State of Affairs (First Family #1) - Marie Force Page 0,1

shoulder a gentle shake. In the glow of the Capitals nightlight, he watched his son’s eyes open.

“What’s wrong?”

“President Nelson has died.”

Scotty’s eyes went wide as the implications hit him immediately. “Holy crap.”

“That’s putting it mildly. The Secret Service is waiting to take Mom and me to the White House. Mom said you’d never forgive us if we didn’t bring you with us.”

“Hell yes, I want to be there.”

“You have to hurry.”

“Work clothes, I presume?”

Nick smiled and nodded at their code for the clothes Scotty wore when he accompanied Nick to official events—khaki pants, navy blazer, dress shirt and tie. Nick got up and headed for the door.

“Dad?”

He turned back to his son.

“Are you wigging out?”

“Trying not to.”

“How about Mom?”

“Same.”

“Are we bringing the Littles?”

“They’re asleep, so we’re going to have them stay here with Elijah for now. I think it would be confusing and upsetting for them until we have time to explain what’s happening.”

“That’s a good call.”

Nick smiled at his adorable son. “Glad you agree. I’m going to tell Elijah. Hurry up and get ready, okay?”

“I’m hurrying, and in case I forget to tell you later, I’m super proud of you, even if it’s gonna be kinda weird at first.”

Nick grinned. “Thanks, bud. That means the world to me. We’ll get through it. Like I told Mom, nothing that really matters will change. As long as we’re all together, we can handle whatever comes our way.”

“I guess we’re gonna find out if that’s true. Thanks for getting me up. Mom was right—I never would’ve forgiven you if you hadn’t.”

“We had a feeling. You probably know this, but you can’t say anything to anyone about this until the White House releases the news.”

“I never would.”

“Thanks. Be back in a few.”

Nick went up to the third floor, where they’d made a bedroom for Elijah across the hall from the loft Nick had put together as a sanctuary for him and Sam to get away from it all. He knocked on Elijah’s closed door.

“Come in.”

Nick opened the door to find Elijah stretched out on the bed watching a movie on his laptop.

“What’s up?” Elijah asked.

“I have to tell you something that you can’t tell anyone. I need your word.”

“You have it.”

“President Nelson was found dead in the residence a short time ago. Sam, Scotty and I are headed to the White House so I can be sworn in.”

“Holy. Shit.” Elijah sat up on the bed. “I, um… Wow.”

Nick handed the child monitor to Elijah. “We’re going to leave the twins here with you for now. I think it would scare them if we woke them to take them with us.”

“Yes, that’s better. I’ll talk to them when they get up, and then we can figure out what’s next. But Jesus, Nick… I mean…”

“Believe me, I know. As I said to Sam and Scotty, nothing that matters will change. We’re still a family. You and the twins are still our family, and we’re going to stick together and get through this. I promise.”

The young man nodded, but Nick saw the same wariness, fear and uncertainty they were all feeling.

“Try to get some sleep. It’s going to be a crazy few days.”

“Ah, yeah, sure,” Elijah said, laughing. “Not seeing a lot of sleep in my future tonight.”

“I don’t want you to worry about anything.”

“I’ll try not to.”

“We’ll be in touch as soon as we can about what’s going on.”

“Okay.”

Nick wasn’t sure what else he could say to reassure him, so he left it at that and returned to his room, where Sam was emerging from the shower, wrapped in a towel.

“I’m hurrying.”

“Thanks, love.” Nick got in the shower and ran a razor over his face, being careful not to cut himself in his haste to get ready. His thoughts swirled a mile a minute, but he concentrated only on the task at hand. Shower, shave, get dressed, get in the car, go to the White House, take the oath. If he took this one minute and one step at a time, he could hold it together to do what needed to be done.

At least he hoped so.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. That was the only thought in Sam’s head for the first ten minutes after The Call that changed their lives forever. Thankfully, she’d spent some time on her hair earlier in the day and needed only to give it a good brushing to make it presentable. After messing with it for a minute, she decided on a simple, elegant knot. Her hands trembled