First the calm. Then the storm…
Escaping DC during the dog days of summer is one of the smartest moves Washington metro police lieutenant Samantha Holland ever made. Beach walks aren’t quite as romantic with the Secret Service in tow, but Sam and her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, cherish the chance to recharge and reconnect—especially with a scandal swirling around the administration.
No sooner are they back home than a fatal drive-by shooting sets the city on edge. The teenage victim is barely older than Sam and Nick’s son, Scotty. As more deaths follow, Sam and her team play beat the clock to stop the ruthless killers. With Nick facing his greatest challenge—one that could drastically change all their lives and even end Sam’s career—will the mounting pressure deepen or damage their bond?
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"'What did the president know and when did he know it? That will be the question Congress faces as members return to Washington from the summer recess. Hearings begin next week, investigating President David Nelson's potential involvement in his son's sinister scheme against Vice President Nick Cappuano and his family.'"
Listening to her brother-in-law Spencer read from the morning edition of the Washington Star, Sam looked across the breakfast table at her husband, Nick, and saw a flash of dismay cross his handsome face. He dreaded the hearings, the attention, the renewed interest in the scandal that had rocked the nation's capital earlier in the summer. Sam and her Homicide squad had uncovered the nefarious plot hatched by Nelson's son Christopher in a failed effort to discredit Nick, all because Christopher had presidential aspirations of his own.
The sitting president claimed to have no knowledge of what his son had been up to and continued to proclaim his innocence throughout the dog days of summer. In the meantime, Nick was left hanging, waiting to hear if Nelson would be impeached or forced to resign.
Sam knew exactly what Nick was thinking. As much as they wanted Christopher Nelson to fry for what he'd put them through, the last thing Nick wanted — the last thing they wanted — was to see the president forced from office. Because that would mean No. It was too much to even think about, and Sam refused to allow that stress to creep into her relaxing vacation. Standing, she said, "I'm going to take a walk."
Nick jumped up. "I'll go with you."
"Was it something I said?" Spencer asked.
"Duh," his wife, Sam's sister Angela, said as she fed their daughter, Ella, who was seated in a high chair at the end of the long picnic-style table. "You think they want to talk about that BS?"
"Sorry, guys," Spencer said. "I wasn't thinking."
"No worries," Nick said. "It's not going away, as much as we wish it would."
"But you don't have to deal with it this week," Spencer said. "My bad."
"Don't sweat it." Nick held out a hand to Sam. "Let's walk."
She took his hand and followed him through the sliding glass doors to the deck, where several members of his Secret Service detail were gathered at a table, drinking coffee.
John "Brant" Brantly Jr., the lead agent on Nick's detail, stood when he saw them coming. "Good morning, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Cappuano."
"Morning, Brant," Nick said. "We'd like to take a walk on the beach."
"Of course, sir. Give us a few minutes to make that happen."
Sam watched Nick's jaw tighten with frustration. He hated having to ask permission to do something as simple as take a walk with his wife. She dropped his hand, slipped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest, hoping to give him something else to think about.
He put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head, his body relaxing in stages as the agents conferred and planned for a simple walk on the beach. Except nothing was ever simple. Not anymore. Well, that wasn't entirely true. When it was just the two of them, alone together, it was still as simple as it had ever been, even as the world went mad around them. As they did when the madness swirled, they closed ranks, spent as much time alone as they possibly could and weathered the storm the best way they knew how, by keeping their heads down, their mouths shut and their arms wrapped around each other.
The press was desperate for interviews from either, or preferably both, but other than a perfunctory statement issued from Nick's office after Christopher Nelson's arrest, they hadn't said a word about the controversy swirling around the president and his son or how it affected them. Nor had they offered any speculation on what it could mean for them if Nelson was forced to resign.
They were taking it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.
It had done them good to get out of Washington for this beach getaway with their extended family. Sam had spent weeks coordinating with the Secret Service to make it happen. Planning the vacation had been a huge undertaking that included finding a beachfront property big enough for all of them that met security requirements, clearing Nick's schedule, taking vacation from her job as the Metro Police Department's Homicide lieutenant and ensuring her paralyzed father would be able to join them for a visit. But the hassle had been so worth it.
In the three days they'd been here, Nick had been more relaxed than he'd been in weeks. Not to mention, he was actually sleeping rather than being tortured by the insomnia that plagued him, particularly during stressful times. Sam was determined to ensure he continued to relax and didn't think too far into the future about what might happen when they returned to town the day before Labor Day.
"If you're ready, Mr. Vice President," Brant said a few minutes later.
Neither Sam nor Nick commented that they'd been "ready" fifteen minutes ago.
