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Best laid-plans

  1. 1. Best Laid PlansbySidney SheldonBooks by Sidney SheldonIF TOMORROW COMESMASTER OF THE GAMERAGE OF ANGELSBLOODLINEA STRANGER IN THE MIRROR THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHTTHE NAKED FACE WINDMILLS OF THE GODSTHE SANDS OF TIMEMEMORIES OF MIDNIGHTTHE DOOMSDAY CONSPIRACYTHE STARS SHINE DOWNNOTHING LASTS FOREVERMORNING, NOON & NIGHTSIDNEY SHELDONTHEBEST LAID PLANSHurperCollinsPublishers This novel is entirely a work offiction. Thenames, characters and modems portrayed in it are the workof theauthors imagination Any resemblance to actual persons,living or dead,
  2. 2. events or localities is entirely coincidental.HarperCollinsPuWisfiers77-85 Fulham Palace Road Hammersmith, London W6 8JUPublished byHarperCollinsPuWisfcers 1997 135798642 First published inthe USA byWilliam Morrow & Co. ,997 Copyright 6 The Sidney SheldonFamilyLimited Partnership 1997 The Author asserts the moralright to beidentified as the author of this work A catalogue recordfor this bookis available from the British Library ISBN 0 00 225660 6ISBN 0 00225662 2 (airport tpb) Set in Scala Printed and bound inGreat Britainby Caledonian International Book Manufacturing Ltd,Glasgow All rightsreserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in aretrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by anymeans,electronic, mechanical photocopymg, recording orotherwise, without theprior permission of the publishers. This book isdedicated to you withmy appreciationTHEBEST LAID PLANSOne.The first entry in Leslie Stewarts diary read:Dear Diary: This morning I met the man I am going tomarry.It was a simple, optimistic statement, with not theslightest portentof the dramatic chain of events that was about to occur.It was one of those rare, serendipitous days when nothing
  3. 3. could gowrong, when nothing would dare go wrong. Leslie Stewarthad nointerest in astrology, but that morning, as she wasleafing through theLexington Herald-Leader, a horoscope in an astrologycolumn by Zoltairecaught her eye. It read:FOR LEO (JULY 23RD TO AUGUST 22ND). THE NEWMOON ILLUMINATES YOUR LOVE LIFE. YOU ARE IN YOUR LUNARCYCLE HIGHNOW,AND MUST PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO AN EXCITING NEW EVENT INYOUR LIFE.YOUR COMPATIBLE SIGN IS ViRGO. TODAY WILL BE A RED-LETTERDAY. BEPREPARED TO ENJOY IT.Be prepared to enjoy what? Leslie thought wryly. Todaywas going tobe like every other day. Astrology was nonsense, mindcandy forfools.Leslie Stewart was a public relations and advertisingexecutive at theLexington, Kentucky, firm of Bailey & Tomkins. She hadthree meetingsscheduled for that afternoon, the first with the KentuckyFertilizerCompany, whose executives were excited about the newcampaign she wasworking up for them. They especially liked its beginning:"If you wantto smell the roses...." The second meeting was with theBreeders StudFarm, and the third with the Lexington Coal Company.Red-letter day?
  4. 4. In her late twenties, with a slim, provocative figure,Leslie Stewarthad an exciting, exotic look; gray, sloe eyes, highcheekbones, andsoft, honey-colored hair, which she wore long andelegantly simple. Afriend of Leslies had once told her,"If youre beautiful and have a brain and a vagina, youcan own theworld." Leslie Stewart was beautiful and had an IQ of170, and naturehad taken care of the rest. But she found her looks adisadvantage.Men were constantly pro positioning her or proposing, butfew of thembothered to try really to get to know her. Aside from thetwosecretaries who worked at Bailey & Tomkins, Leslie was theonly womanthere. There were fifteen male employees. It had takenLeslie lessthan a week to learn that she was more intelligent thanany of them. Itwas a discovery she decided to keep to herself. In thebeginning, bothpartners, Jim Bailey, an overweight, soft-spoken man inhis forties,and Al Tomkins, anorexic and hyper, ten years younger thanBailey,individually tried to talk Leslie into going to bed withthem. She hadstopped them very simply. "Ask me once more, and Illquit." That hadput an end to that. Leslie was too valuable an employeeto lose. Herfirst week on the job, during a coffee break, Leslie hadtold herfellow employees a joke. "Three men came across a femalegenie whopromised to grant each one a wish. The first man said, "Iwish I weretwenty-five percent smarter." The genie blinked, and theman said,
  5. 5. "Hey, I feel smarter already." "The second man said, "Iwish I werefifty percent smarter." The genie blinked, and the manexclaimed,"Thats wonderful! I think I know things now that Ididnt knowbefore.""The third man said, "Id like to be one hundred percentsmarter.""So the genie blinked, and the man changed into a woman."Leslie looked expectantly at the men at the table. Theywere allstaring at her, unamused.Point taken.The red-letter day that the astrologer had promised beganat elevenoclock that morning. Jim Bailey walked into Lesliestiny, crampedoffice. "We have a new client," he announced. "I wantyou to takecharge." She was already handling more accounts thananyone else atthe firm, but she knew better than to protest. "Fine,"she said."What is it?" "Its not a what, its a who. Youve heardof OliverRussell, of course?" Everyone had heard of OliverRussell. A localattorney and candidate for governor, he had his face onbillboards allover Kentucky. With his brilliant legal record, he wasconsidered, atthirty-five, the most eligible bachelor in the state. Hewas on allthe talk shows on the major television stations inLexington WDKY,WTVQ, WKYT and on the popular local radio stations, WKQQand WLRO.Strikingly handsome, with black,
  6. 6. unruly hair, dark eyes, an athletic build, and a warmsmile, he had thereputation of having slept with most of the ladies inLexington."Yes, Ive heard of him. What are we going to do forhim?""Were going to try to help turn him into the governor ofKentucky.Hes on his way here now."Oliver Russell arrived a few minutes later. He was evenmoreattractive in person than in his photographs. When he wasintroducedto Leslie, he smiled warmly. "Ive heard a lot about you.Im so gladyoure going to handle my campaign." He was not at allwhat Leslie hadexpected. There was a completely disarming sincerityabout the man.For a moment, Leslie was at a loss for words. "I thankyou. Pleasesit down." Oliver Russell took a seat. "Lets start atthebeginning," Leslie suggested. "Why are you running forgovernor?""Its very simple. Kentuckys a wonderful state. We knowit is,because we live here, and were able to enjoy its magicbut much of thecountry thinks of us as a bunch of hillbillies. I want tochange thatimage. Kentucky has more to offer than a dozen otherstates combined.The history of this country began here. We have one ofthe oldestcapitol buildings in America. Kentucky gave this countrytwopresidents. Its the land ofDaniel Boone and Kit Carson and Judge Roy Bean. We have
  7. 7. the mostbeautiful scenery in the world exciting caves, rivers,bluegrass fieldseverything. I want to open all that up to the rest of theworld."He spoke with a deep conviction, and Leslie found herselfstronglydrawn to him. She thought of the astrology column. "Thenew moonilluminates your love life. Today will be a red-letterday. Beprepared to enjoy it."Oliver Russell was saying, "The campaign wont work unlessyou believein this as strongly as I do.""I do," Leslie said quickly. Too quickly? "Im reallylooking forwardto this." She hesitated a moment. "May I ask you aquestion?""Certainly.""Whats your birth sign?""Virgo."After Oliver Russell left, Leslie went into Jim Baileysoffice. "Ilike him," she said. "Hes sincere. He really cares. Ithink hedmake a fine governor." Jim looked at her thoughtfully."Its notgoing to be easy." She looked at him, puzzled. "Oh?Why?" Baileyshrugged. "Im not sure. Theres something going on thatI cantexplain. Youve seen Russell on all the billboards and ontelevision?""Yes." .f"Well, thats stopped." "I dont understand. Why?" "No
  8. 8. one knows forcertain, but there are a lot of strange rumors. One ofthe rumors isthat someone was backing Russell, putting up all the moneyfor hiscampaign, and then for some reason suddenly dropped him.""In themiddle of a campaign he was winning? That doesnt makesense, Jim.""I know." "Why did he come to us?" "He really wantsthis. I thinkhes ambitious. And he feels he can make a difference.He would likeus to figure out a campaign that wont cost him a lot ofmoney. Hecant afford to buy any more airtime or do muchadvertising. All wecan really do for him is to arrange interviews, plantnewspaperarticles, that sort of thing." He shook his head."Governor Addisonis spending a fortune on his campaign. In the last twoweeks,Russells gone way down in the polls. Its a shame. Hesa goodlawyer. Does a lot of pro bono work. I think hed make agoodgovernor, too." That night Leslie made her first note inher newdiary. Dear Diary: This morning I met the man I am goingto marry.Leslie Stewarts early childhood was idyllic. She was anextraordinarily intelligent child. Her father was anEnglish professorat Lexington Community College and her mother was ahousewife.Leslies father was a handsome man, patrician andintellectual. He wasa caring father, and he saw to it that the family tooktheir vacationstogether and traveled together. Her father adored her."Youre Daddysgirl," he would say. He would tell her how beautiful shelooked and
  9. 9. compliment her on her grades, her behavior, her friends.Leslie coulddo no wrong in his eyes. For her ninth birthday, herfather bought hera beautiful brown velvet dress with lace cuffs. He wouldhave her putthe dress on, and he would show her off to his friendswhen they cameto dinner. "Isnt she a beauty?" he would say. Leslieworshiped him.One morning, a year later, in a split second, Leslieswonderful lifevanished. Her mother, face stained with tears, sat herdown."Darling, your father has ... left us." Leslie did notunderstand atfirst. "When will he be back?" "Hes not coming back."And each wordwas a sharp knife. My mother has driven him away, Lesliethought. Shefelt sorry for her mother because now there would be adivorce and acustody fight. Her father would never let her go. Never.Hell comefor me, Leslie told herself. But weeks passed, and herfather nevercalled. They wont let him come and see me, Lesliedecided. Motherspunishing him. It was Leslies elderly aunt who explainedto the childthat there would be no custody battle. Leslies father hadfallen inlove with a widow who taught at the university and hadmoved in withher, in her house on Limestone Street.One day when they were out shopping, Leslies motherpointed out thehouse. "Thats where they live," she said bitterly.Leslie resolved to visit her father. When he sees me, shethought,hell want to come home.
