Cold Keys Series Part 3
Sam escaped the meeting with the senior staff as quickly as possible and barricaded
himself in his office. A good imagination was a wonderful thing for a writer. But his had
definitely short circuited. He tried again to piece together the series of false
assumptions that had led him to think C.J. had a brain tumor or some other deadly
neurological disease. They were going to punish him for getting them on board his folly
train. He got up and locked his door.
C.J. didn't make it out of the meeting unscathed either. As she left, Toby's low growl
over her shoulder made her shiver.
"C.J., I 'd like to see you in my office now."
It was a quiet command. She cringed at the thought of trying to explain this to Toby.
She followed him into his office and sat down without speaking. He closed the door
"C.J., I admit that I am critically pissed at Sam for leading us down this
primrose path of stupidity, but he's not a moron. How did he get convinced you were
C.J. just looked at him blankly for a moment.
"Okay C.J., the fact that you are at a loss for words confirms that something is
wrong. Granted you've been a little spaced lately, and we all get headaches, but Sam said
you were falling down and clumsy. That's just not you. And you were clearly avoiding him
last week and coming to me more often. If I hadn't known you forever I'd think you were
suffering a schoolgirl crush or something..."
Toby let the last comment tumble out without thinking, and without realization that it
was actually true. He practically choked when he saw her guilty blush.
"C.J., No. Please tell me it's not that." He grabbed his head and sat down
heavily in his chair. "Now I have possibly the worst headache of my life."
"Toby, can you not say any more, 'cause--"
He interrupted "--Like I'd drop that. Come on C.J. I know that Cathy and Ginger
and Bonnie and half the female population of the Hill drool over Sam. My God, they even
have a code for when he's wearing something they think is particularly 'hot.' Why do you
think he always has a female secret service agent. They play cards and whoever wins gets
to cover him. And I'm pretty sure that when I hear them announce over their mikes that
'Princeton's coming in and he's wearing the blue polo and jeans' that they aren't doing it
so someone can recognize him."
C.J. was once again amazed at the phenomenon of Toby Ziegler. He'd noticed all this
when she hadn't. More surprisingly, though, he'd never tortured Sam with it. She was
pretty sure Sam was oblivious.
"Toby, it just got out of hand."
"So, there's nothing actually going on between the two of you?"
"You will take care of punishing him for this?"
"And you're over it and you're gonna stop falling and making CSPAN's ratings
"Why are you so embarrassed about it?"
C.J. avoided the actual question. "Gee, Toby, why would I be embarrassed to have
the senior staff think I have a brain tumor and the press starting a pool on the sex of my
unborn child and the name of the father?" Her tone dripped characteristic sarcasm.
Toby started to open his mouth again but she cut him off to make a strategic retreat.
Shock flamed out her discomfort, and she was now just miffed.
On her way out the door she added, "Unfortunately the press had you as the odds on
favorite to be the father. And that just scares me. I'm gonna go plot against Sam
Toby closed his mouth and stared at the door.
It took C.J. twelve hours to plot her revenge against Sam. Toby had unwittingly
supplied the means. She easily enlisted the help of half the females on the Hill when she
explained her recent predicament. She'd make Sam very self conscious and paranoid. A
paranoid Sam was pathetic.
After the morning briefing C.J. hunted Sam down in his office. He looked a bit scared
when he saw her in the door.
"Sam, I think we need to talk."
"You know I'm still angry about this. Why didn't you just come right out and ask
me what was going on?"
"I honestly can't say. I was just really worried."
C.J. almost let him off for the sheer sweet sincerity in his comment. But she couldn't.
Sam looked at her with wide eyes. "Other inappropriate...what?"
Yup, the boy was clueless, she thought.
"You know that you are an incredibly attractive man, Sam. Half the women on the
Hill would sell their souls to get you in bed." She managed to keep her face
absolutely serious, and watched him start to squirm in his chair.
"C.J. you've got to be kidding."
"No, Sam. But don't worry. I'm over it now."
"You thought about having sex with me?" He considered this possibility and
found it far less improbable. He smiled shyly at her and she looked away again.
"Past tense, Sam"
"Why past tense?"
"It just couldn't work."
"C.J., I think I..."
He didn't complete his sentence. Ginger called to him, "Sam, you've got a package
you have to sign for."
He watched C.J. retreat quickly down the hall and went to the Bullpen. A young blond
congressional aide held out a package to him.
"Just sign on the bottom line, Mr. Seaborn." She looked at him adoringly and
gushed on, " I have to say I love your speeches. They are just so awesome and poetic
and fabulous".... She trailed off and actually batted her eyelashes at him.
Had it not been for the conversation two minutes ago, he would have missed the overture
completely. He looked up around the Bull pen to see Ginger whisper to Bonnie and both of
them turn to watch. Then he turned very red. He mumbled thanks to the girl and fled the
Sam walked down the hall and paused to take a drink at the water fountain. He splashed
water on his face to try clear his head, then stalked off to the portico to get fresh air.
He noticed that several female staffers paused to look at him and whisper. He grew more
paranoid with every step.
Twenty minutes later, he sat outside on the benches trying to calm down. His secret
service agent of the month, Amy, finally approached him to ask if he was all right.
He mumbled something noncommittal and pleasant and headed back inside.
Just as he was almost out of earshot he heard her whisper quietly into her
"Princeton's headed back in. His hair is still wet. Don't miss it ladies."
Sam promptly tripped over a potted plant.
A small hand reached down to him.
"Hey, Sam, let me give you a hand." drawled Ainsley.
He reluctantly took her hand, and got to his feet. Looking around sheepishly, he
noticed that a large number of women had appeared in the hallway and seemed to be
studiously avoiding looking directly at him.
Ainsley smiled and gestured to the onlookers. "I think we know who's the real 'Sex
Kitten' around here, don't we, Sam?"
Sam was too busy studying the carpet to see Ainsley wink at C.J. over his shoulder.