Billie Armstrong discovers just how far her politician husband will go
in his quest to win the highest political office in the land!
Billie is not above a little blackmail and, holding all the cards,
she pushes her husband to submit to all her whims!
Politics, Billie discovers, is all about power
Billie checked her lipstick for the final time, screwed the cap back on and dropped the lipstick into her handbag.
Today, her handbag of choice was the Sarah wallet by Louis Vuitton in the gorgeous Rouge Fauviste tones. The bag was new and matched the exquisite high heel shoes Billie had purchased for exactly this day!
This day had been a long time coming but, at last it was here!
Today, Billie Armstrong dressed for herself and not for the approval of the voters!
Burgundy coloured knickers, bra and slip. Very sheer black pantyhose and a dark grey Italian designed suit with a blouse that had hints similar to the red of the handbag. The new shoes were remarkably comfortable for such fashionable footwear and the red leather contrasted with the gleaming black nylon of her tights.
Even her Gucci sunglasses were new and by the time the day was out, Billie would have a new hairstyle.
For five years, she had dyed her natural honey blonde hair to a dark brown. According to her husband and Samuel Truman, her husband’s political manager, the voters would not approve of a blonde wife!
‘You have to be conservative, Billie,’ Jeremy had said earnestly.
And Billie, against her real nature, had become conservative.
Too bad now, though, and, by lunchtime, Billie Armstrong would be sparkling blonde again.
Smiling, Billie gathered the handbag and walked downstairs to the kitchen.
‘Good morning Mrs Armstrong,’ Ellen the housekeeper said. ‘Your tea and toast is on the table.’
‘Thank you, Ellen but I don’t feel like tea and toast this morning. Could you whip me up some eggs?’
‘Eggs, Mrs Armstrong?’ Ellen said, glancing at Gemma Cleary who was sitting at the table, sipping coffee.
Gemma was Billie’s secretary and assistant. That’s what they told everyone but, in fact, Gemma was a spy for Billie’s husband, the Right Honourable Jeremy Armstrong MP, Shadow Secretary of State. It was never mentioned, of course but Billie knew the real story.
She had been a political wife for almost nine years so she knew exactly what was going on, although Billie never revealed to anyone that she knew everything!
Gemma was nice young thing and Billie often wondered about her as she always seemed eager to assist in any way. Despite the somewhat conservative suits Gemma wore, her voluptuous body could not be disguised completely. Her skin was china white and her hair a colour that verged on being red but wasn’t. Even though Gemma tried constantly to emulate the softly modulated tones of the BBC newsreaders, every now and again, she slipped back into her Liverpool roots.
‘Eggs, Mrs Armstrong?’ Gemma asked anxiously with a nervous smile. ‘Are you hungry?’
‘Gemma,’ Billie said evenly, ‘I’m always hungry. I’ve decided that the diet is pure bollocks! Scrambled eggs please Ellen, on toast.’
‘Well, okay, Mrs Armstrong,’ Ellen drawled.
Gemma studied Billie for a moment, shrugged and slid some papers across the table to Billie.
‘The latest polls are brilliant! Mister Armstrong is way ahead of the Prime Minister as well as ahead of Mister Bowling.’
Rodney Bowling, a man ten years senior to Jeremy Armstrong was the current Leader of the Opposition!
‘Hooray,’ Billie said sarcastically, ignoring the papers.
She did not bother to tell Gemma that she had been receiving the up to the minute poll results on a regular basis. Billie knew exactly what the results were!
Billie had set a target approval rating for her husband and that number had been reached! He was now extremely popular and his approval rating was ahead of the current Leader of the Opposition and now, that of the P.M.
‘If all goes well at the party meetings, your husband will be Leader of the Opposition!’ Gemma said, trying to encourage Billie.
Billie nodded but said nothing.
‘So, Mrs Armstrong,’ Gemma continued, moving to explain further. Billie thought Gemma viewed her as an idiot. Well, she’ll soon learn I’m not!
