CJ quickly opened the door and entered with Josh giving a quick glance behind him as he followed her into the room. He didn't see anyone in the hallway and as soon as the door shut he had his hands on her waist pulling her close to him. She smiled before his lips came crashing down on hers.
It had been a few days since the media gaffe and things seemed to calm down. Toby had apologized for taking his frustration out on her, though he was still unhappy that she hadn't known about the editorial. Leo also seemed to drop the initial freeze out he had given her and CJ thought it had everything to do with Josh being in her corner.
They had a forty minute break where neither had meetings or phone calls to return and they decided to slip off unseen to CJ's room for a little while. CJ felt Josh's hands unbuttoning her blouse quickly even as he kissed her. He walked her back into the room and was in complete control. He steered her towards the bed and freed her from her blouse before he gently brought them both down on the mattress. She pawed at his tie and half of his shirt buttoned before she turned her attention to his ear, a sensitive area that she knew drove him wild.
CJ felt Josh's lips work their way down her collarbone and across the top of her breasts. She was glad she'd decided to wear her low-plunging bra today. She felt sexier in it and it gave Josh access to more flesh. He purposefully slowed down to pay special attention to the area and CJ felt her body tremble in anticipation of his next movement. She sighed contentedly and ran her fingers through his hair when she suddenly realized that the quiver she felt had not dissipated, in fact it began to get worse and not in a pleasant way.
CJ sat up quickly and Josh looked at her with alarm in his eyes, afraid he was doing something to upset her. "Earthquake," CJ said simply.
Josh didn't have time to process the word before CJ was scooting off the bed and suddenly Josh began to feel the room rumble. It was an unsettling feeling that he'd never experienced before and he followed CJ off the bed like a shot. He scampered over to the door and was about to pull it open to evacuate when he felt CJ's hand on his arm pulling him underneath the large table in the room.
"Don't evacuate," she said seriously. "We're safer under here."
The room shook with an intensity that made Josh nervous, but it also made him feel better. The small roll he felt earlier just made him feel dizzy. Now he could tell that he was in the throws of a natural disaster, which was oddly comforting and terrifying at the same time.
CJ and Josh huddled together in a state of semi-undress under the table. She noticed how scared Josh looked and realized that he may have never experienced an earthquake before. The shaking had only started a few seconds ago. CJ didn't know where the fault line was in Virginia, but she assumed that the epicenter was somewhere close based on the intensity of the shaking. She knew it would be over soon, but she reached out and laid her hand over Josh's.
Suddenly the fire alarm began to blare and the strobe lights in the room started to blink. The loud siren hurt CJ's eardrums, but she assumed that there was no helping it. Josh winced at the sound himself.
"First earthquake?" she asked loudly.
"Yeah," Josh said looking around. The lamp had fallen off the night stand and the bed that they had just laid on was rumbling forcefully.
"It'll be over soon," CJ said.
"How come we don't evacuate?" he asked.
CJ shrugged. "Things fall," she said simply. "I think it's slowing down."
They sat in silence and CJ could hear people in the hallways. The east coast wasn't known for earthquakes. She recalled her first earthquake, when her intuition told her to run. Luckily her college roommate was a native Californian and knew the proper procedure. CJ half wondered if they should have stayed on the bed, which was another viable option, but as she watched the light fixture over the bed shake violently in its socket she thought he'd made the right move having them take cover under the table.
CJ thought that the shaking seemed to slow, but she held Josh's hand forcefully to indicate that he shouldn't get out from under the table just yet. He looked slightly terrified and she was about to say something to reassure him when he said, "First a blizzard, now an earthquake; do you think the change in the weather has anything to do with the frequency of us having sex?"
He smiled at her and CJ began to chuckle even as the earthquake stopped. "We're like a weather phenomenon," she agreed.
"El Nino hasn't got anything on us," Josh agreed.
"Let's avoid the south and east during hurricane season," CJ suggested.
Josh grinned. "I can't promise anything."
They sat for another moment and wait to make sure that the shaking had stopped for good. Josh looked at CJ. "You think it's over?" he asked.
"Yeah," CJ nodded after a moment. "I think we're good."
Josh scooted out from under the table and stood up. He turned and reached for CJ's hand, which she took as she stood up. She looked at Josh, his hair disheveled from their earlier attempt at love in the afternoon. His pants were unbuttoned, his tie was unknotted and his shirt open, exposing his undershirt. CJ thought she probably didn't look much better. Her blouse was on the other side of the room and her skirt was unzipped. She thought she'd better get her clothes on before someone came knocking on the door. Plus, now was the time to evacuate the building.
She thought that Josh must have had the same idea because as soon as she was standing upright he was across the room grabbing her shirt as he buttoned his own. He handed her the blouse and started tying his tie.
"Are you okay?" CJ asked.
"Sure," Josh nodded.
"You sure? My first earthquake was terrifying," CJ said as she tucked in her blouse.
"I can handle it," Josh assured her. "I wish the damn fire alarm would stop going off."
"They probably can't control it," CJ said she twisted her skirt around to face the correct direction. "We should evacuate."
