Introducing… The First Family Series!

Holy crap, I’ve been sitting on this bombshell for MONTHS, having to bite my tongue not to accidentally give away the surprise! I know some of you are sitting there asking WTF is happening. Let me explain…

Earlier this year, I left the publisher of the first fifteen Fatal books. As I was writing Fatal Fraud, it became clear to me that the way forward for me with Fatal was unsustainable with no ability to market or promote the earlier books. I can’t make another company do something, and as such, it was obvious I needed to end that chapter in Sam and Nick’s story and start a new one.

The idea for the First Family Series came to me as I was writing Fatal Fraud, after Nick announced he wasn’t going to run in the next election. I thought, what if he made that decision public, and then Nelson dropped dead? He’d be inheriting a job he just told the world he didn’t want. Not to mention the implications for Sam and their children, and holy moly, I can’t WAIT to write the First Family Series! State of Affairs, Book 1 in the new series, will pick up one second after Nick gets the phone call from the White House chief of staff letting him know the boss is dead and will follow the Cappuanos through this enormous transition from second family to first family.

I promise you this: All the things you love best about the Fatal Series will be coming with us into the new First Family Series, only there’ll be some added focus on Nick’s job (not too much—I promise) in addition to Sam’s job, which she’ll continue, despite an enormous uproar. There’ll be glamour and international intrigue and all sorts of amazing things to come, beginning with State of Affairs on April 20, 2021. We’ve included a sneak peek at State of Affairs and preorder information below.

All the characters you love in the Fatal Series will remain on the landscape, albeit some of them in new and different roles, but everyone will remain present. I understand that change is often scary, even fictional change, but I’m so excited for this new chapter in Sam and Nick’s life, and I hope you are too.

Because this development is a rather major bombshell for Fatal readers, I ask that you discuss this ONLY in the Fatal Fraud Reader Facebook Group so it can be a surprise to everyone when they get the chance to read Fatal Fraud. I’m also going to ask that you PLEASE not include mention of this development in reviews of Fatal Fraud. I want every reader to have the “holy shit” moment at the end of this book that you got to have, so please help me keep a lid on this until most of the hard-core series fans get a chance to read this book. Thank you so much for that!

I want to thank the loyal Fatal readers who’ve come on this journey with me, Sam and Nick thus far and invite you to join us at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next part of their story. I can’t wait!

The phone call that changed their lives forever…

Minutes after Vice President Nick Cappuano and Lt. Sam Holland get the call that President Nelson has been found dead in the residence on Thanksgiving, they’re still processing that Nick has been asked to come to the White House to take the oath of office.

As they go through the motions to ensure a peaceful transition of power, Sam has a million and one concerns about her husband, her family, the Nelson family, the country and the enormity of what Nick is about to take on. In the back of her mind is another major concern: What does this mean for my job? No other first lady in history has held a job outside the White House, but she’s determined to be the first, to blaze new trails for those who will follow her. However, in order to do that, she quickly realizes that compromises will have to be made to continue working as a Homicide detective. 

Their lives become an immediate firestorm of meetings, requests for interviews, difficult questions from their children and a host of potential landmines to navigate as they make the transition from second family to first family. An unexpected issue with a diplomatic trip to Iran quickly thrusts Nick into the thick of his new responsibilities while Sam confronts a murder investigation that may have ties to a cold case from fifteen years ago.

As everything around them spins out of control, Sam and Nick take refuge with each other, relying on their unbreakable bond to see them through the storm.

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State of Affairs

First Family Series, Book 1

By: Marie Force

Chapter One

A full minute after ending the bombshell call with 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. He wasn’t seeing calm in her lovely eyes, however. He was seeing the same panic he was feeling.

President David Nelson had been found dead in the residence.

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

The Secret Service was waiting to transport them 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, which was 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 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 to it. “I… We should tell people. Like Graham, Terry, 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 ourselves to the White House.”

“Scotty. He’d never forgive us if we didn’t take him.”

“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?”

“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 any time 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, took the child monitor they kept in their bedroom to alert them if the twins woke up, and went to wake Scotty. Sam was right. Their thirteen-year-old son would never forgive them if they didn’t bring him with them. Opening the bedroom door, he found his lead agent, John Brantley Jr., waiting to speak to him.

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

“We need about ten minutes to pull ourselves together. I’m going to wake Scotty. He’d 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 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.”

His son’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 word for the clothes he wore when he accompanied Nick to official events—khaki pants, navy blazer, dress shirt and tie. He got up and headed for the door.

“Dad?”

He turned back to his son.

“Are you freaking out?”

