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"Christmas Paradise" By Cindy

Notes: I had to fudge the time difference between Hawaii and D.C. for plot purposes.:) This is just a happy fluff piece, no plot.

Josh Lyman returned to his office after the ten o'clock staff meeting and was surprised when Donna flew into his arms. Josh rocked back on his heels and closed the door to keep them both from falling.

"I take it you found the envelope."Josh commented with a smile as he wrapped his arms around her waist.

Donna met his gaze. "The envelope and the ticket to Hawaii."

Josh tucked a stray blonde hair behind her left ear."I figured after everything that happened this year that you deserved a decent Christmas present."

"Thank you, Josh."Donna whispered as she nestled her head against his chest."I just wish we could go together."

Josh pulled back slightly so he could look at her. "Who says we can't?"

"CJ for one."Donna replied softly."And Leo."

"What they don't know can't hurt them."Josh said as he gently caressed her face.

"Josh."

Josh cupped her face in his hands."It'll work, Donnatella. We'll leave seperately....stay at separate hotels if we have to. We deserve this."

As Josh's lips met hers Donna melted into his embrace. A week on a Hawaiian beach with Josh Lyman. Donna couldn't think of a better way to spend Christmas.

*********

Josh stepped out of Honolulu's airport and headed for a cab. As the warm tropical air washed over him Josh regretted his plan of having he and Donna arrive separately. He would've loved to see her face as Donna first stepped onto Hawaiian soil.

Josh told the driver the address of his hotel and plopped his suitcase onto the seat next to him. In less than an hour he'd be holding Donna in his arms.
Josh smiled at the thought and turned to stare out the window.

*********

Donna tipped the bellboy after he set her suitcases in the suite. The young man smiled and left. Donna took off her light jacket and tossed it on the bed as she walked toward the balcony. Donna slid the door open and stepped out
instantly amazed by the breathtaking view of the Pacific ocean.

She leaned against the railing and wondered if Josh was here yet. It wasn't fair that they couldn't take a vacation like a normal couple. All this sneaking around made Donna feel like she was in a relationship with a married man.
But in a way she was. Josh was married to his job. Donna knew that being in politics meant everything to Josh it was in his blood....his life's work.
If the press got wind of their relationship she wouldn't be the only one out of a job.

The phone rang pulling Donna from her thoughts with a smile she moved back into the room to answer it.

"Hello?"

"Hello, beautiful you ready to hit the beach?"

"Josh."Donna replied with a grin. "I've been thinking of nothing else all the way here."

"Nothing else?"Josh asked with mock hurt.

Donna laughed softly. "Well you were on the beach with me, Joshua."

"I'll be at your hotel in about twenty minutes."

"Okay."Donna replied as she sat on the bed. "Josh?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

"I love you too, Donnatella."Josh replied softly as he ended the conversation.

********
When Josh arrived at Donna's hotel she was waiting in the lobby.

"Hi."

"Hi."

"You ready?"

"Yeah."

Josh offered her his hand and Donna slipped hers in his and matched his step. It was close to four when they reached the beach so most of the Saturday crowd had left.

They walked in companionable silence for several minutes. Donna pulled away from Josh and walked to the water. Josh stayed where he was,content to watch her.

Donna waded into the ocean until it came up to just below her knees. It seemed surreal for them to be here. Especially when it was snowing and fifteen degrees back in D.C. She turned and saw that Josh was still standing on the beach. His hands shoved into his shorts pockets.

Donna grinned and raised a hand motioning for Josh to join her. Josh reached her side and pulled Donna into an embrace. When she looked into Josh's eyes Donna was blown away by the emotion she saw there.

"Thank you for this, Joshua."Donna stated quietly as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Josh caressed her face for a moment before capturing her lips with his.

********

Sam Seaborn glanced up as CJ Cregg knocked on his open office door.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Did Josh leave on his vacation already?"

Sam nodded. "Left this morning. Thought you knew?"

CJ leaned against one of the chairs. "I did, just got the dates mixed up. He went to Hawaii right?"

"Yeah."

