Chapter 2: James

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Dad always told my sister and I that he was a good man. He was always out to do the right thing. He said that to the cameras, his staff, his friends, his wives (while they were still around), and everyone who he met.

He lied.

It's how he got his way all the way up to the presidency. Sophia and I smiled and waved at the cameras for campaigning. We dressed nicely. We watched everything we said to the press. Sophia gave speeches to introduce him at events, and then he would praise her to high heaven to act like he was smart enough to teach his daughter to give speeches like that, and take the credit for her own accomplishments. Since Mark Marino didn't have a living wife anymore, all eyes were on her to function as the First Lady, while campaign staff encouraged him to get married again.

And me? Everyone would always just say "James, shave your face," or "James, keep your mouth shut." I gave an intro or two. Like hell was I going to do much to help him. James Marino, the Republican candidate's awkward, secretly gay son. It makes me just as much of a liar as he is, but I was doing it for my own safety. Not ambition like he did.

Everyone liked Sophia more. She's smart, beautiful, and not a hot mess flashing her vagina every which way or getting drunk off her ass every weekend. Tabloids loved her. To them, she was the very definition of class, grace, and poise. She got Dad higher poll numbers, and he worked her to the bone to get them up there, beating her when she didn't cooperate. I didn't mind the lack of spotlight.. I honestly felt sorry for her.

Dad eventually got what he wanted though, like he always did. He moved into the White House with my sister and I on January 20th like the other bunch of presidents who lived there before us. As usual, we smiled and waved at the cameras and crowds of people in the parade, and then left to our own devices while Dad was ushered off to go do presidential things.

Sophia didn't come out of her room for days, and I let her rest. I heard worried discussions from my appointed Secret Service agent over their earpieces that "Cardinal hasn't left her room," and "Cardinal hasn't eaten in two days." I half wondered how much they knew. I hoped that would be enough to save her.

My sister, however, didn't wait terribly long for someone to come save her. She waited long enough for Dad to leave Washington for a meeting god only knows where, and then she packed up and left the White House. At 20, she could do that. At 17, I could not.

News speculated for weeks on why Sophia left, but she kept Dad's reputation pristine nonetheless. At one point, she finally released a statement saying she wanted some independence and opportunity for growth. She let her Secret Service agents stay with her on the condition they didn't let Dad into her new apartment, especially once she told them about the abuses she suffered on the trail.

Believe me, he tried. Without his Golden Girl handy, he lost some approval rating points. I became the Golden Guy now. Best behavior, helping him out the best I could. I thought "What would Sophia do?" so much that I almost got it fucking tattooed on me. He didn't really like my suggestions that much, but damn, the things I saw. Area 51? Bush doing 9/11? The JFK assassination? Honestly, don't trust your government at all.

Dad got desperate and more and more power hungry. The free world and the largest nuclear stash apparently wasn't enough for him. He got cocky and manipulative. He moved more and more towards war, and started doing more things of questionable legality. You know, And I was fucking terrified. I was stuck there too, because like hell would he let me leave like Sophia did.

He tried to bring her back. He came back one day, superbly angry at her and threw a fucking chair at me across the Oval Office. I managed to dodge, but he continued to glare at me. "Get your sister home. That is an order."

"I can't force her-"

"I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNTRY YOU LIVE IN, AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF. NOT TO MENTION YOUR FATHER. GET. HER. HOME!" he shouts at me. Yikes. This is one of those moments you can't reason with him.

"...Okay."

"Answer me with 'Yes sir, Mr. President.'"

Oh jesus. This is unnecessary theatrics. "Yes sir, Mr. President." I knew he'd rather have her around, when she used to only ask 'how high?' when he ordered her to jump. I don't know how she did it, especially when he was angry like this.

"You are dismissed, James."

I walk out of the Oval, shaking a bit. I pull my phone out when the door closes behind me, and I text Sophia: Dad's really pissed. What'd you say?

The little typing bubble appears for a moment, and then she says I told him no. His least favorite word.

I chuckle. Of course she did. She was stubborn. The typing bubble appears again before I have the chance to answer. You need to be careful with him. He's going to try to use you against me.

What's that supposed to mean? Sophia, what the hell? What?

Another bubble. He threatened me by threatening to hurt you.

Oh, you've gotta be fucking kidding me. She told him no... after he threatened to hurt me? Does she really not give a fuck about me? And you still said no?

There's silence from her. The bubble appears for a second, then disappears, then reappears. I caught her off guard. Or she's trying to figure out how to make me less mad because she knows she pissed me off. I'm going to fix this. Don't worry.

That's the exact opposite of a helpful answer. She learned from Dad alright. Okay, DAD.

She doesn't answer. I went for the jugular there, which probably wasn't okay, but she left me out to dry while focusing on her own selfish bullshit.

I go and find Dad's chief of staff, Edward. He's walking towards the Oval, and I can tell he's in a rush and not interested in what he once called 'my bullshit.' "Edward!" I say, catching up.

He groans, and stops. If he could roll his eyes, I know he would. Instead, he folds his arms. "What is it, James?" he demands.

"Tell Dad I can't bring her home. But I want to help him."  

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