Author's Note: First, thanks everybody for all the reviews the last few weeks :)
And second, going to narrative for a bit to move things along. And there is a bit of a time passage here, which is good because this was really going to take FOREVER if every hour of every day, of their lives, got its own chapter.
Prompts Set #34 (September 2013)
Author: Liane Moriarty
Title Challenge: The Husband's Secret
The Husband's Secret
Emily's mother arrived about thirty minutes after Aaron had spoken to her father. And though Aaron had never seen the woman before, with the dark hair and the dark eyes with the thick lashes, her genetic relationship with Emily was immediately obvious.
They really could have been sisters.
So as he saw her rushing into the fourth floor waiting area . . . with what appeared to be a somewhat nebbishy lackey huffing behind her with a leather satchel . . . he immediately stood up and waved her over to his area by the rubber tree with a, "Mrs. Prentiss, I'm Aaron Hotchner, the man who called your husband."
After she hurried over, Aaron more properly introduced himself, and after she gave him the once over . . . it was the same visual scrutiny he'd had from Emily when he'd asked her to lunch . . . Mrs. Prentiss allowed him to give her his chair. And once he'd dragged another chair over from the other corner of the waiting area, he sat down by her side, and began recapping the same information that he'd already shared with Emily's father.
And then he answered about fifty additional questions, posed by Emily's mother.
The experience was very similar to the interview that he'd had with the Secret Service. Though Mrs. Prentiss was MUCH more thorough than those agents had been. And he was saying that even though he'd gone through a thirty minute interrogation!
Mrs. Prentiss' was almost as long.
In the end it was all a bit of a blur, but by the time they'd finished, Aaron was fairly certain that he'd even shared his mother's maiden name, and his GPA in law school. Yes, in retrospect he had NO idea how either of those things could have come up . . . though somehow they had. But at least by the time they were done talking, the woman seemed to have warmed up to him a bit. Not that she was frosty at first . . . a bit cool perhaps, though mostly she just seemed (understandably) anxious about Emily's well-being . . . but by the time she finally leaned back slightly in her seat, running her perfectly manicured fingers along her perfectly tailored knee length black skirt, she was finally calling him Aaron.
That was the moniker that he'd offered up when they'd initially shaken hands.
But still for the first fifteen minutes of their conversation, it had just been a crisp, "Mr. Hotchner." And then that had morphed to a slightly less crisp, "Mr. Hotchner."
So either way, the concluding, "Aaron," was definitely progress.
And the other thing that had happened by the time they were done talking, was that the lackey, Mr. Makepeace . . . seriously a diplomat named Makepeace, you couldn't make that stuff up . . . had returned from hunting down someone to get an update on Emily's condition. That was the task Mrs. Prentiss had sent him off on when they'd first arrived.
Find my daughter.
And apparently Mr. Makepeace was quite good at his job, because even with the semi-controlled chaos of a mass casualty event, somehow this man had found the actual chief hospital administrator himself . . . a fussy looking older man wearing a seersucker suit under his white coat . . . to bring the update on Emily's condition.
And the update was . . . still in surgery.
Though he then did add that the surgery was, by all accounts going, "well," but it was still emergency brain surgery and therefore by definition, somewhat risky.
The latter was clearly the 'cover your ass' portion of the update.
Dr. Bailey finished by telling Mrs. Prentiss that he'd make sure she was given updates every thirty minutes until her daughter's surgery was complete, and she was safely in recovery. And though it was clear at that point that this busy man thought he could now graciously step away . . . Emily's mother wasn't having any of that. From the clench in her jaw, Aaron could see that Bailey was about to receive the EXACT same third degree that Aaron himself had just completed.
And he was NOT prepared for it.
Especially given that this third degree including finding out everything that there was to know about not only Emily's injury, but also the full credentials and work histories of every SINGLE man and woman currently operating on her. And Mrs. Prentiss wasn't taking the, "Madame Ambassador, I really do have to go," for an answer. She told Bailey to sit back down, or she was calling every member of his Board of Directors, individually, to file a complaint. And then when Bailey sputtered for a half second, she told Makepeace to start gathering the phone numbers. After that, Bailey immediately capitulated. And Aaron, he was . . . impressed.
Seriously, genuinely, impressed . . . with a woman that he'd known for just under an hour.
