Liz rolled her eyes. What did Calleigh want to talk about?
“Not interested,” Liz said. She needed her to leave. Now. Anything that was about to come out of her mouth wasn’t going to be good. Fear seeped into every pore. Had she spoken to Hayden? Had he tipped her off? Could she have figured everything out in that amount of time?
Calleigh smiled and started speaking anyway. “When I left here, I got into my car and started driving away, thinking that I had wasted my time. Then I started thinking about exactly what had happened and what you had said. Particularly how defensive you got about everything I was saying. And I know that you don’t like me, Liz, but it all felt a little much for me coming to talk to you to find out a little piece of information. If you didn’t want to tell me, then you could have said a million things. You could have simply said that you didn’t know. You could have said Hayden swore you to secrecy. You could have said you just didn’t want to tell me. I would have expected those responses,” Calleigh said, staring directly into Liz’s eyes.
Liz swallowed. Oh, shit! She hadn’t thought that she had been defensive.
“But you didn’t do that, did you? You continually changed the subject and completely sidestepped every question I asked you. And I realized that you had totally played me. You’re kind of a pro at it, really. I’m impressed. I didn’t see it for what it was at all.”
“I’m not a pro at anything, Calleigh,” Liz said. She hoped that she sounded neutral. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Calleigh smiled at Liz as if she were looking at a caged animal, and then answered as if she hadn’t heard a word Liz had just said. “So once I realized what you had done, it got me wondering what exactly it was that would make you try to manipulate the situation. What exactly you’re hiding.”
Liz rolled her eyes. “Are you done? I’m not hiding anything, Calleigh.”
“When I came over here in the first place I had my suspicions, but I thought maybe you just knew who Sandy Carmichael was . . . now I’m thinking maybe you are Sandy Carmichael.”
“What?” Liz gasped.
Oh, f**k! She didn’t know what to do. What the hell was she supposed to say to that? She didn’t want to lie, but this was Calleigh. After everything Liz had just said to Brady, she couldn’t imagine confirming this. It would ruin everything. She would be giving over the reins to the media, and Liz didn’t even want to think about what her world would be like if that happened.
She could feel her face heating, and knew that she looked uncomfortable. Calleigh no doubt was reading her body language. It made Liz’s palms sweat just thinking about it, and she shifted her eyes away from Calleigh’s face. This couldn’t be happening.
Deny, deny, deny.
“You can try to change the subject all you want,” Calleigh said, “but I knew something was up with you at his primary on the campaign. It’s all but confirmed with me now. So how about you go on the record and confirm, Liz: Are you Sandy Carmichael?”
Brady took a deep breath as he circled around his parents’ neighborhood and then pulled into the long circular driveway. He knew after checking his phone and seeing all the missed calls, voice mails, and text messages that there were going to be a lot of questions he was going to have to answer. After the peaceful weekend he’d had with Liz, he couldn’t imagine going back into the fray. They would never really have that again. It was kind of a sad notion, knowing that even if they worked everything out, they would never truly be alone.
Nothing he could do about it right now. They had to get to that point before he could worry about anything else.
There were reporters camped out on the perimeter of the house, and as he parked and got out of the car, a few jogged up to him. He had expected it to be like this, but still it was irritating.
“Congressman Maxwell, will you comment on the allegations about your relations with Sandy Carmichael?” one called, thrusting a microphone into his face.
“Congressman Maxwell, who is Sandy Carmichael?” another asked.
“Why are you hiding her from us? What other secrets are you hiding from the people?” still another called out. Cameras flashed and people surrounded him on all sides.
Brady had always known that politicians had to live their lives under a microscope. He had seen that firsthand with a father in politics. But it was one thing to see it from afar; it was quite different to be living it.
Brady shook his head and put his hands out. “No comment. When I want to make a statement, I’ll call a press conference. Until then, clear out of my property,” he told them stiffly, walking up the front steps and slipping in through the front door.
He closed the door heavily and leaned against it. He couldn’t keep running from reporters. It had only been a couple days and he was already tired of it. He heard voices down the hall and walked lightly across the foyer to see what was going on. He didn’t get far before he heard Heather and his attorney, Elliott, speaking rather fiercely back and forth. His father’s voice rang out, silencing them.
“He will be back when he is. You two treat him as if he’s a child. He’s a f**king congressman. Do you blame him for taking a mental health day? I don’t. We’ll deal with it all in time. Until then, perhaps you should find somewhere else to bicker.”
Brady cracked a smile. His father sure knew how to cut back an argument. Not that he thought Heather and Elliott had any intention of not bombarding him as soon as they found that he was back. Which he was not going to let them do immediately upon his entering the house.
He only wanted to see one more person before he felt obligated to decide how he was going to bring up the whole subject of Liz to everyone. He was hoping that he would get to talk to Heather and Elliott about it first. He kind of wanted Liz to be there with him when he told his family, but he could understand after her mini panic attack why he should probably do it alone.
The last thing he wanted to do was move too fast. But in this kind of situation, he couldn’t figure out how to move any slower. He knew where Liz was coming from. They went from not seeing each other for more than a year to f**king in half a second. Now he wanted to bring her home to the family, tell the press they were dating, and live happily ever after in this mob-style media haze. It wasn’t fair to her. He wanted to give her more, but he couldn’t before and he couldn’t now. He just wanted to give her everything he could.