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Protecting Freedom - Page 3

“It’s fine, really. I know you’re busy.” Do I miss having my dad around more? Yeah, but I understand. The only thing that has bugged me is the control he tries to have over my life. I often wonder if he worries because he’s the president or because he’s overcompensating for being a single parent.

“Things will be different soon,” he tries to reassure me. “Maybe you should pick a school in Tennessee instead. When I finish with my final term, that’s where we’ll be based.”

“Really?” I ask, surprised. Not that I want to go to college at all still, but that’s a change of pace from what he’s been pushing until now.

“I want to go home when this is over.” He comes back around his desk, wraps his arm around my shoulder again and leads me out of his office. I watch him and July share a look as we make our way past her desk. I hate that they feel they need to hide. I’m even a little hurt my dad hasn’t told me on his own. It might be hard for him to open up to me, so I try not to let it sting.

“I thought maybe you’d go somewhere bigger. Like New York or something,” I admit as we walk down the long hallway.

“I did too. I wanted to be close to wherever you picked a college but…” He trails off.

“July?” I finally ask, peeking up at him. He doesn’t respond, and when we come to the kitchens he guides me to a seat.

“Clear the room,” he orders, and everyone leaves quickly. He starts pulling stuff out of the refrigerator to make our lunch.

“You know about July?” he asks me.

She’s the only woman I’ve ever known him to show interest in besides my mom. I can see why he likes her. She’s sweet but also direct when she needs to be. She’s good at handling my dad and it seems like she’s doing it in more ways than one.

“I figured.” I shrug. “I just want whatever makes you happy,” I add. He looks up at me, knowing what I mean. I made my choices in life and he can make his.

“She’s pregnant,” he says, dropping a bomb.

I stare at him, shocked, unsure how I should feel. I’m not upset, just taken by surprise.

“And how do you feel about this.?” I ask, needing to hear how he’s handling it.

He puts down a plate of food in front of me, but I ignore it.

“I’m excited,” he admits, taking a seat next to me. “I’m in love with her.” It’s sweet the way his voice drops as he says it. He really is.

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“Did you love Mom?” The question pops out of my mouth, and I hate it because timing isn’t my strong point.

I’ve always wondered but never asked. I don’t think they were in love. My mother was cold whereas my dad would rain down affection on me. When I look back on the memories of the three of us, they didn’t seem like they fit. I didn’t notice it until I was older. She never showed affection, not even to me. I still feel guilty for not missing her like I should. It’s sad, but there isn’t anything about her to miss.

“No,” he admits, and I nod in understanding. I still wonder how they ended up together.

“You deserve happiness and I’d love a brother or sister.”

He smiles at me, and I can see the hope in his eyes. “It might get crazy when everyone finds out that we’re together and she’s pregnant.”

“It’s not like you’re running for re-election,” I laugh. It doesn’t really matter. Soon we’ll be out of here and hopefully the tired look on my dad’s face will stay behind, too.

“No, but I am trying to shield July. And trying to make her love me back.”

“Do something for her then. Take her away from everything and go be a couple for a while. I’ll hold down the fort,” I tease, making him laugh.

I nudge him with my shoulder. If he wants her to fall in love with him, I’m sure she will. Not only is my dad sweet but everyone calls him the hottest president ever. To me he’s just Dad.

“I love July, too. She’s sweet,” I offer.

“I knew you’d be okay with this.”

“Because I love you.” I watch a touch of tension leave his body.

“I love you, too, sweetheart.”

We both go back to eating and I decide to not bring up the college thing today. Last time we fought about it and he’s about to leave for at least twenty-four hours. I don’t want us parting on bad terms.

A knock sounds on the door before an agent steps through. “Mr. President?”

My dad stands. “I’m coming.”

“I’ll move the birthday party,” I tell him as he gives me a big hug.

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