"You think anyone got hurt?" Josh asked as he walked towards the door. CJ reached out and pulled Josh back, readjusting his tie before they opened the door.
"Is it bad?" he asked.
"Crooked," CJ said. "It's better now."
She smiled at him. Josh started to feel a build up of adrenaline course through him and he started to realize that he'd just been through an earthquake. Before opening the door he reached out and pulled CJ's toward him and kissed her deeply on the lips.
"What was that for?" she asked after he pulled away.
"We survived something crazy," he said. "I thought it was called for."
CJ smiled at him and reached out to wipe her lipstick from his mouth. Josh tapped her side lightly a few times before he opened the door. CJ grabbed her coat and a scarf from the hanger and handed the scarf to Josh. She knew they'd be outside for a while and Josh hadn't brought his coat to her room.
The hallway was brimming with people and Josh saw Sam walk by in a sea of people. "Sam!" Josh yelled.
"Hey!" Sam said as he was them. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, are you?"
"We're good," Josh said.
At that moment Sam saw CJ with Josh and nodded. "You found CJ. Good," Sam said.
"I was with him when it happened," CJ said.
"Even better," Sam said as they all walked, somewhat orderly, to the stairwell to evacuate. He focused on Josh and asked, "Have you ever been in an earthquake?"
"No," Josh said. "This is my first one."
"You okay?" Sam asked Josh. Josh was getting a little frustrated by the fact that his friends seemed to think that he couldn't handle an earthquake.
"I'm fine," Josh said emphatically. "It was no big deal."
"You're lucky CJ was with you," Sam said. "You've been through a few haven't you?"
"A few, only one was really bad," CJ replied. "Have you seen Toby?"
"Or Donna?" Josh asked.
"Toby was supposed to be with Leo," Sam said. "They were in Leo's room. Has Toby been in an earthquake before?"
"I'm thinking no," CJ said. "He's an east coast kind of guy. Has Leo or the governor?"
Sam and Josh shrugged. "Donna should be fine. She was with Leo's secretary last time I saw her," Sam said
"How long ago was that?" Josh asked as they made their way down the stairwell. Luckily they were only on the third floor so it wasn't a difficult walk, although between the clacking of shoes and the fire alarm Josh was beginning to get a headache.
"Ten minutes," Sam replied. "Where were you two?"
"CJ's room," Josh replied. He felt compelled to add, "She needed some help with the economic policy."
CJ shot Josh a look that indicated she wasn't happy with his over story and Josh responded with a look that indicated a visual shrug. He thought he might pay for his response later.
They finally made their way out of the building and a throng of people gathered in front of the hotel. They all scanned the crowd to see if they could find everybody they knew. It was hard to see with all the people and the commotion of it all. CJ tried to recall the colors everyone had on earlier, but she was coming up blank. Finally she heard Sam yell, "Donna!"
Josh and CJ turned to see Donna making her way through the crowd at a slow pace. They were relived to see her, but now they needed to find Toby, Leo and, most importantly, the governor. Donna joined the group as CJ scanned the parking lot finally seeing the governor, Leo, Abby and Toby all the way across the parking lot. Once she had visual confirmation that they were okay she turned back to the conversation.
"…never thought the shaking would stop," Donna finished.
"Where were you?" Josh asked her.
"The lobby," Donna replied. "You?"
"CJ's room," he said. "I'm thinking I'm going to request the lowest floors in a hotel from now on."
"The ladder on a fire truck can get to the 11th floor," Sam supplied helpfully.
"How do you know these things?" CJ asked.
"He's savant-like," Josh supplied.
"Do you have lipstick on your shirt?" Donna asked Josh.
"What?" Josh asked.
"There's something pink on your collar," she said as she started pawing at it. Josh tucked the scarf tighter around his neck to hide the stain.
"Yeah, that was me," CJ supplied helpfully. "Josh was going to evacuate and I pulled him under the table. We kind of collided."
Josh gave a CJ a look that indicated he thought she made a nice save. "I'll pay for your dry cleaning," she offered to him.
"No starch in the collar," Josh replied. "I have delicate skin."
CJ suppressed a grin when Toby came walking up to the group. "You all okay?" he asked as he surveyed everybody.
"Yeah, you?" Sam asked. "How are Leo and the governor?"
"I was with Leo," Toby said. "He's fine. We were in the conference room on the first floor so it wasn't so bad. The governor wasn't in the hotel."
"Do we know where he was?" CJ asked.
"He was grabbing some lunch across the street," Toby said.
"Do we know if he's ever been in an earthquake?" CJ asked him.
"I don't know," Toby said. "Does it matter?"
"The earthquake will be the first story on the news," CJ replied. "The fact that presidential candidates were in the area will be the second. I'm gonna get the question."
"As soon as we get to him we'll ask," Toby replied.
The crowd of people outside the hotel was thick and chaotic. Josh wasn't sure he had ever seen so many people in one place without any clue as to what was going on outside of a political convention. He took a deep breath in and counted to five before exhaling through his mouth slowly to the count of ten. Even though he was annoyed that his friends and co-workers kept asking him how he was doing, he had to admit that he felt a flutter of panic when the earthquake hit.
