Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between women
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2012 Geonn Cannon
Jill rolled onto her back and reached for her wife, waking more thoroughly when she didn't meet the resistance she expected. Patricia was sitting up with her back against the headboard, reading her Kindle. It was in the leather cover with an extendable light, but she had twisted her body so that the light was blocked from reaching Jill as she slept. Jill pushed herself up with a groan and put her arms around Patricia's waist.
"Have you slept at all?"
"No. Of course not."
Jill kissed her neck. "I thought you were going to take it easy."
"I am." She tilted the device so that Jill could see the display. "See? Fiction, not the PDFs I sent to myself. Relaxing."
Jill rested her chin on Patricia's shoulder. "Okay. So what's the book about?"
"Um. There's a guy and he's... a gangster. I think. It's, um, existential. Hard to explain."
"Hm." She reached past Patricia and hit a button. Patricia made consonant-free sounds of protest but gave up as Jill read the title. " Unbearable Lightness. Yes, I always thought of Portia de Rossi's autobiography as existential gangster fiction." She took the e-reader from Patricia and turned it off, closing the cover and setting it on the nightstand. "Come here." She gathered Patricia into her arms and they slid down onto the mattress.
"I know I said I would relax, but I'm sick to my stomach and I keep thinking about losing. What will happen tomorrow if we lose?"
Jill stroked Patricia's arm. "If you win, tomorrow you'll be mayor-elect. We'll start getting ready for your reign--"
"The term is administration."
"--and moving to the big house at the edge of town. Or if you lose, we'll go on like we have been. We'll redo the budget and we'll start preparing to have a baby. Either way, tomorrow looks pretty damn bright to me, Trish."
Patricia rolled onto her back and touched Jill's face. "I love you."
"I love you, too." She glanced at the clock. "I still have half an hour until I have to start getting ready for work. Want to work out some of your anxiety?"
"What did you have in mind?"
Jill smiled and slipped under the blankets. Patricia pushed the pillow back with her shoulders. As Jill pushed up her nightgown, Patricia rested her legs on Jill's shoulders and closed her eyes. She sucked in a sharp breath at the first contact of Jill's lips, then relaxed and pressed her shoulders into the pillow. Her toes curled and she ran her hands over the sheets, lifting her chin as Jill's lips teased her.
When the tip of Jill's tongue pressed against Patricia's clit, she hissed and rolled her hips up to meet her, moving one hand to the back of her head as she came. When she relaxed, Jill kissed the crease of Patricia's thigh and slid back up her body, kissing her stomach and breasts before settling on top of her. Patricia pushed Jill's hair away from her face as their kissed, Jill's weight resting between Patricia's spread legs.
"Your turn," Patricia whispered as she rolled them both to pin Jill to the bed. Jill slept in panties and an oversized T-shirt. Patricia pulled the underwear down and off, leaving the shirt on but pushing it up so she could see Jill's breasts as she moved her leg between Jill's thighs. She sat up and pulled off her nightgown, tossing it aside and gazing down at her wife. Jill ran her hands over the newly-exposed skin, cupping both breasts as Patricia began to thrust against her.
"Love you," Jill said softly.
"I love you," Patricia replied, moving a little faster as Jill arched her back. She ran her hands down Patricia's stomach, gasping as she was pushed closer to the edge.
"Look at me..."
Jill opened her eyes and Patricia pressed forward again. The bedroom was just bright enough to see Patricia rising above her, dark skin set off by the shadows and moonlight. Jill whimpered and writhed, her fingers pressing hard against Patricia to leave slight pink marks on her skin as she came. Patricia remained where she was until Jill's breathing evened out again, then she bent down and stroked her stomach as they kissed. She could feel the aftershocks of Jill's orgasm as their lips and tongues explored, their bodies relaxing.
"Sad," Jill said against the corner of Patricia's mouth.
"What's sad?" She kissed down Jill's cheek.
"That was the last time I'll ever have sex with a non-mayor."
Patricia grinned and nipped Jill's earlobe. "Morning's not over yet..."
The polls opened at seven in the morning. The sun warmed the ground enough to melt the frost as it rose into a clear velvet sky. Nadine woke up earlier than usual, showering with Miranda before dressing to go out for breakfast. She was still half-awake when they walked across the street from the restaurant to their polling station. Through a wall of windows she could look out at the harbor as they waited in line, her arm threaded around Miranda's so she didn't have to focus so much on standing. Usually by the time she got out of bed, the sun was firmly in place in the sky and the day had officially begun. To be present for the beginning of it like this felt odd.
"I feel like a little kid again, on my way to school."
"I bet you were a cute kid. Riding your little bicycle."
Nadine chuckled. "Actually, I walked. Even on cold days like this. When I was in fifth grade, I had this big puffy purple jacket and a red knit cap. It had a bobble on top of it."
"And I bet a scarf wrapped around your face so that only your glasses were visible."
" Big glasses," Nadine said. "I looked like Marcie from Peanuts."
