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in love and war and politics

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She must hear the sound of her last name a hundred times a day.

It starts every day at 5 AM with the courteous, “Good morning, Miss Griffin,” from her doorman.

“Five more, Griffin!” from the trainer at the gym.

“Large latte, for Griffin!” from the 6:30 AM call from the barista who knows her name and order by heart.

And the echoes of “Representative Griffin!” or “Miss Griffin!” from the dozens of young, anxious campaign interns who crowd around her like ducklings and ply her with questions and requests and wouldn’t dare address her by her first name despite her affability with them.

The “Good evening, Miss Griffin,” from the evening doorman at the end of the day, when she finally makes it home. And on the nights she stays up on conference calls, she hears it even more, from all sides. Even Raven and Octavia use her surname as an affectionate nickname on the rare nights she’s able to let go of work and join them for dinner or a drink. Griffin, Griffin, Griffin, constantly.

And she loves it.

Griffin carries the weight of her mother’s legacy, of course. Clarke has outgrown the vanity of her college and young professional years and now she’s humble enough to see the benefit of people attaching Abby Griffin’s history to anything she does. Especially in her line of work.

But more importantly than that, the sharp, clipped sound of her last name elevates her above everyone’s first impression of her. She’s young, pretty, with blonde hair and blue eyes that naturally preclude her from being taken seriously by those in charge. She’s endured every epithet in the book—Princess, honey, babe, sweetheart, love, doll, darling—with a pit-bull’s determination. She doesn’t even like the sound of her first name in any professional context anymore. It suggests too much intimacy.

But her last name? Griffin removes any possible personal connection, any condescension, any lack of respect. She’s just as serious about this job as any aging, white, male politician. And every time they mark her as their equal, or as a threat, or just as a damn thorn in their sides by using her last name instead of one of their cute pet-names, Clarke burns with pride. She forced them to respect her. She didn’t give them any other choice.

That burning pride in her last name has never been more obvious than now, as she opens today’s newspaper and runs her fingers over the familiar letters in the second page headline:

“Griffin Enters Race for California Senate Seat"

It’s a huge moment. US Senator.

Well, not yet. There are a half-dozen California politicians in one of the most important senate races in the country, and Clarke has only officially been part of it for a few days. There’s still a mountain of work to be done to set her campaign rolling—thanks to Bellamy, the wheels fell off at an incredibly inopportune time—but here, now, sitting in her new office, she can take a moment to revel in the sound of her name juxtaposed to that title.

Sarah, her secretary, gives Clarke a moment to soak it all in before politely clearing her throat. “What do you think?” she asks.

“It’s perfect,” Clarke replies, in a moment of rare idealism. Realizing this, she shakes her head. “But it’s just the start. We have work to do. What else is on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon?”

Sarah checks the clipboard. “You have conference calls at 1:30 and 2:30, with the San Francisco and San Diego offices, respectively; Miller came by with a new batch of resumses for your potential campaign manager, and he requests that you reply with your input on his selections as soon as possible; and until you do find a campaign manager, you’ll have to revise and update our budget proposal for the next three months for the meeting tomorrow morning. Also, we have journalists ringing off the hook for interviews, they’ll need responses soon.”

“So an easy afternoon, then.”

Luckily, Sarah has been with Clarke since Clarke’s very first campaign; the girl barely bats an eye at Clarke’s wryness anymore. “Good luck, Miss Griffin.”


 

When Sarah leaves, after handing over both Miller’s file folder of resumes and the unfinished budget proposal, Clarke lets loose an unexpected sigh in the silence. Through floor-to-ceiling glass window of her office that allows her to see into the main campaign headquarters, she can see her young employees, laughing and enjoying each other’s company in the easy afternoon. It’s Thursday, almost the weekend, and it’s so early in the campaign that they haven’t had much to do besides bond. It’s endearing. And positive. And because of that, she doesn’t let herself feel bitter when she looks down at the to-do pile on her desk. She has a half-hour until the San Francisco conference call is due to begin, but if experience is anything to judge by, both this call and the following call will run over their allotted time. She won’t have time for anything else until close to 5 PM.

Still clinging to dreams of making it home before the 9PM evening news, Clarke grabs Miller’s resume folder (it’s far slimmer than the budget file beside it). Stuck to the front of the folder is a post-it note in his lazy scrawl:

Please make a top two selection and return to me ASAP so that I can set up interviews.