Josh glanced across the parking lot and saw CJ walking over to the governor. He saw how put together she looked, which was surprising because of what they'd just been through and what they were up to before the earthquake struck. If he hadn't known it before, he was sure that she was the perfect person for press secretary. She'd just been through an earthquake, but she was as confident as in control as if she hadn't just been hiding under a table.
"Hey Josh," a voice said forcing him to turn.
"Hey Danny," he said turning. Danny looked about as lost as Josh felt. "CJ's with the governor right now. I'm sure she'll have something for you soon."
"Right," Danny nodded. "You ever been in an earthquake?"
"No," Josh shook his head. "It was my first one."
"Me too," Danny replied. Now that Josh looked at him he thought that Danny looked a little out of sorts.
"You okay?" Josh asked, feeling happy that he was able to ask the question to someone else this time.
"You know, I'm not really sure," Danny said truthfully. "I've been through a hurricane once. There've been tornado warnings, but there was something about the ground shaking that was just a little unsettling you know?"
"I do," Josh replied. "Where were you?"
"In my room," he said. "I thought the building was going to collapse and I ran to the stairs. I've since been told that was probably a bad idea."
"Yeah, that was my first instinct too," Josh replied. "Luckily I was with CJ and she pulled me under the table."
Danny nodded. "I'll have to ask her for some tips on post traumatic stress. I'm sure she's been through a few of these," he joked.
"She was oddly composed," Josh said looking across the parking lot at her speaking with the governor. She was trying to keep a few reporters away from him until she could speak to him herself. He smiled in spite of himself.
"Look Danny, I should help run interference over there," Josh said. "I'm sure CJ will have something for you soon."
"Sure," Danny said. "I'll see you around."
Josh started to walk towards the governor and the group of people when Donna fell into step beside him. "Hey, how are you?" he asked.
"Good," she said. "Have you ever been in an earthquake before?"
"Nope. This is my first one."
"Yeah, it was oddly invigorating," she said.
Josh snorted. "Okay. I'm glad you're pumped."
Donna chuckled. "Don't get me wrong, it was scary, but I feel like I have all this energy right now. Don't you?"
"I do," Josh said. "So how about we use the energy to put out some fires."
"What do you need?" she asked.
"I need an update on the Hoynes campaign," he said. "Where are they, what are they doing, are they on TV yet?"
"Okay," Donna said. "I'll see what I can find out."
"Thanks," he said.
Josh made his way over to the throng of people surrounding the governor. He spent the rest of the afternoon in the cold with only CJ's scarf to keep him warm. He was glad that it happened to be a sunny winter day. He was further relieved that CJ's taste in scarves wasn't too girly. Her gray scarf actually matched his suit.
CJ spent the remainder of the afternoon getting things settled with the press and the governor. She never expected to be in the middle of a natural disaster story while on a presidential campaign, but she had to admit that there was something of a rush trying to take care of it all. She'd given several press conferences and entertained the gaggle of reporters before they were cleared to go back into the hotel. It was after nine when she eventually made it back to her room and she was exhausted. She had just collapsed on the bed, which was still disheveled from her earlier romp with Josh when there was a knock on her door.
She got up slowly and smiled when she glanced through the peephole. She opened the door and said, "Hi."
"Hi," Josh said returning her smile. "You did a hell of job today."
"Thank you," she said. There seemed to be a lot of people walking back and forth behind Josh and CJ remembered that her room was close to the elevators.
"How do you think he did?" Josh asked.
"I know how he did. How do you think he did?" CJ asked him.
Josh smirked. "He did okay. He could use a little more polish," he answered honestly. The governor did well in his off-the-cuff interviews, but he seemed stiffer when the cameras rolled. He needed a little more time to ease into front-runner status on television.
"You know, I think someone mentioned that once," CJ replied smartly.
"You could be right."
"Do you want to come in?" she asked.
"I've got to see Leo," he said with a regretful look. "I wanted to return your scarf."
He handed it to her and she took it. "I'm glad you were thinking fast," he said. "I would've frozen out there otherwise."
"I'm just sorry I didn't have a coat you could borrow," she said. "So, do you think my performance this afternoon made people forget about my screw up last week?"
Josh looked at her, surprised that she was still thinking of the slip from the previous week. "No one's going to remember it," he assured her.
"I suppose the earthquake was going to help regardless," CJ replied.
"Probably," Josh chuckled. "I'm sorry we didn't get to finish…the thing we were doing before the earthquake."
Josh lowered his voice and glanced behind him before finishing his sentence, afraid that there were too many people around.
"Me too," CJ said. "There's still plenty of campaign left though."
Josh smiled so that his dimples popped, glad at the thought of the next time. "I have to go," he said.
"I'll see you later."
CJ shut the door behind him and sighed. She thought for a moment about the weeks still left in the campaign and smiled to herself. There was plenty of time to make up for a lost opportunity. What CJ didn't know was that there were things that were already in motion that could prevent those very opportunities from happening.