Stalked Part Two
The police investigation dragged on for more than two weeks and Ainsley struggled to find some peace of mind. It was difficult to do because the police insisted everyone close to her keep irregular hours in case the stalker tried to find her through them. The Chief White House Counsel sent her files to work on and she was able to communicate with the office by phone, fax and modem from the hotel room. She couldn't help but be amused by the fact that the Hotel Washington suite she occupied seemed closer to the Oval Office than the steam trunk pipe distribution venue. The suite was also much better lit and had a much more stable temperature. Still, she would have given anything to return to work in her own office. She was feeling like a caged animal.
The White House staff had taken turns bringing her documents to work on if they were too sensitive to trust to an outside courier. Today, it was Donna's turn. Ainsley was relieved to see a friendly face. She and Donna weren't exactly close but were becoming friends. "Donna, I'm going stir crazy. I'd give anything for a walk in the park."
"I wish there was something I could do. This would drive me nuts too."
"Nobody will tell me anything either." Ainsley flopped in a chair.
"What do you mean?" Donna asked taking the seat beside her.
"Sam keeps dodging me when I ask if there have been more notes or if the guy tried to call since I moved out. If not, then maybe it's over. Maybe he gave up? Maybe he thinks I moved back to Charlotte? Maybe I can get out of here and he's out of my life... why are you looking at me like that?"
"Because that's wishful thinking and you know better. Okay,..." Donna took a deep breath. "I got out voted on this. Ainsley, they didn't tell you because . . ."
"Because Sam's got a knight in shining armour thing going but he's afraid I'll notice?"
"Sort of. Well, he's only like that when it comes to you."
"Yeah right." Ainsley laughed, not believing it for a second. She tried her lawyer voice. "Donna, being left in the dark robs me of any sense of independence and self control I have. Please, this maniac has tried to do that and I won't let him. Please don't tell me my friends are doing the same thing. Spill it."
Donna hesitated but understood where Ainsley was coming from. "Well, the day after you were checked in here, somebody smashed up Sam's windshield and threw tomato sauce all over the front seat."
"What?" She couldn't believe it. "He loves that car!"
"The police think, because of the timing, it was a warning to Sam: keep away from you."
"He hasn't said a word. He hasn't been by since the first day but I've talked to him several times a day, he didn't say anything..."
"Sam didn't want to make you feel worse. And he wants to be here. He pumps everyone for information about you as soon as they get back. Ainsley, we all care about you, and well, the police believe that if this guy was watching your apartment, he probably viewed Sam as a potential rival. In case the perp. has staked out the White House waiting for you, the police don't want to risk making him more angry if he tailed Sam and found him coming to see you."
"This is insane. But it explains why Sam hasn't come by himself... I kind of miss... Donna, would you do me a favour?"
"Can you drop by my apartment and?..."
"Anything but that."
"The police sealed your apartment after..."
"After the cat thing?"
"Yeah the cat thing, that's it." Donna wasn't quite convincing.
Ainsley was nobody's fool. "You're lying."
"Beg pardon?!" Donna tried to sound hurt.
"About the after the cat thing, well it's not really lying, but you're not telling me everything."
"How can you tell?"
"It's a lawyer thing. I can tell when somebody isn't telling me the whole truth."
"Can you teach it to me? Hey, why didn't you become a trial lawyer then or a DA if you can tell when people are lying?" Donna tried to deflect the conversation but Ainsley wouldn't fall for it.
"Because for the most part, criminals aren't really evil people - they're just incredibly stupid or self centered. Or they're lousy liars. I have a very low tolerance for stupid people and for liars. Now don't try to skirt my question. Why did they seal my apartment?"
"The cat thing?"
"No because something happened after the cat thing in addition to the car thing, now what was it?"
"Oh the other thing."
"DONNATELLA MOSS, tell me what the hell happened after the cat thing!" Ainsley finally lost her cool.
"Sam didn't want to worry you, he thought it would be best if we just dumped piles of work on you and... "
"Kept me in the dark about my own life? I won't give up control of my life to anyone not even Sam Seaborn!!! DONNA, TELL ME. AND DO IT NOW!"
"Please Ainsley, I promised I wouldn't..."
"DONNA, this is my life not Sam's. Now, either I'm going out that door and across the street to yell at Sam myself, or your going to tell me what happened at my own apartment."
"He sent a package to your apartment that night. With a heart in it... It was a cow's heart. "
Ainsley started to feel nauseous. "Let me guess, because I broke his heart?"
"He said he'd tear Sam's out if you didn't tell him to get lost."
Ainsley stood and stared out of the window. She could handle this lunatic's obsession with her but she felt so guilty drawing Sam into this mess. It was her problem not his.
"Seeing Sam comfort me, it made him even more nuts. He went after Sam to punish him for being my friend."
"Yeah, it looks that way. But Ainsley stop blaming yourself - he's nuts - you didn't do anything to encourage this." Donna placed a comforting hand on Ainsley's shoulder. "Sam didn't want you to know because well, he was worried that you'd be upset that you involved him."
