Mr president, p.1
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       Mr. President, p.1
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         Part #1 of White House series by Katy Evans
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Mr. President


  Mr. President

  Katy Evans

  Contents

  1. YOUR NAME IS MATTHEW

  2. AND MATTHEW IS HOW I’VE THOUGHT OF YOU FOR YEARS

  3. ANNOUNCEMENT

  4. THE NEWS

  5. STILL THAT GIRL

  6. THE NEXT MORNING

  7. FIRST DAY

  8. THE TEAM

  9. FIRST WEEK

  10. THAT DOG OF YOURS NEEDS A LEASH

  11. GIFT

  12. WE FOUND OURSELVES RUNNING THE SAME PATH

  13. WARNING

  14. EYES

  15. GETS LONELY AT THE TOP

  16. COFFEE

  17. THE TIDAL BASIN

  18. RUMORS

  19. TRAVELING

  20. ONE TOUCH

  21. MEETING

  22. FLIRTING WITH DANGER

  23. SHIFTS

  24. TOWEL

  25. THE LAST PRIMARY

  26. NEVER ENOUGH OF YOU

  27. INTENSE

  28. RAIN OR SHINE

  29. MORE

  30. NEWS

  31. DEBATE

  32. MRS. HAMILTON

  33. GONE

  34. GALA

  35. SECRET MEETING

  36. MORNING

  37. BACK IN D.C.

  38. ELECTION DAY

  39. YOUR NAME IS CHARLOTTE

  Dear Readers

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Also by Katy Evans

  To the future

  AUTHOR’S NOTE

  Although I tried to stay true to what happens in politics and on the campaign trail, this is ultimately a love story between Matt and Charlotte. This is a work of fiction; therefore I took some liberties with the political world so that I could craft the story that I craved to tell you. This is not a political book, but a love story born in the world of politics. I hope you are as swept away with these two as I am. So settle in, take off your shoes, and step inside ....

  PLAYLIST

  Hall of Fame - The Script

  Close - Nick Jonas

  Make Me Like You - Gwen Stefani

  Talk Me Down - Troye Sivan

  If I Had You - Adam Lambert

  Something In the Way You Move - Ellie Goulding

  Tear In My Heart - twenty one pilots

  Come Down to Me - Saving Jane

  Secret Love Song - Little Mix (feat Jason Derulo)

  Forbidden Love - The Darkness

  Perfect Ruin - Kwabs

  You’re Beautiful - James Blunt

  The Reason - Hoobastank

  1

  YOUR NAME IS MATTHEW

  Charlotte

  We’re in a suite at The Jefferson Hotel where Benton Carlisle, the campaign manager, is smoking his second pack of Camels by the open window. Exactly eight-tenths of a mile from here, the White House stands all lit up for the evening.

  All of the televisions inside the suite are set on different news channels, where the anchors continue reporting on the ballot-counting progress of this year’s presidential election. The names of the candidates are being tossed around in speculation—three names, to be exact. The Republican candidate, the Democratic candidate, and the first truly strong independent candidate in U.S. history—the son of an ex-president and at barely thirty-five, the youngest contender in history.

  My feet are killing me. I’ve been wearing the same clothes since I left my apartment this morning, headed to the polling station, and cast in my vote. The entire team that has been campaigning for the past year together met here at noon—at this suite.

  We’ve been here for over twelve hours.

  The air is thick with tension, especially when he walks into the living room after taking a break and heading into one of the bedrooms to talk to his grandfather, who’s been calling from New York.

  His tall, wide-shouldered frame looms in the doorway.

  The men in the room stand, the women straighten.

  There’s just something about him that draws the eye—his height, his strong but unnervingly warm gaze, the polished ruggedness that only makes him look more male in a business suit, and his infectious smile, so real and engaging you can’t help but smile back.

  His eyes pause on me, visually measuring the distance between us. I left for an errand and just came back, and of course he notices.

