The iCandidate: 31st Installment
To begin with Installment 1, please click here.
The iCandidate is a guilty pleasure - a unique interactive thriller about a political reality show to choose a potential President of the United States - in which the reader has a key say in how the plot unfolds.
In The iCandidate, eight finalists from all walks of life face the kind of challenges they might have to deal with in the Oval Office:
• Will they use the nuclear button?
• What will they do about ISIS?
• How will they cope in a crisis?
At the end of each round the reader gets to cast an iVote to help determine who stays and who goes home. It is democracy in its purest form, free from party loyalties, donor obligations and antiquated electoral practices - and it keeps the authors on their toes!
In the novel, serialized weekly only on NoteStream, the eventual people’s champion goes on to challenge the political establishment in an iCampaign for the presidency climaxing in an explosive finale in Washington on November 8.
But The iCandidate has even greater aspirations to trigger a revolution in the way America selects the most powerful man or woman on the planet, and really, would it be any crazier than what we've got now?
Change America one iVote at a time - and cheer on your iCandidate! Be sure to cast your in-app iVotes to save your favorite iCandidates!
"Really good pacing in the story! Love these characters, and can't wait to see what happens next!!" 5 stars by Olivia
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For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.
Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!
Chapter 95 - New York
For all their differences, Ayesha still felt some similarities between the blue-collar hustle of Boston and Karachi; but New York was something else. She’d never seen anything like it, and as she toured the sights with Emily, she was alternately terrified and enthralled.
America was no longer an alien culture to her. Shelling shrimp by the Machar Colony docks never seemed so far away.
The past few days had been the hardest for Emily. Returning to New York University, Emily was flying back to the Netherlands the following afternoon. But first, she wanted to keep her promise to Ayesha and show her the city.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
At the end of the day Ayesha and Emily were exhausted. They wandered through the coffee bars and record shops of Emily’s youth in Greenwich Village. Sitting at an outside café table in the evening twilight, she was glad she had come, happy she’d confronted the past she’d run away from all those years ago, but never really escaped.
“Are you okay?” Ayesha reached a hand across the table.
“I am. I really am.” Emily took a deep breath, pulling in the past, and then let it go. “So, tell me how your grand love affair is going.”
Ayesha blushed but made no attempt to disguise her feelings for Zia. “He makes me happier than I have ever felt in my life. I didn’t even know you could feel like this about someone.” She couldn’t help smiling.
“That’s wonderful, Ayesha. I’m so happy for you.” Emily secretly hoped that it wasn’t too late for her to feel that way again, too. Perhaps now she’d feel more open to the possibilities.
Her eyes wandered across the street to a row of more elegant brownstones and a middle-aged man in a suit hurrying down the steps. Something about the way he moved made her look again, and at just that moment he looked back across the street.
“Emily, Emily what’s happened?” Ayesha saw her friend’s face turn pale.
“I actually don’t feel so well,” stammered Emily, pushing back her chair. “I need to get some air.”
“I’ll come with you.” Ayesha went to stand up as well.
“No, no, I’ll be fine. I just need to walk it off. I’ll see you back at the hotel in an hour.”
Emily didn’t know where she was going. She just knew she couldn’t stay there.
Chapter 96 - Cupid
Grace was exhausted. She’d been on the road non-stop for what seemed like forever and it was nearly the end. After yet another speech in yet another city, she headed back to the refuge of her Miami Beach hotel room, making her excuses to avoid a booster cocktail party, complaining she felt a migraine coming on.
The closer she got to election day, the heavier the burden of leadership weighed on her. So much was happening so quickly and standing alone in the middle of her hotel room, she wished desperately she could speak to her dad; it was something she had thought more about in recent weeks. Tears pricked the backs of her eyes, and she felt overwhelmed with doubts.
Her cell phone rang. It was Cameron. She needed a friend to talk to, but she wasn’t in the mood for his games. “Cameron, what’s up?”
“You are. I saw you on TV the other night whipping their butts and I thought I’d call to congratulate you.”
“I wouldn’t go that far. But I think it went okay. How’s it going in …where are you anyway?”
“Georgia. It’s supposedly known for its peaches, but I’m not seeing any.”
