Definitely a treat this time! No tricks...just Brady Maxwell!
With only 3 weeks left before For the Record releases and in celebration of hitting 30k likes on Facebook (OMG *squee* thank you, thank you, thank you), I got permission from my publisher to post the first chapter of For the Record! This book releases November 18th, so mark your calendars or preorder: http://amzn.to/1oexgMY
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For the Record
Record Series Book 3
Record Series Book 3
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2014 K.A. Linde
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle
Just the Beginning
Time stood still as Liz Dougherty stared out at the crowd of reporters visible through the backstage curtain. It was hard to believe that just a year and a half ago she had stood on the other side of the stage for the first time. Brady Maxwell had been announcing his run for Congress and she was covering the event for her paper, and now she was standing with him as he was about to announce their relationship to the world only months before her college graduation date.
His fingers laced with hers and he squeezed gently, giving her the reminder and reassurance that his presence already brought to her. Liz looked up into his handsome face, admiring the strong jawline, the confident dark brown eyes, the perfectly put together hair, and the full lips that drove her crazy. She loved this man.
“We’ll get through this,” he whispered.
“I know.” She sent him a soft smile.
wasn’t exactly the comfort she had been looking for, but she knew was a lie. Brady didn’t make promises that he couldn’t keep, and neither of them knew if everything really would be okay.
The workers backstage gave them a wide berth as they went about their business. She and Brady had been briefed and rebriefed until Liz had gotten a headache from it all. She took it in stride, though. She knew how to address reporters, considering she was one.
To everyone else, Brady probably looked completely in control. He always was. But she knew that he was worried. Not necessarily about himself or what this would do to his career at the moment. He was more confident now that he had taken control of the situation and was handling it in the way he knew how. But his brown eyes betrayed that he was nervous about how Liz would take it.
Only time would tell what would happen, just like time was what they had needed to find their way back to each other. The only thing Liz knew for certain was that she wanted to make this work.
“Heather will introduce me. I’ll give a speech. No questions. Just a short statement, and then I’ll be back with you,” he told her in that confidently casual manner only he could manage.
“Brady, I know. Heather and Elliott have drilled it into my head,” Liz said. Brady’s press secretary and lawyer didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Liz on everything, but she trusted them enough to get her through one press conference. “I’m not even the one speaking. Worry about yourself.”
“Nothing to worry about. I do this every day.”
“And I’ve been on the other side dozens of times. I can handle standing backstage for one press conference.” She gave him another small smile. She didn’t need people to keep telling her what was going to happen. She was nervous enough without the reminder meant to placate her. She took a deep breath and tugged on the necklace dangling around her neck. Brady had given it to her when they had first been together, and it felt comforting to have it hanging there now. She hadn’t worn it since he had been elected to office.
“I know you can. I just want you to be prepared for the reactions,” Brady said, running his thumb up and down her hand. “People aren’t going to be kind about our situation.”
Liz sighed softly. “Do you think we could be alone for a minute?” she asked, giving him a pointed stare. .
“I have to be onstage,” he reminded her.
“Soon. Heather hasn’t even made her announcement. I just need a minute.”
“I’d say I generally need more than a minute, Liz,” he said, his signature smirk crossing his face.
Liz couldn’t help but chuckle. “Maybe more than a minute. That’s a way to make the headlines. ‘Congressman Maxwell’s Affair Confirmed, Caught Having Sex in Backstage Bathroom.’”
“Don’t tempt me,” he said. His eyes were already darting around the room as he calculated how much time they had.
Liz ducked her head down and looked up at him through her thick black lashes. “Please, Brady.”
“Oh, you know how much I like when you beg.” Brady immediately started walking toward a small back room. Not a bathroom, at least. That was a relief.
There were a few people in the room crowding around a computer monitor and talking among themselves. Brady’s appearance made them jump out of their seats. “How can we help you, Congressman Maxwell?” the first guy asked.
“I require the use of this room prior to my speech.” He gave them an easy smile, but he might as well have threatened them, the way they jumped to leave. It was a bit strange to watch this side of Brady compared to the way he was with her when they were alone. He still had an air of authority that never left, but they were equals in their love. This was all power.