  I try to stay composed. “I brought you something for the wait.” I speak as smoothly as I can and head into one of the bedrooms with a tightly closed brown bag meant to appear to be food. He follows me.

  He doesn’t close the door—I notice that—but he pushes it back so that only an inch remains open, giving us as much privacy as possible.

  I pull out a crisp men’s black jacket and pass it to him.

  “You forgot your jacket,” I say.

  He glances down at his jacket, then the most beautiful dark-espresso eyes raise to mine.

  One glance. One brush of fingers. One second of recognition.

  His voice is low, almost intimate. “That would’ve been difficult to explain.”

  Our eyes hold.

  I almost can’t let go of his jacket and he almost doesn’t want to take it.

  He reaches out and takes it, his smile soft and rueful and his gaze perceptive. I know exactly why that smile is rueful, why it is soft with tenderness. Because I’m barely hanging in there tonight and there is no way that this man—that this man who knows it all—doesn’t know.

  Matthew Hamilton.

  Possible future President of the United States.

  He sets his jacket aside and makes no move to leave the room, and I glance out the window as I try not to stare at his every move.

  Through the open window, a breeze that smells of recent rain and Carlisle’s cigarettes flits into the room. D.C. seems quieter tonight than usual, the city so still it seems to be holding its breath along with the rest of the country—along with me.

  Quietly we head into the living room to join the others. I’m careful to take a spot in the room that’s nearly opposite his—instinct. Self-preservation maybe.

  “They’re saying you’ve got Ohio,” Carlisle updates him.

  “Yeah?” Matt asks, quirking a brow, then he glances around the room, whistles for Jack, his shiny black German Shepherd Lab mix, to come. The dog darts across the room and leaps onto the couch, setting himself on Matt’s lap and letting him stroke the top of his head.

  “… that’s right, Roger, the Matt Hamilton campaign pulled off an impressive feat this year until, well, that incident …” the anchors discuss. Matt grabs the remote and turns it off. He glances at me briefly.

  One more connection, one more silent look.

  The room falls silent.

  In my experience, guys love talking about themselves and their accomplishments. Matt, on the contrary, avoids it. As if he’s sick of rehashing the tragedy of his life’s story. The story that has been the center of the media’s attention since his campaign began.

  You can note varying degrees of respect in a person’s voice when they talk about a particular U.S. president. For some presidents, the degree is nonexistent, the tone more like contempt. For others, the name is turned into something magical and inspiring, filling you with the same feeling you’re supposed to get when you look at a red, white, and blue American flag: pride and hope. Such was the case with the Lawrence Hamilton presidency—the administration started by Matt’s father several terms ago.

  My own father, who until then had supported the opposite party, soon became a staunch Democratic supporter, swayed by President Hamilton’s charisma. The man’s incredible connection with people spread across not just the nation but overseas, improving our international relations. I was eleven when I was first introduced to Hamilton’s legendary charm.

&
nbsp; Matt Hamilton, in his teens when his dad began his first term, had everything, his future bright. I, on the other hand, was still very much a girl, with no idea who I was or where I was going.

  Over a decade later, even now I struggle with the sense of failure of having not lived up to something important. A meaningful job and a guy that I loved, those were things I wanted. My parents wanted more from me, politics. I went into social services instead. But no matter how many people I’ve helped, how much I’ve told myself that being an adult only means that I will be in my prime to really make a difference, I cannot help but feel like I not only didn’t live up to what my parents wanted for me. But what I wanted for myself.

  Because at this very moment as we wait for the next President of the United States to be announced, both of those dreams of mine hang in the air—and I’m afraid when the results come in, they will both vanish my hopes into nothing.

  I wait silently as the men create conversation, Matt’s voice reaching me occasionally.

  Ignoring him feels impossible, but it’s all I can manage today.