Clarke grins. Miller is another one who worked with her on her previous campaign, and fortunately so, because if he hadn’t, he certainly would have quit by now. Each time he suggests a replacement campaign manager for Bellamy, she refuses. She’s been wearing both hats just fine since Bellamy’s abrupt departure, and so she’s willing to hold out for the best possible candidate, even if that means she’s down to around five hours of sleep per night.

“I’ll sleep when I’m senator,” she reminds herself.

With Miller’s helpful annotations, Clarke quickly skims the five resumes he had given her. Three men, two women, all with varying blends of experience, education, and connections. There’s a less experienced one who graduated from UCLA and Clarke lurches instinctively toward her alma mater, but his experience puts him outside of her salary cap.

Two other possible candidates she knows by name from their campaign consulting work around town, and therefore, she’s able to disregard them as well, because she already knows how expensive they would be.

Likeability??? Miller had noted on another resume; she ignores that as well. She hadn’t particularly liked Bellamy but they made a good team anyway, his sudden departure notwithstanding. Besides, since she is the one standing on the public platform for the people of California to eviscerate, she’s the one who has to be likeable, not her campaign manager. Her second-in-commander just has to be damn good at their job.

With another sigh, Clarke flicks her attention over to the budget folder, and it forces her to admit defeat—Miller may murder her, but she can’t accept any of these candidates. The info in that budget folder will tell her what she already knows: at this point so early on, she doesn’t have the funds to hire any of them. Bellamy, for all his faults, had at least been cheap.

Feeling guilty, she tries to be helpful anyway, leaving him a reply post-it note: Maybe as consultants later?

Tossing the folder aside, she sits back in her chair and breathes deeply.

The usual mid-afternoon fatigue takes her by surprise, setting in early today. It necessitates an earlier-than-usual coffee run, as well, if she’s to be expected to make it through the next several hours of work and conference call planning. Just as Clarke makes the decision to call for Sarah with a coffee order, the intercom on her desk buzzes.

“Miss Griffin?” comes Sarah’s voice.

“Yes?” Clarke asks, frowning as she wonders how much she’ll have to increase Sarah’s salary to account for psychic abilities.

“I have former Senator Marcus Kane on the phone from you, calling from DC.”

“Kane? Kane? Like my mom’s friend Kane?” She hasn’t heard from him in months, not since her mother’s last charity event. “Uh, go ahead and transfer him through, thanks.”

“The San Francisco conference call—”

“Just hold it if need be. This shouldn’t take long.”

“One moment, then.”

Distracted and confused by the random call, Clarke forgets to ask Sarah for coffee and swears silently, then grabs the phone on the first ring.

“Clarke! How are you, kid?”

She smiles at the sound of Kane’s warm voice flooding over the line. “I’m doing well, Kane. And you?”

“Clarke, at this point, you’ve known me for the majority of your life, plus you’ve been an adult for a while now. You can use my first name.”

“I don’t think so,” she replies politely, because using Marcus feels as alien as referring to her father as Jake. “You’ll always be Senator Kane to me. It’s just ingrained now.”

He chuckles. “Your mother raised you well. But, at the very least, I’ll be calling you Senator Griffin soon, I hear. I saw that you officially joined the senate race out in California, congratulations! I knew you would follow in Abby’s footsteps.”

“Thank you, Kane.” Clarke closes her eyes; she’s starting to fantasize about coffee again.

“The country will be watching this one, and I will be waiting to see them all rally behind you. But listen, now that you’re officially in the running, I wanted to give you a call because I have some contacts out there that I can set you and Mr. Blake up with. There’s one—”

“Actually,” Clarke interrupts, “Bellamy won’t be managing my campaign this time around. He handled the state rep election well, but he needs more experience before something of this magnitude.”

Clarke’s voice may be perfectly-tailored professionalism, but Kane has been in this business far longer than she has and he has acquired the ability to see the levity where she doesn’t—his chuckle grows to laugher. “Wow, you’re breaking up the Griffin-Blake dream team? You were the youngest state rep in years, if I remember correctly. It was a miracle election.”

“He had other obligations this time around. In the meantime, once I fill the position, I’d love those contacts.”

“Absolutely, absolutely.” Kane pauses thoughtfully for a moment. “You know, I still might be able to help you out right now, Clarke. I assume you’re in the hiring search to build a campaign management and consulting team, right?”

“Yes.”

