. Sam, mistakes are mistakes, but ignorance is reprehensible for someone as intelligent, passionate and eloquent as you. By the way, I think you look sexy as hell right now."

"Why, because I'm all puffed up? News flash, I've heard that one before."

"News flash, that ain't it, dork. I love how that pale blue silk makes your eyes stand out and I love untucked shirts. You can stop scowling at me anytime now, cause you know I'm right."

"For your information, you aren't perfect either."

"I'm well aware of that fact. I know the day will come when you stop me and tell me that I simply can't do something. It won't be because it hasn't been done that way before, it will be because it's some strange US thing akin to a federal offense. Like I can't walk in to Jed's office screaming at the top of my lungs that he's a raving lunatic cat napper."

"Actually, that's been done and Tribbey is no longer the White House Chief Counsel," Sam laughed.

"Beat Toby up for giving you a hard time?"

"Not a federal offense, but I'd kill you. By the way, I think you look sexy as hell right now."

"What? This old thing?" Mara asked about a vintage purple chiffon Chanel dress that skimmed her knees.

"Yeah, that old thing." Sam wrapped his arms around her waist and left a trail of tiny kisses across her collar bone. "You're a really pain in the ass, Mara."

"Thank you. I know. So are you ready to eat?"

"Oh, yeah. Lead the way."

After a leisurely dinner and a double hot fudge sundae, Sam and Mara went for a stroll along the tide line, letting the warm water rush over their feet. After stopping to kiss Mara for the tenth time, Sam laughed as she took a step away from him.

"Ya know, we'd actually get somewhere if you stopped kissing me every ten feet."

"It's all in the journey, Mara," Sam replied smugly.

"This from the man who used the Delta shuttle to navigate."

"CJ has a really big mouth."

"Actually, Toby told me that one. I'm still wondering why he didn't kill you."

"It's simple, I was the one driving."

"Sam, if I could wiggle my nose " la" Samantha on Bewitched and give you 72 uninterrupted hours, what would you do?"

"That's easy. I'd whisk you off to Santa Barbara and take you sailing for the day. I'd bring us closer to the shore by dinnertime and we'd watch the sunset, then dance underneath the stars with the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the hull in the background. I'd bring you down to the beach to watch the sunrise and serve you a picnic breakfast. If you didn't know how to, I'd teach you to sail or I'd let you take me out to sea. My idea of heaven would have to include you, the Pacific and a sail boat."

"A well spent 72 hours, Samuel. I'd bring you to my beach house in Anguilla. How does sugar white sands, warm turquoise waters and making love on the beach sound to you?"

"Like I'd want to be there for a hell of a lot longer than 72 hours."

"I never want to come home. So tell me Sam, was Nixon a crook or a brilliant statesman?"

"A little bit of both. Would you have voted for FDR if you knew he was wheelchair bound?"

"Hell, yes! I think he was the best President you ever had. I've read everything published about him and his son Elliot was one of my favourite mystery writers. Ever read 'Murder in the West Wing'?"

"Yeah. CJ and Ron didn't appreciate the irony and Donna took it from me as soon as I was finished to read. Actually I saw a copy of 'Murder in the Blue Room' on her desk last week. I always admired FDR myself."

"I know he's Jed's favourite President. I think we should head back now and try out that Jacuzzi."

"'Kay. By the way I'm free after 2 tomorrow. I guess you don't want to join me for breakfast in the morning."

"What time?"


Mara snorted, "Yeah right, not in this lifetime."

"I've ever meet anyone who so thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in my life. There's a big world out there to explore and you'd rather snore."

"Sorry, but eating breakfast or sleeping ? I'll choose sleep every time. Sleep does a body good."

"I thought it was milk?"

"Milk won't do a damn thing for you if you don't get enough sleep."



Sam, CJ, Toby and Josh are all sitting around an empty table in one of the Atlantis's large conference rooms after a mid-morning summit on trade with the Caribbean nations. The rest of the day is at their leisure, but none of them quite feel like moving just yet. CJ 's bare legs rest on the top of Josh's knee while the guys each have their feet up on empty chairs. Mara is sitting on Sam's lap enjoying the cool breeze as Sam blows on her sunburned back, while she finishes her latest tale of 'Donna and Mara's excellent Caribbean Adventures'.