‘When your husband is finally Leader of the Opposition…,’ Gemma continued, ‘…and wins the next election, you’ll be the wife of the Prime Minister!’
‘How awful,’ Billie murmured and stirred her tea.
Gemma studied Billie again, wondering if she should ask her about that comment but decided against it. Gemma knew that most people went through days when they hated their job. She did! Unfortunately, those days were becoming quite a regular occurrence lately.
‘Shall we go through your diary, Mrs Armstrong?’
‘No, thank you, Gemma,’ Billie said with a smile as Ellen placed the plate of scramble eggs in front of her. ‘That was quick, Ellen.’
‘I wanted to get them made before you changed your mind, Mrs Armstrong. It’s good to see you eating properly.’
‘I wasn’t going to change my mind.’
‘Mrs Armstrong…,’ Gemma said, ‘…we should run through your engagements…’
‘Don’t bother, Gemma. Cancel them.’
‘C…cancel…cancel your engagements? But you have a speech at…’ Gemma said desperately, panic rising within her eyes.
‘Cancel it all, Gemma.’
‘It has taken months to get an invitation…cancel…’
Billie looked at Ellen who was surveying the scene with obvious amusement.
‘Ellen…,’ Billie asked sweetly, ‘…am I speaking English?’
‘You sure are, Mrs Armstrong,’ Ellen said in her American drawl.
Ellen had lived in the U.K. for fifteen years but still maintained her accent. She was also completely uninterested in politics, which was one of the things Billie liked about Ellen.
‘Just thought I’d check as Gemma doesn’t seem to understand me,’ Billie said calmly. ‘These eggs are delicious.’
‘Glad you like them, Mrs Armstrong. Would you like some pancakes?’ Ellen asked mischievously, enjoying the look of confused horror on Gemma’s face.
‘You know, Ellen,’ Billie said, ‘I think I will! With Maple syrup.’
‘I have some strawberries I could…’
‘Let’s have the lot, Ellen and why not some fresh cream?’
‘Coming up, Mrs Armstrong!’ Ellen said with a throaty chuckle, moving pots and pans around on the stove.
Jeremy Armstrong stood by the hotel suite window as he adjusted his tie. The television set was on with the sound down and the room service wait was wheeling the breakfast trolley out after clearing the table where Jeremy, Zoë and Samuel had a working breakfast.
Samuel Truman was his Political Manager while Zoë was Jeremy’s assistant and all round minder. Truman was a good looking man with curly hair and what could be described kindly as a Roman nose.
He favoured black rimmed glasses as a woman had once told him he looked like a young version of Sir Michael Caine.
‘Can we arrange that photo opportunity at the university, Jeremy?’ Samuel persisted.
‘It won’t be easy,’ Jeremy said. ‘The twins have just started university.’
‘How about you and Billie drive to Cambridge and the story will be you are visiting your sons on their first days at university?’
‘I suppose we could do that. You’ll have to check with Gemma. Fuck, this tie just won’t knot!’
‘Let me,’ Zoë said smoothly, quickly unknotting the tie.
Zoë was tall and black with a very businesslike manner. At times she could be quite blunt and hard which was perfect for Jeremy. Both Zoë and Samuel acknowledged that Jeremy could be lazy and, sometimes, a loose cannon.
The political advisors often said that Jeremy would be nothing without their strategic planning and advice!
She seemed to wear similar clothes every day. Severe black short jacket, matching black pencil skirt, black nylons and sensible black shoes. The blouse varied from day to day and every now and again, Zoë swapped the skirt for black trousers and wore a white blouse with a striped tie. As she was exotic and beautiful, the masculine garb seemed to highlight her curves and feminine face.
Zoë, of course, reported to Samuel and obeyed Samuel’s orders, even though she was supposedly Jeremy’s assistant.
Gemma also reported to Samuel so Samuel always knew what his candidate’s wife was up to. Even though the Right Honourable Jeremy Armstrong was counting on having the numbers to overturn Rodney Bowling as Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition, Samuel Truman pulled the strings!
‘Rodney Bowling made a mess of that news conference last night,’ Samuel said, flicking through his papers.