“Hm. I worked closely with a consulting firm out here in DC, and got to know a few of the employees quite well. There was a young woman who I believe recently moved out to your neck of the woods—she hasn’t run any campaigns herself, but she handles herself beautifully. Visionary girl, just her age holding her back. You can probably relate. I think she’d be a great member of your team.”

The call waiting button had begun flashing while he spoke, drawing Clarke’s attention; worse, Sarah is waving her arms outside Clarke’s office window, mouthing “San Francisco! San Francisco!” Clarke gives her a nod and returns her attention to Kane.

“That sounds great, Kane. You have my personal email address, send me her information and I’ll be sure to forward it on to my HR team.”

“Don’t worry kid,” he replies, “I’ll take care of the legwork for you. I’ll have her call your office. She’ll get snatched up by someone else if you don’t get in contact with her quickly, trust me. January is campaign season, after all, everyone is trying to add to their team.”

Sarah is more and more insistent outside the window; time to wrap it up. “Just give her my email and have her send her information directly, then,” Clarke blurts out, before immediately cringing at her lack of professionalism. A rare misstep.

“Sounds good,” Kane chuckles, glossing over it. “I’ll be in touch, kid! And congratulations again!”

“Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon.”Before she even hears the call click out, she switches the line over to the conference call, announces her presence, and apologizes smoothly for the delay. As managers and department heads of the San Francisco office situate themselves and go over the planned conversation topics, Clarke scrawls My firstborn for a large coffee in big letters on a notepad and holds it up for Sarah to read. Her secretary gives her a thumbs up and heads for the door.

That latte is Clarke’s saving grace for the rest of the day. As predicted, both conference calls on the schedule run a half hour over the planned time, because she needs to reiterate and debate the advertising plans moving forward for both locations. By the time she hangs up with San Diego, the happy laughing interns and employees in the office outside have long since left, leaving Clarke with an empty office and a budget still to renegotiate and approve before tomorrow’s big financial meeting. The task of returning journalists’ interview requests she leaves for tomorrow, justifying it with the questionable logic of playing hard to get.

She has numbers swimming in front of her eyes, so much so that when she finally finishes for the night and checks her watch, it takes her a moment to read that it’s past 8PM. She’ll miss the 9PM evening news for sure, a common occurrence these days. She can’t even remember the last time she was home before the sunset.

“Maybe if you weren’t managing your own campaign,” she chides herself. As she pulls on her jacket, her gaze lands on the pile of rejected applicants, sitting in her outbox for Miller tomorrow.

She’ll figure something out eventually. She always does.


On the cab ride home, Clarke dozes against the window, the familiar streets of Los Angeles sliding past outside and the talking points for her financial meeting tomorrow sliding past the inside of her eyelids. Fundraising goals, donations, lobbying, compromises, salaries…

Her cellphone vibrating in her lap pulls her from her reverie.

[8:32 PM] Raven Reyes: Hey, Madame President. Octavia got back into town late last night, do you want to meet up for drinks in about an hour?

[8:32 PM] Clarke Griffin: I could have used one this afternoon, actually.

[8:33] Raven Reyes: Wow. I thought substance abuse starts only once you’re elected, not before.

Clarke makes a mental note to delete these messages later, lest they come up in some sort of future tribunal years down the road, because she definitely has found herself desiring an afternoon cocktail more than once.

[8:35] Clarke Griffin: I’ll remember that. Anyway, I’m exhausted and I have an early day tomorrow. How long will she be in town?

[8:40] Raven Reyes: She and Lincoln are basically tumbleweeds, you know that. I’ll ask her tonight when I see her, and once I do, we’ll make plans for sometime in the near future, got it?

[8:41] Clarke Griffin: I promise.

[8:42] Raven Reyes: You’re sounding more and more like the type of politician I would vote for. I’ll text you later, Griffin.

Feeling considerably lighter, Clarke closes the conversation and moves to slide her phone into her purse to catch a few more minutes of dozing before her cab arrives at her apartment, but, as always, the cell phone vibrates once more before she can set it aside. This time, it’s an email.

 

 

To: c.griffin@cgsenate1.com

From: al_ward@gmail.com

Subject: Campaign Management

 

Representative Griffin;

 

Through an unorthodox process, Senator Marcus Kane directed me to contact you regarding an opportunity for a position within your campaign.

I offer seven years of experience in political consulting, another four years working with campaigns in multiple capacities, as well as the work ethic and ability required to survive in Washington DC’s political climate. I have attached my resume for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you at your earliest convenience.