"Donna, I didn't want to involve anyone. Maybe I should resign and go stay with my parents for a while?"
"The police are doing all they can. And you shouldn't have to run away!"
"Oh, but it's okay to ruin my friends lives with this too?"
"So, Sam's a friend." Donna said smiling the way only a confidant can. Maybe she could distract Ainsley by talking to her about Sam. Donna had been expecting them to start dating for weeks. She couldn't help thinking that Sam and Ainsley would make a cute couple.
"Donna, Sam is my boss." She didn't want Donna to get the wrong idea.
"Technically Lionel Tribbey is your boss. Sam just dumps work on you because he thinks you're the best lawyer in the White House." Donna wouldn't be distracted.
"Except for himself of course."
"No, I think he knows you're better than him. He's content to be a speech writer and policy adviser now. Nobody turns a phrase like Sam when he's in the swing."
"He does have a way with words - even if he's a little long winded sometimes."
"But he's easy on the eyes. And dresses better than Toby or Josh ever could. That makes up for it."
Ainsley laughed. "His problem is that he knows it. But there is no denying he's as good looking as he thinks he is. I could never figure out why he needed a prostitute."
"He didn't know she was a call girl when they met. For her it was personal not business when she was with Sam. Let's face it - it's not like she ever charged him to spend time with her. Besides that's been over forever. And he hasn't dated anyone for months."
"Isn't he seeing Leo McGarry's daughter?"
"No!" Donna muttered under her breath, "Ugh, the gossip chain is no where near as efficient as it was on the campaign trail." She shook her head. "Sam and Mallory went on one official date, then the thing with the um, well, the hooker, came up and they avoided each other and they haven't even really talked since the shooting. Mallory's with some jock now. Basketball, no Hockey player. Anyway, Sam's available and he likes you. He more than likes you. I think you two should go for it."
"Donna, I'm trapped in a hotel room..."
"Ainsley, there are worse places to be in this world than trapped in a hotel room with Sam Seaborn."
"Look around Sam's not here. For that matter he's never given me any indication he'd want to be here."
"Ainsley, are you totally clueless? The guy fired Joyce and Brookline because they sent you dead flowers; he set up the Gilbert & Sullivan welcoming committee; he, personally, is on the detectives case every day; he pumps everyone for information the second we get back from seeing you... He's got it BAD"
"You're crazy." Ainsley whispered. "Sam is just a nice guy who thinks he sees a damsel in distress and thinks he has to rise to her defence. "
Donna took Ainsley by the shoulders. "He cares about you. And what's more, I think you care about him too. You may think the protective stuff is old-fashioned but you're also flattered. You should be. Sam only tries to take care of people he cares about."
"Like you took care of Josh when he was hurt." Ainsley decided to take a turn at Donna.
"That's my relationship. And we're talking about yours and you should act on your feelings."
"Donna! If that's not the pot calling the kettle black!"
Donna's pager beeped before she could reply. "I've gotta go. Ainsley, think about what I said."
A few minutes later, Donna appeared in Sam's doorway. "Sam..."
"She phoned the second you left the room! Donna, we all agreed not to tell her because it would upset her..."
"She deserved to know." She crossed the room and perched on the edge of his desk. "Sam, she's feeling really out of control right now. Information is power. I know your heart is in the right place but please don't keep her in the dark anymore." She noticed Sam's dishevelled appearance. "What did he do today?"
"Today's treasure was a dead rat on my front porch."
"I tripped on its head which he kindly left on the second step."
"Ew!! What did the police say?"
"They followed somebody around two a.m. but lost him in the alley." Sam was getting tired of all this. But for him, the most difficult part was not being able to see her. Talking to her by phone wasn't cutting it for him. Sam knew that going to see her was impossible. So he picked up the phone. As usual she answered on the first ring.
"Ainsley Hayes," she simply responded.
"I know you're mad at me. I know you've got every right to be." His voice was soft and tender, contrite and sincere. He knew she'd know he meant what he said but, he wanted her to see his face. He also knew as hard as this was for him it was worse for her. "I'm sorry, I had no right to try and keep you in the dark. I just wanted to shield you, to protect you. I can't explain it. I didn't mean to smother you." He paused, then continued, "when this is finally over, please, I want to stop tip toeing around one another and pursue this, whatever, this is, wherever it goes. I want to take a chance on us being more than friends."
"Sam... me too," she whispered softly. "I'd give anything to see you right now."
"It's too risky, I won't..."
"Sam, it would be worth it." Her voice was barely above a whisper. "I..."
"I'll find a way... somehow, soon. I need to see you too. I'll find a way. Donna said she told you why I haven't been by myself."
"Sam, is there any news about this nut?" She wanted to hope it would be over soon.
"Ainsley, as long as he's chasing me, he isn't looking for you. To me, that's the only good news here. The cops say they're closing in and it won't be long. You're safe there at the hotel."