Miranda laughed. "Oh, I can definitely see that." She thought for a moment. "I played soccer. I bet at some point I had a green jersey."
Nadine smiled and kissed Miranda's hand. "My own Peppermint Patty. Who knew?"
They reached the table at the front, manned by volunteers from the senior center, and signed in. Nadine took her ballot into one of the curtained booths and voted for the President first. Then she took the local election ballot. The names were listed alphabetically, and she idly wondered if Patricia regretted hyphenating her name as she had. If she was Patricia Colby-Hood she would have come first.
Not that it mattered. Tobias Collins or Patricia Hood-Colby, it was hardly a contest.
She marked Patricia's name and smiled. "Good luck," she whispered. She finished voting for various items, all of which she and Patricia had discussed the week before. She knew Miranda was in the next booth voting pretty much the same way. When she was finished she stepped out of the booth and fed her ballots into the squat brown machine next to the sign-in table.
"Thank you," the man next to the machine said. He peeled off an oval sticker with an American flag on it. Nadine took the sticker and pressed it to the lapel of her shirt, turning to watch Miranda feed her sheets into the machine as well. She also got an "I Voted!" sticker and put it on as she and Nadine left the building.
"There. Now we know she has at least two votes."
Miranda grinned. "Here's hoping she gets a few more than that before the day is over."
Alex finished tying her shoes and smoothed down her trousers, ensuring the pleats were straight before she went into the kitchen where Rachel was preparing their breakfast. They were still on alternating schedules, so Rachel was coming in while Alex was on her way out. They had a forty-five minute window where their time at home overlapped, and they used it admirably. Alex put her hands on Rachel's waist and held her from behind. There was a skillet and a pan on the stove, one containing breakfast food and the other cooking Rachel's dinner.
"We've gotta get back on the same time-table."
"I don't know. I like making every minute count." She leaned back and let Alex kiss the corner of her mouth. "But I miss sleeping in your arms."
"Ditto. We'll work something out. Do you want milk or water with your dinner?"
"I'll just have water."
Alex swatted the upper curve of Rachel's rear end before letting her go, then went to the fridge. Rachel's jacket was hanging off the hook next to the pantry, and Alex noticed a small white sticker on the lapel when she took the milk carton from the fridge. She poured a glass, put the carton back, and took a slow drink before she asked.
"On my way home from the hospital. Yeah."
"So... who did you vote for?"
Alex smiled. "You know what I mean."
The mayoral election had been a point of contention for them. Alex supported Patricia Hood-Colby whole-heartedly, but Rachel still counted herself undecided. Alex tried to argue for her support, but Rachel couldn't bring herself to choose between the two. She didn't want to vote for Patricia just because she was gay, and she didn't want to do it just because Alex told her to. Finally she turned to put Alex's food on a plate.
"I voted for Patricia."
Alex smiled. "Excellent choice. I was going to say thank you, but you... didn't do it for me. You didn't, did you?"
"No." She chuckled. "I just decided that she was the right choice. She's a bridge. This island has been Dugan territory for way too long, and we need a fresh start. But just dragging in someone and calling him worthy just because he's different is a recipe for disaster. Patricia can connect the island's past with the island's future."
"Wow. When did you decide all of that?"
"Literally in the booth."
Alex laughed and stepped to embrace Rachel. "Well, even though it wasn't for me, thank you. I think you made the right choice." They kissed. "And I'm glad you didn't just cave in to my pestering."
"And you'll be relieved to know that, since the election is today, from now on there is only one woman on the island whose praises I'll be singing."
Alex nodded and carried her breakfast to the table. "Yep. I just can't help myself."
"She must be someone pretty special."
"Special? Heck, Nadine Butler is one of the best DJs in the Pacific--"
The end of her joke was muffled by the bacon Rachel crammed into her mouth.
Lunch ended at 12:05, at which point they would be considered tardy from fourth period, but every time Callie suggested heading back he asked her to stay just a few more minutes. Her station wagon was parked outside the Baptist church polling station, in one of the spots farthest from the front door so they weren't getting in anyone's way. The bench seat between them was filled with the remains of their takeout lunch of burgers and fries. She looked at him, looked at her watch, and then looked out the frosted glass at the church.
"We're cutting it close, Mikey boy."
"Yeah. Okay. We can head back." She started the car and a burst of warm air poured out through the vents. "Thanks for that. I know it doesn't help to just sit there, but I mean, I can't vote yet, so..."
"I get it. It's okay. You want to be there for your mom." She pulled out onto the main road and turned toward the school. "I finally talked my parents into voting for her."
Michael looked at her. "Really?"
She shrugged. "I just had to take the focus off the fact she was gay and put it on the fact she's really good at her job. She broke a legacy, for crying out loud. I just think she deserves it. And it has nothing to do with you , so don't go getting any ideas."
He grinned and looked out the window. "Cool. Thanks. She'll appreciate that."
"Like you said. I can't vote yet, so I do what I can."
