After walking around in heaven long enough, eventually, you have to pinch yourself to see if it’s real. It turns out that it is. I’m really here. I’m in Sacramento, California. I can’t believe that it’s true.
Okay, I know that Sacramento isn’t on everyone’s must-see California itinerary. But that’s only because you don’t know what else is here. Sacramento happens to be the state’s capital and home of the hottest Governor this country has ever seen.
Imagine the model from any cologne commercial and then make him the smartest and most charismatic man you’ve ever met. That’s Governor Duke Bradon. He ran for the governorship at 24 years old and won. Considering the experienced guys he was going up against, it was amazing. And, considering how close the race was, I like to think that it was my vote that gave him his victory.
Realistically speaking, I know it wasn’t my vote, but it’s nice to think that. Because if it was because of me that he got his job, he owes me. I’m not saying that he has to repay me by becoming my sex slave or anything. But you know where my head’s at.
The man is scorching hot. There is a picture of him running the California Marathon shirtless and his glistening, rippling body is now my brain’s screen saver. Governor Duke Bradon is physical perfection. And if that wasn’t enough, he is the most ambitious person I could ever imagine.
My appreciation for incredibly ambitious men is only a recent revelation, though I should have seen it sooner. I don’t have much of a dating history but there’s definitely a pattern. In my junior year of college, I was the girl who fell hard for the cocky guy who told everyone he was going to be a billionaire. Every other girl was smart enough to stay far away from him, but like a sad, chubby moth, I was drawn to the fire.
I dated him until he graduated that summer and he moved back in with his parents. He said he was doing it so he didn’t have to pay rent while he built his empire. Fair enough. But, after a few months passed and he still didn’t have a job, I saw him as every other girl did, a sad, pathetic guy who talked big but had no follow-up.
Having learned my lesson with him, the next guy I dated was an actor. He wasn’t a working actor or even that good of an actor, but he was clear about what he wanted. He wanted to become a star. Not only that, he was willing to work for it… by becoming a waiter.
Hey, I have nothing against waiters. I even know that it’s a tradition for struggling actors to do it. It’s because of the job’s flexible hours. If an audition suddenly pops up, you can easily switch shifts. Work in the right restaurant, and the tips will pay for a decent life.
But, ugh. After we dated for a few months, I saw him in a showcase. Showcases are these things actors organize with the hopes of being seen by casting directors. Afterward, I couldn’t help but think, ‘if he really wants to be a star, wouldn’t he work on his craft?’ Because the man was bad. We’re talking I-can’t-believe-I-let-him-put-his-dick-in-me bad.
After him, I dated a guy who claimed that he had an app that would be the next Facebook. And after him, I dated a much older guy who claimed he would change the world with his tar sands pits in Canada. Apparently, tar sands are like oil wells, but for suckers. Fail!
It was after the old guy that I had to sit back and consider what the hell I was doing with my life. I had a degree in international affairs yet I was working as a receptionist in a law firm. It wasn’t a bad job and it paid pretty well for a job right out of college. But I was always just going through the motions. The only time I felt truly alive was when I was lost in someone else’s ambitious dreams.
Realizing that was when I took a break from dating. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself when you eliminate all of your distractions. It turns out that I was a woman approaching thirty who was living my life vicariously through the men I dated. Maybe it was time for me to start living my own life. But, when you have spent your life helping other people realize their dream, it doesn’t leave you much time to figure out your own.
And, that is why I packed up my life and left Los Angeles for wonderful Sacramento, California. I had gotten a degree in international affairs because I had wanted to help change the world. I wasn’t going to do that as a receptionist in a law firm. But, I might be able to do it if I worked for someone like the drool-worthy Governor Duke Bradon.
What would I be doing for him? I wasn’t sure. But when I called his office, they said that they were about to begin staffing for his next campaign. How perfect was that? And who would have known that my years as a receptionist at a law firm would make me the perfect person to order bumper stickers with Duke’s name on it? It was like it was meant to be.
“Did you find the office okay?” Tilly asked, not interested in my answer.
“Yeah. I’m staying at an Airbnb close by, thanks,” I said with a nervous smile.
“Oh. It’s good to know you’re close. It’ll come in handy if you stick around and there’s something last minute that I need you to do,” the campaign manager said.
“I’m sticking around,” I clarified. “I mean if you all want me. I have been inspired by Governor Bradon for a long time. I consider it an honor to work for him. I mean it, anything you need me to do, I’ll do it.”
Tilly stared at me as if she was peering at my soul. “I see,” she finally said. “Well, working for Governor Bradon can sometimes get tricky. You won’t always like it. He can be a handful. But working on his campaign is an opportunity to change the world.”
“That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
“Good. Because Governor Bradon is going places. You’re getting on the ride at the right time.”
I knew what Tilly was talking about. There had been rumors for months that Governor Bradon was going to make a run at becoming president. A person wasn’t even eligible until they were 35 and he wasn’t yet. But you would have to be blind not to see that it would happen. And when he won, what would that mean for me?
“Let me show you to your desk,” Tilly said giving me all of the time she was willing to.
Pointing me to a long empty table with phones on it, I took a seat.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“You see the phones, right?”
“When it rings, you answer it. You think you can do that?”
“Of course. But, when I answer it, what am I supposed to say? Who should I transfer the calls to? Is there a list of extensions?”
Tilly, who was ready to walk away, stopped and stared at me disappointed. “Look, you’ve clearly never worked on a campaign before. But the way you survive in a place like this is by taking initiative. Does it currently look like we have a list of people you can transfer calls to?” She said gesturing to the otherwise empty office space.
“No. But, maybe there’s another office,” I suggested not loving the way she was talking to me.
“There’s no other office. There’s nowhere else. It’s early and our campaign is still ramping up. Most people calling in will be someone like you looking to work with us. Take down their name and number and give those to me.
