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Expert Advice
Presidential Suite

Summary:  Chapter 9 in the Temptation series...
The epilogue...
Spoilers:  through "Debate Camp"

Expert Advice

As Jed finished shaving, he turned to put away his razor, then stopped as he caught a glimpse of something in the mirror. He looked down at the right side of his ribcage and found a round purplish bruise. Oh, yeah, his war wound from the attack of the sleeping Abbey.

At just that moment she came into the bathroom, cradling a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. She watched as he inspected the small bruise, then she ran her own finger over it gently.

"What happened to you?" she asked.

"You did," Jed replied. "You whacked me with your elbow last night."

"I don't remember..."

"Oh, it's nothing," Jed said as he took her coffee cup from her and took a long sip. "You were sound asleep."

"Maybe I was dreaming about punishing you," Abbey teased.

He handed her back the now almost empty cup. "I'll consider myself punished," he laughed.

Jed turned to pick up his shirt and Abbey wandered away, muttering softly to herself as she went back into the bedroom.

He followed her as he buttoned his shirt. "What are you fussing about? Mad that I drank all your coffee?"

Abbey was surprised to find him right behind her. "No..."

"So, what then?" He reached for her wrist and pulled her close, looking down into her face. "You know it sounded almost like you said 'I didn't think I hit him that hard'. But that couldn't be it, could it?"

She ducked her head a bit, so he couldn't see her face. "I was still a little mad."

Jed gave a shout of laughter. "That's funny, you sure weren't acting mad."

Abbey looked back up at him. "Well, I was, just a tiny bit. I wouldn't have done anything about it, but you nudged me when I was really comfortable. So, I jabbed you with my elbow. I didn't mean to do it so hard..."

He pulled her closer. "I'll live." He paused and continued in a more serious tone, "Fight over now?"

"Yes," she replied.


Jed bent his head to kiss her and Abbey wrapped her arms tightly around him, causing an uncomfortable twinge in his ribs in the vicinity of the bruise. He didn't even notice.


A week later, Jed sat in his study, relaxed and thoughtful. Stanley Keyworth would be there shortly for their weekly session. He grinned. Yeah, he really needed a little more therapy. Every night since his fight with Abbey, she had tried some new psychology gimmick on him, something that proposed to increase their understanding of each other. Always the ethical doctor, she had disclaimed the validity of any of these therapies and reminded him that she was not trained in psychology. But, on the other hand, she did watch the talk shows sometimes, and Dr. Phil was always full of good ideas.

And actually some very interesting things had come out of some of her weird treatments. Last night, she had decided that they should try a therapy called "honesty". Each of them would take turns saying something about the other, an honest assessment of some good or bad trait. The other person couldn't respond; they were just supposed to listen and, Jed supposed, mull these things over in their minds so they could get really good and mad over them.

But, being a considerate husband, he was willing to do whatever she wanted. So, they had played the "honesty" game.

Abbey started out by telling him that he didn't take care of himself.

He responded that he thought she worried too much.

She said that he always pushed her away.

Jed reminded her that she was too quick to jump to conclusions.

Her next response was one word: Bully.

Well , he could sum up his feelings in one word, too: Nag.

She looked a little shaken after that one, but she got right back into the game by telling him he was a stick in the mud.

He replied that he thought that was preferable to being a flirt.

They had ended up staring at each other, standing tense in the middle of the sitting room.

It was painfully apparent that this particular line of discussion didn't need to continue. Abbey took a deep breath and suggested they try to think of good things to say about each other.

He started off by telling her that she was a good and loving mother.

She accepted the compliment and told him he was a wise and loving father.

He thought it would be nice to tell her she looked pretty, even first thing in the morning.

Abbey didn't respond in kind, but she did say that he was smart.

He noticed that she didn't mention how nice looking he was, but he could be the bigger person. He said that she was smart, too.

She said he gave excellent foot rubs, just not often enough.

He forgot that he wasn't supposed to comment on her comments. Before he could stop himself, he told her that she wouldn't need so many foot rubs if she didn't wear those insanely high heels.