"That's odd because I thought I heard Donna tell Carol that Josh gave her a ticket to Hawaii for Christmas."

Sam winced inwardly, damage control time. "No, must've heard wrong.
Cathy told me that Donna was going home for Christmas."

CJ nodded not buying the coincidence for a moment but deciding to let it drop. Josh had been through hell and back and deserved a little happiness. "You going home soon?"

Sam gestured to the pile of folders and computer printouts. "At this rate not before eleven, why?"

"I was going to grab dinner."CJ replied as she headed toward the door."I'll bring you back something."

"Thanks."

"No problem."

**********

Josh and Donna returned to her hotel just after sunset.

"You hungry?"Josh asked.

"Yes."

"Want to go out or stay in?"Josh asked as he leaned against the dresser.

Donna hid a smile....if they ordered room service they'd never get to it. "Let's go out....it's our first night in Hawaii."

Josh closed the space between them. "Okay. I have a few ideas. I'll go change, does half an hour give you enough time?"

"Yes."Donna replied as she leaned forward and kissed him quickly."Formal or informal?"

Josh grinned as he stepped back. "It's a surprise."

"Josh!"

"Okay, okay."Josh replied with a smile. "Semi-formal."

*******

After ten minutes of staring at her suitcase Donna finally decided on a simple black cocktail dress. She had just finished putting on makeup when a knock sounded on her door. Donna smiled as she moved to answer it wondering how long the separate hotel thing was going to last.

"Hi."

"Hi."

"You look fantastic."Josh commented as he stepped past her into the room.

Donna smiled. "So do you."She replied as she went to grab her purse noting that Josh had changed into black pants and a light blue shirt.

"Do I get to know my surprise?"Donna asked as she walked back to him.

Josh grinned as his arms encircled her waist. "If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise now would it?"

***********

As the cab pulled up to the marina Josh paid the driver before getting out first. He turned and offered Donna his hand.
Donna smiled as she took his hand and got out of the cab.

"Josh?"

Josh squeezed her hand before turning and walking to the left. "This way."

Donna was about to try to pry more information out of Josh when their destination came into view just beyond a bait shack.

Josh turned back to Donna with a wide smile and a gallant sweep of his right arm.
"Your chariot awaits."Josh stated. "Or should I say boat."

Donna's eyes widened. What Josh called a boat she would classify as a small cruise ship.

"Josh.....Is this all for us?"

Josh took her hand. "I rented it for the night."

"It's beautiful ."Donna replied feeling tears start to form.

"I thought you might like it."Josh replied quietly before starting to walk again. "Come on."

******

Donna leaned against the rail as the ship, aptly named The Wishing Well, slowly moved out of the marina. Josh slipped an arm around her shoulders and drew her close.

Donna closed her eyes and melted back against him enjoying the feeling of Josh's arms around her and the warm tropical breeze.

"I love my surprise. Thank you, Joshua."

Josh rested his head on top of hers inhaling her sent. "I'd keep us here forever if I could, Donnatella."

**********

After about forty minutes of moving along the harbor and nearby coastline the ship returned to the harbor and dropped anchor in the middle.
Josh glanced up as a waiter appeared a few feet away. He nodded at the man and the waiter disappeared inside the cabin.

"What was that about?"Donna asked softly having caught Josh's nod.

"Dinner's ready."Josh replied with a grin as he pulled away from her and took her right hand pulling her inside.

********

Once inside the ship's cabin Donna stopped dead completely amazed by what she saw.
Besides the traditional Christmas decorations there was crystal and candlelight everywhere. Crystal glasses and vases, a huge chandelier hung over the dance floor.

Josh paused when he realized she wasn't next to him and turned back to face her.

"Josh."Donna began tears brimming in her eyes. "This is beautiful."

Josh smiled as he reached for her hand and pulled her next to him. "I didn't want you to miss Christmas."

*********

The small table by the window allowed a spectacular view of the harbor.
Josh pulled back her chair and Donna flashed him a brilliant smile as she sat down. Part of Donna couldn't believe that he had gone to all this trouble for her, but the other part knew this was typical Josh.

