She looked at him. He was staring out of the bus window as it sped along the motorway, his mood resembling something close to petulant. Or maybe he really was just tired, after all, wasn’t everybody?
“That’s not the way it works, Johnny, and you know that.”
He turned to look at her. “Have you ever been in love, Stevie?”
“Where the hell did that come from?”
He’d never once asked her anything like that before. It was a subject neither of them had ever felt the need to talk about and God knows why he was bringing it up now.
Johnny watched her reaction closely. Something had changed in her eyes when he’d asked that question, but whether it had anything to do with Mark he couldn’t quite work out.
“No. No, I haven’t been in love.” A lie. ”Can we change the subject now?”
She leaned over to grab a cigarette from the box lying on the table in front of a now sleeping Jack.
“Not even with Mark?”
She lit the cigarette, leaning back in her seat, forgetting that Ava was still in the vicinity. She suddenly just really needed one.
“I’m not in love with Mark. I’ve never been in love with Mark.” She looked at him, pushing a hand through her hair and away from her face. “Is this going anywhere, Johnny?”
He shook his head. “Maybe I just don’t understand you two as much as I thought I did.”
“What the...Johnny? Where are you going?”
“To grab some sleep before we get there. I’m shattered.”
Stevie watched him make his way to the bunks, throwing Mark a strange look as he arrived back out front.
“What’s up with him?” Mark asked, slipping into the seat next to Stevie.
“Beats me.” She smiled at him as he leaned in for a quick, hard kiss. “You feeling a bit calmer now?”
“When am I ever anything else?” he grinned, pulling her against him and going in for another kiss. “But
yeah, I’m feeling a lot calmer. However, if you’re offering to make me feel just that little bit more relaxed...”
She laughed, laying her legs over his as he ran his fingers up and down them, creeping up the bottom of her denim shorts as their mouths met again in a slower, deeper kiss.
“You know what,” she said, gently stroking the back of his neck as they continued to kiss. “I reckon we could both do with getting our heads down for a bit.”
“A bit of what, though?” Jack smirked, waking up and stretching out.
“Sleep, Jack. Unlike you lot, when we get to the stadium me and the guys have got shitloads to do. You just bugger off to your hotel, smoke joints and demand crates of lager while we’re working our arses off setting everything up. You might be getting the day off today but the rest of us have got to start sorting things out for tomorrow.”
“Is that what we do?” Jack said, winking at her. “Smoke joints and drink lager?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” Mark laughed.
“Jesus, why do I bother?” Stevie sighed, swinging her legs off of Mark's and straightening her t-shirt.
“Hang on. Weren’t we going for a lie down?” Mark asked, grabbing Jack’s cigarettes before he put them back in his pocket, taking out two, putting one behind his ear.
“I’m not in the mood anymore.”
“I thought you were always in the mood?” Jack said, standing up and leaning back against the side of the
“Can you tell him to piss off, Mark? He’s really starting to wind me up today.”
Jack whistled, leaning forward to ruffle Stevie’s hair. She slapped his hands away, kneeling up on her seat to get a better aim at him.
“Ok, kids, can we just try and play nicely now.” Dave Deacon emerged from the back of the bus, throwing the video camera at Mark. “And I think this belongs to you, or I’m assuming it does seeing as you appear to be starring in whatever’s on there.” He looked at Stevie as he walked past, but she ignored him. He was really starting to annoy her, too. “And make sure that doesn’t get into the wrong hands. The last thing we fucking need is a sex tape scandal in the middle of a tour.”
“Oh, yeah!” Jack grinned, snatching the camera from Mark. “New footage!”
“Hey, hang on, give that here, Jack!”
“Mark, it’s ok. It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. If it keeps his tiny mind occupied for half an hour it’ll be worth it.” She pushed Mark up out of his seat, taking his hand. “Come on. Let’s go get that lie down. I need to get out of here.” She looked back at Jack, throwing him a sarcastic smile. “Oh, and enjoy the show, Warner. But you watch that right hand of yours. I know you get off on watching me fuck but don’t work it too hard, ok? You’re gonna need it tomorrow.”
She gave him the finger.
“Yeah, ladylike, Stevie. Very ladylike.”
“There’s nothing ladylike about me, Jack. And your front man’s about to find out just how unladylike I can
Daniel never tired of walking into the House of Commons. The grandeur and sheer scale of the building made it a place he never tired of coming to. As a student he’d dreamed of one day walking in here as a Member of Parliament, and now that part of his dream had been realised he was just waiting for the next stage to take shape.
Andrew Mitchell still hadn’t yet tendered a formal resignation from his post as party leader, but the rumours were getting stronger every day that it was nothing more than a formality. It was going to happen. It was just a matter of waiting. Something Daniel was quite willing to do.
He walked along the corridor on his way to his office, smiling and saying hello to people he knew - fellow MP’s, colleagues he worked closely with, and even those he didn’t. He was a very approachable man, much liked and greatly admired. Which is why he already had the backing he needed to run for the leadership. As soon as Andrew Mitchell stepped down.
He walked into the annexe to his office, smiling at Amy, his secretary.
“Good morning, Mr. Madison. Would you like your coffee now? I’ve put your newspapers on your desk
and left some messages by the telephone. Some of them may be fairly urgent. Here’s your post.”
He took the pile of envelopes from her and smiled again. “Thank you, Amy. I’d love a coffee now, if it’s no trouble.”
“None at all.” She got up from behind her large and extremely tidy desk and went over to the small kitchenette in the corner of the room. “Did you have a good break?”
He sat on the edge of her desk, putting his briefcase down on the floor.
“I had a wonderful few days thank you, Amy. It was nice to be home for a while. Very restful.”
