Start reading this book:
The five worst words to receive via text from your boss on a Friday evening right as your shift started were Meet me in my office. The message was simple but carried a lot of weight.
Rory Maguire fired back the only appropriate response. Copy. On my way.
Exiting his SUV, Rory made his way to his captain’s office in the District 7 D.C. Metro Police Headquarters building. Their district encompassed the western border of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River. It included several prestigious neighborhoods, federal buildings, and a large, unexpected land preserve in the nation’s capital. District 7 also included some of the roughest neighborhoods in D.C. and a large university campus, keeping him and his SWAT team busy. Spending the start of his shift in the captain’s office wasn’t ideal on several levels. He needed time to prepare as the sergeant of a fifteen-man shift. He needed to read over the activity from the previous shift and get his mind ready, an increasingly difficult task.
Walking through the heavy double doors into the alarmed foyer of headquarters, he braced for the onslaught. There was a reason officers referred to the boss’s wing of headquarters as the Lion’s Den. You weren’t always met with a warm welcome and often felt like you might get eaten alive.
“Maguire, how’s your pops doing?” The desk sergeant that controlled all access to the three main hallways where the District 7 Metro Police management sat called down to him from his elevated perch.
The raised desk gave the officer the advantage of seeing anyone before they were on top of him, a holdover from a time before they had bulletproof windows and alarmed access doors.
“He’s thoroughly enjoying retirement and a very long list of to-dos my mom keeps populated for him.”
The desk sergeant’s face barely creased in a smile, and he nodded as if retirement were like a disease. Some police officers were just lifers and had a hard time considering there could be something after their careers were over. But sooner or later, age caught up to everyone, and mandatory retirement would get them all if they were lucky enough to survive the job.
The sergeant buzzed him through the heavy door, and he clutched the metal handle before it could re-alarm.
“The captain’s waiting for you in her office.”
“Thanks,” he called over his shoulder.
Not wanting to get waylaid by anyone, he picked up his pace. At the end of the hallway, he knocked on the dark wooden door with the nameplate that read Captain Sullivan.
“Enter,” she called out from behind her door.
When he popped open the door, he found his superior officer of the last five years with her eyes squinting at the two large screens on her desk.
“You wanted to see me?” he said, closing the door behind him.
Looking up, she smiled. “Rory, have a seat.” She rifled through the folders on her desk and then handed him a crisp, white envelope. “I know your shift is just starting, so we’ll make this brief.”
“What’s this?” He opened the plain envelope.
Inside, he found a commendation for valor, signed by the chief of police. Shaking his head, he met his captain’s eyes.
“You could have just slipped this in my mailbox. What do you really want to see me about?” The certificate, while nice for his employee file, was pretty typical for officers on the SWAT team who tended to see a lot of action. Not to mention the leader of the most active shift. So he wasn’t terribly surprised to receive an award.
She smiled, and her chair creaked as she leaned back.
“We have an opening out at training. Course director for all recruits,” she said.
“And I wondered if it was time for you to consider your next step. You’ll be up for lieutenant in a few years, and you’ve done SWAT for almost a decade. I think it’s time for you to broaden your breadth of experience, if you plan to climb the management ladder. Training is an essential part of leadership.”
Rory shook his head. “I haven’t given my next move much thought, but I never considered going out to training. Working Monday through Friday, every weekend and holiday off? It sounds more like retirement.”
He couldn’t help but wonder what his dad would think. A man who’d been his idol and never worked at training. His father spent years on the street and then moved up the ranks to commissioner in his thirty-year career.
“You talk to my dad about this?”
She smiled a genuine grin that made her look much younger.
“As much as I respect your father and everything he taught me, he hasn’t been the commissioner for years and doesn’t get to tell me how to manage my officers’ careers. That said, I believe you’re a born leader with the patience and humility I need at the training center. Someone I can count on.”
He was surprised by his captain’s brutal honesty, and yet training seemed like an easy out he didn’t deserve. If he were being honest, he had been wondering about what to do next.
“Police work is a different beast since your father was on the job. Criminals have meth labs in basements of million-dollar homes, and armor-piercing ammo. There are sex traffickers, and every other night, someone wants to jump off a bridge or a building. Officers are at risk of burning out forty percent faster than ever before, and that’s if they don’t get shot.”
“Well, when you put it like that…” He scoffed and sat back. “No offense, Captain, but are you telling me I’m washed up?”
“On the contrary, I’m telling you I need an officer with your experience and dedication to the job to train the next generation. The course needs to be updated. We need advanced tactics on de-escalation and use of force when a patrol cop is faced with these seasoned, hardened criminals. Gone are the days of writing double-parking tickets and helping Granny cross the street.” She stood and moved to sit on the edge of her desk, closer to him.
“I’ll think about it.”
“At least consider it. A formal vacancy won’t be advertised for another week. I’m looking for a five-year commitment. I need someone to sink their teeth into this and make a real effort to update our training. We’ve had nine officers shot this year already.”
“I’ll let you know what I decide.” He had no choice but to at least pretend to consider the offer. It sounded like a vacation in comparison to the things he saw on the team. If he were being honest with himself, he’d been ready to leave the team for over a year but at the same time, couldn’t fathom leaving his teammates behind. He didn’t want to let anyone down again.
“Alright, great. Then there is just one more thing.”
Rory stood and narrowed his eyes at his captain.
