It was Senator Todd Davis who had arranged the reconciliation of Oliver Russell and his daughter.

Todd Davis was a widower. A multibillionaire, the senator owned tobacco plantations, coal mines, oil fields in Oklahoma and Alaska, and a world-class racing stable. As Senate majority leader, he was one of the most powerful men in Washington, and was serving his fifth term. He was a man with a simple philosophy: Never forget a favor, never forgive a slight. He prided himself on picking winners, both at the track and in politics, and early on he had spotted Oliver Russell as a comer. The fact that Oliver might marry his daughter was an unexpected plus, until, of course, Jan foolishly called it off. When the senator heard the news of the impending wedding between Oliver Russell and Leslie Stewart, he found it disturbing. Very disturbing.

Senator Davis had first met Oliver Russell when Oliver handled a legal matter for him. Senator Davis was impressed. Oliver was intelligent, handsome, and articulate, with a boyish charm that drew people to him. The senator arranged to have lunch with Oliver on a regular basis, and Oliver had no idea how carefully he was being assessed.

A month after meeting Oliver, Senator Davis sent for Peter Tager. "I think we've found our next governor."

Tager was an earnest man who had grown up in a religious family. His father was a history teacher and his mother was a housewife, and they were devout churchgoers. When Peter Tager was eleven, he had been traveling in a car with his parents and younger brother when the brakes of the car failed. There had been a deadly accident. The only one who survived was Peter, who lost an eye.

Peter believed that God had spared him so that he could spread His word.

Peter Tager understood the dynamics of politics better than anyone Senator Davis had ever met. Tager knew where the votes were and how to get them. He had an uncanny sense of what the public wanted to hear and what it had gotten tired of hearing. But even more important to Senator Davis was the fact that Peter Tager was a man he could trust, a man of integrity. People liked him. The black eye patch he wore gave him a dashing look. What mattered to Tager more than anything in the world was his family. The senator had never met a man so deeply proud of his wife and children.

When Senator Davis first met him, Peter Tager had been contemplating going into the ministry.

"So many people need help, Senator. I want to do what I can."

But Senator Davis had talked him out of the idea. "Think of how many more people you can help by working for me in the Senate of the United States." It had been a felicitous choice. Tager knew how to get things done.

"The man I have in mind to run for governor is Oliver Russell."

"The attorney?"

"Yes. He's a natural. I have a hunch if we get behind him, he can't miss."

"Sounds interesting, Senator."

The two of them began to discuss it.

Senator Davis spoke to Jan about Oliver Russell. "The boy has a hot future, honey."

"He has a hot past, too, Father. He's the biggest wolf in town."

"Now, darling, you mustn't listen to gossip. I've invited Oliver to dinner here Friday."

The dinner Friday evening went well. Oliver was charming, and in spite of herself, Jan found herself warming to him. The senator sat at his place watching them, asking questions that brought out the best in Oliver.

At the end of the evening, Jan invited Oliver to a dinner party the following Saturday. "I'd be delighted."

From that night on, they started seeing only each other.

"They'll be getting married soon," the senator predicted to Peter Tager. "It's time we got Oliver's campaign rolling."

Oliver was summoned to a meeting at Senator Davis's office.

"I want to ask you a question," the senator said. "How would you like to be the governor of Kentucky?"

Oliver looked at him in surprise. "I - I haven't thought about it."

"Well, Peter Tager and I have. There's an election coming up next year. That gives us more than enough time to build you up, let people know who you are. With us behind you, you can't lose."

And Oliver knew it was true. Senator Davis was a powerful man, in control of a well-oiled political machine, a machine that could create myths or destroy anyone who got in its way.

"You'd have to be totally committed," the senator warned.

"I would be."

"I have some even better news for you, son. As far as I'm concerned, this is only the first step. You serve a term or two as governor, and I promise you we'll move you into the White House."

Oliver swallowed. "Are - are you serious?"

"I don't joke about things like this. I don't have to tell you that this is the age of television. You have something that money can't buy - charisma. People are drawn to you. You genuinely like people, and it shows. It's the same quality Jack Kennedy had."

"I - I don't know what to say, Todd."

"You don't have to say anything. I have to return to Washington tomorrow, but when I get back, we'll go to work."

A few weeks later, the campaign for the office of governor began. Billboards with Oliver's picture flooded the state. He appeared on television and at rallies and political seminars. Peter Tager had his own private polls that showed Oliver's popularity increasing each week.

"He's up another five points," he told the senator. "He's only ten points behind the governor, and we've still got plenty of time left. In another few weeks, they should be neck and neck."