The parking lot at the school was already mostly full, so she had to park in a spot that wasn't close to either of the classes they were going to. Michael gathered the lunch trash and dumped it in a can, then took Callie's hand to walk into the building with her.
"Hey, in two years we'll both be eighteen. We can vote her into a second term."
Callie raised an eyebrow. "What makes you think I'm going to keep you around for two more whole years?"
Michael grinned. "You kidding me? You're about to have your hooks in a mayor's son. You aren't going to let me get away easy."
"So I'm power-hungry?"
"Jerk." She hip-checked him. "I have to get to the Math hall, like, thirty seconds ago. I'll see you after school."
"Yeah." She kissed him quickly and let go of his hand. He watched her hurry down the hall, then went into his Biology class seconds before the tardy bell began sounding.
Leah Kincaid, Patricia Hood-Colby's campaign manager, thought forcing herself to relax was a contradiction in terms. It was a fool's errand doomed to fail. But she tried, for the sake of the woman kneeling next to her. Jaime Morgan had one of Leah's feet in her lap, gently massaging the arch with strong strokes of her thumbs. Leah focused her breathing and kept her palms flat on the mattress.
"What is today?" Jaime asked softly. Her British accent made the words almost lyrical, joining with the acoustic guitar music playing from the stereo.
"It's election day."
"And what can you do to help Patricia Hood-Colby get elected today?"
"So what are you going to do?" The answer was delayed, so Jaime said, "You're going to do nothing. For the first time all year, you are going to lie in my bed and relax. You're going to let others take care of you because the campaign is over and you have done your job. Say it."
"I've done my job. My job is done."
"Correct. And an excellent job you've done."
She kissed Leah's big toe and then set the foot down. She leaned forward, one hand balanced on the mattress as the other ran up the inside of Leah's leg. She stroked the warm skin and pushed up her skirt, letting her hand disappear underneath. Leah inhaled sharply and pressed her head into the pillow, then whimpered quietly.
"So for the next hour until we have to go pick up Pamela from school, I am going to reward you for all your hard work. And your only job this afternoon is to relax and enjoy it. Am I understood?"
Jaime smiled. "Good. Now, let's begin..." She wet her bottom lip and lowered her head to get to work.
Nadine Butler waited for the song to fade out before she began speaking. "Sometimes I listen to today's music and wonder what song could possibly stand the test of time the way the classics have. I doubt you'll still be hearing Cee-Lo Green in forty years, but I'm sure you'll still be hearing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel harmonizing so beautifully about the sounds of silence." She paused to let the silence linger, then smiled. "I'm the Pixie, and I hope you're listening on your way to one of the island's six voting locations. We have to pick a mayor today, folks, and if you don't vote you can't complain. So go vote! I'll be back here at seven when the results are in to give you up-to-the-minute updates until we have a new mayor. For now, we have 'Well-Respected Man' by the Kinks. Keep listening to KELF."
Patricia hung up as someone knocked on the door to her office. James Dugan said, "Important call?"
"No, just checking in with Leah. My campaign manager. I think she's working out to ease the tension... she was all out of breath." She smiled sheepishly. "Looks like you busted me."
"Aha! So I did tell you to take the day off."
"You did. But what else was I going to do? Sit at home and pretend like I care about the silly Presidential election?"
He chuckled. "You should be with your wife?"
"She's at work for another--" She checked her watch. "--half hour. Probably longer, since she likes to stay after. And Michael is going to hang out with his girlfriend. We're going to meet up around four to have a big family dinner and then cross everything we can cross." She sighed and leaned back in her chair. "Why did you do this to me, you bastard?"
"I defended you to Jill every time she said you were a jerk, but now I see what you're really like. You put all this pressure on me to see me squirm and fail. God, I'm glad you're leaving office."
He opened the glass jar on the edge of her desk and took out a piece of candy. "I wouldn't have chosen someone unworthy of my office, Patricia. Hell, I'm unworthy of the office. And no one in my family deserves it as much as you do. It's not a matter of you deserving the job. It's a matter of the island deserving you . So buck up." He handed her the candy and she took it. "Try to relax."
"Easy for you to say. You had every election handed to you. I actually have to work for mine."
He winked and shot a finger gun at her. He turned to leave.
"Sir. Is he good?"
She looked down as she untwisted the cellophane on her candy. "Tobias Collins. If I lose, I just want to know that a good man got the job."
He gave the question its due consideration and then said, "Yes. He's a very good man. He's an excellent politician, and he would be an amazing mayor. And that is why you should celebrate a little harder tonight when you beat him." He turned and left the office, and Patricia leaned back in her chair with a heavy sigh.
It was still five and a half hours before the polls closed. She popped the candy into her mouth and turned to look out her window. Maybe she could watch a movie. Or hit her head on the edge of the desk hard enough to induce a six hour coma. She stood up and grabbed her jacket off the coat hook.
One thing was certain not to make time go any faster, and that was sitting in her office watching the clock.
