The worst betrayals are ones you don"t see coming.
The greatest lies are the ones we pretend aren’t real.
But my life is at the mercy of Cruz Solano, the greatest pretender of them all.
Now I have no one to trust, nowhere to hide and the country I love is in the hands of a sociopath.
If I want to survive, there’s only one person I can trust.
The same person who is willing to sacrifice love for duty: me.Books in Series:Protocol Series by Eden ButlerBooks by Author:Eden Butler Books
The White House,
My body still hummed from the touch of his mouth. Eyes shut tight, I had to steady myself as I looked out of the window, holding onto the molding as though it would keep me centered and steady as the rush of memory flooded into my mind.
Cruz, loving me, never stopping, giving me everything I wanted until I could not breathe, until every cell in my body hummed like a symphony. Then, one final command I"d given him, one that he obeyed. One he didn"t seem able to ignore.
"Get inside me. Please."
My head swimming, I focused on the grounds in front of me and in the distance, the tall mammoth that was the Washington Monument. Night had descended around the city and the monument lit up like a beacon, its luminous light shining over the reflecting pool in front of it. My eyes unfocused as I watched it, shoes at the foot of the sofa next to me, my stomach coiled tight as I waited for Cruz, something that was pathetic. Something I couldn"t keep myself from doing.
The crowd in the Oval and on the outskirts of our private residence was thinning. Only a few soft voices could be heard over the low sound of Aretha Franklin on vinyl, turntable old, but still mint next to me. The crackle of air between her voice and the next intro of music was comforting, but it did little to keep my thoughts from Cruz.
There was nothing for it"nothing I was meant to do got accomplished with more than a half-hearted thought. Meetings got attended, but I didn"t listen, didn"t offer a single opinion as the day had dragged on. There was no room for anything in my mind but the recall of Cruz taking me again and again in his Waterford condo and the growing fear of why he had not called since I left his home.
Days, it had been, and I got landed with a new agent while Cruz and Phil took on extra duty, tailing Lincoln as he hosted the Canadian Prime Minister. But now, with the sky growing darker and our Canadian guests having left an hour before, surely, Cruz would come. I"d sent him that note. Roni had been discreet, I was certain of it. Knowing my assistant, she"d personally hand delivered the note asking Cruz to make time to see me while Lincoln was distracted with yet another meeting and, God knew who else.
There was wine on the table next to me, the glass filled to the brim but I didn"t drink. Instead, I closed my eyes, letting Aretha"s rich, silky smooth voice purr in my ear as she sang about Do-Right women and men. The sound calmed me, but didn"t let me ease completely.
My eyes felt heavy against the drawl of that luxurious voice and the sweet, welcoming ache I still felt between my legs"where Cruz had been over and over again. If I wasn"t so exposed, so eager to see him, I"d have laid on that expensive Chesterfield sofa and touched myself, keeping his face at the forefront of my mind and his name leaping from my mouth as I came.
The worry was ridiculous. Cruz Solano wasn"t some random stranger I"d met and instantly wanted to bed. He"d been my first love, maybe my only real love. He"d left me in New Orleans, but he"d never left my heart.
Hell, I thought to myself, realizing how dramatic and silly I sounded. It was stupid to get so worked up, to be so damn worried. I was the First Lady. I had ties I couldn"t easily break, not without inviting the attention of the world and the press that came with it.
There was no reason for me to fret and worry over Cruz and why he"d kept himself busy and out of my sight for three days.
Then, like an answered prayer, Cruz walked into the room. I didn"t see him. Didn"t hear him utter a sound, but I felt that heavy stare against my back and when I opened my eyes, catching his reflection in the window in front of me, I relinquished all semblance of subtlety and turned, smile splitting against my mouth as I caught his gaze.
I wanted to run to him.
I wanted to kiss him and touch him, damn where we were and who would see us.
But I held back, setting my shoulders straight, trying like hell to at least appear cool and collected. Then, he nodded, unable, it seemed, to fight the quick, friendly smile he offered as he watched me walk toward him. When I stood in front of him, that smile was gone.
Cruz didn"t move a muscle. He gave me the same practiced stance"the unspoken air of a man on a mission; the agent prepared to maim and kill without hesitation. His arms were at his sides and there was a stiffness in his shoulders that hadn"t been there the night in his condo when our Loyola friends carried on about all the meaningless stupidity we"d allowed ourselves to get into as kids. He"d laughed. Cruz had toasted our friends, then kept me warm and welcomed in his home for hours, all the while sporting an easy smile and a friendly glint in his eyes.