Disclaimers/etc: see part one.
After a day of mindless busywork for his latest brief, Sam arrived home. "C.J., I'm back!"
"In here, Sam."
He found her in their den, poring over receipts. "Sam, did you know that in the last year the Dow has dropped "
" Two hundred points, yes," Sam finished. "Why?"
She looked at him levelly. "I was curious about our financial situation." There was no need to ask why.
Getting out of the chair, C.J. pushed her glasses up onto the top of her head. "What did you find out?"
Sam hedged a bit. What to do but give her the straight facts? "Honestly?"
"I would hope honestly."
Sam ignored that. "Honestly, it doesn't look that good." He paused. "I found a few supporters, but Hoynes would be furious and the corporate money would be behind Stewart. Jim Irwin would have all of Gage Whitney up in arms."
She sensed his direction. "But," C.J. prompted.
"But," Sam agreed. "I did find some potential supporters who could really help us in a fight."
"And they would be?..."
"Old man Gage's grandson?"
"Yeah." Sam consulted his memory. "Apparently he's a Democrat; a real black-sheep type." He smiled self-consciously as he fiddled with the lock of hair that kept falling over his eye. It was turning a bit gray. "He reminds me of myself at twenty-three or so."
C.J. smiled. "Well, then he'd be pretty valuable."
Sam continued. "The other person who might be valuable is Maria Quinn, who's Janeane's assistant right now."
"How could we use Maria?"
Sam shrugged. "Administrative, maybe. She's just a good type to have around. She's loyal."
"I'd suppose so."
Just then, though, the telephone rang. "I'll get it," Sam said, picking up the receiver. "Hello?"
"Mr Seaborn?" The voice was young, feminine.
"This is me I mean, this is he. May I ask who's calling?"
"Mr. Seaborn, this is Laine Martin."
Sam covered the receiver for a moment. "Holy hell."
"What?" C.J.'s interest was piqued.
"It's Laine Martin."
"Laine got-Senator-Thorndyke-elected-by-herself Martin?"
"Yep." Sam went back to the conversation. "What can I do for you, Ms. Martin?"
"Well, I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but I was at Gage Whitney Pace today on a routine matter and I heard James Irwin expounding at a..." She stopped, choosing diplomatic words. "... rather loud and furious clip... about your wife possibly running for the Democratic nomination."
She got right to the point. "Mr. Seaborn, if your wife is running, I would like to work on the campaign."
"Oh, really?" Sam deliberately kept his voice as calm and unemotional as possible. Inside his heart was doing triple jumps. With Laine Martin on board, they just might have a chance. "Ms. Martin, what would you be interested in doing?"
C.J.'s eyes popped as she realized the significance of what Sam was saying. Laine Martin, offering to work on any campaign she might mount? This was madness! Intriguing madness, but nonetheless madness.
"Managing the campaign, writing press... you name it." Laine's tone held real promise. "I think a woman in power is exactly what the country needs."
"Well, I'm certainly glad to hear it," Sam said. "Right now nothing is official."
"Yet." Laine's tone was supremely confident, and Sam found himself getting amused; he wished he'd had that kind of confidence at her age.
"Yet," he agreed. "But, and obviously this is off the record... we're definitely considering it."
"I hope you won't take offense, Mr. Seaborn, if I say that this would be a huge long shot."
"But that's not a liability, as I'm sure you know." Laine was starting to get going. "Long shots appear fresh; untainted by Washington scandals " Too late she halted her sentence. "Mr. Seaborn, I'm sorry, I didn't think."
"It's okay." Sam was quick to reassure. "It's in the past. And call me Sam."
"All right," she said, composure recovered. "And I'm Laine." Switching back to business, she said, "I have to go, but please, let me give you my phone number." She spelled out the digits. "Frankly, Sam, if this goes off, I want to be in on it."
"I think that can be guaranteed." Sam couldn't stop grinning as he replaced the receiver.
Instantly C.J. was in his face. "What happened? What did she say?"
Sam repeated the entire conversation, almost word for word. "And she said specifically she wants to be in on it." He breathed a sigh. "Jesus, C.J., this may have a shot at working!"
C.J. sighed. "Sam... God, this is so much to think about." Where could she start? It was like a twenty-headed monster, circling and snapping. CampaignfinanceBartletjobdaughterCatholicsupport...
Instantly he was all solicitude. "I'm sorry, hon. You're right." He laughed gently. "This wouldn't be my campaign. I'll cool it."
C.J. smiled. "Bartlet did tell you that you'd run for President one day."
"Yeah, but I think you'd do a better job than me." Sam got up. "I'd better see if I can't get Alyssa to take her afternoon nap."
"Okay. And Sam?"
"I'll give it some thought. I promise I will."
"Take your time." His smile, as always, walked the fine line between making her feel blessed and breaking her heart. "It's your decision, Ceej. Not mine. So you've basically got til primaries start to make up your mind." He walked out the door, calling for his daughter. C.J. looked after him fondly, with a mix of respect and appreciation.
God, how she loved him.