Senator Todd Davis was having a busy morning. He had flown into Louisville from the capital for the day, to attend a sale of Thoroughbreds.

"You have to keep up the bloodlines," he told Peter Tager, as they sat watching the splendid-looking horses being led in and out of the large arena. "That's what counts, Peter."

A beautiful mare was being led into the center of the ring. "That's Sail Away," Senator Davis said. "I want her."

The bidding was spirited, but ten minutes later, when it was over, Sail Away belonged to Senator Davis.

The cellular phone rang. Peter Tager answered it. "Yes?" He listened a moment, then turned to the senator. "Do you want to talk to Leslie Stewart?"

Senator Davis frowned. He hesitated a moment, then took the phone from Tager.

"Miss Stewart?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, Senator Davis, but I wonder if I could see you? I need a favor."

"Well, I'm flying back to Washington tonight, so - "

"I could come and meet you. It's really important."

Senator Davis hesitated a moment. "Well, if it's that important, I can certainly accommodate you, young lady. I'll be leaving for my farm in a few minutes. Do you want to meet me there?"

"That will be fine."

"I'll see you in an hour."

"Thank you."

Davis pressed the END button and turned to Tager. "I was wrong about her. I thought she was smarter than that. She should have asked me for money before Jan and Oliver got married." He was thoughtful for a moment, then his face broke into a slow grin. "I'll be a son of a bitch."

"What is it, Senator?"

"I just figured out what this urgency is all about. Miss Stewart has discovered that she's pregnant with Oliver's baby and she's going to need a little financial help. It's the oldest con game in the world."

One hour later, Leslie was driving onto the grounds of Dutch Hill, the senator's farm. A guard was waiting outside the main house. "Miss Stewart?"


"Senator Davis is expecting you. This way, please."

He showed Leslie inside, along a wide corridor that led to a large paneled library crammed with books. Senator Davis was at his desk, thumbing through a volume. He looked up and rose as Leslie entered.

"It's good to see you, my dear. Sit down, please."

Leslie took a seat.

The senator held up his book. "This is fascinating. It lists the name of every Kentucky Derby winner from the first derby to the latest. Do you know who the first Kentucky Derby winner was?"


"Aristides, in 1875. But I'm sure you didn't come here to discuss horses." He put the book down. "You said you wanted a favor."

He wondered how she was going to phrase it. I just found out I'm going to have Oliver's baby, and I don't know what to do....I don't want to cause a scandal, but...I'm willing to raise the baby, but I don't have enough money...

"Do you know Henry Chambers?" Leslie asked.

Senator Davis blinked, caught completely off guard. "Do I - Henry? Yes, I do. Why?"

"I would appreciate it very much if you would give me an introduction to him."

Senator Davis looked at her, hastily reorganizing his thoughts. "Is that the favor? You want to meet Henry Chambers?"


"I'm afraid he's not here anymore, Miss Stewart. He's living in Phoenix, Arizona."

"I know. I'm leaving for Phoenix in the morning. I thought it would be nice if I knew someone there."

Senator Davis studied her a moment. His instinct told him that there was something going on that he did not understand.

He phrased his next question cautiously. "Do you know anything about Henry Chambers?"

"No. Only that he comes from Kentucky."

He sat there, making up his mind. She's a beautiful lady, he thought. Henry will owe me a favor. "I'll make a call."

Five minutes later, he was speaking to Henry Chambers.

"Henry, it's Todd. You'll be sorry to know that I bought Sail Away this morning. I know you had your eye on her." He listened a moment, then laughed. "I'll bet you did. I hear you just got another divorce. Too bad. I liked Jessica."

Leslie listened as the conversation went on for a few more minutes. Then Senator Davis said, "Henry, I'm going to do you a good turn. A friend of mine is arriving in Phoenix tomorrow, and she doesn't know a soul there. I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye on her... What does she look like?" He looked over at Leslie and smiled. "She's not too bad-looking. Just don't get any ideas."

He listened a moment, then turned back to Leslie. "What time does your plane get in?"

"At two-fifty. Delta flight 159."

The senator repeated the information into the phone. "Her name is Leslie Stewart. You'll thank me for this. You take care now, Henry. I'll be in touch." He replaced the receiver.

"Thank you," Leslie said.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No. That's all I need."

Why? What the hell does Leslie Stewart want with Henry Chambers?

The public fiasco with Oliver Russell had been a hundred times worse than anything Leslie could have imagined. It was a never-ending nightmare. Everywhere Leslie went there were the whispers:

"She's the one. He practically jilted her at the altar..."

"I'm saving my wedding invitation as a souvenir..."

