Chapter Twenty-Five

"This is one of the closest elections we have had in years," the television announcer was saying.

Jennifer was at home alone watching the returns on NBC. She had made herself a light dinner of scrambled eggs and toast, and then was too nervous to eat anything. She sat in a robe huddled up on the couch, listening to her fate being broadcast to millions of people. Each viewer had his own reason for watching, for wanting one of the candidates to win or to lose, but Jennifer was sure that none of them was as deeply involved in the outcome of this election as she was. If Adam won, it would mean the end of their relationship...and the end of the baby in her womb.

There was a quick shot of Adam on the screen, and by his side, Mary Beth. Jennifer prided herself on being able to read people, to understand their motives, but she had been completely taken in by the moonlight-and-magnolias routine of the honey-voiced bitch. She kept pushing back the picture of Adam going to bed with that woman, making her pregnant.

Edwin Newman was saying, "Here are the latest returns in the senate race between the incumbent, John Trowbridge, and challenger Adam Warner. In Manhattan, John Trowbridge has a total of 221,375 votes. Adam Warner has a total of 214,895.

"In the Forty-fifth Election District of the Twenty-ninth Assembly District in Queens, John Trowbridge is two percentage points ahead."

Jennifer's life was being measured in percentage points.

"The totals from The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond and the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester add up to 2,300,000 for John Trowbridge, and 2,120,000 for Adam Warner, with the votes from upstate New York just beginning to come in. Adam Warner has made a surprisingly strong showing against Senator Trowbridge, who is serving his third term. From the beginning, the polls have been almost evenly divided in this race. According to the latest returns, with sixty-two percent of the votes counted, Senator Trowbridge is beginning to pull ahead. When we read the last returns one hour ago, Senator Trowbridge was two percentage points ahead. The returns now indicate that he has increased his lead to two and a half percentage points. If this trend continues, the NBC computer will predict Senator Trowbridge to be the victor in the senatorial race for the United States Senate. Moving on to the contest between..."

Jennifer sat there, looking at the set, her heart pounding. It was as though millions of people were casting a vote to decide whether it would be Adam and Jennifer, or Adam and Mary Beth. Jennifer felt light-headed and giddy. She must remember to eat sometime. But not now. Nothing mattered now except what was happening on the screen in front of her. The suspense kept building, minute by minute, hour by hour.

At midnight, Senator John Trowbridge's lead was three percentage points. At two in the morning, with seventy-one percent of the votes counted, Senator Trowbridge was leading by a margin of three and a half percentage points. The computer declared that Senator John Trowbridge had won the election.

Jennifer sat there staring at the television set, drained of all emotion, of all feeling. Adam had lost. Jennifer had won. She had won Adam and their son. She was free to tell Adam now, to tell him about their baby, to plan for their future together.

Jennifer's heart ached for Adam, for she knew how much the election had meant to him. And yet in time, Adam would get over his defeat. One day he would try again, and she would help him. He was still young. The world lay before both of them. Before the three of them.

Jennifer fell asleep on the couch, dreaming about Adam and the election and the White House. She and Adam and their son were in the Oval Office. Adam was making his acceptance speech. Mary Beth walked in and began to interrupt. Adam started to yell at her and his voice got louder and louder. Jennifer woke up. The voice was the voice of Edwin Newman. The television set was still on. It was dawn.

Edwin Newman, looking exhausted, was reading the final election returns. Jennifer listened to him, her mind still half asleep.

As she started to rise from the couch she heard him say, "And here are the final results on the New York State senatorial election. In one of the most stunning upsets in years, Adam Warner has defeated the incumbent, Senator John Trowbridge, by a margin of less than one percent."

It was over. Jennifer had lost.

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