Ms. O'Connor Goes to Washington

Part 5

By: S. Lee

Disclaimers: These characters are all original, although they may look very familiar. There is consenting sex between two women in this installment. If this offends you or you are underage, then I bid you farewell. This installment takes place right after the last one ends. The songs in this installment are not mine, but I wish they were. "The Wedding Song" was written by Charlie Robison and "Only One Angel" was written by Jimmy LaFave.

Author's Note: Gruene Hall (pronounced green) is located in Gruene, Texas and is one of the oldest dancehalls in Texas. Some of the greatest names in music have played there, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and the Dixie Chicks to name a few. It has no air conditioning, just screened in windows, ceiling fans, and beautiful hardwood floors. The maquiladoras mentioned in this installment are large factories or plants in Mexico, along the border. The colonias mentioned are shantytowns near these factories on the American side of the border. Thank you to everyone who has written and been so supportive. Positive and constructive feedback is always welcome. You can email me at s_lee_bard@hotmail.com

July

The month began with the usual staff meeting to go over the upcoming business. Jordan and Cynthia walked into the office for the first time in a month. There were several new volunteers she hadn't met. She went around meeting the new people. She and Cynthia walked into the conference room where the staff was. She walked over to her chair at the head of table and sat down.

"Good morning. I hope that everyone is well."

The people in the room smiled and nodded.

"What do you have for me Laura?"

"You've got that pro-choice rally this afternoon, and then the reception at Planned Parenthood. Your commercial starts running in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin tomorrow night. We're having a party here to watch it. You're speaking at an AARP meeting tomorrow. You have several meetings in Austin on the third, including one with the state party. The fourth is the fundraiser at Gruene Hall. On the fifth, you go back out on the road, hitting South Texas. You'll be out on the road for a few weeks. Then, you've got that first debate with Benson at UT-Austin on the twentieth. We'll prepare for that while we're on the road. We've got the Lesbian and Gay Rodeo on the last weekend of the month. You also need to prepare for that. Be sure and get out to your mother's to practice a little please. You won't be competing. You'll open up the barrel racing competition. You'll be the first rider, but won't receive a score. You don't want to look like an idiot though. We╬re having a film crew there. If the footage is good, then we'll make a commercial out of it. They also want you to co-announce the next day. As always, everyone will be given an in-depth weekly schedule."

Jordan nodded her head. "That sounds good Laura. I'm looking forward to the debate. Jim, how're things coming with the money?"

"The commercial runs are costing us. You brought in over a half-million in donations. Which is good. You've also had additional forty- thousand come here while you were gone. Right now, we have $2,034, 276. That's after the rent, ads, and salaries for the month. We need at least another million to get us through until November. But that is a bare minimum. Benson is spending nearly twice that. If you continue at the current rate, that shouldn't be a problem. Your meeting with the state Democrats should result in some money. We're going to start running more ads next week in different areas of Texas. As long as you're the frontrunner, raising money shouldn't be a problem. People love to back a winner."

Cynthia looked over the schedule. "Remember Jordan, there will be cameras today at the rally. I'll get you some news coverage at most of the events that are coming up. The debate of course will be televised throughout Texas. You just show up, at your best at all times, I'll take care of the press. We've got your appearance schedule worked out." Jordan smiled.

"Y'all tell me where to go and I'll show up and smile." She looked over at Sarah. "How's the web site doing?"

"It's doing quite well. We've linked up with the other Democratic candidates in the state, the Texas Democrats, the DNC, and the Bexar County Democrats. We also have all of your appearances listed daily."

"Thanks Sarah. I want everyone at the fundraiser in Gruene. This is really great of Tammy to do this for me. Let's be sure and show our appreciation. Also, I noticed a number of new volunteers out there."

Sarah nodded. "We have twenty new volunteers this month."

"Who has the new numbers?"

Laura pulled out her paperwork.

"We're sitting at sixty-three percent. You've gone up four points since last week."

Jordan was grinning. "If this continues, you're going to have to find an apartment in D.C." They all laughed. "Ok, I need to stop that. I don't want to jinx us."

In Dallas, Kris Benson was in a meeting with some of the leaders of the state Republican Party.

"Kris, we're quite disappointed in your showing as of yet. You've got all of the financial resources you could want. You are thirty points behind. She's a dyke for God's sake. She has to have something dirty somewhere."

"I know. I've got people on it. They'll find something."

"Well, you better. We're arranging for Bill to endorse you. Hell, he's been in the damn Senate for eighteen years. I could strangle him for stepping down. He could win this thing hands down. He's going to make several appearances with you. Maybe he can show you a thing or too. The Republicans have held this seat for two decades. I won't let some rich businessman with a powerful daddy lose this office. If you do, you can forget about ever running for office again." The Senate hopeful cringed in his seat, cursing that damn woman, who was yet again making his life difficult.

"I won't lose. Whatever it takes, we'll win. I've got lots of money into this."

"You better win. I don't care how you do it. Just do it."

Back in San Antonio, Jordan was getting ready to head to the Pro-Choice rally. "Laura, do you have the speech?"

"Yes, its right here. Go over it on the way and make the changes you want in the car."

"Thanks. How do I look?"

Jordan was wearing navy slacks and a white short sleeve blouse.

"You look good. Blue is a good color for you. It matches your eyes." Jordan smiled at her partner.

"Ok. Let's go."

There were hundreds of people gathered together in Milam Park downtown. Several distinguished women were up on the platform. Jordan knew most of them. She had worked with them in some capacity at one point or another. The audience applauded and cheered when Jordan's short bio was read and she walked up to the podium to speak. She threw away the prepared speech and spoke from her gut.

"In January 1973, the Supreme Court decided that according to the Constitution, the rights of a pregnant woman superceded the rights of the unborn fetus. It was that decision that saved millions of women's lives. As a result of this decision, women gained control of their own bodies, and therefore their own futures. It is imperative that we continue to protect this right, for our sakes and for our daughters. Abortion is made out to be a major political issue. It is an extremely individual issue that has nothing to do with the religious establishment or the lawmakers in Austin or D.C. It is the woman who has to go through the procedure, it is the woman who must go through pregnancy and give birth, and it is the woman who must raise the child in most cases. Therefore, it is the woman who has the right to make that choice. We need to teach the young people in our community how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and we need to educate them about the consequences of their actions. The right to make decisions about our reproductive futures is one of the most personal and essential freedoms. As your Senator, I will do everything in my power to make sure that all women will keep the right to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies. As voters, it is your responsibility to vote into office the people who will protect a woman's right to choose."

The crowd cheered as Jordan finished her speech. She stayed around for a while afterwards to talk to some of the people there and to give several interviews with the local press. That evening, Jordan, Cynthia, Laura, Sarah, and Jim went to the Planned Parenthood office for a fundraiser reception. The room was filled with influential and powerful women who were mingling and networking. Jim pulled Jordan aside.

"Jordan, have you noticed that I am the only man here?" Jordan looked around and laughed and slapped him on the back.

"You know Jim, I think you're right."

"How long do I have to stay?"

"Don't be such a baby Jim. You can leave in a half hour."

As she was talking to Jim, two arms snaked around Jordan's waist from behind. She turned around and grinned.

"Hey you. What are you doing here?" It was Christina, one of Jordan's closest friends.

"I came to see you. How are you?"

"I'm exhausted, but you know how much I love all of this. How are you? How are Lisa and kids?"

"They're fabulous. Jake has a big project due tomorrow so Lisa couldn't be here. But she told me to tell you hi. How are the kids?"

"I'm sorry I missed her. Chris is about to begin his senior year at UT. He's also starting on the football team. He's in Houston right now with some of the other college kids doing some campaigning. Kate just graduated last month. She's with some friends. I gave her the night off. She leaves for Mount Holyoke in August. So what have you been up to?"

"I can't believe they've grown up so much. I'd love to see them. We opened up the new restaurant about six months ago."

"That's so wonderful. How's it doing?"

"It keeps us busy, but it's doing very well. You'll have to come in some time. I was so worried about you when I heard about the crash." Jordan reached out to touch her friend's hand.

"Oh hon. Thank you for the flowers, they were beautiful. I meant to call, but things have been so crazy. I'd love to see the restaurant though. I just don't know when I'll get a chance. Relaxing dinners out aren't exactly on the agenda right now. What if we have the election party there though? We'll rent the place out."

"That sounds great. Where's Cynthia? I'd love to see her. I was happy to hear about you two. Remember all those nights you spent on my couch, crying, when you broke up?" Jordan shook her head and laughed.

"Good Lord yes. I don't know how to thank you for all of that. You helped me get through some pretty rough times." Christina smiled.

"Hey, what are friends for. I can't believe it's been so long since we've seen one another."

"It's been too long Christina. Hey, come over with me. We'll find Cynthia. She'd love to see you." They walked over to where Cynthia was talking with some women. She turned around to see Jordan and Christina. She excused herself to walk over to them.

"Well, well, well. Hey there stranger. Long time, no see." She gave Christina a bug hug.

"Hello to you. It's good to see you. It's been too long. I'm glad you're back." Cynthia looked at Jordan.

