Ms. O’ Connor Goes to Washington by S. Lee

voteOCONNOR

Ms. O’ Connor Goes to Washington
by S. Lee

 

 

Super Tuesday, March, 2012

Jordan O’ Connor had waited for this day her entire life. Here she was on primary day, surrounded by her closest friends and her family, waiting to see if she would be the next Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. Ahead all night, she was waiting for the final results. The room held its breath as it was announced over the television that she had indeed won the nomination. A surge of adrenaline rushed through her veins. The room was filled with screaming. Her kids hugged her. Her mother said she was proud. Laura, Her best friend and campaign manager, hugged her as they looked at each other with both fear and relief. They had been best friends since they met at church when they were seventeen. They both majored in Political Science, and loved it. They had had a brief relationship but both agreed they were better as friends. When Jordan ran her first campaign for county commissioner 16 years ago, Laura was the first person she called. Jordan moved away from the crowd and sat down to take in the events of the night. It had been a tough primary and now the hard work had paid off. It was also just beginning. She looked around the room, and realized she had everything she ever wanted. She had two beautiful kids; a son who played football for the University of Texas and a daughter who was about to graduate from High School with honors. Jordan was the first open lesbian in the state of Texas to run for the U. S. Senate. She had it all. All except the one person who truly made her complete. That was lost.

Jordan was brought out of her thoughts by the ringing of the phone.

“Hello” she answered. It was her Dad.

“Hi honey, congratulations. I am so proud of you.”

Jordan smiled. “Thanks Daddy. We’ve waited a long time for this.”

“Well you know you’re the only democrat I have ever voted for. ” This made her laugh.

“Thanks Dad. The way you never agreed with me, I was wondering whether you would or not.”

He laughed in return. “Just don’t make me regret it.”

She laughed again. ” I won’t Daddy.”

“I love you, squirt.”

“I love you too, Daddy. Bye.” She smiled as she hung up the phone. She was 46 years old; a candidate for the U. S. Senate, and still her Dad could reduce her to an eight-year-old.

The phone rang again and so did the doorbell. The phone call was from James, Jordan’s ex-husband. He was congratulating her. The doorbell was the local TV station. She told Laura to handle the phone calls while she went to the door.

KSAT 12 News Live at the victory celebration for U. S. Senate candidate Jordan O’ Connor. “Ms. O’ Connor do you have any comments about tonight’s results?”

“Yes, thanks, Randy. First of all, I want to thank all of the people who worked for the campaign. There were a lot of hours put in, and it has paid off. I want to thank the other candidates for a well fought race. I also want to thank all of my family and friends for their love and support. I have dedicated the last sixteen years of my life for the last sixteen years to serving the citizens of San Antonio and Texas. I look forward to the opportunity to serve not only this great state, but the rest of the country as well.”

“Thank you Ms. O’Connor. Leslie, back to you.”

Jordan walked back into her house. “Ok. Laura, what did I miss? Did y’all catch that? How did I sound?”

“Everyone is calling. You sounded great and you looked good.”

“Thanks. Ok, where’s the champagne? It’s time to celebrate, because tomorrow the real work starts.” The party continued until the early hours of the morning. After everyone left and the kids went to bed, and Jordan made her way to her room. Alone.

Lying there in bed, she remembered her first campaign for Bexar County Commissioner when she was 30 years old. She had been divorced for over a year and was ready to start making her career happen. She called on all of the people she had worked campaigns for and with. Laura ran her campaign. Jordan wanted a career in politics, and that was her main focus. She never expected or even wanted to fall in love. It was on this campaign that Jordan met Cynthia Price. As much as she tried to resist, Jordan lost her heart to this woman. The sweet-tempered, powerful blonde was a hotshot on her way to publicist stardom. She was incredibly talented and liked the idea of helping a woman get elected. Her abilities were widely sought after and Jordan was lucky to have her help. Cynthia, who could smooth over any situation, was almost the exact opposite of Jordan. Cynthia was short and blonde. Jordan was tall and dark. Jordan was aggressive and sometimes a little hard around the edges. She had a tendency to be overly serious and sullen. In contrast, Cynthia had this light that emanated from her. People were drawn to her kind nature. . Jordan also had her own sense of time, frequently stopping to talk to a child or an elderly person, which was frustrating for the schedule-oriented Cynthia. The two women shared the goal of changing the world, making it better. As different as they were, they meshed completely. Cynthia helped Jordan open up and get over her fears of falling in love. Jordan made Cynthia stronger, tougher. Conversely, Cynthia made Jordan softer, more compassionate.

Jordan recalled the years she and Cynthia spent together. There were so many wonderful times. They had a beautiful courtship. Jordan loved coming home to her partner and her kids. She thought of the Christmas mornings when they cuddled watching the kids open up their presents. She and Cynthia were the perfect couple. Jordan loved Cynthia’s fire and determination. Being with Cynthia was like nothing Jordan had ever known. Cynthia brought Jordan magic, and passion, and peace all at once. They were deeply in love and career-wise; they were an amazing match. Jordan wanted to be a U. S. Senator more than anything. Cynthia was always there to help her on the steps toward that goal. Jordan was so focused on her career. Cynthia knew the game, how much Jordan wanted her career, and understood. She understood up to a point. Jordan remembered how they fought over the time she spent with the Democratic Party. Cynthia fell in love with the kids from the beginning and hated it that Jordan never gave her any credit or acknowledgement for everything she did for them. Looking back Jordan realized how she took Cynthia for granted. She also remembered how they made up, how Cynthia felt in her arms and against her body when they made love. In the end, Cynthia couldn’t deal with a partner who was never there when she needed. Six years after the split, Jordan’s heart still ached. She spent all of her time with her kids and her career. She dated many women, but none could touch her heart. As she drifted off to sleep that night, Jordan’s thoughts were on Cynthia.

After the breakup, Cynthia went back to Dallas and devoted herself completely to her career. She worked for some very high-profile clients such as President Jessica Davis. She dated occasionally and tried to have a couple of relationships but her heart belonged to Jordan. Every year when the kids’ birthdays or a special holiday came around, she would spend the day crying and remembering happier times with her family. Cynthia had thought many times that she had made a mistake, but was too proud to pick up the phone to call Jordan. She watched the coverage of the election and beamed with pride at Jordan’s accomplishment. She wished she were with her family and her lover. She would love to be there to help Jordan meet her goal.

Laura was over early the next morning to start planning. They needed a staff, a campaign bus, and they needed to start raising funds. Jordan looked up from the very long list of things they needed. “Oy, Laura, remind me why I wanted to do this again.”

“To make the world a better place, remember? Plus, it has great perks, including a really nice pension and taking me with you as your PA.”

That made Jordan laugh.”Oh yeah. I remember now. Let’s call James to be head of security. Ask Sammi to drive the campaign bus. Oh, and get a bus for our campaign tour of the state. We need some PR people, a treasurer, and funds. Let’s get all of this set up now. Things are going to get hairy in the summer and fall.”

” I know. I called the Democratic Headquarters this morning and they’re working on some fundraisers. Human Rights Campaign also called. They’re contributing. We need to set up a campaign office.”

” Let’s get started on that today. I can take out some money I have in a mutual fund. I’ll go lease some office space today. We need start calling all of our big contributors that have helped us before so that we can actually pay a staff. Call some of our friends and see if they would do a fundraiser”

“Speaking of staff, Jordan, I want to call Cynthia to come work with us.” Laura was afraid of mentioning this fact to her friend, but Cynthia was the best and she hoped maybe the two could patch things up.

“WHAT THE HELL??? You’re not calling her! I haven’t talked to her in years and I’m not about to start by asking her to work the campaign. ”

“Jordan, this is her area of expertise. She’s one of the best. We have to have everything in our favor to win this. She knows you and can help you the most.” Jordan began to freak out at the thought of having to work with Cynthia everyday.

“DAMNIT TO HELL, LAURA, SHE WALKED OUT ON ME!”

“THAT WAS YOUR FAULT, MY FRIEND. YOU GAVE HER NO CHOICE.”

“I AM STILL FUCKING NOT OVER HER! YOU KNOW THAT! I CAN’T DEAL WITH HER ON A DAILY BASIS!”

“Jordan listen, I know the split was tough, but how long have we been working on this? We have been waiting for this since we were seventeen. We are so close. We need the best and she’s it. She also knows you and can help you present yourself to show your strengths. How badly do you want this Jordan? Think of everything that you have sacrificed to get this far. Do you want to give up now?”

Jordan knew Laura was right. They had been friends for nearly thirty years. There was no one that Jordan trusted more. So she sighed and resigned herself to the fact that if she wanted to win this election, she would have to have Cynthia’s help. “No. Call her then, damnit. She may not even agree to help. Hell, I’m almost hoping she doesn’t. Start making calls and I’ll go to the bank and call a realtor.

Laura and Jordan went their separate ways to accomplish their tasks. ‘Cynthia I hope you agree to this, she needs you in more ways than one.’ Laura took a deep breath, gathered her courage and dialed Cynthia’s number.

“Cynthia Price.”

“Cynthia. It’s Laura.” Cynthia’s heart stopped. She both feared and hoped for a call from Laura. She knew what it was about.

“Laura. It’s been a long time.”

“I know. How have you been?”

“Good. How is Jordan? I watched all of the election coverage. I’m very proud of her. I wanted to call, but wasn’t sure if I could or if she would want me to.”

“She’s good. Actually she’s why I called. I want you to come work with us.”

“I don’t know, Laura. It took me a long time to get past the breakup. I’m not sure I can deal with it again.” ‘I don’t know if I can face her every day without breaking my heart.’

“Cynthia. I know you have nobody in your life right now. I also know how long you worked with Jordan to help her career. You have an emotional investment at stake here. She needs you. If nothing else, think of how much good she can do. Please help her Cynthia.”

Cynthia felt her resolve fading.”Damnit, Laura. I’m still not over her. ”

“Cynthia. If you still love her, then help her.” Cynthia thought for a minute. She knew Jordan wanted this more than anything. She also knew she could win. After a long silence, Cynthia resigned herself to the fact that she loved Jordan and would do anything for her, even endure the sweet agony of seeing her everyday without being able to touch or hold her. ‘Maybe I’ll at least get to know the kids again.’

“Ok Laura. You win. I’ll do it.”

“Thank you, Cynthia. I promise you are doing the right thing.” Laura felt relieved. ‘Please trust me my friend, you won’t regret it. I only hope Jordan decides not to let this last chance of true happiness slip by.’

“I’ll be down at the end of the week, Laura.”

“‘K. I ‘ll. let Jordan know.” Laura knew how much Jordan and Cynthia meant to one another. She was the one to hold Jordan after Cynthia left. She also knew that Cynthia had not had any other serous relationships since Jordan. She liked Cynthia and wanted her two friends together again. They were soulmates.

Jordan was signing lease papers with a realtor. “Ms. O’ Connor, I just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it is to help you with this. You can count on my partner and myself for votes in November.”

“Thank you Ms. Johnson. I can’t wait to move into this space. It has plenty of room for volunteers and in a great location. By the way, we can always use some more volunteers.” Jordan flashed her most charming smile. The realtor couldn’t help but smile in return.

Laughing. “Normally I don’t. But the thought of having family in the Senate to represent us is just too great. We’ll be glad to help. ”

“Great. We should be set up soon. Just stop by and we’ll put you to work. We’ll see you soon, then.” Jordan picked up the phone to call Laura.

“Hey, Laura. I got the building. It’s on San Pedro.”

“That sounds great, Jordan. I got our staff. Everyone will be here this weekend. Cynthia is coming too.” Jordan’s breath caught at the mention of Cynthia’s name, but ignored Laura’s last statement.

“‘K. We need to work on some furniture for the office and we need to get a bus or RV or something.”

Laura knew Jordan too well to let her get away with ignoring Cynthia’s impending arrival.”Yeah, Jordan. I know. It’s not a problem. Listen, I know it’s going to be hard on you having Cynthia here. Please trust me. I haven’t steered you wrong in all these years.”

Laura was Jordan’s best friend and her most trusted advisor. She sighed, “I know, Laura. I give into you all the time don’t I.?”

“Because you’re smart, that’s why.”

“Ok, Ok. I’ll talk to you later tonight.”

A Week Later at Campaign Headquarters 

“O’Connor for Senate. How may I help you? Just one second, please.” The room was buzzing with activity. Reporters were calling, supporters were calling, of course being a lesbian candidate in Texas, there were a few hate calls as well. Cynthia walked in and smiled at the familiar hustle and bustle of a campaign office. She walked up to person at the front desk.

“Hi, my name is Cynthia Price. I’m here to see either Laura or Jordan. I’ m the new PR consultant.”

“Hi, my name is Lauren. Jordan’s office is in the back, down that hall. ”

“Thanks, Lauren.” As Cynthia walked to Jordan’s office, she began to shake and had to stop to catch her breath. ‘ It’s been six years,’ she thought. ‘We had ten years together. Why am I so nervous?’ She took a breath and knocked on Jordan’s door.

“Come in.”

“Jordan?”

“Cynthia. Hi.” Jordan wanted to stand up but couldn’t move. She finally forced herself to stand up and walk over to Cynthia. They looked at each other awkwardly, both unable to speak. After what seemed like forever, Jordan reached out and pulled Cynthia into a hug. They pulled back a little with their arms still around each other. They looked into each other’s eyes and smiled. Jordan was first to speak.

“It’s good to see you. I appreciate you doing this. I really want this, Cyn, and I know you can help me.”

“Thanks, Jordan. I believe in what you’re doing. I always have. I want to help you. I know how much this means to you. You’ve wanted this since you were a little girl. So, how have you been? How are the kids?” ‘God she looks and feels amazing. This is going to be hard working next to her everyday.’

“I’ve been on a major high since last week. The kids are great. Chris will be on the varsity team next year. We can finally watch him play in the Cotton Bowl like we always dreamed of. Kate has been accepted to Mount Holyoke in the fall.” ‘I can’t believe I am sitting here talking to her like this. I hope she can’t hear my heart coming out of my chest.’

“I’ve missed them so much. They were such a part of my life.”

“They’ve missed you too. When I told them you were coming to work with us, they got really excited. They can’t wait to see you.”

“I can’t wait to see them either.”

“Why don’t you come over for dinner this weekend? I’ll have Chris come home. I know he wants to see you.”

“Are you sure, Jordan?”

“I’m positive, Cyn.” They looked at each other and smiled. “Let me show you where your office is. We’re going to start on a tour of Texas soon. I need you to come with us and help set things up with local TV crews and newspapers.”

“Sounds good. Let me get settled and I’ll start coming up with a game plan. We need to think about scheduling debates, photo ops, etc. We start laying all the groundwork now, setting things up, make appearances here and there, do some fundraising, and then this summer, we hit hard.”

“I agree, that sounds great. Laura’s already calling people up. We’ve already had a few groups call us and offer to do fundraisers.”

“That’s great! Who?”

“So far, Human Rights Campaign, National Organization of Women, and the Equal Rights Political Caucus. We’re also hitting up some of our bigger past supporters to help us out again.”

“Sounds like we’re on track so far, but then again it’s only been a week or so.”

“Tell me about it. This is the most organized time of the campaign. Things will be going nuts soon. Cyn, I am really glad you’re here. It’s good to see you again. This is the most important race of my life and I can’t imagine you not being here. You are a part of this too. ”

“Thanks, Jordan, that means a lot. I’m glad I’m here too. I’ll see you in a bit. I’m going to get a hold of the Texas Triangle to see if they want to do a special on your campaign, maybe follow it along.”

“That sounds good, Cyn, get on it and I ‘ll talk to you later.” Jordan picked up the phone to call her son

“Chris?”

“Hey, Mom.” Jordan could barely hear her son over the loud music and noise in the background.

“Son, what is that racket?”

“Mom, I live in a dorm, what do you think?”

Laughing, “Ok, ok. I want you to come home this weekend. You are never going to believe who’s coming over. Cynthia is having dinner over at the house this weekend so that she can see you and your sister.”

“Wow! Cyn is coming over. I’ll definitely be there. I’ve missed her, Mom. She was like a mother to me, and all of a sudden she was gone and I never saw her again.”

Jordan felt a stab of regret at the pain the breakup caused her son.” I know you have darlin’. We just thought it would be easier on y’all if she were completely out of our lives. It was my idea. The thought of seeing her all the time when she saw you was too much for me. I assumed I was enough for you and your sister. I was wrong. So be here on Saturday, ok son?”

“Yes, Ma’am. Maybe you two can work things out.”

” I know you love her, and if you want to try to have a relationship with her, I think it’s a good idea. As far as she and I are concerned, though, I don’t think so. We’ve barely spoken in six years. She may be involved with someone.”

“Mom. You two were so great together. You know how kids are. They always want their parents to get back together.”

“I know, son. I don’t think we’ll be getting back together. I do plan on trying to make amends. If you want to reestablish a relationship with her, that’s fine with me.”

“Thanks Mom. I love you. You are the best, you know that?”

“Thanks, Son. I love you too. Stay out of trouble, ok?”

Saturday Night 

Jordan had been nervous all day long.. Kate had teased her mercilessly as she scrubbed and scrubbed to make sure the house looked perfect. Cynthia was coming over for dinner. Cynthia hadn’t cooked for her in six years. What if she screwed up? Jordan wondered what would happen, what would she say, would she be able to say anything? Chris walked in the door.

“Hey, mom.”

“Hi, son.”

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“I’m nervous as hell.”

“Why?”

“I haven’t spent more than ten minutes with this woman in six years. What if tonight is a disaster?”

Laughing. “Mom, it’s ok. Relax. What’s for dinner?”

“I finally decided on the chicken and pasta that she always liked.”

“Very cool, mom. It will be great, I promise. What time is she coming?”

“She’ll be here in an hour.”

“Well the place looks great. The yellow roses around the house are a nice touch.”

“Yeah, they’re her favorite.”

“I know. Why are you going to all this trouble, huh?”

“No reason.”

“Yeah, right.” Chris was laughing.

“Shall I beat you now?”

“Ok, Ok, Ok. I ‘ll leave you alone.”

“Thank you. Now get your stuff out of the doorway….and yes, I will do your laundry.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

Jordan prepared everything for the evening. She decided she would start the pasta after Cynthia arrived. She was also on her second glass of wine. The doorbell rang and Jordan nearly jumped two feet off the ground. She gathered herself, took a deep breath and answered the door.

Jordan opened the door and just stood there. After a second of just looking at eachother, Cynthia decided to speak.

“Hi, Jordan.”

“Hi, Cyn.” Jordan was still standing and looking at her.

“Um….Jordan, can I come in ?”

“Oh, yeah. Good Lord, I’m sorry. Come in, please.” Jordan chastised herself internally. ‘Oh yeah…way to go, moron. Does she have to look so great?’

“Chris, Kate come in here. Cynthia’s here.”

Chris and Kate come running.

“Oh my God, you two are so grown up. I can’t believe it. I have missed you so much.” Cynthia hugged both kids fiercely. Jordan noticed that Cynthia had tears in the corner of her eyes. Looking at the three people she loved more than anything in the world, crying and embracing, she realized it was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.

“Chris, I’ve been keeping up with the Longhorn football team. I heard you made varsity this year.”

“Yeah, I did.”

“What are you majoring in?”

“I have to admit, being raised by you and Mom, I got bit by the politics bug. I’m majoring in Poli. Sci.”

“I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to watch you play in the Cotton Bowl. I guess it was all of that practice we did as you were growing up.”

“Yeah, that fake out move you showed me still works.” Cynthia smiled at the memory of her coaching his football team when he was six.

“Ha ha ha! That’s my boy. Kate, I hear you are going to Mt. Holyoke in the fall.” Cynthia was so proud. Mt. Holyoke was her Alma Mater. She always wanted Kate to go there.

“Yeah. I did really great on my SAT’s and pulled out a few scholarships.”

“Be sure and go see the Dickinson house in Amherst.”

“Of course I will, Cyn. You’re the one who got me turned onto Emily Dickinson.” Jordan was often gone at bedtime. Cynthia would read Dickinson’s poetry to Kate when they would go to bed.

“That’s right. What do you want to major in?”

“I have no idea, but I’m thinking English.”

“I’m so proud of you both. I’m sorry I’ve missed so much.” Kate reached up to hug Cynthia. “That’s ok, Cyn. Just be here from now on, ok?” Cynthia looked over at Jordan’s reaction. She smiled when she saw Jordan’s small nod. “You bet I will.” Cynthia looked over at Jordan and smiled. “It’s good to be here with you and the kids, Jordan.”

“Its good to have you here, Cyn.”

Cynthia couldn’t take her eyes off Jordan and Jordan couldn’t take her eyes off Cynthia. “The place looks really great Jordan, I love yellow roses.”

“I know you do, Cyn. I got them for you. I wanted it to be special.”

A warm feeling went all through Cynthia. “It is. Thanks. So, what smells so great?”

“I made the chicken and pasta dish you always loved.”

“The one with the peppers and onions?”

“Yep.”

“Damn. This is my kind of night.” Jordan and Cynthia looked at eachother, smiled and laughed.

The four of them sat and had dinner, talking and laughing. It was almost like they were a family still. After dinner, the kids ran off, leaving Jordan and Cynthia alone.

“Jordan, would you like me to help with the dishes?”

“No. Don’t worry about it. Would you like to have some wine and go sit on the couch? We could talk and maybe kind of catch up.”

“I’d like that.”

“Ok, great. Go on in the living room. I’ll get the wine and see you there in a sec.” Jordan went into the kitchen. ‘Oh my God. She is here, in my house, on my couch and I’m in here freaking out.’ Jordan took a minute to calm her nerves before she went back out to Cynthia.

“Ok. I’m back.” Jordan handed her a glass of wine and sat down next to her. Cynthia couldn’t help but be amazed at how strong Jordan still looked. She could tell Jordan was keeping up with her workouts. They sat together for a couple of minutes, not quite sure what to say. Finally Cynthia spoke, “This is pretty awkward, isn’t it?”

“That’s putting it mildly.”

They both laughed. Jordan continued. “Listen Cyn, I have some things I want to tell you. Actually I have wanted to say this for a while, but not sure how. I want to say that I’m sorry for everything. I never publicly acknowledged you as my partner, even though everyone in our lives knew we were together. I also never acknowledged how important you were to the kids. It dawned on me later that you were like another mother to them. You took care of them when I was out at some function. It was your support at home that allowed me to give my attention to my career. I couldn’t have done it without you. I was never there when you needed me. I didn’t show you enough how much I cared. I always put other causes and people before you. I know you tried to tell me how you felt. I meant to do better, it was just something I never got around to doing. I was wrong to shut you out of the kids’ lives. You were so much a part of them. They suffered because of my foolish pride. So please forgive me?”

Cynthia was stunned by Jordan’s admission. She took a minute to gather her thoughts. ” I’m not sure how to respond to that. Thank you. Of course, I forgive you, Jordan. It was a long time ago. I prefer to remember all of the great times we had. I loved our family so much. I loved peach picking in the summer, going to Lost Maples in the fall, and watching videos with the kids every Friday. When I look back on our life, that is what I choose to hold onto.” Jordan had tears in her eyes and looked at Cynthia, who was also about to cry. Jordan reached out to Cynthia and they held each other and grieved together for their loss. Jordan pulled back and brushed a tear away from Cynthia’s eye. “So tell me, Cynthia, what has been going on in your life? I heard you did President Davis’ campaign four years ago. Why didn’t you do her re-election? ”

“I love Jessica, but she’s the incumbent. She has plenty of publicity. Plus, I was hoping that a certain candidate for the Senate here in Texas would give me a call, so I kept my options open, just in case.” Jordan got very excited at the meaning of Cynthia’s words.

“So Cyn, are you seeing anyone? I hope you leaving Dallas wasn’t too disruptive.”

” No Jordan, I’m not seeing anyone. I tried a few times. It just didn’t feel like it did with us. I enjoyed their company, but it just didn’t have that spark that I was used to.”

” I know what you mean. I dated quite a few women. I just didn’t have that all-consuming fire. It’s like, once you know what it’s like to be with that kind of person, anything else just doesn’t do it for you.”

“That’s exactly it. So I’ve basically surrounded myself with great friends and lots of work. Although it does get lonely.”

“I agree Cyn. Sleeping alone sucks.” They both laughed and talked until much later. Finally, Jordan looked at her watch and gasped at the time.

“Hey, Cyn. It’s 3 in the morning, why don’t you stay in the guestroom? I really don’t want you to drive all the way back to your hotel this late.”

“That’s sounds great Jordan. I’d like that. Maybe I’ll cook breakfast in the morning.”

“Could you make those dumplings with the red stuff?”

“Hahahahahaha you could never get enough of those.”

“Those weren’t the only things I couldn’t get enough of.”

“I remember that, too.” The thought that both of them had sent a red shade of blush to their faces.

“Everything is in the guestroom Cyn. If you need anything, just holler.”

“Ok, Jordan. Thanks. I’ll see you in the morning.” They closed the space between them for a hug, holding each other for a long time. Pulling back, they looked into each other’s eyes. Jordan couldn’t help herself. She had to touch Cynthia’s lips. Jordan moved her hands up to cup Cynthia’s face, then placed a soft kiss on her lips. Cynthia accepted and returned the gentle kiss.

“Goodnight, Cynthia.”

“Goodnight, Jordan.”

That night, both Cynthia and Jordan tossed and turned. They couldn’t get their minds off the kiss. It was so sweet, so innocent, and so gentle. As gentle as it was, though, it was also powerful. It brought back ten years of love, laughter, and tears. Jordan got up and walked to the guestroom door. She decided not to be a fool. She slowly and quietly walked back to her room. That night, Cynthia also got up and walked to Jordan’s bedroom door. She too quietly walked back to her room.

Jordan couldn’t take it anymore. She was so wet. Her thoughts went to Cynthia and the love that they used to make, the way her skin looked in candlelight. She touched herself, imagining it was Cynthia’s hands on her and inside her. In the guestroom, Cynthia was pleasuring herself thinking of Jordan’s mouth on her body, Jordan’s face above her, Jordan’s little growl in her ear. As each rose to her own climax, she softly called out the other’s name.

The next morning found Jordan with little sleep and lots of excess energy. She went to her garage to work out on her punching bag. Kicking with everything she had and punched using all of the sexual frustration inside her. She let Cynthia sleep in, remembering how much she loved to sleep late. Cynthia woke and checked the garage for Jordan. She remembered how Jordan liked to work out. She opened the door and held her breath. Jordan looked beautiful and strong. Cynthia’s heart beat wildly. She had to take a second to get herself in control before she made her presence known.

“Jordan.”

“Hey, Cyn, you’re awake.”

“Yeah, finally. Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I know how you like to sleep late on Sundays.”

“Where are the kids?”
“They’re still sleeping.”

“I’ll get started on those dumplings if you like.”

“You don’t have to.” Jordan got a childlike grin on her face. “But I’d love it.”

“Then I’ll get started.”

“Let me go get washed up and I’ll help.”

“That sounds great, Jordan. I’d like that

Jordan took a quick shower and the two of them made breakfast together, talking and laughing. They both felt more alive in each other’s presence. When the kids came to breakfast, they all sat around the table.

“Cyn. Thanks for breakfast.”

“You’re welcome, Chris.”

“When do you have to be back?”

“I ‘m leaving in a little bit. I have a paper to work on. Is my laundry done, Mom?”

“Yes, son. It’s in the laundry room.”

“Thanks.” As he left, he grabbed another dumpling.”

“Drive safe, son. Call me when you get there.”

“Mom, it isn’t even two hours away.”

“I don’t care. Just do what I ask, please. I love you.”

” ‘K. It was great to see you, Cyn. I’ll be working on the campaign this summer, so I ‘ll see you all the time. I love you too, Mom.”

“It was great to see you, Chris. I can’t wait to have you with us on the campaign..”

Jordan turned to her daughter, “so what are you doing today Kate.”

“I’m meeting Chelsea and Kaitlin and we’re going to the mall and a movie.”

“Do you have homework?”

“No, not this weekend.”

“Who’s driving?”

“Me.”

“Ok. Be careful and be sure to be home by 9:30. You have school tomorrow.”

“Yes, Mom. Bye, Cyn. I ‘ll see you later.”

“Bye, Kate. Have Fun.”

“Well, it looks like I’m going to be all alone today. Cyn, why don’t you go to your hotel and pick up your swimsuit, then come back and spend the day here at the pool.” Jordan wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Cynthia yet. Cynthia wasn’t ready to leave.

“Actually since I have very few relaxed Sundays left, I need to take advantage of them. I would love to spend the day around the pool.”

Jordan had to hide her excitement. “Great. Go get your suit and we can grill something this evening. ”

“That sounds great. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Jordan was so excited. An entire day alone with Cynthia, with very little clothing, ‘Oh My God.’ Jordan changed into her suit and stared at herself in the mirror, turning around to see herself in different angles.’Still look good’. The doorbell rang and brought Jordan out of her thoughts. Jordan took a deep breath and opened the door. “Hey, Cyn. Come in.”

“Hey, Jordan.”

“Come on to the back. You can just put your clothes in the guest room.”

“Thanks.”

It was a gorgeous Texas day. The sun was shining, the water was sparkling. Cynthia couldn’t keep her eyes off of Jordan. Her body still looked gorgeous after the years. Jordan turned on some music. Cynthia took off her shorts and her shirt to reveal her amazing body in her swimsuit. Jordan stared from the stereo while Cynthia took her clothes off. She was still staring at Cynthia when she tripped walking towards her. “Are you ok, Jordan?”

Jordan’s face turned beet red. “Yeah. I’m fine. Thanks.” ‘I am such a spaz. What the hell is wrong with me? She looks so good.’

Cynthia chuckled inside. ‘I see she noticed what I was doing. This could be fun.’

“Would you like something cold? I have beer, juice, cokes, and water.”

“A bottle of water would be great.”

Jordan walked up to her to give her the water. Their eyes locked.

“You look beautiful, Cynthia.”

Cynthia’s eyes never left Jordan’s. “So do you.” Jordan handed her the water and stepped back…quickly. She walked over to the pool and dove in. The cold water felt good on her overheated skin. Cynthia smiled at the effect she was having on Jordan. Cynthia joined her and they spent their time playing, swimming, and talking. They talked about the interviews Jordan would be doing this week with Texas Monthly and the Texas Triangle. Cynthia looked up at Jordan, who had swum close to her until they were only inches apart..

“Can I tell you something, Cynthia?”

“Of course, Jordan.”

“Ever since I saw you, I’ve been thinking about you. Actually, I’ve never stopped. Last night, having you here, kissing you, felt so amazing. I haven’t felt anything like it in so long.”

“I know what you mean, Jordan. I never stopped thinking about you, either. Staying up all night talking with you felt so good. Even though it wasn’t a major kiss, it had a definite effect on me.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

Jordan put her hands on Cynthia’s face and pulled her in. kissing her softly at first, their need for more took over and the kiss deepened. With tongues dancing, both women were finally able to express the passion that had been held within for six years. All of the aching, the love, and the pain came out in that moment. Jordan pulled Cynthia closer, holding her as tightly as she could. They began to melt into each other, and it became too overwhelming for Jordan. Jordan pulled back and looked at Cynthia. “I have missed you so much, Cyn.”

“So have I. I’ve never really gotten over us.” Jordan again brought her lips to Cynthia’s as they caressed each other. Jordan’s kiss traveled to Cynthia’s eyes, down her jaw to her neck, making Cynthia moan. The sound reached straight to Jordan’s heart. Cynthia ran her hands through Jordan’s hair, loving the feel of it.

“You feel so good Jordan.”

Jordan pulled back and looked into Cynthia’s eyes. She lifted Cynthia’s hand to her mouth and kissed the inside of her wrist, then led her out of the pool and to the hammock under the Live Oak. She lay down and pulled Cynthia down with her. Jordan held her tightly and looked into her eyes. “Honey. You are so beautiful and being with you feels amazing. I am beyond words, and breathless because of you. I’m getting so turned on by you, I’m about to burst. But, I can’t make love to you. Not today anyway. I’ve been waiting for this for six years now, but its moving too fast, if that makes any sense.”

Cynthia exhaled deeply. “Complete. I want nothing more than to make love to you. There’s nothing I need more. I’m so scared. Our breakup was so hard. I don’t even know what’s happening between us, what this is. Are we getting back together? Are we back together already? What’s happening here? What do you want?”

“I know, baby. I have those same fears. I want us to get to know each other again and maybe try to get back together. The only time in my life I felt complete was with you. I can’t get into a commitment with you and have it break up again. I think what’s happening here is that we’re still crazy about each other. We want to be together. We can’t instantly be together, you know?”

“Exactly. So I think we need to cool off and take one day at a time.”

They lay together in the hammock, holding each other and talking.

“Jordan, what are you going to do about what happened in Nicaragua.”

“Nothing.”

“What if it comes out.”

“I have been in politics for sixteen years now, it hasn’t yet.”

“Yes hon. But this is the biggest, highest stakes campaign yet.”

“The only people who know other than myself are you, James, Laura, and the villagers.”

Noticing that Jordan was getting upset, Cynthia caressed her cheek. “Are you still having nightmares?”

“Not as often, but yes.”

“We’ll handle it if it comes out, but otherwise we won’t approach it ok?”

“Thanks Cyn.” They changed their conversation to the antics of the kids when they were younger and began laughing again. After hours of talking and cuddling, Jordan started the grill and they shared a romantic dinner on the deck in the cool night air. Afterward, they moved inside. They shared long, slow kisses and soft intimate touches, and settled on the couch to watch TV. Cynthia reclined into Jordan’s arms. There was no place she felt safer. She turned around. “Jordan can you do me a favor?”

Jordan caressed her cheek. “Anything darlin'”

“Would you sing and play your guitar for me?”

Jordan smiled. This was one of the things they loved to do together at night. Cynthia would read, work, or do crossword puzzles and Jordan would play her guitar. “Of course.”

Jordan left her spot to go get one of the guitars she collected. She picked up the red Ovation Cynthia bought her for Christmas ten years before. When she returned with the guitar, Cynthia recognized it and beamed. . “You still have it?”

“Of course I do. You got it for me, Cyn.”

“I’m glad you kept it.”

“I could never part with it. So, what do you want to hear?”

“Whatever you want to play.”

Jordan smiled when she thought of the perfect song to play for Cynthia. She began to sing softly.

I hear your heart beat
I hear you breathe
I feel the heat between you and me
I reach to touch you
I pull you near
I need your love to calm my fear
I never dreamed I could fall so fast
With every beat of my heart
You know I start to cry when I look into your eyes
‘Cause I’ve never done this before
Love without watching the door
You take my hand
You say my name
You kiss my face
I do the same
My body trembles
You hold me tight
You whisper “Baby it’ll be alright”
I never dreamed I could fall so fast
With every beat of my heart
You know I start to cry when I look into your eyes
‘Cause I ‘ve never done this before
Love without watching the door
When daylight comes
You’re by my side
I kiss your face
/ squeeze you tight
You’ve finally found me
You’ve closed the door
No more running
‘Cause I ‘ve come home
I never dreamed I could fall so fast
With every beat of my heart
You know I start to cry
When you look into my eyes
‘Cause I ‘ve never done this before
Love without watching the door
Love without watching the door.

Cynthia cried when she heard the song Jordan had written for her. She threw her arms around Jordan. Jordan laughed and had to put the guitar down. She wrapped her arms around Cynthia kissing her tears. “Shhh, baby. It’s ok. You don’t need to cry.”

“That’s the song you wrote for me years ago, Jordan. It’s still as beautiful as it was then. So are you.”

“Cynthia, I wrote that when I first fell in love with you. I was so scared. I wanted to make a commitment to you and to let myself love you. Those feelings are coming back. Holding you, kissing you, makes me tremble. That depth scares me still. But I’m not going anywhere.” Cynthia reached up to touch Jordan’s face and looked into her eyes.

“Oh, baby. I’m here in this. Just as much as you are. We aren’t going to rush this. It’s too important.”

They held each other close and continued kissing, opening themselves up. As the kisses began to heat up again, Cynthia pulled back. “Jordan, I need to leave now or I’m going to have to throw that moving slowly thing out the window.”

Jordan laughed. “You’re right. As much as I don’t want to, I’ll walk you out.” At the car they shared one more long kiss. “Have dinner with me this week.”

“I’d love to.”

“K. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow.” Softly, their lips met again. “Drive safely baby. Bye” Cynthia drove away and Jordan’s heart ached.

May

The campaign office was buzzing. The phones were ringing and flyers were being photocopied. Jordan loved walking into the campaign office when it was like this. “Good morning everyone.” The people in the office looked up at Jordan and smiled, some waved, some said good morning. Jordan walked into her office and was attacked by a sexy 5’4″ blonde publicist. Cynthia pinned her against the door. Jordan surrendered to Cynthia and allowed herself to be taken. After a minute, Jordan caught her breath and put her arms around Cynthia. “Wow. Now that’s the way to start the day. Good morning to you Darlin’.”

Cynthia looked up into Jordan’s face. “I didn’t want to leave you last night.” Jordan raised her hands to stroke Cynthia’s cheek. “I didn’t want you to leave. This last couple of months dating you, being close to you has been so amazing. I feel so good when you’re with me and I ache when you aren’t. I am just afraid to mess this up. This is so important to me.” Cynthia smiled at Jordan’s softness.

“I know. It is to me too. Which is why I left before we got carried away. I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.”

Jordan laughed. “I know. I’m on sexual overload.” Cynthia stepped out of Jordan’s arms. Jordan moaned at the loss of contact. “No, don’t go yet.”

“Honey, we have a staff meeting in 10 minutes. We can’t get all overheated. I need to be able to concentrate at the meeting.”

“Ok. You win. But payback is a bitch. Remember that.” Jordan gave Cynthia her wildcat grin that made her crazy. “So go baby, I’ll see you in ten minutes.” Cynthia stole a kiss as she walked out the door. Jordan groaned. ‘That woman is going to be the death of me.’

Cynthia sat at her desk gathering her papers for the meeting. She thought about how close she and Jordan had become in the last two months. They had dinners together, lunches together and had spent countless hours talking. She was also getting to know the kids again. Cynthia knew she loved Jordan more than ever. A knock to her door brought Cynthia out of her thoughts. “Cyn it’s time for the meeting.”

“I’m coming.”

They walked to the conference room together. The staff included Laura her campaign manager, Sarah Jackson the computer and PR specialist, Cynthia, and Jim Snow the campaign treasurer. So far, everyone else on the campaign was either a volunteer or intern from one of the universities.

Jordan opened up the meeting. “Hey guys. Let’s get the interns in here before we go over this month’s calendar. I want them to learn all the aspects of the campaign.” The interns were called in. Jordan tried not to smile at her son too much. She was so proud to have him working with her. Kate would be joining them when she graduated at the end of the month.

“Let’s start with this first week. Laura what’s up?”

“This week you are doing local town meetings at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the Carver Arts Center, and the Jewish Community Center in Austin. This weekend the Gulf Coast Environmental Group is having a kayak ride in Corpus. I thought you would like that knowing how much you love to kayak. It’s to raise awareness for Gulf Coast conservation. We can make sure the press will be there.”

“That sounds so perfect. Who set it up?”

” Cynthia did. Next week there are more town meetings and a fundraiser in Dallas next weekend. Your friend from high school, Dr. Misty Jones called and wants to do a fundraiser at the end of the month. The San Antonio Women’s Chorus is also wanting to schedule one, but you have to sing.”

“What do you mean I have to sing?”

“They know you and your singing background. They know you have done choral music as well as the stuff of your own that you performed around town over the years. They want you to sing with them. Besides, many of them are friends of yours. So there is no getting out of it.”

“Ok. But the check better be big. Schedule Misty’s fundraiser for the last week of the month. Call the Chorus and let them know we’re good and see if they can schedule it for the first week of next month and try to find out what I am expected to sing. Jim how do the funds look?”

“So far we have $40, 000. The Pegasus held a drag show fundraiser and raised $1500.00.” Jordan started laughing. “What?”

” They had a drag show this last weekend to raise money for your campaign.”

“That is so cool. Get me the number of the person who organized it, I want to call and thank him personally. We need to build up these funds though. We’re going to need to spend a bundle on commercials in the fall and we’ve got to get that bus for our tour. Let’s get some more t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. Interns, I want you to go to the town meetings. I want you to talk to the people and listen to what they say. That is why we are here, to help people. I also want someone selling the t-shirts and stuff at all of the appearances. Sarah, how is the website coming?

“It’s all set up.”

“Are the position papers on there?”

“Yep.”

“Make sure there is a counter set so we can find out how many hits we’re getting.”

“Already done Jordan.”

“Thanks Sarah. You’re the best. Cynthia, what’s the status of the Texas Monthly and Texas Triangle articles?”

“Texas Monthly is running with you next month. They’re calling you a rising star of Texas politics. They chronicled your career as County Commissioner, State Legislator, to your appointment to the Governor’s staff. They included the interview they did with you and are predicting a future position in the White House. The Texas Triangle is talking how about how you have worked for the GLBT Community for years and that your election could bring unprecedented legislation. They’re going to be doing follow-up stories every month until election. They’re encouraging the LGBT community to get off their asses and to get out the checkbooks.” Jordan looked at Cynthia and smiled.

” Very nice Cynthia. Let’s keep working on the town meetings and photo opportunities. Next month is GLBT Pride Month. I want us to be at as many Pridefests as we can. I will only personally be at the one here in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston. I want a booth at every single one in the state. Interns, I want you to do some online research and find out when and where they are and I want you and whatever volunteers you can get to be there. Who wants to head that up?” Chris spoke up. “I will Mom.”

“Thanks Chris, I also want to see if you can get some additional volunteers out of this. Ok everyone. Is there anything else going on that needs to be addressed now. Let’s just concentrate on getting as much as we can out of this week, maybe we can also get some volunteers out of the town meetings this week. Cynthia, we leave on our tour of Texas next month. I need you to find publicity opportunities on our route and get me in there. The only thing though is do not put me anywhere I would not normally go. The last thing I need to be at is some hunting event or something like that. Hell, I’d be lucky if I didn’t get shot.”

“Not a problem. I’ll take care of it.” Jordan looked at Cynthia and smiled again. She loved when they worked together.

“Thanks Cyn. Let the environmental group know I’ll be there and probably Kate too.” Cynthia caught Jordan’s smile. “You got it.”

“Well then let’s get to work guys. Jim, we need money. Keep working on getting a hold of some of our past contributors. Let’s get the volunteers working on the mailers. Chris, I want all of the interns becoming voter registrars this week. We are going to set up voting registrations at various businesses. ”

“We’ll go do that today.”

“Thanks.”

The staff dispersed to go take care of their jobs. Jordan walked into Cynthia’s office. “Honey, I’m going to get a suite for this weekend. I want you to come with us. I want to spend the kayaking time with Kate, trying to squeeze in quality time with her. I’m going to see if Chris wants to come too. However, I can’t stand the thought of being away from you. So, why don’t you come with us? You have a great reason to be there as my publicist. Basically, I just really want you with me. I took you for granted before and put everything else before you. I don’t want to do that again.”

Cynthia walked over to Jordan and wrapped her arms around her. She reached up and gave Jordan a peck on the lips. “I’d love to go.” Jordan returned the peck and took Cynthia’s hands. “Baby, things are going to get crazy. You know that. I want to make us a priority. I promise to try to make some time for us as much as possible. Can you be patient and a little flexible?”

Cynthia looked up at Jordan, brought her hands to her lips and kissed them gently. “I love that you’re trying to do things differently. I know this isn’t going to be easy. Most normal people don’t start a relationship during a campaign. But neither one of us is normal, that’s why we’re doing this. We’ll make it work honey.” Jordan looked deep into Cynthia’s eyes and saw the most amazing love. She brushed the hair away from Cynthia’s face. “You’re the best Cyn. Are you coming tonight to the Esperanza Center?”

“I was planning on it.”

“How about a late dinner after?”

“Sounds great. I need to get to work. I may have something really cool set up for you this summer.”

“That’s great. I can’t wait.” Jordan gave Cynthia a little smack on the behind. “Now go get to work.” They both laughed as Cynthia went to her office.

Later that night Jordan, Laura, and Cynthia met at the Esperanza Center. The Center was a place that showcased local art, film festivals, various meetings, and fundraisers. They walked in and were greeted by Jenna Gonzalez, the Center’s director. Jordan’s mother had dated her years ago when Jordan was a teenager. Jenna was only 10 years older than Jordan. Jordan walked up and hugged Jenna. “How are you Jenna? It’s been a long time.”

“I know Jordan, too long. How’s your family?”

“They’re great. Mom is doing well. She and Janis are buying some more horses for the ranch.”

“How are the kids?”

“The kids are great. Chris will be here later with some paraphernalia. What is the response like so far?”

“It’s been good. The people around here have been watching you for a while. They know the issues you care about. They are skeptical though. Politicians have let them down time and time again.”

“I know. Its almost like an honorable politician is an oxymoron.” They all laughed. “Jenna let me introduce Laura my campaign manager and Cynthia my publicist.”

“Hi. It’s good to meet you both. Jordan is this THE Cynthia?” A blush crept up Jordan’s face.

“Yes. I assume so. Did Mom tell you about her? I don’t think you two ever got a chance to meet.”

“Yes. You’re mother thinks very highly of Cynthia.”

Jordan laughed. Her mother had spent the last six years trying to get Jordan to call Cynthia. “Yes. I know. So show me where I’m supposed to be tonight.”

People soon started to file in. Jordan saw several familiar faces and was happy to see some old friends and supporters. Overall there were about seventy people there. It was time to begin. Jordan stood up in front of everyone. “Hi. First of all, I want to introduce myself. My name is Jordan O’Connor and I’m running for the U. S. Senate. I’m here tonight to talk to you, to find out what concerns you have, what is important to you, how to help you, and to answer any questions you have. So let’s start.” A man stood up.

“Ms. O’ Connor, where do you stand regarding the death penalty?”

“That’s a good and complicated question. It is hard for me to give a blanket answer, yes I support it or no I don’t. There are cases when I find it hard to think of a reason that a person should not die for a crime that was committed. However, there are cases of men and women on death row who do not belong there. They are there simply because bad representation, incomplete evidence, lack of funds. I think there are inequalities in the system. It is a system that is stacked against minorities and poor people. For instance, a poor African American man on trial for murder may get the death penalty, but a rich white man who can hire adequate council will escape with life or even less of a sentence. As a whole, when I absolutely have to pick a side, I do support the concept of a death penalty. However, if a case is brought to me from advocates of an individual on death row, I look at it with an open mind. If this person has been unfairly sentenced, I then try to use my position and whatever kind of influence I have to help. The death penalty is a state-by-state issue. As a U.S. Senator, I’d have limited jurisdiction, but, if someone can come up with a better system, I would gladly support it.”

“Ms. O’Connor how do you feel about abortion.”

“I think it is an individual issue. I cannot say whether or not I would personally have one. I have not been in a circumstance when it was needed. It should be left up to an individual to decide if an abortion is an option for them. I think it should be kept legal and safe for women. It is not up to me to decide the morality of another. I will however work to ensure the legality of abortion.”

Another man stood up. “What do you plan to do to alleviate the tax burden on families?”

“I can’t promise any tax relief. We just finished paying for the tax relief program from President Bush’s administration eleven years ago. What I would like is to do a better job of spending the taxes, allow the taxpayers to get more for their money. If a reasonable tax plan comes up, I’ll certainly vote for it, but a tax cut isn’t my main focus.”

Cynthia watched Jordan smile and talk to the people and watched them respond to her. She loved to see Jordan like this. This is what Jordan was meant to do. She was completely in her element. Cynthia was so proud of her. The meeting wrapped up and Jordan shook everyone’s hands. Jordan walked over to Cynthia and Jenna. She gave Jenna a hug. “Thanks for giving us this space.”

“You’re welcome Jordan. It was good to see you. I’ll see if I can do some work for your campaign.”

“That would be so great Jenna. I’d like to see you more.” Jordan turned to Laura. “So what do you think? How did I do?”

Laura smiled. “You did great as always Jordan. This is your favorite part of campaigning. You were charming and you answered the questions honestly. This is good practice for the tour.”

“So I ‘ll see you tomorrow then?”

“I’ll be there.” Jordan walked over to Chris. “So how much did we sell?

“We sold three t-shirts and a bunch of buttons. Several people took bumper stickers and position papers. We had a couple of people ask about volunteering.”

“That’s great. It pays for postage. Thanks for being here. I love having you here with me. I’ll meet you at the house?”

“Yeah Mom. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Jordan and Cynthia walked to their cars. “So Cyn, are you coming over? How about chicken salad for dinner? I really don’t want anything heavy. Is that ok?”

“That sounds great hon. I’ll meet you there.”

“Why don’t you bring a change of clothes Cyn? That way you don’t have to go back to your hotel late. Plus, I’d really like you with me. I’m getting to where I hate not having you with me.” Cynthia smiled. “I’d love that Jordan. I’ll stop by my hotel and pick up my stuff and meet you at your house.”

“Great. I’ll make dinner and it should be ready by the time you get there. I can’t wait to get you alone so I can get my arms around you.”

Jordan drove home smiling, thinking about Cynthia and how in love she was. She was still daydreaming when she suddenly found herself home and had no idea how she got there. She walked in the door and looked around for her daughter. “Kate, where are you?”

“Here Mom.” Jordan smiled at her daughter. She walked over and gave her a hug. “How was your day honey?”

“It was good. How was the meeting?”

“It went well I think. The people asked some really great questions. Your brother was there. He had a table for bumper stickers and stuff. Did you get your homework done?”

“Yes.”

“Well guess what. How would you like to go sea kayaking with me this weekend?”

“I would totally love that. What about Chris and Cynthia?”

“I forgot to ask your brother if he wanted to come, but Cynthia is coming. She set it up. It’s a photo op with a coastal environmental group. I thought we would take the double kayak and Chris can hang out at the beach and do whatever and Cynthia is going to do some work down there. But I’d like for you and I to kayak alone. I want to spend some time with you. I hardly see you and you’re going to be going off to college and leaving home, I just want us to have some time together.”

“Actually Mom, I was thinking about that. I was thinking maybe I would stay home a semester and help with the campaign.”

“No. Katherine Elizabeth. This is your education, and we’re not going to compromise it at all. I know you are concerned and want to help me. I love you for it. My greatest dream is for you and your brother to get your education and build a decent foundation for yourselves. I want that even more than any Senate seat. So go ahead, go to school. I’ll be fine. I promise.” She hugged her daughter again. “You are helping me this summer though, right?

Kate smiled. “Of course.”

“Listen, are you sure you don’t mind if Cynthia and Chris come with us this weekend?”

“No not at all. So what is it with you and Cynthia? Are you back together?”

“I’m not sure yet. We’ve haven’t made any promises to each other or anything like that. But, we’re getting closer. She’s coming over in a minute and is spending the night. Is that ok?”

“Of course it is. Are you kidding? I know you’ve been alone for a long time. I also know you love her, and so do I. Chris and I want you to get back together. I support you two completely.” Jordan was so touched by her daughter she began to cry. They hugged again and the doorbell rang. Jordan and Kate pulled apart and Jordan walked to the door wiping the tears out of her eyes. Cynthia was concerned when Jordan opened the door.

“Honey, are you crying? What’s wrong? Are you ok?” Jordan laughed and reached out to hug Cynthia.

“I’m fine darlin’. Just a mother-daughter moment.”

Cynthia started laughing too. “You scared me. I walked in the door and you were crying.”

Jordan reached over and gave Cynthia a peck on the lips. “Thank you for your concern honey. Kate and I were having a talk that’s all.”

“What about?”

“Oh just college and the campaign. She’s an amazing kid.” Cynthia wrapped her arms around Jordan. “I know she is.”

They shared a few more little kisses. Jordan stepped back, smiled, and took Cynthia’s hands and led her to the kitchen. “C’mon, I’ll get dinner ready. Can you go check with Kate to see if she had dinner?”

Cynthia walked to Kate’s door and knocked. “Hey Kate, did you have any dinner? Your Mom is making chicken salad. Do you want some?”

“No I ate earlier. I hear you’re coming with us this weekend to Corpus.”

“Yep. Is that ok?” Kate walked over and hugged Cynthia. “It’s more than ok Cyn. I’m glad you and Mom are seeing each other again. To be quite honest with you, I’m really hoping you two get back together.”

Cynthia looked at Kate and smiled. “You know what kiddo? I’m hoping we do too. I’ve missed our family so much. I wish I hadn’t been gone all of these years. You’ve turned into quite a beautiful and intelligent young woman and I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks Cyn, that means a lot coming from you.” They both started laughing.

“Ok. That’s enough of that mush. I’ll go tell your Mom you already ate.” Cynthia closed the door and had to take a deep breath. She stood in the doorway of the kitchen and watched Jordan. Cynthia walked up behind the woman she loved. She put her hands on Jordan’s hips, pulling her back, possessing her. Cynthia began kissing Jordan’s neck. Jordan leaned back into Cynthia, moaning. “Mmmm what is that for?”

Cynthia turned Jordan around and kissed her softly. “It’s because I adore you.” Jordan took Cynthia in her arms and pressed their lips together. Jordan’s tongue traced Cynthia’s lips before claiming them. Jordan brought their bodies closer. Cynthia tangled her hands in Jordan’s long black hair. Jordan held her hand behind Cynthia’s neck, drawing her in. Their breathing became ragged; their tongues were searching and teasing. They started to lose themselves in the kiss when they heard the front door open and shut. Chris called his mother’s name.

“MOM!”

Jordan pulled apart from Cynthia quickly. “I’m in here son.”

Chris walked in the kitchen. “Hi Mom, Hi Cyn.”

“Hey Chris, are you hungry?”

“Sure, I’m just going to grab a sandwich and go watch TV in my room, the basketball game is on.”

“K. You’re really doing a great job. I’m so glad to have you at the office.” Chris smiled.

“Thanks.” He walked off to his room.

“Wait Chris. Do want to come to Corpus with your sister, Cynthia and me?”

“Sure, I’ll do some fishing or surfing.”

“Good. We’ll leave Friday after your sister gets out of school.” Chris walked off to his room. Jordan turned to Cynthia, pulled her close, and leaned her head against Cynthia’s. They both laughed at being interrupted. They had been interrupted by the kids numerous times when they were together. They grabbed their dinner and went over to sit on the couch. Jordan sat on the couch and motioned for Cynthia to sit against her. “I was so proud of you tonight Jordan.” Jordan gave Cynthia a squeeze and kissed her neck. “Thank you honey.”

“You had them eating out of your hand. Even those that didn’t agree with you were smiling with you. You were just working them, charming them. I always have loved watching you in action. It’s one of the reasons I came to work with you when you first ran for County Commissioner. I had watched you with a group of people and I could see how much you truly believe in what you’re doing. You still have that.”

Jordan turned Cynthia around to face her. She pulled Cynthia close and held her face. Jordan looked at Cynthia. “Thank you baby. That means the world to me. I’m so glad you’re here. When Laura told me she was going to call you I freaked. She was right though. This wouldn’t feel right if you weren’t here.” Jordan’s mouth closed in on Cynthia’s. They explored with their tongues, losing themselves in the kiss. Jordan felt her body heat begin to rise. She heard Cynthia’s breathing increase and become louder. Jordan loved the sound of Cynthia’s ragged breathing, and knew that she was the cause. Jordan stood up and took Cynthia’s hand. She put her lips to Cynthia’s ear and whispered, “I want you.” Cynthia was hypnotized by her love’s blue eyes and seductive voice. She followed Jordan to the bedroom. Jordan led Cynthia to the bed. Their lips joined again as Jordan eased Cynthia down. They continued their slow, deep kisses. “Cynthia, I need to feel you.” Cynthia raised herself and Jordan gently lifted and discarded Cynthia’s shirt. Jordan couldn’t take her eyes off Cynthia. Jordan almost cried at the softness of Cynthia’s skin as she touched her. Jordan ran her hands across Cynthia’s shoulders, her collarbone and down her arms. Cynthia moaned at Jordan’s soft touch. Jordan kissed her neck and nipped at the skin above her breast. She moved her hands up to Cynthia’s shoulders. Jordan touched Cynthia’s shoulders with her lips as she eased the bra straps down. Cynthia began to unbutton Jordan’s shirt. Cynthia felt like she was drowning in the sensations. Jordan gently raised Cynthia and released her from her bra. Jordan held herself above Cynthia so that she could see all of her. Jordan’s eyes began to burn with tears. “My God Cynthia. You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” She softly caressed Cynthia’s skin with her fingertips and followed them with soft wet kisses. The phone rang and they both groaned. Jordan placed a soft kiss on Cynthia’s shoulder. ” Hold that thought. Hello.”

“Is this Jordan O’Connor?”

“Yes.”

“Ms. O’Connor, this is Officer Brown from the SAPD. There is a problem with your building. Your campaign office have been broken into and vandalized.”

“OH MY GOD! I’ll be right there.” Jordan sat up stunned. Cynthia was very concerned “What is it honey?”

“The building was vandalized and broken into. I’m going to see what happened.”

“I’m going with you.” Jordan reached over and kissed Cynthia.

“Thank you. I’m sorry about tonight. You will still stay over though won’t you?” After they were dressed they went to the kids’ rooms to tell them of the break-in. On the way to the headquarters, Cynthia made all the necessary calls to the staff and James. Jordan nervously held Cynthia’s hand in the car. “I’m so sorry about the interruption tonight. I can’t believe I was making love to you. I’ve been dreaming about it for the last six years. You’re even more beautiful than I remember. I still feel flushed.” She brought up Cynthia’s hand and kissed it softly.

“Jordan, I’ve dreamt about being with you so much. It’s hard for me to comprehend what we were doing tonight. I wish we were able to finish. I’m about to burst. But I suppose it will happen when the time is right.” They looked at each other and smiled

Before they reached the office, they could see the police lights. Jordan was struck silent as she stepped out of the car and saw the door broken. “GO TO HELL FAG” was written on the walls outside. Jordan walked in the door. Office equipment was strewn all over the floor. Swastikas were sprayed on the walls. The words “BITCH” and “FAG” were on the doors. The computers had been beaten in. Jordan couldn’t breathe as she walked around. Cynthia walked up to Jordan and put her hand on her shoulder. Jordan couldn’t even look at her. “Cyn. How could somebody do this? How could someone have so much hate that it would motivate them to be this destructive?”

“I don’t know baby.” A tear fell from Jordan’s eye. Everyone started arriving. James was the first to come up to Jordan. He hugged her tightly.

“Are you ok? Have you talked to the police yet?”

“Yes. We need to look and take an inventory and see what was taken and destroyed.” Laura walked in and came up to Jordan and put her arms around her. “Are you ok honey?”

“Yes. I’m fine. I’m pissed and upset and hurt, but I’m fine. Laura go through and see what equipment was ruined and find out what files we lost.”

“Actually we didn’t lose anything other than the machines. I have been backing everything up on the computers here at the office at the end of everyday before I leave. Jim kept all of the financial information on his laptop, which is with him. You know me. I’ve had a problem with paranoia for years. I guess this time it paid off.” Jordan gave her friend another hug.

“Thank you darlin’. I’m so sorry I gave you crap about that. I love you for it right now.” Sarah and Jim showed up and the group began to take inventory.

Jordan looked at the group. “Ok. Let’s clean up this glass. Tomorrow we’ll call a repairman to put in another door. We’ll get rid of the ruined equipment and get more. We also need to clean up the walls and repaint. I don’t want to see any traces of this crap. Let’s just be glad we were caught in the beginning and not in the end. Someone needs to stay the night to watch the office now that we don’t have a door. James could you call a security company tomorrow and get us a system installed.”

“Yeah Jordan. I’ll take care of it. I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

She gave him a soft smile. “Thanks hon.” The police officer walked up to Jordan.

“Ms. O’Connor would you please sign this police report. ”

“Thanks Officer. I appreciate your help. I do plan on making sure this is prosecuted completely when we catch this asshole.” The officer nodded and then looked in Jordan’s eyes.

“Ms. O’Connor. I would be happy to stay and watch the office until morning. I have been with my partner for 20 years. Other than people in my family, no one knows he is anything but a roommate. I even have a good friend I take to official functions to hide my sexuality. I hate that I have to, but it is because of crap like this that I do. I hope you do something up there in Washington to help us. I hate that this happened to you.” Jordan was touched by the officer’s admission. She reached out to take the officer’s hand. “Thank you so much Officer Brown. I’d appreciate it if you stayed. I’d feel so much better.” Jordan and her staff stayed until the early hours of the morning to clean up glass. Cynthia drove Jordan home. Jordan looked broken and defeated. She didn’t say a word. Cynthia always worried when Jordan was quiet. Cynthia knew that when Jordan was completely quiet, she was angry and hurting badly. They pulled up to the house. Cynthia looked at Jordan and took her hand. “I’m so sorry honey. It’ll be ok. I promise it will.” Jordan looked up at Cynthia and gave a weak smile and nod. “Please stay Cyn. I really need you tonight.” Cynthia leaned over and placed her lips softly on Jordan’s.

“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Jordan followed Cynthia in the house. “I’m going to go tell the kids about what happened. You go on to bed and I’ll be there in a minute.” Jordan simply nodded her response. Jordan walked in her room and took off her clothes. She turned on the shower, walked in, and began to cry under the warm water. She was angry, hurt, and frustrated. Cynthia walked into the bathroom. She stepped into the warm shower with Jordan. Jordan stepped into Cynthia’s arms and allowed herself to be comforted. Cynthia held Jordan as she cried. “Damnit Cynthia. I thought this country was passed this shit. I can’t believe someone would be filled with so much hate. What they did to us, can easily be fixed. I’m not worried about that. I’m upset at the motivation behind it. This is minor compared to what other gays and lesbians have gone through. What about those who go through worse things for the same reason? I was hoping our society had evolved. ”

“Jordan we’ve seen stuff like this before.”

“I know. But when are things going to be better? When are we going to be allowed to be who we are without worrying about this type of shit.” Cynthia continued to hold and comfort Jordan as the warm water fell over them. She shut the water off and led Jordan out of the shower. She dried Jordan off and they both walked toward the bed. Jordan looked at Cynthia. “Honey could you do me a favor?”

Cynthia lifted Jordan’s hand and kissed it. “Anything baby.”

“Don’t put on any clothes. I want to feel your skin against mine. I need to be close to you. I need you to hold me tonight. I need to feel something real and good. I just need you.” Cynthia was more than happy to comply with Jordan’s wishes. She led Jordan to the bed and laid beside her pulling the blankets around them. She wrapped her body around Jordan’s and stroked her long black hair. Jordan let the feel of Cynthia’s skin against her back and the rhythm of her breathing lull her into sleep.

The next morning Jordan smiled as she woke up to a small blonde wrapped tightly around her. She ran her hands softly along Cynthia’s arms. Cynthia slowly opened up her eyes and wrapped herself even tighter around Jordan’s body. “How do you feel this morning honey?”

“I feel ok Cyn. I feel much better since you’re here. It’s amazing how healing it is to spend a night with you. I always loved sleeping with you like this.” Cynthia smiled and kissed Jordan on the nose.

“I remember. I always loved it too. We need to get up and get to the office honey.”

Jordan groaned. “I know. I just wish last night had gone differently.” Jordan looked at Cynthia’s naked body lying there next to her. “You are so beautiful Cynthia. I can’t get over how stunning you are. Thank you for being here with me last night. It means so much to have you here.”

Cynthia leaned into to kiss Jordan’s neck and lips. “You my dear are as gorgeous as ever. It’s so hard for me to lie here and not completely ravage you. I’m glad I was here too Jordan. It means the world to me that you wanted and needed me here.” They began to kiss slowly and softly. The gentle touches became more urgent and passionate. Jordan broke away. “I need to get up·.NOW.” Jordan and Cynthia got out of bed and dressed.

The office was filled with campaign workers and reporters when they arrived, thankfully in separate cars as cameras were focused on the candidate. As she got out of her car, reporters zoomed in on Jordan. Jordan waved and walked to the front of the offices.

“Ms. O’Connor, can you tell us what happened here?”

“Apparently, someone broke the door with a brick, wrote graffiti on the walls inside and out and destroyed some office equipment.”