Nick kept an arm around her as they followed the detail down the stairs to the boardwalk that led to Dewey Beach on the Delaware coast. They'd garnered quite a bit of attention from people on the beach, but for the most part, they'd been left alone to enjoy their vacation. If by "left alone" you could overlook the Secret Service agents and the media that were camped nearby, hoping for a glimpse of the second family — or perhaps an exclusive, which wasn't going to happen.
As they walked toward the water's edge, Sam made a conscious effort to forget the agents trailing close behind them so she could focus exclusively on her husband. "Sorry about that back there," she said.
"No need to be sorry. He was just reading the headlines plastered across the front pages of every paper in the country."
"Still ... We were hoping for a total break from it."
"Then we should've confiscated every smartphone, unplugged the TV and forbidden newspaper deliveries," he said with a note of humor in his voice. "Or we should've taken our vacation on the moon, where we'd be out of satellite range."
"I'll see if I can arrange that next year."
"I don't care where we are. As long as you and Scotty are there, I'm good."
"Even if Washington chaos interferes?"
"What would our lives be like without a little Washington chaos to keep things interesting?"
"Um, is that a rhetorical question?"
"Yeah, babe," he said with a chuckle. "Maybe when we retire, we could get a place out here so we can walk on the beach every day. I could get used to this."
"What's this word you speak of? Retire? Who's planning to retire?"
Laughing, he said, "Only you would see that as a dirty word."
"It's a disgusting word, and I never want to hear it out of your mouth again."
"Yes, dear," he said in the long-suffering tone of husbands everywhere. "But the beach house ... That might be possible even if we never do that R word thing, yes?"
"I might be willing to consider that. It sure is beautiful here."
Seagulls squawked overhead as the waves crashed against the shore. A few families had gotten an early start, and as Sam and Nick walked past, they nodded to say hello to the stunned people they encountered. One man was so surprised to see them that he seemed to forget he'd taken his toddler to fill a bucket with water. Only Brant's quick action stopped the child from being sucked off the beach by a wave.
Brant handed the sandy toddler to his grateful father. "Sorry about that. I wasn't expecting to see the vice president and his wife on the beach."
"He must be living under a rock," Sam muttered to Nick. "The whole freaking world knows where we are."
"This must be what it feels like for a goldfish stuck in a bowl," Nick said. "Constantly being watched as he swims in circles."
"Speaking of swimming ..." Sam dropped her arm from around his waist, kicked off her sandals, pulled the cover-up over her head and ran for the surf, calling over her shoulder, "Catch me if you can."
She dived into a wave and resurfaced to look for Nick, but didn't see him on the beach or in the water. Then a tug from below dragged her underwater. She came up sputtering as her husband laughed at her reaction.
"I caught ya," he said, bringing her into his embrace. "I'll always catch you, Samantha." Turning his back to the shore, where the Secret Service, photographers with long-range lenses and other gawkers were probably watching them, he kissed her.
Sam was tempted to look over his shoulder to see if they were attracting even more attention, but she forced herself to stay focused on him and this moment alone in the fishbowl. She curled her legs around his hips and her arms around his neck, raising her face to the warm sunshine.
His hands slid up her ribs to cup her breasts under the water, running his thumbs over the hard points of her nipples.
"Mr. Vice President, don't you have enough chaos and scandal swirling around you without making it worse?"
"If it means I get to cop a feel of my gorgeous cop, it's a risk I'm willing to take."
"Cop away," she said with a sigh. After all, when had she ever objected to him putting his hands on her? She gasped when she realized he'd untied the bottom half of her black bikini top. "Nick!"
"You're playing with fire."
"No, I'm playing with my gorgeous wife." As he pinched her nipples between his fingers, he captured her mouth in a deep, searching kiss that had her forgetting where they were and who might be watching. She couldn't spare the brain cells to care when her every thought was focused on him and the way he made her feel every time he touched her.
"It's not fair that you're getting me all hot and bothered when we can't do anything about it for hours and hours."
"I feel a nap coming on."
"We can't today. Freddie and Elin are coming out for the day."
Nick moaned — loudly. "Whose big idea was it to have friends?"
"Not mine. That's for sure."
His chuckle made her smile. "You'll have to make it up to me at bedtime."
"What do you have in mind, Mr. Vice President?"
"All sorts of dirty things. In the meantime," he said, nuzzling her neck and setting her on fire despite the cold water, "we need to talk about what we're going to do if this thing with Nelson goes bad."
"We have to talk about that now?"
"At some point, and now is as good a time as any."
"If we're going to talk about the possibility of you becoming president, you need to put my boobs away."