“Occasionally there will be someone looking to make a donation. Take their names down and get them to me. If anyone who sounds important calls, take down their name and number and get it to me. Are you seeing a pattern here?”
“Yes. Take down everyone’s name and number and give it to you.”
“Except if it’s the Governor. If he calls on this line. Find me immediately.”
“Wait, the Governor could be calling?” I asked suddenly feeling a rush.
“It is his campaign office,” she replied snippily.
“Right. Okay, I’ll do that,” I said suddenly energized by the possibility that I could meet the star of so many of my erotic fantasies.
Crackling with excitement, I sat orienting myself for a moment and then got up and did what I did best. This girl didn’t have a problem taking initiative. Although Tilly and I were the only ones there, I knew we wouldn’t always be. So, I went around to every phone making a list of their extensions.
After that, I transferred the incoming line to a desk with a computer. And after logging in and creating an account, I created a way to log all calls and transfer them to Tilly electronically. That was day one. And yes, I am that good.
Living a few blocks away, I walked back to my Airbnb. It was a two-room apartment that was smaller than my place in Los Angeles. But, I was also making a lot less. Luckily the cost of living in Sacramento offset the cost of getting an Airbnb and I would be able to not rush into a long-term lease.
It wasn’t that I was wavering on my decision to uproot my life from the city I had been born in. And, it wasn’t that I was scared of making a commitment. It was… You know what? I wasn’t sure why I decided to live like a girl who could pack up and leave at any moment. So, let’s just call it a woman’s prerogative.
With Netflix playing in the background as I ate dinner, I thought about my new life. I couldn’t believe that there was a chance I could meet Duke Bradon. It sent a warm feeling between my legs just thinking about it.
After I worked through that, I thought about what I wanted from my big move. It didn’t take me long to come up with an answer. I wanted to help Duke Bradon become president of the United States. If I wanted to change the world, what better way of doing it than that.
By any measure, he’s done a great job with our state. Sure, there are issues that began before he became governor and will probably persist after he’s gone. But, for the most part, he’s gotten things right.
There were also a few family value issues that I didn’t completely agree with. But you can’t expect to agree with someone on everything, right? You have to have a big picture view of things. And, big picture, I think Duke Bradon would make one of the best presidents this country has ever had.
With that purpose in mind, I went into the office the next day more energized than ever. It was the first day of two new staffers. Mark was a bald guy with a full white beard that made him look older than he was. He was going to be in charge of donations. I could see how such a job could prematurely age someone. And Tina was a tough-looking woman who mentioned her wife within the first ten minutes of meeting her. She was in charge of accounting.
Both of them could be described as abrasive, but I was used to that. I once saw a lawyer at my old job throw something at another receptionist. Afterward, I calmly walked over to her desk, picked it up, and then threw it back at him as hard as I could. I didn’t have to say a word. He never did that shit again. Abrasive people didn’t scare me.
As the days went by, more of the empty desks filled up. I never realized how many positions were available on a campaign. There was someone whose job it was to find volunteers. I mean, of course there was, right? But I hadn’t considered it.
By the next week, I was having fun. It was great to be around such passionate people. And then when the rumor started that Duke Bradon would be coming by to welcome everybody, I almost peed my pants.
Seriously, how many times had I fantasized about him? The answer is a lot. And there was now a chance that I would get to meet him. How is a girl supposed to react to that?
It turns out that it wasn’t just me who was excited and that made sense. No one was here for the money. It was because they believed in what Duke Bradon stood for… or believed that he was incredibly hot. Either way, the excitement that pulsated was overwhelming. So, when he walked through the door and flashed his million-dollar smile, more than one of us giggled like a schoolgirl. And that included the men.
“Hello everyone. I would like to welcome you to the team. I know that you all have sacrificed a lot to be here and a lot to stay. I want you to know that I appreciate that. The state appreciates that.
“It is because of you that we can better the lives of millions of people. Your hard work and sacrifice are why families without homes now have a place to sleep. Why those with mental health issues are being provided the resources they so desperately need. And it is because of you that college and trade schools will become a right of every member of our state and why we will continue to lead the country in fighting climate change. That’s because of you. Thank you for what you do. The whole state thanks you.”
Do I even need to say that my pussy was throbbing by the time he left us for Tilly’s office? Oh my god, so inspiring! Did he also need me to take a bullet for him? No problem. Unlike his sculpted body, I had a little extra padding. I don’t even think I would feel it.
Sure, a few calls came in while Duke met with Tilly, and I answered them. But there was a window in Tilly’s office door and I watched the two of them the entire time. I was never one to get star-struck but I was with Duke. So, when they both turned around and stared directly at me, I had to clench really hard not to wet myself.
“Olive, can you come in here for a second, please?” Tilly said leaning past her door.
Oh shit! What was going on?
“Coming!” I said unable to breathe.
When I first stood up, I didn’t think my legs would hold me. They shook like jelly. And, I didn’t even know I could sweat like that. But holding myself together, I crossed the room and entered the small office. It smelt like the floral centerpiece in the lobby of a fancy hotel. It was coming from Duke and I was all about it.
I held back from looking Duke in the eyes as long as I could, but with us practically on top of each other as Tilly lowered the blinds, I couldn’t resist for very long. His steel-gray eyes sparkled. Everything about his face was welcoming. He was even more beautiful up close and I was as close to him as I could get.
“Olive, I would like you to meet Duke Bradon, Governor of California.”
“I know who he is. It’s an honor to meet you,” I said making a fool of myself.
“It’s an honor to meet you as well,” he said in a rumbling, soothing tone.
“It’s an honor to meet me?”
“Of course,” he said. “You are the engine that makes this train go.”
“I am? You sure you don’t mean the caboose?” I asked showing him my round ass.