"I overslept and only woke up when Donna called to tell me she was on her way up. Sam, say one word about my sleeping habits and I'll kill you. I was in such a rush that I didn't put sunscreen on. I made a mental note to do it later, but Donna and I had a water war and it slipped my mind. We were floating around in the pool when Mark jumped in to say hi and warn us that we were sun burnt. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is how I turned in to lobster girl," Mara explained

"Mara, I thought I said no more rock stars." Josh sighed.

"Well, I'm making progress Josh. At least this one isn't married."

Josh snorted while Toby broke out laughing. "So rock stars have a thing for our Donna. You better give her a raise Josh or we'll lose her to the road."

"We wouldn't have to worry if Bu here would stop introducing her to rock stars in the first place!"

"Bu?" C.J asked.

"As in Bubonic Plague Ceeg. Hey, one fry short, I didn't introduce her to Mark McGrath, he introduced himself."

"Stop calling me that, you egotistical witch!"

"Then stop calling me Bu! You should have seen him flirting with her C.J. It was so cute to watch when he got all shy on her."

"He's one cute toddler."

"Toddler?" Sam asked with an amused grin.

"Any cutie between 18 and 25 is a toddler. They are fine to admire, but otherwise useless to CJ and I."

"Well to be fair they aren't' t completely useless," CJ said with a smug grin.

"True Hon, but they spoil it in the morning when they say "Dude, you were awesome in bed last night"."

"Thank you for that Cosmo TV moment, could we get back to the crisis at hand?" Josh asked snidely.

"What crisis Josh? I wasn't aware there was a crisis." Sam said with a straight face.

"Yo! Pretty Boy! We were talking about the fact that some slimy rock star is at this moment convincing my Donna to run away and become his groupie!"

"Down boy! Are you sure you really got a 720 verbal Josh or was it a 72? The way I see it you're acting like a Neanderthal maniac," C.J chastised.

"You got a 720 verbal on the SAT's Josh? That's very impressive."

"Why thank you, Mara."

"Of course, it's not nearly as impressive as my 790 verbal and 795 math."

"Yeah, right."

"I'm serious Josh, those were my scores. I could get Cheryl to fax them from home if you wish."

"Wait a second Missy, you're Canadian, you don't even have to take them to get in to Canadian Universities."

"No, but I needed them to apply to Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, Princeton, Columbia and Stanford."

"You got full scholarships to them all I bet," Toby said.

"Yeah. I got in to Oxford and Cambridge too. McGill was my first choice because its international politics courses are top notch and I wouldn't have to leave home. Oxford was my second choice. I took care of that with the Rhodes. You walk on to campus there and you just feel this hunger for knowledge. Hey, Sam, how did you score?"

"705 verbal, 715 math. I spanked your ass in math Josh."

"Kind of appropriate since you are Spanky," CJ laughed.

"Hey, what are we talking about?" Leo asked from the door.

"My superior intellect," Mara replied.

"Ah, must have been a very short conversation," Leo deadpanned.

Everyone broke out in to laughter as Mara sat there with her mouth hanging open. "Leo!"

(And here comes the pout in 3...2...1) "Yes Mara?"

"That was cruel!"

"Nah, mean perhaps, but gorgeous, you set yourself up for it, so I had to go for it."

"Good one Leo," Josh chuckled.

"I wouldn't laugh so hard, Josh. Your intellect only requires a nanosecond of discussion." Leo said with sly grin." "Hey Mara, who is the guy I saw Donna with? He looks familiar."

"Mark McGrath, the lead singer of Sugar Ray."

"Ah, Donna is like a heat seeking missile to rock stars. Now, if we could only have Congressmen follow the lead, Donna could have them all as her willing slaves."

"It would work for Donna since she likes having the upper hand." CJ chuckled.

"Josh would have a coronary though, and it would take him too long to beat up everyone in congress," Sam supplied.

"Exactly! So Leo, where did you see Donna?" Josh asked.

"Around, Josh. She's a big girl. She has a right to eat with whom ever she so desires."

"Really? Would you be saying that if it were Mallory that had a young, rich rock star drooling over her?"

"Josh, let Donna have some fun. I promise, if she wants to run off and join Sugar Ray or marry him, I'll tell her not to."

"Oh geez, that's a great comfort Leo."

