A/N: This is my first attempt at writing fiction, and I am hugely grateful to my awesome Canadian buddies debb24601 and WhitbySucks (aka girlpower) for their encouragement and Robporn. If you aren't already, please go and read Debb's story, 1929, cos it's great. I'd also like to give a shout-out to all my girls over at RAoR, without whom I would still be a friendless lurker *mwah mwah*
You all know Twilight character names belong to Stephanie Meyer. I've just moved them to New Zealand. As hunterhunting would say, no copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express written authorisation.
Fuck. What did he just say? They're all clapping. Shit. I really can't concentrate today. There is just too much pretty.
To cover the fact I wasn't clapping, I wrote a quick note to Alice on my shorthand notebook and pushed it along the press bench in front of her.
You taking notes?
She smirked and wrote a reply: Yes. Are you distracted again?
Too much pretty. Can't breathe.
She raised her eyebrows at me, then started writing me another note. Great, now we were both missing the speech.
Did you see the trousers? Tight in all the right places.
Mmmm. He can Lead me anywhere without Opposition.
She let out a laugh, and all of a sudden the speech halted. We both looked up to see the Leader of the Opposition look slightly alarmed. Alice managed to turn her laugh into a cough, covering her mouth, and I could have sworn Edward Masen rolled his eyes at us before continuing to speak.
"I want to be part of the global game…" he continued.
Nice save, A.
I knew if he looked down at us again he would see two matching crimson faces. We were such naughty girls at his campaign events. We couldn't seem to help ourselves. Today we were naughty girls with no story.
Wish I could just crawl away & curl up somewhere.
Up a trouser leg, abt 6ft away? Tight fit, but worth it!
Now it was my turn to splutter. I didn't dare look up, but it sounded like he hadn't heard me. The speech continued as I replied to Alice.
Now that would be some exclusive!
Alice and I were old enough to know better than to act like giggling schoolgirls. Especially while we were working. She was 34, I was 39 – a year older than Edward – and we had seen our fair share of bubble-headed reporters going giggly at press conferences. I had interviewed actors, pop stars, sporting heroes and public figures of all kinds in my 20-year career at the Chronicle, but none had me feeling so flustered as Edward Masen. Well, maybe the odd rugby player. Some of them scrub up really well, and they have the firmest thighs on the planet…
Edward Masen turned my thighs to mush. He was heartbreakingly beautiful. Tall, with a chiseled jaw and unruly bronze hair which always made him look freshly fucked, he made women swoon wherever he went. When he had first been elected to Parliament six years ago, Alice and I had nicknamed him "The Pantydropper". After the enforced retirement due to a sex scandal of party leader Mike Newton, Edward had enjoyed a meteoric career and it was likely that in a couple of weeks he would become "Prime Minister Pantydropper".
He certainly had the female vote all sewn up; anyone with two X chromosomes was in his thrall, whether 18 or 80. He had a huge gay following, and straight men admired him too – mainly for his ability to appear on television and make their wives instantly horny.
Not only was he incredible to look at, but he genuinely cared for people. He had a shy quality which made him a good listener and a thoughtful observer. Unlike many politicians, he didn't seem to be in it for the power and trappings of office. His policies reflected his concern for the poor and elderly, and his plans for the economy, health and education were innovative and brilliant. For the first time in maybe 20 years I truly wanted to vote. I wanted to show Edward I believed in him, even if he never knew.
If the pundits were correct, he would be New Zealand's youngest ever prime minister. And the first single one, if not ever then for a very long time. It was very unusual for a politician not to have a partner. Many I knew had more than one – a wife back in their electorate and a girlfriend in Wellington. Edward Masen appeared to have neither. Rumour had it he was gay; a lot of people felt there could be no other explanation for his bachelorhood. This wasn't as scandalous as it once would have been. There were many gay MPs and several had had civil unions to marry their partners. I knew for a fact he wasn't gay, but it was a mystery if anyone was waiting at home for him every night. Edward was very good at keeping secrets.