 

Best Regards,

Lexa Ward

 

The brevity of it is at least enough to pique Clarke’s interest. A brief scan of the attached document leaves Clarke with the same feeling of being moderately impressed: though she’s not supposed to pay attention to things like this, she notes that Lexa Ward graduated from Yale with a political science degree the same year Clarke was graduating from UCLA. It makes them about the same age, and makes Lexa the youngest of the job candidates Clarke has seen thus far.

Her experience is a little sparse, especially for a job of this weight, but Clarke can’t help but think of the rejected folder she left for Miller, so she shrugs and forwards him the email with a note attached:

 

Sorry, Nate, the CM suggestions didn’t work out for budget reasons. In the meantime, we can bring on some consultants at least. This one was personally rec’d from Senator Kane, check her out and let me know what you think.

--CG

That is by no means the last of her responsibility for the day, but when she finally gets into her apartment fifteen minutes later, she kicks off her heels and gives herself a few seconds to bask in the feeling of her bare feet on the tile in her entryway. This is, unequivocally, her the favorite part of every day, coming home.

That feeling doesn’t last long, though. Thirty second later and she’s off again and elbows-deep in her nightly routine. It’s automatic. Within five minutes of coming through the door, she has last night’s takeout reheating in the microwave, the nightly news replaying on her TV, and her cell phone displaying the google news updates she missed during her busiest hours of the day. She alights on a biographical article on Vincent Vie, a state legislator who also declared for the senate race recently; she skims the article as she settles on the couch with her food, and a news report on an attack in Syria plays in the background. This is how the night goes, how every night goes. Three hours of mass information consumption of everything she missed while she was in the office.

At midnight she makes it to the shower, turns up the heat until the water is hot enough to scald the day off of her. An hour after that, she settles into bed and checks her email one last time. There’s a recent one from Miller, a reply to her late email about the new campaign managing applicant.

 

Got it, boss. At this point, I don’t care if you pick the barista who makes your coffee to manage your campaign. If you like her, I’ll hire her. So I’ll give this one a call first thing in the morning to see if we can set up an interview.

--Miller

She doesn’t linger on the thought of the new applicant for the rest of the night, and the thought is gone completely by the next morning.


As soon as Clarke gets into the office, she’s fielding questions from all sides—Griffin, Griffin, Miss Griffin!—that’s the downside of connecting with each and every one of them, from interns to young employees to the veterans who worked with her on her old campaign. Among the stampede and the hurried responses that she gives them, Miller’s mention of “Interview at three!” goes mindlessly acknowledged but otherwise set aside. She has a massive budget meeting set for later today. The prep for that meeting takes most of the days with her main financial team locked away in a conference room.

The meeting itself is less math and more arguing, which Clarke is absolutely made for—she was a lawyer first, after all. But passionately arguing with people who prefer numbers to actual human interaction is a tricky task so it’s only after re-negotiating the budget a whopping four times that they are able to come to some sort of compromise, and even then accountants and attorneys only settle for another meeting for a revised budget, in another three months. Clarke leaves the conference room fending off a blistering headache, and craving the solitude of her office. It’s a Friday afternoon, the end of a long day and a longer week.

That solitude lasts fifteen minutes.

A tap at the door interrupts Clarke’s forced state of zen, and she opens her eyes to see Sarah poking her head through the door. “Miss Griffin?”

Too tired to remind her about the intercom system, Clarke takes a steeling breath. “Yes?”

“Just a reminder about your interview—“

She holds back from swearing. “Ah yeah, the journalists. I’ll get back to them before the end of the day, I promise. Give them some time to write about Cage Wallace first, then we’ll save the best for last.” She doesn’t smile, as if it’s a political play instead of a cop-out, but part of Sarah’s job description is not to ask.

Still, though, the secretary doesn’t retreat. Clarke raises an eyebrow at her. “Of course, Miss Griffin. I’d also like to remind you of your interview with Mr. Miller, and his campaign management applicant.”

“…when was this discussed?”

“This morning. It’s on your daily schedule.”

Clarke looks down in shock at the interview sitting right in front of her, as it had been all day, and sure enough, there’s the interview. Scheduled to start in fifteen minutes. This time, Clarke actually does hiss “Shit,” as she jumps out of her seat and hurries past Sarah out of her office.

