A POLITICAL AFFAIR
No one expected Stephen McEvoy to fill his father’s U.S. Senate seat at such a young age, least of all him. The scion of a revered political dynasty, he’s appointed to the Senate after his father’s untimely death. Now he’s in a tough election battle against an archconservative. When clever Anne Norwood interns in his office, he dismisses her as another pretty face—until her independent streak catches his attention. She soon finds him far more interesting than his Senator McEvoy persona. They’re both too smart to fall for one another, yet they do. Their relationship becomes a political gamble in a tight election, and all the while, his opposition lies in wait for him to make a mistake. As Stephen’s past catches up with him, he and Anne must fight for their future. Their lives mean more than politics, and campaigns—like love—are either won or lost.
AN EXCERPT FROM A POLITICAL AFFAIR
For the next few weeks, Stephen avoided Anne as he’d promised Patty. With his busy schedule and large office, it was usually an easy thing to do. If he wasn’t rushed and he happened upon her, he’d acknowledge her with a nod and move on, but sometimes it was difficult.
Once he heard one of his legislative assistants call the ski resorts in West Virginia pathetic compared to those in Colorado.
“It doesn’t matter,” Anne replied. “I don’t go to resorts much anymore. I usually ski in the backcountry.”
As she chatted with the staffer, Stephen was tempted to join in the conversation. Biting his tongue, he kept about his business, but not without another side-eyed glance. He summed her up with one thought: She’s really cool.
Despite his interest, he stayed away, until one day he noticed her alone in the copy room near his personal office. With some regret, he continued on his path down the hall, but the temptation proved too much. He backed up and peered into the small room. There she was—leaning on the counter as she studied a letter that bore his signature at the bottom. Her finger traced the page as she concentrated on each word.
After a quick look to make sure no one was nearby, he quietly stepped into the room. “What did I say this time?” he asked.
She jumped. “Oh! I didn’t hear you walk in. I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” He smiled to reassure her. “I asked about the letter. What did I say this time?”
“You mean, what did I say this time?” She returned his smile and waved the paper as if to bat him away. “I’m joking. I drafted a new form letter outlining your position on the deficit. This is the final version. I was just seeing what your legislative director kept of what I wrote.”
“It’s pretty similar.”
“May I see?”
“Sure.” She handed him the letter.
Skimming through a paragraph, he concluded it was well written and persuasive.
As he nodded, she spoke, “The LD left in the part about how an extension of unemployment benefits actually grows the economy. I’m proud of that.”
“Spoken like a true policy geek.” It was a dismissive statement, but he meant it as a compliment.
“I guess I am.” She shrugged awkwardly. “It’s always debate night at the Norwood dinner table. My brother never showed any interest in politics—he’s in med school now—so my dad talked to me because I kept up with things.”
“Sounds like my family.” He smiled.
“Except I debate my parents. Everyone in your family agrees.”
“We do—for the most part.”
“Must be nice.” She rolled her eyes.
Stephen paused for a moment, quickly assessing the woman before him who was so different from the women he dated. He liked her irreverence, which she seemed to hold for everything, including her family and even him. Other than his own family, very few people treated him that way.
His eyes drifted from her face down to her shoulders and rested briefly on her small but perky chest. He imagined for a moment what her breasts might look like. Pleased with the image in his mind, he let his eyes wander upward. He noticed the cute freckles from years in the strong mountain sun dotting her nose and cheeks.
Finally, their eyes met again. He admired her flowerlike hazel irises, and the look in her eyes told him she’d noticed him checking her out. She lifted a brow as if to ask him what he was going to do next.
Normally, in such a moment, if he wanted to cut to the chase, he might ask the woman out. If he was really interested, he’d pay her a small compliment beforehand. With Anne, he wanted to tell her she was beautiful—simply to see if he could make her bashful.
Whatever he chose to do, he presumed she’d be receptive. Though she was young, her expression wasn’t innocent; it told him loud and clear any advance would be welcomed.
He took a breath of anticipation. Their connection was temptingly easy, but it was also unnerving, like he stood on a precipice with untold consequences. Maintaining his stare for a few more seconds, he debated those consequences—and stopped himself.
Passing back the letter, he broke her spell. “Good job,” he said softly. With an abrupt turn of his heel, he left the room, chiding himself for what he’d done.
After Anne watched him pass through the door, she caught her breath while her mind swirled in confusion. Oh my God. What was that? It was a silly question because she knew what had happened. In that moment, Stephen McEvoy wanted her, and her rapid heartbeat was evidence of the connection she’d made with him.
Her eyes widened as she realized what it could mean, and she quickly reprimanded herself. Are you crazy?