And she found power immensely attractive.
As soon as the door was closed and locked, Brady had her back pressed into the wall and his lips moved from her mouth to her ear down her neck. God, she couldn’t get enough of him and he was only kissing her. It was intoxicating. She had no idea how she had lived in that interminable purgatory without him.
It had been less than twenty-four hours since they had officially come out to Calleigh Hollingsworth, the reporter at the who had broken the story along with Liz’s ex-boyfriend, Hayden Lane, yet they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. Liz certainly felt as if they had a lot of time to make up for, and the way Brady’s hands were traveling down her dress made it seem he had the same idea.
Reckless or not, Liz wanted Brady . . . and she wanted him right now.
“God, baby, I missed you,” Brady groaned.
“You’ve been with me all morning,” she teased.
“Not the way I wanted.” He pulled her back from the wall and walked her toward a chair that he kicked out from under the table. His eyes were full of mischief as he started undoing his pants. “We don’t have much time.”
“You’re serious?” she asked, a bit surprised that he wanted to go through with this right here, right now. But Brady wasn’t someone to deny himself what he wanted. And there wasn’t any danger of them getting caught. At least . . . not by a reporter, which was all that mattered.
Plus . . . she had never been good at turning him down, and her body was already aching for him.
Brady smirked at her. “Baby, I never joke about wanting you.” His loosed himself from his boxer briefs and took a seat facing her. She took a step toward him and his hands moved to the hem of her modest knee-length skirt. Pushing it up around her waist, he tugged her thong off and moved her so that she straddled him.
Her heart was already racing. It hadn’t been long since they had been together at Brady’s lake house, but already she couldn’t get enough of him. Every time she was with him it was a new unbelievable experience. Every time was better than the next. Every time reminded her that it was worth it to be with him. In the end, he was what made her happy.
Brady moved her hips so that she was hovering over him and she leaned forward so her hands rested on his shoulders. She wanted to grab onto his hair and use it for leverage, but thought that might be a dead giveaway when they left.
Her head tilted back when she felt him enter her. A moan got caught in her throat as he pushed her body the rest of the way onto his dick. “Oh, God,” she murmured.
His thumb trailed along her bottom lip and her tongue flicked out and licked it. Fire lit up his eyes. He shifted his pelvis up and she groaned again. His hand covered her mouth. “Not a word, baby.”
And he then proceeded to make that practically impossible. He gripped her hips in his hands and started moving her up and down on him. The quick, rough rhythm he started coupled with the uncertainty of how long they had before someone came looking for them pushed her to the edge. She bit down on her lip hard to keep back the moans and screams that she wanted to let loose. As Brady hit the right spot over and over again, she couldn’t hold back anymore, and so she covered her mouth with his.
Their lips moved in time. It was a frenzy of heated bodies and scorching kisses and passion that nothing else rivaled. Liz felt her climax hit and she gasped against his lips as she throbbed with pleasure. Brady finished after her and they sat there for a minute, reveling in their stolen moment.
And then they heard the knock at the door.
Liz scrambled backward off of him and lunged for her underwear. Brady stood casually, adjusted himself, and righted his suit. He didn’t look like anything had happened at all, aside from the lazy smile that crossed his face. As she rushed to put her underwear back on, Brady snatched them out of her hand and stuffed them into his pocket.
“What are you doing?” she hissed.
“Go without them.”
“Brady,” she groaned.
“I want to be onstage imagining you ready and waiting for me again.”
“You’re going to get yourself all turned on while onstage,” she pointed out, snaking her hand down his arm and trying to get to his pocket.
He yanked her close again. “It’s worth it.”
She stared up at him intently. Blue meeting brown with an unparalleled intensity. “You’re worth this,” she whispered.
Worth coming out about their relationship. Worth dealing with the reporters. Worth giving up her privacy. He was worth everything. A soft smile crossed his lips as he seemed to understand what exactly she was saying and then he dropped a sensual kiss on her lips.
A promise. He’d make sure she was right.