“Do you suspect someone associated with your opponent’s campaign?”

“This is Texas politics, anything is possible. However, I have known Kris Benson since high school. He and I may be opponents and he may not agree with my lifestyle, but he would not do anything like this nor would he support this type of action. This is a cowardly act motivated by hate and ignorance alone. If a person doesn’t agree with me, I have no problem with that. He or she should have the courage to face me in person.”

“How does this affect your campaign?”

“It’s only a slight distraction for the week. We still have all of our files in another location. Everything can be replaced and will be. What bothers me is that someone would be so filled with hate that they would commit a crime. I had thought our city was above this type of behavior. We have one of the most diverse cities in the nation. Diversity is a part of our history. This city is used to differences, it is one of the things I am most proud of. One of the things I speak about frequently is the lack of a sense of community in this nation. We feel no connection to one another. Therefore, it is easy to hate someone you do not feel close to. As a U.S. Senator, I hope to foster a feeling of community, so that things like this do not happen. This shouldn’t happen to me or anyone else. This campaign is not going to be stopped by an act of ignorance. I feel more of an urgency to make some positive changes in this country. ”

“Thank you Ms. O’ Connor.” Jordan smiled at the camera and walked into the campaign office. Everyone was upset and scattered. They all looked to Jordan for answers.

“Ok we are all upset and things are a mess. This whole business is bullshit and shouldn’t happen. I want to stress this point. This is a slight distraction only. We have all of our files backed up and will have new computers by tomorrow. Our town meetings and fundraisers will happen as scheduled. I don’t want this made into a big deal in front of the public. I will not let this jerk’s hate have a major impact on us. So it is business as usual as soon as we get this mess cleaned up.” The people in the office began to scatter to take care of the mess. As a result of the break-in, the campaign received free press and contributions were coming in to help Jordan.

The weekend came and when Jordan went to Corpus for the kayaking event, the fact that her offices had been vandalized led to more press coverage than either she or Cynthia expected. Jordan, Cynthia, and the kids spent time together as a family. The four of them fit together like they had never been apart. Jordan and Cynthia were becoming closer than ever. They were able to spend time talking and holding each other. Jordan felt better after this weekend than she had in a long time. It was just what she needed to get over what had happened the week before.

Monday came and things were back to normal in the campaign headquarters. Jordan was sitting in her office when Laura came in to go over the week’s schedule. “What’s on the schedule for this week Laura?”

“You’ve got that thing with the teacher’s union, the speech at the MCC church, and the fundraiser in Dallas on Saturday. Do I need to make airline arrangements?”

“No. My cousin Joe Dale is flying me there in his plane. It will get me there easier and I don’t have to pay for anything. I’m also staying in Cynthia’s apartment while I’m there. I’m going up on Saturday morning and coming home on Sunday. I should be bringing back a nice check.”

“Is Cynthia going with you?”

“No. She has some things to do here.”

“So what’s going on between you two?” Jordan smiled.

“I’m completely in love with her.” Laura was glad her plan worked out so well.

“Have you told her that?”

“NO. I’m afraid to. I am being cautious. We haven’t even made love yet. We’ve come very close, but not yet.”

“You need to tell her Jordan. I do want to caution you though. The public has less of a problem with a lesbian who is celibate. If a relationship comes out, it could cause problems for you.”

“I know. I’m not going to do anything stupid. She knows how things are. She understands.”

“Are you sure? I love you Jordan. You know that. I don’t want to see you lose this election and I don’t want to have to put you back together after your heart is broken. I remember those nights I held you while you cried for hours.”

Jordan walked over to Laura and gave her a hug. “Thanks hon. I love you too. I do plan on telling her how I feel. I’ll make sure she’s ok with how careful we have to be. So go get your ass to work.” They both laughed and went on to the rest of the day.

That night Jordan and Cynthia were sitting wrapped around each other. Jordan was drawing lazy circles on Cynthia’s leg. “Honey, the kids are going to be gone this weekend. They’re going to be spending Friday night through Sunday night at James’ house. I was thinking that on Friday night you and I could have dinner and spend the night together. There will be no interruptions. We can be completely alone. What do you think?”

Cynthia smiled and gave Jordan a slow, deep kiss. “I would absolutely love it.”

The next night Jordan was at an event for the Teacher’s Union. There she saw two of her oldest friends. They were teachers of hers from high school. They were her mentors and she continued a friendship with them after she graduated. Jordan smiled when they walked up to her.

“Joan, Norma, how are you? You both look fabulous.”

“Thanks Jordan. You look good too. We’re so proud of you. You’ve come so far from the fourteen year old girl who walked into my class as a freshman.” This thought made Jordan laugh.

“Thanks Joan. I promised you both years ago when I told you I had decided to go into politics instead of teaching, I would always help the teachers.”

“You’ve kept that promise. You know the Union is going to endorse you, don’t you?”

“Yes. I figured that. So what’s been going on? When are you two going to retire?” Norma smiled

“We both retire this year.”

“That’s so great. I’m so happy for both of you.” Joan pulled Jordan aside. “I notice Cynthia’s here.” Jordan got a slick grin on her face.

“Yes. She’s my publicist.” Norma raised her eyebrow.

“I know you better than that. Don’t play politician with me. We have known you since you were fourteen years old. Are you two back together?” Jordan sighed. Her old friends knew her too well.

“Possibly. We’re working on it. We are seeing each other. We’ll see what happens.”

Norma gave her a strong hug and smiled. “We want to see you happy Jordan. Don’t throw this chance away. We saw how happy you two were together. We saw how you weren’t the same when you two broke up. When you say her name, your eyes twinkle.” Jordan smiled.

“Thank you and I love you both. I’m doing my best. I do promise you that ok?”

“That’s good enough for us. We just want you to be happy. Now go talk to people. We’ll get together soon, before you go to Washington.”

“I’d love that Joan.” She smiled at her two friends and went off to talk to the other people there. She walked around the room, shaking hands, telling jokes, talking and listening to the people and their concerns. Jordan could work a room and had fun doing it. She went home tired, but feeling good. She changed her clothes, got into bed and the phone rang.

“Hello baby. What are you wearing?” Jordan smiled knowing exactly who was on the other end. She decided to play along.

“Absolutely nothing. What are you wearing?”

“Nothing but a smile.”

“Grroooowwlll I like that.”

“I like that little growl of yours. It’s pretty damn sexy.”

“Well wait until you see the expression that comes along with it.”

“Do you miss me?”

“Always. You know, tomorrow is Friday night. Are you still coming over?”

“Of course I am. I can’t wait.”

“Good. So my darling Cynthia, I will see you tomorrow. I wish you were here. I can’t wait to have you here with me.”

Cynthia smiled warmly. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I can’t wait to be with you Jordan. I miss you baby. Goodnight.” Jordan was having a painful feeling in her chest. She whispered, “Goodnight.”

The next day Jordan was in a fog. She couldn’t keep her mind on the campaign. She would get distracted and start daydreaming about Cynthia and the night they were going to spend together. Laura walked into Jordan’s office. “Jordan what is that goofy grin on your face?” Jordan tried to give her best serious face. “Nuthin'”

“Yeah right. You always say that when you’re up to something.”

Jordan laughed. “Ok. I was thinking about Cynthia. She’s coming over to spend the night with me tonight and I’m making it as romantic as I possibly can. I’m going to tell her I’m in love with her.”

Laura was thrilled. “That’s great Jordan. I’m so happy for you. You look so much happier over the last couple of months. Just please be careful for the campaign’s sake. What are you going to do if you go to D.C.?”

“I have no idea. I haven’t thought of that yet. My first instinct is to beg her to come with me if we win. I don’t know. I’m just going to take things as they come. Frankly Laura, I’m terrified. I’m pretty sure she feels the same way about me. I just don’t know what I’m going to do once this election is over.”

“Just relax Jordan. Everything will fall into place. There have been other lesbian Senators with partners. It can be done. Just be careful during the election. So what is the plan for the fundraiser this weekend?”

“I’m flying up late morning tomorrow, going to the dinner tomorrow night, speaking, then flying back on Sunday morning. Did you take a look at my speech?”

“Yeah. It’s good. I edited it a little. Did Cynthia take a look at it yet?”

“Yes. She helped me write it.”

“Take a look at the revisions on the plane. Call me when you get in on Sunday and let me know how it went. Do me a favor and go. I’ll handle everything here. You are so far gone, you’re better off at home.”

Jordan laughed. “Oh really?”

“Yes. Go home and get ready for your romantic night with Cynthia.”

Jordan agreed to leave but stopped by Cynthia’s office first. She walked in Cynthia’s office and shut the door. Cynthia smiled as soon as she saw Jordan. She got up and walked over to Jordan. Jordan put her arms around Cynthia and kissed her lightly. “Hi baby. How’s your day been?”

Cynthia laughed and returned the kiss. “I have no idea. My mind has been on you all day.”

“I’ve been doing the same thing. Laura sent me home early today. I’m about to leave. I just wanted to say goodbye and that I’ll see you in a while. We are going to have the most amazing night tonight. Be at the house around seven.” Jordan leaned in to capture Cynthia’s lips. She pulled away before Cynthia was ready. Jordan smiled an evil grin, winked and walked out the door. Cynthia sat back down and laid her head on her desk in frustration.

Jordan wanted everything to be perfect. She bought flowers to go all over the house. She set a romantic table for two and candles all over the house, including the bedroom. She smiled thinking about Cynthia and the romantic nights they spent together years ago. She also thought about how close she and Cynthia had become over the last few months. Finally, she felt the house looked perfect. Cynthia arrived and Jordan’s heart jumped into her throat. She took a deep breath, settled her nerves, and opened the door.

Cynthia looked stunning in her soft black dress and sandals. Jordan smiled and opened the door to let her in. She pulled Cynthia close and kissed her deeply. “You look beautiful darlin’. I’m so glad you’re here.” Jordan didn’t want Cynthia out of her arms. She softly stroked Cynthia’s cheek with the back of her hand and stared into her eyes. They locked eyes for several minutes. Jordan became overwhelmed and had to look away.

“I think everything’s ready. Come sit down while I finish.”

“Is there anything I can help you with hon?”

“No thanks. I’ve got everything taken care of. I just need to light the candles. Go ahead and sit at the table.” Jordan couldn’t keep the grin off her face. Cynthia looked around the house and smiled as well.

“Jordan, everything looks amazing. I can’t believe you went to so much trouble. Thank you.”

They shared dinner, wine, conversation, and laughter. After dinner, Jordan took Cynthia’s hand and put it to her lips. “Come with me, the surprises are just beginning.”

Cynthia walked into the bedroom with Jordan. The room was filled with candles that had yet to be lit and flowers leaving the room with an intoxicating scent. Cynthia loved this romantic side of Jordan. Jordan touched Cynthia’s face softly with her lips and led her to sit on the bed. Jordan walked around the room, lit the candles, and turned on their favorite Bonnie Raitt CD. She opened up the bureau drawer by her bed and pulled out a small bottle of lavender massage oil. She sat next to Cynthia. She leaned close to her ear.

“Take off you shirt darlin’.”

“No. Let me do this for you Jordan. You’ve done so much. Plus I know how much you love it.”

“This night is supposed to be for you Cynthia.”

“I know honey. But, do you want to please me?”

“Of course I do.” Cynthia put her finger on Jordan’s mouth to stop her arguments.

“Then let me do this, I love doing this to you. So, strip.” Jordan looked at Cynthia and did the only thing she could do. She allowed Cynthia to slowly remove her shirt and bra. Cynthia wrapped her arms around her lover and Jordan leaned back into the embrace and moaned at the contact. Cynthia kissed Jordan’s neck and whispered, “Lay down.”

Jordan laid down and felt the liquid drip onto her skin. She then felt Cynthia’s strong hands begin their dance on her back. Having Cynthia’s hands on her was one of the most amazing things Jordan had ever felt. She moaned as Cynthia kneaded the muscles in her back. As Cynthia’s hands continued their movements, Jordan had to keep from drooling. “Baby that feels so good. You are amazing.” Jordan thought how the only thing that would feel better would be Cynthia’s bare breasts against her back. Suddenly Cynthia stopped for a minute. As if she read Jordan’s mind, she stripped off her clothes and bra and laid herself across Jordan’s back. Jordan groaned, “Oh my God.” Cynthia grabbed onto Jordan’s hands and began to slide across Jordan’s back that was still slick from the oil. “Does that feel good?” Cynthia purred into Jordan’s ear. Jordan could only nod in response and moaned at the contact. She needed more. She flipped Cynthia over onto her back. Jordan reached up to kiss Cynthia as they wrapped themselves around each other. Jordan leaned in to lightly flick Cynthia’s nipple with her tongue. She then began to suckle her lover’s breast softly. Cynthia moaned and pulled Jordan’s head against her breast. She whispered, “harder.” Jordan responded, taking as much of Cynthia into her mouth as she could. They continued exploring and teasing, relishing in the closeness that both women had been longing for. Jordan began to trail her kisses across Cynthia’s collarbone to her neck and back towards her lover’s breasts. She concentrated on pouring every bit of love she held for Cynthia into each soft kiss as if that were the only way to communicate. As she was kissing Cynthia, she asked, “Do you hear what I’m saying to you?” Cynthia was silent for a brief moment. She answered, “You’re saying you love me.” Unable to respond, Jordan leaned up and placed her lips onto Cynthia’s in confirmation. Cynthia lifted Jordan’s head slightly to look in her eyes. “I love you too.” Jordan felt as if her heart would burst. “You do?”

“Yes. I was planning on telling you tonight. I just wasn’t sure how. I love you.” They both began to giggle. Tears were in their eyes. Jordan kissed her again.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

“Neither do I.”

Their kisses took on a renewed passion as they exchanged “I love you’s” over and over again. Jordan looked down at Jordan’s black panties. “As gorgeous as these are darlin’. They’ve got to go. I want to see you.” Jordan grinned at Cynthia and pulled down the lace barrier to reveal her soft strawberry blonde curls. “You are so beautiful Cynthia. I’m speechless looking at you.”

Cynthia blushed at the compliment. “This isn’t fair. You’re still wearing your jeans. I want them off.” Jordan happily granted her lover’s wish. Jordan resumed her spot next to Cynthia and turned on her side so they could face each other. They soon became tangled together. Every part of their bodies met and moved together. Jordan’s hand began to trail in between their bodies. When she reached her desired location, she began to softly play within the folds of her lover. Cynthia moaned loudly at the contact. Jordan continued her movements causing Cynthia to shiver. She finally moved her fingers to where she was needed most. Jordan entered Cynthia slowly and gently. Cynthia groaned and Jordan began to stroke in a steady rhythm. She moved deeper and faster as Cynthia thrust her hips and began to shake. Jordan whispered soft words of encouragement holding her lover tighter. “Yes baby. That’s it. Let go for me. I’m here. I’ve got you. That’s it. Let go.” Cynthia finally let go and slipped over the edge into bliss. She released a cry against Jordan’s neck that almost stopped Jordan’s heart As Cynthia started to fall back down from her climax, Jordan held her as tightly as she possibly could.

“Are you ok baby?” Cynthia simply nodded her head in response unable to form words. Jordan continued to hold Cynthia and caressing her softly. Cynthia was finally able to speak. She smiled, kissed Jordan and said, “Thank you. That was amazing. I love you.” They both had tears in their eyes. “I love you baby.”

Cynthia caught her breath as she lay in Jordan’s arms. They lay there silently, holding each other tightly as Cynthia started to come back into herself. Suddenly she took control, and moved on top of Jordan giving her a look that made her tremble. Jordan just surrendered to Cynthia. She took Jordan’s breast into her mouth and sucked greedily. Jordan could only arch her back and moan in response. “I love your breasts Jordan. I can’t get enough of them.” She began to move down and place soft kisses on Jordan’s stomach. This was one of the most sensitive areas on Jordan’s body. Her hard stomach quivered as Cynthia made love to her. Cynthia began to move lower. Jordan almost stopped breathing when she realized where Cynthia was going. She softly separated Jordan’s sweet folds and began to lavish her sex with kisses, soft nibbles, and licks. Jordan became completely silent. Cynthia looked up and Jordan was holding onto the headboard and grimacing. “Is this ok honey?” Jordan could only whimper and nod. Cynthia resumed her actions and Jordan raised her hips in response. Cynthia entered her lover as she drank in Jordan’s arousal. It wasn’t long before Jordan’s body tensed and bucked as the waves of orgasm crashed over her. Jordan pulled Cynthia up to hold her. Jordan’s breathing returned to normal and she leaned into kiss Cynthia.

“God Cynthia. You are so amazing.” Cynthia purred into Jordan’s ear. “You’re not so bad yourself.” They laughed together and caressed each other softly. Jordan had never felt so complete as when she and Cynthia were together like this. “I love you Cynthia. I always have. I never stopped.”

“I’ve never stopped loving you Jordan. I nearly called you a thousand times over the last six years. I’ve had a hole in my heart since the day I left. It’s been there for six years, until tonight.”

Jordan kissed Cynthia’s forehead and smiled. “Will you be my girlfriend? You pretty much already are, but I mean officially.” Cynthia giggled.

“Of course I will, as long as you feed me. I’m starving.” Jordan smiled and kissed Cynthia.

“Yes Ma’am. What would you like?”

“Do you have any oranges?” Jordan laughed. “Yes I have oranges. Stay here and I’ll get a couple.” Cynthia brushed her lips against Jordan’s.

“Thank you honey.”

Jordan went to get the oranges and Cynthia looked at the clock. She was shocked to learn that it was 3:30 in the morning. They had been making love for over six hours. Jordan returned and settled back against the headboard next to Cynthia.

“Jordan it’s almost 4:00 am. You need to sleep. You’re leaving tomorrow at eleven.”

“Oh shit. It’s that late? That’s ok. It was worth it.” Jordan gave Cynthia a playful wink.

“Honey I don’t like you taking that small plane. I wish you would take a regular plane. I’m nervous about your trip.”

“Cynthia it’s perfectly safe. I’ll be fine. I will call you as soon as I land to let you know I got in ok. But I love you for worrying.” She stroked Cynthia’s hair. ” We do need to talk about our relationship and the campaign.” Cynthia sighed.

“I know the drill Jordan. It’s ok. It won’t be easy, but I’ll deal with it. I can’t and won’t deny our relationship and pretend forever, but for now, I understand.” Jordan stroked Cynthia’s cheek and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

“I want to tell the people closest to us, especially the kids, I am just not sure the public can handle it.”

“It’s ok Jordan. We’ll get through it.”

“Thank you Cynthia. I love you.” They fed each other orange slices and settled into the covers. They both fell into an exhausted sleep wrapped around the other.

Jordan opened her eyes a few hours later and smiled at the sleeping woman in her arms. She gently woke Cynthia by placing her lips softly on her cheek. “Good morning baby.” Cynthia snuggled even closer.

“I love it when you call me that. I feel so safe and protected.”

Jordan loved the feel of Cynthia against her. “If I died right now, I’d die with a smile on my face. But, please God, don’t let it happen.” Jordan stroked Cynthia’s cheek with her finger. ” I’m not ready to leave you. I do have to get up though. I leave in a couple of hours.”

Cynthia protested the loss of her body pillow. “No. I don’t want you to.

“I have to. Spend tomorrow night with me when I get back.”

Cynthia smiled at her lover. “I’d love to.”

Both women got up and showered. After many kisses and getting dressed, they headed for the airport. “Please call me when you get in Jordan.”

“I will call you as soon as I land. I’ll be fine. I get to come home to you. I’ll miss you though. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.”

“I’ll miss you too baby. I’ll be at my hotel. I have some things for the campaign to take care of.”

Jordan and Cynthia arrived at the airport and got out of the car. Jordan got her bag out of the car and handed it to her cousin Joe Dale. “Can you put this in the plane while I say goodbye to Cynthia?”

Her cousin grinned. “Sure Jordan.” Jordan turned to Cynthia, took her hands and leaned in to talk to her quietly.

“Honey, last night was so amazing. I love you so much. It feels so good to be able to actually say that. I’ll see you tomorrow around one. I want to spend the entire day holding you and making love to you.”

Cynthia reached up to stroke Jordan’s face. “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do tomorrow. Please be safe Jordan. I love you.” Jordan kissed Cynthia tenderly, walked away and got on the plane. She waved to Cynthia from the window and blew her a kiss. Cynthia watched them take off and said a little prayer for her lover’s safe journey.

Jordan’s cousin looked at her with a strange look on his face. “So what was that about cuz?” Jordan punched him in the arm. “Shut up Joe Dale. Cynthia and I are back together. Please keep it to yourself for now ok? I have to be careful.” Joe Dale laughed.

“Hey I like Cynthia. I won’t tell anyone. Love looks good on you.” Jordan’s face turned bright red. She smiled. “Thanks. Fly the plane please. I have a speech to go over.”

Cynthia drove back to her hotel feeling empty without Jordan. She could still feel Jordan against her. She walked into her hotel room and saw yellow roses on the table. She walked over to the flowers and ripped open the envelope. Last night was one of the most beautiful nights of my life. I’ve always loved you and I will love you forever. I’m thinking of you. When you close your eyes tonight I’ll be with you. Love, J.

Tears rolled down Cynthia’s face. ‘When did she do this? I must have been in the shower. My God I love that woman.’ She looked at her watch knowing she should be hearing from Jordan in about an hour or so. She was exhausted and decided to take a nap until Jordan called. Some time later there was a knock on the door. She wondered who could be at the door. She opened the door to find Laura looking pale and upset.

“Hey Laura, come in? You look like there’s something wrong? What’s the deal? Is it the office?” Laura walked in the door and smiled weakly at Cynthia trying to hide the tears.

“Cynthia. I just received a call from the airport in Dallas.”

“NO!” Cynthia screamed. Laura stepped close to her to hold onto her.

“Cynthia, you need to pull it together. Listen. The plane disappeared off of the radar somewhere in the Ft. Hood area. They are looking for the plane now. Jordan and Joe Dale aren’t responding to radio contact. The plane went down. They don’t know exactly where it is.” Cynthia was sobbing and heaving.

“Cynthia. She’s alive somewhere we have to believe that. They’ll find her soon. We have to keep the story from leaking until we tell the family. We need to tell the family. The kids and her parents need to know before it gets reported. It’s going to blow any minute. You need to call your friends at the TV stations and hold it off. We have to pull it together. Please Cynthia. This is for Jordan and her family.” Cynthia fell into Laura’s arms. Laura held her and comforted her. Laura needed Cynthia as much as Cynthia needed her. Laura couldn’t imagine what she would do if something happened to Jordan. ‘Please be alright Jordan.’

Laura held on tightly to Cynthia. “Cynthia. I know this is hard. The family needs to know soon. If she went down in Ft. Hood, James can help. He was stationed there, he knows the terrain, plus he is a retired Lt. Colonel. He can get more people out there.” Cynthia nodded.

“I know Laura. I just can’t lose her. I’m scared to death.” Laura’s heart was breaking for her friend.

“None of us can lose her. Listen to me, she loves you, she will fight to come back to you and the kids. You know that. You need to call your friends at the local stations. We don’t want them to report the story before the family finds out. Give them the heads up, but tell them if they break the story, all future interviews will be difficult. Let them know that as soon as we can, we’ll send out a press release with everything we know. Then we’ll go see James. We’ll tell him and the kids first and then her mothers and her dad.” She raised Cynthia’s face to meet hers. “We can do this Cyn. Jordan is counting on us. She needs us. After you call the stations, we’ll go together.”

Cynthia just nodded her head in agreement. “We need to call the staff and set up a temporary headquarters in Austin. Call her cousin’s, we can set up a headquarters there. I want to be close. They’ll probably bring her into Austin when they find her.” She picked up the phone.

“KSAT 12. How may I help you?”

“Yes. I need to speak to Will Garcia, this is Cynthia Price.” Cynthia waited on hold until her old friend came on the line.

“Will?”

“Cynthia. Hey what’s going on? I hear you’re working for Jordan’s campaign?”

“Yeah I am. That’s why I’m calling. You’re about to find out about this. I wanted to let you know ahead of time. There has been a plane crash. Jordan was on her way to Dallas for a fundraiser when the plane disappeared off of the radar. They think the plane went down somewhere in Ft. Hood.”

“Oh shit. I’m sorry to hear that. I like Jordan. I hate to see something bad happen to her.”

“I appreciate that Will. I need a favor. The family hasn’t been notified. I need you to hold off on the story until we tell them. After that is done, we’ll send out a press release. We’ll be forthcoming in all information thereafter.”

“I can do that. The story hasn’t broken yet. I can hold it off for a couple of hours or so. Call me as soon as you’re ready.”

“Thanks Will. I appreciate it and so will Jordan.”

“Sure Cynthia. I hope she’s ok.”

“Me too my friend, me too.” Cynthia broke down again when she hung up the phone. ‘Damn this is hard. Why did you do this to me Jordan? I told you not to take that plane. Please don’t leave me. I need you.’ She continued making calls promising a press release as soon as the family was notified. She looked at Laura.

“Ok. Let’s go. We need to tell her family and get the press release together After all of that, we leave for Austin and set up there. Did you call Theresa?”

“Yeah. We’ll be stationed out of her house. I’m keeping Sarah and Jim here at the headquarters along with some volunteers to answer phones and such.” They solemnly got in Laura’s car to go to James’ to tell him and the kids. They spoke very little to one another. They each held the other’s hand for comfort. Cynthia couldn’t keep her mind off of Jordan and what she must be going through. She thought of the first time she saw Jordan. Cynthia was mesmerized by her. Jordan spoke with such passion and she had the most charming grin Cynthia had ever seen. She had fallen in love with her at that first moment. She prayed continuously for her lover. They pulled up to James’ house. They looked at each other sadly and walked up to the door.

“Hey Cynthia, hey Laura, what’s going on?”

“James, are the kids here?”

“Yeah. Is something wrong?”

“Jordan’s plane went down. They’re not sure exactly where. They disappeared off the radar around Ft. Hood. They’ve lost radio contact.” James reacted as if he had been hit in the stomach, he stepped back to sit down on the couch.

“Oh my God. It can’t be. I can’t believe it.” Cynthia walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. She knew James still had a place in his heart for Jordan. They were married for six years and had loved each other very much. Jordan always said that the only reason she divorced James was because he wasn’t a woman. She and Cynthia had both been careful about making sure he was a part of their family. James reached up to take Cynthia’s hand and pulled her into a comforting embrace, sharing one another’s pain and fear.

“We’ve got to tell the kids. I’ll go on up to Ft. Hood and call some old friends. I’ll throw my weight around a little; it should speed things up and get some of the units out to look for her. I’m also going out there myself. I know the terrain.” Cynthia looked up at him and gave him a weak smile. “Thanks James.” He stepped away to get the kids and bring them into the living room. The kids walked in the room and sat down. They knew something was wrong by the demeanor of everyone in the room.

“What happened? Is it Mom?” James sat next to his son and put his arm around him.

“Chris, your mom’s plane went down in Ft. Hood. They’re not completely sure yet. The plane hasn’t been found.” Chris turned into his dad’s arms and began to break down. Chris and his mother were very close. She was his hero and he wanted to be just like her. He went to the same school she did and majored in the same subject. He tried hard to be as strong as she was. But right then, Chris felt like he was drowning. Kate went up to them and James put his other arm around his daughter as the three of them cried together.

“What if she’s dead? What if she doesn’t come back? What if I never see my mom again?” James stroked his daughter’s hair softly holding her tightly. “Daddy, I want my Mom.”

“We’ll find her Katie. I promise you. Besides, your mom is too stubborn to give up. She wants to see you graduate in a couple of weeks. I’ll make sure they find her or I’ll find her myself.” Chris looked at Cynthia and Laura.

“What exactly happened?” Cynthia put her arm around Chris.

“Your Mom left this morning about eleven o’clock. She should have been there between noon and one. Around the Ft. Hood area, air traffic control lost them on the radar. The plane did not respond to radio contact. They didn’t arrive. They have begun searching for the plane. That’s all we know. She’s going to be ok. We have to believe that. We are doing everything we can do to find her.”

“Chris, I’m going up there to help with the search. Remember when I was stationed there a few years ago? I’m going to make sure they call in the units to go out and look. Do you want to come with me?”

“Of course Dad.”

“Cynthia, I’m going to call Governor Cisneros. Jordan only took a leave of absence from her staff position. She didn’t quit completely. She’s still a state employee. He can get more people out there to look and he can help with the press.”

“That’s a great idea Laura. We still need to tell her parents.”

“Let’s go do that now. I’ll call the Governor from there. Kate walked up to them. “Can I go with you? I have to do something to help.” James walked up to his daughter. ” I’m sorry Katie. I guess we still think of you as being the baby. We forget that you’re an adult too. Do you want to come with us? It’ll be dirty and kind of rough but you can handle that.”

“Actually Dad, I’d rather help with things on this end. Plus I want to be able to be at the hospital if she gets brought in.” Kate felt like her entire world was collapsing. Her mother had always been such an important part of her life. The thought never crossed her mind that her mother would ever not be there. James hugged Kate tightly. “I love you and I’m proud of you both. You are both handling this so well. Your mother is going to proud of you too when she finds out.”

They all went their separate directions. On the way to Jordan’s mothers’ house, Cynthia turned to Kate. “I’m glad you’re with us. I think your grandmothers may handle this better with you there. Plus, I need you. Having you here with me makes me feel better. It makes me feel close to her. She and I are back together. We were going to tell you and your brother when you came back from your Dad’s house.” Kate took Jordan’s hand.

“She’s going to be ok. I know she is and I’m glad you two are together again. To be honest, she’s been sad inside for the last six years, until you came back. She’ll fight to stay with us.” Cynthia gave Kate a reassuring smile as they pulled up to the driveway. They got out of the car. Cynthia had an overwhelming sense of dread at having to tell Jordan’s mothers. They rang the doorbell. After a couple of minutes, Janis answered the door wearing her work boots, gloves and gardening hat.

“Hi. Come in. What brings y’all here? Is everything ok?” Kate ran into her grandmother’s arms. Cynthia put her hand on Kate’s shoulder.

“No. It’s not, Janis. Is Elaine here?” Janis looked puzzled. “Yeah let me call her. Is Chris ok? Where’s Jordan?”

“Chris is fine, he’s with his Dad. Jordan is lost somewhere in Ft. Hood. Her plane went down and they’re not sure where.” Janice looked stunned.

“Oh no. Oh my God.” Cynthia put her arms around Janice.

“We wanted to tell you before the press went public with the story. They’re giving us time to notify everyone.”

“Let me go get Elaine. She’s not going to handle this well.” Cynthia and Laura looked at each other. Jordan’s mother was fanatical about her daughter. They were extremely close. When Elaine and Janis walked in, Janis was supporting the distraught woman to keep her from collapsing. Elaine looked up to see Kate and pulled her into a crushing hug. Kate held onto her grandmother speaking to her softly.

“Shhh. Nana it’s ok. Mom will be ok. They’re looking for her now. Dad and Chris are going to look for her and to get more people looking. We’ll find her soon. You have to hold on.” Elaine was sobbing.

“My baby. My baby. I can’t lose my baby.” It was everything Cynthia could do to not break down right there. She held on with all of the strength she had. She walked over and put her arms around Kate and her grandmother.

“She’ll be ok. They’ll find her. We’re going to Austin as soon as we send out a press release. Laura is even going to call Alex Cisneros to call out more people for the search.”

Laura went to the other room to call the Governor. She couldn’t bear to see the family so upset. In many ways, Laura felt like it was her own mother who was falling apart. Over the years, Laura had become a member of the family. She remembered when they were in high school and she would spend the night at Jordan’s house. She always felt welcome and at home. Laura didn’t know how she would get by without Jordan. When she finally reached the Governor, she had to keep her voice from breaking.

“Alex. It’s Laura Dodson.”

“Hi Laura. How’s Jordan doing? I’ve been keeping my eye on her. I hate to lose her from my staff, but I’m so excited for her. I do plan on joining y’all this summer for several dates.”

“Thanks Alex. Actually there’s a problem. Her plane went down in Ft. Hood earlier today. They haven’t found her. It’s been over four hours since they’ve heard anything from Jordan. She still officially works for you. She needs your help.”

“Anything Laura. I’ll call up the local guard unit to join the search. I’ve known Jordan for twenty years. I’ll do everything in my power to help. Do you want me to make the announcement to the press?”

“No. We’ll do that. Jordan would rather us handle that ourselves. The story is about to break though. We’re notifying her family.”

“How are Chris and Kate taking it?”

“They’re scared. They’re afraid they may never see their mother again. You know how close Jordan is to her kids.”

“Yes I know. I’m going to do everything I can to help, Laura. Just keep me informed of contact numbers. You know the press is going to be here before long. I’ll make sure people know how highly I think of her and how important she has been to this state.”

“Thanks Alex. I really appreciate your support in this and so will Jordan. I’ll talk to you soon.” Laura hung up and silently thanked God for the Governor’s help. She walked back into the family room and watched Jordan’s family helping each other hold on. “I talked to Alex. He’s calling in the National Guard in the area to get more people looking. We need to call Gene and let him know of the accident.” Jordan’s mother looked up. “I’ll call her Dad. I should be the one to tell him.”

Laura walked up to Elaine and hugged her tightly. “Thanks Elaine. I appreciate it. Cynthia we need to go write that press release. We’ll call you as soon as we get to Austin and you can join us.” Cynthia, Laura, and Kate left and went to the headquarters to prepare the press release. Sarah, Jim, and the interns were already there. Sarah walked up to Kate and put her arms around her.

“I’m so sorry Kate. Your Mom is going to be ok.”

“I know Sarah. Thanks.” Laura spoke up. “We need to get that press release written so we can go up to Austin. Sarah, you and Jim need to be here to handle the press and everything. We’ll be in Austin and will keep you posted.” Cynthia wrote up the press release and sent it by email. Soon, all the local TV stations were reporting.

KENS Channel 5 Breaking News

“We interrupt this scheduled program for this important breaking news story. The plane carrying local U. S. Senate candidate Jordan O’ Connor and her cousin Joe Dale Edwards, who was piloting the aircraft, has disappeared off of radar and is presumed to have crashed in the Ft. Hood area. Radio contact has been lost and a search for the missing plane is underway. The plane has been missing since eleven thirty this morning. The family is declining to comment at this time until further information is discovered. Ms. O’Connor grew up here in San Antonio. She graduated from Churchill High School in 1984. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Texas in 1987, and served in the Peace Corp in Latin America for two years. She worked for a number of local and statewide political campaigns until running for Bexar County Commissioner in 1996. There, she served the people of San Antonio for four years. She then was elected into the State Legislature, where held office until 2006 when she left her office to join the staff of Governor Alex Cisneros. She has worked on the Governor’s staff as his Head of Public Affairs since and is on leave from that position pending the outcome of the election. She is also the mother of two children. Her son is a starting tackle on the University of Texas Longhorn football team. Her daughter is graduating from Churchill at the end of the month. The Governor made a brief statement expressing his concern for his staff member.”

“Jordan O’Connor has led a life of service; not just to her fellow Texans, but to the rest of the world as well. Jordan has proven herself to be a capable leader, a trusted ally, and a true friend. I am sending out National Guard Troops to aid in the search. I encourage all Texans to send out their prayers or positive thoughts for this dedicated stateswoman and my dear friend.”

” In a statement from his home, her Republican opponent Kris Benson stated,” “We are praying for Jordan’s safe return. I have known, admired, and respected Jordan for many years. My family offers our sincerest regards and support to her family.”

“We will keep you posted as more information comes available. We now rejoin the programming already in progress.”

In Austin

Family members and friends were gathering at Jordan’s cousin’s house waiting to hear from the searchers. Jordan’s father, stepmother, brothers, and sister arrived and joined the group. Cynthia walked up to Jordan’s dad and hugged him tightly

“Hi Gene. It’s good to see you. I’m sorry it was under these circumstances.” Jordan’s dad walked over and put his arms around Cynthia in a tight hug.

” I’m glad you’re here. I’ve missed you. So has Jordan.” She smiled at Gene.

“I’ve missed you too. As far as Jordan and I are concerned, I’m not leaving her anymore.”

Jordan’s dad smiled in return. “That’s wonderful. By the way, you can still call me Dad if you want.” This almost brought tears to her eyes.

“Thanks. Dad.” Cynthia loved Jordan’s family. Her own family had disowned her because of her sexuality. She still occasionally spoke to her sister, but this was her family. She looked around at them. Her heart broke to see the pain and worry on their faces.

Soldiers and volunteers were looking the through the miles of seemingly endless woods. Jordan’s family prayed and paced waiting for news. It had been almost twelve hours since the plane disappeared. The press stood outside the house also waiting for any news. Dark eventually fell and the family feared that a rescue before morning was unlikely. The Governor ordered the search to continue through the night. The story ran on the national newscasts. Calls of support flooded into the headquarters in San Antonio.

In Ft. Hood, James and Chris were driving in the dark expanse looking for a sign of anything. They had been riding around for hours. James sat silently. Thoughts of his life with Jordan ran through his head. He thought about how they met in South America, how she wore red flowers in her long dark hair. He was training anti-Communist troops and Jordan was working with a local village. He remembered their December wedding when they returned to the States in ’89. She looked gorgeous in her off-white suit. He smiled at how she insisted she wasn’t the “flowing gown type.” He thought about the births of their children and how beautiful Jordan looked when she was pregnant. James looked over at his quiet son. The picture of her nursing and singing to him still hung in his head. The strong boy always acted like a grown up, even when he was five. Now he looked like a frightened little boy whose world was crashing down around him. Chris’ big brown eyes were fighting back tears. The sight broke James’ heart. He said another silent prayer for Jordan and his children. Suddenly, they spotted something white in the headlights, under a grove of broken trees. The drove closer and James got out to look. He pulled the branches back and saw the wreckage. Chris jumped out of the jeep and looked inside. The cabin was empty. They began to call out Jordan’s name. They heard a faint cry about a short distance away.

“Mom.” Chris screamed and ran to his mother. She was cut and smeared with dried blood. Bruises colored her face and arms.

“Chris?” Jordan smiled at her son. Chris wanted to hold his mother, but was afraid to move her.

“It’s me Mom. It’ll be ok.”

“Jordan I’m so glad you’re alive.”

” Me too. Thank you both. I love you.” Jordan gave a faint smile as tears rolled down her face. James walked over to Joe Dale lying unconscious a couple of feet away. He checked his pulse and breathed a sigh of relief when he felt life. The soldiers called in a helicopter to airlift the two crash victims to a hospital in Austin. Chris held his mother’s hand softly and ran his fingers in her hair to help soothe her pain.

The medical chopper arrived soon to take Jordan and her cousin to the hospital. They moved Jordan carefully as every move caused her pain. Chris cried at the pain his mother was in. Jordan looked at her son and smiled.

“Hey sweetheart. I’m fine, it looks worse than it is.” The helicopter flew off and Chris and James headed back to the post to pick up their car to head to Austin. James pulled his son into a strong hug.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you. You are quite a man Christopher Austin. I’ve never been as proud as I am tonight.”

Chris sniffled. “Thanks Dad.” James then picked up his phone to call Cynthia to tell them of the good news.

“We found them.”

“Oh my God, are they ok?”

“I’m not sure Cyn. Joe Dale was unconscious and Jordan was barely conscious. They’re pretty banged up. I think they both have some broken bones. I’m not sure about internal injuries. They’re taking them to Breckenridge Hospital by helicopter. The estimated time of arrival is one a.m.”

“Thank you James. I don’t know what else to say”

“It’s ok Cyn. Believe me, you’re very welcome. She’s going to be alright. Chris and I will be there as soon as possible.”

Everyone looked to Cynthia.

“They found them. They’re alive. They’re pretty cut up and bruised. James said he thought they had a few broken bones. But, they’re alive and are on the way to the hospital via helicopter. That’s all I know. I assume we’ll get details later. ” Cheers erupted as the group cried with joy and hugged each other. Kate put her arms tightly around Cynthia. Cynthia returned the hug with even more enthusiasm.

“See I told you she would be ok. Thank you for being with me Kate. I really needed you here. It was great of you to take the coffee and sodas out to the press. Remember what I’ve always said about maintaining a good relationship with the press. They’ll remember how helpful you were tonight when we need a favor or they’re covering your Mom. You’ve learned very well. Your mother knows how to work with the press. That’s why they like her so much. She accommodates them as much as possible. You’re alot like her. Do you want to make the announcement?”

“Are you sure I should?”

“Kate, you’re her daughter. I think it would be great coming from you. Plus, you grew up around this stuff. I have faith. You know what to do.” Cynthia hugged her one more time, placing a soft kiss on her cheek. Kate opened up the door and stepped outside.

“Hi everyone. I have an announcement to make.” The reporters stopped what they did and focused on the young woman.

“I’m going to make a brief statement. As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know. We just received a call from my father. My mother and her cousin have been found. They are alive, but injured and being transported to the hospital by airlife. Are there any questions?”

“What was the extent of the injuries.”

“We aren’t sure yet. There are lots of cuts and bruises, and some broken bones. We don’t know if they have internal injuries.”

“Are they conscious?”

“My mother was conscious, but my cousin was unconscious. I don’t know for how long. That’s all we know right now. As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know. We appreciate all of the calls, prayers, and positive thoughts we’ve received. Thank y’all for being here” Kate walked back into the house. Cynthia held her tightly and whispered, “That’s my girl.” Laura, Cynthia and the family went to the hospital to wait for Jordan’s arrival. They all paced until they heard the helicopter arrive. They could only see doctors rushing to get up to the roof. Cynthia had her arm around Kate, soothing her. Kate eventually began to drift off to sleep. It was after 2 am and everyone was exhausted from the emotional roller coaster of the day. One of the doctors came out to talk to the family. The family stood up to find out what the doctor had to say.

“She’s fine. She’s banged up and bruised. She has a number of cuts. Her shoulder is dislocated; she has two broken ribs, several stitches, and a broken ankle. She also has a strain in her back. However, there are no internal injuries. She can even go home Monday afternoon if there are no complications. She will probably need some help at home for a couple of weeks while she recuperates. She has been given pain medication and IV fluids.”

Jordan’s family breathed a sigh of relief and hugged each other tightly.

“How is Joe Dale?”

“He’s undergoing a CT scan. He is conscious, but we still want to check for swelling. He has a number of bruises and stitches as well. He has two broken legs. It appears she dragged him out of the plane after the crash. They’re both very lucky. She’s asking to see her daughter and Cynthia.” As they walked toward the emergency room, Cynthia walked up to Laura and wrapped her arms around her neck.

“Thanks for everything Laura. I couldn’t have gotten through this without you.” Laura smiled at Cynthia. “You’re very welcome. I’m just glad she’s ok. I’ll go tell the press. This has become really big. She’s going to be thrilled at the free coverage she’s getting.”

This made Cynthia laugh. “You’re right. Her numbers are going to go through the roof.”

” Now go see her.”

Cynthia and Kate walked through the doors to see Jordan lying in the bed all bruised and bandaged. Kate began to cry as she kissed her mother on the forehead. She smiled at her daughter and wiped the tears away.

“Shhh. It’s ok baby. I’m fine.”

“I was so scared Mom. I was afraid you were dead.”

“I’m so sorry you went through so much. I love you baby.”

“I love you too Mom.”

“I want you to go get some sleep. You look exhausted. I want everyone to go get some rest. I’m fine. Believe me, I’m feeling no pain. Go tell your grandparents I’m fine. I’d like to speak to Cynthia alone for a minute if that’s ok.”

“Yeah Mom. We’ll be back in the morning.”

“You better.” Jordan smiled at her daughter as she left. Cynthia leaned down and kissed Jordan’s lips softly.”

“I was so scared Jordan. I couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to you. I love you. I’ve waited six years for this I can’t lose you now.” Jordan was struggling to stay awake

“I know baby. To be quite honest with you, I was scared to death. I was afraid I wouldn’t see you or the kids again. I did a lot thinking when I was out there. There are some things I need to talk to you about, but I’m exhausted. I can’t keep my eyes open. Why don’t you go and get some sleep. They should be taking me to a room here soon. We can talk in the morning.” Jordan’s last words were slurred. Cynthia watched her lover for a few minutes, trying to comprehend everything that had happened in the last couple of days. Cynthia kissed Jordan’s forehead and reluctantly left the room. She went back out to the waiting room.

“She’s fine. She’s on painkillers and is exhausted and sleeping. She wants everyone to go home and get some rest. Y’all can go. I’m going to stay here. James and Chris should be stopping by soon. I’m going to have them go on to get some sleep too.” Elaine walked up to Cynthia and pulled her into a strong hug.

“Thank you Cynthia. I’m so glad you’re back. I’m going to go see Joe Dale and then we’ll go. I’m glad you’re here with her.”

She smiled at Elaine. “I’m not leaving her ever again. You can count on that.” Elaine returned the smile and gave Cynthia a soft kiss on the cheek. Elaine went to go find her nephew and Cynthia went to wait until Jordan was moved to a room. James and Chris soon arrived. They ran up to Cynthia to find out Jordan’s status.

“How is she?”

“She’s fine. She has a bunch of stitches and bruises. Her shoulder is dislocated, her ankle is broken, she has broken ribs, but she’s ok. They gave her some pain medication and she’s sleeping. They’re moving her to her own room now.” She reached up and threw her arms around both men, kissing them each on the cheek.

“You two are my heroes. Thank you so much.” James returned the kiss and smiled. “It’s ok. We love her too. I’m just glad we found her.” They walked together to Jordan’s room. They looked in to find her sleeping. Chris walked over and took his mother’s hand and kissed it softly. James kissed her cheek.

“Y’all can go ahead and get some rest. I’ll be here.”

“Are you sure Cynthia?”

“Yes James. I’m sure. She sent everyone home. Get some rest and come back in the morning.” James and Chris left and Cynthia sat down with her lover and watched her sleep. ‘I’m never losing you again Jordan. I don’t want a life without you anymore.’ She held her hand softly, letting tears of relief roll down her cheek as she laid her head down on the bed and drifted off to sleep. Several hours later, Jordan woke up and looked down at the sleeping blonde holding her hand. Jordan stroked her head softly, smiling at her. ’I never want to be without you again. You are one of the most important things in my life. This election means nothing if we don’t have a family together.’ She began to wake her lover.

“Cynthia, honey, wake up.” Cynthia slowly began to raise her head until she saw Jordan’s smile. She squeezed the injured woman’s hand.

“Good morning baby.” Cynthia reached up to place a soft kiss on Jordan’s lips. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore as hell. But glad to be alive. How are you doing? Sleeping in that chair couldn’t have been comfortable.”

“I’m fine. You’re here. You’re alive. Your injuries are minor. I could fly baby. That’s how good I feel.” Jordan laughed.

“Oh God no one’s flying anywhere anytime soon.”

“Ewww. Poor choice of words. Sorry about that.” Jordan winced in pain as she laughed.

“Don’t make me laugh please. It hurts too much.” Cynthia kissed Jordan again.

“Cynthia, I was out there for a long time. I did a lot of thinking. I thought about the kids. I thought about the election. I thought about everyone I love and my life and that includes you.”

“And what were you thinking about us?” Jordan smiled and held Cynthia’s hand tighter.

“All of this in my life; the election; the Senate; means nothing without my family. That includes you. I don’t want to hide anymore.” Cynthia began to cry. “I want you to move in with us. I want us together as a family. I want you to be my partner again. I want us to be public. I want the four of us to win this election together as a family. I want you to be by my side when I’m sworn in. I want you to move to D.C. with me. I know we’ve only been seeing each other again for the last two months. All I’ve wanted for the last sixteen years is you. When you were gone, the only thing missing was you.” They were both crying now.

“What about the election?”

“It means nothing without you. I don’t want to wait until it’s over or until we’ve spent more time together. I kept thinking how I could have died in that crash. I wouldn’t have wanted to go like that. So what’ll it be? Will you have me? Can you face everything that’s going to come up?”

“Yes. Oh my God. Yes Jordan. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t want to live my life without you. But, I’m willing to keep things under wraps until the election. You don’t have to do this. What if this costs you the election? Will you resent me if I’m the reason you lose.”

“No. I don’t want to hide you anymore. I would resent myself if I won because I wasn’t honest. Believe me, if I lose, I still have a job with Alex or I could go into lobbying. But I can’t stand to lose you or deny our family. If we hid our family and what we are to each other, what does that say? It says that our family has to be hidden because we aren’t as good because we’re two women. I won’t have that anymore. I won’t live that way. I love you.” Cynthia kissed her partner over and over again as tears poured down their faces.

“I love you too honey. I always have.” They were interrupted by a knock at the door. It was the doctor making his rounds.

“How’s the patient?”

“Sore, but fine.” Cynthia stood back blushing, wondering how much the doctor saw. The doctor checked Jordan’s chart and examined her.

“Everything seems to be progressing nicely. I’ll make sure you get something for the pain. If everything continues, you should be going home tomorrow afternoon.”

“Thanks. I hate hospitals.” He walked out and Jordan got a lascivious look on her face. “Ok darlin’. Where were we?” Cynthia moved back to her lover until their faces were inches apart.

“I think we were right here.” Their lips met in a kiss full of passion, love, and promise. Another knock at the door separated them. It was the kids.

“Hey Guys.” They went over to their mother. “You both look better. You got some rest. Did you eat?”

“Yeah Mom. We both did. How are you doing?”

“I’m great. Sore, but good. I’m so glad to see you two.”

“Hey Jordan. Guess who made the press announcement of your rescue?” Cynthia nodded in Kate’s direction.

“Kate did you make the announcement?”

“Yeah Mom. I did.” Jordan reached for her daughter and pulled her into a gentle hug. “I’m so proud of you baby. You’re such a grown up. And Chris; you saved my life. I’m proud of both of you. You two are amazing.” She wrapped her son into her good arm.

“Cynthia and I want to talk to you two about something. We’ve decided to get back together.”

“We know Mom. Cynthia told us.”

“It’s more than that actually. She’s moving in with us and she’s coming to D.C. if we win. We’re going to allow the relationship to become public. I want us to do this as a family, like we should have been all along. I want to make sure it’s ok with you two first. It could get ugly. There’s no telling how hard this could get.” Both kids put their arms around Cynthia.

“Whatever happens, you both have our support. We’ll deal with everything as a family. We just want you two back together.” Kate nodded her agreement with her brother.

“Do you both understand this could cost us the election?”

“Of course we do. If you’re willing to take that risk, then we of course are.” Cynthia had her arms around the kids. “So that settles it? We’re a family again?” Jordan smiled at her again. “I guess so. Laura’s not going to be thrilled. But, I don’t care.” The four of them sat and talked together as they briefed Jordan on the press coverage she received. “Well hot damn. I’d love to see those numbers.”

“You’re leading Benson by 30 points and the national morning news shows want to interview you this week.” Laura walked in. “How are you feeling?” Jordan beamed at her best friend.

“Like I got thrown off a damn horse. But hey, the numbers are great. I’ll deal with it.” She grinned and winked. She then turned to everyone in the room. “Guys, can I talk to Laura alone for a minute. ” As they walked out, Cynthia kissed Jordan’s lips softly and smiled at her. She knew Jordan wanted to tell Laura in private about the change in the campaign.

“Jordan, I’m so glad you’re alive. I was so scared. I never thought about a life without you.” She started to cry. “We’ve been together since we were seventeen. I haven’t had many relationships, at least none that lasted long. I’m not good with them. Emotion makes me uncomfortable, which is why you and I together didn’t work. You are the one constant in my life. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you had died. I love you.” Jordan reached out to Laura.

“Shhh. It’s ok honey. I’m here. I love you too. You were so great with my family. I can’t thank you enough. I don’t know what I’d do without you either.” Laura pulled out of Jordan’s hug wiping her eyes.

“Ok. That’s enough. I’ll schedule all of the interview from your house, so you can continue to rest.”

“Laura we need to talk about the campaign. I’ve made a decision. I’m not going to hide my relationship with Cynthia. She’s moving in. We are going to run as a family. I’m not going to announce it. But, I’m going to be honest if asked, and we both know it will happen. I’m also going to include her in all family appearances and photos.”

“Jordan. You’re lucky you’re injured, otherwise, I might hurt you. How can you do this? You are golden right now. You can kick his ass. You could be throwing this away.”

“Laura. I thought I was going to die. I don’t want to waste the chances I have left in this life. I’d rather lose and be proud of my relationship and honest, then win and hide my family. If I hide, what does that teach my children? I want them to be proud of who they are, and the family they come from. That includes Cynthia.”

“I’m not happy with this Jordan. But, it’s your decision. I’ll stand by you and we’ll work with it. We’ll take whatever comes.”

“I just want to win or lose with complete honor.” Laura smiled at Jordan and sighed. “Alright. I’m just glad you’re alive and I want you to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.”

“I know and thank you.” The rest of Jordan’s family arrived and started knocking on the door wanting to come in. Her mothers and her sister came in. Laura smiled at Jordan and left the room.

“Hi y’all.” They walked over to Jordan and gently hugged her. Her mother started to cry. “It’s ok Mom. I’m fine.”

“But what if you weren’t”

“Mom. Everything turned out ok. There is something I need to let you guys know about. Cynthia is moving in with me and is going to come with me to DC if we win. I’m not going to hide my relationship with her anymore. She will be included in all family photo op’s and appearances. I’m not going to publicly announce it. But when I’m asked and I will be, I will answer honestly. I just wanted to let you know because it could get ugly.”

“Are you willing to lose the election?”

“Yes. I’m not willing to hide anymore.” Janis smiled at her daughter.

“Good. I’m glad you finally came to your senses.” Jordan returned the smile.

“Me too.” Throughout the day, Jordan’s family and closest friends came in and out. Finally it was just her and Cynthia. Cynthia leaned in to softly kiss her partner.

“You must be exhausted. Why don’t you go? You’ve been here since they brought me in. You need to get some rest.”

“Honestly, Jordan. I couldn’t even if I tried. I don’t want to leave you. I’d rather just stay here with you. I got a shower and a nap earlier when your family was here. I feel fine really.”

“Well who am I to argue with a beautiful woman? I’m actually glad you’re here. I just hate to be selfish about it. But, I’d love it if you stayed.” Cynthia sat with Jordan through the night.

****

At Kris Benson’s House

The Benson team argued back and forth about what to do next. Kris made his statement to the public expressing his best wishes for Jordan’s speedy recovery. He said he was thankful for her safe rescue. When the press left, his attitude changed. He began to rage.

“Damnit. Have you seen the numbers? She’s on every fucking channel. That dyke bitch is winning. How can this happen?” His oil and political cronies were in his living room with him. His wife came down the stairs.

“Kris do you think you could bellow not quite so loud?”

“Tell you what Amber. Why don’t you go back upstairs into your alcoholic haze? When I want you to make yourself heard, I’ll tell you ok? That bitch is way ahead. If you want all the perks and benefits of a Washington wife like you’ve always wanted, I suggest you let me handle this.”

His wife stumbled back up the stairs.

“I want dirt on her. Find something. If you boys want someone to help you out up there on the “Hill.” I suggest you do whatever you have to do. Tear that bitch to pieces.” His campaign manager got in his face.

“What the fuck do you expect to find on her? She has had investigations done on her. She’s clean.”

“Nobody is that clean. There has to be something. Invent something if you need to. These boys will put up whatever it costs. Won’t you boys?” The oilmen nodded their heads.

“Until then, get a hold of the religious groups. Convince them to start an ad campaign against her. Tell them she’s a liberal dyke baby-killer. Tell them we want to restore family values or some shit like that. I don’t want it officially associated with the campaign though. I need to keep my hands clean. But I want to rip her apart. Do what you have to do.”

****

The next day, Jordan and her family arrived home amid a swarm of reporters. Cynthia helped Jordan out of the car. Her mother walked out of the house with a wheelchair. Jordan sat in the chair. She turned around to face the press.

“I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support. I want to thank the soldiers who were out there searching for me. It won’t be forgotten. I’m just so happy to be alive.”

“Ms. O’ Connor, will you have to take a break from the campaign while you recuperate?”

“I’ll be doing most of my work from home for a couple of weeks. I am also temporarily going to cut back on my appearances. I’ll be doing interviews from home. After my daughter graduates, we’re still going out around the state as planned. I’ll just be on crutches. This campaign is moving full speed ahead.”

“What was going through your mind as you pulled your cousin out of the plane? How is he doing?”

“I really wasn’t thinking much. I didn’t want to stay in the plane in case of an explosion. He’s doing fine. He was injured a little more severely and will probably spend another couple of days in the hospital.”

“Can you tell us what happened?”

“I’m not a mechanic or expert on planes. We were flying, the engine started sputtering, we began to lose altitude and we crashed. I believe there is an investigation pending. That is about as far as I know at this point. If y’all will excuse me, I’m really worn out and would like to get some rest. I’ll talk to y’all soon.” With that, she smiled her most charming smile, waved and went in the house.

“It’s good to be home. Thanks everyone for everything.”

“You’ve been having phone calls all day. There’s a stack of messages waiting for your attention.”

“That can wait. I just want to relax right now.” She pulled Cynthia aside. She took her hand, kissed it softly. “Why don’t you go pick up your stuff from your hotel? Move in today.”

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea Jordan with everything else going on. It seems like a lot to have to deal with at once.”

“I don’t care. I’d like for you to move in now. Besides, you said you’d take care of me. Remember?” Jordan gave Cynthia her most pathetic face, batting her eyelashes.

“Must you do that?” Jordan nodded her head. “Ok. You got me. Will you be ok till I get back?”

“Cynthia. I’ve got three mothers, a father, two brothers, two sisters, an ex-husband, two kids, and a best friend here. I’ll be fine. But hurry before they make me crazy.” They both laughed and Jordan winced in pain. “I’ve got to stop doing that.” Cynthia kissed her on the lips. “I love you.”

“I love you too baby. Now go get your stuff and come back home to me.” Cynthia left to get her things. Jordan went to lie down and rest as the family ran the house and took messages. The phone rang again. Laura knocked on Jordan’s door to tell her she had a phone call.

“Laura. I’m not taking any calls.”

“You’re going to want to take this one.”

“Who is it damnit?”

“The President of the United States.” Jordan got a big grin on her face.

“Really? OK. I’ll take that one.” Jordan picked up the phone extension in her room.

“Jess? ”

“Hey Jordan. How are you feeling?”

“Like I was in a plane crash, but I’m fine otherwise. How’s Jack?” They both chuckled.

” He’s a pain in the ass. I caught him with another damn intern. At least he’s discreet. I’m glad you’re ok. I was very worried about you. You know you still have a soft place in my heart. I’ve thought about you often since that weekend in L.A.” Jordan smiled at the memory.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. Sometimes when I watch you giving the state of the union address, I tend to chuckle. Once you see someone naked and screaming, it’s hard to look at them the same way.”

“You know I adore you Jordan.”

“Same here.”

“Did Cynthia tell you I’m going to do a number of dates with you in Texas this summer and probably a few in the fall. We’re actually taking a train around the U.S. We decided it would be fun and would get people’s attention. I want you to ride with us for a couple of weeks.”

“Really? I didn’t know.”

” I guess she didn’t get the chance to tell you yet. Let me say I’m quite hurt she didn’t come work for me this election. You got very lucky to steal her away from me.” Jordan chuckled.

“Jess. You have no idea.”

“I was thinking that maybe when I come to Texas, I could possibly arrange some discreet time alone for us.” Jordan couldn’t help but smile at the implication. Her weekend with Jessica several years before, after her breakup with Cynthia, had helped her in a very difficult time.

“Actually Jess. That weekend in LA means more to me than you know. Cynthia and I had split up not too long before that, I was a mess and hurting badly. You eased some of that hurt and helped me to smile again. But, Cynthia and I are back together. So I’m afraid I’m not available. In fact, we’re going to allow the relationship to go public. Can you be associated with that?”

“Wow Hon, that sucks for me. But I’m so happy for you. I know how much you loved her and how much you hurt. As far as allowing myself to be associated with a lesbian couple, I’m the incumbent and my approval ratings are fabulous. My opponent is weak and the economy is doing well. I have the utmost respect for you Jordan. Actually I’m jealous. I wish I had your courage to be out. Instead, I have put up with a sham of a marriage in order to have my career. I want you here in D.C. We can do a lot of good together. I’m happy to help you. Did you know the National Committee is going to be asking you to speak at the National Convention?”

“Shit. No. I haven’t heard that yet.”

“You’ll be getting a call. They like what they’ve seen of you nationally. Besides they always like to have the lesbians on TV. You know how it is. They want the gay votes and money. They have to have a few gay people speak. They want you.”

“Does Cynthia know?”

“Nope. Just me. I’ll let you get some rest Jordan. I’m glad you’re ok. I was worried.”

“Thanks Jess. I’ll see you soon.”

Jordan laid there taking in what she had just heard. ‘Wow. I’m going to be speaking at the National Democratic Convention. Oh my God. What the hell am I going to say? What am I going to wear?’ After obsessing for a while, Jordan finally dozed off. A couple of hours later, Cynthia returned with her things. All of the family left, leaving enough food for at least a week. Cynthia went in to check on Jordan. She kneeled next to the bed stroking Jordan’s hair. Jordan opened her eyes and smiled softly. Cynthia kissed her softly.

“Hi honey. I’m home.” Jordan returned the kiss.

“I like the sound of that.”

“Me too baby. How are you feeling?”

“I’m sore. But feeling ok. Guess who called?

“Enlighten me.”

“The President of the United States.”

“Jessica called?”

“Yep. She said she wants us to travel with her and do some appearances together.”

“I forgot to tell you honey. I was going to tell you when you got back from your trip. It was the surprise I was working on. There are several dates with you, Alex, and Jessica. I got distracted and forgot to tell you.”

“That’s ok. Guess what else?”

“What?”

“It looks like I’m going to be speaking at the National Democratic Convention.”

“Oh my God Jordan. Are you going to be televised?”

“Yes. I should be getting their call in the next couple of days.” Cynthia reached up and kissed Jordan passionately.

“Honey. That’s so great. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks. Now I just need the perfect speech to give in front of millions of people and you here in bed with me.” Cynthia reached up and touched Jordan’s face lightly. “I think I can help you with both.”

“Is everyone gone?” Cynthia grinned, leaned into her lover, kissing her neck and whispered “yes”.

“Come to bed.” Jordan raised her eyebrows playfully. Cynthia knew that look.

“Oh don’t even think about that Jordan. You are in no condition for sex.”

“Oh C’mon Cyn. I feel good, really I do. I’ll be fine. Besides, I can live with the pain.” Jordan knew her arguments wouldn’t work, but she had to give it a shot. Cynthia just stood there with her hands on her hips. “Ok fine damnit. Can I at least kiss you?”

Cynthia smiled in triumph. “Of course.” Cynthia lay next to her partner. She leaned towards Jordan. They began to exchange slow, deep kisses. They whispered soft words that lovers share. They talked of their past and their future. Jordan eventually drifted off and Cynthia watched her partner sleep peacefully. She laid her hand on Jordan’s stomach. ‘Oh God Jordan. I love you so much. I think I even love you more than I did years ago if that’s possible. You are my gift. I don’t know what I’d do without you. How would I live if you had died? You are the most important thing in the world to me. I’d do anything for you.’ Cynthia allowed the sound of her partner breathing put her to sleep. They spent their first night of their new life together.

June

It had been a month since Jordan’s accident. Her injuries were healing. She was on crutches and she was way ahead in the election. Jordan and her staff had been busy with television, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She was featured on national news shows. She had been portrayed as a hero, as a result of saving her cousin’s life. Her numbers were high. Offers from individuals to hold fundraisers were coming in. She was scheduled to appear on a TV newsmagazine and she decided to have Cynthia appear with her. Today however, was for her family. Her daughter was graduating from high school. She looked at this day with pride, enthusiasm, and sadness. Her little girl was graduating and would be leaving in a couple of months. Cynthia noticed the silence of her partner. She walked up behind Jordan as the tall woman sat in front of the mirror putting on her makeup. Cynthia wrapped her arms around her. “Penny for your thoughts.”

Jordan smiled and put her hands over Cynthia’s arms. She turned around and placed a gentle kiss on Cynthia’s lips. “Our little girl is grown up.”

