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By the time I made my way downstairs, it seemed that a small party was congregating. Tessa and Simon were at the reclaimed, barn wood kitchen table comparing calendars, and Jasper was leaning up against the island with Abby locked in a secure embrace. Sensing my presence, she turned and came to me, a smile slowly spreading across her gorgeous lips, lips that had done unspeakable things to me mere hours ago. Without a word, she curled herself into my side, leaving everyone to make eyes at us and nothing for me to do but fold my arms around her. Not that I couldn't tell by the expressions etched across our friends' faces, but I was well-aware that we had just confirmed what they had all suspected. It almost made me wonder if the three musketeers here knew things before even Abby or I had. I couldn't think about it too much before Jasper came over to me and extended his hand between us. I kept a firm arm around my girl while I reached out to clasp her brother's palm in a firm shake.

"This should go without saying, but you'll take care of her. If you don't, I won't hesitate to come after you." His eyes were stern, but his mouth curved ever so slightly into a polite grin.

"I would expect nothing less" I affirmed as I nodded once; our understanding finalized. Abby cleared her throat between our bodies and our gazes shifted to her immediately.

"I can look after myself, you know" she huffed. I didn't doubt it, but so far, I don't think it absorbed into her brain the magnitude of the profession she was about to occupy. I knew she was a strong and fierce woman, but with every eye in the world turned to her, she absolutely needed to someone to look after her. Jasper and I chuckled at our shared knowledge, but I rubbed Abby's back in response and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

"Of course you can, my sweet girl, but please remember that you're about to be sworn in as commander in chief, so despite how well you can look after yourself, I'm going to help you with that when and where I can" I kissed her once more as she rolled her eyes and walked away from me to grab her ignored coffee off of the counter.

Jasper and Abs joined Simon and Tessa at the table where work and room-temperature pancakes awaited us. I made a beeline for the coffee pot in desperate need of a refill in order to handle the rest of the day. I poured a hefty portion into my mug and then found a seat next to Abby.

"So I take it you guys didn't get much sleep?" Tessa broke the seconds of silence. Abby almost dropped the pancake she was dishing onto her plate and glared daggers at her friend and campaign manager, "What? Did you guys forget that Simon and I have rooms in this place too?"

"Jesus" Jasper groaned. He suddenly looked like he was going to be sick, and as much as I wanted to laugh, I couldn't. If someone made an off-the-cuff comment like that about Hazel or Ellie, I'm pretty sure I'd see red real fast. Just thinking about it made my skin crawl.

"Tess, this is the first and only time I'm going to tell you. Shut the hell up. What Roman and I do is nobody's business" Abby's tone was even but after placing my hand on her leg, I could feel her tensing. Jasper and Simon chuckled from their places across from us and her menacing look transferred to them, "what are you laughing about, peanut gallery?" she huffed. Damn, my girl was cranky, but I was enjoying every minute because it turned me the hell on. I made a mental note to tame her later, but the last thing I wanted to do was keep her from work.

"Abby, think about it for two seconds, will you?" Jasper ran interference to play the, 'don't you know who you are' card once again. Maybe once she woke up in the Executive Residence, she'd understand. "What you and Roman do is everyone's business. He knows that, and I know you do too." Jasper leveled her with the same glare she was giving him, while poor Simon remained silent once he was reprimanded.

"I know, Jas, I know. I just want a minute to myself, for Roman and I to have one thing that's ours for, I don't know, a day perhaps, before the world invades and we never get another moment alone. We know what we're in for, but I just want to enjoy this while I can. I'm sure I can't speak for Roman, but we have something special..." she trailed off, a deep crimson coloring her cheeks. I put my arm around the back of her chair in reassurance and just savored the moment. I mostly got to witness her as poised and presidential, so I adored seeing her with her guard down and showing her emotion, and I was thrilled she was doing it in my defense. My lioness had come out to play.

"People will only know what we want them to know, sweet girl, and that will be up to us" I squeezed her shoulder as a loud 'aw' emanated from Tessa's general direction. "Unfortunately, now that these jokers know the deal, I'm afraid we'll be subject to a roasting or two, but I think we can handle it" I shrugged and threw a wink her way. Abby visibly relaxed and everyone let the subject go after that; everyone on a silent agreement that what happened in this kitchen, stayed in this kitchen until we decided otherwise.

"Simon, refresh me, what's the schedule look like today?" I asked as I looked at my watch. Shit, 8:15, we had to get moving.

"It looks like Miss James has a Skype call with CNN and an interview with Vanity Fair. Then it's lunch with Oliver to go over Cabinet selections, and a late afternoon meeting with President Thomas to begin the transition of power..." he paused as everyone at the table visibly flinched. I knew this was the part of the job thus far that Abby was not looking forward to, but it was a necessary evil. There was also not a chance in Hell I was leaving her side during that meeting.

"Tess?" Abby questioned. Tessa dropped her iPhone and stopped making notes on her legal pad to see what my girl needed, "Can you make sure we're stocked up on Excedrin? I'm going to need a heaping pile of it today" she stated as she got up from the table to refill her coffee and transfer it into a travel mug. Jasper looked at his watch as the rest of us began to reluctantly get ready for what promised to be a trying day.

"Okay sis, I have to hit the road anyway. Break a leg, or whatever it is they say in your business. Well, don't break a leg, but if you do, you know where to find me, right?" he joked as he wrapped Abby in a firm grasp, rubbing her back reassuringly. She nodded silently into his shoulder and I could see his grip on her tighten. I heard him whisper, "you got this" into her hair before releasing her to finish getting ready.

"Love you, Jas. I'll call you." She promised him as they both came back toward me; Abby with her travel mug in her hand. Her free arm came to loop through mine as Jasper shook my hand once more.

"Take care of her."

"Of course, it's my job, even more so now." I could feel Abby's eyes on the side of my face, a smile making its presence known out of my periphery. Jasper nodded once and then said his goodbyes to Tess and Simon before making his way to the front hall. Abby and I followed close behind to walk him out. On a glance at the street, I noticed some paparazzi vehicles parked nearby and called for Simon.

"Abs, stay here. I'm walking your brother to the car and I don't want chaos this early in the morning, okay?" she agreed and hugged her brother once more.

"Safe travels, and thanks for everything" she lifted her hand in a wave.

"Love you, sis" he returned her gesture and then I escorted him outside. 

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