A vice presidential resignation has the country taking sides between two history-making candidates. But where does the heart lie when duty, truth and love collide?
When the vice president resigns and Ellie and Taryn’s parents emerge as the frontrunners, the girls find themselves back in the spotlight.
Ellie could not care less about becoming the Second Daughter, but she knows how much the opportunity to make history means to her mother – and women everywhere. With her family taking center stage, Ellie must decide whether she can put her feelings for Gabe on hold – again.
Taryn, so used to captivating the hearts and minds of everyone she meets, is unbothered by the increased media scrutiny. But an inopportune screw-up has her beholden to an unlikely – and unfriendly – source for help.
Overnight, Evan has skyrocketed from social pariah to Miss Popular. As she and her reluctant parents adjust to her new lifestyle, the last thing she needs is a front-page scandal.
Brinley can’t stop thinking about her Stowe-bound hook-up…until her father’s intern, Patrick, starts flirting. Is it time to abandon her fling now that she has a more appropriate suitor?
With the second highest office in the land up for grabs, everyone is picking sides. But where does the heart lie when duty, truth, and love collide?
Sunday, 9:27 p.m.
After having successfully slipped out of the Statuary Hall unnoticed, Ellie walked quickly down a dimly lit hallway in another wing of the second floor of the Capitol toward her mother’s hideaway office. In addition to a senator’s regular office, most of them also had a hideaway office, an unmarked haven away from staff, constituents and the media. Because Marilyn was a high-ranking senator, her hideaway was an impressive size with sweeping views of the Supreme Court. But all hideaways were not created equal and the freshman senators and lower-ranking members were relegated to the cramped ones located in the basement. Either way, though, the location of a senator’s hideaway was one of the last secrets they had from the public.
Ellie’s stomach was in knots as she spotted the nondescript door at the end of the hallway, no room number or name etched on it. Gabe would be waiting in there for her. She had tried to approach him inside the Statuary Hall, but every time she had gotten close, she was immediately pulled into another conversation. First with Hunter, then there was a quick exchange with Brinley. By then, Gabe was nowhere in sight. Ellie finally broke down and texted him, asking him to meet her here so they could talk. Moments later, she received a curt text back that he was on his way.
She pushed open the hideaway door to find him perched on the back of the blue-gray upholstered sofa, staring pensively out the window at the sixteen massive marble columns of the Supreme Court building. His jacket was slung over the arm of the sofa and his sleeves were rolled up, giving him a rumpled appearance that made him look even hotter than he did when she saw him earlier. He shot his head up when she entered like she’d woken him from a dream.
“Hey,” she said uncertainly. She hadn’t realized exactly how nervous she was until she had stepped on to the plush carpet. She shut the door behind her and locked it. “Thanks for meeting me.”
He nodded, but didn’t rise from his perch, so she sat next to him on the back of the sofa, an electric current coursing through her fingers as they lay inches away from his.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you back,” he said steadily, his gaze meeting hers. “I didn’t want to say anything to you I’d regret. You have no idea how wrecked my mom was by your mom’s comment.”
Ellie nodded and was instinctively about to apologize when it struck her that she actually did have an idea of how upset his mom was. And she immediately resented the fact he seemed so clueless about it.
“Gabe, your dad has been making offensive comments about my mom to the media since the day he stepped back into office. I think I get it,” she said in a clipped tone.
“Yeah, but your mom is in politics. It’s different.”
“You think that makes it any easier on her or me to hear crazy insults hurled at her every time your dad sees a microphone?”
“No, but my mom should’ve been off-limits. She’s always felt guilty about leaving her job, but now she has to deal with the whole country thinking she’s responsible for millions of girls suffering. It was a low blow, Elle.”
The temperature of Ellie’s face rose ten degrees as she narrowed her eyes at him. “Do you really not remember this whole thing started because your father paid some skank to lie about having an affair with my dad? Who, by the way, is not in politics and clearly wasn’t off-limits.”
“Yeah and it took you two years to talk to me again after that. It’s only been two days.”
She hated that he had a point. She stood up and walked to the window, staring out into the distance instead of at him. She was too terrified of what he might say next. Had he spent the past two days realizing being with her was way more difficult than he thought and he couldn’t go through with it anymore? It was so frustrating that no matter what happened between them, they always ended up back in the exact same place.
“You were the one who always said what goes on between our parents shouldn’t affect us,” she said quietly, still unable to look at him.