Cynthia stroked Jordan’s cheek with the back of her hand. “I know. This is hard on you isn’t it?” Jordan gave a weak look.

“Yes. I was just thinking all day about when she was a baby. She was so beautiful. She was like a dream come true. She was everything I ever wanted in a little girl. She still is. She’s so special. She’s always been. She’s going to be leaving at the end of the summer. I feel like my heart is being ripped out.” Cynthia tightened her hold on her lover.

“Honey. She’s so amazing because she had you for her mother. You’ll still see her even though she’ll be in Massachusetts. Do you have the ring for her?”

“Yes. I need to go give it to her. I’ve been putting it off. I’m trying to hold off on the tears as much as possible.”

“It’ll be ok. Go give it to her.” They shared a tight hug and Cynthia reached up to wipe a tear from Jordan’s face. Jordan smiled and left the room. She walked down the hall and tapped on Kate’s door.

“Come in.” Jordan walked in and looked at her daughter. Kate looked beautiful in her soft white dress with pastel flowers. Jordan fought back the tears as she walked toward her daughter.

“You look beautiful.”

Kate smiled sheepishly. “Thanks Mom.” Jordan took the pearls from her daughter’s hand.

“Here let me help you with those.” She fastened the clasp and stood amazed at the young woman in the mirror. “I have something for you.” She handed the small box to Kate. Kate took the box and opened it revealing a half-carat diamond cluster ring.

“Oh, it’s the ring Nana gave you.”

Jordan smiled and nodded her head. “That’s right. She gave it to me when I graduated from high school. I decided then and there that I would give it to my daughter when she graduated from high school. Someday, if and when you have a daughter, I hope you pass it on to her.” Kate placed the ring on her finger and wrapped her arms around her mother tightly.

“Thank you. This means the world to me. I’ll take good care of it.”

“I know you will. I am so proud of you. It’s hard to believe that you’re all grown up. To me, you’re still a little girl. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.”

” I’m glad you’re here. I was so scared you wouldn’t be. I kept thinking while you were missing that I didn’t know what I would do or how I would get by without you. You’ve always been there. I’ve never thought about the possibility of you being gone. I love you Mom.”

“I love you too. I’ll always be here for you regardless of where I am. Even if something had happened and I didn’t survive, I’d be here with you today.”

They held each other and cried. Jordan pulled back and smiled at her daughter.

“We’ve got to stop this. Our makeup is going to be screwed up. Finish getting ready we have to leave soon.”

“’K. ” Jordan left her daughter’s room and Cynthia was waiting in the hall for her.

“Are you alright?”

She leaned down and placed a sweet, soft kiss on Cynthia’s lips. Jordan smiled sadly at her. “Yes. I’ll be fine. ”

All of Jordan’s family sat together at the graduation. Cheers erupted from the group when Kate’s name was called and she walked across the stage. After the ceremony, everyone gathered at Jordan’s house for a barbecue. Jordan pouted because her Dad was at the grill. Cynthia smiled at the sight of Jordan frowning. She walked up to Jordan, kissed her cheek and put her arm around her.

“What’s the matter?”

“That’s my grill. I do the grilling.” Cynthia laughed at her partner acting like a two-year-old.

“Honey, give up the grill just for today. I don’t think your Dad will have a problem with it. He’ll take good care of it.”

Jordan insisted she could do everything even though she was on crutches. She finally gave up when her brother Travis caught her as she lost her balance while trying to prepare the grill. Everyone was having a great time. They were celebrating Kate’s graduation and Jordan’s safe return. After the barbecue was gone and the mess was cleaned up, everyone left and Kate was on her way to Six Flags in Arlington with her graduating class. Chris had gone out with one of his friends and would be gone all night. Jordan was sitting on the couch feeling quite gleeful. Being on crutches excused her from cleaning up. Cynthia walked over, sat down next to Jordan, and put her arms around her. Jordan turned to her lover, took her hand, lightly tasted Cynthia’s lips, and leaned in to whisper; “we’re all alone.” Cynthia returned the grin. “I know.”

“Well I think we should take advantage of this time, don’t you?”

Cynthia wrapped her arms around Jordan’s neck. She began to shower tiny kisses over Jordan’s sensitive flesh. Jordan moaned at the attention she was receiving. “Oh my God Cynthia. That feels so good.” Cynthia soon found the spot just below Jordan’s ear and she let out a scream. “That’s not fair.”

“You love it. I dare you to tell me you don’t.”

“Careful darlin’, two can play that game.”

Cynthia leaned in to capture her partner’s lips, when suddenly the tables turned and she found herself captured. Jordan pulled Cynthia onto her lap. Cynthia straddled Jordan’s hips. Jordan kissed her deeply, wrapping her arms tightly around her lover. “I need to have you Cynthia.” Cynthia was so consumed by desire she could barely speak. She simply whispered, “yes.” Jordan pulled Cynthia’s shirt open and buttons fell to the floor. She devoured Cynthia’s body with her mouth. Her tongue left a hot moist trail along Cynthia’s shoulders. She unclasped Cynthia’s bra and took her breasts. Cynthia ran her fingers through Jordan’s hair pulling her tightly against her. Jordan consumed Cynthia’s breasts as their bodies began to meld. Cynthia pulled Jordan’s shirt off and it landed across the room. She also rid Jordan of her bra. Jordan’s skin felt like fire to Cynthia. No words were exchanged, only sounds of passion and love. Jordan needed to be closer to Cynthia. She lifted Cynthia to her feet. Jordan pulled the rest of Cynthia’s clothes to the floor. She quickly brought Cynthia back to her lap. Her fingers found Cynthia’s slick center. Jordan smiled at her lover’s hardness. Jordan stroked her, reveling in the moans she heard. Cynthia let out a guttural cry when Jordan finally took her. Jordan loved Cynthia hard and fast, staking claim to her. Cynthia rode Jordan’s hand like it would be the last time. When she released, she let go of the pent up fear and pain of the weeks earlier. She cried out her climax and sobbed as she began to fall. Jordan held her tightly, stroking her hair.

“Shhh. It’s ok baby.” Jordan held Cynthia tightly. Cynthia’s tears finally subsided. The two women were still locked together. Jordan pulled back and looked into her lover’s face.

“What’s wrong?”

Cynthia wiped her eyes. “I’m fine. Your plane crashed right after we made love the last time. Here I was on this incredible emotional high after making love to you for the first time in six years and then suddenly, there was the possibility of you being dead. I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again. This is the first time we’ve made love since the accident. So much has happened. I moved in, you’ve been recuperating, doing so many interviews. We had the graduation and party to plan. I was so busy, I think I pushed the emotions down to be able to get through all of the things happening around us. And now feeling you, having you so close to me, it just all came out, so to speak.” Jordan smiled and gently stroked Cynthia’s face with the back of her hand.

“I understand honey. We’ve been dealing with so much lately. I wish I could say we were going to be able to slow down and settle into life together. But we both know that’s not going to happen for the next few months.” She took Cynthia’s face between her hands and looked into her eyes. “Listen to me. I’m ok and we are going to have a very long life together. I’m not leaving you.” She pressed her lips against Cynthia’s tightly, holding her close. “Come on. Let’s go to bed.”

Cynthia put her arms around Jordan helping her to the bedroom. When they reached the bed, she lay Jordan down and removed the clothes that were remaining. Jordan pulled Cynthia on top of her. Their explorations continued as both women expressed their love and devotion through the night.

Late the next morning, Jordan opened her eyes to the light that was pouring into the room through the curtains. She looked down at the sleeping woman in her arms and squeezed her tightly. Cynthia cuddled tightly against Jordan’s body. Jordan smiled at her lover and began waking her gently. Cynthia opened her eyes and looked up at her partner.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning to you Darlin’” Jordan reached down and kissed her softly.

“Last night was incredible.” Jordan stroked Cynthia’s cheek.

“It was amazing. We need to get up though.”

Cynthia pouted and protested. “No. I like where I am. I’m not moving all day.”

“Would you like to have our staff meeting here in the bedroom?”

Cynthia thought for a moment. “That might be a little weird having everyone see us naked like this.”

They got up and dressed sharing kisses and small touches. That afternoon the rest of the campaign staff showed up. Several more staff members had joined the campaign.

Laura began to go over the schedule for the next month

“We leave next week after the Pridefest here in San Antonio. You are going to be the Grand Marshall of the parade, but you knew that. From there, we are doing town meetings and block walking or something pretty much every day. You will also be in the parades in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. You also have several fundraiser dinners in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and McAllen. You’re spending a few days at the end of the month traveling with the President. The Governor will meet us at a couple of locations. This week we need to come up with a basic speech that we can tailor to whatever audience we are talking to. You’ll have interviews with the local press at nearly every stop. The news show will be meeting us on the 25th. You’ll have a weekly schedule to follow that will be more in depth. But you know how it is. There will also be spontaneous photo and media op’s. Cynthia is having a camera crew follow us to take footage for some commercials. ”

Jordan smiled at Laura. “That sounds great. It sounds like we’re going to get plenty of coverage. Jim what do the funds look like?”

“We just received donations of $400,000 from EMILY’S List, $30,000 from the Stonewall Democrats, and $50,000 from the League of Women Voters. The campaign bus was a donation. We’ll have hotel and food costs for the trip. We should be able to raise money on the road to go towards that. So at this point, we have $2,543,226.89, but we need more. The ads that are going to start running will cost us. We’re going to have to pay the film crew that will be with you. Try to get as much free publicity as possible. The fact that you’re going to be traveling with the President is going to be great for you.”

Jordan nodded her head in agreement. “Cynthia has some things she scheduled that have come up over the last couple of days.”

Cynthia read off of her notes. “The Lesbian and Gay Rodeo will be in Ft. Worth at the end of July, they want Jordan to ride in the barrel race. It will be great publicity and you should be able to get some money out of it. Also, Tammy Johnson is having a benefit concert at Gruene Hall on the 4th of July for Jordan. In August, the Human Rights Campaign has decided to give Jordan half the proceeds from the annual Waltz Across Texas. You’ll be expected to be there and to speak, but that’s not a big deal.”

Sarah looked at Jordan. “Tammy Johnson the singer?”

Jordan smiled. “Yes. She and I are old friends. I’ve known her since before I ran for any office. She and I wrote a few songs together and performed a little together years ago. Actually, I sang backup on her first couple of CD’s. We’ve kept in touch over the years.”

“Wow. She’s one of my favorites. I didn’t know you sang with her. I’d love to meet her.” Jordan smiled at the apparent crush of her staff member on her old friend.

“So it looks like we’re set for the month. Those of you, who will be running the office here in town, make sure all the major stuff is cleared through Jim and Sarah. But, y’all know that. It’s also time for the first debate. I’m going to publicly challenge Benson. I’d love the chance to go head to head against him. He is completely out of touch with the regular people of Texas. I want them to see that.”

The week went by in a hurry. Everyone was getting ready to leave the next week. Jordan was speaking at the San Antonio Pridefest. A crowd was formed around the stage listening to her speak.

“It is time for the LGBT community to be taken more seriously. We need to unify. We are too split into our own groups. We are too small-minded in our exclusion of one another. We pay just as much in taxes and in many cases, more than most Americans. We are entitled to the same privileges and protections under the Constitution. It is not acceptable to be fired because of whom we love. It is not acceptable for our foreign-born partners to be deported because they cannot marry us legally. It is not acceptable to lose our homes because of whom we love. It is not acceptable to not be able to legally marry. We cannot make things change if we do not work together.” The crowd cheered at her words. Later that night, she rode in a convertible Cadillac waving to the crowds. She couldn’t help but notice a small group of protestors carrying “religious” oriented signs. She would not let them damper her resolve or her mood. She knew that she would face more people like these throughout the campaign.

After the parade, a reporter from the local TV station was interviewing her.

“Ms. O’Connor, what do you think of this turnout?”

“It’s great to see so many people out and enjoying themselves. This is a great way for the community to get out and celebrate who we are and our diversity.”

“Did you notice the protestors?”

“Yes I noticed a small group of people protesting. I don’t agree with them. I do however support their right to protest. Those people that are so vocal with their intolerant attitudes tend to shoot themselves in the foot so to speak. The more they talk, the less support people give them.”

“Are you concerned that your presence here will affect your election?”

“No not really. I have never hidden my views. These are not my only views. I wanted to be here today to celebrate who I am. That is why we are here. Plus, I’ve been coming to Pridefest for years. It’s a lot of fun. ”

Monday came and it was time for everyone to leave. Jordan and the main campaign people were riding in one bus. There was a crew on a second bus and a few people following in Jordan’s Range Rover. Everyone was excited. Jordan was going to start on I35 and move north. She had a rally on the steps of the Capital later that morning.

Hundreds of people came to hear Jordan speak about education, welfare, and economic trade. She had three interviews afterwards. She was stopping in Waco that afternoon and speaking at a benefit dinner in Dallas that evening She spoke on the failings of the welfare system.

“The current system we have does not work. The majority of people on welfare are working people with families to feed, and daycare and rent to pay. Wages are so low; people just do not make enough to support their families. What we need to do is to offer training that will make people more competitive, offer assistance so parents can get decent childcare, and raise the minimum wage. The Republicans don’t like to mandate a raise in minimum wages. They say that it isn’t fair to the small business owners. They think businesses should set their own wages. Laissez-faire business practices have proven to be unsuccessful. People are willing to work hard. Hard work and its virtues are what we are taught here in Texas. Unfortunately, the current system makes it more financially advantageous for people to stay at home. One of the first things I plan on doing is to sponsor a bill to raise minimum wages as a start to welfare reform.” The crowd when Jordan talked about raising the minimum wage. She shook many hands and smiled until her face hurt.

As the days went on, the campaign came into full swing. She made two or three appearances a day. She spoke at barbecues, luncheons, and town meetings. She had coffee and cocktails with wealthy Democrats. She was bringing in more money, and more and more people were turning up to hear her speak. She was way ahead in the polls. Her opponent was holding his place behind. She had called for a debate, but he had not accepted the challenge. It came time for Jordan’s campaign to join the President. They were going to be traveling along with the President’s entourage. They met up in Beaumont, Texas, eighty-five miles East of Houston. Jordan smiled when she saw her friend and greeted her with open arms.

“Jess. It’s so good to see you.” Jessica squeezed her tightly.

“It’s good to see you too Jordan. How’s the ankle?”

“I should be off the crutches in another week. You look gorgeous as always.”

Jessica returned the compliment with a wink. “Thanks.” She leaned in to whisper into Jordan’s ear, “you don’t look so bad yourself.”

The two women shared a deep, brief look into eachother’s eyes. Cynthia joined them in greeting the President.

“Jessica. How are you?” Jessica smiled broadly at her friend.

“Exhausted from this campaign and sick of interviews, but otherwise not bad.” The staff members continued to greet one another. Once in their hotel room, Jordan and Cynthia began to go through their bags for clothes for a private reception with Jessica and some high power democrats. Cynthia turned to Jordan.

“How well do you know Jessica?” Jordan looked a little surprised by Cynthia’s question. Cynthia didn’t know about the weekend she had spent with the President and Jordan didn’t want her to know.

“We’ve met various times over the last few years since she was a Senator. We’ve attended the same conferences and developed a friendship over the years. We have a lot in common.”

“She didn’t mention how you knew each other when I worked for her. I was just wondering. The two of you seemed very familiar. ” Cynthia noticed a strange look in her partner’s eyes. She felt that Jordan wasn’t telling her everything, but she wasn’t going to push the issue at the moment. Guilt over lying to her partner got the best of her. Jordan walked over to her and took her hands.

“Honey that wasn’t completely truthful. I don’t want to upset you. But I don’t want to lie to you. About five years ago, after you and I broke up and before she ran for the Presidency, Jess and I were both speaking at a women’s symposium in L.A. At the first reception, we began to talk and we hit it off. We later got together at her hotel room for dinner and drinks. I was in such bad shape after you and I split up. We talked very very late into the night and one thing led to another and we had sex. I cried and she held me. I needed comfort and she gave it to me. We ended up spending the weekend together. We have maintained a good friendship ever since. But, it is a platonic friendship. I wasn’t sure how to tell you since you worked for her.”

Cynthia looked troubled. “I’m not sure what to say. I mean, you slept with a woman I worked for. You slept with the President for God’s sake. I’m not thrilled, but we were broken up. I really don’t have any right to give you grief over what you did while we were broken up. I appreciate you telling me. You’ve never lived like a nun. Hell, you’ve slept with half the women on the staff. Believe me, I don’t feel threatened by your sexuality. ”

Jordan pulled Cynthia against her. “I’ve been with a lot of women, but I have never once been with anyone else while we were together. Once I met you, you have been the only thing in my heart. Regardless of whom I was with, you have been the only one for the last sixteen years. You have no reason to be threatened by my sleeping with Jessica. I love you Cyn.” She emphasized her words with a long, slow, deep kiss.

As the entourage toured the state over the next few days, the rallies drew huge crowds cheering for the President, the Governor, and Jordan. The newsmagazine crew joined Jordan to follow her around for a few days and to interview her and Cynthia. A second crew followed her to collect footage for TV ads. While on Airforce One, the interviewer sat down with Jordan and Cynthia to talk about the candidacy and their lives.

“Ms. O’Connor, do you worry that your status as an open lesbian will hurt your career as a politician in a conservative state such as Texas?”

“It is something I have thought about. Serving the public is what I was meant to do and this is who I am. So I really have no choice.”

“Why not stay in the closet?”

“That wouldn’t be fair to myself, to my constituents, nor to my family.”

“Why are you so drawn to a political life with all its sacrifices?”

” I remember being interested in politics even when I was a little girl. I have always wanted to change the world. I’ve always felt compelled to make the world a more positive place.”

“Aren’t you concerned about how your public life affects your kids?”

“Of course I am. I am a public figure and it hasn’t been easy for them to hear people say negative things about me. Before I run for any office, including this one, I discuss it with my children. If they were to ever come to me and ask me not to run, I wouldn’t. I have very strong children. They know who they are and who I am.”

“Ms. Price, how do you feel about being a part of such a public relationship?”

“I resolved my issues with my sexuality years ago. Relationships aren’t easy whether they are same sex, in the public eye or not. This is the person I love, and that is all there is to it. We share the same goals of working to make this country a better place. Jordan wants and can do great things for Texas and the U.S. I am proud to be a part of her life and this campaign.”

“The two of you met on a campaign of Jordan’s didn’t you?” Jordan smiled and took Cynthia’s hand.

“Yes. I was running for County Commissioner and she came on board to help with PR. She is a public relations genius. We fell in love on that campaign.”

“You two also broke up for many years?”

“Yes. We’ve recently reconciled.”

“Do you feel you have the right to a legal marriage?”

“Of course I do. I am a U. S. citizen. I pay taxes. Actually, I pay a lot in taxes. She and I are bound together financially and emotionally. I plan on spending the rest of my life with her. I should be able to marry the person I love.”

“Is that one of the issues you plan on working on?

“It is a state by state issue. However, I will do what I can to support the issue. I will be damn sure to fight any measure to ban same-sex marriage.”

“Do you two plan on getting married?”

Jordan looked over at Cynthia, smiling. “Well, we’re a little busy until November, but who knows after that.” Jordan gave a quick wink to Cynthia. They all laughed.

“Getting back to your other policies, you’ve talked many times about your commitment to service. What are some of the issues that are most important to you?”

“I care most about women’s, children’s, and human rights issues.”

“Is this why you went into the Peace Corps in the 1980’s?”

“Yes. It’s exactly the reason. I had done some marching, preached lots of liberal rhetoric. I felt it was time to actually physically do something rather than just prattle on about it.”

“What were some of the things you did in Nicaragua?”

“I dug ditches, I taught, built houses, helped in the fields. I basically did what was needed of me. I still carry that with me. I want to help people with the things they need.”

“What were some of the things you saw?”

Jordan’s face became very serious for a second as she briefly lost herself in her thoughts. “It was a beautiful country. The people in the village were loving, and so full of life. Dealing with the other issues, such as instability, drug lords, lack of police protection were hard. They have a completely different system there. It isn’t one you can trust. I saw cases of injustice and pain, the likes of which, I’ve never seen anywhere else.”

“How did it change you?”

“It helped to solidify my commitment to human rights and social justice.”

The interviewer wrapped up the interview. When they were alone, Cynthia looked at Jordan with concern. “What happened hon? You seemed to become pretty solemn when you talked about Nicaragua.”

“I hope it wasn’t too noticeable. I just had a slight flashback.”

“What happened is still so hard on you isn’t it?”

“I’ll never completely get over it. How do you get over something like that? It’s going to haunt me until the day I die.”

Cynthia wrapped her arms tightly around Jordan. Jordan pulled out of the hug and wiped her eyes. “Thanks baby. We need to get ready. We’ll be stopping in San Antonio soon.”

Jordan and the President were met with a huge crowd in front of the Alamo. Jordan stepped out waving to the crowd. The crowd cheered as she stepped out onto the podium.

“Hello San Antonio. It’s good to be home. I’ve been all over and there is no city I love more than this one. There is no place I love more than Texas. I grew up here and raised my kids here. I grew up being taught all of the values of being a Texan. I was taught to love and respect the land and the people. I was taught honor and loyalty and fairness. I was taught to be tough and strong but kind. These are the values of Texas. The Senate and this country need some of these values. It’s been a long time since there has been honesty and integrity in politics. I am here to represent the people of Texas. We’ll show those old stiffs in Washington just what we’re made of.”

Cheers erupted as Jordan raised her arms in triumph. Later that night, the campaign workers and the President and her staff gathered at Jordan’s house. After dinner, the President, and a couple of staff members sat around the living room, talking and drinking wine.

“Jordan, you are doing such a great job. You have a charisma I haven’t seen for years.” Jordan smiled at her friend.

“Thanks. I really do love it. I get a charge from hearing the cheers. I feel like this is what I am meant to do. This has been fun touring with you. It’s amazing how many more people come out to see us. I just really want to get Benson into a debate. I want the people to see just how inept and out of touch he is.”

“Don’t worry. It’ll happen. He’ll shoot himself in the foot.”

“Well, I can’t wait.” Just then Jordan’s mobile phone rang. It was Laura calling.

“Jordan turn on the TV.”

“What? What’s up?”

“Just turn on the TV.” Jordan turned to Cynthia. “Honey turn on the TV.”

“Which channel Laura?”

“Channel 12.”

Jordan turned to Cynthia. “Turn it on channel 12 please.”

They turned on the TV to see a group dressed up as chickens at a rally for Benson. The people were unidentifiable. They were wearing chicken costumes from head to toe carrying signs that said ‘Chicken Benson Won’t Debate’.

Jordan started laughing. “Oh my God. I can’t believe it.” She looked at the picture closely. ” I know those calves. That’s Chris.”

Jessica looked closely. “How can you tell.”

“He’s my kid. Plus, we have the same calves.”

The room was laughing. Cynthia looked at Jordan. “Jordan this shouldn’t be a surprise. Do you remember when you were his age? You did that to harass a Republican Senate candidate. You’ve showed him the pictures.”

“You know we’re going to have to deny any involvement. That makes us look bad to be a party to this. We don’t want it to look like we are harassing him at his own rallies. Thank God they were smart enough to be anonymous.”

She picked up her phone to call her son.

“Chris”

“Hey Mom.”

“I saw you on the news tonight. ”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t give me that Christopher Austin. I saw your legs.”

“Well you did it when you were my age.”

” I don’t care. Were you at least careful about your identities?”

“Yes Mom.”

“I’m going to deny any involvement. If it comes out that you did it. I’m going to say I didn’t know about it and that you acted solely on your own.”

“Ok, but he deserved it. It was hilarious and it brought attention to his refusal to debate you. Are you really mad?”

“No. How can I be mad? I set the example. You were just doing something I did myself. You’ve been out on the road without my supervision for about a month now. Is there anything else I need to know about? Have you been behaving yourself?”

“No there’s nothing else.”

“Ok. Now please behave. I love you. Are you taking care of yourself?”

“Yes. I love you too. See you next week.”

When Jordan hung up the phone, the room erupted in laughter. Jessica was almost rolling on the floor. Cynthia walked up to Jordan and wrapped her arms around her.

“What do you expect. He’s just like you.”

Jessica was still laughing. “Now what is this about you and a chicken, Jordan?”

“When I was twenty-one or something, I was in Austin working for the Governor’s re-election. There was this candidate for the Senate. I can’t recall his name. Anyway, he was a really decent man whose headquarters were broken into. His opponent was the incumbent, Henry Bonilla. I don’t know if you remember him. One day I was answering phones and we got a call from the challenger’s office. They were getting people to dress up in chicken costumes to march in front of Bonilla’s offices. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So we marched with picket signs in front of the offices because Bonilla wouldn’t debate. We ended up on the news all over the state. It was hilarious.”

The President looked at Jordan. “Somehow Jordan, that doesn’t surprise me. I know how much you love the give the competition hell.”

“Yeah and I’ve got a kid just like me.” The President was getting ready to leave. As everyone was walking out, she pulled Jordan aside

“Jordan, I’ve enjoyed spending this time with you. It’s been great watching you. You know I sincerely want you to win. I need any support in the Senate I can get. If you do lose, I want you to join my cabinet as the Head of the Dept. of Labor. Elizabeth is leaving office at the end of this term. You’ll have to go through a confirmation hearing, but that shouldn’t be any problem for you. Basically, I like you. I want to work with you.”

“Wow Jess. Thanks. Let me do some thinking on it. You’ll know the day after the election.”

“That ‘ll do just fine. By the way, how is the convention speech coming along.”

“I haven’t started it yet, too many things going on. But I have an idea of what I want to speak about.”

Jessica smiled at her friend. “I know you’ll do a great job. You look happy. It looks like everything in your life is coming together.”

“Yes. It seems so doesn’t it? I think this is the best time of my life. ”

They shared a long embrace and the President walked out of the house.

After everyone else left, Jordan and Cynthia were getting ready for bed.

“You’re not going to believe what Jess said as she was leaving tonight.”

“What is that my love?”

“She wants me to be the new Head of the Dept. of Labor if we don’t get elected.”

“Wow.”

“I know. That would be amazing. I’d honestly be thrilled to. I’d have to get through a Senate confirmation though.”

“That could be a problem considering what happened in Latin America.”

“I know that too. Things can still be hidden in a campaign. The confirmation hearings are a problem. They’ll interview people I went to middle school with. So we’ll just see what happens next.”

They laid down together. Cynthia resumed her usual position, tucked against her lover, with her arm and leg across Jordan. Jordan loved times like this with just the two of them. Especially since quiet time was scarce.

Cynthia burrowed into Jordan. “It feels good to be here in our own bed. It also feels so good to be with you Cyn. Have I told you today how you are the most sexy, amazing, brilliant, perfect woman in the world and that I love you with all of my heart?” Cynthia smiled and looked up at her partner, kissing her soundly. “Nope you didn’t.”

Jordan returned the affectionate gesture. “Ok. Just checking.” She then turned over and pretended to go to sleep. Cynthia then tackled her, tickling her and laughing. “I can’t believe you just did that to me. You are such a tease.”

Jordan turned Cynthia over onto her back. “Yes I am a tease, you love it and I love you very much.”

The playful touches and giggles turned very serious, and passionate. Jordan softly sucked on her lover’s neck and kissed her lips. She held her hand behind Cynthia’s head pulling her closer. She lowered herself until she reached her partner’s stomach. She lifted Cynthia’s shirt slightly, moving her head under the shirt. Not able to see Jordan, Cynthia was lost in the feeling of soft, moist kisses on her stomach. Her breath caught at the attention paid to one of her most sensitive areas. Low moans escaped Cynthia as she felt her nipples captured between two teeth. Jordan then began to move lower and lower until she was hovering above Cynthia’s center. She pulled down Cynthia’s black lace panties. The aroma of her lover when she was aroused was like heaven to Jordan. Cynthia’s hips rose in anticipation of the attention she was about to receive. Jordan lowered her mouth to taste Cynthia’s wetness. Moaning at the ambrosia she found, she moved her lips deeper into Cynthia’s folds. She licked in circles around Cynthia’s clit, until sucking it in a steady rhythm. She moved her fingers inside her lover in time with her mouth. Cynthia’s hips rocked against Jordan’s head, pulling her in, whispering, “yes, yes.” Jordan could feel Cynthia’s body become tense as she drew closer to her climax. Cynthia gave herself over to the waves of pleasure that began to rock her body. She moaned loudly as she came, pulling Jordan tightly against her center. As she fell back into herself, breathing heavily, she pulled Jordan up against her. Jordan loved the look in Cynthia’s eyes when she was satisfied. Jordan held her tightly, a light sweat glistening over their bodies. She smiled as she heard the steady rhythm of Cynthia’s breath as she slept against her. This feeling of pleasing the woman she loved and holding her afterward was far more powerful and satisfying than any orgasm Jordan could ever feel.

Cynthia woke up from her satiated sleep to hear Jordan’s breathing uneven and fast. Her body was twitching and sweating. She had a disturbed look on her face. She began calling out. “NO Maria Aye Dios Mio!” She sat up sobbing. Cynthia held her lover, rocking her back and forth.

“Shh. It’s ok baby. I’m here. We’re home.”

“It was so real. I was back in Nicaragua. I saw her face so clearly and the men.”

“I know baby. You’re going to be fine. After this is all over, I want you to see someone. You’ve buried this for far too long. It’s been twenty-five years and you are still having nightmares.” Jordan nodded her head in agreement.

“I know. Tonight I just need you. I need peace and you give me that.”

Cynthia wrapped her arms protectively around Jordan as they fell back asleep.

July

The month began with the usual staff meeting to go over the upcoming business. Jordan and Cynthia walked into the office for the first time in a month. There were several new volunteers she hadn’t met. She went around meeting the new people. She and Cynthia walked into the conference room where the staff was. She walked over to her chair at the head of table and sat down.

“Good morning. I hope that everyone is well.”

The people in the room smiled and nodded.

“What do you have for me Laura?”

“You’ve got that pro-choice rally this afternoon, and then the reception at Planned Parenthood. Your commercial starts running in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin tomorrow night. We’re having a party here to watch it. You’re speaking at an AARP meeting tomorrow. You have several meetings in Austin on the third, including one with the state party. The fourth is the fundraiser at Gruene Hall. On the fifth, you go back out on the road, hitting South Texas. You’ll be out on the road for a few weeks. Then, you’ve got that first debate with Benson at UT-Austin on the twentieth. We’ll prepare for that while we’re on the road. We’ve got the Lesbian and Gay Rodeo on the last weekend of the month. You also need to prepare for that. Be sure and get out to your mother’s to practice a little please. You won’t be competing. You’ll open up the barrel racing competition. You’ll be the first rider, but won’t receive a score. You don’t want to look like an idiot though. WeÎre having a film crew there. If the footage is good, then we’ll make a commercial out of it. They also want you to co-announce the next day. As always, everyone will be given an in-depth weekly schedule.”

Jordan nodded her head. “That sounds good Laura. I’m looking forward to the debate. Jim, how’re things coming with the money?”

“The commercial runs are costing us. You brought in over a half-million in donations. Which is good. You’ve also had additional forty- thousand come here while you were gone. Right now, we have $2,034, 276. That’s after the rent, ads, and salaries for the month. We need at least another million to get us through until November. But that is a bare minimum. Benson is spending nearly twice that. If you continue at the current rate, that shouldn’t be a problem. Your meeting with the state Democrats should result in some money. We’re going to start running more ads next week in different areas of Texas. As long as you’re the frontrunner, raising money shouldn’t be a problem. People love to back a winner.”

Cynthia looked over the schedule. “Remember Jordan, there will be cameras today at the rally. I’ll get you some news coverage at most of the events that are coming up. The debate of course will be televised throughout Texas. You just show up, at your best at all times, I’ll take care of the press. We’ve got your appearance schedule worked out.” Jordan smiled.

“Y’all tell me where to go and I’ll show up and smile.” She looked over at Sarah. “How’s the web site doing?”

“It’s doing quite well. We’ve linked up with the other Democratic candidates in the state, the Texas Democrats, the DNC, and the Bexar County Democrats. We also have all of your appearances listed daily.”

“Thanks Sarah. I want everyone at the fundraiser in Gruene. This is really great of Tammy to do this for me. Let’s be sure and show our appreciation. Also, I noticed a number of new volunteers out there.”

Sarah nodded. “We have twenty new volunteers this month.”

“Who has the new numbers?”

Laura pulled out her paperwork.

“We’re sitting at sixty-three percent. You’ve gone up four points since last week.”

Jordan was grinning. “If this continues, you’re going to have to find an apartment in D.C.” They all laughed. “Ok, I need to stop that. I don’t want to jinx us.”

In Dallas, Kris Benson was in a meeting with some of the leaders of the state Republican Party.

“Kris, we’re quite disappointed in your showing as of yet. You’ve got all of the financial resources you could want. You are thirty points behind. She’s a dyke for God’s sake. She has to have something dirty somewhere.”

“I know. I’ve got people on it. They’ll find something.”

“Well, you better. We’re arranging for Bill to endorse you. Hell, he’s been in the damn Senate for eighteen years. I could strangle him for stepping down. He could win this thing hands down. He’s going to make several appearances with you. Maybe he can show you a thing or too. The Republicans have held this seat for two decades. I won’t let some rich businessman with a powerful daddy lose this office. If you do, you can forget about ever running for office again.” The Senate hopeful cringed in his seat, cursing that damn woman, who was yet again making his life difficult.

“I won’t lose. Whatever it takes, we’ll win. I’ve got lots of money into this.”

“You better win. I don’t care how you do it. Just do it.”

Back in San Antonio, Jordan was getting ready to head to the Pro-Choice rally. “Laura, do you have the speech?”

“Yes, its right here. Go over it on the way and make the changes you want in the car.”

“Thanks. How do I look?”

Jordan was wearing navy slacks and a white short sleeve blouse.

“You look good. Blue is a good color for you. It matches your eyes.” Jordan smiled at her partner.

“Ok. Let’s go.”

There were hundreds of people gathered together in Milam Park downtown. Several distinguished women were up on the platform. Jordan knew most of them. She had worked with them in some capacity at one point or another. The audience applauded and cheered when Jordan’s short bio was read and she walked up to the podium to speak. She threw away the prepared speech and spoke from her gut.

“In January 1973, the Supreme Court decided that according to the Constitution, the rights of a pregnant woman superceded the rights of the unborn fetus. It was that decision that saved millions of women’s lives. As a result of this decision, women gained control of their own bodies, and therefore their own futures. It is imperative that we continue to protect this right, for our sakes and for our daughters. Abortion is made out to be a major political issue. It is an extremely individual issue that has nothing to do with the religious establishment or the lawmakers in Austin or D.C. It is the woman who has to go through the procedure, it is the woman who must go through pregnancy and give birth, and it is the woman who must raise the child in most cases. Therefore, it is the woman who has the right to make that choice. We need to teach the young people in our community how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and we need to educate them about the consequences of their actions. The right to make decisions about our reproductive futures is one of the most personal and essential freedoms. As your Senator, I will do everything in my power to make sure that all women will keep the right to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies. As voters, it is your responsibility to vote into office the people who will protect a woman’s right to choose.”

The crowd cheered as Jordan finished her speech. She stayed around for a while afterwards to talk to some of the people there and to give several interviews with the local press. That evening, Jordan, Cynthia, Laura, Sarah, and Jim went to the Planned Parenthood office for a fundraiser reception. The room was filled with influential and powerful women who were mingling and networking. Jim pulled Jordan aside.

“Jordan, have you noticed that I am the only man here?” Jordan looked around and laughed and slapped him on the back.

“You know Jim, I think you’re right.”

“How long do I have to stay?”

“Don’t be such a baby Jim. You can leave in a half hour.”

As she was talking to Jim, two arms snaked around Jordan’s waist from behind. She turned around and grinned.

“Hey you. What are you doing here?” It was Christina, one of Jordan’s closest friends.

“I came to see you. How are you?”

“I’m exhausted, but you know how much I love all of this. How are you? How are Lisa and kids?”

“They’re fabulous. Jake has a big project due tomorrow so Lisa couldn’t be here. But she told me to tell you hi. How are the kids?”

“I’m sorry I missed her. Chris is about to begin his senior year at UT. He’s also starting on the football team. He’s in Houston right now with some of the other college kids doing some campaigning. Kate just graduated last month. She’s with some friends. I gave her the night off. She leaves for Mount Holyoke in August. So what have you been up to?”

“I can’t believe they’ve grown up so much. I’d love to see them. We opened up the new restaurant about six months ago.”

“That’s so wonderful. How’s it doing?”

“It keeps us busy, but it’s doing very well. You’ll have to come in some time. I was so worried about you when I heard about the crash.” Jordan reached out to touch her friend’s hand.

“Oh hon. Thank you for the flowers, they were beautiful. I meant to call, but things have been so crazy. I’d love to see the restaurant though. I just don’t know when I’ll get a chance. Relaxing dinners out aren’t exactly on the agenda right now. What if we have the election party there though? We’ll rent the place out.”

“That sounds great. Where’s Cynthia? I’d love to see her. I was happy to hear about you two. Remember all those nights you spent on my couch, crying, when you broke up?” Jordan shook her head and laughed.

“Good Lord yes. I don’t know how to thank you for all of that. You helped me get through some pretty rough times.” Christina smiled.

“Hey, what are friends for. I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve seen one another.”

“It’s been too long Christina. Hey, come over with me. We’ll find Cynthia. She’d love to see you.” They walked over to where Cynthia was talking with some women. She turned around to see Jordan and Christina. She excused herself to walk over to them.

“Well, well, well. Hey there stranger. Long time, no see.” She gave Christina a bug hug.

“Hello to you. It’s good to see you. It’s been too long. I’m glad you’re back.” Cynthia looked at Jordan.

“Thank you, I’m pretty happy about it too. How’ve you been? Where’s Lisa?”

“I’ve been great. Lisa’s at home though. She’s helping Jake finish a big project for school tomorrow. We just opened up a new restaurant about six months ago.”

“That’s fabulous. I can’t wait to see it.” Jordan nodded her head.

“I was thinking that we could have the election party there.” Cynthia put her hand on Jordan’s arm.

“Oh Jordan, that’s a great idea.” Christina smiled at her friends.

“I need to leave and stop by the restaurant before going home. I just wanted to talk to you two a bit before I left. You’re doing a really great job Jordan. I’m proud of you.” Jordan was touched by her friendÎs sentiments. .

“Thanks. This is what we always talked about. I feel like I’m living my ultimate dream. I’m about to be voted into office. My son is about to graduate from UT. My daughter is going to a great school, and I’ve got the love of my life standing beside me. I’m so glad you came tonight. I’ll talk to you soon, I promise. Please tell Lisa I said hello.”

“I will. You take care, and behave yourself.” She teasingly pointed her finger at Jordan.

“Don’t I always?” The candidate winked at her friend. Christina hugged both women and left. Cynthia turned to Jordan.

“It was so nice to see her.” Jordan nodded.

“Come dear, there are lots more people to meet and finagle money from.” Jordan wiggled her eyebrows. Cynthia laughed and rolled her eyes.

The next day Jordan woke up, and got ready for a new day on the campaign trail. She was thankful to be in her own bed for at least a few days before spending all her time on the campaign bus. She had plans to stop by her mother’s in the afternoon to ride her horse. She arrived a few minutes early at the AARP meeting to talk to the organizers of the event.

“We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come talk with us Ms. O’Connor.” Jordan smiled.

“I appreciate the invitation. I enjoy the opportunity to talk to people and hear their concerns and ideas.”

“Plus, you know how influential we are with the more mature voters.” Jordan chuckled.

“Yes. I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t one of the reasons I am here. However, I don’t plan on simply pandering to your wishes, just to get your votes and maybe a donation or two. I would honestly be here regardless.”

“I know. It’s one of the reasons I set this up. You’ve always respected and listened to our opinions.”

“My grandparents mean too much to me not to.”

People soon started arriving and it was time for Jordan to speak.

“First of all, I’d like to say thank you to Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Baker for arranging this meeting. I want to represent all of Texas and I welcome the chance to listen to the concerns of all Texans. I think it is unfortunate that in this society, we associate age with vitality and utility. We value those who are younger and can work harder and contribute more to society right now at this moment. We forget that we have what we do have now, because of those who already worked hard before us. We ignore the lessons that are waiting to be learned from those who are more experienced. Many of the most important lessons I ever learned were from my grandfather, who was the water commissioner of Cameron County. He provided safe, clean water to the community and the farmers. He helped people meet their most essential need. It’s one of the reasons I went into public service. He taught me about conservation of resources, about listening to the people I am dedicated to serve, and about the land. I learned my most important lessons about family from my grandmothers who loved their children and grandchildren with an untiring devotion. They taught me about being a quality human being. I think it is reprehensible for our society to ignore the gifts of those who are more mature and wise. Now, I’d like to hear your questions and comments.”

A man stood up.

“Many of us are forced to choose between food and medication. Medicare doesn’t cover some of the more expensive medications that are crucial to prevent strokes and heart attacks. For many, it’s a life and death decision.”

“About twenty years ago, my grandmother had a stroke. She was dependent on medication to keep her from having another one. More than one of her medications was not covered by Medicare. My mother paid for those. My grandmother was fortunate in the fact that she had help from my mother. However, many of our older citizens do not have that assistance available to them. Life should not become more difficult as people get older. Benefits should be expanded on a voluntary basis to include prescription drugs. That is one issue I will work tirelessly on.” A woman stood up.

“Older Americans are taken advantage of and bilked out of millions of dollars. What do you plan on doing to help prevent it and stiffen penalties for those who commit those crimes?”

“We need to educate our older Americans about scams, so that when faced with those who would take advantage of them, they can avoid becoming victims. That is where AARP comes in. They’ve been very active about educating older Americans. In addition, I’d like to see stiffer penalties against crime against the elderly.”

Jordan continued to answer questions and talk to the people there. She shook everyone’s hand and after the crowd dispersed, left to go to her mother’s house. Jordan pulled up to her mother’s house to find her and her partner out in the arena setting up the barrels. She honked her horn and waved. Her mother waved back. Jordan walked into the house and changed into her boots and jeans and cowboy hat. She walked out to the arena.

“Is Rose ready or do I need to go get her saddled up?”

“She’s ready. But, you need to check the belts to make sure they’re tight. Are you sure you want to do this Jordan? You got hurt recently and it’s been a long time since you ran the barrels.” Jordan smiled.

“I know. That’s why I’m going to practice every chance I get for the next few weeks.”

“Go get Rose and ride around the arena a few times until you feel comfortable enough to run through the barrels. Then take it rather slowly.” Jordan nodded her head. She walked into the barn to get the horse. She spoke softly to her and stroked her neck. She checked the saddle to make sure it was tight. She led the horse out of the stall and stepped into the stirrup and sat atop the quarter horse. She walked the horse around the arena. She sped up to a trot around a few times. She increased her speed to a run. She ran through the barrels at a relatively slow pace. She then let loose, flying through several times. She loved the feel of the wind blowing her hair back. She loved the speed, the grace, and the power of the beautiful animal she was riding. She climbed down off the horse and walked her over to the water trough.

“You need some work Jordan, but you didn’t do too badly.”

“As long as I don’t fall off or do something embarrassing, I’ll be thrilled. Are y’all coming over to the headquarters tonight to watch the commercial? It’s going to be on tonight between seven and seven-thirty. ” Her mother Elaine shook her head.

“I think we’re just going to watch it here.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. You go on now. YouÎre going to be late.”

“I’m going to take a shower. I smell like horse.” Elaine shooed her along.

“Go on hon. You know where everything is.”

Jordan showered and changed into a pair of shorts and a navy Polo. Everyone was at the office when she showed up. Cynthia walked up and put her arms around her. Jordan welcomed the hug.

“How did this morning go?”

“It went well I think. We’ll see who gets the endorsement though. They’re going to announce in about a week. I spent the rest of the afternoon at my mother’s, riding Rose.”

“How was that?”

“Good, but my legs are killing me. But, I think I’ll make a respectable showing at the rodeo. Is food on its way?”

Cynthia nodded. “It’ll be here around seven.”

“How are things around here today?”

“Busy. They’re very busy. There are several groups requesting that you meet with them. There is a human rights group who wants you to tour the colonias around the maquiladoras on the border. It’s good that so many people want your time. There is also a group wanting to talk to you about the Cancer cluster in Beaumont.” Jordan nodded her head.

” Who’s coming with me tomorrow?”

“Laura and I are coming with you. ” Jordan nodded.

Everyone started to settle down in front of the television with their plates. Suddenly, Jordan’s face appeared on the screen and everyone became silent. Jordan was talking to a group of people and shaking hands. The next image showed her with her family at a football game. Another image had one of her working at her desk at the Capital. The final image showed Jordan walking in a field of bluebonnets wearing her boots and jeans and a button down shirt.

“We kind of have a different way of doing things here in Texas. When we shake a person’s hand and look them in the eye and ask how they’re doing, we mean it. We work hard and share a fierce loyalty to our land, to our families, and to our state. I want the opportunity to work hard for the United States and for the great state of Texas. As your Senator, you can count on your values as a Texan being upheld in D.C. Let me work for you and your family. I’m Jordan O’Connor and I want to be your next U.S. Senator.”

The group cheered and hollered. Jordan playfully stood up and bowed.

“It looked good. Now, I need to see what people thought of it. Could someone please get the numbers done? I want to see what people thought before we release more.”

Later, Jordan and Cynthia pulled up to their house. Jordan was walking funny.

Cynthia looked at her partner and smiled. “Honey, would you like to sit in the hot tub for a while?”

“I would love to. I may need some help moving around. I’m definitely not as young as I used to be.” Cynthia walked around and put her arms around Jordan.

“But you’re sexier than ever.” Jordan leaned down to place her lips upon Cynthia’s.

“You’re not so bad yourself.”

Laura arrived early the next day for the short drive up to Austin. Jordan had several meetings scheduled that day. Jordan looked over her schedule for the day.

“Are you both going to be with me at every meeting?” Laura nodded.

“Yes.”

“Good.” She prepared for her first meeting with the League of Women Voters.

She arrived on time and greeted four women who were on the board.

“Good morning, it’s nice to see y’all again.”

“Good morning Jordan. How are things?” Jordan smiled congenially.

“They’re going very well thank you.”

“I know you have a busy schedule Jordan. So let’s sit down and talk already.” Jordan grinned again and nodded.

“So what can I do for you ladies.”

“Jordan as you know, there is a major discrepancy in the funding for women’s health research compared to men’s issues. We’d like to see that change. We haven’t heard you speak on women’s health issues yet. Also, we’d like to see more support for businesses to take on a more family-friendly approach. Maybe tax breaks for companies that offer quality in-house childcare. We also feel that if companies were given incentives, they would offer more support to nursing mothers.”

“I agree with you completely. It’s one of the things I’ve been talking about for years. Frankly, it hasn’t really gotten very far. When I was in the legislature, we did make some strides as far as helping subsidize better childcare.”

“Exactly. It’s one of the reasons we have supported you this far. We also know that you have a substantial lead. We expect you to make it to D.C. We just need to know that you’re going to remember us and the important issues that effect women like yourself.”

“Of course. I believe I have proven my commitment to women’s issues. I can’t promise you that I will be able to help with every single one of your issues, you know that. But, I will also do everything I can to preserve the rights of women that I feel are inalienable. I can promise you that.”

“We know that Jordan. We just wanted to talk and get things out on the table. We do know of your commitment to women’s issues. It’s one of the reasons we’re endorsing you. We’re also endorsing a few Republicans as well though.”

“Yes, I know that you take a non-partisan stance and focus on the candidate. I do appreciate your endorsement.”

The women closed their meeting and said their good-byes. Jordan prepared for her next meeting with the Stonewall Democrats. The leadership went over the various things they wanted her to work on and talk about in her National Convention speech. She told them she would see what she could do, but that she was speaking on volunteerism and commitment to service of community. The Stonewall group also talked to her about increasing AIDS funding and sponsoring federal laws requiring companies to offer domestic partnership benefits. She went on to yet another meeting after lunch with the Texas Democratic Committee. They talked about the upcoming debate and convention. The state committee wanted her to sit with the delegation the night they vote on the nomination. She was happy to accept a nice, big check. After that meeting she went on a tour of a local homeless shelter. The candidate was walking through the shelter, talking to the director.

“Tell me about your residents, Ms. Salinas.”

“The majority of our residents are families. Many of them have at least one adult who works in some form. Several are single mothers who left abusive spouses. Unfortunately, there are times when the battered women’s shelter is full, so we look after them here. We have individual rooms for families. They do some work around here and if they can, pay a little in rent. For single individuals, we have large rooms that accommodate a number of cots.”

“What kind of educational training programs do you offer the people here?”

“We offer job assistance training when we can. When funds run low, we have to make a choice between providing food and training.” Jordan shook her head.

“You shouldn’t have to do that. There is so much waste in government spending. Surely there has to be money somewhere to increase the grants given to the states for better services.”

“That’s exactly why I wanted this opportunity to talk with you. We need more people in Washington who are willing to really look at the budget, item by item, and to see where the money can be increased for its citizens. I wanted you to see the people who are going to need your help the most.”

“I’m only one person, but I’ll do what I can. Managing government services efficiently and within budget is one of my specialties. It will take some time and some maneuvering, but we’ll go over the budget and when the new budget comes up, I won’t forget you. Most of the stories for places like this are the same. People who really are working hard and trying and just not being able to make ends meet. I’m also going to try to raise the minimum wage.”

“I hope you mean what you say Ms. O’Connor. These people need someone who will give them a chance.”

“I do and I agree. Politicians forget that it actually takes less money in the long run to educate people now to get them off the welfare rolls. Not only does it help this generation; it helps break the cycle of poverty. We will have fewer families in the future generations relying on government assistance. It ends up costing far less.”

The director smiled. “Exactly.”

Jordan continued on her tour of the facility. She watched children sitting at the tables, having a snack, and doing their homework. She thought of these little ones living on the street, starving, it wasn’t anything she hadn’t seen before, but it still broke her heart.

“Thank you for your time today, Ms. Salinas. Spending time around kids and families like this remind me of why I am doing this and my main focus when I am in office.” The director held her hand out to Jordan. Jordan smiled and shook her hand solidly.

“We appreciate your time as well. Please remember that the children need more than just pretty words and empty promises. These children will be counting on you.” Jordan smiled.

“These families are fortunate to have someone as committed and passionate as you. I know these children need results, I will do my damnedest to get them the help they need.”

The two women said goodbye and Jordan headed back home with Cynthia and Laura. The two women noticed how quiet Jordan was. Jordan couldn’t get the thought of those children and their mothers out of her head. She thought of the frightened, worn out look in the eyes of the single mothers. Cynthia looked at her partner with concern.

“Jordan honey, are you alright?”

Jordan looked up and nodded. “I’ve been thinking about that shelter. I spent the morning with political groups who have some kind of agenda. I’m sitting here with a check for thousands and thousands of dollars, all to pay for advertisements and damn bumper stickers. Then, I spend the afternoon with homeless women and children. I see the desperation in their eyes, and it reminds me what I need to do. We need programs to give these people a chance. You’re supposed to be able to make whatever dream you have come true in this country. If you work hard, you can support your family, and have a good life. It doesn’t take into account fleeing a husband in the middle of the night, before he can beat the hell out of you, with only your children and the clothes you can carry. It doesn’t take into account losing your job and everything you have along with it and it doesn’t take into account working two minimum wage jobs and still not being able to make ends meet. Hard work and the American way are not the answers to everything. I think about my life and my kids. We are so fortunate. Do you know what separates me from those women? A simple twist of fate. These people need a chance, they need training, and they need to be able to make enough money to support their families. These people don’t need or want handouts, they need a chance to help themselves.”

Cynthia looked back at Jordan. Jordan could go on and on once she got started. “Honey, I know you’re passionate about this. But, you’re preaching to the converted. We’re all here for the same reason. Although, you might want to keep some of those comments and use them in a speech.”

Jordan gave her a look. “Well God forbid, I should express an opinion among my partner and my friend. Normal people get the chance to express their opinions all the time. Now, nobody wants to hear my thoughts? If there’s a TV camera or an audience, you sure as hell like me to open my big mouth. That’s just fucked up. Fine, I’ll shut up. You’re the ones who were talking to me anyway. I was content to sit all by myself back here and not talk. You don’t want to hear my opinions, then just leave me the hell alone. Don’t ask me anything.” Cynthia and Laura shared a look that said,’ Oh great, she’s in one of her moods.’ The trio rode silently until they reached Jordan’s house. She walked in the house, slamming doors.

“You’ll have to excuse her Laura. Some things just get to her, plus she’s tired and has had a hard time sleeping. She’s been having nightmares.”

Laura smiled and touched Cynthia’s arm. “I understand. I know how she gets. I’ve been with her a long time. I’m sure she’ll be better tomorrow. She’s been running non-stop for over a month now. She gets scared. She’s afraid she’ll get up there and not be able to get anything done. She’s afraid of not getting up there at all. There’s a lot riding on her and this campaign. Take care of her. I’ll see you both tomorrow night.”

The women shared a hug and Cynthia walked inside the house. Jordan was in the bedroom changing into her swimsuit. Being in water always helped Jordan’s mood. A slight smile came to Cynthia’s face. ÎSome things never change.’ She heard Jordan walk out the back door to the pool. She watched Jordan swim laps back and forth. The slick PR agent decided to walk out by the pool. Jordan didn’t look up, but continued her laps. Cynthia nonchalantly kicked off her heels. Jordan still didn’t look up. She grinned and slipped off her skirt. She failed to get Jordan’s attention. She unbuttoned her shirt. Jordan continued to swim. She removed her bra and panties. Jordan had yet to look up. ÎGood Lord. What do I have to do to get that woman’s attention?’ Cynthia slipped into the cool water. She began to swim towards Jordan. When the women passed one another, Jordan caught a glimpse of her naked lover’s wet body glistening in the sun. She kept swimming, but couldn’t take her eyes off the beautiful form. She reached the end of the pool but didn’t notice until she ran into the wall. She turned and went back towards Cynthia, who was at the opposite wall, with her back to Jordan, resting her head on her arms, patiently waiting. Jordan came up behind her and Cynthia did not make a move. Jordan put her hands on either side of Cynthia, capturing her. She softly kissed Cynthia’s shoulder, moving up, kiss by kiss, until she reached Cynthia’s neck. Cynthia’s hand slid behind Jordan’s head, pulling her closer.

“Am I forgiven?” Cynthia turned around in Jordan’s arms, wrapping her arms around the tall woman’s neck.

“Maybe, it depends.” Jordan smiled. She spoke softly against Cynthia’s skin.

“Oh really, on what?” Jordan held Cynthia close.

“It depends on how sorry you are,” Cynthia purred. Jordan cradled Cynthia’s face in her hands and looked in her eyes.

“I’m very sorry Cyn. I shouldn’t have acted that way towards you and Laura. I love you.” She emphasized her point by pressing her lips against Cynthia’s and holding her tightly, brushing her tongue against the open lips. Jordan softly kissed her cheeks, her eyelids, her forehead, her nose, returning back to the place of origin.

“Ok. I forgive you.” Cynthia ran her hands across Jordan’s shoulders, down her arms and around her waist. The taller woman felt Cynthia’s soft hands along her back. She felt the clasp on her bathing suit open and being pulled down. She gasped when she felt her now bare, wet skin against Cynthia’s breasts.

Cynthia turned her partner around pressing her against the wall. She explored Jordan’s neck with her lips and tongue and teeth. Jordan could only moan, losing herself in the sensations. Cynthia’s kisses moved lower until she came to round, full breasts. She took the sweet nipple in her mouth, reveling in the feel of the hardness against her tongue. Jordan threw her head back and pulled Cynthia closer into her. “Yes baby, just like that.” Cynthia moved to the other breast, latching onto the nipple, pulling it deeply into her mouth, lightly biting. Her hand began to move down Jordan’s body. She smiled at the thick, warm liquid she found between Jordan’s legs. She stroked Jordan’s soft folds. She entered her slowly, moving two fingers inside Jordan. Jordan grabbed onto her. She increased her rhythm as Jordan’s breathing quickened and her moans grew louder. The water around them churned and broke into waves like Jordan’s arousal. She added a third finger and Jordan fell over the edge into ecstasy and her body tightened with release. As she fell back down, she held onto Cynthia for support. Cynthia held her and whispered, “I’ve got you baby.” She looked up into Jordan’s eyes and reached up to touch her face.

“There will be no talk of campaigns, speeches, schedules, contributions, or issues. Tonight, it’s you and me. That is all that matters right now. The kids are with their dad, you’ll see them tomorrow. I need and want your absolute undivided attention.” Jordan smiled at her partner.

“Anything you want Cynthia. I am all yours tonight.”

The women got out of the pool. Cynthia led them to the bedroom and they spent most of the night making love, until falling into an exhausted sleep. Jordan woke once during the night and looked at Cynthia’s beautiful form lying next to her, illuminated by the light of the moon coming in the window. She ran her fingers through the short blonde hair. She felt better than she had in weeks. She looked at Cynthia, loving every inch of her. She reached over and brushed her lips across her lover’s bare shoulder. She fell asleep again soon after.

Jordan woke up late the next morning to breakfast in bed and Cynthia’s smiling face. She pulled Cynthia toward her for a kiss.

“What is all this?” Cynthia crawled in bed with her.

“This is me taking care of you. You’ve been working so hard and you have so much riding on your shoulders. You spend all day, every day with people wanting you to do something for them. Today, I want to show you how much I love you.” She picked up a piece of toast and put it in Jordan’s mouth. “So just enjoy it.” Jordan couldn’t help the grin on her face. She reached up and softly touched Cynthia’s cheek with her fingertips. She moved her face closer and whispered into Cynthia’s ear.

“You are my angel. I love you too.”

The women shared breakfast, kisses, and intimate touches. The breakfast tray was soon on the floor as Jordan and Cynthia began to get lost in each other. Jordan held Cynthia, running her hands up and down her back, cupping her behind. She kissed along Cynthia’s collar bone, lightly sucking on her skin. Soft moans escaped Cynthia’s mouth. Jordan turned her lover around. She wrapped her arms around from behind, holding her hands, kissing and nibbling across the soft flesh of Cynthia’s back. Cynthia pushed her rear back against the sex of her partner, eliciting soft words of pleasure from her.

“Mmmm baby. I love it when you do that.” Jordan’s hot whispers sent chills along Cynthia’s body.

Jordan reached around and began to run her fingers along the inside of Cynthia’s thigh. She was rewarded as Cynthia arched back into her again. Jordan entered her, stroking her deeply, filling her. She loved the slickness she found. Jordan began to rub her throbbing need over Cynthia’s sweet behind. Their breath quickened as their movement and rhythm increased. The sounds of lovemaking filled the sun-soaked room. Jordan could feel Cynthia’s climax building as the muscles tightened around her fingers, which were thoroughly soaked. Jordan’s own climax began and the two women soared together, screaming in pleasure. Jordan held her position as her lover’s orgasm subsided. She began to move her fingers, when a hand clutched hers, holding it in place.

“Stay there. I want to be connected with you for a while.” Jordan kissed Cynthia’s shoulder. Both women were panting, a light sheen of sweat covering their naked bodies.

“I think I can oblige. I happen to really like where I am.”

They spent the rest of the day, enjoying one another’s company, truly connecting for the first time in over a month. They fell asleep together again, not waking until later in the afternoon. They showered together, not wanting to be apart for a minute. Jordan put on her crisp, pressed Wrangler jeans, and her stiff white button down shirt and black lace-up ropers. Cynthia loved seeing her this way. She looked so relaxed, whistling while tucking in her shirt. She walked up behind Jordan wrapping her arms around the trim waist.

“Damn, baby you look good.” Jordan turned around to look at her. She put her arms around Cynthia’s neck. She looked at Cynthia in her boots and jeans.

“Thank you. You look pretty great yourself, Darlin.” Cynthia reached to touch her lips against Jordan’s.

“Save me a dance tonight.” Jordan returned the gesture.

“Oh, definitely, more than one if I have my way. Are you ready to go?” Cynthia nodded. Jordan grabbed her cowboy hat. As they were walking out the door, Cynthia stole a kiss and ran her hand up and down the front of Jordan’s starched shirt.

“Can I just tell you how much I love it when you dress like this?” Jordan grinned.

“You can tell me as much as you want.”

They arrived at the old dance hall and immediately spotted a number of friends and people from the office. Jordan took Cynthia’s hand and led her over to Sarah and Jim.

“Hey y’all. How long have you been here?” Sarah smiled.

“We got here about twenty minutes ago.” Jordan looked at Sarah.

“My goodness, look at you Sarah. Don’t you look gorgeous. Those jeans look nice on you, tight in the right spots, like they should be.” Cynthia slapped her partner in the arm. “In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would think you were hoping to impress a particular blonde singer.” Sarah blushed, pretending to be shocked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Jordan. But, umm, do you think I could get an introduction?”

“Yes, I think that could be arranged. Has anyone seen her around here?”

“I think she’s still in her bus right outside.”

“I’m going to go say hi. I’ll see y’all in a bit.” She placed a soft kiss on Cynthia’s hand and walked off. She walked out to the bus and knocked on the door. Tammy opened the door, grinning.

“Hey woman, what’s up?” She pulled Jordan into a tight hug. She led Jordan in the bus to sit and talk for a bit. Jordan waved to the guys in the band, some of whom she knew.

“So Tammy, how’ve you been?”

“I’ve been good actually. The new album’s going great. Our last single got to the top ten. This racket’s getting’ pretty old though. How Îbout you?”

“Things have been going very well. We’re way ahead and Cynthia is living with me again. It’s just been so crazy.” The singer slapped Jordan on the back.

“I hear ya.”

“Listen Tammy, I just wanted to thank you for doing this for me.”

“It’s no problem Jordan. It’s my pleasure. Let’s just say I’ve owed you one for a long time. I’m really glad to help. Those songs you helped me with made me a lot of money, plus, you helped me by singing back up for me. I just wanted to do this for you. Oh and speaking of singing with me, I want you to sing with me tonight.”

“I don’t know Tammy. I haven’t rehearsed or anything.”

“It won’t be anything you don’t know. I’ll even sing and play backup for you. C’mon, it’ll be fun, like old times. Besides, everyone here is a friend of ours. Please, I promise it’ll be fun. I mean, I am taking time out of my busy schedule and I’m not getting any money for this. It seems only fair that you say yes.” Tammy shot her a conniving look.

“Alright, alright, I’ll do it. Don’t do anything I don’t know though.” The singer laughed.

“I promise. I’ll even let you use of my personal guitars.” Jordan groaned

“Damn woman, what am I agreeing to?” Tammy gave her best Cheshire grin.

“Anything I want, like usual.” The two women laughed and walked out of the bus together.

More people had arrived and the two women walked into the room, eliciting cheers and hollers. Tammy and Jordan both waved to the crowd. They walked over to Cynthia and the group from the office.

“Tammy, I want you to meet some of the great people I work with. This is Jim, you know Laura and Cynthia of course, and Sarah. There’s more people arriving, I’ll introduce you to them as we see them.” Tammy wasn’t paying attention to a word Jordan was saying. She was too busy looking at Sarah’s smile. She looked right into Sarah’s eyes.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Sarah held the gaze.

“It’s a pleasure.” Jordan watched the exchange.

“Quite a few people have begun to arrive so I’m going to go mingle. I’ll see y’all in a bit.” She took Cynthia’s hand and pulled her along while nodding her head at the other people in the group to tell them to move along.

The two women stood there, staring and smiling at one another. The singer decided to be the first to speak.

“Have you known Jordan long?”

“I met her six years ago, right after I finished grad school at UT. I went to work for her in the Governor’s office. When she decided to run for the Senate, she asked me to come with her. She’s been a mentor and good friend to me, so I jumped at the chance to help her. How about you?” Tammy laughed, thinking, ÎGood Lord, this girl is probably about twenty-nine or so. I’m nearly twenty years older. But, damn, there’s just something about her.’

