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From the time I was a kid, I knew I wanted a job helping people. After serving in the Rifles regiment of the British Army, I focused my civilian career on becoming a bodyguard to the rich and famous. For a Cockney Brit, I never imagined a twist of fate landing me a position in the United States Secret Service and protecting the President’s son. But then my boss made an unexpected request: leave my current placement to move in with his only daughter to give an added layer of protection against the threats she had been receiving. I’d never lived with a woman who was off-limits to me. It wasn’t just that Caroline had a boyfriend. She was my best friend’s sister, and my boss’s daughter. But the longer we’re in such close quarters together, the greater the temptation grows, but I know I’ll lose everything if I pursue her.
Growing up as the only girl with two overbearing older brothers, I’m no stranger to being overprotected. Just as I finished up college and prepared to truly dip my toes into the adult world, my father was elected President of the United States, which added a whole new level of protection with the Secret Service team attached to me. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly be more smothered, I began receiving threats, and my family decided it wasn’t enough to just have an agent living down the hall from me. Nope, I was to have one move in with me, and not just any agent, but Ty Frasier—my brother, Barrett’s best friend, and my brother, Ty’s, head agent. While most women would enjoy living with a sexy, buff Brit, having a roommate threw a wrench into all my plans. Especially when I began noticing Ty was so much more than a hot guy—he was someone I could fall for.
**Stand-alone set in the world of Running Mate and Office Mate**
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Chapter One: Caroline
There are some days you never expect to ruin your life, days where you want to throw your head back and scream to the sky, “Why?!!” Okay, maybe ruin is a little extreme of a description. It wasn’t like I was in Scarlett O’Hara, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” ruination territory. It was way less dramatic than all that, but here’s the thing: when you’ve planned everything to go a certain way and outside forces decide to shoot that perfect plan all to hell, it feels a little desperate.
Another reason the situation seemed so dire was because it seemingly came out of nowhere. For twenty-three years, I’d lived a somewhat uneventful life in Virginia. As the youngest of my family and the only daughter, it was safe to assume I was slightly spoiled. Considering my father was a US senator and former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, I could have been one of those trust-fund twats. But, thankfully, my parents ensured that never happened by instilling a strong sense of values in my siblings and myself.
My upbringing had inevitably influenced me when it came to my major. I’d chosen international relations so I could have a career that helped others not just here, but across the globe. I would be taking over at Read 4 Life, the literacy non-profit my mother had started back when she was a senator’s wife. I was leaving for Charleston, West Virginia, on Monday to start my new career.
Before I left, I was slated to attend a wonderful going away dinner with my family at my parents’ house, which happened to have one of the most famous addresses in the world—the White House. What I hadn’t expected was to have the rug unceremoniously jerked out from under me. I found out every aspect of my life was about to drastically change. My loved ones sat me down for a family meeting, but it wasn’t to discuss substance abuse or spending habits; I’m way too straight-laced for all of that.
Nope, it was to inform me that I was about to inherit a roommate—a male roommate . . . a six foot four, built like a brick shithouse, swoony British accent-speaking, Chris Hemsworth-looking male roommate.
I can imagine what you’re thinking: who in their right mind would protest sharing their apartment with eye candy like that? Seriously, if it were anyone else, I’d be requesting to stay over on a daily basis to fully ogle all that perfection, but it wasn’t anyone else. It was me. It was my plans and my life that were getting shit on. It could’ve been some Shrek-looking dude moving in with me, and the end game would have been the same.
Apparently, someone I’ve never met or even laid eyes on is obsessed with me. He only knows me because I’m six degrees of separation famous—my dad is the president of the United States. Instead of going to the beach or taking a trip this summer, he spent his days sending me creepy letters. My psych minor allowed me to know I was using humor to deflect from the crushing fear I was experiencing. Because this shit was scary.
But, before I get any more ahead of myself, let me flashback to earlier that day, a time of innocence when I was blissfully unaware of the creeping danger surrounding me, before I became aware of all the gloom and doom, before the sweetness of the apple dumpling served in honor of my soon-to-be new home in West Virginia soured completely.
I’d spent my last day in DC out on the town. I’d done lunch with some friends, gotten my hair and nails done at my favorite salon, and then hit the mall. Now I was fighting gridlock to get back to the White House.
After flicking a nervous gaze at the clock on the dashboard, I cringed. “We’re late,” my Secret Service agent, Stuart, announced from the passenger seat.
“I’m well aware of that, Mom. You’ve been telling me for the last half hour.” I swear, having a Secret Service agent was like having my mother shadowing me twenty-four seven. It was the one thing I truly loathed about Dad being president—that and hearing negative things said about him.
Stuart grumbled something under his breath. He hated when I called him Mom. Since he was a six-five, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound hulking man, he didn’t appreciate the analogy that he was a nagging mother. He also hated that I insisted on driving myself, but when Dad had been elected president, I’d vowed I wasn’t going to let my life change. There were many times when I had to be driven to an event by an agent, but this wasn’t one of those times. I felt like your normal twenty-something when I was behind the wheel—well, apart from the extensive sweep of the car before I unlocked the door. Nothing screamed subtle when a man in a dark suit and sunglasses combed your car for devices in the mall parking lot.