"Thank you, I'm pretty happy about it too. How've you been? Where's Lisa?"

"I've been great. Lisa's at home though. She's helping Jake finish a big project for school tomorrow. We just opened up a new restaurant about six months ago."

"That's fabulous. I can't wait to see it." Jordan nodded her head.

"I was thinking that we could have the election party there." Cynthia put her hand on Jordan's arm.

"Oh Jordan, that's a great idea." Christina smiled at her friends.

"I need to leave and stop by the restaurant before going home. I just wanted to talk to you two a bit before I left. You're doing a really great job Jordan. I'm proud of you." Jordan was touched by her friend╬s sentiments. .

"Thanks. This is what we always talked about. I feel like I'm living my ultimate dream. I'm about to be voted into office. My son is about to graduate from UT. My daughter is going to a great school, and I've got the love of my life standing beside me. I'm so glad you came tonight. I'll talk to you soon, I promise. Please tell Lisa I said hello."

"I will. You take care, and behave yourself." She teasingly pointed her finger at Jordan.

"Don't I always?" The candidate winked at her friend. Christina hugged both women and left. Cynthia turned to Jordan.

"It was so nice to see her." Jordan nodded.

"Come dear, there are lots more people to meet and finagle money from." Jordan wiggled her eyebrows. Cynthia laughed and rolled her eyes.

The next day Jordan woke up, and got ready for a new day on the campaign trail. She was thankful to be in her own bed for at least a few days before spending all her time on the campaign bus. She had plans to stop by her mother's in the afternoon to ride her horse. She arrived a few minutes early at the AARP meeting to talk to the organizers of the event.

"We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come talk with us Ms. O'Connor." Jordan smiled.

"I appreciate the invitation. I enjoy the opportunity to talk to people and hear their concerns and ideas."

"Plus, you know how influential we are with the more mature voters." Jordan chuckled.

"Yes. I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't one of the reasons I am here. However, I don't plan on simply pandering to your wishes, just to get your votes and maybe a donation or two. I would honestly be here regardless."

"I know. It's one of the reasons I set this up. You've always respected and listened to our opinions."

"My grandparents mean too much to me not to."

People soon started arriving and it was time for Jordan to speak.

"First of all, I'd like to say thank you to Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Baker for arranging this meeting. I want to represent all of Texas and I welcome the chance to listen to the concerns of all Texans. I think it is unfortunate that in this society, we associate age with vitality and utility. We value those who are younger and can work harder and contribute more to society right now at this moment. We forget that we have what we do have now, because of those who already worked hard before us. We ignore the lessons that are waiting to be learned from those who are more experienced. Many of the most important lessons I ever learned were from my grandfather, who was the water commissioner of Cameron County. He provided safe, clean water to the community and the farmers. He helped people meet their most essential need. It's one of the reasons I went into public service. He taught me about conservation of resources, about listening to the people I am dedicated to serve, and about the land. I learned my most important lessons about family from my grandmothers who loved their children and grandchildren with an untiring devotion. They taught me about being a quality human being. I think it is reprehensible for our society to ignore the gifts of those who are more mature and wise. Now, I'd like to hear your questions and comments."

A man stood up.

"Many of us are forced to choose between food and medication. Medicare doesn't cover some of the more expensive medications that are crucial to prevent strokes and heart attacks. For many, it's a life and death decision."

"About twenty years ago, my grandmother had a stroke. She was dependent on medication to keep her from having another one. More than one of her medications was not covered by Medicare. My mother paid for those. My grandmother was fortunate in the fact that she had help from my mother. However, many of our older citizens do not have that assistance available to them. Life should not become more difficult as people get older. Benefits should be expanded on a voluntary basis to include prescription drugs. That is one issue I will work tirelessly on." A woman stood up.

"Older Americans are taken advantage of and bilked out of millions of dollars. What do you plan on doing to help prevent it and stiffen penalties for those who commit those crimes?"

"We need to educate our older Americans about scams, so that when faced with those who would take advantage of them, they can avoid becoming victims. That is where AARP comes in. They've been very active about educating older Americans. In addition, I'd like to see stiffer penalties against crime against the elderly."

Jordan continued to answer questions and talk to the people there. She shook everyone's hand and after the crowd dispersed, left to go to her mother's house. Jordan pulled up to her mother's house to find her and her partner out in the arena setting up the barrels. She honked her horn and waved. Her mother waved back. Jordan walked into the house and changed into her boots and jeans and cowboy hat. She walked out to the arena.

"Is Rose ready or do I need to go get her saddled up?"

"She's ready. But, you need to check the belts to make sure they're tight. Are you sure you want to do this Jordan? You got hurt recently and it's been a long time since you ran the barrels." Jordan smiled.

"I know. That's why I'm going to practice every chance I get for the next few weeks."

"Go get Rose and ride around the arena a few times until you feel comfortable enough to run through the barrels. Then take it rather slowly." Jordan nodded her head. She walked into the barn to get the horse. She spoke softly to her and stroked her neck. She checked the saddle to make sure it was tight. She led the horse out of the stall and stepped into the stirrup and sat atop the quarter horse. She walked the horse around the arena. She sped up to a trot around a few times. She increased her speed to a run. She ran through the barrels at a relatively slow pace. She then let loose, flying through several times. She loved the feel of the wind blowing her hair back. She loved the speed, the grace, and the power of the beautiful animal she was riding. She climbed down off the horse and walked her over to the water trough.

"You need some work Jordan, but you didn't do too badly."

"As long as I don't fall off or do something embarrassing, I'll be thrilled. Are y'all coming over to the headquarters tonight to watch the commercial? It's going to be on tonight between seven and seven-thirty. " Her mother Elaine shook her head.

"I think we're just going to watch it here."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. You go on now. You╬re going to be late."

"I'm going to take a shower. I smell like horse." Elaine shooed her along.

"Go on hon. You know where everything is."

Jordan showered and changed into a pair of shorts and a navy Polo. Everyone was at the office when she showed up. Cynthia walked up and put her arms around her. Jordan welcomed the hug.

"How did this morning go?"

"It went well I think. We'll see who gets the endorsement though. They're going to announce in about a week. I spent the rest of the afternoon at my mother's, riding Rose."

"How was that?"

"Good, but my legs are killing me. But, I think I'll make a respectable showing at the rodeo. Is food on its way?"

Cynthia nodded. "It'll be here around seven."

"How are things around here today?"

"Busy. They're very busy. There are several groups requesting that you meet with them. There is a human rights group who wants you to tour the colonias around the maquiladoras on the border. It's good that so many people want your time. There is also a group wanting to talk to you about the Cancer cluster in Beaumont." Jordan nodded her head.

" Who's coming with me tomorrow?"

"Laura and I are coming with you. " Jordan nodded.

Everyone started to settle down in front of the television with their plates. Suddenly, Jordan's face appeared on the screen and everyone became silent. Jordan was talking to a group of people and shaking hands. The next image showed her with her family at a football game. Another image had one of her working at her desk at the Capital. The final image showed Jordan walking in a field of bluebonnets wearing her boots and jeans and a button down shirt.

"We kind of have a different way of doing things here in Texas. When we shake a person's hand and look them in the eye and ask how they're doing, we mean it. We work hard and share a fierce loyalty to our land, to our families, and to our state. I want the opportunity to work hard for the United States and for the great state of Texas. As your Senator, you can count on your values as a Texan being upheld in D.C. Let me work for you and your family. I'm Jordan O'Connor and I want to be your next U.S. Senator."

The group cheered and hollered. Jordan playfully stood up and bowed.

"It looked good. Now, I need to see what people thought of it. Could someone please get the numbers done? I want to see what people thought before we release more."

Later, Jordan and Cynthia pulled up to their house. Jordan was walking funny.

Cynthia looked at her partner and smiled. "Honey, would you like to sit in the hot tub for a while?"

"I would love to. I may need some help moving around. I'm definitely not as young as I used to be." Cynthia walked around and put her arms around Jordan.

"But you're sexier than ever." Jordan leaned down to place her lips upon Cynthia's.

"You're not so bad yourself."

Laura arrived early the next day for the short drive up to Austin. Jordan had several meetings scheduled that day. Jordan looked over her schedule for the day.

"Are you both going to be with me at every meeting?" Laura nodded.

"Yes."

"Good." She prepared for her first meeting with the League of Women Voters.

She arrived on time and greeted four women who were on the board.

"Good morning, it's nice to see y'all again."

"Good morning Jordan. How are things?" Jordan smiled congenially.

"They're going very well thank you."

"I know you have a busy schedule Jordan. So let's sit down and talk already." Jordan grinned again and nodded.

"So what can I do for you ladies."

"Jordan as you know, there is a major discrepancy in the funding for women's health research compared to men's issues. We'd like to see that change. We haven't heard you speak on women's health issues yet. Also, we'd like to see more support for businesses to take on a more family-friendly approach. Maybe tax breaks for companies that offer quality in-house childcare. We also feel that if companies were given incentives, they would offer more support to nursing mothers."

