We waited a week before I felt comfortable enough to have Shane actually move into the presidential bedroom in the family quarters. Speculation had been running wild as to why Shane had resigned from the Secret Service. Many thought that the recent firefight at the White House had been more than enough for Shane and that he had simply quit. These people obviously didn’t know Shane.
That explanation faded quickly once people saw that Shane was now part of the presidential staff, having been appointed as a special assistant to the president. The only ones to know the whole truth were Mary and the vice president, both of whom were beyond happy for both of us.
Today, however, would make everything crystal clear. Just after breakfast, Shane moved his things into the presidential bedroom, and the Secret Service was informed that Shane would be sleeping there from now on. Eyebrows went up and were promptly ignored. Agents who had been close to Shane now appeared a little standoffish.
I decided to confront this change head-on.
“Mary, would you ask the director of the Secret Service to meet me here?”
“Yes, Mr. President,” she replied as I passed her desk and entered the Oval Office. It was going to be an interesting day. As I sat down, I found the usual file folder containing presidential correspondence for my review and signature. I was about halfway through when Mary buzzed me.
“Mr. President, the director will be here in about ten minutes. He’s in the OEB next to the White House.”
“Thank you, Mary. Show him in when he gets here. Also please have my top staff meet in here once the director leaves.”
I was ready to announce Shane’s new place in the White House. First, I would deal with the Secret Service, then my own staff. It would be a historic first for the Office of the President, at least officially. There was evidence that Abraham Lincoln had had a male companion in addition to Mary Todd, but he kept his man secret.
The door opened and in stepped Director Stevens.
“Good morning, Mr. President,” he said as he approached the desk.
“Good morning, Mr. Director, please have a seat,” I said, pointing to one of the two chairs in front of my desk.
“What can I do for you, sir?” he asked.
“I want to discuss Shane Thompson’s status here at the White House. As you already know, when he left the Secret Service, I appointed him as a special assistant on law enforcement matters as well as other areas. What I want to tell you today is that Shane is also important to me on a romantic and personal level. In fact, he has moved into the presidential bedroom as of this morning.”
“I see, Mr. President. Actually, I’m not surprised, given that he left a career that he very much loved with the Service.”
“Yes, he did. The reason I’ve asked to see you is that I want Shane to have his own protection detail when he’s not with me. Please consider him to be as important as if he were the First Lady. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“I trust your men won’t have any issues at all regarding the safety of Mr. Thompson, which would include any snide remarks. I wouldn’t wanna be the agent who was foolish enough to make a joke about this within earshot of Shane.”
“Our men and women are professionals, Mr. President, so I don’t foresee any problems.”
“Good, because I intend to elevate his role here in my administration, and his protection should reflect both that and the personal importance in which I hold Shane. Please make the arrangements today.”
“Of course, Mr. President. While I’m here, sir, let me advise you that the intelligence division of the Service sees no indication whatsoever that the Saudis are in any way active in matters pertaining to you. We are working closely with the CIA and the FBI to make sure that they are not planning any further attacks on you or the United States. In fact, there seems to be a great deal of inner turmoil within the royal family over recent events. We’ll keep you posted, of course.”
“Good! Because if they had continued, I would have been forced to take direct military action against them. It would have thrown the world oil markets into chaos. Please keep me up to date on this issue.”
“Of course, Mr. President.”
“Thank you for coming; I know I can rely on you personally to see that Shane receives the protection that he now needs. He is very important to me and this administration,” I said as I rose to indicate the meeting was over.
“Of course, sir, I’ll see to it immediately.”
As the director left, Mary came into the office with my little Mary trotting along behind her wagging her tail.
“The visitor with her own bed in here has come to pay you a visit, Mr. President,” Mary said, smiling down at little Mary as the terrier made a beeline for my chair.
I bent down and scratched her behind the ears, and when I was done, she went over to her bed and settled in for a mid-morning snooze.
“Mary, will you ask Shane to come in, please.”
Mary smiled and asked, “Is that why the director was here?”
“No, actually, it was in regards to revoking your White House clearance and escorting you off the property!” I said with a smile.
“Threatening me with a return to sanity will get you nowhere, David,” she said, flashing me with her now-famous smile as she left to find Shane.
As I waited for Shane, I returned to signing the unending flow of letters that continuously occupied the file marked with the word “correspondence.” Before I could read and sign the second letter, the door opened and in came a smiling Shane.
I got up and walked around the desk, indicating the sofa as to where we would sit and talk. He gave me a puzzled look.
“You feel better now that you’ve officially moved into our bedroom?” I asked.
Shane smiled. “Yeah, it felt right. The duty agents didn’t know whether to watch me or ignore me while I was doing it.”
“Well, that’s kinda the reason I wanted to see you. I talked with your old boss a few minutes ago and told him of your new status with me. I’ve told him you are sharing my bedroom, and that I wanted you to have a protection detail as if you were the First Lady. I also told him to make sure his agents keep any social commentary to themselves and that neither you nor I wanted to hear any snide remarks. He assured me that we wouldn’t.”
“David, I don’t want a detail. I’ll be with you most of the time and will therefore have the same protection being provided to you.”
“You’re going to be given duties that normally would be handled by the First Lady, which means you’ll have to venture outside the security perimeter of the White House, and I don’t wanna have to worry about you. You are getting Secret Service protection, and that’s it,” I said with finality.
