eleanor davenport

3

For Theodore, the second half of November slips by in a hectic haze of business meetings, political functions, and endless piles of work. He assumes the governorship in just under two months now, and he fully intends to start off the term with his best foot forward. Between lingering doubts about his lack of experience and unwarranted assumptions that he merely coasted to victory on his father’s coattails, Theo knows that he must make a strong first impression in office if he ever hopes to earn the respect of the state congress.

However, despite his jam-packed work schedule, he does manage to squeeze in some time with Eleanor. In his most brutally honest moments, Theodore recognizes that their relationship feels stiff and forced compared to the easy chemistry he shared with Madeleine, but both he and Eleanor have grown accustomed to certain perks of their arrangement. A budding socialite, Elle revels in the status boost she receives from dating the governor-elect, and Theo, for his part, enjoys a respite from people incessantly badgering him to find a girl and settle down. And they do make a nice couple, if their friends and family are to be believed.

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2

“Come upstairs with me,” Theodore demands, shoving aside thoughts of his ex as he traces his fingers along Eleanor’s backside.

“I should be heading home,” she replies coyly.

“No. Stay.”

“Why should I?” she pouts.

“Because you want this just as much as I do,” he tells her brashly. “And I promise I will make it worth your while.”

Eleanor shivers as he starts to unzip her dress. “Fine, but you should know that I’m not an easy woman to please.”

“Excellent,” he smirks. “I enjoy a challenge.”

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2

Is it because she kisses you the way mommy used to?

Lila Grace’s question plays through his mind over and over again, seeping into his skin like ink from a leaky pen. Not a day goes by that Theo doesn’t think about his ex-wife, even if just for a moment, and spending time with their daughter only inflames his already blistered and broken heart.

“Theodore? Baby? Is everything okay?” Eleanor asks as she saunters into the room.

Briskly rising from his seat, Theodore wraps his arms around her back and sweeps her into a passionate kiss.

“What was that for?” she gasps.

“I- I just had to see something,” he mutters with a disappointed frown. The kiss felt… fine. Totally and utterly fine. But it was nothing like the heated exchanges he used to share with his wife.

Ex-wife, he reminds himself with a bitter sigh.

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2

“…And then the man turns to the golfer and asks, ‘Why are you wearing two pairs of pants?’ And the golfer goes-”

“In case I get a hole in one,” Eleanor finishes with the punch line. “Lila, dear, if you insist on talking during the movie, please at least try not to repeat yourself. You already told that one this afternoon.”

Theodore frowns, watching his daughter slump down in disappointment. “Eleanor,” he begins slowly.

“What?” she snaps. “It was a lame joke anyway.”

“Elle…”

“For plumb’s sake, Theo, would you please shut it already?! I can’t hear the goddamn movie!”

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3

“Please Arabella? Please? There is no way I can make it to that parent teacher conference this afternoon. I am overloaded with work right now.”

Theodore glances back at Eleanor and smiles reassuringly.

“Yes, I know she’s my daughter,” he continues. “But can’t you just cancel it? Or reschedule your meeting?”

“…No, I’m not saying that my obligations are more important than yours, but it’s just a client interview. I’m sure they’d understand if-”

“…Hello? Arabella, are you there?”

Coming up behind him, Eleanor wraps her bony arms around his chest and grins excitedly.“So? She agreed to go in your place?”

“Not exactly,” Theo replies with a heavy sigh. “I need to run by Lila’s school and speak with her teacher, but I can keep it short. We’ll be in and out in no time.”

“Oh, how romantic,” she snaps irritably. “The first time I’ve seen you all week, and you take me on a date to your daughter’s elementary school. I used to wonder how a catch like you managed to stay single so long after your wife left, but now I understand. All you care about is work and family.”

Theodore shrugs. “So you don’t want to come?”

“No, no!” she exclaims in a shrill voice. “By all means. Let’s go.”

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