"I agree with you completely. It's one of the things I've been talking about for years. Frankly, it hasn't really gotten very far. When I was in the legislature, we did make some strides as far as helping subsidize better childcare."

"Exactly. It's one of the reasons we have supported you this far. We also know that you have a substantial lead. We expect you to make it to D.C. We just need to know that you're going to remember us and the important issues that effect women like yourself."

"Of course. I believe I have proven my commitment to women's issues. I can't promise you that I will be able to help with every single one of your issues, you know that. But, I will also do everything I can to preserve the rights of women that I feel are inalienable. I can promise you that."

"We know that Jordan. We just wanted to talk and get things out on the table. We do know of your commitment to women's issues. It's one of the reasons we're endorsing you. We're also endorsing a few Republicans as well though."

"Yes, I know that you take a non-partisan stance and focus on the candidate. I do appreciate your endorsement."

The women closed their meeting and said their good-byes. Jordan prepared for her next meeting with the Stonewall Democrats. The leadership went over the various things they wanted her to work on and talk about in her National Convention speech. She told them she would see what she could do, but that she was speaking on volunteerism and commitment to service of community. The Stonewall group also talked to her about increasing AIDS funding and sponsoring federal laws requiring companies to offer domestic partnership benefits. She went on to yet another meeting after lunch with the Texas Democratic Committee. They talked about the upcoming debate and convention. The state committee wanted her to sit with the delegation the night they vote on the nomination. She was happy to accept a nice, big check. After that meeting she went on a tour of a local homeless shelter. The candidate was walking through the shelter, talking to the director.

"Tell me about your residents, Ms. Salinas."

"The majority of our residents are families. Many of them have at least one adult who works in some form. Several are single mothers who left abusive spouses. Unfortunately, there are times when the battered women's shelter is full, so we look after them here. We have individual rooms for families. They do some work around here and if they can, pay a little in rent. For single individuals, we have large rooms that accommodate a number of cots."

"What kind of educational training programs do you offer the people here?"

"We offer job assistance training when we can. When funds run low, we have to make a choice between providing food and training." Jordan shook her head.

"You shouldn't have to do that. There is so much waste in government spending. Surely there has to be money somewhere to increase the grants given to the states for better services."

"That's exactly why I wanted this opportunity to talk with you. We need more people in Washington who are willing to really look at the budget, item by item, and to see where the money can be increased for its citizens. I wanted you to see the people who are going to need your help the most."

"I'm only one person, but I'll do what I can. Managing government services efficiently and within budget is one of my specialties. It will take some time and some maneuvering, but we'll go over the budget and when the new budget comes up, I won't forget you. Most of the stories for places like this are the same. People who really are working hard and trying and just not being able to make ends meet. I'm also going to try to raise the minimum wage."

"I hope you mean what you say Ms. O'Connor. These people need someone who will give them a chance."

"I do and I agree. Politicians forget that it actually takes less money in the long run to educate people now to get them off the welfare rolls. Not only does it help this generation; it helps break the cycle of poverty. We will have fewer families in the future generations relying on government assistance. It ends up costing far less."

The director smiled. "Exactly."

Jordan continued on her tour of the facility. She watched children sitting at the tables, having a snack, and doing their homework. She thought of these little ones living on the street, starving, it wasn't anything she hadn't seen before, but it still broke her heart.

"Thank you for your time today, Ms. Salinas. Spending time around kids and families like this remind me of why I am doing this and my main focus when I am in office." The director held her hand out to Jordan. Jordan smiled and shook her hand solidly.

"We appreciate your time as well. Please remember that the children need more than just pretty words and empty promises. These children will be counting on you." Jordan smiled.

"These families are fortunate to have someone as committed and passionate as you. I know these children need results, I will do my damnedest to get them the help they need."

The two women said goodbye and Jordan headed back home with Cynthia and Laura. The two women noticed how quiet Jordan was. Jordan couldn't get the thought of those children and their mothers out of her head. She thought of the frightened, worn out look in the eyes of the single mothers. Cynthia looked at her partner with concern.

"Jordan honey, are you alright?"

Jordan looked up and nodded. "I've been thinking about that shelter. I spent the morning with political groups who have some kind of agenda. I'm sitting here with a check for thousands and thousands of dollars, all to pay for advertisements and damn bumper stickers. Then, I spend the afternoon with homeless women and children. I see the desperation in their eyes, and it reminds me what I need to do. We need programs to give these people a chance. You're supposed to be able to make whatever dream you have come true in this country. If you work hard, you can support your family, and have a good life. It doesn't take into account fleeing a husband in the middle of the night, before he can beat the hell out of you, with only your children and the clothes you can carry. It doesn't take into account losing your job and everything you have along with it and it doesn't take into account working two minimum wage jobs and still not being able to make ends meet. Hard work and the American way are not the answers to everything. I think about my life and my kids. We are so fortunate. Do you know what separates me from those women? A simple twist of fate. These people need a chance, they need training, and they need to be able to make enough money to support their families. These people don't need or want handouts, they need a chance to help themselves."

Cynthia looked back at Jordan. Jordan could go on and on once she got started. "Honey, I know you're passionate about this. But, you're preaching to the converted. We're all here for the same reason. Although, you might want to keep some of those comments and use them in a speech."

Jordan gave her a look. "Well God forbid, I should express an opinion among my partner and my friend. Normal people get the chance to express their opinions all the time. Now, nobody wants to hear my thoughts? If there's a TV camera or an audience, you sure as hell like me to open my big mouth. That's just fucked up. Fine, I'll shut up. You're the ones who were talking to me anyway. I was content to sit all by myself back here and not talk. You don't want to hear my opinions, then just leave me the hell alone. Don't ask me anything." Cynthia and Laura shared a look that said,' Oh great, she's in one of her moods.' The trio rode silently until they reached Jordan's house. She walked in the house, slamming doors.

"You'll have to excuse her Laura. Some things just get to her, plus she's tired and has had a hard time sleeping. She's been having nightmares."

Laura smiled and touched Cynthia's arm. "I understand. I know how she gets. I've been with her a long time. I'm sure she'll be better tomorrow. She's been running non-stop for over a month now. She gets scared. She's afraid she'll get up there and not be able to get anything done. She's afraid of not getting up there at all. There's a lot riding on her and this campaign. Take care of her. I'll see you both tomorrow night."

The women shared a hug and Cynthia walked inside the house. Jordan was in the bedroom changing into her swimsuit. Being in water always helped Jordan's mood. A slight smile came to Cynthia's face. ╬Some things never change.' She heard Jordan walk out the back door to the pool. She watched Jordan swim laps back and forth. The slick PR agent decided to walk out by the pool. Jordan didn't look up, but continued her laps. Cynthia nonchalantly kicked off her heels. Jordan still didn't look up. She grinned and slipped off her skirt. She failed to get Jordan's attention. She unbuttoned her shirt. Jordan continued to swim. She removed her bra and panties. Jordan had yet to look up. ╬Good Lord. What do I have to do to get that woman's attention?' Cynthia slipped into the cool water. She began to swim towards Jordan. When the women passed one another, Jordan caught a glimpse of her naked lover's wet body glistening in the sun. She kept swimming, but couldn't take her eyes off the beautiful form. She reached the end of the pool but didn't notice until she ran into the wall. She turned and went back towards Cynthia, who was at the opposite wall, with her back to Jordan, resting her head on her arms, patiently waiting. Jordan came up behind her and Cynthia did not make a move. Jordan put her hands on either side of Cynthia, capturing her. She softly kissed Cynthia's shoulder, moving up, kiss by kiss, until she reached Cynthia's neck. Cynthia's hand slid behind Jordan's head, pulling her closer.

"Am I forgiven?" Cynthia turned around in Jordan's arms, wrapping her arms around the tall woman's neck.

"Maybe, it depends." Jordan smiled. She spoke softly against Cynthia's skin.

"Oh really, on what?" Jordan held Cynthia close.

"It depends on how sorry you are," Cynthia purred. Jordan cradled Cynthia's face in her hands and looked in her eyes.

"I'm very sorry Cyn. I shouldn't have acted that way towards you and Laura. I love you." She emphasized her point by pressing her lips against Cynthia's and holding her tightly, brushing her tongue against the open lips. Jordan softly kissed her cheeks, her eyelids, her forehead, her nose, returning back to the place of origin.

"Ok. I forgive you." Cynthia ran her hands across Jordan's shoulders, down her arms and around her waist. The taller woman felt Cynthia's soft hands along her back. She felt the clasp on her bathing suit open and being pulled down. She gasped when she felt her now bare, wet skin against Cynthia's breasts.

Cynthia turned her partner around pressing her against the wall. She explored Jordan's neck with her lips and tongue and teeth. Jordan could only moan, losing herself in the sensations. Cynthia's kisses moved lower until she came to round, full breasts. She took the sweet nipple in her mouth, reveling in the feel of the hardness against her tongue. Jordan threw her head back and pulled Cynthia closer into her. "Yes baby, just like that." Cynthia moved to the other breast, latching onto the nipple, pulling it deeply into her mouth, lightly biting. Her hand began to move down Jordan's body. She smiled at the thick, warm liquid she found between Jordan's legs. She stroked Jordan's soft folds. She entered her slowly, moving two fingers inside Jordan. Jordan grabbed onto her. She increased her rhythm as Jordan's breathing quickened and her moans grew louder. The water around them churned and broke into waves like Jordan's arousal. She added a third finger and Jordan fell over the edge into ecstasy and her body tightened with release. As she fell back down, she held onto Cynthia for support. Cynthia held her and whispered, "I've got you baby." She looked up into Jordan's eyes and reached up to touch her face.