‘I saw it,’ Jeremy grunted. ‘He didn’t get the policy right on Third World Aid.’
‘He’s a fool! Your Parliamentary colleagues will see that soon!’
‘How are our numbers going?’
‘We are closing in,’ Samuel said with a grin. ‘Soon we’ll be able to canvas openly to force Bowling to call a vote on all Parliamentary leadership positions! You’ll romp it in especially with poll numbers like these,’ Samuel said, waving the newspaper at Jeremy. ‘You have an approval rating for preferred P.M. of forty seven per cent! Bowling is twenty nine per cent and the bloody Prime Minister can only manage twenty!’
‘When do we make a move?’ Jeremy said as Zoë finished tying the knot and patted his shirtfront. ‘What do I do next?’
‘You don’t have to do anything, old man,’ Samuel said. ‘I called a few more of your colleagues this morning to make sure they’ve seen the latest poll numbers.’
‘Who did you call?’
‘The waverers! They’re getting nervous. I keep telling them the P.M. will call an early election while Bowling is Leader of the Opposition. The Party will be crucified in the election if that happens.’
‘Will that happen?’ Jeremy asked nervously.
‘No!’ Samuel said scornfully. ‘The prime minister won’t call an election.’
‘If the P.M. does, Bowling couldn’t win, could he?’
‘It depends on the Government. Oppositions don’t win elections, old boy, Governments lose them!’
Jeremy nodded. He had heard that saying a million times since he began his political career.
‘No previous Leader of the Opposition has had your approval ratings, Jeremy, over such a short time,’ Samuel crowed. ‘We have to get you into that job! If we don’t fuck up, the Party will vote you in as Leader and when the P.M. gets the bollocks to go to the polls, the election is ours for the taking! You’ll be Prime Minister!’
Jeremy looked out the window. It had taken nine years of hard graft, of lying and negotiating to get to this point. In a matter of weeks, he would stab Bowling in the back and sweep him aside to take on the leadership.
Everything was going to plan!
Jeremy smiled and turned back into the room as Samuel’s mobile rang.
‘You look good,’ Zoë said, flicking some lint from the shoulders of Jeremy’s suit. ‘Don’t slouch when speaking, sir.’
‘You always say that.’
‘It’s my job, sir.’
‘But, I don’t slouch!’ Jeremy protested.
‘You do when you have both hands on the lectern. Don’t do that! Stand straight and move your eyes around the room.’
‘I do know how to communicate, Zoë,’ Jeremy snapped.
‘Of course you do, sir. A few reminders can’t hurt.’
Zoë and Jeremy looked at Samuel who was frowning as he listened to the caller. ‘Fuck! All right, I’ll call you back. Keep calm.’
Samuel disconnected and frowned at Jeremy.
‘When did you last speak to Billie?’
‘Billie?’ Jeremy said.
‘Your wife?’ Samuel sarcastically pointed out.
‘I know that, Samuel!’ Jeremy snapped. ‘’I spoke to her on the weekend! Why?’
‘She’s just told Gemma to cancel all her engagements for the day.’
‘Says she’s getting her hair done or something!’
‘Did you have an argument with her, sir?’ Zoë asked Jeremy.
‘No! We saw each other for lunch on Sunday…’
‘For the photo shoot after church?’
‘Yes. We smiled and had a quick chat about the boys, how they are settling in at Cambridge, that sort of thing. She seemed fine.’
Samuel scowled at Jeremy. ‘Well, there’s something else. Gemma said your wife had eggs and pancakes for breakfast! Gemma sounded shocked by that, Zoë. Why?’
Zoë shook her head slowly. ‘That is serious, sir. It means Mrs Armstrong is off her diet!’
‘Oh. I see. Okay, Jeremy, you have to call her.’
‘Call her? Why?’
‘She’s your bloody wife, Jeremy! You have to keep her happy! Let’s be blunt here. One of the reasons you are so popular in the polls is your wife!’
‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ Jeremy protested.
