SIX WEEKS EARLIER
It was five o'clock in the morning in Jackson, Wyoming, and in the pre-dawn light that filtered into the room, Matt Hawkins was making love to his wife, Sue.
The snowy November landscape cast a pale, muted half-white light through the heavy-hanging drapes. The light played across the muscles of Hawkins’s body, creating quiet rippling shadows among the bulging sinews of his back and thighs. The well-defined muscles on his back shifted as he lifted for each new thrust, and beads of sweat rolled off his back. The prickly sweat between his legs lubricated his movements. The small of his back was a puddle of darkness. The room was quiet but for their labored breathing. He was thinking now of the time they fucked behind a waterfall roaring off a mountain in the Teton Range. They’d been in college then.
His head was on her shoulder, turned away from her face. He stopped momentarily, lifted himself on his elbows and kissed her smooth shoulders, sweaty neck and lips.
There was no mistaking the fact that Matt Hawkins was handsome and his wife beautiful. It was something all the people agreed on, whether they voted for him or not. He was twenty-nine years old and she was two years younger. He had dark, curly hair that gave him a boyish attractiveness that brought out more than a maternal instinct in women. His complexion was such that he retained the slightest tan and looked exotically dark to the bleached faces of Wyoming, used to long and bitter winters. He was healthy and warm looking, having what many women voters called a cozy personality.
Many women who went to Moran High School with him remembered that “cozy” personality and the times they curled up with Matt in front of warm winter fires in isolated mountain cabins. Many wished then and now that they could have caught Matt and married him, but he always moved on to someone else, even though he never hurt anybody when he left. No one he ever made love to could say she’d been hurt by Matt Hawkins. Most were happy for the experience and didn’t try to argue when his restless nature asserted itself. Matt knew he never hurt people and was very proud of the fact that he could bed most of the women he wanted without causing any trouble when they broke up. He never gave them false hopes. The word “love” was never used.
Sue Williston, with her gleaming dark brown hair and light hazel eyes, was the one who finally got him. She met him at the University of Wyoming, she studying English, he preparing for the law. They married in his first year at law school, but even now they had no children.
He kissed her lips again. It was getting lighter outside.
“Happy?” he asked, still inside her.
“Um-hmm,” she purred.
“About this?” he said, flexing deep inside her.
“I thought you meant about the election,” she said, laughing slowly, “not the e-rec-tion.”
“Well, it rhymes. You might be happy about both,” he said. “After all, you are married to the only representative from the state of Wyoming.”
“Succeeding defeated William R. Crampton,” she intoned. “Well, you're not the congressman from Wyoming yet, hot shot,” she pointed out.
“Well, not yet. But soooon,” he leered. “Crampton's a lame‑duck till I get sworn in next January.”
“I never liked him.”
“I didn’t either, at first, but I didn’t know him then. As the campaign went on, I liked him more and more. Kinda hate to see him go.”
Crampton had been the single representative from Wyoming for many, many years. He’d been considered untouchable by anyone in either party. Republicans never fought him and many people thought Hawkins was just plain lucky to beat him in the Democratic primary. The combination of his youth, looks, obvious legislative talent and his law background and reputation in Jackson and Cheyenne pulled it off even without campaigning in every part of the state, because Crampton ran as an independent after he lost the primary, a move that surprised everyone.
Hawkins once said to an aide that if the voters could see him, not on television, but in the flesh, he knew he could win. Throughout the campaign, Crampton refused to debate him publicly, knowing Hawkins had the kind of magnetism that would turn Crampton into Nixon – and Hawkins into Kennedy. So the main push in Hawkins’s campaign had been to show the candidate in person to as many voters as possible. It worked. They were electrified by his warmth, outgoingness and youthful brashness. Especially the women. One poll of two thousand women in Cheyenne found only three hundred fifty two who wouldn’t vote for him.
“You're losing it,” said Sue.
“Oh,” said Matt, bringing himself back and forgetting about old man Crampton.
He began thrusting again, and each time he dug into her a wave of hot pleasure ran from his dick to his ass and up his back.
Sue could tell his heart wasn’t in it as he pushed deep inside her, again and again, a soft, wonderful grunt coming from him each time. But his body was certainly there, and when she thought about it, that mattered more to her – his body. That’s what attracted her to him in the first place. Yes, she was attracted to the other things in the man, but his body was what kept her. For her part, without sex there wouldn’t be much else to their relationship. For a man like Matt, for whom sex was always available when he wanted it, other things she didn’t even consider mattered more. And though Sue was beautiful, and had a gorgeous body, she fell behind him in those “other things,” such as ambition, glory, power and money, all of which Matt thought about endlessly. To the point of boredom, in her opinion.
And now they had to go to Washington.
Matt propped himself up on his arms, looking at Sue as they made love, but her eyes were closed and she was breathing heavily, about to come. She always closed her eyes just before. Now she clawed his back, and he laid his head back on her shoulder, away from her face, scarcely feeling her fingernails in his tight, agile back, thinking how, over the years, the emotion had slipped away from their love-making, one fuck at a time. He knew they wouldn’t be together forever. So did she. He wouldn’t be surprised if he came home one day and found a note on the refrigerator.
Sue was coming. Matt kept grinding away and then came, too. But he didn't scream out a joyous, “Ahhhh, fuck!” the way he used to.
He lifted himself on his strong arms and rested beside her, running his index finger across her sweaty forehead, down her nose and onto her neck. The house was hot, sealed against the snow and cold outside, and they were both lying in pools of sweat. He pulled the top sheet up over them gently, the coolness of the cotton soothing his hot skin and muscles.
“You'll have to start packing this week,” he said.
Sue was breathing heavily. She rolled over on her side and slipped a hand beneath the sheet onto his thigh.
“I guess so,” she said. He knew by her breathing that she wanted to fuck again. He was far from unable: he just didn't want to. He leaned over and kissed her anyway on the mouth, digging his tongue deep into her ready throat. He squeezed her shoulder as her hot tongue twisted back into his mouth against his gums and teeth. She moved her hand up his side and then down his stomach to his sweaty crotch. He responded to the titillation almost against his will and began to get hard.
“Again?” he asked.
“Sure,” she said, eagerly.
“Maybe not. Matt's got to save his strength for the legislative trials ahead.”
“You got to bed earlier than most candidates around the country, though.”
“That’s for sure.”
“I'll bet you were the only one that didn't campaign the last two days.”
“That was pretty smart, wasn't it?” he asked.
“Everybody thought you were crazy. Saying you were so confident that you were taking a couple days off.”
“I thought I was crazy.”
“But it worked.”
“Yeah ... it worked, all right.”
Sue became serious.
“Things are going to get pretty tense in Washington, aren’t they?”
“Sounds like it -- from the way things are shaping up.”
“Will it involve you much?”
“Nobody even knows I exist outside of Wyoming.”
“You never know,” she said.
“I know,” he said, moving closer to her and kissing her again. He slipped his arm under her head and held her to him.
“Get a little sleep, Mrs. Congressman.”
She closed her eyes.
Suddenly, he did feel like making love. He knew it would keep him from thinking . . . but then, the urge to ponder, reflect, and consider the future was more insistent.