  10. 10. On a Friday, after school, Leslie went to the house onLimestone Streetand rang the doorbell. The door was opened by a girlLeslies age. Shewas wearing a brown velvet dress with lace cuffs. Lesliestared ather, in shock.The little girl was looking at her curiously. "Who areyou?"Leslie fled.Over the next year, Leslie watched her mother retire intoherself. Shehad lost all interest in life. Leslie had believed that"dying of abroken heart" was an empty phrase, but Leslie helplesslywatched hermother fade away and die, and when people asked her whather mother haddied of, Leslie answered, "She died of a broken heart."And Leslieresolved that no man would ever do that to her. After hermothersdeath, Leslie moved in with her aunt. Leslie attendedBryan StationHigh School and was graduated from the University ofKentucky summa cumlaude. In her final year in college, she was voted beautyqueen, andturned down numerous offers from modeling agencies.Leslie had twobrief affairs, one with a college football hero, and theother with hereconomics professor. They quickly bored her. The factwas that shewas brighter than both of them.Just before Leslie was graduated, her aunt died. Lesliefinishedschool and applied for a job at the advertising and publicrelationsagency of Bailey & Tomkins. Its offices were on Vine
  11. 11. Street in aU-shaped brick building with a copper roof and a fountainin thecourtyard.Jim Bailey, the senior partner, had examined Lesliesresume, andnodded. "Very impressive. Youre in luck. We need asecretary.""A secretary? I hoped ""Yes?""Nothing."Leslie started as a secretary, taking notes at all themeetings, hermind all the while judging and thinking of ways to improvetheadvertising campaigns that were being suggested. Onemorning, anaccount executive was saying, "Ive thought of the perfectlogo for theRancho Beef Chili account. On the label of the can, weshow a pictureof a cowboy roping a cow. It suggests that the beef isfresh, and "Thats a terrible idea, Leslie thought. They were allstaring at her,and to her horror, Leslie realized she had spoken aloud."Would you mind explaining that, young lady?""I..." She wished she were somewhere else. Anywhere.They were all waiting. Leslie took a deep breath. "Whenpeople eatmeat, they dont want to be reminded that theyre eating adeadanimal."There was a heavy silence. Jim Bailey cleared his throat.
  12. 12. "Maybe weshould give this a little more thought."The following week, during a meeting on how to publicize anew beautysoap account, one of the executives said, "Well usebeauty contestwinners.""Excuse me," Leslie said diffidently. "I believe thatsbeen done. Whycouldnt we use lovely flight attendants from around theworld to showthat our beauty soap is universal?"In the meetings after that, the men found themselvesturning to Lesliefor her opinion.A year later, she was a junior copywriter, and two yearsafter that,she became an account executive, handling both advertisingandpublicity.Oliver Russell was the first real challenge that Lesliehad had at theagency. Two weeks after Oliver Russell came to them,Bailey suggestedto Leslie that it might be better to drop him, because hecould notafford to pay their usual agency fee, but Leslie persuadedhim to keepthe account."Call it pro bono," she said.Bailey studied her a moment. "Right."Leslie and Oliver Russell were seated on a bench inTriangle Park. Itwas a cool fall day, with a soft breeze coming from thelake. "I hatepolitics," Oliver Russell said.
  13. 13. Leslie looked at him in surprise. "Then why in the worldare you ?""Because I want to change the system, Leslie. Its beentaken over bylobbyists and corporations that help put the wrong peoplein power andthen control them. There are a lot of things I want todo." His voicewas filled with passion. "The people who are running thecountry haveturned it into an old boys club. They care more aboutthemselves thanthey do about the people. Its not right, and Im goingto try tocorrect that."Leslie listened as Oliver went on, and she was thinking,He could doit. There was such a compelling excitement about him.The truth wasthat she found everything about him exciting. She hadnever felt thisway about a man before, and it was an exhilaratingexperience. She hadno way of knowing how he felt about her. He is always theperfectgentleman, damn him. It seemed to Leslie that every fewminutes peoplewere coming up to the park bench to shake Olivers handand to wish himwell. The women were visually throwing daggers at Leslie.Theyveprobably all been out with him, Leslie thought. Theyveprobably allbeen to bed with him. Well, thats none of my business.She had heard that until recently he had been dating thedaughter of asenator. She wondered what had happened. Thats none ofmy business,either.
  14. 14. There was no way to avoid the fact that Olivers campaignwas goingbadly. Without money to pay his staff, and no television,radio, ornewspaper ads, it was impossible to compete with GovernorGary Addison,whose image seemed to be everywhere. Leslie arranged forOliver toappear at company picnics, at factories, and at dozens ofsocialevents, but she knew these appearances were allminor-league, and itfrustrated her."Have you seen the latest polls?" Jim Bailey askedLeslie. "Your boyis going down the tubes."Not if I can help it, Leslie thought.Leslie and Oliver were having dinner at Cheznous. "Itsnot working,is it?" Oliver asked quietly. "Theres still plenty oftime," Lesliesaid reassuringly. "When the voters get to know you "Oliver shook hishead. "I read the polls, too. I want you to know Iappreciateeverything youve tried to do for me, Leslie. Youve beengreat." Shesat there looking at him across the table, thinking, Hesthe mostwonderful man Ive ever met, and I cant help him. Shewanted to takehim in her arms and hold him and console him. Consolehim? Who am Ikidding? As they got up to leave, a man, a woman, and twosmall girlsapproached the table. "Oliver! How are you?" Thespeaker was in hisforties, an attractive-looking man with a black eye patchthat gave himthe raffish look of an amiable pirate.
  15. 15. Oliver rose and held out his hand. "Hello, Peter. Idlike you tomeet Leslie Stewart. Peter Tager.""Hello, Leslie." Tager nodded toward his family. "Thisis my wife,Betsy, and this is Elizabeth and this is Rebecca." Therewas enormouspride in his voice.Peter Tager turned to Oliver. "Im awfully sorry aboutwhat happened.Its a damned shame. I hated to do it, but I had nochoice.""I understand, Peter.""If there was anything I could have done ""It doesnt matter. Im fine.""You know I wish you only the best of luck."On the way home, Leslie asked, "What was that all about?"Oliver started to say something, then stopped. "Its notimportant."Leslie lived in a neat one-bedroom apartment in theBrandy-wine sectionof Lexington. As they approached the building, Oliversaid hesitantly,"Leslie, I know that your agency is handling me for almostnothing, butfrankly, I think youre wasting your time. It might bebetter if Ijust quit now.""No," she said, and the intensity of her voice surprisedher. "Youcant quit. Well find a way to make it work."Oliver turned to look at her. "You really care, dontyou?"
  16. 16. Am I reading too much into that question? "Yes," she saidquietly. "Ireally care."When they arrived at her apartment, Leslie took a deepbreath. "Wouldyou like to come in?"He looked at her a long time. "Yes."Afterward, she never knew who made the first move. Allshe rememberedwas that they were undressing each other and she was inhis arms andthere was a wild, feral haste in their lovemaking, andafter that, aslow and easy melting, in a rhythm that was timeless andecstatic. Itwas the most wonderful feeling Leslie had everexperienced.They were together the whole night, and it was magical.Oliver wasinsatiable, giving and demanding at the same time, and hewent onforever. He was an animal. And Leslie thought, Oh, myGod, Im one,too.In the morning, over a breakfast of orange juice,scrambled eggs,toast, and bacon, Leslie said, "Theres going to be apicnic at GreenRiver Lake on Friday, Oliver. There will be a lot ofpeople there.Ill arrange for you to make a speech. Well buy radiotime to leteveryone know youre going to be there. Then well ""Leslie," heprotested, "I havent the money to do that." "Oh, dontworry aboutthat," she said airily. "The agency will pay for it."She knew that
  17. 17. there was not the remotest chance that the agency wouldpay for it. Sheintended to do that herself. She would tell Jim Baileythat the moneyhad been donated by a Russell supporter. And it would bethe truth.Ill do anything in the world to help him, she thought.There were two hundred people at the picnic at Green RiverLake, andwhen Oliver addressed the crowd, he was brilliant."Half the people in this country dont vote," he toldthem. "We havethe lowest voting record of any industrial country in theworld lessthan fifty percent. If you want things to change, itsyourresponsibility to make sure they do change. Its morethan aresponsibility, its a privilege. Theres an electioncoming up soon.Whether you vote for me or my opponent, vote. Be there."They cheered him.Leslie arranged for Oliver to appear at as many functionsas possible.He presided at the opening of a childrens clinic,dedicated a bridge,talked to womens groups, labor groups, at charity events,andretirement homes. Still, he kept slipping in the polls.WheneverOliver was not campaigning, he and Leslie found some timeto betogether. They went riding in a horse-drawn carriagethrough TrianglePark, spent a Saturday afternoon at the Antique Market,and had dinnerat A la Lucie. Oliver gave Leslie flowers for GroundhogDay and on theanniversary of the Battle of Bull Run, and left lovingmessages on her
  18. 18. answering machine: "Darling where are you? I miss you,miss you, missyou.""Im madly in love with your answering machine. Do youhave any ideahow sexy it sounds?""I think it must be illegal to be this happy. I loveyou."It didnt matter to Leslie where she and Oliver went: Shejust wantedto be with him.One of the most exciting things they did was to gowhite-water raftingon the Russell Fork River one Sunday. The trip startedinnocently,gently, until the river began to pound its way around thebase of themountains in a giant loop that began a series ofdeafening,breathtaking vertical drops in the rapids: five feet...eight feet...nine feet... only a terrifying raft length apart. Thetrip took threeand a half hours, and when Leslie and Oliver got off theraft, theywere soaking wet and glad to be alive. They could notkeep their handsoff each other. They made love in their cabin, in theback of hisautomobile, in the woods.One early fall evening, Oliver prepared dinner at hishome, a charminghouse in Versailles, a small town near Lexington. Therewere grilledflank steaks marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and herbs,served withbaked potato, salad, and a perfect red wine."Youre a wonderful cook," Leslie told him. She snuggled
  19. 19. up to him."In fact, youre a wonderful everything, sweetheart.""Thank you, mylove." He remembered something. "I have a littlesurprise for youthat I want you to try." He disappeared into the bedroomfor a momentand came out carrying a small bottle with a clear liquidinside. "Hereit is," he said. "What is it?" "Have you heard ofEcstasy?" "Heardof it? Im in it." "I mean the drug Ecstasy. This isliquid Ecstasy.Its supposed to be a great aphrodisiac." Leslie frowned."Darlingyou dont need that. We dont need it. It could bedangerous." Shehesitated. "Do you use it often?" Oliver laughed. "As amatter offact, I dont. Take that look off your face. A friend ofmine gave methis and told me to try it. This would have been thefirst time.""Lets not have a first time," Leslie said. "Will youthrow it away?""Youre right. Of course I will." He went into thebathroom, and amoment later Leslie heard the toilet flush. Oliverreappeared. "Allgone." He grinned. "Who needs Ecstasy in a bottle? Ihave it in abetter package." And he took her in his arms. Leslie hadread thelove stories and had heard the love songs, but nothing hadprepared herfor the incredible reality. She had always thought thatromanticlyrics were sentimental nonsense, wishful dreaming. Sheknew betternow. The world suddenly seemed brighter, more beautiful.Everythingwas touched with magic, and the magic was Oliver Russell.One Saturday morning, Oliver and Leslie were hiking in the
  20. 20. BreaksInterstate Park, enjoying the spectacular scenery thatsurroundedthem."Ive never been on this trail before," Leslie said."I think youre going to enjoy it."They were approaching a sharp curve in the path. As theyrounded it,Leslie stopped, stunned. In the middle of the path was ahand-paintedwooden sign: LESLIE, WILL YOUMARRY ME?Leslies heart began to beat faster. She turned toOliver,speechless.He took her in his arms. "Will you?"How did I get so lucky? Leslie wondered. She hugged himtightly andwhispered, "Yes, darling. Of course I will.""Im afraid I cant promise you that youre going to marrya governor,but Im a pretty good attorney."She snuggled up to him and whispered, "That will donicely."A few nights later, Leslie was getting dressed to meetOliver fordinner when he telephoned."Darling, Im terribly sorry, but Ive bad news. I haveto go to ameeting tonight, and Ill have to cancel our dinner. Willyou forgiveme?"