As Josh sat down across from her the waiter stepped forward and uncorked a wine bottle. It was only then that Donna noticed the music that was softly playing over the ceiling speakers....Christmas carols.

The waiter disappeared toward the kitchen and Donna reached across the table to take Josh's hand in hers.

"Thank you, Josh."Donna whispered as she squeezed his hand.

Josh smiled and leaned across the table to kiss her.

As they broke apart Donna settled back in her seat. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt this happy and content.

********

The night flew by. After dinner Josh and Donna danced for hours not seeming to notice what kind of music was playing.
Before Donna knew it she felt the engine kick in as the boat pulled anchor and made it's way back to the marina.

The cab ride was silent as they rode back to Donna's hotel. It was nearly two in the morning.

"I feel like Cinderella returning from the ball."Donna said softly after Josh had paid the cab driver and they began to walk into the lobby.

"Does that make me a Prince?"Josh asked with a smile as he draped an arm around her shoulders pulling her close. He was hardly prince material especially lately.

Donna turned to face him. "Yes, Joshua, it does."She replied taking his hand in hers and interlacing their fingers.

When the elevator reached Donna's floor Josh fought the urge to walk as slow as possible to her room. He really didn't want to go back to his cold, lonely hotel room. But Josh knew he had to....CJ would hang him if they ended up on
the front page of the Washington Post.

Donna pulled her room key out of her purse and let them in. As soon as the door clicked shut behind Josh, Donna turned and pushed him back against it in a passionate kiss.

Josh reluctantly broke away as he cupped her face in his hands. "I better get going."He said huskily.

Donna shook her head even though she knew he had to leave. "Stay, Josh, it's late."

"Oh hell."Josh replied as he shrugged out of his suit jacket and drew Donna into an embrace. "That's what CJ gets paid for....she can deal with this."

********

Josh woke early and pulled Donna's sleeping form closer to him. Even in her sleep she looked happy and content. Josh tenderly brushed a stray hair away from Donna's face before he leaned his head back against the pillow.

He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Donna this happy. Josh knew that was his fault. She'd been worried about him since the shooting even though she tried to hide it. Josh leaned forward and placed a kiss on Donna's
shoulder not wanting to wake her just yet. He hoped that this trip had made up for some of the hell that Donna had been through the last six months.
What they'd both been through.

Giving up on going back to sleep Josh propped his head up with his hand, content to watch Donna sleep. It was only when sunlight bounced off something metal by the foot of the bed that Josh saw it.
A room service cart.

Josh froze as he looked at the small cart they hadn't ordered room service.
He gingerly untangled himself from Donna and got out of bed. Josh crept forward not wanting Donna to wake and worry about what he feared had happened.

Damn.

The food cart confirmed Josh's suspicions. Somebody had used it to gain entry to the room.
Josh picked up one of the silver food covers and picked up a small card that was nestled between two empty film canisters.

'Thanks for the scoop.' was typed in neat black script.

Josh carefully replaced the cover and glanced worriedly at Donna. Thankfully she was still asleep. Josh quickly pulled on some clothes and padded to the other room to call CJ.

This wasn't going to ruin their trip. No matter what Josh had to beg or owe CJ for Donna would never hear of this.

********

CJ Cregg stared at the newspaper on her desk in disbelief. "Carol!!"

Her assistant poked her head in."Yes?"

"Find out what hotel Donna's staying at."

Carol stepped in."She's in Madison at her parents."

CJ looked up."No, she's not. Never mind I can see the number on the hotel stationary."

It was then that Carol finally saw the newspaper."Oh."

"Yes....please tell me that Leo isn't in yet."CJ replied feeling a headache start to form.

Carol was about to reply when an all too familiar voice could be heard across the West Wing. "CJ!!"

CJ winced as she stood."Tell him I'm coming."

As soon as Carol left CJ's phone rang. CJ sighed as she picked up the receiver, could this day get any worse?

"Claudia Jean?"

CJ sank down onto the corner of her desk one hand massaging her temples."Joshua, did you not learn anything from Sam's experience?"

