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Leave It All Behind

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When the dancing started, Hillary went out of the East Room while Tim went to socialize. She thought to excuse herself. She first visited the powder room just near the East Room but when she found it crowded someone told her that she could use the one on the first floor near the library, so she did. The powder room there was empty to her delight. However, after she finished freshening up, instead of going back to the East Room, she thought to check out the library.

She turned to look around if someone was watching, and when she found it clear, she turned the knob and welcomed herself in.

The White House Library is used for teas and meetings hosted by the President and First Lady. It contained a wide array of rare and precious books. It wasn't at all intimidating inside and she found it very homey. The smell of a clean room and leather greeted her as she walked around. Her footsteps silenced by the rug. She scanned the shelf with her fingertips brushing on the spines of the leather books. 

She turned on the lamp on the side as she looked at the books on the shelf facing her. She was impressed by the rare volumes. She pulled out an antique Karamazov Brothers book. She opened it and ran her hand on the page —

Click

She turned her head towards the door as the sound of the knob turned, she heard a murmur then someone came in. 

Click

The door closed. She was on the corner of the library with only one dim light on, but she couldn't mistake who just entered, it was President Clinton.

She watched as the President leaned against the door with his head tipped up and his eyes closed. He took a deep breath then loosened his tux. She watched his hand move, a little mesmerized by the movement. He took a deep breath again, and she wondered why he seemed to be running out of breath. 

As if he heard her thoughts, he opened his eyes and turned his head to look at her. 

Damn. 

His striking blue gaze made Hillary shiver even though the room wasn't cold. She felt sensations travel through her body just like the first time their eyes met. 

Torn between surprise and horror she ended up stuck on the spot. They both looked at each other for a split second before Bill straightened and greeted her in his smooth Southern accent, "Senator Rodham."

"What are you doing here, Mr. President?" She asked as if he didn't belong in that part of the house.

The moment she asked them, she hoped she could stuff the words back in her mouth.

Bill’s brows furrowed - confused then returned the question with the same directness, "I should be the one asking that question, what are  you  doing here, Senator?"

Hillary made a nervous chuckle then shook her head. "Of course, I apologize. I don't mean to be obtuse."

They both turned their head to the door as the knob turned and Agent Harold peeked and looked at the President and then to the Senator. 

"Everything alright, sir?" 

Bill nodded, "Yes, thank you for checking, Harold. Please close the door."

Hillary felt her stomach tighten as Harold, a Secret Service Agent she assumed, nodded and closed the door leaving her alone with the President.

Bill approached her and the way he walked towards her he reminded her of a panther stalking his prey. He moved with such grace that exuded power and sex appeal. She suddenly reminded herself that people called him charming because he was  definitely  oozing with charm. It was the way he carried himself — so confidently as if he was wearing that belt that bore his position as the President of a powerful country. He hadn't even said a word yet but he had that magnetism in him that could be both dangerous and attractive.

“I think we haven’t been introduced, I’m Bill Clinton,” He said as he reached her. Hillary looked at his hand as if he was offering her a snake. He was even overconfident to offer his hand. She turned his eyes to him and said matter-of-factly, “Etiquette says that men shouldn’t be offering their hands to women.”

Bill frowned and was about to withdraw his hand when Hillary broke a smile and said, “I’m kidding, etiquette be damned, I’m Hillary Rodham. Republican Senator from New York.”

She slid her small and soft hand against his - making the hair on his nape stood up by the sensation. 

“Do you often tease someone at the first meeting?” Bill asked, still holding her hand. 

“No, not really. I am sorry, I have that bad habit when I am nervous." She responded, grinning at him.

“Apology accepted.” Bill bit his lower lip before a smile broke his lips and said, “Bill Clinton, Forty-Second President of the United States of America. Democrat.”

Hillary wanted to laugh at his introduction, “You, do you go around telling everyone your position?” She asked, then she released his hand realizing that they were shaking each other's hand for some time. 

He looked at her smiling eyes and overbite smile before responding, “Depends if they enjoy  my  position.”

Hillary didn’t miss the sexual innuendo, so her lips straightened and gave him a reproving look, “I'm not sure if we are still talking about your distinction in society, Mr. Clinton?”

