Politics Ch. 07byhal_tee©
Chapter 7: The race resumes
The excitement in the afternoon air crackled like electricity. Erika nudged her raven-haired friend. "What do you think?"
Becky glanced at the blonde. What did she think? Other than not having seen much of Thomas lately, she thought that life was pretty much perfect. And she had Erika to thank.
It was the blonde who'd found the gym. She'd negotiated the purchase on Becky's behalf. They'd got it at a rock bottom price due to the Polish owner going bankrupt. It was perfect for Becky's needs, with very little work required other than a complete repainting, some cosmetic changes to the layout, and the purchase of some state of the art gym equipment.
Even the idea to combine an aerobics studio with a gym had been Erika's brainwave. So was the girl the blonde had recommended as Manager for the gym side. And as Lucille was working for a small percentage of the gym profits, she wasn't costing Rebecca a single penny.
The formal opening was scheduled for next Monday. The rest of the gym equipment would arrive by then. But the 'staged' opening today provided the media and the BBC TV London News Channel with a sneak preview of what was on offer. And it was superb publicity for the new studio.
Again, thanks to Erika's contacts.
Inside the studio, Rebecca's regulars were scattered across the wooden workout floor, grateful for the invitation and delighted for their chance to be seen on television. Just about every single one of them had pledged to follow her to her new base and today provided concrete evidence of their commitment.
In keeping with the occasion, the variety of gym wear usually on show had been replaced with new, sexy, leotards specially purchased for their TV appearance. Even the scruffiest of her clientele had made an extra effort today. It bode well for the future!
"It's so exciting," the Brazilian woman answered, crossing her arms over her chest as if hugging herself in congratulation. Her eyes focused on the large sign hanging so impressively over the entrance lobby.
It was simple. It was perfect!
Two o'clock wasn't the best time to force a sandwich down his throat, but it was Alistair's first chance to eat since his arrival this morning. His six thirty start had been even earlier than usual.
The morning of press interviews had gone well. Putting a different spin on the same points over and over again was a skill all good politicians had. Alistair was just a little better at it than others. He'd made sure he seemed sympathetic to Mary O'Leary accusations, despite the constant attempts to provoke a more severe reaction.
The bottom line was that he was back in the race and now, his thoughts were focused on Glasgow.
Once he'd completed a couple of television interviews, he'd meet Katie for their early evening flight. It was a relief that Erika was catching a later flight. The last thing he wanted was for her to make uncomfortable Katie by bombarding with questions. Though his ex-girlfriend really was being exceptionally understanding about all this. Hell, she'd even booked a suite for him and Katie!!
Hmmm, something didn't feel quite right, though he couldn't put his finger on it. Nor did he have time to think about it.
He'd just put the phone down following his call to Brian Sterling. The conversation had been surprisingly tense. It seemed clear that Sterling didn't approve of him taking Katie away to Glasgow, no matter how much he tried to justify what he was doing.
Still, that conversation was behind him now. He'd thanked Brian for all his support, and now he could move forward.
Thomas's suggestion that they 'blow' the whole million that Guus Kessen was donating on television ads made a lot of sense. Okay, the money hadn't arrived yet, but he'd asked Thomas to chase the multi-millionaire immediately after the Election.
They'd flood the television stations with ads over the next two days. Newspapers, too. On the back of withdrawal of the Mary O'Leary accusations, the carefully focused ads would help attract as many of the 'undecideds' as they could.
"You'll get indigestion, eating that quickly," Sally told him with a smile, breaking his thoughts as she bustled into his office.
The black politician nodded, wiping his mouth with a paper serviette. "True, but right now I don't care," he told her, with a huge grin. "Got any chocolate?"
The redhead laughed. "Alistair, do you think any girl's going to be willing to share her chocolate? I do love you, but not that much!"
He smiled back. "I've just been through these ads," he said, nodding at the papers on his desk. 'It's a great idea to back up the TV commercials with newspaper ads. Especially those."
Sally grinned. "You like?"
He didn't just like. He loved! The 'attack' on Labour seemed like anything but, and clearly got the message over that there was only one party to be trusted. But it was his positioning that hit the spot. It was sublime, making him appear to have the same presence, wisdom and charisma of an early-elected Tony Blair, or dare one say a Barrack Obama. They'd pulled out all the stops!
