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Josh swaggered through the bullpen en route to his office when he heard Donna’s frustrated sigh. He stopped at her office door and watched her as she spoke on the phone.

“Why? Jane better not sell my stuff. How would she like it if I sold her stuff?” Donna spoke bitterly into the receiver.

 Josh rounded her desk and stood with his knees gently bouncing off the front if it. Donna looked up and frowned.

“Hold on, Mom……okay. I’ll call you back.” Josh smiled at her as she hung up the phone hoping it would help her mood.

“Do you need something?”

“That your Mom?”


“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t worry about it.” She sighed as she rested her head in her hands. Josh knew that meant one thing. She was upset.

“I worry. It’s what I do. Tell me? Jane’s trying to sell your stuff?” He rounded her desk and leaned against it as he nudged her in the shoulder.

“If it were up to her, she’d have all my childhood possessions in a garage sale by this weekend.”

“Come on, tell me what’s up.” Josh nodded toward his office before standing. She sighed again and led the way. It was late so the bullpen was nearly empty. He pulled two bottles of Yoo-hoo from the fridge and handed one to Donna as she sat in the visitor’s chair. He sat in front of her on the edge of his desk and waited for her to speak.

“My parents are moving.”

“They’re leaving Madison?”

“No. Just moving to an apartment. With all of us out of the house, they don’t want to have that big condo to deal with. Mom says I have to come clean out my stuff.” Donna scowled into her Yoo-hoo as she spoke.

“I know the feeling.”

 Donna offered him a small smile in understanding.

“Mom wants me to come up next week while we’re off.” Josh raised his eyebrow. “While the rest of the world is off for Thanksgiving, that is. I told her I couldn’t afford to rent a truck to pick some of it up. My Civic won’t hold that many boxes. Plus there’s a chair I had as an art project, some of my books….” Donna’s voice trailed off and her face darkened.


“Jane’s talked Mom into having a garage sale. She’ll probably try to sell all my stuff and keep the money. I don’t want to sell my stuff Josh. It’s my stuff.” Donna slumped in the chair and took a long drink from her Yoo-hoo. Josh frowned at the dark expression on her face. He had to fix this. That’s what he did. He fixed things. Donna needed this fixed.

“Take my Tahoe.” He blurted out.


“No, wait. I’m not having you drive across the country by yourself.” Josh muttered as he started to pace. Neither of them saw Leo standing in the doorway.

“Excuse me? Josh, how do you think I got to Nashua?” Josh waved her off and continued to pace.

“That was then. Too many horrible things can happen to a beautiful woman traveling alone. It’s not going to happen.”

“Funny, you don’t look like my keeper.” Donna remarked as he rubbed his hand through his hair.

“Why don’t you drive her?” Donna and Josh looked up startled at the smug expression on Leo’s face.

“What?” Josh squeaked.

“Drive Donna. Get out of here for a few days. You need it. Both of you. You’ve already told me your Mother is visiting her cousin. Drive Donna. Have a good trip. Don’t get into trouble.” Leo didn’t wait for protests. He allowed a smile to flicker across his face as he turned and left them gaping at the door.

Josh blinked a few times, trying to comprehend what he had just been ordered to do. He looked at Donna, who in turned stared at him.
”What time do we have to leave?”

“I’ll call Mom and tell her to set another place for Thanksgiving.” Donna handed Josh her empty bottle and walked out to her desk. Both shared the same thought. * What the hell just happened? *


Chapter 2



Wednesday, 12:47 PM


“I’ve got to go.”

“You just went.”

“That was three hours and two Tropicana Twister’s ago.”

“Can you wait twenty more minutes?”

“Josh!” Donna whined.

“Donna!” Josh mocked.

“What’s going to happen in twenty minutes?”

“We’ll be in Youngstown, Ohio. We’ll get some lunch and top off the tank.”

“Yeah. I can wait.” Donna turned in the seat and pulled one leg to her chest.  Josh had picked her up at six that morning. They’d picked up breakfast at Starbucks and had been driving ever since. Josh stopped a few times to let Donna go to the bathroom. Each time took no less than an hour of begging to get him to stop.  They rode in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Josh spoke.

“So who’s going to be home for Thanksgiving?”

“The entire Moss clan.”

“All of them?”

“Every last one. Mom and Dad, Jane and her husband Adam. Their boys, David and Kyle. My brother Travis and his wife Mary and their daughter Ashley. Then that night we’ll go over to my Aunt Helen’s and every aunt, uncle and cousin will be there.”

“Let me ask you this? You’ve got Travis and Jane and then Donnatella? How’d that happen? No offense, but your name…..well, one of these things is not like the other.” He chuckled as he sang the last sentence.

“Jane was 14 when I was born. Travis was 12. Mom wanted to include them as much as possible in the ‘surprise’ that was about to come along, so they got to name me.”

“So which one came up with Donnatella Jean Moss?”

Donna smiled as Josh smirked at her.

“Why should I tell you? You’ll just snark me.”

“I didn’t think we kept secrets. Spill it.” Donna giggled as Josh took one hand from the wheel and poked her in the side.

“Okay, but promise me you won’t ever mention it again. You’ll be among my entire family for the next five days. I can make your life hell. Trust me.”

“Okay, okay. Tell me.” Donna sighed as she watched his face intently.

“Don’t laugh.”

“Tell me.”

“My sister named me from a perfume bottle, Donnatella. My brother named me Jeannie because he was in love with Barbara Eden. Mom shortened it to Jean.”

“I Dream of Jeannie’? She was hot.” Donna swatted his arm as he laughed at her.

“Hell, Joshua. I can make your life hell.”

“Okay. Okay. I’m sorry.” Donna shifted in the seat again.

“Are we almost ready to stop?”

“Five more minutes. Do you want to go in some where or just get something at a drive through?”

“Drive through. If we keep up like this, we can be at my parents by eight tonight.”

“Sounds good. So, we’re eating Thanksgiving dinner at your parents and supper at Aunt Helen’s. I like Aunt Helen.”

“You should. You, Toby and Sam practically lived off her care package for three days. You wouldn’t even share.”

“She made them for us. You should have asked for your own.” Donna and Josh both smiled at the memory of Aunt Helen. It was during the campaign. Donna had only been with Bartlet for America for about five months when they rode into Madison. Deciding it would be cheaper than staying in Chicago, Donna had called her parents to let them know she would be stopping by with a campaign bus of tired people. Her mother immediately swung into action and what started out as a quick food stop turned into an overnight stay. Donna, CJ and Margaret slept at Donna’s parents, while Toby, Sam and Josh were put up a mile down the road at Aunt Helen’s. The Bartlets and Leo had opted for the Best Western. Aunt Helen fawned over her ‘handsome men’ as she called them their entire stay. By the time they were ready to leave, each man had a bag packed with freshly laundered clothes and enough food for an army.

“You could have at least given me a piece of cake.”

“I did give you a piece of cake.”

“No, you gave me a bite of cake. That was just enough to piss me off.”

“Well, if you wanted cake, you should have stayed with Aunt Helen.” Josh teased as he pulled off the interstate.  He looked from side to side. “Which way?”

“Right. There’s a BP and a Burger King.”


Wednesday,  1:24 PM


Donna was still waiting in line for the ladies room when Josh paid the cashier for the gas and then went to the restroom. A busload of what appeared to be a girl’s track team had commandeered the bathroom.

“You’re still waiting?” Josh asked as Donna glared at the closed restroom door.


“How much longer do you think it’ll be?”

“It sounds like there’s fifteen girls in there Josh. Here, just watch the door.” He stood to the side as Donna pushed past him and went into the men’s room. Josh stood in front of the door and tried to blend in. The store was getting crowded and he was ready to leave. A tall older man started walking toward him.

“Someone in there?”

“Yeah. It’ll just be a minute.” Josh shoved his hands in his pockets and willed Donna to hurry up. The door swung open and the old man gave Josh a knowing smile.

“My wife does that to me all the time.”

Josh just nodded and smiled as he followed Donna out the door.

“I hate it when you do that.”

“Would you have preferred I wait?”

“No. Come on, let’s get something to eat.”

“My turn to drive now?”

“You okay?”

“Sure.” Josh handed over the keys.



Wednesday 1:38 PM



Donna blindly handed Josh the bag of chicken sandwiches and fries before reaching for the drinks. Josh took the bag and began to empty its contents when Donna pulled away from the window and back into traffic. He waited until Donna was back on the interstate before unwrapping her sandwich so half was exposed from its paper wrapper. She kept her eyes focused on the road as she reached out her hand for her sandwich. Josh placed it in her hands before taking a bite of his own sandwich. It was a well-rehearsed dance. Donna took a few bites before handing the sandwich back to Josh. As he held her sandwich in one hand, he took another bite from his own. Donna reached between them for her drink that Josh had already put her straw in. She took a sip and returned it to the cup holder. While changing lanes, Josh handed her sandwich back. This process would repeat itself until their sandwiches were gone. Josh then dumped both fries into the bag and tore off the top half. He settled it on the console so both of them could reach in and take a hand full of fries at a time. Josh always finished his drink before Donna and she always shared what was left of hers with him.

“Did you buy gum?”

“In my purse.”

“Can I have a piece?” Josh wasn’t stupid. He did have a mother, so he knew no matter what, you never went into a woman’s purse without permission.

“Sure. It’s in the side pocket.” Josh reached behind her into the back seat and pulled her purse from the floorboard. He took out two sticks of gum and handed one to her before sticking the remaining piece in his mouth.  They listened to the radio and watched the scenery go by for almost a half hour before Josh decided to strike up a conversation again.

“How old are your nephews and niece again?” Donna changed lanes while she spoke.

“Kyle is 16. David is 14 and Ashley is eleven, almost twelve.”

“And how many people will be at Aunt Helen’s?”

“About fifty.”


“Well, let’s see. All of us, so that’s eleven. Aunt Helen and Uncle Frank. Their son and his wife. They’ve got three kids, all married. Um, there are five kids between them. My second cousin Angie is engaged, so we’ve got to count him. Then Aunt Brenda and Uncle Floyd. My cousins, Sam and Jeff. Sam’s married to Lori. No kids yet. Jeff’s bringing his girlfriend, I think.”

“That’s 31. Anyone else?!”

“My Uncle Charles. Aunt Betty died a long time ago. They had four kids. All married with kids. Plus two have kids of their own. So all together that’s…..eighteen. I don’t know if they’re bringing significant others so that number is an estimate.”

“49 people. Damn Donna.”

“Just stick close and try not to get separated. You won’t stand a chance alone. My family will eat you alive.”


“You’re fresh meat. They’ll try to suck you in and make you one of us.” Donna laughed.

“Should we just get a hotel and tell them the car broke down?”

“Nope. Wouldn’t work. They’d send someone to get us. It takes a national emergency to get out of family holidays. I’m still reminded of……” Donna stopped abruptly and looked out the driver’s side window. Josh saw the pain in her eyes and knew she was remembering the two thanksgivings and Christmas’ she missed. Missed because of him.

“I’m sorry, Donnatella.”

“Don’t be. Don’t ever be, Joshua. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.” She offered him a smile and he felt something tighten in his chest. “Besides, Aunt Helen took up for me. She threatened to hop on a plane and help me that summer.”

“That’s a scary thought.”

“Tell me about it.” The mood had been lightened and the two of them continued down the interstate.



 Wednesday  2:46 PM


“Then I saw her face! Now I’m a believer! Not a tra-a-ace….of doubt in my mind. I’m in love! Oooooo!” Donna sang to the radio while Josh drummed along on the dash. Smash Mouth’s cover of the old Monkees song blared through the speakers while Donna fell in line with a line of cars. 



Wednesday, 3:29 PM


“Interstate 80 never ends. It goes on forever I’m sure of it.”

“Stop whining, Joshua.”

“I’m not whining. I’m just saying this is the longest damn road in the whole fucking world.”

“Potty mouth.”

“Gas Station flirt.”

“I was not flirting!”

“You were! I saw you!”

“I got a free drink didn’t I?”

“What would you have done for free food?!”

“Shut up.”

“You shut up.”

“Bite me.”

“Flirting with me now, Donnatella?”

“You wish.”

“I see your wit is as sharp as ever.”

“Where the hell are we anyway?”

”Where in Indiana?”

“Weren’t you paying attention?”

“When? When I was digging you another Sprite from the cooler or when I was feeding you cheeze-its?”

“South Bend.”

“Thank you.”

“Why don’t you try to go to sleep?”

“It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. Why would I want to go to sleep?”

“Because you’re grumpy.”

“Did you know South Bend is the home of the College Football Hall of Fame?”

“I did.”

“One can also visit the Studebaker National Museum. Do you want to stop and see the Studebaker’s Josh?”

“I do not.”

“I’m not grumpy.”

“You’re definitely grumpy.”




Wednesday 4:30 PM


“Entering Illinois!” Donna raised her fists above her head and shimmied her behind in the seat.

“Not long now. How much farther is it?”

“Less than three hours!”

“Thank God.”

“I’ve got to go.”



“Donna.” Josh whined.

“Don’t even ask. I cannot hold it for three hours. Half an hour, tops. So start looking for an exit.”


“Thank you.” She smiled at him and he returned with a small grin.

“You’re welcome. But, I’m going in with you this time. I didn’t like the way that last guy was looking at you.”

“Okay.” Josh was a little surprised she didn’t argue. Donna in fact didn’t like the way that last clerk was looking at her either.





Wednesday 6:14 PM


“How’s your back?”

“I’m okay.” Josh had leaned the passenger seat all the way back in an effort to get comfortable.

“I’ve got some Motrin in my purse.”

“I’m okay.” Donna looked down at his face and frowned. She returned her eyes to the road and reached behind her for her purse. She nudged him in the leg with it before placing it in his lap.

“Get two for you and two for me. We’re in the twelfth hour of our thirteen-hour drive. I’m feeling a little worse for wear too.”  Josh slowly righted the seat and dug through her purse. He pulled his bottle of water from the cup holder and took two pills. He held his hand up to Donna’s mouth. She opened her mouth and allowed Josh to place the two pills on her tongue. He handed her his bottle of water and she swallowed with a groan.