Bill heard the censure in her voice and relented, “We are now Ms. Rodham.”

Silence.

“I guess it’s my turn to apologize now for making such jokes.”

“Do you joke around when you meet someone new?” Hillary asked in return.

“Only when I am nervous,” Bill said using Hillary’s response. Hillary chuckled at his response, finding it odd why they were talking that way as if they knew each other for so long.

“Shouldn’t you be up in the East Room and dancing?” Bill curiously asked, trying to indulge her in a conversation to prolong the moment. He could not understand why he felt compelled to spend time with her.

"Shouldn't you?" She asked back.

Bill arched his brow, amused on their verbal ping-pong.

"Touché," Bill responded, he put his hands on his back just to make sure that he wouldn't touch her. He couldn't dare to touch her even though how platonic the touch would be.

"I'll tell you, but only if you will also share your reason why."

"Go ahead," He said with a crook smile on his face. 

Although he wasn’t sure of the reason why they were both indulging each other of the trivialities, he knew,  and damned if he got it wrong , that she also felt, perhaps, something compelling between them when their eyes locked on their first meeting, and they both wanted to know where that would end. Besides, if the Senator didn't feel anything, he believed that she wouldn't hesitate to excuse herself and leave him alone in the dimmed room of the library.

Hillary contemplated his question. She wanted to tell him that her date, Congressman Duke, did not really prefer dancing because he always - as in always - used that kind of free time to socialize instead. Tim wasn’t at all romantic, he was pragmatic. He wasn't really emotional but rather a practical kind. But for some reason, she didn’t want to tell Bill that, so she looked for an excuse. “My feet really hurt because I am wearing heels, you?"

Bill couldn't tell her that he was feeling faint earlier, because that would mean opening the dark side of his life. The one that he kept hidden from anyone. He thought to go for a better reason, "My special cognac is stored here. I wanted to share it with Senator Kerry."

Hillary nodded, seemingly accepting his reason. Bill looked at her blue high heeled sandals. “Well, as for your heels, that’s unfortunate to miss the dance.” He empathized. She looked at him and so he added, “You can remove your shoes and dance with me here instead.”

Hillary looked at him not believing he just asked her for a dance. Bill, on the other hand, regretted saying it. Misinterpreting her silence for rejection, Bill opened his mouth to tell her ‘nevermind’, but then she smiled at him showing him that beautiful overbite smile that he already found alluring, and she said, “Alright.” 

She moved fast and Bill assisted her as she slipped her foot out from her shoes one by one and when she had them off, Bill smiled down at her childish excitement, “Shall we?” She asked.

The unexpected small happiness from her brought a pleasurable response from him as if she gave him a spoonful of honey to swallow.

"Of course, Senator." He gave her his hand, "It will be a pleasure."

They slowed dance to the faint music echoing from the second floor. Bill cupped her hand gently as if he was holding a bird in his hand while his other hand held her waist. Hillary mirrored him with her hand holding his, and her other hand on his waist. They swayed slowly while smiling at each other’s eyes, seemingly not aware that an event was happening just right above the floor where they were. They went around and round as Bill guided her to a basic tango that he knew. Hillary followed gracefully enjoying the moment with him.

When the music ended, Bill let go of her hand and stepped back. They gaze at each other that made Hillary feel a little conscious. She turned around and reached for the book she was holding to distract herself to return it on the shelf. She needed to leave the room, she didn’t like the way she responded to him.

Bill dropped his eyes on the book that she was holding, “You like Dostoevsky?”

She smiled looking longingly at the book as if it was a prized possession, “Yes, I love this novel.” Unconsciously she pressed the book against her chest like a dreamy child who was lost in her thoughts recounting why it was her favorite. “The conflict in the story between faith and doubt is appealing to me. Dostoevsky illustrates it beautifully by imagining three brothers with conflicting values - Zosima and Alyosha who believe vehemently in God, while Ivan is more of a skeptical kind. The dichotomy of their contrasting beliefs -” Hillary caught herself suddenly realizing that she was opening herself to Bill Clinton, the notorious playboy charmer, the man her father wanted her to take down. She stopped and released the book from her chest. She looked at the book and gave it a last careful caress before she turned around and placed it back on the shelf. 