As soon as I did it, I froze. What the hell had I done? I wasn’t even thinking. I blame him for being so god damn personable. He was also too good looking. What was a girl to do looking at a T-bone steak like him? All I could think of was devouring him while his juices dripped down my chin.
Petrified as the humiliation drew out, I wasn’t able to breathe again until Duke laughed so hard that everyone outside definitely heard. When he stopped, he looked at me with a glowing smile.
“I can’t comment on that, but…” he said shaking his head in approval.
“Oookaaay,” Tilly said attempting to change the topic. “Well, I will leave you two to talk. Duke, I’ll be outside when you’re done.”
What was going on? Was Tilly leaving me alone with Duke Bradon? Didn’t she just hear me make a fool of myself with him? Did she realize that I couldn’t be trusted to be alone with the merchandise?
I was about to tell her all of this when Tilly slipped through the door leaving the two of us in the office. I slowly turned around and looked at Duke Bradon again. God, was he hot!
“Do you mind if I take a seat?” He said crossing to the other side of the desk.
“It’s your office,” I told him trying to be as casual as I could be.
“Thank you. Please, have a seat as well,” he said gesturing to the chair on the other side of the desk.
I took a seat wondering if I had sweat through my blouse yet. Peaking down, it turned out that I hadn’t. I guess miracles did happen. And, settling in for what was becoming the most surreal experience of my life, I turned to him and just stared… like a crazy person.
“Yes,” I replied confirming my name in case he wasn’t sure.
“This is a little awkward, but I kind of need a favor.”
I was contemplating the recovery time from ripping out a kidney and handing it to him when he continued.
“My birthday is coming up.”
“Yes, happy birthday,” I said sure that I would not get another chance.
He smiled politely. “It’s not for a few days yet, but thank you. But, here’s the thing. One of my major donors will be throwing a birthday party for me…”
“Oh wow, that’s exciting!”
“Yes. It’s a big one. Number 35.”
He looked at me suggestively. Was his look about his potential presidential run?
“Number 35,” I repeated.
“And, I need an escort for the party?”
I paused. “You’re asking me to find you a hooker?”
“No! No, no, no, no, nooooo! Absolutely not. I was actually asking you if you wouldn’t mind being my escort for the night.”
I paused. “You want me to be a hooker?”
This time Duke laughed. I wasn’t sure how to take that.
“No. No hookers. I was just wondering if you would accompany me to my 35th birthday party,” he asked looking nervous.
I was very confused. I mean, hell yes! But confused.
“Why are you asking me? Aren’t you dating Rhianna or someone?”
“Rhianna? No. Has that been going around?” He asked genuinely.
“No? I don’t know. I just mean you could probably go with any single woman in the world, and probably a couple of married ones. So, why are you asking me?”
Duke took a deep breath and swallowed his lips. In all of the footage I had seen of him, it was never a look that I saw him make. It almost made him look human… almost.
“Here’s the thing. I’m not dating anyone right now. There’s not even anyone I have my sights on. But if I show up to this thing alone… let’s just say that it wouldn’t be a good idea.
“So, instead of getting into anything complicated for one event, I thought that I would go with someone who would keep things simple. Someone who would know that it wasn’t a date and that nothing was going to happen. And yet would have the discretion to keep the arrangement between us.”
Ahhhh! Okay, things were making sense now. The most beautiful man to ever walk the earth just needed some arm candy and didn’t want to make things complicated. Boy, he clearly did not know about my dating history. I specialized in making things complicated. A boyfriend once joked that I had the devil in me. At least I think it was a joke. He was fucking me at the time, so it could have been a personal revelation. I mean, what type of person never shared their fries?
“So, you want me to go with you to your fancy 35th birthday party as your non-date?”
“I guess you can say that. Yes.”
“And, you’re inviting me because you want to keep things uncomplicated?”
“And this is not a Pretty Woman situation, because I really love that movie?”
Duke chuckled. “This is not a Pretty Woman situation. This is more of an employee choosing to join his boss at a fun off-hours event so that the boss doesn’t have to look like the sad loser who couldn’t get a date for his birthday party.”
Duke gave his best sad puppy dog face and, I had to admit, it was adorable. Who could say no to anything this man asked, especially when it allowed you to keep both of your kidneys?
“I would love to,” I said with a grin.
“You would? Excellent!” He said offering a genuine smile. “Well, the event is in two days and it is black tie. How is your wardrobe?”
I thought about all of the work suits in my closet. I could definitely look professional if I had to, but I had nothing for a fancy black-tie event.
“I mean, I would have to get something, but that’s fine,” I told him.
“You know what,” Duke said pulling out his wallet and handing me a credit card. “Use this and get whatever you need. This is my private account so you don’t have to record it in the campaign’s accounting.”
“Okay,” I said remembering how this exact scenario worked out for Julia Roberts.
“I’ll have my receptionist email you all of the details and my driver will be picking you up on the night. If you don’t have any questions…” He reached in a shirt pocket and pulled out a business card. “This is my private number. Don’t hesitate to call. I keep pretty late hours so you can call me at any time. I mean it.”
“Thank you,” I said taking and staring at the card.
“Excellent! Then if there’s nothing else, can you send Tilly back in?”
Realizing I was being dismissed, I got up and headed for the door. Was “it was nice meeting you” an appropriate thing to say in this situation? Who knows?
All I did know was that I just got me a non-date with the sexiest man in the universe. The date might be fake, but the orgasms it will inspire will be plentiful and very real. This girl was going to have to make some room on her calendar!
Knowing I had a lot to do, I got started on the orgasms as soon as I got home. It felt good rubbing a few things off my to-do list. After that, I got to planning my non-date with Duke Bradon. What was I supposed to do as his non-date? What was I supposed to wear?