“I hate my sister.”

“What brought that on?”

“If it wasn’t for her wanting to sell my stuff, Mom would have just packed it up and moved it with them.”

“Don’t be so sure. You remember what we had to do to get all my stuff from home.”

“I know. But all you had to do was pack. Hell, you had the movers do most of that. I need a raise.” Josh groaned and lowered his seat back down.

“How much longer?”

“Little less than an hour.”

“Thank God.”

“Will you call the house?”

“Why do we need to call the house?”

“To let them know we’re about an hour away.”

“Oh, okay. You don’t want to call them? They’re your family.”

“I’m driving. Just call them.” Josh pulled her cell phone from the side of her purse and scrolled through the programmed numbers. He hit send and waited for someone to pick up.

“Mrs. Moss?…Oh, hey Jane. This is Josh. Donna and I are about an hour out…..Yeah, okay.” Josh turned to Donna and groaned. “She’s putting your mom on. Here, you talk…..Hello, Mrs. Mo….Margie…..Yes ma’am, we’re about an hour out…….we can stop and get something to eat……..ham and cheese is fine…..” Josh looked at Donna again. “What kind of sandwich do you want? Ham or roast beef?”


“She said Ham……yes ma’am. We’re a little tired……My back’s fine…..yes ma’am. I’ll tell her…..Yes ma’am……She’s grumpy.” Donna swatted him on the arm.

“I am not!”

“Donna hit me.” Josh smirked at her as he talked into the cell phone.

“Tattle tale!”

“Now she’s calling me names. Yes ma’am. I’ll tell her. We’ll see you in a little while. Bye.” Josh pressed end on the phone and allowed his face to part in a satisfied smile.

“You’re in trouble.” He sang. Donna laughed as Josh put her phone back in her purse.


“Ah, ah, ah. Margie told me to tell you to stop calling me names.”

“You think you’re funny don’t you? You just wait. You may have Margaret Moss fooled for the moment. But she’ll see through that load of shit in a heartbeat.”

“Potty mouth.”

“Dork!” Donna squawked as Josh laughed.



Chapter 3



Wednesday 7:23 PM


Donna pulled through the entrance of Meadowlakes. It was a middle to upper class neighborhood on the outskirts of Madison. Donna drove through the darkened streets past the closely built houses until she turned onto small tree-lined street that lead to her parents condominium complex. She pulled into a space across from her parents unit and sighed.

“Here we are, the humble home of Margaret and Robert Moss. Otherwise known as Margie and Bob.”  Josh smiled as he opened his door and stretched his road weary muscles. He opened the back door and pulled Donna’s tote bag and purse from his side as she gathered his backpack and coat from her side in her arms. Both of them smiled when they heard a teenage male voice bellow from inside the condo.

“Grandma! Aunt Donna and her boyfriend are here!”

The front door opened and Margie Moss rushed down the steps to engulf her daughter in a hug.

“Mmm, mmm, mmm I’ve missed my baby girl.” Even though Donna had her hands full, she soaked up her mother’s love. Margie pulled back and cradled her daughter’s face in her hands.

“You’re too skinny.” Donna rolled her eyes and then giggled when her mother turned her head toward the opened door and screamed. “David! Kyle! Come help your Aunt Donna with her luggage!” Josh rounded the front of his SUV and offered Margie a smile.

“There’s my Josh! Come here and let me squeeze those dimples.”

“Hi, Mrs. Moss.”

“It’s Margie. I thought we covered that.”

“Yes ma’am.” Josh slung Donna’s purse over his shoulder and used the free arm to hug Donna’s mom.

“You’re too skinny too. Come on in the house and I’ll feed you children something to eat.” Josh allowed Donna to lead the way up the stairs. They barely made it through the front door when two tall, lanky teenage boys bounced down the stairs and into the foyer.

“Hey Donna!” “Hey Donna!” The boys yelled as they ran past them and out to Josh’s Tahoe.

“The taller blond was Kyle. The sandy brown headed one with the braces was David.” Donna supplied as she dropped his coat on the chair by the door.


“Daddy!” Josh couldn’t help but smile as the gray haired man enveloped his youngest daughter in a hug. Bob was tall and slender with an athletic build, even for his age. He always wore starched white button down shirts and khaki pants. After selling insurance for forty years it was what he felt comfortable in.

“Look at you. You’re more beautiful than ever. How was the drive?”

“We could have made better time.” Josh complained.

“Let me guess. Donna had to go. A lot.”

“Unfortunately.” The two men laughed as Josh offered his hand. Bob shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder.

“Well let’s get that car unpacked and you two settled. Margie’ll have to feed you or she won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

“I heard that!” Margie called from the kitchen from where she had slipped off to start making sandwiches.

Josh had only been here one other time. He was surprised at the amount of space the Moss’ had in their condo. It was three stories with four bedrooms and a game room. Donna traded Josh his backpack for her purse and looked around the livingroom.

“Where’s Travis and Jane?”

“They went to the video store.”

“Ashley too?”

“Of course. They had to do something to occupy her until you got here. She’s been driving us crazy for four hours. ‘When’s Aunt Donna gonna get here?’ “Aunt Donna loves me best.’ ‘Aunt Donna works for the President.’ Like we didn’t know that. She’s so cute.”

“I can’t wait to see her. Where’s everybody sleeping?”

“Travis and Mary are in his old room. Jane and Adam are in her old room next to your Dad and me. The boys are in gameroom on the air mattresses. Ashley’s on the couch in the livingroom and you and Josh are in your room.”



“Why is Josh in my room?!” Donna screeched.

“Why wouldn’t he be in your room?”

“Why would he be?!”

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t think so.”

“My God Donna. We’re all adults. I mean you lived with Paul. God knows why.  We just thought that since you and Josh are together now you’d want to stay with him.”


“You’re bringing him home for Thanksgiving.” Margie stated it as if it explained everything. Donna could only stare at her mother.

“Because I’m bringing him home for Thanksgiving we’re together?!”

“You’ve only brought one other person home and that was Paul, so I assumed…..”

“Mom.” Donna whined.
 “You mean you’re not…..I thought surely you two would have realized…..” Margie’s voice trailed off as Josh walked into the kitchen.

“We got all the stuff out of the car. Can I put these drinks from the cooler in the fridge?”

“Sure Josh. Let me take those.” Margie tried to ignore Donna as she leaned against the counter and stared at her in disbelief.

“Donna? What’s wrong?”

“Mom.” Donna started again, ignoring Josh’s question.

“I’m just saying Aunt Helen is going to be crushed.”  Margie shook her head while she returned to making Josh a sandwich.

“Why’s Aunt Helen going to be crushed?” Josh asked as he looked back and forth at the two women.

“How could you do that Mom?! For some strange reason Aunt Helen adores Josh. When she finds out that we’re not….that we aren’t….Mo-o-om, she’ll never let me hear the end of it. I can’t believe you even jumped to that conclusion!”

“It’s not all my fault. Your Daddy got her all excited.”

“Daddy thinks that we…..that we’re…..” Donna stuttered as she motioned with her hands. Josh looked at her with a confused look on his face. Donna wouldn’t look at him. She either glared at her mother or studied the floor.

“What happened?” Josh asked as Margie offered him his plate.

“There’s been a little miscommunication.” Margie replied.

“There was no miscommunication! Oh no! There was jumping to conclusions and assumptions run amuck!”

“Donna, honey, calm down before you break out in hives.”

“You break out in hives?” Josh asked around a mouth full of potato chips, still trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

“It was just that one time! I was a little nervous.” Donna sighed when she realized Josh had gotten her off the subject. She rested her head in her hands as she shook her head.

“Donna was voted Outstanding Senior in the Band during high school and had to give a speech during Awards night. She was so nervous she broke out in hives the night before. We’ve got pictures.”

“Mom!” Donna shrieked in horror. “Don’t you dare!”

“Oh, Donna, calm down. Eat something and we’ll figure something out.”

“What needs figuring out?” Josh asked again trying to make sense of the conversation he was in. Donna walked over to where he sat at the bar and slid the stool out beside him. She sank down in the seat and mumbled into her plate.

“Mom told everyone we’re dating.” Margie rushed around the counter as Josh started choking. She patted his back as he coughed.

“Here, take a drink.” Josh gulped his drink as Margie lifted his arm in the air and continued to pat his back. “Are you okay?” Josh nodded his head and pulled his arm from her grasp. He looked incredulously at Donna who still refused to look at him.

“We’re dating?!”

“Your voice got really high, I hope you know that.” Donna said as she half-heartedly took a bite of her sandwich.

“Aunt Helen was thrilled.” Margie offered with a smile.

“Aunt Helen? Aunt Helen thinks we’re….But you’re my assistant.” Margie took note of his feeble excuse.

“What did Daddy tell her?”

“What did I tell who?” Bob asked as he entered the kitchen.

“What did you tell Aunt Helen about me and Josh?”

“Oh, she was tickled to death. She thinks Josh hung the moon. She was on the phone before I could get out the door good.”

“Oh God.” Before Josh could think of a response the boys trailed into the kitchen.

“We put all your stuff in Aunt Donna’s room.” Kyle stated as he opened the refrigerator door.  David took the bag of potato chips from the counter and began eating as if he were starving.

“My government class looked you up on the internet, Josh. Hey, can I get your autograph for my teacher? Maybe she’ll give me extra credit.” Kyle spoke to the shelves of the fridge.

“Uh, sure. No problem.” Josh said, still a little dazed.

“I think she thinks you’re hot or something. I told her you were my Aunt Donna’s boyfriend and she looked all disappointed and stuff.”

“Oh God.” Donna groaned and buried her head in her hands again.

“Okay, boys, take it upstairs to the game room. Let’s go.” Margie ushered the boys out of the kitchen and waited until she heard the television before turning to Donna and Josh.

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Not that big a deal?! Mom, I’m his assistant!” Margie tried not to smile at Donna’s excuse.

“So? I worked for your father for forty years.”

“But you were already married!”

“Oh, Donna. Just tell them the truth then.”

“Great. Just great.” Donna sighed as the trip caught up with her.

“So, uh, what are we going to do?” Josh grinned. He knew he should be just as upset as Donna but the thought of sharing a bed with her made him extremely happy.

“Maybe Ashley can sleep with me and Josh can…..”

“He doesn’t need to be sleeping on that couch. Besides, Ashley always sleeps on the couch when she comes, no matter what. We’ll work something out.” Margie smiled as she started cleaning up the kitchen. She winked at Bob as she passed by him on her way to the dishwasher.

“You children go and get cleaned up and we’ll figure something out. Josh the towels are in the hall closet. Donna can show you where everything is.”
Donna took Josh by the arm and dragged him down the hall and downstairs. The stairs opened to reveal a small room with an old television and two beanbag chairs. Donna released his arm and crossed the room. She pushed open her bedroom door and switched on the lights.

“I’ll just sleep on the couch.”

“No. It’s older than I am and your back will kill you.”

“Then I’ll sleep on the floor.” Josh stepped inside her room and smiled at the posters still on the wall.

“No.” Donna flopped down on her old bed and sighed. “Mom would kill me. For some strange reason they like you.”

“Of course they like me.” He walked over to her bookshelf and started looking at all the pictures.

“What are you doing?”

“Looking at what appears to be you in a tutu.”

“This is going to be an unbearable weekend.”

Chapter 4



The one thing Donna could take comfort in was that her room was separated from the rest of the house and she had her own bathroom. By the time she was in high school her brother and sister were married so she had the run of the house. Josh had decided to shower first, so Donna started unpacking their things. She had finished her suitcase and was starting on Josh’s when a small body tackled her to the bed.

“AUNT DONNA!” Donna giggled and hugged the girl tightly to her chest.

“Hey! Did you miss me?!”

“What took you so long?! I’ve been waiting for hours!” Donna pushed the young girl to arms length and took in her innocent face.

“You’re getting so tall. You’re so grown up.”

“I know. I’ve even got a boyfriend.” Ashley beamed.

“Really? You’ll have to tell me all about it. But, first, I’ve got to take a shower. Where are your mom and dad?”

“Upstairs. You want me to tell them that you and Uncle Josh will be up in a minute?”

“Uncle Josh?”

“Sure, Grandma told us you were bringing him. Mom said it’s about damn time.”

“Ashley! Watch your mouth.”

“Sorry.” Josh stood in the doorway in jeans and a t-shirt. His hair was still damp and he was still barefoot.

“Who’s this?”  He smiled as he tossed his dirty clothes on the chair by the dresser. Josh was surprised when the young girl hurled herself at him and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.

“I’m Ashley. You must be Uncle Josh.”

“Uncle?” Josh squeaked as he looked at Donna.

“You’re going to marry Aunt Donna, right? Mom says that you and she love each other but were just stupid for a while.” Donna eyes widened at Ashley admission.

“Ashley! Um, Josh and I are just friends.” Ashley stood back from Josh and frowned at him.

“You don’t love Aunt Donna? Why? She’s beautiful.” Josh’s heart hurt at the crushed expression on the young girls face. Her hair was blond like Donna’s and they had the same smile.

“She’s very beautiful.”

“She smart and funny.” Ashley added while her hands settled defiantly on her hips.

“I know. She’s all those things.”

“Then how come you don’t love her?” Donna could only watch the scene in front of her. She couldn’t quite wrap her mind around her eleven-year-old niece giving her boss the third degree. What was more disturbing was that Donna realized the set of Josh’s jaw. He would never back down from a fight. Not even a debate with an eleven-year-old.

“What makes you think I don’t love her?” Donna’s head jerked so fast she actually felt it pop. Josh now had his hands on his hips and was looking down at the little girl.

“Well Aunt Donna said you were just friends and not her boyfriend. Mom said you were her boyfriend and now Aunt Donna says you’re not. Did you break up with her?”

“No, of course not.”

“Then why aren’t you her boyfriend?”

