Nothing Personal

"He's here," she announced joyfully to anyone who was willing to listen. "And you're happy about that?" they asked wryly. She shrugged. "In a manner of speaking." She favored them with her charming smile. "Call me selfish if you want. It wouldn't be the worse label I've ever been given."

She paused to view her reflection in the highly-polished plate glass of the door. Make-up, of course, was not available but she'd often been told she looked better without it anyway. Her appearance wasn't much changed from the last time she'd seen him...or tried to see him, at least. Those had been dark days, but she had learned how to put the past behind forgive, if not forget. In any event, she wasn't so sure she wanted to forget. A melancholy smile wavered on her unpainted lips as she remembered the foolish girl she had once been in so many ways. Whatever had possessed her she couldn't now imagine.

What folly to think for even one second that he would have tossed everything aside, turning the whole world inside-out simply to fulfill the whim of her desires. Given the wisdom of hindsight, it now seemed quite laughable, but laughter was a good thing. One of her deepest regrets was that she hadn't spent more time in the company of laughter.

"You're not bitter?" they asked. A small frown wrinkled her otherwise smooth forehead. She recalled disappointment, disillusionment and rejection...even desperate frustration...but bitterness? She shook her head. "I have to accept part of the blame and, in any case, it wasn't totally his doing."

She glanced down the long hallway. He looked exactly the same. She wondered why that should surprise her when it hadn't really been too long...only a little over a year. "Would you give us some time alone?" she asked the welcoming committee. They willingly agreed. Time was something they all had in abundance.

She greeted him with a warm if trembling smile and took his arm. "You look marvelous...but then you always do," he told her, that distinctive accent still strong in his voice. She thanked him for the compliment and simpered like a giddy teenager. "I didn't expect to see you again for quite some time," she confided. He nodded, adding with a sardonic touch of characteristic humor, "Must admit it came as something of a shock to me too." She giggled softly. "I've missed that sound more than you know," he said.

He took her hand and intently studied the palm, reluctant to meet her eyes. "There's something I truly want you to understand." She placed a forefinger to his lips. He had never seen her nails devoid of brilliant color before. "I understand," she whispered, "I always did."

He gave her a quick look and then grinned. "Not as dizzy as everyone believed you to be, are you?" She giggled again. "No...not your classic dumb blonde at all when you get right down to it."

His expression grew serious once more. "Nevertheless, you're owed an explanation." She halted his words again. "Please," she entreated, "can't we just let bygones by bygones? What's done is done. The game of politics is a dangerous one. I should have learned all the rules before I jumped in the deep end and allowed it to go over my head."

"But," he insisted, "there is one thing at least that I want you to know." She shook her head vigorously and a wayward curl fell seductively over one eye. "Not necessary, Jack...," a tiny smile crept across her lips as she corrected herself. "I mean, Mr. President," she murmured in her infamously breathless manner. "I'm fully aware it was nothing personal."

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