Madam President, page 48
"Because I dropped it on the sidewalk and watched it shatter into about a million pieces." Disbelieving but playful blue eyes pinned her. "Okay, it was only three pieces," the writer conceded with a sigh. "But it was still broken!"
Twin dark eyebrows rose. "Go on, sweetheart."
Lauren sighed and removed one foot from Dev's hands, only to replace it with the other. "After breakfast, where they got my order wrong, but I was running too late to send it back, I finally arrived at General Brendwell's office with two minutes to spare. Then that son of a bitch kept me waiting for nearly a hour longer than I had expected he would."
"How long did you expect he would?"
"Exactly. Then he had the nerve to get mad when I cut his interview short in an effort to keep my schedule intact. You know, he is a total prick."
"I agree. But he's also very highly respected and has a brilliant military mind." Dev smiled when Lauren groaned with delight as she pushed her thumbs up the center of her foot from heel to toes.
"After that, I locked my keys in my car and forgot the override code. Just a little harder. Ahh... right there. That required another call to Triple A. After that, I got trapped on Dupont Circle." Lauren raised her head briefly, narrowing her eyes at Dev. "Surely you can do something about that."
Dev shot Lauren a regretful look. "Sorry. I'm not on the street zoning and planning commission, but I'll send a memo."
Her head dropped back down to the bed. "You do that."
Dev stood up, hearing Lauren's mewing protests that her massage was over. She reached back down and unzipped Lauren's skirt. "Lift."
The writer lifted her hips as her skirt and hose were pulled off in one deft motion. A single eye popped open, watching as Dev moved across the room to her dresser and opened her second drawer.
"Aha!" Dev swung around and pointed an accusing finger at Lauren. "I wondered where this set of sweats went."
"Oh, right," Lauren snorted softly. "Like you'd even notice if a pair went missing. You have a hundred sets of sweats."
Dev began rummaging through the drawer. "And my socks, too! You little thief." She laughed. "Can't you just steal the towels like everyone else?"
The President returned to the bed and knelt down long enough to put the socks on Lauren's feet. She realized she'd forgotten to get something out of Lauren's dresser and ran her fingers around Lauren's hip and gave her bottom a pinch. "Commando?"
"Ugh, no panties?" She shrugged weakly. "Sure. You only live once."
"That's my girl." Dev worked the sweatpants up her legs.
"Devlyn, darlin', I don't mean to criticize. But you're doing this all wrong."
"No criticism there."
"Aren't you suppose to be un dressing me?"
Lauren wanted to protest, but it really didn't matter how Dev touched her. Just as long as she did. Besides, later was good too. "Okay."
Lauren lifted her hips once again and felt the sweatpants pulled all the way up, warming her legs. Then a hand circled her wrist and pulled her upright.
"Bra on or off?"
A blonde brow lifted faintly. "You need to ask?"
Dev chuckled and lovingly removed the undergarment.
Lauren groaned softly. "Later?"
"Absolutely. Later." Dev tossed the bra on the pile with the rest of Lauren's rumpled clothing. Lauren helped Dev put on her sweatshirt by lifting her arms. Dev couldn't resist allowing her hands to drift under Lauren's sweatshirt and move across warm skin.
Lauren sucked in a surprised breath when Dev used her knuckles to graze the silky skin on the underside of firm breasts. Before the blonde could utter a word, Dev's thumbs ran lightly across her nipples, causing them to instantly go painfully erect.
"Devlyn," Lauren warned in a low growl, "be nice."
Blue eyes went round and innocent. "That was nice. Mean would have been if I'd lifted your shirt..." Which she did. "And lowered my mouth..."
"Stop!" Lauren pulled back and shook her index finger in front of Dev's face. "You got me dressed again for a reason. So unless ‘later' has arrived, don't start something we can't finish." She pulled down her shirt. "What's the plan?"
Dev frowned, but quickly got over the fact that Lauren's shirt was now back in place. "You, me, the kids, Jr. Monopoly in the living room? Emma baked cookies and made cocoa."
"Wonderful." Lauren sighed contentedly, feeling much better than she had moments ago. She leaned in and gave the tall woman a heartfelt kiss that she just barely resisted the urge to deepen. "So how was your day?" She wiped a tiny lipstick smudge from the corner of Devlyn's mouth.
Dev shrugged. Standing, she tugged Lauren to her feet and wrapped her arm around her lover's trim waist as they began a slow walk towards the door. "Flew to New York this morning to give a speech in front of the United Nations."
Saturday, December 18th
Dev's gaze flicked down to her meeting agenda, which was resting next to her notepad, then to the clock on the wall. She covertly rolled her eyes at the young man at the end of the table, who had just initiated what had to be the fortieth holographic visual aid explaining crop destruction.
