Welcome to the final chapter of Quarantined. To catch up with the story click HERE.
John was laughing, holding one of the national newspapers that most people referred to as a “gossip rag.”
“Matt, have you seen this?”
John tossed the paper, front page up, onto Matt’s desk.
Normally Matt found himself seething with anger when he saw an inaccurate or misleading headline but this time he simply tipped his head back and laughed loudly.
“Ah, man, this press conference might be fun,” he said with a grin, tying his tie. “You think they’ll ask me about it?”
John tossed another gossip newspaper on the top of the desk and nodded. “I’d guess someone will. TMZ is covering it too.”
“TMZ? I’m not Jay-Z or Beyonce. Are you serious?”
Matt was laughing harder now as he snatched up the folder with his notes and walked briskly toward the office door. “Come on, let’s do this. Cassie, you want to watch this one? This one could be fun.”
Cassie glanced at the front page of the paper as she walked toward the door then stopped, took a few steps backward and looked at the paper again.
“Is that me? In a robe? Where was that photographer even at to get that photo?”
Her eyes were wide as she followed Matt down the hallway. “Matt, we need to install a fence and better security. That’s an invasion of privacy.”
A splattering of camera flashes and shutter clicks met Matt when he reached the end of the stairs of the capitol and stood in front of the members of the press, many of them shoving cellphones and microphones at him. Cassie and John stood behind him, listening to a variety of questions related to the current uncertain situation with a possible deadly virus moving across the country and what Matt intended to do about other pressing national security issues when the Senate was back in session.
Matt answered the questions and was preparing to wish the reporters a good day when a reporter called to him.
“Representative Grant, is it true that while you were supposed to be quarantined with your family you had another woman at your house, in your backyard? Neighbors say they saw you kissing her and leading her into your garage.”
Several cellphones and microphones were shoved back toward him.
Matt shot the reporter a surprised expression, one eyebrow raised. “I have no idea what you are referring to Patrick. Please enlighten me.”
Patrick O’Donnell held up the paper with the photograph of Cassie straddling Matt in their backyard on the lawn chair.
“That doesn’t look like a neighbor saw me. That looks like a photographer saw me.”
Patrick pressed him. “Then you don’t deny this is you in the photo?”
“No, I don’t.”
Smirks filtered across the press pool, pens moving feverishly across reporter notebooks.
“I also don’t deny that the woman in the photo is my wife, Cassie.”
A female reporter in the front of the group rolled her eyes and shoved her pen in her pocket, clearly uninterested in the story now that she knew he’d simply been with his wife.
“She dyed her hair to try something different with her appearance. And what you see there is the culmination of a wonderful at-home date night while I was in quarantine. It was a great make out session that we later moved to the privacy of our garage so we could have amazing married sex without waking our children. Yes. There really is such a thing as great married sex.”
Cassie gasped softly and clasped her hand over her mouth. John laughed and shook his head.
“Aw man…” he said. “Looks like the old Matt has come back to us.”
Matt’s expression was a cross between angry and amused. “Any more questions?”
Laughter spread across the press pool. Patrick’s face flushed bright red as he joined in the laughter. “No, Senator. I think that answers my question.”
Matt cleared his throat, his eyes moving across them, his smile fading. “With that behind us, I have an announcement to make.”
The cameras that had been turning off clicked back on. Phones were shoved toward him to record his words. Pens will slid out of pockets again.
“This will be my last term as a senator from the great state of Ohio.”
Cassie gasped for the second time in only a few minutes. Her husband was apparently full of surprises today. He hadn’t told her he was going to tell a group of national reporters about their sex life and he hadn’t told her he had decided not to run for reelection. What had changed his mind? She looked at John and noticed he didn’t have the same surprised expression on his face that she did.
“Did you know?”
He nodded, a smile tugging at one side of his mouth. He looked slightly sheepish, rubbing his hand along the back of his neck. “You mean he didn’t talk to you yet? He said he was planning to. Um . . . Yeah. Well, we’ve been talking about it, but I didn’t know he was going to announce it today.”