"Perfect. Almost." He gave another one of those smiles, his white teeth gleaming. "I've marked a couple of changes, otherwise let's get going with them. Every second counts."
That was it, decision made. Guus Kessen had donated a million. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.
Deborah Barr had led the way, the tall brunette one of the most recognisable TV presenters in the City. The mobile television crew had been half an hour late, but at least they were here now. The slim presenter had been all business from the moment they'd arrived. She'd ensured her people had set themselves up properly, and briefed Becky on what was required from the interview.
"The leotard-clad women will provide the perfect background," she murmured as she ushered everyone into position. "The cameras will devour those bodies. If the male viewers enjoy this sight as much as the newspaper hacks here, we may have the highest viewing figures for some time. There tongues are hanging out!"
Rebecca laughed. It was true. Just about every male newspaper reporter had made a point of picking out a couple of women to obtain a few quotes and, in a couple of instances, telephone numbers also.
"Want to make a deal?" Deborah asked.
"Mmm-hmm. You give me free membership for a year, and I'll make sure you get prime position in the programme tonight. I'll also tell viewers that I've joined. That'll get the men and women of London clamouring to sign up. They love their TV personalities."
The surprised Brazilian woman instantly took the proffered hand. "It's a deal," Becky said, meeting broad smile with broad smile.
"Okay, tell me again where everything is going," Deborah murmured, grinning in satisfaction with their arrangement. She glanced around. "It certainly looks fantastic."
It did, too! Rebecca's eyes took in the pristine looking polished wood aerobics floor, not yet scuffed by the soon-to-be assault of hundreds of pounding trainers.
"Okay, we have something of everything here already," she enthusiastically explained, pointing at the small amount of bicep and triceps machines, rowing machines, bicycles and weights on the far side. "But we'll have quadrupled the numbers by the time we open on Monday. They'll all occupy their own space in strict scientific order. That means we'll cater in turn for each of the body's muscle groups."
"Sounds good," Deborah smiled, nodding at the cameraman. They were about to roll. "Talk me through it on camera."
Rebecca did, soon recovering from her early nervousness to cover just about everything Erika had coached her. Deborah nodded encouragingly with each point, providing the new Brazilian owner with the confidence to emphasise key areas.
"One of the differences between my studio and others is that its part gym, part aerobics. And the Nautilus machines are wonderful. Anyone can complete a quick circuit inside half an hour. It's ideal for a lunch break, or early evening. And you only need to use it three times a week."
"And your aerobics?" Deborah prompted, smiling into the camera. "I'm told that you're the best instructor in London. Is that really true?"
"I don't know," Becky coyly smiled. "I love my work, and I love my clients. I like to think that we make a good team together. To begin with, I'll spend personal time with anyone who joins. Then we'll soon have them feeling part of the team."
"Sounds good," grinned Deborah, holding an off camera hand up to indicate she was wrapping up the broadcast. "So there you have it," she smiled into the lens. "A new state of the art gym and aerobics studio. Would you like a figure like this?"
Becky felt herself blushing as the camera flicked across her body.
"Remember the name. Becky's! It's the newest studio in London and from what I can tell... it's the best! Want to finish by saying anything else, Becky?"
The Brazilian woman picked up on the cue, smiling into the camera. Deborah had already briefed her on the final question and even given her a pat answer. "Exercising like this changed my life," she said. "If you want to change yours, get in touch!"
Katie Nichols paused in her packing. From what Alistair had told her, he'd be pretty busy in Glasgow and therefore she'd have some free time. Hence the papers she was clearing from her desk and resting on top of her briefcase. She'd long ago learnt to take every opportunity when studying patient's cases.
But it wasn't the free time that was on her mind. Alistair had told her they'd be spending every spare minute he could eke together. Getting to know one another. And fucking, of course! That was the bit that worried her.
Not the act itself. Right now, she sprawl him across her desk if he was here and fuck his lights out. The thought of that black cock inside her had her drooling. But curiously enough, that's where her worries started. She'd done a lot of thinking since they'd fucked in her office. Maybe too much?