She heard him sigh, but she couldn’t bring herself to turn around and face him. “Have you changed your mind?”
She suddenly felt his body behind hers.
“No,” he said firmly. “This whole thing sucks, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.”
A wave of relief surged through her and she turned around to him, their faces inches apart. He ran his hand through her hair and she exhaled, soaking in the physical contact she had missed from him the past two days.
“I’m sorry my mom said that,” she whispered.
“Eventually our parents will run out of insults.”
They stared at each other, the heat building between them with every second that ticked by. Her body was on fire all the way down to her toes. She had never wanted him as much as she did right that second. Finally, he pulled her to him and kissed her, and she felt like she could erupt into flames as they gave into the withdrawal of not being together for forty-eight hours. His hands squeezed her back tightly and they tumbled on to the couch, their bodies intertwined. When the staff director for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee assigned these hideaway offices, this was probably not what she thought they would be used for.
The next morning, Ellie cheerily packed up her book bag, still giddy from the hideaway hook-up session the night before. She was relieved her mother had left on an early flight that morning to New York to meet with a few U.N. Ambassadors because Marilyn would surely notice Ellie’s mood was a little too peppy for a Monday morning. Ellie didn’t want to have to make up a lame reason for it.
She slipped on her chunky, heeled rag & bone booties over her tights and did a quick once-over in the wood floor mirror leaning against her bedroom wall. She usually didn’t spend a lot of time in the morning choosing her outfits since she was a fan of hitting the snooze button at least three times, but today she had carefully picked out a black, wool drop-waist dress she had bought at the Sandro boutique up in Soho a few months ago. Not that she believed in dressing for a guy, but she couldn’t help but think Gabe would like it.
The doorbell rang and Ellie felt her good mood slip away. The only person who rang the bell this early was the old woman who lived next door and constantly complained about everything from the placement of their trash cans to how they should trim their hedges to abide by some neighborhood code Ellie and her mother both knew the woman made up.
But when she opened the door she was more than pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t her elderly neighbor. It was Gabe. And he was wearing a very mischievous smile.
“What are you doing here?” she asked breathlessly as he stepped into the foyer. She quickly shut the door behind him.
“You said your mom was leaving for New York this morning and I needed to see you.” His voice was so hypnotic he could be reading her eulogy and it would still sound hot.
“You’ll see me at school in a half hour,” she said smiling.
“But I can’t do this at school.”
He grabbed her around her waist and kissed her. Her book bag dropped to the floor with a thud as she wrapped her arms around him. She was completely lost in the moment until a voice yanked her out of it so suddenly she may have gotten whiplash.
She whirled around to see Jasmine standing behind them, her arms folded across her chest, an expression of restrained disapproval on her face. Ellie’s mouth fell open and she searched for words, any words, but came up empty. It wasn’t uncommon for Jasmine to be in the house performing some sort of task for Marilyn at any given hour, but Ellie was so lost in Gabe World, she hadn’t even considered it.
Jasmine continued staring at the two of them silently as if no words could express her extreme objection to what she had just witnessed.
“You can’t tell my mom,” Ellie finally eked out when it was clear Jasmine would not be speaking first. Ellie glanced over at Gabe who had a pained expression on his face.
Jasmine didn’t move a muscle, her feet planted firmly in her typical no-nonsense demeanor. “I’m sorry, Ellie. I can’t do that. Not after this already blew up in your mother’s face once before.”
“This is different, though,” Ellie said desperately.
Jasmine arched an eyebrow, looking at Ellie like she was delusional. “How? Nothing has changed. In fact, what you’re doing has even bigger consequences than it did before. And do I really need to remind you what this did last time to you personally and to her professionally?”
“But no one is going to find out this time—”
Jasmine shook her head. “I’m not willing to risk your mother’s career over it.” She sighed and Ellie knew whatever she was about to say next, she didn’t want to. “Your mom gets back from New York tomorrow night. Either you tell her then or I will.”
Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz met the first day of freshman year at the University of Southern California and instantly bonded over their obsessions with Brenda Walsh & Later made multiple contributions to technology write for us submission, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Babysitters Club books they read growing up. After spending a full year mourning the end of college, they began writing television and feature scripts together. They have set up pilots at ABC, NBC, Fox and CW, and sold films to The Weinstein Company, Happy Madison, Paramount, New Regency, MGM and Alloy Entertainment. They love writing female-centric stories, especially for teen and tween audiences, mainly because they still think they are the 18-year-old girls they were when they first met at USC.