Disclaimers: As usual, the characters are all original, although they may look like and have a few personality traits of our favorite duo. The hymn "Just as I am" was written by Charlotte Elliott and William B. Bradbury, and is from the mid 19th century. I would like to write a little note about this particular chapter. I got the idea of the storyline of Cynthias father being a minister from all of the hoopla that was going on in the U. S. with the church attacking gays and lesbians. The Southern Baptist Convention and Catholic Bishops Convention went on as I was writing. I sat at my computer, writing, with CNN on television and heard all sorts of things, including blame being put on homosexuals for the crisis in the Catholic church. I then attended Sunday services with Chris and Kate and their Dad on Fathers day. It is a Southern Baptist church and I sat uncomfortably as the minister called homosexuality an abhorrent choice. I am a spiritual and religious person, but I get very angry at members of the religious community. This is evident in this chapter. I have nothing against any particular religion or denomination. I had the need to speak against what I felt was wrong. I apologize in advance for offending anyone, but it fits in the story line and will come full circle in the final installment. Thank you to everyone who has been giving me such great feedback. Those emails are so encouraging. Id also like to thank my dear friend Sam, who is great for my ego and calms me down, when I have my little writing breakdowns. To my new friend and beta reader, Jules, thank you so much for everything.
Sex: Yes, there is some, so if you are underage or lesbian sex offends you, boy are you in the wrong place.
Feedback: Yes, please. Constructive and positive feedback are always welcome and really are helpful in letting me know that I am going in the right direction. You can email me at email@example.com
Ok, enough with my rambling, thank you for indulging me. On with the story.
Jordan and Cynthia walked into the office on the first Monday of the month as usual. Phones were ringing and people were hustling about doing various tasks. Jordan loved walking into the campaign office when it was busy like this. She went around talking to everyone individually . She wanted to make sure each person knew how much she appreciated him or her. She wanted all the people involved in the campaign to feel connected to her in some way. The two women came into the monthly meeting. Jordan sat down in her chair, opened her book and looked up at her staff. "Ok guys, what do we have?"
Laura began. "For starters, we have a forty point lead. So basically Jordan, you would have to do something like beating up Santa Claus to lose this election. I really cant anticipate anything happening in the next eight weeks to mess this up. But that doesnt mean were done. We still have a lot of work to do. The state Democrats and the Governor want you to help the other candidates. So, starting next Monday, were going out for two weeks with the candidates for Treasurer, Comptroller, and Railroad Commissioner. When we stop at a town, yall will be appear with a local candidate. At the end of the first week, well be spending four days that weekend working at a Habitat for Humanity site. This weekend you have a chili cook-off in El Paso. Youve got the final debate on the twenty-fourth in Dallas. Were going to start hitting some college campuses as well this month."
Jordan finished writing and looked up at Laura. "Ok, sounds good. Did we get those tickets for the UT-Colorado game?"
Laura nodded. "Yes. Youll spend the day at the Habitat site, then youll leave a little early so you can go to the hotel and get ready for the game."
Jordan smiled. "Thanks Laura. I really want to catch at least two of Chris games this fall."
Cynthia spoke, grinning. "We know. In fact, I think I may be able to get you in the press booth, talking about the game, Chris playing, etcetera. Ill have the details worked out by then."
Jordan flashed a smile. " That sounds like fun. Id really like that. You are the best hon."
They shared a private look and Cynthia continued, still smiling, as if they were sharing a special secret between the two of them. "Youre appearing via satellite on a live Sunday morning political debate show. There will be two conservatives and two liberals. Youll show up very early at the local affiliate in El Paso Youll have your makeup done there and they will patch you through to D.C. Youve got a number of interviews this month, and Im sure the press will be at the Habitat project. As usual, youll get a weekly schedule. Were going to increase our ads. I want you to shoot two more commercials. Well have a film crew over at the Habitat site. If I can get you on TV at the football game, well use footage from that as well. Youll do the voiceovers at the end of the month. I want them running by the beginning of next month. For the last month of the election, well run all five commercials, all over the state. We may even do one more, that will cover parts of your speech from the convention, I havent decided yet."
Jordan wrote the information down. "That sounds good darlin. Jim, lets talk about money."
Jim had a hard time containing his excitement. "We have $6,894,420.00." The group cheered. "We are set and quite comfortable for the rest of the campaign. Donations are still coming in. We couldnt ask for a better position to be in."
Jordan smiled. "This is amazing. I want to take a minute to thank you all. I wouldnt be in this position if it werent for the people in this room. I realize the sacrifices you have made. Working campaigns is very demanding and can take up your whole lives. None of you have ever complained. I cant imagine a better group of people to work with. Now with that said, we have work to do. So lets get to it."
Jordan spent the next few days going to receptions, and giving interviews. Saturday afternoon the Mayor of El Paso opened the cook-off.
"Id like to welcome everyone to the Tenth Annual El Paso Chili Cook-off and Fair. There are four celebrity judges today that will be deciding the winner. We have local news anchors Jackie Ramirez, Peter Webber, city councilman Roberto Rodriguez, and Senate candidate Jordan OConnor. We have rides for the children, bands playing all day long, and lots of delicious food. Again, welcome and have a wonderful day."
Jordan and the other judges began walking from booth to booth, tasting and discussing what each cook had to offer. As the day went on, Jordan tasted many different chilies and consumed several cups of beer as did the other judges. As soon as she was done with one, someone would hand her another. She would try not to drink the beer, but inevitably, her mouth would be set on fire and she had nothing else. By the evening, all four judges were flying high. Jordans charming side came out and she told jokes, pitched horseshoes, and danced with different men and women. She seemed to take a shine to the twenty-something anchorwoman who was enjoying the attention of the beautiful and powerful older woman. Cynthia and Laura watched from the sidelines.
Cynthia turned to Laura. "What the hell is she doing? She knows better. She never drinks this much. She is flirting with that woman."
Laura tried to calm her friends irate lover. "I know. At least shes not acting like too much of an ass. Shes being friendly and charming. Although, she needs to be up very early in the morning. Lets just keep an eye on her and keep her from doing something stupid. The people here like her. If she looks like shes going too far, well move in and run interference. Believe me, youll get your revenge tomorrow when she wakes up. Im going to go make sure there are no TV cameras around. Watch her please." Cynthia nodded and watched close by as Jordan laughed with a group of people, including the anchorwoman who hung on her every word. Eventually, they grew tired of guarding Jordan and went to go retrieve the wayward candidate, who was busy flirting with the young anchorwoman.
Cynthia came up behind her and put her hand on her shoulder. "Jordan honey, its time for you to go. Youve got an early studio call."
Jordan was grinning widely. "Ok. Thank you darlin. Cyn, this is Jackie Ramirez, shes on the news here and she is so nice. Shes cute too isnt she? Weve been having a good time."
Cynthia tried to hide her feelings. "Thats nice. We really need to get going. Youve got that television appearance in the morning." Jordan put her arm around Cynthia and kissed her on the cheek.
"You are absolutely right." She took the young womans hand and kissed it softly. " Miss Jackie, it was a pleasure. Thank you for the dance."
Jackie grinned. "You are quite welcome. You are a wonderful dancer." Jordan giggled and bowed to the young woman.
Cynthia and Laura took the candidate to her truck and drove her back the hotel. Jordan was rambling and talking a mile a minute. She put her arm around Cynthia and started kissing her neck.
She whispered loudly. "You feel so good baby. How bout a little love tonight when we get rid of Laura?" Cynthia could smell the alcohol on her breath. She pushed her away. "How about no. Dont kiss me right now. Just leave me alone."
Jordan looked perplexed. "Well gee, what got up your butt?" Cynthia just ignored her. Jordan kept going on, sulking. "Shot down, damn. I bet that pretty little thing back there wouldnt shoot me down." She continued to mutter under her breath until falling asleep just before they reached the hotel.
Laura helped get Jordan into the room where she collapsed on the bed, sleeping immediately. "Do you need any help?"
Cynthia looked over at her partner, disgusted. "No. But, shes going to have a hell of a morning. I dont remember the last time she was drunk. She doesnt get drunk. She knows better than to pull this shit. And the way she was all over that girl, that could come up and bite her on the ass. Im sorry she acted like a jerk to you. Youre a very good friend."
Laura laughed. "Yes I am. I can deal with her though. Weve been together a long time. She really didnt go overboard around other people tonight. She acted like an ass to us and Im pissed as hell at her. But, there were no cameras. I think it'll be fine, but I agree with you completely. Hopefully the hangover shes going to have in the morning will keep her from doing this again."
Morning came too early for Jordan. Cynthia woke her unsympathetically.
"Jordan you need to get up."
The candidate opened her eyes with a pounding headache. She looked down and she was still wearing the clothes from the night before. "I think my head is going to explode."
Cynthia handed her some pain relievers and some water. "Here take these. You know you deserve this hangover. I dont know what you were thinking."