The after-school crowd was just starting to surge at Coffee Table Books. A sign on top of the display case declared anyone who showed off an "I Voted!" sticker would receive one small cookie free. Amy was helping out at the front counter when Kate came in. She waved to let her know she'd been seen and, when she had a moment, she made her way to the end of the counter. Kate thrust her right shoulder forward to reveal the small sticker on her jacket. "Do I get a free cookie?"
"C'mere." Amy grabbed the collar of Kate's shirt and pulled her forward, leaning over the counter to meet her halfway. She kissed her hard, letting her lips linger before pulling away with a loud smack. "That's what you get."
Someone in the crowd said, "Wow, can we all exchange the free cookie for that?"
Amy wagged an admonishing finger at the wiseacre, then motioned for Kate to follow her into the office. She didn't say anything as they went through the kitchen, but the moment the door was closed Amy gave in to the urge to ask.
"How does it look?"
"It's hard to say. A lot of Hood-Colby supporters were out, but there were just as many people who could go either way. And don't forget the Dugans have had a stranglehold on this town for a long time for good reason. A lot of people will vote for whoever the Dugans tell them to vote for."
"But James Dugan told people to vote for Patricia!"
"And the rest of his entire family backed a different candidate. We'll just have to wait and see with everyone else." She put her hands on Amy's hips and pulled her forward until their belts were touching. "Did you vote?"
Kate brushed her lips against Amy's. "Want a cookie?"
Amy smiled and tilted her head slightly. Kate's lips found hers and she whimpered into the kiss. Kate's hands went up into Amy's hair and held her until Amy pulled back with a reluctant sigh. She put her hands on Kate's chest just below her shoulders.
"Tonight? After the rush, before you have to go deal with the election results."
Amy nodded and they pulled away from each other. Amy swatted Kate on the rear end and followed her out of the office. She knew it would be wrong to promote one candidate over another, not to mention bad business, but she wished there was a way to make her support of Patricia Hood-Colby more evident. The least she could do was reward anyone who made the effort to vote. If a few Collins supporters got mixed up in the revelry, there wasn't much she could do about it.
Patricia stopped just outside the classroom door, back to the wall, and craned her neck around like a snooping spy in one of Michael's movies. Jill was at her desk, typing on her laptop. The whiteboard behind her was separated into four quadrants, each one filled with Jill's precise handwriting in different colored markers. She was the Norman Rockwell ideal of a teacher; lilac-colored sweater over a pale purple blouse, her hair up but with a few strands loose around her face... Patricia decided to announce her presence before Jill noticed her and was startled. She knocked on the door and was gratified with the smile that spread across Jill's face as she waved for her to come inside.
"Hey. I was going crazy, so I thought I'd come here and share the insanity."
Jill grinned. "It's okay. I'm just going over book reports, so you might be bored."
"Believe me, today I'll take bored." She looked at the sea of desks. They were the kind with the desk attached to the chair, built for fifth graders but not for fully-grown adults. "How are the kiddos arranged? Alphabetical?"
"Where would I go?"
Jill looked up and skimmed the desks. "Hughes is there," she pointed to the fourth desk in the second row. "So you would be right in front of him."
Patricia went down the second row and angled herself into the desk. "Oh, gosh," she grunted as the edge pressed into her stomach.
"Sit up straight."
"Yes, Mrs. Colby."
Jill smiled and looked back at the laptop screen. "I have another twenty minutes or so here, and then we can grab an early dinner before we head to the watch party."
Patricia nodded. "Okay. Don't let me disturb you."
There were wire cages hanging under the desks and Patricia rested her feet on the cage in front of her.
"Feet on the floor."
"God, you're strict."
"And don't you forget it."
Patricia twisted and looked under her desk to see if a student had left anything she could play with. She found a notebook in the next row over and took it out. She had a pen in her purse and she took it out as she flipped past pages full of wide, swooping script to a blank page. She tore it out, returned the notebook, and smoothed the paper out in front of her.
Across the top of the page, she wrote "Why I Think Mrs. Hood-Colby is the Best Teacher Ever" and underlined it. Underneath it she wrote: "By Patricia Hood-Colby (age 37)."
She numbered the side of the page, one through ten, and tapped the pen against her lip as she pretended to think.
"What are you writing?"
"Nothing, Mrs. Hood-Colby."
Patricia grinned and began to write. Pretty. Smart. Funny. Cool. Great dancer. Supportive. Gives great head.
She snickered as she crossed out the last one and replaced it with kind, helpful and surprising. When she was finished, she sat quietly until she noticed Jill was getting ready to go. She managed to extricate herself from the desk and carried her self-assigned take up to the teacher's desk. She placed it on the blotter next to the computer and clasped her hands behind her back while Jill read it. She snorted through her nose when she reached number seven.
"When did I become your teacher?"
"August 8, 2008. Actually about a year before that. You teach me every day. How to be a good wife, and what a good wife looks like."
