On a nearly silent tarmac at Londons Heathrow Airport Delta Flight 830 sat in the early morning gloom. The weather was rainy, damp and cool. On the plane the air had been off for nearly four hours and the cabin was growing increasingly warm. In first class Josh Lyman, Deputy White House Chief of Staff was happy about two things and only two things. First, hes convinced Leo that first class was a necessary expense, therefore he had been near the front of the plane when the terrorists boarded. Hes heard shots from the back. He had no way of knowing if people were hurt, but it was a good bet. The second thing that made him happy was that hed been smart enough to where a sports shirt and to take off his jacket when he boarded the plane. He was pretty sure the nervous but heavily armed kid to his left would not let him stand up to do that now.

Aside from those small mercies. life was pretty wretched First of all hed made a mess of things at home then he screwed up in London. Now he was probably going to get killed before he could fix any of it.

Josh deeply hoped that no one would ask for his wallet or passport. His wallet had his White House ID card. His passport was diplomatic - courtesy of Leo. Either way, one look and hed no longer be one of two hundred anonymous Americans. He would either become a bargaining chip or an example.

Glancing at his watch, Josh realized it was nearly 4:00 in the morning in D.C. His friends probably knew by now that he was here. CJ and Toby were trying to keep that news under wraps. Leo was counseling the president, who was worrying not only about Josh but about every person on this plane. Sam was hopefully taking care of Donna and helping CJ and Toby. Donna...

Josh did not want to think about what this kind of stress might do to Donna. "God," he thought. " I really messed up. Please give me a chance to tell her I love her and I want a life with her and this baby."

After the Newseum shooting, Josh had nearly lost it. For weeks he repressed what he felt then it came out in waves. Frightened, he sought comfort from the one person he could trust - Donna. He never intended it to be anything more than that. He was truly shocked to wake up a couple of months ago and realize he was in love with her - and even more shocked to hear himself say it.

They had talked about a future, but it was just that. The future. Both had agreed they could not make any firm plans until after the re-election campaign. Hed been a shocked as a human being could be when Donna had told him about the baby. In true Josh form, he had not handled it well.


Friends and Lovers- Grace Under Pressure - 8



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