“So nice to meet you,” he said so superficially that it would have been better if he had ignored her altogether.
You have met me a million times, Olivia thought. She faked a polite smile.
“So nice to see you as well,” she said, changing out the words. She wondered why all politicians couldn’t learn Campaign Lesson #9—always use the word “see” instead of “meet,” just in case. She had to smile when Taylor leaned into her as she caught up to his side and whispered, “We should get his lists.”
Their hellos had given Yanni Filipaki plenty of time to get settled at the table. He didn’t mind that the walk around the room had made Taylor technically fifteen minutes late to the actual table, since that walk confirmed that the most popular kid in the cafeteria was ending up with him. Yanni was a Greek shipping heir turned trader, turned playboy, turned just about anything he wanted since he was worth billions. With an “-s.” She had met him on the district attorney’s race, where he had given over $150,000. He had also hosted events, and as someone always willing to lend a helicopter or one of his three jets, he had soared, quite literally, to the top of Olivia’s PPL.
The PPL, or “private plane list,” was an ever-important Excel sheet that listed all the important details about private planes that candidates might need to borrow. It had each plane’s size, number of seats, whether or not it needed to refuel on a cross-country trip, and what the actual costs of its usage were on the off chance one needed to report it as a contribution. Olivia had gotten creative with her list while procrastinating one night, so it now also contained notes detailing things like “Yanni’s biggest plane serves hot food” and that the hedge-fund manager and designer wife’s plane had “the most comfortable couches and most spacious bathroom.” Jacob was always prodding her to add a ranking column for the attractiveness of female flight attendants and X’s for flights with the dreaded male attendants, but Olivia had yet to oblige.
From the instant they sat down, Yanni and the governor clicked. Olivia sat quietly through breakfast, marveling at the governor’s ease in gliding between subjects—export, import, banking, jazz, and American history. They even seemed to have read and memorized all the same articles in Golf Digest. Yanni, medium height and medium build, sat back comfortably in his chair. He had a mop of curly black hair and matching bushy eyebrows that would probably have seemed more intense if not for his always perfectly tanned skin. Olivia wondered if that was his natural Greek coloring or if it was due to his weekend jaunts to the Caribbean. Probably both, she thought. In meetings like this she often felt like a fly on the wall of a man date and tried to stay on that wall so as not to disrupt the flow of the breakfast. Only toward the end of the meeting, when the conversation turned to the Hamptons, did she chime in.
“Yanni has a palace out there and throws the best parties ever,” she said, knowing it would please both men by boosting Yanni’s ego and providing an easy segue for the governor to ask for an event.
“It’s not as nice as my place in St. John but it’ll do.” Yanni played right into the ask. “We should do an event for you out there.”
“That would be great.”
“How much does one of those events have to raise?” Yanni asked, chomping on a piece of bacon.
Olivia jumped in, saving the candidate from having to say a number, something candidates across the board hated. “We’d need it to raise at least a hundred thousand dollars to justify taking him out of Iowa.” Taylor glanced over at Olivia, clearly impressed with her gumption.
“But how much does it have to raise to be a good one?” Yanni asked.
“Depends how good you want it to be!” Olivia knew this game well and thought she could get him to at least $500,000 before the breakfast was over, but Governor Taylor was relatively new to Yanni.
Breaking the game of chicken, he piped up. “Our top raiser raised us about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars at one event in California.” Olivia was thrown by the low number, but she figured it would be an easy one for Yanni to top and she wasn’t wrong.
“Well, then,” Yanni said with a smile, “put me down for two fifty one and let’s get this thing scheduled. Can’t have New York trailing Los Angeles. Who else are you meeting while you’re in town? How long are you here?”
“We’ve got a full day of meetings,” Olivia boasted.
The governor finished her sentence, proud of his newly scheduled morning meeting with Bronler: “And we just added on a meeting with Stephen.” He glanced over at the film producer, knowing everyone recognized him simply by his first name. “So now we’ll be here till tomorrow.”
“Perfect. Well, now I’ve got your dinner plans,” Yanni said without waiting to hear if the governor could even make a dinner engagement with Yanni. “We can wrangle some cohosts for my event.”
Domestic Affairs, by Bridget Siegel, Excerpt, p. 54-57