Senator Davis nodded. "Oliver's going to win. No question about it."

Todd Davis and Jan were having breakfast. "Has our boy proposed to you yet?"

Jan smiled. "He hasn't come right out and asked me, but he's been hinting around."

"Well, don't let him hint too long. I want you to be married before he becomes governor. It will play better if the governor has a wife."

Jan put her arms around her father. "I'm so glad you brought him into my life. I'm mad about him."

The senator beamed. "As long as he makes you happy, I'm happy."

Everything was going perfectly.

The following evening, when Senator Davis came home, Jan was in her room, packing, her face stained with tears.

He looked at her, concerned. "What's going on, baby?"

"I'm getting out of here. I never want to see Oliver again as long as I live!"

"Whoa! Hold on there. What are you talking about?"

She turned to him. "I'm talking about Oliver." Her tone was bitter. "He spent last night in a motel with my best friend. She couldn't wait to call and tell me what a wonderful lover he was."

The senator stood there in shock. "Couldn't she have been just - ?"

"No. I called Oliver. He - he couldn't deny it. I've decided to leave. I'm going to Paris."

"Are you sure you're doing - ?"

"I'm positive."

And the next morning Jan was gone.

The senator sent for Oliver. "I'm disappointed in you, son."

Oliver took a deep breath. "I'm sorry about what happened, Todd. It was - it was just one of those things. I had a few drinks and this woman came on to me and - well, it was hard to say no."

"I can understand that," the senator said sympathetically. "After all, you're a man, right?"

Oliver smiled in relief. "Right. It won't happen again, I can assure - "

"It's too bad, though. You would have made a fine governor."

The blood drained from Oliver's face. "What - what are you saying, Todd?"

"Well, Oliver, it wouldn't look right if I supported you now, would it? I mean, when you think about Jan's feelings - "

"What does the governorship have to do with Jan?"

"I've been telling everybody that there was a good chance that the next governor was going to be my son-in-law. But since you're not going to be my son-in-law, well, I'll just have to make new plans, won't I?"

"Be reasonable, Todd. You can't - "

Senator Davis's smile faded. "Never tell me what I can or can't do, Oliver. I can make you and I can break you!" He smiled again. "But don't misunderstand me. No hard feelings. I wish you only the best."

Oliver sat there, silent for a moment. "I see." He rose to his feet. "I - I'm sorry about all this."

"I am, too, Oliver. I really am."

When Oliver left, the senator called in Peter Tager. "We're dropping the campaign."

"Dropping it? Why? It's in the bag. The latest polls - "

"Just do as I tell you. Cancel all of Oliver's appearances. As far as we're concerned, he's out of the race."

Two weeks later, the polls began to show a drop in Oliver Russell's ratings. The billboards started to disappear, and the radio and television ads had been canceled.

"Governor Addison is beginning to pick up ratings in the polls. If we're going to find a new candidate, we'd better hurry," Peter Tager said.

The senator was thoughtful. "We have plenty of time. Let's play this out."

It was a few days later that Oliver Russell went to the Bailey & Tomkins agency to ask them to handle his campaign. Jim Bailey introduced him to Leslie, and Oliver was immediately taken with her. She was not only beautiful, she was intelligent and sympathetic and believed in him. He had sometimes felt a certain aloofness in Jan, but he had overlooked it. With Leslie, it was completely different. She was warm and sensitive, and it had been natural to fall in love with her. From time to time, Oliver thought about what he had lost. "...this is only the first step. You serve a term or two as governor, and I promise you we'll move you into the White House."

The hell with it. I can be happy without any of that, Oliver persuaded himself. But occasionally, he could not help thinking about the good things he might have accomplished.

With Oliver's wedding imminent, Senator Davis had sent for Tager.

"Peter, we have a problem. We can't let Oliver Russell throw away his career by marrying a nobody."

Peter Tager frowned. "I don't know what you can do about it now, Senator. The wedding is all set."

Senator Davis was thoughtful for a moment. "The race hasn't been run yet, has it?"

He telephoned his daughter in Paris. "Jan, I have some terrible news for you. Oliver is getting married."

There was a long silence. "I - I heard."

"The sad part is that he doesn't love this woman. He told me he's marrying her on the rebound because you left him. He's still in love with you."

"Did Oliver say that?"

"Absolutely. It's a terrible thing he's doing to himself. And, in a way, you're forcing him to do it, baby. When you ran out on him, he just fell apart."

"Father, I - I had no idea."

"I've never seen a more unhappy man."

"I don't know what to say."

"Do you still love him?"