“Yes, a very long time. How Îbout I buy you a beer and we can go sit down and I can tell you the story.” Sarah nodded enthusiastically.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Cynthia were shaking hands, thanking people for coming and talking to old friends. Chris and Kate arrived and Jordan was delighted to see her kids.

“Hey you two. You both look good.” She hugged her kids fiercely, then Cynthia had her turn.

“We’ve missed you Chris. Has everything been ok? Have you been staying out of trouble?” The young man rolled his eyes.

“Yes Mom.”

“Are you both coming home tonight?”

“Yes, then we’re heading down to the Valley with you. We thought we’d take the chance to see Granddad and everyone.”

“Good. Christopher, no more than one beer. I don’t want any problems with a son getting arrested for drunk driving. Besides, it’s irresponsible.”

“Mother, don’t over exaggerate. Have you once had a problem with me driving drunk?” Jordan shook her head.

“Then give me a little credit.” Jordan raised her hands in surrender.

“Alright, I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little paranoid. I can’t afford to have any bad press. I apologize for expecting the worst from you.”

“You’re forgiven, this time.” He flashed his smile.

Tammy came over to the family.

“Oh my God, look how grown up you two are? I nearly didn’t recognize you. Get over here and give your Aunt Tammy a hug.” The kids smiled and hugged their old friend.

“It’s good to see you too. It seems like forever.”

“I know. You’re always at school or I’m on the road. You’re both growing up nicely. I know your Mom’s proud.” She looked at Jordan.

“Jordan we need to start. Come up with me and say a little something. I’ll introduce you.” The two women walked across the hardwood floor to the stage.

“Hey, what’s with you and Sarah?”

“I don’t know, she’s so much younger than I am, but she’s delightful. We’re going to talk more later, there’s just something about her that I’m drawn to.”

“Be careful with her though, ok? She’s a wonderful woman.” Tammy smiled and nodded.

“Showtime.” She walked up on stage and the people in the dancehall cheered.

“Hey there. Happy 4th of July everyone. I’d like to thank y’all for being here. We’re here tonight to send a great woman to Washington. I’ve known Jordan for many years. She’s one of my oldest friends. She’d make the best damn Senator this state could have. She loves Texas and she loves this country and she will work to make things better for all of us. So please join me in welcoming our next U.S. Senator, my friend, the reason we are here, Jordan O’ Connor.” Jordan walked up on stage and waved to the cheering crowd.

“Hello everyone. Thank y’all for coming. It means a great deal to see so many wonderful people offering their support. Today is the birthday of our country, a country that began with the courage, strength, and hope of families seeking freedom in a new land. It is this same spirit of hope that I stand with today, that I will take with me to Washington. The hope I take with me is that we may all act with strength and courage to make this nation a better one and the hope that I may act with strength and courage to do what’s right and to serve my country with dignity and honor.” She grinned widely. “Now, enough of me talking, I’m ready to dance. Y’all would rather hear Tammy sing than me talk. So Tammy, get your butt over and sing for these people.” The two friends shared a laugh.

The crowd cheered again. The band started and Jordan waved and walked off the stage. She walked over to Cynthia, who handed her a beer. Jordan took a swig, then put it down on the table.

“Thanks. Come dance with me Mama.” She took Cynthia’s hand and led her out onto the dance floor. They two-stepped across the sawdust-strewn floor. Jordan held onto her firmly, leading her around the circle of couples. They only had eyes for one another, smiling like they shared some special secret. After a few dances, Jordan had to go meet and talk with people. Laura was happy to see her friend’s mood had improved. The band took a break between sets and Tammy came over to talk more with Sarah. After several minutes, the singer came back up on stage.

“To start off with this next set, I’m gonna need a little bit of help from a friend of mine. For those of you who don’t know, our favorite candidate, happens to be a great singer and guitarist. In fact, she sang backup for me on my first three albums, and co-wrote several songs. So, let’s give a round of applause to Jordan and maybe we can convince her to sing with us a little.” The people cheered and reluctantly Jordan walked up the stage steps. Tammy handed her a guitar.

“Do you remember The Wedding Song?” Jordan nodded. Jordan and the band began playing a waltz. Jordan smiled when she saw Chris take Cynthia out on the floor to dance. Jordan played and sang harmony with her friend.

Play some Cotton-Eye Joe

For the folks don’t ya know

Keep your dogs in the truck till you leave

We got some wieners and buns

Cause the brisket’s all gone

At our wedding in suburban Seguin

I said I love you in suburban Seguin

The audience cheered and the two women on stage laughed with each other. Jordan leaned in to talk to Tammy.

“Let’s do that old Jimmy LaFave song we used to sing all the time.”

“Only One Angel?” Jordan nodded. “Key of G.” Tammy informed the band. It was a song they had done many times. Tammy leaned back over to Jordan.

“You sing lead.” Jordan rolled her eyes and nodded. She began to play and the rest of the band joined in. She smiled and winked at Cynthia.

I could fly through a midnight rain

And be safe and warm and dry baby

At the mention of your name

And always sing your special song

And know deep inside that spirit girl

That nothing could go wrong

If you got to know what’s pulling me through

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

And I could run cross the desert wind

Till the day would leave me breathless baby

Searching for words again

And hope that you could hear that sound

In streams of magic colors

That are painted across the ground

If you got to know what’s pulling me through

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

The crowd cheered again but Jordan could only see Cynthia, who was wiping at the tears in her eyes. The band continued to play and Jordan sang with her friend for a few more songs before smiling and waving to the crowd and stepping off the stage. Cynthia was waiting for her off to the side of the stage.

“Thank you Jordan. That was beautiful.” Jordan took her hands.

“I’m glad you liked it. I sang it for you.” Cynthia beamed.

“I know. I love you for singing it.”

“I love you too. Let’s go dance.” They danced until the band stopped playing and people began leaving. Jordan shook hands with everyone, thanking them for coming. Tammy’s band started to disassemble the set. Tammy was smiling, holding Sarah’s hand, talking to her. That night, Cynthia rested her head against Jordan’s shoulder as the couple cuddled in the SUV as Jordan drove home.

“I feel so much better Cyn. I really needed the quiet time with you. I was in a great mood for tonight. I had so much fun. I love dancing with you, it’s been a while since we’ve had the chance.”

“I know. I always loved dancing with you as well and tonight was no exception. You looked so hot up on stage. It was a real turn on having you sing to me.” Jordan grinned.

“Was it now.” Cynthia nodded her head.

“Yes it was. You looked very sexy. Most of the women were looking at you. I thought I was going to have to cold-cock a couple of them.” That brought a laugh out of Jordan.

“Regardless of who looks at me, my heart is with you. But, I love it when you get feisty.”

The next morning, everyone met the busses, ready to get back on the road. The candidate and her team sat at the table at the back of the bus.

“Alright gang, give me a run-down of everything going on. I’d like to try to fit in a visit with my family.” Laura handed out schedules for the week.

“We’re stopping in Corpus to talk to a group of teenage volunteers. We should get into the Valley about three. You are going to be at a reception tonight in Harlingen with some local candidates. If you want to see your family before or after, it’s fine. Tomorrow, you’re meeting with a group of teen mothers in summer school in Brownsville, and you’re meeting with a group to talk about illegal immigration and amnesty, and then you’ve got a block party with a very vocal and active, Hispanic neighborhood committee. The day after that, you’re going on a tour of the colonias and some of the border clinics and hospitals with the human rights’ group. You can have dinner with your family that night. The day after that, we head back up North to Houston and then Beaumont. You’ll get a new schedule after that, but we’re headed to West Texas.”

Jordan looked over her schedule and picked up her phone to call her father. She smiled when she heard him answer.

“Hey old Man.”

“Watch it Jordan, you’re not as young as you used to be.”

“Yeah yeah yeah. Remember that I’m the oldest and the one picking out your nursing home. Just ask yourself, do I want a nice one or the one they showed on TV.”

They both laughed at the running joke between them.

“So what can I do for you Jordan?”

“Well I am on my way down there right now, and I was wondering if we could get together. The kids are with me too.”

“Where are y’all staying?”

“At a hotel. I’ll be in this afternoon and I have a reception tonight. Can I come over after and see everyone if it isn’t too late?”

“Only if you agree to stay here.”

“I don’t know Dad. There’s the four of us, plus my staff will need to get with me. We’ll just turn your house upside down.”

“Now Jordan, it’s not everyday I get to see my daughter the politician. I want y’all to stay. We’ll clear space for you to conduct your business in the den.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I am.”

“Alright Dad, we’ll see you around three then. Why don’t y’all come to the reception tonight. I’m sure you’re going to know at least half the people there.”

“We’ll talk about that this afternoon. We’ll see you later honey.” Jordan smiled at the term of endearment.

“Alright Dad. See you then.”

“We have a slight change of plans. Cynthia, the kids and I are staying at my Dad’s. Any meetings we need to have, we can have in his den.”

“Jordan, it’s easier if we’re all in the same place. I prefer just being able to walk next door to your room if something comes up. I know you want to see your family, but keeping this circus organized is difficult enough without having to drive to another location to get with you.” Jordan looked up.

“Laura, it’s not up for discussion. I want to see my Dad.” Laura gave her an exasperated look.

“Fine.”

They pulled into Corpus and Jordan talked to a group of teen volunteers about the importance of what they were doing. She told them stories about her time in the Peace Corp. They headed back on the bus and down to her Dad’s. She was thrilled to see her family. She talked her parents into going with her to the reception that night. This reception was no different than any others. Politicos trying to make deals with one another for votes. This was part of the job that bored Jordan to death. She was pleasantly surprised to see some old friends she had grown up with. Later that night, back at her father’s house, the two were sharing a beer on the back porch.

“Jordan, I just can’t see how you have the patience for all of that.” Jordan chuckled.

“Sometimes, I sit there smiling, nodding my head, wanting to scream. But it’s part of the game and hopefully I can get some money out of it.”

“Better you than me.”

The next day started early for the group, with Jordan talking to teen mothers and ending with a block party. Jordan took a scaled down version of her entourage. They found the woman in charge of everything.

“Senora Gomez. Como Seat Usted?”

“Muy bien Senora O’Connor. Gracias para venir.” Jordan nodded her head.

” De nada. Gracias para la invitacion. llameme por favor Jordan.” The other woman smiled.

“Bueno, llameme Chelo.” Jordan returned the friendly gesture. Chelo met the other staff members.

“Y’all come on this way. There’s a ton of food and Jordan, there are lots of people for you to meet.” Jordan allowed herself to be led in the gathering as the host introduced her to a number of people. Jordan enjoyed settings like this. She loved the chance to really talk to people. She rode back to her father’s house feeling recharged. She was thankful for the lighthearted evening, knowing that the next day would be difficult.

The next day in the bus on the way to Brownsville, Jordan got together some of the young and inexperienced campaigners.

“Listen, we’re going to see some hard things today. The colonias here in the valley are heartbreaking. They have no electricity, little clean water, no real roads or proper drainage. It’s like being in the poor areas of Mexico. We’re also going to be seeing children who have severe abnormalities as a result of water and air pollution from the maquiladoras. Their mothers either worked in the factories and were exposed to poisons there or from the water supply during pregnancy. If you feel you cannot deal with this, then stay behind. We want to make sure we show the people we see today proper respect and compassion, but no pity. They are poor, but they do have their pride. If you cannot come with us, I do understand. WeÎre basically going to be seeing the effects of NAFTA. These circumstances existed before the agreement, but the situation has become much worse.”

Three people from a human rights organization came and took the group on tours of small, poor, rural communities along the border. Avery saw the shacks and muddy streets. She could smell the sulfur smell coming from the nearby factory. These people worked for fifty cents an hour, had no plumbing, and gathered water from a well. Her heart broke when she saw young children running around with no shoes playing with broken toys. They also took a tour of a local hospital. Children were born with severe birth defects. Infant mortality rates were extremely high. All of this was attributed to the pollution in the air and water. Everyone was quiet on the ride back. Sarah came and sat by Jordan.

“Jordan, what can we do to help them?”

“I don’t know. We’ve had this problem for years. We’re stuck between a rock and hard place. If we force the companies to raise the wages, they may move again and then where will the workers be? Legislators are reluctant to do anything because these people arenÎt citizens. But, their children were born here so they are citizens. They have no money and clout. We’ll see what we can do. Once I’m in D.C., maybe I’ll have enough influence to do something about it. You’d think by now, someone would have a solution. Very few people are paying any attention to the problem.”

Everyone’s mood lightened up later at Jordan’s Dad’s house. Her family had prepared a huge fish fry for Jordan and the rest of the group. They set out again the next day on the campaign trail. Jordan prepared for her upcoming debate with her opponent and practiced her horseback riding when she had the chance.

Finally, the night of the debate came and Jordan was both excited and nervous. The debate would be aired throughout the state. Jordan was in her room backstage, running through the issue cards with Laura, Cynthia, Jim, and Sarah. She looked very professional in a gray suit with a white blouse. Cynthia held her hands.

“Look at me Jordan. You’ve done this many times. You know the issues and you can handle any question they throw at you. This election is yours. You’ve been working towards this. You can do it and I love you. I believe in you.” Jordan smiled and reached out to run her fingers through Cynthia’s hair.

“Thank you honey. I love you too. So what do I get if I do well tonight?” Jordan wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Cynthia put her arms around Jordan’s neck.

“I’m sure we can work something out. For now, stay focused honey.”

“You are such a drag. I’ll just picture you in your underwear so I won’t be nervous.” That remark got her a slap on the arm.

“Ok, ok, ok. You are absolutely no fun.”

There was a knock on the door alerting Jordan that she needed to come out and get wired. Cynthia gave her a quick kiss and a slap on the behind.

“Go get Îem tiger.” Jordan winked and walked out. She stepped out onto the stage of Bass Concert Hall. She walked with strength and confidence. She shook hands with her opponent.

“Kris, it’s good to see you. I hope you’re doing well.” Kris Benson smiled congenially.

“Jordan, it’s good to see you too. I am well, thank you. Good luck to you tonight.” Jordan could see his wife, Amber watching her from backstage. The candidate gave a small smile and a nod.

The candidates were introduced and given two minutes to give introductions of themselves.

“My name is Jordan O’Connor and I am the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. I have dedicated my life to service of the global community, my local community, and the great state of Texas. My opponent has dedicated his life to making himself and his business partners millions of dollars. I have served my community with integrity and honor, beginning with my time in the Peace Corp to my position in the GovernorÎs office. I care about the people of Texas. I plan on making sure that their interests are protected and represented to the best of my ability. I want to extend my life of service to the United States Senate.” Kris began his introduction.

“My opponent makes the claim that I have spent my life serving myself. I am a successful businessman. I should not have to apologize for that. I am not a career politician like my opponent. Although, I see that as a plus. The government is a business like any other. Our goal is to meet the needs of our public while operating within our budget, efficiently, and effectively, and to have a surplus at the end of the year. It is my successful business record that qualifies me to work for this country. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue my record by making sure the government runs efficiently and effectively while cutting spending and therefore cutting taxes.”

The moderator began to ask questions that were sent in prior to the event by email.

“We will start with Mr. Benson. What do you plan on doing about the health care crisis in America?”

“I think there needs to be more focus on preventative health care. We currently provide for children, the elderly, and the indigent. I do think that Medicare and Medicaid programs need to be managed more effectively. If we knock out waste from these programs, we can provide better services. As far as level of care goes, I think we are very fortunate to live in this country. We have the best medical care in the world.”

“Ms. O’Connor, what is your response?”

“I agree that there needs to be more focus on preventative health care and that we have the best medical care in the world. However, this level of care isnÎt available to all of those who need it. I think our Medicaid and Medicare systems need to reflect an increased focus on preventative care. It would end up costing us less. A tremendous problem with the current system is that we have so many families who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid because they have too much money, but they don’t have enough to pay for health insurance. I propose that we expand the CHIPS program that we currently have for children here in Texas to include other family members. The federal government proposed these programs that we have here in Texas, in addition to the expansion of them. I think they should pay for them.”

“You’ve both made your position on abortion rights very clear. The Republican party has issued ads to the newspapers of Texas, declaring a state of imminent danger regarding the number of conservative judges with right to life positions. Would the abortion issue act as a litmus test for judges that are brought before the Senate for confirmation?”

“This one issue alone would not preclude my confirmation of a nominee. There are judges who make their decisions solely on the constitution., without clouding their judgments based on personal beliefs. However, it would be an extremely hard thing for me to do. I would not confirm a nomination who would try to overturn Roe v. Wade, or come up with their own unconstitutional limitations . My commitment is to the constitution and guaranteeing the inalienable rights granted by the constitution.”

“Mr. Benson, what is your response?”

“I think the unborn children of this country are in imminent danger. We would protect any other child from harm. I will stand up for the rights of all children, born and unborn. I will not support the nomination of someone who does not share that same conviction.”

The debate continued on and Jordan handled each question with confidence and poise.

“We’ve come to the end of our debate. Each candidate has two minutes to give their closing statements. Ms. O’Connor, we’ll start with you.”

“One thing I have learned throughout my years in the Peace Corps is that when we work together, anything is possible. We can solve the crises in our country with unity and hard work. I have the commitment to this country and to this state to act with honor and integrity. I will work to the best of my ability to represent Texas as your U.S. Senator to improve the lives of Texans and Americans.”

“And now your closing words Mr. Benson.”

“I have proven my management skills. I have proven my dedication to hard work. I want to help take this country to a new level with less government involvement, with more efficient programs, that cost less, which results in a budget surplus with lower taxes for the American people.”

“Thank you ladies and gentlemen, this concludes this evening’s debate. I’d also like to thank both candidates for their participation.”

The candidates received the sign that the cameras were off and removed their mic packs. The entourages walked over to their respective candidates. Cynthia hugged her partner fiercely.

“Jordan, you did such a great job. I was so proud of you. You were commanding and in control.” Laura smiled.

“She’s right pal. You were great.”

Amber offered her husband a shallow embrace because they were in public. His campaign manager shook his hand. She watched Jordan embracing Cynthia, feeling stabs of jealousy.

“Kris, you did a fine job. You came across very strong. She was good though. We need to see what the people and analysts are saying. We’ll run some polls in the morning.”

When Jordan walked off the stage, she lifted Cynthia off the ground in a tight embrace, swinging her around, and kissing her soundly.

“That felt good. I really enjoyed that.” Cynthia grinned and cupped Jordan’s face between her hands.

“I could tell.” She leaned up to whisper in Jordan’s ear. “Watching you like that was such a turn on. I want you to take me until I scream.” A blush crept up Jordan’s face.

“I think I can accommodate that request. Let’s get done here.” Jordan and her group finished up and walked out and went to their hotel for the night.

“Jordan, we leave at eight in the morning. IÎll come up to your room and we can look over the debate tape and check what the analysts are saying.” Cynthia shot Jordan a look.

“Laura, can we do that tomorrow? It’s been a long day. Cynthia and I are tired and just want to go to sleep. I know youÎll be going over everything and I trust you implicitly.” Jordan gave Laura an expression that told her not to press the issue further.

“Alright, we’ll go over it tomorrow. Get some sleep, we’ve got appearances and interviews tomorrow.”

Laura walked off to her room. Jordan placed her hand on the small of Cynthia’s back, leading her to their room, both of them smiling. Jordan opened the door, took her hand, and led her inside. She pinned Cynthia against the door with a smoldering kiss. Hands furiously pulled open clothing as the two women devoured one another. Cynthia pulled off Jordan’s blazer. Jordan pulled off Cynthia’s blouse. Jordan sucked and kissed the warm skin on Cynthia’s neck and shoulders. Jordan unclasped her lover’s bra, releasing the delicious orbs. Jordan sunk to her knees, taking one of the hard nipples into her mouth. Cynthia moaned at the contact, pulling Jordan closer to her. Jordan reached around and lowered Cynthia’s skirt and panties. Her hot kisses began to move lower. Cynthia trembled at the touch. Jordan placed her lover’s leg over her shoulder and dove in to the hot wetness of Cynthia’s sex.

“Ohhhh Jordan. Yes baby, just like that, right there.”

Jordan lapped at the sweet juices she found. She licked and sucked, until she felt Cynthia stiffen and Jordan’s lips became drenched in her climax. As her body relaxed again, she fell against Jordan, who caught her until they were laying together on the floor, cuddling. Cynthia’s rest didn’t last long. She moved above Jordan, unbuttoning her shirt.

“You know darlin’. We’re going to have to have this shirt cleaned before you wear it again. I am all over it.” Jordan chuckled and ran her fingers lightly down Cynthia’s arms. Cynthia took her hands and held them above her head as she kissed her deeply, sucking lightly on her tongue. She slid the straps of Jordan’s bra down following with her lips.

“God, Jordan, you are so beautiful. After all these years, I can’t get enough of you.”

Cynthia took one of the hard nipples into her mouth. Jordan arched into her. She pulled Jordan’s slacks and panties down. Jordan surrendered herself to the intense pleasure taking over her body. Cynthia stroked the silky, slick folds, causing Jordan to moan. She entered Jordan deeply, plunging two fingers inside. She moved in and out, hard and fast while Jordan thrust her hips in time with her. Cynthia, sensing the need of her lover, added a third finger. Jordan took everything Cynthia was giving her and begging for more. She groaned loudly as Cynthia added her pinky, fucking her hard, taking her.

“Oh God, Cynthia.”

“You like that don’t you baby?” Jordan nodded, her face distorted.

“You want more?” Jordan nodded again.

“You want it all don’t you baby?” Jordan moaned.

“Yeeessssssssss.”

“Cynthia pulled her fingers out slightly, holding her fingers together, she began to ease her coated hand inside Jordan. Jordan held onto Cynthia tightly as she inched her entire hand into her. Jordan began to rub her own clit as Cynthia fucked her. Cynthia could feel the approaching orgasm and egged her on.

“That’s it baby. Feel me inside you. Come for me. That’s it. IÎm here baby”

Jordan came hard to her climax, several times, screaming Cynthia’s name. As the waves of Jordan’s orgasms began to subside, Cynthia gently eased her hand out. The two naked women collapsed together on the carpeted floor, satisfied. They both sighed in contentment and exhaustion at the same time. Cynthia laid next to Jordan, resting her head on Jordan’s shoulder.

“You know, if we sleep here, we won’t be walking erect tomorrow morning. But, I don’t think I have the energy to move. Good Lord Cynthia, what you do to me.” They both started laughing.

“Ditto. We’ll lie here for a bit, then move to the bed. I’ll help you to the bed if you need it, old woman.”

“Hey, hey now. You’re not that much younger than me.”

“Three years younger is still younger.”

After several minutes, the women dragged themselves over to the bed, sleeping peacefully, wrapped around each other.

Jordan was named the winner of the debate and still held her lead in the polls. She spent the next week speaking at dinners, and coffees. The weekend came and she was ready for a little fun at the Lesbian and Gay Rodeo in Forth Worth. She looked forward to riding and see some old friends. Her mothers met her there and brought her horse. The barrel racing was the first event of the rodeo. The announcer introduced the riders as they were about to come out of the gate. Jordan stood beside her horse, preparing for her run. Cynthia walked over to her.

“Hi honey, are you ready.” Jordan smiled and kissed Cynthia.

“About as ready as I will be. Where are Mom and Janis?”

“They’re in the stands to watch you.” Jordan got up on her horse, patting her side.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the barrel racing competition today. We have many fine riders for this first round today. To start off this competition is an exhibition ride of our own Jordan O’Connor, candidate for the U.S. Senate.”

The crowd cheered and Jordan received her signal, shooting out of the starting area. Her black hair flew in the wind as she raced around the barrels. Her adrenaline soared as the horse cut through the dirt between the barrels. Her horse picked up full speed going through the straight ways. She raced back into the starting area. She slowed the horse down and walked her to the horse trailer. Cynthia came and put her arm around her waist.

“You did a great job and you looked very sexy speeding around that arena.” Jordan grinned.

“Oh really? I may have to take advantage of that later. Where’s Laura and the film crew?”

“They’re off somewhere. I’ll call her.” A number of people came up to Jordan to compliment her ride. She shook their hands and smiled. They gave the horse some water and put her up. Jordan joined her family and watched the other riders. The other barrel racing times were much better than hers, but she didn’t fall off, so she was happy. She and Cynthia walked around, checking out all the activities. An old friend came up to her.

“Well, if it isn’t Jordan O’Connor.” Jordan smiled.

“Betty, its good to see you. How’ve you been?”

“Same old..same old. Don’t have any complaints. You seem to be doin’ well. I saw that debate, you did a great job. You also had a nice ride today. I was hoping to find you. I have a proposition for you. There’s a group of us who will give you twenty-five thousand dollars to ride a bull.” Jordan started laughing.

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. We know because of campaign finance laws, we can each only give you five thousand dollars. There are five of us. We’ll do it in a small arena. There would be probably a crowd. I mean, hell, a candidate for the U.S. Senate on a bull. That’s liable to get people’s attention.”

“I don’t know Betty. That’s pretty dangerous.” Betty smiled.

“I know you don’t shy away from things just because they’re dangerous.”

“The offer sounds interesting. Although, twenty-five thousand is pretty small considering how dangerous this is.” Betty laughed.

“Let me see if I can come up with some more. Tell you what, I’ll find you this afternoon if I get a better offer.” Jordan slapped her on the back.

“Alright, you do that. I’ll be thinking about it.” Jordan walked off with Cynthia. When they were out of earshot, Cynthia turned to her.

“You are not doing this.”

“What?”

“You are not riding that damn bull. Just get that out of your head. I know you. You love a challenge.”

“Oh c’mon Cyn. Its a lot of money. We need it.”

“Not badly enough for you to risk your life.”

“I don’t like being bossed around honey.”

“I don’t care. I’m not going to allow you to do this.” Jordan kept her voice quiet and controlled.

“I can’t do this right now. There are too many people here. But, I wouldn’t go that route if I were you.” Both women were trying to maintain a public image.

“I think we need to go off separately for a couple of hours and cool off and gain composure.” Jordan nodded.

“I agree. I’m going to where my mothers are. You know what we need to do for appearance sake don’t you?” Cynthia shot her a look.

“Oh, no Jordan, I don’t. I just deal with this stuff for a living.” Jordan faked a smile.

“No one likes a smart ass dear.” They walked away from one another.

Jordan couldn’t get over the way Cynthia was acting. ÎWho in the hell does she think she is, telling me what to do. I’m an adult. I can decide what I will and will not do. Thirty-five thousand is a lot of money. I’ve got a campaign to finance and salaries to pay. That is the bottom line here. Why can’t she understand that?’ She couldn’t even sulk. Too many people were watching her. She had to smile and bullshit with people like nothing was wrong. She sat with her mothers.

“Hey Jordan, where’s Cynthia?” Jordan sighed.

“Don’t ask.” They looked at her quizzically.

“Did you two have a fight?”

“Yes. She seems to think I need another mother to tell me what to do. Lord knows three isn’t enough.”

“Hey was that necessary?”

“I’m sorry. It’s a long story. I would rather not talk about it. I just want to watch the rodeo and deal with things myself.”

A while later, her friend Betty came up to her.

“Hey there Jordan.” Jordan inwardly groaned. This could only mean one thing.

“Hi Betty, what’s up?” Her friend was smiling.

“Ok. Here’s the thing. I’ve got six of our friends other than myself, who each have five thousand dollar checks to keep things nice and legal. We’ve acquired the use of a small arena, and we have a bull. There is no minimum time. Hell, we’d give you the money anyway, its just more fun this way. You’re an old friend and you’re family. We all like you. We had some great times together. I know you, and I dare you to tell me this doesn’t perk up the adrenaline junkie in you. It’s one of the reasons we’re even bringing this up. If you can stay on for eight seconds, and eighth person will give you another check.” Jordan thought for a minute.

“I will have you know, that I will have hell to pay with Cynthia. But I’ve ridden before. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. I haven’t done it in years. I’m not as young as I used to be. But damn, the money’s good. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a thrill like that. What time do I show up?” ÎOh I am dead meat.’ Betty laughed, pleased.

“Be there at four, I’ll give you directions tomorrow.” Jordan nodded.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She walked off towards the bus. She walked in and Cynthia was working with Laura and looking over the some of the footage of Jordan on the horse.

“Hi y’all. How did it look?” Laura smiled.

“It looked great. We’re going to use it in our next commercial.”

“I’m glad. I Îve got some good news. I’ve got a big donation for us. I’ll have thirty-five possibly forty thousand dollars tomorrow.” Cynthia put her hands on her hips.

“Tell me you’re not about to say what I think you are.” Laura looked confused.

“Someone tell me what’s going on?”

“Do you remember Betty Simpson who owns that ranch near my mothers? She used to host the Waltz Across Texas every year.” Laura nodded. “Well, she and several others have each offered me five thousand dollars to ride a bull in a small arena tomorrow. If I stay on for eight seconds, it gets raised another five thousand. So, I’ve got a possibility of making forty thousand tomorrow.” Cynthia fumed.

“Did you hear that? She has to ride a fucking bull. She’s been off crutches for a few weeks and she wants to ride a damn bull. I can’t believe she would possibly do this. Would you please talk some sense into her?” Laura raised her hands.

“Jordan, this isn’t the smartest idea. But, you love dangerous and challenging and we need the money. But you’re taking a big risk and it may not be worth it. So basically, I’m staying out of it. I’ve got work to do. If you need me, call me.” She walked out of the bus.

“Damnit Jordan, how could you even think about doing this? I can’t believe you would have such disregard for my feelings and wishes that you would do this. This is the most ridiculous, asinine idea I’ve ever heard.”

“I’ve got a fucking opponent with bottomless pockets who is spending nearly twice what I am. I have salaries, including yours, advertisements, and countless other expenses to cover. An honestly, I want to do this.”

“You’re kidding me right? I will not let you do this.”

“Who the hell do you think you are? You won’t let me do this? I don’t need your damn permission for anything. You can kiss my ass if you think that argument’s going to work with me.” Cynthia grabbed her purse and Avery’s keys.

“I’m taking the Range Rover and I’m going to my apartment.” Jordan was a little shocked.

“When are you coming back?”

“I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ve got responsibilities here with you. Regardless of what I think about the way you’re acting, we have to keep up the appearance of being the happy couple.”

“So you’re leaving, just like that.”

“Yes. I really don’t want to be around you right now.”

“Well, fine. Just go then. I’m tired of dealing with your crap anyway.” Cynthia walked out of the bus. Jordan picked up a book, throwing it at the door. Jordan paced around the empty bus.

“Damnit!”

That night, both women tossed and turned, not able to sleep. Jordan looked at the phone, wanting to call Cynthia, missing her. Her pride won out. “I can’t just let her tell me what to do.” She spent the night alone.

Cynthia walked around her apartment. She started going through her papers and books, throwing away what she no longer wanted. She came across a picture of her and Jordan. They were both laughing. Jordan was sitting behind her, with her arms wrapped around her. Cynthia smiled when she remembered when the picture was taken. It was Jordan’s thirty-fifth birthday. Cynthia felt her resolve start to crumble. Finally, her pride won out as well. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to cave in. She doesn’t care how dangerous this is or how much it bothers me. She should apologize to me.”

The next day, Jordan put on her best smile. She was going to receive a belt buckle and be the co-announcer for the events that morning. Later that afternoon, when she left the emceeÎs booth , she ran into Cynthia.

“Hi.” Cynthia managed a small smile.

“Hi.” They both looked a little nervous. Jordan put her hand on Cynthia’s shoulder.

“How are you?”

“Not that great Jordan.” Both women felt their resolve crumbling.

“Can I be honest with you?” Cynthia nodded. She placed her hands on both sides of Cynthia’s face.

“I was miserable. I missed you. I couldn’t sleep at all without you”

“Neither could I. I nearly called you a hundred times.” They both chuckled.

“Can we talk? I don’t need to be back to the announcer’s booth. Let’s go back to the bus and talk privately.” The women walked back to the bus, their arms around one another. Jordan led her in and shut the door. She took Cynthia’s hand and pulled her into a tight embrace. They held each other tightly. Their lips met, tongues brushing against one another. Jordan sucked on Cynthia’s lower lip pulling it slightly.

“I love you Cyn. I need you. Don’t leave me like that again please.” Cynthia reached up and lovingly brushed the hair away from Jordan’s face.

“I shouldn’t have left. I should have stayed.”

“I should have taken your views into consideration.”

“Does that mean that you’re not going to ride that bull?” Jordan pulled back.

“I’m going to ride.” Cynthia started to argue, but Jordan gently raised her hand, stopping her. “Please hear me out. For one thing, it’s a lot of money. We need more money. Hell, we always need more money. But its not just that. I’m forty-six years old. I have a son who is about to start his last year of college and a daughter who is about to start her freshman year. I’m certainly not getting any younger. I have to hold any reading material way in front of my face to read, even when I am wearing my glasses. I probably need bifocals. I have to dye my hair to keep it from graying. I just want to prove to myself that I’m not too old; that I still have some of my fire, my youth. I know you’re concerned. I love you for caring so much about me. I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I can still do this.” She took Cynthia’s hands. “Please baby, don’t be mad at me.” Cynthia tried to frown, but she was failing.

“Damnit, Jordan don’t you look at me like that. I can’t tell you no. Fine, I give in to you like I always do.” Jordan grinned and hugged her tightly.

“Thank you baby.” Cynthia rolled her eyes.

“So when are you doing this?” Jordan looked at her watch.

“At four. I have some time.” Cynthia pulled her in, capturing her in a kiss, sucking on her tongue. Jordan held the back of her head. Cynthia ended the kiss, lying her head against Jordan’s chest. “I missed you so much last night. I hated the way it felt to be without you.” Jordan cradled the back of Cynthia’s head.

“So did I. Please, whatever problems we have, don’t leave me again. It brought back too many bad memories.”

“I promise, I won’t leave again if we have a fight.”

They sat in the bus together for an hour or so, holding one another. Soon it was time for Jordan to ride the bull. She went down to the arena where she was met by her mothers, who were quite displeased, to put it mildly. Her entourage and friends cheered her on. Betty walked up to her.

“Hey Jordan, you ready?”

“Yep. LetÎs do this. ” She walked up to the shoot in her boots, jeans, and chaps and her new buckle. A crowd of over a hundred people had gathered around a small arena to watch the candidate ride the bull. The other friends of hers who were giving the donations , walked up and shook her hand as well.

“Ok Jordan, here are the rules. Just get out of the chute, and you’ll receive seven checks each made out to five thousand dollars. If you stay on for the full eight, you’ll receive an eighth check also for five thousand. We got a couple of the rodeo clowns to help you get out. YouÎve done this before, so you know how to do it.” Jordan nodded.

She walked up to the chute. She could see the large bull. Her heart began to pound wildly. The adrenaline began to course through her blood. Cynthia grabbed her hand one last time.

“Jordan, be careful. I love you.” Jordan smiled and caressed Cynthia’s cheek with the back of her hand and leaned in, kissing her lightly. She blocked everything else out of her mind as she climbed up the chute. There were other bull riders there to help her. She put on her glove and wrapped the strap tightly around to wrist to hold it in place.

“Cowgirl up.” Jordan climbed onto the bull, and put her hand in the rope. The bull immediately began bucking. Jordan could feel the muscles of the large animal between her legs. She raised her left hand into the air and nodded her head, giving the signal to open the chute. The chute opened and the bull shot out. He jumped, and bucked, and spun around. Her arm flew back and her legs bounced up as the bull tossed her around. She was holding on with everything she had. She heard an air-horn blast the eight-second signal. She swung her leg over and let herself off. The bull came around, bumping her with his massive body, knocking her down. The clowns distracted the bull and allowed her to get up. Pain shot through her injured ankle, but Jordan limped out of the arena, her hands in the air. The people cheered for her and she waved her hat to the small crowd. When she was out, Betty and the other women walked over to her. Betty slapped her on the back.

“Nice ride there Senator.” She handed her the checks. “Here you go pal, forty thousand dollars. You earned it. You did great my friend.” Jordan chuckled.

“Thanks, it was fun.” Cynthia ran up to her and put her arms around her.

“You’re limping. What happened are you ok?”

“Yes honey, I’m fine. My ankle is killing me. I landed on it wrong.”

“Is it the one you hurt in the plane crash?” Jordan nodded. She leaned in to whisper into Cynthia’s ear.

“My ankle hurts like hell. Let’s just do what we need to do to finish here and get me to the bus so I can get these damn boots off.” Cynthia nodded.

Jordan talked to the rest of the people who came up to her, congratulating her on her ride. The campaign workers all circled around her, patting her on the back. Finally, she was able to walk back to the bus leaning on Cynthia. She helped Jordan walk to the couch in the back of the bus.

“Honey get this boot off me now. My ankle is swelling up.” Cynthia pulled the boot off, eliciting a cry from Jordan. Cynthia took off her sock and looked at the ankle.

“Yep, it’s definitely swelling Jordan. Let me get a bag of ice.”

“Thank you.” Cynthia came back a couple of minutes later with a bag of ice and some Advil. She placed the ice on the tender ankle and she sat next to Jordan, placing the injured woman’s feet on her lap. The entourage headed on their way to San Antonio.

“Ok, go ahead and say it, you’re dying to.” Cynthia pretended to be shocked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jordan laughed.

“You are so full of it. You know you want to say it.” Cynthia kissed her nose.

“I told you so. I told you so. Ha ha ha.” They both continued to laugh.

“Yes, Cynthia, my love, you were right.”

AUGUST

Jordan limped into the busy campaign office, welcomed with cheers and applause.

“Woohoo, ride ‘em cowgirl.” She laughed and waved her hand to the group.

“Ok, ok, you all heard about my little exploits this weekend. It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. Now get back to work you slackers.”

The group laughed and got back to work. Jordan walked into her office, and started looking over her schedule. Sarah walked in, excited.

“Jordan you need to call Jamie Walker, immediately. He called for you this morning. I’m guessing its about the convention.” Jordan sat down.

“That’s great. I hope its good news. The last thing I want is to be called onto the carpet by the leaders of the national party. Thanks for relaying the message.” She got a devilish grin on her face. ” So, how’s Tammy?” Jordan winked at her friend who beamed.

“She’s just fine. We’ve been seeing each other when we can. She‘s really quite special. ”

“Well good for you. I wish you luck. Just remember who introduced you.” Sarah smiled.

“Don’t worry boss, I won’t and thank you. Now call that man and see what he wants.” She walked out of the office and Jordan picked up the phone to call the head of the Democratic National Committee.

“Jordan, its good to hear from you. How are things going down there?”

“They’re going well Jamie. We’re way ahead and donations are coming in steadily.” The man was friendly and pleasant.

“Good, good. We’ve been watching you. A lot of people have been watching you actually. We like what we see. You’ve gained the attention of some pretty high powered people. We need to hold our lead in the Senate. The President has made it very clear that she wants you here in D.C. We want to help assure that you get this seat. If you do well at the convention, you’ll be launching yourself into national status. Doing well at the convention can seal your career. I want to meet with you and a few of your key staff members after you speak. In fact there are several people throughout the convention you need to meet. We can talk about your finances. Like I said, there are some top players outside of Texas who want to help you win this seat. It’s been held by Republicans for over twenty years. We want it back.”

“Thank you Jamie. I appreciate that coming from you. I look forward to meeting with you.”

“Keep up the good fight down there Jordan. We need you, and the President needs you.” Jordan grinned.

“Thanks Jamie. I will. You can count on me.”

” I’ll have my people fax the schedule for the convention to your people. I’ll make sure that the activities you need to be at are highlighted. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.”

“I appreciate it Jamie, bye.”

Jordan hung the phone up and absorbed what all was said. She called Cynthia and Laura into her office. She was so excited, she could barely talk.

“I just got off the phone with Jamie Walker. He wants to meet with us after my speech. Apparently, there are quite a few people who want to meet with me. He said that there are some high powered people who want to see me elected.” Cynthia smiled.

“Jordan, that could mean big money.”

“Tell me about it. This could completely set us up.” Laura put her hands on both of Jordan’s shoulders, looking in her eyes.

“This is it. You’re about to become a national player. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Get ready for this ride to get even crazier.”

“I know. Every speech, everything I’ve done, has led me to this convention speech. It’s exciting, but a bit daunting. Do you have any idea how many people are going to be watching? Do you remember what this did for Ann Richards?” The impact of the upcoming speech overwhelmed Jordan, who sat down.

“Honey, you’re going to be brilliant. I have no doubts. C’mon, we need to go to the meeting to go over the month’s schedule.”

The group assembled in the conference room as they do at the beginning of every month to go over the budget and schedule of appearances.

“Hi everyone, this is going to be the busiest and most important month of the campaign so far. After this month, we only have two full months of campaigning left. Now is the time to turn up the heat.” Laura began to speak.

“You’re going out on the road tomorrow, we’re going to hit the small towns, go into local cafes, just meet the people. There are a few pre-arranged meetings, but otherwise, we’re just going to wing it. You do have a fundraiser dinner with a businesswomen‘s group in Dallas.” Jordan nodded.

“Don’t forget I need to take Kate up to Massachusetts the second weekend of the month. I also need to be in town a few days before that to see Chris off.”

“It’s already on the schedule. You’ll go to the convention in Atlanta immediately after. We’ll meet you there. We spend the week in Atlanta. There is a state employee charity softball tournament in Austin the weekend after that. The Governor wants you on his team. There will be teams made up of state legislators, and each department. The press will be there in droves. You’ve got a number of appearances for the weeks after that. You’ll get the details later. The last week, we have another debate, this time in Houston at the University of Houston campus. After that, is the Waltz Across Texas, the HRC fundraiser. You’ll need to speak a little and they are going to give you forty percent of the proceeds. If this convention goes well, you’re going to be in great demand, but it will also mean more donations coming in. The commercials are doing great. They‘re going all over the state and the new one will air next week.” Jordan marked in her date book and looked up.

“That’s good Laura. What’s up with the finances Jim?”

“We’re at $1,345,972.00. Most of the money is going towards advertising. We’ve got radio and TV spots all over the state. You’re doing a bang-up job bringing in money. Just keep it up. Benson has deep pockets. He’s trying to buy this election basically, but its not working.” Jordan smiled.

“Everyone is doing such an incredible job. I can’t imagine a better group to work with. Jim and Sarah, I need you to come to a meeting with Cynthia, Laura, and myself. The National Party leaders want to meet with us the night of my speech. I think it could result in some big, big money.” Both nodded their understanding. “Is there anything else?”

“Don’t forget you’ve got that reception tonight, there are some phone interviews for you to do today. I have it all on your desk.”

“Thanks Sarah. I’ve started working on the speech. I want us to finish it up this week. That’ll give us another two weeks to tweak it. Who is this reception with tonight?”

“It’s being hosted by the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. They‘re opening up a new alternative medicines wing and a meditative garden.”

“That sounds nice. What time do I have to be there?”

“Seven.”

“Ok. Well I guess this concludes the meeting if there’s no more new business.”

Jordan spent the day giving phone interviews to newspapers in different parts of the state. That night, she, Laura, and Cynthia went to the reception at the AIDS Foundation. The director came over and greeted her as she walked in the door. She smiled, giving her old friend a hug.

“Hey stranger, its so good to see you. I’m glad you came.” Jordan smiled.

“Its good to see you too David. How’ve you been?”

“I’ve been good. Come on girl, let me show you the new wing.”

He led her through the AIDS care center.

“It’s changed a lot since I’ve been here.”

“You haven’t been here in forever.” Jordan laughed

“That’s true.”

“This room is the hypnotherapy room, to help people deal with pain and side effects of all the medications. This next room is for massage therapy. This is going to be the shared office for the Volunteer Coordinator, and the Educator. This final room is for therapy. We are also opening up a library on this wing. It still needs a few finishing touches.”

“This is wonderful David. You must be proud.” The director grinned

“I am very proud. I’m glad you came tonight. I haven‘t seen you in forever. ” She put her hand on his shoulder.

“Me too David.” They went back through the facility to the meditative gardens where guests were gathered. There were also several reporters with cameras. The walked over to Jordan and the facility director.

“Ms. O’Connor, what brings you here tonight?”

“I’m here to celebrate the opening of the new wing with my good friend David. I’ve been an advocate of persons living with AIDS for years. I have volunteered with this facility. I have walked in the AIDS walk every year for the last fifteen years, and I’ve ridden in the AIDS charity bike rides. David is an old friend of mine. I am thrilled to see the wonderful work he is doing. I wish he weren’t quite so busy, but he’s doing a great job meeting the needs of the people here. This city is fortunate to have this facility and David as its director.”

“Is AIDS funding a priority for you?”

“Yes it is. While it is not the death sentence it once was here in the United States, we are still a long way off from a cure. The drug cocktails that are required to maintain one’s health are extremely expensive and cause a wide variety of difficult side effects. In addition, there are drug resistant strains of the virus developing all the time. We need to keep doing research. Just because HIV and AIDS have become a condition with which people can live long lives, this is not the time to slack off.”

“How are you feeling about your speech at the Democratic National Convention this month?” Jordan smiled.

“I’m very excited. This is an exciting month for me. My daughter is going off to college for the first time, my son is going back to UT, and I have the speech in Atlanta. It is a tremendous opportunity. ” She smiled and leaned in to the reporter as if she was sharing a secret. “I’m a little nervous though. I don’t even want to think about how many people will be watching.” They both laughed.

“What are you speaking about?”

“I’m going to be speaking about serving your community. We have a need in this community, and in every community for people to share their time, and their resources. This country has such a need for a resurgence in volunteerism.”

The reporter nodded and thanked Jordan. Jordan returned the thank you and went off to greet people in the hot August evening.

Later at home, Jordan was sitting in her favorite chair, in her shorts and t-shirt and her glasses, tapping away on her laptop surrounded by position papers. Cynthia smiled as she watched her work. She walked up and kissed the top of Jordan’s head. She smiled, but didn’t stop working.

“How’s the speech coming?”

“It’s going well I think. I’ll let you take a look at it tomorrow.”

“I’m going to bed. Are you going to stay up and work?” Jordan nodded as she looked over some papers.

“Yes honey.”

“Do you want me to get you some water or anything before I go?”

“No thanks Cyn. Go on to bed. I’ll be there soon.” Cynthia looked at her and smiled.

“Don’t stay up too late.”

“I won’t.”

“I love you. Goodnight sweetheart.” Jordan looked up and smiled.

“Goodnight. I love you too.”

About three in the morning, Cynthia turned over and reached for Jordan who wasn’t there. She got up and walked into the living room and found Jordan asleep in her big armchair with her feet propped up on an ottoman with the computer on her lap. She shook her head and laughed. She walked over to her lover and shut the computer down. She kneeled next her and gently woke the sleeping woman.

“Honey, wake up. Come to bed.” Jordan opened her eyes, and looked around, confused. “I must have fallen asleep.” Cynthia took her hand and led her to bed.

The next day the group left for the next week driving from town to town, talking to people. She listened to their concerns about education, unemployment, taxes, health care. Some people weren’t very welcoming of a liberal lesbian who advocated gun control, but she enjoyed the opportunity to meet people in their own setting.

The next week, she returned home to help her children get ready to leave, while working on the campaign. They had a family dinner, the last time they would all be together for months. Chris was scheduled to leave for Austin the next day. She took him into her study to speak with him in private.

“Chris, you’re going to be graduating this Spring, and you’ll be looking to start your career.” He looked up at his mother.

“Yes ma’am.”

“You’ve done a wonderful job this summer. I am extremely proud of you son. You were remarkable. You handled everything last May with grace. You were so brave when you came looking for me. If and when I get elected, I want you on my staff in D.C.” The young man smiled.

“I appreciate that Mom, but I don’t want to get the job just because I am your son. I’d like to make it on my own.” She smiled. He was so much like her.

“I am not offering you a job because you are my son. I am offering you a job because you can do it and you can do it well. I want you on my team. You’ll be pretty low on the totem pole, but the perks are great.” He smiled and stood to shake her hand.

“I appreciate the offer Mom. Let me take it into consideration ok?” She pulled him into a hug.

“That’s all I ask. Just think about it. Believe me, I would be lucky to have you. You have a bright future ahead of you. There will be many people trying to snap you up.” They both laughed.

“Thanks Mom.” She kissed his head.

“I love you Chris.” He blushed.

“I love you too. It was a great Summer. I learned a lot and I had fun.” She hugged him again, fighting back tears of sadness, that she shed at the end of every summer when he left, and pride at the man her son had become. The mother and son had a special, unique connection. They were two of a kind. They walked back out to the living room where everyone was gathered.

She sat watching them all. She watched her daughter laughing with James. She smiled at her family around her. She stood up.

“I hope everyone can bear with me for a few minutes. This is the last time we’ll all be able to get together until Thanksgiving or maybe even Christmas. I want to tell everyone thank you for coming tonight and that I love y’all very much. It’s going to be hard having both of you two kids out of the house.” She began to cry. Cynthia took her hand. “Having you and watching you grow to be the intelligent, kind, and independent adults that you are has been my greatest gift and joy. I know there were times it seemed that my campaign or job came before you. I also know having me for a mother wasn’t the easiest thing. But you both put up with me and have always supported me. Of course, I also had lots of help from your Dad and Cynthia. Letting you both go is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Chris, you’ve been going off to school for a few years now and you’ve always been close by. But this time, I won’t be close and you will be going off to start your career after you graduate. So it feels like you’re leaving for good this time. I will tell you that regardless of what happens in this world, I will always be available to you. Kate, you’re going to be on the other side of the bloody country. But, you’ve chosen a wonderful school and you’re going to love it. I love you both and I am so proud of you.” Kate and Chris wrapped their mother in their arms. Most of the people in the room were crying at that point.

The next day, Chris got in his jeep and drove off to his new apartment in Austin. Jordan smiled as she watched him drive away. At least she would see him semi-frequently until she went to D.C. The campaign was waiting for her, so she wouldn’t have time to dwell on it too much. They were busy preparing everything for the convention the following week. She arrived home that evening to start packing for her trip to Amherst, Massachusetts. She walked by Kate’s room as the young woman was putting her things in suitcases and duffel bags. Jordan stood at the door and quietly watched her. She looked up and smiled at her.

“Hi Mom.”

“Are you getting everything?”

“I think so.”

“Are you excited? This is your first time living away from home.” The teenager smiled.

“I am. I’m nervous though. What if I hate my roommate?” Jordan walked in the room, laughing.

“Then you’ll have a great college roommate horror story to tell when you get older, like most people.”

“I worry about whether or not I’ll be able to cut it.”

“Kate, I won’t lie to you. You’re going to a challenging school. But you are an extremely intelligent young woman. I have no doubt in my mind that you’re going to succeed. You got into this school, you’re going to do great. It’s going to be weird not having you around though. I’m so proud of you. I will miss you so much.” Kate looked at her.

“I’m going to miss you too Mom.”

The next day Jordan, Cynthia, James, and Kate left for Mt. Holyoke. The campus was packed with new and returning students and their parents. The parents found Kate’s dorm and helped her take her things in. Cynthia looked around her old alma mater.

“Kate, you’re going to love it here. These old buildings are wonderful. I remember my coming here like it was yesterday.”

A young dark haired woman walked into Kate’s room carrying suitcases. Kate’s eyes widened when she saw the young woman in jeans and white t-shirt. She sat her bags down and held her hand out to Kate. She had a huge grin on her face, which Kate returned.

“Hi, you must be Kate O’Connor. My name is Jo Rizzuto. I’m your roommate.”

“Yes I am. It’s nice to meet you. This is my mother, Jordan O’Connor, her partner Cynthia Price, and my dad James O’Connor.” The friendly young woman offered her hand to Kate’s family.

“It’s nice to meet you all.” Jordan’s gaydar was going off like crazy. She wasn’t sure what to think.

“It’s nice to meet you too Jo. Are your parents here with you?” Jo smiled again.

“No ma’am. They live in Martha’s Vineyard, so I am close enough to see them frequently.”

Kate walked over to her family.

“Why don’t y’all go ahead and go to the hotel. I’ll be fine here. I need to start unpacking.” Jordan felt a pain in her chest. That was hard to hear.

“Well ok. We’ll be back at seven to pick you up for dinner. Jo would you like to join us? We’re taking Kate out to dinner.”

Jo smiled pleasantly. “Sure. Thank you.”

“Good. We’ll leave you two to get to know one another and unpack.” She walked up to her daughter, kissing her on the head.

Kate turned to Jo.

“Argghhh…parents. They love me but they are a bit overprotective. I’m the last one to leave home, so my parents are kind of emotional.” Both girls started laughing.

“They just love you. You’ve got two moms huh? Very cool. I wish my mom were gay. Your mom looks familiar. What does she do?”

“She’s running for the U.S. Senate. She’s been on a number of national TV news shows and magazines, especially gay magazines. She’s speaking next week at the Democratic Convention.”

“Wow. That must be where I’ve seen her. Didn’t she have that plane crash a few months ago?” Kate nodded.

“Yep, that was her.”

“So that must be hard with all that attention you must get?” Kate nodded again.

“Yeah. It can be a real pain in the ass. Sometimes, people say things about her and our family. It’s hard having people and cameras all around you. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come all the way up here. It can suck being constantly compared to her. Living in her shadow isn’t the easiest thing . But I love her very much and wouldn’t want any other mother. She‘s really an astounding person.”

Jo said, “I’m sure you’re quite something yourself.” The two women shared a smile, and then resumed unpacking.

The parents walked out of the dorm building and Cynthia proceeded to show the group around the campus. James turned to the two women.

“So what do y’all think of that roommate? Think those two will get along?” Jordan put her hand on his shoulder.

“She seems to be a very nice girl. I think Kate will be fine.”

Later, at the hotel, Jordan looked at Cynthia.

“Hey Cyn, did your gaydar go off around that girl?” Cynthia looked up from her papers.

“Actually honey, it did.”

“Mine too. That concerns me a little.”

“Why would that concern you?” Jordan looked at her ashamed.

“I guess I’m worried about Kate.”

“Oh come on Jordan. Over fifty percent of the student population at this school is lesbian at least until graduation, you know that. Believe me, her roommate is not her only exposure. Why would you be worried about Kate anyway?”

“What if she..you know becomes involved?” Cynthia looked at her.

“Are you worried about her becoming a lesbian?”

“I am ashamed to say it, but I think I am.”

“Why would that be a problem?”

“It’s not a problem. I’m not going to condemn or disown her or anything like that. She’s my baby. I just worry about her. Life isn’t easy for a gay woman. Look at what happened to the headquarters. Look at what happened to that poor boy in Wyoming. What if something happens to her because she’s gay? I don’t want her to go through some of the things we’ve been through. Hell, your lousy family abandoned you.” Cynthia walked up to her and put her arms around Jordan’s neck. Jordan wrapped her arms around Cynthia’s waist, holding her tightly. Cynthia pressed her lips against Jordan’s.

“Jordan, I think you may be jumping to conclusions. If she is gay, then all you can do is love and support her.”

“I’m not going to be able to protect her anymore from anything.” Cynthia held her.

“She’s going to be fine. We all have to leave home and make our own way in the world.”

“You’re right. This is so hard. With Chris, he was only an hour and a half away. I won’t hardly see her.”

“I know. It will be ok honey. You have to let her go.” Jordan held onto Cynthia as her heart broke.

Jordan’s concerns were soothed over dinner as she got to know the young woman her daughter would be living with for the semester. She was friendly, charming, and intelligent. Plus, Jordan always knew she could easily have this girl investigated by her friends in the FBI if she needed to. ‘Ha Ha Ha. Power is a good thing.’ When Jordan dropped off her daughter and Jo back at the dorm, she said good-bye, crying. Jordan and Cynthia had to leave for Atlanta the next day for the National Convention.

“Well kiddo, it looks like this is it.”

“I guess so.” Jordan was holding her daughter tightly, not wanting to let go.

“Mom, you’re kind of choking me. Let go.” Jordan loosened her grip.

“My arms don’t seem to want to let go.” Kate began to cry.

“I love you.” Jordan was bawling at this point.

“I love you too. Now remember, if you go to a party, don’t get drunk. It dulls the senses and you could end up doing something you regret. Also, don’t ever let anyone get you a drink. Get your own and then keep an eye on it at all times.” Kate laughed.

“Mother, how many times have you given me this talk. I can take care of myself. I’ll be fine. I’ll be watching the convention, good luck.” Jordan pulled her daughter into one last hug.

“One more hug for the road. I love you Kate. If you need anything, I’m only a phone call away.”

“I know, I love you too Mom.” James stepped up to the two.

“Ok, now it’s my turn.” The proud father stood with tears in his eyes.

“You take care of yourself. Did you pack that mace I gave you?” Kate rolled her eyes.

“Yes Dad.”

“Ok honey, if you need anything, just call me. I love you and I’m very proud of you. You’re going to do great.” The young woman hugged her father tightly, tears falling down her cheeks.

“I will Daddy. I love you too.” The strong man stepped aside, quietly wiping the moisture from his eyes. Cynthia stepped up wrapping her arms around Kate.

“Study hard and have fun. If you need any advice about professors or anything here, let me know, I’m on the alumni list and I have some friends on the faculty. Call often please, we’re going to miss you. I love you Katie Beth.”

“Thanks Cynthia, I love you too. Take care of Mom for me.”

“I will.”

They pulled away from one another and Kate walked into her dorm building, leaving her parents standing there, sniffling, and waving. All three sighed in unison as they watched their little girl walk away. Quiet sadness filled the car on the drive to the hotel. That night in bed, Cynthia ran her hands along her partner’s back as the candidate laid silently. She whispered, “talk to me Jordan. What’s going on in your head?” Jordan turned around to face her.

“A million things. I worry that I wasn’t a very good mother. I spent so much time with my career. For several years when I worked in the Governor’s office, I didn’t even live with them three or four days of the week. They said they were ok with it, but when they look back, what are they going to think? Now they’re gone, I’m afraid of what I’ve missed. I worry that Kate’s so far away. Not only that, I’ve got the most important speech of my life in a few days. This week will probably determine where my career is going to go. I‘m not too worried about that though.”

Cynthia reached up and brushed her hands through her lover’s hair.

“Oh Sweetheart. You’ve been a wonderful mother. You’ve taught them so many great lessons. You may not have been there every single day, but they had other parents besides you. It gave James and me the chance to raise them. Look at Chris and what a great job he is doing in school and on the campaign. You offered him a job, but the truth of the matter is, you will probably have competition from other people who know you both and have watched him and want him to come work for them. Kate is going to one of the best schools in the country. They’re happy, wonderful people and they adore you. As far as this speech goes, you are going to knock it out of the park.” Jordan smiled.

“You’re right you know, as usual. That really bugs me too.” Cynthia laughed.

She leaned in and placed her lips softly against Jordan’s. Jordan allowed her entrance. Cynthia covered Jordan’s body with her own. She began to ease Jordan’s anxiety with her love. She straddled Jordan’s waist, lifting her shirt above her head, tossing it aside. She held Jordan’s hands above her head and lowered her lips to meet the moist ones beneath her. Jordan ran her hands along Cynthia’s back, pulling her down against her. The women moaned into one another. Jordan placed soft kisses along Cynthia’s jaw line, neck, shoulders, and just above her breasts. She whispered against Cynthia’s warm skin, “I love you Cyn, so very much. I need you. I want you.” Cynthia sat up, lifting Jordan with her. She pulled Jordan’s shirt as she straddled her hips. Jordan held her tightly, pressing her lips against Cynthia’s, demanding and receiving entrance. Cynthia wrapped her fingers in her lover’s hair. Tongues stroked and danced together, as the women moaned against one another. Jordan pushed Cynthia back, lying on top of her. She slowly removed Cynthia’s panties, resuming her place above her. Jordan could feel Cynthia’s wet center through her own underwear. She began to grind against Cynthia. Cynthia groaned, her breathing became quick and ragged. “Oooohhhh God, baby. Take those off, NOW.” Jordan grinned. “Take them off me.” Cynthia sat up slightly and lowered her partner’s underwear. Jordan resumed her position between Jordan’s thighs. Jordan ground her hot wetness against Cynthia’s. The women began to rock against one another, moaning loudly. Jordan could tell that Cynthia’s climax was approaching when she wrapped her legs tightly around her, pulling her in tightly. Cynthia cried out her pleasure as she reached her orgasm, thrusting hard against Jordan. This was enough to set Jordan off as she drove her hips into Cynthia as she climaxed, her passion exploding. She kept grinding against Cynthia as the blonde came over and over again, her face turning a deeper shade of red each time she peaked. Finally Jordan laid beside her, light sheen of sweat on both women. Both women were smiling, exhausted, and breathing heavy.

“My word Jordan. That was……WOW. I feel like I’m about to pass out.” Jordan began to chuckle. “You’re about to pass out? I think I reached muscle failure, my arms feel like jello.” Cynthia turned on her side, laying her head on Jordan’s shoulder, wrapping her arm around the taller woman’s waist. Jordan kissed the top of Cynthia’s soft, blonde head. “I love you so much Cynthia. I don’t know what I did those six years without you.” Cynthia burrowed deeper into her lover. “I love you too Jordan, more than ever.” Jordan smiled as she felt Cynthia breathing against her. “You know what one of my greatest wishes is for my kids? I want them to have moments like this one. I want them to be able to be wrapped in the arms of the one they love and who loves them in return, spent and satisfied. These moments with you are so perfect.” She pulled Cynthia up to face her and cupped her face between her hands, her fingertips in resting in the blonde hair. “Thank you Cynthia; for coming back, for loving me, for giving us a second chance, for being the one person who understands every little part of me, and for moments like these. There was a time in my life when I didn‘t think it was possible for me to feel like this ever again. I watch you when you sleep. I listen to you breathe and I thank God I’ve got you beside me.” Cynthia smiled, tears rolling down her cheeks. “You blow me away sometimes. I don’t know what to say. I never stopped loving you. I had no choice but to come back. You are the only woman I ever truly loved. I live for these moments with you. When I am looking in your eyes like this, I have no doubt that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with you. We were meant to be together Jordan, that’s all there is to it. I love you.” Emotional tears were flowing on the cheeks of both women. Jordan wrapped her arms tightly around Cynthia. “I hope the kids turn out to be as lucky as I am.”

The next day, the couple arrived at their hotel in Atlanta that was bustling with politicians and delegates from all over the country. Jordan ran into several people she knew. She met up with Laura, Jim, and Sarah and went over a busy agenda given to her by the National Party leaders. The convention opened up that night with thousands of people crowding the Georgia Dome. It was a huge party atmosphere and Jordan loved every minute of it. The President sent Jordan a note, asking the candidate to meet her at her suite later that evening.

The reception with the President and Vice-President was filled with powerful Hollywood executives. She spent much of her time speaking to an Academy Award winning director and his wife. He seemed to be quite interested in her domestic social views. By the end of the night, the couple had given her a donation of several thousand dollars. The next couple of days was a blur of meetings, people, and parties as she prepared for her speech that Wednesday.

The night came and Jordan and her entourage sat in her dressing room, preparing for the big speech. Her black hair speckled with silver was pulled back. She wore a white blouse and navy blue skirt and jacket. She moved backstage as she was being introduced. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, focusing on the task ahead. Her blood was rushing through her veins. She felt as if her body conducted electricity. She had waited for this moment her entire life. Cynthia watched her quietly, smiling. Just as she was walking out, Cynthia kissed her lightly. “I love you Jordan.” Jordan smiled and strode onto the stage, with presence and poise. The thousands and thousands of people in attendance cheered and roared. Jordan stepped up to the podium and waved. As they calmed, she began.