Which was . . . curiously . . . more than a shade reminiscent of the trajectory of his relationship with the woman's daughter. They were definitely an interesting lot, these Prentiss women. And Aaron was a bit disappointed at the realization that he probably wouldn't have the opportunity to get to know them as well as he would have liked. Yes, he was hopeful about maintaining some sort of contact with Emily after all of this was done, but he really wasn't sure how feasible that plan would turn out to be.
Again, Haley would not approve of any contact at all. So those plans for a future connection, were presently undefined. So in the meantime, he just stayed focused on the present. Sitting and listening as Emily's mother quietly commanded the room in a way that he'd only ever seen a few women before her.
And slowly the minutes ticked away.
In fact by the time Dr. Bailey had his secretary, and the head of Human Resources, gather up all of the credential and employment information that had been requested, the first thirty minute update, had already been delivered.
Surgery still ongoing.
And then another thirty minutes passed, this time with Dr. Bailey back in his office, and Aaron pacing the length of the waiting room, while sipping a fancy (tasty) coffee drink that Mr. Makepeace had gone out and brought back for the three of them. Though he'd never much 'hungered' to join the elite ranks of the wealthy and powerful, Aaron was starting to see the perks of having a personal manservant at your beck and call.
At least in times of personal crisis anyway.
But by the time the coffee was done, and the third update had passed . . . this time that there had been a slight drop in Emily's blood pressure, though the nurse said that it was under control . . . five-thirty had come and gone. It was actually very close to six pm. And Aaron realized then that he'd forgotten to call Haley at the time that he had planned. And there was still no way that he was ready to leave yet.
Not until the surgery was done.
So with a gesture to Emily's mother that he'd be back in a moment, he slipped out to the bank of phones in the main corridor.
Then he immediately had to return and ask Mr. Makepeace if he could borrow a quarter.
But after THAT, he dialed his home number. Though to his surprise . . . Haley didn't answer. Then he realized though that she could just be taking a walk or something. So as the greeting on the machine finished . . . it as his voice, and he hadn't quite gotten used to that yet . . . Aaron started to leave a message that, "though he was physically okay, there had been an incident, he was stuck at the hospital, and . . ."
. . . the message beeped.
He ran out of time.
And not wanting to have to ask for yet ANOTHER quarter from Mr. Makepeace . . . it was strangely emasculating just having to ask for the first one, like somehow he should have been better prepared to spend the afternoon handling these messes . . . he hung up the receiver and headed back down to again settle into the waiting room. The portion of the message that he'd left was perfectly sufficient.
The rest could wait until he got home.
Unfortunately, it turned out that he didn't actually get home, for some time. Because by the time Emily's surgery was done, and they had an update from her actual surgeon explaining the procedure, the blood pressure issue, and that the patient was now stable and had been moved to the recovery room . . . it was close to seven forty-five.
And it was just around eight-fifteen, when Aaron finally cabbed it home.
When he walked in the front door, the apartment was quiet . . . and dark. After he'd hung his keys on the hook by the entryway, he turned on a light as he called out Haley's name.
So he stood there for a moment, his brow wrinkled, wondering where the hell she could be. Then he walked a little further into the living room, and flipped another switch. This time though, the light from the table lamp immediately illuminated the birthday card from his mother. It was lying on the corner of the coffee table where he'd left it that morning. And soon as he saw it . . . he winced.
That GODDAMN birthday dinner that he hadn't wanted to go to! He'd COMPLETELY forgotten! And perhaps under ANY other circumstances, that might have sounded rather ridiculous . . . that he could forget his own birthday outing . . . today it wasn't so unbelievable. Even for a man who had spent many years of his childhood feeling the thrash of his stepfather's belt, today still ranked as his most 'violently traumatic' afternoon of record.
And remembering then that the birthday dinner was supposed to start at seven, Aaron realized that Haley had probably left a little before six to allow for traffic, and to make sure that everything was setup exactly the way that she wanted it done. Which meant that she had, in all likelihood, missed the message that he'd left on the answering machine, explaining that he was stuck at the hospital.
So that meant . . . he simultaneously groaned and rolled his eyes . . . she'd probably been waiting for him at that restaurant for over an hour. He sighed.
And sure enough, when he walked over to check the machine, after listening to his own message . . . still showing as 'new' . . . he got to listen to five from his wife.
7:10 (nice): "Hey, assuming you stopped home to change. Hurry up honey, everybody's here."
7:20 (annoyed): "Where are you? It's starting to get awkward."