My first destination was the internet. I had already done a significant amount of research on him before applying for the job, so I knew the basics. But I needed to know how he celebrated his previous birthdays.
Not a lot came up. The only thing that did was a picture of him and someone named Fury Rhoades. The two were dressed in tuxedos looking like the bookends to my fantasies. Fury Rhoades looked like he should be shirtless on a movie poster holding a sword. He was as hot as Duke was. Maybe even more. And seeing them together made me wonder if I should rub any more things off.
As nice of a distraction an image of the two was, it didn’t tell me what I needed to know. I had to know what I was in for. Every other date I had been on had been with guys with more plans than money. How did a girl act on a non-date with a famous person at their birthday party?
I tried to imagine what it would be like. I had no clue. Realizing that there were only a few people who might, I considered a change of tactic. I could call Tilly, Duke’s long-time campaign manager, or Duke himself.
The question was, did Tilly know that Duke had asked me to be his pretend date? She had to, right? She had left the office so that he could ask me. But did that mean that Tilly knew the details of what he requested? Not necessarily.
The only person I was sure I could call without betraying anyone’s trust was Duke himself. He had given me his number and had said that I should call if I had any questions. Why would he do that if he didn’t want me to do it? Was it one of those things that people just said like, “We should grab lunch”, or “no, I didn’t fake my orgasm”?
I took out Duke’s card and stared at it. The only thing on it was ‘Duke Bradon’ and a phone number. It didn’t say ‘Governor.’ It didn’t have the state’s seal. It looked like it was created on a personal printer.
This didn’t look like the card he gave out when he was trying to be fancy. It looked like the one he gave out when he was presenting himself as just another guy. Was that what he was trying to do with me? That couldn’t be true. But, what if it was? What if, despite it being a non-date, he was trying to even the playing field between us and let me in?
A tingle that started between my legs, worked its way up my body before making me shake like I was drying myself off. It had been a long time since I had felt this alive. Nothing beats that feeling of realizing that someone you like might like you back. Sure, he probably didn’t like me in the same way or the same amount. But, he was giving me access to him that only a select group of people got.
So, wouldn’t he feel hurt if I didn’t show him how much I appreciated it by calling him? That logic made sense, didn’t it? I wasn’t just doing everything I could to justify calling a super-hot guy, was I?
Whether it was a justification or not, I had questions that needed answers. I could either call Tilly or him and he said that I should call him if I had any questions. So, I was going to do it and if it went all wrong, then I could always pack up my stuff and move to a place with no phone service or internet so I could live out the rest of my life in shame. In other words, this wasn’t a big deal.
Reaching for my phone, I felt a rush of adrenaline. Yeah, it was about our non-date, but I was still calling a cute boy. More than that, I was calling the object of my fantasies. Dialing the number I suddenly lost control of my lips. I was going to have to pull it together or things were going to go wrong very quickly.
“Hello,” Duke said quickly picking up.
There was a pause as I remembered how to speak. “Yes, Governor Bradon,” I finally spit.
“This is he.”
“Yes, this is Olive Cummings from the campaign office. We spoke earlier today,” I said feeling like I was going to blackout.
“Oh. Yes!” he said suddenly shifting to a very welcoming tone. “Good to hear from you. What can I do for you?”
It was amazing how quickly his words put me at ease. Perhaps I should have expected it. After all, he was arguably the most gifted Politician in the last 50 years. Of course he knew how to put a voter at ease.
“I hope you don’t mind me calling at this hour.”
“Are you kidding me? My night has barely begun.”
“Oh, do you have plans for a big night out?” I asked suddenly feeling like I was chatting with a friend.
“I wish,” he said with a chuckle. “My big night consists of going over the proposed budget for the state while making notes to send back to committee.”
“Exciting!” I said sarcastically.
“To be young and single, right?”
“You know it,” I said before we both laughed.
“So, what can I do for you?”
I wasn’t sure if it was just his practiced charm but there was something about his tone that made me believe that he genuinely wanted to talk to me. Could that be true? I wasn’t sure. There had to be a string of people fighting for his attention. He was the governor of a state with 40 million people, after all. Yet, he was also a 34-year-old single guy living in an empty mansion and working at 9 pm.
“You told me to call if I had any questions about the party. I have questions.”
“Shoot. I’m all ears,” he said cheerfully.
“So, what should I expect?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you said it was black tie. Does that mean I should wear a cocktail dress or something more formal? And, do you want us to match? Do you want me to stand out… blend in? Is this a corsage situation? I’m kind of flipping out over here trying to figure out what I should wear.”
Duke’s laugh was music to my ears. He really did know how to put a person at ease.
“First of all, anything you chose would look great. So, you don’t have to worry about that. And, no. This is not a corsage situation.”
“Then what is it? Because I know you chose me because I look like I’ve been on a lot of non-dates to high-level political events, but I haven’t… this month. So, I’m going to need some input here,” I joked.
Duke laughed again. “I have clearly chosen the right person for Wednesday night. You know, that’s the key to being a good politician, choosing the person with the most experience.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He did know I was joking, right? He had too… right?
“Of course,” I said unsure what else to say.
“Of course,” he repeated not making things any clearer. “Anyway, since I have you on the line, it’s probably a good idea to give you a heads up on what to expect at the party.”
“Ah, sure,” I said not expecting his change of topic.
“Although this is my birthday celebration, I will be using it as the official jumping-off point for my campaign.”
“What does that mean?”
“It just means that there will be a lot of influential people there. There will be a lot of people from the government, a lot of donors. In fact, the whole thing is being thrown by a donor.”
“So, it’s pretty formal.”
“I’d say that.”
“And, I need to be on my best behavior? I shouldn’t ask anyone to hold me upside down while I funnel beers?”
