Something About You Page 85

Now, looking forward to Jack’s unexpected visit, Cameron picked up her stride and turned the corner into the main reception area of the office.

He wasn’t there. The entire waiting area was empty, in fact.

Over at the reception desk, Elaine held up her hands. “He told me he didn’t want to wait out here—said he wanted to speak to you someplace private. I put him in Silas’s old office since no one is using it right now.”

Very odd, Cameron thought. More intrigued than ever, she cut across the waiting area and through the corridor on the opposite side. When she got to Silas’s former office, she saw a tall, well-built man standing outside the door. He nodded as she approached.

“You can go right in, Ms. Lynde.”

Keeping an eye out, Cameron cautiously opened the door and stepped inside. A stout man with neatly trimmed silver hair and an expensive suit stood before the window, looking out at the view of Lake Michigan. When she walked in, he turned around and smiled at her with a genteel air.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Lynde. Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice.”

Cameron shut the door behind her. “Senator Hodges,” she said with surprise. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. What . . . brings you to our office today?” Despite their bizarre connection, and the fact that she knew far more about the senator’s personal life than she had ever wanted to, they’d actually never met or spoken to each other.

Hodges crossed the room. “I think we both know this visit is overdue, Cameron. Is it okay if I call you Cameron?” He sat down in one of the two leather chairs in front of Silas’s old desk. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

Cameron nodded. “Certainly.”

In light of everything that had happened that night at the Peninsula, it felt weird sitting in Silas’s former office with Hodges. Really, though, it would’ve felt weird sitting with him anywhere.

“I’m greatly indebted to you, Cameron, and I wanted to thank you in person,” Hodges said. “From what Special Agent Davis tells me, you single-handedly kept me from being arrested and undoubtedly saved my senate seat. Innocent or not, I never would’ve survived the scandal of being implicated in a murder. Let alone my . . . connections to Ms. Robards.”

“I appreciate that, Senator. But honestly, the FBI team assigned to the case deserves all the credit. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“You were nearly killed for being in that place at that time,” Hodges said. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for that. How sorry I am for a lot of things, actually. I was a foolish man and my mistakes hurt others. In some cases, gravely so.” His eyes clouded with sadness.

Cameron nodded, unsure how to respond. Talking to Hodges was sobering. Despite the fact that Mandy Robards’s intentions toward the senator had been less than honorable—as Jack had confirmed now that Lombard had told him all about the blackmail scheme—the whole incident remained a sad testament to the lengths some people would go to for money. Or out of desperation.

“I’ve upset you,” Hodges said.

“I’m fine. I’m just relieved it’s all over.”

“Actually, it’s not quite all over,” Hodges said. “Silas Briggs’s resignation means I have an important task ahead. As the senior senator from Illinois, it’s my duty to make a recommendation to the president regarding the person who should be named the new U.S. attorney. And I think I might know of just the right candidate.” He paused deliberately.

Cameron pulled back in surprise. “Me?”

Hodges nodded. “You.”

Cameron tried to decide how best to respond. “I appreciate the consideration, Senator. Truly, I do. But if I can be blunt, I don’t expect you to offer me the job out of gratitude. Nor do I want you to.”

Hodges smiled at this, as if he approved of her answer. “I had a feeling you were going to say that. So let me assure you that this has nothing to do with gratitude. After the allegations being brought against Silas, the last thing I would do right now is risk further potential scandal by naming a candidate who isn’t fully qualified for the job. If anything, your connection to me counted against you.”

Cameron remained skeptical.

Hodges laughed. “Do I need to convince you further?”

“If you’re serious about this, then yes, you do.”

“Good God, they weren’t kidding when they said you were a tough nut to crack,” Hodges muttered. “Fine—I’ll give you the highlights, the facts that most convinced me when my vetting team came up with your name. You have the best trial record among all the assistant U.S. attorneys in this district. The judges—yes, we do talk to judges—say you’re fearless and tenacious in the courtroom. After Briggs, frankly, that’s what this office needs. You look good on paper: you come from a blue-collar background, you put yourself through law school, your father died heroically as an officer of the law, and the media already thinks you’ve got balls made of brass for surviving the ordeal with Lombard. But what most convinced me, Cameron—and I know you’re being very humble and low-key about this—is that, per the request of the attorney general himself, you’ve been temporarily running this office since Silas’s departure. Seeing how you haven’t burned down the place yet, I thought I’d give you a real shot at the job. That is . . . unless you don’t want it.”

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