Sam was in Californian limbo.
He didn't really know what that mean, what it entailed. But he was living in California, and he didn't have a job to go to, and he seemed to be unelectable.
So he sat near the beach, because a bench near the beach was nicer than his rented apartment. He watched the waves roll in and out and remembered when there was a million things he needed to do.
He wondered if he should stop wearing shoes.
Ainsley came to visit him once.
They sat on the bench and looked out at the sea. They sat closer to each other than they would have in Washington.
"What, exactly, do you plan on doing?" He was reflected in her dark sunglasses and he watched himself as she spoke. The image scared him.
"I don't know." He shrugged. "Maybe I could learn how to surf."
She laughed. "You can't stay upright on solid ground."
"You're right. Scratch that plan. Maybe I'll go to Europe. You know, set forth and see the world or something like that."
"There are people who would be eager to hire someone like you, Sam."
"Yeah, but I only work for the right kind of people."
She laughed again, but he knew she understood.
They had sex on the living room floor. Her hair fell into her eyes and her fingernails dug into his upper arms. He buried his mouth into the side of her neck and resisted the temptation to scream.
She smelt like sea and sun tan lotion and eucalyptus leaves. He though she'd smell like Washington.
Later they lay in his bed and he nibbled at her ear.
"What are you going to do now?" He asked.
She rolled onto her side, allowing the sheet to fall away from her upper body. "You know, this and that. I think there's a republican or two in Washington who still want to hire me."
"You don't want to keep working for the President?"
She hooked her leg over his and pulled him closer. "There's an election to think about, Sam. You know how politics work."
He rolled her over and lowered his mouth to her breast. "We've only just had an election."
She opened her legs and he slipped between them. "You know there's never a break any more. It's all about the next campaign."
She needed to take a shower.
He gave her a yellow towel from the top shelf of his rather empty linen closet. She smiled at him as she closed the bathroom door.
He made his bed and listened to her singing.
For half a second he believed it could always be like this. With Ainsley Hayes in his shower, his bed, his apartment. In California. A part of his life . . .
Then she turned the shower off and got dressed.
"Come back to Washington, Sam. You know that's where you belong."
He shook his head and watched as she drove the rental car away.