Shane looked at me as if calculating whether this was a battle he could win. Resignation showed on his face when he concluded that he couldn’t. “If you insist, but it’s under protest,” he said.
“Duly noted. Now, I’m going to be meeting shortly with top staff about your assuming additional duties. You should remain for that meeting, I think.”
“Of course I will. If I don’t, I’ll end up kissing babies in a parade somewhere in Wyoming. I need to agree to these additional duties, no?”
“Yes, of course. I’m not going to give you something to do that you would be either offended by or embarrassed to be doing. By the way, before I forget, I want you to pay a visit to Alcatraz and check on the progress of the project. Talk with the construction people and see if they see any weaknesses in the new complex. Try and get out there in the next ten days or so.”
“Of course. Now there’s something that I’m more than qualified to do. Just don’t have me entering cookies in a baking contest, okay?”
I laughed out loud. “A baking contest? Why on earth would I do something like that? Give me some credit, Shane.”
Mary entered the office and announced that the top staff was gathered to meet with me.
“Have them come in please,” I said.
Shane and I moved to the two wingback chairs in front of the fireplace and motioned for the staff to take seats on the sofas and other chairs. Present were Chief of Staff Alex Cramer, the director of the office of White House protocol, the social secretary, and various aides.
“Good morning all. I’ve asked you here to tell you that Shane is taking on new duties as of today. As you know, he has left the Secret Service and is now on my staff as an assistant. He has also moved into the presidential bedroom, and from that you may conclude that Shane is something far greater to me than a special assistant. He is my significant other in the vernacular of the day. As such, I have requested a Secret Service detail be assigned to him just as if he was the First Lady. In that vein, Shane will perform some of the duties typically performed by the First Lady, while keeping in mind that he is a man.”
“Mr. President, do you want Shane to have any staff?” asked Alex.
“Yes, Alex, I do. He’ll need the full complement that normally works for the First Lady. Obviously, he will not do all the things normally done in that position, but there is no reason he can’t perform many of the duties of that office. I know that I can count on all of you to support Shane in the role that he is taking on. Are there any questions?”
“Just one, Mr. President,” said the protocol chief.
“Do you wish for Shane to act as host when you’re not available for some function as the First Lady would normally do?”
I looked at Shane and he gave me a look that said, “Why the hell not?”
“Yes. Just make sure he is totally briefed on the situation so that he knows what he’s doing. If there are no other questions, that’s all I have for now.”
As everyone got up to leave, the chief of staff said, “Shane, I’ll have your new office contact you today and assign assistants.”
“Thank you, Alex,” replied Shane.
When everyone was gone, Shane turned to me and said, “Well, that went fairly smooth. Why do I have the feeling not everyone is going to be so accepting of this?”
“You’re right. There will be flak from some quarters over this, and frankly, I just don’t give a damn. They can get over it or resign.”
“Actually, David, I was thinking more along the lines of the religious right and their conservative cronies in the House.”
“Oh, screw them! What? Am I going to lose their support? You can’t lose something you’ve never had. I don’t care what they have to say, Shane. You just do the best you can.”
“That goes without saying. Look, I better wander on over to the East Wing and look in on my office. I also have to plan out the trip to San Francisco for Alcatraz.”
“Yes, and don’t forget to notify the Secret Service. They’ll need to do the advance work and everything that normally goes along with that.”
As Shane left to learn more about his new world, I returned to my desk, determined to finish the correspondence folder. As I sat down to begin, I heard snoring coming from the floor, which made me smile. Shane was in my bedroom and little Mary was happily sleeping—the world was once again right.
Later that night, when it was time to get ready for bed, Shane and I took Mary for a walk around the private area of the White House lawn that was shielded from public view.
“You know, Shane, I’ve never felt so ‘right’ as I do tonight. Our relationship doesn’t have to be hidden, and people know that you are important to me on a personal level. Even Mary has stopped giving you dirty looks when you climb into my bed. Now that’s real progress!”
“Well, you have to know that I’m pretty happy with the changes myself. I really feel like we’re a couple now instead of being the hired help sleeping with the boss. I was so tired of that bookcase route that I think I hate all libraries now.”
I chuckled over that and replied, “Yes, no one but my secretary figured out what was going on.”
“Mary knew? How could she possibly have known?”
“A latch on one side broke and was noticed by housekeeping and duly reported to maintenance. The repair order went to Mary to sign off on, and she just put two and two together and figured it out. She took great delight in zinging me with little one-liners that let me know that she knew I was getting something on the side.”
“That woman is a trip. You’re so lucky to have her, though. She is very devoted to you.”
“Oh believe me, I know it. I trust her with my life. She would have been impossible to replace if she had said no to the job.”
“It’s been a long day; can we go in?” Shane asked.
“Sure. Come on, Mary, time to go in,” I said.
As we got off the elevator on the residence floor, the duty agent nodded to us and moved down the hallway to his post. Shane, Mary, and I went into my bedroom that now officially became “our” bedroom and began to settle in for the night. The duty agent had reported that I was in for the night, which was relayed to the communications officer, and the White House began to slow down for the night.
As we took off our clothes and climbed into bed, Mary took up her new position on the left side of my pillow. She was used to having her own pillow next to me but was already resigned to the fact that the bed had become more crowded. To her, it was like a new dog had joined the pack and now we were three. Now that she appeared to have approved of Shane, she took it all in stride.