Another family event without you, Bobby. Another rodeo come and gone. Will you be home for Christmas? Will I ever see you again? “Grandma, could you take us roller skating this weekend?” Miss Ellie looked up from her table of thank you cards at the sound of John Ross’s voice. Christopher trailed him into the kitchen. “Did you ask your mother for permission?” He nodded. “She would take us herself but she had a business meeting that day.” “We figured you would be the next-best person to ask,” Christopher explained. Miss Ellie nodded. “I would be glad to take you, as your grandpa Clayton will be out of town on business this weekend. It would be nice to spend some time with my two grandsons.” She smiled warmly at them, and they thanked her before they quickly left the kitchen. *** Donna’s next week was another flurry of campaign appearances. She shook more hands than she could even count, and her only respite came in nights spent at the ranch with her cowboy and their perfect daughter, although those were outnumbered by nights at hotels. She spent most of her time in the western end of the state, while Luke took care of the eastern portion where their base was the strongest. The campaign was helped immensely, and Donna privately relieved, when Dave took a break from Washington to make several appearances on her behalf in the southern portion of the state—the “San Antone Swing” as Donna called it. When Cliff called one day and said they needed to raise more money, Donna looked for a way she could ask for further donations without actually coming out and asking for them. She could have told Cliff that fundraising was his job, but with a substantial lead in the polls she didn’t want to risk a schism within her campaign. It was a warm day in September, sunny and seasonal, when she made her speech near the Alamo. “Friends, honored guests, colleagues and members of the press: we are very close now to completing a successful campaign to take back the state of Texas and deliver a better future for our children and their children. We have the chance to restore some semblance of honesty and integrity to politics in Austin. We are on the verge of revitalizing our system of education and our economy, while creating better financial opportunities for young people and senior citizens alike. I can only hope that undecided voters who might be in the audience today will relate to my campaign platform and the ideas I have espoused.” As she continued to speak, the crowd became more spirited. As soon as she finished, boisterous chants of “We Want Donna, We Want Donna” began to sweep through the audience. She thanked them abundantly, and fell asleep that night in her hotel room feeling more confident than she ever had in her life.