He laughed. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
“This party is starting to sound a little stuffy but it’s your birthday, so, whatever.”
Duke chuckled. “Did I answer your questions?”
“Almost. Besides not shooting beers, is there anything I should or shouldn’t do? I know I talked a big game, but I don’t actually have experience going to things like this.”
“Well, don’t you worry. I’ll be there the whole time and I got you.”
That brought a smile to my face. That was kind of sweet.
“Oh, there is probably something I should warn you about.”
“The Lieutenant Governor will be there.”
“Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
Duke paused. “Well, it should. Although he hasn’t announced it, he will be running against me for Governor.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah. And, although no one else knows this, the polls show that with the right momentum, he could be a challenge.”
“Okay. What does that mean… I mean for me?”
“It means that at the party he will be looking for anything he can use against me. In fact, it was in part because of his talk about family values that I asked you to join me. When I was a 24-year-old running for the first time, no one expected me to be married and have a family. At 34 expectations have changed. My strategists say that he will be looking to exploit that in his campaign.”
“And you invited me to…”
“Hedge off the vulnerability.”
“I see… how romantic,” I joked.
“What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.”
I could hear him smiling.
“Well, don’t worry. I have you covered with that. I’ll hedge off that vulnerability for you. But, I have to ask. You’re smart. You’re powerful. Some people say you’re the hottest guy in the whole state…”
“Do people say that? Is that what’s been going around?” He asked sarcastically.
“It’s what people say. So, why are you still single?”
“Did my mother put you up to this? Because this is starting to sound like every trip back home.”
“Of course not. And on a completely unrelated topic, maybe you should call your mother more often. People say that she might appreciate that.”
“Wow! This conversation is starting to get really uncomfortable,” he said playfully.
I laughed to make sure he knew I was kidding. “But seriously, why are you single. Enquiring minds want to know.”
“They do, huh?”
“They want to know.”
Duke paused for a moment. “Fear, maybe,” he said with shocking sincerity. That was a reply I would never have expected.
“Fear of what? Commitment?”
“Commitment? No. You know, when you spend your entire life focused on one goal, making a choice that could ruin everything looms large over you. What if I chose someone the voters didn’t approve of? Everything I worked for could be gone in an instant. I don’t know. Maybe I’m speaking too freely here.”
“No, not at all. And it seems like you want to talk about it,” I told him hoping he would continue.
“Maybe I do. It’s been weighing on me a lot lately. When you’re involved in politics for as long as I’ve been, you begin to second guess the sacrifices you’ve made.”
The phone went silent before Duke spoke again in a much less sober tone.
“Okay. Enough of that. I don’t know who you are or how you’ve gotten me to talk like this, but you need to stop.”
“I didn’t do anything,” I said trying to hide my delight that he thought I could have those types of skills. “Maybe you just know you can trust me.”
“Yeah, maybe I do. You’re easy to talk to.”
“So are you,” I told him hoping our conversation would continue.
“And before I spill any more of my guts to you, I should get back to work.”
“You mean the people’s work.”
Duke chuckled. “Yes, I need to get back to the people’s work. But, if you have any more questions about the event, you know how to reach me.”
“Thanks. I do. And thanks for making me feel better about everything.”
“Thank you for doing this for me.”
“Any time. Anything for my governor.”
“What a patriot,” he joked.
I laughed. “Good night,” I said wishing the conversation didn’t have to end.
“Good night,” he said before ending the call.
I rested down the phone considering what had just happened. Never in my life had I had a better first date. Yes, I get it. It wasn’t a date. And, that makes it even crazier. Never had I felt more connected with someone than I had with Duke Bradon discussing our non-date. What did that say about who I’ve been dating? Or, was all of that just him showing his skills as a politician?
If that was just him flexing his ability to win someone over, Duke Bradon was going to be the next president of the United States. But, was anyone that good at faking sincerity? I didn’t think so.
Duke Bradon, the star of my erotic dreams had opened up to me in a way I couldn’t imagine him doing with anyone else. I was now a part of his inner circle. And, being there, I was now willing to do anything he asked me to to help him get what he wanted.
Was it my choice to do that, or did he plant that idea in me? I didn’t know, and more importantly, I didn’t care. I was hooked on him before I met him. Now he had me stuffed and hanging on his wall… and I was okay with it.
The next two days felt like a week as I waited for our non-date to begin. I felt energized and excited. Shopping for my dress felt electric. It could have been because, handing Duke’s credit card to the cashier, I half expected to be arrested for fraud.
Did I look like someone named Duke Bradon? I must have because the $600 charge went through without incident.
That’s right. The dress was $600. Why did I charge a $600 dress to the credit card of a man I just met? Because when I asked Tilly, his campaign manager, where I could get a fancy dress in wonderful Sacramento, California, she directed me to a place where the pantyhose were $100. So, a $600 dress was practically a bargain.
And, Tilly had to know why I needed a dress. She knew I was new to town and had been asked to attend Duke’s party. This was just the cost of things, apparently. And it was officially the most expensive article of clothing I owned.
Looking at myself in the mirror trying it on, I teared up. I wasn’t used to seeing myself like this. Even with all of my unnecessary curves, I looked like a princess. And this princess was going to have a duke for a prince.
I was so over the moon the day before the event, I purchased something that perhaps I shouldn’t have. It was kind of silly, really. And I wasn’t sure how Duke would feel about it being charged to his card.
From the moment that I walked out of the store, I second-guessed the purchase. There was no way it was going to go over well with Duke. I had stepped over the line and had betrayed his financial trust. But headed back to my place to get ready, it was a done deal. I couldn’t return it and he was going to see the charge on his card so I at least had to give it to him and let the chips fall where they may.