Clarke is still smoothing out her blouse as she enters the conference room, to find Miller waiting with impatience written all over his face. Both he and Sarah have been with Clarke for a long time, but Sarah has the professionalism to hide her emotions; Miller doesn’t care, but he gets away with it.

“Took you long enough, boss,” he says sardonically.

“Busy day,” she shoots back as she takes the seat next to him. There’s a resume and a legal pad sitting on the table, which reminds her that she didn’t give this woman’s details a great read through the first time. “Give me the short version on her. What do you think?”

“No time. She’s already here. Punctual, this one, you could learn something. Sarah went to bring her in as soon as you joined me. I’ll take the lead on the interview, we’ll go over it later.”

Clarke doesn’t have a chance to answer because, as predicted, the door opens a second later and Sarah enters, followed closely by one of the most attractive women Clarke has ever seen.

She immediately bites down on the inside of her cheek for that, because Jesus it’s the last thing she should be thinking in this role. But she would be lying if the air hadn’t changed when Lexa Ward glides in on high heels, exuding the brand of confidence more appropriate for a championship athlete than a young woman interviewing for the biggest job of her life. She can think of a thousand descriptors that better fit this woman than punctual.

Intimidating, is one. In fact Clarke is a little taken aback by her grace as she crosses the room, heels tapping, standing tall and long with her chin raised high, making a strange nervousness flutters in Clarke’s stomach. It’s only after Miller stands to greet her that Clarke remembers her own courtesies; she jumps to her feet just as Lexa arrives at the table.

“Miss Ward,” Miller says, “Nice to meet you. We spoke on the phone earlier, but allow me to introduce State Representative Clarke Griffin.”

“Thank you for arranging this on short notice, Mr. Miller,” she says with a nod, shaking his hand. Then she turns the weight of her gaze, unreadable green eyes, on Clarke. “And Miss Griffin, it’s a pleasure.”

“Likewise,” Clarke says. It takes her a moment, but her ingrained politics and niceties have returned, faithful as ever. She shakes Lexa’s hand and lets go quickly.

They take their seats and Clarke sits back, giving Miller the lead on the interview as he reviews the basics of Lexa Ward’s resume, while giving herself the chance to analyze her. It must be said that this is the first potential hire to have made it to the interview stage—but even if she was one of dozens, in Clarke’s mind, this one in particular has already made a hell of an impression on her. Lexa doesn’t look to be under any pressure at all, never looking away from Miller’s face, hardly even blinking as she answers his questions with the same easy grace she moves with. She’s well-spoken and sharp. The kind of person Clarke Griffin wants on her campaign team.

Hell, the kind of person Clarke Griffin wants around her.

“Soooo…” Miller says, summing up the basic info once she’s confirmed it all. “A Bachelor’s in PoliSci from Yale; a minor in business; a few years of basic campaign work; and then work on master’s degree in marketing from NYU.”

“Just a year of that master’s program, for clarification,” Lexa says.

“Why’d you stop?”

“I started working at a political consulting company in Washington and realized I didn’t need the marketing degree, and that real life experience would get me further than a degree anyway.”

“So that’s always been your dream job?” Clarke asks, speaking up for the first time. “Campaign consulting?”

“And management,” Lexa replies smoothly.

“What about it is the most appealing?”

“The wide variety of knowledge you have to be able to pull from in order to craft a successful candidate or policy. Politics, business, law, people, media, money…there are a lot of moving parts. I enjoy the challenge.”

Politics in general require the development and maintenance of a good poker face, but this is especially true for politicians like Clarke Griffin, the ones who don’t look the part and don’t fit with the status quo. So even though she may be slightly impressed with and appreciative of Lexa’s answer, she gives nothing away.

Nor does Lexa, and that’s perhaps an even better indication of her competence than the answer itself. Clarke runs her gaze over her again. Everything about her is perfectly-tailored: her black suit; her hair, done up to expose the column of her neck; even her answers come across as rehearsed but not unnatural or memorized.

“So even though you’ve worked in campaign consulting for several years,” Miller takes over, “It’s always been through contract work through your company.”

“Yes.”

“And this would be your first independent hiring for part of a campaign management team.”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe your work experience with one relates directly or is there a difference between contract consulting and being a paid employee?”

“There’s a difference, but it’s not a square peg in a round hole. It just requires the proper skills to adapt the experience of one into something worthwhile for the other. And in any case, I’ve always believed that a lack of experience does not translate to a lack of proficiency. Some of the best come out of nowhere.”