“What led to this decision?” a reporter asked.
“My heart,” Matt responded with a small smile, looking up and catching Cassie’s eye.
Matt answered a few more questions then stepped away from the podium and walked toward Cassie and John, reaching for Cassie’s hand. They didn’t speak until they were locked inside the elevator with John.
Matt spoke before Cassie could. “I know. I’m sorry. I should have told you I’d made this decision, but I can’t put our family through this anymore, Cassie. I can’t put you through this anymore.”
He slid his arms around her waist and pulled her gently against him. “I don’t know what our future holds, but I am thinking private practice again. John has agreed to be my paralegal and I’ll find something for Liam to do too, some way for him to use that PR degree of his.”
“Are we going back to Ohio?”
Matt nodded. “I really think that would be best at this point, yes.” He cupped her chin in his, searching her eyes. “What do you think? I know I should have asked you before I made the announcement, but what do you think?”
Cassie smiled. “I think Tyler is going to be upset leaving his friends, but I think you made the right decision. We will all adjust.”
Matt kissed her briefly as the doors to the elevator opened. Bright sunlight pouring in from the glass doors of the capitol building bounced light off the floor and chandeliers, prompting all three of them to reach for their sunglasses.
Matt paused and turned toward John. “I’m heading home for the afternoon, John. I’ll call later and we’ll discuss this more.”
John nodded. “Sounds good. Liam and I will get the releases together for you to look at.”
Matt slid his arm around Cassie’s waist as they walked nodding at a couple members of the press, a few senators and two congressmen as they walked toward the back parking lot toward their car.
Matt lifted his phone as it rang and smiled as he read the caller ID.
“What was that? I thought we were going to draft a press release when I got in this afternoon.”
“I know. Sorry. The timing just felt right.”
Liam laughed. “Classic Matt response. Seriously, it was fine with me, I just didn’t expect you to announce it so quickly. I’ll work with John on a press release with more details this afternoon. And, hey, that whole thing with Cassie was hilarious.”
Matt laughed, his hand on the door to his car. “It was but at the same time it was concerning. I don’t like the idea of the press being able to access our property that way. I think stepping out of the limelight for the next few months should help alleviate some of that until we can get back to Ohio. Anyhow, things still getting better with you and Maddie?”
“We’ve barely left this bed all morning, does that answer your question?”
Matt winced and made a face. “Dude, as happy as I am that you and Maddie are getting things back on track, I did not need to know that.”
Liam burst into laughter. “I didn’t mean it that way.” Matt could hear Maddie laughing in the background. “We’re watching movies together. That’s all. For now, anyhow.”
“Ah man, I have to go. Too much information, Liam.”
Cassie slid into the passenger seat as Matt slid behind the steering wheel.
“So, what’s the verdict? Things still getting better over there?”
“I’d say so. They’ve been in bed all day.”
Cassie made the same face Matt had made a few moments earlier. “Oh, that’s what you meant by too much information. I mean I’m happy for them, but that’s more than I needed to know.”
“He said they’re watching movies.”
Cassie laughed, flipping back a strand of her now blond-streaked brown hair. “Yeah, sure that’s all they’re doing. But good. That means that both of the Grant brother’s marriages are on the right track then.”
Matt leaned toward his wife and cupped his hand against her face, sliding his thumb along her cheekbone. “Yes. That is exactly what that means.”
A smiled tugged at Matt’s mouth, even though he’d considered teasing his wife for a moment and pretending to be upset at whatever important news she said she had to tell him. This announcement, though, had genuinely brought a smile to his face. Yes, the children they had were exhausting. Yes, this news was definitely a shock and surprise. But also, yes, he loved his children, they were a blessing, and if God was giving them another blessing, he was more than ready to accept it.
Cassie caught her lower lip between her teeth then let it slide out again. “Are you upset?”
“Upset? Do I look upset?” He pulled Cassie gently against him and kissed her mouth gently. “This is wonderful news, Cassie.”
“Even now, with our future up in the air? With you getting ready to leave the Senate and rebuilding your law firm?”
