The iCandidate: 35th Installment cover

The iCandidate: 35th Installment

By ,

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!

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Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!

The iCandidate: 35th Installment

Chapter 111 - Victory

The huge flat screen covering one wall was the only light in their office. Kristen sat with Mason and Jacqueline staring at CNN. All the iCandidates, except Todd, were sitting around the room, too.

It was just after 11:00 p.m.

Grace, flushed from the cold and emotionally overwrought, walked in and sat down. Gillian crossed the room, sat next to her, then took her hand. Grace gave her a grateful smile. “I have something to tell you,” she said in a low voice.

“Is it more interesting than becoming President?” Gillian joked.

“No, but close,” Grace whispered with a smile. “I kissed Cameron.”

“I knew you two were meant to be! How will Cameron feel about being the First Lady, I wonder,” she laughed.

“Oh my God, Gillian, I can’t believe this is actually happening. The Presidency, I mean.” Grace was squeezing her hand so hard, it was going numb.

“It’s going to be fine,” Gillian reassured her. “We’re all here for you.”

Moments later a sheepish-looking Cameron walked in.

“Where in God’s name is Desmond? Why isn’t he here?” Kristof shouted.

“Don’t panic,” Mason said. “He went to fetch something, he’ll be here soon.”

“Grace,” Kristof said, “If you win California’s 55 electoral votes that will take you over the 270 total you need to win. The polls have closed over there now.How do you feel?”

“Numb. I can’t believe it. It’s like it’s happening to someone else.”

“It’s just the start,” Kristoff said. “The real job begins once you are in the White Hou…” He was interrupted by a call and picked up the phone. “It’s for you, Grace.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Hello Grace, this is Hillary.”

“Mrs. Clinton, nice to hear from you. How can I help?” The reason for the call hadn’t yet dawned on Grace.

“I would like to think we could be friends at some point, but for now I’m calling to congratulate you.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” Grace was taken aback by her friendliness.

“I suspect you’ll be getting a similar call from Trump soon, if you haven’t already. It looks like the night, and the next four years, belong to you. I’m still scratching my head trying to understand how you all pulled it off, but you did; and for now, that has to be enough.”

“You were a very worthy opponent,” Grace told her.

“Maybe so, but it obviously wasn’t enough.”

Hillary dropped her voice, as if she was speaking in confidence. “I’ve been hard on you at times, but you’ve always been very gracious. If it’s not my fate to be our first woman President, I have to say that I’m glad it’s you. I know your parents are looking down on you tonight, and they must be very proud.”

Grace choked up and she struggled to keep her voice steady enough to thank her.

“I must go,” Hillary said. “I have a party to attend back home in Chapaqua and it would be a shame to waste all that champagne. Enjoy your celebration.”

Getting off the phone, Grace finally grasped the enormity of what was happening.

“That’s it,” Kristoff said, jumping up. “We took California. God bless the Golden State! Congratulations, Grace, or should I say, President Conwright!”

“Where’s Todd? He should be here too.” Kristoff looked around the room in disbelief. “What the hell are they doing that is more important than this?”

“They’ll want to be here when Trump calls, and, of course, the President.” Jacqueline said. “Knowing Greenacre he’ll try and take the call,” she smiled, hugging Grace.

Chapter 112 - The Confrontation

Zia didn’t know what to believe.

To accept Emily’s story would be to question everything his father had ever told him. It would make everything he’d worked so hard for a lie.

He wanted so much to believe he had a mother; but to do that he’d have to also believe his father tried to kill her.

He’d fled the hotel room after seeing the photo of his 5th birthday. He could still see Emily’s pleading, tear-filled eyes following him as he backed out of the door. Ayesha cried after him to stay but Zia had to speak to his father.

He had meetings all day but headed straight to his father’s office. Tariq had three colleagues with him when Zia barged in. Zia then asked the others to leave. He just needed five minutes with his father.

Just for once, Tariq wasn’t arguing. He’d never seen Zia like this.

“I can’t go through with this. It’s too much. I can’t do it.”