He started opening some of the letters Amy had given him.
“And Mrs. Madison? How is she after her holiday?”
“She had a lovely time. Tuscany was a joy to visit, as usual. It’s done her the power of good.”
Amy smiled, handing him his coffee. She’d worked for Daniel Madison for over two years now and he was simply the nicest, kindest person she’d ever worked for. He was talkative, friendly and never spoke down to her. She was very lucky, and she knew that.
“Would you like me to make any calls for you?” Amy asked. ”I can go through your e-mails if you like;
see if there’s anything that needs attending to.”
“That would be extremely helpful, Amy, thank you,” Daniel smiled, picking up his case and entering his office, closing the door behind him.
He put his case down on the desk and walked over to the window, putting his hands in his pockets as he looked out at the view. There was no place he’d rather be right now except, maybe, at home with Samantha. He was more than aware that his wife would prefer him to spend more time with her, and that she also knew this next stage of his career was only going to take him away from her even more, but it was what he needed to do, and she knew that, too. But she’d never stop him; she’d never stand in his way because she really was the perfect wife. He was a very lucky man.
The sound of the telephone ringing made him turn around and he walked back over to his desk, pressing the intercom, Amy’s voice coming loud and clear over the speaker.
“It’s Mr. Gordon on line three, Mr. Madison.”
“Thank you, Amy. Put him straight through.”
Angus Gordon was a fellow MP and a very close friend of Daniel’s. Thick set, grey-haired and in his mid-50’s, with a gentle Scottish accent owed very much to his Outer Hebridian heritage, he was masterminding Daniel’s forthcoming leadership campaign. He was a master of spin, and he knew more than anyone how capable Daniel was of not only winning the Leadership Election, but of also winning the General Election. He was the kind of person Daniel needed by his side as things moved forward, and Daniel was very much aware of that.
“Angus, how are you?”
“Have you got the TV on, Daniel?” Angus’s voice was more than a little excited, and Daniel knew that he never got excited without good reason.
“Then switch it onto a news channel now, quickly!”
Daniel reached out and picked up the remote control that lay next to his laptop, pointing it at the large flat screen TV on the wall. It leapt into life, already tuned to the rolling news channel he very rarely switched off.
“Are you watching?” Angus asked.
“Yes. I’m watching it now.” Daniel sat down on the edge of his desk, watching as Andrew Mitchell stood outside his West London home in front of a sea of photographers and journalists, announcing the one thing Daniel Madison had waited months to hear. That he was officially resigning as Leader of the Opposition with immediate effect. He hoped the job of finding his replacement would be a quick affair and that his party would be up and running with a new leader sooner rather than later, ready to head forward into the much anticipated General Election.
“It’s going to be a quick campaign, Daniel,” Angus said as Daniel continued to watch Andrew Mitchell give his final speech. “So, are we ready to move fast with this?”
“Yes. Yes, we are. Angus, how many other candidates are we looking at here?”
“Could be up to five I reckon. But we’ve got the strongest chance, Daniel; we’ve got the most support. We’ll have the signatures and the backing we need before the week’s out. And you’ll walk any of the hustings, I have no doubt about that.”
Daniel could feel his stomach turning with an excitement he hadn’t felt in a long time. This was it. It was really happening. He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more than this. It was the beginning of his ultimate dream, his goal, his life’s ambition. And it was starting to happen right now.
Angus’s voice broke into his thoughts. “So, we can announce you’re throwing your hat into the ring for the leadership this afternoon then?”
Daniel stood up and went back over to the window, glancing out across the River Thames and the view he never tired of.
“Yes. We can definitely announce that Angus. Let’s get the ball rolling as soon as possible.”
“Good man. We’re going to do this, Daniel. You’ve got it in the bag, I’m certain of it.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Nobody else comes close. We’ll talk over lunch, ok? Is 1.30 alright for you?”
“That’s fine. I’ll see you then, Angus, and thanks.”
Daniel hung up the ‘phone and turned round as Amy walked into the office carrying another pile of post.
“Is everything ok, Mr. Madison?”
A smile slowly spread across Daniel’s handsome face and she couldn’t help smiling too.
“Everything’s fine, Amy. Everything’s more than fine. Andrew Mitchell’s finally resigned! He’s done it,
and you know what that means don’t you?”
She couldn’t help laughing. His excitement was almost contagious. “I think I do, yes.”
He walked over to Amy, catching her in an unexpected, uncharacteristic, but not entirely unwanted hug.
“It means you could be looking at the new Leader of the Opposition, Amy. And maybe, just maybe, one day, the Prime Minister himself!”
“You deserve this, Mr. Madison. You really do.”
Daniel let go of her, running back round behind his desk and sitting down, switching on his computer.
“Can you cancel any appointments I’ve got for this morning? And I’m going to have a few letters for you to send out in an hour or so, is that alright?”
She nodded, placing the post down on his desk and picking up an empty coffee cup. He was already typing away, concentrating hard. He had a lot to do and he wanted to get started as soon as possible.
“I’ll sort everything out, Mr. Madison. Don’t worry.”
He looked up and smiled. “Thank you, Amy.” He looked at his watch. 9.35. Samantha was due to attend a parish council meeting this morning to discuss some charity functions, but she’d told him she wouldn’t be leaving until at least 10am. If he called her now he could catch her before she left, because he really needed to talk to her. For all Daniel was an ambitious and driven man, throughout it all, every step of the way, Samantha had been by his side. She’d helped him by just being there and supporting him. She was his beautiful wife and he loved her and he just wanted to tell her that. He needed her to know how much she meant to him because he didn’t know if he could do what he was about to do if she wasn’t around. He only hoped he never had to find out.
© Michelle Betham 2011