She retaliated with a term she had used before, "stick in the mud".

He flung back, "FLIRT!".

They had ended up laughing over it. The laughter had led to hugging, which led to kissing, which led to bed. All in all, not a totally unproductive therapy.


Jed and Stanley had almost reached the end of the session before Jed finally got up enough nerve to ask the question that was bothering him.

"What do you think it means to have erotic dreams?"

Stanley countered, as he most always did, with, "What do you think it means?"

Jed snapped a bit in response. "I don't know. That's why I'm asking you."

"Well, I don't think erotic dreams are dangerous unless you jump out of bed to take a cold shower, fall on the way to the bathroom and hit your head on something."

Jed smirked. "Funny, Stanley. You should take your act on the road."

Stanley grinned back, but quickly reverted to being professional. "Mr. President, have you seen women who you think are attractive and appreciated the fact that they are attractive and desirable?"

"Yes, of course."

Stanley continued, "Do you love your wife?"

"With all my heart."

"And yet, you still have had dreams about other women?" Stanley asked.

"Yes, once or twice," Jed admitted.

"Well, Mr. President, my particular area of expertise is trauma, and I don't know much about dream interpretation, but I can give you my best guess as to what this all means."

Ah! Finally! He was going to get expert advice on his situation from someone who understood the human psyche.

"So what do these dreams mean?" Jed asked.

"That you're not dead."


Abbey sat in her East Wing office, idly tapping her pen on the blotter. She knew Jed was in session with Stanley right now. It would be a good opportunity to go talk to Leo. If it hadn't been for her conversation with Jed two nights ago, she would already be on her way to his office. But now she thought twice about it.

She hadn't thought that Jed ever paid much attention to her relationship with Leo. It had really surprised her when he had asked why she and Leo had recently become so "friendly". The way he had said it had implied that he thought it was a different kind of "friendly" than two people having a casual connection.

Abbey had looked at him in surprise and then laughed. "You're jealous."

"No, I am not jealous."

"Yes, you are, Jed. You're jealous of me talking to Leo. I can't believe it." Her voice had been filled with gleeful victory.

"Maybe a little bit."

"Oh, no," she had quickly reminded him. "This is like being dead or pregnant. A 'little bit' doesn't come into it. You either are or you aren't." She paused and grinned. "And you are."

"Well, you would be, too," Jed had countered. "If I were spending as much time talking to another woman as you do talking to Leo, you would be seriously pissed about it."

She had considered that and seen his point. "But it's totally innocent, Jed."

"Of course that is what you would say, Abbey." He hadn't really wanted to start an argument, but he was reminded of how frequently he had seen her with Leo recently, and he was a little disturbed by it.

She had been exasperated. "Jed, get over it. We talk about you, you, and pretty much only you. You were tired of me asking you how you felt and if your day was stressful... Actually, it seemed like you were tired of me asking you anything. So I started asking Leo instead. And I told him what to watch for so he could tell me if you were having symptoms. We were taking care of you, you jackass!"

"Oh." Jed had appeared to think about that, and, as she had watched, Abbey had seen his expression of annoyance change to one of relief.

"Okay," he had finally said.

In light of that discussion, Abbey now thought it might be best to curtail her little visits with Leo. But she could call him. She and Jed were communicating much more openly these days, but he still might not say if he had experienced any physical problems when she wasn't there. Yes...she would call Leo. She actually had her hand on the phone, when her secretary knocked on the door.

"Mrs. Bartlett, you have a phone call from Rachel Hartman. Shall I put it through?"

This was not completely unexpected. Abbey nodded and let her hand rest on the phone. When it buzzed, she picked it up.

"Hello, Rachel, how are you?" Abbey asked.

"Fine, Mrs. Bartlet, and you?"

"I'm fine, but please call me Abbey." She and Rachel had never been friends when they were younger, and, of course, the other woman was following the correct protocol, but Abbey thought they had been through a little too much together for Rachel to be so formal.