“Are you talking about the fruit?”
“Of course, Cameron.”
Grace groaned. It never stops.
“Well, thanks anyway, Cameron. It was nice of you to call.” Grace was too tired for his inane banter.
“Wait. Look, I know you’re busy. I just wanted to say you did us proud. My mom thinks you rock.”
Cameron sat in his hotel room, also alone. He’d been on the road non-stop as well, ever since the show’s finale and, although he rarely dropped his guard, he just wanted to talk to someone. He wanted to talk to Grace.
“I beg your pardon.”
“My mom. She’s liked you from the start. She said you were her second favorite in the competition after me, but I have a sneaky suspicion you were her top choice all along.”
Grace had trouble answering. She was thinking about her own mom.
“Don’t be weird,” she managed.
“Grace, are you okay?”
A small voice replied yes.
Cameron tuned in to her mood. “It’s true. My mom adores you, and I’m okay with that. Now, if it had been Todd…”
Grace tried to laugh but all Cameron caught was a sob and some sniffing.
“What is it Grace? Did something happen?”
“No.” She paused, trying to decide whether or not to confide in him. “It’s just that two weeks ago I was debating with Trump and Hillary for heaven’s sake! I was on this crazy high, and now I’m standing here on my own in a strange hotel room, God knows where, feeling...I don’t know…”
“Yes, I guess I am.” She couldn’t believe she was telling him this.
“It’s tough at the top. I hear the President cries when he loses at golf.”
Something Like That
Grace smiled in spite of herself. “What makes you cry then, Cameron? Apart from math.”
“Ouch, that was below the belt.”
“Has anyone ever broken your heart?
There was a pause as Cameron struggled for a comeback.
“Something like that.” Now Cameron’s voice sounded distant.
“We don’t need to talk about this. You don’t want to hear about it.”
“Actually, I do, if that’s okay? It would make me feel better to know the playboy has a heart. Even if it was broken.”
He let out a sigh. “I was 26, it was a long time ago. We were engaged.”
“What was her name?”
“Emma. She was 23 and, well…she was perfect.”
Grace sat down on her bed and kicked off her shoes. “What happened?”
“Oh, Cameron, I’m so sorry.” Grace was stuck for words now. Do you mind me asking?”
“No, it’s okay. We lived in L.A. at the time, she was a nurse and she went off to work one day with a slight headache and came home two hours later having been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. We were supposed to get married that summer but she never made it that far.”
The line went silent. “Oh, God, that’s awful.”
“Yeah, well, who said life was a bowl of cherries. Or, was it roses? Gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.” He sounded even further away now.
They were both quiet for a moment.
“I need a drink.” Grace poured herself a vodka tonic from the mini bar.
“Care to join me?”
“Way ahead of you. I’m already on my second beer.”
It was then that Cameron asked the question that had bugged him ever since Grace turned up with that cut on her forehead.
“You didn’t fall in the bathroom, did you?”
“No.” It felt good to talk about it with Cameron. She told him about the attack. “He was so vile and I still can’t get his voice out of my head,” she said of her attacker. “If it hadn’t been for Todd, I don’t know what would have happened.”
“He saved me, Cameron. This guy was about to rape me, but suddenly Todd was there, beating the hell out of him. He saved my life.”
Cameron didn’t know what to say.
“I know you and Todd have this testosterone thing going on, and I know he’s a little conceited, but he saved me. He’s my hero.”
“Well I guess he’s mine too now. Did you report the attack?”
“No, maybe I should have. I didn’t want to deal it. But he knew who I was, Cameron. It wasn’t random. He said they didn’t want any more blacks in the White House.”
“He warned you to leave the show then?”
“Yes…” Just the thought of it made Grace’s flesh crawl. She went over to the door to make sure it was bolted.
“Grace, obviously I’m not much help to you in Georgia, but when we’re in DC tomorrow, well, if you need anything, you know who to call.”
“Yes, I’ll call Gillian,” she joked. “Thanks, Cameron. It’s nice to know.”
They talked a little more. She wasn’t sure if it was the vodka or talking with Cameron, but when she got off the phone, Grace felt much better.
