Trust & Confidence comes out in a week, so – as usual – it’s time for an excerpt!
It’s been ten years, they are supposed to be over this.
Michael Lorne has worked for years to be where he is right now – on a protection detail for the White House Chief of Staff. But then his whole world gets shaken up the moment he meets the one person he thought he would never see again. His childhood best friend, his first love, the one who got away.
After a stint of working on presidential campaign, Adam Davis is back where he belongs – writing for his political commentary blog, DC College. Life is good. He’s comfortable. He’s doing what he loves. He’s… not prepared to see Michael walking back into his life.
Nothing can be the same now that they have met, but what will happen next? Is their past truly behind them or are there some things that were never meant to end?
*The book is the second one in D.C. Files series and some of the characters we’ve met in the first book show up again. As such, it is a continuation, but Trust & Confidence can also be read as a stand-alone.
The evening rush was in the full swing, and Michael had to count to ten not to ram into the guy in the car in front of them who thought it was perfectly okay to continue screaming into his phone and ignore changing lights for the third time in a row.
Michael glanced into the rearview mirror at his boss, but Sam Daniels, the White House Chief of Staff, didn’t care about the traffic. He was too busy muttering to himself about some unfortunate staffers from the Legislative Affairs team.
“Who the hell let you graduate law school? This is just simply not true.” Sam crossed things out in the memo he was reading.
The asshole in the car ahead finally took a left turn, disappearing from Michael’s sight, and the rest of the drive went smoothly. Sam put his papers away as they pulled into his driveway and he leaned closer to Michael with a smile.
“Now that you’re off the clock,” he said, nodding at Greg, an agent from the night watch, who was parked at the curb. “Come join us for dinner? Blake made ribs and I know how much you love them.”
Michael looked at the clock on the dashboard. Five past seven. It wasn’t often that they got out of the White House before eight, and the offer was tempting. Sam’s partner, Blake, made the best ribs Michael had ever eaten outside his family house.
On the other hand, Michael was supposed to keep his professional and personal life separated. He’d given himself that pep talk just last week. Sam was a great guy, and they would probably be friends under other circumstances, but Michael was his detail. Secret Service agents weren’t there to become close to people they were protecting, even if Sam had made staying strictly professional very difficult right from the beginning. Michael appreciated the warm welcome, especially as it was his first protection detail since he’d arrived in D.C., but he had been worrying about it as well.
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” Sam’s voice interrupted his thoughts. They were out of the car now and even as he was scanning his surroundings, Michael could see Sam’s shrug in the corner of his eye. “It’s okay if you just want to go back home and relax. As I said, you’re off the clock now.”
And now he felt sorry about his hesitation. “It’s not that.” Michael shook his head. “I just don’t want to… You’re off the clock too.”
“And there should be at least three people inside to spend the evening with, relax, and eat good food. You’re welcome to join us.”
Before Michael could reply, the front door opened and Blake stood in the doorway. “What are you two still doing out there? Come on in or I’ll burn the food.”
“Yes, dear,” Sam crooned and grinned when Blake rolled his eyes.
“Tom’s on his way and Linda brought Adam with her. They’re arguing about the latest CNN poll. You need to make them stop.”
And if Michael had refused the invitation and gone home, or if he had connected the dots sooner, the shock could have been avoided. Or at least derailed. But he followed Sam inside and less than a minute later came face to face with Adam Davis.
Fuck his life. No ribs were worth it.
“Michael.” Adam straightened up and his shocked expression made Michael’s stomach clench.
He could see Sam’s raised eyebrows and Linda’s worried frown as he took a step back. “Adam.” He searched for the things he could say, from stranger-neutral to hostile, and back, but he came up empty. He nodded at Adam’s sister instead. “It’s nice to see you again, Linda. If you all will excuse me,” Michael added, glancing around the room, but not pausing to look anyone in the eye. “I really need to go home.”
“Of course.” Sam seemed to catch on quickly, bless him. “See you tomorrow?”
“Seven o’clock. Bye.” If Michael hadn’t wanted to protect his dignity at least a little, he would’ve probably run out of the house. Instead he walked back to the front door with Sam, who caught his elbow right when he reached for the handle.
“You’re all right?” he asked quietly, eyes narrowed.
Michael nodded. “I’m fine. Old ghosts. Really, it’s fine. I just need to go home.”
Sam hesitated, but finally nodded. “See you tomorrow,” he repeated after stepping away.
When Michael got into his car, he rested his head back against the seat and stared at the wheel. Adam Davis. It had been a decade and Michael’s heart still went from ten to a hundred in a second.
“You’re supposed to be over this,” he told himself quietly and closed his eyes, hoping Greg wasn’t watching him. He took a few deep breaths and straightened up in his seat. Home. He needed to go home.
On the way, Michael drove carefully enough to earn himself a few horns, but he didn’t care. He concentrated on the next light, next turn, on the out of state plate of the car in front of him. He very deliberately did not think about Adam. About how he looked almost the same now as he did ten years ago, with his hair in disarray, and his jeans and T-shirt, and his… everything. About his shock at seeing Michael back in his life, even briefly.
The last light changed to green and Michael took the turn onto his street. He saw Ed, his landlord, doing stretches before a run, and he nodded in greeting, but didn’t pause to talk to him.
In his apartment, Michael went around and turned the lights on everywhere. He secured his gun, took off his suit, then reheated the chicken from last night’s take out. He ate it standing by the counter, staring at the wall behind the couch. Kennedy came up to fawn along his legs and he crouched to pet her.
“I’m really stupid, aren’t I?” Michael asked and Kennedy tilted her head to the side. “Yeah. I know.”
Trust & Confidence comes out on November 13th.
If you’re interested in the first book in the series, Serve & Protect, click HERE.