Fiona fixed Susan with a smile that held the appearance of warmth.
Susan saw that although her cheek muscles contracted, her eyes remained impassive. Despite the honey that she exuded from voice and demeanour, it was tainted with a drop of poison. The kind that stole up on you, respiratory difficulties and no trace to be found.
The door clicked shut behind her as Susan stood up, extended her hand, forced a smile onto her face.
‘Governor, so good to see you. ‘ Fiona said.
Fiona poured herself a cup of water from a carafe and sat down on the couch, Susan took a sip from hers and sat forward at the table.
‘Quite the play you’re making, Susan.’
Susan ran her tongue over her teeth, took a moment to compose herself.
‘Some things dwarf the personal, even the political, Madam President.’
Fiona reached into the breast pocket of her ivory suit and withdrew a pair of spectacles. Her California blonde looks were not marred by the spectacles rather they softened her. Her green eyes swam through the magnification.
‘Do tell. Your campaign manager had quite a turn of phrase.’
Susan had faced down Armenian landlords with gangland connections, wet brained addicts with shivs but nothing and no one scared her quite as much as Fiona did.
‘We found something that you might want to address, madam president.’
Fiona waved her off with a swipe of her immaculate manicure.
‘You and everyone else, Susan, don’t come the pious servant with me, it really doesn’t suit you.’
‘Much like that eyeshadow, if I may be so frank.’
Susan shook her head. She had long since grown calluses over the soft parts of her personality. She would lay there at night, wondering what this had cost her.
‘No cameras here, which is good for you.’
Fiona’s eyelids lowered briefly as she took a sip of water.
‘I do not respond to threats, Governor.’
Back behind titles again. Knives out because although she looked like a gentle princess, she was straight up carnivore.
‘No but you do seem to respond to some unusual funding arrangements.’
The flicker of a smile, moonlight on a switchblade.
‘If you’re referring to the Artificial Intelligence Bloc, then I trust you’ve looked up the supreme court decision on digital rights, governor.’
Susan shuddered at the indifference. The collective unease still reverberated through every level of society but after the last guy, people were prepared to forgive most things.
‘And what about some of the people who’ve been contributing to you?’
Susan put her hands up.
‘They’ve publicly denounced their father’s crimes, Madam President.’
Fiona grinned, an ugly sight that sent a burst of acid up Susan’s throat. She could taste the salmon from earlier.
‘Of course they have. I know it might offend your social justice sensibilities, but politics is entertainment now, Susan. I had women at my inauguration who became famous off sex tapes, no one cares anymore.’
Susan’s hands clenched into fists. This expression, the appearance of noblesse oblige but in actuality a hollow disdain for any value beyond achievement had been why she had gotten into politics.
‘So what did you come here for, because you’re not moving the needle, hun.’
Susan’s eyes narrowed into slits as she straightened out her fingers and took a deep breath.
‘Sometimes I need to remind myself of a few things rather than to be told. You take money from artificial intelligences, I take money from the sons of drug lords, but today was never about that, not for me.’
She stood up, straightened the jacket of her suit and smiled at her.
Fiona’s left hand rested against her cheek. The tip of her index finger rested against her temple, every pose looked like an instagram shot and Susan envied her that. She still had the wiry hair that her ancestors had brought over generations ago and she still bore the marks two sons had left on her.
Susan smiled and walked towards the door.
‘I’ll see you in November, Madam President.’
Fiona sat there, savouring the quiet. She did not have the luxury of emotion to fuel her ambition, and she knew that the dumpy Latina only chose righteousness because she didn’t have charisma or looks to fall back on.
It was going to be a long campaign, but weren’t they all?