Home > State of Grace (First Family #2)

State of Grace (First Family #2)
Author: Marie Force


Chapter One



DC Metro Police Lieutenant Sam Holland rushed through the doors to NBC4 at a quarter after eight on a Monday morning, twelve days before Christmas. Her Secret Service agents, Vernon and Jimmy, followed close behind her. For this TV appearance, she was also Samantha Cappuano, first lady of the United States. The only reason the Today show was interested in this interview was because she was first lady, a title she was still getting used to two and a half weeks after her husband had suddenly been promoted from vice president to president.

The department’s psychiatrist, Dr. Trulo, was waiting in the lobby along with a staffer from the TV station and Lilia Van Nostrand, Sam’s White House chief of staff.

“I’m glad to see you,” Dr. Trulo said. “I was afraid you were standing me up.”

“Sorry I’m late,” Sam said. “Aubrey was having a rough morning, and I needed a few extra minutes with her.”

“Is she okay?” Lilia asked as they followed a young woman who seemed to know where she was going.

“She will be.”

Everyone they encountered stopped what they were doing to watch Sam go by. She hated that, but it came with the territory she and Nick now found themselves in as the nation’s first couple. If their profile had been uncomfortably high as the second couple, it was a thousand times higher now, and she was working on making the transition. However, after a seismic shift such as the one that had occurred in their lives, she would need more than a couple of weeks to fully process their change in status.

“Right this way,” the young woman said as she led them into a green room. “We’re so excited to have you here, Mrs. Cappuano.”

Even though she was in full uniform with the name HOLLAND on her chest, the woman still referred to her as Mrs. Cappuano. She was coming around to also understanding that everyone thought of her as Mrs. Cappuano, except her colleagues with the MPD. “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s Yvonne, ma’am.”

Sam shook her hand. “Very nice to meet you, Yvonne.”

“Likewise, ma’am. You have no idea how exciting it is for us to have you here.”

“Thanks for having us.”

“Please make yourselves comfortable and have some refreshments. We’ll come for you in about twenty minutes.”

“Thank you.” Sam glanced with yearning at the table containing bagels, muffins and pastries. Carbs went straight to her ass, but she hadn’t gotten to eat breakfast before leaving the White House because she’d been tending to Aubrey. “Screw it. I’m hungry.” She helped herself to a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. “Have something, you guys. We wouldn’t want to be rude.”

While Dr. Trulo and Lilia checked out the offerings, Sam took a bite of the pastry and had to hold back a moan of pleasure. Dear God, that was good. She usually avoided such things, especially these days, when she found herself on the business end of a TV camera far too often. It was true what they said—the camera added ten pounds.

The BlackBerry she carried to keep in touch with her husband buzzed with a text from the man himself. Aubrey is off to school and is all smiles. Whatever happened this morning seems to have passed. For now, anyway.

Sam wrote right back. Thanks for letting me know. I hated to leave her upset. Do you think they’re picking up on the tension?


Their maternal grandparents had recently filed for custody of the six-year-old twins who’d been living with Sam and Nick since their parents were murdered more than two months ago.

We just need to make sure we’re not bringing that tension around them. They pick up on everything.

Very true. I’ll be watching you on TV. Break a leg (not really).

Sam laughed. With her propensity for accidents, it was important to add that last part. I hope I don’t make a fool of myself (and you) on national TV.

Even if you do, I’ll still love you.

Thank goodness for that.

Yvonne returned exactly when she said she would, and they were shown to a studio, outfitted with microphones, told how the remote interview would be conducted and checked by hair and makeup people.

She and Dr. Trulo had met the previous afternoon to go over their notes for the interview, and Sam felt as ready as she ever did to speak in front of millions of people. They’d been asked to talk about the grief group she and the doctor had recently founded within the Metropolitan Police Department that provided an outlet for victims of violent crime.

Now that she was the first lady, the effort had gained greater exposure, and she hoped to make the program part of her platform in her new role.

Both Hoda and Savannah would be interviewing them, and before they went live, the two anchors came on to say hello and thank them for coming on the show.

“It’s so nice to meet you after hearing so much about you,” Hoda said.

“Thank you,” Sam said. “You as well.”

“How’s life in the White House?” Savannah asked.

“It’s different,” Sam said with a laugh. “We’re still getting used to it and finding a new routine there.”

“Do you mind if we ask you about the adjustment during the interview?”

“No, that’s fine. I just won’t speak about my husband or his administration. Since I’m not briefed on any of that, I’d rather not be asked those questions, especially when we’re here to talk about the grief group.”

“Understood,” Hoda said. “We’ll be back from commercial in a few and will bring you right in.”

“Sounds good.” She glanced at Dr. Trulo, who was looking at her with amusement. His wiry gray hair had been combed into submission for the occasion. “What?”

“‘I’m not briefed on any of that.’”

“Well, I’m not.”

He laughed. “It’s a good way to say, ‘Stay in the lane we agreed to.’”

“Exactly. If you knew how many times reporters asked me questions about Nick, you’d know why I said that.”

“I get it. I just thought it was funny that you’re speaking the lingo now.”

“I’m really not. That’s about the extent of my political-wife lingo.”

“Stand by,” the producer said. “We’re back in three, two, one.”

“We have two very special guests with us this morning,” Hoda said, smiling. “Our new first lady, Samantha Cappuano, also known at the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, as Lieutenant Sam Holland, and Metro PD psychiatrist Dr. Anthony Trulo are here to talk about an exciting new initiative they’ve founded within the MPD and one they hope will become a national project. Welcome to both of you.”

“Thanks for having us,” Sam said.

“Thank you for the invitation to talk about a project that’s near and dear to both of us,” Dr. Trulo said.

“Before we get to that,” Savannah said, “we’re all curious about how you and your family are adapting to your new home.”

“Everyone is doing well,” Sam said. “It’s been two days since the last time I got lost trying to find the residence inside the White House, so I take that as progress. The kids are doing much better than I am with finding their way around.”

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