"There will be no talk of campaigns, speeches, schedules, contributions, or issues. Tonight, it's you and me. That is all that matters right now. The kids are with their dad, you'll see them tomorrow. I need and want your absolute undivided attention." Jordan smiled at her partner.

"Anything you want Cynthia. I am all yours tonight."

The women got out of the pool. Cynthia led them to the bedroom and they spent most of the night making love, until falling into an exhausted sleep. Jordan woke once during the night and looked at Cynthia's beautiful form lying next to her, illuminated by the light of the moon coming in the window. She ran her fingers through the short blonde hair. She felt better than she had in weeks. She looked at Cynthia, loving every inch of her. She reached over and brushed her lips across her lover's bare shoulder. She fell asleep again soon after.

Jordan woke up late the next morning to breakfast in bed and Cynthia's smiling face. She pulled Cynthia toward her for a kiss.

"What is all this?" Cynthia crawled in bed with her.

"This is me taking care of you. You've been working so hard and you have so much riding on your shoulders. You spend all day, every day with people wanting you to do something for them. Today, I want to show you how much I love you." She picked up a piece of toast and put it in Jordan's mouth. "So just enjoy it." Jordan couldn't help the grin on her face. She reached up and softly touched Cynthia's cheek with her fingertips. She moved her face closer and whispered into Cynthia's ear.

"You are my angel. I love you too."

The women shared breakfast, kisses, and intimate touches. The breakfast tray was soon on the floor as Jordan and Cynthia began to get lost in each other. Jordan held Cynthia, running her hands up and down her back, cupping her behind. She kissed along Cynthia's collar bone, lightly sucking on her skin. Soft moans escaped Cynthia's mouth. Jordan turned her lover around. She wrapped her arms around from behind, holding her hands, kissing and nibbling across the soft flesh of Cynthia's back. Cynthia pushed her rear back against the sex of her partner, eliciting soft words of pleasure from her.

"Mmmm baby. I love it when you do that." Jordan's hot whispers sent chills along Cynthia's body.

Jordan reached around and began to run her fingers along the inside of Cynthia's thigh. She was rewarded as Cynthia arched back into her again. Jordan entered her, stroking her deeply, filling her. She loved the slickness she found. Jordan began to rub her throbbing need over Cynthia's sweet behind. Their breath quickened as their movement and rhythm increased. The sounds of lovemaking filled the sun-soaked room. Jordan could feel Cynthia's climax building as the muscles tightened around her fingers, which were thoroughly soaked. Jordan's own climax began and the two women soared together, screaming in pleasure. Jordan held her position as her lover's orgasm subsided. She began to move her fingers, when a hand clutched hers, holding it in place.

"Stay there. I want to be connected with you for a while." Jordan kissed Cynthia's shoulder. Both women were panting, a light sheen of sweat covering their naked bodies.

"I think I can oblige. I happen to really like where I am."

They spent the rest of the day, enjoying one another's company, truly connecting for the first time in over a month. They fell asleep together again, not waking until later in the afternoon. They showered together, not wanting to be apart for a minute. Jordan put on her crisp, pressed Wrangler jeans, and her stiff white button down shirt and black lace-up ropers. Cynthia loved seeing her this way. She looked so relaxed, whistling while tucking in her shirt. She walked up behind Jordan wrapping her arms around the trim waist.

"Damn, baby you look good." Jordan turned around to look at her. She put her arms around Cynthia's neck. She looked at Cynthia in her boots and jeans.

"Thank you. You look pretty great yourself, Darlin." Cynthia reached to touch her lips against Jordan's.

"Save me a dance tonight." Jordan returned the gesture.

"Oh, definitely, more than one if I have my way. Are you ready to go?" Cynthia nodded. Jordan grabbed her cowboy hat. As they were walking out the door, Cynthia stole a kiss and ran her hand up and down the front of Jordan's starched shirt.

"Can I just tell you how much I love it when you dress like this?" Jordan grinned.

"You can tell me as much as you want."

They arrived at the old dance hall and immediately spotted a number of friends and people from the office. Jordan took Cynthia's hand and led her over to Sarah and Jim.

"Hey y'all. How long have you been here?" Sarah smiled.

"We got here about twenty minutes ago." Jordan looked at Sarah.

"My goodness, look at you Sarah. Don't you look gorgeous. Those jeans look nice on you, tight in the right spots, like they should be." Cynthia slapped her partner in the arm. "In fact, if I didn't know better, I would think you were hoping to impress a particular blonde singer." Sarah blushed, pretending to be shocked.

"I don't know what you're talking about Jordan. But, umm, do you think I could get an introduction?"

"Yes, I think that could be arranged. Has anyone seen her around here?"

"I think she's still in her bus right outside."

"I'm going to go say hi. I'll see y'all in a bit." She placed a soft kiss on Cynthia's hand and walked off. She walked out to the bus and knocked on the door. Tammy opened the door, grinning.

"Hey woman, what's up?" She pulled Jordan into a tight hug. She led Jordan in the bus to sit and talk for a bit. Jordan waved to the guys in the band, some of whom she knew.

"So Tammy, how've you been?"

"I've been good actually. The new album's going great. Our last single got to the top ten. This racket's getting' pretty old though. How ╬bout you?"

"Things have been going very well. We're way ahead and Cynthia is living with me again. It's just been so crazy." The singer slapped Jordan on the back.

"I hear ya."

"Listen Tammy, I just wanted to thank you for doing this for me."

"It's no problem Jordan. It's my pleasure. Let's just say I've owed you one for a long time. I'm really glad to help. Those songs you helped me with made me a lot of money, plus, you helped me by singing back up for me. I just wanted to do this for you. Oh and speaking of singing with me, I want you to sing with me tonight."

"I don't know Tammy. I haven't rehearsed or anything."

"It won't be anything you don't know. I'll even sing and play backup for you. C'mon, it'll be fun, like old times. Besides, everyone here is a friend of ours. Please, I promise it'll be fun. I mean, I am taking time out of my busy schedule and I'm not getting any money for this. It seems only fair that you say yes." Tammy shot her a conniving look.

"Alright, alright, I'll do it. Don't do anything I don't know though." The singer laughed.

"I promise. I'll even let you use of my personal guitars." Jordan groaned

"Damn woman, what am I agreeing to?" Tammy gave her best Cheshire grin.

"Anything I want, like usual." The two women laughed and walked out of the bus together.

More people had arrived and the two women walked into the room, eliciting cheers and hollers. Tammy and Jordan both waved to the crowd. They walked over to Cynthia and the group from the office.

"Tammy, I want you to meet some of the great people I work with. This is Jim, you know Laura and Cynthia of course, and Sarah. There's more people arriving, I'll introduce you to them as we see them." Tammy wasn't paying attention to a word Jordan was saying. She was too busy looking at Sarah's smile. She looked right into Sarah's eyes.

"It's nice to meet you." Sarah held the gaze.

"It's a pleasure." Jordan watched the exchange.

"Quite a few people have begun to arrive so I'm going to go mingle. I'll see y'all in a bit." She took Cynthia's hand and pulled her along while nodding her head at the other people in the group to tell them to move along.

The two women stood there, staring and smiling at one another. The singer decided to be the first to speak.

"Have you known Jordan long?"

"I met her six years ago, right after I finished grad school at UT. I went to work for her in the Governor's office. When she decided to run for the Senate, she asked me to come with her. She's been a mentor and good friend to me, so I jumped at the chance to help her. How about you?" Tammy laughed, thinking, ╬Good Lord, this girl is probably about twenty-nine or so. I'm nearly twenty years older. But, damn, there's just something about her.'

"Yes, a very long time. How ╬bout I buy you a beer and we can go sit down and I can tell you the story." Sarah nodded enthusiastically.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Cynthia were shaking hands, thanking people for coming and talking to old friends. Chris and Kate arrived and Jordan was delighted to see her kids.

"Hey you two. You both look good." She hugged her kids fiercely, then Cynthia had her turn.

"We've missed you Chris. Has everything been ok? Have you been staying out of trouble?" The young man rolled his eyes.

"Yes Mom."

"Are you both coming home tonight?"

"Yes, then we're heading down to the Valley with you. We thought we'd take the chance to see Granddad and everyone."

"Good. Christopher, no more than one beer. I don't want any problems with a son getting arrested for drunk driving. Besides, it's irresponsible."

"Mother, don't over exaggerate. Have you once had a problem with me driving drunk?" Jordan shook her head.

"Then give me a little credit." Jordan raised her hands in surrender.

"Alright, I'm sorry. I guess I'm a little paranoid. I can't afford to have any bad press. I apologize for expecting the worst from you."