“She’s my assistant.”

“Grandma says that’s just an excuse.”

“What?!” Donna shrieked. She realized she had been shrieking a lot since she got home. Josh and Ashley ignored her as Ashley continued her debate.

“So do you love Aunt Donna or not?”

“What do you mean Grandma says that’s just an excuse?” Josh demanded.

“Quit changing the subject. Yes or no?”

“Now look….” Josh took a step forward and stood toe to toe with the youngster.

“Yes or no? Aunt Donna always said you were smart, but you can’t answer a simple question.”

“How old are you again?”

“Eleven. I’m almost twelve.”

“Are you sure about that?”


“Never mind. Uh, Donna, shower’s free. I’m gonna go see if I can catch CJ’s 9 o’clock.” Josh hoped to distract Ashley long enough to flee the room.  Donna nodded and stood to grab some clothes from her dresser.

“Ashley!” Mary called from the top of the steps. “Tell Josh and Donna to come up stairs!”

“Mom says come up stairs.” She said dryly.

“Tell her I’ll be up after I take a quick shower. Josh you go ahead.”

“No way.”


“I’m afraid to be alone with them.” Ashley smirked at him. A smirk he recognized all too well from Donna. Obviously it ran deep in the Moss genetic code.

“Chicken.” Ashley mumbled as she left the room.

“What the hell just happened?” Josh swiped his hand across his forehead before leveling his gaze on Donna. She stood with a pair of panties in her hand, eyes wide and questioning.

“I’m gonna take a shower.”

“I’ll wait on you.”






Mary smiled at her daughter.

“You were a little rough on him, don’t you think?”

“I was trying to be gentle.”

“Maybe he got the hint.”

“I thought he was supposed to be really smart.”

“He is.”

“Seems pretty clueless to me.”

“He’s a man honey. They can’t help it.”

“I’m glad Tommy isn’t clueless.”

“Tommy’s in the sixth grade.”

“But he knows that he loves me.”

“Well you’ve got to love a man that knows what he wants.” Mary giggled with her daughter as they returned to the living room.

“So where’s Donna and Josh?” Travis asked as he pulled Ashley onto his lap.

“Trying to recover probably.” Mary answered with a laugh.

“What did you say?” Margie leaned across the couch and poked Ashley in the sides causing her to giggle.


“Don’t you lie to me. I know that look. You said something.”

“I asked Uncle Josh why he didn’t love Aunt Donna.”

“You called him Uncle Josh?” Jane asked from the doorway of the kitchen.

“Yeah, you should have seen his face. His eyes got all buggy like this.” Ashley held her eyelids open with her fingers and laughed.

“What did he say?” Bob asked from his recliner.

“He said, ‘what makes you think I don’t love her!’” Ashley did a surprisingly accurate impression of Josh.

“What did Donna do?” Mary took a seat next to her husband before answering his question.

“From what I saw she stood there gaping like a fish. I had to get out of there before I busted something I was laughing so hard.”

“Well two things are going to happen. They’ll realize what the world already knows or they’ll slip back into the whole denial routine.”

“What did Josh’s mother say?” Jane asked her mother.

“She gave me permission to hit him over the head with a frying pan if I had to. Speaking of Amelia, Josh better call her tomorrow.”

“I’m sure he will. Hey, here they come.”


“I’m sure CJ can handle it. The country isn’t going to fall apart because you’re not there.”

“Come on, Donna. I’ll just call Sam and see what’s going on. It’ll take ten minutes.”

“No. Ten minutes is all it’ll take to get you into a tizzy and I just don’t have the strength to talk you out of it.”

“I don’t get into tizzies. Old women and little girls get into tizzies. Josh Lyman does not tizzy.”

“Whatever. You’re still not calling Sam.”

“Donna!” The gathering in the living room stood and watched the two of them as they entered the room. Josh and Donna were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Both were barefoot and Josh had his hand comfortably on the small of Donna’s back as they walked.

“There you are! Feel better?” Margie asked as she stood to put on a pot of coffee.

Before either could answer, everyone with the exception of Bob and the boys stood to give Donna a hug. Travis was the first to grab his baby sister.

“Hey toad!” Josh cocked his head at the term.

“Don’t call me that!” Donna punched him on the shoulder while he laughed.

“Why? It’s your name. Isn’t it Janie?” Jane pushed Travis out of the way so she could hug Donna.

“Shut up, Travis. I’m sure Josh doesn’t want to have his girlfriend called toad.” Donna sighed and looked at Josh.

“I’m not his girlfriend.”

“Fiancée?” Jane asked grabbing her left hand in search of a ring.


“Oh, you don’t like the term girlfriend. What is it these days? Significant other? Life Partner? Domestic Companion? Whatever you like.” Jane didn’t wait for Donna to protest before moving on to Josh. She gave him a warm hug that he couldn’t help but return. Jane was a couple of years older than he was. She was a little shorter than Donna but still had the thin frame of their father. Her hair was short and sandy blonde and her eyes were the same blue as Donna’s.

“You look good. Donna must be taking good care of you.”

“She is.”

“Good, good. Tell us all about the White House.” Jane pulled Josh by the hand until he was sitting on the couch. He squirmed a little in his seat when Ashley sat down and leveled her gaze pointedly at him. Mary and Adam had joined in on the hugs for Donna while Bob, Kyle and David obliviously watched television. 



Chapter 5


Margie stood in the kitchen door and watched while all her family sat around the living room and talked. It was good to have everyone home.

“Coffee’s on if anyone wants some. You know where the cups are, so help yourself.”

“I guess your mom doesn’t bring anyone coffee either.”

“Nope. Never.” Donna smiled as she and Josh stood to go to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Jane and Adam followed and they all stood in comfortable silence. Josh finally got the nerve to reach for the kitchen phone.

“Don’t even think about it.” Donna warned.

“I’m just calling Leo.”

“Leo, not Sam.”

“I promise.” Donna watched as he dialed the number.  Josh leaned against the kitchen counter and sipped his coffee while Donna poured herself a cup.



“Did you have a good trip Josh?”

“Yeah, we got in about an hour ago.”

“Well, the White House is still standing if that’s what you’re calling about.”

“I’m just checking in.” Ashley strolled into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She pulled out an apple pie and searched through the drawer for a knife.

“Mom! Can I have some pie?!”

“Sure! Bring me and your father a piece.”

“Donna, do you and your boyfriend want a piece?”

“Did she just say boyfriend?” Leo asked.

“Uh, she um…” Josh stuttered.

“I didn’t know Donna had a boyfriend. I didn’t think that was possible with you submarining all her dates.”

“I don’t sub….”

“So who’s the lucky guy?” Ashley looked at Josh and waited on an answer about the pie.

“Hold on a sec. No thanks Ashley. But thanks for asking.”

“Sure.” Ashley cut three pieces of pie and looked at Donna.

“You sure you don’t want any?”

“I’m sure.”

“Okay. Tell your boyfriend that Tommy is going to call in a little while so if the phone beeps to answer it.” Ashley grinned to herself while she balanced three pieces of pie in her arms and walked out of the kitchen.

“Is there something you need to tell me Josh?”


“Are you asking me?”


“Are you the boyfriend Josh?” Leo was grateful that Josh couldn’t see his smiling face through the phone.

“It seems that way. It’s all a misunderstanding Leo. Really, it’s not what you think.” Donna looked at Josh in horror when she figured out what he was talking about.

“What’s going on Josh?” Leo growled. Josh looked at Donna’s pale face and sighed.

“It’s…it’s….There’s a beep Leo. That must be Tommy. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Josh pressed the button to disconnect the phone. He took a deep breath before answering the other call. He walked past Donna’s horrified expression and handed the cordless phone to Ashley.

“It’s your boyfriend.”

“Thanks. Hey Tommy. Oh that was just Aunt Donna’s boyfriend.” Josh rolled his eyes and walked back to the kitchen. Donna met him at the door and blocked his path.

“Am I going to lose my job?”


“I’m going to get fired, aren’t I?”

“No. No, don’t be silly.”

“What did Leo say? I love my job Josh!”

“You’re not going to lose your job. I won’t let that happen.” Jane and Adam watched the exchange with interest.

“You can’t know that. I’m not senior staff. I’m just your assistant.”

“You’ve never been just my assistant. Everybody knows that.”

“But Leo….”

“Just relax Donna. We’ll explain everything.”

“Yeah, right.”

“We will.”

“Well, you know what? I’m more concerned with explaining this to Aunt Helen than I am to Leo.”

“Oh, shit, I forgot about Aunt Helen.” Jane nudged her husband in the ribs.

“Explain what?” Adam asked with his best straight face. Donna sighed and turned to her sister and brother-in-law. She started to speak but she was suddenly very tired.

“Josh and I…..never mind. I’m going to bed.”

“It’s only a little after nine. Even Ashley’s still up.”

“Yeah well, the drive was a long one. I’m going to bed.” Josh sighed while he scrubbed his hand through his hair. The long drive was catching up with him as well. His back had started to hurt and he was getting a headache from all the ‘boyfriend’ discussions.

“Sounds like a good idea.” Donna said her goodnights and hugged and kissed her parents. Margie kissed Josh on the cheek and grinned at him as the two disappeared downstairs. Both of them stopped dead in their tracks when they realized they still hadn’t figured out where Josh would sleep.

“I’ll just sleep on the floor.”



“Look, I’m tired, I have a headache and I really don’t want to deal with you tomorrow if you haven’t gotten any sleep and your back is in knots. I can already tell it’s been bothering you for the last couple hours. So, just change your clothes and get in the damn bed. We’ve shared hotel rooms, bus seats, couches and airplane seats for the last six years. I even lived with you during your recovery, Josh. I think we can be mature enough to survive four nights at my parents.” Josh watched as she ranted. She was exhausted. He knew she had reached her limit and he also knew not to argue.

“Okay. What side is yours?”

“Right.” Donna pulled a pair of pajamas from her top drawer and went into the bathroom. When she came out Josh was already in the big blue pajama’s CJ had given him during his recovery. He slid under the blankets and sighed as the pain in his back made itself known again. Donna pulled back her side of the blankets and sat on the edge of the bed while she set her alarm clock. Josh tried not to notice how beautiful she looked in her pale green flannel pajamas and no make up. She curled up under the covers and faced Josh.

“Did you take some Motrin?”

“No.” Donna sighed in frustration and got out of the bed.

“You’re impossible.”

“I’m fine.”

“Liar.” Donna returned with a glass of water and two pills. Josh winced as he sat up in the bed and took the pills. Before Donna could return the glass to the bathroom, there was a knock on the door.

“Come in.” Margie poked her head through the door and smiled.

“How’s Josh’s back? Amelia told me about the trouble you’ve been having lately. I brought you something for you back.”

“You talked to my mother?” Josh asked.

“Oh yes. We talk every couple weeks.”

“You talk to my mother?” Margie smiled at the expression on his face.

“We became friends after…..well, it was the only way I could check on you…..and Donna for that matter.” Donna looked at the floor as Josh stared at her mother.

“I didn’t….she never mentioned…..”

“That’s all right dear. We’re just two old women gossiping about our beautiful children. Here, let Donna rub this on your back. Bob swears by it. Mrs. Arnett told him about it. It’s all natural. I think it has peppermint in it too.”


“Thanks mom.”

“Okay, feel better dear. Good night, children.”

They both stared at her retreating form and neither spoke until they were sure she was out of earshot.

“We’re in the twilight zone.” Donna stated.

“No shit.”

“I mean, did you see that woman who looks and talks like my mother? She had no problem with you in my bed. This is not the woman I grew up with.”

“She talks to my mom, Donna. They talk about us.”

“That can’t be good. Nothing good could ever come of that.”

“It’s a conspiracy. It has to be.” Donna laughed at Josh’s paranoia.

“Yeah, sure Josh. There’s an elaborate network of our relatives that have conspired to get us into bed.”

“Could be.”

“Yeah right. Well I guess we made them happy. Their little plan succeeded.” Josh smirked at Donna as she sat on his side of the bed.

“I guess it did.”

“Roll over, I’ll rub this stuff on you.”

“You think that’s a good idea?”


“It could be all part of the plan. I take my shirt off and you can’t control yourself.” Donna snorted with laughter.

“I’ll try to reign in my urges.”

“I’m just saying.”

“Roll over.” Josh pulled his shirt over his head and rolled on his stomach. Donna sat on his legs and rubbed the lotion on his back. Josh jumped slightly at her touch but then relaxed into the feel of her hands on his skin.

“How’s it feel?” She asked and he could only moan. Donna was trying to concentrate on rubbing the soreness out rather than the feel of Josh’s strong muscles under her fingers.

“Oh God Donna.” Josh moaned and Donna felt her face grow hot. She wondered if she could make him moan her name in other ways.

“Is this stuff working?”

“It tingles.”

“Is that good?”



“I’ll give you about an hour to stop.” He joked as she kneaded the flesh of his shoulders.

“Well, you get about five more minutes and this girl’s going to sleep.”

“Oh come on, Donna-aahh. God, right there. Mmmm.”

“I love it when you talk dirty to me.” She laughed. Josh knew she was just teasing but the tightness in his groin made him nervous. He had to sleep next to this woman. This beautiful, smart, funny woman that everyone thought was his girlfriend. Strangely enough, he didn’t mind. But he couldn’t sleep beside Donna with a raging hard on. She would probably notice sooner or later. He closed his eyes and tried to think very depressing and non-Donna thoughts.  Donna wiggled the soreness out of her fingers and crawled off his legs. Josh groaned involuntarily at her absence. She walked to the bathroom to wash her hands. She splashed some cold water on her face and took a deep breath as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had to calm down. This day had been entirely too bizarre. She just needed sleep. Sleep. She was going to sleep in the same bed with Josh. Donna groaned as she slashed more water on her face. She turned off the light and made her way back to bed. Josh had already turned off the lap on his side of the bed, so when she did the same the room was plunged into darkness. She crawled under the covers and sighed gratefully as she sank into the comfortable bed.