Jill's smile faded and she blinked away tears. She folded the paper and slipped it into her pants pocket. "I'll just grade that one at home later."
"I'd do anything for a passing grade, Mrs. Hood-Colby."
"Oh, don't I know it," Jill said. "Come on. Help me lock this place down and I'll buy you a chocolate malted."
Patricia laughed. "Oh, good. Just what I need. More sugar. Do you want to hear my idea about a six-hour coma...?"
The Hood-Colby campaign was having their "watch" party at the high school gymnasium, while the Collins campaign had staked out the community center. It wasn't officially a watch party since the results weren't televised. The city council would gather up the votes from the island's six voting locations, tally them, and send the results to Nadine who would then broadcast the results on the air in a special edition of her show. The "other election" being decided that night, the Presidential one, fell by the wayside, although everyone made sure that there would be a television nearby to let them know the results of that election as well.
Patricia had rented a big-screen television for the gym. When she arrived after her dinner, practically dragged into the room by Jill, Leah hurried over and took Patricia's other arm. She and Jill looked like they were dragging a victim out of a house fire, forcing her toward the front of the room. Patricia looked down at the arms linked with hers. "Well. I had no idea I had literal supporters."
Leah grinned. "Everything is going as planned. We have the balloons, the cake, the streamers."
"Right. I see that." She looked around the gym. "It's so beautiful. But I'm going to feel ridiculous if we went to all this trouble just to lose."
Jill rubbed her back. "The people here don't care about that. This is the end of a long journey, and whatever happens, we want to celebrate how far we got."
Patricia seemed to brighten. "You know what? You're right. You're exactly right." She looked for a microphone and found one on stage. She slipped free of their arms and went up the three steps to the stage. She leaned close to the microphone. "Is this on? Hello? Hello?"
People turned toward her and she smiled.
"Hi. A lot of you know who I am..." Some laughter. "I want you all to take a second to breathe, and to pat yourselves on the back. This has been a tough year. I know I'm exhausted, and you guys were carrying most of the weight. I can only imagine how you feel. So this party isn't a countdown. We're not waiting to see if we should celebrate, because we deserve to celebrate. Everyone in this room has something to be proud of. The election is just a day. The campaign lasts all year, and it's over, and you all deserve a night to relax and be appreciated.
So drink the punch, eat the cake, and if you want to wait until tomorrow to find out who won, that'll be fine by me. One thing, I'd like a few volunteers to go out tonight and gather the 'Hood-Colby for Mayor' road signs, yard signs, flyers, posters, everything. My biggest pet peeve about elections are those signs that just linger after the votes have been cast. Anyone... okay, I see some hands. Leah, want to get these names down? Thanks, hon. Okay. Enjoy the party, have fun, don't worry about the numbers and I'll-I'll try to do the same. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to dance with my wife."
The gathered crowd clapped, and Patricia hopped off the edge of the stage to embrace Jill. Leah smiled.
"It was meant for you, too. I'm only your boss for the next few hours, so my last order is for you to take a week off. Seven days. If you run out of things to do, ask Jaime."
Leah's eyes widened. "Uh. J-Jaime and I are just friends. We're--" Patricia smiled and Leah gave it up. "That sounds great."
Patricia hugged her. "Thank you, Leah. You've been a godsend."
"Hey. Just doing my job."
"If it means giving you a good track record, then I hope I win. And even if I lose, I'll give you a hell of a recommendation to whatever campaign you run next."
"Thank you, Mrs. Hood-Colby. I appreciate that very much."
"It's the end of the line, Leah. Call me Patricia."
Leah nodded. "I will. Maybe later, though." She gestured with her head. "I'm going to go call Jaime."
Patricia winked at her and moved back into Jill's embrace. Jill nuzzled her cheek. "I believe you made a campaign promise about a dance."
"There's no music yet."
"Since when have we needed music?"
Patricia smiled. The woman had a point.
"Welcome back to the KELF AM Election Night party. I'm your hostess, Nadine Butler, and we're going to get to some results right now. The people who keep track of this sort of thing say we had a near-record turnout today, with sixty-two percent of registered voters showing up to make their voices heard. You go, Squire's Isle. I knew the draw of free cookies from Coffee Table Books would make people want to stand up and be counted. At almost half past seven by the clock in my little booth here, we have the results from one polling station. Hot off the press, as it were, delivered right here to me to you."
Patricia was leaning against the wall next to the door with Jill. The radio was turned up and the dancing had slowed as soon as people realized they were about to hear results. Patricia had one hand up to her face, her thumb pressed vertically against her lips in an effort to keep from biting the nail. Jill put her arm around Patricia's shoulder and leaned in, whispering into her hair.
"It's just the first one, babe. It doesn't mean anything."
Patricia nodded. The silence seemed to drag on for minutes but probably only lasted seconds.