Clarke flushes slightly—Lexa’s attention turns to Clarke at those last few words and somehow, somehow that is a deliberately personal connection, because Clarke’s own newness to the political arena has been well-documented over her term as a State Representative, but she made it work anyway. She understands exactly what Lexa’s saying.

Fuck, she’s good.

Miller walks Lexa Ward through a few more topics, standard behavioral-based questions: Which tasks from the following list do you delegate, and which do you handle yourself? How do you handle bad workplace encounters with other employees? Describe your ideal approach to creating a successful campaign. And Lexa handles them as well as she has been. Clarke breaks in only as needed, because at this point, she’s already passed this applicant through to the next round. Now it’s just a matter of studying her as she answers, which is a far more entertaining prospect than actually answering the questions herself. Since she was a kid, her best skill has always been her ability to read people.

Lexa is a challenge.

“Well,” Miller says finally, setting his pen down on the notepad and looking between Clarke and Lexa. “I think that about covers everything we need to know. Representative Griffin, anything else?”

Clarke sits forward—Lexa has piqued too much of her curiosity and her answers have been nothing but smooth. Clarke hasn’t been able to ignore the strange fluttering in her chest that has irritated her throughout the interview and she fears that allowing Lexa to walk away on Miller’s words is like allowing herself to be intimidated into silence by this girl and her sheer ability.

“One more, more from curiosity than anything. In your e-mail last night, you listed an interesting qualification: survival in Washington DC. Elaborate on that wording, it caught my attention.”

It’s perhaps the first question that gives Lexa any sort of pause; Clarke tries not to feel victorious for stumping her. She likes that idea of equaling her. Lexa considers Clarke with a sparkling, thoughtful eye, never looking away from her face, before she answers: “You have an excellent political resume and pedigree yourself, Representative Griffin—”

“Miss Griffin is fine. Fewer syllables.”

Lexa stares, then smiles and inclines her head dutifully. “Miss Griffin. Based on your experience and background, I’d venture to say you’ve spent time in the nation’s capital?”

“I have.”

“So you understand me,” Lexa says simply. “One acquires a certain ruthlessness in Washington. Especially a woman, especially young. You have to have that to achieve anything, I’ve learned. And I believe California’s political climate could use an injection of people with that willingness…with that sort of background.”

Her voice maintains its even lilt throughout but Clarke can’t help but rise to the undercurrent of a challenge in those last few words—and judging by the slightest arch of her eyebrow, that was what Lexa intended. She studies Clarke for her reply. Clarke considers Lexa and considers her options, overcome with a strange desire to test this girl and see how well she could really hold her own against a seasoned lawyer and politician…but ultimately decides to pass. She sits back with a smile.

“We probably could use that, Miss Ward, you're right.”

It’s the note of finality that Miller needs to take back the reigns and wrap up the interview, pulling Lexa’s attention away from Clarke. “Alright, Miss Ward, I believe we’ve about covered everything we need to know today. We’ll look into your references and contact you sometime next week.”

And then they’re on their feet again, shaking hands, smiling, observing all the proper etiquette. Lexa sees herself out—Sarah will be waiting outside to escort her from the office—and Clarke and Miller fall back into their chairs like athletes who just completed a successful game.

“So, you first, Griffin.”

“She was good,” Clarke says with a shrug of her shoulders because there’s not much to it beyond that. “I think she’d work well here.”

“Do you think she’d fit in well, or did you just hear yourself in her last answer about being ruthless?” he asks with a laugh.

“They’re not mutually exclusive, Miller,” Clarke shoots back. “In all seriousness, she handled herself well. And that’s really all I need. Someone to stand up to the pressure and take some of the responsibility off of me. I can handle the majority of it.”

Miller nods. “Understood. But we’re not just hiring you another secretary. We’re hiring people to be your crunch team. Your right hand men—or, woman, in this case. She’s going to be one of the ones stuck to your side for the next year, Clarke. You need to be able to work with her, on a personal level as well as a professional level, not just handle it all yourself and delegate work to her.” He can see that she’s already gearing up to argue, so he raises a hand.

“Tell you what: I’ll set up a personal interview with her sometime next week, over lunch. If you get through that and you think you can work with her, then we’ll look into picking her up for a position on the team.”

“Deal. And now—” she glances at her watch, “—It’s almost four, on a Friday. Go enjoy your weekend, Miller.”

“You should too, Griffin.”

“I will when I’m senator.”