7:25 (confused): "Aaron . . .?"
7:30 (pissed): "Aaron seriously, if you're still working, I'm going to kill you. I'm calling the office."
7:40 (really pissed, harsh whisper): "People are starting to LEAVE! Where the hell are you?! I know you didn't want this dinner, but did you actually skip it just to embarrass me?!"
7:50 (still vaguely pissed/mostly concerned/confused): "Okay, you're still not here, and you're still not answering at home or at your desk. I'm starting to get a little worried."
That was the last message . . . though there were five subsequent hang ups. And he was just about to pull out the phone book to look up the number for that restaurant . . . if he could remember the name of the God damn place . . . when he heard the key in the lock.
He rushed over and whipped open the door to see his wife wearing her best navy blue cocktail dress, and her hair very nicely made up for an evening out. She took one look at him . . . and started screaming.
"Where the hell have you BEEN?! Did you forget!? You were SUPPOSED to meet me and your friends over an HOUR ago! I've been calling and calling and . . ."
And then suddenly she stopped with the high pitched yelling . . . thank God, his ears were bleeding . . . as her eyes widened. It seemed that she was suddenly actually SEEING him for the first time since he'd opened the door.
That's when he remembered the stiches . . . and the generally poor condition of his blood splattered clothes.
"What happened to you?" She whispered as her hand came up to ghost over the stiches on his forehead, "are you all right?"
"Yeah," he quickly nodded as he caught her hand, "I'm fine Haley, I just." He rolled his eyes slightly, "I'd, well, I'd left you a voicemail about what happened, but obviously you didn't . . ."
"Well tell me now," she cut in anxiously as she pushed him backwards and shut the door behind her, "how did you get hurt?" She continued while dropping her clutch on the end table, "where have you been?"
"Uh . . ."
Aaron opened his mouth to start and explain why he was late . . . Emily's surgery, after all that was the precise answer for "where" he had been, the waiting room . . . but then his 'marital instincts' . . . all husbands had them . . . kicked in, and he realized that this was the WORST possible time to tell Haley the whole messy story that he had planned on telling her when he got home.
"Well, you see my incredibly strange day all started around noon when I started flirting with this incredibly attractive girl I met at the bank. And then I made her cry, and then we set up a lunch date, and then the bank got robbed, so I spent the rest of the day at the hospital posing as the attractive girl's husband, while hanging out with her mother, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, and drinking coffee with the mother's manservant. A diplomat named Makepeace.'
Yeah . . . he internally winced . . . no. No, that was not a story that he could share. In fact, there actually wasn't ONE version of that story . . . which included Emily specifically . . . that he thought would fly for tonight. Not with the level of anger that he'd heard on Haley's voicemails, and then the screaming at the door.
That was all still bubbling below the surface.
Of course she was all nice and genuinely concerned for his well-being right now, but he knew that she was NOT at all going to understand why he'd chosen to spend the evening at the hospital waiting to hear about the outcome of a surgery for a virtual stranger, rather than remembering to go to meet his wife and "friends" for his birthday dinner.
Or even if she understood why he wouldn't have been in the mood to go out for dinner . . . which he most definitely would not have been, even if he had remembered it . . . she STILL wasn't going to comprehend, on any level, why he hadn't just come straight home after he'd gotten bandaged up. So there was really NO way to bring Emily, or her injuries, into this conversation.
So instead of the absolute truth . . . which is what he usually, okay mostly, told his wife of six and half years . . . he went with a more succinct version of his day. That he'd gone to the bank at lunch, that there'd been a violent robbery, a horrible counter assault, and though he'd personally only suffered a few relatively minor lacerations . . . gesture to butterfly bandages for effect . . . he'd still been brought to the hospital by ambulance. And then he'd just been stuck there for hours with the treatment, and the forms and the paperwork and the law enforcement interviews, etc., etc. . . . etc.
Emily was in the final "etc."
When he was finally done talking . . . "spinning a yarn," his conscience corrected . . . Haley was still staring up at him in wide eyed confusion.
That was not a good sign.
"But Aaron," she asked slowly, with a slight shake of her head, "if all this started at lunchtime, why didn't you call me when you first got to the hospital? That had to have been, what?" Her brow scrunched, "five or six hours ago, right? I could have come down and picked you up. Or at the very least, I could waited with you if you had to stay there. So why didn't you call me?"