“In 1960, candidate John F. Kennedy stood before ten thousand students at the University of Michigan at two a.m. and unveiled his plan to promote peace throughout the world by sending the young people of this country to underdeveloped countries around the world to work and to teach and to learn. He asked how many of them would be willing to serve. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have answered that call since that speech. In 1987, when I graduated from the University of Texas, I heard that call. When they say it is the toughest job you’ll ever love, they weren’t lying. It was the most difficult job I have ever had, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I saw first-hand the benefits of communities working together. I helped them build homes, schools, medical clinics, and churches. When we work together, anything is possible. This country can reach unprecedented levels when we work together as a united country for the benefit of the future. During the Depression, we had the Civilian Conservation Corp. and in 1993, AmeriCorp and Senior Corp were created. It seems as though, every few years, there is a grand call to service. We had it during the Depression, during the sixties, in the nineties,” she smiled, “and now it is my turn. I am going to borrow someone else’s words. I want every American citizen to ask not what your country can do for you , but ask what you can do for your country.” Cheers erupted and Jordan took a minute for the applause to die down. “I am commissioning every American to serve their country and their community, roll up your sleeves and let‘s get to work. Mentor a child, teach other adults to read, clean up a dirty, empty lot and turn in into a play ground for your neighborhood. Deliver meals to shut-ins, work in a soup kitchen, work in your church, do something. If we all pull together, as a united people, there are no limits to which this great country of ours can reach. I want every young person to join AmeriCorp, the Peace Corp, or the military service, or Habitat for Humanity. There are so many areas in which we can work. This country’s future is not in the hands of those who govern. This country’s future is in the hands of Americans working together to make this nation successful.”

At the conclusion of the speech, Jordan absorbed the cheers of the thousands of people in attendance. A thunderous ovation continued for five minutes. Jordan smiled, bowing her head in an expression of gratitude. Finally, she waved to the crowd and walked off the stage. Her staff was waiting for her. The other speakers, convention workers and various people backstage applauded and congratulated her as she walked back and exhaled the breath she had been holding for what felt like nearly a half-hour. She was in a daze as she shook hands, thanking people, the noise was just a buzz in her ear. Her gaze fell upon Cynthia, who opened her arms. Jordan just let herself be drawn in.

“You did it baby. You did it. I’m so proud of you . You were magnificent. I knew you could do it.”

Suddenly Jordan dropped back into herself. She tightened her hold on Cynthia.

“Oh my God. Did you see that? I got a standing ovation for several minutes. That was the most amazing thing. I‘ve never had a speech like that.”

Laura came up and hugged the both of them.

“Woman, that was fantastic. You were great.”

” I can’t describe how I felt out there.”

“You were brilliant Jordan. You did it.”

The group went to watch the rest of the convention, but kept being interrupted by people congratulating her. At the end of the night, she went up to see the heads of Democratic National Committee. She walked into the room that was filled with some of the most influential people in the country and the Party.

“Jordan, come on in. You did beautifully. I am beyond pleased. Come celebrate with us.” The group came in and sat down and met the people in the room. Jamie handed her and her group glasses of champagne. “I’ve been getting several calls about you this evening. You’re wanted for interviews on the major network morning shows and Larry King Live. We’re thrilled with your performance. However, I do have some concerns. You are a lesbian, but you’re obviously in a monogamous relationship, so its not as much of a problem. You know they are looking for dirt on you.” Jordan nodded.

“Yes I know. You also know that it’s not my style to do that with my opponents.”

“Yes. What I’m getting at Jordan, is will they find anything? Have you had affairs with your interns, secretaries, etc.? Are there any pictures from college or anything that could show up as incriminating?” Jordan internally panicked slightly, but didn’t let it show.

“Of course not. Listen, there may be pictures of me protesting, or petitions I’ve signed, but I am proud to stand by all of those things. I haven’t lived like a nun, but I have lived like someone who wanted to hold public office. I have been very careful.” The man laughed heartily.

“That’s what I like to hear. We want this seat badly. The Republicans have had it for too damn long. You could also end up with committee seats as well. We want to help assure your win. We’re contributing four million dollars to your campaign. This should help carry you to the end. Plus, I’m sure before you leave here, you’ll have more donation checks.”

“Yes. My concern is that this money isn’t free. So, what do you want me to do for the party?” Jamie laughed again.

“I like you Jordan. You don’t pull any punches. We may call on you from time to time for small favors, to help out a fellow Democrat by co-sponsoring a bill or making sure one of the President’s special bills makes it through committee. Our issues aren’t contrary to yours. I don’t think you will have any problems with it. We do expect you to possibly accept some advice regarding your campaign.” Jordan nodded her head. Her term was going to be filled with making deals.

“I understand. You realize I am careful who I accept money from. I know that if I accept big money from people, that I may owe them favors, and that is not how I want to spend my time of service.” Jamie nodded his head in understanding.

“That’s a refreshing attitude, perhaps a bit naive. You‘ll see. You‘ll be getting calls from this group or that group demanding you do one thing or another because they gave you money. You‘re going to have to take those things into consideration.”

“I understand that.”

The meeting continued on as Laura and Cynthia’s mobile phones rang like crazy with people wanting Jordan to do their news shows. After the meeting, Jordan left, reeling with the events of the evening. Late that night she stood on her balcony, looking out onto the city of Atlanta. She had spoken to everyone in her family and many of her friends, all congratulating her. She was scheduled to appear via satellite on five different television shows over the next three days. She was the new rising star of the moment. She was absorbing all the wondrous events. She felt as if she could fly across the quiet city. Cynthia came up behind her, wrapping her arms around the taller woman’s waist. Jordan smiled and laid her hands across the welcome arms. She leaned back against her lover.

“Penny for your thoughts Senator.” Jordan chuckled.

“You know I love it when you call me that. I am just thinking about what an incredible night this has been.” Cynthia kissed her shoulder.

“You are quite amazing my love. I’ve never seen you speak like that before.”

“I’ve never spoken like that.”

“You’ve just got to ride through this last ten weeks and the election is yours.”

“I know. It’s amazing. I am on the verge of having absolutely everything I ever wanted. I can’t begin to describe how exciting that is.” Cynthia squeezed, pressing her cheek against Jordan’s back.

“I know exactly what this means to you darlin’.” Jordan turned around in her lover’s arms.

“You do, don’t you.” She leaned down and placed her lips against Cynthia, who ran her hands up and down the taller woman’s back.

“You need to get some sleep. You’ve got interviews very early in the morning.” Jordan laughed. “I know. I wish I could sleep. I feel way to good.” Cynthia laughed with her.

“Come with me. I think I can tire you out.” She reached up and kissed Jordan soundly.

“Can you now?” Cynthia grinned and nodded. “mmhm.” She pulled Jordan’s hand, leading her to the bed. Jordan followed, surrendering to her. Cynthia sat her down on the bed. She allowed her robe to slide down her shoulders and her body. Jordan pulled her into her arms resting her head against the warm, naked skin, listening to her heartbeat. She pushed Jordan onto her back. She straddled the taller woman’s hips and lifted the t-shirt over her head. She began to devour the delicious, full breasts of her lover. Jordan moaned at the contact. Cynthia left a moist trail of kisses down Jordan’s body. When she reached the apex of Jordan’s desire, she lowered Jordan’s panties and feasted on the passion nectar she found. Jordan bucked her hips in response. Cynthia lapped at the juices, running her tongue in circles around her lover’s clit. “Oh Cynthia. Don’t stop. Good Lord, don’t stop.” Cynthia began to suck on Jordan’s clit as she entered her. Jordan felt herself falling over the edge. Her hips rose as she climaxed, holding tightly onto Cynthia’s head. She cried out her orgasm loudly. Cynthia waited until the orgasm subsided before she eased her fingers out. Jordan pulled her up on top of her.

“You my dear, are an incredible lover.” Cynthia giggled. Jordan covered her lips with her own. “and a beautiful one at that. She rolled over, pinning Cynthia under her. The smaller woman laughed and ran her fingers through Jordan’s hair and over her face.

“Oh am I now?” Jordan leaned in and kissed her lightly.

“Yes you are. In fact, I believe you have bewitched me, “she said in a seductive purr. She placed a trail of soft kisses all along Cynthia’s face.

“And how have I done that?” Jordan’s kisses began to move lower until she reached Cynthia’s nipple, where she began to suckle.

“For one thing, when I see these breasts of yours, I cannot keep my hands or my mouth off of them.” Cynthia’s head fell back as she allowed herself to be carried away with the sensations. In a voice that was halfway between a moan and a breathless whisper, she said. ” Yesssss. Keep talking.” She moved up and placed light, fluttering kisses on Cynthia’s eyelids.

“After just one look in your eyes, I become incapable of seeing anything else.” She wrapped her arm around Cynthia, looking into her eyes as her hand trailed down between her lover’s legs. She aggressively placed her lips on top of Cynthia’s, taking control of her mouth and tongue. She began to run her fingers between Cynthia’s nether lips, feeling the wet heat that had been building up. She easily slid her fingers inside Cynthia. “And when you’re slick and wanting like this, I have no choice, but to plunge my fingers deeply inside. It is uncontrollable.” She locked eyes with Cynthia as she moved in and out of her.

“I want you to look in my eyes as I take you Cyn. I want you to know who is loving you.” The women held one another’s gaze as Cynthia’s desire grew in intensity. Jordan began to move deeper and faster. She could feel Cynthia’s muscles begin to tighten as her hips thrust up and down. “You’re about to cum, I can feel it. Let go honey. I’ve got you. ” Cynthia’s hips began to move wildly. “Oh Jordan, yes. Don’t stop. Oh Baby. Yes.” Cynthia gave an animalistic groan as the orgasm ripped through her. Jordan encouraged her. “Yes, that’s it. That’s it.” As the swells of desire began to level, the women looked in each other’s eyes, both full of love. Jordan wrapped her arms protectively around her lover, both of them basking in the afterglow.

“So, do you think you can sleep now since we have to get up in three hours,” Cynthia said.

“I think I can sleep now, thank you.” They both laughed.

Jordan spent the next few days in a whirlwind of interviews, appearances, and meetings. She received more donations from out of state wealthy Democrats. She flew into Austin Saturday night for the charity softball game. She was suffering from very little sleep when she arrived at the Governor’s mansion to join her team before heading to the tournament. The Governor greeted her with open arms.

“Well if it isn’t the superstar Senator gracing us with her presence,” he teased.

“What can I say? I’m slumming today. How’ve you been Alex?” They both laughed.

“I’ve been great. I miss having you around though. It’s not as much fun. You did such a great job in Atlanta, Jordan. How’s the fundraising coming?”

“Thank you Alex. That means a lot coming from you. I am set for the rest of the campaign.”

“Good, good. So are you ready to play today?”

She laughed. “Yeah. I’m playing second, right?”

He nodded. “That’s what you requested. There’s going to be plenty of press there today. It should be good for you. There are many legislators and state-wide offices who are running for re-election there today. Why don’t you help some of them out and make appearances with them?”

“My schedule is booked for the month, but we’ll see what we can do in September and October.”

Later on the field, with Cynthia, her son, and Laura in the stands, Jordan stood at second place as one of her former legislative rivals. He had made it his goal to go against any legislation she brought forth. ‘Oh yeah’ she thought. ‘If there is any justice in this world, let me bring this asshole down.’ He stepped up to the plate. The pitcher threw the ball and the middle-age, Republican legislator hit a pop-fly that was heading towards Jordan. Seeing that the ball was over her head, she began to run back, watching the ball over her shoulder. She jumped and took the ball out of the air. She held the ball in the air with her other hand. The deflated, pompous ass, walked back to the dugout. Jordan felt ten feet tall. She felt even taller when she sent a grounder right through his legs. As she ran past him, she couldn’t help herself, she laughed her way to second base.

She spent the next week campaigning as usual and preparing for the second debate. She felt confident and strong and couldn’t wait to face her opponent. People were wanting her time and to give her money. She was flying high and could do no wrong. She walked onto the stage with her entourage and greeted her opponent.

“Kris, it’s nice to see you again. How’ve you been?” He returned the handshake.

“Jordan, its good to see you as well. I caught your speech. You did a fine job.”

“Thank you, good luck tonight.” He nodded his head and smiled.

“To you as well.”

They both walked off in separate directions. She thought to herself, ‘rat’. Kris Benson walked away thinking, ‘bitch’. The mediator welcomed the audience to the debate.

“Welcome to the second in a series of three debates between Senate candidates Jordan O’Connor and Kris Benson. The questions will be asked by a panel of newspaper journalists from five different papers throughout the state. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Ms. O‘Connor, would you please make your opening statement?”

Jordan smiled. “I’d like to thank the organizers of this debate, the esteemed panelists, the viewers across Texas, and of course my opponent, Mr. Kris Benson. As I have stated throughout this campaign, I am committed to the people of Texas. Their concerns are my concerns. I am committed to improving the quality of life for Texans and Americans. I carry the values of Texas always, as taught to me by my grandparents and parents. It is my goal and my driven ambition to bring the honesty, integrity, and respect that we value here in Texas, to the Senate in D.C.”

Kris began his introduction. “I too am committed to the improvement in the quality of life for Texans and Americans. But rather than tax Americans to death to pay for more and more social programs, when the ones we currently have don’t work, we need better management of our taxes, in order to prevent more money being taken out of our pockets. This is one of the main differences between my opponent and myself. Our already big government is getting bigger and our salaries aren’t. The big-hearted liberals want to help everyone, unfortunately, it isn’t fair for those Americans who work hard to support their families and send their children to college to have to pay for those who can’t or won’t. As a successful businessman with a proven management track record, it is my goal to lower the tax burden of Americans, and to help them keep the money we work so hard for.”

The first journalist spoke. “Quality of education is one of the main concerns of parents. Many of them support the idea of receiving vouchers to send their child to the school of their choice. Where do you both stand on the issue of private school vouchers?”

Kris gave his answer. “I think it is every child’s right to get the best education possible. School vouchers help them achieve that. We shouldn’t punish kids by forcing them to go to schools that don’t challenge them or meet their academic needs. It seems cruel to force a child to go to an inferior school where they would receive an inferior education. School vouchers put the responsibility of that decision where it should be, in the hands of the parents.”

Jordan responded. “The idea of school vouchers is a good one. However, in practice, all it does is drain money from the public schools who need it the most. I agree that we need to improve the quality of our public schools. The answer is not to take money from them. We need to equalize the levels of education. For instance, in San Antonio, a school on the North side, where there are higher property values and taxes is going to have better facilities and a more expansive curriculum than a school on the south side where the tax base is much lower. Parents want their children to have the best education possible. Instead of pulling money away from schools that are already floundering, we need to help schools raise their levels of education.”

The next journalist asked her question. “There are many, many families in Texas who are not here legally, but have been here for years that consist of children who are citizens and parents who are not. How do you both propose to resolve this issue.”

Jordan answered the question. “I support amnesty in what I call family reunification. There are three to four million hardworking people, who have been here for at least ten years, who have given birth to children here in order to give those children a better life. These people pay taxes under fake social security numbers, but they don’t take advantage of these services because it would cause a paper trail that could expose them. I would like to see the families that have been here for over ten years legalized. These families shouldn’t fear separation. Our country has been seen as the great land of opportunity. For years, we’ve lauded the families who braved the unknown just to see Lady Liberty and to have a better life. They are the backbone of this country’s history. But we seem to have a double standard when it comes to our neighbors from the south. Just because those coming to this country from our Southern border, do not have to cross an ocean, that doesn’t make them any less worthy of citizenship.”

Jordan’s opponent began his response.” That’s a very nice sentiment, it’s also a very liberal one and not very practical. We have such an influx of illegal immigrants on our borders, that our border patrol agents are overrun. The illegal immigrants come into this country, threatening those who have property along the borders. They take jobs away from hard working citizens, then they demand our protection and the use of our vast social services. I know this is the greatest country in the world, but we don’t have a limitless amount of resources to care for the countless number of people who come in regular waves. We do need more border guards and more support for this from the federal government.”

The questions continued and Jordan controlled the debate easily. The candidates moved into their closing statements. Jordan took the opportunity to rebut the comment made earlier about her being a big government liberal who didn’t care about taxes.

“As a tax-paying American, I am concerned about our taxes being wasted on needless expenses. I am aware that unlike my millionaire opponent, whose salary has increased every year for the last twenty years, salaries for the general public are not going up. I think that providing our children with decent childcare, education ,and jobs for their parents is more important than providing tax relief for the wealthy who don’t need it. With my years of service, I have proven my commitment to the future of Texas. As your Senator, I will work tirelessly to represent the interest of Texas families.”

Kris Benson went on to give his closing statements. “I am not a professional politician. I am a successful businessman and I don’t apologize for that. In this great country of ours, if you work hard, success is your reward. Just as in business, proper management is the key to successful government. As your Senator, I will apply the tools I acquired in business to the management of this government that will result in a higher standard of living, and lower taxes.”

“This concludes our debate this evening. I’d like to thank both candidates for appearing tonight. The next debate will take place September twenty-fourth in Dallas.”

The cameras went off and both candidates had their microphones removed. They shook hands amiably. As she was walking away, Jordan thought, ‘I’ve got to wash my hands. What a sleeze that man is.’Cynthia wrapped her arms around Jordan as the candidate walked towards her.

“Honey, you were great. I think he really stepped in it with that amnesty question. LULAC is going to have a fit.” Jordan laughed.

“Yeah. What do you expect, the man is a rich Bubba. He’s an ass. I want the people to see that. He just wants to fill his coffers and help his oil buddies.”

Laura touched her shoulder. “You really did a good job Jordan. You handled yourself nicely.” Jordan smiled at her friend and nodded. She knew how proud her friend was even though she was very reserved about showing it. That was just her way. Sarah and Jim praised her profusely. Jordan thanked her friends for their support.

Later that night at the hotel, the group sat in Jordan’s room watching the coverage of the debate. A political science professor form the University of Houston talked about Jordan’s wide range appeal to people of various groups. She questioned some of her opponent’s comments and how he seems to be displacing many voters.

“Over the last several years, throughout the country, there has been a move towards the middle for political candidates. Candidates generally tend to avoid extreme sides of the political spectrum. Both of these candidates however, embrace their political orientations. Ms. O’Connor is an unapologetic liberal while Mr. Benson is very conservative. Many times, voters are left to choose between two similar candidates, this is not the case. Ms. O’Connor’s frankness about her life and her beliefs seems to be working for her. She has a very strong populist following. As far as this debate is concerned, Ms. O’Connor seemed to have more detailed knowledge of the issues. Mr. Benson came across as an elitist, and maybe lacking in compassion. The mass public isn’t made up of the upper-middle and upper-class conservatives. Mr. Benson tends to alienate those other groups.”

The group cheered and laughed. Jordan turned to Laura. “Let’s run the numbers tomorrow. We’ve got big pockets now. Let’s go all out.” Laura nodded her head in understanding.

Jordan and Cynthia laid together, talking in bed that night. They were on their sides, facing one another.

Cynthia said, “You did an amazing job tonight. I was so proud of you. I love watching you like that. Have you thought lately about going further in your career?”

“What, like the White House?” Cynthia nodded her head.

“Yes.” Jordan thought for a minute.

“Honestly, I have entertained the notion. But, I don’t know if I can deal with the scrutiny of a national campaign. I’ve thought about it a little. What do you think? Would you like to be First Lady?” They both giggled.

“I think you’d make a wonderful President. We’d certainly be a first. Seriously though, I really feel like you can do it.” Jordan kissed her softly.

“Thank you for the vote of confidence. How do you feel about that though?”

“I would support you in whatever you decided. I am not sure what kind of First Lady I would make. We really should get married first though.” Cynthia said playfully. Jordan got a look of terror on her face.

“You have a point, but that would be a long, long way off. Let’s see how my first term in the Senate goes.”

“Why did you get that look on your face just then?” Jordan pretended not to know what she was talking about. They had engaged in this conversation many times over the years they were together. Cynthia always wanted to have a ceremony, but Jordan just had never been able to take that step.

“What do you mean?” Cynthia started to get exasperated.

“I mean, when I mentioned us getting married. You got this horrified look on your face. I can’t believe after all this time, you still don’t want to marry me.” She began to get upset.

“Cynthia honey, I couldn’t be more committed to you if I were married to you, even if it were legal. It’s not that I don’t want to marry you. It just doesn’t work for me. Let’s look at my track record. My first wife was murdered when I was twenty-two.” Jordan felt a sharp pain in her heart as she said those words. “I married James after that happened and it ended in a divorce. It was amicable, but still painful for both of us. I am afraid of something bad happening with us. I couldn’t take it again.” Tears were falling down Jordan’s cheeks at this point. Cynthia’s hurt and anger melted. She held Jordan in her arms. Jordan looked up at her. “I know this is something that is important to you. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to give this to you. I just need more time. I’ve had sixteen years to change how I feel. But please, don’t give up on the idea. I just need time. Declaring our commitment and love in front of God and our family and friends is such a beautiful thought. It is because I do take it so seriously that I am so scared about it. I love you and I need you. I‘m sorry that I disappoint you.” Cynthia held Jordan’s face between her hands.

“I love you too Jordan. I know your past is painful. We can table this discussion for now.”

With a relieved sigh, Jordan said, “thank you.”

The smaller woman smiled. “You’re welcome. Tell me about her. In all these years, you‘ve said very little.”

Jordan smiled sadly, with a far away look on her face. “She was beautiful, and had such a peaceful soul, her smile would completely melt my heart. She was gentle and kind. The entire village thought the world of her. Her laugh was like music. She had long, black hair and huge dark brown eyes. Her family was indigenous, so she had beautiful skin that was the color of coffee with cream and high cheek bones. I have pictures of her. She was my entire world, and she loved me very much. It was such a perfect, innocent time.” Cynthia wiped a tear from Jordan’s cheek.

“She sounds lovely. How did you get married?”

“We had to drive to the church and orphanage in Managua to pick up some supplies for our village and the village near ours. It was about three hours away. We thought we would look at the market. I wanted to buy her a new dress. There was a jewelry maker. We were looking at rings. I picked up a silver band, and asked her to be my wife.” Jordan smiled at the memory. “She said yes and I bought her ring and a ring for myself. I grabbed her by the hand and took her back to the church. There was nobody in there at the time. In the front of the church, I pledged my love, and my heart, and my life to her. I promised to love her and take care of her always. She repeated the vows to me and placed the ring on my finger. We sealed it with a kiss, said a prayer and lit a candle.” Cynthia smiled and stroked her face.

“That’s so romantic. Sounds like you.”

“I was so young. I felt like I was invincible. I had no concept or life or death or anything. I only knew that I loved her to my core, and she loved me just as much. I have kept my promises to her, all except taking care of her. I couldn‘t do that.” She looked down, with tears in her eyes.

“Honey, you did everything you could. You risked your life to try to protect her. You can’t ask any more than that of yourself. You’re lucky you survived.. So why did you marry James if you already knew you were gay? I’ve always wanted to ask that.”

“Well, for one thing, he’s very different. He’s a kind and decent man, but he’s not a woman. I think I was attracted to him because it was nothing like Maria. I felt safe and loved. I had never really been attracted to men before or since. It was simply what I needed at the time. Although, when I married him, my intention was to be married to him for the rest of my life. If I hadn‘t met James, I wouldn‘t have the kids. I wouldn‘t have met you. I wanted to die along with her, and he saved me. My marriages have been so traumatic, it just scares me.” Cynthia paused sympathetically.

“I understand.”

“Do you ever think of your family much?” Cynthia paused for a minute.

“Yes I do. It’s so hard for me to comprehend that they would completely cut themselves off from their own flesh and blood. How can that be Christian? He’s so worried about his image as a Baptist minister. When I was in Dallas, I would watch him on Sunday mornings on television. I would be seething with anger. I couldn’t believe he could stand up there, talking about God’s love and forgiveness and grace and treat me like that. He talked about sin, and I nearly threw up when he called homosexuality an abomination.” Jordan held her tightly.

“How long has it been since you’ve spoken to them?”

“My sister sent a telegram when your plane crashed. I doubt if my parents knew she sent it. I haven’t spoken to them since they caught me in my car, making out with my best friend when I was a Senior in college.” Jordan kissed the top of her head.

“They are damn fools. You are such a wonderful woman. It’s their loss. You’ve got my family though. They love you and you’re a member of this family.” She wiped the tears from Cynthia’s eyes.

“Thank you Jordan. I love them too. Having them means the world to me.”

“Why don’t we try to sleep, we have to be up early. I love talking to you.” Cynthia smiled.

“Sleep sounds good. I love talking to you too Jordan. Thank you for telling me about Maria.” Their lips met lightly and the couple fell asleep wrapped tightly around one another.

The following weekend Jordan was dressed in her pressed jeans and boots again for the western-themed Human Rights Campaign fundraiser. She and Cynthia danced and spent some time with old friends, including her mothers. People were fawning all over her, congratulating her on her speech. Part of the proceeds were going to go to her campaign so she had to make a speech. “It’s so wonderful to see so many people here. I remember the first Waltz Across Texas about twenty years ago. It was organized by my mother Elaine. It has continued every year since. It’s amazing to see all of the strides we have made towards equal rights. We are not through, we still face legalized discrimination in housing, and employment. As your Senator, I vow to work tirelessly to ensure that our community gains those basic rights. But, I can’t do it alone. I need our community standing behind me united in our common goal.” The crowd cheered and Jordan spent the rest of the evening, dancing with Cynthia in her arms.

September

Jordan and Cynthia walked into the office on the first Monday of the month as usual. Phones were ringing and people were hustling about doing various tasks. Jordan loved walking into the campaign office when it was busy like this. She went around talking to everyone individually . She wanted to make sure each person knew how much she appreciated him or her. She wanted all the people involved in the campaign to feel connected to her in some way. The two women came into the monthly meeting. Jordan sat down in her chair, opened her book and looked up at her staff. “Ok guys, what do we have?”

Laura began. “For starters, we have a forty point lead. So basically Jordan, you would have to do something like beating up Santa Claus to lose this election. I really can’t anticipate anything happening in the next eight weeks to mess this up. But that doesn’t mean we’re done. We still have a lot of work to do. The state Democrats and the Governor want you to help the other candidates. So, starting next Monday, we’re going out for two weeks with the candidates for Treasurer, Comptroller, and Railroad Commissioner. When we stop at a town, y’all will be appear with a local candidate. At the end of the first week, we’ll be spending four days that weekend working at a Habitat for Humanity site. This weekend you have a chili cook-off in El Paso. You’ve got the final debate on the twenty-fourth in Dallas. We’re going to start hitting some college campuses as well this month.”

Jordan finished writing and looked up at Laura. “Ok, sounds good. Did we get those tickets for the UT-Colorado game?”

Laura nodded. “Yes. You’ll spend the day at the Habitat site, then you’ll leave a little early so you can go to the hotel and get ready for the game.”

Jordan smiled. “Thanks Laura. I really want to catch at least two of Chris’ games this fall.”

Cynthia spoke, grinning. “We know. In fact, I think I may be able to get you in the press booth, talking about the game, Chris playing, etcetera. I’ll have the details worked out by then.”

Jordan flashed a smile. ” That sounds like fun. I’d really like that. You are the best hon.”

They shared a private look and Cynthia continued, still smiling, as if they were sharing a special secret between the two of them. “You’re appearing via satellite on a live Sunday morning political debate show. There will be two conservatives and two liberals. You’ll show up very early at the local affiliate in El Paso You’ll have your makeup done there and they will patch you through to D.C. You’ve got a number of interviews this month, and I’m sure the press will be at the Habitat project. As usual, you’ll get a weekly schedule. We’re going to increase our ads. I want you to shoot two more commercials. We‘ll have a film crew over at the Habitat site. If I can get you on TV at the football game, we‘ll use footage from that as well. You‘ll do the voiceovers at the end of the month. I want them running by the beginning of next month. For the last month of the election, we‘ll run all five commercials, all over the state. We may even do one more, that will cover parts of your speech from the convention, I haven‘t decided yet.”

Jordan wrote the information down. “That sounds good darlin‘. Jim, let’s talk about money.”

Jim had a hard time containing his excitement. “We have $6,894,420.00.” The group cheered. “We are set and quite comfortable for the rest of the campaign. Donations are still coming in. We couldn’t ask for a better position to be in.”

Jordan smiled. “This is amazing. I want to take a minute to thank you all. I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the people in this room. I realize the sacrifices you have made. Working campaigns is very demanding and can take up your whole lives. None of you have ever complained. I can’t imagine a better group of people to work with. Now with that said, we have work to do. So let‘s get to it.”

Jordan spent the next few days going to receptions, and giving interviews. Saturday afternoon the Mayor of El Paso opened the cook-off.

“I’d like to welcome everyone to the Tenth Annual El Paso Chili Cook-off and Fair. There are four celebrity judges today that will be deciding the winner. We have local news anchors Jackie Ramirez, Peter Webber, city councilman Roberto Rodriguez, and Senate candidate Jordan O’Connor. We have rides for the children, bands playing all day long, and lots of delicious food. Again, welcome and have a wonderful day.”

Jordan and the other judges began walking from booth to booth, tasting and discussing what each cook had to offer. As the day went on, Jordan tasted many different chilies and consumed several cups of beer as did the other judges. As soon as she was done with one, someone would hand her another. She would try not to drink the beer, but inevitably, her mouth would be set on fire and she had nothing else. By the evening, all four judges were flying high. Jordan’s charming side came out and she told jokes, pitched horseshoes, and danced with different men and women. She seemed to take a shine to the twenty-something anchorwoman who was enjoying the attention of the beautiful and powerful older woman. Cynthia and Laura watched from the sidelines.

Cynthia turned to Laura. “What the hell is she doing? She knows better. She never drinks this much. She is flirting with that woman.”

Laura tried to calm her friend’s irate lover. “I know. At least she’s not acting like too much of an ass. She’s being friendly and charming. Although, she needs to be up very early in the morning. Let’s just keep an eye on her and keep her from doing something stupid. The people here like her. If she looks like she’s going too far, we’ll move in and run interference. Believe me, you‘ll get your revenge tomorrow when she wakes up. I‘m going to go make sure there are no TV cameras around. Watch her please.” Cynthia nodded and watched close by as Jordan laughed with a group of people, including the anchorwoman who hung on her every word. Eventually, they grew tired of guarding Jordan and went to go retrieve the wayward candidate, who was busy flirting with the young anchorwoman.

Cynthia came up behind her and put her hand on her shoulder. “Jordan honey, it’s time for you to go. You’ve got an early studio call.”

Jordan was grinning widely. “Ok. Thank you darlin‘. Cyn, this is Jackie Ramirez, she’s on the news here and she is so nice. She’s cute too isn’t she? We’ve been having a good time.”

Cynthia tried to hide her feelings. “That’s nice. We really need to get going. You’ve got that television appearance in the morning.” Jordan put her arm around Cynthia and kissed her on the cheek.

“You are absolutely right.” She took the young woman’s hand and kissed it softly. ” Miss Jackie, it was a pleasure. Thank you for the dance.”

Jackie grinned. “You are quite welcome. You are a wonderful dancer.” Jordan giggled and bowed to the young woman.

Cynthia and Laura took the candidate to her truck and drove her back the hotel. Jordan was rambling and talking a mile a minute. She put her arm around Cynthia and started kissing her neck.

She whispered loudly. “You feel so good baby. How ‘bout a little love tonight when we get rid of Laura?” Cynthia could smell the alcohol on her breath. She pushed her away. “How about no. Don’t kiss me right now. Just leave me alone.”

Jordan looked perplexed. “Well gee, what got up your butt?” Cynthia just ignored her. Jordan kept going on, sulking. “Shot down, damn. I bet that pretty little thing back there wouldn’t shoot me down.” She continued to mutter under her breath until falling asleep just before they reached the hotel.

Laura helped get Jordan into the room where she collapsed on the bed, sleeping immediately. “Do you need any help?”

Cynthia looked over at her partner, disgusted. “No. But, she’s going to have a hell of a morning. I don’t remember the last time she was drunk. She doesn’t get drunk. She knows better than to pull this shit. And the way she was all over that girl, that could come up and bite her on the ass. I‘m sorry she acted like a jerk to you. You‘re a very good friend.”

Laura laughed. “Yes I am. I can deal with her though. We’ve been together a long time. She really didn’t go overboard around other people tonight. She acted like an ass to us and I’m pissed as hell at her. But, there were no cameras. I think it’ll be fine, but I agree with you completely. Hopefully the hangover she’s going to have in the morning will keep her from doing this again.”

Morning came too early for Jordan. Cynthia woke her unsympathetically.

“Jordan you need to get up.”

The candidate opened her eyes with a pounding headache. She looked down and she was still wearing the clothes from the night before. “I think my head is going to explode.”

Cynthia handed her some pain relievers and some water. “Here take these. You know you deserve this hangover. I don’t know what you were thinking.”

Jordan looked up at her. “Could you not do this now? Can you get me some coffee?” She slunk into the shower. She stood there for several minutes with her head up against the shower wall as the water fell over her, providing some comfort. As she and Cynthia dressed, few words were spoken. Every sound echoed in her pounding head.

She got into the car, her eyes, barely open. Laura was not happy with her and Cynthia wasn’t speaking to her. Laura caught Jordan’s eye in the rearview mirror.

“You’re going to have to perk up. You can’t go on national TV in a political debate and be incoherent.”

Jordan turned to her. “I’ve been doing this for how long now? I can handle myself.” She turned to Cynthia. “Look, I’m sorry about yesterday. I didn’t mean to drink too much and I didn’t mean to flirt with that woman.”

Cynthia wasn‘t easily accepting of the apology. “Why would you drink that much anyway?”

“It just happened. People kept handing me beer after beer. I tried to just walk around with a whole beer so nobody would offer me anymore, but then someone’s chili would burn the hell out of my mouth, so I’d drink what was in my hand.”

“I didn’t appreciate you fawning all over that woman. She was half your age. You did it right in front of me.”

Jordan felt badly, and it wasn’t just the hangover. “Look I said I was sorry and I meant it.” Cynthia just glared at her without saying a word.

The television studio prepared Jordan for the broadcast. After several cups of coffee and some toast, she was ready to go on camera. She was appearing with a right-wing conservative televangelist, a Republican Congressman, and a representative from the ACLU. They talked about the political topics of the week. The discussion moved to school prayer and a ruling against it by the Supreme Court.

The televangelist got excited. “We have taken God out of the schools and out of government. Our children are killing one another in the streets. We have no hope of regaining our children without God. This is just another way in which our country is becoming the Godless entity it is. If this continues, God will turn his back on this country.”

Jordan had serious problems with this statement and jumped in before the ACLU lawyer took up all the time. “I am all in favor of schools observing moments in silence. However, once we start to dictate where and when our citizens pray, we begin to move into a danger zone. If we do have prayer in school, what kind of prayer will we have? There are so many different religions and beliefs, it would be impossible to have one prayer that covers everyone. Furthermore, what about the atheists and the agnostics? This country was founded by individuals who were fleeing government mandated religion. This is why we have separation of church and state. I support voluntary in-school bible studies of all faiths that take place after school, before school or during lunch. We have such a diverse nation, and this must be respected. We used to condemn nations who persecuted practicing Christians. If we get to the point where we persecute those who do not practice a certain kind of Christianity, then we are just as bad. The Constitution and God give us freedom to pray if, when, where, and how we choose. Our government has no authority to infringe upon that right. Keeping mandated prayer our of schools and copies of the Ten Commandments out of government offices is not being Godless, its protecting freedom to worship God as each individual sees fit.”

The conservative Congressman said. “There is a movement from liberals, trying to push God out of our schools, our government, and soon our society. Then what shape are we going to be in? We go from being a religiously diverse nation to becoming a religious-free nation. Before you know it, the courts are going to decide that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, because it has the word God in it.”

The ACLU lawyer spoke up. “Actually, the Pledge is unconstitutional. The use of the phrase ‘one nation under God’ in schools is a direct violation of separation of church and state. However, its more of a civic statement rather than a religious declaration. I do agree with what Ms. O’Connor said. It’s simply a constitutional matter of both freedom of religion and separation of church and our government. ”

She finished the show and she and her entourage got in the bus to get ready to go back to San Antonio. Cynthia rode back in Jordan’s Land Rover. She didn’t want anything to do with the hung over candidate. Jordan walked into the back of the bus and shut the partition leaving strict orders not to be disturbed. She picked up her cell phone and called Sarah in San Antonio.

“Hi Jordan. What’s up?”

“I need a big favor. I will make it up to you if you do this for me.”

“Ok, shoot.”

“I messed up big time last night. I need you to go over to Travis Nursery and pick up at least three dozen roses and have them charge it to my account. Then I need you to take them over to my house and set them up. Can you do that?”

She started laughing. “What did you do?”

“It’s a long story, but I ended up drinking too much at the cook-off last night and danced and flirted with a young local news anchorwoman. Anyhow, Cynthia is riding back in the truck. I am in the dog house and I am going to end up sleeping in the guest room tonight if I don’t do something.”

Sarah began laughing harder and Jordan could hear another woman laughing in the background.

“Oh Damn, is Tammy there?”

The singer came on the phone. “Yep I am. So you screwed up huh? That’ll do it every time. Don’t worry. We’ll have everything set up to get you out of the dog house. When I saw you on TV this morning, I thought you had a few extra bags under your eyes. Are you hung over?”

“A little. I’ve had a lot of coffee and aspirin. I’m sorry if I’ve messed up your plans for today.”

“Think nothing of it. Besides, I will call in this favor, my friend. Everything will be set up when you get here tonight.”

“Thank you very much. I owe you both.” Jordan then went back to sleep until early that afternoon.

Late that evening, Cynthia and Jordan arrived back at the house. Cynthia still hadn’t spoken to her. Jordan opened the door for Cynthia who walked in and looked around the house that was decorated with roses. She saw red, yellow, white, and pink roses. Jordan walked up behind her wrapping the smaller woman in her arms.

“This is to say I am sorry for being such an ass. I didn’t mean to drink too much. It just happened and it was really stupid. I could have done something that could have hurt the campaign and I did do something that hurt you. I’m ashamed of my actions.”

Cynthia started to crack a smile, although she tried not to. “I want to be mad at you. You sat there and hung all over that girl right in front of me. I love all these roses. How did you do all of this?”

Jordan kissed her softly. “I had Sarah and Tammy take care of it this morning, when you were in the truck. I owe them both. I was hoping this would get me out of the doghouse.”

Cynthia picked up a red rose, and raised it to her nose. “I suppose so.” She smiled. “You know you’re very lucky you didn’t do something really stupid that ended up on the news.”

Jordan nodded. “Yes. I do know that. I promise you, never again. Now, am I forgiven?” Cynthia pulled her head down and captured her lips. “Yes my love, you are.” Jordan grinned and lifted Cynthia in her arms. “Let’s see if I can still do this.” Both women giggled. Jordan began carrying her lover to their bed. As they were passing a bouquet of roses, Jordan said, “grab one or two of those will ya?” Cynthia did as she was asked. Jordan laid her down on the bed, gently. She took the roses from Cynthia, laying them on the night stand, but keeping one. She rested just to Cynthia’s side. She took the pink rose and began to lightly run it over Cynthia’s cheeks, across her nose and lips. She gently stroked Cynthia’s ears and neck, dipping the rose into the cleavage under her shirt. Cynthia closed her eyes and focused on the softness of the petals on her warm skin. Jordan placed her lips against Cynthia’s. She ran her tongue along her lover’s lips, pleading for and receiving entrance. Jordan sucked on her lower lip. She laid the rose to the side, and began unbuttoning Cynthia’s blouse with one hand, while cradling her lover’s head with the other. She released the front clasp on the soft material covering the breasts she sought. Dark pink, hard nipples greeted her. She picked up the pink bloom and gently stroked the younger woman’s shoulders, collar bone, running down between her breasts that began to heave as breath quickened. Jordan moved the flower in little circles around the hardened nipples. A sharp intake of air came from Cynthia as her body tightened with pleasure. She ran her hands through Jordan’s long black hair. Jordan smiled at the pleasure she was bringing her partner. She didn’t speak, she just continued her caresses which began to move lower. She locked eyes with Cynthia and pulled her lover’s shorts and panties down, revealing her strawberry colored curls. She parted the ready thighs and began to run the rose along the hot skin inside those thighs. The aroma of Cynthia’s desire mixed with the scent of the flower made Jordan feel light-headed. She moved lower, caressing her love’s skin. She looked up to see Cynthia’s face clenched in pent-up sexual energy, holding onto the black wrought iron headboard. Without a word, she turned her over onto her stomach. She continued her soft caresses over the back of Cynthia’s calves and up over her behind, up her back, her sides, her neck. She set the rose down and began to replace it with her own lips. Cynthia’s body heat had caused her skin to absorb the smell of the rose. Jordan followed the scented trail with her lips and her tongue. Cynthia moaned as she felt the warm kisses. She nibbled Cynthia’s soft behind, eliciting squeals from her partner. When Jordan was done, she turned Cynthia back over. “Oh God, Jordan. I love what you’re doing.” Jordan grinned and kissed her way up Cynthia’s body, lingering inside her thighs. Cynthia began to tremble with desire. Jordan sucked gently on rose-flavored pink nipples. She reached over and pulled a few rose petals off the discarded flower and placed them over her fingertips. She began to stroke between Cynthia’s slick folds with the soft petals. Cynthia’s hips raised in pleasure. Jordan pinched her clit lightly between petals. She kissed her blonde lover deeply. She could feel her lover’s impending climax. The teasing was becoming too much. Jordan could tell her lover was becoming impatient. She removed the petals and moved two fingers inside Cynthia, while stroking her clit with her palm. “OH YES.” She moved in and out of Cynthia. She entered her deeper and deeper with each thrust. Cynthia began to tighten around her fingers. She let go as her climax overtook her. Jordan slowed her movements, maintaining her position until the waves subsided. Jordan wrapped her tightly in her arms as her breath calmed. Cynthia smiled and burrowed into her lover.

“I love you Cyn. I am sorry for my behavior. I was a complete jerk. Hell, I wonder how you put up with me sometimes.” She kissed the top of Cynthia’s head.

“I love you too Jordan and you are completely forgiven. In fact, let me remove these clothes of yours and I will show you.” Jordan grinned. “Yes ma’am.” Cynthia made love to Jordan until they fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next day, Jordan set out on her tour with the other candidates. She talked with them in her bus until they reached their first destination. The South San Antonio Independent School District Fine Arts Coordinator had requested that Jordan come and look at their programs, specifically music. Cuts in funding were endangering the programs. The political group sat in on high school orchestra, band, and choral classes. Jordan enjoyed this part of the campaign. She knew the benefits of music programs. She spent seven years in school choral programs growing up. Jordan made it a point to meet the choral director.

“Mrs. Mouton, you have a wonderful group here. I enjoyed listening to them. It brought back many memories.”

The director smiled. “Did you sing in choir?”

Jordan returned the grin. “Yes, from junior high on through high school.”

“What voice part?”

“Alto and sometimes I helped the boys by singing Tenor for sight-reading competition.”

Mrs. Mouton chuckled. “I understand that completely. So you realize the importance of musical programs in the lives of these kids.”

Jordan nodded. “Yes I do. Contrary to what some politicians think, I know that the arts programs in schools are not expendable. You can count on my support in any way.” The two women shook hands and said goodbye.

The rest of the week, the group toured different cities, arriving in Austin Thursday night. They began working on the Habitat house early Friday morning with many other volunteers. Jordan met and spoke with the family whose home was being built. She had heard the other candidates complain about having to do all this hard work, but she didn’t care. This part of the job was necessary in becoming a good public servant. She felt that this type of work grounded the politicians whose heads were in the clouds, lost in dreams of political glory.

The next night, adrenaline flowed through her veins as she sat in the bleachers at Longhorn stadium as she watched her son run across the field to the sideline while she waited for the game to start. Jordan and Cynthia both jumped up and down throughout the game, cheering for their son. In the first quarter, Chris tackled the ball carrier, knocking him flat, preventing him from getting into the end zone. In the second half, the Longhorns ran a blitz and Chris tackled the quarterback just before pulling his arm back to throw. The ball dropped from the quarterback’s arms and there was a scramble for the fumbled ball. The Longhorns made the recovery, gaining control of the ball. Jordan stood up cheering.

“Yeah. That’s my boy.” She was talking to the people next to her and Cynthia. She pointed to Chris. “See that number seven over there? That’s my son. Did you see that sack? Well shoot dog, hot damn, and glory be!!! Ha Ha Ha.”

At half-time, she went up to the announcer’s booth to talk to the network announcers on the national broadcast.

“Taking a break from the campaign trail Ms. O’Connor?”

The proud Mom grinned widely. “Call me Jordan, and yes. I usually make it to every home game, but things are just too busy this season. But, I still have to come see my team and my son.”

“How are you enjoying the game?”

She laughed. ” I’m lovin’ it. The Longhorns have a great team and a top-rated coach. I’m excited to see how far they’re going to go.”

The sportscaster smiled. “So I take it, you’ve already chosen sides for the annual UT-A&M game?”

“Well, I’ll tell ya. I know I’m not being very diplomatic here. A&M is a fine, fine school. But, I went to UT, my son plays for the team here, and my money comes here. So my loyalties lie here with the ‘Horns.” She flashed a “hook ‘em horns” sign. “And speaking of my son, did you watch him knock that quarterback?”

They both laughed. “You sound like a proud Mom.”

“Oh, that I am.” As the game came back on, Jordan was invited to watch the game from the booth. That night, she and Cynthia took Chris and five of his fellow football players out for a late dinner. She persuaded them to come help her work on the Habitat house the next day. On Monday, the group concluded their work and moved on the next day. They went to barbecues, visited schools, and attended fundraisers.

On Friday, the group was at an afternoon reception at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. As always, even as she spoke to other people, Jordan kept a protective eye on Cynthia. Cynthia’s phone rang and not recognizing the number, she picked it up.

“Cynthia?” It was her sister, Jen. She paused, stunned.

“Jen, is that you?” Her voice shaky.

“Yes, Cynthia. It’s me.” Cynthia couldn’t believe she was talking to her sister for the first time in ten years. She walked out of the noisy room, so she could hear.

“I, uh, can’t believe I’m talking to you. How are you?” There was silence on the other end. “Jen? Are you still there?”

“Yes. You need to come home. It’s Mom. She’s dying.”

Feeling lightheaded, she sat down on a bench. “What?”

The younger woman‘s voice was breaking. “She has cancer. She’s at home and has a full time nurse. She could die at any moment. She’s asking for you.”

It was nearly impossible to take it all in. She hadn’t seen her parents in twenty years and now her mother was dying and asking for her.

“I’m in Houston. I’m on my way. I should be there in a few hours. Do they still live in the same house?”

“Yes. Do you remember how to get here?”

“Yes. I’ll see you tonight.” Tears started to fall. She looked up and saw Jordan about two feet away. Without a word, Jordan enveloped her as she sobbed. Jordan led her to a more private area.

“How did you know where I was?”

Jordan stroked the back of her hair. “Honey, I always know where you are. I saw you leave and you looked upset, so I followed. Would you like to tell me what’s wrong and where you’re going?”

Cynthia sniffed and wiped her eyes.

“I have to go to Dallas. Now. My mother’s dying of cancer. They’ve brought her home to die and she’s asking for me. I’m sorry honey, but I have to go. I don’t know when I’ll be back. Sarah can handle things while I’m gone.”

Jordan touched her face, wiping a tear. “There is no way in hell I’m letting you go alone. We can go to the bus, get our things and take the truck and leave.”

Cynthia shook her head. “Jordan you don’t know how long it’s going to be. You’re in the middle of a campaign and have people depending on you.”

Jordan stopped her. “Cynthia, you depend on me. I am not going to let you face this alone. You are far more important than any campaign. Let me go tell Laura, and we can leave. I will not take no for an answer.”

Cynthia looked up at her partner, at a loss for words. “Thank you.”

Jordan smiled slightly. “Anytime my love. Stay here and I’ll go tell Laura we’re leaving.”

Cynthia just nodded. Jordan walked off to go find Laura. When she found her and pulled her aside, she explained the situation. “Cynthia got a call from her sister. Her mother is dying and wants to see her, so she needs to go to Dallas and I’m going with her. Get Sarah here to cover my appearances this weekend.”

“When are you coming back?”

Jordan shook her head. “I don’t know. Just let people know that I had a family emergency. Give them my apologies. When y’all are done with this weekend, go ahead and go back home. If I’m not back before, meet me in Dallas for the debate on the twenty-fourth.”

“Just do what you need to do. Give me a call if you want anything.”

“Thanks. We’re going out to the bus now to get our things and then we’ll take the truck.”

“Take care of her Jordan. Give her my love please.”

“I will. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for taking care of everything. I‘ll call you tonight.” Jordan walked off.

She found Cynthia in the foyer at the door. Jordan held out her hand.

“Let’s go.”

Cynthia spoke very little on the road. She just stared out the window thinking of her mother. She had a very happy childhood. Her father was a minister and her mother was the perfect minister’s wife. Audrey was always there for her children, and the members of the church where her husband preached. Cynthia remembered Sunday dinners, birthday parties, and hot chocolate after school in the winter. The last time she saw her parents, her mother was crying. Cynthia had come home for Spring Break from Massachusetts and brought her best friend with her. One evening during the trip, the girls came home late from a night out. They were making out in the front seat of Cynthia‘s car, lost in the moment when suddenly her door opened. Her father stood there fuming.

“GET IN THE HOUSE NOW!!!”

The women scurried into the house. Her mother came downstairs when she heard the commotion. Cynthia’s friend went upstairs.

“HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING? IN MY HOUSE NO LESS. DON’T YOU KNOW I HAVE NEIGHBORS? WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHURCH WOULD THINK IF THEY KNEW ITS OWN MINISTER HAD A CHILD WHO DID SUCH VILE THINGS? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US? I DIDN’T RAISE YOU TO BE EVIL LIKE THIS. I WILL NOT HAVE A DAUGHTER WHO ENGAGES IN SUCH THINGS!!”

Never one to back down from a fight. Cynthia stood up for herself just as vehemently.

“OH YES. THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT ISN’T IT DADDY? YOU’RE DAMN IMAGE OF THE PERFECT MINISTER WITH THE PERFECT FAMILY. HOW DARE YOU CALL ME EVIL! GUESS WHAT. YOUR DAUGHTER IS A DYKE. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT?”

Her father spoke calmly, but with anger. “I will not have you speak of such things in my house. You have a choice to make. If you are going to be that way, you cannot be a part of this family. I will not allow this filth.”

Cynthia looked right in her father’s face. “Then I guess I can’t be a part of this family, you hypocritical bastard.”

Her father slapped her across the face. “Get out and don’t come back.”

As she walked out of her father’s study, she stopped in front of her mother who was crying. She hoped her mother would say something in her defense. But she never did. It was the only time she had ever been disappointed in her mother. Cynthia went upstairs to pack and both girls left that night. She had not seen or spoken to her parents since. She had contact with her sister Jen until about ten years ago. The painful memory brought tears again. Jordan looked at her concerned. She reached over and took her hand.

A few hours later, they reached the house. Cynthia sat very still.

“Are you ready to go in?”

Cynthia looked her. “No, not really. But, let’s go.”

Jordan took Cynthia’s hand and raised it to her mouth, kissing it lightly.

“I’m with you all the way honey. You’re not alone.”

Cynthia smiled slightly. “I know. You have no idea how much that means to me.”

“Cynthia, look at everything you do for me every single day. Believe me, I do know how much it means to me. I love you.”

“I love you too. We can’t sit out here all night.”

The couple walked to the door and rang the bell. A woman who was a little younger than Cynthia opened the door.

“Hi Jen.”

“Cynthia, I’m glad you’re here.” She drew Cynthia into a hug and both women began to cry.

“How is she?”

“She’s holding on. She’s asking for you.”

“I can’t believe she’s really dying.”

“Neither can we.”

“Where is he?”

“Dad’s in his study, reading his Bible. He‘s been trying to figure out some reason for all of this.”

Cynthia shook her head. “Some things never change. You remember Jordan don’t you.?”

Jen smiled and extended her hand. “Yes. It’s good to see you again Jordan. I only wish it were under better circumstances. Thank you for bringing Cynthia.”

Jordan accepted it and cupped it between her two hands. “You’re very welcome. If there is anything I can do, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“We won’t, don’t worry.” They smiled at one another. Jen began walking them to her mother’s room.

“Where are the kids?”

“They’re with Joe.” They reached the door and stopped. Jordan could see Cynthia’s nervousness and put her arm around her shoulder.

Cynthia turned to her sister. “Is she aware of things? Is she out of it? Is she on morphine?”

“She’s been refusing the morphine since yesterday. She’s been quite lucid. She wants to be awake and aware of everything around her. She’s trying to squeeze everything in before she lets go.”

Cynthia and Jen opened the door and walked in. Jordan waited in the hall. The room was dimly lit by a lamp. A nurse was reading to the dying woman. Cynthia stopped. This wasn’t the woman she grew up knowing. This woman was old and frail with skin that was almost translucent. The nurse stopped reading and stepped back. Cynthia kneeled beside the bed and took her mother’s hand. Neither had spoken yet.

“Cynthia, is it really you?” Tears began to fall from both women.

“Yes Mama. It’s me. You called and I came.”

The dying woman smiled. “I’m so glad to see you. I‘ve missed you”

Cynthia smiled at her mother and stroked her hair lightly. She softly said, “I’ve missed you too.”

She squeezed Cynthia‘s hand. ” I need to say this. We were wrong, so very wrong. Can you forgive us please?”

Cynthia began sobbing. “I forgive you Mama. I love you.” Cynthia felt a weight release from her chest.

“I love you too baby. I always have. ” The two women held one another, crying for several minutes. Cynthia pulled back. Her mother ran her fingers over her face. “Are you happy?”

She held her mother‘s hands, crying. She nodded. “Yes I am. I’m very happy.”

“I’ve seen you and Jordan on TV. You love her very much don’t you?

“Yes I do and she loves me. She’s a wonderful woman.”

The older woman smiled weakly. “Good. Is she with you?”

Cynthia nodded. “Yes. She’s in the hall.”

“I want to meet her.”

“Ok. I’ll just go get her.” She stepped out the door. She broke down in Jordan’s arms. “She asked me to forgive her. She still loves me.”

“Of course she does darlin’.”

“She wants to meet you.”

“I’d love to meet her.” Cynthia led her by the hand into the room. The couple stood beside the bed.

“Mama. This is my partner Jordan O’Connor. Jordan, this is my mother, Audrey Price.”

“Call me Audrey please. Sit down. You’re very tall.”

Jordan chuckled and sat down. “It’s nice to meet you Audrey.”

Audrey looked over at Cynthia. “She’s quite a beauty Cynthia. I’ve seen you on TV many times Jordan. My daughter tells me that you’re wonderful and that you love her. Do you?”

“Yes Ma’am, I do. I’m not sure about the wonderful part, but I love your daughter very much. She is an amazing woman. She helped me raise my children. They consider her to be their mother too. You should be very proud of her.”

The older woman smiled contentedly, then grimaced with pain. “I am. Her father and I made a big mistake. He loves her so. He was never the same after that night. There has been a hole in his heart ever since, even though he is too stubborn to admit it.” She looked at Cynthia. ” Please forgive him. He loves you so much. I want this family back together. This has gone on too long. Jordan I want you to help them. Help them to forgive one another and reconcile.” Jordan had no clue how she was going to accomplish that.

“I promise.” What else could she say?

“I need to sleep now.” Cynthia got a panicked look on her face, which her mother noticed.

“Not permanently dear. Just for a few hours. I’m not finished yet.” Cynthia leaned down and kissed her mother’s head.

“I’ll be here when you wake up Mama.”

The women walked out of the room. Jordan held Cynthia tightly.

“God Jordan, this is so much to deal with. Less than twelve hours ago, I was going over campaign schedules. Now, I’m back in my old house visiting my dying mother whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. And she loves me and asked for my forgiveness.” Jordan kissed her head. “I know. You’re going to get through this baby.”

Cynthia looked up at her. “She seems to like you. That’s a good thing.”

Jordan nodded. “Yes that is. Are you going in to talk to your father?”

Cynthia became very nervous. “Yes, I guess so.”

Jen came up to them. “Jordan, why don’t you come with me and we can catch up. I’ll make you two something to eat if you’re hungry and she can go talk to our Dad.”

“That sounds good Jen. Thanks.” She faced Cynthia, holding her hands. “Honey, you can do this. You need to do this. It’s been too long. I’ll be here if you need me.”

Cynthia reached up for a quick kiss. “Good, because I will.”

Cynthia walked to her father’s study and knocked on the closed door.

She heard his voice. “Come in.”

She took a deep breath and opened the door. The older man looked up from his Bible as she walked through the door. Both stopped in mid-motion.

“Hi Daddy.”

He stood up at his desk. “Cynthia, you’re here.”

“May I come in?” He motioned for her to sit down. She shut the door. Her knees were trembling.

“So you came. Did you bring that woman with you?”

Cynthia’s spine stiffened at his comment. “Yes. I would have been here sooner had I been notified. She has a name, and yes she’s with me. She knew I needed her and she came with me.”

He looked at her disapprovingly. “I see. Where are you staying?”

“We thought we’d stay at a hotel down the street.”

“Well, you might as well stay here. Your mother wants time with you. She’s been holding on until you came. She could go at any moment. I’m sure she wants you here.”

“I would like to be here, but only if Jordan is welcome also.”

The older man sighed. “I’m not thrilled at the possibility of this godless relationship in my house. But, like I said, your mother wants you here.”

“How long has she been like this?”

“She was diagnosed six months ago with Ovarian cancer. It spread quickly to different areas of her body. She underwent chemo initially, but the side effects were so bad and it had spread so much, it was useless.”

“Why didn’t you call me? I would have been here sooner. I lost twenty years, you could have at least called me before she was on her deathbed.”

Her father looked down at her. “You made the choice to follow in your sinful lifestyle. It’s your fault if you’ve missed your mother’s life.”

Cynthia had had enough. “Listen to me old man. All I have done is love a wonderful, amazing woman. You once told me that loving another person was the closest you could come to God. She has taught me unconditional love. This godless woman that you refer to builds homes for the poor, has built churches and schools. President Jimmy Carter personally asked her to join a humanitarian aid trip to Africa where she took food, medicine, and clothes to babies with AIDS. We have both spent our fair share of time in soup kitchens feeding hungry families. We have both worked to exhaustion to pass legislation to help people get the services they need. We raised two children together who have become honest, loving, caring, responsible young adults. If that isn’t Christian, I don’t know what is. You call me a sinner because I’m gay. Christ doesn’t say one word about homosexuality. Although He does speak about love, judgment, and grace. You Daddy dear, are just as guilty as I am. You’ve turned your back on love. You’ve turned your back on your own child. How dare you call yourself a Christian. You have no right to judge me. You are only a man, a very flawed man. But I love you, unconditionally. All it would take for me to forgive the last twenty years is for you to tell me you love me, you’re sorry and pull me into your arms. That is what that so-called godless woman has taught me. That woman also sat next to your dying wife and made an impossible promise to help us reconcile in order to comfort her.”

The minister became irate. “How dare you speak to me this way. My wife is within hours of dying.”

“I agree. You’re going through a tremendous amount of stress right now. But this is the first time I’ve had the chance to speak to you in twenty years and may be the last until you are on your own death bed. When Mama goes, all you will have is Jen and her family. You could have so much more if you just be the man of God I grew up admiring. I need you. I’ve needed you for twenty years. I know you need me now. I know you’re hurting as much as I am. This is our chance, our last chance. I’m willing to reach out. If you’re not, then you’re just an old, hateful, bigoted fool.”

The words struck a chord in the old man, but he wouldn’t let it show. Cynthia opened the door to walk out. She looked up at her father, who was looking down.

“I assume I’m staying in my old room.” He didn’t look up.

“Yes.” She closed the door behind her. The old man broke down in tears, sobbing; sobbing for his dying wife, his daughter, and the shame of his own behavior. Cynthia went to the kitchen to find her sister and Jordan. They were laughing.

Cynthia walked up to Jordan, putting her arm around her shoulder. “Just what are you two laughing about?”

Jordan turned her head and kissed her on the cheek. “We were talking about you running around naked constantly until you were four.”

“Oh gee thanks.”

Jen pretended to whisper to Jordan. “I’ll show you the pictures later.” Jordan burst into laughter.

Cynthia looked at her sister. “I don’t think so.”

Jordan smiled at her. “How did things go with your father?”

“Not pretty. I told him off. I would have been yelling but I didn’t want to wake up Mama.”

Jordan and Jen looked at her. Jen asked. “You told him off?”

“Yes. I told him what I’ve been wanting to tell him. I called him a bigoted, hateful, fool. Whether he really cares about what I say, I have no idea. He certainly didn’t show it. ” She looked at Jordan. “By the way, we’re staying here in my old room. Why don’t we go out to the truck and get our things? I want to change into something comfortable. Are you staying here tonight Jen?”

Her sister nodded. “Yes. I’m staying here until she passes.”

“Good. I’d like to spend some time together and I can’t wait to meet my nephews.”

“I really want that too Cynthia. I can’t wait for you to meet them. I’m going to check on Mom, then I‘m going to bed for a bit.”

“Go ahead Jen. I’m going in to sit with her.” Jen left the room and Jordan went to get their bags. Cynthia showed Jordan her old room where they would be staying.

“So this is your old room huh?”

Cynthia changed her clothes. “Yep. This is it.”

Jordan put her arms around her waist. “I am proud of you Cyn.”

Cynthia looked up at her. “Why?”

“For coming here and facing your family, knowing how hard it was going to be. That takes guts. I love you very much.”

She rested her head on Jordan‘s chest, listening to her heartbeat. “Thank you Jordan, and thank you for coming with me. I couldn’t make it through all this without you. I love you too. Why don’t you go to sleep while I go see Mama?”

“Are you sure honey?” Cynthia nodded. “Alright, if you need anything, I’m just down the hall.”

Cynthia quietly crept into her mother’s room. She saw her father sitting there holding her hand. Her mother was sleeping and he was watching her breathe. She could hear him sniffling as he kissed her hand, his body shaking with sobs. She stepped back out, shutting the door behind her. She felt sympathy for her father. She had known all her life how much her parents loved one another. She decided to give her father his time. She walked back into her room where Jordan was already in bed. She laid down next to her partner and Jordan wrapped her in her arms.

“I didn’t expect you back.”

“My Dad was in there with her. You should have seen him. He was completely broken down, holding her hand, crying. I really do feel for the man. A part of me is so angry with him. How can I not feel sorry for him? His wife is dying.”

“I know. I’ve been in his shoes. It was the worst time of my life. I can’t imagine losing you. Obviously someday its going to happen. I would really rather I go first. But you really told him off huh?” Jordan was smiling with pride.

“He was completely ragging on you and me and our family. I’m going to allow anyone to badmouth us. I just wish he would open his eyes. Thank you for the things you said to my Mom.”

Jordan stroked her back. “You’re welcome. She wants your family back together. I hope your father comes to his senses. This whole situation is tragic, its time for the pain to stop. I hope he sees it. Who knows, maybe I can work my politician magic. I can be quite charming and persuasive you know.” They both chuckled.

“Well Senator, if anyone can, you can.”

Cynthia tossed and turned until she got out of bed to sit with her mother. She walked into the quiet room and sat down, watching her mother sleep. She held her mother’s hand and studied every line in her face, every strand of hair. The eyes of the weak woman fluttered open and she smiled at her daughter. Cynthia returned the smile and kissed her forehead.

“Hi Mama.”

“Hello Baby. It feels so good to see you.”

“You should rest.”

Shaking her head, “no. I want this time with you. I want you to talk to me. I want to hear your voice. It‘s been so long.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Tell me about your life. I want to know everything.”

“Well, I finished my degree a couple months after I saw you last. I immediately went to work in a PR firm in Boston. I got involved with campaigns when I was assigned to a couple of candidates. I developed a name for myself in Boston. I was very successful. After a few years, I came to San Antonio for a conference and I saw this woman running for county commissioner on television. She was a lesbian and very open about it. That intrigued me, so I saw Jordan in person and met her. We talked for a while and she asked me to come work for her. We became very good friends. By the time she was elected, we were in love. After the election, I left my position in Boston and moved down and we became a family. I fell in love with Chris and Kate as well. Kate was two and Chris was five. She and her ex-husband and I raised them. I opened up my own firm, and I worked on all of her campaigns. I coached football and soccer. I made cookies for bake sales and nursed them when they were sick. I was their other mother and I loved it. I did a lot of the same things with them that you did with me. Jordan and I had some incredible years. We were very happy, but Jordan is very driven. She worked and worked and worked. We had our problems and never the chance to work them out. After ten years, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left. I didn’t see them for six years. I came back to Dallas and those years were the hardest of my life. I worked for the President during her election. Last March, when Jordan won the nomination, her campaign manager and best friend called me and talked me into coming down. She and I never stopped loving one another, and we began seeing one another. Last May, after the plane crash, I moved in. I am so glad I did. Chris and Kate are in college now. Chris plays for the Longhorns and Kate is at Mt. Holyoke. I love what I do and have the chance to change the world by getting good people elected into office. My work and my family make me very happy. But I’ve missed y’all.”

