Home > State of the Union (First Family #3)(9)

State of the Union (First Family #3)(9)
Author: Marie Force

Nick’s communications team repeatedly referred to Ford when questions of illegitimacy surfaced almost daily in the press room.

“Back to the State of the Union,” Nick said. “We need to use this opportunity to reintroduce me to the American people and to state my intentions to work on behalf of everyone, not just the people who agree with me. I have some thoughts about how I’d like to do it that you might not like.”

“We look forward to your input, Mr. President,” Terry said. “I’ll let Will know to expect that you’ll be writing most of it yourself.”

“Please do.” Nick had been thinking a lot about what he wanted to say to the country in his first State of the Union and had declined to have it postponed when the Speaker of the House had inquired as to whether he’d like more time before the nationally televised address. He was ready to stand before a joint session of Congress and the American people and stake his claim to the job he’d told them he didn’t want shortly before it became his.

He had some work to do to prepare for that event, now just over a month away on the first of February, and he was ready to get down to it.

But not until he had some much-needed vacation time with his family—and he had to find a minute to tell Sam about SNL and the dry hump. He couldn’t wait for that conversation.

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

As Sam stood in the doorway of the South Portico, preparing to cross the South Lawn to Marine One on that cold but sunny late December morning, she tried not to think about flying in a helicopter. She’d done it once before and had lived to tell, but despite what Nick said, it would never become routine to her.

Their social secretary and close friend, Shelby Faircloth Hill, would accompany them on this first trip since she’d coordinated their arrival with the team at Camp David.

“You’re going to love it,” Shelby said to Sam. “I was there last week to make sure everything is ready for you guys, and it’s just wonderful. I also took care of picking up all the groceries you asked for.”

“Thank you for handling that.” Sam said. “It’ll be nice to get out of the gilded cage for a few days. I’m determined to do some cooking for this family for once.”

“I’m sure they’ll enjoy that. You all seem to be adjusting beautifully.”

“We’re doing all right, but it’s… a lot. Nick hasn’t been out of here since we went to Des Moines. That’s the hard part for him. But we’re certainly not complaining as we walk out to our own personal helicopter.”

“Don’t worry,” Shelby said, laughing. “I get it. I’m looking forward to a night off from motherhood, you know the job I couldn’t wait to have?”

Sam laughed. “I feel you.”

“Avery and Noah are driving up tomorrow for the week, and by the time they arrive, I expect to be fully twitching from withdrawals from my darling Noah.”

“Enjoy the break, Shelby. You’ve more than earned it.”

“Thanks for inviting us to join you guys. Avery is delirious with excitement to see Camp David, but don’t let on that I told you that. You know how hard he works to be cool about everything.”

“I do, and your secret is safe with me. P.S., of course we invited you guys. You’re family.”

“Mr. President,” Brant said. “We’re ready for you.”

Nick reached for Sam’s hand. “Shelby, walk with us.”

Without his invitation, Shelby would’ve hung back. Sam was glad he’d asked her. She’d become like a sister to Sam and Nick, and they loved her.

Wearing the new long red wool coat her designer, Marcus, had sent over, Sam followed Nick’s lead and waved to the press assigned to record their every movement, knowing their walk across the lawn would make the news. Reporters called out to Nick, asking for comments on the bomb, North Korea, former Secretary of State Ruskin’s latest swipe against him and whether he had anything to say about an editorial in the New York Times about an unelected president having his finger on the nuclear button.

He ignored them while smiling and waving like he hadn’t a care in the world, laughing at Skippy galloping along with Scotty, excited for an adventure.

Sam, Celia and the kids went ahead of Nick up the stairs, but Sam fell back to watch him salute the young marine who greeted him at the bottom of the stairs. Sam gave Nick’s salute an A-plus.

“Mrs. Cappuano, I’m Colonel Stone Walker, your new chief pilot, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you on board Marine One.” He was tall, with dark hair and eyes, and wore an impressive uniform covered in pins and ribbons.

Sam shook his outstretched hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Colonel. This is my stepmother, Celia Holland.”

“Lovely to meet you, ma’am,” the colonel said as he shook hands with Celia.

“You as well,” she said. “This is all so exciting.”

“We’re glad to have you on board.”

Watching Celia’s delight at the perks that came with life in the White House was fun for Sam. She was thrilled her stepmother had agreed to be part of their grand adventure.

Nick entered the aircraft, and the colonel introduced himself to Nick, who shook his hand. “What’s your handle, Colonel?”

The man seemed slightly embarrassed. “It’s, um, Taco, sir, due to my unreasonable love of them.”

Nick smiled. “I love me a good taco myself. I think we’ll be great friends.”

“I’d enjoy that, sir. We have perfect conditions for our flight to Camp David.”

“That’s what the first lady wants to hear. She’s not a big fan of flying.”

“I promise you’ll be perfectly safe, ma’am.”

“That’s good to know. Thank you.”

“Please make yourselves comfortable, and we’ll have you there in no time. When we arrive, you’ll be greeted by Captain Martin, CO of Camp David, and the staff, all of whom will come out to the pad to welcome you, since it’s your first visit.”

“Got it,” Nick said. “We’re looking forward to meeting them.”

The kids were excited about the gifts the crew had left for them, including Marine One toys and T-shirts to commemorate their first ride.

Nick checked to make sure everyone was buckled in, then sat next to Sam and put on his seat belt. A low rumble of conversation came from a compartment in the back, where White House staff and pool reporters rode. Lilia and Harry were back there, along with Terry and several other West Wing staffers and Secret Service agents.

It was nice to have friends along for the ride.

“Scotty, hang on to Skippy,” Nick said. “She’s apt to be startled by the engines.”

“I’ve got her.”

Scotty and the twins were fascinated by every aspect of Marine One, from the plush leather seats to the beverage and snack service to the way the chopper lifted off the South Lawn with effortless grace.

“This is so cool,” Scotty said. They had to speak a little louder than usual to be heard over the engines. “We’re the only ones in the whole world who get this kind of service.”

“Don’t let it go to your head, champ,” Nick said. “It’s temporary.”

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