God knows, Alice and I had tried to dig the dirt. She had been a parliamentary press gallery reporter for seven years, and I had been back there for the last few months after a stint as Australian correspondent. She knew all the gossip going, but Masen was squeaky clean. He didn't even have an old girlfriend willing to spill. It frustrated us to hell. A man that good looking should be fucked on a regular basis, otherwise it was just a waste.
Alice was back taking notes, but I couldn't help gazing up at his face. That face, and those intelligent green eyes, graced billboards on every roadside verge and blank wall in the country. Well, they had briefly. Most of his billboards had been stolen by teenage girls – and their mothers – for bedroom walls. I didn't blame them. The picture he had chosen for the advertising campaign was panty-soaking. I would have stolen one too, if I had the chance. A five-metre-long one was even stolen from a rooftop in Auckland – no mean feat. A five-metre Edward would be quite a sight, I thought, but I was lucky enough to be just feet away from the real thing. That thought made my heart skip a beat and my loins ache.
I suddenly realised I was performing fellatio on my ballpoint pen. My tongue had been circling the tip in a provocative manner and I wondered if anyone had noticed.
"You might want to at least buy your pen dinner first," read a note dropped in front of me from my left. Jessica Stanley, TV tramp, had caught me fantasizing. Shit. Of all people! She had been the reason Mike Newton had had to resign. She later claimed she had only screwed him to provide a chapter for her memoirs. All Alice and I could say was "ewwww".
The crowd rose to its feet. Edward had finished. He gave an awkward little wave and a shy smile, slightly embarrassed by all the attention even though it was nothing new to him and he was campaigning to make it so much worse.
"Do you have enough for a story?" I hissed in Alice's ear.
"Rose will give us the speech notes. We can cobble something together."
Edward walked off the stage and down some steps next to our press bench. As he passed, he gave me a lopsided grin.
"Nice pen," he smirked. Shit. He had seen my little tongue performance. My cheeks burned again.
Alice's mouth gaped open. "Grab your coat. I think you're in there!" She elbowed me in the ribs, so I shoved her away.
"He's gay. And you're imagining things," I said as we started packing up our things, but neither of us believed either statement. He had just flirted with me in front of an audience of 200 people, and the media. Wow.
I turned to watch him shake hands with his audience as he walked down the aisle, and for a brief second he turned back to look my way. Our eyes met and I saw something – desire? Hope? It was so intense I had to look away, and when I looked back he had gone in a sea of well-wishers.
This was wrong. I couldn't stop thinking about him, yet he was supposed to be "the enemy". I was meant to be objective and report on him impartially. He was making this very difficult.
By the time we got out of the hall, Edward was about to climb in his Crown limo. The man even made getting in and out of a car look sexy. I clambered onto the press bus, very unsexily, and watched out the window as the limo pulled away.
Back at our shared hotel room, Alice typed up her notes while I checked out the Masen tour's itinerary for tomorrow. We liked to work with some music on, so Alice cranked up her iPod. It also annoyed the TV reporters – i.e. Jessica – trying to record their stories in the next room. Her song choice: "Paparazzi" by Lady GaGa.
"I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me, Papa- paparazzi…" she sang along. I rolled my eyes at her, but couldn't help wiggling my hips to the beat.
"You know, Masen can probably hear you. He's staying here tonight, too." My own words gave me a little thrill to know he was somewhere in the building. It was rare for the press pack to have the same accommodation – ours was usually much less classy – but here in Blenheim we had struck it lucky.
"In that case, you should go knock on his door. If he's been celibate all these years he must have the worst case of blue balls in history. You'll need this." She threw her pen at me.
We fell into fits of laughter, but it preyed on my mind long after our giggling had stopped. I had first met him six years ago, and he had been in the public eye ever since then. Alice assured me that for that entire time he had never been seen with anyone. Why the hell not? I felt it was my mission, as a journalist and a woman, to find out what he had been waiting for ever since I had stupidly told him no.