Between a Rock and a Mad Woman by Stephanie Queen

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Between a Rock and a Mad Woman is available on AmazonBarnes and Noble and Smashwords for 99 Cents.

The Story:

What would happen if two political opponents campaigning against each other for governor were once lovers?

Mad Madeline Grace and Peter “the Rock” John Douglas find out as the media turn the campaign into a battle of the sexes.

In Madeline’s world of politics, romance wins over cynicism and the good guys finish first.

Not since JFK, has a political candidate used his wit and charm to such an advantage as Peter “the Rock”.  On the other hand, there hasn’t been a woman so admired as a crusader against corrupt power since Joan of Arc… until “Mad” Madeline.  Madeline is running for Governor of Massachusetts against Peter.  Madeline and Peter were once in love—before she broke his heart.

In the midst of the campaign battle they reignite their volatile relationship, but on warring sides of the ticket, they can’t afford for the media to find out too. As they fight each other for office they find they have an enemy in common.  When their enemy drives up the stakes, Peter must decide if he’ll risk his career and fight with Madeline to overcome the political crisis. Madeline has to decide if she trusts Peter—and whether she still loves him.

An Excerpt:

Madeline squinted, smiled as graciously as she possibly could with squinted eyes, and looked for her way out. She decided, standing there on the platform in front of the self-important crowd, that even if she had known how hard this would be, she would still be here. She sighed. If these photographers kept up, she might resort to wearing sunglasses soon. Camera flashes popped all around her as if she was a starlet and this was a Hollywood gala.
But no, this was all wrong because she was actually a political candidate and this was a gubernatorial convention in Boston, Massachusetts. No matter. Being blinded by a bunch of misguided photographers was the least of her problems. The race for governor was young and she’d just finished her first concession speech. Now that, she acknowledged to herself briefly, was a problem. Nothing she couldn’t handle. But she felt the disappointment threatening her smile if she didn’t get out of there soon.
As she stepped down off the platform, the delegates applauded louder than she’d expected. She’d have preferred more of their votes. Her campaign manager waited for her on the convention floor with specs of red, white and blue confetti in her hair and the usual frown accompanied by the furrowed brow on her face. If Madeline didn’t know better, she’d never believe her friend actually loved the life of campaign manager. She glanced over Sarah’s head and zeroed in on the exit sign. Security guards paved the way from here to the exit, but their hold on the crowd was tenuous.
Madeline let out her breath slowly. She felt like a balloon that had been filled with a little too much helium. High and tense. She knew her current convention-induced high wouldn’t last.
“You should see yourself. You look like a regular party animal.” Madeline flicked a dot of blue from Sarah’s hair. Her comment had the desired effect. A look of horror took over Sarah’s face, and she shook her head wildly. Madeline wanted to laugh, but she behaved for the moment.
“Let’s go before we’re mobbed by the press,” she said instead. Her concession speech had gone so well that she shouldn’t say another word if she could get away with it. She wanted to leave on that high note. They turned toward the exit. The line of defense was gone. The press swarmed in.
“It’s okay. I’ve got you covered.” Sarah stood in front of her.
Madeline winked at the nearest reporter. He happened to be right at her elbow.
“Time for Plan B?” the reporter asked.
“Tune in tomorrow,” she said. Sarah pushed forward and they attempted to move.
“Mad Madeline—you’d have to be mad if you’re planning on continuing against the insurmountable PJD. Or maybe for you, he’s mountable?” another reporter said. She knew the man. Bertrand St. Cyr, the city’s premiere political print reporter and no fan of hers.
“If it isn’t the saintly in-sin-Cyr.” Mad could not stop herself from saying it. Tension won out. The balloon had popped. At least the comment drew plenty of chuckles, but St. Cyr ignored it.
“You would have to be irrationally optimistic, at the least.” St. Cyr said it as if optimism were a worse sin than being mad.
“I am an optimist. I think that’s exactly what people need and deserve in their political leaders. Responsibility and optimism. There are far too many cynics already in this business.” She turned away from him and would have moved forward but there was now nowhere to go except straight into the mouth of the lion. Nothing but more press ahead. She turned back. Especially you. This time she only thought the words. She’d learn yet.