“Brady!” they heard Heather call from the other side of the wall.
He smirked at Liz before unlocking and opening the door. “Heather, we were just coming to see you,” he said casually.
“Brady,” she groaned, shaking her head. She assessed him top to bottom. “You can’t do this already. You’re going to drive me bat shit crazy.”
“This is different than normal?” he joked.
Her voice lowered and she glared at both of them. “I don’t even want to know what was going on in here. I can only imagine. Can’t you at wait until we get back . . . or something?”
“Don’t know what you mean, Heather,” Brady said, crossing his arms. “Don’t I have a speech to give?” He grabbed Liz’s hand and started walking out of the back room.
Heather dropped in easily at his side and started going over the speech as if nothing had happened. Liz suspected that meant they would be getting shit later for going off like that. Checking out her cell phone, she realized they had been cutting it close. She dropped her phone back into her purse, and her eyes darted around the room for a bathroom.
But Heather grabbed Liz’s attention again. “Please stand right here and move again.”
“I’m not a child, Heather,” Liz snapped.
“Then perhaps you should take this more seriously,” she snapped right back. “You’re a liability, and sneaking off and doing . . . whatever you were doing is not helping anything.”
“Heather,” Brady said his voice dangerously low.
Heather straightened considerably and seemed to realize that Brady was right there. Oh, this was going to be fun.
“Just getting everything in order,” she said coolly. Yeah, Heather was not happy. She was probably worried that her perfect candidate was now involved in a scandal with a college political reporter who had written negative articles about him. Not to mention that she and Brady had been and their names smeared across the front headline of newspapers all weekend.
Heather’s job was partly damage control. And Liz was the damage. Liz understood why Heather would act like this, but it didn’t mean she had to stand for it. Heather took one last look at Liz before walking over to Elliott.
“She’s such a bitch,” Liz grumbled.
“She means well, but yeah . . . it’s kind of her job,” Brady said. “She just has to get used to us being together. I think she thinks this is a ploy.”
“If she thinks that, then others will too.”
“I intend to quell those responses before they get off the ground. You’re here to stay.”
His voice was so commanding that Liz had no room to doubt him. He didn’t have to keep her around. After she had left him at his primary victory to ensure that he won election, she had spent the next year with Hayden. She had never gotten over Brady, and their time apart had been sprinkled with sexually charged meetings and soul-crushing departures. The fact that they were here at all was a testament to their dedication to each other.
A minute later, Heather walked primly out onstage. She was tall, blond, and beautiful, with self-assurance that skyrocketed when she was onstage. Liz remembered being jealous of her trim figure. Not that Liz was big, but she was a bit more athletically built, with a large chest.
“Thank you so much for attending this last-minute press conference,” Heather trilled. “I’m Heather Ferrington, Representative Maxwell’s press secretary. No questions will follow the congressman’s announcement.”
The crowd erupted into outrage. Liz didn’t really blame them. She was sure Brady was going to get bombarded whether he wanted questions or not. That’s what she would have done. Liz had suggested that Brady take a few questions to keep the reporters from revolting, but Heather would hear none of it. She wanted to control the message that got out. Apparently it was bad enough that Liz had already spoken to Calleigh, when confronted about being the elusive Sandy Carmichael.
Heather sent them a scathing look. “No questions,” she repeated. “The Congressman will be out in a minute. Thank you for your patience.”
She walked back toward Liz and Brady stiffly. Liz was glad that she wasn’t the one dealing with the brunt of that backlash right now. Though . . . she knew she would have to eventually.
Heather blew out a slow breath when she got back to Brady. “Just stick to the script.” He nodded. His face grim for a second before returning to the neutral campaign mask Liz was used to seeing on his face. “And, Brady . . . , good luck.”
He gripped her arm softly. They had been working together since his career began and had a bond that came with spending an exorbitant amount of time with each other. After he dropped his hand, he turned back to face Liz. No one could see them backstage, but it still sent a nervous thrill through her system when his eyes were set solely on her.
“Still worth it?” he asked.
Liz nodded. “Always will be.”