  21. 21. Leslie smiled and said softly, "Youre forgiven."The following day, Leslie picked up a copy of the StateJournal. Theheadline read: WOMANS BODY FOUND IN KENTUCKY RIVER. Thestory wenton: "Early this morning, the body of a nude woman whoappeared to be inher early twenties was found by police in the KentuckyRiver ten mileseast of Lexington. An autopsy is being performed todetermine thecause of death...."Leslie shuddered as she read the story. To die so young.Did she havea lover? A husband? How thankful I am to be alive and sohappy and soloved.It seemed that all of Lexington was talking about theforthcomingwedding. Lexington was a small town, and Oliver Russellwas a popularfigure. They were a spectacular-looking couple, Oliverdark andhandsome, and Leslie with her lovely face and figure andhoney-blondhair. The news had spread like wildfire. "I hope heknows how luckyhe is," Jim Bailey said. Leslie smiled. "Were bothlucky.""Are you going to elope?""No. Oliver wants to have a formal wedding. Weregetting married atthe Calvary Chapel church.""When does the happy event take place?" "In six weeks."A few days later, a story on the front page of the StateJournal read:"An autopsy has revealed that the woman found in the
  22. 22. Kentucky River,identified as Lisa Burnette, a legal secretary, died of anoverdose ofa dangerous illegal drug known on the streets as liquidEcstasy...."Liquid Ecstasy. Leslie recalled the evening with Oliver.And shethought, How lucky it was that he threw that bottle away.The next few weeks were filled with frantic preparationsfor thewedding. There was so much to do. Invitations went outto two hundredpeople. Leslie chose a maid of honor and selected heroutfit, aballerina-length dress with matching shoes and gloves tocomplement thelength of the sleeves. For herself, Leslie shopped atFayette Mall onNicholasville Road and selected a floor-length gown with afull skirtand a sweep train, shoes to match the gown, and longgloves. Oliverordered a black cutaway coat with striped trousers, graywaistcoat, awing-collared white shirt, and a striped ascot. His bestman was alawyer in his firm."Everything is set," Oliver told Leslie. "Ive made allthearrangements for the reception afterward. Almost everyonehasaccepted."Leslie felt a small shiver go through her. "I cant wait,mydarling."On a Thursday night one week before the wedding, Olivercame toLeslies apartment. "Im afraid something has come up,Leslie. A
  23. 23. client of mine is in trouble. Im going to have to fly toParis tostraighten things out." "Paris? How long will you begone?" "Itshouldnt take more than two or three days, four days atthe most. Illbe back in plenty of time." "Tell the pilot to flysafely." "Ipromise." When Oliver left, Leslie picked up thenewspaper on thetable. Idly, she turned to the horoscope by Zoltaire. Itread: FORLEO (JULY 23RD TO AUGUST 22ND). THIS is NOTA GOOD DAY TO CHANGE PLANS. TAKING RISKS CAN LEAD TOSERIOUSPROBLEMS.Leslie read the horoscope again, disturbed. She wasalmost tempted totelephone Oliver and tell him not to leave. But thatsridiculous, shethought. Its just a stupid horoscope.By Monday, Leslie had not heard from Oliver. Shetelephoned hisoffice, but the staff had no information. There was noword from himTuesday. Leslie was beginning to panic. At four oclockon Wednesdaymorning, she was awakened by the insistent ringing of thetelephone.She sat up in bed and thought: Its Oliver! Thank God.She knew thatshe should be angry with him for not calling her sooner,but that wasunimportant now. She picked up the receiver. "Oliver..." A malevoice said, "Is this Leslie Stewart?" She felt a suddencold chill."Who who is this?" "Al Towers, Associated Press. We havea storygoing out on our wires, Miss Stewart, and we wanted to get
  24. 24. yourreaction." Something terrible had happened. Oliver wasdead. "MissStewart?" "Yes." Her voice was a strangled whisper."Could we get aquote from you?" "A quote?" "About Oliver Russellmarrying SenatorTodd Daviss daughter in Paris." For an instant the roomseemed tospin. "You and Mr. Russell were engaged, werent you?If we couldget a quote ..." She sat there, frozen. "Miss Stewart."She found her voice. "Yes." wish them both well." Shereplaced thereceiver, numb. It was a nightmare. She would awaken ina few minutesand find that she had been dreaming.But this was no dream. She had been abandoned again."Yourfathersnot coming back." She walked into the bathroom and staredat her paleimage in the mirror. "We have a story going out on ourwires." Oliverhad married someone else. Why? What have I done wrong?How have Ifailed him? But deep down she knew that it was Oliver whohad failedher. He was gone. How could she face the future?When Leslie walked into the agency that morning, everyonewas tryinghard not to stare at her. She went into Jim Baileysoffice.He took one look at her pale face and said, "You shouldnthave come intoday, Leslie. Why dont you go home and "She took a deep breath. "No, thank you. Ill be fine."The radio and television newscasts and afternoonnewspapers were filled
  25. 25. with details of the Paris wedding. Senator Todd Davis waswithoutdoubt Kentuckys most influential citizen, and the storyof hisdaughters marriage and of the grooms jilting Leslie wasbig news.The phones in Leslies office never stopped ringing."This is the Courier-Journal, Miss Stewart. Could yougive us astatement about the wedding?""Yes. The only thing I care about is Oliver Russellshappiness.""But you and he were going to be ""It would have been a mistake for us to marry. SenatorDavissdaughter was in his life first. Obviously, he never gotover her. Iwish them both well.""This is the State Journal in Frankfort...."And so it went.It seemed to Leslie that half of Lexington pitied her, andthe otherhalf rejoiced at what had happened to her. WhereverLeslie went, therewere whispers and hastily broken-off conversations. Shewas fiercelydetermined not to show her feelings."How could you let him do this to ?""When you truly love someone," Leslie said firmly, "youwant him to behappy. Oliver Russell is the finest human being Ive everknown. Iwish them both every happiness."
  26. 26. She sent notes of apology to all those who had beeninvited to thewedding and returned their gifts.Leslie had been half hoping for and half dreading the callfrom Oliver.Still, when it came, she was unprepared. She was shakenby thefamiliar sound of his voice. "Leslie ... I dont knowwhat to say.""Its true, isnt it?""Yes.""Then there isnt anything to say.""I just wanted to explain to you how it happened. BeforeI met you,Jan and I were almost engaged. And when I saw her again II knew thatI still loved her.""I understand, Oliver. Goodbye."Five minutes later, Leslies secretary buzzed her."Theres atelephone call for you on line one, Miss Stewart.""I dont want to talk to ""Its Senator Davis."The father of the bride. What does he want with me?Leslie wondered.She picked up the telephone.A deep southern voice said, "Miss Stewart?""Yes.""This is Todd Davis. I think you and I should have alittle talk."
