Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter One of Enemy of My Enemy
Released on Oct 24, 2016
Today, I’m happy to bring you an exclusive excerpt of Enemy of My Enemy. This scene is taken from chapter one, early in the novel, and captures Ethan and Jack’s first morning together as the “First Couple.” It’s Ethan’s first day as first gentleman. What awaits them? What struggles will they face? With everything they have endured together, how will this affect their love?
And, how will the world react to the two of them?
Enjoy! Ten more days until Enemy of My Enemy is released!
It was a well-known rule of politics: if you wanted to release controversial news, you did so on a Friday afternoon after three thirty. Hopefully, it would be buried in the market’s closing bell at four and the public’s general lack of care for political news that bled over into their weekends. Everyone would be distracted, the assumption went.
Pete Reyes, President Jack Spiers’s press secretary, released a one-sentence statement on a Friday afternoon following Ethan Reichenbach’s move back from Iowa and two days after Ethan stood in the Oval Office and told Jack he was coming back for good. To stay as his partner, publicly, and live in the White House with him.
It was unprecedented in American politics. There were no guidelines for this, for an unmarried couple sharing the White House Residence, much less two unwed men. Men who were lovers.
Pete exhaled as he posted the press release on the White House website and leaned back in his chair, biting his lip.
The White House welcomes Ethan Reichenbach as the president’s partner and first gentleman of the United States.
Thirty seconds later, his office phone rang. And rang. And rang.
Monday morning dawned cold and overcast in Washington DC. A heavy snowstorm, unusual for early spring, threatened to descend over the capital, and ice clung to the edges of the White House windowpanes, crystalizing in fragile patterns across the glass.
Inside the White House Residence’s master bedroom, a banked fire smoldered, the last few coals still glowing from a late night blaze. Curled up in the president’s bed, buried beneath a heavy down comforter, Ethan pulled Jack close, nuzzling the sleeping president’s forehead with a slow kiss as he stroked his hands up and down Jack’s bare arms. One of Jack’s legs tangled through Ethan’s, their naked bodies warm and pressed together.
“Good morning, love,” Jack breathed, stretching into Ethan’s arms. He pressed a soft kiss to Ethan’s jaw before relaxing back, boneless, his eyes closed and a small smile on his lips. “Waking up in your arms will never get old.”
“Shhh,” Ethan whispered. “Stay asleep. Let’s ignore the world today.” He squeezed Jack’s shoulder, bringing him close for a tight hug. Swallowing hard, Ethan’s next breath caught in his throat.
If only they could ignore the world. Or the world could ignore them. Had he made the right decision? Had coming here been the right thing to do?
“Stop that.” Jack pushed up to his elbows, leaning over Ethan as the comforter slid down his shoulder. “Stop worrying. I can feel you working yourself up.” He leaned down, pressing a kiss to Ethan’s forehead. “Everything will be fine.”
Uncertainty flooded Ethan. “Your vice president resigned because of this,” he breathed. “Because of me.”
Vice President Glen Green had submitted his resignation—publicly, in a huge press conference called on Saturday afternoon at the steps of the Naval Observatory, the vice president’s residence—and announced that he could no longer continue to serve in the Spiers administration. In an administration that so blatantly and openly trampled on the values of the Republican Party. Unspoken was the statement that he couldn’t—wouldn’t—serve with a president in love and living with another man.
Tensions between Jack and his party had simmered just below boiling ever since his public announcement that he and Ethan were lovers. When Ethan had lived in exile in Iowa, and he tried to stay out of sight and out of mind, the grumbles of discontent had stayed—mostly— contained.
But with one sentence on Friday and Ethan’s new role in Jack’s life, everything changed.
The roar of the press, the outcry from the loudest and most vitriolic in the Republican Party, and the reaction from overseas leaders nearly deafened the White House. Their first weekend together in the Residence had been fraught with cascading reports of bad and worse news.
Green’s resignation was one of several handed in over the weekend. There were spaces in the administration to fill.
“It wasn’t because of you. It was because of us.” A moment, and then Jack shrugged. One corner of his mouth quirked up, a wry grin. “I never liked him much anyway. He helped win the fringes of the Republican Party.” He wagged his eyebrows. “Don’t think I need to worry about placating them anymore.”
Ethan tried to smile. His hands stroked up Jack’s arms, over his warm skin and sinewy muscles. He wanted to pull Jack to him, kiss him senseless, make slow love to him for hours, and search for reassurance and safety in the wrap of his arms and the slide of their bodies. “I don’t want to do anything to hurt you,” Ethan breathed. “I don’t ever want to hurt your presidency. You do too much good. The world needs you.”
Smiling again, Jack shrugged and sat back on his heels. The blanket slid all the way down, pooling at his hips. A star-shaped scar puckered the skin over his left shoulder, the lingering remnants of a bullet fired by Ethan to save Jack’s life. “I’m okay with one term. Just a few years until we’re free. Then we can be us. Not have to worry about all this.” His hands found Ethan’s and squeezed.
“You’re worth more than one term.”
