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Perhaps the best thing he could do for himself and everyone he loved was to commit suicide.
Dan Price stared at the Glock pistol lying atop his desk. He had bought the 9mm automatic for his wife, but she had refused the gift, politely reminding him of her aversion to guns. But at his insistence, she had gone with him to the practice range and learned to use the weapon, only to please him. But to his knowledge, she had never carried the pistol, never kept it in her room or in her car.
If his sweet Jordan had any idea that he was contemplating taking his own life, she would do her best to convince him that no matter what the future held, she would stand by him. It was her basic integrity and loyalty that had first attracted him to the woman who had become his greatest political asset.
Dan lifted the half-full glass of Kentucky bourbon to his lips and finished off the remainder. The liquor burned a path down his esophagus and hit his belly like fire. He coughed a couple of times, then wiped his mouth, picked up the bottle, and poured himself another drink. If he was going to do this--and he fully intended to end his life tonight--he knew he couldn't do it stone cold sober. He wasn't that courageous. Before he could put the hammer-forged barrel into his mouth and pull the trigger, he needed to be more than a little drunk.
He sipped on the bourbon as he leaned back in the swivel desk chair and let his gaze travel over the room. His private study, as it had been his father's and grandfather's before him. An impressive room inside a 200-year-old antebellum mansion, part of an estate that had been in his family since before the War Between the States. Generations of Price men had served their country, first in wartime and then in local, state, and national politics. In Georgia, the name Price was synonymous with public service. If he killed himself, how would that affect his family's good name? No Price man had ever taken the easy way out of a bad situation.
But could he continue, knowing what the future held for him? Could he condemn Jordan to such a life? And what about Devon? And his brother, Ryan? They would never desert him, and that would mean great sacrifices for each of them.
You don't have to do this tonight. You have time.
But how much time? Six months? A year?
Dan finished off his second drink and poured himself a third.
The grandfather clock in the hall struck twice. Two in the morning.
He unlocked the file cabinet in the bottom drawer of the desk, rummaged through the folders until he found the file he wanted. A copy of his will. His lawyer kept another copy and a third was inside his safe at the house in Bethesda. The contents of his will were not secret to anyone. Everything he possessed would be equally divided among Jordan, Devon and Ryan. Jordan had protested, telling him that she didn't expect such an enormous legacy, but he had quieted her protests with a tender caress.
"I owe you more than I will ever be able to repay," he'd told her.
Dan finished off his third drink.
Minutes ticked by as he contemplated the Glock on his desk. Grandfather Price's antique desk. Family lore claimed the desk had belonged to Jefferson Davis, a contemporary of his ancestor, General John Ryan Price.
Dan poured another glass of bourbon, picked up the bottle and the glass and walked over to the leather Chesterfield sofa. He sat down, placed the bottle on the floor, and considered his options. Death was preferable to the fate that awaited him.
Dan's eyelids flicked open and shut. In the twilight zone of being half-awake/half-asleep, he didn't immediately realize where he was or what had awakened him so abruptly. Woozy from sleep and too much bourbon, Dan recalled that he had contemplated suicide to solve his problems, but in the end, drunk and, oddly enough, thinking more clearly than he had when he'd been sober, he had realized that killing himself would have been the coward's way out.
Dan swatted at something cold against his cheek. His fingertips raked across the metal object. He opened his eyes fully, stared up at the woman leaning over him, and smiled. She did not return his smile. His gaze zipped from her familiar face to his own hand holding the 9mm, its barrel pressed firmly against his head. And it was only when he tried to ease the gun away from his head that he realized her hand covered his, her index finger squeezed tightly over his against the trigger.
Before he could react, she forced his finger down against the trigger, firing the gun at point blank range directly into his brain.
Dan's last thought was that someone he'd trusted completely had just killed him.