United States Senator William Henry Lee IV and his wife, Katharine Rule Lee, drove away from their Georgetown house in their Chevrolet Suburban early on a December morning. There was the promise of snow in the air.
Kate sipped coffee from an insulated mug and yawned. "Tell me again why we drive this enormous fucking car," she said.
Will laughed. "I keep forgetting you're not a politician," he said. "We drive it because it is, by my reckoning, the least offensive motor vehicle manufactured in the state of Georgia, and because Georgia car workers and their union have shown the great wisdom to support your husband's candidacy in two elections."
"Oh," she said. "Now I remember."
"Good. I'm glad I won't have to put you in a home right before Christmas." He looked in the rearview mirror and saw another Suburban following them. "They're there," he said.
"They're supposed to be."
"How did they know?"
"Because I called them last night and gave them our schedule."
The week before there had been a terrorist attack on CIA employees as they had left the Agency's building in McLean, Virginia, and certain Agency officials had been given personal protection for a time; Kate Rule was the deputy director for intelligence, chief of all the CIA's analysts, and was, therefore, entitled.
"Oh," Will replied, sipping his own coffee and heading north toward College Park, Maryland, and its airport. "They're not going to follow us all the way to Georgia, are they?"
"I persuaded them that wouldn't be necessary."
"It's a little like having Secret Service protection, isn't it?" she nudged. "Does it make you feel presidential?"
"Nothing is going to make me feelpresidential, at least for another nine years."
"What about the cabinet? If Joe Adams is elected and wants you for Defense or State or something, will you leave the Senate?"
Joseph Adams was vice president of the United States and the way-out-in-front leader for the Democratic Party's nomination for president the following year. "Joe and I have already talked about that. He says I can have anything I want, but he doesn't really mean it."
"I always thought Joe was a pretty sincere guy," Kate said.
"Oh, he is, and he was sincere with the half-dozen other guys he told the same thing. But I don't really have the foreign-policy credentials for State, and while I think I really could have Defense, I don't want it. I don't want to spend eight or even four years doing battle with both the military and Congress; the job killed James Forrestal and Les Aspin, and it's ground up a lot of others."
"What about Justice? Your work on the Senate Judiciary Committee should stand you in good stead for that."
"I think I could have Justice, if I were willing to fight for it tooth and nail, and there's a real opportunity to do some good work there."
"I think I'll stay in the Senate. Georgia's got a Republican governor at the moment, and if I left, he'd get to appoint my replacement, and we don't want that. Also, if Joe's elected, three or four top senators will leave to join the administration, among them the minority leader, and I'd have a real good shot at that job. And if we can win the Senate back, then the job would be majority leader, and that is very inviting."
"It's the kind of job you could keep for the rest of your career," she said.
"But you don't want tospend the rest of your career in the Senate, do you?"
"You know I love the Senate."
"Will, you've been awfully closemouthed about this, but I know damned well you want to be president."
"One of these days, sure," Will replied.
"You mean after Joe has served for eight years?"
"I'd only be fifty-seven. Why not? I might even appoint you director of Central Intelligence."
"Yeah, sure," she said. "The world would fall on you."
"If Jack Kennedy could appoint Bobby attorney general, why couldn't I appoint my wife to be head of the CIA?"
"Well, it's a nice thought, anyway," she said.
"Listen, here's a thought; Joe's going to owe me after the election, and if I'm not going to ask him for a cabinet job, I could ask him to appoint you DCI."
"Would you really do that?"
"Let's just say that I know the candidate well and have the highest confidence in her. It's not as though you're not supremely well qualified."
"Mmmmm. I like the sound of it."
"Of course, I'd want my back scratched a lot if I pull this off, and I mean that in the literal, not the figurative sense."
"I'll start growing my nails now." She laughed.
"I think about it sometimes," she said.
"Scratching my back? Less thought, more action!"
"No, I mean your being president."
"And what do you think when you think about it?"
"Mostly about what a huge pain in the ass being first lady would be."
"Oh, it might have its upside--weekends at Camp David, travel on Air Force One, that sort of thing."
"I'd have to make a lot of speeches, and you know how I hate doing that."
"Well, how about this? If Joe has already appointed you DCI, I could reappoint you. Then I could "hire" a firstlady."
"Just run an ad, you mean?"
"Well, I must admit, the idea of being appointed and then reappointed has its appeal, but the substitute wife doesn't."
"I'm glad to hear it." Will turned into the entrance of the little airport at College Park, which had been founded by the Wright Brothers and was located on the grounds of the University of Maryland. He drove down the taxiway to where his airplane was tied down, got out of the car, and unlocked the cabin door. The airplane was new, a Piper Malibu-Mirage, a six-seat, pressurized single-engine aircraft, loaded with the latest equipment. Will had traded his elderly Cessna for it a couple of months before, and it made trips back to Georgia a lot faster and more comfortable.
Stuart Woods was born in Manchester, Georgia, a small town in the American South. He was educated in the local schools and at the University of Georgia, where he graduated with a BA degree in 1959. He served in the United States Air Force, in which he says he "...flew a truck," as an enlisted man during the Berlin Wall crisis of 1961-62.
He devoted his early adult years to a career in advertising , as an award-winning writer for agencies in New York and London. It was while living in London in 1973 that he decided to pursue an ambition held since childhood, to write fiction. he moved to a flat in the stable yard of a castle in south County Galway, Ireland, and while working two days a week for a Dublin ad agency to support himself, began work on a novel. Shortly after beginning, he discovered sailing and , as he puts it, "Everything went to hell." The novel was put temporarily aside while he spent all his time, "...racing an eleven foot plywood dinghy against small children, losing regularly."
In the autumn of 1974, a friend invited him to help ferry a small yacht up the west coast of Ireland, and the bug bit even harder. Shortly thereafter, his grandfather died, leaving him "...just enough money to get into debt for a boat," and he immediately decided to go to the 1976 Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR). He moved to a gamekeeper's cottage on a river above Cork Harbour and had a boat built at a nearby boatyard. He studied navigation and sailed on other people's boats every chance he got, then, after completing a 1300-mile qualifying voyage from the Azores to Ireland, he persuaded the Race Committee to accept him as an Irish entry.
He completed the race in good form, taking forty-five days, and in 1977 his memoir of the Irish period, Blue Water, Green Skipperwas published in London and New York. While sporadically working on the novel, he completed another book, A Romantic's Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland,published in 1979.
Chiefs, Woods' long-awaited novel, was published in 1981 to wide critical and popular acclaim, garnering excellent reviews and winning the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Chiefswas filmed for television as a six-hour drama starring Charlton Heston. Following his success with that novel, Woods published a string of fiction that established him as one of the most popular writers in the world.
Orchid Beachis Stuart Woods' eighteenth novel. His previous books, Run Before the Wind(1983), Deep Lie(1986), Under the Lake(1987), White Cargo(1988), Grass Roots(1989), Palindrome and New York Dead(1989), Santa Fe Rules(1991), L.A. Times(1992), Dead Eyes(1993), Heat(1994), Imperfect Strangersand Choke(1995), Dirt(1996), Dead in the Water(1997) and Swimming to Catalina(1998) have been translated into Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Japanese, and Hebrew and there are millions of copies of his books in print around the world. Several of Stuart Woods' novels have been optioned for feature films and television movies.
Stuart Woods lives on the the Treasure Coast of Florida and Litchfield County, Connectict. He still flies his own plane, and sails.