Samuel sighed. ‘Tell him Zoë.’
‘I’m afraid your wife contributes a great deal to your approval ratings, sir. She’s beautiful, has a great smile, is a loving mother to twin boys that take after her and are very handsome. The magazines are already talking about them as a sort of quasi royals! Mrs Armstrong has intelligence and wit and women groups love her when she appears at their luncheons. The fact you married very young and she was pregnant at nineteen, adds some credibility to her as far as women are concerned. Women admire her, know she’s been through what they go through.’
‘I suppose you admire her as well?’ Jeremy sneered.
‘Actually, sir, I do,’ Zoë said quietly.
‘Get her on the bloody phone, Jeremy!’ Samuel ordered. ‘Smooth this out! Gemma tells me she was scheduled to speak to a businesswoman’s luncheon! We can’t miss that opportunity!’
‘You make her sound more important than me,’ Jeremy said petulantly.
‘With women, old boy, she is! You don’t do so well with female focus groups! Now, fucking call her!’
‘Those pancakes were delicious, Ellen,’ Billie said.
‘Got another one here, Mrs Armstrong, if you’re interested?’ Ellen said with a grin, enjoying the look of total horror on Gemma’s face.
‘No thank you, Ellen. I am quite full. One should always start the day on a good breakfast, Gemma,’ Billie said with a smile.
Billie’s mobile, which was in her handbag, began to ring. Gemma studied the handbag, knew at once it was new and wondered if she would ever be able to afford accessories like that!
Gemma loved fashion and admired Billie’s new found dress sense.
Billie stood up, opened the handbag and removed the phone. She glanced at the screen and smiled. ‘Just Jeremy,’ she said and rejected the call.
‘Mrs Armstrong!’ Gemma said, horrified and rising to her feet.
‘I don’t really have anything to say to him. Haven’t for years, actually. Now,…’ Billie said, ‘…do you think you could call me a taxi, Ellen?’
‘Why, yes…but the car is waiting for you…’
‘I don’t want the official car anymore, Ellen. I’m not doing that stuff now.’
‘Well, okay, I’ll call a taxi for you.’
Gemma’s mobile rang and she hissed into it, ‘She rejected your call, sir! Says she doesn’t want to talk to you!’
Billie walked to the door with a smile. ‘I’ll wait in the living room, Ellen.’
‘Okay, Mrs Armstrong,’ Ellen said with a cheery wave.
‘Mrs Armstrong!’ Gemma stumbled after her, holding her mobile at arms length. ‘Your husband.’
‘Really? How boring. I don’t want to speak to him.’
‘Please, Mrs Armstrong,’ Gemma begged and, for one moment, Billie thought the younger woman was going to cry.
‘Oh, all right, then!’ She took the mobile and said brightly, ‘Good morning. What can I do for you?’
‘You’ve cancelled your engagements?’ Jeremy grunted
‘Yes. I’m getting my hair done. I’m going back to my natural colour.’
‘I think you heard. Don’t worry, I’m not using the official car so the tabloids won’t get pictures of me going to the salon in an official car. Ellen is calling me a taxi. Oh, one other thing, Jeremy.’
‘We should have a discussion. I want a divorce!’
She disconnected the mobile and handed it to a dumfounded Gemma.
‘There. Everything’s all right now. You can relax, Gemma. Perhaps you should get your hair done as well? It’s looking a little listless.’
Gemma watched Billie sit down in the living room and pick up a magazine as she calmly waited for her taxi.
Slightly stunned, Gemma leaned against the kitchen bench, her fingers rubbing a piece of her hair between forefinger and thumb.
‘You okay?’ Ellen asked.
‘She…she told him she wants a divorce.’
‘Good for her,’ Ellen said calmly. ‘About time. Want some more coffee?’
‘She…she can’t divorce him! Not now!’
‘Girl,’ Ellen said knowingly, ‘I think Mrs Armstrong thinks now is the perfect time to divorce the old Casanova! Perfect! Now, did you want coffee or not?’
Dumbly, Gemma nodded.