Hoves (Jesse) – 7.2: Donations and Dinners

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(Previous post: Budgets and Boyfriends)

Lucky spared herself one last glance in the mirror before starting the car. Her makeup was intact,  her contacts were in place. Her hair was as wild as always but Lucky rarely bothered with her straightening iron. It was just too much work. She straightened her tight black skirt with her hands, turned on the radio and drove towards her boyfriend’s house.

The radio was playing an upbeat Latin song and she sang along with it although she didn’t know the lyrics. She was in a great mood. This party was a big deal for her for more then one reason.

Firstly she had some good news for Ahmed.It was troubling her for a while that he was still unemployed and she sensed it might have been troubling him as well,  neither his photography nor his poetry were bringing him any money at the moment and he was bored more often than not sitting at home while all his friends and Lucky herself were out doing important stuff, building careers. Sure she would love to be able to sit with him all day watching TV but she had found her purpose in trying to make the world a better place, and she wished him the same. So she went to her sister.

Her older sister, Krys, was their local school’s Similish department head and now after principal Borders’ wife had died she had pretty much taken over his principal duties. And of course she was in a perfect position to help Lucky and Ahmed.

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Krys went on about how she would not tolerate anyone who didn’t have the proper work ethics and who didn’t have the proper amount of respect for books and wasn’t ready to do his best in enlightening young minds in the importance of reading from an early age. Laquita nodded listening patiently in between her bites. All in all she found her sister’s response positive. She also had an ulterior motive in all this. She hoped when Ahmed got to spend more time around kids he would realize they were not as bad as he thought, and can actually be rather sweet and interesting. It was a good plan. She was proud of it and herself.

And of course tonight she would start campaigning. Next fall Lucky planned to run for mayor of Sunset Valley. It was a big step and she was young but she knew she could handle it, and she believed people would know it as well, she had proved her worth with her work in the city council. Everything was falling into place and she had high expectations of this party.

She ran into Ahmed at the door. “Mum is sending me to buy some more drinks.” He said catching her in passing. “Go mingle. I’ll be right back.” Lucky didn’t need to be told twice. She only hoped she would’t run into Posie, Ahmed’s mother, the two weren’t on good terms ever since Lucky left a job on her team to run for the City Council.

She headed straight for the small garden between the Kerry’s and Vivi’s houses. She knew there was a bar there and probably most of the other guests. The first person she saw was a tall and handsome young man she knew. He had a bottle of beer in one hand and was looking away from her as she slowly approached.

She knew Jerod Prentiss from school, all the girls knew Jerod, it was hard not to crush on him. In addition to being tall and good looking he was an honor roll student, he competed in both chess and basketball and could make anyone laugh. He also dated Sara Caliente which is why Lucky didn’t like him as much back in school. She had some meanigless grudge with the Caliente sisters because she and Summer Caliente liked the same guy in their second year of high school.

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That was ages ago though. Summer was married to that guy and he and Lucky remained friends. And good-looking Jerod  was a fireman. In fact Lucky was one to pin a medal of valor on him for his services to the city. It was the last time she saw him before tonight, he had been barely out of the hospital then, a flaming beam had hit him over the back when he tried to save his family and his own house after the meteor hit. He lost his mother, an aunt, and a cousin that day. A medal meant little after that Lucky guessed. Tonight he looked better.

“Hello Jerod.” She said approaching him. She couldn’t help her heart beating faster when those soft brown eyes turned to her. Recondition sparked in them and he smiled looking at her.

“Laquita Hoves, the prettiest woman in politics!” Lucky felt a blush coming to her cheeks.

“My friends call me Lucky.” She said trying to keep her voice from wavering.

“That is how I feel right now.” He replied not skipping a beat. You have a boyfriend Lucky. He is engaged to be married. She wished she had a beer right now. Her mouth was drier than ever.

“You look good.” She said. “I mean… Recovered… Last I saw you…” She mumbled quickly and he laughed.

“I remember. I still got the medal you gave me.” It was her turn to laugh.

“The city gave you that medal, I was just the messenger.”

“Still, it was nice of the city to choose your soft and capable hands to touch a poor broken man like me, and not some old fart whose hands shake and barely sees.” She laughed.

“The city does only to best for its bravest.”

“Thanks to you I hear.” Lucky blushed again, she couldn’t help it. She had to look away from that handsome face.

