Once the New York Times woman spoke, the conference turned to safer subjects. Questions revolved around the operation that led to the defusing of the bombs. I realised that was why the press conference had not been held in DC; the journalists of a city just saved were less likely to bite my head off for every crime we cannot stop. I managed to hide my shaking all the way through the end.
After I escaped the stage, Casey returned to the microphone to close the conference. Rebecca hugged me and offered a replay of the whole thing. Showing me I did great was way more efficient then just telling me. I wasn’t ready to jump back on but at least I knew I could do it, after a lot of pushing by my friends.
Casey stepped off the stage, and he and Rebecca escorted me to the hotel’s restaurant. Only then did I realize that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. It was 9 P.M. now. I regretted turning down the fruits Casey had offered me in the afternoon but at that point, my stomach was too churned to reason with. The stress forgotten, it was now complaining.
The three of us sat in the nearly empty restaurant. Casey gently fended off the couple of uninvited journalists who had followed. We shared a meal, a few drinks and chatted about anything but the evening’s events. I dealt with the residues of nerve wreck by chomping decisively on a lamb chop.
I had done what was asked of me. Now, I could forget all about it. I crossed my fingers and hoped I would never confront journalists again.
Rebecca nudged me a couple of times to wake me up. I cracked my eyes open as someone knocked. I dragged myself out of my bed and pulled the curtains while Becky opened the door. I smelled coffee.
“Room service,” Casey announced. He pushed a cart charged with food into our bedroom. “Huh, I’m overdressed for this breakfast.” He was wearing his usual suit with his hair combed back. Becky and I sported tank tops and undies.
“Breakfast! How sweet of you.” I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl.
“He didn’t do it to be sweet.” Rebecca bumped Casey’s shoulder. “He wanted to catch our thoughts off-guard. May be spy on a dream or two.” She poured three cups of coffee and added the one sugar and a dollop of milk in mine. She drank hers black.
“Guilty as charged. Oh, Square, love the hair!” He tipped his cup my way with what I guessed was a smile. I reached for my glasses and headed for the bathroom mirror.
My hair was as tangled as usual. This morning, it was puffy on all sides but flat at the top. How did that happen? Casey leaned on the doorframe.
“Don’t say it, Casey,” came Rebecca’s voice a millisecond before he said “Kinda looks like a cuckoo’s nest.” He sipped coffee.
“If you weren’t holding that cup, I’d tackle you.” Becky joined me in the bathroom and grabbed the comb from my hand. “Let me do that for you. Come sit on the bed.” She took my arm and towed me back into our room.
“What is it with women and doing each other’s hair?”
“I’m not doing it for fun. I’m doing it for expediency.” Casey was completely puzzled.
“Black woman, Casey. She knows how to deal with hair way frizzier than mine.”
“That’s why I wear them short.”
“How much time would it take you?” Casey sat on a chair on the other side of the food cart and pushed a chocolate croissant my way.
“Half an hour and a lot of conditioner. And they would still need to be dried and all.” I split the croissant down to bite-size pieces and munched on one. I picked another and held it over my head. Rebecca swallowed it. Casey watched with a crooked smile.
“I always find this symbiosis of yours real cute.”
“We can find you telepathic twins if you’d like.” Rebecca retorted. No need to read minds to figure out what Casey had thought. Telepaths sex lives were reputed to be especially fiery. I fed Rebecca another bite, ignoring the whole thing.
“Braid or bun,” Rebecca thought.
She started pulling my hair back gently. Casey rose and fetched the elastics and bobby pins from the bathroom counter. He looked at his watch and put together my outfit for the day. A glance at the clock told me that we were running late. To speed things up, I helped Rebecca complete my loose bun; four hands working in sync were a fast way to get things done.
Casey pulled out a suit I didn’t know I owned; probably another one he had tailor-made for the conference. Wait a minute. Why would I need more than one suit?
“I meant to tell you but I didn’t want to rush it.” He answered to my thought. “Aaron will milk your stardom as long as he can.”
“More public appearances?”
“Yes. And a few speeches.” And to say that the day had started out so nicely.
“We’ll be with you every step of the way, Cass. You’ll get used to it.” Rebecca was done with my hair and gobbled a muffin before dressing up.
“I hoped I wouldn’t have to do it enough to get used to it.” I took my suit from Casey’s hand. He was gentleman enough to become really interested by what was happening out the window while Rebecca and I changed.
I want to the bathroom to put some eyeliner on. He followed me and picked a pair of earrings and a necklace from the jewellery box he filled with public image polishing goodies.
“There are good sides to it,” he broadcasted while tying the clasp behind my neck.
Maybe but I couldn’t care less. All that PR nonsense was tomorrow’s problem. Today, I was expected at a police station.
“That’s the spirit,” he murmured in my ear.