  27. 27. She hesitated. "Senator, I dont know what we ""Ill pick you up in one hour." The line went dead.Exactly one hour later, a limousine pulled up in front ofthe officebuilding where Leslie worked. A chauffeur opened the cardoor forLeslie. Senator Davis was in the backseat. He was adistinguished-looking man with flowing white hair and asmall, neatmustache. He had the face of a patriarch. Even in thefall he wasdressed in his trademark white suit and whitebroad-brimmed leghornhat. He was a classic figure from an earlier century, anold-fashionedsouthern gentleman.As Leslie got into the car, Senator Davis said, "Youre abeautifulyoung woman.""Thank you," she said stiffly.The limousine started off."I didnt mean just physically, Miss Stewart. Ive beenhearing aboutthe manner in which youve been handling this whole sordidmatter. Itmust be very distressing for you. I couldnt believe thenews when Iheard it." His voice filled with anger. "Whateverhappened to goodold-fashioned morality? To tell you the truth, Imdisgusted withOliver for treating you so shabbily. And Im furious withJan formarrying him. In a way, I feel guilty, because shes mydaughter. Theydeserve each other." His voice was choked with emotion.They rode in silence for a while. When Leslie finally
  28. 28. spoke, she said,"I know Oliver. Im sure he didnt mean to hurt me. Whathappened...just happened. I want only the best for him. He deservesthat, and Iwouldnt do anything to stand in his way.""Thats very gracious of you." He studied her a moment."You reallyare a remarkable young lady."The limousine had come to a stop. Leslie looked out thewindow. Theyhad reached Paris Pike, at the Kentucky Horse Center.There were morethan a hundred horse farms in and around Lexington, andthe largest ofthem was owned by Senator Davis. As far as the eye couldsee werewhite plank fences, white paddocks with red trim, androlling Kentuckybluegrass.Leslie and Senator Davis stepped out of the car and walkedover to thefence surrounding the racetrack. They stood there a fewmoments,watching the beautiful animals working out.Senator Davis turned to Leslie. "Im a simple man," hesaid quietly."Oh, I know how that must sound to you, but its thetruth. I was bornhere, and I could spend the rest of my life here. Theresno place inthe world like it. Just look around you, Miss Stewart.This is asclose as we may ever come to heaven. Can you blame me fornot wantingto leave all this? Mark Twain said that when the worldcame to an end,he wanted to be in Kentucky, because its always a goodtwenty yearsbehind. I have to spend half my life in Washington, and I
  29. 29. loatheit.""Then why do you do it?""Because I have a sense of obligation. Our people votedme into theSenate, and until they vote me out, Ill be there tryingto do the bestjob I can." He abruptly changed the subject. "I want youto know howmuch I admire your sentiments and the way youve behaved.If you hadbeen nasty about this, I suppose it could have createdquite a scandal.As it is, well Id like to show my appreciation."Leslie looked at him."I thought that perhaps you would like to get away for awhile, take alittle trip abroad, spend some time traveling. Naturally,Id pick upall the ""Please dont do this.""I was only ""I know. I havent met your daughter, Senator Davis, butif Oliverloves her, she must be very special. I hope theyll behappy."He said awkwardly, "I think you should know theyre comingback here toget married again. In Paris, it was a civil ceremony, butJan wants achurch wedding here."It was a stab in the heart. "I see. All right. Theyhave nothing toworry about."
  30. 30. "Thank you."The wedding took place two weeks later, in the CalvaryChapel churchwhere Leslie and Oliver were to have been married. Thechurch waspacked.Oliver Russell, Jan, and Senator Todd Davis were standingbefore theminister at the altar. Jan Davis was an attractivebrunette, with animposing figure and an aristocratic air.The minister was nearing the end of the ceremony. "Godmeant for manand woman to be united in holy matrimony, and as you gothrough lifetogether..."The church door opened, and Leslie Stewart walked in. Shestood at theback for a moment, listening, then moved to the last pew,where sheremained standing.The minister was saying, "... so if anyone knows why thiscouple shouldnot be united in holy matrimony, let him speak now orforever hold his..." He glanced up and saw Leslie. "... hold his peace."Almost involuntarily, heads began to turn in Lesliesdirection.Whispers began to sweep through the crowd. People sensedthat theywere about to witness a dramatic scene, and the churchfilled withsudden tension.The minister waited a moment, then nervously cleared histhroat. "Then,by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man andwife." There was
  31. 31. a note of deep relief in his voice. "You may kiss thebride."When the minister looked up again, Leslie was gone.The final note in Leslie Stewarts diary read:Dear Diary: It was a beautiful wedding. Olivers bride isvery pretty.She wore a lovely white lace-and-satin wedding gown with ahalter topand a bolero jacket. Oliver looked more handsome thanever. He seemedvery happy. Im pleased.Because before Im finished with him, Im going to makehim wish he hadnever been born.Two.It was Senator Todd Davis who had arranged thereconciliation of OliverRussell and his daughter. Todd Davis was a widower. Amultibillionaire the senator owned tobacco plantations, coalmines, oilfields in Oklahoma and Alaska, and a world-class racingstable. AsSenate majority leader, he was one of the most powerfulmen inWashington, and was serving his fifth term. He was a manwith a simplephilosophy: Never forget a favor, never forgive a slight.He pridedhimself on picking winners, both at the track and inpolitics, andearly on he had spotted Oliver Russell as a comer. Thefact thatOliver might marry his daughter was an unexpected plus,until, ofcourse, Jan foolishly called it off. When the senatorheard the newsof the impending wedding between Oliver Russell and Leslie
  32. 32. Stewart, hefound it disturbing. Very disturbing.Senator Davis had first met Oliver Russell when Oliverhandled a legalmatter for him. Senator Davis was impressed. Oliver wasintelligent,handsome, and articulate, with a boyish charm that drewpeople to him.The senator arranged to have lunch with Oliver on aregular basis, andOliver had no idea how carefully he was being assessed. Amonth aftermeeting Oliver, Senator Davis sent for Peter Tager. "Ithink wevefound our next governor." Tager was an earnest man whohad grown up ina religious family. His father was a history teacher andhis motherwas a housewife, and they were devout churchgoers. WhenPeter Tagerwas eleven, he had been traveling in a car with hisparents and youngerbrother when the brakes of the car failed. There had beena deadlyaccident. The only one who survived was Peter, who lostan eye. Peterbelieved that Goo had spared him so that he could spreadHis word.Peter Tager understood the dynamics of politics betterthan anyoneSenator Davis had ever met. Tager knew where the voteswere and how toget them. He had an uncanny sense of what the publicwanted to hearand what it had gotten tired of hearing. But even moreimportant toSenator Davis was the fact that Peter Tager was a man hecould trust, aman of integrity. People liked him. The black eye patchhe wore gavehim a dashing look. What mattered to Tager more thananything in theworld was his family. The senator had never met a man so
  33. 33. deeply proudof his wife and children.When Senator Davis first met him, Peter Tager had beencontemplatinggoing into the ministry."So many people need help, Senator. I want to do what Ican."But Senator Davis had talked him out of the idea. "Thinkof how manymore people you can help by working for me in the Senateof the UnitedStates." It had been a felicitous choice. Tager knew howto getthings done."The man I have in mind to run for governor is OliverRussell.""The attorney?""Yes. Hes a natural. I have a hunch if we get behindhim, he cantmiss.""Sounds interesting, Senator."The two of them began to discuss it.Senator Davis spoke to Jan about Oliver Russell. "The boyhas a hotfuture, honey." "He has a hot past, too, Father. Hesthe biggestwolf in town." "Now, darling, you mustnt listen togossip. Iveinvited Oliver to dinner here Friday."The dinner Friday evening went well. Oliver was charming,and in spiteof herself, Jan found herself warming to him. The senatorsat at hisplace watching them, asking questions that brought out the
  34. 34. best inOliver.At the end of the evening, Jan invited Oliver to a dinnerparty thefollowing Saturday. "Id be delighted."From that night on, they started seeing only each other."Theyll be getting married soon," the senator predictedto PeterTager. "Its time we got Olivers campaign rolling."Oliver was summoned to a meeting at Senator Davissoffice. "I want toask you a question," the senator said. "How would youlike to be thegovernor of Kentucky?" Oliver looked at him in surprise."I I haventthought about it." "Well, Peter Tager and I have.Theres an electioncoming up next year. That gives us more than enough timeto build youup, let people know who you are. With us behind you, youcant lose."And Oliver knew it was true. Senator Davis was a powerfulman, incontrol of a well-oiled political machine, a machine thatcould createmyths or destroy anyone who got in its way. "Youd haveto be totallycommitted," the senator warned. "I would be.""I have some even better news for you, son. As far as Imconcerned,this is only the first step. You serve a term or two asgovernor, andI promise you well move you into the White House."Oliver swallowed. "Are are you serious?""I dont joke about things like this. I dont have totell you thatthis is the age of television. You have something that
  35. 35. money cant buycharisma. People are drawn to you. You genuinely likepeople, and itshows. Its the same quality Jack Kennedy had.""I I dont know what to say, Todd.""You dont have to say anything. I have to return toWashingtontomorrow, but when I get back, well go to work."A few weeks later, the campaign for the office of governorbegan.Billboards with Olivers picture flooded the state. Heappeared ontelevision and at rallies and political seminars. PeterTager had hisown private polls that showed Olivers popularityincreasing each week."Hes up another five points," he told the senator. "Hesonly tenpoints behind the governor, and weve still got plenty oftime left. Inanother few weeks, they should be neck and neck." SenatorDavisnodded. "Olivers going to win. No question about it."Todd Davis and Jan were having breakfast. "Has our boyproposed to youyet?"Jan smiled. "He hasnt come right out and asked me, buthes beenhinting around.""Well, dont let him hint too long. I want you to bemarried before hebecomes governor. It will play better if the governor hasa wife."Jan put her arms around her father. "Im so glad youbrought him intomy life. Im mad about him."
  36. 36. The senator beamed. "As long as he makes you happy, Imhappy."Everything was going perfectly.The following evening, when Senator Davis came home, Janwas in herroom, packing, her face stained with tears. He looked ather,concerned. "Whats going on, baby?" "Im getting out ofhere. Inever want to see Oliver again as long as I live!" "Whoa!Hold onthere. What are you talking about?" She turned to him."Im talkingabout Oliver." Her tone was bitter. "He spent last nightin a motelwith my best friend. She couldnt wait to call and tellme what awonderful lover he was." The senator stood there inshock. "Couldntshe have been just ?" "No. I called Oliver. He hecouldnt deny it.Ive decided to leave. Im going to Paris.""Are you sure youre doing ?""Im positive."And the next morning Jan was gone.The senator sent for Oliver. "Im disappointed in you,son." Olivertook a deep breath. "Im sorry about what happened, Todd.It was itwas just one of those things. I had a few drinks and thiswoman cameon to me and well, it was hard to say no." "I canunderstand that,"the senator said sympathetically. "After all, youre aman, right?"Oliver smiled in relief. "Right. It wont happen again,I can assure" "Its too bad, though. You would have made a fine
  37. 37. governor." Theblood drained from Olivers face. "What what are yousaying, Todd?""Well, Oliver, it wouldnt look right if I supported younow, would it?I mean, when you think about Jans feelings " "What doesthegovernorship have to do with Jan?" "Ive been tellingeverybody thatthere was a good chance that the next governor was goingto be myson-in-law. But since youre not going to be myson-in-law, well, Illjust have to make new plans, wont I?" "Be reasonable,Todd. Youcant " Senator Daviss smile faded. "Never tell me whatI can orcant do, Oliver. I can make you and I can break you!"He smiledagain. "But dont misunderstand me. No hard feelings. Iwish youonly the best."Oliver sat there, silent for a moment. "I see." He roseto his feet."I Im sorry about all this.""I am, too, Oliver. I really am."When Oliver left, the senator called in Peter Tager."Were droppingthe campaign.""Dropping it? Why? Its in the bag. The latest polls ""Just do as Itell you. Cancel all of Olivers appearances.As far as were concerned, hes out of the race."Two weeks later, the polls began to show a drop in OliverRussellsratings. The billboards started to disappear, and theradio andtelevision ads had been canceled.