“What time do we have to get up in the morning?” Josh whispered.

“Not too early. I set the alarm for eight.” She whispered as she rolled over to face him.

“Okay. Goodnight Donnatella.”

“Goodnight, Joshua.” They both took a deep breath and tried to go to sleep.



Chapter 6



It was about 4:40 in the morning when Josh’s eyes fluttered open. It took him a few seconds to remember where he was. It took another minute to realize he had his arms wrapped tightly around Donna’s waist. He held his breath for a second while he let his mind adjust to where he was. He looked down at Donna’s face as she slept. Her arms were tangled in his and her leg was underneath his knee. She was beautiful. He snuggled into her hair and took a deep breath. At his slight movement Donna stirred. She rolled toward him and without waking nuzzled her body into his. Josh sighed at how good it felt to hold her. Yesterday had been so strange for both of them but it made him think. Leo didn’t sound that upset on the phone and he really was starting to like the idea of being Donna’s ‘boyfriend’.  As he listened to the soft steady breathing that filled the room, he thought about what it would be like to wake up with Donna every morning. He brushed his lips lightly across her forehead indulging in the softness of her skin. She stirred once again and tilted her head toward his. He wanted so much to kiss her. But surely she didn’t feel the same way about him as he felt about her. How ‘did’ he feel about her? He knew how he felt about her. He just couldn’t let those feelings surface. She was his assistant. Josh held her awhile longer just enjoying the feel of her body next to his.



Josh decided that the call of nature was taking precedent over holding Donna in his arms. He slowly removed himself from her grasp and padded into the bathroom. He took care of business and decided to brush his teeth while he was up. It was a rarity to get eight consecutive hours sleep, so his body wasn’t quite sure what to do. He switched off the light and shuffled back across the room to his side of the bed. He slowly eased under the blankets trying not to wake Donna. Once he settled back under the warm comforter, he missed having her in his arms. He rolled onto his side and lightly brushed his fingertips down her bare arm that was resting on top of the blanket.  She stirred slightly and reached out for him in her sleep. Josh rolled on his back as Donna rolled toward him. He held his breath as she draped her arm across his chest and threw her leg over his thigh. He sighed in relief as her breathing evened out and she molded to his side. A smile flickered across his face as he kissed the top of her head as it rested on his shoulder. He closed his eyes and listened to her breathe. Soon he fell back to sleep.



Donna stretched her leg out and tried to blink the sleep from her eyes. She tensed when she noticed her current position. She was draped across Josh in the bed. His arm was around her shoulder and his fingers were laced with hers. She smiled as she looked at his sleeping face. He seemed so relaxed. It was uncommon to see him so still. She rubbed her thumb over his knuckle and squeezed a little closer to him. He stirred a little and rolled to his side. She held her breath as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. She was now about a half inch from his face. She could feel his breath on her cheek. She slid her hand to his chest and allowed her fingers to trace small circles over his bare chest. She smiled when he offered her a small moan. She knew she shouldn’t allow herself to indulge in the pleasure of his body pressed to hers but she couldn’t help herself.  She knew by his breathing he was still asleep, so she leaned the fraction of an inch forward and placed a light kiss on his cheek. It startled her at first to feel his hand slide up her back. Her heart nearly stopped when she heard him whisper her name and felt the soft feel of his lips on her head. She turned her head slightly and from what she could tell he was still asleep. She couldn’t resist him any longer. Besides, she rationalized that he was asleep, he’d never know. She leaned forward and pressed her lips lightly to his. She started to pull away when she felt Josh tighten his hold and lean his head forward. She couldn’t help the sigh that escaped her throat as Josh deepened the kiss. This wasn’t happening. Josh was supposed to be asleep. She was taking advantage of a sleeping man. She pulled away and was shocked to see him smiling at her with his eyes fixed on hers.



“We just…..”

“Uh, yeah.”

“But we aren’t supposed to…..”

“Not really, no.”


“But…..” Before she could sputter anymore Josh captured her mouth again. He kept his kisses light and tentative. The last thing he wanted to do was push. His heart skipped when Donna threaded her fingers in his hair and rewarded him with a small moan. Donna heard the moan escape her throat and quickly pulled away.




“I think we already had this conversation.”

“Yeah, okay. Uh, I should get up.”

“Okay.” Josh felt his heart beat faster at the look of panic on her face. Maybe he had overstepped. Maybe he was right and she really didn’t feel the same way. Maybe she just got caught up in the moment. Josh watched as Donna threw the blankets off and stood beside the bed. She turned a quick circle and then looked back down at him and smiled brightly at him.  His anxiety forgotten, he stared at her beautiful face.

“I’m just gonna…..uh…..I…….shower. Yeah, shower.” Josh saw the blush rise in her cheeks and couldn’t help but smile.

“What time is it?” Donna looked at her clock and shook her head.

“Six. We can’t even sleep late on vacation.”

“You could always come back to bed.” Josh smirked at her and he immediately saw the color darken in her cheeks. She lowered her head and smiled shyly. Josh Lyman was hitting on her. Hitting on her in the real sort of way. Not the playful flirting they did in the office. This was different. There was kissing involved. Donna grabbed a handful of clothes and retreated to the bathroom.



Josh had taken up residence in a beanbag chair in the small room outside of Donna’s bedroom and was flipping between MSNBC and CNN. Donna stood in her doorway dressed in jeans and a red sweater.

“Anything good?”

“Fortunately it’s a slow news day.”

“You’re not in town to cause trouble.”

“Me? Trouble? How could you think such a thing?”

“Gee, I don’t know. Shower’s free.”

“What’s the plan today?”

“Breakfast, we’re on our own. Lunch is here…..”


“Casual. I packed your brown sweater.”

“Then dinner will be at Aunt Helen’s around seven. That’s when the real fun begins.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Sure, you say that now. But wait ‘til you’re lookin’ for the nearest window to jump out of.” Josh chuckled at her as he stood from his beanbag chair. He groaned slightly at the movement.

“Back still hurt?”

“Nah, I just haven’t actually sat in one of those since college.”

“Well the brown furry one is mine so it goes home with me.”

“I’m sure it will make quite the statement in your apartment.” Josh walked toward her and slid his hand down her arm as he passed. Donna felt the electricity travel to her toes and back up to the hair on the back of her neck. What was going on? Were they really making ‘the’ move?

“Do you want me to wait on you to get ready?”

“Nah, I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Okay. Don’t make too much noise. The rest of the world doesn’t normally get up this early on a holiday.”


“Yeah. The rest of the world’s weird, Josh.” Donna laughed as she walked up the stairs and left him to take a shower.



Chapter 7


“Good morning, Sunshine!”

“Mom, what are you doing up this early?”

“You think a twenty-five pound Turkey cooks itself? This baby’s been on since three this morning.”

“You’ve been up since three?”

“No, Dad and I bought a new oven. See? It has a timer and everything. I love it. So did you sleep well?” The mischievous gleam in her mother’s eye did not go unnoticed.

“What’s going on?”


“Why are you pushing Josh and I?”

“Pushing? I’m not pushing anything. I told you it was just a misunderstanding. We’ll get it all worked out. We’ll just tell everyone over dinner that you and Josh don’t have any feelings for one another and that will be the end of it.” Margie puttered around the kitchen as she talked. She kept glancing at Donna while she sliced some apples for a pie. She noticed the look on her daughter’s face when she mentioned Josh.

“You don’t have feelings for him. Do you?”

“It’s……” Before she could answer she heard Josh coming up the stairs. He smiled at her and placed his hand on her arm as he passed by her.

“Morning, Josh. Sleep well?”

“Yes ma’am. Best nights sleep I’ve had since….since sometime before college, I would imagine.”

“There’s coffee in the pot. Help yourself dear?”

“Thanks.” Josh pulled two mugs from the cabinet and poured two cups of coffee. He poured a little sugar in one before going to the fridge for some milk. After taking a sip of the mug of black coffee he handed the other to Donna. To her mother this seemed like a casual gesture. To Donna, it meant much more. She beamed at Josh as she took the cup from his hand. He winked at her before taking a seat beside her. Margie wiped her hands on a dishtowel before opening the refrigerator.

“Lunch is going to heavy enough so I suggest a light breakfast. I’ve got oatmeal…” Josh and Donna both made a face. “….lemon-poppyseed muffins and cereal. Take your pick.” Margie laughed as they both said cereal at the same time.

“I’ll get the bowls, you get the milk.” Donna pointed to the fridge as she stood. Josh nodded and retrieved the gallon of milk and placed it on the counter. Donna placed the bowls beside the milk while Margie lined up three boxes of cereal.

“Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran or Fruit Loops?” Donna grabbed the box of Raisin Bran while Josh happily chose the Fruit Loops.

“Joshua.” Josh spooned a large helping of the colored rings in his mouth and smiled at Donna’s withering look.

“What?” He mumbled as he chewed.

“You’re such a kid.”

“It’s part of my charm.”

“Right. I forgot about the famous Lyman Charm. How many women have succumbed to the Lyman Charm? Oh, yeah, none. Unless of course you would like to count the fan club. But, let’s not get into the ‘Great Jail Bait Debate of 2000’, okay?”

“Maybe I just haven’t tried to charm the right woman.” Josh said without an inkling of sarcasm. Donna stopped mid bite and looked at him. He turned and smiled shyly into his bowl. This was going to be a strange day.




Chapter 8


Margie looked up from the sink and smiled. From where she stood preparing lunch for her family, she could see them sitting in the living room. Donna was huddled on the floor with Ashley listening to her gush about her sixth grade boyfriend. Mary and Jane were setting the table and assembling a rather elaborate centerpiece from leaves and pine cones.  The men were reclined on various pieces of furniture dividing their time between the television and the newspaper. The boys had long since excused themselves to go to the gameroom to play Playstation2.


Margie always refused help when it came to Thanksgiving dinner. But this only applied to preparation. Clean up would always be delegated. She couldn’t help but smile as Donna settled against the couch between Josh’s feet as she and Ashley giggled and gossiped. She looked up startled when Josh called Donna’s name.


“I’m right here, Josh.”

“Oh, did you see this?” Josh leaned forward and put the paper in front of her face. He rested his arms across her shoulders and read to her. Donna rolled her eyes and pulled the paper from his grasp.

“Not this weekend.”



“But did you read it?! We’ve got to form a response!”

“CJ can handle it. We’re off for the holidays.”

“Donna.” Josh whined.



“Thank you.” Margie saw Bob grin over at Josh as he playfully slipped his hands around her neck and pretended to strangle her. Ashley giggled as Donna stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes.


“Josh?” Margie called from the kitchen.

“ Yes ma’am?”

“Have you called your mother?”


“You heard me.” Josh grinned at the realization that Donna was very much like her mother. Josh gently squeezed Donna’s shoulders before standing to go into the kitchen. He leaned against the counter and smiled at her.

“My mother?”

“Yes dear, the woman that carried you for nine months and delivered you into this world. The woman that raised you into the brilliant man you are today. The woman that worries about you in every breath she takes. The woman….”

“May I use your phone?”

“Of course, sweetheart. Please tell her I said ‘hi’.”  Josh laughed as he walked the length of the kitchen and took the cordless from the wall. He stared down at the phone for a moment.



“What’s Maureen’s number?”

“Your mom’s cousin Maureen?” Donna asked now standing in the kitchen.


“Hang on, it’s in my planner.” Donna skipped downstairs and pulled her planner from Josh’s backpack. She memorized the number and returned to the kitchen. Josh handed her the phone. Margie was amazed at how they worked together. Donna dialed the number and handed the phone back to Josh.


“Maureen? Hi, it’s Josh.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Josh.”

“Thanks, you too. Is my mother around?”

“Sure, dear. Hold on.” Josh paced the area in front of the stove while Margie drained rice over the sink.


“Hi Mom. Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Are you at Margie and Bob’s?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“How’s Donna?”

“She’s fine. We got in around eight last night.”

“How’d your back hold up?”

“I’m fine.”


“Donna rubbed some stuff on it and it made it feel better.”

“She’s such a dear. You’re lucky to have someone like her, Joshua.”

“I know.” And he did. He was beginning to realize it more and more. He continued to pace while he talked, a by-product of years in constant motion. Ashley pulled a glass from the cabinet and walked around Josh to the refrigerator.

“’xcuse me Uncle Josh.”

“Sure, hon.” Margie grinned as Ashley gave him her best smile.

“Joshua, is there anything you’d like to tell me?” Amelia asked.


“Is there anything you would like to tell me?”

“I love you?”

“Thank you dear. I love you too. That’s not what I meant.”


“Uncle Josh?”

“Oh.” Josh could hear the amusement in his mother’s voice. It was no secret how his mother felt about Donna. She was not shy with her advice or her need for grandchildren.

“So, I think I’ll ask again. How’s Donna?” Josh scrubbed his hand over his head and paced a little faster.

“Mom.” He whined.

“Don’t be a schmuck, Joshua.”

“She’s my…..”

“Try to sell that somewhere else, Joshua. I’m not buying.”


“Let me just say this. Can you picture your life without her?”

“No.” Josh sighed.

“When are you happiest?”


“Answer the question.”

“You already know the answer.”

“I think I do. Don’t be a Shmegegi. You’re supposed to be brilliant, remember?”

“I am.”

“Prove it.” Margie noticed the smirk settle across Josh’s face.

“This is a conspiracy, isn’t it?”

“Joshua! I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Josh stopped pacing and faced Margie. She looked up from her cooking and saw Josh grinning suspiciously at her.

“I think it is. I think that Donna and I have been set up from day one. I just want to know one thing.”


“Who got to Leo? You or Margie?”

“What makes you think that Leo didn’t get to us?” Margie saw Josh’s face pale and then turn a slight shade of pink. He cleared his throat and tried not to stutter.

“M-mom, what are you telling me?”

“Let’s just say that Amy was never a good choice for you and left to your own devices you can’t really see what’s in front of your face.”

“But what if…..”

“She does.”

“How do….”