"You're forgiven, this time." He flashed his smile.

Tammy came over to the family.

"Oh my God, look how grown up you two are? I nearly didn't recognize you. Get over here and give your Aunt Tammy a hug." The kids smiled and hugged their old friend.

"It's good to see you too. It seems like forever."

"I know. You're always at school or I'm on the road. You're both growing up nicely. I know your Mom's proud." She looked at Jordan.

"Jordan we need to start. Come up with me and say a little something. I'll introduce you." The two women walked across the hardwood floor to the stage.

"Hey, what's with you and Sarah?"

"I don't know, she's so much younger than I am, but she's delightful. We're going to talk more later, there's just something about her that I'm drawn to."

"Be careful with her though, ok? She's a wonderful woman." Tammy smiled and nodded.

"Showtime." She walked up on stage and the people in the dancehall cheered.

"Hey there. Happy 4th of July everyone. I'd like to thank y'all for being here. We're here tonight to send a great woman to Washington. I've known Jordan for many years. She's one of my oldest friends. She'd make the best damn Senator this state could have. She loves Texas and she loves this country and she will work to make things better for all of us. So please join me in welcoming our next U.S. Senator, my friend, the reason we are here, Jordan O' Connor." Jordan walked up on stage and waved to the cheering crowd.

"Hello everyone. Thank y'all for coming. It means a great deal to see so many wonderful people offering their support. Today is the birthday of our country, a country that began with the courage, strength, and hope of families seeking freedom in a new land. It is this same spirit of hope that I stand with today, that I will take with me to Washington. The hope I take with me is that we may all act with strength and courage to make this nation a better one and the hope that I may act with strength and courage to do what's right and to serve my country with dignity and honor." She grinned widely. "Now, enough of me talking, I'm ready to dance. Y'all would rather hear Tammy sing than me talk. So Tammy, get your butt over and sing for these people." The two friends shared a laugh.

The crowd cheered again. The band started and Jordan waved and walked off the stage. She walked over to Cynthia, who handed her a beer. Jordan took a swig, then put it down on the table.

"Thanks. Come dance with me Mama." She took Cynthia's hand and led her out onto the dance floor. They two-stepped across the sawdust-strewn floor. Jordan held onto her firmly, leading her around the circle of couples. They only had eyes for one another, smiling like they shared some special secret. After a few dances, Jordan had to go meet and talk with people. Laura was happy to see her friend's mood had improved. The band took a break between sets and Tammy came over to talk more with Sarah. After several minutes, the singer came back up on stage.

"To start off with this next set, I'm gonna need a little bit of help from a friend of mine. For those of you who don't know, our favorite candidate, happens to be a great singer and guitarist. In fact, she sang backup for me on my first three albums, and co-wrote several songs. So, let's give a round of applause to Jordan and maybe we can convince her to sing with us a little." The people cheered and reluctantly Jordan walked up the stage steps. Tammy handed her a guitar.

"Do you remember The Wedding Song?" Jordan nodded. Jordan and the band began playing a waltz. Jordan smiled when she saw Chris take Cynthia out on the floor to dance. Jordan played and sang harmony with her friend.

Play some Cotton-Eye Joe

For the folks don't ya know

Keep your dogs in the truck ╬till you leave

We got some wieners and buns

╬Cause the brisket's all gone

At our wedding in suburban Seguin

I said I love you in suburban Seguin

The audience cheered and the two women on stage laughed with each other. Jordan leaned in to talk to Tammy.

"Let's do that old Jimmy LaFave song we used to sing all the time."

"Only One Angel?" Jordan nodded. "Key of G." Tammy informed the band. It was a song they had done many times. Tammy leaned back over to Jordan.

"You sing lead." Jordan rolled her eyes and nodded. She began to play and the rest of the band joined in. She smiled and winked at Cynthia.

I could fly through a midnight rain

And be safe and warm and dry baby

At the mention of your name

And always sing your special song

And know deep inside that spirit girl

That nothing could go wrong

If you got to know what's pulling me through

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

And I could run ╬cross the desert wind

Till the day would leave me breathless baby

Searching for words again

And hope that you could hear that sound

In streams of magic colors

That are painted across the ground

If you got to know what's pulling me through

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

I have only one angel babe

My one angel is you

The crowd cheered again but Jordan could only see Cynthia, who was wiping at the tears in her eyes. The band continued to play and Jordan sang with her friend for a few more songs before smiling and waving to the crowd and stepping off the stage. Cynthia was waiting for her off to the side of the stage.

"Thank you Jordan. That was beautiful." Jordan took her hands.

"I'm glad you liked it. I sang it for you." Cynthia beamed.

"I know. I love you for singing it."

"I love you too. Let's go dance." They danced until the band stopped playing and people began leaving. Jordan shook hands with everyone, thanking them for coming. Tammy's band started to disassemble the set. Tammy was smiling, holding Sarah's hand, talking to her. That night, Cynthia rested her head against Jordan's shoulder as the couple cuddled in the SUV as Jordan drove home.

"I feel so much better Cyn. I really needed the quiet time with you. I was in a great mood for tonight. I had so much fun. I love dancing with you, it's been a while since we've had the chance."

"I know. I always loved dancing with you as well and tonight was no exception. You looked so hot up on stage. It was a real turn on having you sing to me." Jordan grinned.

"Was it now." Cynthia nodded her head.

"Yes it was. You looked very sexy. Most of the women were looking at you. I thought I was going to have to cold-cock a couple of them." That brought a laugh out of Jordan.

"Regardless of who looks at me, my heart is with you. But, I love it when you get feisty."

The next morning, everyone met the busses, ready to get back on the road. The candidate and her team sat at the table at the back of the bus.

"Alright gang, give me a run-down of everything going on. I'd like to try to fit in a visit with my family." Laura handed out schedules for the week.

"We're stopping in Corpus to talk to a group of teenage volunteers. We should get into the Valley about three. You are going to be at a reception tonight in Harlingen with some local candidates. If you want to see your family before or after, it's fine. Tomorrow, you're meeting with a group of teen mothers in summer school in Brownsville, and you're meeting with a group to talk about illegal immigration and amnesty, and then you've got a block party with a very vocal and active, Hispanic neighborhood committee. The day after that, you're going on a tour of the colonias and some of the border clinics and hospitals with the human rights' group. You can have dinner with your family that night. The day after that, we head back up North to Houston and then Beaumont. You'll get a new schedule after that, but we're headed to West Texas."

Jordan looked over her schedule and picked up her phone to call her father. She smiled when she heard him answer.

"Hey old Man."

"Watch it Jordan, you're not as young as you used to be."

"Yeah yeah yeah. Remember that I'm the oldest and the one picking out your nursing home. Just ask yourself, do I want a nice one or the one they showed on TV."

They both laughed at the running joke between them.

"So what can I do for you Jordan?"

"Well I am on my way down there right now, and I was wondering if we could get together. The kids are with me too."

"Where are y'all staying?"

"At a hotel. I'll be in this afternoon and I have a reception tonight. Can I come over after and see everyone if it isn't too late?"

"Only if you agree to stay here."

"I don't know Dad. There's the four of us, plus my staff will need to get with me. We'll just turn your house upside down."

"Now Jordan, it's not everyday I get to see my daughter the politician. I want y'all to stay. We'll clear space for you to conduct your business in the den."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I am."

"Alright Dad, we'll see you around three then. Why don't y'all come to the reception tonight. I'm sure you're going to know at least half the people there."

"We'll talk about that this afternoon. We'll see you later honey." Jordan smiled at the term of endearment.

"Alright Dad. See you then."

"We have a slight change of plans. Cynthia, the kids and I are staying at my Dad's. Any meetings we need to have, we can have in his den."

"Jordan, it's easier if we're all in the same place. I prefer just being able to walk next door to your room if something comes up. I know you want to see your family, but keeping this circus organized is difficult enough without having to drive to another location to get with you." Jordan looked up.

"Laura, it's not up for discussion. I want to see my Dad." Laura gave her an exasperated look.

"Fine."

They pulled into Corpus and Jordan talked to a group of teen volunteers about the importance of what they were doing. She told them stories about her time in the Peace Corp. They headed back on the bus and down to her Dad's. She was thrilled to see her family. She talked her parents into going with her to the reception that night. This reception was no different than any others. Politicos trying to make deals with one another for votes. This was part of the job that bored Jordan to death. She was pleasantly surprised to see some old friends she had grown up with. Later that night, back at her father's house, the two were sharing a beer on the back porch.

"Jordan, I just can't see how you have the patience for all of that." Jordan chuckled.

"Sometimes, I sit there smiling, nodding my head, wanting to scream. But it's part of the game and hopefully I can get some money out of it."

"Better you than me."

The next day started early for the group, with Jordan talking to teen mothers and ending with a block party. Jordan took a scaled down version of her entourage. They found the woman in charge of everything.

"Senora Gomez. Como Seat Usted?"

"Muy bien Senora O'Connor. Gracias para venir." Jordan nodded her head.

" De nada. Gracias para la invitacion. llameme por favor Jordan." The other woman smiled.

