Below is part one of their interview. A link to Part Two is at the end!
The Interview Part One
Clarisse Walker stepped inside the Four Seasons’ lobby and inhaled the smell of Chanel No. 5 perfume and roses. She chose the venue in Georgetown as the setting for her interview with Congressman Jonathan Brond knowing he’d fit right in with the old money crowd. Besides, the hotel offered a charming formal tea on Sunday afternoons, and she hoped the casual atmosphere might relax the enigmatic man. She’d had enough of regurgitating politicians’ platforms in her column. This time she wanted to reveal the man—the real man.
When he arrived looking like he’d just stepped off a men’s fashion runway, she knew she chose the right location. Congressman Brond belonged in luxury settings.
A waitress set down a silver tray brimming with finger sandwiches before them and nodded once at the congressman, as if relaying a secret code.
After he folded himself onto an overstuffed chintz sofa, shepulled out her pad, pen and a small digital recorder. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me,” she said. She turned on the digital tape recorder without asking his permission. It was bold, but whatever…
He smiled. “High tea. An interesting choice.”
Ignoring her move. Okay, then.
He adjusted his jacket—no ordinary Brooks Brothers’ suit. Of course, a member of the Brond family could afford Armani if he chose.
“You like tea?” she asked.
“I like ceremony. May I?” He held up a small silver pot.
She shook her head. She preferred coffee. “Your father seems particularly proud of your accomplishments. Thirty-years old seems awfully young to have risen to such prominence.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, only a handful of people have ever been elected–
“No, I meant about the tea.”
“Okay, just a little.”
He held his tie as he poured her a full cup.
She studied him. “You don’t mind being here. Sitting on a flowered couch, drinking tea in a room full of older women who still eat cucumber sandwiches.”
She held the cup up to her lips and dared a return smile. “I think it’s because you’re more comfortable around women.”
He leaned back against the sofa cushion. A bouquet of fresh roses graced the table next to him. Instead of feminizing the man, the environment only showcased his masculinity.
Well, she wasn’t about to be intimidated. “So, tell me, Congressman. What’s the real story about your break-up with Laurel Dane?”
“Jumping right into it, are we? Did you ask Senator McCauley about his personal life?”
“You read my piece on him last week. I’m flattered.”
He leaned forward and his energy nearly sent her back into the cushions. “I don’t talk about women I’ve been involved with. Do you have any real questions?”
“These aren’t real?”
“No one cares about my personal life. They care about how I use my life to make theirs better.”
“Voters care. Are you a good politician?”
“You tell me.”
“Are you a good boyfriend?”
“The two are probably similar. Loyal. Attentive.”
“Then, yes, I’m good.”
The innocent word sounded anything but coming out of his mouth.
“But you’re still single,” she said. Why not push it a little?
He rubbed his chin. “Why is this relevant?”
“Voters put married people in the White House.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“Your father seems to think you’ll be in the Oval Office within eight years.”
He sighed. “My father is ambitious.”
“Ambition that oversteps experience is dangerous. You can quote me on that.”
“Are we still talking about the White House or marriage?”
“You date a lot.”
“Been Googling me, Miss Walker?” The chastisement in his gaze made her feel as if he’d caught her downloading porn. “I’m a single man. I won’t deny I enjoy the company of beautiful women.”
“But you don’t keep them around very long.”
“Or, they don’t keep me.”
Now that was a surprise. Could this man have a humble streak? Nah. “I doubt that’s the case. None of them—even Laurel Dane—had nothing but glowing praise for you.”
“Undeserved, I’m sure. No one pleases everyone.”
“You seem to.”
He stood. “Let me know when you’d like to conduct a real interview, Miss Walker. I’m busy—” He stopped short and sent a stony gaze to her hand that had magically affixed itself to his forearm. She quickly dropped her hand back to her lap.
“I apologize, congressman, I just wanted to—”
“I know what you need, Miss Walker.”
She studied her fingers. She said want, right? “It’s-it’s an opportunity for you. To set the record straight.”
He smiled. “You mean for you.”
“You can clear up certain . . . rumors. No one seems to know much about you.”
He plucked a white hair from her shoulder.
“I have a cat,” she whispered. “Do you have a pet? How about a dog? Isn’t it mandatory to have a dog once you’re in Congress?”
“No. No, pets.”
“Not even a goldfish?”
“Not even a goldfish.”
“But, lots of ex-girlfriends.” She might go to hell for pushing, but she couldn’t seem to stop her mouth.
He tilted his head. “You’re going to write what you want. The question is, are you interested in the truth?”
“Are you sure?”
She swallowed and nodded once.
“Then turn off the tape recorder.”
“If you want me to answer your questions—the ones your mouth can’t seem to stop asking—you’ll turn it off. Then we can have a real conversation.”
She switched off the machine and placed it in his outstretched hand. He fingered the device as he eyed her up and down. Finally, he sat and gestured for her to join him on the couch.
“Now, Miss Walker, what do you want to know?”