I'm working on one of the final scenes of my novel. The President is a kind, intelligent, fatherly man. Sara is a high-ranking NSA official and has been through months of intense pressure that has finally been released. The President took some political risk to rescue one of her assets because he believed it was the right thing to do. She breaks down and hugs the man. In this bit of dialog, I want to make it plain that this is in no way sexual. My attempt is bolded but feels unsatisfying. What strategies can I use to prevent the reader from misinterpreting the hug?
The corners of Sara’s mouth turned up. She pressed her lips tight but it was no use. She broke into a delighted smile. Her cheeks pressed up and her eyes watered. Months of weariness gave way to overwhelming joy. Warm drops rolled over her cheeks. She thrust her arms out and pulled the President toward her, one human being sharing a powerful moment with another.
Sara Wells, level-headed Deputy Director of the National Intelligence Agency, had just hugged the President of the United States.
And he hugged her back.