ACROSS THE AISLE

by Stephanie Vance
Publication Date: April 12, 2021
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Amara, Contemporary, Romance

Tough as nails DC lobbyist Dallas McGrath can’t believe she’s being ordered to reach a legislative compromise with the opposition. And not just with anyone…with the most arrogant, obnoxious lobbyist in DC, Grant Pierce. He always finds a way to get under her skin, and it usually starts with that kissable mouth of his turning up into an annoying smirk. Well, this is one negotiation she plans to win at any cost.

Career lobbyist Grant Pierce knows he shouldn’t enjoy ruffling the feathers of the opposition this much, but he can’t help it. Almost no one leaves him without a witty comeback—except Dallas McGrath. Maybe it’s her sharp mind, or maybe it’s the sexy way she bulldozes his every argument. Either way, he’s got the perfect plan to put her off her game. He suggests they negotiate at baseball games, jazz clubs, and nap studios—but even he’s not prepared for what happens next…

Somehow the suggestion had popped out of her mouth. “Hey, why don’t we go to the Congressional baseball game?” She’d meant to give her general admission tickets to Rebekah and Jack and take up Ryan’s invitation to sit in the posh Delta Sky360 box, with catered snacks and exceptional cocktails.

Instead she’d invited Grant Pierce—the man who needed to think of her as a ruthless lobbyist—to the one place in the city where she could truly be herself. God, she hoped it wouldn’t ruin baseball for her forever. Even though it was supposed to be a business meeting, she was so nervous she’d gone so far as to make it a group hang with Rebekah and Jack. She expected Grant to ask why they’d try to talk business with all these people around. Instead, he texted to ask if Oshuna could come.

Of course. Dallas had texted back. Her disappointment surprised her. She’d already turned it into a group hang. Why did she care if he wanted his bestie there?

Because it means he wants some company if he finds me too boring to talk to.

“You don’t care if he gets bored. You don’t care if he wants other company. This. Is. Business,” she’d muttered at her phone after replying.

She stood in her bedroom, digging through her closet and dresser, trying to find the perfect outfit. Her anxiety infuriated her further. She had never, not once in her life, cared what she wore to a game. Once, she’d even shown up in sweats with no makeup and her hair back in a greasy ponytail. On the other hand, her concern made sense. The teams were made up of Members of Congress. There’d be lots of lobbyists there. Maybe she’d even have a chance to talk to some key players from both sides of the aisle. Bipartisan events like this, where members of Congress and staff put aside their differences, offered real openings to discuss policy options. A compromise between UFRA and FFA would certainly qualify. Despite how much Grant annoyed her, he did seem judicious—perhaps even enough to pursue a much-needed compromise. Something Matt, her father, and UFRA had forbidden her to pursue.

“Get it together, Dallas. Don’t let Grant Pierce sweet-talk you into an agreement,” she murmured.

After her pep talk, she finally selected her favorite pair of faded skinny jeans, which she hoped looked casual, and a loose flowing top with a Celtic pattern, which she hoped looked slightly bohemian. Remembering Grant’s comment at Ben’s about her stained-glass jewelry collection, she clasped a pendant around her neck: not to make herself more appealing, of course. Just to see if it would distract him. She thought about telling Grant how she’d made them herself while at RISD, then dismissed the idea. That past was irrelevant now.

That would surprise the hell out of him, though. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror.

ABOUT STEPHANIE VANCE

Washington Post bestseller and romantic comedy writer Stephanie Vance’s works often feature spunky D.C. characters who humorously discover how even political opposites can generate a lot more than just policy sparks. A graduate of the Taos Writer’s Workshop, Stephanie earned her MFA from Western State Colorado University. Her speculative short fiction has been published in a variety of outlets, including Bark Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways, and the anthologies One Star Reviews of the Afterlife and Enter the Apocalypse. Her non-fiction book The Influence Game was on Washington Post bestseller list.

Just as art imitates life, Stephanie’s inspiration as a novelist is rooted in her 30-year career as D.C.’s “Advocacy Guru” and veteran of the capital’s legislative scene. An extensive traveler and avid scuba diver, she has visited six continents and dived everywhere from Iceland to the Great Barrier Reef. She attended college on a music scholarship (flute) and holds 3 master’s degrees—which she’s pretty sure equals a Ph.D. A wine-drinker and dog mom to a beloved Australian Cattle dog, she lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.

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