“Mothers know these things. Have a good Thanksgiving, sweetheart. Give Donna a kiss for me. Tell Margie I’ll call her on Sunday. I love you.”

“Love you too Mom.”

“Bye, dear.”

“Bye.”  Josh pressed the disconnect button on the phone and looked at the smiling face of Margie Moss.

“You’re good.”

“Yes dear, we are.”

“So what do I do now?”

“You’re smart. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

“But what if….”

“She will.”

“That’s spooky how you do that.” Margie smiled and handed Josh a pie.

“Here, put this in the oven. And don’t burn yourself.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“After you’ve done that, get out of my kitchen. I’m sure my daughter can keep you company.”

“Yes ma’am.” Josh tucked his head and walked back into the livingroom. He was suddenly a little nervous. Donna looked up and him and smiled. He sat back down behind her on the couch.

“How’s your mom?”

“Good. She told me to give you this.” He leaned forward and had every intention of giving her a peck on the cheek. Then his mother’s words echoed in his mind. Donna’s head was tilted back and facing him. He softly touched his lips to hers. He tried to be as casual as he could even though his heart was pounding in his chest.


“Hey, you wanna call Sam?” Hoping a change of subject would keep him from totally screwing this up.


“He’s eating with Toby at his brother’s house.” Donna was grateful for the change of subject. She felt her sister burning a hole in the back of her head. Travis was grinning like an idiot and Ashley was making kissing noises.

“CJ’s eating with them too, right?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Oh, that should be fun. Let’s go.” Donna stood and held out her hand to lift Josh from the couch. She felt her heart flutter when he didn’t release her hand.  Neither noticed as Bob gave Travis a ‘thumbs-up’ behind the newspaper he was holding.



Chapter 9




“Donna! Josh! Kyle! David! Get in here! It’s almost time to eat!” Margie called from the kitchen. Josh and Donna were still laughing from their phone conversation with Sam and CJ. Toby’s nephews were sharing some wonderful stories about Uncle Toby and the Halloween he took them trick or treating dressed as The Superfriends. Toby was Batman, of course. Josh guided Donna back up the stairs and allowed his hand to linger on her back as they stood in the living room waiting for the rest of her family to assemble.  Margie stood at the entrance of the dining room with her apron in her hand.

“Okay, Donnatella. You’re on.” Donna grinned as she hurried into the kitchen. She returned with a pad of purple Post-it Notes and a bowl.

“Okay, in case you’ve all forgotten. This is the portion of our day where we list what we’re thankful for. Josh, since you’re new, we’ll go over the rules. Write down what you’re most thankful for over this past year. Don’t put your name on it. Place it in the bowl and during lunch we will read them out and try to figure out whose is whose. It can be anything you want. It’s what you’re most thankful for.” Donna handed everyone a slip of paper as she spoke. Ashley pulled her backpack from behind the couch and offered everyone an assortment of brightly colored pencils. Once everyone had written their thanks, Donna passed the bowl to each person and collected the slips of paper.  Josh watched as Donna’s face lit up. She placed the bowl on the counter and mixed up all the slips of paper. She folded them all without reading them and then stacked them together. Her mother waited until Donna had all the pencils returned and everything back in order before clearing her throat and announcing it was time to eat. Everyone filed into the dining room and Josh waited for Donna to show him where to sit. Donna had helped her mom put the two extra leaves in the table that morning so everyone could sit at the same table.  Ashley had to squeeze in beside her cousins, but that was fine with her.


Josh settled into his seat next to Donna and waited for the meal to begin. Bob lifted his hands to the table and indicated for everyone to join hands. Josh took Donna’s hand in his and bowed his head for the blessing. As they all said Amen together, Josh rubbed his thumb lightly across her knuckles. Margie started passing bowls and plates to any and all. Donna spooned some green peas onto her plate and then onto Josh’s. He opened his mouth to protest but she silenced him with a look. Bob shook his head and chuckled at the two of them. Ashley argued with Kyle over who should get the drumstick until David called them stupid and pointed out that there were two of them. The family ate and talked for nearly thirty minutes before Donna tapped her knife on her glass.

“It’s time.” She smiled as she pulled the purple slips of paper from her pocket. Ashley clapped while David rolled his eyes.

“I saw that.” Donna pointed at him.

“What?! I didn’t do nothin’.”

“Sure. Okay, first one. Let’s see if we can figure this out. ‘I’m thankful that Mrs. Hart had her baby early and we got a hot looking student teacher.’ Kyle you’re a pervert.”

Kyle laughed as his mother swatted him in the arm.

“She is hot!” David defended his brother. Josh laughed when Travis leaned across the table and gave his nephew a high five.

“Okay, moving on!” Donna announced. “This one says, ‘Having all my children together again.’ Who wants to guess?” They all said ‘Mom’ in unison and laughed as she raised her hand.  Donna unfolded another slip of paper and read several obvious guesses. Jane and Adam were thankful for the new pool they put in. Travis was thankful for his mother’s cooking. Mary was thankful she never had to cook. David was thankful for Elizabeth Hurley and Ashley was thankful for the N’sync tickets her parents bought her for her birthday. Donna unfolded the next to the last sheet of paper and grinned at Josh’s handwriting.

“Gee I wonder who this is. ‘I’m thankful for being found by the real thing.’ Ever faithful to the President Josh.”

“I wasn’t talking about the President.” Donna stared at his sincere brown eyes. Margie saw the look pass between them and smiled across the table at Bob.

“Read the last one.” Josh pointed to the last slip of paper that was obviously hers. She opened the slip and swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. She took a deep breath and read her paper.

“I’m thankful for getting my best friend back.” Josh stared at her as she looked down at her plate. It had been over a year since the hearings and Josh’s fling with Amy Gardner but the wounds were still remembered.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered.

“It was my fault, not yours.”

“Don’t.” Josh grabbed her hand under the table and squeezed it gently.

“Okay.” Donna smiled at him while the rest of the family looked on in silence. Margie finally cleared her throat and announced that dessert was in the kitchen and that everyone should drop their dishes off at the sink on their way out.



Chapter 10



Josh stayed in the kitchen with Donna while the rest of the men loosened their belts and reclined on any moderately flat surface. Margie sat at the kitchen counter and watched as Donna, Jane and Josh put the leftovers in containers.

“How are we going to possibly eat at Aunt Helen’s tonight?” Josh moaned as he rubbed his stomach.

“Don’t worry. We’re not having the same thing.” Jane replied as she covered the cranberry sauce with plastic wrap.

“What are we eating there?”

“Lasagna.” Donna grinned.


“We’ll be eating turkey in some form or another for the next three days so Aunt Helen likes to have something completely different.”

“You’ve got a strange family Donnatella.” Josh laughed.

“Don’t mock the family Josh. Only a few people know you’re here. I’m sure they won’t testify against us if you come up missing.”

“You’re so witty.”

“All part of my charm.”

“So what time are we going to Aunt Helen’s?” Before Josh could answer Ashley called from the gameroom.

“UNCLE JOSH?!” He was starting to get use to being called that.


“Will you help me?”

“Sure. I’ll be right there.” Mary carried in a platter from the dining room and smiled gratefully.

“She’s having trouble with social studies. The teacher gave them a report to do over the holidays. She has to talk about the three branches of government and she gets them confused.”

“I think I can handle that.”

“Josh, remember you’re talking to a sixth grader, not the poly-sci class at Georgetown.” Donna warned playfully. She knew Josh would relish the chance to teach Ashley about government. He was always patient when she had questions.

“I know. I’ll be gentle.” Josh smirked as he headed upstairs to the game room.


Ashley was on her stomach on the floor with her textbook, two Encyclopedias’ and her notebook spread out around her. She had the same frustrated look Donna sometimes got late at night when she couldn’t find information he needed for a meeting.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I don’t understand it.” Ashley said as she lowered her head to her notebook. Josh sat in the floor next to her and patted her back.

“Hey, it’ll be fine. You’ve got a graduate from Harvard and Yale, not to mention the third most powerful man in the free world to explain it to you.”

“Is that good?” She looked up with a sarcastic grin.

“Uh, yeah. Wait until your teacher sees your bibliography.”

“I hate Mr. Campbell. I told him Aunt Donna works for President Bartlet and he acted like he didn’t believe me.”

“Well we’ll fix that.” Josh smirked as he settled on his stomach next to the young girl. “Okay, let’s start from the top. There are three branches…..”




“Is Josh still upstairs with Ashley?” Donna asked as she sat on the couch next to Mary.

“Yeah, he really gets into things like that doesn’t he?”

“Josh never does anything halfway. Especially something he believes in.”

“Last time I checked on them, he had drawn her a graph of the branches with names of members and everything. I think he called one guy a putz.”

“I hope she doesn’t include that in her report.”  Margie looked up from the paper she finally had a chance to read now that Bob was sound asleep in the recliner.

“Josh is so sweet.” Donna rolled her eyes.

“That’s not something you hear every day.”

“Donna!” Margie scolded.

“What?! You don’t work with him. Do you know how many fruit baskets and apology letters I send out every week? Bartlet’s Bulldog leaves a wide and destructive wake.”

“I heard that!” Josh screamed from upstairs.

“Good!” Donna yelled in return. They all laughed when Bob and Travis didn’t even move. They were in the traditional ‘turkey coma’. Adam had taken the boys down to the basketball court to play a little before going to Aunt Helen’s.



“Can you help us?”

“I’ll be right there.” Donna climbed the steps to the gameroom and smiled at the sight before her. Josh had his sleeves pushed up and was gesturing with his hands. Ashley was writing frantically and looking up every so often with a look of sheer admiration.




“Why don’t you like Mr. Campbell?” Josh asked Ashley as she packed up her books. She shrugged her shoulders and looked down at her backpack.

“I don’t know. I just don’t like stuff like this.”

“How can you not like it? It’s government. It’s legislation. It’s the ideas that govern a nation.”

“It’s hard.” Josh’s face softened as he took in the saddened expression on Ashley’s face.

“Do you ask questions?”


“Does he explain the answers?”

“Kinda. I don’t know. Not like you. You make it sound easy.”

“It is easy.”

“For you. You’re smart.”

“So are you. You just needed it explained the right way. I bet your teacher’s a republican and if that’s the case, your parents should call the school board.”


“Nothing. Here, do this. If you don’t understand something and Mr. Campbell doesn’t explain it where you can understand, call me.” Josh fished his card from his wallet and took Ashley’s pencil. He scrawled something quickly on the back and then handed it to the girl. “That’s my email. Do you have email?”

“Of course.” Josh grinned at her ‘well duh’ look on her face.

“Good. I put my cell phone on there too. If I don’t answer, Aunt Donna will. Between the two of us, we can help you with any social studies.”

“Thanks Uncle Josh. You’re the best.” Ashley sat up and wrapped her arms around Josh’s neck. Donna smiled at the sweet expression on Josh’s face as he returned the little girls’ hug. Donna cleared her throat to make her presence known.  Ashley looked up and beamed at her aunt.

“Uncle Josh made me understand!” She ran to Donna and wrapped her arms around her waist.

“He’s good at that.” Donna stated as she looked at Josh.

“But we still need your help.”

“With what?”

“Uncle Josh said you’re the goddess of index cards. I’ve got to do an oral report and Mr. Campbell is going to grade my index cards as well as the written report. I’ve got to have a bibliography too.”

“I’m in the bibliography.” Josh smirked.

“Oh Lord. You’re going to call Sam, aren’t you?”

“Oh you betcha.” Donna rolled her eyes as she sat next to Josh on the floor.

“Ashley, do you have index cards?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“What kind?”

“The plain ones.”

“Oh, that won’t do. Josh, will you go get your backpack?”

“Sure, why?”

“There’s a pack of colored index cards in the front pocket.”

“There is?”


“Since when?”

“Since Tuesday afternoon.”

“Why are there colored index cards in MY backpack?”

“Because yours was the closet bag to me when I remembered I might need them. Can you please go get them?”

“Yeah.” Josh stood and hurried down the stairs.

“Do you two always do that?” Ashley asked.


“That back and forth arguing-but-not-really thing.”


“Oh, okay.” Donna looked over the report she had written. She could tell that some of the language was definitely inspired by Josh. She made a few grammar corrections and by the time she was finished, Josh had returned with the index cards.


“Thank you. Now, let’s do bullet points!” Donna exclaimed as Josh laughed.



Chapter 11


Ashley ran down the stairs and into the living room. Bob had woken up and was flipping through the ball games. Ashley rounded the couch and pounced on top of her father.

“Jesus Christ!”

“No, it’s just me.” Ashley laughed.

“Funny girl. What’s up?” Travis tickled her sides.

“Uncle Josh helped me with my report. Aunt Donna says I’m sure to get an ‘A’!”

“I should hope so. Having the Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States as a source is pretty impressive, even for Mr. Campbell.”

“Uncle Josh said the reason he’s probably a bad teacher is because he’s a republican.”

“I wouldn’t repeat that if I were you.”

“That’s what Aunt Donna said.”

“You ready to go to Aunt Helen’s?”


“Go find your mom and grandma.” Travis hoisted Ashley in the air and then flopped her on the other end of the couch.  Ashley bounced up and down a few times before running into the kitchen.

“Looks like someone is quite taken with Uncle Josh.” Bob commented as he stood.

“Let’s hope Uncle Josh wants to keep the title.”

“I think he might. Look.” Bob nodded his head slightly to the stairs. Donna led the way as Josh followed with his hands on her shoulders. They were laughing about something. One would have to be blind not to see the feelings that were just under the surface for these two.



Margie and Jane rounded up the Moss clan and soon they were all in a caravan en route to Aunt Helen’s.  Aunt Helen and Uncle Frank lived in a big white two-story house surrounded by pasture and trees. The driveway was lined with cars as Josh drove Donna, Travis, Mary, Ashley and Kyle to the warm and inviting house.  They waited on Donna’s parents, Jane, Adam and David to park the car before ascending the steps to the large front porch. David led the way in to Aunt Helen’s. Josh looked at Donna in surprise at the amount of people in the house.