“I’m sorry for coming into your library,” She said, almost whispering. For some reason, she felt the need to speak in a hushed tone as if she was afraid to be heard by anyone.

Bill felt that too, “It’s okay, Ms. Rodham.” He stood next to her as he watched her slide the book back. Hillary turned around after and found herself standing rather too close to him.

Her body was sounding the alarm telling her that she was exactly doing what she warned herself to be careful of, but there was something magical at the moment that was beckoning. She could smell his perfume - dark, alluring, seducing her to come closer. She felt her heart trip hammering inside her chest because she knew that if she looked up to his eyes, the chances of him kissing her was already a foregone conclusion. She didn’t know why she felt like indulging in this magnetic pull instead of fighting against it.

Bill didn’t know that Ms. Rodham could be tempting. Interesting. Enticing. She piqued his curiosity the moment that their eyes met, the brief knowledge about her told him to stay away from her and not to cross her or Timothy Duke if he wanted to win the Republicans. As if the Universe had some ill-humor, she was in the room that he didn’t expect her to be in. She should be in the East Room dancing with Timothy not in the library where he wanted to fight off his demons, not in here talking to him about why she likes Dostoevsky’s book, nor teasing him about etiquette, nor exactly tempting him with her presence standing there a breath away from him with her midnight blue dress that was hugging her curves and her shiny blonde hair tied up perfectly. Every fiber of his being told him not to do what he intended to do — kiss her because kissing her was like a pandora’s box, it would lead to complications that he didn't want in his first one hundred days nor the coming days ahead of his Presidency. Imagine: President Clinton — a newcomer, a confirmed rake, seducing Republican Senator, Hillary Rodham while hosting a dinner in White House. Not now, not ever.

Hillary heard Bill take a deep breath, then he took a step back and looked at her. “You shouldn’t be loitering around the White House, Senator.”

She looked at his face and saw his jaw bunching as if he was angry or annoyed. The warmth of his gaze now clouded with coldness. “I… uh… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be nosy.”

Bill looked at the door. “I’ll leave now, please return to the East Room after a minute that I left so as not to make someone think that we spent the time together locked up in the White House library.”

She nodded and watched him turn away from her and marched towards the door leaving her alone and cold in the library.

***

Hillary returned to the East Room after some time. She tried to stifle the urge to look for that salt and pepper hair but instead looked for Tim. She found him standing next to Congressman Jackson, when she reached him, she playfully excused and said: Gentlemen, I hope you don't mind if I take this gentleman for a dance.

The congressmen chuckled and said, "Go ahead, Senator. Claim him now."

Tim smiled at her, "Wow, that's an aggressive move."

Hillary laughed as Tim placed his arm around her and held her hand. He twirled Hillary and then gently held her as they slow-danced. His chin touched her crown, as she leaned her cheek against his chest. "I'm sorry for being away," He said. 

"It's okay," Hillary responded, trying not to think about her shared dance with the President. "I am just glad to be dancing with you tonight."

Tim smiled gently at her and kissed her forehead then whispered against the smoothness of her skin, "You have enough support to get the minority leadership."

Hillary gently pulled back to look at him not sure if she would be horrified by thought or be glad.

Bill was talking to some Republican Congressman and mid-way from drinking his whiskey when he saw Senator Rodham and Congressman Duke approach the dance floor. He diverted his attention back to the men he was talking to and told himself that he was being ridiculous for seemingly getting affected with the sight of the couple.

After the dancing ended and everyone returned to their seat. Bill returned to his seat too but he was rather occupied. He tried to focus on the program but he couldn't. It annoyed him that he found Senator Rodham attractive and interesting and that what he felt when he saw her dancing with Duke was something akin to jealousy that burned in the pit of his stomach.

It was ridiculous that it made him angry with himself. Why should he be jealous? But it was there, he couldn't deny it. 

The thing with Bill was before he got elected as President he could get the women that caught his eyes, so Senator Rodham's unavailability made it a novelty for him - and a challenge that was just too sweet to ignore. He wouldn't deny that, but she was off-limits. He needed to do something before his attraction gets out of hand.