tagNovels and NovellasLady in Red Pt. 03 Ch. 01

Lady in Red Pt. 03 Ch. 01

byHarddaysknight©

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Those gathered in the great room in Valhalla remained silent as they absorbed the full impact of the presidential oath. President Crawford had died within two days of suffering a massive stroke. Chief Justice Hamilton, upon being informed that the transfer of power was imminent, had immediately traveled to Sparta. He had grown to consider Steve and Gwen Hammer personal friends, and he and his wife both felt strongly that it was only fitting that he be the one to administer the oath.

Immediately following the oath, and surrounded by family and their very good friends, Gwen and Steve held a very brief, whispered conversation. Gwen had her hands on Steve's chest as he held her close. Her face was turned up to his as he leaned in closer to listen attentively to her hushed tones.

"You have to help me with this. I'm scared to death. What do I know about being president? Am I even qualified? You're the one who understands international diplomacy, not me."

"No one on the planet is more qualified," insisted Steve quietly. "You're brilliant, compassionate, loved, respected, and honest. You're our Queen. This is simply the next step in your incredible career. I swear I'll help you any way I can, and do anything you ask of me. My heart is filled with pride. This country needs you desperately. You're going to make the difference. I'm sure of it."

Paula stood proudly with Ted's arm around her waist as she watched Gwen engage in quiet discussion with her husband. The gist of it was obvious to anyone watching Gwen's body language. She had lovingly pressed her hands to Steve's chest as he held her close. The love and respect the couple shared was never more obvious. Gwen was now the President of the United States, but it was apparent that she would continue to rely heavily on her husband, the powerfully capable man that had always placed her welfare above his own. Paula was extremely proud of her daughter's superior intelligence, skills, and accomplishments, but she had no illusions about how much Steve had contributed to her success. Gwen's current position was the result, at least in part, of the absolute trust and respect the couple shared, and the dedication Steve constantly displayed for his wife.

Across the nation and around the world, viewers had watched the new President of the United States as she took the oath of office. It was almost inconceivable that this beautiful woman was assuming the position of leader of the free world, especially at her age! She was just recently turned thirty five. She had only served as vice president for ten days!

What the world saw was the newly sworn-in president in the arms of her warrior husband, seeking his assurance that she was capable of shouldering the tremendous responsibility of the office. As Americans watched the most famous couple in the world prepare to lead their nation, their hearts were filled with hope, as well as a great deal of pride.

The country had recently been plunged into dark times; war on several fronts appeared likely. Would Gwen have the leaderships skills required to lead the country in time of war? How would the death of President Crawford affect the very unsteady balance of power as tensions mounted across the globe?

Was it possible that, with the help of her husband, President Hammer could somehow find a pathway to a sustainable peace? President Crawford had insisted that his administration had done everything possible to avert war and to find a peaceful solution to the current tense situation, but public opinion polls revealed that over half the population did not trust his word, and even more people questioned his abilities.

Now Gwen Anderson Hammer was the President of the United States. Simply seeing her stand tall and determined next to her very accomplished husband inspired many of those watching to dare hope for better days. This was a president with compassion, honor, and intelligence, as well as great beauty. The couple's calm demeanor and confident composure was inspiring by itself.

Amber Stahl, the recently promoted network anchor for CBC, gave her commentary after viewers watched the new president repeat the oath of office. "This will be a presidency like no other. President and Mr. Hammer have dedicated their lives to helping others, to righting wrongs, to stopping terrorism, and to building what may be the most generous, philanthropic, and successful family owned business in the world.

"This couple, along with President Hammer's two sisters, and Jordan and Charlie Burns, owns Lady in Red Productions. The company's value is currently estimated by Forbes to be just short of a hundred billion dollars. Yet, even with the incredible wealth they enjoy, none of the owners have been content to rest on their laurels. Lady in Red Productions is known around the world for its generosity and compassion to those in need.

"It appears that President Hammer has finished quiet conservation with her husband. Oh! That's another thing the country can expect to see more often. This couple is extremely demonstrative and they have no qualms about showing their love for each other," added Amber as the world watched the President of the United States kiss her husband with more than a little ardor.

