The Father of Her Son - By Kathleen Pickering
THE ATMOSPHERE AROUND the Manhattan newsroom offices at NCTV seemed unusually charged as Evan McKenna pushed through the glass doors on the seventh floor of the Fifth Avenue television station. His assistant, Sarah, paced outside his office, steno pad and file folder in hand.
He’d just come from a quick breakfast across the street at the Neverland Diner, where the proprietor, his friend, a fiery Irish redhead with mesmerizing green eyes and the perfect spray of freckles on her nose, had distracted him a bit longer than expected. He had an important interview scheduled with presidential hopeful Buzz Campbell in an hour but that didn’t explain the extracharged air or his assistant’s frown. Sarah saw him coming and met him halfway.
“What’s up, Sarah?”
She dropped the file into his hands, his favorite pen attached to the steno pad. “He’s here already.”
“Senator Campbell. I sent you a text, but you didn’t answer.”
He ran a hand through his collar-length black hair, his aqua eyes flashing regret. Of course he didn’t answer. He’d been too preoccupied with Kelly Sullivan to heed the alert. He checked his watch. “He’s thirty minutes early. Senators usually keep you waiting.”
“Something about having another engagement. Last minute. He’s in makeup with Steve and Dean.”
She smirked. “He rode the elevator with the senator. Apparently they share the same fraternity. Dean made sure Campbell knew it and has been in the middle of the conversation ever since.”
Evan shook his head. Dean was the type of office friend who would stay just that—an office friend. The guy was good at reporting stories, but his overenthusiasm reeked of insincerity. Evan seldom gave the guy much thought unless Dean was in his face for something. He could see Dean tripping over himself to get time with the senator in Evan’s absence, despite the fact that Evan had landed the interview.
He pulled his pen from its holder and clicked it a few times. “Is the set ready?”
“Yes. They’re waiting for my call.”
“Okay. Tell them we’ll be down in twenty minutes.”
There were five people seated with the senator in the makeup room. Senator Robert “The Buzz” Campbell was holding court with the ease and confidence of a man who knew the effect he had on a crowd. Tanya, the makeup artist, had draped the senator’s shoulders and was touching up his complexion, which honestly didn’t need much help, under the glare of the white lights. He was average height but built like an athlete. His thick blond hair, summer tan and deep blue eyes exuded those movie star looks that would earn him votes from the female population.
Evan nodded to his silver-haired boss, Steve Fiore. With his hawk eyes, Steve never missed a trick and was, as always, a class act in a navy Armani suit. Steve had won the confidence of the network owners for ten years running, and his self-assurance showed. From the body language in the room, Steve occupied a position of favor, chatting with the senator from the right-hand side of his chair.
Evan ignored Dean Porter, whose brown suit and ugly striped tie compounded his lack of professional tact as he lounged in the empty makeup chair to the left of Campbell, as if they were longtime friends. Two other men and a raven-haired beauty who looked to be about thirty were the senator’s entourage.
Evan headed straight for Campbell, offering him his hand. “Senator Campbell, sorry I’m late. I was expecting you in half an hour.”
“Call me Buzz. No problem at all, Evan. Had an unexpected addition to plans. I thought we’d get an early start, if that’s okay with you.”
“Sure. I’m just sorry I wasn’t here to greet you.”
Evan glanced at his boss. He had danced pretty hard to get this early interview with Buzz Campbell—before he announced his candidacy. The look on Steve’s face spoke volumes that he was satisfied with Evan’s ability to snag breaking news before any other news station. As a senator, Buzz Campbell’s impact on the political arena garnered enormous popularity at the grassroots level. That he chose Evan and NCTV to announce his plans for the White House was huge for ratings. Evan tucked that satisfaction away as a perk for negotiating his next raise. Once again, his instinct had landed another first for NCTV morning news.
Out of necessity, Dean vacated the makeup seat next to the senator so Tanya’s assistant could touch up Evan’s face from the early morning show.
Senator Campbell winked at Evan’s reflection in the mirror. “Dean here tells me breakfast at