  38. 38. "Governor Addison is beginning to pick up ratings in thepolls. Ifwere going to find a new candidate, wed better hurry,"Peter Tagersaid.The senator was thoughtful. "We have plenty of time.Lets play thisout."It was a few days later that Oliver Russell went to theBailey &Tomkins agency to ask them to handle his campaign. JimBaileyintroduced him to Leslie, and Oliver was immediately takenwith her.She was not only beautiful, she was intelligent andsympathetic andbelieved in him. He had sometimes felt a certainaloofness in Jan, buthe had overlooked it. With Leslie, it was completelydifferent. Shewas warm and sensitive, and it had been natural to fall inlove withher. From time to time, Oliver thought about what he hadlost. "...this is only the first step. You serve a term or two asgovernor, andI promise you well move you into the White House."The hell with it. I can be happy without any of that,Oliver persuadedhimself. But occasionally, he could not help thinkingabout the goodthings he might have accomplished.With Olivers wedding imminent, Senator Davis had sent forTager."Peter, we have a problem. We cant let Oliver Russellthrow away hiscareer by marrying a nobody." Peter Tager frowned. "Idont know whatyou can do about it now, Senator. The wedding is all
  39. 39. set." SenatorDavis was thoughtful for a moment. "The race hasnt beenrun yet, hasit?" He telephoned his daughter in Paris. "Jan, I havesome terriblenews for you. Oliver is getting married." There was along silence."I I heard." "The sad part is that he doesnt love thiswoman. Hetold me hes marrying her on the rebound because you lefthim. Hesstill in love with you." "Did Oliver say that?""Absolutely. Its aterrible thing hes doing to himself.And, in a way, youre forcing him to do it, baby. Whenyou ran out onhim, he just fell apart.""Father, I I had no idea.""Ive never seen a more unhappy man.""I dont know what to say.""Do you still love him?""Ill always love him. I made a terrible mistake.""Well, then, maybe its not too late.""But hes getting married.""Honey, why dont we just wait and see what happens?Maybe hell cometo his senses."When Senator Davis hung up, Peter Tager said, "What areyou up to,Senator?""Me?" Senator Davis said innocently. "Nothing. Justputting a fewpieces back together, where they belong. I think Ill
  40. 40. have a littletalk with Oliver."That afternoon, Oliver Russell was in Senator Davissoffice. "Itsgood to see you, Oliver. Thank you for dropping by.Youre lookingvery well." "Thank you, Todd. So are you." "Well, Imgetting on,but I do the best I can." "You asked to see me, Todd?""Yes, Oliver.Sit down." Oliver took a chair. "I want you to help meout with alegal problem Im having in Paris. One of my companiesover there isin trouble.Theres a stockholders meeting coming up. Id like youto be therefor it." "Ill be glad to. When is the meeting? Illcheck mycalendar and " "Im afraid youd have to leave thisafternoon." Oliverstared at him. "This afternoon?" "I hate to give yousuch shortnotice, but I just heard about it. My planes waiting atthe airport.Can you manage it? Its important to me." Oliver wasthoughtful."Ill try to work it out, somehow." "I appreciate that,Oliver. Iknew I could count on you." He leaned forward. "Im realunhappyabout whats been happening to you. Have you seen thelatest polls?"He sighed. "Im afraid youre way down." "I know." "Iwouldnt mindso much, but..." He stopped. "But ?" "Youd have made afinegovernor. In fact, your future couldnt have beenbrighter. You wouldhave had money... power. Let me tell you something aboutmoney andpower, Oliver. Money doesnt care who owns it. A bum can
  41. 41. win it in alottery, or a dunce can inherit it, or someone can get itby holding upa bank. But power thats something different. To havepower is to ownthe world. If you were governor of this state, you couldaffect thelives of everybody living here. You could get billspassed that wouldhelp the people, and youd have the power to veto billsthat could harmthem. I once promised you that someday you could bePresident of theUnitedStates. Well, I meant it, and you could have been. Andthink aboutthat power, Oliver, to be the most important man in theworld, runningthe most powerful country in the world. Thats somethingworthdreaming about, isnt it? Just think about it." Herepeated slowly,"The most powerful man in the world." Oliver waslistening, wonderingwhere the conversation was leading. As though in answerto Oliversunspoken question, the senator said, "And you let all thatget away,for a piece of pussy. I thought you were smarter thanthat, son."Oliver waited. Senator Davis said casually, "I talked toJan thismorning. Shes in Paris, at the Ritz. When I told heryou weregetting married well, she just broke down and sobbed." "IIm sorry,Todd. I really am." The senator sighed. "Its just ashame that youtwo couldnt get together again." "Todd, Im gettingmarried nextweek." "I know. And I wouldnt interfere with that foranything inthe world. I suppose Im just an old sentimentalist, but
  42. 42. to memarriage is the most sacred thing on earth. You have myblessing,Oliver." "I appreciate that." "I know you do." Thesenator looked athis watch. "Well, youll want to go home and pack. Thebackground anddetails of the meeting will be faxed to you in Paris."Oliver rose."Right. And dont worry. Ill take care of things overthere." "Imsure you will. By the way, Ive booked you in at theRitz."On Senator Daviss luxurious Challenger, flying to Paris,Oliverthought about his conversation with the senator. "Youdhave made afine governor. In fact, your future couldnt have beenbrighter,...Let me tell you something about money and power,Oliver.... To havepower is to own the world. If you were governor of thisstate, youcould affect the lives of everybody living here. Youcould get billspassed that would help the people, and you could vetobills that mightharm them."But I dont need that power, Oliver reassured himself.No. Imgetting married to a wonderful woman. Well make eachother happy.Very happy.When Oliver arrived at the Trans Air Execujet base at LeBourgetAirport in Paris, there was a limousine waiting for him."Where to,Mr. Russell?" the chauffeur asked. "By the way, Ivebooked you in atthe Ritz." Jan was at the Ritz. It would be smarter,
  43. 43. Oliver thought,if I stayed at a different hotel the Plaza-Athen6e or theMeurice. Thechauffeur was looking at him expectantly. "The Ritz,"Oliver said.The least he could do was to apologize to Jan.He telephoned her from the lobby. "Its Oliver. Im inParis.""I know," Jan said. "Father called me.""Im downstairs. Id like to say hello if you ""Come up."When Oliver walked into Jans suite, he was still not surewhat he wasgoing to say.Jan was waiting for him at the door. She stood there amoment,smiling, then threw her arms around him and held himclose. "Fathertold me you were coming here. Im so glad!"Oliver stood there, at a loss. He was going to have totell her aboutLeslie, but he had to find the right words. Im sorryabout whathappened with us.... I never meant to hurt you.... Ivefallen in lovewith someone else.... but Ill always... "I I have to tellyousomething," he said awkwardly. "The fact is ..." And ashe looked atJan, he thought of her fathers words. "I once promisedyou that someday you could be President of the United States. Well, Imeant it....And think about that power, Oliver, to be the mostimportant man in theworld, running the most powerful country in the world.Thats
  44. 44. something worth dreaming about, isnt it?""Yes, darling?"And the words poured out as though they had a life oftheir own. "Imade a terrible mistake, Jan. I was a bloody fool. Ilove you. Iwant to marry you.""Oliver!"AA"Will you marry me?"There was no hesitation. "Yes. Oh, yes, my love!"He picked her up and carried her into the bedroom, andmoments laterthey were in bed, naked, and Jan was saying, "You dontknow how muchIve missed you, darling.""I must have been out of my mind.. .."Jan pressed close to his naked body and moaned. "Oh!This feels sowonderful.""Its because we belong together." Oliver sat up. "Letstell yourfather the news."She looked at him, surprised. "Now?""Yes."And Im going to have to tell Leslie.Fifteen minutes later Jan was speaking to her father."Oliver and Iare going to be married." "Thats wonderful news, Jan. Icouldnt be
  45. 45. more surprised or delighted. By the way, the mayor ofParis is an oldfriend of mine. Hes expecting your call. Hell marryyou there. Illmake sure everythings arranged." "But " "Put Oliver on.""Just aminute, Father." Jan held out the phone to Oliver. "Hewants to talkto you." Oliver picked up the phone. "Todd?" "Well, myboy, youvemade me very happy. Youve done the right thing.""Thank you. I feel the same way.""Im arranging for you and Jan to be married in Paris.And when youcome home, youll have a big church wedding here. At theCalvaryChapel."Oliver frowned. "The Calvary Chapel? I I dont thinkthats a goodidea, Todd. Thats where Leslie and I... Why dont we ?"Senator Daviss voice was cold. "You embarrassed mydaughter, Oliver,and Im sure you want to make up for that. Am I right?"There was a long pause. "Yes, Todd. Of course.""Thank you, Oliver. I look forward to seeing you in a fewdays. Wehave a lot to talk about... governor...."The Paris wedding was a brief civil ceremony in themayors office.When it was over, Jan looked at Oliver and said, "Fatherwants to giveus a church wedding at the Calvary Chapel."Oliver hesitated, thinking about Leslie and what it woulddo to her.But he had come too far to back down now. "Whatever hewants."