Jordan looked up at her. "Could you not do this now? Can you get me some coffee?" She slunk into the shower. She stood there for several minutes with her head up against the shower wall as the water fell over her, providing some comfort. As she and Cynthia dressed, few words were spoken. Every sound echoed in her pounding head.
She got into the car, her eyes, barely open. Laura was not happy with her and Cynthia wasnt speaking to her. Laura caught Jordans eye in the rearview mirror.
"Youre going to have to perk up. You cant go on national TV in a political debate and be incoherent."
Jordan turned to her. "Ive been doing this for how long now? I can handle myself." She turned to Cynthia. "Look, Im sorry about yesterday. I didnt mean to drink too much and I didnt mean to flirt with that woman."
Cynthia wasnt easily accepting of the apology. "Why would you drink that much anyway?"
"It just happened. People kept handing me beer after beer. I tried to just walk around with a whole beer so nobody would offer me anymore, but then someones chili would burn the hell out of my mouth, so Id drink what was in my hand."
"I didnt appreciate you fawning all over that woman. She was half your age. You did it right in front of me."
Jordan felt badly, and it wasnt just the hangover. "Look I said I was sorry and I meant it." Cynthia just glared at her without saying a word.
The television studio prepared Jordan for the broadcast. After several cups of coffee and some toast, she was ready to go on camera. She was appearing with a right-wing conservative televangelist, a Republican Congressman, and a representative from the ACLU. They talked about the political topics of the week. The discussion moved to school prayer and a ruling against it by the Supreme Court.
The televangelist got excited. "We have taken God out of the schools and out of government. Our children are killing one another in the streets. We have no hope of regaining our children without God. This is just another way in which our country is becoming the Godless entity it is. If this continues, God will turn his back on this country."
Jordan had serious problems with this statement and jumped in before the ACLU lawyer took up all the time. "I am all in favor of schools observing moments in silence. However, once we start to dictate where and when our citizens pray, we begin to move into a danger zone. If we do have prayer in school, what kind of prayer will we have? There are so many different religions and beliefs, it would be impossible to have one prayer that covers everyone. Furthermore, what about the atheists and the agnostics? This country was founded by individuals who were fleeing government mandated religion. This is why we have separation of church and state. I support voluntary in-school bible studies of all faiths that take place after school, before school or during lunch. We have such a diverse nation, and this must be respected. We used to condemn nations who persecuted practicing Christians. If we get to the point where we persecute those who do not practice a certain kind of Christianity, then we are just as bad. The Constitution and God give us freedom to pray if, when, where, and how we choose. Our government has no authority to infringe upon that right. Keeping mandated prayer our of schools and copies of the Ten Commandments out of government offices is not being Godless, its protecting freedom to worship God as each individual sees fit."
The conservative Congressman said. "There is a movement from liberals, trying to push God out of our schools, our government, and soon our society. Then what shape are we going to be in? We go from being a religiously diverse nation to becoming a religious-free nation. Before you know it, the courts are going to decide that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, because it has the word God in it."
The ACLU lawyer spoke up. "Actually, the Pledge is unconstitutional. The use of the phrase one nation under God in schools is a direct violation of separation of church and state. However, its more of a civic statement rather than a religious declaration. I do agree with what Ms. OConnor said. Its simply a constitutional matter of both freedom of religion and separation of church and our government. "
She finished the show and she and her entourage got in the bus to get ready to go back to San Antonio. Cynthia rode back in Jordans Land Rover. She didnt want anything to do with the hung over candidate. Jordan walked into the back of the bus and shut the partition leaving strict orders not to be disturbed. She picked up her cell phone and called Sarah in San Antonio.
"Hi Jordan. Whats up?"
"I need a big favor. I will make it up to you if you do this for me."
"I messed up big time last night. I need you to go over to Travis Nursery and pick up at least three dozen roses and have them charge it to my account. Then I need you to take them over to my house and set them up. Can you do that?"
She started laughing. "What did you do?"
"Its a long story, but I ended up drinking too much at the cook-off last night and danced and flirted with a young local news anchorwoman. Anyhow, Cynthia is riding back in the truck. I am in the dog house and I am going to end up sleeping in the guest room tonight if I dont do something."
Sarah began laughing harder and Jordan could hear another woman laughing in the background.
"Oh Damn, is Tammy there?"
The singer came on the phone. "Yep I am. So you screwed up huh? Thatll do it every time. Dont worry. Well have everything set up to get you out of the dog house. When I saw you on TV this morning, I thought you had a few extra bags under your eyes. Are you hung over?"
"A little. Ive had a lot of coffee and aspirin. Im sorry if Ive messed up your plans for today."
"Think nothing of it. Besides, I will call in this favor, my friend. Everything will be set up when you get here tonight."
"Thank you very much. I owe you both." Jordan then went back to sleep until early that afternoon.
Late that evening, Cynthia and Jordan arrived back at the house. Cynthia still hadnt spoken to her. Jordan opened the door for Cynthia who walked in and looked around the house that was decorated with roses. She saw red, yellow, white, and pink roses. Jordan walked up behind her wrapping the smaller woman in her arms.
"This is to say I am sorry for being such an ass. I didnt mean to drink too much. It just happened and it was really stupid. I could have done something that could have hurt the campaign and I did do something that hurt you. Im ashamed of my actions."
Cynthia started to crack a smile, although she tried not to. "I want to be mad at you. You sat there and hung all over that girl right in front of me. I love all these roses. How did you do all of this?"
Jordan kissed her softly. "I had Sarah and Tammy take care of it this morning, when you were in the truck. I owe them both. I was hoping this would get me out of the doghouse."
Cynthia picked up a red rose, and raised it to her nose. "I suppose so." She smiled. "You know youre very lucky you didnt do something really stupid that ended up on the news."
Jordan nodded. "Yes. I do know that. I promise you, never again. Now, am I forgiven?" Cynthia pulled her head down and captured her lips. "Yes my love, you are." Jordan grinned and lifted Cynthia in her arms. "Lets see if I can still do this." Both women giggled. Jordan began carrying her lover to their bed. As they were passing a bouquet of roses, Jordan said, "grab one or two of those will ya?" Cynthia did as she was asked. Jordan laid her down on the bed, gently. She took the roses from Cynthia, laying them on the night stand, but keeping one. She rested just to Cynthias side. She took the pink rose and began to lightly run it over Cynthias cheeks, across her nose and lips. She gently stroked Cynthias ears and neck, dipping the rose into the cleavage under her shirt. Cynthia closed her eyes and focused on the softness of the petals on her warm skin. Jordan placed her lips against Cynthias. She ran her tongue along her lovers lips, pleading for and receiving entrance. Jordan sucked on her lower lip. She laid the rose to the side, and began unbuttoning Cynthias blouse with one hand, while cradling her lovers head with the other. She released the front clasp on the soft material covering the breasts she sought. Dark pink, hard nipples greeted her. She picked up the pink bloom and gently stroked the younger womans shoulders, collar bone, running down between her breasts that began to heave as breath quickened. Jordan moved the flower in little circles around the hardened nipples. A sharp intake of air came from Cynthia as her body tightened with pleasure. She ran her hands through Jordans long black hair. Jordan smiled at the pleasure she was bringing her partner. She didnt speak, she just continued her caresses which began to move lower. She locked eyes with Cynthia and pulled her lovers shorts and panties down, revealing her strawberry colored curls. She parted the ready thighs and began to run the rose along the hot skin inside those thighs. The aroma of Cynthias desire mixed with the scent of the flower made Jordan feel light-headed. She moved lower, caressing her loves skin. She looked up to see Cynthias face clenched in pent-up sexual energy, holding onto the black wrought iron headboard. Without a word, she turned her over onto her stomach. She continued her soft caresses over the back of Cynthias calves and up over her behind, up her back, her sides, her neck. She set the rose down and began to replace it with her own lips. Cynthias body heat had caused her skin to absorb the smell of the rose. Jordan followed the scented trail with her lips and her tongue. Cynthia moaned as she felt the warm kisses. She nibbled Cynthias soft behind, eliciting squeals from her partner. When Jordan was done, she turned Cynthia back over. "Oh God, Jordan. I love what youre doing." Jordan grinned and kissed her way up Cynthias body, lingering inside her thighs. Cynthia began to tremble with desire. Jordan sucked gently on rose-flavored pink nipples. She reached over and pulled a few rose petals off the discarded flower and placed them over her fingertips. She began to stroke between Cynthias slick folds with the soft petals. Cynthias hips raised in pleasure. Jordan pinched her clit lightly between petals. She kissed her blonde lover deeply. She could feel her lovers impending climax. The teasing was becoming too much. Jordan could tell her lover was becoming impatient. She removed the petals and moved two fingers inside Cynthia, while stroking her clit with her palm. "OH YES." She moved in and out of Cynthia. She entered her deeper and deeper with each thrust. Cynthia began to tighten around her fingers. She let go as her climax overtook her. Jordan slowed her movements, maintaining her position until the waves subsided. Jordan wrapped her tightly in her arms as her breath calmed. Cynthia smiled and burrowed into her lover.