"Bueno, llameme Chelo." Jordan returned the friendly gesture. Chelo met the other staff members.

"Y'all come on this way. There's a ton of food and Jordan, there are lots of people for you to meet." Jordan allowed herself to be led in the gathering as the host introduced her to a number of people. Jordan enjoyed settings like this. She loved the chance to really talk to people. She rode back to her father's house feeling recharged. She was thankful for the lighthearted evening, knowing that the next day would be difficult.

The next day in the bus on the way to Brownsville, Jordan got together some of the young and inexperienced campaigners.

"Listen, we're going to see some hard things today. The colonias here in the valley are heartbreaking. They have no electricity, little clean water, no real roads or proper drainage. It's like being in the poor areas of Mexico. We're also going to be seeing children who have severe abnormalities as a result of water and air pollution from the maquiladoras. Their mothers either worked in the factories and were exposed to poisons there or from the water supply during pregnancy. If you feel you cannot deal with this, then stay behind. We want to make sure we show the people we see today proper respect and compassion, but no pity. They are poor, but they do have their pride. If you cannot come with us, I do understand. We╬re basically going to be seeing the effects of NAFTA. These circumstances existed before the agreement, but the situation has become much worse."

Three people from a human rights organization came and took the group on tours of small, poor, rural communities along the border. Avery saw the shacks and muddy streets. She could smell the sulfur smell coming from the nearby factory. These people worked for fifty cents an hour, had no plumbing, and gathered water from a well. Her heart broke when she saw young children running around with no shoes playing with broken toys. They also took a tour of a local hospital. Children were born with severe birth defects. Infant mortality rates were extremely high. All of this was attributed to the pollution in the air and water. Everyone was quiet on the ride back. Sarah came and sat by Jordan.

"Jordan, what can we do to help them?"

"I don't know. We've had this problem for years. We're stuck between a rock and hard place. If we force the companies to raise the wages, they may move again and then where will the workers be? Legislators are reluctant to do anything because these people aren╬t citizens. But, their children were born here so they are citizens. They have no money and clout. We'll see what we can do. Once I'm in D.C., maybe I'll have enough influence to do something about it. You'd think by now, someone would have a solution. Very few people are paying any attention to the problem."

Everyone's mood lightened up later at Jordan's Dad's house. Her family had prepared a huge fish fry for Jordan and the rest of the group. They set out again the next day on the campaign trail. Jordan prepared for her upcoming debate with her opponent and practiced her horseback riding when she had the chance.

Finally, the night of the debate came and Jordan was both excited and nervous. The debate would be aired throughout the state. Jordan was in her room backstage, running through the issue cards with Laura, Cynthia, Jim, and Sarah. She looked very professional in a gray suit with a white blouse. Cynthia held her hands.

"Look at me Jordan. You've done this many times. You know the issues and you can handle any question they throw at you. This election is yours. You've been working towards this. You can do it and I love you. I believe in you." Jordan smiled and reached out to run her fingers through Cynthia's hair.

"Thank you honey. I love you too. So what do I get if I do well tonight?" Jordan wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Cynthia put her arms around Jordan's neck.

"I'm sure we can work something out. For now, stay focused honey."

"You are such a drag. I'll just picture you in your underwear so I won't be nervous." That remark got her a slap on the arm.

"Ok, ok, ok. You are absolutely no fun."

There was a knock on the door alerting Jordan that she needed to come out and get wired. Cynthia gave her a quick kiss and a slap on the behind.

"Go get ╬em tiger." Jordan winked and walked out. She stepped out onto the stage of Bass Concert Hall. She walked with strength and confidence. She shook hands with her opponent.

"Kris, it's good to see you. I hope you're doing well." Kris Benson smiled congenially.

"Jordan, it's good to see you too. I am well, thank you. Good luck to you tonight." Jordan could see his wife, Amber watching her from backstage. The candidate gave a small smile and a nod.

The candidates were introduced and given two minutes to give introductions of themselves.

"My name is Jordan O'Connor and I am the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. I have dedicated my life to service of the global community, my local community, and the great state of Texas. My opponent has dedicated his life to making himself and his business partners millions of dollars. I have served my community with integrity and honor, beginning with my time in the Peace Corp to my position in the Governor╬s office. I care about the people of Texas. I plan on making sure that their interests are protected and represented to the best of my ability. I want to extend my life of service to the United States Senate." Kris began his introduction.

"My opponent makes the claim that I have spent my life serving myself. I am a successful businessman. I should not have to apologize for that. I am not a career politician like my opponent. Although, I see that as a plus. The government is a business like any other. Our goal is to meet the needs of our public while operating within our budget, efficiently, and effectively, and to have a surplus at the end of the year. It is my successful business record that qualifies me to work for this country. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue my record by making sure the government runs efficiently and effectively while cutting spending and therefore cutting taxes."

The moderator began to ask questions that were sent in prior to the event by email.

"We will start with Mr. Benson. What do you plan on doing about the health care crisis in America?"

"I think there needs to be more focus on preventative health care. We currently provide for children, the elderly, and the indigent. I do think that Medicare and Medicaid programs need to be managed more effectively. If we knock out waste from these programs, we can provide better services. As far as level of care goes, I think we are very fortunate to live in this country. We have the best medical care in the world."

"Ms. O'Connor, what is your response?"

"I agree that there needs to be more focus on preventative health care and that we have the best medical care in the world. However, this level of care isn╬t available to all of those who need it. I think our Medicaid and Medicare systems need to reflect an increased focus on preventative care. It would end up costing us less. A tremendous problem with the current system is that we have so many families who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid because they have too much money, but they don't have enough to pay for health insurance. I propose that we expand the CHIPS program that we currently have for children here in Texas to include other family members. The federal government proposed these programs that we have here in Texas, in addition to the expansion of them. I think they should pay for them."

"You've both made your position on abortion rights very clear. The Republican party has issued ads to the newspapers of Texas, declaring a state of imminent danger regarding the number of conservative judges with right to life positions. Would the abortion issue act as a litmus test for judges that are brought before the Senate for confirmation?"

"This one issue alone would not preclude my confirmation of a nominee. There are judges who make their decisions solely on the constitution., without clouding their judgments based on personal beliefs. However, it would be an extremely hard thing for me to do. I would not confirm a nomination who would try to overturn Roe v. Wade, or come up with their own unconstitutional limitations . My commitment is to the constitution and guaranteeing the inalienable rights granted by the constitution."

"Mr. Benson, what is your response?"

"I think the unborn children of this country are in imminent danger. We would protect any other child from harm. I will stand up for the rights of all children, born and unborn. I will not support the nomination of someone who does not share that same conviction."

The debate continued on and Jordan handled each question with confidence and poise.

"We've come to the end of our debate. Each candidate has two minutes to give their closing statements. Ms. O'Connor, we'll start with you."

"One thing I have learned throughout my years in the Peace Corps is that when we work together, anything is possible. We can solve the crises in our country with unity and hard work. I have the commitment to this country and to this state to act with honor and integrity. I will work to the best of my ability to represent Texas as your U.S. Senator to improve the lives of Texans and Americans."

"And now your closing words Mr. Benson."

"I have proven my management skills. I have proven my dedication to hard work. I want to help take this country to a new level with less government involvement, with more efficient programs, that cost less, which results in a budget surplus with lower taxes for the American people."

"Thank you ladies and gentlemen, this concludes this evening's debate. I'd also like to thank both candidates for their participation."

The candidates received the sign that the cameras were off and removed their mic packs. The entourages walked over to their respective candidates. Cynthia hugged her partner fiercely.

"Jordan, you did such a great job. I was so proud of you. You were commanding and in control." Laura smiled.

"She's right pal. You were great."

Amber offered her husband a shallow embrace because they were in public. His campaign manager shook his hand. She watched Jordan embracing Cynthia, feeling stabs of jealousy.

"Kris, you did a fine job. You came across very strong. She was good though. We need to see what the people and analysts are saying. We'll run some polls in the morning."

When Jordan walked off the stage, she lifted Cynthia off the ground in a tight embrace, swinging her around, and kissing her soundly.

"That felt good. I really enjoyed that." Cynthia grinned and cupped Jordan's face between her hands.

"I could tell." She leaned up to whisper in Jordan's ear. "Watching you like that was such a turn on. I want you to take me until I scream." A blush crept up Jordan's face.

"I think I can accommodate that request. Let's get done here." Jordan and her group finished up and walked out and went to their hotel for the night.

"Jordan, we leave at eight in the morning. I╬ll come up to your room and we can look over the debate tape and check what the analysts are saying." Cynthia shot Jordan a look.

"Laura, can we do that tomorrow? It's been a long day. Cynthia and I are tired and just want to go to sleep. I know you╬ll be going over everything and I trust you implicitly." Jordan gave Laura an expression that told her not to press the issue further.

"Alright, we'll go over it tomorrow. Get some sleep, we've got appearances and interviews tomorrow."

