Jenna walked down the hall, flat black shoes slapping the marble. Her aide, Patricia, was rambling off the remainder of the day’s activities. They passed several suits and one was Senator Morse.
“Mrs. Hawking,” Senator Morse called, after they had passed.
Jenna grabbed Patricia’s arm and kept the forward momentum going. “Don’t evuh stop for anyone that can’t be bothered to use your title,” she said in her genteel South Carolina drawl.
Jenna counted seven seconds of silence. Senator Morse said, “Senator Hawking.”
“But…” Jenna whispered to Patricia, “you can slow down when they finally choose to use it.”
Jenna heard Morse’s George Cleverley’s clap on the marble floor, then he was striding next to her.
“Senator,” he said to her. “I have a proposal for you.”
“Well, bless your heart,” Jenna said with a smile, her blond bob swinging across her face as she looked at him then back in the direction she was walking.
“That ‘bless your heart’ crap isn’t going to fly after that last vote you led. That pretty smile may get you votes now, but it won’t last the month. High heels just don’t have staying power.”
Patricia giggled. Morse’s bushy eyebrows drew together and his bloodshot eyes glanced at her and focused on Jenna again.
“Good heavens!” Jenna said. “I nevuh knew Senators could be so rude.”
“That isn’t rude,” Morse said. “You haven’t earned rude yet. A beauty queen won’t get far here. In the US Senate, you need a head on your shoulders, not the perfect coif.”
“Mayor of Hilton Head for two terms,” she said, her southern accent gone, “Mayor of Charleston for two terms, state senate for three, and on to here,” she finished, in the quick and steely tones of a northerner. “Just because I choose to keep my home state accent, doesn’t mean I don’t speak Northern.” And, she thought, my one crown taught me almost as much about how the world works as being mayor of Hilton Head.
“When one is clever, one doesn’t need to brag,” he said, looking at the ceiling. “Since you’re bragging… Well, that aside, I assume you’d like to take a deal on the Haldy Proposal?”
“Oh, now, Senatuh,” she said, back to her home town accent. “Let’s not rush. Aftuh all, you do recall what they say about that pesky, little word?”
Patricia smiled at Morse’s confused look. Jenna sped up her stride.
As they pulled away, Patricia called over her shoulder, “She means ‘assume’.”