DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and all its characters belong to NBC, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a collection of seven snippets in the Thoughts series - just short drabbles from different povs.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I wonder if your husband has trouble breathing when he looks at you, if his heart races at your every touch.
I wonder if he knows how I feel, if he can see through my defenses whenever you walk into a room. In that moment when my eyes first meet yours, I am open and vulnerable. Can he detect my desire, my fear, my love for the woman whose kiss he and I both crave?
I admire him.
I respect him.
I envy him.
I have grown accustomed to the feel of the ring on my finger. The yellow gold blends into my skin, marks me as a married woman with responsibilities and loyalties - traits I have always admired within myself. I have worn the metal band for years, am comfortable in its symbolism, yet upon meeting her, my concentration to my vows faltered.
Her allure is stronger than the connection which exists in the never-ending circle; her consideration warms me in ways his shelter never could.
To him, the ring is a symbol of our union, a remembrance that I am his angel, so I do not remove the halo as I taste her lips. I allow it to serve as my punishment for committing an unforgivable sin.
Even now after all we have been through, I am certain of the integrity of this office. With gentle hands, I hold the power it controls; I relish the authority with unending command. Yet, while I serve my country, give of myself and of my family, I am losing the person I cherish most. Not to my position, though it has played its own part, but to a woman.
She is a friend, a daughter, a staff member, and in all titles I hold her in the highest regards. But I also know she is a lover, my wife's lover; if not in body, then in heart. I can see how they interact, how furtive glances and soft hellos represent more than friendly banter. From where my hand rest on the small of her back, I can feel Abbey's temperature rise when C.J. walks into the room. They have formed an attraction, a connection that spans the influence I possess.
I trust my wife. I trust my press secretary. I try to trust myself.
I'm still working on it.
As I sit at my desk working, I allow my mind to roam down paths Josh says it should not go. But I can't help but wonder. My focus skips from one subject to another before falling onto one that interests me. Today, it is the First Lady.
I wonder if she remembers a time before she had a secretary to schedule her appointments or to answer her calls. I wonder if she remembers how easily it used to be for her to hide in a crowd or to control it. I wonder if she regrets allowing her life to be turned upside down, inside out, and all the way around. I wonder if she has heard the words which sparkle in her eyes when she sees the person who holds her heart. I wonder if she has said the words herself.
I wonder if she knows she is not the only one who is in love with the administration's press secretary.
C.J. is a sister to me, a grand substitute for the one I lost when I was young. She is the voice of the administration caring, independent, and intelligent, with a fierce intent on doing the right thing, of helping, of making a difference. In her virtue, however, there is a protectiveness that allows the rest of us to do our jobs. I used to worry about her though. I worried that she puts us first instead of taking care of herself. I worried that she has forgotten how to live. I worried that she would never feel like an insider. I don't worry about her so much anymore. Someone else is doing that now.
She is always telling us she should be our first call when we've done or are thinking of doing something which would put our administration in an unfavorable light. But I'm curious: Who will she call when she realizes our boss's wife is in love with her? Will she pick up the phone instead of giving into what she's feeling? Or will the love affair between Abigail Barlet and C.J. Cregg be the downfall of us all?
Her lips were cool against my skin, but I was infused with heat at the contact. It was a whisper of a touch, of a promise that neither of us could keep, but I knew we would both try. It was, essentially, a thank you, but from her a kiss is more like a benediction, a prayer of gratefulness and hope. I have felt that peace only once, after Rosslyn, when she pressed herself close to me in need of comfort, searching for a friend in the wilderness attacking our make-shift family. I would have held her forever, would have taken her gift of friendship as far as any man wants to go, if I had not known, even then, she was in love with another.
I am accused of being the young brother of our group, warned of being defeated by my own optimism, but it is not me who risks the wrath of the most powerful man in the world for a romantic essence. Or maybe she knows she could win in the battle of wills between herself and the President. Maybe she knows the First Lady would be on her side.
Elegant, with lofty ambitions, I worry she will be the one to lose her idealism before she has been given the chance to taste her own forgiveness.
She lives her life in the spotlight, acts on cue and never misses a beat. She is our star, more famous than those of us who create her scripts, more loved than those who prepare her strategies. She is the face of the administration.
Yet, despite her public existence, she is also draped in secrets, hidden by half confessed emotions and fears she cannot escape. I see it in her the battled desire to be what everyone wants her to be, the pinup girl's mentality of no respect and less authority.
Her effervescent smiles and flippant words and tailored suits do not allow for a misstep. Mistakes are forbidden due to flashbulbs and newspaper ink. So, she suffers, screened behind a role she was born to play.
It's ironic she should become star struck herself, that she of our entire cast would fall victim to the charms of another leading lady.
Our production now includes credits of a great love affair.
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