“I do what I can to make the world a better place.” She said looking up again. She found focus and strength in the same thing she always did – her work. “I want to be able to do more… But City Council work enables me to do only so much… Now I was lets say mayor of Sunset Valley…”

“This city would be the envy of all the land!” Jerod concluded for her smiling broadly. “I would vote for you, that is a given. I can’t wait to see your picture all around town.” Lucky smiled.

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“Well the campaign won’t even start without the proper funding…” He brought her a beer and they talked some more. After Jerod Lucky went on to talk to her younger sister Irene’s ex boyfriend Kain Vivi. The younger man’s science fiction novel’s weren’t selling that well and he had taken a job washing dishes at one of the restaurants in town. She even talked to Summer Caliente, her old nemesis. Summer had been was too busy talking about herself, the shares in the spa she bought, and her son Silvester’s school achievements to even start listening to Lucky.

In the end Lucky didn’t hope for much when she checked her campaign account balance the next morning.  7741 simoleons. That is what the screen showed. She gaped at the number. An unsuccessful writer, an old rival and a handsome fireman got her this much? She blinked hard hoping the numbers won’t just disappear. Then when they didn’t she had to check if there was some error. There wasn’t. All the money was transferred to her account by Jerod Prentiss.

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She sang a tune as she made pancakes for breakfast the next morning. She wanted to pretend she was just glad about the money. Having some real funds is what she needed to kick start her big campaign. Mayor of Sunset Valley… Her next big step…. Yes it was all pretty big but there was also something dangerously exciting about the thought of Jerod Prentiss donating all that money to her… Not to me, to my campaign. Lucky corrected herself. Yet she smiled at the thought of the young fireman’s face…

It happened two weeks later. The campaign was in full swing already, just the night before Lucky was on yet another party. She tried to present her case to Latricia Caliente, Nina Caliente’s younger daughter. The young girl used to date Ahmed’s younger brother, that is how Lucky knew her. She seemed rather apolitical but Lucky was sure he could push her over to vote for her. She wasn’t sure if she had succeeded but she was rather confident about it. Today she dressed up again and was planning to check the net for happenings around town she could attend when her phone rang.

“Lucky Hoves speaking.”

“You are not answering the phone with future mayor yet?” The very sound of that voice made her stomach feel with butterflies and her legs grow unsteady.

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“The election is still many months away.” She noticed she was smiling despite herself.

“And when it finally comes only fools won’t vote for you.”

“That is nice of you to say Jerod.”

“Hey it is the truth.”

“Thank you for the donation.” She said trying to calm her beating heart. “It helped kick off this whole campaign.”

“You asked and I delivered. And it is because I believe in you, not just because you are gorgeous.”

“Thank you.” Lucky said awkwardly.

“Well anyway… I didn’t call for you to thank me. I was thinking, pretty soon you would be a big deal and probably super busy so I should use the opportunity to spend some time with you, a chance to have a thing which to brag about to all my coworkers… So… Dinner tonight?” Lucky’s throat went dry. It wasn’t a date. It couldn’t be a date. She had a boyfriend, he was engaged… A part of her wished it could be, a part of her wanted to kiss those lips, to be held by those strong arms and a bigger part of her wanted to just say no. She was happy with Ahmed, and she was busy already, she didn’t need those kind of distractions. But then again Jerod did donate to her campaign… He was among the first to believe in her, and his future mother in law was Dina Caliente! He had influence and much more to give to the campaign than money…

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They met in front of the bistro. Lucky almost regretted coming when she saw how handsome Jerod was, even in a white unbuttoned shirt, showing his hairy chest. He started off with more compliments that made her blush and jokes that made her tear up with laughter. He even promised to donate even more money if Lucky would play for him after dinner.

Lucky had been playing the bass since childhood and she foolishly mentioned it during the meal. Jerod’s eyes lit up and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. She had to play for him! It was a strange feeling having a man so hung up on her every word, so impressed by her, so interested in her hobbies… At first she said no because she imagined he would have to invite him over since she didn’t exactly carry her bass around. And she could just imagine how Krys would have reacted if she showed up on their doorstep with a man… One who wasn’t even her boyfriend… But then Jerod himself proposed the park. It had a stage with several instrument, the bass included and so she said yes.

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She was nervous at first. Her fingers fumbled around the strings and she missed a few notes all the while refusing to look at Jerod who stood just a few feet away from the stage. She felt him watching and it made everything ten times harder. but then the music found her and she got lost in it. When she finished Jerod clapped like crazy. And the next day an even bigger donation was payed on to her campaign account. Lucky Hoves was yet another step closer to becoming mayor of Sunset Valley.

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