"I'll always love him. I made a terrible mistake."

"Well, then, maybe it's not too late."

"But he's getting married."

"Honey, why don't we just wait and see what happens? Maybe he'll come to his senses."

When Senator Davis hung up, Peter Tager said, "What are you up to, Senator?"

"Me?" Senator Davis said innocently. "Nothing. Just putting a few pieces back together, where they belong. I think I'll have a little talk with Oliver."

That afternoon, Oliver Russell was in Senator Davis's office.

"It's good to see you, Oliver. Thank you for dropping by. You're looking very well."

"Thank you, Todd. So are you."

"Well, I'm getting on, but I do the best I can."

"You asked to see me, Todd?"

"Yes, Oliver. Sit down."

Oliver took a chair.

"I want you to help me out with a legal problem I'm having in Paris. One of my companies over there is in trouble. There's a stockholders' meeting coming up. I'd like you to be there for it."

"I'll be glad to. When is the meeting? I'll check my calendar and - "

"I'm afraid you'd have to leave this afternoon."

Oliver stared at him. "This afternoon?"

"I hate to give you such short notice, but I just heard about it. My plane's waiting at the airport. Can you manage it? It's important to me."

Oliver was thoughtful. "I'll try to work it out, somehow."

"I appreciate that, Oliver. I knew I could count on you." He leaned forward. "I'm real unhappy about what's been happening to you. Have you seen the latest polls?" He sighed. "I'm afraid you're way down."

"I know."

"I wouldn't mind so much, but..." He stopped.

"But - ?"

"You'd have made a fine governor. In fact, your future couldn't have been brighter. You would have had money...power. Let me tell you something about money and power, Oliver. Money doesn't care who owns it. A bum can win it in a lottery, or a dunce can inherit it, or someone can get it by holding up a bank. But power - that's something different. To have power is to own the world. If you were governor of this state, you could affect the lives of everybody living here. You could get bills passed that would help the people, and you'd have the power to veto bills that could harm them. I once promised you that someday you could be President of the United States. Well, I meant it, and you could have been. And think about that power, Oliver, to be the most important man in the world, running the most powerful country in the world. That's something worth dreaming about, isn't it? Just think about it." He repeated slowly, "The most powerful man in the world."

Oliver was listening, wondering where the conversation was leading.

As though in answer to Oliver's unspoken question, the senator said, "And you let all that get away, for a piece of pussy. I thought you were smarter than that, son."

Oliver waited.

Senator Davis said casually, "I talked to Jan this morning. She's in Paris, at the Ritz. When I told her you were getting married - well, she just broke down and sobbed."

"I - I'm sorry, Todd. I really am."

The senator sighed. "It's just a shame that you two couldn't get together again."

"Todd, I'm getting married next week."

"I know. And I wouldn't interfere with that for anything in the world. I suppose I'm just an old sentimentalist, but to me marriage is the most sacred thing on earth. You have my blessing, Oliver."

"I appreciate that."

"I know you do." The senator looked at his watch. "Well, you'll want to go home and pack. The background and details of the meeting will be faxed to you in Paris."

Oliver rose. "Right. And don't worry. I'll take care of things over there."

"I'm sure you will. By the way, I've booked you in at the Ritz."

On Senator Davis's luxurious Challenger, flying to Paris, Oliver thought about his conversation with the senator. "You'd have made a fine governor. In fact, your future couldn't have been brighter... Let me tell you something about money and power, Oliver...To have power is to own the world. If you were governor of this state, you could affect the lives of everybody living here. You could get bills passed that would help the people, and you could veto bills that might harm them."

But I don't need that power, Oliver reassured himself. No. I'm getting married to a wonderful woman. We'll make each other happy. Very happy.

When Oliver arrived at the TransAir ExecuJet base at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, there was a limousine waiting for him.

"Where to, Mr. Russell?" the chauffeur asked.

"By the way, I've booked you in at the Ritz." Jan was at the Ritz.

It would be smarter, Oliver thought, if I stayed at a different hotel - the Plaza-Athenee or the Meurice.

The chauffeur was looking at him expectantly.

"The Ritz," Oliver said. The least he could do was to apologize to Jan.

He telephoned her from the lobby. "It's Oliver. I'm in Paris."

"I know," Jan said. "Father called me."

"I'm downstairs. I'd like to say hello if you - "

"Come up."

When Oliver walked into Jan's suite, he was still not sure what he was going to say.

Jan was waiting for him at the door. She stood there a moment, smiling, then threw her arms around him and held him close. "Father told me you were coming here. I'm so glad!"