I would like to say that I got ready with the same spirit I did every non-date I had ever had, but I didn’t. I was incredibly nervous and with every second that passed, it only got worse. There was something I knew I could do to help me get over it, but I knew I shouldn’t. But when my hands started shaking so badly I couldn’t put on eyeliner, I was left with no choice.
“Maybe just one glass of wine as I get ready,” I said aloud hoping someone would assure me it was a good idea. No confirmation came from my empty house, but I did it anyway.
When the first glass didn’t help, I poured myself another. That did it. With the first sip of the second, I slipped into a state which I could only describe as very relaxed. Should I have considered that I was having two glasses of wine on an empty stomach? Maybe. But I was too relaxed to concern myself with such details. And in my new state of mind, I could see that my gift for Duke was one of the greatest ideas in the history of the world.
Polishing off the second glass as my phone rang, I scrambled to answer it.
“Governor Bradon?” I asked vibrating with excitement.
“Olive, I’m outside,” he said before I heard a knock on the door.
Oh shit! Duke Bradon was outside my door. I couldn’t tell you how many of my fantasies started like this.
“Coming,” I said hurrying to him.
Throwing the door open it was hard to describe what I felt. Do you know that feeling when you’ve orgasmed after rough sex and the guy pulls out and clutches your pussy with his large, warm hands? Well, staring at him standing on my porch, it felt like that. That man looked amazing. I was melting like butter under his overwhelming hotness.
I couldn’t speak. So when he said, “Wow!” and gave me a quick once-over, I was a puddle on the ground.
“You look fantastic,” he continued to my delight.
“Thank you,” I said doing my best to remain standing. “You look amazing yourself.”
“What? This old thing?”
“Oh, which reminds me. I have something for you. Come in.”
Duke Bradon stepped into my home and I scurried to the kitchen. Opening the fridge I retrieved his gift and returned to him.
“What’s this?” He asked as I handed it to him.
“A corsage,” I explained. “For you. It is a special occasion and I thought you should look special.”
Duke took the plastic container out of my hands and stared down at it. He was speechless until he broke out into a belly laugh.
“Do you like it?”
“You know, I’ve never been given a corsage before. I don’t even know if I’ve ever worn one.”
“I figured. But, it’s your special day. So, I thought you deserved it. Do you like it?” I excitedly asked again.
He looked as confused as intrigued by the object in his hand.
“I’m not sure if this is something my voters expect me to be wearing,” he said hesitantly.
“That’s exactly why I got it. It’s your birthday. Today should be the one day that’s about what you want and not what other people expect of you. You deserve to do at least one thing that’s just for you. Happy birthday, by the way. So, do you like it?”
Duke stared at the encased flower. He stared at it for so long I was sure he was about to tell me he didn’t like it. I was about to take it back from him and say it was a stupid idea, when he looked me in the eyes and said,
“I love it! It might be my favorite birthday gift ever.”
As soon as he said it a wave of warmth washed through me. God, did I feel good. I was about to attribute it to my choice of gift when I took a step to him and wobbled. Duke was still looking down at the corsage so he didn’t see it. But what it told me was that I was drunk.
Damn it! The one night I was supposed to be on my best behavior. The one night I was supposed to be representing the person I admired more than anyone else, and I was already drunk. Was I trying to ruin everything including my new career?
“Can you help me with this?” Duke said withdrawing the flower from the case.
I did my best to pull myself together as I approached the gorgeous man. He handed the flower to me after removing the straight pin. Taking both, I stepped inches away from him. Entering his body heat I could smell his cologne. It smelt like sweet almonds.
Choosing a side, I slowly slipped my hand under the lapel of his tuxedo jacket. I could feel his chest on the back of my hand. He clearly still worked out. I could have stood there touching him forever, but before I knew it, the corsage was attached and there was no reason for my hand to remain.
“How’s that? What do you think?”
Duke looked past me spotting a mirror on the living room wall. Moving in front of it, he stared at himself. He didn’t say anything so I moved behind him joining him in the image. Duke looked at me, smiled, and said, “It’s perfect.”
Okay, there were a lot of things that his reaction could have meant. After all, he was looking at me when he said it. Was he flirting? I desperately wanted that to be the case. But I wasn’t too drunk to forget the purpose of the night. I was there to be his non-date. That meant that even if he was flirting, I couldn’t do anything about it. Not tonight.
“Yeah, perfect,” I said completely flirting back because I was weak and couldn’t help myself.
“So, should we go?”
I gave a quick look back at my kitchen. If I had any sense at all, I would grab something to eat for the way over. The wine was hitting me harder and harder with every second that went by. At this rate, I could be sloppy drunk by the time I got to the party. Nobody wanted that. I was about to mention as much when Duke’s phone beeped. Duke pulled it out and stared at the screen.
“The natives are getting restless. We have to go. Shall we?” He said offering his arm.
How could I refuse that? And, feeling his jacket’s soft wool against my skin, I gave in to the night and whatever would happen next.
“Did I tell you how beautiful you look?” He said again on the limousine ride over.
“Thank you. You too,” I replied not realizing what I said. “I mean, you look very handsome. You’re like America’s sexiest governor.”
“Is that a thing?” Duke asked sincerely.
“I don’t know. But if it was, you would definitely be it.”
Was I flirting again? Damn it!
“Well, thank you. Should I go for America’s sexiest president?”
“Are you thinking about running for president?” I asked feeling me slip even further into his inner circle.
“Maybe,” he said with a coy smile. “What do you think? Would you vote for me?”
“Absolutely! You would make an incredible president.”
“Thanks. That’s still a long way off, though.”
“Not that long. Don’t you have to be 35 to run? Today is your 35th birthday.”
“Yeah, but there’s a little more than that. For my best chance to win I have to be a sitting governor. Since 1900 50% of the presidents have been governors. And your chances of winning are highest when you’re still in office.