  46. 46. Oliver could not get Leslie out of his mind. She had donenothing todeserve what he had done to her. Ill call her andexplain. But eachtime he picked up the telephone, he thought: How can Iexplain? Whatcan I tell her? And he had no answer. He had finallygotten up thenerve to call her, but the press had gotten to her first,and he hadfelt worse afterward.The day after Oliver and Jan returned to Lexington,Olivers electioncampaign went back into high gear. Peter Tager had setall the wheelsin motion, and Oliver became ubiquitous again ontelevision and radioand in the newspapers. He spoke to a large crowd at theKentuckyKingdom Thrill Park and headed a rally at the Toyota MotorPlant inGeorgetown. He spoke at the twenty-thousand-square-footmall inLancaster. And that was only the beginning.Peter Tager arranged for a campaign bus to take Oliveraround thestate. The bus toured from Georgetown down to Stanfordand stopped atFrankfort... Versailles ... Winchester ... Louisville.Oliver spoke atthe Kentucky Fairground and at the Exposition Center. InOlivershonor, they served burgoo, the traditional Kentucky stewmade ofchicken, veal, beef, lamb, pork, and a variety of freshvegetablescooked in a big kettle over an open fire.Olivers ratings kept going up. The only interruption inthe campaignhad been Olivers wedding. He had seen Leslie at the back
  47. 47. of thechurch, and he had had an uneasy feeling. He talked aboutit withPeter Tager. "You dont think Leslie would try to doanything to hurtme, do you?" "Of course not. And even if she wanted to,what couldshe do? Forget her."Oliver knew that Tager was right. Things were movingalongbeautifully. There was no reason to worry. Nothing couldstop himnow. Nothing.On election night, Leslie Stewart sat alone in herapartment in frontof her television set, watching the returns. Precinct byprecinct,Olivers lead kept mounting. Finally, at five minutesbefore midnight,Governor Addison appeared on television to make hisconcession speech.Leslie turned off the set. She stood up and took a deepbreath. Weepno more, my lady, Oh, weep no more today! We will singone song forthe old Kentucky home, For the old Kentucky home far away.It wastime.Three.Senator Todd Davis was having a busy morning. He hadflown intoLouisville from the capital for the day, to attend a saleofThoroughbreds. "You have to keep up the bloodlines," hetold PeterTager, as they sat watching the splendid-looking horsesbeing led inand out of the large arena. "Thats what counts, Peter."A beautifulmare was being led into the center of the ring. "Thats
  48. 48. Sail Away,"Senator Davis said. "I want her." The bidding wasspirited, but tenminutes later, when it was over, Sail Away belonged toSenator Davis.The cellular phone rang. Peter Tager answered it. "Yes?"He listeneda moment, then turned to the senator. "Do you want totalk to LeslieStewart?"Senator Davis frowned. He hesitated a moment, then tookthe phone fromTager. "Miss Stewart?" "Im sorry to bother you, SenatorDavis, but Iwonder if I could see you? I need a favor." "Well, Imflying back toWashington tonight, so " "I could come and meet you. Itsreallyimportant." Senator Davis hesitated a moment. "Well, ifits thatimportant, I can certainly accommodate you, young lady.Ill beleaving for my farm in a few minutes. Do you want to meetme there?""That will be fine." "Ill see you in an hour." "Thankyou." Davispressed the END button and turned to Tager. "I was wrongabout her. Ithought she was smarter than that. She should have askedme for moneybefore Jan and Oliver got married." He was thoughtful fora moment,then his face broke into a slow grin. "Ill be a son of abitch.""What is it, Senator?" "I just figured out what thisurgency is allabout. Miss Stewart has discovered that shes pregnantwith Oliversbaby and shes going to need a little financial help.Its the oldestcon game in the world."One hour later, Leslie was driving onto the grounds of
  49. 49. Dutch Hill, thesenators farm. A guard was waiting outside the mainhouse. "MissStewart?" "Yes." "Senator Davis is expecting you. Thisway, please."He showed Leslie inside, along a wide corridor that led toa largepaneled library crammed with books. Senator Davis was athis desk,thumbing through a volume. He looked up and rose asLeslie entered."Its good to see you, my dear. Sit down, please."Leslie took aseat. The senator held up his book. "This is fascinating.It liststhe name of every Kentucky Derby winner from the firstderby to thelatest. Do you know who the first Kentucky Derby winnerwas?" "No.""Aristides, in 1875. But Im sure you didnt come here todiscusshorses." He put the book down. "You said you wanted afavor." Hewondered how she was going to phrase it. I just found outIm going tohave Olivers baby, and I dont know what to do.... Idont want tocause a scandal, but... Im willing to raise the baby, butI dont haveenough money.... "Do you know Henry Chambers?" Leslieasked. SenatorDavis blinked, caught completely off guard. "Do I Henry?Yes, I do.Why?" "I would appreciate it very much if you would giveme anintroduction to him."Senator Davis looked at her, hastily reorganizing histhoughts. "Isthat the favor? You want to meet Henry Chambers?""Yes.""Im afraid hes not here anymore, Miss Stewart. Hes
  50. 50. living inPhoenix, Arizona.""I know. Im leaving for Phoenix in the morning. Ithought it wouldbe nice if I knew someone there."Senator Davis studied her a moment. His instinct told himthat therewas something going on that he did not understand.He phrased his next question cautiously. "Do you knowanything aboutHenry Chambers?""No. Only that he comes from Kentucky."He sat there, making up his mind. Shes a beautiful lady,he thought.Henry will owe me a favor. "Ill make a call."Five minutes later, he was speaking to Henry Chambers."Henry, its Todd. Youll be sorry to know that I boughtSail Awaythis morning. I know you had your eye on her." Helistened a moment,then laughed. "Ill bet you did. I hear you just gotanother divorce.Too bad. I liked Jessica."Leslie listened as the conversation went on for a few moreminutes.Then Senator Davis said, "Henry, Im going to do you agood turn. Afriend of mine is arriving in Phoenix tomorrow, and shedoesnt know asoul there. I would appreciate it if you would keep aneye on her....What does she look like?" He looked over at Leslie andsmiled. "Shesnot too bad-looking. Just dont get any ideas."He listened a moment, then turned back to Leslie. "What
  51. 51. time does yourplane get in?""At two-fifty. Delta flight 159."The senator repeated the information into the phone. "Hername isLeslie Stewart. Youll thank me for this. You take carenow, Henry.Ill be in touch." He replaced the receiver."Thank you," Leslie said."Is there anything else I can do for you?""No. Thats all I need."Why? What the hell does Leslie Stewart want with HenryChambers?The public fiasco with Oliver Russell had been a hundredtimes worsethan anything Leslie could have imagined. It was anever-endingnightmare. Everywhere Leslie went there were thewhispers: "Shes theone. He practically jilted her at the altar___" "Imsaving my weddinginvitation as a souvenir...." "I wonder what shes goingto do withher wedding gown?..." The public gossip fueled Lesliespain, and thehumiliation was unbearable. She would never trust a managain. Never.Her only consolation was that somehow, someday, she wasgoing to makeOliver Russell pay for the unforgivable thing he had doneto her. Shehad no idea how. With Senator Davis behind him, Oliverwould havemoney and power. Then I have to find a way to have moremoney and morepower, Leslie thought. But how? How?
  52. 52. The inauguration took place in the garden of the statecapitol inFrankfort, near the exquisite thirty-four-foot floralclock.Jan stood at Olivers side, proudly watching her handsomehusband beingsworn in as governor of Kentucky.If Oliver behaved himself, the next stop was the WhiteHouse, herfather had assured her. And Jan intended to do everythingin her powerto see that nothing went wrong. Nothing.After the ceremony, Oliver and his father-in-law wereseated in thepalatial library of the Executive Mansion, a beautifulbuilding modeledafter the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinettes villa near thepalace ofVersailles. Senator Todd Davis looked around theluxurious room andnodded in satisfaction. "Youre going to do fine here,son. Justfine." "I owe it all to you," Oliver said warmly. "Iwont forgetthat." Senator Davis waved a hand in dismissal. "Dontgive it athought, Oliver. Youre here because you deserve to be.Oh, maybe Ihelped push things along a wee bit. But this is just thebeginning.Ive been in politics a long time, son, and there are afew things Ivelearned."He looked over at Oliver, waiting, and Oliver saiddutifully, "Id loveto hear them, Todd." "You see, people have got it wrong.Its not whoyou know," Senator Davis explained, "its what you knowabout who youknow. Everybodys got a little skeleton buried somewhere.
  53. 53. All youhave to do is dig it up, and youll be surprised how gladtheyll be tohelp you with whatever you need. I happen to know thattheres acongressman in Washington who once spent a year in amentalinstitution. A representative from up North served timein a reformschool for stealing. Well, you can see what it would doto theircareers if word ever got out. But its grist for ourmills." Thesenator opened an expensive leather briefcase and took outa sheaf ofpapers and handed them to Oliver. "These are the peopleyoull bedealing with here in Kentucky. Theyre powerful men andwomen, butthey all have Achilles heels." He grinned. "The mayorhas anAchilles high heel. Hes a transvestite." Oliver wasscanning thepapers, wide-eyed. "You keep those locked up, you hear?Thats puregold." "Dont worry, Todd. Ill be careful." "And, sondont put toomuch pressure on those people when you need something fromthem. Dontbreak them just bend them a little." He studied Oliver amoment. "Howare you and Jan getting along?" "Great," Oliver saidquickly. It wastrue, in a sense. As far as Oliver was concerned, it wasa marriage ofconvenience, and he was careful to see that he did nothingto disruptit. He would never forget what his earlier indiscretionhad almostcost him."Thats fine. Jans happiness is very important to me."It was awarning.