"Come on, Josh, I'll take you and Toby for an ice cream." CJ said.

"Free ice cream? Lead on Claudia Jean, lead on." Toby replied.

"So Princess Snark of Lobster Land, wanna blow this pop stand?"

"You're making fun of my suffering."

"Yeah, cause it was a stupid thing to do and you knew better."

"Buy me a big piece of cake and I'll forgive you."

"Sorry, I have other plans for you. Follow me, Lobster."

Thirty minutes later, Mara could barely see the shore from the sailboat Sam had rented. The fifty foot yacht's galley had been stocked for dinner, while soft music was just audible over the sound of the waves lapping against the hull. Sam kept his hand on the wheel as Mara sat in the Captain's chair facing him.

"So Sam, tell me something about you that no one else knows."

"I was twelve when I found out the truth about Santa Claus."

"Twelve? Wow Sam! And when did you find out about the Easter Bunny?"

"What? The Easter Bunny is real!" Sam deadpanned.

The look of total seriousness mixed with confusion had Mara convinced Sam wasn't kidding her until she noticed the laughing glint in his eyes and whacked him in the shoulder. "Sam Seaborn, you are a rat!"


"Sam, I'd expect that from Josh but....."

"But not from me? You want to know something about me that no one else knows right?"


"Well, I like a good practical joke just as much as the next guy, actually more than the next guy. In fact, I've pulled off so many of them, but no one ever thinks it could be me. They all go yelling at Josh. Heck, they've even questioned Donna given her devious nature, but they never suspect me."

"Wait a sec, did you put the pool hall set in Gail's fish bowl?"


"Glue all of Toby's pink rubber balls together?"


"Keep walking off with Donna's liquid paper and leaving it on CJ's podium?"


"Fix Josh's radio so that only Michael Bolton would play no matter what he did?"

"It took me a month to pull that one off."

"Samuel Norman Seaborn, you are conniving and devious!" Mara said struggling not to laugh.

"My God, does CJ tell you everything?"

"Pretty much, we'd blow off steam about work four times a week at least. She thought the radio was hilarious. Sam, you are sooo bad!"

"Well, as you'd say, bad is good. I bet you find me more irresistible than ever."

"Oh yeah, you might not sing like Jon or fill out a pair of leather pants like he can, but you prey on your unsuspecting friends, so yeah, you make me hot."

"Geez, could you muster up some enthusiasm?"

Mara laughed, wrapped her arms around Sam's neck and snickered in his ear.

"Your little secret is safe with me, oh evil one. Now, would you tell me something meaningful."

"Fine. Most people think Josh showing at Gage Whitney Pace was the catalyst for me leaving. The truth is that Josh was my means of escape. About a week before Josh showed up, I'd gone out at lunch time to meet a client at The Plaza. I was on my way back when I looked over at FAO Schwarz and had this craving for Sour Patch Kids, so I went up to the Candy store on the second floor. I was waiting in line behind this mother and son and overheard the son thank his mom for giving him the best birthday ever. The mom looked on the verge of tears and told her son that if she got the job she applied for maybe she could afford to buy him more than a few licorice whips next year. I was trying to prevent companies for paying when they screwed up and this mom was busting her butt for her son. I knew I hated my job and myself for initially being impatient that the kid was stopping his Mom from just paying so it could be my turn. I discreetly handed the mother a fifty and wished her son a happy birthday. I left the store convinced that I had to find a way to help that mother and her son have a better life. I just didn't know how, until Josh showed up at my door."

"Sour Patch Kid's? Man I'm going to be craving those all day now."

"Hello Miss Shallow! I open up my life and you focus on the candy?"

"Sorry, but there's something I think you need to know Sam. I'm a Candy addict. No 12 step program in the world has been able to cure me. I know it's bad for my teeth, that someone as hyper as me doesn't need an extra sugar high, but I just can't help myself. I hear 'candy' and my brain says 'Give it to me. Give it to me now!' I was in a meeting once and the MP said he felt like we were black balling him and pouf! I lost my train of thought and sat there for twenty more minutes thinking about the yummy licorice taste and how I'd chipped a tooth on one once. It controls me, Sam. I like to pretend I control it, but I'm too far gone to fight the addiction."