Josh cringed."CJ...."

"What happened to me being the first line of defense?"

"I just woke up and saw...."Josh replied weakly wondering how bad this was and what it would cost him.

"Time difference, Joshua...grasp the concept."

Josh sat down on a chair."It's already out?"

CJ stood."Prep Donna,Josh. I'll talk to you later...right now I have to defuse Leo."

Josh was about to reply but all he heard was the dial tone.

********

Sam stepped out of the Mess just in time to intercept a very ticked off Press Secretary. He quickly grasped CJ's shoulders and steered her into the nearly empty Mess.

"Sam, this is not a good time."CJ stated as she paced. "I have to defuse Leo."

"I already did."Sam replied as he leaned against the wall.

"Already did what?"CJ asked not quite following.

"Defused Leo."Sam explained."And now I'm going to defuse you."

"Sam."CJ replied as she stopped pacing. "That picture is going to be all over the wires in less than an hour."

Sam shook his head. "No, it's not."

"Sam...."

Sam closed the space between them and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder."CJ, did you look at the paper."

"Yes."CJ replied warily wondering where he was going with this.

"I mean look real close at it?"Sam inquired as he sat down.

"Sam if you could get to the point before reelection."CJ commented as she started to massage her temples and it was barely eight thirty.

"The paper on your desk is a fake."Sam explained wishing he was anywhere else. He'd seen CJ's wrath more than once and didn't want to be a victim of it now.

"What?!"CJ replied her head snapping up eyes flashing angrily."You mean it's a ...."

"Gag paper, yes."Sam finished as he stood."It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Which was when?"CJ asked as she sank into a nearby chair some of the tension leaving her.

"About one thirty last night."Sam replied sheepishly."Toby,Leo and I were working late on the Patient's Rights Bill and we were there when Margaret
realized that Donna wasn't in Wisconsin and that led to the culmination of the betting pool.....which I lost by three hours."

"So you decided to play a practical joke on Josh by making him think the press had found out?"CJ asked as she leaned forward.

Sam shook his head. "No, they were just supposed to snap the pic and send it to me via email and I'd put it in the gag paper."

"Sam, if this was a joke on Josh, which why wasn't I let in on it by the way, why was it on my desk?"CJ demanded taking a step toward the speechwriter.

Sam swallowed hard. "You had already left and Charlie left it on your desk by accident. It was supposed to go on Josh's so he'd see it as soon as they got back."

CJ shook her head in amusement. "You guys got him really good...the room service cart was a nice touch."

Sam blinked in surprise. "What room service cart?"

"Josh said there was a room service cart at the foot of the bed with empty film canisters and a note that said 'thanks for the scoop'."CJ explained as she walked over to the refrigerator and got a bottle of juice.

"I never told them to do that."Sam replied with a shake of his head. "Just to take the picture and leave."

"Who'd you hire?"CJ asked hoping there wasn't something else she'd have to spin.

"The hotel night clerk."Sam replied quietly.

CJ tossed a bagel at Sam's head too far away to hit him. "Samuel! The desk clerk? You hired the desk clerk? Leo will have my head and yours...."

Sam narrowly sidestepped the incoming bagel and held up his hands in defense ."Relax, CJ I told him it was an old college roommate of mine....he has no idea who Josh is or who they work for."

CJ smiled."You better hope he doesn't. Let's go we have a staff meeting in ten minutes."

"Okay."Sam acknowledged as he joined her. "Where'd you learn to throw like that?"

"I have three brothers."CJ replied with a grin as they walked into the hall.

*******

Josh stepped back into the bedroom part of the suite relieved to see that Donna had gone into the bathroom. He heard the shower start and sank onto the bed his gaze traveling to the room service cart. Josh wondered if Donna had noticed it as she got out of bed.
Josh shook his head miserably of course Donna had noticed it......she noticed everything part of being a good assistant.

Josh absently fiddled with the wristband of his watch as he glanced out the window at the beautiful Hawaiian sunrise. He should've known that this relationship was going along too smoothly...something always happened to wreck whatever relationship he had that started to get serious.