  54. 54. "For me, as well," Oliver said."By the way, how do you like Peter Tager?"Oliver said enthusiastically, "I like him a lot. Hesbeen atremendous help to me."Senator Davis nodded. "Im glad to hear that. You wontfind anyonebetter. Im going to lend him to you, Oliver. He cansmooth a lot ofpaths for you."Oliver grinned. "Great. I really appreciate that."Senator Davis rose. "Well, I have to get back toWashington. You letme know if you need anything.""Thanks, Todd. I will."On the Sunday after his meeting with Senator Davis, Olivertried tofind Peter Tager. "Hes in church, Governor." "Right. Iforgot.Ill see him tomorrow." Peter Tager went to church everySunday withhis family, and attended a two-hour prayer meeting threetimes a week.In a way, Oliver envied him. Hes probably the only trulyhappy manIve ever known, he thought. On Monday morning, Tagercame intoOlivers office. "You wanted to see me, Oliver?" "I needa favor.Its personal."Peter nodded. "Anything I can do." "I need anapartment." Tagerglanced around the large room in mock disbelief. "Thisplace is toosmall for you, Governor?" "No." Oliver looked into
  55. 55. Tagers one goodeye. "Sometimes I have private meetings at night. Theyhave to bediscreet. You know what I mean?" There was anuncomfortable pause."Yes." "I want someplace away from the center of town.Can you handlethat for me?" "I guess so." "This is just between us, ofcourse."Peter Tager nodded, unhappily. One hour later, TagertelephonedSenator Davis in Washington. "Oliver asked me to rent anapartment forhim, Senator. Something discreet." "Did he now? Well,hes learning,Peter. Hes learning. Do it. Just make damned sure Jannever hearsabout it." The senator was thoughtful for a moment. "Findhim a placeout in Indian Hills. Someplace with a private entrance.""But itsnot right for him to " "Peter just do it."Four.The solution to Leslies problem had come in two disparateitems in theLexington Herald-Leader. The first was a long, flatteringeditorialpraising Governor Oliver Russell. The last line read,"None of us herein Kentucky who knows him will be surprised when one dayOliver Russellbecomes President of the United States." The item on thenext pageread: "Henry Chambers, a former Lexington resident, whosehorseLightning won the Kentucky Derby five years ago, andJessica, his thirdwife, have divorced. Chambers, who now lives in Phoenix,is the ownerand publisher of the Phoenix Star." The power of thepress. That wasreal power. Katharine Graham and her Washington Post had
  56. 56. destroyed apresident. And that was when the idea jelled.Leslie had spent the next two days doing research on HenryChambers.The Internet had some interesting information on him.Chambers was afifty-five-year-old philanthropist who had inherited atobacco fortuneand had devoted most of his life to giving it away. Butit was not hismoney that interested Leslie. It was the fact that heowned anewspaper and that he had just gotten a divorce.Half an hour after her meeting with Senator Davis, Lesliewalked intoJim Baileys office. "Im leaving, Jim."He looked at her sympathetically. "Of course. You need avacation.When you come back, we can ""Im not coming back.""What? I I dont want you to go, Leslie. Running awaywont solve ""Im not running away.""Youve made up your mind?""Yes.""Were going to hate to lose you. When do you want toleave?""Ive already left."Leslie Stewart had given a lot of thought to the variousways in whichshe could meet Henry Chambers. There were endless finpossibilities,but she discarded them one by one. What she had in mind
  57. 57. had to beplanned very carefully. And then she had thought ofSenator Davis.Davis and Chambers had the same background, traveled inthe samecircles. The two men would certainly know each other.That was whenLeslie had decided to call the senator.When Leslie arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, onan impulse,she walked over to the newsstand in the terminal. Shebought a copy ofthe Phoenix Star and scanned it. No luck. She bought theArizonaRepublic, and then the Phoenix Gazette, and there it was,theastrological column by Zoltaire. Not that I believe inastrology, Immuch too intelligent for that nonsense. But... FOR LEO(JULY 23RD TOAUGUST 22ND). JUPITER is JOINING YOUR SUN. ROMANTICPLANS MADE NOWWILL BE FULFILLED. EXCELLENT PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE.PROCEEDCAUTIOUSLY. There was a chauffeur and limousine waitingfor her at thecurb. "Miss Stewart?" "Yes." "Mr. Chambers sends hisregards andasked me to take you to your hotel." "Thats very kind ofhim."Leslie was disappointed. She had hoped that he would cometo meet herhimself."Mr. Chambers would like to know whether you are free tojoin him fordinner this evening." Better. Much better. "Please tellhim I wouldbe delighted."At eight oclock that evening, Leslie was dining with
  58. 58. Henry Chambers.Chambers was a pleasant-looking man, with an aristocraticface, grayingbrown hair, and an endearing enthusiasm. He was studyingLeslieadmiringly. "Todd really meant it when he said he wasdoing me afavor." Leslie smiled. "Thank you." "What made youdecide to come toPhoenix, Leslie?" You dont really want to know. "Iveheard so muchabout it, I thought I might enjoy living here," "Its agreat place.Youll love it. Arizona has everything the Grand Canyon,desert,mountains. You can find anything you want here." And Ihave, Lesliethought. "Youll need a place to live. Im sure I canhelp you locatesomething." Leslie knew the money she had would last forno more thanthree months. As it turned out, her plan took no morethan twomonths.Bookstores were filled with how-to books for women on howto get a man.The various pop psychologies ranged from "Play hard toget" to "Getthem hooked in bed." Leslie followed none of that advice.She had herown method: She teased Henry Chambers. Not physically,but mentally.Henry had never met anyone like her. He was of the oldschool thatbelieved if a blonde was beautiful, she must be dumb. Itneveroccurred to him that he had always been attracted to womenwho werebeautiful and not overly bright. Leslie was a revelationto him. Shewas intelligent and articulate and knowledgeable about anamazing rangeof subjects.
  59. 59. They talked about philosophy and religion and history, andHenryconfided to a friend, "I think shes reading up on a lotof things soshe can keep up with me."Henry Chambers enjoyed Leslies company tremendously. Heshowed heroff to his friends and wore her on his arm like a trophy.He took herto the Carefree Wine and Fine Art Festival and to theActors Theater.They watched the Phoenix Suns play at the America WestArena. Theyvisited the Lyon Gallery in Scottsdale, the Symphony Hall,and thelittle town of Chandler to see the Doo-dah Parade. Oneevening, theywent to see the Phoenix Roadrunners play hockey. Afterthe hockeygame, Henry said, "I really like you a lot, Leslie. Ithink wed begreat together. Id like to make love with you."She took his hand in hers and said softly, "I like you,too, Henry, butthe answer is no."The following day they had a luncheon date. Henrytelephoned Leslie."Why dont you pick me up at the Star? I want you to seethe place.""Id love to," Leslie said. That was what she had beenwaiting for.There were two other newspapers in Phoenix, the ArizonaRepublic andthe Phoenix Gazette. Henrys paper, the Star, was theonly one losingmoney.The offices and production plant of the Phoenix Star weresmaller than
  60. 60. Leslie had anticipated. Henry took her on a tour, and asLeslie lookedaround, she thought, This isnt going to bring down agovernor or apresident. But it was a stepping-stone. She had plansfor it.Leslie was interested in everything she saw. She keptasking Henryquestions, and he kept referring them to Lyle Bannister,the managingeditor. Leslie was amazed at how little Henry seemed toknow about thenewspaper business and how little he cared. It made herall the moredetermined to learn everything she could.It happened at the Borgata, a restaurant in a castle likeold Italianvillage setting. The dinner was superb. They had enjoyedfi4a lobster bisque, medallions of veal with a saucebearnaise, whiteasparagus vinaigrette, and a Grand Marnier souffle. HenryChambers wascharming and easy to be with, and it had been a beautifulevening. "Ilove Phoenix," Henry was saying. "Its hard to believethat only fiftyyears ago the population here was just sixty-fivethousand. Now itsover a million." Leslie was curious about something."What made youdecide to leave Kentucky and move here, Henry?" Heshrugged. "Itwasnt my decision, really. It was my damned lungs. Thedoctorsdidnt know how long I had to live. They told me Arizonawould be thebest climate for me. So I decided to spend the rest of mylifewhatever that means living it up." He smiled at her."And here we
  61. 61. are." He took her hand in his. "When they told me howgood it wouldbe for me, they had no idea. You dont think Im too oldfor you, doyou?" he asked anxiously. Leslie smiled. "Too young.Much tooyoung." Henry looked at her for a long moment. "Imserious. Willyou marry me?" Leslie closed her eyes for a moment. Shecould see thehand-painted wooden sign on the Breaks Interstate Parktrail: LESLIE,WILL YOU MARRY ME? ... "Im afraid I cant promise youthat youregoing to marry a governor, but Im a pretty goodattorney." Leslieopened her eyes and looked up at Henry. "Yes, I want tomarry you."More than anything in the world. They were married twoweeks later.When the wedding announcement appeared in the LexingtonHerald-Leader,Senator Todd Davis studied it for a long time. "Im sorryto botheryou, Senator, but I wonder if I could see you? I need afavor.... Doyou know Henry Chambers?... Id appreciate it if youdintroduce me tohim."If thats all she was up to, there would be no problem.If thats all she was up to.Leslie and Henry honeymooned in Paris, and wherever theywent, Lesliewondered whether Oliver and Jan had visited those sameplaces, walkedthose streets, dined there, shopped there. She picturedthe two ofthem together, making love, Oliver whispering the samelies into Jansears that he had whispered into hers. Lies that he was
  62. 62. going to paydearly for.Henry sincerely loved her and went out of his way to makeher happy.Under other circumstances, Leslie might have fallen inlove with him,but something deep within her had died. I can never trustany managain.A few days after they returned to Phoenix, Lesliesurprised Henry bysaying, "Henry, Id like to work at the paper." Helaughed. "Why?""I think it would be interesting. I was an executive atan advertisingagency. I could probably help with that part." Heprotested, but inthe end, he gave in.Henry noticed that Leslie read the Lexington Herald-Leaderevery day."Keeping up with the hometown folks?" he teased her."In a way," Leslie smiled. She avidly read every wordthat was writtenabout Oliver. She wanted him to be happy and successful.The biggerthey are ... When Leslie pointed out to Henry that theStar was losingmoney, he laughed. "Honey, its a drop in the bucket.Ive got moneycoming in from places you never even heard of. It doesntmatter."But it mattered to Leslie. It mattered a great deal. Asshe began toget more and more involved in the running of thenewspaper, it seemedto her that the biggest reason it was losing money was theunions. ThePhoenix Stars presses were outdated, but the unionsrefused to let the