"So last week when I kissed you, you really said hmm could use Pop Rocks?"

"Probably, which reminds me, have you ever kissed a girl with a mouth full of Pop Rocks?"

"Umm no, those things are bad for your teeth."

"Oh, Sammy you haven't lived until you've experienced an explosive Pop Rock kiss. How about an Altoids B.J.?"



"Mara! How on earth... never mind, I don't think I want to know."

Mara started laughing. "Well you've kissed me after I've had a mouthful of cinnamon Altoids in my mouth. How did it feel?"

"Warm I guess, but what I like is how cinnamon spicy you taste. Anytime I smell cinnamon, I think about kissing you."

"Ah, well yes, the sensation is heat and think about the sensation of winterfresh or peppermint."


"Exactly. So, do I really need to connect the rest of the dots?"

A sexy smile spread across Sam's face. "Really?"

"Oh Sammy, we are going to have some fun tonight." Mara said with her own sexy grin. She walked over to her purse, pulled out the very familiar red and gold tin and popped about five cinnamon Altoids in to her mouth and tossed two in to Sam's. "So, your moment of clarity came inside FAO at the candy counter. I always felt there were more reasons why I was hopelessly in love with you. Now I know what one of them is. You're one of the good guys Sam, so I'm sure you would have jumped ship seeing Josh's bad poker face anyway."

"Oh yeah, I know I would have."

"You know, I think that in this day and age having that much blind faith in Josh's opinion is apocalyptic, yet strangely sweet."

Sam laughed, "Come on Mara, Josh is growing on you. You're fighting it, but you are both growing on each other."

"Yeah. Josh is a evil fungus growing on the perfect rose that is I."

"You mean the evil fungus growing on your deadly, prickly thorns."

Mara gave Sam one of her looks, "Whatever! Can I steer for a bit?"

After telling Mara which way they were headed, Sam let her take over and occupied the seat in the captain's chair. "So tell me more about you, Sam."

"I helped save a baby sea lion that got pushed in to a tight alcove when I was sixteen. I heard its mother wailing and slowly waded in to the water to see what was wrong. I didn't think, I just called out to Beth and told her to tell the lifeguard a sea lion was in trouble. I went slowly, but I had to cross right near the mother to get a better look. Her pitched changed and it frightened me, but I just had to help the little guy. I put my hand in as far as it would go above it and tried to push it out, but he was wedged in there pretty good. The lifeguard came by and I had him toss me a bottle of sunscreen since the mother freaked out when he tried to enter the water. I guess she figured one of us humans were bad enough. It took two bottles, but I finally greased him up enough to be able to push and pull him out. I tried to be gentle while I got the lotion off to see if he was bleeding but there were just a few little scratches and a nick or two. I let him go and he swam right over to his mommy. She sort of just looked at me with those black piercing eyes and swam away."

"That was brave, Sam. I don't' know if I'd get between a Momma anything and her baby. I should call you Sammy, the Sea Lion instead."

"Sammy the seal is embarrassing enough Mar."

"You're just sore that I don't have a name that is nickname friendly."

"Sore? Were we watching Leave it to Beaver, Wally?"

"Shut up! I get that from my Dad. 'Kay, tell me an evil Sam story."

"See, I told you that you like me as a bad boy."

"Yeah, yeah, Spanky, just spill it."

"In sixth grade, Tammy Mayers wouldn't stop bugging me. She was always calling me a freak, a geek, a stupid brain head, you know all the mean things kids call the quite, shy students. She wasn't stupid more like ditzy."

"The 'if she'd only apply herself' student."

"Exactly. Anyway, we had this big pop quiz right before a trip to Disneyland. I heard her telling Betsy that she hadn't studied and if she failed her parents weren't going to let her go to Disney. She told Betsy she was going to cheat off her. I sat on one side of her so I could more or less see what she was stuck on, which was most of it. We left our papers on the desk and went out for recess. Miss Smith left with us because she was called down to the office. I snuck back in the room and carefully erased and changed the answers she'd copied off Betsy. I looked at Betsy's paper and basically if Betsy was A B A C D A B, I made Tammy's A A B A C D A..."

"Oh you little sneak, you made it look like she was off in her alignment so she'd buy it. Very devious, very cleaver Sam."