"I love you Cyn. I am sorry for my behavior. I was a complete jerk. Hell, I wonder how you put up with me sometimes." She kissed the top of Cynthias head.
"I love you too Jordan and you are completely forgiven. In fact, let me remove these clothes of yours and I will show you." Jordan grinned. "Yes maam." Cynthia made love to Jordan until they fell into an exhausted sleep.
The next day, Jordan set out on her tour with the other candidates. She talked with them in her bus until they reached their first destination. The South San Antonio Independent School District Fine Arts Coordinator had requested that Jordan come and look at their programs, specifically music. Cuts in funding were endangering the programs. The political group sat in on high school orchestra, band, and choral classes. Jordan enjoyed this part of the campaign. She knew the benefits of music programs. She spent seven years in school choral programs growing up. Jordan made it a point to meet the choral director.
"Mrs. Mouton, you have a wonderful group here. I enjoyed listening to them. It brought back many memories."
The director smiled. "Did you sing in choir?"
Jordan returned the grin. "Yes, from junior high on through high school."
"What voice part?"
"Alto and sometimes I helped the boys by singing Tenor for sight-reading competition."
Mrs. Mouton chuckled. "I understand that completely. So you realize the importance of musical programs in the lives of these kids."
Jordan nodded. "Yes I do. Contrary to what some politicians think, I know that the arts programs in schools are not expendable. You can count on my support in any way." The two women shook hands and said goodbye.
The rest of the week, the group toured different cities, arriving in Austin Thursday night. They began working on the Habitat house early Friday morning with many other volunteers. Jordan met and spoke with the family whose home was being built. She had heard the other candidates complain about having to do all this hard work, but she didnt care. This part of the job was necessary in becoming a good public servant. She felt that this type of work grounded the politicians whose heads were in the clouds, lost in dreams of political glory.
The next night, adrenaline flowed through her veins as she sat in the bleachers at Longhorn stadium as she watched her son run across the field to the sideline while she waited for the game to start. Jordan and Cynthia both jumped up and down throughout the game, cheering for their son. In the first quarter, Chris tackled the ball carrier, knocking him flat, preventing him from getting into the end zone. In the second half, the Longhorns ran a blitz and Chris tackled the quarterback just before pulling his arm back to throw. The ball dropped from the quarterbacks arms and there was a scramble for the fumbled ball. The Longhorns made the recovery, gaining control of the ball. Jordan stood up cheering.
"Yeah. Thats my boy." She was talking to the people next to her and Cynthia. She pointed to Chris. "See that number seven over there? Thats my son. Did you see that sack? Well shoot dog, hot damn, and glory be!!! Ha Ha Ha."
At half-time, she went up to the announcers booth to talk to the network announcers on the national broadcast.
"Taking a break from the campaign trail Ms. OConnor?"
The proud Mom grinned widely. "Call me Jordan, and yes. I usually make it to every home game, but things are just too busy this season. But, I still have to come see my team and my son."
"How are you enjoying the game?"
She laughed. " Im lovin it. The Longhorns have a great team and a top-rated coach. Im excited to see how far theyre going to go."
The sportscaster smiled. "So I take it, youve already chosen sides for the annual UT-A&M game?"
"Well, Ill tell ya. I know Im not being very diplomatic here. A&M is a fine, fine school. But, I went to UT, my son plays for the team here, and my money comes here. So my loyalties lie here with the Horns." She flashed a "hook em horns" sign. "And speaking of my son, did you watch him knock that quarterback?"
They both laughed. "You sound like a proud Mom."
"Oh, that I am." As the game came back on, Jordan was invited to watch the game from the booth. That night, she and Cynthia took Chris and five of his fellow football players out for a late dinner. She persuaded them to come help her work on the Habitat house the next day. On Monday, the group concluded their work and moved on the next day. They went to barbecues, visited schools, and attended fundraisers.
On Friday, the group was at an afternoon reception at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. As always, even as she spoke to other people, Jordan kept a protective eye on Cynthia. Cynthias phone rang and not recognizing the number, she picked it up.
"Cynthia?" It was her sister, Jen. She paused, stunned.
"Jen, is that you?" Her voice shaky.
"Yes, Cynthia. Its me." Cynthia couldnt believe she was talking to her sister for the first time in ten years. She walked out of the noisy room, so she could hear.
"I, uh, cant believe Im talking to you. How are you?" There was silence on the other end. "Jen? Are you still there?"
"Yes. You need to come home. Its Mom. Shes dying."
Feeling lightheaded, she sat down on a bench. "What?"
The younger womans voice was breaking. "She has cancer. Shes at home and has a full time nurse. She could die at any moment. Shes asking for you."
It was nearly impossible to take it all in. She hadnt seen her parents in twenty years and now her mother was dying and asking for her.
"Im in Houston. Im on my way. I should be there in a few hours. Do they still live in the same house?"
"Yes. Do you remember how to get here?"
"Yes. Ill see you tonight." Tears started to fall. She looked up and saw Jordan about two feet away. Without a word, Jordan enveloped her as she sobbed. Jordan led her to a more private area.
"How did you know where I was?"
Jordan stroked the back of her hair. "Honey, I always know where you are. I saw you leave and you looked upset, so I followed. Would you like to tell me whats wrong and where youre going?"
Cynthia sniffed and wiped her eyes.
"I have to go to Dallas. Now. My mothers dying of cancer. Theyve brought her home to die and shes asking for me. Im sorry honey, but I have to go. I dont know when Ill be back. Sarah can handle things while Im gone."
Jordan touched her face, wiping a tear. "There is no way in hell Im letting you go alone. We can go to the bus, get our things and take the truck and leave."
Cynthia shook her head. "Jordan you dont know how long its going to be. Youre in the middle of a campaign and have people depending on you."
Jordan stopped her. "Cynthia, you depend on me. I am not going to let you face this alone. You are far more important than any campaign. Let me go tell Laura, and we can leave. I will not take no for an answer."
Cynthia looked up at her partner, at a loss for words. "Thank you."
Jordan smiled slightly. "Anytime my love. Stay here and Ill go tell Laura were leaving."
Cynthia just nodded. Jordan walked off to go find Laura. When she found her and pulled her aside, she explained the situation. "Cynthia got a call from her sister. Her mother is dying and wants to see her, so she needs to go to Dallas and Im going with her. Get Sarah here to cover my appearances this weekend."
"When are you coming back?"
Jordan shook her head. "I dont know. Just let people know that I had a family emergency. Give them my apologies. When yall are done with this weekend, go ahead and go back home. If Im not back before, meet me in Dallas for the debate on the twenty-fourth."
"Just do what you need to do. Give me a call if you want anything."
"Thanks. Were going out to the bus now to get our things and then well take the truck."
"Take care of her Jordan. Give her my love please."
"I will. Ill keep you posted. Thanks for taking care of everything. Ill call you tonight." Jordan walked off.
She found Cynthia in the foyer at the door. Jordan held out her hand.
Cynthia spoke very little on the road. She just stared out the window thinking of her mother. She had a very happy childhood. Her father was a minister and her mother was the perfect ministers wife. Audrey was always there for her children, and the members of the church where her husband preached. Cynthia remembered Sunday dinners, birthday parties, and hot chocolate after school in the winter. The last time she saw her parents, her mother was crying. Cynthia had come home for Spring Break from Massachusetts and brought her best friend with her. One evening during the trip, the girls came home late from a night out. They were making out in the front seat of Cynthias car, lost in the moment when suddenly her door opened. Her father stood there fuming.
"GET IN THE HOUSE NOW!!!"
The women scurried into the house. Her mother came downstairs when she heard the commotion. Cynthias friend went upstairs.
"HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING? IN MY HOUSE NO LESS. DONT YOU KNOW I HAVE NEIGHBORS? WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHURCH WOULD THINK IF THEY KNEW ITS OWN MINISTER HAD A CHILD WHO DID SUCH VILE THINGS? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US? I DIDNT RAISE YOU TO BE EVIL LIKE THIS. I WILL NOT HAVE A DAUGHTER WHO ENGAGES IN SUCH THINGS!!"
Never one to back down from a fight. Cynthia stood up for herself just as vehemently.
"OH YES. THATS WHAT THIS IS ABOUT ISNT IT DADDY? YOURE DAMN IMAGE OF THE PERFECT MINISTER WITH THE PERFECT FAMILY. HOW DARE YOU CALL ME EVIL! GUESS WHAT. YOUR DAUGHTER IS A DYKE. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT?"
Her father spoke calmly, but with anger. "I will not have you speak of such things in my house. You have a choice to make. If you are going to be that way, you cannot be a part of this family. I will not allow this filth."
Cynthia looked right in her fathers face. "Then I guess I cant be a part of this family, you hypocritical bastard."
Her father slapped her across the face. "Get out and dont come back."