Oliver stood there, at a loss. He was going to have to tell her about Leslie, but he had to find the right words. I'm sorry about what happened with us... I never meant to hurt you... I've fallen in love with someone else... but I'll always...

"I - I have to tell you something," he said awkwardly. "The fact is..." And as he looked at Jan, he thought of her father's words. "I once promised you that some day you could be President of the United States. Well, I meant it... And think about that power, Oliver, to be the most important man in the world, running the most powerful country in the world. That's something worth dreaming about, isn't it?"

"Yes, darling?"

And the words poured out as though they had a life of their own. "I made a terrible mistake, Jan. I was a bloody fool. I love you. I want to marry you."


"Will you marry me?"

There was no hesitation. "Yes. Oh, yes, my love!"

He picked her up and carried her into the bedroom, and moments later they were in bed, naked, and Jan was saying, "You don't know how much I've missed you, darling."

"I must have been out of my mind..."

Jan pressed close to his naked body and moaned. "Oh! This feels so wonderful."

"It's because we belong together." Oliver sat up. "Let's tell your father the news."

She looked at him, surprised. "Now?"


And I'm going to have to tell Leslie.

Fifteen minutes later Jan was speaking to her father. "Oliver and I are going to be married."

"That's wonderful news, Jan. I couldn't be more surprised or delighted. By the way, the mayor of Paris is an old friend of mine. He's expecting your call. He'll marry you there. I'll make sure everything's arranged."

"But - "

"Put Oliver on."

"Just a minute, Father." Jan held out the phone to Oliver. "He wants to talk to you."

Oliver picked up the phone. "Todd?"

"Well, my boy, you've made me very happy. You've done the right thing."

"Thank you. I feel the same way."

"I'm arranging for you and Jan to be married in Paris. And when you come home, you'll have a big church wedding here. At the Calvary Chapel."

Oliver frowned. "The Calvary Chapel? I - I don't think that's a good idea, Todd. That's where Leslie and I...Why don't we - ?"

Senator Davis's voice was cold. "You embarrassed my daughter, Oliver, and I'm sure you want to make up for that. Am I right?"

There was a long pause. "Yes, Todd. Of course."

"Thank you, Oliver. I look forward to seeing you in a few days. We have a lot to talk about...governor..."

The Paris wedding was a brief civil ceremony in the mayor's office. When it was over, Jan looked at Oliver and said, "Father wants to give us a church wedding at the Calvary Chapel."

Oliver hesitated, thinking about Leslie and what it would do to her. But he had come too far to back down now. "Whatever he wants."

Oliver could not get Leslie out of his mind. She had done nothing to deserve what he had done to her. I'll call her and explain. But each time he picked up the telephone, he thought: How can I explain? What can I tell her? And he had no answer. He had finally gotten up the nerve to call her, but the press had gotten to her first, and he had felt worse afterward.

The day after Oliver and Jan returned to Lexington, Oliver's election campaign went back into high gear. Peter Tager had set all the wheels in motion, and Oliver became ubiquitous again on television and radio and in the newspapers. He spoke to a large crowd at the Kentucky Kingdom Thrill Park and headed a rally at the Toyota Motor Plant in Georgetown. He spoke at the twenty-thousand-square-foot mall in Lancaster. And that was only the beginning.

Peter Tager arranged for a campaign bus to take Oliver around the state. The bus toured from Georgetown down to Stanford and stopped at Frankfort...Versailles...Winchester...Louisville. Oliver spoke at the Kentucky Fairground and at the Exposition Center. In Oliver's honor, they served burgoo, the traditional Kentucky stew made of chicken, veal, beef, lamb, pork, and a variety of fresh vegetables cooked in a big kettle over an open fire.

Oliver's ratings kept going up. The only interruption in the campaign had been Oliver's wedding. He had seen Leslie at the back of the church, and he had had an uneasy feeling. He talked about it with Peter Tager.

"You don't think Leslie would try to do anything to hurt me, do you?"

"Of course not. And even if she wanted to, what could she do? Forget her."

Oliver knew that Tager was right. Things were moving along beautifully. There was no reason to worry. Nothing could stop him now. Nothing.

On election night, Leslie Stewart sat alone in her apartment in front of her television set, watching the returns. Precinct by precinct, Oliver's lead kept mounting. Finally, at five minutes before midnight, Governor Addison appeared on television to make his concession speech. Leslie turned off the set. She stood up and took a deep breath.

Weep no more, my lady,

Oh, weep no more today!

We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,

For the old Kentucky home far away.

It was time. Copyright 2016 - 2024