“Trying not to.”

“How about Mom?”

“Same.”

“Are we bringing the Littles too?”

“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.”

“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 a bit of a shit show 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 official statement is released by the White House.”

“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 he’d 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.

He 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 in the middle of the night to take them with us.”

“Agreed. 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 wariness, the fear, the 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 getting you and the kids to us.”

“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 mind ran 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 only needed to give it a good brushing to make it presentable. Her hands trembled ever so slightly as she applied makeup and mascara. Dear God… Nick was going to be the president.

He’d only just told the world of his decision not to run in the next election. Her relief had been overwhelming. She hadn’t wanted him to be president, to be subjected to the scrutiny and stress that would come with the most important job in the world. She’d been thrilled to know he would become a private citizen again in three years, when his term as vice president ended and they got back to “normal,” whatever that was anymore.

This couldn’t be happening.

Except it was, and their lives were going to be turned upside down once again. She’d believed him when he said nothing that mattered would change. Their marriage was solid, and they were a formidable team.

But this…

She glanced in the mirror at him in the shower, seeing the tension in his shoulders that no one else would notice. But she saw it. She saw him, and as the dizzying array of implications settled on her, the weight of it threatened to crush her.

Yes, they’d known this was possible when Nick became vice president, but David Nelson had been a healthy man in his late sixties with decades left to live, or so they’d thought. She flattened her hands on the marble vanity and hung her head, trying to relieve the tension in her neck.

Nick had said nothing that mattered would change, but they both knew everything would.

The scrutiny, the security, the criticism, the insanity… Panic bubbled up inside her. What would she do? They’d make her leave her job a police officer, the job that had defined her adult life. That realization filled her with a pervasive sadness that only compounded the sadness she’d been living with since she lost her beloved dad just over a month ago. What she wouldn’t give to be able to talk this through with Skip Holland.

He’d tell her to toughen up and do for Nick what he’d always done for her—support her one thousand percent. He deserved nothing less from her, and would get everything she had to give him, no matter what she had to sacrifice.

And then he was there, with his hands on her shoulders, kneading the tension from her muscles. He kissed her neck and made her shiver. “Whatever you’re thinking, just stop. It’s you and me all the way, babe.”

Sam turned into his embrace and breathed in the fresh, clean scent of home, taking comfort in the familiar when everything had become uncertain in the span of a one-minute phone call.

“We really have to go,” he said.

“I know.” Sam gave herself another second to cling to life as she knew it before she reluctantly let him go, donned a robe and went across the hall to get dressed in the closet he’d built for her. Thinking of photos that would last forever and in deference to the death of President Nelson, she chose a demure black dress, slid on her diamond engagement ring and the diamond key necklace Nick had bought her as a wedding gift.

Taking a quick look in the full-length mirror on the back of the door, she decided she was presentable enough to be in photos that would be studied for generations to come. She stepped into the black Louboutins with the distinctive red soles that Nick had bought her for Christmas last year, ran damp hands over her skirt to smooth the lines and tried not to think too far ahead of the next couple of hours.

She took a deep breath and released it slowly, determined to be there for him the way he always was for her. So much of their life together had been about her—her job, her family, her needs. This was about him, and she was determined to support him in every possible way as he took on the role that would define his life—and hers, whether she wanted that or not.

“You can do this,” she told her reflection. “You can do it for him. You will do it for him.”

A soft knock on the door sounded.

Sam opened the door to him dressed in a navy-blue suit with faint pinstripes, a white dress shirt, a navy-blue-and-red-striped tie and an American flag pinned to his lapel. He looked handsome, sexy, competent and slightly petrified. The rest of the world would see the calm, cool, competent man he was under pressure. Only she would know how he really felt.

“You look beautiful,” he said softly, aware of ears all around as the Secret Service hovered nearby.

“Funny, I was just thinking the same about you.” Flattening her hands on his lapels, she looked up at him. “Is Scotty ready?”

He nodded.

“Are you?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

She slid her hands down his arms and took hold of his hands, giving a gentle squeeze. “Then let’s get going.”

“Before we go, I just want say… You certainly didn’t sign on for this.”

She went up on tiptoes to kiss him. “I signed on for you, come what may.”

“But this…”

“This will turn out to be our greatest adventure yet.” She wasn’t sure she believed that herself, but she needed him to believe it. “I love you, and I’m right here with you. Always.”

“That’s all I need to know.”

“Let’s do this thing.”

 

Preorder to read the rest of State of Affairs on April 20, 2021, and find out what happens when the Cappuanos arrive at the White House as the new first family!

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