“You know that saying, good things come in threes?” she said with a smirk and handed him a piece of paper with an address and the name Ainsley Nash. “We just received a protection assignment. I’d prefer you do this one yourself. Ms. Nash’s father is well connected, and the request came down from the commissioner. She’s some media figure. I’m trying to get more details on the actual threat, but I need you to respond to that address ASAP.”
Heaving a sigh, he accepted the paper. “Yes, ma’am. Any other bombs you’d like to drop on me for my Friday night?”
“That’s it for now.” She smiled and then turned back to her computers.
He made a fast exit from the Lion’s Den and walked twenty feet to the smaller brick building that housed the SWAT unit. His shift had just taken a turn.
Using his badge to enter the main doors, he was greeted by the team’s memorial hallway. Pictures of teammates that had fallen, awards, and a large American flag hung along the wall before he entered the large locker room. Usually, at the beginning of every shift, he unlocked his rifle from one of the huge metal gun safes and placed his tactical bulletproof vest on. The vest held his radio, several magazines filled with additional ammo, and two steel plates that were designed to withstand a lethal gunshot. The routine was literally like putting on a forty-pound weight, and his back muscles instantly tensed. But now that he was pulling a protection assignment, he could forgo his full gear. They were expected to maintain a lower profile on protection. For now, he only had his thigh rig, which held his pistol, and a few smaller magazines on his belt next to his badge.
“I saw you head into the Lion’s Den. What did the captain want?” Jake, his fellow teammate of eight years, asked from a table where he sat cleaning an M4 rifle that lay in pieces on a pristine white cloth.
“To ruin my night with a protection assignment for some socialite.”
“Who is the mark?” Jake asked, his eyes never leaving the task at hand.
“A senator’s daughter, Nash something,” Rory said as he started to pace. For some reason, this assignment was annoying him more than normal. He didn’t like surprises. He just wanted to prep his team for what would no doubt be a busy Friday night in a city with one of the highest crime rates in the nation, not feed some senator’s ego.
“Senator Nash, Head of the Ethics Committee, the millionaire turned politician from upstate New York? That Senator Nash?”
Rory stopped in his tracks and faced Jake, who was steadfast in the methodical inspection of his weapon before he put the pieces back together with swift expertise.
“Damn it, the Capitol Police should be handling this. They cover the politicians and we protect the citizens of D.C.,” Rory grumbled.
“You may wanna do a little online recon on which of the Nash daughters we’re being assigned to, but I’ll gladly volunteer for either.” Jake moved to the safe to put away the firearm.
“You follow politics too closely if you know what every senator’s family looks like.”
“Senator Nash has been named as a possible presidential candidate. Pictures of him and his family have been all over the news.”
“I prefer a newspaper,” Rory said, earning a laugh from Jake.
Stomping back to his desk, he typed in the senator’s name. Dozens of family pictures popped up of the tall and poised Senator Nash, surrounded by three beautiful women. All three women had dark, almost-black hair, curves, and smiled back at the camera like they knew it was going to capture their beauty.
Jake walked around the desk to view the photos as Rory scrolled.
“I’m sure any of the men would be happy to accept this assignment.” Jake laughed.
Looking at the sheet of paper with the address on it, he compared it to the website that popped up for a local D.C. news station.
“It gets worse.” He typed in the senator’s daughter’s name, Ainsley Nash. His screen was covered in professional media shots from the local news network. “She’s a news anchor for the D.C. metro news.”
Jake looked over his shoulder at the media site as he read the information listed below her headshot aloud. “Research journalist and anchor for the morning news, Ms. Nash covers hard-hitting truth in a political town mired in scandal.”
“Pretty bold for a senator’s daughter to be a reporter and claim to oust corruption,” Jake said.
“This just means she’ll be a high-profile pain in the ass, which is why the captain said it had to be me.”
“She could smear this department all over this town. One misstep, and you’ll be the morning news,” Jake said. “On the other hand, maybe you could use that Maguire charm to win her over and get some good press for the police department.” Jake punched his arm.
“Charm?” he said.
Jake turned back. “On second thought, why don’t you just lie low, figure out which of her boyfriends are bothering her, and keep your mouth shut? You’re not exactly known for being suave.”
“I don’t need to charm anyone, and I’ll play this by the book just like any other assignment.” Rory packed up his laptop and gathered his things.
“You’re going now?” Jake said.
“Captain said I needed to respond to Ms. Nash’s office and not let her out of my sight until I hear back from the brass. The family has connections in the commissioner’s office.”
Jake laughed. “You’re so screwed but don’t worry about the team, I’ll manage without you tonight. Just try not to get yourself fired this week. We need you in the First Responder Bowl next month.”
“This won’t take that long. If there is a real threat, the feds will want all the glory, and if there isn’t, Senator Nash can hire a private babysitter.”
“Just make sure you don’t fall for the baby,” Jake called after him.
Rory could hear Jake’s laughter down the hall. Protection details were the worst assignments. As a sergeant of the D.C. Metro Emergency Response Team, he dealt with every kind of emergency: death threats, bombs, jumpers, hostage situations, and school shootings. Playing glorified bodyguard wasn’t police work.
Annoyed with the turn of events for his Friday night shift, Rory gunned his supercharged, blacked-out SUV. The last thing he needed was to kowtow to some elitist gorgeous woman who didn’t have a clue what a real threat was.
End of Excerpt