For a second Aaron stared blankly down at his wife. Though the absolute truth was again on the tip of his tongue . . . "honestly, Haley, it didn't even occur to me to call you, not for hours, and even then I dismissed the thought outright". . . again he held it back. That time though because obviously the absolute truth would have hurt her feelings. So instead he once more went with a cloudier version of what had actually happened.
More yarn off the spool.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he answered with a shrug and a squeeze of her hand, "I guess it was just a crazy day."
And then he dropped her fingers, turned . . . and headed down the hall, unbuckling his belt as he went.
He needed a shower.
Early the next morning . . . very early, it was barely five am . . . after a fitful night's sleep (barely any sleep) Aaron rolled over and slipped quietly out of bed.
After their 'discussion' of the night before, he was being VERY particular about not inadvertently waking up his wife.
And after a quick glance to make sure that Haley was still sleeping . . . yes . . . he hurriedly pulled together an outfit in the dark. Then he tiptoed out of his bedroom, and headed down the hall to the bathroom.
Once there he peed, did a quick shave, and even quicker shower, before hurriedly drying off and then pulling on whatever the hell he'd managed to snatch from the blind groping in the shared closet and dresser. Fortunately, he hadn't grabbed anything of Haley's. And it was also fortunate that there was absolutely NOTHING in his wardrobe that could be considered, "flashy. " So though he hadn't been looking, he still managed to pull together appropriate clothes for the office.
White shirt, navy suit . . . his eyebrow inched up as he looked down at the last item on the counter . . . dark brown tie.
Okay, brown and blue were not an ideal color combination, but . . . he threw it around his neck . . . they weren't God awful either.
At least they were all solids.
And once he'd gotten his tie on, and his teeth brushed, he hurriedly straightened up the bathroom. Then he went out to grab his wallet off the coffee table, and his keys from the hook . . . then he headed out the door.
Places to be.
Twenty minutes later . . . a little after six am . . . Aaron found himself standing outside the door leading to GW's ICU ward. Given that he technically had absolutely NO business whatsoever standing in that hallway, he was trying to think what the hell he was going to say to get himself inside that ward.
And then he decided on the truth.
He was worried about his friend.
So with that, he raised his hand to press the big black buzzer on the wall. But then . . . by some miracle . . . the door started to open. And they were wide swinging doors, so Aaron quickly stepped back to allow the orderly, with the empty wheelchair, to get by him.
And then as he stood there now alone in the hall, Aaron realized that the orderly was gone . . . but the door was still open.
So after a quick look over his shoulder, he darted into the open space that was just starting to close.
Excellent . . . he nodded to himself once he was on the other side . . . one hurdle down. So now he just had to find Emily's room, poke his head in to see how she was doing, and then he'd be on his way.
Should be easy enough.
And to his surprise . . . and relief . . . it was relatively easy. Because as he started walking down the brightly lit corridor, nobody stopped him. He wasn't sure if it was just his demeanor, (he was pretending like he knew where he was going), or maybe his lanyards.
They were similar in color to the ones that the hospital staff were wearing. Of course that was if you didn't get close enough to read that his said "DOJ," not "GWU."
And nobody was.
Getting close enough that is.
So Aaron continued slowly walking along, his gaze snapping from one side of the corridor to the other. The one "fortunate" element of being in the ICU area, was that the rooms were notably larger than standard hospital size.
Basically that meant that there were fewer rooms to check.
And he'd made it a third of the way around the U shaped wing . . . he'd passed the nurses desk with a curt nod, he got one in return . . . before he spotted the one word that he'd been searching for since he'd arrived.
It was actually, "Prentiss, E.," and seeing her door . . . and seeing that it was shut . . . caused Aaron's stomach to turn a bit.
Either way he powered through it. He walked over, and after a VERY soft knock . . . he didn't want to wake her, it was just a warning in case the staff were doing a ridiculously early morning sponge bath or something . . . he pushed it open.
And though he'd rather expected that maybe Emily's mother . . . or father . . . might have been camped out inside, to his surprise, both of the visitors' chairs were empty. And he didn't see any bags or jackets in evidence so if one of them was in the building, they must have stepped out for a bit. So with at least a few minutes (if not longer) of presumed privacy, he slipped quietly inside the room, and pushed the door shut behind him.
Then he stopped short, his upper teeth sinking into his lip as he took in what was in front of him.