What she realised was that, as much as she lusted after the black Conservative Party leader, she wanted—needed—much more than that. If it was just sex, then she could satisfy herself by finding a stranger somewhere. Or maybe, pay Eduardo another visit? That had been hot.
She was the more conservative one, with all this inner passion. And that description fit Alistair to a tee, until Erika had entered his life. In her position as a psychiatrist, she was supposed to help him, restore the confused man to his former self. Yet her worst fear was that it was working the other way around. That he was having more of an influence on her!
He'd said he was addicted to sex! Is that what this was—part of his addiction? Was she being drawn into his games? Or was he genuinely interested in her as a person. If not, she could be on a path to self-destruction.
Whatever else, Glasgow would provide the answer. Or it would give all the signs that she'd need to work it out for herself.
She wanted a relationship, not a fuckbuddy—especially one who simply saw her as the next on his long list of woman. He'd made some pretty damming statements about Erika, and how she was the one to blame for all this. Corrupting him. Well, it remained a possibility that he was corrupting her. Opening the dark side that she kept hidden.
She'd soon find out.
"You'll have to get moving." Brian Sterling's voiced made her jump.
She looked up, surprised to see him in the door to her office. Hadn't he been due for a Board meeting today? She smiled at him as she held up a couple of files before stuffing them in her briefcase. "Homework for when I'm away," she told him with a mischievous grin. "Don't worry, Brian, even when I'm taking a couple of days holiday, I have the firm's best interests at heart."
"You're going away to work?"
"No," she empathically said. "You know that, Brian. But I have two early appointments as soon as I return and I'll be fully prepared for them."
The Senior Partner smiled. It was a rueful smile. "Your commitment isn't in doubt, Katie," he told her. "Nor is your judgement. At least, I've never known it to be. Maybe until now?"
Straightening up, she turned to face the Scot, crossing her arms over her chest. She'd been expecting this ever since she'd told him. He hadn't exactly been enthusiastic about her plans. But then, she was fully aware of what his reaction would be. Still, this was her life! One eyebrow arched. "Meaning?"
He smoothed a hand through his thin, grey hair. Clearly, this wasn't the easiest conversation for him, either. "Meaning I wonder whether I made a mistake in introducing the two of you. In passing Alistair to you as a client?"
"He was never really a client, Brian, was he?" Katie asked, holding his gaze. "He was simply someone who needed some help, someone to talk to."
"And that conversation has led you to going away with him?" the Scot asked, though it was a rhetorical question.
"He's in a relationship."
"No, Brian, he isn't," Katie insisted. "He was in a relationship."
"Until he met you."
The sexy psychiatrist sighed and sat back on the edge of her desk, quickly smoothing her skirt over her thighs. She wasn't in the mood to flirt. What the hell! She didn't need this, and especially not right now.
"The relationship was on its last legs," she told him, wishing she didn't have to explain. She swung away and pulled the final pieces of her packing together, wondering why she was attempting to justify herself. "And anyway, his girlfriend... ex-girlfriend," damn, there was a Freudian slip if ever there was one, "is happy with me going. She wants to get to know me."
"Get to know you?"
Katie ignored the irony in his voice. "Exactly. When you talk to Alistair—"
His words stopped her in her tracks. Katie paused, biting down on her lower lip as she picked up her briefcase and closed the zip on her other bag. She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of asking about that conversation.
"Ready to go?" he asked, those disapproving eyes boring into hers.
Damn. Despite herself she couldn't resist. "Yes. What did Alistair say?"
"Much the same as you," he told her.
"Well then," she snorted, as if those two words covered everything.
"Well then?" he repeated. "Look, Katie, you know I have your best interests as heart. But if you ask me, appearing in public is quite a first step."
"After the interests of the firm," she snapped, her normally calm eyes blazing. She wasn't stupid. The look in his eyes told her she was sailing close to the mark. Blushing, she retreated. "Anyway, we're not appearing in public."
The Scot shrugged his shoulders and stepped to one side. The conversation was over. It was an invitation for her to leave. "I hope you two know exactly what you are doing," he calmly said, as she walked past him without a backward look.
