My Kind of Town
>> Hilton Hawaiian Village
The right woman
A Secret Service guy straight out of "Men In Black" met Grace Ah Sun in the lobby of the Hilton and led her up to the Presidential Suite, Grace wishing she'd known this morning that she would be lunching with the former president. She'd have worn something different, and a different perfume.
Grace didn't know what was wrong with her. She'd been having meetings with powerful men for most of her career and she'd never been so worried about her attire, much less how she smelled. But there was something about the man from Arkansas. Her heart raced and as the agent opened the door, her stomach -- among other places -- felt the tickle of butterfly wings.
And there he was, standing taller than she'd remembered, looking relaxed in a loose, untucked silk shirt and billowy, pleated trousers.
"Grace, it's so good to see you again," he said in that soft drawl, took her hand, kissed her cheek. An actual kiss, not just a polite little cheek-to-cheek. His breath was warm on her skin, and pleasant.
"I'm honored by your invitation, Mr. President," she said, forcing butterflies from her throat. "And it's nice to see you again."
He led her inside, to where a table had already been set up on the lanai, plates covered with silver domes. Grace noted a tall, thin bottle of white wine. She wasn't much of a drinker, certainly not during the day, but when the president offered she had to say yes. Cool, tart but sweet, the Riesling went down easily.
"So how's your boss?"
Grace told the president how Donovan had been arrested just that morning -- during a press conference -- on drug charges.
"Ouch. Well, guess I won't be stumping for him."
"I'm afraid this looks awfully bad for the Democrats."
"There's no such thing as a bad Democrat, Grace. Some of us are just better than others," he said with a wink and a soft chuckle. She didn't doubt that he was.
And then over smoked salmon and chilled potato soup appetizers, the president launched into why he'd invited her. He was forming an advisory board comprised strictly of women, one from each state, hand-picked by him. He wanted input, so to speak, for a book with the working title "What Women Want."
"I can recommend several women you'll want to consider," she said, thinking Bronster, Ikeda, Hanabusa and whoever lost the governor's race.
"I've already found her, Grace. My question is, will you accept the invitation?"
"M-me?" she stammered. "You want me?"
"Yes, I do," he said, looking deeply into her eyes. The way he said it, Grace thought it was a good thing a waiter appeared with their entrees.
Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org