She was in a light blue hospital gown, and lying in an oversized bed. Her upper body was elevated and there were tubes hooking her up to the machines beeping on both sides of her. Half of her head had been shaved, and . . . Aaron winced as he took a step closer . . . there was a terrible, ragged, incision on that side of her skull.
She looked absolutely terrible.
And so very small.
And though a part of him then began to realize that his visit might be seen by some as an intrusion . . . there were many people who wouldn't want to ever be seen looking so vulnerable . . . somehow, as he walked closer to the bed, Aaron didn't think that Emily would mind that he was there.
And as he stared down at her, he began to count back the hours since her surgery had ended.
No . . . his jaw clenched . . . eleven. Eleven hours, and now he was wondering if she'd woken up yet. And though he knew that information would probably be in her medical chart, he refused to violate her privacy that way.
Granted he had been digging through her purse and posing as her husband for half of Tuesday, but . . . today was Wednesday. And Wednesday he was going to be respectful of some personal boundaries.
Or at least he was going to try.
Still though, as he stopped next to her bed, he couldn't stop himself from reaching out to gently stroke his fingers over the back of her wrist. And he did that because again, she looked so little . . . and cold.
And he just wanted to make sure that she was warm.
His lips pursed . . . but she wasn't warm. Or at least not warm enough. So he reached down to lightly tug up the other blanket that was resting on her thighs.
He pulled it up to her waist . . . and then leaned over to pull up and onto her folded arms.
For both movements, he was very careful to avoid bumping her tubes.
And as he leaned back, his gaze dropped down to see that Emily's eyes had started to open. His own eyes widened in surprise.
She was looking right at him.
Her gaze was sleepy and confused . . . probably in part that was the drugs . . . but there was definitely a level of intelligence in her eyes. And seeing that, he felt a bit of relief. Because he'd been so worried about that wonderful, clever brain of hers. That it might have been permanently damaged.
But at least he was a bit encouraged about the condition of her faculties.
And though he hated that he'd woken her up, he decided to take advantage of the moment. He just wanted to see if she remembered him.
If that part of her brain was working okay.
So he gave her a soft, slightly worried, smile as his hand came down to gently squeeze her fingers.
"Hi there," he whispered, "do you know who I am?"
For a second she stared up blankly, and he started to get a sinking feeling in his stomach . . . but then suddenly she licked her lips.
"Aaron," she mouthed as her eyes crinkled ever so slightly, "dimples."
He burst out laughing.
And he was so ridiculously happy that she could remember both his name AND his dimples . . . which meant that she was both retaining and processing data . . . that he shot her a huge two dimpled grin. And then before he even really realized what he was doing, he leaned over to press a kiss to her forehead.
"Yep," he answered softly with a little smile, "that's me, Aaron with the dimples. I just wanted to come make sure you were doing okay." Then he frowned slightly as he fixed her blanket. "I'm sorry I woke you, but your hand was cold and I didn't want you to catch a chill."
"So'kay," she murmured back with a sleepy smile, "happy to see you."
"Yeah," his eyes started to sting, "I'm really happy to see you too. You had me VERY worried yesterday. So don't fall down and break your crown again, okay? No more Humpty Dumpties."
Her eyes crinkled slightly.
Her words were again a sleepy mumble. And for a moment they stared at each other, and he wanted to say something else, he actually just wanted to talk to her for a minute, but he knew that she wasn't up to actual conversation. She was drugged up, exhausted, and recovering from major brain surgery. Which meant that the most important thing right now was that she got rest.
For probably two or three weeks at least.
So he patted her hand.
"Well, I think I should go now," he leaned in to give her a conspiratorial whisper, "if they catch me in here, I think they're going to kick me out, so," he leaned back with a wink, "best not to get caught."
Still drowsy, Emily gave him a faint pout.
"Later?" She mumbled as her lip popped out. And Aaron's eyebrow quirked up.
"Do you mean," he asked slowly, "that you want me to come back and see you, later?"
And he again saw Emily nod as she bit back a yawn.
Her answer wasn't exactly the Queen's English, but he still understood that to be an affirmative response nonetheless. And feeling another pull of attraction for her . . . the same pulls that had initially gotten him into SO much trouble when they'd first met early the day before . . . he was about to immediately agree to her request. To say yes, of course he'd come back later. But then he flashed on Haley's screaming the night before, and then his wife's likely reaction to him deciding to make 'regular' visits to this other woman's hospital bedside.
That was a life choice that would not go over well.