Laura walked off to her room. Jordan placed her hand on the small of Cynthia's back, leading her to their room, both of them smiling. Jordan opened the door, took her hand, and led her inside. She pinned Cynthia against the door with a smoldering kiss. Hands furiously pulled open clothing as the two women devoured one another. Cynthia pulled off Jordan's blazer. Jordan pulled off Cynthia's blouse. Jordan sucked and kissed the warm skin on Cynthia's neck and shoulders. Jordan unclasped her lover's bra, releasing the delicious orbs. Jordan sunk to her knees, taking one of the hard nipples into her mouth. Cynthia moaned at the contact, pulling Jordan closer to her. Jordan reached around and lowered Cynthia's skirt and panties. Her hot kisses began to move lower. Cynthia trembled at the touch. Jordan placed her lover's leg over her shoulder and dove in to the hot wetness of Cynthia's sex.

"Ohhhh Jordan. Yes baby, just like that, right there."

Jordan lapped at the sweet juices she found. She licked and sucked, until she felt Cynthia stiffen and Jordan's lips became drenched in her climax. As her body relaxed again, she fell against Jordan, who caught her until they were laying together on the floor, cuddling. Cynthia's rest didn't last long. She moved above Jordan, unbuttoning her shirt.

"You know darlin'. We're going to have to have this shirt cleaned before you wear it again. I am all over it." Jordan chuckled and ran her fingers lightly down Cynthia's arms. Cynthia took her hands and held them above her head as she kissed her deeply, sucking lightly on her tongue. She slid the straps of Jordan's bra down following with her lips.

"God, Jordan, you are so beautiful. After all these years, I can't get enough of you."

Cynthia took one of the hard nipples into her mouth. Jordan arched into her. She pulled Jordan's slacks and panties down. Jordan surrendered herself to the intense pleasure taking over her body. Cynthia stroked the silky, slick folds, causing Jordan to moan. She entered Jordan deeply, plunging two fingers inside. She moved in and out, hard and fast while Jordan thrust her hips in time with her. Cynthia, sensing the need of her lover, added a third finger. Jordan took everything Cynthia was giving her and begging for more. She groaned loudly as Cynthia added her pinky, fucking her hard, taking her.

"Oh God, Cynthia."

"You like that don't you baby?" Jordan nodded, her face distorted.

"You want more?" Jordan nodded again.

"You want it all don't you baby?" Jordan moaned.

"Yeeessssssssss."

"Cynthia pulled her fingers out slightly, holding her fingers together, she began to ease her coated hand inside Jordan. Jordan held onto Cynthia tightly as she inched her entire hand into her. Jordan began to rub her own clit as Cynthia fucked her. Cynthia could feel the approaching orgasm and egged her on.

"That's it baby. Feel me inside you. Come for me. That's it. I╬m here baby"

Jordan came hard to her climax, several times, screaming Cynthia's name. As the waves of Jordan's orgasms began to subside, Cynthia gently eased her hand out. The two naked women collapsed together on the carpeted floor, satisfied. They both sighed in contentment and exhaustion at the same time. Cynthia laid next to Jordan, resting her head on Jordan's shoulder.

"You know, if we sleep here, we won't be walking erect tomorrow morning. But, I don't think I have the energy to move. Good Lord Cynthia, what you do to me." They both started laughing.

"Ditto. We'll lie here for a bit, then move to the bed. I'll help you to the bed if you need it, old woman."

"Hey, hey now. You're not that much younger than me."

"Three years younger is still younger."

After several minutes, the women dragged themselves over to the bed, sleeping peacefully, wrapped around each other.

Jordan was named the winner of the debate and still held her lead in the polls. She spent the next week speaking at dinners, and coffees. The weekend came and she was ready for a little fun at the Lesbian and Gay Rodeo in Forth Worth. She looked forward to riding and see some old friends. Her mothers met her there and brought her horse. The barrel racing was the first event of the rodeo. The announcer introduced the riders as they were about to come out of the gate. Jordan stood beside her horse, preparing for her run. Cynthia walked over to her.

"Hi honey, are you ready." Jordan smiled and kissed Cynthia.

"About as ready as I will be. Where are Mom and Janis?"

"They're in the stands to watch you." Jordan got up on her horse, patting her side.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the barrel racing competition today. We have many fine riders for this first round today. To start off this competition is an exhibition ride of our own Jordan O'Connor, candidate for the U.S. Senate."

The crowd cheered and Jordan received her signal, shooting out of the starting area. Her black hair flew in the wind as she raced around the barrels. Her adrenaline soared as the horse cut through the dirt between the barrels. Her horse picked up full speed going through the straight ways. She raced back into the starting area. She slowed the horse down and walked her to the horse trailer. Cynthia came and put her arm around her waist.

"You did a great job and you looked very sexy speeding around that arena." Jordan grinned.

"Oh really? I may have to take advantage of that later. Where's Laura and the film crew?"

"They're off somewhere. I'll call her." A number of people came up to Jordan to compliment her ride. She shook their hands and smiled. They gave the horse some water and put her up. Jordan joined her family and watched the other riders. The other barrel racing times were much better than hers, but she didn't fall off, so she was happy. She and Cynthia walked around, checking out all the activities. An old friend came up to her.

"Well, if it isn't Jordan O'Connor." Jordan smiled.

"Betty, its good to see you. How've you been?"

"Same old..same old. Don't have any complaints. You seem to be doin' well. I saw that debate, you did a great job. You also had a nice ride today. I was hoping to find you. I have a proposition for you. There's a group of us who will give you twenty-five thousand dollars to ride a bull." Jordan started laughing.

"You're kidding."

"Nope. We know because of campaign finance laws, we can each only give you five thousand dollars. There are five of us. We'll do it in a small arena. There would be probably a crowd. I mean, hell, a candidate for the U.S. Senate on a bull. That's liable to get people's attention."

"I don't know Betty. That's pretty dangerous." Betty smiled.

"I know you don't shy away from things just because they're dangerous."

"The offer sounds interesting. Although, twenty-five thousand is pretty small considering how dangerous this is." Betty laughed.

"Let me see if I can come up with some more. Tell you what, I'll find you this afternoon if I get a better offer." Jordan slapped her on the back.

"Alright, you do that. I'll be thinking about it." Jordan walked off with Cynthia. When they were out of earshot, Cynthia turned to her.

"You are not doing this."

"What?"

"You are not riding that damn bull. Just get that out of your head. I know you. You love a challenge."

"Oh c'mon Cyn. Its a lot of money. We need it."

"Not badly enough for you to risk your life."

"I don't like being bossed around honey."

"I don't care. I'm not going to allow you to do this." Jordan kept her voice quiet and controlled.

"I can't do this right now. There are too many people here. But, I wouldn't go that route if I were you." Both women were trying to maintain a public image.

"I think we need to go off separately for a couple of hours and cool off and gain composure." Jordan nodded.

"I agree. I'm going to where my mothers are. You know what we need to do for appearance sake don't you?" Cynthia shot her a look.

"Oh, no Jordan, I don't. I just deal with this stuff for a living." Jordan faked a smile.

"No one likes a smart ass dear." They walked away from one another.

Jordan couldn't get over the way Cynthia was acting. ╬Who in the hell does she think she is, telling me what to do. I'm an adult. I can decide what I will and will not do. Thirty-five thousand is a lot of money. I've got a campaign to finance and salaries to pay. That is the bottom line here. Why can't she understand that?' She couldn't even sulk. Too many people were watching her. She had to smile and bullshit with people like nothing was wrong. She sat with her mothers.

"Hey Jordan, where's Cynthia?" Jordan sighed.

"Don't ask." They looked at her quizzically.

"Did you two have a fight?"

"Yes. She seems to think I need another mother to tell me what to do. Lord knows three isn't enough."

"Hey was that necessary?"

"I'm sorry. It's a long story. I would rather not talk about it. I just want to watch the rodeo and deal with things myself."

A while later, her friend Betty came up to her.

"Hey there Jordan." Jordan inwardly groaned. This could only mean one thing.

"Hi Betty, what's up?" Her friend was smiling.

"Ok. Here's the thing. I've got six of our friends other than myself, who each have five thousand dollar checks to keep things nice and legal. We've acquired the use of a small arena, and we have a bull. There is no minimum time. Hell, we'd give you the money anyway, its just more fun this way. You're an old friend and you're family. We all like you. We had some great times together. I know you, and I dare you to tell me this doesn't perk up the adrenaline junkie in you. It's one of the reasons we're even bringing this up. If you can stay on for eight seconds, and eighth person will give you another check." Jordan thought for a minute.

"I will have you know, that I will have hell to pay with Cynthia. But I've ridden before. It's a hell of a lot of fun. I haven't done it in years. I'm not as young as I used to be. But damn, the money's good. It's been a long time since I've had a thrill like that. What time do I show up?" ╬Oh I am dead meat.' Betty laughed, pleased.

"Be there at four, I'll give you directions tomorrow." Jordan nodded.

"I'll see you tomorrow."

She walked off towards the bus. She walked in and Cynthia was working with Laura and looking over the some of the footage of Jordan on the horse.

"Hi y'all. How did it look?" Laura smiled.

"It looked great. We're going to use it in our next commercial."