She knew she should be paying attention to what he was saying, but she couldn't help it. Dev had already decided she was going to back the request for aid to the farmers, whose infant, winter wheat crops had fallen victim to this year's unusually early and harsh blizzards. To Dev, this young man was ‘preaching to the choir', as her dad would say. She didn't need to be convinced.
Besides, it was Saturday, she had a hot date, and he had already talked a lot longer than expected. Her thoughts had begun to wander to Lauren's newest Adrienne Nash novel. Though her pseudonym would appear as co-author, she was leaving the actual writing to Lauren and confining her contribution to plot and character development ideas. What she couldn't understand was why Lauren had decided to bring in a beefy character named Dirk. And, worse yet, why Dirk had to have the hots for Adrienne!
Dev scowled and put a line through the circle that contained Dirk's name on the agenda. "Better be a damned redshirt, meant to bite the dust before he gets anywhere near Adrienne!" she mumbled, glancing up sheepishly when she realized she'd said that aloud.
"Madam President?" The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, the toothy young man making the presentation, looked at her with round eyes, terrified that she might actually have a question.
Dev gave him a regretful smile and a little wave. "I'm sorry. I wandered there for a second. Please, go on."
He nodded, and gave the voice command for the hologram to project a new picture. This one was of two stalks of wheat. One was clearly damaged, while the other was not.
Dev glanced at the other faces in the room, and, after confirming the Secretary of Agriculture was still awake, let her eyes travel back to her notepad. You're gonna screw up the perfectly good subtext, Lauren. God, it will be just as horrific as it had been on ‘Xena'. It had been twenty years since that show ended, and she was still pissed off that the writers were forever inserting the boyfriend of the week. Xena and Gabrielle loved each other. End of story.
Her attention wandered to the pages they had worked on the night before. Dev had not been happy with the way Lauren had ended that chapter. She drew a picture of ‘Dirk', complete with noose around his neck, on her notepad. "I'll kill the rat bastard!" she growled, and every pair of eyes turned in her direction.
The Deputy Secretary's eyes bulged, and he gulped audibly.
"Okay, ladies and gentleman." David reached over and patted Dev's arm, smoothly taking charge of the meeting. "I think we're all set. The President has another meeting she's late for, so..."
The Secretary of Agriculture was the first on his feet, looking as relieved as Dev felt. He wasn't sure why the President was about to commit homicide, but he most certainly didn't want to be the target. And while his Deputy Secretary did have
David nudged Dev, who looked up from her drawing, which now included something that looked like a gun to Dirk's head. "Absolutely!" she said, even as she slammed closed her notebook and rose to her feet. "You'll have everything you need from my office first thing Monday morning. Isn't that right, David?"
"Yes, Madam President." He stood and buttoned his jacket. "I can finish up here, ma'am, if you'd like to get to that next meeting." He motioned her to the door.
"Right. Thank you, David. I'll see you Monday."
Dev did her absolute best to hold back her laughter until she was well within the residence. She ended up in front of Lauren's door, and used her forehead to gently knock against it. When the door opened, she smiled at her lover who was holding her glasses in one hand and her camera in the other. "We need to talk about Dirk."
"Dirk?" Lauren was truly confused. "From my books?"
"Oh, yeah. Because of Dirk, the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture now thinks I want him dead."
* * *
Lauren lay on her belly on her bed. Scattered around her were dozens of papers, outlines, reference books, and even a few world maps. Her chin was propped up by one hand, and she was turned around so that her head was at the foot of the bed. The writer had a pen between her teeth, which she pulled out occasionally so she could scratch some notes on one of the several tablets of paper.
She had scrubbed her face, and brushed her teeth for bed, and she was supremely comfortable in a threadbare, University of Tennessee T-shirt and a pair of thin, dark gray sweatpants that were so worn, if you held them to the light you could see through the knees.
Dev sat alongside her, back propped against the headboard by several large feather-filled pillows. The area around her was free of her own mess, though Lauren's had spilled over into her work area and now covered the entire bed. She held a single note pad and a pencil, which she alternately chewed and tapped against the paper restlessly.
Devlyn's hair was slightly damp from a quick shower she'd taken nearly an hour before. She wore soft, red, flannel pajamas and thick sweat socks that didn't quite manage to keep her toes from being chilled.
Although the temperature inside the White House rarely varied more than a degree or two, the rest of Washington, D.C. was in the throes of a blizzard. The relative silence of the room was periodically broken by the howling wind that scattered dry snowflakes against the tall bedroom windows.
Gremlin and Princess had taken up refuge on the sofa and were snoozing happily on opposite ends. Lauren had speculated earlier that the dogs must have had a lovers' quarrel since Princess usually slept right on top of Gremlin and the portly pug didn't seem to mind a bit.
Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap.
