State of Affairs (First Family #1) - Marie Force

Chapter One

A full minute after ending the bombshell call from the White House chief of staff, Nick Cappuano stared into the eyes of his wife, Samantha, looking to her for calm in the midst of calamity. However, he wasn’t finding calm in her lovely blue eyes. Instead he saw the same panic he felt.

President David Nelson had been found dead in the White House residence.

Nick was going to be president of the United States of America.

The Secret Service was waiting to transport him and Sam to the White House so he could take the oath of office.

Five minutes ago, they’d been in bed, commiserating after eating too much at Thanksgiving dinner. And now… Now, he needed to breathe, to remain calm, to do what needed to be done for his family and his country. “Say something.”

Sam licked her lips and looked up at him with eyes gone wild. “I… I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s going to be okay. You and me… We’ve got this. There’s nothing we can’t handle.”

She laughed, but it had a maniacal edge to it. “If you say so, Mr. President.”

Mr. President.

She was the first to ever call him that, as it should be. She was the most important person in his life.

He held her precious face in his hands and gazed into her light-blue eyes. “Before we leave this room and step onto the biggest stage in the world, I want you to hear me when I tell you this won’t change anything that matters. This—you and me and our family—will not change. I swear to you, Samantha.”

She nodded and reached for him.

He took her into his arms and held on tight to the love of his life, determined to do whatever it took to reassure her even as he tried not to freak out himself. No one needed a president who was freaking out.

President.

This could not be happening. But it was. David Nelson was dead. Nick couldn’t wrap his head around the last five minutes.

Still holding Sam, he said, “We need to get up, get dressed and make ourselves presentable for pictures that’ll be in history books for the rest of time. But no pressure or anything.”

Again, Sam’s laughter had a hysterical edge. “I… We should tell people. Like Graham, Terry, Celia, my sisters… Your dad.”

He shook his head. “They’ll find out in the morning. For right now, we need to focus only on getting to the White House.”

“We have to bring Scotty. He’d never forgive us if we didn’t.”

“Agreed. I’ll go get him up and tell Elijah what’s going on so he knows he’s in charge of the Littles.” Aubrey and Alden, the twins Sam and Nick had recently taken in after their parents were murdered, would be six on Saturday. Leaving them with their older brother, who was home from Princeton for the Thanksgiving holiday, was the right thing to do.

“Will we be allowed to come back for them?” Sam asked.

“Of course, or we’ll have the Secret Service bring them to us. Try not to worry. We’ll figure it out one step at a time.”

Sam looked around at the bedroom that was their private sanctuary, their calm in the storm of their crazy lives. “We’re going to have to move. This won’t be our home anymore.”

“This will always be our home. We can come back here anytime we want to.” He pulled back to kiss her forehead and then her lips. “We have to go, Sam. Are you going to be able to do this?”

He watched as she took a deep breath and summoned the fortitude to take this formidable next step on their journey. “I’m about to prove to you that I meant it all the times I said there was nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”

Smiling, he said, “I love you more than anything. Don’t ever forget that.”

“Same.”

They got out of bed, and he pulled on a T-shirt and pajama pants and grabbed the child monitor they kept in their bedroom to alert them if the twins woke up. When Nick opened the bedroom door to go wake Scotty, he found his lead agent, John Brantley Jr., waiting to speak to him.

“We’re ready to transport you and Mrs. Cappuano to the White House, sir.”

“We need a few minutes to pull ourselves together. I’m going to wake Scotty. He’ll want to be there, and I need to tell Elijah what’s happening.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We’ll be quick.” Nick went into Scotty’s room and sat on the edge of the bed. “Scotty.” He gave his son’s