"I'm glad. I ╬ve got some good news. I've got a big donation for us. I'll have thirty-five possibly forty thousand dollars tomorrow." Cynthia put her hands on her hips.

"Tell me you're not about to say what I think you are." Laura looked confused.

"Someone tell me what's going on?"

"Do you remember Betty Simpson who owns that ranch near my mothers? She used to host the Waltz Across Texas every year." Laura nodded. "Well, she and several others have each offered me five thousand dollars to ride a bull in a small arena tomorrow. If I stay on for eight seconds, it gets raised another five thousand. So, I've got a possibility of making forty thousand tomorrow." Cynthia fumed.

"Did you hear that? She has to ride a fucking bull. She's been off crutches for a few weeks and she wants to ride a damn bull. I can't believe she would possibly do this. Would you please talk some sense into her?" Laura raised her hands.

"Jordan, this isn't the smartest idea. But, you love dangerous and challenging and we need the money. But you're taking a big risk and it may not be worth it. So basically, I'm staying out of it. I've got work to do. If you need me, call me." She walked out of the bus.

"Damnit Jordan, how could you even think about doing this? I can't believe you would have such disregard for my feelings and wishes that you would do this. This is the most ridiculous, asinine idea I've ever heard."

"I've got a fucking opponent with bottomless pockets who is spending nearly twice what I am. I have salaries, including yours, advertisements, and countless other expenses to cover. An honestly, I want to do this."

"You're kidding me right? I will not let you do this."

"Who the hell do you think you are? You won't let me do this? I don't need your damn permission for anything. You can kiss my ass if you think that argument's going to work with me." Cynthia grabbed her purse and Avery's keys.

"I'm taking the Range Rover and I'm going to my apartment." Jordan was a little shocked.

"When are you coming back?"

"I'll be back tomorrow. I've got responsibilities here with you. Regardless of what I think about the way you're acting, we have to keep up the appearance of being the happy couple."

"So you're leaving, just like that."

"Yes. I really don't want to be around you right now."

"Well, fine. Just go then. I'm tired of dealing with your crap anyway." Cynthia walked out of the bus. Jordan picked up a book, throwing it at the door. Jordan paced around the empty bus.

"Damnit!"

That night, both women tossed and turned, not able to sleep. Jordan looked at the phone, wanting to call Cynthia, missing her. Her pride won out. "I can't just let her tell me what to do." She spent the night alone.

Cynthia walked around her apartment. She started going through her papers and books, throwing away what she no longer wanted. She came across a picture of her and Jordan. They were both laughing. Jordan was sitting behind her, with her arms wrapped around her. Cynthia smiled when she remembered when the picture was taken. It was Jordan's thirty-fifth birthday. Cynthia felt her resolve start to crumble. Finally, her pride won out as well. "I'll be damned if I'm going to cave in. She doesn't care how dangerous this is or how much it bothers me. She should apologize to me."

The next day, Jordan put on her best smile. She was going to receive a belt buckle and be the co-announcer for the events that morning. Later that afternoon, when she left the emcee╬s booth , she ran into Cynthia.

"Hi." Cynthia managed a small smile.

"Hi." They both looked a little nervous. Jordan put her hand on Cynthia's shoulder.

"How are you?"

"Not that great Jordan." Both women felt their resolve crumbling.

"Can I be honest with you?" Cynthia nodded. She placed her hands on both sides of Cynthia's face.

"I was miserable. I missed you. I couldn't sleep at all without you"

"Neither could I. I nearly called you a hundred times." They both chuckled.

"Can we talk? I don't need to be back to the announcer's booth. Let's go back to the bus and talk privately." The women walked back to the bus, their arms around one another. Jordan led her in and shut the door. She took Cynthia's hand and pulled her into a tight embrace. They held each other tightly. Their lips met, tongues brushing against one another. Jordan sucked on Cynthia's lower lip pulling it slightly.

"I love you Cyn. I need you. Don't leave me like that again please." Cynthia reached up and lovingly brushed the hair away from Jordan's face.

"I shouldn't have left. I should have stayed."

"I should have taken your views into consideration."

"Does that mean that you're not going to ride that bull?" Jordan pulled back.

"I'm going to ride." Cynthia started to argue, but Jordan gently raised her hand, stopping her. "Please hear me out. For one thing, it's a lot of money. We need more money. Hell, we always need more money. But its not just that. I'm forty-six years old. I have a son who is about to start his last year of college and a daughter who is about to start her freshman year. I'm certainly not getting any younger. I have to hold any reading material way in front of my face to read, even when I am wearing my glasses. I probably need bifocals. I have to dye my hair to keep it from graying. I just want to prove to myself that I'm not too old; that I still have some of my fire, my youth. I know you're concerned. I love you for caring so much about me. I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I can still do this." She took Cynthia's hands. "Please baby, don't be mad at me." Cynthia tried to frown, but she was failing.

"Damnit, Jordan don't you look at me like that. I can't tell you no. Fine, I give in to you like I always do." Jordan grinned and hugged her tightly.

"Thank you baby." Cynthia rolled her eyes.

"So when are you doing this?" Jordan looked at her watch.

"At four. I have some time." Cynthia pulled her in, capturing her in a kiss, sucking on her tongue. Jordan held the back of her head. Cynthia ended the kiss, lying her head against Jordan's chest. "I missed you so much last night. I hated the way it felt to be without you." Jordan cradled the back of Cynthia's head.

"So did I. Please, whatever problems we have, don't leave me again. It brought back too many bad memories."

"I promise, I won't leave again if we have a fight."

They sat in the bus together for an hour or so, holding one another. Soon it was time for Jordan to ride the bull. She went down to the arena where she was met by her mothers, who were quite displeased, to put it mildly. Her entourage and friends cheered her on. Betty walked up to her.

"Hey Jordan, you ready?"

"Yep. Let╬s do this. " She walked up to the shoot in her boots, jeans, and chaps and her new buckle. A crowd of over a hundred people had gathered around a small arena to watch the candidate ride the bull. The other friends of hers who were giving the donations , walked up and shook her hand as well.

"Ok Jordan, here are the rules. Just get out of the chute, and you'll receive seven checks each made out to five thousand dollars. If you stay on for the full eight, you'll receive an eighth check also for five thousand. We got a couple of the rodeo clowns to help you get out. You╬ve done this before, so you know how to do it." Jordan nodded.

She walked up to the chute. She could see the large bull. Her heart began to pound wildly. The adrenaline began to course through her blood. Cynthia grabbed her hand one last time.

"Jordan, be careful. I love you." Jordan smiled and caressed Cynthia's cheek with the back of her hand and leaned in, kissing her lightly. She blocked everything else out of her mind as she climbed up the chute. There were other bull riders there to help her. She put on her glove and wrapped the strap tightly around to wrist to hold it in place.

"Cowgirl up." Jordan climbed onto the bull, and put her hand in the rope. The bull immediately began bucking. Jordan could feel the muscles of the large animal between her legs. She raised her left hand into the air and nodded her head, giving the signal to open the chute. The chute opened and the bull shot out. He jumped, and bucked, and spun around. Her arm flew back and her legs bounced up as the bull tossed her around. She was holding on with everything she had. She heard an air-horn blast the eight-second signal. She swung her leg over and let herself off. The bull came around, bumping her with his massive body, knocking her down. The clowns distracted the bull and allowed her to get up. Pain shot through her injured ankle, but Jordan limped out of the arena, her hands in the air. The people cheered for her and she waved her hat to the small crowd. When she was out, Betty and the other women walked over to her. Betty slapped her on the back.

"Nice ride there Senator." She handed her the checks. "Here you go pal, forty thousand dollars. You earned it. You did great my friend." Jordan chuckled.

"Thanks, it was fun." Cynthia ran up to her and put her arms around her.

"You're limping. What happened are you ok?"

"Yes honey, I'm fine. My ankle is killing me. I landed on it wrong."

"Is it the one you hurt in the plane crash?" Jordan nodded. She leaned in to whisper into Cynthia's ear.

"My ankle hurts like hell. Let's just do what we need to do to finish here and get me to the bus so I can get these damn boots off." Cynthia nodded.

Jordan talked to the rest of the people who came up to her, congratulating her on her ride. The campaign workers all circled around her, patting her on the back. Finally, she was able to walk back to the bus leaning on Cynthia. She helped Jordan walk to the couch in the back of the bus.

"Honey get this boot off me now. My ankle is swelling up." Cynthia pulled the boot off, eliciting a cry from Jordan. Cynthia took off her sock and looked at the ankle.

"Yep, it's definitely swelling Jordan. Let me get a bag of ice."

"Thank you." Cynthia came back a couple of minutes later with a bag of ice and some Advil. She placed the ice on the tender ankle and she sat next to Jordan, placing the injured woman's feet on her lap. The entourage headed on their way to San Antonio.

"Ok, go ahead and say it, you're dying to." Cynthia pretended to be shocked.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Jordan laughed.

"You are so full of it. You know you want to say it." Cynthia kissed her nose.

"I told you so. I told you so. Ha ha ha." They both continued to laugh.

"Yes, Cynthia, my love, you were right."

To be continued...


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