All of those attending the ceremony smiled when Steve leaned a little farther down and kissed Gwen as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Only after a fairly long kiss did Gwen step back from Steve to greet her family and friends.

Once the hugs, tears, handshakes, and words of encouragement were over, Steve spoke to the group. "The President is requesting that all our friends and family join us in our meeting room immediately. We need to hit the ground running on numerous issues, and all of you will be needed. The kids will remain here with our day care staff."

Not knowing exactly what to expect, Paula led the procession into the large meeting room. Steve stood by the door as his friends and family entered and found seats. Steve's authority in his wife's administration became evident when he stopped two men in suits.

"This meeting will consist only of those people in the President's inner circle," stated Steve firmly. "I realize that President Crawford regarded you highly, but he's no longer the president. This is a new administration. You may wait in the great room, if you'd like."

The two men exchanged surprised looks, then angrily turned and headed for the door. "It appears that President Crawford's two most trusted advisors have been turned away from the first meeting of the new presidency," observed Amber Stahl. "Then Vice President Hammer made her frequent disagreements with President Crawford's policies known, even before she was appointed Vice President. Most political observers feel that the late President Crawford would never have selected Senator Hammer for the position of Vice President if it hadn't been forced upon him. When former Vice President Grandquist was indicted for fraud, racketeering, and income tax evasion, and subsequently forced to resign in disgrace, President Crawford's administration was in disarray. The selection of the extremely popular Senator Hammer to serve as Vice President was a matter of political survival.

"Senator Hammer had promised that she would not seek the presidency when her three plus years of service as Vice President ended. That was the common ground required by leaders of both parties to agree to her nomination. They did, however, put off the approval process for two weeks to allow Senator Hammer to reach the age of 35. That's the minimum age required by the constitution for anyone to hold the office of president, and by default, the office of vice president."

Meanwhile, Gwen was addressing her inner circle in the secure meeting room at Valhalla. There was no indication that she was nervous as she spoke confidently to the group.

"First, I want everyone to be aware that this meeting is being videotaped. Every meeting in my administration will be taped for accuracy, transparency, and for historical purposes. This administration will always be totally transparent. Tapes of meetings will be released to the press and public as soon as it can be determined that there will be no security issues created by their release," began Gwen.

"I am going to ask many of you to make some very real sacrifices for me, and for your country. Please be honest if I ask something of you that you feel is either beyond your ability, or your willingness to undertake now, or going forward.

"Aunt Janice, I want you to be in charge of White House protocol. That includes state dinners and the like. Grandmother Patterson, I ask that you call on your vast experience and knowledge of formal protocol to assist Janice whenever possible."

Both women beamed and nodded to the lovely young woman who was now their president. Beatrice Patterson wiped a few small tears from her cheeks as Gwen continued. She realized that being accepted into her grandson's family was more than she actually deserved.

Gwen turned to speak to Tyler and Sybil next. She couldn't help but smile as she thought back to how they had begun their relationship. It had been a few days after Gwen and Steve's wedding that Tyler had returned to Sparta. He had missed the wedding, but wanted to congratulate his high school friends on their marriage. He had made arrangements with his good friend Billy Marsh to visit him in Asgard, since no one outside the inner circle could just 'drop in'.

Billy had to go into work at five for the late shift at the family restaurant. "Charlotte will be home in an hour or so. She told me to ask you to hang around so she could catch up with you. Gwen and Steve probably won't be back before late this evening. They're going to the state fair for the day. Charlotte started her residency at the hospital Monday and should be done by six."

Tyler promised to wait in Billy's living room watching a baseball game on TV. The game was a blowout and Tyler quickly became bored, so he decided to take a stroll. He easily determined which house was Steve's. It sat on a hill overlooking many of the other homes. It wasn't larger than the other homes, but the location was probably the best in Asgard. There were also numerous wedding gifts sitting on the front porch. Billy had mentioned that Steve and Gwen were still receiving numerous gifts delivered to their home every day. Tyler wasn't surprised, since his own gift had been mailed too late to reach his friends before their wedding day.

