There are times when I can’t help myself, and this story was one of them. I had already written Christmas at Peleliu Cove, when another story leaped out of Santa’s sack and said, “Write me next! Write me!”
So, I did, and here it is as a Christmas treat. A new Night Stalkers White House romance novel!
We briefly met Vice President Zachary Thomas all the way back in The Night is Mine, Night Stalkers #1. Now he has finally claimed his own love story.
Melanie Anne Darlington is the older sister of “now” White House Chief of Staff Daniel Drake Darlington III (who found true love in Daniel’s Christmas). Anne joins the Vice President for a Christmas concert in the U.S. Botanic Garden, but once there…
Zachary guided her to a pair of seats at the very back, close by an exit. The Secret Service agents arranged themselves in doorways and stood against the back wall, only Harvey remaining close by—clearly ready to throw himself in front of the Vice President in case there was mad caroler in the crowd.
She could see the effects of the Vice President’s presence propagate slowly forward through the crowd. One head turned, then another. In moments the back half of the audience was glancing their direction, barely watching the concert.
“Zachar—Mr. Vice President?” she asked him softly. All of the attention was unnerving her.
“It’s okay, Anne.”
She’d almost used his name. A heat rose to her cheeks that was partly from the crowd’s attention but partly from her own presumption.
“They’ll get used to it in a moment.”
She didn’t like being looked at so much. But after a few whispered comments between companions, most turned away. Some waved. The Vice President waved back pleasantly, but quickly returned his attention to the concert. More than one of them snapped a photograph.
A photo of the Vice President.
No, of the Vice President and…
“We have to go,” she whispered fiercely and started to rise.
“Why?” he kept her in place by wrapping his other hand over where hers was still tucked inside his elbow.
“They’re taking pictures.”
“They always do,” the Vice President remained perfectly calm, keeping his voice soft enough to not disturb anyone on the other side of the two-seat buffer that the Secret Service was maintaining to all sides.
“They’re taking pictures of us. Don’t you get that?”
“My dear Ms. Darlington, they’ve been doing that since the moment we stepped into the Conservatory.”
“They have? But the media…” How had she not noticed that? Was she so oblivious?
“You mean the social media—ten times faster I assure you, though curiously it is generally kinder. I am single. I have been known to escort beautiful women before, though none quite as startling as you. It will give them something to talk about.”
“The only thing startling about me is how out of my depth I am.”
On the farm she’d have noticed someone pulling out a camera. Visitors to the farm always wanted a photo with one of the Darlingtons, but it was done with a Southern politeness and they almost always asked first. Here there must have been a thousand surreptitious snaps with camera phones. It would be all over DC already. Picked up by the national media by tomorrow and…
“I’m so not ready for this.”