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.It stayed crisp no matter what hell she put it through.She didn’t know who invented iron-free technology, but whoever did should win a Nobel Prize.And why hadn’t every other designer followed suit? Why would anyone make non-wrinkle-free shirts anymore?Why would I buy ones that weren’t? Why do I only have one? I’ll buy another one this weekend, she pledged to herself, knowing full well she wouldn’t be making it out to the stores.Focus, Olivia.She ran her hands down the sides of her brown pencil skirt, trying to force out some of the old-school wrinkles.It was one of her few classic go-to outfits and she was glad she had picked it.It made her feel better about the fact that her only makeup was a glop of Juicy Tubes lip gloss, smeared on as she walked in the door.She touched at the ribbon tied around her straight brown hair, literally long overdue for a haircut.At least Jacob won’t make fun of me for overdressing for Taylor.Landon Taylor was not like other politicians.He was not one of those awkward-looking men who ran around DC in ill-fitting suits, concerned only with the sound of their own voice.Taylor stood six feet tall and had high cheekbones and youthful blue eyes that complemented his prep-school hair.He always looked like he should be standing alongside the Kennedy brothers in a black and white photograph, staring out at a horizon that only a few leaders would ever really see.When he spoke, his Southern accent blended with a sharp intellect to create the right mix of smarts and accessibility.And although a few years of campaigning had left her with a degree of jadedness, Olivia found her adoration for Landon Taylor was untouched.Her senior year in college, only five years earlier, she had written a paper about the impact of his campaign speeches on the American dialogue about poverty, and later, while she was interning for the Democratic convention, she had the chance to see him in person.She remembered it like a girl looking back on her first kiss.It was one of the rare moments in politics when the world quiets down enough so you can truly listen to another person.The moment he began speaking, the massive, chaotic convention hall hushed, becoming more and more rapt with every word.To this day, Olivia couldn’t imagine anyone hearing that speech and not being moved to do something more with their life.Of course, near the end of the speech she was jerked out of her trance by a donor asking for a ticket to the Maroon 5 party the next night.“What a waste of time,” the donor had said.“Does anyone really think this guy has a chance against the Republican machine in Georgia?”She wanted to raise her hand to the sky and scream, “Me! I do!” but she knew Taylor didn’t have a chance.She had been following his race as closely as if she were working on it.Every poll, even his internals, had him down double digits and he was being outspent three to one.Every hired political gun was urging him to center his message, but he stuck with his passion.For Olivia, as he spoke with fervor about everything she believed in, his impending loss was a substantiation of what she had just started to articulate to herself: that there used to be real leaders who could silence the world enough to argue for truth, but now they were all quieted by the circus that politics had become.But something had happened with Landon Taylor.After an explosive surge in the last two weeks of his campaign for governor, he won, by more than a few votes, the race that everyone agreed he couldn’t win.True, his victory was mostly due to the revelation of his opponent’s insider-trading scandal, brought to light by that candidate’s third wife.But still, Landon Taylor won.That was enough to keep alive Olivia’s hope that a decent man, a real inspiring leader, could succeed.Since then he had gained accolades for the Georgia state government and consequently was selected as the vice presidential candidate in the last election.Though the ticket had lost (something she blamed entirely on Taylor’s running mate), the publicity and exposure left him in an ideal position for a future run for president.He was an inspirational long shot who had beaten the odds to become someone with a real chance at the White House.Just thinking about it left Olivia with a renewed belief in the existence of the type of politics that had filled the posters on her old dorm room wall.She studied him like an ongoing thesis project, picking up every fact, big or small.From his antipoverty speeches to the kind of shoes his gorgeous wife wore—Christian Louboutins, of course—Olivia knew the governor inside and out.He stood in stark contrast to the transactional candidates she had come to know in the last few years.They changed positions on major issues when public opinion shifted, made bland speeches so as not to ruffle any feathers even when the feathers clearly needed to be ruffled, and would say just about anything to get a donation.But with someone like this, like Taylor, her fundraising could serve a cause, not just her résumé.So here she was.Running late, half-put-together, but as excited as she’d ever been for this life-changing meeting in the misleading calmness of the Brinmore.The Brinmore was one of the most exclusive hotels on Park Avenue.It used to be the place ladies went to lunch, but fundraisers in New York had turned it into a political cafeteria.Its dining room, lined in dark wood and deep red fabric, had enough of a library feel to project gravitas, and it was just overpriced enough to make a politician feel fancy, yet affordable enough to not seem excessive to the donors, who always picked up the check.Jo, the hostess, was a short, well-put-together woman who could best be described as a yenta, except she never gave away the gossip she collected.She ran the place with a gracious composure.Her control over where people sat at breakfast made her one of the most knowledgeable and powerful women in New York.Knowing who wanted to be near, or far, from whom gave her insight into every friendship, political alliance, affair, and divorce, often well before the heartache flamed up.Yet she held that power through a combination of intelligence and withholding.She never gossiped, never gave a single detail away.Not to anyone.When Jo knew something about you, her subtle glances and moves told you she did, but they never seemed to tell anyone else.She also had an uncanny knack for knowing exactly who someone was meeting as soon as they walked in.As Olivia turned the corner into the restaurant area of the hotel, she gave a quick smile to Jo, who blew a kiss, called her “sweetie,” and knowingly pointed to the back of the dining room [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]