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"I want to make an official statement."

I paced the floor of Oliver's office, while he and Roman occupied the chairs that sat in front of Ollie's desk. They both had laser focus on me, writing notes and typing on their phones while I created a well worn path in the opulent, oriental carpet.

Weeks had passed and Grant's attacks only escalated. The media had caught on and fanned the flames to turn my lead-in to inauguration into a circus. Christmas was upon us and instead of putting the finishing touches on my transition or worrying about what I was buying my family for the holiday, I was still in D.C., meeting with my veep and strategizing a way to put a stop to the field day America was having with my personal life. Killing them with kindness and a sense of decorum wasn't working, and neither was ignoring the situation. Everywhere we went, Roman and I were hounded by the press, by protestors, by supporters and well-wishers, and I just had a sick feeling in my gut that at some point, it would all come to a head and sides would clash to become something really ugly. I had spent the last four years watching Grant's Administration tear this nation apart, and I was not going to let him fuel the hatred so that I entered office on bad terms. I had seen enough of people spewing vile words and having an overall feeling of dread hanging like a stormy rain cloud every single day. My campaign message had been clear. My goal was to inspire America to find their patriotic roots of inclusion, love, unity, and caring for one another's well-being, health, and prosperity. Now, I had some petulant man-child trying to take that success and the importance of that message away from me and I was not going to let that happen.

My heart swelled with pride for Roman, my knight in shining armor. He stood by my side day-in and day-out, remaining solid, serious, and friendly to the public I'd be serving. His pleasant yet standoffish and stoic demeanor meant he portrayed an air of mystery that had women clamoring to know more. His face was showing up anywhere from MSNBC and Access Hollywood to Fox News, morning broadcasts, and crazy conspiracy theory web shows. The media was beginning to want the scoop on him more than they did me. It would have been fine. Of course, I harbored zero jealousy or envy. I knew how he felt about me and I knew what our relationship was every night when we crawled into bed to sleep or make love. It was my guilt that continued. He didn't ask to be shoved into the spotlight of politics. He was trying to do his job, and now, my Inauguration team and I were finding a way to shift his role.

Somehow, the media amped up speculation even more by playing up the angle of the subservient bodyguard. Almost daily, there was a new broadcast of "insider info" or a scandalizing op-ed about what exactly Roman's role covered when it came to "servicing" me. Sure, he was the chiseled, brute in a suit who knew how to keep his impassive mask in place and move me from point A to point B, but because of my position as leader of the free world, he must have some complex where he felt the need to be dominated by a strong woman. Did he kneel at my feet to remove my shoes and kiss my toes at the end of a long day? Did he hold my purse as we moved through our home, getting ready to head out the door? Did he beg me to take control of our romance, our entanglements, our dates, our kisses, etc? It never ended and they were so far off the mark in their attempt to demonize me, because a woman couldn't possibly have the guts to command the respect of a country or the world.

If they only knew.

I was up with the sun every morning, threw on my strappy heels day-in-and-day-out, kept a steely smile plastered on my face even if I was getting clobbered by the nation and the news, beat my colleagues at their own games and their personal, private interests, ran a successful grassroots campaign, and would now find my name among a list of less than fifty men as the commander-in-chief. Then, I got to go home with a stunning, beautiful man who was always covering my back, had my safety as his priority concern, was a trusting ear who was always willing to listen, who loved me, and who took me to bed and had me begging to give up control on a nightly basis while he lavished me with endless pleasure.

He did it all without a bad day or complaint, and he was willing to hold my fucking purse.

To an extent, I knew Grant would amp up the media. He only got worse when he lost re-election, but the damage he was doing in his attempt to "go down swinging" was building to a precipice that I knew could jeopardize my presidency, Roman's privacy, and the safety of the public.

"Abs, just be careful about what you say. If you approach this swinging, you'll be portrayed as unhinged, emotional, and un-fit for the role and who knows what could happen" Oliver spoke slow and steady. I scoffed and looked to Roman for assistance.

"You're kidding me right? You see the shit Grant says on a daily basis, ranting and raving like a lunatic, and he seems to win bonus points with the public, yet you want to warn me to approach this carefully?" I shook my head and crossed my arms as I leaned against the lip of Oliver's desk, facing the two men and staring them down.

"I know you know how to handle this, Abby, but it's my job to remind you of what we could be risking if you decide to let emotions overtake rational thinking" Oliver wouldn't meet my gaze, but instead crossed his leg to make a makeshift desk and write things down, "you know we're all here to support your defense on this, we just have to do it properly" he added, almost under his breath.

I could feel the frustration growing and festering in my belly, and a wave of heat and nausea passed over me. I gripped the desk and held my head with my free hand. Roman, not missing a beat, was out of his chair like a shot.

"Baby, are you okay?" he was in front of me as my eyes fluttered closed to get my bearings and I felt his palms come to rest on my cheeks and the touch of his soft lips on my head, "you feel warm, we should get back to the house. You're getting all worked up over nothing. Don't worry about me. I'm not going anywhere, and you're tough as nails. You'll make a statement, and it will be wonderful and eloquent and do exactly what it's designed to do, it'll take the enemies down and remove all the ammo out of their media speculation" I looked up at him pathetically. I appreciated him cheering me up, but I also knew the news. They were as blood-thirsty and corrupt as politicians in Washington, and to them, I was fresh meat. I'd bury them temporarily, but they'd never go away completely. I signed up for it, but when they circulated false stories about the dynamics of my love life, the people most important to me, and how it would allegedly affect my ability to lead, then I had a problem.

Still, I slumped into the protective space of Roman's chest and let him rub my back to soothe me, putting my mind at ease for a minute and making sure the freak wave of nausea passed. I had bigger fish to fry, and the petty behavior being displayed every single day with these rumors and such were taking their toll on me. Sleepless nights and hectic days didn't mesh well together and I could feel myself falling prey to the ramifications of the actions of others. 

"Roman, I love you, and I appreciate you, but I have work to do. Just give me a little more time" I stated weakly. He wouldn't respond, but I saw the apprehension in his eyes, "please Ro, a few more minutes. We need to strategize what we're going to say before more time goes by and we lose the opportunity." My head was suddenly pounding and I felt like the room was spinning. Roman could see the pain in my eyes, this I was well aware, but he nodded stiffly as he guided me behind Oliver's desk to sit in his large, over-stuffed chair. He kissed my hair and murmured that he would return shortly as Oliver and I sorted our documents and got back to work.

I held my head and swallowed the feel of bile building in my throat as Oliver and I volleyed ideas back-and-forth, piecing together a simple, but elegant statement. Minutes went by and before I knew it, Roman had returned to my side with Tess and a few newer members of my staff following closely behind, all armed with snacks, coffee, and looked more than ready to go to bat for me. I watched as they all took seats in any available chairs and a sofa placed off to the side of the space and got caught up on the situation. Roman put a bottle of water and a small sandwich on the desk next to me and sought out my hand for a squeeze.I gathered his large fingers in mine and placed a reverent kiss there as we all got down to business

I was going to speak for myself.

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