He stuck out his lip in a little-boy pout. "I don't wanna. They're my favorite toys."
"Boobs or doomsday. You can't have both."
"I hate this day, and it's only ten o'clock."
Sam laughed and patted his head as he tied her back into her bathing suit. "Why do you want to talk about this now when we're trying to pretend it's not happening?"
"I got a call yesterday from Brandon Halliwell," he said of the Democratic National Committee chairman.
"They're making plans. Just in case."
She eyed him warily. "What kind of plans?"
"Well, he asked me if I've thought about who I might want to be my vice president."
Sam stared at him, poleaxed by the implications. "Come on. No way. What did you say, and why didn't you tell me this yesterday?"
"Because yesterday was a really great day at the beach, and I didn't want to ruin it for you. I told him I haven't given it a thought, and I don't intend to unless I absolutely have to. He said I absolutely have to."
"What does that mean?"
"It means the party believes Nelson won't be able to hold on to his presidency."
"Please drown me right now. Hold my head under and keep it there. That'll be a less painful way to go."
He laughed, and then kissed her. "Maybe we could hold each other under and go together."
"We can't do that to Scotty, and besides, Brant would rescue us, that bastard."
"Yeah, he would."
"Could we fake our own deaths and take Scotty with us?" she asked, brightening.
"I like that idea. We could take over an island in the South Pacific and live off coconuts, rum and nonstop sex. I could totally get on board with that plan."
"Scotty would miss his friends, baseball and video games. And the nonstop sex might annoy him too."
Nick kissed her nose and then her lips. "And you'd miss your dad, your sisters and your squad."
"How can this be actually happening? You were appointed vice president and could inherit the presidency. Is that even legal?"
"Unfortunately, yes. It would make me the 'luckiest' politician in history by getting to hold the two highest offices in the land without spending a single day on the campaign trail."
"Yay for luck," she said, profoundly depressed by the prospect. Sure, they'd known it was possible he could ascend to the presidency if he became vice president, but neither of them had ever thought it would actually happen — not like this anyway. "Maybe Nelson really had no knowledge of what his son was up to."
"That's entirely possible, but Halliwell doesn't think it's going to matter in the final analysis. It's telling that the party is preparing for life after Nelson. It means his own supporters are turning against him, and the hearings haven't even started yet."
Sam closed her eyes, put her hands over her ears and began to chant. "Lalalalalalalala. Can't hear you."
He tweaked her nipples, which startled her out of her tantrum. "That's no way for the potential first lady to behave."
"Still can't hear you. Lalalalalala."
This time he kissed the protest off her lips, subduing her the way only he could. He kissed her until she had forgotten what she was protesting. Oh right. That. Ugh! "No matter what happens, one thing will never change and that's you and me and us and this. We got this. No matter what. Tell me you agree."
"Samantha I need this. I need you. Tell me."
She gave him her best mulish look.
He tipped his head adorably, imploring her with his eyes and that face. Dear God, that face She loved him more than anything, and there was, literally, nothing she wouldn't do for him, which she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt when she said, "We've got this. No matter what."
His arms banded around her as he rested his face against the curve of her neck, his nearness sending tingles to all her most important places. "It's going to be okay, babe. I promise."
He'd never broken a promise to her yet, so she held on to his assurances as tightly as she held on to him while he guided them over every wave that threatened to topple them. But deep inside, in a place she rarely allowed her thoughts to stray, she was afraid — deeply afraid of what was to come for him — and for them.
Later that night, gathered around a fire on the beach with Nick, her sisters and their husbands, as well as Sam's partner, Freddie Cruz and his fiancée, Elin Svendsen, Sam tried to relax and enjoy the stories, the laughter, the endless flow of cocktails and the s'mores that Sam's brother-in-law Mike made for everyone. They'd talked Freddie and Elin into spending the night on the pullout sofa in the living room, and she'd even gotten her straitlaced partner to indulge in a few beers. Scotty and his cousins had been sent to bed an hour ago.
With a full moon hanging over the beach, a sky filled with stars, a warm breeze blowing in from the ocean and most of her favorite people beside her or nearby, Sam should've been having the time of her life. But she hadn't been able to shake off the feeling of foreboding from this morning, or forget what Nick had told her about the call from Halliwell. They had a policy of not keeping stuff from each other, but she wished he'd kept that bombshell to himself, at least until their vacation was over.
Apparently, she sucked at hiding her disquiet, because people had been asking her all day what was wrong, including her astute partner, who looked at her now with concern and dismay.
"Ah, screw it," Sam said, startling the others with her outburst. "Tell them what you told me earlier."