Brady leaned down and kissed her once more tenderly on the lips. Then he was striding across the small stage and to the podium as if he owned it. And he did. He always did. Brady was more comfortable on a stage in front of a crowd of rabid reporters foaming at the mouth than most people were in their daily lives. He kept that confident smile plastered on his face, swagger in his step, and gave off the air of a born-and-bred politician.
He adjusted the blue tie at his neck. It was his unspoken cue that he was ready to begin. Liz held her breath, and silence lingered heavily in the room as reporters leaned forward, anxious for what was to come.
“Thank you all for being here on such short notice. I’m sure you’re curious about the recent allegations against my character. And I’m here today to set the record straight.” Brady paused, and Liz watched all the hungry expressions on the reporters’ faces. “Politicians in the public eye are frequently held to a higher standard. We’re expected to be impenetrable. We’re expected to be superhuman. Every fault, every stumble, every hurdle we have to cross is open and accessible to the public. It is the life we chose, chose, when I was sworn into office. It is a life I would trade for nothing, because it gives me the opportunity to work for the people I care about, to work for the citizens of this great nation.”
Brady, easing into his speech, now smiled charismatically. Liz hadn’t realized the knot of nerves that had gnarled up between them was so intense until it started to unravel.
“As you can imagine that life, this life, comes with limitations. And limitations are the last things politicians tend to talk about. But after the news that hit headlines this weekend, I feel as if it is my place to address one of these limitations. One of these, well, to be frank, ladies and gentlemen, have you ever considered how difficult it must be to while helping to run the country?”
Brady leveled an amused look at them. The crowd chuckled at his statement, feeding into his speech. Good.
“An article ran in the newspaper on Friday claiming that I had an affair with a university reporter, Sandy Carmichael, who I have since confirmed is Liz Dougherty. As a bachelor, I find it hard to reconcile myself with the word . While what happened between Ms. Dougherty and myself kept from the public, it hardly constitutes an affair. It was my attempt to keep one aspect of my life private. I still believe that what happened between us should remain between us, but I also understand the delicate position I find myself in. I did not come out about my relationship with Ms. Dougherty for any other reason than privacy concerns.”
Liz sucked in the air she hadn’t realized she had been without. That was the hardest part . . . hearing him discuss privacy as if they would ever be afforded it again.
“Privacy issues seem no longer to be a concern, though, and the very last thing I would want to see happen is for Ms. Dougherty’s name to be smeared for being associated with me. After speaking with Ms. Dougherty,” Brady said, his eyes darting to Liz briefly, “we have agreed that it no longer makes sense to hide our relationship. The article was only false in that it did not address the fact that Liz Dougherty and I are currently together.”
Oh God . . . it was really happening. Liz felt tears well in her eyes. She had been the one to confess to Calleigh about their relationship, but hearing Brady say it to a room of reporters somehow made it all seem so much more real.
“It might have begun in secret, but from this day forward, we would like to make it clear that is no longer the case. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to seeing many of you again.”
Brady gave the reporters a warm smile and a curt nod before turning to go. And then the room exploded. Reporters pushed forward against the small stage, demanding to ask questions.
“But what of the age discrepancy?”
“What will your opponents think of the negative articles she wrote about you, Congressman Maxwell?”
“Representative Maxwell, just one question!”
“Congressman, can you comment on the use of a fake name to hide Ms. Dougherty’s identity?”
“What else are you hiding?”
“Is this all a stunt from the campaign to cover up your sexual exploits?”
And on and on.
Liz had been expecting it. Even if Heather hadn’t prepared her for the onslaught of questions, she would have guessed this would happen. She had been preparing long enough to be a reporter that she knew firsthand what that was like. She even knew which questions she would have asked. But none of that made it any easier. Her stomach flipped and she felt queasy as the reporters added insult to injury.
She turned away and tried to tune out the madness. She breathed in and out slowly and imagined herself back at Brady’s lake house in the peace and quiet. The only thing they’d had was each other’s company.
Brady wrapped an arm around her waist when he reached backstage and started walking her away from the stage without a word. He was trying to protect her. This was just the beginning, and he knew it as much as she did.