“Told you so. Here they come.” Josh turned to see several older women descending upon them. Donna was quickly grabbed up in a hug, while Margie and Jane followed suit.  Soon everyone in the family but Josh was hugging someone else.  Josh heard a loud squeal and found himself in Aunt Helen’s sights.

“Look at that handsome man! Oh my goodness, you’ve gotten better looking!”  Josh saw Donna cover her mouth with her hand as she laughed. Aunt Helen parted the crowd and grabbed Josh in a hug. Margie laughed at the look on Josh’s face when Aunt Helen gave him a big kiss on the cheek leaving a huge red lipstick print.

“It’s good to see you again.” Josh replied through the flurry of women descending on him.

“Everyone! This is Donna’s boyfriend, Josh!” Donna gave him a pleading look. Josh just smiled. He knew that he and Donna would have to talk about everything that had gone on over the last two days, but he wasn’t ready to do that now. Besides, he was pretty sure he didn’t want to correct them.

“Oh my, aren’t you precious.” Donna snorted causing Josh to playfully glare at her. The rest of the family had wandered into various rooms of the house while the woman fawned over Josh. Aunt Helen took Donna by one hand and Josh by the other and led them through the house. Donna waved at various cousins on her way through. Aunt Helen stopped in front of the large kitchen counter and released their hands.

“Sit. Tell me how this love affair finally got started. Of course, we all knew you two were perfect for each other from the get-go. Young people nowadays. Too busy to realize what’s right in front of you. Anyway, let me hear the love story.” Donna paled. Josh looked at the floor before turning his questioning face toward Donna. Fortunately, a young boy ran into the kitchen at full speed asking for a drink. Aunt Helen turned her attention to the young boy so Donna had time to talk to Josh.

“What are we going to do?” Her eyes were wide and Josh thought she was about to get hysterical.

“I don’t know. What should we do?” Josh leaned toward her and whispered.

“Josh, my entire family thinks that you and I are a breath away from the altar. Granted, what happened this morning was amazing, yet strange, but that doesn’t give us much to tell as far as a love story.”
”Strange? What was strange about it?”

“Huh? Focus, Josh.”

“No, let’s stay on this subject for the moment. I kiss strange?”

“No. You kiss fantastic. It was just a little unexpected.”

“We were set up, Donna.”


“Set up. Played. Hoodwinked.”

“Excuse me? Did you just use the word hoodwinked?”

“I’m serious Donna. Leo, my mother, your whole family apparently and God knows who else set us up. It’s a conspiracy.”

“You laughed at me when I said it.”

“That was before I talked to my mom.”

“What did your mom say?”

“Not to fuck this up.”

“In those words?”

“I’m paraphrasing.”

“I see. What shouldn’t you fuck up?”



“Is there an us?”

“Do you want there to be an us?”

“I think there is already an us. We just haven’t reached our full potential yet.”

“Are you saying you’d like to explore our potential?”

“Among other things.” He smirked.



“What about Aunt Helen?”

“She’s nice, but she’s not you.”

“Even though you are being totally asinine right now, that was kinda sweet.”


“Yes, Josh?”

“Let’s call Leo.”


“Don’t you think we should? I mean he seems to be the mastermind of this whole thing. Don’t you think we should find out what his intentions were before we launch into some wild story that will no doubt be spread among the Moss Compound with a matter of minutes?”

“Dial the phone.”

“Where’s my cell?”

“Here.” Donna handed him her cell phone. Josh stood up and motioned for her to follow.

“We’ll be right back. White House business. Sorry.” Josh pulled Donna by the hand through the crowd of relatives.  Soon they were standing face to face on the large porch. Josh started to dial the phone and then stopped. Donna looked at him in confusion.

“Okay, I’ve just got to do this just so we’re sure.”

“Do what?” Josh held her by her forearms and planted a firm and meaningful kiss on her lips. He pulled back and looked at her face. She looked at him with an unreadable expression. He smiled into her kiss as she reached forward and grabbed him by the sweater. She swiped her tongue along his lower lip and he obliged her entry. He swept his tongue across her teeth and threaded his fingers through her hair as the kiss deepened.  Gasping for breath, they broke the kiss.

“Okay, just so we’re on the same page. If anyone else introduces me as your boyfriend, you better agree with them.”

“Absolutely.” She beamed.

“Okay, let’s call Leo.” Josh dialed the phone.



“You’re a devious and manipulative man.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Josh. Thank you for the warm regards.”

“I talked to my mother.”

“That’s a good boy, Josh.”

“You set us up.”

“Set whom up?”

“Donna and I. It’s a conspiracy and you’re the mastermind.”

“Strong allegations for someone who can’t even figure out what the rest of us have known since the campaign. The first one, not this last one.” Leo added sarcastically.

“Thanks for clearing that up. So, uh, Donna and I…..uh, we…..I mean…….”

“Congratulations. It’s about damn time.”

“What about a scandal?”

“We won re-election Josh. What the hell do we care?” Josh pulled Donna into a hug as he spoke.

“So, we can really do it?”

“If you have to ask, then I’m not so sure.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know. Yes, be happy, Josh. You and Donna deserve it.”


“Tell Margie and Bob I said ‘hello’. Oh, and give Aunt Helen a hug for me, will you?”

“You are the master.”

“Don’t forget that.”

“Thanks Leo.”

“Make her happy, Josh. God knows she deserves it.”

“I will, I promise.”  Josh kissed Donna on the forehead before ending the call. Neither realized they were standing in front of the large picture window of the house. Travis gave Bob a high five before calling through the house for Mary and his sister.



Chapter 12


Donna brushed her hair and looked at her reflection in the mirror. It was late and she and Josh had decided to go to bed when the rest of the family decided to turn in. Now that she and Josh had decided to take ‘the’ step she was nervous about sleeping with him. What would happen? Would tonight be the night? Would she really be able to have sex in her old room with her entire family one floor up? Was she really going to have sex with Josh? Donna took a deep breath and tried to settle her nerves. She slowly opened the door and walked back out into her room. She couldn’t help but smile.  Josh was in just his boxers and a t-shirt on the bed. The lamp on her side of the bed had been turned on and Josh was sound asleep.  Donna walked over to his side and managed to pull the blanket from underneath his legs. She covered him up and then slipped beneath the blankets. She slid a little closer to him and rested her arm across his chest. She sighed as she closed her eyes to sleep. This had been such a strange and wonderful day.




Josh woke up from a wonderful dream. He dreamt that Donna was lying next to him in bed. She was naked and he was rubbing his hands all over her body. Before anything happened, he woke up. He rolled over and smiled at the warm body snuggled next to him. He looked at the clock and noticed that it was little after midnight. He must have fallen asleep while Donna was in the shower.  He reached out and brushed her hair away from her face. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at him.

“Hey.” She whispered.


“Can’t sleep?”

“I had a dream.” He saw the panic flash across her face and realized she thought he had a nightmare. “No, a good dream.”

“Oh. What about?”

“You.” Donna tucked her head a little and smiled. Josh traced his finger along her jaw line and slid closer to her. He pressed a soft kiss on her forehead and felt his heart skip at the feel of her molding herself to his chest.

She took a deep breath and allowed the smell of his aftershave to overtake her. Josh always smelled so masculine. He hardly ever wore cologne but he always smelled so good.


“Mm-mm?” She closed her eyes as she rested her palm over his heart.

“I….I mean…..I feel……” Josh sighed in frustration before continuing. “I’m not very good at relationships.”

“And you think I am?”

“You’re probably better at it than I am. My point is, I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Losing you.” Josh held her tighter and she curled her leg around his.

“Not going to happen.”

“But what if I screw it up? What if I say something stupid and you leave me? I know I’m not the most romantic man in the world Donna. I can be difficult.”

“You say this as if it’s supposed to be some revelation on my part. Joshua, you have screwed it up. You have said something stupid, you are totally romantically challenged and you are beyond difficult. I figured that out shortly after I hung up your phone in Nashua.”

“You’re brutal sometimes, you know that?”

“My point….” Donna leaned up on her elbow so she could see his face in the soft glow of the clock radio. “I’m still here.”

“And not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself why.”

“Joshua.” Donna sighed.

“I know this has been a strange weekend. I mean, we’ve discovered we’re mere pawns in an elaborate conspiracy devised by the Chief of Staff of the United States with our closest relatives as key players, but I’m just saying I don’t want you to…..I wouldn’t want you to…..”

“Why is it so hard for you to talk to me right now?”

“Because what I want to say scares the hell out of me and if you have the reaction I think you’ll have, I don’t think I could bear to live another day.”

“What do you want to say?”
”I think it’s too soon for me to say it.”

“Too soon on my part or too soon on your part?”

“Both maybe.”

“I think maybe you’re right.” Josh nodded slowly in agreement. Donna noticed the insecurity and sadness cloud his features. “But, Josh….”


“I think when we are to the point of saying what you want to say, you’ll like my reaction.” Donna grinned at him and his face brightened.

“I will?”

“I hope so.” Josh pulled her to him and kissed her on the top of the head.

“I will.”  He placed a slow and lingering kiss on her lips. She shifted her position to allow better access to his mouth. She deepened the kiss and felt her body grow hot as he moaned against her lips. Josh’s hands slid down her back and around her waist. He turned them over until Donna was lying on her back and he was gently sucking on her collarbone. Donna raised her knee and turned toward his touch as his thumb grazed the underside of her breast. Josh slid his hand down to her stomach and pushed the hem of her t-shirt out of the way. The sensation of his hands on her bare skin caused her to gasp. Josh shifted his weight and Donna could tell he was getting turned on in a hurry. Reality hurled itself at her mind and she coarsely whispered his name.


“Mmm?” He murmured as he kissed the base of her ear.

“Josh, we need to…..”

“Yeah, we really need to.” He agreed as he gently nipped the skin of her throat.

“No, we need to stop.”

“Stop?” Josh pulled away from her so he could see her face. “You want to stop?”

“Don’t you think it’s too soon? I mean, we just…..”

“Just what?”

“Well, I think we technically just started dating.”

“Donna…..” He sighed as he scrubbed his hand through his hair.

“I’m not easy, Josh.” That statement would have derailed a lesser man, but after six years of Donnatella Moss, Josh could roll with it.
“I know that.”

“I’m just saying that I don’t want us to just fall into bed.”

“Uh Donna, look around.”

“Oh yeah. Well, there goes that.” The corners of her mouth turned up in a playful smile.

“If you’re not ready, we’ll wait.”


“We’ll wait, Donna. As much as I want to make love to you right now, your ease and comfort are more important.”


“Are you just not hearing the words or are you having trouble understanding the language?” He joked.

“I’m just trying to figure out who the hell you are and what you’ve done with the real Josh Lyman.”
”Come on, Donna.”

“No really. Who are you? That was the most unselfish, romantic thing I’ve heard in my life. I may just jump you right now.”

“Well, if you’re feeling froggy?” Donna rolled her eyes as Josh smirked and then kissed her cheek.

“So this won’t be weird?”

“Hopefully weird will not be the word you will use to describe our mind blowing sex.”

“So the fact that we are in my parents house with my entire family one floor above us doesn’t freak you out?”


“The fact that we’ve been in denial through a campaign, a term in office another campaign and eleven months into our second term in office doesn’t make you wonder what the ramifications may be if we just whirlwind through this?”


“Okay. That’s what I like to hear.” Josh laughed as Donna pushed him on his back and straddled his legs. The look of sheer passion in her eyes fueled his own desire as she splayed her fingers across his chest and lowered her face to his.

“We’re going to do this aren’t we?” Josh smirked.

“Oh yes. Probably more than once.”

“Do we need…..I don’t have……I didn’t expect….I mean I hoped, but I never….”


“I’m rambling, I know. But I have to tell you there’s not a lot of blood flow to the brain at the moment.”

“To answer your question, no. We don’t need anything. I’m on the pill. But we do need to be quiet. I don’t want my family hearing their plan ‘come’ together, so to speak.” Josh could see the smug smirk on her face and laughed.

“I can be quiet. Stealthy even.” Donna rolled her eyes and started to give him a witty comeback but was completely distracted by his hands sliding up her thighs. She could feel the goose bumps rise on her arms as he moved his hands to her waist and then slid them under her t-shirt.  She arched her back as his hands settled on her breasts.  Donna reached for the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head. With a shy smile she tossed the garment over her shoulder. She leaned down to kiss him again. Josh kept one had on her breast while he slipped the other hand around her waist. Donna stretched out on top of him and felt his erection pressing into her stomach. She shifted her weight and caused him to groan into her mouth.

“Ah, God Donna.” He rolled her over and leaned over her. He smiled as he saw her sparkling blue eyes looking intently at him.

“You’re so beautiful.” He whispered as he lightly kissed her eyelids before moving to the tip of her nose. “Beautiful.” He repeated as he brushed his lips across her cheek and down to her chin.  Donna sighed as she felt his hands snake around her waist and slip beneath the boxers she was wearing. He smiled against the warm flesh of her neck when he discovered she wasn’t wearing panties under the boxers. He pushed down gently and Donna lifted her hips to allow him to slide the fabric down her legs. As he slid the material past her knees he dipped his head to suckle her breast. She moaned loudly at the sensation.

“Shhhhh.” He chastised, blowing warm air across her erect nipple. She bit down slightly on her lower lip as he circled her areola with his tongue.  He grazed his fingers over her stomach and traced a small circle below her bellybutton and down to the soft blond curls of her sex. She lifted her knee and parted her legs signaling him on. He parted her folds with his fingers and gently stroked her core. His mind was racing at the sensations. This was Donna, his Donna now and she was beautiful and naked beneath him. She tugged on his shoulder until he was positioned above her.

“So soon?” He questioned. “But I want to…….”

“Next time. Please, Joshua, I want to feel you inside me. We’ve waited so long.” He smiled at her before kissing her with more passion. He wanted her to feel the emotions in his heart as he pressed his hips to hers. She groaned at the sensation and frantically tugged at his tshirt.