“Everything’s going to be okay, my son.” Tariq had never seen his son cry. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.”

“You always promised to tell me the truth.” Zia walked around the desk.

“Of course.”

“Then how come a woman has just told me she’s my mother?”

Tariq’s expression didn’t change. “That can’t be,” he replied calmly.

“She had a picture of me…and she said you tried to kill her.”

Tariq put both hands on his son’s shoulders. “This is a crucial time for you, son. People are going to claim all kinds of things but this is not true.” He held Zia’s shoulders tighter. “Look at me, it’s not true!”

“But why would she say these things?” Zia looked even more confused.

“Money, power, who knows? A European woman has been stalking me for sometime and I obtained restraining orders to keep her away from me. I didn’t realize she would go after you.”

Zia felt deflated…and relieved. “But where did she get my birthday photo? It was the one from your office.”

“There was a burglary at the apartment this morning. I didn’t want to bother you with it, today of all days. Where is she now, this woman? I’m afraid she could be a danger. If not to us then certainly to herself.”

“She’s at The Jefferson…”

“Is she alone?”

Zia paused. “Yes.”

Zia wasn’t going to change his mind about Ayesha but his father and grandmother were all the real family he had. He had to believe him.

“I’m not discussing Ayesha now, but father, I need your word that this woman is not my mother.”

“You have my word. You must trust me. You are my family.”

“And father, everything we’ve worked towards is to build a more peaceful world, isn’t it?” Zia wanted so much to trust his father. He had to.

“Yes my son. As I said, you have my word.” They hugged, something they rarely did. “You are a brave man. Let’s talk again a little later today. I know you have much to do.”

Zia left and Tariq closed his office door, telling his secretary he didn’t want to be disturbed for ten minutes.

Sitting back at his desk Tariq opened the drawer, took out a “burner” phone he had in a plastic zip bag and dialed a local number.

“Bilal,” he said. “I have something else that must be taken care of today. It’s at the Jefferson Hotel…”

Chapter 113 - Stars and Stripes

Moments later, Todd arrived followed soon after by Desmond carrying two bottles of champagne.

“The Mall is bursting at the seams. Have you seen it out there?” Desmond said. “They’re chanting your name, Grace. They want you to come out.”

“I need to hear from Trump first.” Grace looked for confirmation from Jacqueline. “It would be rude not to wait.”

“He’ll call any moment.” Mason checked through the channels on the TV. “I’m surprised he didn’t call earlier. Now he doesn’t have a choice.”

Desmond stood up. “I think it’s an appropriate time to have a little champagne to celebrate before the madness starts.” He popped a champagne cork; and as he started to pour, Desmond looked to Jen. “It’s the perfect temperature -- 7 degrees celsius, just how you like it.”

Gillian saw Jen’s face darken. Moments before she’d been laughing and chatting with Tom and the others. Now she looked crestfallen.

That’s when it hit Gillian. Oh my God! Jennifer’s affair had been with Desmond? Surely not!

“Thank you, first of all, to Andy Kristoff, Jacqueline, and David Mason for being the dream team, for believing in this idea with me.” Desmond was making his toast, oblivious to Jen’s discomfort.

“Congratulations to all of the iCandidates, and especially to you, Grace. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all!” He raised his glass. “So, let’s make history.”

“I think you’re going to have to go out there Grace,” Mason urged. “You and Todd should at least acknowledge the crowd. They’re going wild. It seems like half of America’s out there.”

“Just a few minutes more,” Grace pleaded. “I know there must be a good reason for the delay.”

“It’s your time now,” Jacqueline reasoned. “You don’t have to wait for anybody.”

Todd hugged Grace. “I can’t believe we actually did it,” he smiled at her. “Ready?”

“Wait!” Fumbling in his pocket, Desmond brought out a small Stars and Stripes lapel pin. “I would like you to have this as a memento. It’s very presidential.” He fastened it to Grace’s dress. “It’s titanium. It will last forever.”

“Thank you so much, Des. I’ll wear it all the time, I promise.”

Grace took a deep breath and touched the pin. She was about to become the first iPresident.