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Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil.Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally.
Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator is caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scheme. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a “candidate cooler.” Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.
As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president. Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country. Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.
“More than a political thriller.A great read, great ride, great book!” —Amazon's Robert D
“Josie lays out the danger immediately and drew me into the story by showing what was at stake. Her characters have depth, enough to which I cared about them or wanted to shake them senseless. This story had me hanging on to the climatic finish, which to me was infinitely satisfying.” —Mystery_Luvr, Barnes & Noble.
“I could not put it down, it was so entertaining I broke my own rule of saving it to read on the treadmill and curled up with as cup of coffee to read!”—Amazon's Raymond F.
“It was exceptional. The title is intriguing, the plot is intriguing, there is never a dull moment. I wish more people would read this book so they would understand how incredibly awesome it is! 5 stars by far!” —Fler, Barnes & Noble
“The book had me from the first chapter and I could not put it down…an easy read.”—Amazon's Jackie A.
It was Vice President Talbot’s idea, and Smith had to admit, it was sheer genius: Whenever the two men had the need to talk, the vice president gave Carl, his usual Secret Service driver, the day off. Then he had his assistant, Eloise, call in Mr. Smith as Carl’s substitute. Having once been in the Service (Presidential Protection Detail, in fact) and the Agency, Smith already had all the necessary security clearances.
There, in the privacy of Talbot’s armored limo, the two discussed anything they wanted. On that crisp, frigid first morning of the New Year, the topic at hand was the undoing of a government.
Specifically, that of Venezuela’s dictator, Manolo Padilla.
Since Padilla’s ousting of USCo Petroleum that morning, Mr. Smith had been anticipating the vice president’s call. That Talbot had waited until that evening had demonstrated unusual restraint on his part.
“Already the old men are on the warpath! Do you know how much of a financial loss this means? And trust me, it’s not just the USCo holdings that are at stake here.” Talbot’s breathing was labored. Whenever he was upset, like now, he paused between words.
What a sniveling pussy, Smith thought, but he kept his mouth shut and let the other man rant. The limo, flanked front, back and on both sides by the usual battalion of black SUVs loaded down with Talbot’s Secret Service detail, was supposed to be on its way to the White House, where he was to join Mrs. Talbot, who was already with the president and his family, ringing in the New Year. But at Talbot’s behest, Smith went by way of the National Mall. Talbot’s favorite monument was the Lincoln Memorial. It gave Smith a chuckle to think of the vice president attempting to channel Honest Abe.
“That bastard Padilla has started the process of cutting us off from our oil supply! The Chinese are filling the void in purchasing it quite handily. He’s taking all those yuans and buying guns from those Russian whores, as if it’s World War III already! And considering how the rest of South America feels about his oil—and about us–he won’t have any problem carrying out that little fantasy.” Talbot leaned forward and lowered his voice to a hiss. “And if he does, Smith, it’s all your fault. If I remember correctly, when we liberated Venezuela from Maduro, it was you who suggested that we lend him our support, and all that implies.”
Smith blinked, but said nothing. He’d anticipated that accusation since the moment Talbot had squeezed his stocky girth into the backseat of the limo. Someone else was always the fall guy, right? Well, unfortunately for Talbot, Smith wasn’t going to fall on his sword, let alone put a bullet behind his own ear. And Talbot knew better than to sell him out.
If he ever tried, Smith had a few insurance policies to cover that scenario.
“Something’s got to be done about it immediately.” Talbot leaned back with a grunt. “In fact, the timing couldn’t be better, now that the mid-terms are over.”
“We’ll never be able to take him out in some covert op. He knows us too well.”
“You’re disappointing me.” Talbot met Smith’s eyes in the rearview mirror.
“I don’t mean to. I’m just leveling with you. It will take something different this time.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“If the incident that precludes our takeover were to happen here, on American soil—”
Talbot cringed. “What, are you nuts?”
“Hear me out: A ‘terrorist act’ with Padilla’s fingerprints all over it will ensure that our invasion of Venezuela has the full blessing of the American people, the Congress, and the world.” He turned to face Talbot. “And if you’re the squeaky wheel warning about it throughout the election cycle–”
“No! Too devastating…Should anyone find out—besides, the old men wouldn’t like it, either.”
Smith shrugged. “I’m just saying it’s a slam dunk.”
“Too bad. It’s off the table.” Talbot shifted his bulk so that he could stare at the frigid wonderland beyond the limo’s back window. “Look, everyone has an Achilles’ heel. We both know that. Padilla’s is what, women? Gambling? Drugs?”
Smith knew Talbot was right. But he also knew not to let the vice president in on that, or he wouldn’t get what he wanted from him. “His private physician may be our way in. Particularly with the right incentive.”
“And what would that be?”
“Blackmail. The kidnapping of a family member. This isn’t brain surgery. Although, if we make the right threat, it might be the way to take Padilla out: some kind of fatal surgical procedure, the wrong meds, perhaps an overdose. Damn that socialized medicine, eh?”
As he hoped, that brought out a belly laugh from Talbot. “No shit. Okay, sounds like a plan. Go for it.” His smile dissolved. “Now, about the election: Anything interesting I should know about?”
Smith thought for moment. “We’ve got rats burrowed deep within each of the candidates’ campaign headquarters. As usual, the Dems are scrounging for dirt on each other. While they do all the heavy lifting, we just lean back and take notes.”
Talbot chuckled. “Great. It should be interesting to see who’s the last man–or woman–standing when all is said and done. Then we use the intel to shred the rep of whoever it is. It’s an equal opportunity massacre. You’ve got to love this country. ”
As casually as he could, Smith adjusted the rearview mirror, but really he was double-checking that the digital audio bug he’d hidden there upon entering the vehicle was receiving loud and clear. He’d remove it when he left the vehicle, before Talbot’s PPD did its next bug sweep.
Yessiree, Smith was a firm believer in personal insurance policies.
(c) 2014 (c) 2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the publisher, Signal Press. (firstname.lastname@example.org)