Lauren swung her head around and peered with obvious irritation over the top of her glasses to see Dev nervously tapping her note pad with her pencil again. The President seemed to be oblivious to her actions, and Lauren bit her lip to keep from saying something rude. She let out a slightly impatient breath and slowly turned her eyes back to her own work. Lauren had just about figured out how Adrienne Nash, intrepid explorer, could escape from her latest capture when she heard, ‘Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap.' She closed her eyes briefly, schooling herself in patience, before turning her head and glaring at Dev, who was deep in thought. "Do you mind?"
Dev's head jerked up. "Huh?"
Lauren sat up a little so she could reach back and lay her hand over Dev's, effectively putting an end to the tapping. "You're making me insane."
Bewildered, Dev just looked at her. "What are you talking about? I'm trying to think of ideas for Adrienne Nash. I'm not doing anything to you!"
Lauren groaned inwardly. Dev was used to working in the constant background noise of her endless meetings. She, on the other hand, while in attendance at most of those meetings, would slip back to the silence of her room to really get things done. "Okay. You're right. I'm sorry. That tapping was just breaking my concentration. Go back to your thinking." Lauren patted Dev's thigh and lay back down, spreading out her papers even more and jotting down an idea that suddenly came to her.
Dev glanced down at Lauren and frowned. "We need more light."
"No, we don't."
Dev balanced her notepad on her thighs. "Yes, we do. Working in low light is bad for your eyes."
Lauren set her own pen down and turned around again. "That's not true. Not unless you have to strain to see. I work at night all the time. The light is fine. I can see perfectly."
"Don't you say a damned word about my glasses, Devlyn. My vision ‘issues' have nothing to do with poor light, and before you start up again, I am not having anybody poking my eyes with needles or lasers or whatever they use," she huffed, going back to her work, now thoroughly distracted. After a moment of dead silence she added. "And that's final. No how. No way."
"Baby." Dev stuck out her tongue and petulantly kicked at the papers surrounding her feet. "God, you're messy." She picked up a paper containing nothing but Lauren's doodles and crumpled it into a tight ball. She aimed for the waste bin by the desk across the room and, in perfect free-throw style, took the shot. Which she promptly missed by several feet.
Lauren's eyes flicked up from her outline. "Dev," she whined in frustration. "What if that was important?"
"It wasn't," the President announced firmly, silently vowing to retrieve it from the floor later just in case Lauren was right. Better safe than sorry. "The bed is a pigsty." Dev's kicking grew a little more vigorous. "How can you work like this?"
Lauren was about to snap back with a smartass reply but got a good look at the maps and papers and reference books that were covering the bed. She let out a grumpy breath, cringing inwardly. Okay, so it was just the tiniest bit messy. Without a word, Lauren grabbed Dev's big toe and used it to lift the long leg. With her other hand, she scooped out the papers that were underneath.
"Hey!" Dev squawked indignantly, her eyes wide with mild outrage.
"Hush." Lauren let go of the toe, causing Dev's leg to drop back to the bed with a dull thud, bouncing once. She tugged on Dev's socked foot affectionately and went back to her papers.
"Grab my toe..." the words trailed off as Dev mumbled under her breath.
Lauren began to rhythmically wiggle her own foot as she thought. Adrienne could escape on horseback. Oh, yeah, folks would love that. The blonde woman pulled over a map, wondering if this particular island would. I'll check online tomorrow. Unconsciously, she continued to move her foot back and forth.
Dev glared down at the offending body part, trying her best to ignore the shaking bed. Lauren's foot suddenly stopped all movement and the President sighed in relief, her thoughts drifting back to her own project. Dirk the jerk. Dirk the dick. Dirk must die. He's only in the way. Why can't Lauren see that Adrienne would be so much better off with that hotty redheaded sidekick of hers? What does Lauren mean she's ‘thinking' about getting them together? What's to ‘think' about? They're perfect for each other.
Don't worry, Adrienne. I'll straighten out this mess. Dev smirked. So to speak.
The bed began to shake again with what was now a full-fledged bouncing of Lauren's entire leg. Dev was jolted out of her plans, and she fixed her gaze on the source of her annoyance, watching in dismay as it continued to bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and bounce. "Stop shaking the bed!" she blurted out when her patience had dwindled to nothing.
"Sure, honey," Lauren answered absently, patting Dev's calf. She was so fully caught up in her newest idea that she didn't bother to turn her head as she spoke.
Dev rolled her eyes when the movement stopped for all of two seconds then continued, albeit at a less forceful pace. Trying to get more comfortable, she scooted down further in the bed, inadvertently bumping Lauren's elbow and causing the younger woman to draw a
"Yes?!" Lauren scooted over, putting at least two feet between her and Dev to give the President more room. "Better?" she mumbled.
A few minutes more and Lauren heard the ‘Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap.' again.
"Arghhhh!" The blonde women dropped her head, letting her forehead hit the bed. She ground her teeth together.
‘Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap.' Pause. ‘Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap.'
Lauren hastily sat up and scrambled to the head of the bed to join Dev. She reached out and plucked the pencil from Dev's fingers, tossing it across the room with a quick flick of her wrist.