Chapter 97 - Alone Again
Jennifer unlocked the front door of her Manhattan apartment for the first time in four months and moved from room to room opening the blinds. It had been her home for the last five years, but it felt cold and stark without Chrissie’s comforting touches.
She realized now she had no pictures of her own, no plants, no curtains. She shivered. Everything was perfectly nondescript. Her housekeeper had recently been in and freshened up the place; and her mail was stacked on the breakfast counter along with Chrissie’s.
She left it untouched and walked across the thick carpet, sat on her perfect cream couch, and stared at the blank flat screen TV.
She had no recollection of her life here before Chrissie. Work had been everything and her wife had been her delicious secret. They had never invited friends over for dinner or drinks because she didn’t want anybody to know.
She opened the empty fridge and closed it again. Glancing at her dining table she realized she had never sat around it with family or friends.
How that must have hurt Chrissie. And how she missed her now. Why had she thrown away the best thing that had ever happened to her for a fling with someone she now believed to be evil?
She’d just met with all the others for a breakfast meeting in the Marriott at Los Angeles Airport before they all flew off in different directions around the country to vote. Then they would head back to Washington to be with Grace and Todd as the final results were calculated .
Jen sat down on the cold couch and tried Chrissie’s number again. Perhaps this time she’d answer.
Chapter 98 - (UN) SERENDIPITY
Tariq knew who she was the moment he saw her sitting in the cafe. The way she pushed a stray blonde hair from her eyes was all he needed. He’d seen her doing the same thing over and over in his dreams.
He’d argued against giving Emily a second syringe that would have killed her in the maternity ward. Everything was in place for her death to be covered up to look like natural causes; when he insisted she remain alive, his only weakness in 35 years, bribes were spread around to ensure Emily would never know the truth about her infant child, and to ensure Emily’s passage back to the Netherlands.
Ever since then it had been his dream, and his nightmare, that Emily would return one day.
What was she doing back in America? And why right here, in the place they had fallen in love? He had to know. Tariq couldn’t take any risks at this stage, there was far too much at stake.
He’d never heard from Emily and a private investigator reported she rarely left Holland. He could still see her sitting in the cafe with a dark haired young woman, who had her back to him. They stood and hugged their goodbyes, and Emily headed his way.
Tariq had no choice. He had to know. She rounded the corner and walked straight into him. Feigning surprise, he apologized. She was wearing jeans and a long, white raincoat, her body still lean and strong.
“I knew it was you…” Emily took a step back. “I wish I could lie and say this is a nice surprise.” Her voice trailed off.
“You look fabulous.” Tariq said softly. He meant it. Closer up he could see the slight worry lines around her eyes but they only made her look more beautiful. She wasn’t wearing any make-up. “It’s so good to see you.”
Tariq was trying to decide what to do. For now he settled on telling her the truth. “I have thought of you so many times, wondered how you were.”
“Really?” Her voice was cold and unnaturally thin. She shook with anger, not trusting herself to say anything else.
“Do you live here now?” he asked, nervously looking around.
“No, I’m just here for a few days. Do you still live here then?”
He nodded, looking back to the brownstone he’d just come from and fidgeting with the keys in his hand. “Look, Emily, I have my car right here. Can we perhaps go somewhere more private, just to talk.”
Emily was shocked. “Why would I go anywhere with you?”
“Please? There are things that need to be said.” Neither moved.
“I think it’s a little late for that, don’t you?” She looked at the man she had once loved with her whole heart, who she thought had loved her; a fresh wave of pain coursed through her body, as strong as the day he had abandoned her in that hospital room,. She wanted to strike him, to hurt him the way he had hurt her.
“You deserve an explanation for what I did. Please, Em? Let me explain.”
She hesitated. As unbearable as it was to be near to him, part of her desperately needed to hear what he had to say. “Okay, but I need to be back here in an hour. Can you do that?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Good.” He opened the door of the silver Mercedes parked outside his house.
Walking around to the driver’s side, he quickly checked all around to see whether anyone had spotted them. The street was deserted. Starting the engine he turned to her. “We’ll grab a quick coffee and I’ll explain everything.”