Chapter 2- Secrets and Lies
The entire White House staff had spent the past month running around like chickens with their heads cut off as they prepared for the President to officially announce his reelection with a speech in Manchester. So far things had been improving, some of the negative press had eased up and the staff was brimming with cautious optimism.
Bruno, Connie, and CJ sat on the couches in the Oval Office, waiting for the President to finish his phone call. Carol walked up to CJ and handed her an envelope. "Danny says you owe him big for this."
CJ motioned for Carol to wait. She tore open the envelope and examined the contents for several moments. She took a deep breath and turned to Carol. "Find Sam and Cassie and get their asses in my office right now. I'll be there in a few minutes." She said angrily. Carol hurried out of the room.
Bruno sat down next to her. "What's wrong?"
CJ handed the envelope to him and he dumped the contents onto the couch between Connie and himself. Connie was the first one to speak. "Oh shit."
"This is bad." Bruno held up a picture. "Doesn't anyone around here think before they act?"
"What's everyone so interested in?" Jed hung up the phone and looked over at them.
"Another cheap tabloid scandal. I swear to God, I'm killing them both." CJ handed the stack of photographs to the President before rubbing her eyes. She wanted to scream, they were just getting back on the right track and now this.
He looked at the top picture. "This is just Sam and Cassie kissing. As much as I don't want to be looking at this I don't really see why it's a big deal."
Bruno exchanged a nervous glance with Connie. "Sir, read the captions, look at the dates. That's what makes it a big deal."
"These were taken during the campaign." He looked up at them, confused.
"They get much worse than the top one." Connie told him, hesitantly.
Jed flipped looked at a few more pictures before dropping the stack on the floor. "Oh my god."
CJ gathered up the photos. "If you'll excuse me Cassie and Sam are waiting in my office."
"CJ." The president stopped her. "When you're done with them, tell my daughter that I'd like to see her."
She saw the dangerous look in his eye. "Yes sir."
CJ stood quietly in the doorway of her office, observing them. Cassie was pacing in front of the window with her arms crossed tightly across her chest. Sam was sitting on the couch, nervously drumming his fingers on his knee. She couldn't help but enjoy watching them squirm, they had to know that this would happen sooner or later and they still hadn't told her, well now it was too late, they were found out. CJ stepped into the office, slamming the door closed behind her.
Startled, Sam jumped to his feet. "CJ, Carol said you wanted to see us."
Instead of responding she walked to her desk and emptied the envelope. "Take a few moments to peruse these and I'll bet you can figure out why I'm about two seconds away from wringing both your necks."
After a long moment Cassie spoke. "We should have warned you.... I didn't think anyone would find out."
"You SHOULD have warned me, you didn't think anyone would find out." CJ began to raise her voice. "You sure as hell didn't think.... How could you both be this stupid? How do you not tell me about this?"
"CJ, it wasn't a big deal." Sam offered weakly.
That statement sent her over the edge and she began to yell. "It wasn't a big deal. You were fucking the President's MARRIED daughter during the campaign and you don't think it was big deal." She took a deep breath and lowered her voice. "This is the worst possible time for this."
"I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do?" Cassie asked worriedly.
CJ knew she should calm down, but her anger wasn't abating as fast as she would have liked, so she stepped over the line. "You've done quite enough already. What the hell is wrong with the two of you?" She stared down Cassie.
Sam backed away from CJ's intense gaze, but Cassie stepped up to face her. "I really don't think screaming at me is going to fix anything." Her anger rose to match CJ's.
"Listen little girl, I really don't give a damn what you think." CJ knew she was out of line, but she was still angry.
Sam watched the two women square off as he slowly backed toward the couch. "Okay, I think we all need to take a break and regroup after dinner."
"He's right, we're going to meet back here in an hour. Cassie, your father wants to see you."
"Does he know?"
"Shit." She hurried out the door and headed to the Oval office.
"When's it going to break?" Sam asked when they were alone.
CJ leaned against the front of her desk. "Tomorrow morning."
"Charlie, where's my dad?"
He looked up from his computer screen. "In the Residence, he wants to meet with you there."
"Great, fewer witnesses." She muttered under her breath.
"Nothing." Cassie started to walk away, but turned back. "What was his mood like when he left?"
"Not good, I think he wanted to complain to the first lady about something." He noticed her nervousness. "Anything wrong."
"Yes, but I can't talk now. Later." She said, heading toward the Residence.
"Jed calm down." Cassie heard her mother's voice as she neared the living room. "He's done nursing, could you please take him so I can finish with James." She watched from the doorway as her father laid Scott against his chest and walked toward the window.
"CJ granted us an hour-long reprieve so I thought I'd get this over with." Cassie warily sat down across from her mother.
Jed and Abbey both looked up at her. "So, was CJ angry?" Abbey asked sarcastically.
"We screamed at each other long enough to freak out Sam, needless to say she wasn't happy with us. And I think we can do without the sarcasm."
"Thinking... that's an interesting concept coming from you. Did you ever think that this might be a problem?"
"Of course I did, but I had hoped that there was some aspect of my private life that could be kept private."
"How long?" Jed asked softly, trying not to wake the sleeping baby in his arms.
"So, the whole time you were on the campaign." He rubbed his eyes.