As she walked out of her fathers study, she stopped in front of her mother who was crying. She hoped her mother would say something in her defense. But she never did. It was the only time she had ever been disappointed in her mother. Cynthia went upstairs to pack and both girls left that night. She had not seen or spoken to her parents since. She had contact with her sister Jen until about ten years ago. The painful memory brought tears again. Jordan looked at her concerned. She reached over and took her hand.
A few hours later, they reached the house. Cynthia sat very still.
"Are you ready to go in?"
Cynthia looked her. "No, not really. But, lets go."
Jordan took Cynthias hand and raised it to her mouth, kissing it lightly.
"Im with you all the way honey. Youre not alone."
Cynthia smiled slightly. "I know. You have no idea how much that means to me."
"Cynthia, look at everything you do for me every single day. Believe me, I do know how much it means to me. I love you."
"I love you too. We cant sit out here all night."
The couple walked to the door and rang the bell. A woman who was a little younger than Cynthia opened the door.
"Cynthia, Im glad youre here." She drew Cynthia into a hug and both women began to cry.
"How is she?"
"Shes holding on. Shes asking for you."
"I cant believe shes really dying."
"Neither can we."
"Where is he?"
"Dads in his study, reading his Bible. Hes been trying to figure out some reason for all of this."
Cynthia shook her head. "Some things never change. You remember Jordan dont you.?"
Jen smiled and extended her hand. "Yes. Its good to see you again Jordan. I only wish it were under better circumstances. Thank you for bringing Cynthia."
Jordan accepted it and cupped it between her two hands. "Youre very welcome. If there is anything I can do, please do not hesitate to ask."
"We wont, dont worry." They smiled at one another. Jen began walking them to her mothers room.
"Where are the kids?"
"Theyre with Joe." They reached the door and stopped. Jordan could see Cynthias nervousness and put her arm around her shoulder.
Cynthia turned to her sister. "Is she aware of things? Is she out of it? Is she on morphine?"
"Shes been refusing the morphine since yesterday. Shes been quite lucid. She wants to be awake and aware of everything around her. Shes trying to squeeze everything in before she lets go."
Cynthia and Jen opened the door and walked in. Jordan waited in the hall. The room was dimly lit by a lamp. A nurse was reading to the dying woman. Cynthia stopped. This wasnt the woman she grew up knowing. This woman was old and frail with skin that was almost translucent. The nurse stopped reading and stepped back. Cynthia kneeled beside the bed and took her mothers hand. Neither had spoken yet.
"Cynthia, is it really you?" Tears began to fall from both women.
"Yes Mama. Its me. You called and I came."
The dying woman smiled. "Im so glad to see you. Ive missed you"
Cynthia smiled at her mother and stroked her hair lightly. She softly said, "Ive missed you too."
She squeezed Cynthias hand. " I need to say this. We were wrong, so very wrong. Can you forgive us please?"
Cynthia began sobbing. "I forgive you Mama. I love you." Cynthia felt a weight release from her chest.
"I love you too baby. I always have. " The two women held one another, crying for several minutes. Cynthia pulled back. Her mother ran her fingers over her face. "Are you happy?"
She held her mothers hands, crying. She nodded. "Yes I am. Im very happy."
"Ive seen you and Jordan on TV. You love her very much dont you?
"Yes I do and she loves me. Shes a wonderful woman."
The older woman smiled weakly. "Good. Is she with you?"
Cynthia nodded. "Yes. Shes in the hall."
"I want to meet her."
"Ok. Ill just go get her." She stepped out the door. She broke down in Jordans arms. "She asked me to forgive her. She still loves me."
"Of course she does darlin."
"She wants to meet you."
"Id love to meet her." Cynthia led her by the hand into the room. The couple stood beside the bed.
"Mama. This is my partner Jordan OConnor. Jordan, this is my mother, Audrey Price."
"Call me Audrey please. Sit down. Youre very tall."
Jordan chuckled and sat down. "Its nice to meet you Audrey."
Audrey looked over at Cynthia. "Shes quite a beauty Cynthia. Ive seen you on TV many times Jordan. My daughter tells me that youre wonderful and that you love her. Do you?"
"Yes Maam, I do. Im not sure about the wonderful part, but I love your daughter very much. She is an amazing woman. She helped me raise my children. They consider her to be their mother too. You should be very proud of her."
The older woman smiled contentedly, then grimaced with pain. "I am. Her father and I made a big mistake. He loves her so. He was never the same after that night. There has been a hole in his heart ever since, even though he is too stubborn to admit it." She looked at Cynthia. " Please forgive him. He loves you so much. I want this family back together. This has gone on too long. Jordan I want you to help them. Help them to forgive one another and reconcile." Jordan had no clue how she was going to accomplish that.
"I promise." What else could she say?
"I need to sleep now." Cynthia got a panicked look on her face, which her mother noticed.
"Not permanently dear. Just for a few hours. Im not finished yet." Cynthia leaned down and kissed her mothers head.
"Ill be here when you wake up Mama."
The women walked out of the room. Jordan held Cynthia tightly.
"God Jordan, this is so much to deal with. Less than twelve hours ago, I was going over campaign schedules. Now, Im back in my old house visiting my dying mother whom I havent seen in twenty years. And she loves me and asked for my forgiveness." Jordan kissed her head. "I know. Youre going to get through this baby."
Cynthia looked up at her. "She seems to like you. Thats a good thing."
Jordan nodded. "Yes that is. Are you going in to talk to your father?"
Cynthia became very nervous. "Yes, I guess so."
Jen came up to them. "Jordan, why dont you come with me and we can catch up. Ill make you two something to eat if youre hungry and she can go talk to our Dad."
"That sounds good Jen. Thanks." She faced Cynthia, holding her hands. "Honey, you can do this. You need to do this. Its been too long. Ill be here if you need me."
Cynthia reached up for a quick kiss. "Good, because I will."
Cynthia walked to her fathers study and knocked on the closed door.
She heard his voice. "Come in."
She took a deep breath and opened the door. The older man looked up from his Bible as she walked through the door. Both stopped in mid-motion.
He stood up at his desk. "Cynthia, youre here."
"May I come in?" He motioned for her to sit down. She shut the door. Her knees were trembling.
"So you came. Did you bring that woman with you?"
Cynthias spine stiffened at his comment. "Yes. I would have been here sooner had I been notified. She has a name, and yes shes with me. She knew I needed her and she came with me."
He looked at her disapprovingly. "I see. Where are you staying?"
"We thought wed stay at a hotel down the street."
"Well, you might as well stay here. Your mother wants time with you. Shes been holding on until you came. She could go at any moment. Im sure she wants you here."
"I would like to be here, but only if Jordan is welcome also."
The older man sighed. "Im not thrilled at the possibility of this godless relationship in my house. But, like I said, your mother wants you here."
"How long has she been like this?"
"She was diagnosed six months ago with Ovarian cancer. It spread quickly to different areas of her body. She underwent chemo initially, but the side effects were so bad and it had spread so much, it was useless."
"Why didnt you call me? I would have been here sooner. I lost twenty years, you could have at least called me before she was on her deathbed."
Her father looked down at her. "You made the choice to follow in your sinful lifestyle. Its your fault if youve missed your mothers life."
Cynthia had had enough. "Listen to me old man. All I have done is love a wonderful, amazing woman. You once told me that loving another person was the closest you could come to God. She has taught me unconditional love. This godless woman that you refer to builds homes for the poor, has built churches and schools. President Jimmy Carter personally asked her to join a humanitarian aid trip to Africa where she took food, medicine, and clothes to babies with AIDS. We have both spent our fair share of time in soup kitchens feeding hungry families. We have both worked to exhaustion to pass legislation to help people get the services they need. We raised two children together who have become honest, loving, caring, responsible young adults. If that isnt Christian, I dont know what is. You call me a sinner because Im gay. Christ doesnt say one word about homosexuality. Although He does speak about love, judgment, and grace. You Daddy dear, are just as guilty as I am. Youve turned your back on love. Youve turned your back on your own child. How dare you call yourself a Christian. You have no right to judge me. You are only a man, a very flawed man. But I love you, unconditionally. All it would take for me to forgive the last twenty years is for you to tell me you love me, youre sorry and pull me into your arms. That is what that so-called godless woman has taught me. That woman also sat next to your dying wife and made an impossible promise to help us reconcile in order to comfort her."
The minister became irate. "How dare you speak to me this way. My wife is within hours of dying."
"I agree. Youre going through a tremendous amount of stress right now. But this is the first time Ive had the chance to speak to you in twenty years and may be the last until you are on your own death bed. When Mama goes, all you will have is Jen and her family. You could have so much more if you just be the man of God I grew up admiring. I need you. Ive needed you for twenty years. I know you need me now. I know youre hurting as much as I am. This is our chance, our last chance. Im willing to reach out. If youre not, then youre just an old, hateful, bigoted fool."
The words struck a chord in the old man, but he wouldnt let it show. Cynthia opened the door to walk out. She looked up at her father, who was looking down.
"I assume Im staying in my old room." He didnt look up.