“That means that if I want to run for president, I need to win my next election for governor. Then, if I win, I’ll be sworn in at the beginning of the presidential campaign season. What’s a better time to announce a run for president than after a big victory, right?”
“Wow, you’ve thought about this.”
“I’ve been thinking about this for 28 years.”
“So, since you were 7?”
“When I was 7, the only thing I gave that much thought to was what Ken and Barbie did after I put them in their bedroom and I closed their dream house.”
Duke laughed. “Both equally important.”
“I think so.”
“Did you ever figure it out?” Duke asked playfully.
“Yeah. It became pretty clear when I realized that Ken didn’t have genitals and that they were important. Sadly, Barbie moved out of the dream house pretty soon after.”
“Yeah. But Brad moved in.”
“Brad was Ken’s only black friend. He didn’t have genitals either, but they made it work. It was a scandal in the Barbie neighborhood.”
I turned to Duke waiting for his response. As funny as I thought it was, Duke said nothing. Was I being too crass? I didn’t think so but I was barely seeing straight. It was probably better for me to stop talking. Certainly, Duke took that approach because he didn’t say another word until we pulled up in front of the venue.
Duke’s birthday turned out to be a literal red carpet event. There was a photographer’s line and everything. I really couldn’t open my mouth now. The last thing I wanted was to say something stupid and ruin Duke’s chances of becoming president. I would die if that happened.
“We’re here,” Duke said staring out the window. “You ready for this?”
Duke turned back to me when he didn’t hear a reply. I shook my head in agreement. I wasn’t saying another word.
Let’s see. I was drunk, horny as hell for my boss, and suffering from foot in mouth disease, so no. I wasn’t. But I shook my head ‘yes’ anyway.
“Okay. Then let’s do this. Here goes nothing,” he said before opening his door and wading into the sea of flashing lights.
Watching him, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t expected this. He had mentioned a party. To me, that meant a few people standing around in suits swiping mini quiches from the trays of circling cater-waiters. Not this. This looked like an all-out Hollywood event. How could that be? We were in Sacramento. It was California’s armpit.
While I considered all of the excuses I could use to get out of this, my door opened sealing my fate. The driver leaned in offering his hand. I was wearing a tight dress and high heels so at least I wouldn’t fall on my face getting out of the car. Then, when I was safely standing and the door was closed behind me, I turned to the cameras overwhelmed by the sight of it all.
“Olive,” Duke said grabbing my attention.
I looked over at him and with a glowing smile, he again offered me his arm. I couldn’t get to him fast enough. I was hoping I could hide in his arms but once I was next to him, the cameras’ clicking just got louder.
Okay, this was do or die. Either I was going to shrink in the moment, or rise to it. My momma didn’t raise me to be scared of anybody or anything. So, there was no way I was going to start now.
As if animated by strings, I smiled. That brought more clicks. When I lifted my arms and waved to the cameras, I heard even more. Amazingly, by the time we stepped onto the red carpet, I was okay with it. Was I born to do this? Or was the second glass of wine a better decision than I thought?
“Hi!” I said drawing the photographer’s attention to me.
At that moment, I realized that being the center of attention wasn’t half bad. And since I knew I looked like a princess, I was going to have a ton of options for Instagram. What could have been better?
“Can you give me a few minutes with the reporters?” Duke whispered to me ushering me in the background.
“Knock ‘em dead, tiger,” I said bringing a genuine smile to his face.
I liked making Duke smile. What I liked, even more, was watching him work the reporter line. With his perfect hair and chiseled cheekbones, he already looked like a fashion model. But watching him charm everyone in his way, he was like one of those famous black & white film actors. He was glamour and smarts all rolled into one.
“Fury!” Duke said looking at something to his left. “Everyone, I would like to publicly thank Fury Rhoades for throwing me this party. He and I go way back and I can’t thank him enough.”
Turning to see who he was talking about, I saw the man I had only seen in the photo of the two men. Duke’s friend still looked like the guy on a movie poster holding a sword. His tailored tuxedo didn’t change that.
“Fury, come over here,” Duke said gesturing to him.
With a brilliant smile, Fury came over and stood next to Duke. Duke put his arm around him and the cameras’ clicking picked up.
“Governor, are there any ethical issues regarding having a donor throw a birthday party for you?” A snide reporter asked Duke.
“Better his money than anyone else’s, am I right?” Duke said with a smile.
“But, isn’t this an example of the corruption your administration has been accused of?”
Duke froze and stared at the reporter. By the look on his face, I was sure that Duke was about to lose it.
“Who are you reporting for?” He asked suspiciously.
When the reporter hesitated, Duke cut him off.
“Nevermind. What I will say is that my administration has worked tirelessly to fight corruption over the past ten years. Besides, Fury might be a donor, but more importantly, he’s been one of my best friends for twenty years. If you want, you can think of tonight as a night out with 200 of my closest friends. By the way, the open bar is on him,” Duke said gesturing to Fury.
The reporters laughed and I stood amazed. I was a girl who threw shit back. I had never seen someone defuse tension so effectively in my life. Duke Bradon really was going to be president.
“Governor, who is your escort this evening?” Another reporter said turning everyone’s attention back toward me.
I froze. Was I supposed to talk now? What was I supposed to say? Duke and I were on a non-date. Did people need to know that? Was that supposed to be a secret? Starting to panic, I opened my mouth when,
“You know I don’t like to mix business and pleasure,” he said without a hint of irony.
“Are you saying tonight’s all about pleasure?” Someone said to my surprise.
I scanned the crowd in front of me wondering who would have said something so inappropriate when I noticed everyone staring at me stunned. It was then that I realized that the obnoxious person was me. Holy crap! I had said it. I was about to apologize profusely when the stunned silence was followed by a burst of laugher.