Believing that Steve and Gwen wouldn't mind, Tyler decided to walk around the outside of Steve's house. Billy had told him about the Olympic pool in the back yard and he was curious to see it.

Tyler was indeed impressed with the size of the pool, although it was fenced in and he was unable to get very close. Then he decided to climb the steps to the back porch and peer in at Steve's hot tub. Billy had mentioned that every home had one installed in an enclosed porch. When Tyler raised his hands over his eyes to shield the sun's glare from preventing him to see inside, he almost wet his pants!

Sitting on the steps to the tub was a very lovely but very naked woman. Held steadily in her hand was a very deadly looking gun!

"Who are you?" demanded the dark haired beauty. "You have ten seconds to explain yourself before I start shooting."

Tyler was extremely careful to keep his hands high as he replied to the woman. "I'm Tyler Smith, Ma'am. My Dad is president of one of the local banks. I went to school with Gwen, Steve, Billy, Charlotte, and Jordan. I don't mean any harm.

"If you'll allow me, I'll just go back to Billy's place and wait for Charlotte to get home. I apologize for snooping around, looking like some kind of criminal. I didn't realize anyone was home. I know that's no excuse."

"Just a minute!" exclaimed the woman as Tyler had begun to back away. "I need help. I hurt my back a few months back and it's gradually getting better, but I saw you out by the pool and stepped out of the tub to get my towel. My foot slipped and I landed here. My towel's in the tub and I can't get up."

"Ma'am, if you'll put that gun down, I'll be very willing to help you. I'm just a bit nervous with that thing pointing at me."

"I don't dare put it down," explained the nervous woman. "I don't know you. I'll lower it and point it away from you, but the safety is off and I'll use it if I have to."

"Okay, as long as you're extremely careful. I'm going to come inside now. How can I help you?" asked Tyler with genuine concern.

"I'll probably be able to walk if you help me stand up. My back is hurting pretty badly and I can't seem to get up by myself," admitted the woman. "My name's Sybil, by the way."

"You're Sybil? Billy mentioned you. He didn't tell me how beautiful you are. He did mention that you were injured by gunmen that were after Gwen, so I can understand why you're a bit nervous with me showing up at the back door."

"Now I really don't trust you," replied Sybil. "I know I'm not beautiful and I don't have the curves that all of the other women around here have. I told Gwen once that I'm just a skinny girl with a gun."

"Apparently you're also a blind girl, but still with a gun, so I won't argue. Let me help you up."

Tyler slowly stepped next to the sitting woman and gently took her extended left hand and arm to help her stand. It was obvious by her expression that Sybil was in pain as she slowly stood. Tyler could see her trembling and was quite concerned.

"I can see how much pain you're in. Would you permit me to carry you into the house? Otherwise, I think we should call an ambulance. We probably should do that anyway."

"No! No ambulance! I've had this happen before. Once I lie down for a while and relax, my back will loosen up. Please carry me to my bed, but don't get any ideas. I still have my gun."

Tyler bent and carefully placed his left arm just behind Sybil's knees and then ran his other arm around her back and under her right arm, the gun easily available to her. He was surprised at how light she was, but he decided that he would live longer if he refrained from speaking to the agitated woman. He stepped to the inside door and tried the knob.

"The door seems to be locked," observed Tyler. "Obviously, you don't have the key on you, but is there one somewhere around here?"

"Shit!" exclaimed Sybil. "I must have set the lock when I came out. The front door has a keyless entry and I know the code. Could you just carry me around to the front door? I don't think anyone's around so we shouldn't be seen if we do it quickly, and my back is hurting too much to worry about it anyway."

Tyler managed to carry the woman to the front of the house. Sybil's naked body was slippery and he had to stop to reestablish his hold a couple of times. Following his second awkward effort he found he was gripping much of Sybil's right breast. She briefly studied his hand covering her breast before looking back at him.

"I'm going to assume that you aren't intentionally groping my breast, because then I'd have to shoot you before you could carry me to my bed."