"Yes." She closed the door behind her. The old man broke down in tears, sobbing; sobbing for his dying wife, his daughter, and the shame of his own behavior. Cynthia went to the kitchen to find her sister and Jordan. They were laughing.
Cynthia walked up to Jordan, putting her arm around her shoulder. "Just what are you two laughing about?"
Jordan turned her head and kissed her on the cheek. "We were talking about you running around naked constantly until you were four."
"Oh gee thanks."
Jen pretended to whisper to Jordan. "Ill show you the pictures later." Jordan burst into laughter.
Cynthia looked at her sister. "I dont think so."
Jordan smiled at her. "How did things go with your father?"
"Not pretty. I told him off. I would have been yelling but I didnt want to wake up Mama."
Jordan and Jen looked at her. Jen asked. "You told him off?"
"Yes. I told him what Ive been wanting to tell him. I called him a bigoted, hateful, fool. Whether he really cares about what I say, I have no idea. He certainly didnt show it. " She looked at Jordan. "By the way, were staying here in my old room. Why dont we go out to the truck and get our things? I want to change into something comfortable. Are you staying here tonight Jen?"
Her sister nodded. "Yes. Im staying here until she passes."
"Good. Id like to spend some time together and I cant wait to meet my nephews."
"I really want that too Cynthia. I cant wait for you to meet them. Im going to check on Mom, then Im going to bed for a bit."
"Go ahead Jen. Im going in to sit with her." Jen left the room and Jordan went to get their bags. Cynthia showed Jordan her old room where they would be staying.
"So this is your old room huh?"
Cynthia changed her clothes. "Yep. This is it."
Jordan put her arms around her waist. "I am proud of you Cyn."
Cynthia looked up at her. "Why?"
"For coming here and facing your family, knowing how hard it was going to be. That takes guts. I love you very much."
She rested her head on Jordans chest, listening to her heartbeat. "Thank you Jordan, and thank you for coming with me. I couldnt make it through all this without you. I love you too. Why dont you go to sleep while I go see Mama?"
"Are you sure honey?" Cynthia nodded. "Alright, if you need anything, Im just down the hall."
Cynthia quietly crept into her mothers room. She saw her father sitting there holding her hand. Her mother was sleeping and he was watching her breathe. She could hear him sniffling as he kissed her hand, his body shaking with sobs. She stepped back out, shutting the door behind her. She felt sympathy for her father. She had known all her life how much her parents loved one another. She decided to give her father his time. She walked back into her room where Jordan was already in bed. She laid down next to her partner and Jordan wrapped her in her arms.
"I didnt expect you back."
"My Dad was in there with her. You should have seen him. He was completely broken down, holding her hand, crying. I really do feel for the man. A part of me is so angry with him. How can I not feel sorry for him? His wife is dying."
"I know. Ive been in his shoes. It was the worst time of my life. I cant imagine losing you. Obviously someday its going to happen. I would really rather I go first. But you really told him off huh?" Jordan was smiling with pride.
"He was completely ragging on you and me and our family. Im going to allow anyone to badmouth us. I just wish he would open his eyes. Thank you for the things you said to my Mom."
Jordan stroked her back. "Youre welcome. She wants your family back together. I hope your father comes to his senses. This whole situation is tragic, its time for the pain to stop. I hope he sees it. Who knows, maybe I can work my politician magic. I can be quite charming and persuasive you know." They both chuckled.
"Well Senator, if anyone can, you can."
Cynthia tossed and turned until she got out of bed to sit with her mother. She walked into the quiet room and sat down, watching her mother sleep. She held her mothers hand and studied every line in her face, every strand of hair. The eyes of the weak woman fluttered open and she smiled at her daughter. Cynthia returned the smile and kissed her forehead.
"Hello Baby. It feels so good to see you."
"You should rest."
Shaking her head, "no. I want this time with you. I want you to talk to me. I want to hear your voice. Its been so long."
"What do you want to know?"
"Tell me about your life. I want to know everything."
"Well, I finished my degree a couple months after I saw you last. I immediately went to work in a PR firm in Boston. I got involved with campaigns when I was assigned to a couple of candidates. I developed a name for myself in Boston. I was very successful. After a few years, I came to San Antonio for a conference and I saw this woman running for county commissioner on television. She was a lesbian and very open about it. That intrigued me, so I saw Jordan in person and met her. We talked for a while and she asked me to come work for her. We became very good friends. By the time she was elected, we were in love. After the election, I left my position in Boston and moved down and we became a family. I fell in love with Chris and Kate as well. Kate was two and Chris was five. She and her ex-husband and I raised them. I opened up my own firm, and I worked on all of her campaigns. I coached football and soccer. I made cookies for bake sales and nursed them when they were sick. I was their other mother and I loved it. I did a lot of the same things with them that you did with me. Jordan and I had some incredible years. We were very happy, but Jordan is very driven. She worked and worked and worked. We had our problems and never the chance to work them out. After ten years, I couldnt take it anymore, so I left. I didnt see them for six years. I came back to Dallas and those years were the hardest of my life. I worked for the President during her election. Last March, when Jordan won the nomination, her campaign manager and best friend called me and talked me into coming down. She and I never stopped loving one another, and we began seeing one another. Last May, after the plane crash, I moved in. I am so glad I did. Chris and Kate are in college now. Chris plays for the Longhorns and Kate is at Mt. Holyoke. I love what I do and have the chance to change the world by getting good people elected into office. My work and my family make me very happy. But Ive missed yall."
The dying woman stroked Cynthias face. "Sounds like youve had a good life. Tell me about Jordan. I want to know about the person youve chosen to spend your life with? She seems lovely. What is it about her that you love?" Cynthia smiled. She loved talking about Jordan
"Well, she is an amazing person. She takes her responsibility as a public servant very seriously. Her whole reason for running is for the positive things she can do as a lawmaker. Shes kind and brilliant. She is an incredible mother. She isnt perfect but she genuinely tries to do the right thing at all times. She sings like an angel and she makes me melt when she sings to me. She acts like shes strong and can handle everything, but there is a very vulnerable side that she lets few people see. She is loyal, and loving, and protective, and when I look in her eyes, I have no doubt that she loves me completely."
The ailing woman cried and with a weak voice said. "I want you to be happy. I am sorry I couldnt share it with you. Please dont be mad at me." Cynthia started crying and kissing her hand.
"Im not mad Mama. Its done with. I love you."
"Youre father loves you too. He is a stubborn man and old-fashioned."
"I know. I tried. He wont let me in. Im afraid me telling him off tonight didnt help much."
"Thats ok hon. Im quite sure he deserved it."
Both women started laughing, which was a little more than the dying woman could take. She winced in pain.
Concerned, Cynthia stood up to go get the nurse. "Ill go get the nurse to give you something."
"No. I dont want anything. I have one last job to do. I cant go until it is done. I need to be aware." Cynthia wanted to crumble in her mothers arms. "Cynthia, I need you to keep trying with your father. He loves you. This separation has been wrong for all of us. I cant rest until it is fixed."
"I will keep trying Mama. Can you talk to him too?"
"Believe me child. I am."
They talked for a bit more before Audrey fell asleep. The sun began coming up. In the quiet morning, Cynthia said a prayer for her mother, for help with her father. She figured it would take a miracle to resolve these old issues. Jen walked in the room.
"Hey there. Have you been in here all night?"
"No. I came back in here after you came to bed and Daddy was in here, so I went back to bed. Ive been here since around three though."
"You look beat. Why dont you go get some rest. Theres some coffee in the kitchen." Cynthia nodded. Jen walked over to her and wrapped her arms around her big sister. The two women embraced, tears flowing.
"Why did you stop calling and writing? Why havent I heard from you in ten years?"
"Daddy found out and became angry. I gave into pressure. I shouldnt have, but I know how much it hurt you to be exiled. Im not strong like you. I couldnt do it. I gave in and I was weak. Im sorry. It wont happen again. Im so glad youre here."
Cynthia wiped the tears from her little sisters eyes. "I forgive you Jen. Lets just move on together ok?" Jen looked at her and nodded.
"Mama is hanging on so we can all be a family again." Jen agreed "But, I dont know how to give that to her. How can I get through to that man?"
Jen wiped her eyes. "Itll happen. Just believe that."
Cynthia smiled weakly and went to her room. Jordan woke up when she felt Cynthia slide between the covers. She opened her arms for Cynthia to settle into. She placed her lips against Cynthias.
"Hi honey, are you doing ok?"
"No Im not. Just hold me please."
"Anytime." Jordan held Cynthia tightly against her, comforting her, without the need for words.
Later that afternoon, Jen, Cynthia and Jordan were in the kitchen talking. Jens children were in the backyard playing. Jordan watched Cynthias father walk out of his wifes room and out the back door to sit on the porch. An idea struck her and she poured two glasses of tea. Cynthia looked at her. "Where are you going?"
"To talk to your father."
Cynthia looked at her like she was crazy. "Good luck."