Men and women with microphones attached to who-knew-what manner of recording devices yelled, shouted and pleaded with her to answer their questions. They were all asking the same thing
“Does this mean you’re staying in the race for governor, Ms. Grace?” A young, but professional reporter with a pen asked in a rhyme. She was a sucker for rhymes.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, time for Plan B so hold onto your hat,” she answered.
“What’s this? The Dr. Seuss school of political campaigning with whimsy?” St. Cyr quipped back.
There were laughs all around. Laughter was good. She joined in. It wasn’t all bravado, but she wasn’t sure how much longer she could stay on this ledge hovering over ridiculousness before she fell off—or maybe even took a leap. So much for her high note. She needed to get off the convention floor.
“What’s Plan B?” another reporter called out.
Then the avalanche of voices clamoring to know everything deteriorated into unintelligible noise. Madeline turned to Sarah. They didn’t have a press secretary yet, but could they ever use one right now. Standing surrounded by all manner of media like in a cloud of giant gnats, her hope to make a quick exit looked dim. She prodded Sarah to say something.
“Peter John Douglas won. We lost. But this is only check, not check mate.” Sarah delivered her lines, albeit in a monotone.
Madeline turned away. Trying not to laugh or cry, she wished the game of politics was as clean and simple as chess. Not that she was about to get squeamish now, but sometimes she herself had a hard time believing she was in this ridiculous game as a player. Of those who are given much, much is expected.  Her father’s mantra since she was four years old haunted her. She’d been given far too much. She needed to give back and politics was the best way to have the most positive impact.
She had known all along she would not win the nomination at the convention, but then there were the primaries. The question was: would she have a shot at winning the primaries? One of the nearby TV news anchors went on camera and she and Sarah watched, standing in the background. They were too hemmed in for her to do more than take another quick and wistful look at the exit.
“From the convention floor, Madeline Grace gave a remarkably gracious concession speech, but of course there are hints of more to come from the remarkable Pulitzer Prize-winning psychologist turned politician. And back to you Tad, at the studio.”
Madeline cringed at the reporter’s tag line, but at least the woman put a hopeful spin on her loss. She’d have to send her some chocolates.
“It could have been worse,” Sarah muttered. “They could be calling you a beauty queen too.”
“There’s that. And I’m not a professional wrestler,” Mad deadpanned in a whisper, “That should make this campaign a walk in the park.” Speaking of walking, it was past time to make a graceful exit after her gracious speech. She looked around the convention floor. They may as well have been inside a circus tent. The lights were too bright. The zillion bold-colored placards and bouncing balloons were starting to give her a headache. That never happened.
Glancing at the exit sign with longing, and half listening to Sarah’s half answers to the reporters’ questions, they waited for the rest of their group to catch up to them so they could break through the throng. Then she made the mistake of sneaking a glance at her opponent.
He won. The buff and charismatic Peter John Douglas won the party nomination for governor of Massachusetts. She couldn’t afford to think about him right now, especially not those thoughts. Not wanting to be taunted by remnants from their past, she squeezed him out of her mind and did her best not to acknowledge that he was all too real and present in the flesh.
Taking a deep breath, she tried valiantly to dispel the disturbing thoughts. It wasn’t working. Struggling against the mother of all butterflies fluttering in her gut, she decided it was time to make their get-away. It wouldn’t be long before everyone in the place read her disturbing thoughts. That was, after all, her hallmark. Her chief distinction in this campaign was being the open, honest politician with an open, honest face. The trait had served her well enough to gain her a respectable showing tonight. But the last thing she wanted was people peeping into her personal life through her wide-open expression.
Turning to Sarah again, all she needed to do was tilt her head slightly, and Sarah knew it was time to go. What’s more, she knew why.
Trying not to appear as distracted as she felt while the cameras continued to flash, they pressed through the noisy crowd. With her eyes cast down toward the confetti-littered floor, she managed to hide her too-expressive face.
–————-
For more about Stephanie Queen, visit her website at www.StephanieQueen.com.
To buy Between a Rock and a Mad Woman, click here.
 
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