Josh only hoped that when Donna came out of the shower he could explain the picture thing to her in a way that wouldn't ruin everything.

*********

CJ grabbed Sam's arm as they walked past Mrs. Landingham's desk to the Oval Office.

"What?"Sam asked as he backpedaled.

"Did you call Josh after you defused Leo?"CJ asked anxiously as she pulled him over to the wall.

Sam shook his head. "No, not yet."

CJ raised an eyebrow."Not yet? Sam what are you waiting for?"

"I just...."

"You know how Josh gets when he thinks something isn't going right."CJ pointed out quietly.

"I know......I was going to...."Sam replied wishing more and more that he hadn't thought of this practical joke.

CJ pulled out her cellular phone and pressed it into Sam's right hand. "Call him."

"CJ."Sam pleaded. He'd been around Josh too long to hope that his best friend would take this calmly and rationally.

"Call him before he wrecks the best thing that's ever happened to him."CJ ordered."Donna's a saint but even saint's have their limits."

"I have to go get the number."Sam replied quietly as he gestured with his hand back to the door of the Oval Office.

"I'll let them know where you are."CJ stated with a grin as she placed a reassuring hand on her friend's shoulder.

Leo walked past them. "You two going to enter the room or stand here all day?"

CJ crossed over to Leo. "We're coming. Sam just has to go make a phone call."

Leo glanced over his shoulder at Sam. "Make it quick."

"I'll be right back."Sam acknowledged watching them enter the famed office.

After a moment Sam sighed and started to walk the familiar route to his office. Josh was going to kill him.

*******

Josh heard the shower shut off and steeled himself for the upcoming conversation. Then the phone rang. Grateful for the interruption Josh reached over and snatched up the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Josh."Sam replied anxiously as he stood in his office. "I'm late for staff.....I'll explain later but the paper's a fake. Enjoy your vacation."

Josh's eyebrows shot up as what his friend said sank in. "A fake? Sam? What's going on?"

"The press don't have the photos....just you and CJ. I'll explain when you guys get back."Sam replied quietly hoping that Josh would be too relieved to kill him now.

"Sam....how can it be fake? The room service cart, the note...."Josh countered as he glanced over at the cart.

"Josh, just trust me."Sam replied as he moved around his desk."You have nothing to worry about...."

"How many times have I heard that before."

"This time you can believe it. I'll explain when you get back. I gotta go....take Donna out on the town, enjoy yourselves."

"Sam...."Josh began but all he heard was the dial tone.

********

Donna stepped out of the shower to find breakfast set up on the balcony's table. She had seen the room service cart before she went into the bathroom but hadn't stopped to examine what food lay underneath. Donna dressed in a
pair of white shorts and a purple t-shirt and then headed out to the balcony to join Josh. This was there last day in Hawaii and she didn't want to lose a minute of it.

"Morning."Josh greeted her as he pulled her into an embrace and kissed her tenderly.

"Morning."Donna replied with a smile as they broke apart. "When did you have time to plan this?"

Josh grinned as he pulled away and led her over to the small table. "It's just breakfast, Donnatella."

Donna sat down. "I didn't think you knew what that was."

"I eat breakfast."Josh replied as he sat down wondering if it was possible that she hadn't seen the film canisters and note.

Donna reached for a croissant. "A doughnut doesn't count."

"So what do you want to do today?"Josh asked changing the subject grateful for his stroke of luck that she hadn't noticed what was under the silver covers of the room service cart. He relaxed back into his seat determined to enjoy their last day.

Donna reached over and took his hand in hers. "I was thinking....maybe snorkeling, shopping, picnic lunch on the beach?"

Josh squeezed her hand and smiled. "Whatever you want.....as long as you throw a night of dancing into the mix."

Donna grinned. "Deal."

After breakfast they stood by the railing watching boats sail by. Donna leaned back against Josh's chest as he pulled her close.

"Thank you for this trip, Joshua."Donna said softly. "It's a dream come true."

"I love you, Donnatella."Josh replied quietly as he rested his head on top of hers. "I'll take you to paradise anytime."

end