  The suite is grand, decorated to appeal to the tastes of those who can afford rooms that cost a thousand dollars a night. The kind of hotel to offer mints on your pillows and they have been extra hospitable to us, because Matt’s a celebrity. They’ve gone as far as to send up yogurt pretzels, after the press made sure everyone knew they’re his favorite.

  There was even a bottle of champagne being chilled. Matt asked one of the campaign aides to remove it from the room. Everyone was surprised, they all felt that it meant Matt thought they’d lost the election.

  I know that’s not the case, instinctively. I simply know if the results are not what he hoped for, he won’t want that cool champagne sitting there, a reminder of his loss.

  Leaving Jack on the couch, he restlessly stalks across the room and takes a seat beside his campaign manager by the window, and he lights a cigarette. Memories play in my head. Of my lips circling the same cigarette that was on his lips.

  I watch Jack, his warm puppy eyes and lightly wagging tail, to avoid looking at him. The dog raises his head on alert as Mark walks into the room, breathless, eyes wide, as if he cannot believe whatever it is that just happened—or is happening. He informs the room that the count is in. And as he announces the name of the next President of the United States of America, Matt’s gaze locks with mine.

  One look.

  One second.

  One name.

  I close my eyes and duck my head upon hearing the news, the sense of loss overwhelming me.

  2

  AND MATTHEW IS HOW I’VE THOUGHT OF YOU FOR YEARS

  Charlotte

  Ten months earlier …

  Ever since I started working full time, my days seem to have gotten longer and my evenings shorter. As I’ve grown older, big gatherings have lost much of their former appeal¸ while letting loose among small groups of friends is something I now very much enjoy. I’m having a birthday today, and our booth holds my best friend Kayla, her boyfriend Sam, myself, and Alan, a sort of a friend/suitor and the one who insisted I celebrate at least for a little while tonight.

  “You’re twenty-two today, baby,” Kayla says as she raises her cocktail glass in my direction. “I hope now you will finally drag your ass out to vote in next year’s presidential election.”

  I groan, the options so far nothing to get excited about. The current struggling and unlikeable president who is up for a second term? Or the opposite party candidates, some who are just too hard to take seriously considering the radical ideology they’re embracing. Sometimes it feels like they’re just saying the craziest thing that comes to mind to snatch themselves some airtime.

  “It’d be exciting if Matt Hamilton stepped up,” Sam adds.

  My drink sloshes over my sweater at the mention of him.

  “He has my vote on automatic,” Sam continues.

  “Really?” Kayla quirks a saucy eyebrow and keeps on hitting the tequila. “Charlotte knows Hammy.”

  I scoff and quickly wipe away the damp spot on my sweater. “I do not, I really do not,” I assure the guys, then shoot a scowl Kayla’s way. “I don’t know where you get that.”

  “I got that from you.”

  “I … we …” I shake my head, shooting her an evil eye. “We’ve met, but that doesn’t imply I know him. I don’t know the first thing about him. I know as much about him as you all do and the press is hardly reliable.”

  God! I don’t know why I told Kayla the things I did about Matthew Hamilton . . . at an age when I was young and clearly very impressionable. I made the mistake of declaring to my best friend that I wanted to marry the guy. But even then, I at least had the wits to extract a promise that she’d never tell a soul. Kid promises always tend to seem so childish when we’re adults, I guess, and she doesn’t mind hinting at it now.

  “Come on, you do know him, you crushed on him for years,” Kayla says, laughing.

  I watch her boyfriend give me an apologetic look. “I think Kay’s ready to go home.”

  “I am so not, so not drunk enough,” she protests as he eases her out of the booth.

  She groans but allows him to pull her to her feet, and then turns to Alan.

  “How does it feel to compete with the hottest man in history?”

  “Excuse me?” Alan asks.

  “People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, you know . . .” Kayla recounts. “How does it feel to compete with him?”

  Alan sends Sam a look that definitely says yeah, she’s ready to go home, man.