"What do you think?" Sally asked Thomas, shuffling in her seat so that she sat facing him as their taxi raced them to the airport.
Normally, they would have travelled with Erika and Alistair. But with the Scandinavian woman flying later tonight, and their boss heading across London to meet this Katie woman, it was just the two of them.
"About what?" he asked, coughing slightly as their knees made contact. She made no attempt to adjust her skirt and the clear view of her stocking tops made his cock twitch.
"You nervous?" she murmured, smiling into his anxious eyes.
"You always make me nervous," he told her, with a wry grin. "It's what you're good at."
"I'll take that as a compliment," she said with a laugh, sexily sliding a hand through her coppery bob. "Sex on your mind?"
His deep sigh may have answered for him. Sex was always on his mind. But only because he knew it was on the redhead's. Her constant references were in his psyche now. When they had a private moment, he'd have to tell her how uncomfortable her teasing was making him.
"Anyway, tell me," she murmured, leaning her head back against the plush interior wall. "What do you think?"
"About what?" he asked again.
She laughed that little girl laugh of hers. "What do you think? About Katie Nichols, of course."
"Who? Oh, yes. I... I don't know..."
"I do," she answered, running a hand across his knee. "I have it all worked out."
He shifted slightly in his seat. Each touch made him grow another inch.
"And what's your conclusion?" he asked, partly out of interest but also to keep his mind away from any other thoughts...
The way her driver shifted his head warned her they might be overheard. She lowered her voice. It was well known—or should that be rumoured—that the chauffeurs in both parties knew more about what was going on than anyone else. All through listening in on conversations such as these.
"Okay, think of this," she whispered, pushing closed the glass divider between front and back to give more privacy. "Why do you think there's been so much tension between Alistair and Erika?" Her fingertips teasingly dug in through his trousers. "Why do you think Alistair has been so grumpy? Why do you think he made up the story about Brian Sterling and a donation?"
"Fuck, Thomas," she laughed, sliding her hand up his thigh. "For someone so bright, you can be incredibly obtuse. Let me explain. The tension between them has partly been because of the election, I'll give you that. And this Mary—fucking—O'Leary woman's accusation, of course. But it started before that. He's been caught shagging this woman."
"No stupid," she impatiently spat, her eyes rolling into the top of her head. "Katie Nichols! Erika's caught the two of them at it!"
Thomas blinked as his brain computed the information. Women were so much better at this sort of thing than men. "That's why Erika cornered me?" he quizzically asked. "To get revenge?"
"Cornered you?" Sally asked, bursting out into laughter. She lowered her voice again when she caught the chauffeur's glance in the driving mirror. "Is that what they call it? I doubt it. That's the way she's made. What she wants, she gets."
Thomas caught and held her hand on his thigh. The movement of her fingers was getting just a little too personal. Hell, he was already getting hard.
Sally laughed at his discomfort, but pulled her hand away. Erika wasn't the only woman who got what she wanted. And the petite redhead wanted this intelligent yet often naïve Campaign Manager. She'd have him, too, but no need to scare him off right now.
"But let me tell you something strange about Erika and Alistair," she continued, drawing him into her theory. "Women like her don't forgive easily. He's been caught out and yet have you seen how sweet she is with him? Something's up, believe me."
She leant forward again, allowing his eyes to dip into her small cleavage. "I don't know. Haven't worked that out yet. But let's both keep an eye on what's happening and compare notes. Okay?"
Erika had told Becky to call out to her house around seven. That would give her an opportunity to take care of a few items, pack, and still allow a couple of hours with the young Brazilian woman before her airport car arrived.
"A chance for us to relax after a wonderful day", the Swedish woman had told her.
She cursed herself for not having arranged to fly to Glasgow in the morning. That would have given her the night to seduce Becky. But it was too important not to reach Glasgow on time. Morning fog would play havoc with her intention to take care of Alistair's slut. Besides, Guus hadn't been available this evening. And the Dutchman was an integral part of her plan...
Instead, she'd use their time together tonight to sow the seeds. Take things between them one step further than she'd done so far. And when she returned from Scotland in two days—well, the woman would be hers...