The dying woman stroked Cynthia‘s face. “Sounds like you’ve had a good life. Tell me about Jordan. I want to know about the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with? She seems lovely. What is it about her that you love?” Cynthia smiled. She loved talking about Jordan

“Well, she is an amazing person. She takes her responsibility as a public servant very seriously. Her whole reason for running is for the positive things she can do as a lawmaker. She’s kind and brilliant. She is an incredible mother. She isn’t perfect but she genuinely tries to do the right thing at all times. She sings like an angel and she makes me melt when she sings to me. She acts like she’s strong and can handle everything, but there is a very vulnerable side that she lets few people see. She is loyal, and loving, and protective, and when I look in her eyes, I have no doubt that she loves me completely.”

The ailing woman cried and with a weak voice said. “I want you to be happy. I am sorry I couldn’t share it with you. Please don’t be mad at me.” Cynthia started crying and kissing her hand.

“I’m not mad Mama. It’s done with. I love you.”

“You’re father loves you too. He is a stubborn man and old-fashioned.”

“I know. I tried. He won’t let me in. I’m afraid me telling him off tonight didn’t help much.”

“That’s ok hon. I’m quite sure he deserved it.”

Both women started laughing, which was a little more than the dying woman could take. She winced in pain.

Concerned, Cynthia stood up to go get the nurse. “I’ll go get the nurse to give you something.”

“No. I don’t want anything. I have one last job to do. I can’t go until it is done. I need to be aware.” Cynthia wanted to crumble in her mother’s arms. “Cynthia, I need you to keep trying with your father. He loves you. This separation has been wrong for all of us. I can’t rest until it is fixed.”

“I will keep trying Mama. Can you talk to him too?”

“Believe me child. I am.”

They talked for a bit more before Audrey fell asleep. The sun began coming up. In the quiet morning, Cynthia said a prayer for her mother, for help with her father. She figured it would take a miracle to resolve these old issues. Jen walked in the room.

“Hey there. Have you been in here all night?”

“No. I came back in here after you came to bed and Daddy was in here, so I went back to bed. I’ve been here since around three though.”

“You look beat. Why don’t you go get some rest. There’s some coffee in the kitchen.” Cynthia nodded. Jen walked over to her and wrapped her arms around her big sister. The two women embraced, tears flowing.

“Why did you stop calling and writing? Why haven’t I heard from you in ten years?”

“Daddy found out and became angry. I gave into pressure. I shouldn’t have, but I know how much it hurt you to be exiled. I’m not strong like you. I couldn’t do it. I gave in and I was weak. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. I’m so glad you’re here.”

Cynthia wiped the tears from her little sister‘s eyes. “I forgive you Jen. Let’s just move on together ok?” Jen looked at her and nodded.

“Mama is hanging on so we can all be a family again.” Jen agreed “But, I don’t know how to give that to her. How can I get through to that man?”

Jen wiped her eyes. “It’ll happen. Just believe that.”

Cynthia smiled weakly and went to her room. Jordan woke up when she felt Cynthia slide between the covers. She opened her arms for Cynthia to settle into. She placed her lips against Cynthia’s.

“Hi honey, are you doing ok?”

“No I’m not. Just hold me please.”

“Anytime.” Jordan held Cynthia tightly against her, comforting her, without the need for words.

Later that afternoon, Jen, Cynthia and Jordan were in the kitchen talking. Jen’s children were in the backyard playing. Jordan watched Cynthia’s father walk out of his wife’s room and out the back door to sit on the porch. An idea struck her and she poured two glasses of tea. Cynthia looked at her. “Where are you going?”

“To talk to your father.”

Cynthia looked at her like she was crazy. “Good luck.”

She walked out the back door. She stood in front of Dr. Price and held out a glass of tea. “Dr. Price, we haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Jordan and I thought you might like some tea.” The somber man nodded and accepted the gesture. Jordan reached out and shook his other hand.

“I know who you are. Thank you for the tea.”

Jordan smiled, struggling to be pleasant. “You’re welcome. May I sit down?’

He shrugged. “Suit yourself.” The two sat silently, watching the two young boys play soccer.

“You have adorable grandsons. I have two children of my own, but they’re all grown up now. I miss them being this age.”

“Thank you.”

‘Ok, good. Things are moving pretty smoothly.’ She began to work up her courage. “I’m sorry for what your wife and family are going through. I know how hard this must be for you to lose your wife.”

The minister looked at her annoyed. “How could you possibly know what I’m feeling right now?”

Jordan swallowed hard. “When I was twenty-three, my wife was shot and killed.”

The minister was taken aback. He wasn’t expecting this answer. He was torn with his emotions. ” What do you mean, your wife? How could you have had a wife?”

“When I was with the peace corps, I met a woman named Maria in the village I was working in. We fell in love. A little less than a year after I arrived, we stood in the front of a church in Managua and exchanged rings and vowed to love one another for life in front of God. It may not be legally recognized, but it was a marriage to me. Anyway, a few months later, she was murdered.” Jordan fought back the tears that threatened to fall.

As much as he tried to keep from feeling anything, his heart was softened by the heartbreaking tale.

Jordan continued. “I know that right now, all you can think of is crawling in that bed beside her and dying along with her. I know what it feels like to go from being married to having your life stripped away from you in one moment. I know that you can’t imagine what your life will be like without hearing her voice or seeing her face every day. I know it feels like your very soul is being torn away.”

He didn’t look at her. “How did you get through it?”

“I spent two months living in a convent, never leaving my room, and drinking myself into a stupor. Of course, that wasn’t the appropriate way to handle it. At twenty-three, I didn’t care.”

“What snapped you out of it?”

Jordan was surprised at the genuine interest. “The convent I was staying at was in the same complex as the church where I was married. There was also an orphanage there. One day a three year old disappeared. They needed me to go help find him. I spent several hours looking through the streets for the little boy. I ended up finding him. He became quite attached to me after that. He needed someone to love and to care about him. He wanted me. I made up my mind to be there for him. I poured my energy into him. Just like your family needs you, and that includes Cynthia.”

“What happened to the little boy?

“I met my husband a few months after but we weren’t allowed to take him with us. Instead I found him a family. He is in seminary now, studying to be a priest.”

The two silently sat near one another. Jordan decided to speak again.

“Cynthia has missed you over the years. She’s such a wonderful and amazing person. She astounds me so often. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. My kids love her dearly.” The man smiled slightly.

“She takes after her mother.”

“Excuse me for saying sir, but twenty years is a long time to hold in anger, especially for your own child.”

“Jordan, I know my wife made you promise to help the situation, but other than that, this isn’t really your concern. It’s a family matter.”

“Actually Dr. Price, it is my concern. Cynthia is my concern. I have been her family for the last sixteen years. Her happiness is my concern. I know you are her father, but I will not stand by and watch her be hurt by anyone. You’ve got a serious choice to make here. You have a wish by your dying wife and a beautiful, loving, and kind daughter who wants to be your daughter so badly. It seems to me to be an easy choice. Doesn’t it say in the Bible that the most important is love? It seems to me that there has been enough hurt. It’s time for your family to heal while it is still intact. Regret can eat you alive. You’re both going to need one another. Don’t let them down now.” Jordan stood to walk away.

The minister looked up and quietly said, “thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss.”

“I appreciate that sir. If you need someone to talk to, feel free to talk to me.” The minister nodded. Jordan walked into the house and found Cynthia still in the kitchen. She walked up to her and pulled her into a tight hug. She felt very protective of her partner at that moment. She pulled her back and placed her hands on Cynthia’s shoulders. “I love you Cynthia. I will be with you always, you can count on it. I hate that you’re hurting and have been for so long.”

Cynthia looked at Jordan, bewildered by her lover‘s statement, but grateful. “Thank you honey. I don’t know what brought that on, but I love you too Jordan, even more now. You’ve been so amazing through this whole thing. How was your talk with my father?”

“Actually, not bad. It could have been worse.”

“Interesting…”

Cynthia and Jordan spent the afternoon getting to know Jen, her husband, and Cynthia’s nephews; four-year old Joshua, and six-year old David. Jordan ran around the yard playing with the boys as the sun went down. Jen and Cynthia sat and talked and watched the candidate play with the boys. Dr. Price sat in with his wife, holding her hand.

“John, you have to let all of your anger go. I’ve lost so much time with my daughter. I missed all of her triumphs and comforting her when she was hurting. She needed me and I wasn’t there. I needed her too. She’s an amazing woman.”

The old man nodded. “She has your fire and my mouth. You should have seen her stand up to me, like always. She’s quite a woman. I don’t approve of her life. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea if I express how I feel about her.”

Audrey became angry with her husband. “I’m ashamed of you John. You don’t want to show your daughter you love her simply because the person she loves is a woman. They obviously love one another.”

John began to cry and nodded his head. “Yes they do. She’s very protective of Cynthia. She defended her strongly. I was actually impressed.”

Audrey held his hand and looked at him. “If Jordan had the same qualities but was a man, we would welcome her with open arms. Don’t miss your daughter’s life. I’m about to die, I can’t make up for lost time. But you can. Please do it for me. I can‘t go until you do. I am so tired and I hurt so badly.”

He kissed the inside of his wife’s palm. “I can’t let you go. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”

They cried together. “John, I love you and we’ve had a wonderful life. Don’t punish Cynthia for having what we had. Promise me you will tell her you still love her. Promise me you will work things out.”

Sobbing, he nodded. “I promise. I love you too. I have since the first time I saw you. You were so beautiful in your cheerleader’s sweater with your pom-poms.”

She smiled. “And you, the preacher‘s son, always neat with your hair slicked back. You‘re a good man. Be a good man and tell your daughter you love her and repair this family.”

John kissed her softly. ” I will.”

“Thank you. Can you go tell Jordan I would like to speak with her alone? I want to make sure Cynthia continues to be loved and taken care of. I need to know she is going to be ok. I also want to get to know this woman a little. After all, our daughter has chosen to spend her life with her.”

John kissed his wife one more time and then walked out to get Jordan. He sat next to Cynthia and Jen, watching Jordan and the kids for a few minutes. He swallowed hard and looked at his elder daughter. He touched her arm. “Thank you for coming Cynthia. It means the world to your mother. Considering everything, you could have just ignored your sister’s call. But you didn’t and I am glad you didn’t.” Cynthia was shocked, not knowing what to say. “Your mother wants to see Jordan.”

Cynthia nodded and went over to Jordan. “Honey, my mother is asking for you.”

Jordan was surprised. “Really?”

“Yes and my Dad said he was glad I came. I couldn‘t believe it.”

“That’s wonderful honey. I’ll go talk to your Mom.”

“If what you said had anything to do with my Dad coming up to me, thank you.”

Jordan touched Cynthia‘s hair. “You’re welcome. You know I’d do anything to make you happy.”

Cynthia nodded. Jordan walked into the house to speak with the dying woman. She stepped in the room and sat in the chair next to the bed. Smiling, she softly spoke. “Hi there Audrey. I heard you wanted to speak with me.”

The older woman returned the smile. She was weaker than she had been the previous day. “Hi, Yes. I heard you talked to my husband today.”

“Yes Ma’am I did.”

“Thank you. It’s obvious you love my daughter very much. He may not say it. But we are both grateful for that. You’re protective of her. That’s good. Promise me that you’ll continue to love her. Take care of her and please make sure she’s happy.”

Jordan took the dying woman’s hand. “I promise. I’ll love her for the rest of my life. She’ll never be alone.”

“Thank you. That means so much. She also told me you sang like an angel. Did you grow up in the church?”

Jordan chuckled. “Yes ma’am I did. I spent my first twenty years in the Church of Christ. ”

“It’s been so long since I’ve been to church and heard any of those old songs. Could you sing one for me?”

Jordan smiled gently. “I sure could. Do you have any requests?”

“No, anything will do. As long as its old.”

“I think I can do that.” She stroked the woman’s hair and began to sing. Audrey closed her eyes to concentrate on the music. Jordan sang softly.

“Just as I am, without one plea,

but that thy blood was shed for me

and that thou bidst me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not

to rid my soul of one dark blot,

to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about

with many a conflict, many a doubt,

fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. ”

Audrey opened her eyes and squeezed Jordan’s hand.

“Thank you. That was lovely. I’m getting tired. I’ve spoken to John. I think they’re ready now. Thank you for bringing my daughter to me. Can you tell them I would like to see them?”

Fighting back tears, Jordan said, “yes ma’am.” She stood and kissed the woman on the head. “It’s been a pleasure Ms. Audrey. I wish you a peaceful journey.” She stepped out of the room. She stood in the hallway for a few minutes, gathering her courage. She walked out to the family.

“She’s asking to see the three of you together.” Cynthia, Jen, and their father turned to one another with alarm. Jordan’s heart ached for them.

They walked into Audrey’s room and sat around her bed.

She looked at them. “I’m tired, so very tired. I have all of my family around me and I’m ready to go home. I want you to promise me that there will be no more fighting. You need to be there for one another. Promise me that.”

They nodded and in ragged unison, said, “yes.”

Audrey’s breathing began to grow uneven and labored. She closed her eyes, and with her family around her, she let go of life. They broke down into tears, and Jen fell into the gentle, loving arms of her father. Cynthia stood alone and her father reached out his arm and pulled her against him as the family held each other and cried at their loss. Cynthia was overwhelmed with the feeling of being wrapped in her father’s arm. The minister said a prayer. Jordan was pacing outside. She could hear the crying and knew the sick woman had passed. She immediately flashed to when Maria died. She knew what the poor widower was feeling. Dr. Price asked for a few minutes alone. Cynthia and Jen walked out of the room. Jen’s husband comforted her and Jordan held Cynthia tightly. “I’m sorry baby.”

Cynthia looked up at Jordan. “He held me. He put his arm around me and held me.” She sobbed against Jordan’s chest. Jordan whispered in her ear. “Go ahead. Let it out. I’ve got you. I’m here.”

That night, Jordan called her mother. “Hi Mom.”

“Hi there Jordan, what’s up?”

“Cynthia and I are in Dallas. We’re at her parents house. Her mother died today.’

“Oh no. I am so sorry to hear that. I know they had their problems, but still, it was her mother.”

“Yeah, they made up beforehand. Her father reconciled with her as well.”

“Wow. That’s amazing.”

“It’s bittersweet for her though.”

“I can imagine. How is Cynthia holding up?”

“She’s going to be ok. She’s just trying to take it all in. She’s still in shock from the whole situation.”

“Give her our love.”

“I will Mom. I just wanted to call and hear your voice. I wanted to say a few things. I love you. I‘m sorry for the ugly things I said at times. I‘m sorry I took you for granted. You were and are a wonderful mother. I wouldn‘t be who I am today without you.” Jordan began to cry. “Thank you for raising me, for loving me, and for being you.”

“Thank you Jordan. I love you too very much.”

“Thanks Mom. I’ve got to go now. I’ll see you soon.”

“Bye Jordan. Offer our condolences please.”

“I will. Bye.” Jordan hung up the phone and exhaled deeply.

The funeral arrangements had been previously made. The next two days before the funeral, the house was a mass of flowers, food, and a steady stream of phone calls and visitors. Dr. Price seldom allowed Cynthia to leave his side. Jordan could see the healing take place between the father and daughter. Jordan stayed in the background, always keeping an eye on Cynthia, and always ready to be there to comfort her. The morning of the funeral, Dr. Price came up to Jordan as the family was getting ready to leave.

“Jordan, I want you to ride in the family car and sit with us at the service. You’re Cynthia’s family and that makes you one of us. Plus I can’t thank you enough for bringing her here and comforting my wife. Cynthia obviously has someone who will love and defend her. As a father, I really couldn’t ask for anything more for my daughter.” He reached out and hugged Jordan. Cynthia watched the exchange with tears of love threatening to spill.

Hundreds of people filled the large Baptist church as the family said good-bye to the minister’s wife. Close friends and family filled the home afterwards. Jordan met many people who watched Cynthia grow up. She helped serve food and drinks. Here, she wasn’t Jordan O’Connor, candidate for Senate. She was simply Jordan, a member of the Price family. That was all she wanted to be. Dr. Price kept Cynthia near him nearly every moment. It was as if he was afraid to let her out of his sight. The long day ended and Jordan, Jen, and Cynthia were cleaning up from the day. Cynthia turned to Jordan. “Honey, why don’t we ask my Dad if he would like to come travel around with us for a few days? I’d like to get some time with him and would like him to get to know you. We can bring him back when we’re in town for the debate.”

Jordan smiled and kissed the top of her head. “I think it’s a great idea.”

Cynthia looked to Jen. “What do you think?”

Jen smiled. “It’s up to him. I think it might do him good to get him out of the house for a few days, maybe give him a little mental break before he has to deal with things here. ”

Cynthia went to her father’s study and tapped on the door.

“Come in.”

Cynthia opened the door. “Hi Daddy, may I come in?”

He smiled. “Of course you can.”

“Jordan and I were wondering if you’d like to come with us tomorrow. We’ll be back in Dallas on the twenty-fourth and we can bring you back then. I’d really like for you to see what I do. Right now, we’re basically traveling throughout the state, going from event to event. But it would get you out of the house and give us some time together. We can get to know one another and you can get to know Jordan. I think after twenty years, we need it.”

“I agree. Are you sure Jordan doesn’t mind me tagging along. You know I don’t agree with all of her views.”

Cynthia laughed. “We’re family, I think it’ll be ok. Jordan thought it was a great idea.”

The widower smiled. “Ok then, I’ll go pack my things.”

Cynthia reached out and hugged her father. “That’s great Daddy. Pack casual and you might want to bring a suit.”

“Ok. Sounds good.”

She smiled. “I’ll go let Jordan know. She’ll be thrilled.” She started walking out.

Her father said her name. “Cynthia?”

She turned to acknowledge him. “Yes?”

He smiled shyly. “I love you. You really are a much better daughter than I deserve.”

She didn’t know what to say. “I love you too Daddy.” She stepped out of the study and leaned back against the closed door. She took a deep breath, absorbing the exchange.

That night, she laid in Jordan’s arms. She turned her face to look at Jordan. “I can’t believe it. He says the words I’ve been waiting to hear for so long and they come on the day I bury my mother. How’s that for irony?” Jordan kissed her lightly.

“At least something good came out of this whole thing.”

Cynthia nodded. “Did you call Laura and let her know about the change?”

“Yes. We’re rescheduling the missed appearances. She sends her love by the way. We’re meeting everyone at University of North Texas in Denton. The College Democrats are having a meet the candidate forum and a reception in the mid-afternoon. We’ll continue to work on the debate issues.”

“Jordan, I can’t thank you enough for being with me. I couldn’t have made it through without you. I also heard about your talk with my father. He told me what you said. He was quite impressed with you. I love it when you’re protective like that.”

Jordan put her hand on Cynthia‘s cheek. “You’re always taking care of me. When someone attacks me, you’re the first person to jump to my defense. I’m just a spoiled politician. I have several people whose job it is to make sure I have what I need. I go from place to place and speak. But you pick what I wear. You put up with my stupid antics like what happened in El Paso. You make sure my schedule is straight, so I can concentrate on the people and the issues. You make sure that I am always shown in the best possible way. There are more than a few times that I don‘t even do my own hair and makeup.” She touched Cynthia’s face. “To tell you the truth, I like taking care of you. I wouldn’t be doing this well without you. I love you and I will until I take my last breath.”

Cynthia had tears in her eyes. “You have such a way with words.”

The next day Jordan, Cynthia, and her father, John met the campaign on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, just north of Dallas. She met with the College Democrats and the Lambdas, a gay/lesbian campus group. She talked to the students and met the school administrators at the reception that afternoon. As they traveled throughout the state during the week, Jordan got to know the minister well.

They even went on early morning bike rides together. Jordan had been scheduled to participate in a sixty-mile bike ride through the hill country to raise awareness for ovarian cancer the following month, so she had begun riding every morning. The funeral had interrupted her training and she was anxious to get back to it. John enjoyed watching his daughter work. Cynthia and her father grew closer. The week ended and the night of the final debate arrived. Jordan wore a black suit and white blouse. Cynthia’s family waited backstage along with her staff. Jordan was called to the stage to have her microphone attached. Cynthia hugged her tightly. “Good luck. I love you.” Jordan smiled. “I love you too darlin’.” Laura put her hand on Jordan’s shoulder. “Go do it.” Jordan walked out on the stage and shook hands with her opponent.

“Hi there Kris.”

“Hey Jordan. Good luck.”

Jordan grinned, knowing she had won the previous two debates and was way ahead in the election. “You too Kris.”

The announcer began. “Welcome to the final debate of this Senatorial election. The format of this debate will be in a town meeting setting. We are at Southern Methodist University at McFarlin Auditorium. The questions will come from the audience. Each candidate will have the two minutes to speak to respond to the questions. Before the debate, Mr. Benson won the coin toss and will be the first to give his opening statement.”

Kris began. “I have always thrived on challenges and difficult positions. I embrace my role as a Republican, as a leader of the revolution in which the principles of government are being re-evaluated. I have led my own business to success and look forward to leading this state and the country to progress and development and to our future.”

“Ms. O’Connor, your opening statement?”

Jordan took a breath, and smiled. “”I’d like to thank all of the people who have taken the time and consideration to come here tonight and for caring enough about their community and their state to do so. It is amazing to see so many people who care about the privileges afforded us by having a democratic government. What you deserve, is a Senator who takes the privilege just as seriously. Cicero said that a statesman should be the most honorable and just and noble-acting of people. A statesman should consider the best interest of the people first and foremost. This is the kind of Senator I aspire to be. I have been and continue to be dedicated to the people of Texas, and of the United States.”

The announcer spoke. “We will have our first question from the audience.”

A middle-aged woman stood up. “Teenage violence is plaguing our schools and streets. The entertainment industry continues to feed upon and create the demand for violence. What do you plan on doing to hold them accountable for the violence they create?”

Jordan was the first to speak.” Although I abhor some of the things that appear in movies, television, and music, they are protected under the Constitution. Entertainment like this exists for one reason and one reason only….it is profitable. Some say that the violence on the screen creates violence in the streets. Others, say the opposite is true. Years ago, John Wayne westerns were popular. Weren’t they violent for their time? Today they’re considered classics. The way to stop the influence of the mass media is to regulate it in your own home. Violent and sexual television shows will not last if people do not watch. Violent music will not be played on radio, if it isn’t requested. If we want to keep our children away from these unsavory images, then it is the parents’ responsibility monitor them. We can’t relinquish our responsibilities as parents to Congress or the entertainment industry. All the industry should and can do is to assist parents in letting them know the content of the songs, movie, or television show that they create. This is why we have a ratings system. The same Constitution that protects the positive images in this country also protects the negative, but we do have the personal freedom to choose what we will support. My suggestion for parents is turn the TV off. Talk to your kids, teach them the difference between right and wrong. Don‘t let them learn it from a movie screen or MTV.”

Kris gave his response. “I disagree. I think the entertainment industry should bare a certain amount of the responsibility for the violence in our society. Our families cannot watch TV at night during what used to be referred to as the ‘family hour’ without seeing or hearing explicit sexuality and many times homosexuality. The highest rated shows are violent police dramas. Consequently, teenagers are killing their teachers and are having sex earlier. I’d like the FCC to increase their regulations. I will work to stop this inflammatory speech from invading our homes and our lives.”

An older gentleman stood up. “What are you going to do about Mexico’s violation of the Hidalgo Treaty of 1944? The farmers in South Texas are suffering because of it.”

Kris Benson looked bewildered. “I’m not sure exactly which Treaty that is. I’m not a politician, so I’m not completely up on every single issue. But, if elected, I will look into that and every other issue that comes up. As far as any violation of agreements, I will help make sure that Mexico is held accountable.”

Jordan forced herself not to laugh at his inept answer. She thought to herself. ‘Ha. I knew this would happen.’ “The Hidalgo Treaty is a water treaty in which Mexico and the U.S. agreed to release certain amounts of water per year to one another from the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers. Mexico will allow water from six tributaries to run into the Rio Grande. One third of that water is earmarked for south Texas and two-thirds go to neighboring Mexican states. Mexico has fallen behind in its dues and owes more than 1.5 million acre-feet of water to south Texas. This is enough to fill the Super Dome five hundred twenty times over. South Texas and Mexico are in the midst of a drought and Mexico continues to take their water. Since the treaty was signed in 1944, the border population on both sides has grown from 1.4 million to nearly 12 million. Obviously, the treaty is antiquated and should be rewritten. The Rio Grande Valley is near and dear to my heart. I was born there and lived there until I was thirteen and my family is still there. This violation can no longer continue and I won’t let it.”

Another woman stood up as the microphone was passed to her. “We’re in a constant battle between meeting energy consumption needs and preserving the environment. What ways do you plan on helping to resolve the high cost of energy on consumers and the environment?”

Jordan smiled. “I’m glad you asked that. I support responsible exploration and conservation efforts. I’d also like to increase research into renewable sources and relief for energy consumers in the wake of rising energy costs. One way I would like to do all of this is to offer Research and Development credits to companies who explore better ways to produce energy, making it safer for the environment without skyrocketing costs.”

Benson offered his response. “America is too dependent on foreign sources of oil and the consumer pays the high price. We need to look into ways to become more independent in that area. I am in favor of alternative energy sources but I’d also like to see it at a price consumers can afford.”

Jordan resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the man who made millions from drilling for oil. Several more questions were asked and answered and the candidates came to the end of the debate.

“That is all the time we have for questions. The candidates will now give their closing remarks. Since Ms. O’Connor answered the last question first, Mr. Benson will give his closing remarks, then Ms. O’Connor.”

“This country is going in a direction where violence and sex reign supreme. I am prepared and look forward to the challenge of leading this country in a revolution of values and re-evaluated principles where hard work and dedication are rewarded.”

Jordan started her final remarks for the night. “I’ve been working in government for over sixteen years. I have been campaigning for even longer. One thing I have learned is that our greatest natural resource is our people. The key to our future success as Texans and Americans is a healthy and educated population. As your Senator, I will work to help develop this resource for a strong Texas and a strong country.”

The moderator spoke. “This concludes the final debate in this election. We’d like to thank everyone for coming. Be sure to get out and vote for the candidates of your choice Tuesday, November third. Goodnight.” The candidates got the signal that they were off the air. They both walked backstage to their prospective groups. Cynthia put her arms around Jordan’s neck, hugging her tightly.

Cynthia was bubbling with pride in her partner. “You did a great job honey. You were the clear winner in this debate, hands down. I love you so much.”

Jordan wrapped her arms tightly around Cynthia’s waist. “I love you too Cyn. Did you see how he flubbed that water question? That was priceless.”

Laura grinned at her. “This one definitely hurt him. You were outstanding.”

Jordan winked. “Thanks.”

Cynthia’s father, sister, and brother-in-law walked over to her. The minister reached out and shook her hand. “Well done Jordan. You really are good at this. We’ve got a lot in common you and me. ”

Smiling. “Thanks John. I appreciate that coming from you. I guess we’re both a couple of old windbags.” They both began laughing.

“That about sums it up.”

Jen and her husband came to congratulate Jordan. “That was awesome to watch. How could he come into the debate and not know all the issues?”

“That’s just his mentality. He tries to use his lack of knowledge of government affairs to his advantage. However, this is my job and my passion. I‘m glad you enjoyed it.”

The reaction in Kris Benson’s group was quite different. The candidate was livid. “Why didn’t anyone fucking advise me of the name and nature of this water treaty? How could you let me go out there and make a fool out of myself?”

His wife looked at him. “You do a good job of that yourself.”

He shot an angry look in her direction. “Knock it off Amber. I don’t need your crap right now.” He looked to his campaign manager. “Have you heard anything from those investigators?”

“They called from Managua yesterday. Apparently, she left her village in the middle of her tour and began working in Managua. That’s not usual. We paid people off to get a look at her records and there is a note in there talking about the transfer and she claimed she was being threatened. I think there’s something there. They’ll let us know.”

Kris nodded his head. “Good. We have a little over a month left. They need to find something now.”

His manager, Phil, looked at him. “They will. We should hear from them this week. Not a minute too soon, either. I got the damn party breathing down my neck.”

As they were getting ready to leave the University, Cynthia said good-bye to her family. She hugged her father tightly. “I love you Daddy. I’m so glad I got to spend this time with you. Thank you for coming with us this week.”

The older man smiled and held his daughter. “I love you too Cynthia. I’m glad I got to know you. You’re very talented. I am very impressed by you young lady. I am still trying to understand and accept your lifestyle. But, Jordan is a wonderful person. She makes you happy and she loves you. I couldn’t ask for more. I’m glad you have someone like her. Thank you for inviting me to come with y‘all. It was good to get out of the house.”

Cynthia beamed at her father, tears filling up her eyes at the words she had waited twenty years to hear. “Thank you Daddy. Are you going to be ok?”

He looked at her. “I think so. I can’t imagine being in that house alone. You’re mother is everywhere. It’s going to be strange not to hear her voice anymore.”

Jordan put her hand on his shoulder. “You can call me anytime if you want to talk. I’ve been there. I might be able to help.”

He turned to Jordan and put his arms around her. “Thank you Jordan, for everything. Talking to you has helped. Take care of my daughter.”

Jordan smiled. “Always.”

Cynthia hugged her sister and brother-in law. “Be sure and tell my nephews I said hi.”

Jen smiled. “I will. Now don’t forget. You and your family are coming for Thanksgiving at my house.”

Cynthia nodded, “I won’t. Y’all will come down and have Christmas with us at our house in San Antonio.”

“We’ll all be there. Take Care sis. We love ya.”

Cynthia waved and she and Jordan drove off to the hotel. That night, Jordan noticed Cynthia’s silence. She wrapped her arms protectively around Cynthia. No words were necessary between the two as Cynthia turned to bury her face in Jordan’s neck. Without speaking, Jordan led Cynthia over to the bed and slipped off the smaller woman’s robe, revealing her bare skin. She pulled down the blankets and laid Cynthia down. She removed her own clothing and laid down next to her lover, pulling her into her arms. Cynthia allowed the warm skin of her partner soothe the conflicting emotions of the pain of losing her mother and the joy of finding her family’s love again.

That night as the couple lay peacefully sleeping, Jordan’s future was beginning to unravel. Private investigators with unlimited cash were putting together the mysteries of Jordan’s past. Enough money and food thrown at very poor people did wonders.

Three Days Later at Benson Headquarters.

Kris Benson was sitting at his desk in the late afternoon when his campaign manager came in, elated.

“Well, well, Phil, from the look on your face, you’ve got good news.”

Laughing. “You’re damn right, Senator. We’ve got dirt on her that will not only cost her this election. She may not be able to run again. Hell, she’ll be lucky if she’s not extradited.”

“That’s unbelievable. It’s the break we’ve been waiting for. When will we be ready to make a press conference?”

“We should be ready in a couple of days.”

“Good. Good. Before we actually give the conference though. Let’s see if we can get her to pull out of the race first, in order to buy our silence.” Both men were laughing. “The bitch is gonna fry.” He began looking over the preliminary report. “We can definitely spin this to our advantage. She is going to be done when we are through with her.”

October

Jordan and Cynthia walked into the headquarters on the first day of the month. The election was only a month away and there was no way she could lose. She had six commercials that were beginning their run throughout the state for the rest of the campaign. She was expected by all political analysts to win easily. Both women walked into their individual offices.

Laura sat in her office going over the schedule for the morning meeting when her phone rang. “Hello, Laura Dodson.”

The voice on the other end belonged to Kris Benson’s campaign manager. “Laura, its Phil Jones. How are things over there?”

Laura rolled her eyes. “Hello Phil. Things are going quite well over here. I have a feeling you didn’t call to engage in small talk. So let’s cut the crap, what do you want?”

He laughed. “To the point as always, I like that about you. Some very interesting information about your candidate has come to our attention. We feel that it is our duty to inform the public. We think the voters have a right to know all about the woman they’re about to vote into office. Although, she probably won’t win after this.”

Laura’s heart sank, but she didn’t let it show. “What the hell are you talking about?”

The smug campaign manager laughed again. “Oh I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. We know what happened in Nicaragua. The word Îmurderer’ is such a strong word. Not only would she lose this election, she may not be employable. I would hate to see the reputation Jordan has worked so hard to gain completely disappear with one word. So, we’re willing to keep this quiet if Jordan pulls out of the race.”

Laura became livid. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But you’re a pig. And you’re insane if you think she’s going to pull out of this race.”

Phil became serious. “I’m going to be blunt Laura. If Jordan doesn’t pull out of the race by tomorrow morning, we go public with this. You know she won’t win this election and this would destroy her career completely. We are holding a press conference tomorrow at nine. We will either be accepting her concession or exposing her, whichever you prefer. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”

“Go to hell,” Laura said sharply and slammed the phone down. She sat at her desk with her head in her hands. ÎOh Lord, this can’t be happening. We are so fucking close. How the hell is she going to react?’ She picked up her phone and called Cynthia and James, asking them to come into her office. They walked in and sat down.

Cynthia looked at her questioning. “Ok, so what’s up? You don’t look good.”

Laura looked at them both seriously. “Benson and his cronies found out what happened in Nicaragua, but they’re calling it murder. Phil didn’t use any specifics. It could be a bluff. But, is that a chance we want to take? They’ve said that they wouldn’t make the information public if she pulls out of the race.” She looked at Cynthia. “Do you think she would even consider leaving the race?”

Cynthia stood up, pacing, “I don’t bloody believe it. How in the hell did this happen? What exactly did he say?”

Laura struggled to be rational. “Ok, to begin with you need to calm down. We’ve got to be calm for Jordan. He said he knows what happened. He said that murder was an ugly word and could ruin Jordan’s entire career and reputation. He said that we can pull out of the race or he will go public and you know he’s going to spin how everything happened.”

Cynthia stood with her hands on her hips. “I don’t know how Jordan is going to take this, but she won’t pull out of this race, it means too much to her. I don’t think she’s ever completely come to terms with what happened. She’s going to have to tell her family first, before she makes the announcement. How is she going to tell the kids, much less the whole world? SheÎs kept things bottled up for over twenty years.” Her tone changed, becoming protective of her vulnerable partner. “Did you know she still has nightmares?”

Laura just shook her head, raising her hands in frustration. “So should we wait to respond until after we see what they have?”

James looked at them both. “The problem with that Laura, is Jordan needs to respond immediately once the charge is made. She will want to tell the family in person first. There will simply be no time to gather everyone after the announcement by Benson is made and then make her statement.”

Laura nodded. “You’re right. Regardless of what she wants to do, she’s going to have to tell the family and staff first.”

They looked at one another for a few minutes. Laura finally threw up her hands. “We can’t put this off any longer. Let’s go.”

The three of them walked to Jordan’s office and knocked on the door frame. Jordan was on the phone and looked up at the open door. She smiled and waved them in while she finished her phone conversation. They walked in and Cynthia shut the door behind them.

Jordan hung up the phone and looked up at the three foreboding faces. “Ok, something’s up. You three are never in here at the same time. I can tell by the look on your faces. What happened?” She arched her eyebrow in anticipation.

Both James and Laura looked to Cynthia to break the news.

Taking a deep breath, Cynthia began. “Laura got a call from Phil. He said he knows what happened in Nicaragua. They’re going to expose you in a press conference tomorrow. He mentioned the word murder. My guess is they are going to spin what happened and make it look like you committed murder. Which, is of course not what happened. They offered to keep it quiet if you quit the race.”

They stood silently waiting for Jordan to say something. Jordan sat, a million thoughts running through her head. She switched into her business-mode, stiff and in control, showing little emotion, she stood up and finally spoke.

“I’m not leaving the race. I’m not going to let that son of a bitch ruin me. I guess it’s time for me to face the music. I need to tell the family first. I don’t want them to find out from the press. I need to tell everyone in person. Cyn, would you and Laura make all the travel arrangements for my dad, stepmother, brothers, and Kate? Make sure everyone is at the house at eight tonight for a family meeting. I am supposed to be at a reception tonight, have someone go in my place. Have all the paid staff members at the house at ten-thirty. James, I want you to tap the phones. If Phil calls back, I want to record him trying to make a deal. And the three of you, I want you to deny all knowledge of what happened. I don’t know how this is going to come out. In a worst case scenario, I look like a lying murderer and you three will look like conspirators. My reputation could be screwed and I don’t want yours to be also. As far as anyone knows, the only thing you knew was that my wife was killed and I was threatened and went to Managua out of fear for my life. ”

Cynthia began to object and Jordan put up her hand to stop her. “I mean it Cynthia. If I am going to go down, it will be me alone.” Cynthia nodded quietly.

Laura touched her arm. “Are you ok?”

Jordan reassured her. “Yes. I’ll be fine. But, I really need to be alone. Please have all the family at the house at eight. I would like for the three of you to be there as well.” Sitting down she said, ” I’m sorry if I’ve cost us the race. I know how close we are to winning.” She sat still, waiting for them to walk out. She looked up at them again. “So, I will see y’all tonight.” They didn’t move. ” Really, I want to be alone. I’m fine. There’s a lot to do for tonight. Y’all go on.”

The three of them looked at her in disbelief. They were confused by her reaction. She asked them to leave her office again. “Please, go on. I need y’all to take care of those things for me. I need to figure out what I’m going to say.”

James and Laura walked out of the office. Cynthia stayed behind and walked up to Jordan, tenderly placing her hands on her neck at the base of her shoulders. She looked in Jordan’s eyes. “Honey, tell me what’s going on in your head.”

Jordan placed her hands on Cynthia’s and gently removed them, pushing her away. “Cyn, I can’t do this right now. I need to get out of here. I’ve got to work this out before I can spill my guts to the world. Please, give me some space.”

Cynthia looked at her, worried, her feelings bruised. “Where will you be?”

Jordan shook her head. “I don’t know.”

Cynthia took her hand. “Jordan, this distance isn’t like you. Why won’t you talk to me? You’re shutting me out.”

Jordan removed her hand and moved away from Cynthia. “I have to right now. Please understand. I really need to be alone. I am sure I will need your love and support and those strong arms of yours wrapped around me later. But, please let me go. I need to go.”

Cynthia nodded and stepped out of Jordan’s way. Jordan walked out of the office and drove her SUV home. She walked into the quiet house and climbed the ladder to the attic. She moved straight to a far corner, pulled away boxes, and blankets. She looked at the locked box and picked it up, carrying it down and into the bedroom. She opened the box and caught her breath as she removed the lid and her eyes focused on the contents. She picked up a white dress, closed her eyes and held it against her cheek. She reached in and pulled out a stack of old photographs. Jordan looked at the photos, smiling. She found her favorite of Maria lying on her stomach, looking at her, with pure love and desire. Jordan blinked as tears began to blur her vision. She touched the face in the photo. Holding the dress in her arms, she spoke to the image in the picture. “Aye mi corazon. I couldn’t protect you. I couldn’t keep you safe. I am so sorry. You would be with me today. ” Jordan reached into the box and picked up two silver bands. Tears poured down her cheeks. She looked at pictures taken of them together on the day they were married. Jordan was holding her, they were both smiling and laughing. Maria was wearing the white dress that Jordan now held in her arms. Jordan was wearing faded jeans, a white button down shirt, and sandals. Her mind drifted back to the day they met.

1987

Jordan drove into her village in the jeep the Peace Corp had provided to transport supplies. She stopped at the church to meet the priest who was supposed to show her where she was staying. She walked into the church where the missionaries, priest, and nuns greeted her warmly.

The kind priest outstretched his hand to Jordan. “Buena Diaz Senorita Sharp. It is a pleasure to meet you. Welcome.”

Jordan smiled and shook the priest’s hand. “Gracias Father. It’s good to finally be here. I was told you would show me where I would be staying.”

He nodded. “Yes, it’s not far from here. You will be staying in a small house at the end of the village. I think you will enjoy your time here. The people are wonderful. They are mostly farmers. We have a school for the children. The teacher is from here and was educated at the University in Managua. The nuns, missionaries and myself split our time between here and the neighboring village about 40 kilometers away. Come, I will show you your village.”

The village was bustling with activity. There was a market, where locals bartered their goods with one another. Everyone stopped to meet Jordan. In the distance, Jordan’s attention was drawn to a dark haired woman with large eyes, in a peasant blouse and skirt, barefoot, with her hands on her hips. Jordan couldn’t take her eyes off the beautiful woman. She walked towards the schoolhouse. Her face was lit up with a huge grin as she strode towards the teacher.

She held out her hand in greeting. “Buenos Diaz . Mi nombre es Jordan Sharp. Son usted la maestra?”(Good morning. My name is Jordan Sharp. Are you the teacher?)

Maria smiled and accepted JordanÎs hand, holding it for a few extra seconds. “Buenos Diaz. Si, soy la maestra. Mi nombre es Maria Gomez.”(Good morning. Yes I am the teacher. My name is Maria Gomez)

Jordan was immediately captured from that moment. The feeling was mutual. Jordan began having dinners with Maria’s family. She was the oldest child out of five and she still lived with her parents. They took walks in the jungles and Maria pointed out the flowers, explaining their healing power. It was during one of these walks that they shared their first kiss by the river.

Maria and Jordan walked down by the river, holding hands. Jordan saw a white flower by the water’s edge. She picked up the flower and handed it to Maria. “For you.” Jordan’s smile lit up her face.

Charmed by the adorable expression and the gesture, Maria accepted the flower, kissing Jordan on the cheek.

Heat flooded Jordan’s body. She took the flower from Maria’s hand and placed it in her lush black hair. “You are so beautiful Maria.”

Maria smiled shyly, lowering her face. Jordan lifted her chin to look into her eyes. She moved in and gently placed her lips against Maria’s. They kissed softly, and innocently. They both grinned, with their foreheads touching. The kiss was the beginning of their brief, tragic life together. Jordan would bring Maria flowers at the end of the day and would walk her home. Jordan was a slave to Maria’s smile and laughter. Maria would bring Jordan lunch while she worked. Maria and Jordan fell deeply in love. Jordan would spend her days helping the farmers with their crops or repairing homes, the church, or the school. Her evenings were spent talking with and singing and playing on old classical guitar for Maria. She taught Maria how to speak English. Maria taught her about love.

The night they first made love was one of the purest, most beautiful experiences of Jordan’s life. Maria had never shared herself with another person. She was nervous and scared, but Jordan loved her gently, reverently. Jordan trembled with emotion as the women explored one another, giving of themselves freely. Jordan had never experienced love like that before. Maria was different from the girls in Texas. Jordan couldn’t get enough of her. But Jordan had some explaining to do to her new father-in-law when they arrived back at the village already married. He was upset that Jordan married his oldest daughter without consulting him first. Jordan understood his feelings and was genuinely sorry to have hurt the man she respected and considered to be a friend.

He took her aside while Maria spoke to her mother. “Usted caso a mi hija sin mi benedicion y sin su madre y sin yo.”(You married my daughter without my blessing and without her mother and I.)

Jordan nodded. “Soy muy arrepentido. Signifiqué no falta de respeto. Debo haber preguntado su permiso. Amo Maria y yo hago para el resto de mi vida.” (I’m very sorry. I meant no disrespect. I should have asked your permission. I love Maria and I will for the rest of my life.) Jordan spoke quietly, with humble respect to the man who raised her wife. “Quiero vivir con ella como mi esposa. Quiero cuidar dela y hacer su feliz.” (I want to live with her as my wife. I want to take care of her and make her happy.)

MariaÎs father looked concerned. “Son usted ir la estar tomando lejos?”(Are you going to be taking her away?)

Jordan wished to reassure him. “Si. Quiero tomarla con mi. Queremos que la familia venga también.”(Yes. I want to take her with me. We want the family to come too.)

The protective father began to smile. “Usted hace a mi hija feliz. Eso me hace feliz.”( You make my daughter happy. That makes me happy.)

Maria’s father pulled his daughter-in-law into a hug, squeezing her tightly. Both women were relieved to get his blessing. Their relationship was easily accepted because of the kindness of both women. Maria’s family loved Jordan as one of their own. The family and the village had a party that night for the newlyweds.

Maria moved into Jordan’s tiny house that became their paradise. Unencumbered by material worries or possessions, they had only one another. It was sweet and pure and innocent. They talked about their future in the States, and the children they would have. Maria wanted to go to school in Texas and become a teacher there as well.

The country was in civil war with constant fighting taking place between the Sandinistas and Contras. The drug lords went unchecked by the local officials who were receiving money from the drug lords and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Drug lords began coming into the village, threatening the farmers, forcing them to grow Coca plants. They used kidnapping and murder to get what they wanted and minimize resistance. Jordan tried to fight their influence. She encouraged the villagers to resist and many times Jordan herself would stand up to their henchmen. She tried to contact the legal authorities, but it was no use. She was threatened many times to stay out of the situation, but she continued to do what she thought was right.

One night as Jordan and Maria were sleeping, Jordan woke up to a noise. She looked up and there were two men with pistols standing above her. Jordan looked down the barrel of the gun and squeezed Maria’s hand, waking her.

“Levante!” The angry man with the gun yelled.

Jordan and Maria slowly stood up as they were commanded. One gunman shoved a pistol against Maria, holding her tightly. The other restrained Jordan with the gun against the back of her head.

Jordan said, “me es usted quiere. Salgala solo. Permita que ella vaya.”(It’s me you want. Leave her alone. Let her go.)

The assassin holding Maria laughed. He motioned to his partner to sit Jordan down in a chair, which he did, still holding the gun to her head. The henchman holding Maria ripped her shirt exposing her tan breasts. Maria cried out in fear. Jordan exploded in extreme rage. Without thinking, and with great speed, she moved her head from the gun and jabbed an elbow into her captor. He shifted quickly, aiming the gun at her as they began to struggle. The gunman holding Maria didn’t shoot for fear of hitting his compadre. In the struggle, shots rang out. Maria screamed and Jordan looked down to see her hands and the front of her body splattered with blood that belonged to the thug who had been holding her. The dying man fell and his partner pointed his gun at Jordan. Seeing the gun aimed at her wife, Maria jumped in between the bullet and Jordan just as the trigger was pulled. The shot was fired, landing in Maria’s chest. Jordan watched in horror as her lover dropped to the floor.

MARIA NO!!!.” Jordan moved like lightning to pick up the other gun that had fallen and she squeezed the trigger. The murderer flew back, blood splattering the room. Jordan moving towards him, blinded by rage and adrenaline, fired again and again, until she stood over him, looking into his dying eyes. She snarled and held the gun a foot from his heart. She fired the last shot into him, more blood spraying on her and the dying man’s eyes closed. She dropped the gun and turned to Maria. She knelt down and cradled her in her arms. Maria was weak, but still alive.

“Maria, no don’t leave me. Please baby, I need you.” Jordan rocked her back and forth crying as Maria’s lifeblood flowed over both of them. Jordan covered her exposed breasts.

Maria could feel herself dying. “I must go.”

Jordan shook her head and ran her hands through Maria’s hair. “No, no, you can’t leave me. Don’t go. You’re going to be ok. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Oh God, no. We’re going to have children, beautiful children, remember? You have to stay with me. I need you. Please baby, hold on.”

Maria reached up and Jordan took her hand and pressed it to her lips that were covered with salty tears.

“I love you Jordan, always.”

Jordan felt like she was dying as well. “Te Amo para siempre.”(I love you forever.)

Maria smiled weakly, “besame mi amor.”(kiss me my love)

Jordan reached down and placed her lips against her wife’s. After a few seconds, she felt Maria’s body and lips go limp. Jordan held her tightly against her chest, sobbing hysterically. Crying out, “No! Don’t you leave me!” She held her like that for the rest of the night. The two assassins lay a few feet away, in pools of their own blood.

Morning came and a young man from the village came to get Jordan when she didn’t arrive at his father’s house for work. He found her, still rocking Maria in her arms. Her face was streaked with tears and blood. Her clothes were stained red. He ran to get Maria’s father. Maria’s family came running to help their daughter and her possessed, grieving wife. Jordan wouldn’t let them near her. One of Maria’s brother took Jordan’s jeep and brought the nuns and priest. They tried to calm Jordan and told her she needed to leave and that more men would come for her and kill her. She refused to leave. She wanted to die. Without Maria, her life wasn’t worth living. The priest pulled Maria out of her arms. Jordan was too weak to put up a fight. One of the nuns packed Jordan’s things. The priest and one of the nuns walked Jordan out of the house. She stopped and turned around. She went back to Maria, who was being cared for by two nuns. She kissed her head, slipped the wedding ring off her finger and left. She was taken to the convent in Managua, where she lived for the next year. Maria’s family came to visit her while she was there. They brought some of Maria’s things, like her wedding dress, pictures, her favorite shawl. Jordan kept these things hidden away for the rest of her life, like the pain and anguish she relived inside.

The Present

Jordan sat on her bed sobbing, holding the dress, feeling it against her skin. She slipped her wedding ring on the ring finger on her right hand. She clasped Maria’s ring in her hand. She looked at the wedding picture. She continued to weep uncontrollably. She began to feel as if the walls were closing in on her. She went to her jewelry box and picked up a silver chain. She unhooked the clasp and slid Maria’s wedding ring onto the chain and fastened it around her neck. She changed into her jeans, sweatshirt, biker boots, and leather biker jacket. She left the sacred mementos on her bed and went out to the garage.

She pulled the cover off her black and chrome Harley. She opened the garage door and started up the engine. The Hog roared to life. Jordan smiled, and slowly pulled out of the garage. She closed the door and drove down the road. She needed to get away from everything. She lost herself in the feeling of the highway beneath her. Focusing on the road, she was able to push the emotions down, for the time being. She increased her speed, knowing she was going too fast, but not caring. She flew up the winding hills to her family’s cabin in the woods an hour away from home.

She parked her motorcycle in front of the cabin. She took off her helmet as she stepped away from the bike and walked to the edge of the hill. Lake Innis lay at the bottom. She looked down at the water, and up at the sky. She breathed in the fresh air. She walked over to a tree stump and sat down. She looked up into the vast heavens. “Maria? I hope you can hear me honey. Things are a mess right now. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to tell the entire world what happened. I can barely talk about it with myself. You died for me. I should have protected you and I didn’t. It was my fault you were killed.” Jordan was crying again. “It should have been me. I killed you and them. It still hurts so much. Sometimes, I feel like there is a dark demon inside me, eating me alive. I can still see the blood in my dreams. I know what I am capable of and it scares me so. I don’t want anyone to find out who I am. I wanted them to die. I had such hate because of what they did to you. I looked in his eyes and I shot him. Nobody knows this, not even Cynthia. I wanted to kill him. I wanted him to pay for scaring you, and hurting you. I can’t tell anyone what was in my heart. I can’t ever let anyone know what a monster I am. Help me find the words Maria. Help me make them understand. I’m about to lose it all. What if I lose Cynthia? I’m afraid to let this out. What if my kids hate me? I can’t lose them.” She fell on her knees and cried more.

She could see the sun begin its descent for the night. She climbed back on her Harley and drove home, hoping the rhythm of the road would soothe her. She arrived to a full house. Kate and Chris were both there. She hugged them tightly.

“Thank you both for coming. I know school is so busy right now, but it really is important.”

Kate smiled. “Of course we would come. Are you ok?”

Jordan reassured her daughter. “Yes honey, I’m fine.”

She went around and hugged the rest of her family and thanked them for coming. Laura, James, and Cynthia watched her, expecting an explanation for her disappearance. She walked into the bedroom to take a shower before she spoke to the group.

Cynthia followed her, angry. “Where’ve you been? I’ve been worried sick. You didn’t answer your phone and when I got here, I saw things on the bed that I’ve never seen before and you are gone. Damnit Jordan, why you won’t talk to me?”

Jordan looked at her and moved towards her. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around Cynthia and began to cry. Cynthia’s anger dissolved and she held her lover tightly. “I’m sorry Cyn. There is so much going through me right now. It’s almost too much for me to deal with. I can’t quite find myself right now. I don’t know. I need you baby.”

Cynthia rocked her from side to side. “I’m here with you honey. You’ve got me. Why don’t you go ahead and take your shower. You can talk to everyone when you’re done.” She smiled and reached up to wipe the tears from Jordan’s eyes.

Jordan nodded. “Please tell everyone I will be right out.”

Cynthia kissed her on the forehead. “Ok, we’ll see you in a bit.”

She stepped in the shower, hoping the right words would come to her. When she was clean and fresh, she walked into the living room. Her parents, children, and siblings were waiting for her.

She took a deep breath and began. “Ok. I know everyone’s wondering what’s going on. We got a call from Benson’s campaign manager. Apparently, they have found something on me that they are going to make public tomorrow. They gave me the chance to pull out of the race in exchange for their silence. I can deal with losing a race, but I will not go out this way. What will be said is partially true and I wanted you to hear it from my lips first.” She took a deep breath and continued. “When I was in Nicaragua, I met a wonderful, incredible woman named Maria. After a few months of courting her, I married her in a little Catholic church in Managua. I’ve never told you about her because it ended very painfully and the issue is very complicated. Between the civil war that was going on and the drug cartels, there was no sense of regular law that could be trusted. A drug cartel was trying to get the farmers of my village to grow Coca plants. In order to persuade the farmers, the cartel used violence against the farmers’ families. I tried to stop them. I tried to report them and it didn’t work. I tried to get the farmers to resist and my life was threatened. I thought I was doing the right thing, so I continued to try and stop them and did various things to sabotage their efforts. One night, Maria and I were sleeping in our bed and we awoke to find pistols in our faces. There were two men standing above us. They forced us to stand up and the man who had the gun against my head sat me down in a chair. The other one ripped Maria’s nightgown and was going to rape her. I couldn’t let that happen. I struggled with the gunman behind me and wrestled for the pistol. He was shot in the process. The remaining henchman pointed his gun at me…” Jordan had to stop and compose herself for a minute. She felt her throat closing. She took a drink of water and continued. “The other henchman pointed his gun at me and was going to shoot me. Maria jumped in front and the bullet hit her instead. He was going to shoot at me again. I grabbed the other gun and out of shear luck or whatever, I shot him before he could shoot me. I held her as she died.” Jordan began to cry. She could see her mothers crying and she could not look at them. She took a cleansing breath and continued. “I continued to hold her until the next day when the priest and nuns of the village pulled me away. They took me to Managua to protect me from retaliation. The men I killed werenÎt high ranking members and the cartel gave up on me because I left and wasn’t in their way anymore. I put in for a transfer due to threat of physical harm. I’ve tried to put this whole incident behind me. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. The only people who knew were James, Laura, and Cynthia, and they only knew that my wife was murdered. I’ve never told another soul about killing those men. I’ve never spoken to any of you about this because it was just so hard. The deaths still haunt me. I know I had no choice, but it doesn’t change the fact that two people died by my hand. I don’t know how this is going to be portrayed to the press. I think they’re going to make it look like murder. I wanted y’all to hear the story from me. Please believe me, the only reason I kept this hidden is the fact that it is so painful for me.” She looked at her family who was obviously shaken. Cynthia, who was sitting next to where Jordan stood, reached up and grasped her hand firmly.

Her mother was the first to rise. She wrapped Jordan in her arms tightly. Jordan cried in her mother’s arms. “Why didn’t you tell us Jordan? We could’ve helped you get through this.”

Jordan allowed her mother to comfort her. “I just couldn’t Mom.”

The rest of the family stood in line to hug Jordan, showing their support. Her family’s love meant the world to her. It was decided that once Benson made his announcement, Jordan would call a press conference where she would get the chance to tell her side of the story. Her family would stand with her as she gave her statement and answered questions. She still had to face her staff. By the time they arrived, Jordan was emotionally exhausted. She repeated the story again, just as she did for her family, again leaving out a few details for her own protection. Her staff offered their unwavering support, for which she was unbelievably grateful. Late that night, Jordan and Cynthia were alone in their room. Cynthia just held her tightly. She could feel the tension in Jordan’s body. Cynthia’s heart broke at the inner turmoil and pain inside her partner. She knew the pain that Jordan was experiencing ran far deeper than the stoic candidate would ever show. They both fell into an exhausted sleep.

Cynthia awoke later that night to the sound of sobbing and water running. She was unprepared for what she saw. She opened the door and became overwhelmed by the hot, moist , thick steam that enveloped her. She opened the shower curtain. Jordan was scrubbing and scratching at herself. Her skin was an angry red as she stood under a scalding stream of water.

“It won’t come off. The blood. I can’t get it off.” She was frantically scrubbing her body.

Horrified, Cynthia tried to stop her. “Jordan honey, there’s no blood. It’s ok.”

Jordan flailed her arms wildly, screaming. “No. Don’t touch me. You’ll get the blood on you.” Jordan’s hand caught Cynthia’s cheekbone, sending her backwards, making her fall. Her head exploding in pain, Cynthia was stunned by Jordan’s hysteria. Jordan didn’t realize what had happened and was still sobbing and scrubbing under the burning water. Cynthia knew she had to get the water turned off. Jordan wouldn’t let her partner near her. The kids came running into the bedroom, hearing the screaming. They banged on the door.

“Cynthia, Mom, what’s going on? Is everything ok?”

From inside the bathroom, Cynthia yelled. “Bring me the phone. Your mom’s hurt.”

Jordan continued to rub her skin raw, and Cynthia’s cheekbone was throbbing. Chris knocked on the door, bringing the phone. Cynthia called Jordan’s mothers. Janice had been a psychiatric nurse for many years, before retiring.

Frantically, Cynthia spoke to JordanÎs mother. “Janice, I need y’all to come here now. Jordan’s having a breakdown of some sort. I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t reach her. Can you call a doctor you trust to get over here and help her? I don’t know what to do. She’s out of control completely.”

Janice answered. “I know just the right person. We’re on our way.”

Cynthia then dialed James, struggling to maintain her composure “I need you to get over here immediately. Jordan’s having a breakdown. I need your help please!”

Without hesitation, James replied. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

Cynthia called Laura, crying. “Laura, you need to come over now. Jordan’s flipped out. ”

Laura jumped out of bed. “Oh God Cyn, it’s going to be ok. I’ll be right over. Take care of her please.”

Cynthia tried to come near the distraught woman. She ducked out of Jordan’s reach finally and shut off the hot water. Jordan was still scrubbing and sobbing uncontrollably. She fell to her knees, rocking back and forth, muttering incoherently. Cynthia again tried to come near to comfort her. Jordan pushed her away again, screaming. “NO. GET AWAY. LEAVE ME ALONE. YOU’LL GET BLOOD ON YOU. I CANÎT GET IT OFF.” Cynthia stood back crying for her lover who was so lost to her. ÎLet me in baby, please. Let me help you.’

The family started arriving. Janice came into the bathroom. “How long has she been like this?”

Cynthia looked in her direction, a bruise was forming on her face. “For a while. I woke up hearing her crying and the shower running. I don’t know how long she was like this before I came in here. I can’t get through to her.”

Janice looked at her, touching the bruise. “What happened to you?”

Cynthia stiffened. “I’m fine. Let’s just try to help her right now. It was an accident. I was trying to shut the water off, and I got in the way of her arm. I really want to concentrate on her right now though.”

Janice nodded and walked over to Jordan. “Jordan, it’s your mother, can you hear me? It’s over honey. You’re home.” She tried to get near Jordan who pushed her away.

Jordan just rocked back and forth sobbing, muttering. “No, don’t leave me baby. Don’t die. I need you. No, no , no ,no, no.” She continued on, muttering incoherently.

Janice stepped back to talk to Cynthia. “We need to get her sedated and treat her wounds. There is a friend of mine on the way. She’s a doctor I worked with at the psychiatric hospital. I’ve known her for many years. We can trust her.”

Everyone else paced nervously in the bedroom, just outside the door. The doctor arrived and James came in with a blanket to subdue Jordan enough to be given a sedative. He wrapped the blanket around her, holding her tightly while she struggled. The doctor gave her a shot in her arm. Soon, the struggle began to diminish and Jordan became unconscious. James lifted her up and carried her into the bed, wrapped in the blanket. Jordan’s other mother cried when she saw the state her daughter was in. Laura looked at Cynthia’s face for the first time, noticing the bruise. Her heart ached for her best friend’s lover. She was torn between her love and loyalty for her friend and the love she held inside for Cynthia. Cynthia sat next to Jordan on the bed, stroking her hair. “My poor, poor baby. You’ve got so much inside you. Please let me in. Let me help you.”

Cynthia filled in the doctor about the circumstances of the last day and how she found Jordan.

The doctor listened intently. “It seems to be a case of post traumatic stress disorder. From what you say, she has been holding everything in for so long. In order to deal with the events, she has pushed her emotions and pain down so far that she hasn’t really dealt with them. Having to talk about the events, has brought the pain to the surface again. The stress of the situation probably caused another nightmare. That added to the fact that she’s had to repeat the story in front of the main people in her life has caused her to flashback and to breakdown. I recommend that she be hospitalized for at least a week. ”

“No.” Cynthia turned around to see where the voice came from. Laura continued. “You can’t do that to her. She will never get over it. She’s worked too hard for this. There are too many unknown variables in that kind of situation. Hospital workers can be bribed and information can easily be leaked. Can we keep her here?”

The doctor thought for a moment. “If she’s under constant medical supervision, then ok.”

Janice spoke up. “I can take care of that.”

Cynthia nodded. “You’re right Laura. We need to keep her here, where we can control her environment. We’ll all watch over her.”

The doctor looked at them. “I’ll stop by here at least once a day to check on her. She needs the help of a therapist. Is there any way you can get her to one at least twice a week?”

Cynthia resolved to help her partner, said, “weÎll do what we have to.”

The doctor smiled. “Just make sure she gets the help she needs soon or this will happen again.” Cynthia nodded in understanding.

The doctor instructed the group. “Why doesn’t everyone go on in the other room? I need to treat Jordan’s burns and scrapes.

Janice stepped forward “I’ll help.”

Laura looked at Cynthia. “We need to talk about the campaign.” Cynthia agreed.

Janice looked at them both. “I want to look at your face first Cynthia.”

She examined the bruised cheek, feeling the bone to make sure there was no fracture. Satisfied that the injury wasn’t extensive, Janice released her. “You can go ahead. You need to get an ice pack on your face. I’ll take care of her.”

Cynthia turned to Jordan and back to Janice. “Alright. I’ll be back in a few.”

Cynthia and Laura walked out of the room and into Jordan’s office. Jordan’s other mother, Elaine, brought Cynthia an ice pack for her face. Cynthia accepted the gesture gratefully. She kissed Elaine on the cheek and the older woman left the two strategists to their work. Cynthia held the ice pack to her injured cheek.

Laura stepped close to Cynthia, her heart breaking. She reached up and touched the bruised face lightly. It was everything she could do to keep her emotions in check. “How did this happen? Are you ok?”

Cynthia nodded. “Jordan didn’t know what she was doing. Her arms were just going everywhere and I was trying to turn off the hot water. The back of her hand connected with my cheek. It was an accident, but sheÎs going to feel horrible about it. You know how she is. ”

Laura held Cynthia tightly as she began to cry. “I know and she’s in so much pain right now.”

Cynthia pulled back. “So what are we going to do? Should we pull her out of the race?”

Laura shook her head. “No. She’d never forgive us, regardless of our reasons. We have to see this last month through. We certainly can’t tell people she’s had a mental breakdown. We have to tell them something though. Her absence needs to be explained.”

Cynthia nodded and thought for a moment. “I’m going to call her doctor, Misty. She’s been Jordan’s doctor and friend for many years. We’ll tell the press that she is sick. We’ll tell them that she is very ill and collapsed. We’ll say she has an extreme case of the flu brought on by the stress of the campaign, little sleep, and the training she’s been doing for the bike ride. We will say that she is under doctor’s orders to remain in bed and that she will make a statement when she is well enough. We’ll get Misty to corroborate.”

Laura questioned, “Do you think she’ll do it? Who’s going to speak tomorrow and give Jordan’s side of the story?”