"Thanks, I was proud of my work. She flunked of course and her parents were so mad they grounded her and didn't let her go to Disneyland. She had to stay home and do extra work with her mom. I sat beside Betsy on the bus and she said it served her right for cheating off her, that she hated cheats. I was all righteous and agreed. Betsy became my friend and would stick up for me when Tammy really got mean for the rest of the year and Seventh grade. They wanted me to tutor Tammy in Math and I wouldn't."

"So what happened to Tammy and Betsy?"

"Tammy wasn't smart enough to get in to Santa Monica High and she ended up going to Community College for something, then married some much older, rich guy who dumped her when he found her with the pool boy. Last I heard, she was leeching off some other rich guy. Betsy went to UCLA and studied film. She works for Universal's publicity department and actually helped Beth get an internship. It never fails, when I'm in LA, she's on the set somewhere or on a press junket. Last time she was down this way, I was in Omaha."

"That's how it always works. Did you tell her about what you did?"

"Yeah, I told her at our tenth year reunion. She laughed and bought me a drink."

"Have you done anything truly evil?"


"Like accidentally, on purpose push someone you overheard taking cracks at you in a fountain when they were wearing white? Or making sure that Bill got so drunk that he'd make a pass at every woman in sight at his engagement party? "

"You didn't?"

"I did. He never hit on me again, nor did he marry my friend Jenny," Mara continued. "How about sending everyone over to a back stabbing acquaintance's house interrupting her affair with a very married business man who worked for her father?"

"CJ was right when she said not to mess with you."


"So, is that why Toby likes you so much?"

"Possibly. I think mostly it's just that I amuse him and he can't stand most of the general population let alone find many people who amuse him."

It was almost midnight by the time Sam returned the sailboat to the marina. They had dined and danced under the stars before cuddling up together to watch the sky and listen to the waves. One of the things Sam loved the most about their relationship was the ease in which they fell in to a companionable silence. Mara didn't mind him getting lost in his thoughts, because she would also be lost in her own thoughts. Mara was leaning her head against his shoulder on the elevator ride up to the suite and Sam figured she'd be in dreamland as soon as her head hit the pillow. He was surprised when he entered the bedroom and found Mara kneeling naked in the middle of the bed with two tins of Altoids by her right knee.

"Mara, I love that you still want to do this, but I know your sunburn is really starting to hurt you. I think I can wait till you aren't in such pain."

"Sam, there is a fine line between pleasure and pain. Tonight my love, any pain I feel is worth bringing you pleasure."

(I just can't argue against that.) Sam looked down lovingly at his insane candy addicted girlfriend and lowered himself to the bed. He cleared his mind and relaxed to enjoy the certain pleasure Mara would bring him.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Sam had such a huge grin on his face the next morning. As Jed had promised, everyone had lots of free time and the gang went snorkeling, catamaran sailing and they talked Leo in to joining them at the Mayan temple to go down the shark bordered water slides. The last two days of the trip, Mara and Abbey managed to have High Tea and a lengthy gossip session. Mark McGrath had left the day before, so Donna spent the mid-afternoon first with Margaret and then with Josh. Jed managed to beat Toby at Chess two out of three times and once again gave up trying to teach Mara how to play. Sam had disappeared one afternoon under the guise of playing golf with Larry and Ed while he went duty free shopping in town. He had no idea what he was looking for, but figured he'd know it when he saw it. He finally found it and brought the purchase back to the hotel. Everyone hated to leave the sun, sand and calming Caribbean waters behind, but they had little choice. Donna had suggested moving headquarters to the Atlantis, but Toby told her it would never fly with the American Public.

The mood on the plane was quite and slightly depressed since no one really wanted to leave the perfect 80 degrees weather and go back to a Washington that would soon be in the grips of the icy cold. Mara woke up with a headache that threatened to get worse so Jed sent her upstairs to his private bedroom. Sam went up just before they were about to make their descent and gently woke her up.

"How are you feeling?"

Mara slowly opened her eyes and moved in to a sitting position. "Better, It's still a dull headache, but it's not a migraine so I can live with it. I take it we are about to land."

"Uhuh, but before we do I want to give you a little something to remember our first trip." Sam handed her a wrapped box that was palm sized.

Mara unwrapped it and started laughing when she saw the tin of winterfresh Altoids. She flipped up the lid, brushed back the tissue paper and pulled out a small floating gold heart with a single emerald.