  “She’s so wasted,” I apologize to Alan. “Come here, Kay,” I say as I wrap my arm around her waist while Sam lets her lean on his shoulder. Together, we help her outside and into a cab Alan has hailed for her, sending them on their way.

  Alan and I jump into the next cab. He gives the cabbie my address then turns to me.

  “What did she mean?”

  “Nothing.” I glance out the window, my stomach caving in on itself. I try to laugh it off, but I feel sick to my stomach thinking of people actually knowing how infatuated I was with Matt Hamilton. “I’m twenty-two, this happened ten, eleven years ago. A little girl’s crush.”

  “A crush that’s been crushed, right?”

  I smile. “Of course,” I reassure him, then turn to stare out at the blinking city lights as we head across town to drop me home.

  A crush that’s been crushed, of course. You can’t seriously crush on someone you’ve only seen like, what? Twice? The second time was so fleeting and at such an overwhelming moment in time … and the first … well.

  It was eleven years ago, and I somehow remember everything about it. It’s still the most exciting day I can recall even though I don’t like the effect that meeting President Hamilton’s son had on my teenage years.

  I was eleven. We lived in a two-story brownstone east of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. My father, my mother, a tabby cat named Percy, and I. We each had a daily routine; I went to school, Mother went to the Women of the World offices, Dad went to the Senate, and Percy gave us the silent treatment when we all got home.

  We didn’t stray far from that routine—as my parents preferred—but that day something exciting happened.

  Percy was sent to my room, which meant that Mom didn’t want him causing mischief. He curled up on the foot of my bed, licking his paws, not interested in the noises downstairs. He only paused to occasionally stare at me as I peered through a tiny slit in my doorway. I’d been sitting there for the last ten minutes, watching the Secret Service walk in and out of my home.

  They spoke in hushed tones into their headsets.

  “Robert? One last time. This one? Orrrr this one?” My mother’s voice floated into my bedroom from across the hall.

  “This one.” My father sounded distracted. He was probably getting dressed.

  There was a pregnant pause, and I could almost feel my mother’s disappointment.

  “I think I’ll wear this one,
she said.

  My mother always asked Dad what to wear for special evenings. But if he didn’t pick the dress she wanted, she wore the one she’d hoped he’d choose.

  I could picture my mother putting away the black one and carefully setting the red dress down on the bed.

  My father didn’t like it when my mother got too much attention, but my mother loves it. And why not? She has stunning green eyes and a thick mane of blonde hair. Though my dad is twenty years older and looks it, my mother looks younger by the day. I dreamt of growing up to be as beautiful and poised as she is.

  I wondered what time it was. My stomach growled as the scent of spices teased my nostrils. Rosemary? Basil? I got them all mixed up no matter how many times Jessa, our housekeeper, explained which is which.

  Downstairs, the chef from some fancy restaurant was cooking in our kitchen.

  The Secret Service had been preparing the house for hours. I was told the president’s food would be tasted before it was served to him.

  The food looked so delicious I’d gladly taste every morsel. But Father asked Jessa to bring me back upstairs. He didn’t want me to attend because I was “too young.”

  So what? I thought. People used to get married at my age. I was old enough to stay home alone. They wanted me to act mature, like a lady. But what was the point if I never got to act the part they’d been grooming me for?

  “It’s a business dinner, it’s not a party, and god knows we need things to go well,” Dad grumbled when I tried to plead my case.

  “Dad,” I groaned. “I can behave.”

  “You really think Charlotte can behave?” He shot my mother a glance, and my mother smiled at me. “You’re not eleven until next week. You’re too young for these events. It’ll be nothing but talk of politics. Just stay up in your room.”

  “But it’s the president,” I said with so much conviction my voice trembled.

  My mom stepped out of her bedroom in that glorious red dress that tastefully draped over her figure and spotted me eagerly peering down at the excitement downstairs.

 
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