Authors: Avery James
"I can understand why," Callie said.
"Ouch. If I remember correctly, you didn't exactly have a problem spending the night, even if there is nothing between us."
"That's not what I meant," Callie said. "This has been fun, but I have to go." She paused for a moment and added, "alone."
"If you're not going to let me come, you'll have to find some other way to get back to shore. How's your back stroke?"
"You're kidding, right? This is my job we're talking about, Logan. I don't have time to play games right now."
"You're on vacation! You only have time for games right now. When your sister says jump, do you ask how high? Come on, you're enjoying yourself. There must be someone else who can take your place."
"There isn't. I really have to go."
"Let me bring you."
Callie could see that she wasn't going to win this argument with Logan. He was so damn stubborn. The worst part was that she could tell that he was enjoying their little fight. His eyes had lit up the second she had said no. If she wasn't so annoyed with him, it might have been amusing, endearing even, but she had to get off of his boat as soon as possible. "Fine, but you won't do anything on the trip without my approval. Ok?"
"Sounds great, boss," Logan said as he tossed Callie her clothes from the night before. "Do you want to stop by the guesthouse, or is last night's attire good for you?"
"Just get me to my wardrobe," she said, "I don't exactly feel like making one of your shirts into a dress again."
"You could always try something different," Logan said. "I bet you'd look great wearing only a tie."
"Get me off this boat, and maybe we can find out," Callie said.
"For someone who supposedly does this a lot, you're not very good at knowing when I'm kidding."
"But you'll let me tag along?"
"As long as you behave."
"Well, how about I promise not to mess up your case?"
"Isn't that the same as behaving?" Callie asked.
Logan didn't say anything in response. He just smiled.
Callie shook her head. "Fine." She had a feeling that this was a very bad idea.
Logan beamed as he opened the garage door to reveal his vintage convertible. It was a beautifully sculpted piece of machinery, bright red, low to the ground, the top already down. It was totally impractical like almost everything else he owned.
"Do you really think we should be taking
car?” Callie asked.
“This isn’t just a car,” Logan said. “This is a 1957 Corvette. It is perfect. What better way is there to spend your hard earned vacation time than in the finest car ever made?”
"Will it even make it to New Hampshire and back?" Callie asked.
"I just worked on it last week. It's in the best condition it's ever been. The tires are brand new,” he said.
“They’re whitewalls,” Callie said. “I don’t think they’ve made those since before we were born.”
“They’re rare,” Logan said.
"If I get stuck in the middle of nowhere," I'm blaming you," Callie said.
"You won’t,” Logan said.
"Which one? Get stuck or blame you for it?"
"We'll see," Logan said as he walked over to the car and climbed inside.
"We better not," Callie said, climbing into the seat next to him.
Why she had agreed to this arrangement, she didn't know. Her job had been simple: keep Logan away from trouble and out of the headlines until Hank passed his legislation. Now, instead of doing her job, she was risking involving Logan in a completely unrelated scandal. As the wind blew through her hair, she told herself that it was the lesser of two evils. Either she could have left him alone in Newport and hoped he didn't do anything, or she could bring him with her to New Hampshire. At least in New Hampshire, she would be able to keep an eye on him. Besides, she doubted she could have gotten him to change his mind. She just wasn't sure if his intransigence was amusing or irritating.
The way Logan drummed on the steering wheel as he listened to the radio was a different story. It was beyond irritating. Here he was, insisting on driving her up along the coast on a more scenic drive, winding along the sun-drenched roads, and he was ruining it all by tapping his damn fingers incessantly on the steering wheel. It was loud enough that Callie could hear it over the sound of the wind. Eventually she reached out and placed her hand on his wrist. "No more drumming," she said. "I'm begging you."
Logan wrapped his fingers around the wheel and smiled sheepishly. "I didn't even know I was doing that. I'm sorry. Sometimes I get lost in thought, and I just go on autopilot."
"Do you drum and drive often?" Callie leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. The sun was warm on her face, and she couldn’t help but admit to herself that the drive, without the finger-tapping was relaxing.
"I don't know, probably,” Logan said. “I don't even notice that I'm doing it. I just like to be in motion. It helps me think."
"And what are you thinking about?" Callie asked.
Logan hesitated for a moment before he responded. It was long enough for Callie to wonder if he was thinking about her, long enough to wonder if he had been thinking about that kiss, too. She thought about the way his lips had tasted. She thought about how firm his touch had been and the thrill she had felt as she had melted into his kiss. If Logan were thinking about that kiss, she couldn't blame him for struggling to think of anything else.
Finally, Logan cleared his throat and said, "I'm thinking about what I want to do next."
"Yeah, sure, I guess," Logan said. Quickly, he changed the topic of conversation, "Thank you, Callie."
"For letting me make this trip with you. I know I didn't give you much of a choice, but it's good to get out of Newport for a while. Sometimes, going back and forth between the bar and the yacht, I feel like I'm living in a bubble. It's good to be outside of it, even if it's only for a weekend.”
"You're welcome," Callie said, “but it better not be the whole weekend.” She wanted to tell Logan to stop being nice to her. He was supposed to be a jerk, and that by being considerate and thoughtful and anything other than lecherous he made her feel terrible about lying to him. She wondered how she could make it through the trip without admitting to him why she had come to Newport in the first place.
