The Second Sister

Free The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick

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Authors: Marie Bostwick
and have begun vetting the candidates. Jenna is helping with that. Hope you don’t mind . . .”
    â€œOf course not, sir. But I just don’t think this is the time for me to—”
    â€œIf not now, then when? You think things are going to slow down after January twentieth? You have got to take some time for yourself, Lucy, and you’ve got to do it now. A month, maybe more.”
    â€œA month!”
    My feet hit the cold wooden floor and the afghan dropped from around my shoulders. I stood there with the phone clutched to my ear, wearing nothing but a University of Wisconsin T-shirt, polka-dot underpants, and, I’m sure, an expression of panic.
    â€œMr. President-elect! I’m . . . I don’t understand. Sir, if you’re trying to tell me something or if you’re unhappy with . . .”
    I stopped, took two big breaths, trying to slow the pounding in my chest.
    â€œTom, are you firing me?”
    â€œFiring you? No. Dammit, Lucy! I’m trying to do you a favor!”
    He huffed in exasperation. “I didn’t want to have to say this, but you look like hell. Seriously, Luce. Veterans returning from combat zones look less worn-out than you did when I last saw you. You need to take some time off and get a rest, a real rest. You need to sleep late, breathe deep, go on some long walks, eat some decent meals—something besides cookies and black coffee—and spend some time thinking about your sister and what you really want to do with your life.”
    What I wanted to do with my life? He was trying to fire me!
    I plopped onto the edge of the bed, too shocked to speak. It felt like somebody had smashed a fist into my stomach.
    â€œWhen you sent me out to the ranch that week,” he continued, “I spent a lot of time thinking about Mike and all the things he never had a chance to do. Life goes so fast, Lucy. You shouldn’t waste it doing anything but the things that speak to your heart. While I was home, I started really thinking about why I got into the campaign. I came to realize that, at least partly, it was because I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
    â€œWhat?” Suddenly, I found my voice again. “Pardon me, sir, but that’s a stupid reason to run for president. You’ve got to want it for yourself!”
    â€œCan I finish my story?”
    â€œSorry,” I said, hearing the rebuke in his voice and remembering I was talking to the man who would soon have access to the nuclear launch codes. “Go on, sir.”
    â€œOne day while I was out there, I saddled up Diamond and went for a long ride, thinking it all through, sorting out what I had to offer to the country and what I really wanted to do with what was left of my life. I was gone all day. It was dark by the time we got back to the barn, but when I did, I knew that I wanted to run for president. And I knew that I wanted to win.”
    â€œAnd you did.”
    â€œ We did. I couldn’t have done it without you, Lucy. Come January twentieth, our team needs to be rested and ready to govern because it’s going to be a grueling four years. Exciting, but grueling.”
    â€œFour?” I asked, smiling as I bent down to pick up the afghan, then draping it over my shoulders again. “I’m counting on at least eight.”
    â€œAll the more reason for you to take some time to decide if this is really how you want to spend the next eight years of your life. I don’t want you signing up for this just because you’re afraid of disappointing me. No!” he barked, silencing my protests before I could even voice them. “Don’t say anything now. We’ll discuss it in a month, after your vacation.”
    â€œSir, I don’t need a whole month. Maybe a week. Two at the most.”
    â€œFour at the minimum, ” he retorted, using the tone I recognized so well, the immovable “I carried fifty-one percent of the vote and you

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