"I wonder what she's going to do with her wedding gown?..."

The public gossip fueled Leslie's pain, and the humiliation was unbearable. She would never trust a man again. Never. Her only consolation was that somehow, someday, she was going to make Oliver Russell pay for the unforgivable thing he had done to her. She had no idea how. With Senator Davis behind him, Oliver would have money and power. Then I have to find a way to have more money and more power, Leslie thought. But how? How?

The inauguration took place in the garden of the state capitol in Frankfort, near the exquisite thirty-four-foot floral clock.

Jan stood at Oliver's side, proudly watching her handsome husband being sworn in as governor of Kentucky.

If Oliver behaved himself, the next stop was the White House, her father had assured her. And Jan intended to do everything in her power to see that nothing went wrong. Nothing.

After the ceremony, Oliver and his father-in-law were seated in the palatial library of the Executive Mansion, a beautiful building modeled after the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's villa near the palace of Versailles.

Senator Todd Davis looked around the luxurious room and nodded in satisfaction. "You're going to do fine here, son. Just fine."

"I owe it all to you," Oliver said warmly. "I won't forget that."

Senator Davis waved a hand in dismissal. "Don't give it a thought, Oliver. You're here because you deserve to be. Oh, maybe I helped push things along a wee bit. But this is just the beginning. I've been in politics a long time, son, and there are a few things I've learned."

He looked over at Oliver, waiting, and Oliver said dutifully, "I'd love to hear them, Todd."

"You see, people have got it wrong. It's not who you know," Senator Davis explained, "it's what you know about who you know. Everybody's got a little skeleton buried somewhere. All you have to do is dig it up, and you'll be surprised how glad they'll be to help you with whatever you need. I happen to know that there's a congressman in Washington who once spent a year in a mental institution. A representative from up North served time in a reform school for stealing. Well, you can see what it would do to their careers if word ever got out. But it's grist for our mills."

The senator opened an expensive leather briefcase and took out a sheaf of papers and handed them to Oliver. "These are the people you'll be dealing with here in Kentucky. They're powerful men and women, but they all have Achilles' heels." He grinned. "The mayor has an Achilles' high heel. He's a transvestite."

Oliver was scanning the papers, wide-eyed.

"You keep those locked up, you hear? That's pure gold."

"Don't worry, Todd. I'll be careful."

"And, son - don't put too much pressure on those people when you need something from them. Don't break them - just bend them a little." He studied Oliver a moment. "How are you and Jan getting along?"

"Great," Oliver said quickly. It was true, in a sense. As far as Oliver was concerned, it was a marriage of convenience, and he was careful to see that he did nothing to disrupt it. He would never forget what his earlier indiscretion had almost cost him.

"That's fine. Jan's happiness is very important to me." It was a warning.

"For me, as well," Oliver said.

"By the way, how do you like Peter Tager?"

Oliver said enthusiastically, "I like him a lot. He's been a tremendous help to me."

Senator Davis nodded. "I'm glad to hear that. You won't find anyone better. I'm going to lend him to you, Oliver. He can smooth a lot of paths for you."

Oliver grinned. "Great. I really appreciate that."

Senator Davis rose. "Well, I have to get back to Washington. You let me know if you need anything."

"Thanks, Todd. I will."

On the Sunday after his meeting with Senator Davis, Oliver tried to find Peter Tager.

"He's in church, Governor."

"Right. I forgot. I'll see him tomorrow."

Peter Tager went to church every Sunday with his family, and attended a two-hour prayer meeting three times a week. In a way, Oliver envied him. He's probably the only truly happy man I've ever known, he thought.

On Monday morning, Tager came into Oliver's office. "You wanted to see me, Oliver?"

"I need a favor. It's personal."

Peter nodded. "Anything I can do."

"I need an apartment."

Tager glanced around the large room in mock disbelief. "This place is too small for you, Governor?"

"No." Oliver looked into Tager's one good eye. "Sometimes I have private meetings at night. They have to be discreet. You know what I mean?"

There was an uncomfortable pause. "Yes."

"I want someplace away from the center of town. Can you handle that for me?"

"I guess so."

"This is just between us, of course."

Peter Tager nodded, unhappily.

One hour later, Tager telephoned Senator Davis in Washington.

"Oliver asked me to rent an apartment for him, Senator. Something discreet."

"Did he now? Well, he's learning, Peter. He's learning. Do it. Just make damned sure Jan never hears about it." The senator was thoughtful for a moment. "Find him a place out in Indian Hills. Someplace with a private entrance."

"But it's not right for him to - "

"Peter - just do it." Copyright 2016 - 2024