"So, Callie, have you ever fooled around in a speeding convertible?" Logan asked with a grin.
There we go
, Callie thought,
back to normal
. Maybe she would survive this trip after all. If Logan annoyed the hell out of her, maybe she'd be able to resist the rare moments when he was charming.
"Really though, tell me what's going on. I don't want to say the wrong thing when we show up, and, to be honest, I'm curious as hell." He reached over and turned down the radio, leaving only the sound of the wind between them.
Callie mulled it over for a moment. Logan would find out soon enough one way or another. She might as well earn some trust points by telling him before they got there. "Sex scandal," she said, "a student got a teacher pregnant."
"Good for him!" Logan said. He quickly backtracked. "Provided, you know, they were both the age of consent, what's the problem?"
"I'm going to assume you're kidding,” Callie said.
"No, really, I mean what's the scandal? Unless people know about this, it's just a single woman having a baby. Sure there might be rumors or something, but that's not a big deal for the school. I'm sure they could bury this on their own. Why do they need to call in a hotshot crisis manager? It’s the middle of the summer, why now?"
"We're not going on behalf of the school. We're going on behalf of our client. Michael Callahan,” Callie said.
"Who is Michael Callahan?" Logan asked.
"He's the Governor of Connecticut, and he's thinking of making a bid for the White House in a few years. A Republican who plays well with independent voters but has strong family values to court the right.”
"And his kid is the one who knocked up the teacher?"
"Yup. That about sums it up,” Callie said.
"So we're going up there to pay her to keep quiet so dad can run for president in a few years?”
"In part, yes,” Callie said.
"What's the other part?" Logan asked.
"We're picking up his son. He just finished his senior year."
"How old's the teacher?" Logan asked.
"Twenty three,” Callie replied. She knew where he was going with this and she didn’t like it.
"So an eighteen year old knocked up a twenty three year old? "
"Yeah. Well, he's nineteen, and she's twenty three."
“You’re kidding, right? That's a four year gap, Callie.”
"Just wait. The teacher has been threatening to go public with it."
"Unless she gets paid off, right?"
“No, well, we don’t know yet.”
"What about the money? I mean she must be looking at some serious cash if they're that worried about her screwing things up for the school and the family. When you think about it, it's kind of ingenious."
"What do you mean?"
"Who knows how it started, but let's say that Junior had a crush on her. She knew his family name, their reputation. Maybe she hatched a plan to get in on some of that money. Maybe she invited him to some after school study sessions and came up with a few extra incentives. Man, that would be one hell of a story."
"Except she won't take the money. That's why they asked me to go talk some sense into her."
"What?" Logan asked. "If she doesn't want money, what does she want?"
"That's what we're trying to figure out. Of course, first we need to figure out where exactly she is. The school placed her on leave and barred her from campus. That's as much as I know."
Logan turned and looked at Callie for a moment. “We're driving to New Hampshire, and you're not even sure if the person we need to see is in the state?"
"She's not the person we need to see. We talk to the kid and find out what he knows. Then we get him as far away from Cabot as possible and figure out a way to keep the teacher quiet. Once we've done that, we can figure out the rest."
Logan grinned. "Maybe this is more interesting than I thought."
Situated on the rolling hills that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, Cabot Academy looked more like a country club than a high school. Every blade of grass on the lawn was cut to exactly the right length, and not a brick or a pillar looked out of place. The school's website had boasted that aside from the technological improvements, the campus had been virtually unchanged for over two hundred years. The line Callie remembered was "any of the five presidents or countless governors, senators and titans of industry who walked these halls would be at home at Cabot as much today as they were fifty, a hundred, or two hundred years ago." Cabot was a school raised on power, protected by reputation, and fed by ambition.
Of course, there was the image the school liked to project, and then there was the reality of the place, the daily lives of the sons and daughters of wealth and power. Callie had dealt with enough family scandals to know that half the students drank and dabbled in drugs, and that half of their parents had made generous gifts to the school to keep them in good standing. If "Junior" as Logan had been calling him, had been caught with alcohol or had driven his car into the lake while sneaking off with the captain of the cheerleading squad or committed misdemeanor shoplifting in the campus store, Callie wouldn't have needed to make the trip.
But here she was, riding along with Logan, pulling up the long, tree-lined drive to the school. The place was even more idyllic than the website had let on. A few students were lying out on the lawn; someone was walking a dog, the trees swayed slightly in the gentle afternoon breeze. This school was on the brink of an enormous scandal, and no one had a clue. It always surprised Callie how often that was the case, that these things popped up in what seemed like otherwise perfect circumstances. Whether or not the picture-perfect lawn would fill up with news vans and reporters was entirely up to her. It was time to get to work.
The walk to Luke's dorm had been a short one. He had stayed on campus for a summer session. Supposedly, he was hoping to pick up a few extra credits before college, but in light of recent revelations about his personal life, Callie was pretty sure Luke's intents were anything but academic. Before they entered the small brick building, Callie pulled Logan aside. "Remember," she said, "we don't know how this kid's going to react, so don't be so... so
." She let her voice fall at the end of her sentence to convey just how seriously she meant this statement.