"The first round of results, Tobias Collins received four hundred and twelve votes. Patricia Hood-Colby... three-hundred and eighty." To her credit, Nadine kept her voice chipper and professionally neutral. "The night is still young, folks, and we've got a long way to go. One precinct down, five to go. Right now we're going to play you some Grass Roots. Keep it on KELF and we'll keep you up to date."
Leah made her way over. "It's only a thirty-two point deficit. Considering the turnout, it would be ludicrous to worry." She rubbed Patricia's arm. "You need anything to drink? A piece of cake?"
"No, I'm fine. Thanks, Leah."
"I'm fine, too."
Leah nodded, squeezed Patricia's arm, and let the crowd absorb her again.
Patricia sighed and closed her eyes. "Thirty-two points down, but four hundred people who voted against me. I feel like I'm in high school again. Why don't they like me?"
Jill kissed her cheek. "Aw. Because they're morons."
Patricia chuckled and cupped the back of Jill's head. "I'm sorry if you don't get to be a mayor's wife."
"I didn't marry a mayor. I married a Patricia. And whatever title the Patricia gets, I'll be happily married to that. Now come on. Let's dance our cares away."
Patricia couldn't help but smile as she was led onto the dance floor.
Miranda rubbed Nadine's shoulders. "You okay?"
"This suddenly sucks. I don't want to be the messenger."
Miranda bent down to kiss the top of her head. "No one is going to hold it against you. You're just reporting the news; doesn't mean you have to like the message. I can call someone in to co-host with you, take some of the strain off."
"No. I promised I'd be on top of the election stuff." She puffed out her cheeks and rolled her neck. "Okay. The song is ending." She took Miranda's hand off her shoulder and kissed the webbing between her index finger and thumb. "Thank you."
Nadine waited until the door was closed before she put her headphones back on and began speaking. "Welcome back to KELF, your destination for all the election news. We have more results from a second voting station, so I wanted to get right on and let everybody know as soon as possible."
She hit the mute button and cleared her throat, then focused on the numbers. Just report the numbers.
"The results from the second station are as follows... Tobias Collins, five hundred and twenty-one. Patricia Hood-Colby at three hundred seventy-one. That brings the total votes to 933 for Tobias Collins and 751 for Patricia Hood-Colby. And that's one third of the precincts reporting, but we've still got a long road ahead of us. I'm going to be here as long as it takes to get the full results to you." She almost went to the next song, but couldn't stop herself from adding, "I'll see if I can inject a little Pixie-dust into the next results. Stick with KELF."
"I'm two hundred votes behind."
"A hundred and eighty... two." Jill trailed off when Patricia glared at her. "Okay. But look, that's two polling places."
"Yes, and I'm compounding my losses. My God, by the end of the night they're not even going to bother counting my votes."
They were outside the gym in a dark hall lined with monolithic lockers, the street light in the parking lot making the door at the end of the corridor glow bright yellow. Patricia was pacing, and Jill was remaining still at the center of her range, serving as an anchor for her wandering.
"I should concede."
" No. Don't be insane." She grabbed Patricia's arm to stop her, then put her hands on either side of Patricia's face. "I promised to stand by you during your craziness, and I'm deciding that part of that is keeping you calm. Do you know why these two stations were counted first? Because they were small. You have the big precincts left, including the three that cover December Harbor. Those will be the last ones counted, and those are going to push you over the top. Okay?"
"Yeah." She hooked her fingers on Jill's wrists.
Jill kissed her between the eyebrows. "It's the first quarter, babe. Not even halftime. You're going to pull this out."
The door to the gym opened and Patricia turned her head away, wiping at her cheeks to make sure they were dry. Leah's heels clicked on the tile.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah," Jill said. "What's up?"
Leah said, "They had another update."
Patricia made a noise in her throat and muttered, "Oh, God. They're coming faster now."
Jill stroked the back of Patricia's neck. "What's the count?"
"Tobias Collins has thirteen hundred and sixty-nine points now."
Patricia groaned. "At least my humiliation won't drag on."
Leah smiled. "And you, Patricia, have thirteen hundred and... ninety-six."
Patricia looked at her. "What?"
"You got six hundred and forty-five votes in the last count, Collins only got four hundred something."
Jill turned Patricia to face her and kissed her lips. "Looks like Nadine really did throw some pixie dust on the results, huh?"
"It's only thirty votes."
Jill gripped Patricia's chin. "Remember the first results? When his thirty-point lead was insurmountable?"
"You said it was nothing. And you just got proven right!"
"God, you're lucky I adore you. Because you're nutty right now." She kissed Patricia's lips and pulled her back toward the gym doors. "Come on. For the moment, at least, you're winning. You deserve to celebrate and your supporters deserve to pat you on the back. If you're not going to do it for yourself, do it for them."
Patricia gave in to that and let herself be pulled back into the gym.
The next update gave Collins five hundred and fifty more votes. Patricia received only four hundred and ninety-eight, putting her opponent back in the lead. She squeezed Jill's hand so hard she was afraid she might hurt her, but she couldn't stop. She bowed her head, Jill's smooth hair soft against her cheek, and whispered, "I can't do this anymore. I can't... I have to get out of here."