And for a moment he was conflicted. Very, conflicted. He didn't want to tell Emily no . . . certainly not with her looking so pitiful . . . but he didn't want to start World War Three at home, either. But then his gaze traveled up and around the bed. He was again taking in the beeping machines, and Emily's chalky skin, and the thick, slightly stained bandages covering her head. His jaw snapped.
Emily might have been a new female friend, but she was also a sick, female friend. A very, sick female friend. And he wasn't going to let his wife's potential upset prevent him from providing the support that his new friend would need to get better. If she wanted him to come visit . . . if that was going to help with her recovery . . . then of course he would come visit her.
And that was that.
So his expression softened as he leaned down to lightly grasp her fingers.
"Of course I'll come back later," he whispered, "but probably tomorrow though. Your brain needs to rest. And I don't want to keep waking you up by accident."
Though he could see the faint twinge of disappointment on her scrunched up face, Emily nodded back.
"K," she mumbled as her lashes started to flutter, "thanks."
And with that, Aaron could see that she was starting to fade away again. So after a light squeeze of her digits, he let go. And after one more adjustment to her bed covers . . . there was a bit of gooseflesh on her other arm . . . he turned to leave.
He was halfway across the room when he heard Emily say his name. It was very soft.
He turned around to see her eyes were half closed.
"Yeah," he asked with a faint uptick of his eyebrow.
"Thanks for calling my dad," she whispered with a bit of a drug induced slur.
And he saw her slowly bring her hand to her mouth. Then she pulled it away . . . and he realized . . . she was blowing him a kiss. She'd just woken up, was completely drugged up, brain surgery less than a day ago, she had no energy at all . . . and she was trying to blow him a thank you kiss.
Feeling a wave of something warm crash into him, his eyes started to burn.
"You're welcome," he whispered back.
And then before he knew it, he'd brought his own hand up . . . and he blew her a kiss in return. Her sleepy eyes crinkled, and then she started to blink again.
He stood there until they'd fallen shut.
Once he was sure that she was asleep, he turned and walked over to pull the door open.
Christ . . . he scrubbed his hands down face as he stepped out into the corridor . . . what the HELL was he doing?!
A/N 2: All of my writing, though of course fictional, is grounded in actual life experiences or it would all suck mightily. The emotions and the occasional awkwardness and confusion of trying to navigate interpersonal relationships, the more messed up/complicated your life has been, the easier that stuff is to dig up. And in a strange, creepy, life imitates art way, I have SO MUCH EXPERIENCE now with the after effects of massive emergency brain surgery! And that would be because (if you are new to me) my nephew was shot in the head last fall. But what's weird, and again creepy, is that I'd always intended for Emily to suffer this major head injury during the bank robbery. But after my family situation, I couldn't go down the bullet road. That would have been too fresh a personal trauma to dissect that much. But what I did take from that, was the exact description of the hospital ward, and the physical condition of both the room, and the patient, after a surgery of that kind. And also, how alert, and responsive, the patient might be expected to be. My nephew (who is almost perfect now, aside from one seizure, still having a cracked skull, and the tendency to occasionally repeat himself) was shot point blank right above his right eyebrow, and we were told he likely wouldn't make it through the night. But three days later, when they lowered the sedatives, he was just like Emily here. In his case, TV was on low in the corner of the room, and his eyes were half closed, and he was miming playing the piano, muttering the name of the Elton John song in the show, and that was WITH the damage an actual bullet slicing through his brain. So I decided that Emily, with just the head bump, would be coming around faster than 3 days. So that's where that's coming from.
Beyond that, not making Haley a stark raving bitch, or Hotch a cheater, (per say), but his life is going to get messier still.
So funny about the Mr. Makepeace thing. Fairly certain I've heard of that as a name before, but not one that was in any way in the forefront of my mind. But then TWICE this weekend, I randomly came across people named Makepeace (one real, one fictional) so when I opened up this story it was the just a perfect name to plug in for a low level State Department employee. As Aaron said, you can't' make that stuff up :)
I kind of liked writing the Ambassador at this point in time. When we met her in canon, her career was sort of, if not, 'past its prime' clearly in a transitional phase. The contacts she had to help with the Russian case weren't A level anymore, and you could see her frustration there in not really having the same power anymore. But here she's still got juice and can make people jump. I don't know how prominent a role she'll play in this story, but I might reference her a bit more just for the novelty of that change in her circumstances.
That's it. Thanks everybody!