“Clothes. Off. Now.” She whispered as she sucked on the tip of his ear.

“God, Donna. Don’t do that. Please.” He felt his whole body tighten as she dipped her tongue in her ear while pushing his boxers past his hips. He managed to push his boxers from his ankles before settling between her legs again.  His eyes fluttered shut when his erection came in contact with her warmth. Josh pushed slowly into her and they both moaned from the pleasure of it. 

 “Oh my God.” She sighed as Josh sank into her. Josh took a deep breath in an effort to keep his body under control. As he started to move, Donna felt the tears pool in the corner of her eyes. She had wanted this for so long. Josh kissed her slowly as he moved in and out of her with long even strokes. Donna thought she would lose her mind when he started to rotate his hips as he pushed himself inside of her. Donna moaned as he lowered himself a little farther and cradled her body in his arms. The change of angle was enough to quicken his pace. He sucked in a quick breath as Donna scraped her nails across his ass before nipping at his earlobe with her teeth.

“If you keep that up, we won’t be doing this much longer.” He growled playfully.

“What if I do this?” Donna kissed him again and caused him to groan louder as she sucked his tongue into her mouth. She smiled against his lips as he rolled them over positioning her on top.  He palmed her breast as she started to thrust against his hips. He felt himself slipping over the edge and he wanted Donna to go with him. He slid his other hand up her thigh and flicked his thumb across her clit causing her to hiss.

“Joshua!” She whispered. She wanted to scream his name at the top of her lungs but she knew they had to be quiet. Josh continued his ministrations as her rhythm increased and she arched her back. He stared at her face wanting to see her when she came.

“Open your eyes, Donnatella.” He whispered softly to her as he increased the pressure of his thumb on her sensitive bud. Donna opened her eyes and leaned forward supporting her weight on her hands. Her hair fell around his face as she leaned forward to kiss him. Josh felt her body start to shudder and absorbed her moans with his mouth as he kissed her. Donna clenched her muscles around him and he knew he wouldn’t last much longer. Donna broke the kiss and looked him the eyes. She saw something in Josh’s eyes she had never really seen in any other man’s. She took a breath to calm the tremors that were still traveling through her body. She moved slowly over him again and leaned back until she was sitting up again. She brought her hands to cup his face and she smiled at him.

“I love you, Joshua.” She saw his features change. He brought his hand to her cheek and wiped away a small tear with his thumb. It was then she noticed the wetness on his cheeks. He trailed his thumb across her lips before he closed his eyes and succumbed to the feeling of her. Donna leaned into his touch as she felt him spill his seed into her. Josh’s breathing finally calmed and he pulled Donna to his chest.

“Promise me you’ll never leave me.”

“I promise.” Donna whispered.

“I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you. I didn’t think I was ready to admit that, but…..”

“I know. I know.” She purred as she slid her hands along his arms.


“Mmmmm?”  He pushed gently against her chest and smirked at her. The smoldering look in her eyes made him smile wider.

“You’re… God, Donna.” She dipped her head and sucked on his collarbone. Josh wasn’t a young man anymore, but having Donna look at him like that and the feel of her tongue on his skin had a strong effect on him. He started moving his hips a little as she pressed her weight against him.

“Joshua.” She whispered as he gently pinched her nipple before capturing her mouth again. He couldn’t help but smirk to himself as he felt his cock grow hard again inside of Donna’s warmth.

“You’re amazing.” He murmured against her neck as he pushed her on her back again.






Chapter 13


Donna sat up on her elbows as she scooted closer to Josh who was lying on his back against the pillows. Donna bounced her feet on the edge of the bed as she grinned at him.

“What?” He asked as he twisted a few strands of her hair around his finger.

“Nothing.” She smiled wider.

“You’re grinning at me. Why?”

“Maybe I just feel like grinning.”

“Oh really? And why would you just feel like grinning.” He asked as he scooted down the bed until his was lying on his stomach beside her.

“Oh I don’t know. I guess I just grin after the best sex I’ve ever had.”

“Best, huh?”

“Maybe.” Josh rolled over on his back and placed his hands smugly behind his head.

“I aim to please.”

“I thought I was the amazing one. That’s what you kept saying, anyway.” Josh reached out to run his hand down her bare back.

“Beyond amazing.” He allowed his hand to trail down her back before gently patting her ass.

“Imagine how much fun we’re going to have when we don’t have my entire family upstairs.”

“Unhindered Donnatella Moss. I may not live through it.”
”You better.”

“I’ll do my best.” He joked. Donna snuggled into his side as he pulled the blankets over them.

“We better get some sleep.”

“I know, we’ve got to start going through your stuff tomorrow.”

“Not tomorrow.”

“Why? What are we doing tomorrow?”

“It’s the day after Thanksgiving.”



“We’re going shopping.”

“When you use the term ‘we’ do you mean me and you or do you mean you and the women folk?”

“Women folk? What are we, on the frontier?”

“You know what I mean.”

“You don’t have to go shopping. You can stay home with the men folk and plow the back forty or something.”

“Thank God.” Josh sighed as he tightened his arms around Donna.

“I better set the alarm. We’ll want to get there early.”

“How early is early?”

“We’ll probably leave about five-thirty.”


“To get the best deals.”

“On what?”

“Christmas gifts. I’ve got a big family and a not-so-big salary. Maybe you should come. You need to shop for your mother.” Josh groaned as Donna giggled.

“I have no idea what to get my mother for Hanukkah.” Josh whined.

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”

“You’re taking my credit card again, aren’t you?”


“Keep it under the national debt, okay?”

“Sure. Anything for you.” She smiled as she playfully kissed his cheek.




Chapter 14


“Are we ready?” Donna asked the other occupants of Josh’s SUV. She had convinced him that they might need the extra room for all the wonderful stuff they would buy. Josh rolled his eyes and handed over his keys and his credit card.  Josh sat on the end of the couch and tried not to make too much noise while he read the paper. Ashley was still sound asleep on the opposite end. Donna kissed him on the cheek and followed the rest of the Moss women to the parking lot in front of the condo.

“You’ve had sex!” Mary accused.

“What?!” Donna screeched as she turned in her seat and then glanced at her mother.

“You and Josh finally did it! You did!” Mary clapped her hands while Jane laughed. Donna’s eyes were wide and her mouth hung open as she looked at the two women in the back seat before turning to her mother.

“Mom, I…..” Donna was mortified. She knew her mother knew she was by no means a virgin, but the thought of discussing her sex life in front of her mother was horrifying.

“It’s obvious dear.”

“What?!” Even she had to admit her voice was freakishly high on that one.

“You’re practically glowing. Not to mention Josh was bouncing around like a pinball.” Jane commented as Margie nodded in agreement. Donna turned in the seat and banged her head against the steering wheel.

“This is not happening.”

“So was it good?” Mary asked while leaning forward in her seat.

“Mary!” Donna cried.

“By the smile on your face this morning at breakfast I’d say it was good.”


“Oh, grow up. We’re all adults. How do you think you got here?”

“Oh God.” Donna groaned as she backed the car out of the parking space.

“You sure you won’t be too tired to shop?” Jane asked with a grin.

“Shut up.”

“Did you get any sleep at all? I mean all that pent up sexual energy had to have been released some how.” Mary added.

“Shut up.”

“Well I didn’t hear any moaning or screaming last night. Maybe it wasn’t that good.”

“We were being quiet.” Donna defended herself and Josh. Mary caught her eye as she looked in the rearview mirror.

“So it ‘was’ good.” Donna sighed realizing she wasn’t getting out of this conversation. She glanced over at her mother’s amused expression and decided ‘what the hell’.

“It was amazing.” The satisfied smile spread across her face as she added. “All three times.”

“Oh my God!” Jane laughed.

“Congratulations!” Mary reached forward and patted Donna’s shoulder.

“I’m surprised you can even walk much less shop.”

“I can always shop.”

“True. So let’s get there!” The women all laughed as Donna pulled out of the complex, headed toward the mall.




Josh sorted through all the sections of the paper while he had the house relatively to himself. Ashley slept soundly on the other end of the couch while the rest of the Moss family men were still sleeping. Donna told him that only he was used to getting up at four thirty in the morning and hitting the ground running.  As he found the national section of the paper he smiled at the memory of when Donna told him that bit of information.  He was rinsing the shampoo from her hair as they showered together. That was an activity he would never tire of he was sure. He glanced at the clock on the cable box. It was 6:30 and he was about to bounce out of his skin.  He skimmed over an op-ed piece but his mind couldn’t really concentrate on the words. Images of Donna kept surfacing in his mind.

“Whatcha readin’?” Ashley asked in a rasping sleep laced voice.

“Nothing. What are you doing up?”

“You make too much noise.” She pushed her tangled hair away from her face as she sat up on the couch.

“Sorry. Can you go back to sleep?” Ashley pulled her blankets with her as she slid down to Josh’s end of the couch. She pushed his arm out of the way and made herself comfortable against his side.

“Momma and Grandma already gone?”

“They left about an hour ago.” Josh rested his arm around her slender frame while he still held the paper. She had bundle herself in her blanket and her hair was falling in her face.

“That’s President Bartlet.” Ashley smiled as she pointed out the picture in the paper.

“Yes it is.”

“Is he nice?”


“Aunt Donna says he’s the real thing.”

“That he is. You hungry?”

“Uh-huh.” Ashley nodded.

“Want to get some cereal?”


Ashley stood and with the blanket still around her led Josh into the kitchen. She pulled the milk from the refrigerator while Josh took two bowls from the cabinet.

“Fruit Loops?”

“Please.” Josh smiled at her still sleepy face.

He sat the box on the bar in front of her and went to retrieve two spoons from the dishwasher.

“So what are your plans for the day?” Josh asked as he poured cereal in both their bowls.

“We’re going to Gettyland. Aren’t you coming?”

“What’s Gettyland?”

“It’s like an arcade. They have pizza and a salad bar in front and then games and bumper cars in the back.”

“Sounds cool.”

“Courtney’s going with me.” Ashley smiled through a mouth full of Fruit Loops.

“Who’s Courtney?”

“My friend from school. She lives a few units down.”

“Let me ask you something. Why does your family sleep over here when you live in town?”

“Because I like it. Most of the other kids get to spend the weekend with their grandparents. So Mom and Dad just pack some clothes in a suitcase and we stay Wednesday night through Saturday night. That way I get to see David and Kyle and Aunt Jane and Uncle Adam before they go back to Chicago. Now that Aunt Donna came home, I get to see her too.”

Well, that sounds like a perfectly good explanation. Have you practiced your oral report?”

“I have to practice?”

“Sure. You want to be able to dazzle them with your oratory don’t you?”


“You don’t want to start stuttering or anything do you?”


“Alright then. When things settle down tonight, we can go over your report.”

“Okay.” Josh and Ashley ate their cereal in silence until Travis stumbled into the kitchen.

“Morning, sweetpea.” He leaned over and gave Ashley a kiss on the top of her head. “The great Moss Shopping Brigade already gone?”

“They left about two hours ago.”

“Crazy. I wouldn’t get out in that mess for a million dollars.”

“Donna was rather excited.”

“I bet she was. Toad can bargain shop better than any of them.”

“Why do you call her toad?” Travis laughed as he pulled some frozen waffles from the freezer.

“Cause when she was born she was all legs, lips and eyeballs.”

“Daddy! Aunt Donna’s beautiful!” Ashley pouted.

“Yeah, now.” Travis poked her in the side causing her to giggle.

“That’s going to be useful from now on.” Josh laughed.

“Yeah, just watch your back.”

“She talks to my mother just about every week. I need all the ammunition I can get.”

“Oh, well then. Let’s talk about Band Camp.”

The two men laughed while Ashley promised to tell on them both as they swapped stories. Travis finally had to promise Ashley that she and Courtney could have an extra five dollars in tokens at Gettyland.



Chapter 15


Bob heard the front door open and went to help the women with their packages. He knew there would be many.

“They’re back!” He called through the condo. Josh and Adam came from the kitchen while Travis and the boys hurried from the game room. Ashley was over at Courtney’s watching her N’Sync Concert video.

Margie came through the door first. Bob took her two big shopping bags from her and laughed.

“Do we have any money left?”

“Just enough to put you in a home.” He shook his head and carried the bags to their bedroom. “And stay out of those bags!” She warned. Donna and Mary were next. Josh cringed at the amount of bags she had.

“There’s more in the back Josh.”

“Donna! Is there anything left in the stores?”

“You’re so witty. Go get the bags. I’ll take these downstairs.”

“Yes dear.” He smirked. Donna’s heart fluttered at his comment. She stopped him with her elbow as he tried to pass by. She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. He tucked his head and offered her a dimpled grin before bouncing down the steps of the condo. It was starting to get dark so he knew Donna would be exhausted.

Everyone seemed to split up and follow his wife or in Josh’s case girlfriend to his or her assigned bedrooms.

“Whatcha buy? Did you get me anything?” Josh asked as he reclined on the bed next to the mountain of paper and plastic bags.


“Anything good?” She grinned at herself because she knew Josh wouldn’t be satisfied until he had gone through every bag. That’s why she’d hidden one of his Christmas gifts under the seat of the SUV.

“I bought you a new tie and a sweater.”

“Lemme see.” He grinned. Donna pulled the sweater from one of the bags and held it up for him to see.

“I like that.” He smiled.

“You can wear it on Sundays to work. I think the navy will look good on you.”

“Thank you.” He said sincerely. She smiled at him before pulling her purchases from her bags.

“Where’s Ashley?”

“At Courtney’s.”

“I got her the coolest CD case. I’m going to wait until closer to Christmas to buy her some CD’s to put in it.”

“Hey, I got you something today, too.”

“Really!?” She beamed. Josh rose from the bed and pulled a bright pink pen with feathers on the top from his backpack.

“Ashley picked it out. It only took 25 tickets.” He grinned.

“Wow! Thanks.” She laughed.

“I’m the SceeBall champion.”

“How much did this cost you?”