"Hold on." Jill told Leah they were going to get a breath of fresh air and then guided Patricia back out into the dark hallway. She linked her fingers with Patricia's and went deeper into the school until she found a deserted corner where they could only hear a steady thrum of noise coming from the gym. She put Patricia against the wall and kissed her tenderly.
Patricia sagged into the kiss, her hands on Jill's shoulders and eyes closed as she parted her lips and took Jill's tongue into her mouth. They pressed against each other as Jill moved her hand down to the hem of Patricia's skirt and teased the skin under the stocking. Patricia spoke against Jill's mouth. "What are you doing?"
"Helping you relax. Kiss me."
Patricia did as she was told, and Jill moved her hand up. She pressed her middle finger against the cotton of Patricia's underwear. Patricia broke the kiss and put her head on Jill's shoulder, her arm curling around Jill's neck.
"You're not going to finger me here ."
Jill kissed the shell of Patricia's ear. "You need to relax. You're stressed, anxious, and you're a bundle of nerves. And that will lessen when you come. It's scientific. Endorphins and shit."
"Is that what you teach your students?"
"They save that for high school. And they're self-taught. So shut up and let me help you."
Patricia whimpered and tightened her arm, bending her knee against Jill's hip. Jill pushed Patricia's panties out of the way and touched her with one finger. She teased, circled, inserted, tickled, stroked, and soon Patricia's fingers were splayed on the back of Jill's head. She gasped, turning her head to kiss the spot behind Jill's ear.
"Please... please, Jill. Ah, God ." The last was hissed through clenched teeth, and then she exhaled sharply and chuckled under her breath. Jill kissed Patricia's cheeks, chin, eyes and lips. Patricia wet her lips and grunted, and Jill smiled. "I'll get you back."
"Tonight. Right now, we have two more districts to hear about. Can you handle that? Only two more updates."
"Yeah. I think I can now." She took the hand Jill had just put to such good use and kissed the index finger. "Thank you."
"It's what you pay me for." She smiled and started to pull away, but Patricia pulled her back. "What?"
"Our plan. If I lose, we'll try for a baby...? I don't want to do that anymore."
Jill frowned. "What?"
"I want to try either way. Maybe it'll be harder if I have to be mayor at the same time, but... it's a part-time job, right? Mayor Dugan had time to golf, I'll have time to raise a baby. I don't want it to be contingent on anything. I want to have a baby with you."
Jill exhaled sharply and kissed her.
"Is that a yes?" she said against Jill's mouth.
Patricia smiled and briefly lifted Jill's feet off the ground. Jill laughed and rubbed Patricia's arms. "Come on. They'll probably have more results soon."
When they got back to the gym, they found Callie standing by the punchbowl. She saw them enter and moved to intercept them.
"Hey, Mrs. Hood-Colby. I wanted to congratulate you. You're doing awesome."
"Thank you, Callie. Where's Michael?"
She turned and scanned the crowd. "He's around here somewhere." When she looked at Patricia again, she shook her head. "You're amazing. I'd be a bundle of nerves, but you look... you look amazing. What's your secret?"
Patricia tried to contain her smile, but she nudged Jill and said, "It helps to have the best supporters money can buy."
Nadine looked up when there was a knock on the glass of her booth. Kate Price stood in the window, holding up her phone and gesturing to be let in. Nadine unlocked the door and raised an eyebrow. "You wouldn't come all the way down here unless it was important. What's up?"
"The numbers." Kate was out of breath, so she pointed at the display on her phone. Nadine took it and read the display. "The fifth polling station reported in?"
"The sixth is in Sholeh Village. They only have a hundred and forty-five registered voters up there."
Nadine looked again and did the math. "It's not enough."
Kate shook her head. "No."
Nadine said, "Are these numbers official?"
"Yeah." Kate wiped her wrist over her forehead and exhaled, trying to steady her breathing. She cleared her throat. "That's the last count. S'why I ran 'em over."
Miranda had appeared in the doorway of the booth and heard most of the news. She nodded at the console. "You should interrupt the song."
Patricia was sitting on the edge of the stage, Jill on her left and Michael at her right. Callie was sitting on Michael's other side. For the past few minutes she had managed to put the election out of her mind and just enjoy her family. They were watching the national election, and she found that she was soothed to see endless numbers that had nothing to do with her future. Well, not directly. Well...
She put all that out of her mind and just watched the talking heads. She had a piece of cake and Jill was occasionally stealing forkfuls of it. Patricia was about to get into a fork swordfight with her when David Bowie stopped singing mid-word. Patricia looked toward the stereo in case someone had unplugged it but, as she did, Nadine's voice came through the speakers.
"Do not adjust your sets; this is Nadine Butler interrupting your scheduled entertainment to make a special announcement."