She walked out the back door. She stood in front of Dr. Price and held out a glass of tea. "Dr. Price, we havent been properly introduced. Im Jordan and I thought you might like some tea." The somber man nodded and accepted the gesture. Jordan reached out and shook his other hand.
"I know who you are. Thank you for the tea."
Jordan smiled, struggling to be pleasant. "Youre welcome. May I sit down?
He shrugged. "Suit yourself." The two sat silently, watching the two young boys play soccer.
"You have adorable grandsons. I have two children of my own, but theyre all grown up now. I miss them being this age."
Ok, good. Things are moving pretty smoothly. She began to work up her courage. "Im sorry for what your wife and family are going through. I know how hard this must be for you to lose your wife."
The minister looked at her annoyed. "How could you possibly know what Im feeling right now?"
Jordan swallowed hard. "When I was twenty-three, my wife was shot and killed."
The minister was taken aback. He wasnt expecting this answer. He was torn with his emotions. " What do you mean, your wife? How could you have had a wife?"
"When I was with the peace corps, I met a woman named Maria in the village I was working in. We fell in love. A little less than a year after I arrived, we stood in the front of a church in Managua and exchanged rings and vowed to love one another for life in front of God. It may not be legally recognized, but it was a marriage to me. Anyway, a few months later, she was murdered." Jordan fought back the tears that threatened to fall.
As much as he tried to keep from feeling anything, his heart was softened by the heartbreaking tale.
Jordan continued. "I know that right now, all you can think of is crawling in that bed beside her and dying along with her. I know what it feels like to go from being married to having your life stripped away from you in one moment. I know that you cant imagine what your life will be like without hearing her voice or seeing her face every day. I know it feels like your very soul is being torn away."
He didnt look at her. "How did you get through it?"
"I spent two months living in a convent, never leaving my room, and drinking myself into a stupor. Of course, that wasnt the appropriate way to handle it. At twenty-three, I didnt care."
"What snapped you out of it?"
Jordan was surprised at the genuine interest. "The convent I was staying at was in the same complex as the church where I was married. There was also an orphanage there. One day a three year old disappeared. They needed me to go help find him. I spent several hours looking through the streets for the little boy. I ended up finding him. He became quite attached to me after that. He needed someone to love and to care about him. He wanted me. I made up my mind to be there for him. I poured my energy into him. Just like your family needs you, and that includes Cynthia."
"What happened to the little boy?
"I met my husband a few months after but we werent allowed to take him with us. Instead I found him a family. He is in seminary now, studying to be a priest."
The two silently sat near one another. Jordan decided to speak again.
"Cynthia has missed you over the years. Shes such a wonderful and amazing person. She astounds me so often. I wouldnt be where I am today without her. My kids love her dearly." The man smiled slightly.
"She takes after her mother."
"Excuse me for saying sir, but twenty years is a long time to hold in anger, especially for your own child."
"Jordan, I know my wife made you promise to help the situation, but other than that, this isnt really your concern. Its a family matter."
"Actually Dr. Price, it is my concern. Cynthia is my concern. I have been her family for the last sixteen years. Her happiness is my concern. I know you are her father, but I will not stand by and watch her be hurt by anyone. Youve got a serious choice to make here. You have a wish by your dying wife and a beautiful, loving, and kind daughter who wants to be your daughter so badly. It seems to me to be an easy choice. Doesnt it say in the Bible that the most important is love? It seems to me that there has been enough hurt. Its time for your family to heal while it is still intact. Regret can eat you alive. Youre both going to need one another. Dont let them down now." Jordan stood to walk away.
The minister looked up and quietly said, "thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss."
"I appreciate that sir. If you need someone to talk to, feel free to talk to me." The minister nodded. Jordan walked into the house and found Cynthia still in the kitchen. She walked up to her and pulled her into a tight hug. She felt very protective of her partner at that moment. She pulled her back and placed her hands on Cynthias shoulders. "I love you Cynthia. I will be with you always, you can count on it. I hate that youre hurting and have been for so long."
Cynthia looked at Jordan, bewildered by her lovers statement, but grateful. "Thank you honey. I dont know what brought that on, but I love you too Jordan, even more now. Youve been so amazing through this whole thing. How was your talk with my father?"
"Actually, not bad. It could have been worse."
Cynthia and Jordan spent the afternoon getting to know Jen, her husband, and Cynthias nephews; four-year old Joshua, and six-year old David. Jordan ran around the yard playing with the boys as the sun went down. Jen and Cynthia sat and talked and watched the candidate play with the boys. Dr. Price sat in with his wife, holding her hand.
"John, you have to let all of your anger go. Ive lost so much time with my daughter. I missed all of her triumphs and comforting her when she was hurting. She needed me and I wasnt there. I needed her too. Shes an amazing woman."
The old man nodded. "She has your fire and my mouth. You should have seen her stand up to me, like always. Shes quite a woman. I dont approve of her life. I dont want her to get the wrong idea if I express how I feel about her."
Audrey became angry with her husband. "Im ashamed of you John. You dont want to show your daughter you love her simply because the person she loves is a woman. They obviously love one another."
John began to cry and nodded his head. "Yes they do. Shes very protective of Cynthia. She defended her strongly. I was actually impressed."
Audrey held his hand and looked at him. "If Jordan had the same qualities but was a man, we would welcome her with open arms. Dont miss your daughters life. Im about to die, I cant make up for lost time. But you can. Please do it for me. I cant go until you do. I am so tired and I hurt so badly."
He kissed the inside of his wifes palm. "I cant let you go. I dont know what Im going to do without you."
They cried together. "John, I love you and weve had a wonderful life. Dont punish Cynthia for having what we had. Promise me you will tell her you still love her. Promise me you will work things out."
Sobbing, he nodded. "I promise. I love you too. I have since the first time I saw you. You were so beautiful in your cheerleader's sweater with your pom-poms."
She smiled. "And you, the preachers son, always neat with your hair slicked back. Youre a good man. Be a good man and tell your daughter you love her and repair this family."
John kissed her softly. " I will."
"Thank you. Can you go tell Jordan I would like to speak with her alone? I want to make sure Cynthia continues to be loved and taken care of. I need to know she is going to be ok. I also want to get to know this woman a little. After all, our daughter has chosen to spend her life with her."
John kissed his wife one more time and then walked out to get Jordan. He sat next to Cynthia and Jen, watching Jordan and the kids for a few minutes. He swallowed hard and looked at his elder daughter. He touched her arm. "Thank you for coming Cynthia. It means the world to your mother. Considering everything, you could have just ignored your sisters call. But you didnt and I am glad you didnt." Cynthia was shocked, not knowing what to say. "Your mother wants to see Jordan."
Cynthia nodded and went over to Jordan. "Honey, my mother is asking for you."
Jordan was surprised. "Really?"
"Yes and my Dad said he was glad I came. I couldnt believe it."
"Thats wonderful honey. Ill go talk to your Mom."
"If what you said had anything to do with my Dad coming up to me, thank you."
Jordan touched Cynthias hair. "Youre welcome. You know Id do anything to make you happy."
Cynthia nodded. Jordan walked into the house to speak with the dying woman. She stepped in the room and sat in the chair next to the bed. Smiling, she softly spoke. "Hi there Audrey. I heard you wanted to speak with me."
The older woman returned the smile. She was weaker than she had been the previous day. "Hi, Yes. I heard you talked to my husband today."
"Yes Maam I did."
"Thank you. Its obvious you love my daughter very much. He may not say it. But we are both grateful for that. Youre protective of her. Thats good. Promise me that youll continue to love her. Take care of her and please make sure shes happy."
Jordan took the dying womans hand. "I promise. Ill love her for the rest of my life. Shell never be alone."
"Thank you. That means so much. She also told me you sang like an angel. Did you grow up in the church?"
Jordan chuckled. "Yes maam I did. I spent my first twenty years in the Church of Christ. "
"Its been so long since Ive been to church and heard any of those old songs. Could you sing one for me?"
Jordan smiled gently. "I sure could. Do you have any requests?"
"No, anything will do. As long as its old."
"I think I can do that." She stroked the womans hair and began to sing. Audrey closed her eyes to concentrate on the music. Jordan sang softly.
"Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. "
Audrey opened her eyes and squeezed Jordans hand.
"Thank you. That was lovely. Im getting tired. Ive spoken to John. I think theyre ready now. Thank you for bringing my daughter to me. Can you tell them I would like to see them?"
Fighting back tears, Jordan said, "yes maam." She stood and kissed the woman on the head. "Its been a pleasure Ms. Audrey. I wish you a peaceful journey." She stepped out of the room. She stood in the hallway for a few minutes, gathering her courage. She walked out to the family.
"Shes asking to see the three of you together." Cynthia, Jen, and their father turned to one another with alarm. Jordans heart ached for them.
They walked into Audreys room and sat around her bed.
She looked at them. "Im tired, so very tired. I have all of my family around me and Im ready to go home. I want you to promise me that there will be no more fighting. You need to be there for one another. Promise me that."