Nick glanced at her. "Do I have to?"
"Yes, you have to. If I have to be freaking out about it, everyone else does too."
"The rules according to Sam," Tracy said with a grin. "Spill it, Nick."
"The DNC chair, Halliwell, called yesterday to ask if I had a vice president in mind."
The statement was met with complete silence.
"Fuck," Spencer finally said. "That means the party is losing confidence in Nelson's ability to hang on."
"Right." Nick tended to the fire, adding another log and poking at it until the flame flared up.
Excerpted from "Fatal Chaos"
Copyright © 2017 Marie Force.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have just completed the 11th book in the Fatal Series. All I can say is WOW! I have never read through books so quickly, anticipating the next one as though my life depended on it! Marie Force is an outstanding writer, and as an avid reader, I am amazed at how she’s developed the relationships between the main characters; the twists and turns of each story; and the incredible love story of Sam and Nick, plus their families, is beyond anything I’ve ever read previously! I cannot wait until Fatal Chaos arrives at the end of next month!
This is book 12 in the Fasl Series and I have to say for me this is the best so far, I love this series, I love Sam and Nick and I never thought 12 books in I would still be clambering for more from this couple. Marie Force knows how to write a series that has her readers captivated and wanting more..... Sam, Nick and the family have had a perfect beach getaway but as soon as they get home dispatch are on the phone to Sam advising her of a fatal drive by shooting, this shooting hits close to home it’s a teenager not much older than Sam and Nick’s son Scotty. As more deaths follow Sam is working around the clock but this book is not just about Sam solving the cases this book also covers Nick facing his greatest challenge so far in the White House........ What I love about Sam and Nick is their loyalty, their passion and the strength they draw from each other, not only are they lovers they are best friends and when the going gets tough they seem to be at their best, coming together to fight whatever is thrown at them. This book is packed with suspense but there is still time for Sam and Nick to have some seriously hot moments. I have to say if you love romance, mystery and intrigue this series is a must read and I can’t wait for book 13 which I understand may be out later this year. Brilliant addition to a great series thank you Marie Force.
5 Star Review of Fatal Chaos (Fatal # 12) by Marie Force Since this is book 12 in the series, there is always the concern that the books could get repetitive, however in my opinion this is not the case. Although this is book 12 in the series, I do not believe that anyone new to these books would have trouble following the story, however I would encourage you to go back and read the previous books as and when you have time. This was one of those books I was riveted to from start to finish, I didn't want to put it down as I found myself saying just one more chapter, Nick and Sam are so well suited to each other and their love continues to grow whilst living complicated and at times dangerous lives. This book did not touch on their family and friends as much as previous books, however Ms.Force still manages to give you not only a book full of twists and turns but the heat and sizzle between Nick and Sam was scorching. You will be drawn into not only their story, but those of their family and friends, as such is the skill of Ms.Force you cannot help but become invested in all of the characters. I always love catching up with Sam, Nick and Scotty and their extended family. Fatal Chaos is full of romance, danger, suspense, humour and plenty of complications to keep you guessing to the end. In fact Scotty is one of my favourite characters in this series as he grapples to deal with being Nick and Sam’s son and the headaches of being a teenager surrounded by the secret service. Fatal Chaos is another great addition to one of my favourite series from Marie Force. I cannot wait to read the next in the series which I believe is Fatal Invasion which releases late 2018
I love everything about Sam and Nick they are just too perfect together. I love how they just get each other but yet still fight and have disappointments like any real couple would. They have such a messed up confusing life that the things that happen to the two of them especially Sam are just amazing.
Wow!!! It was amazing all the turns and twists had me on pins and needles. I cried and laughed. Love the way Sam tortured Freddie, hilarious. I really love all the characters. If you have not read this series I highly recommeded.
A great addition to this series! Sam and the gang never stop entertaining us even while they solve these horrible murders.
Once again I absolutely couldn't put this book down! I love Marie Force and the fatal series is so addictive. I love Sam and Nick and as always I can't wait for the next book! Keep them coming please
As always Marie Force never lets you down keeps you on the edge of your seat with this fatal series . Nick and Sam no words to describe them . If anyone out there has not yet read the Fatal series they do not know what they are missing. The series is awesome.
Awesome book, could not put it down. Waiting for the next one in this series. Love these books
Starts a little slow, but then takes Off! I love how Sam picks on her partner. But she gets the job done during stressful times.
