Home > State of the Union (First Family #3)(6)

State of the Union (First Family #3)(6)
Author: Marie Force

She doubled down with her hand, lips and tongue and finished him off in spectacular fashion, if she said so herself.

The phone continued to ring with an unrelenting urgency.

His deep sigh said it all as he got up from their camp in front of the fireplace to take the call.

“Yes?” The single word was full of annoyance over the interruption. He listened for a full minute before he said, “I’ll be right there.”

Sam sat up and wrapped the blanket around her shoulders. “What’s going on?”

“The North Koreans thought Christmas Day would be an excellent time to test an ICBM, which is in violation of the U.N.’s Security Council resolutions, and apparently, that’s my problem.” He came over to her, squatted to kiss her and brushed the hair back from her face. “I’m sorry, babe. They want me in the Situation Room.”

“It’s okay.”

“No, it isn’t. Can we pick this up later right where we left off?”

Smiling, she said, “I’ll be here all week.”

“I can’t wait for some downtime with you and the kids.”

“Go deal with the North Koreans and their icy BM.”

Nick cracked up. “It’s an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, thus the alarm.”

“Ah, gotcha.”

“Just so you know, I’d much rather be dealing with you than the North Koreans.”

“That’s not much of a compliment.”

Smiling, he kissed her again, then went to the bathroom to clean up and get dressed so he could go deal with the North Koreans. And people thought being the president was so exciting. From her point of view, it was nothing more than a gigantic pain in the ass, even if the service at the White House was second to none.

In her opinion—and probably Nick’s, too, though he’d never say so—the cons outweighed the pros by a mile.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

After spending Christmas Day with her husband and family, Detective Jeannie McBride had gone back to work on Christmas night, reviewing her notes on the case for the hundredth time. On each pass, she added to her list of questions and came to the same unavoidable conclusion. Before she went to Richmond, she needed to see Carisma’s mother.

LaToya Deasly had put herself through paralegal school, had bought a townhouse for her and her three children and, by all accounts, was a dedicated mother. Over the eleven years her daughter had been missing, LaToya had repeatedly claimed her former friend, Daniella Brown, had kidnapped her child.

No one had listened.

Jeannie had realized that a week ago. Not only had no one listened, it seemed no one had cared about another missing Black teenager. What would LaToya say now if an MPD detective showed up at her house, claiming to care after all this time? Jeannie wouldn’t blame the woman for slamming the door in her face.

But she had to try. LaToya could help her understand the dynamics of her relationship with Daniella as well as Daniella’s with Carisma.

Jeannie had interviewed Daniella’s ex-boyfriend, who’d confirmed that Daniella had been fixated on Carisma, referring to her as her daughter, not as her friend’s daughter. It had been odd, the boyfriend had said, the way she’d had herself convinced the child belonged to her. They’d argued over Daniella’s obsession with someone else’s kid and ultimately had broken up over it. He believed she’d had something to do with Carisma’s disappearance and had said so at the time.

No one had followed up with him. Then-Detective Stahl hadn’t even noted the man’s comments in the sparse reports he’d bothered to file on the case.

As she went over her notes again, Jeannie felt sick over the way this case had been handled—or hadn’t been handled. If she was still alive, Carisma was out there somewhere, waiting for someone to care enough to look for her.

Jeannie cared enough, and she’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission to pursue the leads she had so far.

The next morning, she was up early to shower, hoping the nausea she woke with every day would subside before she left for work.

“How are you feeling, hon?” Michael asked.

“Same as every other day.”

“Did you eat something?”

“A piece of toast that’s stayed down so far.”

He came over to kiss and hug her. “I sure hope this kid is worth what he or she is putting you through.”

Jeannie was thankful that the scent of his cologne, always one of her favorites, didn’t make her nauseated the way so many other scents did lately. “I hear they’re worth it.”

“What’s on tap for you today?”

“I’ve got a few things to do in town, and then I’m going to Richmond to poke around a bit.”

“Is Matt going with you?” he asked of her partner.

“To Richmond, yes.”

“You’ll be careful?”

“Always.”

“Take good care of my baby mama.”

“I will. Love you.”

“Love you, too. Thanks for a great Christmas.”

“It was a good one. Next year will be even better with Junior with us.”

“I can’t wait.”

After he left, Jeannie gave herself thirty minutes to see if she was going to be sick or not. Some days she was, others she wasn’t. She never knew what to expect from one day to the next. She sent a text to her partner.

Stopping to take care of something before I pick you up at HQ.

Matt responded right away. You want me to come?

I got this. See you at the house.

Jeannie hated to make things about race and gender, but as a Black woman herself, she thought she might get further with LaToya without her white male partner with her. Thirty minutes later, she pulled up to LaToya’s block off Good Hope Road in the Fairlawn neighborhood and parked. She approached the black door bearing a Christmas wreath with trepidation, hoping she’d have the chance to speak with LaToya.

She rang the bell and waited off to the side, always leery of people shooting through closed doors, especially since that’d happened to Sam and Freddie.

The door swung open.

Jeannie recognized LaToya from press coverage of the kidnapping. She had put on considerable weight since then and had a world-weary look to her that told the story of her long ordeal.

Jeannie held up her gold shield. “Detective McBride, Metro PD, to see LaToya Deasly.”

“I’m LaToya.” She eyed Jeannie suspiciously. “Did you find my daughter?”

“Not yet, ma’am, but I’m working on her case and was hoping for the chance to speak to you.”

“Are you the one who got abducted and raped?”

The question hit Jeannie like a fist to her already churning gut. “Yes, ma’am.”

“I followed the coverage of that. They said you were gutsy.”

“I survived.” Just barely, Jeannie thought.

“Come in.”

Jeannie followed LaToya into a warm, inviting living room that led into an eat-in kitchen.

“Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water?”

“Water would be great. Thanks.” The offer of refreshments was much more than she’d expected from LaToya, who had every reason to despise the MPD and everyone associated with it.

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