“Yeah, Governor, are you saying that tonight is all about pleasure?”
I could have sworn that I saw the never-rattled Duke Bradon blush. “Ahhh…” he stammered.
“It’s his birthday. How do your birthdays usually go?”
The reporters burst into laughter again. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the craziness that kept coming out of my mouth or how flustered it made the normally unflappable Governor.
“Is that true, Governor? Is your birthday going to end like mine?” A female reporter said from the back.
“That depends. Do yours usually end with you alone in bed doing the people’s work?” The Governor said rediscovering his charm.
“Is that what you call it? The people’s work?” Another person said. And by another person, I of course meant me. What was wrong with me? Oh right, I was so drunk it took every bit of my focus to remain standing. Why wasn’t anyone shutting me up?
Luckily, after another round of thunderous laughter, Duke did exactly that.
“Okay, folks, I think I’ve been embarrassed enough for one night,” he said with a pleasant smile.
“Can we get a picture of you two?” A photographer asked looking at the two of us.
After looking into the reporters’ hopeful faces, he turned back toward me. I had no idea what to expect. And when he said, “Do you mind?” I got the first hint that something unusual was happening. In the state I was in, I couldn’t put my finger on what, but from the look on Duke’s face, it didn’t feel like a bad thing.
“Of course,” I said joining Duke as Fury backed off.
Again blinded by a flood of lights, I gripped onto Duke’s arm and forced myself to stay upright. It was disorienting. But when it was over, I realized that none of it was that bad. In fact, it was something I wouldn’t mind living with. I could see why Duke was considering running for president. Being in the spotlight was a rush.
“You do know that that they’re going to know everything about you by the end of the night, right?” Duke said to me as we left the red carpet and entered the main hall.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you just made yourself the story.”
“Oh my god, Governor Bradon. I’m so sorry!”
“Don’t be sorry… unless there’s something in your past that I need to know about.”
My mind flashed over my pathetically uneventful life. No one could find anything interesting in my past if they tried. Which, as I thought about it, was more than a little sad. How had I wasted so much of my life?
“No. There’s nothing interesting about me that you need to know.”
“You think it’s good that I’m pathetically boring?”
Duke chuckled. “Yes. In this case, it’s a very good thing. But from what I just saw, I have a hard time believing that you are boring.”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“I’m really drunk,” I admitted to Duke’s booming laughter. He obviously thought I was joking. That was good because it meant that the reporters probably didn’t see it either.
“Well, that would explain it,” Duke said playfully.
“And it does,” I continued playing along.
As we crossed the black and white checkered marbled floor and approached the ballroom’s main doors, Duke turned to me.
“Have you ever been to Elk’s Tower before?”
“I haven’t. I just moved here. I haven’t even been to Starbucks yet,” I told him.
“Well, this place is a little more impressive than a Starbucks,” he said as the elaborately carved wooden doors opened.
“I might need to do this part by myself,” he said whispering and unwrapping his arm from mine.
I was a little sad that he was asking me to let go of him, but as he crossed onto what was the top of an extended stage, I understood why. As I hung back a spotlight turned on him and a voice boomed through the speakers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the birthday boy and your governor, Duke Bradon.”
The hundred and fifty elegantly dressed people below him turned to Duke and applauded. The adoration continued until the band struck up and played ‘Hail to the Chief.’ I only knew the song because it was what was played whenever a president entered the room.
That brought a broad smile to Duke’s face followed by him playfully waving off the band. When they didn’t stop, he took on the posture of royalty and waved at the audience like the queen. Everyone got a big kick out of it and he descended the stairs completing his grand entrance.
As he entered the crowd below, I realized another thing about him. The man knew how to work a room. He greeted everyone he met like they were long lost friends who he was delighted to see again. The level of commitment it took to do it, person after person, was incredible.
“He’s amazing, right?” A female voice said from beside me.
I turned to see a woman about my age who was half my size but twice as bitter.
“I’m sorry,” I asked unsure if she was talking to me.
“I said, Duke, he’s amazing, right?”
I gave her a once over wondering if she could be one of the people Duke had warned me about. He had said that there would be people there trying to collect as much dirt on him as they could find.
“Yeah, he’s amazing,” I told her before returning my attention to the crowd below.
“You were the one on the red carpet with him, right?”
I turned back to her suspiciously. “Yeah.”
“You were good. I have to give you credit. They were eating it up,” she nodded impressed.
“I’m sorry. You are…?”
“I’m you. At least, I used to be. But I wasn’t anywhere near as good at it as you are. Are you an actor or something?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Come on. You don’t have to be like that with me. There’s only a few of us who know what it’s like to date Duke Bradon. Or, should I say, not date Duke Bradon but make everyone think that you are. Like I said, I was you.”
I stared at the woman again. As I did, she suddenly looked familiar. I had seen her before. Less than a year ago she was in every photo Duke posted.
“You’re Penelope Silvers,” I said to her surprise.
“Oh. You’ve done your research. You’re gonna be a good one. You might stick around,” she said snidely.
“You dated Duke, right?”
“Well, dating is a strong word. Let’s just say that I was doing what you’re doing.”
“What am I doing?”
Penelope turned to the crowd below and found Duke.
“You are giving him cover so that he can become the next president of the United States.”
I stared back at her shocked.
“He hasn’t shared his grand plan with you yet?”
I didn’t respond.
“Oh. The way you worked the reporters I thought you two were already past all of that. You need a drink? I think I need a drink. Come with me,” she said with a smile. She was looking at me like I was a fish trapped on the end of her hook. And, ya know what, I was.
“Yeah, I need a drink,” I told her before she gave me a satisfied grin and led me to the bar.
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Duke,” Penelope said before turning to the bartender. “Bartender, give me a gin and tonic. And, don’t look at me like that. Also, get her a…” she turned to me.