Patricia went cold. She moved to find Jill's hand only to have it slip into hers. Michael squeezed her shoulder and everyone in the room focused on the radio as if it was a television, their backs turned on the television following what so many had called the "most important election of our lifetimes."
"We now have five of the polling stations reporting their counts. The last one is the small station in Sholeh Village, and in this particular instance, they won't produce enough votes to make a difference. So we here at KELF, and the official pollsters downtown, are prepared to declare a winner in the mayoral election."
Patricia closed her eyes and pressed her lips together. Please .
"We knew going in that for the first time in years, the first time a lot of us can remember, we'd have to get used to saying something other than 'Mayor Dugan.' Tonight we know what the replacement will be." She took a breath that seemed to fill the gym. Bracing herself to give bad news? Or milking the moment knowing so much of Squire's Isle was listening to her? Patricia squeezed Jill's hand.
"With fifty-two percent of the vote, two-thousand five hundred and seventy-one votes, ladies and gentlemen of Squire's Isle, it is my absolute pleasure to inform you that Patricia Hood-Colby is our new mayor."
Patricia sagged back against Jill, who accepted her weight and turned it into a bear hug. She realized she was crying when Jill kissed her cheek. Balloons fell, confetti swirled, and they could barely hear Nadine's voice over the cheers.
"--ulations to the worthy candidate and her wife, Jill... long night but we stuck in there so... -- n't Stop Believing by Journey. Mayor Hood-Colby, if you're listening, well done. Very, very well done. This is the Pixie signing off for tonight, and I'll see you back here tomorrow morning at my usual time."
Patricia twisted in Jill's arms and kissed her passionately. When she pulled back she bumped her nose against Jill.
"You're stuck with me now."
Jill smiled. "Dang."
Leah came through the crowd. "You won!"
Patricia shook her head. "We won." She slipped off the stage and hugged Leah. "I couldn't have done it without you."
"I got lucky with a great candidate. Of course, you know your night is only just beginning."
Patricia looked over her shoulder at Jill. "As long as I have my support group here, I think I can handle it."
Tobias Collins made his concession call just after eleven o'clock, and Patricia took the call in the coach's office that was just off the gym. Collins was gracious and extremely personable over the phone, extremely sincere in his congratulations. He wished her luck in the future. Just before he hung up, he paused for so long that Patricia thought he might have put down the phone and walked away. Just before she was about to inquire, he spoke again.
"Your next election won't be quite so... contested."
She frowned. "How do you mean?"
"I can only speak for your opponents in this race. The Dugans have admitted defeat, Mrs. Hood-Colby. They may run someone against you when the term is up, but they may simply decide their time has come to an end. The only thing I know for certain is that they won't come after the office again with quite the vigor they displayed during this election."
She chuckled. "Well, regardless of my next opponent, I'll fight just as hard."
"I have no doubt."
She looked out the window and leaned against the desk. "Mr. Collins... I don't have a deputy mayor. You were uprooted from wherever you were living and brought here to try and take me down, and you managed to get a good chunk of the vote from me. Now that you're out from under the Dugan shadow, I think you could be an asset to the island, and I would be honored to have someone like you on my staff."
"We won't always agree."
"I count on it. Keep me on my toes."
"I'll consider the offer, Mrs. Hood-Colby. It's very gracious."
"You were a worthy opponent, sir. Take some time. You can get in touch with me at City Hall."
He laughed. "You couldn't resist."
"No, sir. I look forward to hearing your decision." She hung up and pushed her hair away from her face. She walked to the window and pushed the curtain back. The town beyond the glass was dark and wet, the ground shining with condensation that had accumulated during the last hour. Most of the celebrants had gone home, but a few people were lingering. Michael had driven Callie to get a snack and then drop her off at her house before going home himself.
It was her town. She'd been in charge of so much the past few years, had done everything but attend the city council meetings and held the title, but now it was official. She was trembling at the thought of having so much weight on her shoulders.
There was a quiet knock on the office door and Jill stuck her head in. "Hey."
Patricia smiled. "Hey."
"Leah said she would distract everyone while we snuck out."
Patricia put her hands together in prayer. "Bless that woman. Let's run."
They went out through a back hallway, slipping out to the parking lot. Patricia passed Jill the keys, not trusting herself to drive.
The windshield wipers were the only sound in the car. Patricia smiled. "I love the rain. It was raining that day."
"The day I fell in love with my wife."
Jill smiled and took Patricia's hand. "That was a good day."
They went in through the garage door and Jill checked the fridge.
"No." She snaked an arm around Jill's waist. "Come to bed."
Jill followed Patricia down the hall and, in the bedroom, they paused long enough to undress before they crawled into bed. Patricia was already fading as her head hit the pillow. Jill moved closer, her hands on Patricia's back and her leg between Patricia's knees. Patricia was almost asleep when a question occurred to her.
"Hey... who is the President?"
Jill was already out, and Patricia couldn't be bothered to open her eyes all the way, let alone get up to check the internet. She decided she didn't much care.
Some answers could wait until morning.
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