Chris walked in the door. “I will. She’s my mother, and I’m the eldest. I’m her best representative and I’ve worked on campaigns since I was a kid. I can talk to the press. It’s my responsibility to step in for her.”

Cynthia put her arms around Chris, hugging him tightly. “You have a point. If you feel like you can, I think itÎs a great idea.” She looked at the young man, thinking how much he was like his mother.

Chris nodded. “I’ll go over my statement with you both after the other side makes their announcement.”

Laura agreed. “That sounds good. She’ll be proud when she realizes what youÎve done.”

He smiled sadly. “Thank you. I’m going to my room. I’ll see you in a while.”

Laura turned to Cynthia. “You can’t leave the house until that bruise disappears. After the charges that are being made, we don’t want people to get the impression she’s a wife beater. You’ll both stay in the house until she is better and your bruise fades enough to be covered with makeup. I don’t want anyone speaking to either one of you. If anyone asks, we’ll simply tell them that she’s ill and that you are by her side.”

Cynthia considered what Laura was saying. “You’re right. We need to protect her right now. This race isn’t over. She’s tremendously popular, but if she appears to be mentally unstable, people won’t be able to feel like they can depend on her.”

Laura sighed tiredly. “Alright, so who do we tell from the campaign? Should we tell the staff what really happened?”

Cynthia looked at her. “I don’t know. They all saw her tonight. She wasn’t sick. They’re going to know better.”

Laura nodded. “Ok. We’ll tell them. But we won’t tell the volunteers. The staff has already signed confidentiality agreements.”

Cynthia put her hand on Laura’s arm. “So, all we can do now is wait to see what Phil does tomorrow. Let’s hope that he calls you back tomorrow and we can get him on tape threatening Jordan. I’m going to go see Jordan now.”

Laura placed her hand on CynthiaÎs. “Go ahead. I’m going to go take care of some things. I’ll be back a little later. This’ll be ok. We’ll get through this. Let’s just ride this out.”

Cynthia agreed. “Thank you for your help Laura. You’re a good friend and a great campaign manager.”

Laura smiled, her heart torn and aching. “Go check on our girl ok?”

Cynthia walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek and walked back to the room she shared with the love of her life. She opened the door and looked at the woman who was sleeping so peacefully. The doctor had already gone. Janice turned in her direction.

“It’s hard to believe this is the same woman who was freaking out a few short hours ago.”

Cynthia shook her head. “I know. She’s had nightmares for years about this. Nothing like this has ever happened though.”

Janice was taken aback by the nightÎs proceedings. “I still can’t believe she went through that. You know, she didn’t write us for months. We were so worried about her. We didn’t even know about Maria. How much of this did you really know?”

Cynthia responded. “I’ve known about the entire situation for many years. She spoke very little about it. I learned more from her outbursts during her nightmares than anything she ever told me. She has this need to be strong, in control at all times. She keeps everything bottled in. It’s like she has three emotions; love, happiness, and anger. The only time I saw her pain was during her nightmares. Now, she has a breakdown because of it.”

Janice nodded. “You know, she’s been like that since she was a kid.” She touched the bruise on Cynthia’s face. “You’ve got a hell of a bruise there. Wanna tell me about it?”

“I’m fine. It smarts when I touch it. She didn’t mean to do it. She was screaming and I tried to get close to comfort her. She wouldn’t let me near her and she was swinging her arms. She caught me with the back of her hand.”

“She’s going to be devastated when she realizes what she did. She loves you so much.”

“Oh I know. Is she going to come out of this ok?” Cynthia began to cry again.

Janice put her arm around Cynthia. “She’s going to be ok baby. Her brain needs to calm down. She’ll come out of it when she can deal with it.”

Cynthia accepted the comfort. “Thanks. Do you mind if I sit with her alone?”

Janice smiled. “No, go ahead. I’ll be right outside the door if you need anything. ElaineÎs probably walked a hole in the carpet by now. ”

Cynthia stroked Jordan’s hair. She noticed the silver chain around Jordan’s neck with the silver band attached. She saw the matching ring on Jordan’s right hand. She said aloud. “Oh baby. You’ve been through so much. I wish you would have let this out years ago. Come back to me Jordan. I’ll be right here waiting for you.”

Daylight came and Laura was sitting in her office when another phone call came from the Benson campaign.

“Laura, its Phil. Has your candidate made a decision? Is she aware that being seen as a murderer will ruin her career for good?”

Laura just shook her head. “You know Phil, you wanting Jordan to buy your silence shows me that your concern doesn’t necessarily lie with the best interest of the public.”

“Honestly, my main concern is getting my candidate elected. ”

“You and I both know that Jordan didn’t do anything but defend herself.”

Phil laughed. “That may be the case. But, she’s kept it hidden so long, it looks pretty suspicious if you ask me. I think the public will agree. You know this business. Perception is more important than the truth. So what’s it going to be? Will you be conceding, or do I have to spin…oh I mean spill the news to the public?”

Phil’s intentional slip didn’t escape Laura’s attention. She grinned, knowing everything was on tape. “We’re not giving up. We’re in a comfortable position and Jordan is the right person for the job and we both know it. The voters know it too. The only way you think you can win is by spreading lies and manipulating and paying off the poor people of Jordan’s village.” Laura hung up, feeling good. ÎYes, we got that bastard.’ She spoke to the staff, making them aware of what was going to be happening that morning. She also informed the volunteers of Jordan’s collapse due to a severe case of the flu and exhaustion. She grabbed the tape of her phone conversation and went back to Jordan’s home to prepare for their press conference and to watch the Benson conference. The entire family was in the living room when she arrived.

Laura walked over to James. “How’s Jordan doing?”

James looked at her. “She’s still asleep. We won’t know until she wakes.”

Laura smiled. “I’ve got some good news. I got Phil on tape. He admits that he knows what happened was self defense and that he’s lying about it. Thank you so much for hooking up the system. I told everyone that Jordan had the flu and collapsed in exhaustion. Has Cynthia called Misty yet?”

James nodded. “She agreed to make a statement today during the press conference. She’s going to say that Jordan collapsed due to a very bad case of the flu and that she is undergoing supervised treatment at home.”

Laura responded. “Ok, good. I think we’ll be able to save this campaign. Let’s just stick to the plan and hope Jordan recovers quickly. Where’s Cynthia?”

“She’s in with Jordan.”

She looked at him. “Thanks.” She walked towards the bedroom and quietly opened the door. She found Cynthia asleep curled up against JordanÎs side, with her head laying on Jordan’s shoulder. Laura walked over to her and tapped her lightly, waking her.

Sleepily, she looked at Laura. She quietly said, “hi there. How are things at the headquarters this morning. ”

“They’re good. I got Phil on tape. I told the staff about Jordan and told the volunteers that Jordan was ill and exhausted. We just need to keep saying that. We’ll just keep everything tightly tied down to keep people from finding out the truth about her condition.”

Cynthia nodded. “That’s great. So all we have to do now is wait and see what Benson says and then plan accordingly.”

“Right. I need to go brief Chris on the situation. We’ll work on his remarks between press conferences.” Laura walked away to find Chris.

Benson Press Conference

Kris Benson stood at the microphone in front of members of the press. “Good morning everyone. I appreciate y’all coming this morning, although calling this press conference was difficult for me. After receiving some troubling information about my opponent that is crucial to this election, I felt I had no choice. The public has a right to know about the criminal acts committed by Jordan O’Connor. In fact, justice demands it. When Ms. O’Connor was in Nicaragua, she became involved with a woman in the village where she was stationed. A little over a year after she arrived, she apparently came home one night to find her lover involved in a romantic situation with two men. This is typical behavior for homosexual couples. It is common knowledge how unstable homosexual relationships are. In a jealous rage, Ms. O’Connor shot the two men and her lover. She was then expelled from the village and had to transfer to Managua. She claimed that she was under threat of physical harm. She met, married her husband and came back to the States a year later. She has escaped prosecution for committing this heinous crime. I love this state and this country and it pains me to see the great people deceived like they’ve been for so long. I’ll be happy to take any questions you might have.”

Many reporters raised their hands. Kris picked one. “What proof do you have of this? How did this come to your attention?”

“An investigation was done by a team of private investigators hired by an independent group. They went to Nicaragua and interviewed the people of her village. I have a full report prepared by them for each of you. The group that hired them sent it to me.”

Another reporter raised his hand and was called on. “What group hired them?”

“The Organization for the Protection of Families hired them.” This was a dummy organization set up by friends of Benson.

Another reporter asked, “Why wasn’t she prosecuted?”

Kris answered, “Nicaragua in the eighties wasn’t a stable place. I’m sure there was no legal entity that could bring her to justice.”

Another question was asked. “Do you think she should be extradited and brought to trial?”

The candidate answered innocently.” I think anyone who commits a triple murder should be brought to justice. In any case, murderers don’t deserve to represent their fellow countrymen. I do appreciate your questions, that will be all today. As I said, having to bring this out in the open like this pains me a great deal. I’ve respected Jordan for many years and I am just overcome with such a feeling of betrayal.” He walked away from the microphones and was led off by his people.

Back at Jordan’s house

Jordan’s family was in the living room listening to what was being said. Cynthia paced back and forth fuming. “That son of a bitch. How dare he. He comes across as being so damned innocent. I would like just five minutes alone in a room with that man.”

Laura looked at Cynthia. “I know. I know. Jordan is going to be livid when she sees this. Alright gang, let’s get ready to call our own conference. Cynthia stay here and take care of her. I’m going to the headquarters with everyone to prepare for the conference. Call Misty and have her meet us there. I’m sure you’ll be getting phone calls. Just in case there are any photographers around, stay away from open windows. No one can know about what happened to your face.”

Cynthia nodded. ” I know. Hold on a minute or two before you leave. I’m going to write down a few things to be included in the statement.” She walked off to go find some paper.

Laura turned to Chris. “Are you sure you can handle this?”

Chris said firmly. “Yes.”

Kate spoke up. “I want to go with you. You can do the speaking, but I want to stand beside you.”

He smiled at his little sister, putting his arm around her. “I think that’s a great idea squirt. Go get dressed.”

As she was writing down notes, Cynthia’s phone rang.

“Damnit Cynthia. What the hell’s going on?” It was the State Democratic Chairman.

Cynthia tried to get him to relax. “Calm down. It’s all false. We’re about to make our own statement. He’s lying and we can prove it.”

“Well you damn well better. Where the hell’s Jordan, let me talk to her. ”

“You can’t. She collapsed last night and is sleeping. She is extremely ill and exhausted.”

The Chairman demanded. “Wake her ass up. I want to talk to her now.”

Angrily, Cynthia answered. “I don’t give a flying fuck what you want. No one is speaking to Jordan right now. You’ll have to get through me and I really don’t think you even want to try it.”

Taken aback, the previously irate man gave up. “Fine, but you be sure and let her know a lot of people are going to want to talk to her very soon. She sure picked a fine damn time to be sick.”

Cynthia ran out of patience. “We’ve got the situation under control. Excuse me, I have a press conference to plan. Bye.”

They both hung up. Her phone kept ringing and ringing from various people with similar comments and questions. She eventually turned it off.

At the headquarters, reporters packed the main room. Jordan’s supporters were there to stand behind their representatives. Chris and Kate stood at the front with Laura and James to their sides.

Chris spoke. “You’ll have to excuse my mother’s absence. Late last night, she collapsed from exhaustion. She has been running at full steam with little sleep and been training for a long distance bike ride in a couple of weeks. She began getting sick about a week ago and instead of slowing down, she continued at her usual, frantic pace. With a high fever, she collapsed. She is at home and is under the care of her personal doctor and my grandmother, a retired nurse. She will be fine and will make her own statement when she is well enough. My family and I stand behind my mother completely. We know she is incapable of the acts she was accused of by her opponent. Furthermore, there are many others, including current and former Presidents, Governors, Mayors, friends, colleagues, and people she has helped who will testify to my mother’s honor and peaceful nature. She has been given numerous humanitarian awards for her work to preserve and protect human rights all over the world. She is known for her generous nature towards the needy. There are many stories of my mother giving the shoes on her feet and the coat on her back to someone who needed it. Last night, my mother painfully recounted the events in Nicaragua. I will not tell the entire story. It is hers to tell and she will when she is able. My mother and her wife were attacked in their home in the middle of the night. The men who were killed were members of a drug cartel who targeted my mother because she tried to keep them from placing a foothold in her village. She acted in self defense in order to save her own life and the life of her partner. One of the men tried to shoot my mother and her wife threw herself in front of the bullet that would have killed my mother. My mother has been haunted for over twenty years and her wish was just to be able to deal with her own private pain without having to share it with the entire world. I think most of us have very private issues that we wouldn’t want to share with millions of people. My mother values human life and has spent her life trying to stop violence. The fact that she took two lives even in the protection of her own, has haunted her. Mr. Benson knows this. When he received the information, he tried to convince my mother to leave the race in order to buy his silence. We have a recording of a phone conversation made this morning by Mr. Benson’s campaign manager. Laura Dodson will now play this.”

Laura stepped forward and played the recording of her earlier phone conversation. The press heard Phil admitting that he knew the truth but he would make claims of murder instead. Laura spoke. “As you can see, Mr. Benson’s wish was not to simply inform the people of Texas. His goal was to destroy Jordan. He was willing to bend the truth and soil the good name of an innocent woman who cannot defend herself from the grave. This is reprehensible behavior. As Chris said, Jordan is extremely ill, but should be up soon and will make a statement at that time. Her personal doctor and longtime friend, Dr. Misty Jones will give a statement regarding Jordan’s health.”

Dr. Jones stepped forward. “Jordan is suffering from exhaustion and dehydration compounded by stress of the campaign and family difficulties like the passing of her partner’s mother. Jordan tends to be a workaholic and puts work ahead of her own health. When you add these factors to a nasty case of the flu, you have the collapse that she suffered. She is under my personal care at home with the assistance of her mother who is a registered nurse. She is under strict orders for bed rest which are being carried out by her partner. She will make a full recovery very soon and has hopefully learned a lesson about taking care of herself.”

Chris stepped forward. “We will now accept questions.”

A reporter raised his hand and Chris gave him permission to speak. “Why isn’t Cynthia here to speak for her client and partner?”

Chris chuckled. “My mother is extremely ill and Cynthia is sitting by her bedside. She is fiercely protective of my mother. You can try to pull her away for a press conference, but personally I was afraid to.”

The people in the room laughed. Another reporter spoke up. “You say your mother told you about the incident last night. Did she know that Mr. Benson would be making his statement today?’

Laura stepped forward. “I received a call from Mr. Benson’s campaign manager yesterday afternoon. He offered his silence for Jordan’s withdrawal from the campaign. I left the choice up to Jordan. She chose to reveal the most painful experience of her life rather than to give in to blackmail. I’ve known Jordan since we were both seventeen and she has handled everything in her life with grace and dignity and worked for the benefit of others. This situation is no different.”

A reporter asked, “if Ms. O’Connor is so ill, why isn’t she in the hospital?”

Misty responded. “Normally, I would insist, but she has wonderful people around her providing her with excellent care. The most important thing she needs right now is rest and believe me, if she were in a hospital that is the last thing she would get.”

Cynthia sat at home watching, smiling. She was thrilled with the job her team was doing and the way the plan was working out. She was extremely proud of her children who were a perfect reflection of Jordan. Cynthia had turned off all the phones for the time being, preferring at this time to let Laura and the other campaign staff handle everything. Janice was in with Jordan, who was still sleeping. Cynthia walked into the bedroom and sat next to her sleeping partner.

Janice whispered. “How did the press conference go?”

Cynthia smiled. “It went beautifully. I think we’re going to be ok. She may slip a little, but Benson really came out looking badly. He might have had a chance if Phil hadn’t been so cocky as to make that call this morning. You should have seen Chris. He looked so strong and proud. He’s quite a young man.”

Janice agreed. “He’s a young man who loves his mother. Those two have a very special connection. She and Kate are very close and share that mystical mother-daughter bond. But she and Chris, even when he was a baby, it was as if they had known one another for thousands of years. They are very much alike and sometimes clash because of it.”

Cynthia chuckled, “Oh Lord yes. Those two used to go at it. Even when he was a kid, he thought of himself as a grown up. They used to argue like two adults, back and forth. When she was wrong about something or if she said or did something that he didn’t like or made him feel bad, he would tell her. He would say Îthat’s not nice. You shouldn’t say that.’ That would shut her up every time. He held her accountable for her actions.”

Janice laughed along with her. Jordan began to stir and open her eyes. Janice looked at her smiling. “Hey there kiddo.”

Groggy, Jordan looked around. “What happened? What’s going on? I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. What time is it?”

Cynthia stroked her loverÎs hair. “Hi baby. You had a rough night so we had to give you a sedative to calm you down. You had a breakdown.”

Confused Jordan looked at Cynthia. “What are you talking about? What happened to your face? Where did you get that bruise? I’ve got to get to the press conference. What time is it?”

Janice calmed her down. “Jordan, you had a breakdown last night. Do you remember anything?” Jordan shook her head.

Janice continued. “Sweetie, Cynthia woke up and found you in a scalding hot shower, scratching and rubbing yourself raw. You were screaming about blood. You were completely out it. I think you were trying to wash the blood off your skin. You have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.”

Stunned, Jordan looked at them both. “I don’t remember. What about the press conference? Where is everyone? I need to get up.”

Janice gently pushed Jordan back down.” Jordan you need to relax. It’s over. They did a great job. We’ve got the tapes for you to see later.”

Jordan looked at Cynthia. Her voice breaking, afraid of the answer, she asked, “Cynthia, what happened to your face? Where did you get that bruise?”

“Ummm. It happened last night. It was an accident.”

Upset, Jordan interrupted her. “Did I do that?”

Cynthia repeated. “It was an accident.”

Agitated, Jordan asked again. “Damnit Cynthia, just tell me. Did I do that to your face?”

Cynthia nodded, knowing what her partner’s reaction would be. She tried to reassure her. “It was an accident honey. You were swinging your arms around and I got in your way. You didn’t meant to do it.”

Crying Jordan said, “Oh God. I can’t believe I did that to your beautiful face. Oh God, No. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry Cyn. Oh God, I’m a monster. I hit you. Go away. You’ve got to leave me. Pack your suitcases and go. I’m a monster. You can’t trust me. Just go. You have to go.”

Cynthia cried as well. “No honey. It was an accident. You didn’t mean to. I’m not leaving you baby.”

Jordan began to rock and sob. “It’s happening. The monster’s out. I hurt her. I hurt you. Oh God. Go away now, before it happens again.”

Cynthia said tearfully, “No, baby, I’m not leaving you.”

“Damnit Cynthia GO NOW.”

Janice looked at Cynthia. “Why don’t you go on in the other room sweetie. She’s getting too upset. Call the doctor please.” She looked at Jordan. “Now honey, I want you to take this tranquilizer. It’ll calm you down.”

Obstinately, Jordan said, “No.”

Janice looked at her. ÎSweetheart, you can either take this orally or I can give you a shot.”

Jordan took the pill and turned away, pulling the covers up high. “Why can’t everyone just leave me alone? I’m just going to hurt them anyway.”

“Jordan, that’s not true.”

“Did you see what I did to her face? What kind of animal does that to someone they love?”

“Jordan, it wasn’t you that did that. It was an accident that happened during the episode. It’s not a regular behavior for you.”

“What if it becomes one?”

Janice shook her head. “That won’t happen. You’re not that kind of person.”

Jordan just looked blankly at the opposite wall. “You have no idea. I’d like to be alone now. I want everyone to go away and just leave me alone. I just want to be alone.”

Janice leaned down to kiss Jordan on the cheek. Jordan was unresponsive. “If you need anything, just call me. I’ll be right outside the door.” She stepped out and found Cynthia crying and pacing outside the door.

Cynthia looked up at Janice. “How is she?”

Janice answered. “She’s very upset. I gave her a tranquilizer and that should calm her down. She feels so bad about what happened to you.”

“I know. I didn’t want to tell her. If I had lied, she would have seen right through it.”

Janice nodded. “Yes she would have. Just give her time and she’ll be alright. I really do think she’s going to come out of this just fine.”

Cynthia smiled sadly. “I hope you’re right.”

Janice reached out and pulled her into a hug. Cynthia held on to her for several long minutes. Exhausted, worried, and broken hearted, she looked up at her mother in law. “Can you go back in there with her? I don’t want her to be alone. I’m worried about her and she doesn’t want me.” Her voice began to break as she said the last few words.

“Sweetie, she doesn’t want to be with anyone right now. Having other people in the room just upsets her. I’ll go back in there after she falls asleep.”

The phones were ringing off the hooks as people were calling asking questions, offering and withdrawing their support. Laura handled all the calls from the press and public officials. Reporters were questioning the Governor and the President on their reactions.

When asked about his opinion of Jordan after learning of her secret, the Governor offered her his support and his concern for her health. “I’ve known Jordan for many years. I’ve seen what kind of heart she has. I know she wouldn’t take a life for any other reason but to save her own. I am worried about her health. She tends to be a workaholic. I hope my friend has now learned she isn’t as young as she used to be and needs to take better care of her health. She has my unwavering support in this election. I can’t think of a better representative in the Senate than Jordan O’Connor.”

The President made a similar statement. “My first thought is for Jordan’s health. I hope she’s back out on the campaign road soon. If I know her, she’s probably tied down to keep her from getting up and answering these charges personally. As far as her candidacy is concerned, I would love to work with her up here.”

That night, Jordan hadn’t spoken to anyone or eaten anything. She just laid in her bed, staring at the walls. Various people came and sat with her throughout the day. Cynthia finally worked up the nerve to come in and stay regardless of what Jordan said. She walked through the door and sat on the bed next to her lost partner.

“Hi Jordan, how are you feeling?”

Without looking at her, Jordan said. “I asked you to leave. You should be back in Dallas.”

Standing firm, Cynthia said, “I can’t do that.”

“You can’t stay with me. I won’t allow it. I won’t put you at that risk.”

“Well, its not your decision is it?”

Still looking away, Jordan became more upset. “You’re not getting it. I hit you. I put a bruise on your face. You can’t trust me. I want you to leave me. I don’t want you taking any chances.”

Crying, Cynthia said. “I love you Jordan, no matter what. I am staying with you now and forever. You can push all you want. You can try and get me to leave, but I’m not going anywhere. We’ve hit a rough spot and you need help. You need to quit bottling everything up. We’re going to get through this campaign and get you a therapist and we’re going to deal with this together because that is what you do when you love someone.”

“When are you going to do what I want you to do?”

“When you make sense, I might.”

“Aren’t you afraid I might hit you again?”

“No. You didn’t mean to, it was an accident. You were swinging your arms and caught me with the back of your hand. You didn’t rear back and slug me. You wouldn’t do this in your right mind and I know it.”

Jordan turned around, burying her face in Cynthia’s lap, wrapping her arms around Cynthia’s waist, sobbing. Cynthia held on to her tightly. Cynthia stroked her hair and spoke lovingly to her. “It’s ok baby. Let it out. I’m here and I’m staying. I love you Jordan.”

“I’m so scared. I feel so out of control and I don’t know how to get it back. I’m so sorry I hit you. I’m sorry I hurt your beautiful face. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I don’t want to hurt you ever. I love you so much. Please don’t leave me. I need you. I feel so lost. Help me please.”

Cynthia began crying with her. “I’m not leaving. Of course I forgive you sweetheart. I know you didn’t mean to do it. We’ll get you the help you need. I’m here for you. ”

Cynthia and Jordan held one another, crying until falling asleep. The next morning, Jordan awoke with Cynthia still in her arms. She looked at the bruise on her love’s face. She ran her fingers along the edges of the purple mark. Her heart burned with the fact that she put the mark on that beautiful face. She knew she would do whatever it took to keep it from happening again. Feeling Jordan’s movement, Cynthia opened her eyes.

She held Jordan’s hand and pressed it against her lips, saying. “Good morning honey. Are you feeling alright?”

Jordan replied. “I feel better, but not sure how alright I feel.”

Cynthia nodded her understanding. “Do you feel like getting out of bed today?”

“Actually, I do. I’d like to see the kids. They didn’t see me like this did they?”

Cynthia shook her head. “They came in while you were sleeping but they didn’t see you during your episode.”

Relieved, Jordan said, “Good, I don’t want them to see me like that.” Nervously, she took a breath and continued. “I need to tell you something I’ve never told another person.”

Cynthia looked at her curiously, “Ok. Go ahead honey.”

Jordan continued. “That night, when the first man was shot, it was during the struggle for the gun. I kept shooting the second man after he was down. I was filled with rage and hate for what he did to Maria. She had such fear and he looked at her like such a pig. He just ripped her nightgown, exposing her. I wanted him to die. I wanted him to feel pain for what he put her through. I kept shooting until the gun was nearly empty. I stood over him and looked in his eyes and put a bullet through his heart.”

Cynthia stroke her lover’s face. “Oh baby, those were extreme circumstances.”

“I know what my intention was. I know what was in my heart. I wanted to kill him and I did. Do you have any idea how much that terrifies me?”

Cynthia looked in Jordan’s eyes. “You’re not a murderer. You weren’t left with much of a choice. You are a kind and wonderful woman. Just look at your kids, and your friends. Look at all the people who are standing up for you right now.”

Jordan just held her tightly, breathing in her lover’s sweet essence. “I don’t know what I’d do without you baby.”

Cynthia fingered the ring on Jordan’s neck. She held Jordan’s hand that wore the ring. “Are these your wedding rings?”

Jordan nodded. “Yes they are. Does me having them on bother you?”

Cynthia smiled. “No honey, it doesn’t bother me. I know how much you loved her. I also know how much you love me.”

Jordan kissed her on her head. “I do love you. She will always be a part of me, but she is my past and you are my present and my future. As painful as everything was, it led me to you. The thing that keeps me going is the thought that everything has a purpose. If she hadn’t been killed, I wouldn’t have my kids or you.”

“Honey, I saw a box of pictures and things on the bed the other day. Would you tell me about them?”

Jordan nodded and got out of bed. She picked up the box and sat next to Cynthia. She opened the box and pulled out the dress. “This is Maria’s wedding dress. I bought this for her on the day we were married. You’ve seen the rings.” She picked up a picture and showed her partner. “This was taken by her parents the day we got married. You should have seen the look on her fatherÎs face when we got back to the village. I hadnÎt asked him for permission. It was a spontaneous, spur of the moment kind of thing.”

Cynthia chuckled. “Oh I can imagine.”

Jordan shook her head. “He and I had become friends prior to this point and he reached out and hugged me.”

Cynthia looked at the picture and smiled. “Look how young you were. You were beautiful together. You look very happy.”

Jordan looked also, smiling. “Oh we were. I was so crazy about her. We were so in love.”

Jordan continued to show her pictures and other mementos from her past with Maria. She began to feel better as she shared the memories with Cynthia.

“The first time we kissed was by the river. She had taken me around in the jungle to show me the animals and the flowers. She was very proud of her country. We were walking by the river and holding hands. We were laughing and talking. I was teaching her English. I saw this beautiful white flower, and I picked it up and handed it to her. When I did, I leaned in and kissed her for the first time. We took many walks like that together. We fell more and more in love. It was so sweet and uncomplicated and wonderful.”

Cynthia smiled. “It sounds like you were both very lucky. Thank you for sharing this with me.”

Jordan looked in her eyes. “I was very lucky then and I am very lucky now. Thank you for allowing me to tell you about this. I feel better talking about her and that time of my life. I feel like I’m releasing something. I feel like I can breathe better.”

Cynthia kissed her softly. “Good.”

Jordan hugged her tightly. “I want to get out of bed and get back to work.”

“Honey, you are going to take a few days off. We told everyone you were sick and collapsed in exhaustion. You have to stay in the house for a few days and so do I, because I am supposed to be by your side taking care of you. I also can’t be seen until this bruise heals.”

Jordan closed her eyes in shame. “I’m so sorry Cyn. I still can’t believe I did that. I swear I will never do that again baby.”

Cynthia held Jordan’s face in her hands. “Jordan, listen to me. It was an accident. You didn’t mean to do it and I know it will never happen again.”

“Cynthia honey, I will do whatever I have to do to keep this from happening again. I’m so sorry.”

Cynthia smiled. “Jordan, I forgive you. Why donÎt you go take a bath. IÎll even wash your hair for you.” She reached up and tousled Jordan’s hair.

Jordan said softly. “I’d like that a lot.”

Cynthia stretched out her hand and said, “come on then.” Jordan took her hand and allowed herself to be taken to the bathtub. Cynthia turned on the warm water and Jordan sat down. Cynthia poured the jasmine scented body wash onto a sponge and began to run it over Jordan’s skin. Cynthia caressed and massaged her lover, as she eased her anxiety. Jordan closed her eyes and concentrated on the Cynthia’s hands which slid over her body. She could feel how much Cynthia loved her. Cynthia poured water over Jordan, rinsing her body, and wetting her long black hair. Cynthia smiled as Jordan surrendered to her. Jordan felt her body and her soul relax. Cynthia massaged the shampoo into Jordan’s hair. She ran her soapy hands through the long tresses. She poured warm water over Jordan’s hair. When she was rinsed, she stepped out of the tub as Cynthia wrapped a thick towel around her. She held Jordan tightly, protectively and Jordan allowed her. Cynthia led her to the bed and sat her down. She sat behind Jordan and began to lovingly brush the long hair.

“How does this feel baby?”

Jordan smiled. “It feels amazing. I love it when you brush my hair.”

Cynthia kissed the back of Jordan’s neck. “I know you do. I love doing this to you. How are you feeling?”

Jordan leaned back into Cynthia’s arms. Cynthia wrapped her arms around her partner. Jordan lifted the blonde’s hand to her lips. “I’m feeling much better. You make me feel better. I’ve got so much churning inside me and you make me calm. You always have.”

Cynthia kissed Jordan on the cheek. “Good. I’m glad. You feeling ready to face everyone?”

Jordan nodded. “I think so. I need to find out what’s happening with the campaign. I need to find out if I still even have a campaign.”

Cynthia moved from her position. “Let me get you something to wear. How about your UT sweats? You can be nice and comfortable. I want you relaxing. I’m going to have the therapist over here. You need to talk about this with a professional, they’re going to give you some meds to help you, and you’re going to have to learn to deal with stress better. Which means, you are out of commission for a few days. The public thinks that you’ve got a bad case of the flu. Misty spoke on your behalf at the press conference.”

“She lied to the press?”

Cynthia nodded while she searched through Jordan’s dresser. “Yes. She cares about you. She told the press you were pushing yourself too hard, had the flu, and that you collapsed in exhaustion with a high fever and that you were under strict orders to rest. We videotaped everything so you can see all that was said. In a few days, you will call a press conference and tell the story yourself.”

Jordan pulled the t-shirt over her head. “Have you seen the numbers yet?”

“No, I’ve been in here with you. Everyone has left us alone.”

Jordan pulled Cynthia into her arms. “I’m glad they did. I needed this time with you. You do wonders for me, you know that? Thank you for not leaving when I told you to. I would probably be on my way to a hospital if you had.”

Cynthia kissed her softly. “Honey, I couldn’t do anything else. You are the most important thing in the world to me. I couldn’t leave you again if I tried.”

Jordan returned the kiss. “I thank God for that.” She stood up and took Cynthia’s hand. “Come on darlin’. Let’s go see everyone.”

Cynthia grinned. “Let me get dressed first please.”

Jordan laughed. “You’re right. I wasn’t thinking. Get dressed.”

Cynthia changed and the two women walked out of the room together. Jordan’s family was in the living room. Janice looked at her daughter. “Well, well, look who’s feeling better.”

Jordan walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek. “I really am. Thank you all for your help.”

Janice hugged her daughter. “You are quite welcome.”

Jordan started walking towards the kitchen. “I need some coffee, badly.”

Janice followed her. “Sweetie, no coffee for you anymore. You need to stay away from caffeine. In fact, you need to stay away from caffeine and alcohol. It can trigger an episode. I’ll make you some herbal tea. I’ll also get you something to eat and your medication.” She handed Jordan a Zoloft.

Jordan looked at the pill questioning. “I don’t know about taking this. Aren’t there some tough side effects?”

Janice nodded. “You could have headaches, anxiety, lack of sex drive, nausea.”

Jordan interrupted. “Whoa, hold on a sec here. I don’t know if I want to take these.”

Janice looked at her. “Jordan, you had a severe episode. You have post traumatic stress disorder. We need to try different things to treat your disorder. Just try it. We won’t know its effects for two weeks. The doctor prescribed them. She’ll be here later to talk to you. You have to keep up with your exercise regimen, eat healthy, avoid caffeine and alcohol. You also need to reduce your stress level, which is nearly impossible considering your career.”

Cynthia walked up behind her. “That’s right, which is why I am hiring a yoga instructor to start working with you as soon as the election is over. When we get to D.C., there is an instructor who is contracted with the government who works at the Capital gym. We’re going to do everything we can to try and keep your stress levels lower.”

Janice smiled. “That’s right. We’ll just keep trying different things to come up with a course of treatment that works. Cynthia and Laura are arranging your schedule so you can be back in town once a week to see the therapist. You’ll begin your sessions with her today.” Jordan just nodded her understanding.

Later, Laura, Sarah, Jim, and James arrived at the house to go over the campaign information. Jordan watched the tape of Benson’s press conference. She was livid at the things that were said. “That bastard. What kind of man would say those things about an innocent dead woman who can’t defend herself. The thought that she would do anything like of that nature is absolutely ludicrous and disgusting. I plan on saying that too. I won’t let him get away with it.”

Laura played the tape of Phil’s phone call. Jordan just shook her head. “What an arrogant ass.”

Laura agreed. “Thank God he is. Otherwise their plan might have worked. It was a good idea to bug the phones. Watch our response.”

Jordan watched the videotape of her son. Tears of pride welled up in her eyes. She walked over to her son and hugged him tightly. “Thank you Chris. You just blow me away, you and your sister both.” She walked over to her daughter and hugged her tightly as well. “Thank you Kate. I’m very proud of you.” She continued to watch the video. She listened to the comments made by Phil and the statement from her doctor. She shut the TV off and looked at everyone. “Wow. Y’all did so great. So what’s the reaction? What are the volunteers saying? What are people saying?”

Laura smiled. “We’ve had a great response. Your numbers are lower. But that’s inconclusive, because people are confused and not sure what to think. The President, the Governor, and many people are speaking up for and defending you. But people want to hear your side from your own mouth. The fact that you’re not making the immediate statements yourself is a little suspicious. Right now, the undecideds are high.” Laura handed the research to Jordan. “The fact that we had that tape tears apart Benson’s credibility. As you can see, you’re still in the lead. Some of the party people have called a little upset. You just need to make an appearance, but not before Cynthia’s bruising heals. You don’t want to look unstable, so we’re going to keep with the story. Her bruise should be gone in a week, tops. At that time, you’ll make your statement and get back on the trail. We’ll have a more accurate account of the numbers at that time. I’m also scheduling dates at colleges and universities next week. There will be probably be several TV interviews. Just be open and honest like you’ve always been and I don’t think there will be a problem.”

Jordan nodded her head in agreement. Cynthia held her hand and looked at her. “It’s going to be ok honey. We’re going to get through this. We’re still leading and can still win.”

Jordan looked at everyone in the room. “I can’t thank y’all enough. When I needed you the most, you came through for me. You surrounded me and protected me. You’ve taken care of me and my future when I lost myself for a bit. This campaign will be saved because of you.”

For the next few days, Jordan relaxed and began to deal with events from her past with her therapist. Cynthia’s bruise healed and it was time for Jordan’s press conference. Before the conference, Jordan met with the staff and volunteers of the campaign. “I’d like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. First, when the charges were made against me and then my illness. I imagine some of you have been questioning me and my decisions recently. I also imagine some of you have been questioning my integrity. But, you are still here. I thank you for that. I am feeling much better and I am ready to continue into the last month of the campaign at full steam. We’re going to win this race, I have no doubt. When we win, it will be because of y’all and the great work you’re doing because you care about this state and want to make a difference.” The group applauded their candidate.

The press conference was about to begin. The members of the press waited for Jordan to come out of her office and make her statement. Cynthia held her hands and looked in her eyes. “Are you ready for this?”

Jordan smiled at her and brushed the hair off her face. “Yes darlin’. I feel good. I’m ready to finish this race. ” She pulled Cynthia into her arms, holding her tightly. “Cyn, I’ve never loved you more than I do right at this moment.”

Cynthia reached out at touched Jordan’s face. “I feel exactly the same. I’m proud of you Jordan.” She placed her lips against Jordan’s. Jordan pulled back, winked, and walked out into the press area, holding Cynthia’s hand. Her campaign staff and volunteers stood behind her as she stood at the microphones and podium.

Jordan began. “Thank y’all for coming today. I apologize for my absence and I tried to get back sooner, but when the doctor told me I needed bed rest, my partner here was going to make sure that that’s what I did. My partner can be a very determined and protective woman and I’ll be darned if I was going to cross her.” The members of the press laughed and Jordan looked at Cynthia and grinned.

She then continued. “Well I guess you are wanting the full story from me. I do ask that you be patient with me. It is a very difficult and highly personal story to tell. When I was in college, I had this great need to give back to the world. I just felt something calling me, pulling me. During my last semester, I signed up for the Peace Corps without discussing it with anyone in my family. They weren’t thrilled. I was assigned to go to Nicaragua because I had an interest in Latin America. Much of my political studies were on Latin America, in addition to studying Spanish, and Latin American culture. This seemed natural to me as a resident of South Texas. However, being in Nicaragua was much more difficult than I expected. The first thing I saw as I grabbed my bags at the airport was Sandanista soldiers beating on a man, for a reason, I didn’t know. On the way from Managua, I saw people lying dead on their stomachs in ditches, blindfolded. I saw Contra rebel soldiers armed to the teeth in jeeps by the side of the road, watching me. When I arrived in my village, which was a couple of hours from Managua, I met the local priest and nuns. I also met the teacher, Maria. Maria and I began to spend time together. She was a couple of years older than me. She was proud, beautiful, loving, kind, and we fell deeply in love. A few months later, I married her in the church in Managua. I was going to bring her back to the U.S. With the civil war going on, the drug cartels ran unchecked. They began to strong arm the villagers in order to get them to grow Coca plants. I tried to stop them. I sabotaged them, and I organized the villagers to resist them. They began to threaten me. I wasn’t going to let those threats stop me from what I thought was the right thing to do. I was naive. I thought that simply by doing the right thing, that I would somehow be protected. One night, I woke to find a gun in my face. I turned and there was another gunman standing over Maria. They ordered us to stand and the one that held me forced me to sit in a chair while he pressed a gun to my head. The other man laughed and terrorized Maria. He ripped her nightgown, exposing her. He was going to rape her and make me watch. I’m sure he was going to do the same to me before they killed us. She was so afraid and crying. Something came over me and I began to struggle with the one that held me. We wrestled for the gun and it went off in his chest.” Jordan’s voice began to break. “The other man pointed the gun at me to shoot me when Maria jumped in front and was shot instead. Before he could shoot me, I grabbed the other gun and shot him in order to save both Maria and myself. I then went over to her and held her as she was dying.” Tears fell from her eyes and Cynthia held her hand tightly. She paused for a minute and continued. “She died in my arms and I held her all night until the priest and nuns came and took me to Managua to escape from retaliation. I spent two months living in a convent, never leaving my room, just crying and drinking. I finally snapped out of it, when a little boy from the orphanage went missing and I went to go look for him. Taking care of him gave me a purpose. I met my husband about this time, we were married soon after, and we came back to the states. I’ve never spoken to anyone about the events until the last couple of days because it is so painful. Even though I had no choice in shooting those men, it still haunts me. The loss of my wife, ripped me apart. I want to say one thing about my opponent’s statement last week. Kris Benson is full of nothing but lies. He found out what happened and distorted it to fit his purposes. In doing so, he soiled the name of an innocent woman who cannot defend herself against his slanderous comments. Mr. Benson, what kind of man would do that? What you did, lacks honor and is ungentlemanly. Mr. Benson, you lack integrity and the voters know it. Your conduct is reprehensible and quite frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself. No decent man would act the way you have. Now, I will try to answer any questions y’all have.”

A reporter raised his hand and Jordan nodded in his direction. “Ms. O’Connor, you obviously knew the dangers going into Nicaragua at that time. Why did you accept that assignment?”

“Do any of you remember Archbishop Oscar Romero from El Salvador? He was an archbishop who fought for the people. He denounced the violence in his country. He fed the starving people and faced violence on a daily basis. He was assassinated in the middle of his Sunday sermon, where he was speaking out for peace. He was an inspiration to me. The Oscar Romero refugee center was located across the highway from my family’s home in the Rio Grande Valley. The refugees there were from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, etcetera. They all fled persecution. I spent my summers there volunteering, and I was inspired to help the people of Latin America and accepted the risks.”

Another reporter questioned. “If it was self defense, why have you kept it hidden for so long?”

“It’s the most painful experience of my life. I could barely deal with it myself. I feel tremendous guilt for the loss of life, especially the loss of my wife. I didn’t want my family to know, much less the whole world. In order to deal with it, I had to keep it down tightly within myself.”

Another reporter spoke. “Don’t you think your absence this last week was suspicious?”

“Yes I can see how it would seem that way. I have been working hard on this campaign and training for a long bike ride later this month. I’m just not as young as I used to be. I appreciate Dr. Jones attending to me at my home and speaking for me. She is an old friend and a great doctor.”

A local newspaper write asked. “Why hasn’t this been reported before? Why hasn’t this come out before now?”

Jordan just shrugged. “My other campaigns have been small potatoes. My opponents just didn’t have the financial resources to track everything down in Latin America. My guess is that the investigators gave some of the villagers food and money to get information. I really don’t know.”

Several more reporters questioned Jordan and she answered them honestly. The press conference ended and Jordan went back to the business of the campaign. She spent the rest of the day giving more interviews by phone and receiving many calls of support. Laura gave her a schedule of appearances for the rest of the month.

The next day Jordan headed back out on the road. Her first stop was the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. People were offering their support of the candidate. She met students and teachers, listening to their stories and ideas. She felt good being back on the road, with things back to normal. She moved north, visiting other universities and colleges. The trip included a short stop in San Antonio, so Jordan could meet with her therapist. Throughout the trip, she continued to answer many questions about her past. A week after getting back on the tour, rain began pouring in South Central Texas while Jordan was on the road. San Antonio and the surrounding areas began flooding. Jordan and her team, worried about their families and their property, went back home.

Jordan’s home was on high ground, so she was ok. Several of her volunteers and staff members weren’t. Their homes were filled with water as the rain came down and the dams became unable to hold the raging floods. Jordan and her team went into action.

Jordan rallied her volunteers and staff. “We’re a family, all of us. So I want those of us who don’t have damage to help those who do. For those of you who need a place to stay, some of you can stay in my home. I want those who don’t have damage, to open up their homes as well, if they can. Once we take care of each other, we’re going to move out into the communities around here and help them. I’m going out to join the rescue effort. I want everyone who can, to come with me. It could be dangerous, so if you don’t feel you can come with me, I understand. I would like everyone to gather everything they can, to help one another and the people in the shelters. I am suspending any work on the campaign. Our neighbors are more important than any campaign. I won’t be accepting any donations. Anyone who wants to donate, we’ll encourage them to donate to the relief. Cynthia and Laura will coordinate everything from my home.”

The group dispersed to do their tasks and Jordan walked to her office. She pulled on her long rubber boots and started to walk out with several other people. Cynthia walked up behind her. “Are you alright to do this honey?”

Jordan smiled. “I really am. I feel like I need to do this.”

Cynthia kissed her deeply. “Please be careful baby.”

Jordan smiled. “I will.”

Jordan and a few friends left in tall trucks to assist the victims. As the rain poured on them, Jordan and others rode around, getting people to higher ground. They came upon a car that had apparently tried to cross a low water crossing that was overfilled. It was pushed against a tree and about to be washed away by the raging water. On the roof was a terrified mother and child. Jordan and her rescue crew stopped to help.

Jordan flew into action. “Tie a rope to me, I’m going after them.” The crew hooked Jordan up to a rope and she began to carefully move through the fast paced water. She reached the car and tied another rope to the terrified eight year old boy. She then tied a third rope to the mother, to hold onto her while she took the boy to safety. The crew on land pulled her and the boy to the water’s edge. They took the boy from her arms when she reached the truck. She went back to the stranded car and retrieved the woman on the roof. Jordan held onto the frightened victim tightly as they walked against the current with the assistance of the rescue crew. With everything going on, Jordan didn’t notice the news helicopter above their heads, filming the candidate. She helped people load their belongings into trucks. Her heart broke as she saw families stranded and living in temporary shelters.

She arrived at her house, dirty and exhausted. Her home was filled with friends who were washed out. Cynthia greeted her at the door, pulling her into the bedroom. In an angry, but low voice, Cynthia reprimanded her partner. “Damnit to hell Jordan. I don’t know whether to hit you or hug you.”

Jordan reached out and pulled Cynthia into her arms, claiming her mouth, pouring all she had into the kiss. Cynthia pulled back breathlessly. “God Jordan, it’s good to see you. I’ve been so worried. I saw you rescue those people on TV. Are you ok?”

Jordan held her tightly. ” You saw that? It feels so good to wrap my arms around you. IÎm just fine baby.”

Cynthia looked at her, exasperated. “Why do you always have to be the hero?”

Jordan just shrugged. “I don’t know. I tend to act before I think.” Jordan suddenly changed the subject. “It seems as if we have a houseful.”

Cynthia giggled. “We do. Laura, James, Sarah, and Jim do as well. Everyone’s being taken care of. Since the rain has stopped, the waters should recede in the next couple of days. Then, the cleanup starts. That rescue you did certainly doesn’t hurt you in the polls. The decision to hold off on the campaign to help with the floods is good for your image as well.”

“Yeah, but that’s not why I did it.”

“Oh I know baby. It’s just how it is. Go take a shower and change out of those wet clothes. You must be cold. Have you slept?”

“Not much. Maybe a couple of hours.”

“Go take a shower and a nap.”

Jordan stole a quick kiss. “I think I will. I want to go over everything when I get done. There’s so much more to do. I want to help with the recovery.”

Cynthia smiled at her. “Don’t worry, you will. I want you to go rest before you head back out. Alex called and wanted to know if you want to tour the disaster sites. He’s going to be going around in a helicopter. What do you want me to tell him?”

Jordan nodded. “Just let me know when and I’ll show up. Can I get something to eat and my medication?”

“I’ll let you know when you need to meet him. Go wash that dirty body of yours. IÎll make you a sandwich.”

Jordan laughed and pulled her close. “Why don’t you join me?”

Giggling, Cynthia pushed Jordan away. “I don’t think so. You seem to be getting back to your old wicked self.”

“That’s how you like me.” Jordan began to walk off and Cynthia slapped her on the ass. Jordan turned around. “tease.”

Clean and warm, Jordan talked to her friends who were staying in her home. She met with her main campaign staff about the recovery efforts and the campaign.

Laura said, “I’ve cancelled all appearances. We’ve made it known that right now, your concentration is on the flood victims. The press wants you to make a statement. I really think this is all going to help the numbers, especially since you did these same things during the last flood four years ago. It doesnÎt appear to be a political ploy.”

Jordan nodded her head. “I’m glad if it helps the numbers. But honestly, I’m not really concerned about any of that right now.”

Cynthia spoke. “I know its not your main concern, but we’ll just call it a fringe benefit. Alex will be touring the flood damaged areas by helicopter tomorrow, he said he will meet you at the airport at ten a.m. The press will be there and you can make your statement then.”

Jordan nodded. “Well, we need to get working on recovery. I want everyone to be helping clean out one another’s homes. When we get done with our group, I want to move on to the rest of the city and on to the surrounding areas. I want groups to go in and help their neighbors shovel mud and debris. I want those who don’t do that to volunteer at the shelters and to do what they can to donate cleaning products, and other miscellaneous items. Cynthia honey, I’d like for you and Sarah, and Laura to coordinate that for me. Jim I’d like for you and James to help me head up the group that will go out and help people dig their homes out of the mud.”

Jim and James both nodded their head in agreement. The rest of the night was spent making phone calls to secure funds and donated items for the shelters filled with families in need.

The next morning Jordan met the Governor at the helicopter landing pad at the airport. Several reporters were there to get statements from the Governor and the candidate.

“Governor Cisneros, do you have any estimates of the damage by the floods?”

Alex responded. “Not yet, it will be a few days, but the primary estimate is in the millions. We will know more once the flood waters recede. I do ask all Texans to help one another in this time of great need. If you were spared damage, and are able, please give your time or financial resources to the local relief centers. FEMA will begin setting up field offices to assist the victims. I will be assessing the damage today. I also urge all Texans to pray for those who have suffered in this difficult time. We are going to make sure the people of Texas get the help they need as soon as possible.”

The reporters turned to Jordan. “Ms. O’Connor, due to illness, you missed a week of the campaign and now you have suspended your campaign appearances until further notice, aren’t you worried about the effect this will have on the outcome of the race?”

“My main concern is for the people of Texas. This is my state and the people here are my neighbors and my family. I can’t in good conscience travel around the state talking about myself when my family is drowning. I will no longer be accepting any new volunteers, nor will I accept any campaign funds for the duration of the campaign. Although I appreciate the thought, there are others who need help more than I do. Just as the Governor did, I urge all Texans to reach out to those who are in need.”

Jordan, the Governor, and two FEMA agents got in the chopper and began to fly over the affected areas. Jordan held her breath as she watched large homes floating down the Medina River. Trees and debris littered the rushing water. They flew over the Guadalupe River and watched the water spill over the Canyon Dam for the first time in history. The water, which normally flowed at a rate of four to six hundred feet per second, raged at sixty thousand feet per second. Tears formed in Jordan’s eyes as she watched the land she loved so much disappear under the water. The Governor shook his head in disbelief at the destruction. They went to shelters and met the families affected by the disaster. Jordan saw frightened children clinging to their stuffed animals with one arm and their mothers with the other. When they arrived back in San Antonio early that evening, the Governor gave a press conference with Jordan by his side.

The Governor was solemn and determined. “We have a long road ahead of us. The damage is extensive and I will be declaring twenty-nine counties disaster areas. We will be working to the best of our abilities to get people their relief checks as quickly as possible. There will be FEMA agents in all the affected counties. I want all Texans to remember, we’ve been through this before, and we made it through. We will make it through again, together. Texans can count on me to be with them in this time of need.”

Jordan stepped up to give a statement. “I know the task seems daunting right now. The road to recovery is hard to see beneath the waters. I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to be available to offer help to one another at this time. The cleanup is going to be a long and hard task, but we can do it, just as we’ve done many times before. I will say that some of these recurring problem areas such us the Woodlawn area here in San Antonio are obviously due to the drainage systems that simply cannot handle the load placed upon them. We need to look at drainage solutions to help relieve the situation that happens again and again.”

The next day, the waters began to dissipate in San Antonio and Jordan and her team began to assist in the clean up. They shoveled mud and debris while Cynthia and Laura organized a team that delivered cleaning items, water, clothing, and non-perishable food to families and shelters. As the waters receded in other areas, Jordan and her campaign moved to New Braunfels, Medina Valley, Seguin, and the other areas that needed assistance. Some campaign members helped people fill out the necessary forms to get the aid they needed. Jordan spent the last days of the last month of the campaign knee-deep, shoveling mud, and hauling ruined furniture in trucks. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Sunday, November 1

Exhausted after a final day of flood cleanup, Jordan and Cynthia crawled into bed. Just as they were about to fall asleep, Jordan’s phone rang. Cynthia and Jordan both began to get up. Jordan put her hand on Cynthia’s arm.

Sleepily she said, “It’s ok honey. I’ll get it.” She answered the phone. “Hello.”

“Jordan, it’s Amber.”

Jordan was suddenly very awake. The wife of her political opponent was on the other end. She walked out of the bedroom and shut the door.

“Amber, what are you doing calling me?”

With a hint of desperation in her voice, Amber said. “I need to see you now.”

Jordan was stunned. “Have you been drinking?”

“No Jordan. I’m perfectly sober. I need to see you. It’s important. Can you meet me and come alone?”

“Hell no. You’re my opponent’s wife. Why would I trust you?”

Amber urged the candidate. “Please Jordan. I’ve left Kris. He doesn’t know yet. He’s in Dallas. Please, if I ever meant anything to you, you’ll come. There are some things you need to know about Kris. I’m leaving town tonight. He doesn’t know yet.”

Jordan was torn between the desperation in her former girlfriend’s voice and the voice of reason. “Are you alright? Where are you?”

“I’m fine. I’m about twenty minutes from the cabin. Does your family still own it?”

“Yes. Meet me there. The key is still in the same hiding spot. I must be nuts, but I’m on my way.”

Relieved Amber spoke. “Thank you. I’ll be waiting.”

Jordan went back into her bedroom to dress. Sleepily, Cynthia asked, “Who was that?”

Jordan kissed her on the head. “It was just my mother. They’ve got an emergency plumbing problem. I’m going over there to help them out.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No darlin’. We’ve got to leave very early tomorrow. You need some rest. I’ll be home before you know it.” She knew she was lying and felt guilty. She finished putting on her shoes and leaned over to kiss her lover softly. “I love you Cyn.” Cynthia was already sleeping.

Jordan drove for an hour, coming to the cabin. Amber’s car was outside and a light was on inside the house. Jordan walked up to the door, thinking, ‘I hope I’m not making a mistake.’ She took a deep breath and opened the door. Amber was sitting on the couch. She stood up when she saw Jordan.

She walked towards Jordan. “Hi. Thank you for coming.”

Jordan looked at her cautiously. “What’s this about?”

Amber motioned to the couch. “Please sit down Jordan. There’s a lot to tell you.”

Jordan sat down. “Ok, I’m sitting. Now talk.”

Amber paced as she spoke. “I know you have no reason to trust me after all these years. I don’t blame you, considering who my husband is.” She picked up a thick folder that was sitting on the end table and held it out towards Jordan. “Here, this tells everything. He is a crook and has been misrepresenting funds to his stockholders and the SEC. He’s been laundering money for South American drug lords. He’s been violating campaign finance laws, bribing judges, and he paid for someone to tamper with your plane. He wanted you dead.”

Jordan was shocked. “What?”

Amber pointed to the folder. “Look in there. I’ve been collecting this file for the last few months, ever since I overheard him talking about what he did to you, getting that information on you and lying about what you did. Then, I found out how he had your plane tampered with. I’ve forwarded copies of this file to the police and the press. The story will break tomorrow morning and I suspect he’ll be arrested and put away for a long time.”

Jordan looked through the folder at the written proof of her opponent’s crimes. “Oh my God, I can’t believe this. That son of a bitch tried to kill my cousin and me. I knew he was slime, but..”

Amber finished her sentence. “You have no idea.”

Confused, Jordan asked. “Why did you stay with him then?”

Amber shook her head. “I don’t know. I never loved him, but I liked the lifestyle. I drank to keep myself numb. I couldn’t take it anymore, so while he was gone, I left. He has no idea yet.”

Reeling from the information she just received, she looked up at Amber. “Why are you doing this for me?”

Amber kneeled in front of Jordan. “Because I never stopped loving you. I made the wrong choice when I left you for him. That’s why he hates you so much. He knows you’re the one I love. I have felt horrible all these years. I want to make it up to you, so I am doing this. ”

Jordan shook her head. “If you never loved him, then why did you leave me for him?”

“His family was rich and I knew he would be too. I wanted what he could give me, and I didn’t want to be a lesbian. I was afraid. I was angry about your plans to join the Peace Corps, leaving me behind.”

Jordan was still trying to comprehend all the events of that night. “So you left him. What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been setting money aside for some time now. I’ll be fine until I figure out what I’m going to do. I’m going to disappear for a while.”

Jordan looked at Amber, aware of what she had risked and gave up, and pulled her old lover into her arms. “I can’t thank you enough sweetheart. This is my dream and you’re giving it to me.”

Amber pulled back, their foreheads touching. “I know. It’s been so long since we’ve been here together, holding one another like this.”

Jordan smiled, remembering fondly. “Yes it has. We had some great times here when we were in college.”

“Did we ever. We made love for the first time here. I haven’t forgotten. I still dream about you.” She touched Jordan’s face and began to move her lips closer to Jordan. Jordan placed her finger on Amber’s mouth. She smiled and kissed Amber on the forehead and put distance between them.

“Yes it was wonderful and beautiful. But, that was a long time ago. Things have changed.” Jordan stood up. “Do you need anything?”

Amber shook her head. “No, I’m going to take care of myself for once.”

“Let me know where you end up and that you’re ok. Feel free to stay the night here. Just lock up and put the key back when you leave.”

“I think I will. Thanks.” Sadly, she held her hand out to Jordan. “Congratulations Senator.”

Jordan couldn’t help but smile. She took Amber’s hand between her own. “Thank you for everything Amber. This really took a lot of guts to do what you’re doing and I’m proud of you. If you ever need anything, you can always count on me. You’re still very special to me, after all this time. You were the first woman I ever truly cared for.”

Amber nodded and Jordan placed her lips against her former lover’s hand. Jordan walked out the door, and drove back to her partner.

Jordan walked into the house and into her bedroom. Cynthia was peacefully asleep in their bed. She smiled and walked over to Cynthia, kneeling next to the bed.

“Cynthia baby. Wake up.” She roused her gently.

Cynthia rubbed her eyes. “Hi. Is everything ok at your Mom’s?”

“I didn’t go to my mother’s. I lied. I need to talk to you.”

Cynthia sat up. “What do you mean you lied to me?”

Jordan handed her the file and turned on the lamp. “Read this.”

Cynthia allowed her eyes to adjust to the light and began to skim the pages. “Oh my God! That bastard! He tried to have you killed. Where did you get this?”

“Amber Benson. That was who called earlier. I was with her at the cabin.”

Confused, Cynthia asked again. “What was that?”

“Amber called me and said that she had information for me. She asked me to meet her alone. She left Kris.”

Miffed, Cynthia said. “Ok, good for her. But, why would she call you? And why did

you lie to me?”

Jordan held Cynthia’s hand. “She said she never stopped loving me and feels bad about the things he’s done. I lied because I knew you wouldn’t let me go alone.”

“You’re right. How do you feel about her?”

“She will always be special to me, but you are the one I love.”

Cynthia smiled. “I love you too.”

“She said she sent this out to the press and the police, so I am guessing things are about to blow up tomorrow.”

Cynthia looked at her excited. “Do you know what this means?”

Jordan nodded. “It means, that I am a U.S. Senator.”

Cynthia grinning, agreed. “Yes it does.”

Jordan kissed her deeply, their tongues engages in a moist, slow dance. Cynthia dropped the file onto the floor as the kiss grew in intensity. Jordan hungrily caressed her lover’s scantily clad body. Jordan placed her lips on Cynthia’s neck, tasting, lightly nibbling on the warm skin. Cynthia became lost in the sensations.

She whispered with passion, “It’s been so long. I need you so much.”

Jordan moaned in between kisses. “You are so beautiful.”

Jordan took off her shirt, her lips never leaving Cynthia’s. Jordan took off her bra and moved on top of her lover. Cynthia held onto her tightly, opening her legs, making space for Jordan to fit into her form. Jordan’s kisses began to move lower as she moved down the front of Cynthia’s tank top. She put her head underneath the thin garment, placing soft kisses on the warm skin. Cynthia moaned her pleasure as Jordan lifted her shirt as she moved up her body. She sucked on Cynthia’s breasts greedily. She lifted the shirt over Cynthia’s head and kissed her deeply. Jordan stopped for a moment, her face just inches away, their breath mingling, looking into one another’s eyes. Heat rising off their bodies, Jordan whispered, “Baby, you’re the only one for me, for the rest of my life.”

Tears slipped down Cynthia’s cheeks. “I want you to take me. I want to be full of you.”

Cynthia’s words immediately resulted in a pool of wetness collecting in Jordan’s panties. She stood up, the loss of contact almost painful. She stood next to the bed, and pulled off her jeans and underwear. She opened the nightstand drawer and took out the black harness and phallus. Cynthia watched her, filled with desire. Jordan moved everything into place and got on her knees between Cynthia’s legs. Never breaking eye contact, she pulled down Cynthia’s panties. Cynthia pulled Jordan into her. Jordan entered Cynthia gently and the blonde gasped. The women held one another tightly as Jordan rocked against Cynthia, thrusting slowly in and out.

Cynthia threw her head back in ecstasy, moving her hips in rhythm with Jordan. “Jordan..oh God…more…need more…” Jordan began to thrust deeper and harder, the base of the phallus rubbing her in just the right spaces. She moved faster and harder, a light sheen of sweat covering them both. Cries of passion filled the empty room, their pleasure rising together. Jordan could tell from Cynthia’s writhing and ragged breathing, that her climax was close. The orgasm ripped through Cynthia’s body, causing Jordan to fall over the edge as well. Both women calling out to one another as the waves passed through them, sending them out of their bodies for a few perfect moments. Panting Jordan began to slow her movements. She began to pull out and Cynthia held onto her. “No. I need you to stay where you are. ” Cynthia turned them onto their sides, facing one another, her legs wrapped around Jordan, holding her inside. Jordan stroked her hair. “That was marvelous. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that after all this time, it could still be so good between us. But, things just get better and better with you darlin’. With everything that’s going on, and has gone on, this is all that matters; you and me, right here and right now. This is the most important thing in the world.”

Cynthia leaned in to press her lips against Jordan’s. “I love you Jordan. I’m so proud of you and the person you are; the way you’ve handled yourself and how you’re working hard to get past your demons. You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”

Jordan smiled. “Baby, you’re the one who puts up with me. That’s pretty damn amazing to me. A lesser person would have been gone long ago and not come back. I couldn’t do this without you. I love you more than I can ever express.”

After several more minutes, Cynthia began to fall asleep, Jordan withdrew the phallus and removed the harness. She held Cynthia as the smaller woman slept against her. She breathed in the love of the woman in her arms. Suddenly everything in her life became so clear. She was going to have everything she ever wanted. Cynthia was what she wanted more than anything. She eased out of Cynthia’s arms and kissed her on the forehead. She put on her t-shirt and pajama bottoms and walked into her office. She removed a picture from the wall and turned the knob on the safe, opening the door. She pulled out a small velvet box and sat at her desk. She opened the box to reveal her grandmother’s engagement ring. It was gold, with a silver heart and a small diamond in the middle. She smiled as she fingered the ring, remembering when her grandmother gave it to her. Jordan’s grandfather gave it to her grandmother in 1933. She had waited sixteen years and now she knew it was time to give it to Cynthia.

Jordan took the wedding ring off her neck and off her finger. She pulled an envelope and piece of stationary off her desk. She began to write to Maria.

As simple as breathing, I picture your face all tangled in daydreams and shielded with grace. I feel you beside me again. Wherever you may be, lift up your head for me. There’s somewhere in my heart, only for you. If I must do without, I’ll let these thoughts fly out across the emptiness from me to you. As certain as sunrise, your image unwinds. You’re clearer than crystal. You fill up my mind. I will love you for the rest of my life. I am putting you aside, but you will always be in my heart. I’m ready to let go, after all these years. Watch over me, as I know you always have. Watch over her too, she needs all the help she can get to deal with me. I’ll love you forever.

She folded the letter and placed it and the rings in the envelope and sealed it. She kissed it and put it in the safe, putting her past away. She sat and stared at the engagement ring in her hand, figuring out how she was going to propose and what kind of wedding she wanted to give Cynthia.

Monday November 2

She sat smiling in her chair for what must have been hours, because Jordan noticed the sun coming up. There was a knock at the front door. Jordan opened the door and Laura walked in.

“Jordan have you seen the paper? Have you been watching TV?”

Jordan shook her head. “No, I haven’t. We’re leaving in a couple of hours, I was about to take a shower.”

“You should hear what the press is saying about Benson.” She showed Jordan the paper. The headline read, ‘LOCAL SENATE CANDIDATE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER.’

Jordan looked at the paper, she walked into the bedroom to retrieve the file. She brought the file into the living room and handed it to Laura. “Look at this.”

Laura took the folder, opened it and began reading. After several moments she turned to Jordan. Stunned, she asked, “Where’d you get this?”