"It isn't on purpose!" insisted Tyler. "You're just a little slippery and I was trying to get a better grip. I'd never grab your breast like that!"

"Isn't it big enough? Is that why you'd never grab it?" teased Sybil as she hid a grin that was trying very hard to escape her face. While she found her situation quite embarrassing, she decided that as long as it was unavoidable, being held in the strong arms of a handsome man like Tyler wasn't all bad.

"It's the size of your gun, not your boobs that concerns me," allowed Tyler as he came around the corner of the house with Sybil in his arms. That was when he saw Gwen, Kate, Lisa, Stephanie, Naomi, and Jordan with their respective male counterparts approaching the front porch.

No one uttered a word as they stared at the intriguing scene before them. Sybil blushed deeply but Tyler was even redder. "This isn't what it might look like," blustered Tyler as he felt his face start to glow.

"You mean that you don't have Sybil's boob in one hand and her ass in the other?" asked Kate calmly. "Or do you mean that she isn't naked in your arms? And is that a gun, or is she just glad to see you? Maybe she's coercing you to carry her naked around the yard, just to teach you to submit?"

"Please let him carry me to my room before I die of embarrassment," groaned Sybil. "I hurt my back and he's just helping to get me to my bed."

"I see," chuckled Jordan. "He stripped you down and carted your cute butt around the back of the house in an attempt to relieve your back pain? Does his squeezing your breast like that distract you from the pain in your back?"

"How long have you two known each other?" asked a bemused Gwen. "I didn't think that you two had ever met."

"We just met a few minutes ago," admitted Sybil. "He was sneaking around the backyard and I was in the hot tub. I went to get my gun and I slipped and hurt my back. He offered to carry me to my room. That's all."

"That's all?" teased Stephanie. "You realize he's holding your breast and ass even as we speak. He's getting to know you pretty fast! I always knew that 'Miss Goody Two Shoes' thing was an act."

"Okay, I think we've tormented Sybil enough for one day," grinned Steve. "It's obvious that she's in pain, either Tyler is squeezing too hard, or her back really does hurt. Follow me, Tyler. I'll show you her room."

Once Sybil had been placed gently placed in her bed, Gwen and Kate attended to her as the rest of the group gathered in the kitchen where Steve passed out beverages. Tyler had barely taken a sip of his beer before the questions began.

"How come you didn't make it to the wedding?" asked Steve. "You're one of the few people we actually sent an invitation to, and you never responded."

"I was working for a medium sized company in California. Things were going pretty well until last year's Christmas party. The company CEO's daughter was there and I stupidly asked her out on a date. It took a while, but eventually I determined that she was only dating me because I knew you, Jordan, Charlie, and Gwen. I guess she found me on Google as being with you that day you shot the hell out of those guys in the gym, and for catching 'The PASS' .

"She'd been after me to bring her home to visit. It became pretty evident that she wasn't interested in me so much as in trying to become part of the coolest group of people on the planet. I decided to tell her I was too busy to attend the wedding to see how she'd react. She didn't believe me at first, but when it became obvious that I wasn't going, she dumped me in front of everyone at work. She told everybody what a loser I was and how I was full of shit... her words, not mine."

"Wow! It's a wonder you still have a job," marveled Naomi.

"To be completely honest, I handed in my resignation that afternoon. I knew I'd never be comfortable there and the chances for advancement looked pretty slim. I have my MBA, so I'll find something. I apologize about missing the wedding, but I knew you'd be so busy, my absence wouldn't be noticed. Dad told me that it was the biggest and best party Sparta has ever seen."

"Tyler, I just realized that you've never met James!" interrupted Stephanie. "I'm sorry about being so rude. Tyler Smith, meet my boyfriend, James Hawthorne, by way of London. Tyler and I used to date before he dumped me when he left for college."

"I didn't dump you!"protested Tyler. "You were the one that didn't want to make any sort of commitment since I was leaving for school. You were right, though. I wasn't home a dozen times in the four years I spent in college and it didn't get any better when I was working toward my MBA."

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