They nodded and in ragged unison, said, "yes."
Audreys breathing began to grow uneven and labored. She closed her eyes, and with her family around her, she let go of life. They broke down into tears, and Jen fell into the gentle, loving arms of her father. Cynthia stood alone and her father reached out his arm and pulled her against him as the family held each other and cried at their loss. Cynthia was overwhelmed with the feeling of being wrapped in her fathers arm. The minister said a prayer. Jordan was pacing outside. She could hear the crying and knew the sick woman had passed. She immediately flashed to when Maria died. She knew what the poor widower was feeling. Dr. Price asked for a few minutes alone. Cynthia and Jen walked out of the room. Jens husband comforted her and Jordan held Cynthia tightly. "Im sorry baby."
Cynthia looked up at Jordan. "He held me. He put his arm around me and held me." She sobbed against Jordans chest. Jordan whispered in her ear. "Go ahead. Let it out. Ive got you. Im here."
That night, Jordan called her mother. "Hi Mom."
"Hi there Jordan, whats up?"
"Cynthia and I are in Dallas. Were at her parents house. Her mother died today.
"Oh no. I am so sorry to hear that. I know they had their problems, but still, it was her mother."
"Yeah, they made up beforehand. Her father reconciled with her as well."
"Wow. Thats amazing."
"Its bittersweet for her though."
"I can imagine. How is Cynthia holding up?"
"Shes going to be ok. Shes just trying to take it all in. Shes still in shock from the whole situation."
"Give her our love."
"I will Mom. I just wanted to call and hear your voice. I wanted to say a few things. I love you. Im sorry for the ugly things I said at times. Im sorry I took you for granted. You were and are a wonderful mother. I wouldnt be who I am today without you." Jordan began to cry. "Thank you for raising me, for loving me, and for being you."
"Thank you Jordan. I love you too very much."
"Thanks Mom. Ive got to go now. Ill see you soon."
"Bye Jordan. Offer our condolences please."
"I will. Bye." Jordan hung up the phone and exhaled deeply.
The funeral arrangements had been previously made. The next two days before the funeral, the house was a mass of flowers, food, and a steady stream of phone calls and visitors. Dr. Price seldom allowed Cynthia to leave his side. Jordan could see the healing take place between the father and daughter. Jordan stayed in the background, always keeping an eye on Cynthia, and always ready to be there to comfort her. The morning of the funeral, Dr. Price came up to Jordan as the family was getting ready to leave.
"Jordan, I want you to ride in the family car and sit with us at the service. Youre Cynthias family and that makes you one of us. Plus I cant thank you enough for bringing her here and comforting my wife. Cynthia obviously has someone who will love and defend her. As a father, I really couldnt ask for anything more for my daughter." He reached out and hugged Jordan. Cynthia watched the exchange with tears of love threatening to spill.
Hundreds of people filled the large Baptist church as the family said good-bye to the ministers wife. Close friends and family filled the home afterwards. Jordan met many people who watched Cynthia grow up. She helped serve food and drinks. Here, she wasnt Jordan OConnor, candidate for Senate. She was simply Jordan, a member of the Price family. That was all she wanted to be. Dr. Price kept Cynthia near him nearly every moment. It was as if he was afraid to let her out of his sight. The long day ended and Jordan, Jen, and Cynthia were cleaning up from the day. Cynthia turned to Jordan. "Honey, why dont we ask my Dad if he would like to come travel around with us for a few days? Id like to get some time with him and would like him to get to know you. We can bring him back when were in town for the debate."
Jordan smiled and kissed the top of her head. "I think its a great idea."
Cynthia looked to Jen. "What do you think?"
Jen smiled. "Its up to him. I think it might do him good to get him out of the house for a few days, maybe give him a little mental break before he has to deal with things here. "
Cynthia went to her fathers study and tapped on the door.
Cynthia opened the door. "Hi Daddy, may I come in?"
He smiled. "Of course you can."
"Jordan and I were wondering if youd like to come with us tomorrow. Well be back in Dallas on the twenty-fourth and we can bring you back then. Id really like for you to see what I do. Right now, were basically traveling throughout the state, going from event to event. But it would get you out of the house and give us some time together. We can get to know one another and you can get to know Jordan. I think after twenty years, we need it."
"I agree. Are you sure Jordan doesnt mind me tagging along. You know I dont agree with all of her views."
Cynthia laughed. "Were family, I think itll be ok. Jordan thought it was a great idea."
The widower smiled. "Ok then, Ill go pack my things."
Cynthia reached out and hugged her father. "Thats great Daddy. Pack casual and you might want to bring a suit."
"Ok. Sounds good."
She smiled. "Ill go let Jordan know. Shell be thrilled." She started walking out.
Her father said her name. "Cynthia?"
She turned to acknowledge him. "Yes?"
He smiled shyly. "I love you. You really are a much better daughter than I deserve."
She didnt know what to say. "I love you too Daddy." She stepped out of the study and leaned back against the closed door. She took a deep breath, absorbing the exchange.
That night, she laid in Jordans arms. She turned her face to look at Jordan. "I cant believe it. He says the words Ive been waiting to hear for so long and they come on the day I bury my mother. Hows that for irony?" Jordan kissed her lightly.
"At least something good came out of this whole thing."
Cynthia nodded. "Did you call Laura and let her know about the change?"
"Yes. Were rescheduling the missed appearances. She sends her love by the way. Were meeting everyone at University of North Texas in Denton. The College Democrats are having a meet the candidate forum and a reception in the mid-afternoon. Well continue to work on the debate issues."
"Jordan, I cant thank you enough for being with me. I couldnt have made it through without you. I also heard about your talk with my father. He told me what you said. He was quite impressed with you. I love it when youre protective like that."
Jordan put her hand on Cynthias cheek. "Youre always taking care of me. When someone attacks me, youre the first person to jump to my defense. Im just a spoiled politician. I have several people whose job it is to make sure I have what I need. I go from place to place and speak. But you pick what I wear. You put up with my stupid antics like what happened in El Paso. You make sure my schedule is straight, so I can concentrate on the people and the issues. You make sure that I am always shown in the best possible way. There are more than a few times that I dont even do my own hair and makeup." She touched Cynthias face. "To tell you the truth, I like taking care of you. I wouldnt be doing this well without you. I love you and I will until I take my last breath."
Cynthia had tears in her eyes. "You have such a way with words."
The next day Jordan, Cynthia, and her father, John met the campaign on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, just north of Dallas. She met with the College Democrats and the Lambdas, a gay/lesbian campus group. She talked to the students and met the school administrators at the reception that afternoon. As they traveled throughout the state during the week, Jordan got to know the minister well.
They even went on early morning bike rides together. Jordan had been scheduled to participate in a sixty-mile bike ride through the hill country to raise awareness for ovarian cancer the following month, so she had begun riding every morning. The funeral had interrupted her training and she was anxious to get back to it. John enjoyed watching his daughter work. Cynthia and her father grew closer. The week ended and the night of the final debate arrived. Jordan wore a black suit and white blouse. Cynthias family waited backstage along with her staff. Jordan was called to the stage to have her microphone attached. Cynthia hugged her tightly. "Good luck. I love you." Jordan smiled. "I love you too darlin." Laura put her hand on Jordans shoulder. "Go do it." Jordan walked out on the stage and shook hands with her opponent.
"Hi there Kris."
"Hey Jordan. Good luck."
Jordan grinned, knowing she had won the previous two debates and was way ahead in the election. "You too Kris."
The announcer began. "Welcome to the final debate of this Senatorial election. The format of this debate will be in a town meeting setting. We are at Southern Methodist University at McFarlin Auditorium. The questions will come from the audience. Each candidate will have the two minutes to speak to respond to the questions. Before the debate, Mr. Benson won the coin toss and will be the first to give his opening statement."
Kris began. "I have always thrived on challenges and difficult positions. I embrace my role as a Republican, as a leader of the revolution in which the principles of government are being re-evaluated. I have led my own business to success and look forward to leading this state and the country to progress and development and to our future."
"Ms. OConnor, your opening statement?"
Jordan took a breath, and smiled. ""Id like to thank all of the people who have taken the time and consideration to come here tonight and for caring enough about their community and their state to do so. It is amazing to see so many people who care about the privileges afforded us by having a democratic government. What you deserve, is a Senator who takes the privilege just as seriously. Cicero said that a statesman should be the most honorable and just and noble-acting of people. A statesman should consider the best interest of the people first and foremost. This is the kind of Senator I aspire to be. I have been and continue to be dedicated to the people of Texas, and of the United States."
The announcer spoke. "We will have our first question from the audience."
A middle-aged woman stood up. "Teenage violence is plaguing our schools and streets. The entertainment industry continues to feed upon and create the demand for violence. What do you plan on doing to hold them accountable for the violence they create?"