"Oh, Sam! It's gorgeous! The emerald is such an amazing green. Thank you! I love it! Would you put it on?"

Sam lifted the blonde hair cascading down her back, looped the clasp closed and left a soft kiss on the back of her neck. Mara swiveled around to show Sam the necklace and give him a long sultry thank you kiss.

"I didn't know what I wanted to get you, then my eye caught this flash of green that reminded me of your eyes and I knew it had to be yours."

"Oh, Sam! Thank you, it's beautiful. When did you get this, we were almost always together?"

"Larry and Ed went golfing and I went shopping."

There was a knock on the door and the President's steward entered the cabin. "Mr. Seaborn, Miss Whitford the plane will be landing in a few minutes. If you'd move over to the other couch and fasten your seat belts please. Miss Whitford, I hope you are feeling better."

"I am, thank you."

"Sam, I think I'm going to go to the Embassy for a few hours, stop by the design center, then go home. Our driver won't mind dropping me off will he?"

"No problem, but how are you going to get to the design center and get back home?"

"My chauffeur service kicked in last week, so I'm covered."

"Chauffeur service?"

"Yeah, with a driver who has undergone the same Secret Service evasive driving training as Jed's."

"So I don't have to worry about your safety?"

"No more than you have to worry about your own."

"Great, that doesn't do much to ease my mind." Sam said with a grin.

"Here's the deal, I worry about you, you worry about me and between us, all bases will be covered."

"Guess that's all we can do. You going to cook for me?"

"If I don't get too distracted by fabric swatches and paint chips."

"I thought you decided what you wanted to do with the study?"

"I did, but I wanted to change the living room, repaint the dining room and do something about the master bedroom."

"Ah, well as long as I don't have to decide on anything, I'm happy."

"Don't worry, I won't ask for your opinion on anything."

"I'm a happy man then. Hey, look to the left, you can see the White House."

"Once again, reality rears its ugly head," Mara mused.

"Yeah, I could have used another week at the Atlantis. Donna's really bugging Josh about wanting tickets to Hawaii for Christmas."

"She deserves it for putting up with him."

"Yeah, I think Josh will have to get her that DVD player this year."

"Donna told me about that this week, those two crack me up."

"They are still on a slow boat down the Nile though."

"Nah, I think Josh has found himself a speed boat. I should send Mark McGrath flowers to thank him for flirting with Donna."

"Dr. Bartlet said she was going to put him on the next State Diner guest list."

"Abbey is great at meddling. So between all of us, I think by this time next year, Josh and Donna will be going home together."

Sam smiled. "You have such a soft spot for Donna."

"Like you don't? Josh told me last night that he was glad I was here permanently, because some days he felt like he was losing his best friend to Donna."


"Yeah, he said every time he turned around, you were talking or joking around with Donna and he felt like he was interrupting something."

"Ah, see, I knew you and Josh would come around."

"Josh had a few Sam, so did I. If you want us to get along all the time, we'd both turn in to alcoholics," Mara laughed.

Sam just gave Mara a look as the plane came to a stop on the tarmac. "Well, we better get down there so I can get my bag."

Sam stopped Mara at the cabin door and gave her a long kiss. "Vacation is officially over."

Mara turned the knob on the door and made her way down to a bustling flight deck. Josh, Donna and Toby were standing around waiting for them and they made their way to the waiting car in a slight drizzle.

Mara and Donna looked glum in the car and no one felt much like cheering them up. They dropped Mara off at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue and continued up towards 1600. By noon, Sam hardly believed he'd spent 6 days away in the Bahamas. The only indicator that they had been anywhere were tanned or red faces. Sam was on hold waiting for the minority whips assistant to get back to him when Kathy poked her head in the door.

"Margaret just called. Leo wants you to go talk to Jacobs at the Department of Commerce about the complaints that Canadian softwood is being unfairly subsidized by the Canadian Government."

"Please tell me you are kidding, Kathy!"

"Sam, I wish I was. I'm gathering the material for you now and the meeting is at four. You can sleep on my couch if you want tonight," Kathy said sympathetically.

"Oh, this is bad on so many levels," Sam muttered before dropping his head to the desk.

Chapter 21



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