“You’re not going to believe this. Amber called me last night and I met her at the cabin. She’s left him and is going off somewhere on her own. She sent this same file to the press and the police. She said she did it because she still loves me.”

Laura just shook her head. “Wow. This is just so astounding.”

“I know.”

Laura walked over and turned on the TV. The morning anchors talked about the story. Kris Benson was being put into a police car in handcuffs. Reporters were trying to question him as he hid his face from the cameras.

In a surprising turn of events, Senate candidate Kris Benson was arrested in a Dallas hotel this morning. An anonymous source provided the police department and local news organizations with documents that show the candidate laundered drug money, lied to his stockholders and the SEC, bribed judges, and attempted to kill his opponent Jordan O’Connor by having her plane tampered with. Mr. Benson has not commented at this time. Last May, Ms. O’Connor and her cousin were lost in Ft. Hood after their small private plane went down. Ms. O’Connor has been unavailable for comment at this time. She is scheduled to make a number of appearances throughout the state during the last twenty-four hours of the campaign. This certainly is a surprising turn of events for this campaign. Last month, Mr. Benson was calling for Ms. O’Connor’s concession when he accused her of murder. Those charges were later proved to be false by Ms. O’Connor’s campaign. We will have more on this breaking news story as it is revealed.”

Jordan and Laura looked at one another and started laughing, hard; so hard that Jordan fell on the couch, holding her stomach. The noise woke Cynthia who walked out of the bathroom. “What’s going on?”

Jordan got up and looked at Cynthia. “Kris has just been arrested.”

Cynthia jumped into Jordan’s arms. “Oh my God.”

Jordan swung her around in a circle. “He’s done. I can’t imagine him staying in the race.”

Excited, Laura looked at Jordan. “So what do you want to do with this last day Senator?”

Jordan grinned. “Let’s keep to the schedule. We have to leave in a couple of hours, so let’s get going. They haven’t declared me the winner yet. I’ll have to make a statement, but we need to get dressed. We’ll see you at the headquarters in an hour.”

Laura nodded happily. “See you in a bit. Don’t talk to anyone yet though, ok?”

Jordan saluted. “Yes ma’am.”

Jordan and Cynthia hurriedly showered and dressed. Jordan was going over in her head what she would say to the press and what she would say to Cynthia’s father tonight when she asked for his daughter’s hand.

When they reached the campaign headquarters, it was a little after seven and there were a number of reporters waiting for her.

A reporter yelled out. “Ms. O’Connor, how do you feel about the arrest of your opponent and the alleged assassination attempt?”

Jordan held back what she really wanted to say in order to be diplomatic. “I am greatly troubled by these events. I would have thought in this country, in this day and age, we would be above things like this. I have not heard enough about the events yet to really make a firm judgment. I would like to remind everyone that in this great country of ours, everyone is presumed innocent.”

A second journalist asked. “Have you spoken to the police?”

Jordan shook her head. “Not yet, but I imagine its just a matter of time.”

“So what is your next move now that you are all of assured the election?”

Jordan held up her hand as if to slow the reporter down. “Let’s not jump the gun here. I don’t want to comment on that until its official tomorrow night. I’ve been off the campaign trail for the last couple of weeks. I planned on spending the rest of the campaign meeting and speaking with the people of this state and that’s just what I’m going to do.”

Jordan waved and walked into the office. The volunteers and staff cheered. The buzz around the office was about Benson’s arrest and expected withdrawal. Jordan prepared to leave on the campaign bus for her last trip around the state. Just before she left, she spoke to the group.

“This is an exciting day. This is our first day back since the flooding and our last full day of campaigning. And we’re all excited about the new developments and what they could possibly mean for us. But it isn’t over until tomorrow night. I’m glad to see everyone back. We’re a family and we’ve stuck together through thick and thin. I am proud to have y’all as part of my team. The way everyone worked together was just outstanding. Let’s keep it up. And tomorrow night, we party. Oh and since I won’t see y’all until tomorrow afternoon, be sure and vote ok?” The group laughed and Jordan left to get on the bus.

The group had their laptops, phones, and televisions going to keep up with the new developments with Kris Benson. CNN and TXCN and MSNBC were replaying scenes of Benson being led to the police car in handcuffs. Jordan and the crew cracked up laughing each time. Benson still hadn’t conceded the race. They stopped in Austin, where a huge crowd waited for Jordan on the UT campus. She stepped off the bus and the cheers washed over her. She walked up to the stairs holding Cynthia’s hand, pulling her up onto the stage, and waving to the crowd. Chris stood at the microphone.

He introduced his mother. “Thank y’all for coming. It’s an honor to introduce our speaker today. Jordan O’Connor has spent the majority of her life working to improve the lives of people around the world. She’s fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves and has been the voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. Recently, she suspended her campaign and refused campaign donations to help those affected by the floods. She is also my mother and the next U.S. Senator to represent Texas. Let’s give a hook ’em horns welcome to my mother and Texas Ex, Jordan O’Connor.” The crowd cheered wildly and Jordan walked up to her son and hugged him tightly.

She stepped up to the microphone. “He’s something ain’t he?” Laughing, she looked at her son, who just shook his head. “I’d also like to thank y’all for coming. It’s so amazing to see so many wonderful young people taking charge of their futures. Your future is in your hands. Your political activity will help determine the benefits you will receive in your careers, possibly the salaries you earn, the taxes you pay. Your future and your country are shaped by what you are doing today and I applaud you. I also implore you to be involved not just with yourselves, but the world around you. You have the power to change this world, to make a difference. Use it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you don’t matter. You can change the world by simply spending one afternoon a week with an at-risk teen. It acts as a ripple effect and before you know it, your one afternoon a week has changed the lives of countless people. So I am challenging every one of you here today to take charge of your future, take charge of your government, vote, and change the world.” The students erupted in applause.

Jordan walked off the stage and shook hands and greeted more people than she could count as James watched over her protectively as always. Reporters questioned her again regarding her feelings about the new campaign developments. She gave the same answers; that she was troubled by the developments but was reserving her comments about the election until the situation was clearer.

The bus moved on and Jordan stopped at nearly every town along the way. Jordan knew with every mile, she was getting closer to Cynthia’s father and the question she needed to ask him. Her grandmother’s ring burned a hole in her pocket, making her smile. Early that afternoon, a breaking news announcement came over the networks.

The anchorwoman spoke. “We have just received notice that Senate candidate Kris Benson is ready to make a statement. We join Jesse Contreras at the courthouse, where Mr. Benson is preparing to give a press conference.”

The camera showed the young reporter at the scene. “We are here at the Bexar County Courthouse where Kris Benson is awaiting his bail hearing. He is expected to arrive in minutes to make a statement regarding the charges being made against him, including an attempted murder charge. He is also charged with bribery of an elected official, money laundering, falsifying financial documents, and fraud. Apparently, the same file was sent to all the local television stations, the Express-News, and the police. The file has been forwarded to the FBI for possible federal charges. Mr. Benson was arrested in his hotel this morning and brought back to San Antonio, where he was processed.”

Benson, his campaign manager, and his attorney’s stepped over to where the reporters were gathered. “First of all, I’d like to proclaim my innocence in this matter. Any wrong that was done by my associates was committed without my consent. I had no knowledge of these acts that took place. I do want to extend my apologies to my opponent, Jordan O’Connor. I did not participate in the plot to tamper with her plane. I am going to be too busy focusing on my defense to take office if elected. Proving my innocence is going to be taking up much of my resources and time. Therefore, I am withdrawing my name from the race. I apologize to my supporters, friends, and family members who have worked so hard to help me win the election. There is simply no way I can move into a new position and concentrate on my defense. With great regret and with great sorrow, I concede to Ms. O’Connor. I wish her luck in the office. She has been a formidable opponent.”

Kris waved and walked away, not answering any questions.

Phones started ringing, Jordan began jumping up and down with Cynthia in her arms. Sammi pulled the rowdy bus over to the side of the road. Jordan kissed Cynthia deeply. “It’s over Cyn. We won. We did it.”

Cynthia smiled elatedly. “Yes we did. Oh I’m so proud of you.” The women began to lose themselves in their kisses.

The entire group of fifteen people stopped to applaud the couple, who suddenly stopped and giggled, blushing in embarrassment. Cynthia buried her face in Jordan’s shoulder. Laughing, Jordan said, “Get this bus on the road, we’ve got a tight schedule to keep. I have two appearances this afternoon and the fundraiser tonight for the flood victims and quit gawking.” Smiling, she held Cynthia close.

The bus began moving again and Jordan began taking phone calls and giving her comments on Benson’s withdrawal. Every time she walked off the bus, she was swarmed with media, shoving microphones and cameras in her face. She repeated the same lines. ” I am distressed at the possibility that my opponent tried to have me killed. However, Mr. Benson is innocent until proven guilty. As far as his withdrawal is concerned, I think it was a wise decision. He has a long road ahead of him if he’s going to prove his innocence. I can see how that would interfere with his job as a Senator. The results are not official, so I will reserve my other comments until then. Thank you.” She smiled and waved as she was ushered into the Jewish Center where she was speaking to a group.

That evening she was speaking at a dinner at the Magnolia hotel in Downtown Dallas that was originally scheduled to be a political fundraiser. Jordan was no longer taking political donations, so the money raised would go to the flood relief in Central Texas. Cynthia’s father, sister, and brother-in-law were going to be at the dinner. Jordan was nervous but it had nothing to do with the speech. She was terrified of facing her lover’s father. As they were changing in their room, Cynthia looked at Jordan curiously.

Noticing her lover’s anxiety, she asked, “What’s up hon? You seem like you’re distracted or anxious about something.”

Jordan covered quickly. “It’s probably because of all the craziness going on right now. I’m fine. ”

Cynthia smiled and wrapped her arms around her. “You sure? Did you take your meds?”

Jordan kissed Cynthia lightly. “Yes I took my meds and yes, I’m doing great. You ready yet?”

Cynthia returned the kiss. “Yep, I just need to put on my shoes.”

She slipped on the heels and turned to Jordan who was slipping on a tan blazer over her navy blouse. Cynthia fixed her collar and buttoned Jordan’s blazer.

She grinned at her. “God you are beautiful, Senator.”

Jordan held her tightly. “Are you kidding? I pale in comparison to you my dear.” Their lips met softly, gently. The women pulled apart with their foreheads touching. Cynthia spoke. “Baby, we can’t do this right now. You’ll mess up your makeup and everyone is waiting for us. I imagine the group is all in there.”

Jordan nodded. “Ok, let’s go darlin’.”

The two women walked out of the room and went down the elevator. The campaign staff was downstairs waiting for Jordan and Cynthia. Jordan stuck her hand in her pocket and realized she had left the engagement ring in her pants pocket in the room. She turned to the group. “I left something up in the room, y’all go on and I’ll be there in a sec.”

Cynthia looked at her. “Tell me what you left and I’ll go get it. You need to get in the banquet room and start talking to people.”

Jordan shook her head. “No that’s ok. I’ll take care of it. I’ll be there in a minute. Go see if your family’s there.” Jordan took the elevator and went back in the room. She picked up her pants and reached into the pocket, smiling when she felt the cool metal. She looked at the gold ring and placed it in her pocket. She rushed back down to the dinner. She was led around to meet several important people. Everyone wanted to congratulate the new Senator. Jordan thanked them and cautioned them to wait until it was official. She ran into Cynthia’s family and hugged them tightly. She quietly whispered into Cynthia’s father’s ear that she wanted to speak to him privately after the event.

After dinner, Jordan was introduced and walked up to the podium. “I’d like to begin by thanking all of you for coming. I know the theme of this evening has changed. I just felt that my fellow Texans were more important than a campaign. Apparently, y’all did too. This money is going to help families rebuild their lives. It is such a humbling experience to look into the eyes of a child who is scared and wet, holding on to their parent, needing reassurance that everything is going to be ok. And then that parent looks at you as a representative of their government, as someone they believe can help them, and it just pulls at your heart. I can’t imagine anyone else in the same positions that the Governor and I were and not do the same things we did. One of the beautiful things to come out of this was the way the people of Texas helped each other. It was amazing the way people have rallied together, giving of their time, their energy, and their money. It is this grand spirit that I take with me; this belief that as a nation, when we connect with one another; when we work together, anything is possible. We can overcome anything that is thrown in our direction as a nation, just as we have in this great state of Texas. I am proud of us; proud of the people here tonight who have so generously given of their financial resources to help those they’ve never met. In closing, thank you again and God Bless Texas.”

The audience stood and applauded Jordan. Jordan thanked them and nodded her head in acceptance. Afterwards, she shook hands with people for nearly an hour. She made eye contact with Cynthia’s father and walked over to him.

Smiling she said, “I appreciate you waiting. I wouldn’t ask you to stay around if it weren’t important. How about if I meet you in the lobby in half an hour. Things are wrapping up here and I need to make sure your daughter is occupied.”

The minister laughed. “I understand completely. Take your time. I’ll be in the lobby.”

Jordan smiled appreciatively. “Thanks. I’m going to talk to Laura now and have her keep Cynthia busy.”

Dr. Price nodded and walked off to the lobby. Jordan went to go find Laura. Upon finding her, Jordan spoke to her quietly. “I need you to keep Cynthia busy for a while. I want to talk to her father alone.” Jordan’s grin did not escape Laura’s attention.

Laura looked at her best friend slyly. “You look like the cat that swallowed the canary. What’s up?”

Jordan laughed. “I’m going to ask her father for her hand. I’m going to propose to her.”

A sharp pain shot through Laura’s chest, but she put on happy face for her friend. “Oh wow. That is a big deal. Go ahead and talk with her father and I’ll divert her attention.”

Jordan hugged Laura tightly. “Thanks pal, you’re the best.”

After speaking to a few more people, Jordan snuck away to the hotel lobby to speak with Cynthia’s father. As Jordan walked closer, she became more and more nervous. She sat down in a large chair next to Dr. Price.

Cynthia’s father smiled. “So what’s on your mind Jordan?”

Nervously, Jordan took a deep breath and began. “I’ve never done this before, so excuse me if I’m a bit nervous.” She pulled the ring out of her pocket and held it up for John to see. “This was my grandmother’s engagement ring. My grandfather gave it to her in 1933 and they were married for fifty-four years until he died. Before she died in 1997, she gave it to me. I want to give it to Cynthia. I have loved her for the last sixteen years. My main commitment is to her happiness and well-being. Before I do that though, I wanted to get your blessing. I was planning on asking her to marry me tomorrow night before the victory party. John, may I marry your daughter?”

John looked at Jordan, with a big grin on his face. “I appreciate you asking my permission. It shows me how much you respect Cynthia as well as love her. You have my blessing.”

Jordan breathed a sigh of relief, and both laughed. She continued. “Thank you sir, I promise you won’t regret it. There is one other thing. I was thinking that Christmas Eve would be the perfect night. All of the people we care about the most will be at our house, so I thought, how great it would be to turn our Christmas party into a wedding. I’d like for you to perform the ceremony. I think it would mean the world to Cynthia. You’ve become so important to her again. She is so excited about y’all being with us for the holidays.”

John put his hand on Jordan’s. “I would be honored. I’m honestly not sure how these things go, but I’d be happy to perform the ceremony.”

Jordan smiled. “It’s pretty similar to what you’re used to. We’ll work out the kinks. This will mean so much to Cynthia.”

John replied. “It does to me too.”

She rose to her feet. “Thank you for your time and your blessing John. I better get going before that daughter of yours gets suspicious.”

John stood and nodded his understanding. “I agree. Congratulations on the election. I can’t believe that man would actually try to kill you.”

Jordan shook her head. ‘I know, it’s a shame. I can’t fathom it. I am incredibly angry. I hate what he put my family through. My cousin was hurt worse than I was and has had to undergo painful physical therapy. I’ll tell you one thing, I look forward to testifying against him.”

John agreed. “Oh I can imagine. Now you get on back to my daughter. She’s lucky to have you as her partner. You obviously love her very much.”

Jordan smiled. “Thank you John. I truly do. Are you coming down tomorrow for the party?”

Cynthia’s father nodded. “That’s the plan. In fact, Cynthia asked me to ride back with y’all, if that’s ok?”

Jordan hugged him. “Good, then we’ll see you tomorrow.”

John grinned and nodded. “You bet.”

Jordan went up to her room and Cynthia was there waiting for her and looking over some papers.

She looked up as Jordan came into the room. “Hi there. Where’ve you been?”

Jordan shrugged. “I was just talking with some Party people.” She walked behind Cynthia’s chair and began rubbing her shoulders.

Cynthia moaned. “Ohhhh that feels good. You gave a wonderful speech tonight. Although, I think initially people wanted to hear you speak about the recent election developments. You did beautifully.”

Jordan kissed Cynthia’s neck. “Thanks baby. I’m pretty wiped out. How about you?”

With her eyes closed, enjoying her massage. “I am too. Let’s go to bed.”

Lying in bed that night, holding one another close, Jordan smiled, thinking about all that was happening in her life. She kissed Cynthia’s head and drifted off into a happy, exhausted sleep.

Tuesday, November 3-Election Day

The campaign crew were gathered at the bus early to head back home. They were all excited about the day ahead and the party that night. Jordan was supposed to be at her voting precinct early that afternoon to cast her votes. Laura and Cynthia checked all the final arrangements for the party. Jordan was receiving congratulatory phone calls from the President, the Governor, many friends, and Kate.

Kate enthusiastically cheered her mother on. “Mom, I’m so proud of you!!! You did it!!!”

Jordan laughed. “Thank you sweetheart. Although, I won by default. I would rather have won by a vote of confidence.”

Kate reassured her. “Yeah, but you were ahead by twenty points in the polls. You were going to win anyway. You’ll just have to win by a landslide for your re-election.”

Jordan smiled at her daughter’s reaction. “Thank you baby. You’re still coming for Christmas right?”

“Yeah. I was wondering, would it be alright if I brought Jo with me? She’s kind of special to me. She’s um… my girlfriend. I’d like to spend my Christmas with her too and I want her to meet everyone.”

Jordan took a deep breath and thought for a minute what the best reaction would be; all she could do was smile and say, “Of course you can bring Jo. She seems like a nice young woman. Why don’t you two take the train to D.C. and meet Cynthia and me there? I have to be there for an orientation and we’re going to look for a house. You both can fly back with us. Are you two going to spend the whole month in San Antonio?”

“No. We’re going to be leaving on the twenty-sixth to meet her parents in Colorado.”

“Well, that gives us a couple of weeks. I look forward to getting to know her. How are your grades holding up?”

“They’re good. I am just about killing myself finishing up some papers and getting ready for finals next month. Oh and by the way, I’m going to Jo’s house for Thanksgiving.”

Disappointed, Jordan said. “That’s fine honey. Just enjoy yourself. We’ll be over at Cynthia’s sister’s house. There’s something I want to talk to you about, but I can’t right now, there are too many people around me. Don’t worry, I think you’ll like it a lot.”

Laughing, Kate said. “Cool. I gotta go. Give everyone my love and have fun tonight. I wish I were there. I love you Mom. Congrats.”

“Thank you Kate. You go study hard now. I wish you were here and I love you too.”

As the bus continued on its way, Cynthia’s father asked Jordan, “If your opponent has quit, shouldn’t you automatically be the winner?”

Jordan answered. “That does makes sense doesn’t it. But there may be write-in candidates. It is unlikely, but within the realm of possibility for people not to vote in this particular category, thinking the election is already decided. And when matched up against a large write in campaign, I could lose if that candidate gets more votes than I do. We have to wait for the results to be considered final.”

John smiled. “Well, I voted a few weeks ago and I voted for you, my first Democrat.”

Jordan laughed raucously. “Thank you John. I take that as a supreme compliment.”

By the time the crew arrived at headquarters, the national media had descended. Jordan waved and stopped to talk to everyone.

A reporter questioned the candidate. “Ms. O’Connor, do you have any comments about the charge that your former opponent tried to have you killed?”

Jordan just shook her head. “First of all, Mr. Benson is innocent until proven guilty. However, the possibility concerns and angers me. All over the world, it is not unusual for candidates to order the assassinations of their opponents. But to have it happen here just boggles my mind. It bothers me that this election and my state are receiving national attention because of a scandal.”

“What do you plan on doing now that you’re in office?”

Jordan laughed. “I’m not in office yet. Don’t you mean, what do I plan on doing when and if I take office? I’m going to do the right thing. Before I go, I’d like to wish my fellow Democrats well today.”

Jordan continued to smile and wave as she walked into the office. She said loudly to all in the office. “Alright, has everyone voted yet?”

The campaign staff and volunteers cheered their Senator. Jordan returned a number of phone calls and then left to vote. She was photographed and videotaped as she walked out of the voting booth and put the voting card through the counting machine.

When she was past the campaign barriers, she spoke. “It is such an honor and a privilege to be able to exercise the right to vote. People have fought and died to be able to do what I just did. I urge all Texans to take advantage of this opportunity to have a say in the way their government is run. Voting is a privilege and our duty as Americans. By not voting, we betray those who fought and died for this opportunity.” She lightened up her speech with a smile. “So I want all the registered voters here in San Antonio and Texas to get on out to the polls, stand in line, make a new friend, and vote.”

By late that afternoon, everything that could be done had been done and all that remained was the party that night, and for Jordan to be officially named the winner. Jordan, Cynthia, and Dr. Price went home to change. Chris was already there waiting.

Jordan grinned at her son. “Hey there squirt.” She hugged him tightly.

“Hi Mom. So, how’re you feeling? I bet you’re excited.”

“I’m feeling great Chris. I can’t begin to describe it. I’d like to speak to you privately for a minute.”

He nodded his head. “Sure Mom.”

The two walked into Jordan’s office and sat down. Jordan called Kate and put her on speaker phone. She began. “Now that I have both of you here sort of, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. I want to ask Cynthia to marry me in a commitment ceremony. I’ve asked her father for his blessing, and now I’d like yours. How would the two of you feel about me marrying her?” They both began talking at once, excitedly. Jordan laughed. “One at a time please. Chris you’re the oldest, you go first.”

“Oh Wow! That is so great! It’s about damn time!!!”

Jordan scolded. “Watch your mouth young man.”

He rebutted. “Oh please, you say much worse.”

She felt too good to be angry. “Yeah, well, do as I say, not as I do. So, what do you think of all of this Kate?”

Jordan could hear the happiness in Kate’s voice. “I am so excited. I’ve wanted you to do this for so long. When?”

“I’m going to ask her tonight, but I was thinking of having the wedding Christmas Eve. Her dad is going to perform the service. Of course, I have to see what she thinks first. I’m giving her your great-grandmother’s engagement ring. So I have your blessing?”

The both said in unison. “YES!!!”

Jordan laughed. “That’s what I want to hear. Thank you. Cynthia and I love both of you so much.”

Kate answered on the other end. “We love y’all too.”

Jordan smiled. “I’ve got to go get ready for tonight. So Kate honey, you have a good night.”

“Thanks Mom. You too. Bye. Bye skunk breath.”

Chris responded. “See ya later butthead.”

Jordan hung up the phone and looked at Chris. The young man walked over to his mother and hugged her tightly. “I am so proud of you Mom. I am incredibly happy for you and Cynthia.”

“Thank you Sweetie. That means so much coming from you.”

They separated and Chris began walking out the door. Jordan stopped him as he was leaving. “Can you drive Cynthia’s father to the party tonight? I’d like to be alone with her in the limo.”

Her son grinned at her. “I’d be happy to. Can I take your truck?”

Nodding, Jordan said, “Sure.”

Later, Jordan stood in front of the mirror, fixing her hair, thinking of just the right thing to say to Cynthia. She pulled her gray jacket over her burgundy turtleneck. Cynthia came up behind Jordan, wrapping her arms around the taller woman’s waist.

“I am so proud of you Jordan.”

Jordan placed her hands on Cynthia’s arms and smiled. “You feel so good.”

Cynthia turned Jordan around and pulled the Senator down for a gentle kiss. “When is the limo getting here?”

Jordan answered. “At seven.”

Seductively, Cynthia said. “That gives us thirty minutes. We could make very good use of that time.”

Jordan giggled. “Oh no you don’t. You know how you are. If your makeup and hair get messed up, I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Cynthia playfully slapped her arm. “That’s not true.”

The limo finally arrived and Jordan took a deep breath and put her hand in her pocket to make sure the ring was still there. She sat next to Cynthia who cuddled up in her arms. Jordan looked at her watch, estimating she had forty-five minutes to get to the party. A few minutes into the trip, she took a deep breath and began. “You know, I was just thinking; I have everything I ever wanted. But there’s still one thing missing.”

Cynthia laughed. “Good Lord woman. What more could you want?”

Jordan took a deep breath. “I want you to marry me Cynthia.” She pulled out the ring.

Cynthia looked and her in disbelief. “Whoa, hold on a second here. What did you just say?”

Jordan smiled and got down on one knee. “I want you to marry me in front of our friends and family on Christmas Eve.”

Cynthia looked at the ring, recognizing it as Jordan’s grandmother’s. She couldn’t quite comprehend that Jordan was actually on one knee proposing. “I thought you were afraid. I thought you always said that you didn’t want to jinx us.”

Jordan held Cynthia’s hands. “I was. I realized something this last month or so. I’ve wanted to marry you for years, but I didn’t think I could have a marriage that lasted forever and I didn’t want to take a chance. There have been so many changes in our lives over the last sixteen years. The one constant was our love for one another. Even when we were apart, we loved each other. That love gives me strength. I know it will always be there. It’s enough to get me through the fear. It is one of the strongest and most beautiful things I have ever known. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than marrying you in front of the people we love most in the world on such a special night.” Cynthia was crying and put her arms around Jordan’s neck, holding her tightly. After a minute or two, Jordan pulled back. “You still haven’t answered me.”

Cynthia looked in her eyes. “Ask me again.”

Jordan smiled. “Cynthia Grace Price, would you join with me in a commitment ceremony, and promise to be with me for the rest of my life?

Cynthia grinned. “YES!!!”

Jordan placed the ring on her finger. “I know its not a fancy ring. It doesn’t have a big diamond. But….”

Cynthia interrupted her. “Shut up and kiss me.”

Jordan did as she was told, kissing Cynthia passionately, pouring every ounce of love in her heart into the kiss. They pulled apart and Jordan resumed her position next to Cynthia, who cuddled against her, both lost in the euphoria of the moment.

Cynthia ran her finger along Jordan’s thigh. She was smiling and looking at the engagement ring on her hand. “I love the ring Jordan. I wouldn’t want any other. I know how much it means to you and I loved your grandmother too.”

Jordan held her tighter. “I know you did. The ring means so much to me and I wanted you to have it.”

Cynthia leaned up to kiss her again. “A Christmas wedding huh?”

Jordan grinned. “Yep. I have it all figured out. Everyone will be there anyway. So I thought it would be a perfect time. I was thinking; maybe a candlelit ceremony in front of the fireplace; the Christmas lights twinkling; and your father performing the ceremony.”

Cynthia smiled. “That sounds beautiful. I wonder if my Dad will do it?”

“He said he would. He’s excited about it.”

Cynthia turned to her. “Have you talked to him about this already?”

Jordan nodded. “Last night after the fundraiser. I asked for your hand and I asked him to marry us.”

“Oh my God. You are just full of surprises aren’t you? Could you be any more adorable?”

“Oh I don’t know about that. I just want to do this the right way.”

“Thank you Jordan for loving me so much. You really have put a lot of thought into this. This was obviously important to you.”

Jordan held Cynthia’s face in her hands. “You’re important to me. I don’t want you to ever doubt how much I love you. I want you to feel loved and treasured.”

Their lips met in a kiss full of love, devotion and promise. The car stopped and the door opened. The two women were still kissing when the driver cleared his throat after standing there for a few minutes. Jordan and Cynthia laughed together. Jordan got out of the car and held out her hand, helping Cynthia. Jordan smiled and they walked into their friend’s large restaurant hand-in-hand. The large group of a couple hundred volunteers, friends, and family cheered for Jordan as she and Cynthia walked into the room. Television cameras were focused on her.

Laura walked up to them excited. “You won!!! They announced that you have been officially declared the winner!!”

Jordan grabbed Cynthia and wrapped her arms around her tightly. She then turned to Laura and the two women embraced for a long time, feeling the sheer joy of realizing their life-long dream. Chris was soon there to hug his mother. Cynthia’s father, Jordan’s parents and siblings all took their turns hugging the Senator. As Jordan and Cynthia walked up to the small stage in the restaurant to make a statement. Both women stopped to receive congratulatory hugs and handshakes from friends and loved ones. They finally made it to the microphone.

Jordan was almost breathless with excitement. “WOW!! I’ve been ahead throughout this election and with the events of the last couple of days, this certainly wasn’t unexpected, but to hear it officially, really blows me away. This has been such a strange and difficult election. I feel like I’ve accomplished something simply by surviving it. First, I’d like to thank my beautiful and brilliant fiancee, Cynthia, for working so hard for me and supporting me.” She kissed Cynthia’s hand and then continued.

“I of course, also want to thank my kids for putting up with me and my career demands. To all of my family, I love you and I wouldn’t be here without you. I’d like to thank my best friend and campaign manager, Laura. You’ve stuck with me for thirty years, believing in me. This was something we’ve dreamed of together and now, together, we made the dream come true. I would not be here today without the dedication of my amazing staff. I had the world’s best volunteers who believed in me and what I could do for this state and this country.” She took a deep breath. “I cannot thank you all enough. I wish the election hadn’t ended the way it did. But it doesn’t change my commitment to being the kind of Senator that the people of Texas need me to be. An incredible opportunity and responsibility have been placed in my lap, one which I humbly embrace. I will serve now as I have served before, with integrity and honor. Thank you voters for giving me this opportunity to look out for your best interests. So, I want everyone to have a great time tonight. It was so wonderful of my dear friends Christina and Lisa to open up their great restaurant for us tonight. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with many different emotions, mostly gratitude to everyone in this room and to all the people who have supported me and voted for me. We’ve done this because we want to make this country better and by working together, we will. Thank you and although we are here to have a good time, please drink responsibly and take care.” The crowd cheered and Jordan stepped down and began to enjoy her victory.

Cynthia saw her father out of the corner of her eye and walked over to where he was. She was beaming with happiness. She hugged her father. “Thank you Daddy, your blessing means so much to me.”

The older gentleman kissed his daughter on the cheek. “It’s my pleasure Cynthia. I can’t wait to marry the two of you. Your mother would be very proud of the job you’ve done.”

A tear came to Cynthia’s eye at the mention of her mother. “She’d be so proud of you too. Thank you for agreeing to perform our ceremony. It really makes this wedding so much more special.”

“Good Sweetheart. I’m glad I can finally participate in your happiness rather than be a stubborn old fool. I love you and Jordan is a wonderful woman. Congratulations.”

She couldn’t control the huge grin on her face. “Thank you Daddy. I love you too”

John smiled at his daughter. “By the way, I enjoyed the ride with Chris tonight. It was very pleasant. He’s a nice young man and I like him a lot.”

“I’m glad. It’s important to me that you get to know our kids. If you’ll excuse me, I need to make the rounds, I’ll have to catch up with you later. Why don’t you go meet some of Jordan’s family?

“You go on and do what you need to do Sweetie.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you in a bit.” She walked off to greet the other people.

Jordan was mobbed with friends and well-wishers when her family came and dragged her into the corner.

Her mother, Elaine, hugged her. “Do we have to kidnap you just to talk to you for five minutes?”

Jordan laughed. “You might.”

Her mother continued happily. “What’s this about Cynthia being your fiancee?”

Jordan beamed. “We’re getting married Christmas Eve. I gave her Grandma’s ring tonight. I proposed on the way over here in the limo and she said yes.”

Elaine was thrilled for her daughter. “I’m so happy for you honey. I can’t wait. I’ll finally be able to be at one of your weddings.”

Jordan just shook her head. “Yes, if you can behave.”

They all laughed and took turns hugging and congratulating Jordan. Soon, Cynthia came up to them. They all hugged her tightly as well.

Jordan’s father spoke. “We’re all so happy for the two of you.”

Cynthia grinned. “Thanks. I can hardly believe it. Y’all are coming right? We’re still going to have our annual Christmas party, we’re just going to add a wedding this year.”

Janice smiled. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Cynthia said. “Good.” She looked at Jordan. “Honey, there are some reporters who are asking for interviews.”

Jordan kissed her on the side of her head. “Sure darlin’. Let’s go.” She turned to her family. “Y’all have fun and I’ll see y’all later.” With her arm around Cynthia’s shoulder, they walked over to the reporters and Jordan spoke to them. The night was filled with laughter, happiness, and relief at the end of a long campaign.

Jordan held Cynthia as they rode in the quiet limo after a very long and wonderful night. Cynthia sat across Jordan’s lap with her head on the Senator’s shoulder. She kept looking at the ring on her finger. “Jordan, this is so beautiful. I am so happy.”

Jordan smiled and nuzzled against Cynthia. “Good. I want to make you happy.”

Cynthia kissed her lightly. “You do Jordan. Don’t ever doubt that. Tonight has been one of the happiest nights of my life. I can’t wait to marry you. You know, I’ve wanted this for so long, its almost hard to believe its real.”

Jordan whispered with her face inches away from Cynthia’s. “It’s very real my love. We’re getting married in a month and a half.” She kissed Cynthia deeply, their tongues moving in a long, slow dance.

Cynthia breathlessly whispered. “I love you so much Jordan.”

Jordan kissed her again. Hands began to caress and arms held one another tightly. The limo stopped and the two women walked in the house. Chris and Cynthia’s father, John, were asleep in their rooms. Jordan placed her hands on either side of Cynthia’s face and hotly whispered. “I want you.” Without a word, Cynthia turned around and walked down the hall, holding Jordan’s hand, leading her to their bedroom. She sat Jordan down on the bed. She walked over to the night stand and turned on a small Tiffany lamp. She put some soft music on the CD player. She stood before Jordan and slowly began to remove her clothes, piece by piece. Jordan’s mouth watered at the sight of her lover bathed in the soft lamplight. Cynthia moved close to Jordan. Jordan put her arms around her lover. “God Cyn, you are beautiful.” Cynthia pushed the jacket off Jordan’s shoulders and down her arms, tossing it aside. Jordan placed soft warm kisses along her lover’s neck and shoulders, tasting the sweet flesh. Cynthia straddled Jordan’s lap, wrapping her legs around her waist. Jordan kissed her deeply as Cynthia pulled off her shirt. Their hot skin met as the women lost themselves in passion, with Cynthia removing Jordan’s clothes. Cynthia moaned as Jordan feasted on her breasts. “Oh God Jordan. Oh that feels soooo good.” Cynthia tangled her hands in Jordan’s long dark hair. Jordan held her tightly and stood, with Cynthia still wrapped around her waist. She laid down on top of Cynthia gently. Kissing down her body, leaving a moist, hot trail until she reached the apex of Cynthia’s need. Jordan hovered about her lover’s center, breathing in her essence, falling into the depths of Cynthia’s desire. She dove in to drink the wetness before her. Cynthia’s hips met Jordan’s tongue. Cynthia had to bite her pillow to keep quiet and not disturb her father or son. Jordan entered her lover, moving into her deeply, thrusting in perfect rhythm to her tongue. Cynthia raised her hips. Jordan could tell from Cynthia’s increased breathing that her climax was near. Suddenly Cynthia stopped her. “No. Wait.”

Breathless and with a soaked face, Jordan asked, concerned, “What’s wrong? I didn’t hurt you did I?”

Cynthia smiled, about to burst from desire. She touched Jordan’s face softly. “No baby. I just want to touch you too. Take off your pants.”

Jordan kissed her quickly. “Anything you want.” She quickly removed her pants and underwear and joined Cynthia back on the bed. Cynthia entered her slowly at first, with deep, long strokes. Jordan closed her eyes and took her lover in. She moved her fingers inside Cynthia. The two women rocked together, raising hips, breathing hard, moving in and out, in perfect rhythm. Sweat glistening their steaming bodies as the moved together. Cynthia, began to crash hard, the screams of orgasms captured by Jordan’s kiss. This caused Jordan to climax, arching her body into Cynthia. Both women swallowing one another’s cries of pleasure. As their bodies began to calm and still, the women held one another tightly, facing one another. Grinning, Jordan moved the hair off of Cynthia’s face. Cynthia took Jordan’s hand and kissed her palm. Jordan couldn’t keep the grin off her face.

Still breathless, she said, “God, I love you .”

Cynthia quietly giggled. “I love you too.

Playfully Jordan commented. “Guess what. We’re getting married next month.”

Cynthia held up her hand with the ring. “I know. Are you excited?”

Shaking her head, “Am I ever. I can’t wait to stand up with you in front of all of our friends and family. I’ve been wanting this for a long time Cyn.”

Cynthia’s face was beginning to ache from happiness. “I can’t wait either. But, we’ve got so much to do. We have to find a place to live in D.C. and plan a wedding.”

“I think we can handle it. I’m going to have Chris stand up with me.”

Excited Cynthia said, “I’ll ask Kate to stand with me.”

Jordan kissed her. “That would mean so much to her. I love you for thinking of that.”

Cynthia looked at her. “Of course. I think of her as my daughter too.”

“She is. She and I both feel that way. You should have heard her when I told her I was going to propose.” Jordan chuckled.

“You told the kids before you told me?”

“Yes. I asked your father for his blessing and then I asked the kids.”

“So they’re happy?”

“Oh God yes. They told me I should have done it years ago, and I agree. Oh and get this; with the engagement and election, I haven’t had a chance to tell you yet, but she’s bringing Jo with her for Christmas. Apparently, Jo is her girlfriend. They’re spending the first two weeks with us and then the last two weeks with her parents in Colorado.”

Cynthia looked at her seriously. “So she’s a lesbian?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that she said that Jo is very special to her and that she is Kate’s girlfriend. You’ve heard her talk about Jo constantly. I think we need to find out more when they get here.”

“So, how do you feel about this?”

“She seems happy. She’s having fun and studying hard. Her grades are excellent. I’m worried for her, but we love her and we’ll be there to mend a broken heart, answer questions, or to help her with resources to fight any battles she may encounter. She’s our daughter and that’s it. I told her that we’d love to have them both for the holidays.”

Cynthia kissed her gently. “You’re a good Mom. I agree with you completely.”

“Thanks honey.”

“You know, I’m glad we don’t have anything major going on tomorrow. I am going to sleep late, then I’m going to go shopping. ”

Laughing, Jordan asked, “You are?”

Cynthia touched her lover’s face. “Yes I am. I have a wedding dress to buy.”

“Ok, great. We can go together.”

“I don’t think so. You can’t see what I’m wearing before the wedding.”

Grinning, Jordan said, “Yes ma’am, whatever you say.”

Cynthia kissed her on the nose. “Exactly. What do you think about red and white roses?”

“I love it. Sweetie, I know you’re excited and we don’t have to get up early, but can we go to sleep now? I’m exhausted.”

Cynthia pressed her lips to Jordan’s. “Yes we can. I love you Jordan.”

Jordan gently held Cynthia’s face between her hands. “I love you too Cyn.”

Christmas Eve

The weeks since the election had flown by. The couple found a lovely home in Georgetown. They had even picked out a favorite cafe around the corner from their house. Cynthia accepted a dream position in the press office in the White House. Sarah and Laura had accepted positions in Jordan’s office and were preparing for a move to D.C. as well. Everyone was excited about the wedding and the promise of a new future beginning in the new year.

Jordan, Cynthia, their friends and family bustled about early in the day to get the final preparations done for the wedding. Jordan’s mothers spent the day in the kitchen preparing the food for that night. Chris, Kate, and Jo picked up the flowers. Jordan and Cynthia rearranged the house, leaving everyone else to help with the odds and ends. As they were placing candles around the house, Laura looked at her best friend.

“Are you getting nervous about tonight?”

Jordan shook her head. “Not in the slightest. I’m ready for this to happen. I still can’t believe she made me spend the night at your house last night.”

Laura laughed. “Oh I can. She keeps you in line. I like that about her. I always have. She’s a very special woman, you’re very lucky, there aren’t many like her.”

Jordan smiled. She knew her friend had feelings for her fiancee. “I am very lucky. I thank God every day for her. I need to thank you too. I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for you. You insisted we hire her back. I know this may be hard for you.”

Lying, Laura asked, “What are you talking about?”

Jordan touched her shoulder. “I know you’re in love with her. Hell, I don’t blame you. She’s a remarkable woman. Who wouldn’t love her?”

Laura lowered her head. “I’m sorry.”

Jordan shook her head and forced Laura to look at her. “Don’t be. She doesn’t know. I only know because I’ve known you for so long. I want you to promise me something. I’m not getting any younger, and you never know what can happen. I’ve already have had two attempts on my life. I’m an openly lesbian politician, and there are a lot of people who hate me because of it. We both know that. If anything ever does happens to me, I want you to take care of her.”

Laura looked at her seriously. “Nothing’s going to happen to you. Besides, she only wants you.”

“Promise me you will take care of her. Do what you have to. Just be there for her. Make sure she is ok. I need this from you Laura.”

Laura nodded. “I promise. Now can we change this topic? When are you leaving for your honeymoon?”

“We’re leaving for Vermont on the twenty-sixth. We rented a cabin and we’re going to register and have a civil union ceremony on New Year’s Eve. It’s amazing how those judges, especially the gay ones will jump through hoops to perform a ceremony for a U. S. Senator. Actually, most people jump through hoops for me now. I get kind of a kick out of it.”

Laura laughed. “I bet you do.”

Jordan laughed along with her. “Alright, enough gabbing we have to get this done or my head will be on a platter.”

By the evening, the house was filled with candles and white and red roses. White Christmas lights twinkled through the house and on the giant tree in the corner. Jordan was dressed in a black pantsuit with a buttoned jacket that went down to her mid-thighs. She wore a silver satiny shirt beneath with the cuffs folded over the end of the jacket sleeves. A red rose was pinned to her lapel. Chris was handsome in a black suit. She hadn’t been allowed to see Cynthia. All she knew was that her shirt was the same color as the dress. Guests began to arrive and Jordan greeted them at the door. Sarah and Tammy were the first to arrive. Tammy brought her guitar.

Sarah looked Jordan over and kissed her on the cheek. “You look stunning Jordan.”

Jordan returned the gesture. “Thanks. You both look great too. Come on in. Did you two find a place in D.C. yet?”

Tammy answered. “We found a place in Chevy Chase. Where do you want me to set up?”

Jordan showed her a chair and music stand where Tammy could play. “I appreciate you doing this Tammy.”

Tammy just grinned. “Hey, believe me, it’s my pleasure. Besides, I owe you one for introducing me to this one right here.” She pulled Sarah close and kissed her on the temple.

Sarah turned to Jordan. “Where’s Cynthia? I want to see how she’s doing.”

“She’s in the bedroom getting ready. Go on in. I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”

Cynthia was putting the final touches on her makeup. Her sister was helping her with her hair.

“You look beautiful Cynthia. You look happy.”

The bride smiled. ” I am.” There was a knock at the door. “Come in,” Cynthia called.

Sarah walked in. “Hey there gorgeous. How ya doin’ in here?”

Cynthia took a deep breath. “I’m doing ok. I’m a little nervous.”

Kate walked in the door, looking beautiful in a long burgundy dress. “Hi Mom.”

Cynthia turned around to look at the young woman. “What did you just call me?”

The young woman was smiling. “You were my Mom for ten years. Since you’ve been back, you’ve become that again. That’s how I think of you. Chris and I both think of you that way. We bought this for you.” She held out a long rectangular box.

Stunned, Cynthia reached out. She opened the box, revealing a diamond tennis bracelet. Tears came to her eyes. Kate took the piece of jewelry and placed it on Cynthia’s wrist. Cynthia fingered the bracelet.

“This is beautiful Kate. I love it. I love you. Hearing you call me Mom is such a beautiful sound.”

Kate hugged her tightly. Cynthia held onto her daughter for several moments. “For me too, Mom. This is a combined wedding/Christmas present. It can be your something new.”

Cynthia’s sister, Jennifer stepped up. She handed Cynthia a blue garter. “This is your something blue.”

Sarah handed Cynthia an antique lace handkerchief. “This was my grandmother’s. It can be your something borrowed.”

Jen smiled and said. “Dad has your something old. I’ll go get him.” She walked out. Soon, Cynthia’s father knocked on the door. Cynthia allowed him in. Sarah and Kate walked out of the room.

“Hi Daddy.”

The older gentleman looked at his daughter. “You look beautiful Cynthia. I wish your mother could be here. I’m proud to be here with you tonight. Jordan looks wonderful. She’s so excited.” He pulled a string of pearls out of his coat pocket. “Your mother wore these when she married me. Her mother wore them before her. She saved these for you all these years. She wanted you to have them and I am honored to give them to you.” He put the pearls around her neck and fastened them.

Cynthia was crying. Her father wrapped his arms around her. “I love you sweetheart.”

“I love you too Daddy.”

The guests had arrived and the wedding was about to start. Chris and Kate pulled their mother to the side. Chris smiled and hugged his mother.

“Mom, we wanted to give you your present in private. We wanted to tell you how much we love you and how proud we are to have you as our mother.” Kate held out a rectangular box. Jordan opened the box revealing a tennis bracelet and a tear fell down her cheek.

Kate fastened the bracelet around her mother’s wrist. “We gave Cynthia one exactly like this. We’re so happy to have you two together. I can’t thank you enough for the way you’ve welcomed Jo and I completely. I’ve always known that no matter what, I could be free to be myself and I would be loved and accepted. You have no idea how much that means to me. We love you and Mom.”

Crying Jordan hugged both of her children tightly. Kate went back to her mothers’ bedroom. Chris turned to Jordan. “I have one more gift for you. I’ve decided to come work for you when I graduate in May. That is, if you’ll still have me.”

Jordan’s face lit up and she hugged her son again. “Oh Chris. That makes me so happy. We’ve got plenty of room for you. Just move in with us. We can carpool to work.”

Chris smiled. “Mom, I love you both. But, I’m going to live on my own. I will be working for you, so obviously we’ll see one another daily.”

Jordan nodded. “Ok. I’ll concede to that. I am so happy and proud of you son. Thank you. You’re going to do a fine job.”

“Thanks.” He looked at his watch. “It’s time to start. Are you ready?”

Jordan beamed. “Yeah. Do you have the ring?”

Chris reached into his pocket and pulled it out.

Jordan took a deep breath. “Let’s go.”

In the bedroom, Cynthia’s sister knocked on the door. Poking her head in, she said. “Cynthia, it’s time to start. Everyone’s out there and ready. Jordan is standing with Daddy and waiting for you.”

Cynthia’s heart stopped for a moment. She grabbed her bouquet, smiled at Kate and Jen and said, “Let’s go.”

Jen walked out of the room, shut off all the lights and nodded to Tammy before sitting on one of the couches next to her husband. Tammy began playing “Ave Maria” on a classical guitar, singing gently. The house was lit by the soft glow of the fireplace and candles. Kate walked out of the room and down the hall, slowly, carrying a bouquet of red roses. As she strode to the fireplace she couldn’t help but catch Jo’s eyes. They shared a brief, private, loving look. When Kate reached her mother, she stopped and kissed her on the cheek. Next, Cynthia walked slowly down the hall. Jordan’s breath caught when she saw her bride walking towards her, smiling, wearing a silver, two piece, sleeveless gown. Glowing in the candlelight, she carried a bouquet of red and white roses. Jordan couldn’t keep the smile from consuming her face. Cynthia reached the fireplace and soon after, the music ended. She handed her bouquet to Kate and took Jordan’s hands. Tears were already beginning to form in Cynthia’s eyes.

Dr. Price began. “We’re here on this night filled with love to witness the joining of my daughter, Cynthia and her partner, Jordan. Everyone here is either family or a good friend. We’ve all seen the love these two women have for one another. It is protective, strong, and true. I cannot express my pride at being able to unite them. As a father, I always wanted my children to be happy, to love and to be loved in return. Standing here between you two, makes this one of the happiest days of my life. They’ve taught me so much in the three months I’ve been around them. I’ve learned that love should be supported and celebrated regardless of gender. As a minister, I’m proud to bring such loving people together and I’m thrilled to welcome Jordan, Chris, and Kate into my family.” The minister wiped a tear from his eyes and continued. “Jordan and Cynthia have some things they would like to say to one another. Jordan?” He nodded in Jordan’s direction.

Jordan lifted Cynthia’s hands to her lips, kissing them softly. “Cynthia, standing here with you tonight, I am filled with such overwhelming and empowering love. Your love strengthens me and gives me peace. During the best of times, you are by my side, holding my hand, sharing them with me. During my darkest times, you are standing in front of me with your hand stretched out, pulling me into the light. You are my light and I would be lost without you. When things get dark for you, I will be your light. No matter how far away you are, I will always come looking for you. I am proud of you as a woman and after today, as my wife. I look forward to this new journey we’re about to take and every other one after that, because I know I will take it with you. I love you Cynthia and I am yours forever.” Jordan’s voice broke and a few tears drifted down her cheek.

Wiping the moisture off her own face, Cynthia began. “Jordan, from the first moment I saw you speak, I knew you were the one. I don’t know how I knew, I just did. You’ve given me love and a family. Those are the two greatest gifts I’ve ever received. From this day forward, everything I do will be with you, for you, and because of you. The future is bright and exciting and inviting, because I know I will share it with you. You are the only one I have ever or will ever love. Separate, we are both competent, intelligent individuals. But together, we can do anything. We’ve seen that. I’ve waited for this day for so long. I am proud and honored to have you as my wife tonight. Thank you for being my friend, my lover, a great boss, and my true love. I love you Jordan and I am yours forever.”

The friends and family in attendance were wiping their eyes, as was Cynthia’s father. Smiling, he spoke. “Now, Jordan and Cynthia will exchange rings.” Jordan took the ring from Chris.

Dr. Price continued. “Repeat after me. Take this ring as a symbol of my undying love, respect, fidelity and friendship. Wear it as a sign of our commitment and joining.”

Jordan slipped the gold and diamond band, that matched the engagement ring, onto Cynthia’s finger. “Take this ring as a symbol of my undying love, respect, fidelity, and friendship. Wear it as a sign of our commitment and joining.” Kate handed Cynthia the wedding ring.

Dr. Price spoke. “Cynthia, repeat after me. Take this symbol of my undying love, respect, fidelity, and friendship. Wear it as a sign of our commitment and joining.”

Cynthia slipped the identical band on Jordan’s finger and smiled. “Take this ring as a symbol of my undying love, respect, fidelity, and friendship. Wear it as a sign of our commitment and joining.”

The two women beamed. Cynthia’s father continued. “Jordan has a song she would like to sing for Cynthia.”

Cynthia looked shocked and Jordan just winked and whispered. “Surprise.”

Jordan picked up the hidden guitar and sat down on the arm of the couch, with the instrument on her knee. She began playing and sang.

“She’s got a way about her

I don’t know what it is

But, I know that I can’t live without her

She’s got a way of pleasin’

I don’t know why it is

But there doesn’t have to be a reason anyway

She’s got a smile that heals me

I don’t know why it is

But I have to smile when she reveals me

She’s got a way of talkin’

I don’t know why it is

But it lifts me up when we are walkin’ anywhere

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down

Inspires me without a sound

She touches me when I get turned around

She’s got a way of showin’

How I make her feel

And I find the strength to keep on goin’

She’s got a light around her

And everywhere she goes

A million rings of love surround her everywhere

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down

Inspires me without a sound

She touches me when I get turned around

She’s got a smile that heals me

I don’t know why it is

But I have to smile when she reveals me

She’s got a way about her

I don’t know what it is

But I know that I can’t live without her anyway

Jordan ended the song and sniffling could be heard throughout the room. Cynthia was again wiping the tears off her face. Jordan held her hands.

Dr. Price concluded the ceremony. “I now pronounce you, united for life. Ladies, kiss your bride.”

Jordan grinned and took Cynthia in her arms, kissing her deeply, dipping her, holding her tightly. Their friends cheered and applauded the couple. After the kiss, Jordan and Cynthia looked into one another’s eyes, smiling and laughing. The rest of the night went on and the group ate and enjoyed one another’s company. They exchanged presents and sang Christmas carols. The newlywed couple shared many kisses and maintained a constant physical closeness. Jordan looked around at her faithful group of family and close friends and at her wife and had never been happier.

She spoke. “If I could have y’all’s attention for a minute. I’d like to thank everyone for coming to share the holiday and this special night with Cynthia, the kids, and me. Most of us have been spending Christmas together here in my home for about ten years now. We have a few new faces. I’d like to welcome Cynthia’s family. It’s wonderful to have all of you with us. And I’d also like to welcome Jo, Kate’s girlfriend.” The young woman smiled and wrapped her arms around Kate’s waist from behind. Jordan continued. “I’d like to give a special thanks to those of you who helped in making this night special for Cynthia and me. Some of you are coming with us to D.C. and we can’t wait to share this new adventure with you. For those of you staying here, we’re going to miss you terribly, but we’ll be back often. Along those lines, I’d like to announce the addition of my son to my D.C. staff, which is something that thrills me to no end. And we’re excited to be closer to our daughter so we can see her more frequently. The people in this room are the people who mean the most to us. We are so blessed to have all of you as a part of our lives. If everyone can raise a glass I’d like to make a toast.” Jordan raised her glass of sparkling cider. “I’d like to toast my beautiful new wife, who has made me unbelievably happy and proud and to all of us for getting through a difficult year. May we all have a wonderful and bright new year and future.”

Later that night after everyone left, Cynthia and Jordan snuck off to their room. Jordan wrapped her arms tightly around Cynthia. “So tell me my love, was this the wedding you pictured?”

Cynthia reached up and kissed her wife. “It was so much better. It was perfect, just like you.”

Jordan kissed Cynthia again. “You look so beautiful tonight; you take my breath away.”

Smiling, Cynthia said, “You look quite stunning yourself my dear. This shirt I bought for you matched my dress exactly.”

“Yes, you did a wonderful job. I love you so much Cyn. Tonight was so special, far more than I can even express. And in two days, we are going to be making love in front of a roaring fire, wrapped in blankets, as the snow falls outside our cabin window.”

“Mmmmm. I can’t wait.”

“But tonight, we have a wedding night to celebrate.”

Giggling, Cynthia replied. “Yes we do baby.”

Jordan stepped out of the embrace and lit the room up with candles and turned on some soft music. She walked back over to Cynthia and held out her hand. “Dance with me.” Cynthia bit her lower lip, nodded, and walked into Jordan’s arms. The couple danced slowly, feeling the warmth that enveloped them. Jordan softly sang along with the music.

There’s a somebody I’m longing to see

I hope that she turns out to be

Someone to watch over me

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood

I know I could always be good

To one who’ll watch over me

Although I may not be the one some girls think of as handsome

To my heart, she carries the key

Won’t you tell her please to put on some speed

Follow my lead

Oh how I need

Someone to watch over me”

The song continued and the two women began kissing, barely swaying, holding one another tightly. Cynthia began unbuttoning Jordan’s shirt, running her hands along the warm skin. Jordan let her head fall back as she concentrated on the sensations of her wife’s touch. Cynthia pulled off Jordan’s shirt and began placing soft kisses along the tops of her lover’s breasts. Jordan moaned at the delicious contact. She unzipped Cynthia’s blouse, pulling it over her head. She released Cynthia’s breasts from their confines. Cynthia pushed Jordan towards the bed, their lips never breaking contact. Jordan laid down on the bed, pulling Cynthia on top of her. Cynthia ran her hands down Jordan’s body, reaching her pants. She unbuttoned and slid the black slacks and black satin panties down Jordan’s long, firm legs, leaving her wife naked and wanting. She slipped off her skirt and rejoined Jordan, hovering above her. She held Jordan’s hands above her head, nestling her body between the taller woman’s legs. Jordan arched into her lover, their breasts meeting, nipples brushing against one another. “Oh God, Cynthia. You are so amazing. I need you.” Cynthia kissed her harder and harder. She moved her lips lower, licking and nibbling on Jordan’s aching skin. She stopped just before she got to Jordan’s hot center. She looked up at Jordan and whispered passionately, “I’m going to make love to you. I’m going to make you come again and again and you are going to lie there and take it.” Jordan smiled. “Yes ma’am.”

Cynthia lowered her lips to Jordan’s need. Jordan grabbed onto the headboard as her hips rose off the bed. Cynthia wrapped her arms around Jordan’s hips, holding her in place. She feasted on the sweet nectar offered to her. She licked and sucked in just the right places, knowing exactly what it would do to Jordan. She ran her tongue in circles around Jordan’s clit. Jordan moaned and groaned. Cynthia knew her wife’s climax was near, she began to lick harder and faster. Jordan’s orgasm ripped through her, causing her body to convulse and rise off the bed as Cynthia held on. Cynthia loved it when Jordan was like this. After the waves subsided, Cynthia laid her head down on Jordan’s stomach. Jordan ran her hands through the soft strawberry-blonde hair. “That was incredible baby. You are so good at that.”

Cynthia placed soft kisses on Jordan’s skin. “You’re not done yet. I’m giving you a couple of minutes to catch your breath.”

Jordan purred. “Hey, I can keep going if you can. I don’t need a break here.”

Cynthia leaned up and kissed Jordan hard. “Oh you’re on baby.” She reached down and entered Jordan deeply. Jordan sucked in a big breath. Cynthia moved above her, straddling her thigh, pushing her fingers deep inside. Their mouths were joined in passion, their bodies moist, moving together as Cynthia took Jordan. Jordan’s breathing grew hard and her teeth clenched as she could feel herself getting closer. Cynthia could feel her impending orgasm. Cynthia attached herself to Jordan’s nipple, sending her wife over the edge. Jordan’s entire body tightened then relaxed in sweet release, sending Cynthia into her own abyss of pleasure. The two women did their best trying to squelch their screams, but it was out of their control. They lay together, still, catching their breath, smiling. Jordan held onto Cynthia tightly, she ran her fingers through her lover’s damp hair.

Cynthia took Jordan’s hand in hers and pressed it to her lips. “Jordan, you have made this the most fabulous night of my life. It was better than I ever imagined. Everything about it was unbelievably wonderful. I think I cried through most of it.”

Jordan chuckled and kissed Cynthia’s forehead. “Good. It was remarkable wasn’t it. I thought I was going to burst into tears and then faint when I saw how incredible you looked tonight. So, how do you like married life so far?”

Cynthia giggled. “It works for me. You sang beautifully tonight and it was such a surprise. I had no idea you were going to. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me. You are the most romantic woman, oh wife of mine.”

“Only for you my angel. You bring it out in me. We’re pretty sticky. What do you think of moving this party into the shower?”

Cynthia began to feel playful. “I’d love to. Be sure and bring our little friend in the nightstand.”

Jordan was suddenly full of energy. She got out of bed, and helped Cynthia up. She reached into the nightstand and grabbed the phallus and harness. They kissed their way into the bathroom and shower. After soaping one another thoroughly, sliding against each other, their desire grew. Cynthia whispered into her ear. “Get it now!” Shudders ran up and down Jordan’s spine. She reached out of the shower for the phallus and harness and slipped it into place. She turned Cynthia around, to face the shower wall. She firmly cupped Cynthia’s breast. Cynthia could feel the phallus against her behind. “Take me Jordan. I need you inside me.”

Jordan kissed her neck. “Anything you want.” She turned Cynthia around and her stand on the sides of the tub. “Hold on to me baby,” she instructed. Cynthia complied. Jordan ran her hands along Cynthia’s lovely thigh that she lifted to her side. Cynthia held on tightly, as Jordan lowered her onto the phallus, wrapping her legs around the taller woman. She entered Cynthia, slowly, gently. Jordan eyes began to roll back into her head as she made love to Cynthia this way. She moved her hips, grinding against Cynthia. Warm, wet, slick bodies moving together. Jordan began move faster. She held onto Cynthia tightly. Jordan pressed her into the shower wall. Cynthia could feel herself move in response to Jordan’s power. Jordan thrust into the woman she loved. This caused Cynthia to crumble as she came hard, pushing down into Jordan. As their bodies began to calm, Jordan held Cynthia tightly, kissing her face. They got out of the shower, exhausted. Jordan wrapped a thick towel around her wife, then herself. The two women dried off and Jordan carried her back into the bedroom and laid her on the bed. She climbed in next to Cynthia, who pulled the cover up over both of them and settled in Jordan’s arms.

Jordan held her contentedly. “What time is it?”

Cynthia looked over at the bedside clock. “It’s four.”

“We’ve been making love for five hours? No wonder I’m exhausted. But I feel so incredible.”

“I love you my beautiful wife. Merry Christmas.”

A happy tear blurred Jordan’s vision. “And I love you my precious bride. Merry Christmas to you.”

Jordan’s Swearing In

Jordan stood on the first day of the session in the Senate chamber behind her desk with her right hand up with the other members of the Senate and took her oath of office. She couldn’t get over the feeling that she was meant to be there. Her wife, kids, family, and staff stood up in the balcony watching.

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

She looked up at her loved ones, who had tears in their eyes. Then she sat down, took a deep breath, and started her first term as a U. S. Senator.

Cynthia’s first day at her new job

Cynthia pulled up to the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and nervously showed her badge to the security guard. He checked for her name on the list of employees. He waved her in. She pulled up and parked her car. She checked herself in the mirror and walked into the famous building. She was led to her office, overlooking the Rose Garden. She looked down at the rings on her left hand, a reminder of her incredible relationship and then at her new surroundings. The thought struck her that for the first time ever, her life was in perfect balance. She called Jordan, excited. Jordan was just as excited and proud. Cynthia sat in her office, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of her workplace. She knew she was right where she was meant to be.

Epilogue-Six years later.

KSAT12 News.

“In a landslide, Senate incumbent, Jordan O’Connor has beaten her Republican challenger with seventy-percent of the vote. Ms. O’Connor is best known for her sponsorship of legislation that established a voluntary prescription drug program with Medicare, legislation that established a National Domestic Partnership registry, and legislation that raised the minimum wage by two dollars. We join the Senator at her victory party now.”

Jordan stood on the large stage at the Plaza San Antonio ballroom. Cynthia stood beside her. Laura and her partner, Amber(Benson) were standing on the other side of the couple. Behind them were Chris and his wife, Olivia. To their left, was Kate and her partner Jo, who had both become teachers on an Indian reservation in Arizona. Sarah and Tammy stood hand-in-hand with them. Jordan’s mothers were up there, as was her father, his wife, and her brothers. Cynthia’s relatives rounded out the family members. Jordan’s staff spilled over to the floor on the side of the stage. In her arms, Jordan held her one year old granddaughter, Emily, who was Chris’ daughter.

She stepped up to the microphone and the partygoers chanted her name. “First of all, I’d like to thank my wife and my family; I love you. I also want to thank my staff, all the wonderful volunteers who gave their time and energy because they believed in me. I couldn’t do this without their love, support, and hard work. Last but certainly not least, I thank the voters of Texas. When I took office six years ago, it was under cloudy circumstances. This time, I’ve received a clear message from the voters of Texas. They like what we’re doing so far, and they want us to continue with our work. I’ve worked hard for the people of the U.S. and Texas. It has been an honor to help the people of this nation and this state. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Our employment rates are high, our economy is booming, and our Seniors are getting the prescription assistance they need. I was able to help tax-paying gay and lesbian couples get the same health, tax, and immigration benefits that other tax-paying Americans have enjoyed for years. I worked diligently to always do the right thing, to raise the bar for other lawmakers, to be more ethical, encouraging the voters of this country to demand more of their representatives. So here we go, into another exciting six years together. I will work as hard if not harder to make this country and this state even better. There is so much we have done; so much we have left to do and I will not rest until it is done. Thank you all again, I am humbled by your confidence in me and your support for me.”

The group continued to chant Jordan’s name. Some even held placards that said ‘O’Connor for President’. Jordan began her second term with a landslide victory and a mandate from the voters that she missed out on in the previous election. She had spent six years serving with grace, integrity, and honor. She had kept her promises, but she was only scratching the surface of what she could accomplish and she was ready to find out. Little did she know, she was on the verge of greatness, as she stood there with her wife and her growing family by her side.

 

The End

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