Jordan was the first to speak." Although I abhor some of the things that appear in movies, television, and music, they are protected under the Constitution. Entertainment like this exists for one reason and one reason only....it is profitable. Some say that the violence on the screen creates violence in the streets. Others, say the opposite is true. Years ago, John Wayne westerns were popular. Werent they violent for their time? Today theyre considered classics. The way to stop the influence of the mass media is to regulate it in your own home. Violent and sexual television shows will not last if people do not watch. Violent music will not be played on radio, if it isnt requested. If we want to keep our children away from these unsavory images, then it is the parents responsibility monitor them. We cant relinquish our responsibilities as parents to Congress or the entertainment industry. All the industry should and can do is to assist parents in letting them know the content of the songs, movie, or television show that they create. This is why we have a ratings system. The same Constitution that protects the positive images in this country also protects the negative, but we do have the personal freedom to choose what we will support. My suggestion for parents is turn the TV off. Talk to your kids, teach them the difference between right and wrong. Dont let them learn it from a movie screen or MTV."
Kris gave his response. "I disagree. I think the entertainment industry should bare a certain amount of the responsibility for the violence in our society. Our families cannot watch TV at night during what used to be referred to as the family hour without seeing or hearing explicit sexuality and many times homosexuality. The highest rated shows are violent police dramas. Consequently, teenagers are killing their teachers and are having sex earlier. Id like the FCC to increase their regulations. I will work to stop this inflammatory speech from invading our homes and our lives."
An older gentleman stood up. "What are you going to do about Mexicos violation of the Hidalgo Treaty of 1944? The farmers in South Texas are suffering because of it."
Kris Benson looked bewildered. "Im not sure exactly which Treaty that is. Im not a politician, so Im not completely up on every single issue. But, if elected, I will look into that and every other issue that comes up. As far as any violation of agreements, I will help make sure that Mexico is held accountable."
Jordan forced herself not to laugh at his inept answer. She thought to herself. Ha. I knew this would happen. "The Hidalgo Treaty is a water treaty in which Mexico and the U.S. agreed to release certain amounts of water per year to one another from the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers. Mexico will allow water from six tributaries to run into the Rio Grande. One third of that water is earmarked for south Texas and two-thirds go to neighboring Mexican states. Mexico has fallen behind in its dues and owes more than 1.5 million acre-feet of water to south Texas. This is enough to fill the Super Dome five hundred twenty times over. South Texas and Mexico are in the midst of a drought and Mexico continues to take their water. Since the treaty was signed in 1944, the border population on both sides has grown from 1.4 million to nearly 12 million. Obviously, the treaty is antiquated and should be rewritten. The Rio Grande Valley is near and dear to my heart. I was born there and lived there until I was thirteen and my family is still there. This violation can no longer continue and I wont let it."
Another woman stood up as the microphone was passed to her. "Were in a constant battle between meeting energy consumption needs and preserving the environment. What ways do you plan on helping to resolve the high cost of energy on consumers and the environment?"
Jordan smiled. "Im glad you asked that. I support responsible exploration and conservation efforts. Id also like to increase research into renewable sources and relief for energy consumers in the wake of rising energy costs. One way I would like to do all of this is to offer Research and Development credits to companies who explore better ways to produce energy, making it safer for the environment without skyrocketing costs."
Benson offered his response. "America is too dependent on foreign sources of oil and the consumer pays the high price. We need to look into ways to become more independent in that area. I am in favor of alternative energy sources but Id also like to see it at a price consumers can afford."
Jordan resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the man who made millions from drilling for oil. Several more questions were asked and answered and the candidates came to the end of the debate.
"That is all the time we have for questions. The candidates will now give their closing remarks. Since Ms. OConnor answered the last question first, Mr. Benson will give his closing remarks, then Ms. OConnor."
"This country is going in a direction where violence and sex reign supreme. I am prepared and look forward to the challenge of leading this country in a revolution of values and re-evaluated principles where hard work and dedication are rewarded."
Jordan started her final remarks for the night. "Ive been working in government for over sixteen years. I have been campaigning for even longer. One thing I have learned is that our greatest natural resource is our people. The key to our future success as Texans and Americans is a healthy and educated population. As your Senator, I will work to help develop this resource for a strong Texas and a strong country."
The moderator spoke. "This concludes the final debate in this election. Wed like to thank everyone for coming. Be sure to get out and vote for the candidates of your choice Tuesday, November third. Goodnight." The candidates got the signal that they were off the air. They both walked backstage to their prospective groups. Cynthia put her arms around Jordans neck, hugging her tightly.
Cynthia was bubbling with pride in her partner. "You did a great job honey. You were the clear winner in this debate, hands down. I love you so much."
Jordan wrapped her arms tightly around Cynthias waist. "I love you too Cyn. Did you see how he flubbed that water question? That was priceless."
Laura grinned at her. "This one definitely hurt him. You were outstanding."
Jordan winked. "Thanks."
Cynthias father, sister, and brother-in-law walked over to her. The minister reached out and shook her hand. "Well done Jordan. You really are good at this. Weve got a lot in common you and me. "
Smiling. "Thanks John. I appreciate that coming from you. I guess were both a couple of old windbags." They both began laughing.
"That about sums it up."
Jen and her husband came to congratulate Jordan. "That was awesome to watch. How could he come into the debate and not know all the issues?"
"Thats just his mentality. He tries to use his lack of knowledge of government affairs to his advantage. However, this is my job and my passion. Im glad you enjoyed it."
The reaction in Kris Bensons group was quite different. The candidate was livid. "Why didnt anyone fucking advise me of the name and nature of this water treaty? How could you let me go out there and make a fool out of myself?"
His wife looked at him. "You do a good job of that yourself."
He shot an angry look in her direction. "Knock it off Amber. I dont need your crap right now." He looked to his campaign manager. "Have you heard anything from those investigators?"
"They called from Managua yesterday. Apparently, she left her village in the middle of her tour and began working in Managua. Thats not usual. We paid people off to get a look at her records and there is a note in there talking about the transfer and she claimed she was being threatened. I think theres something there. Theyll let us know."
Kris nodded his head. "Good. We have a little over a month left. They need to find something now."
His manager, Phil, looked at him. "They will. We should hear from them this week. Not a minute too soon, either. I got the damn party breathing down my neck."
As they were getting ready to leave the University, Cynthia said good-bye to her family. She hugged her father tightly. "I love you Daddy. Im so glad I got to spend this time with you. Thank you for coming with us this week."
The older man smiled and held his daughter. "I love you too Cynthia. Im glad I got to know you. Youre very talented. I am very impressed by you young lady. I am still trying to understand and accept your lifestyle. But, Jordan is a wonderful person. She makes you happy and she loves you. I couldnt ask for more. Im glad you have someone like her. Thank you for inviting me to come with yall. It was good to get out of the house."
Cynthia beamed at her father, tears filling up her eyes at the words she had waited twenty years to hear. "Thank you Daddy. Are you going to be ok?"
He looked at her. "I think so. I cant imagine being in that house alone. Youre mother is everywhere. Its going to be strange not to hear her voice anymore."
Jordan put her hand on his shoulder. "You can call me anytime if you want to talk. Ive been there. I might be able to help."
He turned to Jordan and put his arms around her. "Thank you Jordan, for everything. Talking to you has helped. Take care of my daughter."
Jordan smiled. "Always."
Cynthia hugged her sister and brother-in law. "Be sure and tell my nephews I said hi."
Jen smiled. "I will. Now dont forget. You and your family are coming for Thanksgiving at my house."
Cynthia nodded, "I wont. Yall will come down and have Christmas with us at our house in San Antonio."
"Well all be there. Take Care sis. We love ya."
Cynthia waved and she and Jordan drove off to the hotel. That night, Jordan noticed Cynthias silence. She wrapped her arms protectively around Cynthia. No words were necessary between the two as Cynthia turned to bury her face in Jordans neck. Without speaking, Jordan led Cynthia over to the bed and slipped off the smaller womans robe, revealing her bare skin. She pulled down the blankets and laid Cynthia down. She removed her own clothing and laid down next to her lover, pulling her into her arms. Cynthia allowed the warm skin of her partner soothe the conflicting emotions of the pain of losing her mother and the joy of finding her familys love again.
That night as the couple lay peacefully sleeping, Jordans future was beginning to unravel. Private investigators with unlimited cash were putting together the mysteries of Jordans past. Enough money and food thrown at very poor people did wonders.
Three Days Later at Benson Headquarters.
Kris Benson was sitting at his desk in the late afternoon when his campaign manager came in, elated.
"Well, well, Phil, from the look on your face, youve got good news."
Laughing. "Youre damn right, Senator. Weve got dirt on her that will not only cost her this election. She may not be able to run again. Hell, shell be lucky if shes not extradited."
"Thats unbelievable. Its the break weve been waiting for. When will we be ready to make a press conference?"
"We should be ready in a couple of days."
"Good. Good. Before we actually give the conference though. Lets see if we can get her to pull out of the race first, in order to buy our silence." Both men were laughing. "The bitch is gonna fry." He began looking over the preliminary report. "We can definitely spin this to our advantage. She is going to be done when we are through with her."
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