Leaning in for a kiss, Jack smiled as he spoke, hovering over Ethan’s face. “And you are worth more to me than this job.” A quick kiss to Ethan’s lips and Jack bounced back, stretching, before turning and sliding out of bed. He reached for Ethan. “Shower with me?”
After they had showered and traded flirty smiles and grins at the bathroom sinks while shaving, and after Ethan had scrambled eggs for the both of them, they padded toward the double glass doors at the landing above the main staircase, taking them down from the Residence to the public spaces of the White House.
As they passed the Yellow Room, Ethan slowed, glaring out over the Truman Balcony.
The doors to the Yellow Room had been left open, an attempt to grab as much of the gloomy light as possible to pull into the Residence. Through them, Ethan could hear the distant chants of the protestors held back at the perimeter fence of the South Lawn.
Sighing, Jack wandered inside, shoving his hands into his suit pants pockets. The cries of the protestors grew louder, and from the windows, they could both make out the distinctive coloring of the hate-filled signs and banners. Some stated that God hated both Jack and Ethan. Several called for God to kill them, and others cried out that this was God’s punishment on America. Still others proclaimed Jack the antichrist.
“Even this snow won’t keep them away, huh?” Jack called over his shoulder to Ethan. “They must really love shouting at nothing.”
When Ethan stayed silent, Jack made his way back to his side. Ethan looked down, avoiding his gaze.
“Hey.” Jack ducked, finally making eye contact. “Those nuts are meaningless.”
“I never wanted you to experience this,” Ethan finally grunted. He looked away again, over Jack’s shoulder, glaring through the windows toward the protestors. His lips pursed as he sucked on his teeth, and his chest tightened, hard enough that he had to suck in air through his clenched jaw. “I never wanted you to have to face this kind of crap. The press, the political attacks. Protests.” Ethan closed his eyes and thunked his head back against the doorframe.
This was everything he had wanted to shield Jack from. Screaming mobs filled with hate, political rivals jockeying for who could draw the most blood, and an intrusive media slinging accusation after accusation.
All because of him.
“What’s the alternative? We stay in hiding and sneak around? You stay my dirty little secret?” He shook his head. “We tried that. It didn’t work. This, us together? This is what’s right.”
Ethan’s eyes flicked back to Jack. He swallowed hard. Swinging from the Secret Service and a life dedicated to silent, steady protection to the oh-so-public life under the microscope as Jack’s—as the president’s—boyfriend was still a struggle. He’d made a career out of stability and steadfast surety.
A life of careful footing, of not taking any unnecessary risks and following the rules, and then he’d met Jack. And he’d thrown his entire life rulebook out the window. Jack was a force of nature, a blue-eyed tornado that had sucked all the air out of his world. His smile had slammed into Ethan, throwing him off balance, but it had been his beautiful soul that had pulled him headfirst into the fall. And fall he had, so deeply in love with Jack.
Jack was right, at least partly. He—Jack—was worth it.
“I need to take my own advice, huh?” Ethan tried to crack a tiny smile. He’d welcomed three different presidents to the White House, each time briefing them on just how much their life was about to change and how public it was about to become. How much of a fishbowl the White House truly was.
Jack smiled back. “You told me to ignore ninety percent of the garbage that was thrown at me and play hardball with the final ten percent. Lob some surprise curveballs back at ’em.”
“I think you managed to surprise everyone.” Ethan grabbed Jack’s hand and laced their fingers together. “No one saw this coming.”
“Not even me.” Jack smiled and led them away.
Ethan took a deep breath. It was his first day as first gentleman of the United States.
Jack squeezed his hand as they headed down the stairs, never letting go. At the base, Secret Service Agent Levi Daniels smiled at them, waving good morning and holding out a tray with two paper cups of coffee from the White House mess, still steaming. “Two sugars for you, Mr. President, and black and burned for Ethan.”
Chuckling, Jack accepted the coffee with a grin. He turned back to Ethan and pressed a kiss to his lips. “Knock ’em dead,” he whispered.
He headed off as Ethan smiled, just faintly blushing. Jack looked back before the Secret Service agent striding in front of him pushed open the door to the West Colonnade, and he disappeared toward the West Wing.
Daniels stayed behind, sipping his coffee and standing with Ethan in the silent Cross Hall. “Not going with the president?” Ethan frowned at his friend. Daniels was Agent Scott Collard’s second-in-command of the Presidential Protective Detail surrounding Jack. Ethan had once been the lead, but Scott took over after Ethan’s forced transfer to Iowa six months prior.
“Nah.” Daniels’s eyes twinkled. “My best buddy is going to his first day at his new job. I gotta support that.” Daniels gestured down the Cross Hall toward the East Wing and the domains of the—traditionally—first lady. Furious carpentry work over the weekend had changed all the signs in the East Wing to read “First Gentleman.”
Inhaling, Ethan nodded and set off, Daniels falling into step beside him. One of Daniels’s hands rose, gripping Ethan’s shoulder and squeezing for a long moment, but dropped before they turned and headed into the public hustle and bustle of the East Wing…
Timestamp: Chapter One of Enemy of My Enemy