“I’d rather not say.”

“Did Ashley and Courtney have fun?”

“I think so. They had a ball ramming me into the wall on the bumper cars.”

“I hate I missed it.” Josh smirked at her as she shifted some of the bags across the bed to the floor. His eye spotted a familiar pink and white striped bag.

“So, what else did you buy?” Donna saw him grinning at the Victoria’s Secret bag.

“Oh, just some perfume.” She couldn’t help but laugh at the small pout that formed on his face.


“Among other things.” He met her eyes and saw the mischievous sparkle looking back at him.

“Can I see?”


“Donna.” He whined.

“When we get back to DC. Maybe. If you’re good.”

“I thought I was very good last night.”

“Oh, you were amazing.”

“Yes I was.”

“Ego Boy.”

“I’m da man, Donnatella.”

“What am I getting myself into?” She sighed as she shook her head and looked at the ceiling.
”You could get into whatever is in that bag.” He smirked.

“You’re good.”

“I thought we had established that already.”

“I’m hungry.”

“I’m willing to help you work up a healthy appetite.” He reached out for her hand and pulled her onto the bed. He lightly grasped the back of her neck while kissing her.

“Mmmm, that was quite tasty.”

“I’m as sweet as pecan pie.”

“Oh Jesus.” She groaned as she rolled off the bed to stand again. “Let’s go, my little pecan pie. I want a turkey sandwich.”


“Have you eaten?”


“Besides cotton candy and nachos at Gettyland?”

“Uh, no.”

“That’s what I thought. Come on.” Josh slipped his arm around her waist as they walked upstairs to join the rest of the family.





Donna practically collapsed in bed next to Josh.
”You look exhausted.”

“I am.”

“Come here.” Josh opened his arms for Donna to scoot closer. She rested her head on his chest and he softly stroked her hair until she fell asleep. Josh soon drifted off and they slept through the night tangled in each other’s arms.



Chapter 16


“Beverly Cleary was your author of choice, I see.” Josh grinned as he pulled another stack of books from her shelf and placed them in the cardboard box. Margie appeared in the doorway and smiled at the two of them cleaning out Donna’s room.

“Anything you want to put in the garage sale just put in a pile out here in the tv room.”

“I hate this.”

“Now Donna. We just don’t have room for half this stuff in our new apartment.”

Donna sat in the middle of her bedroom with several boxes around her. She had pulled most of the stuff from the top of her closet while Josh emptied the bookshelf.

“When’s the garage sale?”

“We’re probably going to have it next weekend. Mary’s going to bring some stuff and we’re going to put an ad in the paper on Monday. Mrs. Arnett had one last week and made three hundred dollars.”

“Wow. But my little bit of stuff probably wouldn’t bring more than ten bucks. You and Daddy can go out to McDonald’s on my share.” She smiled. Josh sat another stack of books next to her on the floor.

“Sounds like a plan. Let me know if you need any help carrying this stuff to the car.”

“Okay.” Donna sighed as she picked up another stuffed animal and added it to the pile.

“I don’t want to sell these. Let’s see if we can donate them to a children’s charity or something.”

“That’s a good idea. I’m sure there is a little girl who would love a stuffed turtle with a rain bonnet on its head.”

“I’m sure she would.” Donna stood and stretched her legs; she and Josh had been packing her things all morning.  She thought she would be in a bitter mood at having to clean out all her belongings but when Josh would lean over and kiss her neck or touch her shoulders every few minutes, she couldn’t hide her smile.

“Does the ‘Knight Rider’ poster go with you or in the sale?”

“With me, baby. Maybe I’ll meet David Hasselhoff again and he can autograph it.”

“I thought the restraining order was still in effect.”

“Bite me, Joshua.”

“Any time, just tell me when, where and how hard.”

“Okay, that’s turning me on. You need to stop.” Josh dropped another stack of books in a box and walked over to where she was sitting in the floor.

“We can always lock the door.”

“No way.”

“Why?” Josh bent down in front of her and nuzzled her neck.

“Uh?…..mmmm…….” Donna lost her train of thought when he sucked her earlobe.

“No one’s paying any attention to us down here. They’ll never know.”

“Am I being seduced? Because I’ve got to say, it’s working incredibly well.” Josh captured her lips and deepened the kiss. He was sliding his arms up her shoulder when he heard someone other than himself clear their throat. Josh froze in place. Donna started giggling against his lips.

“Did Aunt Donna lose something down her throat, Uncle Josh?” Ashley asked in the most serious voice she could muster. Josh tucked his head while Donna still giggled. He looked up at Donna and smirked. In a flash he turned around and scooped Ashley up and deposited her on the bed. Tickling her ribs, he mocked her.

“Did Aunt Donna lose something down her throat, Uncle Josh? You think you’re funny, huh?” Ashley cackled with laughter as she flailed around on the bed trying to free herself from Josh’s grasp.

“Stop!…..I’ll wet my pants……I will!” Josh finally released the girl and took a seat next to Donna on the floor. Ashley tried to catch her breath and wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes.

“I’ve kissed Tommy.” She stated after she had got her breathing under control. Donna’s head jerked up from her boxes.

“You have?!”  Ashley nodded her head proudly. Josh scowled.

“You’re too young to be kissing boys. Who is this gomer anyway?”


“Don’t mind him.” Donna swatted Josh against his shoulder. “When did you kiss Tommy?”

“At Heather Deal’s birthday party a few weeks ago. He kissed me in the hallway.”

“Does you dad know this boy’s playing tonsil hockey with his little girl?” Josh asked.

“Does grandpa know you’re playing tonsil hockey with his little girl?” Ashley countered. Donna snorted with laughter while Josh stared at her in disbelief.

“Does smart ass run in the family?”

“It’s more of a gift, actually.” Donna deadpanned.

“We’re going back home tomorrow.” Ashley pouted.

“Ashley, it’s a twenty minute trip.”

“Yeah, but I like being here with you.” Donna smiled at her niece while Josh cleared his throat.

“What about me? Uncle Josh doesn’t rate?”

“You too, Uncle Josh.” Ashley smiled sweetly before rolling her eyes and giggling.

“I saw that.” Josh tossed a stuffed bear at her head. Ashley caught it in the air and hugged it to her chest. She looked down at the bedspread and picked at a piece of lint.

“What’s wrong, Ash?” Donna asked.

“I don’t want to do my oral report.”

“Why?” Josh was now concerned.

“I can’t get up in front of all those people.”

“Sure you can. This is the best type of speech. You’ve got a captive audience. It’s when they have the freedom to leave is when it’s hard. This is going to be easy.”

“What if I suck?”

“You won’t suck.” He stated firmly.

“How do you know?”

“Because you’re a Moss and Moss’ don’t suck!” Donna shouted with her fist raised in the air.

“That was really dorky Aunt Donna.” Ashley smiled. Josh noticed the look in Donna’s eyes and could tell that was the reaction she was hoping for.

“Practice on us and we’ll let you know if you suck or not.”


“That’s my girl.” Josh reached put and grabbed the girl’s foot and gave it a tug. Donna felt something tug at her heart and she knew that this man was the one.



Chapter 17


“If Leo finds out about this, he’ll have your ass.” Donna warned as she pulled into the school parking lot.

“I called him while you were in the shower. He said it was fine. My niece isn’t going to be corrupted in her own social studies class. Besides, I want to see her report.” Donna couldn’t hide the broad smile that spread across her face. She cast a sideways glance at Josh to see if he realized the implications behind his statement. From the smug look he gave her in return, she realized he did.

“You don’t think she’ll be nervous in front of ‘Uncle Josh’?”

“Nah, you heard her last night. She was great.”

“But that was for just us and the grandparents. It’s a little different in front of all your friends.”

“She’ll be great.”

“Okay, let’s do this.”

“Lead the way, Donnatella.”

“And behave. It’s a sixth grade social studies class.”

“I’m insulted you would think I would act otherwise.” Donna rolled her eyes as Josh held the door for her. She led them down the familiar hallway to the front office. It was almost ten and Ashley’s class would be underway.

“Good morning, may I help you?” Donna smiled as Mrs. Parker offered her help. She was still the school secretary when Donna attended Wright Middle School.

“Good morning, Mrs. Parker. I’m….”

“Donna Moss! Well my goodness. Look at you! What brings you back here?”

“We’d like to visit Ashley Moss’ social studies class please. She’s giving a report today and we’d like to observe.”

“Of course. Let me have you sign in and I’ll get you a visitor’s pass.”

“Thank you.” Josh rested his hand on the small of her back as she leaned against the counter and signed them in. The principal strolled out of his office and stopped to sign some papers at the counter.

“Good morning.” He offered absently as he shuffled through his paperwork. Mrs. Parker returned with the plastic visitor badges in hand.

“Mr. Simpkins, have you met one of Wright Middle School’s more famous alumni?” Mrs. Parker winked at Donna.

“I can’t say as I have. Mr. Simpkins, nice to meet you.” He offered his hand to her, now giving the visitors his full attention.

“This is Donnatella Moss. She works in the White House. And this is….” Donna placed her hand on Josh’s shoulder and continued the introductions.

“This is Joshua Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff.”

“It’s an honor to have you on both on Campus. What class would you like to visit?”

“Mr. Campbell’s social studies.” Josh smiled.

“Oh this should be good.” Donna cocked her head at the principal’s remark. Mr. Simpkins grinned to himself as he escorted his guests down the hallway. Mr. Campbell and he had butted heads on several occasions regarding politics. Josh was right in his assumption that Mr. Campbell was a republican.  Mr. Simpkins peered through the small vertical window of the classroom door.

“Wait here. I want to see the look on his face when you walk in. Oh, this is going to be good.” Josh smirked in return and nodded his head. Donna rolled her eyes at the display. Mr. Simpkins used his key to open the door and enter the classroom. Upon entering he tried to hide his growing amusement. Ashley Moss stood at the front of the classroom with a look on her face that told him she was near tears.

“It says in your bibliography that Joshua Lyman the Deputy Chief of Staff was your major source. You do realize that fabricating your sources will result in failure of this assignment.”  Josh glared at Donna when he heard the voices coming through the partially opened door.  He took a step around Donna and looked through the doorway. A small grin spread across his face. Ashley was standing toe-to-toe with her teacher. Her hands defiantly on her hips with pure white rage written all over her face.

“He was my main source. He’s going to marry my Aunt Donna some day.”

“Joshua Lyman is going to marry your aunt? The one that works directly with the president?” Josh’s smile faded at the condescending attitude Mr. Campbell was giving Ashley. Mr. Simpkins cleared his throat and approached the front of the room.

“Excuse me, Mr. Campbell. I have some guests that would like to observe your class. It seems their niece is giving her report and they would like to watch.”

“Certainly. Who have they come to watch?”

“Ashley Moss.” Ashley’s jaw slacked as she stared at her principal. Why would Uncle Adam and Aunt Jane want to see her report? Her eyes immediately brightened when she saw Donna enter the room. A smug satisfied smile settled on her face as Josh entered the room and winked at her.

“Mr. Campbell, I’d like to introduce you to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States, Joshua Lyman and his assistant, Donnatella Moss.” The look on Mr. Campell’s face was worth the call and ass-chewing from Leo.  Donna grinned as Josh was in full political operative mode. The swagger was in place; smug expression complete with smirk was in full effect. It was going to be a hell of a morning.




After Mr. Campbell regained his ability to speak he introduced and welcomed his guests to the class. Ashley was delighted that Josh stood behind her and rested his hands on her shoulder’s during the introductions. He and Donna found two seats in the back of the room and waited on Ashley to give her report. Donna smiled at the brightly colored index cards Ashley held tightly in her hands as she spoke.  Josh beamed with pride as Ashley made all her crucial points and fully explained the three branches of government. He and Donna led the applause when her report was finished. Mr. Campbell collected her paper and index cards.

“Colored index cards shouldn’t be used for reports, Ashley. Next time use plain white.”

“But my Aunt Donna says that the colors help keep your research organized and easily accessible. These are from the White House. It’s what she uses when Uncle Josh has to argue a point on the Hill.”  Josh could see Mr. Campbell’s blood pressure rising as she spoke. Mr. Simpkins was actually turning red in his effort to stifle his amusement.

“Very well. Have a seat.” Ashley ran to the back of the room into Donna’s arms.

“That was great!” Donna whispered as Mr. Campbell prepared for the next speech.

“I’m so glad you came. Now maybe he’ll believe me when I tell him my Aunt knows the President.”

“I’m sure he will.” Josh laughed. Mr. Simpkins escorted them all into the hall so class could continue.

“Would the two of you like to stay for lunch? It’s pizza day.” Mr. Simpkins offered. Josh grinned over at Donna.

“I’m sorry. But we have to be in DC by tonight.” Donna declined politely. She hugged Ashley.

“Bye sweetheart. Send me an email soon.”

“I will.” Ashley then hugged Josh around the neck and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks Uncle Josh.”

“See you soon.”

Before Josh could release her from the hug his cell phone rang. He waved goodbye to Ashley as he and Donna walked hand in hand down the hall. He opened his flip phone and grinned at the number on the display.

“Hey Leo.”

“I’m not going to read anything in the press am I?”

“No. Not unless they decide to cover the most amazing oral report in the history of Wright Middle School.” Leo smiled at how proud Josh sounded.

“She knocked ‘em dead huh?”

“She’s going to be on the Hill someday. She’s a natural.”

“Well, let’s give the kid time to graduate High School first. What time do you think you’ll make it in?”

“Probably around midnight.”

“Well, you and Donna sleep in. It should be a light day tomorrow. See you when you get back.”

“Sure thing Leo.”

“And Josh?”


“I’m glad you’re easily manipulated by me.” Josh smiled as he looked over at Donna.

“I am too, Leo. I am too.”

“Have a safe trip.”

“We will. Bye.”

“Bye, son.”

Josh threaded his fingers with Donna’s again and led her to the car. He couldn’t wait to get back to DC. He just hoped things would stay as good as they were right now.


feedback is appreciated. :)