“Even now, Cassie.” He looked at her with a furrowed brow. “I don’t know why you’re shaking. Were you that nervous to tell me?”
Cassie nodded, tears rimming her eyes even though a smile was pulling at her mouth. “I know it was silly, but yes, I was that nervous. Not just to tell you, but what it might mean for ”
Matt wiped at the tear that escaped the corner of her eye with the palm of his thumb. “We’ll make it work. I’m not worried about that.”
When his cellphone rang he let it go to voicemail, not even bothering to see who it was. Whoever it was could call back.
Cassie wiped at the tears on her cheeks. “I wonder what the kids will think.”
“Tyler might not be very happy, but I think the girls will love the idea of a baby to take care of.”
His cellphone rang again. Cassie nodded toward it. “Maybe you’d better take that. You’re not out of the Senate yet. It could be important.”
Matt shrugged. “Doubt it.” He reached for the phone anyhow, glancing at the caller ID.
It was coming out of Washington, that’s all he knew, and it was probably Senate business, but that business could wait.
He placed the phone down again and slid his arm back around Cassie, holding her close. “I don’t have time for spam right now. I’ll listen to it later. Right now my focus needs to be on this family and,” he smiled as he touched Cassie’s belly. “This new baby.”
Matt rubbed his hands across his eyes and yawned. He’d been ignoring his phone and emails all day. He and Cassie had talked about the new baby, told the children, had dinner, spent some time watching a movie and holding each other and now Cassie was asleep upstairs. He’d stumbled into his office to catch up on phone calls and see what he’d been missing. One voicemail was from John, asking him to call him back, another was a call from a member of the media, and the third was from Liam, asking him about his plans for Labor Day weekend.
He reached over to click off the desk lamp as the phone rang again. He lifted it, glancing at the caller ID and yawning again. 202 area code. Someone in Washington again. He rolled his eyes, ready for his day to be over, but he decided he had better take the call this time. This same number had called four times today already.
“Hello. Glad I finally caught you. This is Alexander Marshall, Chief of Staff for the president. We noticed on the news that you’ve decided not to run for re-election this year.”
The White House? Really? Matt definitely new Alexander’s name but he needed to feel this conversation out; make sure it was actually him.
“Um, yeah. Hello, Mr. Marshall. Yes, I felt that I’d accomplished at least most of what I wanted to do here, for my constituents and that I should —”
“We understand, Matt, may I call you Matt? And I certainly would want you to call me Alexander.”
“Yes. Sure. Of course, you can call me Matt.”
He was beginning to think this really was Alexander Marshall. He certainly had the same New York accent as Alexander Marshall.
“We understand why you’re stepping down Matt, but to be blunt, we don’t think your job is done here in Washington yet. You’ve propelled a lot of the goals of our party forward in some very high-profile ways. Listen, Matt while we here at the White House, specifically the president, respect your decision to stay home with your family, we are willing to offer you a position on the president’s cabinet, which would keep you in Washington and close to your family while also still being able to serve your country, something we know is very important to you.”
Matt sat up straighter in his chair as Alexander continued speaking. His exhaustion was fading, adrenaline kicking in fast.
“As you know the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has stepped down and this is the position the president has personally asked us to approach you about and have you consider taking on. Would you be willing to at least consider this offer and get back to us by the end of the week with your answer?”
Matt’s mouth had gone dry. He shook his head as if to wake himself from the dream he was sure he was having. The president wanted him on his cabinet? Was this really happening?
“Uh, yes. Yes, of course I will consider it Mr. Marshall – um, Alexander.”
“Great. That’s great. I hope to hear by this week that you’ll be joining our team.”
As he hung up Matt felt a twinge of guilt. Had he just said he’d consider a job on the president’s cabinet, on the same day he’d promised his wife he’d consult everything with her from now on, especially if it affected the entire family? Indeed, he had.
He let out a long breath. He had to talk to Cassie about this sooner rather than later. He couldn’t keep the news from her. They’d have to discuss it and make a decision.
Whatever that decision was, though, he knew they’d make it together – as a family.