Authors: Mary Whitney
Disclosure of the Heart
Disclosure of the Heart, Copyright © 2013 by Mary Whitney
All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
1901 Avenue of the Stars, 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067
First Omnific eBook edition, November 2013
First Omnific trade paperback edition, November 2013
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
Disclosure of the Heart / Mary Whitney – 1st ed
1. Contemporary Romance—Fiction. 2. First Love—Fiction. 3. New Adult—Fiction. 4. Washington, DC—Fiction. I. Title
Cover Design by Micha Stone and Amy Brokaw
Interior Book Design by Coreen Montagna
To Mr. Cat, my dear writing companion.
This was his last book.
are the ones you tell yourself. For me, one way or another, the truth always seeped through the cracks of my brain. It was the biggest day of my career, and my mind should have been on something important, something that might come up in the next hour—like the Middle East or domestic gas prices or health care. Instead, all I could think about was Dolly Parton. That song “Here You Come Again,” which had haunted me for days, was at it once more, ringing through my head.
Trying to refocus on work, I glanced about the packed room as reporters chattered away while they found their seats. I avoided looking in the back left where I knew
was sitting. The assigned seats in the White House press briefing room were designed so the press secretaries would always know which news outlet they were talking to. I just happened to also be using the seating chart to avoid seeing my high school boyfriend.
“It’s time,” I heard Matt, my boss, whisper in my ear.
Nodding, I watched him take to the podium, and as he adjusted his microphone, the chaotic room became orderly at once. The inauguration might have been yesterday, but this was the first press conference in the White House—a momentous event for everyone in the room. The media were on their best and brightest behavior, waiting for the White House press secretary to speak.
“Good morning to you all. Welcome to our first official press briefing,” Matt said in his booming voice. His belly, big from months of bad campaign food, shook as he chuckled. “I’m sure we’ll soon get sick of seeing one another every day.”
The room reverberated with laughter, and I attempted a genuine smile, but an observant person would’ve seen it was tense. If you had noticed, you’d have probably thought I was nervous about work. Not at all. Work didn’t make me anxious. My job was easy for me—always had been. The guy who sat somewhere in the back, well, that was tough. He was best kept out of sight and out of mind.
After the crowd quieted, Matt said, “Before we get started, I want you to meet our team. First, I’d like to introduce you to our deputy press secretary, Nicole Johnson. If you were on the campaign trail with us, you know Nicole well.”
I was blocked from view by a few of the male staffers, so Matt gestured toward us and said, “Nicole, get out from behind Jeff so you can say hello.”
Placing all thoughts of Dolly Parton songs and ex-boyfriends out of my mind, I stepped around Jeff and the guys and gave the room a small wave. Matt offered me the podium, and I was in my element. With a confident smile, I said, “Hello, everyone. Being new in town, it’s nice to see some familiar faces from the campaign. And I’m looking forward to getting to know those of you I haven’t met yet.”
“Thank you, Nicole,” Matt said, showing me back to my space. He leaned in toward the microphone to crack his standard joke. “Unlike me, Nicole has all the answers. Just try to stump her.”
I smiled and shook my head just like I always did, and Matt continued with the introductions of our staff. Afterward, the questions began with the press studiously taking notes as Matt recited policy positions we’d both repeated a thousand times. Yet everyone hearing the words that day knew they were different. This was no longer a presidential candidate’s position on a critical issue. It was now the position of President James Logan’s administration. The enormity of the moment struck me, and I had to remind myself,
Wow. I work for the president.
As if he read my mind, my most dedicated staffer, Jeff, whispered in my ear, “Can you believe this is happening to us?”
With a smile, I said under my breath, “No.” And he didn’t know how much I meant it. There I was, part of a little moment of history, and Adam Kincaid—of all people—was in the room with me. How did
I shifted my eyes slightly to the left toward the back where I knew he was, but I was too short to really see him. All I caught was a glimpse of his rusty hair towering over the crowd. When I’d known him, it was longer, but it made sense it was short now—he wasn’t in high school anymore. And neither was I.
Adam heard my introduction, and tall as he was, he must’ve seen me. I wondered what he thought. Did he still think I was pretty, even a little? Or did I look old? I was short with mousy brown hair; I certainly didn’t look like the women I knew he dated.
My stomach lurched in a way I hadn’t felt in forever, and the Dolly Parton song floated back to me. She sang about a man walking back into a woman’s life, just to wreck it again.
My head snapped to attention.
That wasn’t going to happen to me—not this time.
I peeked again toward the back. The question wasn’t
we’d gotten to the same place. You could easily trace that by our professions; it could’ve happened to anyone on our career paths. I’d just moved to DC because I was a communications staffer for a successful governor who’d become president, and Adam had already been here for a few years heading the BBC’s Washington office.
The question was
. Why had he gone back to beat reporting and taken the job at the White House? Was it just because it was an exciting new presidency? Or did he care that I was there?
My heart sank with shame and guilt. I shouldn’t have been thinking those things for many reasons, but I did. How could I not?
The inevitable moment came when Adam was called on for a question, yet I still wasn’t ready for it. When Matt announced, “Adam,” I flinched so hard that Jeff gave me a side eye. He clearly wanted to know why I’d have a physical reaction to a BBC reporter—it wasn’t like an Al Jazeera reporter was about to speak. I ignored Jeff and played nonchalant. No matter how much I wanted to step forward and get a better look at Adam, I had to stay back. I hadn’t gone out of my way to look at any other reporter, after all. Adam should be no different.
I took a deep breath as Adam’s distinct English accent filled the room. “As a candidate last autumn, the president made lukewarm comments toward the relationship between the United Kingdom and America. Is the Logan administration going to mark a new era in the two countries’ special relationship?”
His voice was deeper than I remembered it but still familiar. My hands clenched into fists so tight, I felt my nails cut into my palms, and my heart hung on his words. Had Adam meant anything by “special relationship”?
As Matt answered his question, saying the special relationship was as strong as ever and comments during a campaign had to be taken with a grain of salt, I realized I was a total idiot. Adam had asked the question any BBC reporter would ask at the start of a new American presidency. He was only quoting Churchill, not signaling anything to me.
Get a grip, Nicki.
When Matt moved on to the Univision reporter, I forced my fists open and splayed my fingers, hoping to ease some of my tension. I turned to Jeff and found something relevant to say.
“Remind me to follow up with Univision,” I whispered.
“Sure,” he said. “Any international press? The BBC?”
“No.” It came out a little curtly and much too quickly. I added in a nicer tone, “There’s no reason to.”
There really wasn’t.
After the briefing was over, I remained in the front, knowing reporters would come to me. I wouldn’t have to walk the room and bump into Adam. Of course, I’d soon have to talk to him. My job would require it, but it didn’t have to be today.
Thankfully, the clock ticked away, and I let my eyes stray up to it even when I was in the middle of answering a question. Matt and I had a meeting at the top of the hour. He hated being late, so we’d have a quick exit.
With only a few minutes to get to the next meeting, I gave my final instructions to Jeff, waiting for Matt to tap me on the shoulder to signal our departure. After Jeff scurried off, behind me I overheard Matt say, “Welcome, Adam. I hear you’re going to be with us for a while.”