  63. 63. newspaper put in new equipment, because they said it wouldcost unionmembers their jobs. They were currently negotiating a newcontractwith the Star. When Leslie discussed the situation withHenry, hesaid, "Why do you want to bother with stuff like that?Lets just havefun." "Im having fun," Leslie assured him.Leslie had a meeting with Craig McAllister, the Starsattorney. "Howare the negotiations going?" "I wish I had better news,Mrs.Chambers, but Im afraid the situation doesnt look good.""Werestill in negotiation, arent we?" "Ostensibly. But JoeRiley, thehead of the printers union, is a stubborn son of a astubborn man. Hewont give an inch. The pressmens contract is up in tendays, andRiley says if the union doesnt have a new contract bythen, theyregoing to walk." "Do you believe him?" "Yes. I dont liketo give into the unions, but the reality is that without them, wehave nonewspaper. They can shut us down. More than onepublication hascollapsed because it tried to buck the unions." "What aretheyasking?" "The usual. Shorter hours, raises, protectionagainst futureautomation...." "Theyre squeezing us, Craig. I dontlike it.""This is not an emotional issue, Mrs. Chambers. This is apracticalissue." "So your advice is to give in?" "I dont think wehave achoice." "Why dont I have a talk with Joe Riley?"The meeting was set for two oclock, and Leslie was latecoming back
  64. 64. from lunch. When she walked into the reception office,Riley waswaiting, chatting with Leslies secretary, Amy, a pretty,dark-hairedyoung woman.Joe Riley was a rugged-looking Irishman in his middleforties. He hadbeen a pressman for more than fifteen years. Three yearsearlier hehad been appointed head of his union and had earned thereputation ofbeing the toughest negotiator in the business. Lesliestood there fora moment, watching him flirting with Amy.Riley was saying, "... and then the man turned to her andsaid, "Thatseasy for you to say, but how will I get back?" "Amy laughed. "Where do you hear those, Joe?""I get around, darling. How about dinner tonight?""Id love it."Riley looked up and saw Leslie. "Afternoon, Mrs.Chambers.""Good afternoon, Mr. Riley. Come in, wont you?"Riley and Leslie were seated in the newspapers conferenceroom. "Wouldyou like some coffee?" Leslie offered."No, thanks.""Anything stronger?"He grinned. "You know its against the rules to drinkduring companyhours, Mrs. Chambers."Leslie took a deep breath. "I wanted the two of us to
  65. 65. have a talkbecause Ive heard that youre a very fair man."fiQ"I try to be," Riley said."I want you to know that Im sympathetic to the union. Ithink yourmen are entitled to something, but what youre asking forisunreasonable. Some of their habits are costing usmillions of dollarsa year.""Could you be more specific?""Ill be glad to. Theyre working fewer hours of straighttime andfinding ways to get on the shifts that pay overtime. Someof them putin three shifts back to back, working the whole weekend.I believethey call it going to the whips." We cant afford thatanymore. Werelosing money because our equipment is outdated. If wecould put in newcold-type production ""Absolutely not! The new equipment you want to put inwould put my menout of work, and I have no intention of letting machinerythrow my menout into the street. Your goddam machines dont have toeat, my mendo." Riley rose to his feet. "Our contract is up nextweek. Weeither get what we want, or we walk."When Leslie mentioned the meeting to Henry that evening,he said, "Whydo you want to get involved in all that? The unions aresomething weall have to live with. Let me give you a piece of advice,
  66. 66. sweetheart.Youre new to all this, and youre a woman. Let the menhandle it.Lets not " He stopped, out of breath. "Are you allright?"He nodded. "I saw my stupid doctor today, and he thinks Ishould getan oxygen tank.""Ill arrange it," Leslie said. "And Im going to get youa nurse sothat when Im not here ""No! I dont need a nurse. Im Im just a little tired.""Come on, Henry. Lets get you into bed."Three days later, when Leslie called an emergency boardmeeting, Henrysaid, "You go, baby. Ill just stay here and take iteasy." Theoxygen tank had helped, but he was feeling weak anddepressed.Leslie telephoned Henrys doctor. "Hes losing too muchweight andhes in pain. There must be something you can do.""Mrs. Chambers, were doing everything we can. Just seethat he getsplenty of rest and stays on the medication."Leslie sat there, watching Henry lying in bed, coughing."Sorry about the meeting," Henry said. "You handle theboard. Theresnothing anyone can do, anyway."She only smiled. Five.The members of the board were gathered around the table intheconference room, sipping coffee and helping themselves to
  67. 67. bagels andcream cheese, waiting for Leslie. When she arrived, shesaid, "Sorryto keep you waiting, ladies and gentlemen. Henry sendshis regards."Things had changed since the first board meeting Lesliehad attended.The board had snubbed her then, and treated her as aninterloper. Butgradually, as Leslie had learned enough about the businessto makevaluable suggestions, she had won their respect. Now, asthe meetingwas about to begin, Leslie turned to Amy, who was servingcoffee. "Amy,I would like you to stay for the meeting." Amy looked ather insurprise. "Im afraid my shorthand isnt very good, Mrs.Chambers.Cynthia can do a better job of ""I dont want you to take minutes of the meeting. Justmake a note ofwhatever resolutions we pass at the end.""Yes, maam." Amy picked up a notebook and pen and sat ina chairagainst the wall.Leslie turned to face the board. "We have a problem. Ourcontractwith the pressmens union is almost up. Weve beennegotiating forthree months now, and we havent been able to reach anagreement. Wehave to make a decision, and we have to make it fast.Youve all seenthe reports I sent you. Id like to have your opinions."She looked at Gene Osborne, a partner in a local law firm."If you ask me, Leslie, I think theyre getting too damnmuch already.Give them what they want now, and tomorrow theyll want
  68. 68. more."Leslie nodded and looked at Aaron Drexel, the owner of alocaldepartment store. "Aaron?""I have to agree. Theres a hell of a lot offeatherbedding going on.If we give them something, we should get something inreturn. In myopinion, we can afford a strike, and they cant."The comments from the others were similar.Leslie said, "I have to disagree with all of you." Theylooked at herin surprise. "I think we should let them have what theywant.""Thats crazy.""Theyll wind up owning the newspaper.""There wont be any stopping them." "You cant give in tothem."Leslie let them speak. When they had finished, she said,"Joe Riley isa fair man. He believes in what hes asking for." Seatedagainst thewall, Amy was following the discussion, astonished. Oneof the womenspoke up. "Im surprised youre taking his side, Leslie.""Im nottaking anyones side. I just think we have to bereasonable aboutthis. Anyway, its not my decision. Lets take a vote."She turned tolook at Amy. "This is what I want you to put in therecord." "Yes,maam." Leslie turned back to the group. "All thoseopposed to theunion demands, raise your hands." Eleven hands went intothe air."Let the record show that I voted yes and that the rest of
  69. 69. thecommittee has voted not to accept the union demands." Amywas writingin her notebook, a thoughtful expression on her face.Leslie said,"Well, thats it then." She rose. "If theres no furtherbusiness..." The others got to their feet. "Thank you all forcoming." Shewatched them leave, then turned to Amy. "Would you typethat up,please?" "Right away, Mrs. Chambers." Leslie headed forheroffice.The telephone call came a short time later."Mr. Riley is on line one," Amy said.Leslie picked up the telephone. "Hello.""Joe Riley. I just wanted to thank you for what you triedto do."Leslie said, "I dont understand ...""The board meeting. I heard what happened."Leslie said, "Im surprised, Mr. Riley. That was aprivatemeeting."Joe Riley chuckled. "Lets just say I have friends in lowplaces.Anyway, I thought what you tried to do was great. Too badit didntwork."There was a brief silence, then Leslie said slowly, "Mr.Riley ...what if I could make it work?""What do you mean?"
  70. 70. "I have an idea. Id rather not discuss it on the phone.Could wemeet somewhere ... discreetly?"There was a pause. "Sure. Where did you have in mind?""Someplace where neither of us will be recognized.""What about meeting at the Golden Cup?""Right. Ill be there in an hour.""Ill see you."The Golden Cup was an infamous cafe in the seedier sectionof Phoenix,near the railroad tracks, an area police warned touriststo stay awayfrom. Joe Riley was seated at a corner booth when Lesliewalked in. Herose as she approached him."Thank you for being here," Leslie said. They sat down."I camebecause you said there might be a way for me to get mycontract.""There is. I think the board is being stupid andshortsighted. Itried to talk to them, but they wouldnt listen." Henodded, "I know.You advised them to give us the new contract." "Thatsright. Theydont realize how important you pressmen are to ournewspaper." He wasstudying her, puzzled. "But if they voted you down, howcan we ... ?""The only reason they voted me down is that theyre nottaking yourunion seriously. If you want to avoid a long strike, andmaybe thedeath of the paper, you have to show them you meanbusiness." "How doyou mean?" Leslie said nervously, "What Im telling youis very
  71. 71. confidential, but its the only way that youre going toget what youwant. The problem is simple. They think youre bluffing.They dontbelieve you mean business. You have to show them that youdo. Yourcontract is up this Friday at midnight." "Yes ...""Theyll expectyou just to quietly walk out." She leaned forward."Dont!" He waslistening intently. "Show them that they cant run theStar withoutyou. Dont just go out like lambs. Do some damage." Hiseyeswidened. "I dont mean anything serious," Leslie saidquickly. "Justenough to show them that you mean business. Cut a fewcables, put apress or two out of commission. Let them learn that theyneed you tooperate them. Everything can be repaired in a day or two,butmeanwhile, youll have scared them into their senses.Theyll finallyknow what theyre dealing with."Joe Riley sat there for a long time, studying Leslie."Youre aremarkable lady.""Not really. I thought it over, and I have a very simplechoice. Youcan cause a little damage that can be easily corrected,and force theboard to deal with you, or you can walk out quietly andresign yourselfto a long strike that the paper may never recover from.All I careabout is protecting the paper."A slow smile lit Rileys face. "Let me buy you a cup ofcoffee, Mrs.Chambers."