"I'm calling to thank you for helping me the other night. And please tell the President that I appreciate his help as well. But what you did... I felt so much better on the plane knowing that Rick was stable and the problem might not be too serious. You were very kind to do what you did, especially considering what you thought..."

Abbey interrupted. "What I thought was wrong, Rachel, and I am so sorry for my outburst. I could say that I was worried and jealous, but that's no excuse. I hope you'll accept my apology and try to forget what happened here that night."

"Abbey, it's already forgotten. I've had so much on my mind, with Rick's illness, that I haven't really had time to think about it." Rachel paused, as if unsure whether to continue. "I just hope that you and Jed have worked things out."

"We have, and I think I owe some of it to you. He says you helped him get his thoughts straightened out."

"I really didn't do anything. He's a very smart man and would have figured..."

Abbey interrupted again, saying with a laugh, "King of the world, Rachel?"

Rachel sounded horrified. "Oh, no, he didn't repeat that, did he?"

"Yes, he did, and now I have to live with him." Abbey chuckled softly, then became serious again. "How is Rick?"

"He's home," Rachel replied. "But I'm having a terrible time with him. He won't rest like he's supposed to and he's already started calling the office to check up on things. He's just being a total jackass."

Abbey had to laugh. "Do you call him that often?"

Rachel laughed too. "At least once a day. I don't suppose he can help it. He's just a man."

Abbey had to agree with that. And she decided that she could actually like Rachel. It seemed that they had a lot in common.


Jed paced the floor in the sitting room that evening and looked at his watch for the third time in ten minutes. Where was Abbey?

He had this nice surprise for her and, with almost childish anticipation, he couldn't wait to give it to her. He thought a gift to seal their reconciliation was in order, and, despite Rachel's expert advice, he had not chosen to go with flowers or jewelry. This was unique, special, and completely right for Abbey.

The door opened and she was finally home.

"Hey," Abbey said as she walked in and tossed her things on a chair.

Jed stood still in the center of the carpet and tried to conceal his impatience. "Hey. You're late."

"Yeah, I had a meeting with a literacy group this afternoon and it ran way over." She came and stood before him, giving him a soft peck on the lips. "How was your day? Stanley have any words of wisdom?"

He was momentarily distracted from his impatience. Jed laughed and said, "He said I wasn't dead."

Abbey gave a sarcastic lift of her eyebrows. "How incredibly observant of him."

She walked over to the sofa and was about to sit down when she noticed a very large, gift wrapped box sitting behind it.

"What's this?" she asked as she inspected it closely. "Is it for me?"

Jed brushed her out of the way and bent to tug the box into the center of the room.

"Yeah. It's all for you."

"What's the occasion?" Abbey asked.

Jed grinned. "The occasion is me coming to my senses and realizing that I have the best wife in the whole world. And I wanted to do something nice for you, a gesture of reconciliation, if you will."

She smirked at him. "You've been making 'gestures' all week."

He tipped his head toward the box. "This one's tangible. And it's something you've always wanted."

Abbey started to rip the paper off the box, her anticipation growing. The box was so big, and it was supposed to be something she had always wanted. What in the world would Jed have gotten her?

She opened the box to find it crammed with VHS movies. Didn't he know DVD was better? Then she started pulling them out and reading the titles: "Presumed Innocent", "Random Hearts", "The Witness", "Air Force One", and what looked like a hundred more Harrison Ford movies.

Abbey looked at Jed in complete dismay. "You bought yourself an insurance policy!" she accused.

"I didn't say we couldn't both enjoy it," he replied with a smug grin.

Jed watched her sit down on the floor and start to pull tapes out of the box, scattering them around her. Abbey was beginning to smile. That was good.

He knelt down beside her and asked, "So, which one do you want to watch tonight?"

She reached up and kissed him lightly, her eyes full of love and laughter.

"Harrison stays in the box tonight. I don't want anyone except you."

Jed smiled. That sounded very, very good.


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