Favorite Quotes: I think you can only get an annulment before the marriage is consummated. Since we’ve consummated ours about six thousand times, I’d say you’re screwed in more ways than one. There’s my nonfelon wife. I’m so glad I’m not going to have to visit you in prison, although I bet the conjugal visits would’ve been hot. “She should’ve been spanked more as a child,” Celia said, teasing. Sam laughed. “They couldn’t catch me to spank me. “Mom! Language!” “I’ll put fifty in the swear jar.” “That swear jar is going to put me through college… Better make it a hundred bucks… I have a feeling this is gonna be a long day.” “Stop making excuses for them,” Scotty said. “They’re unseemly. And yes, that’s one of our vocabulary words this week. My parents are unseemly. See? I can even use it in a sentence.” Sam and Nick rocked with laughter… Scotty folded his arms and shook his head. “You guys suck at this.” To Celia, he said, “Is there a class or something they can take before they totally mess me up?” My Review: Fatal Chaos was my perfect read with a good cross-section of suspense, sizzle, clever humor, a sexy and supportive loving couple, compelling and likable characters, a well-crafted and unpredictable storyline, and excellent writing. It was superb from start to finish, even if one of the main characters was a politician – but this is how you know you are reading fiction since he wasn’t a self-serving and egotistical weasel. I adored the snappy dialogue, and highly amusing verbally sparring and irreverent bickering Sam engaged in with her husband, partner, son, and father. They each held their own and gave as good as they got. There were multiple storylines going at once, all were actively engaging, busy, and highly interesting. The random and vexing crime spree was heartbreaking yet realistic, relevant, and one I could not have solved. I love when that happens!
Phew! As usual, there's all kinds of excitement going on in Sam and Nick's personal and professional lives--400+ pages of high-drama, high-intensity excitement. It hardly feels like it's that long, though, because with all that's going on--along with some very sweet and sexy times between Sam and Nick, and some touching ones with Scotty and their extended friend and family groups--it's near impossible to put this book down until you're done. Nick's literally unable to relax into his job as VPOTUS (not that it's relaxing at the best of times, but there's a few extra layers of stress in Nick's case), the bodies that Sam has to deal with are literally starting to pile up, and that's just the beginning... (We were warned several times not to give spoilers--let me apologize right now for the vagueness!) Though you could probably read this as a standalone, readers who've read the other books in the series will have a better sense of shared history and the book will have more impact if you've read the rest of the series--past events, especially those in the book immediately prior (Fatal Threat), effect things that happen here. If it's been a while (or like me, you've somehow missed the last one) you do find out the basics of what you need to going forward, but there's a good chance that just finding out the minimum will make you all that more anxious to read the previous book(s) yourself and witness it all first hand. But at least it will give me something to do while I wait for #13! ;) Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I just loved this book. The way Marie writes these characters you just feel like you know them. The writing is so funny and heartfelt. I really wish I had Sam's humor and grit. Thanks Marie for another great book.
This is really one of best in the Fatal series. Took me awhile to read. Because I keep ed going back. Thank for another great book.
The story line was definitely a surprise. I was very engaged in this book from start to finish. Just like I always am with any of the series Marie Force writes! Looking forward to the next episode... thank you for taking your readers on such a fun and exciting journey with the Fatal series.
This book had me on a crazy emotional, thrilling, fun, sad, happy rollercoaster from start to finish. I loved every page and I felt like I was a part of the team helping with the case. I must say even though I cried a few times, I laughed so much even while on the train . People were looking like whatnis she reading. Marie job well done on book 12. Loved it from start to finish.
Another great book about Sam, Nick and Scotty. I love this series. The characters are so really and the situations make you feel so involved.
I just don't know how someone keeps coming up with these amazing books but Marie you blew this one right out of the water. It was scary it was fun it was sexy just an amazing amazing book. A definite must-read
Nothing short of amazing! Marie does not disappoint! This page turner will keep you on the edge of your seat. With unknown shooters reeking havoc on her city, Sam works tirelessly to find justice for the victims. And then Nick on edge due to a possible job promotion to the highest job in the US, this story is full of Chaos!!
All I can say is Wow!!! Twelve books into the series and I think I have to say this might be my favorite one to date! Marie manages to mix both suspense and a supreme sexiness into her books. I love the way she makes you connect with the characters to the point that I was nearly crying for Sam's character. Can't wait for the next one.
What a fantastic book. Things are getting dicey on the hill. Sam needs a break from bad colleagues at work. Both need a natural child. You can do it Marie.
Fatal Chaos book 12 brings to another thrill ride with many twist and turns and doesn't let up until the end.
I wish Marie could write faster because I can't get enough of FATAL anything! How she develops these plot lines is beyond me, and these drive by shootings help develop a lot of character development. Love it!!!!