"Pretty much." Cassie avoided his eyes as she spoke. "Look, I know I should have warned CJ about this. I made a mistake, I'm sorry. There doesn't seem to be much else I can do."
Jed went back to pacing the room. "We'll talk about this later."
Cassie knew his tone meant he wanted her to leave. "Yeah." She headed back to CJ's office.
It was over. The election had been called and former New Hampshire governor Josiah Bartlet had been declared the next President of the United States. The celebrations were still going strong at three am when Sam finally cornered Cassie in the supply room of the campaign headquarters.
"Hey." He kicked the door shut behind him and crossed the room to her.
She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. "Hey yourself." Cassie pressed her lips insistently against his.
Sam tangled his fingers in her long hair, tilting her face so he could look into her eyes. "I love you."
"I love you too." She kissed him again, desperately trying to stave off reality for a few more minutes. Sam's hand slid up the outside of her blouse, cupping her breast through the thin silk. He was pressing their bodies against the wall when suddenly the door swung open and the room was basked in the glow of fluorescent light.
"What the hell?" Josh stood in the doorway staring at them.
They immediately flew apart. "Josh. What are you doing here?" Cassie stammered, smoothing out the wrinkles in her blouse.
"I don't think I'm the one who needs to answer that question." He slammed the door closed. "How long has this been going on?" He demanded.
"About two and a half months." Sam hesitantly replied. "Josh, you can't tell anyone about this." He looked desperately at his friend. "Please, you have no idea how important this is."
Josh looked between them, at the desperate look in Sam's eyes, at the terrified look on Cassie's face. He wanted to tell them that they were going to get caught, that they were being indescribably stupid, but instead he just felt sorry for them. "I won't say anything." He turned to leave. "You know, they put locks on doors for a reason." He left, closing the door firmly behind him.
The next afternoon Sam was standing on the porch when Josh approached him. "We need to talk." He grabbed Sam's arm and pulled him into Leo's empty office. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Josh asked as his hand connected with the back of Sam's head.
"Ouch!" Sam rubbed his head. "That really hurt." He turned to face Josh. "Calm down."
"Calm down?" Josh began to pace the room. "You're screwing our boss's married daughter and you're telling me to calm down."
Sam leaned wearily against the desk. "I love her."
Josh rubbed his eyes. "Sam, you're getting in way over your head."
"I know." He stood up taller. "I've never felt like this about anyone. She's the love of my life; I can't just walk away from that."
"Sam she's married. This could cause a massive scandal. We just got a good man elected, he doesn't need his administration tarnished before it begins. Besides, do you have any idea what this could do to you? Or to her for that matter?"
"Josh, I know the risks, but I can't end it." Sam turned and opened the door. "If I never feel this way again as long as I live, if these few months are all I get, I'll live with it. But, I couldn't live with myself if I let it slip through my fingers. This is a once in a lifetime thing." He walked out the door.
The story broke the next day. Jed stood in the doorway of CJ's office first thing in the morning. "CJ, how bad is it?"
"Give me a minute I just got all the morning papers." She dropped the stack on her desk and grabbed the top one. CJ stood in front of him as she scanned the article. "What the hell?"
"What's wrong?" Jed took a step toward her.
"This." She handed him the paper, pointing to a line of text.
"That can't be true." He felt briefly nauseous. "Cassie would have told us about that." Jed said with much more certainty than he felt.
CJ stared at him intently. "Are you sure?"
"No." He took a weary seat on the couch.
"CJ, what the hell is this?" Leo stormed into her office.
"They didn't tell me." She threw up her arms in defeat. "I just knew about the affair, that wasn't in with the stuff Danny gave me."
Leo noticed the President sitting on the couch. "Are you all right sir?"
"No, not especially." He replied. "How the hell did that reporter even find that out, medical records are supposed to be confidential?"
"Reporters pay well." CJ told him.
A thoughtful looked crossed Jed's face. "Does Sam even know about this?"
"No. I never saw the point in telling him. It would only have served to cause more pain." They all turned when Cassie stepped into the room. "He's still upstairs sleeping, I turned off the alarm. I wanted to check on the damage before he saw it." She stood in the doorway, white as a sheet.
"You sure as hell better tell him now." Leo stared at her like he'd never seen her before.
"What the fuck were you thinking?" Jed asked as he began to angry. "How could you be this stupid?" He stared at her for a minute. "And why the hell is Sam sleeping in the Residence?" He got to his feet as he began to yell at her.
Cassie bit back a snide remark. "I need to go talk to Sam. We can discuss this later."
"In the living room at ten, I don't want to do this in the office. You, Abbey and I are going to have a talk."
All the color drained from her face once again. "I'll be there."
She went back to the Residence and sat down on the edge of her bed. "Sam, wake up." Cassie gently nudged his shoulder.
He opened his eyes and looked at the clock. "Oh shit!" He sat up with a start.
"I turned off the alarm."
"It's not important. We need to talk about something." She closed her eyes as a wave of nausea washed over her.
"Now? Shouldn't we be checking the papers?"
"I already checked them. It's bad, very, very, bad. That's why we need to talk."
He saw the scared look in Cassie's eyes. "I'm listening."
End Chapter Two...
Things Fall Apart - 3
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