That Sunday, the private quarters at the White House were all but overflowing. June had invited all of the Advisory Board, plus numerous other friends and acquaintances to celebrate and watch the fireworks over the Mall. Mark, unfortunately, had to make a couple speeches during the festivities, but Sharon was perfectly happy not to have him around. Still, he was safely ensconced in the private quarters well before dark. Sound from the Mall had been wired into the White House, and the group crowded onto the balconies overlooking the White House grounds and the adjacent Mall and Washington Monument as the first sparks whistled through the air.
Sharon also tried to keep an eye on June, who for her part, made a point of being here, there and everywhere to the point that no one could tell if she had eaten anything or not. Sharon debated talking to Karen about it, but Karen was hanging onto Hideo as if for dear life. Sharon sighed. Karen was trying to have fun, but the worry lines continued to crease her forehead for the rest of the evening.
Mark, for his part, smiled and chatted his way through the evening with only half an eye on Sharon, hoping that one of his closest friends, Roy Hodgkiss, wasn’t going to confront him about Sharon and his growing feelings for her. Unfortunately, Mark was more pre-occupied with his sister, at that moment. Which, naturally, was when Roy decided to pounce.
“She seems to be eating,” said Roy, an average-sized man with thinning light brown hair and blue eyes that remained piercing even behind his thick glasses.
“Yeah.” Mark sighed. “I saw her eating a couple of the mini corn dogs. But she’s still been pretty distant all day.” He shook his head. “At least, she seems to be having fun.”
“And you?” Roy asked.
“Mostly.” Mark smiled and waved at a friend from the Senate across the room. “If I weren’t so worried about June, I’d be having a great time.”
“That’s a tough one,” Roy replied. “Melody said if you want help with an intervention, she’ll be there.”
Mark chuckled in spite of himself. Roy’s wife Melody was not one of June’s favorite people.
“That’s our Mel,” Mark said. “Tell her I said thanks. We both know how the last one ended up. I think we’ll just have to let June work it out herself, dammit.”
“That’s the hard part,” Roy said. “But that’s why I’m here. You know you can call.”
“I do, indeed. Oh, and are we still on for lunch next week?”
“As always. I need to get away from the church politics.” Roy was a minister.
Mark laughed. Roy slid away to continue mingling as the night’s celebrations slowly ebbed. Eventually, Mark found himself alone in the room, except for the two staff members cleaning up. Mark tried to help, but they looked so distressed, he finally left them alone and went to bed.