Roy's Independence Day


-a Night Stalkers White House romance-

NAME: Roy Beaumont

JOB: Secret Service Counter Sniper

NAME: Sienna Arnson

JOB: National Security Advisor

When Sienna Arnson joins President Peter Matthews‘ senior staff, she feels supercharged by the challenge. If she could fly, she would. Succeeding as the best NSA ever strikes her as a good goal...to start with.

Roy Beaumont views D.C. from his sniper station atop the White House roof and has never looked further. When Senior Agent Frank Adams drags him from his high perch to protect the new NSA, he discovers a new target centered in his sights.

Together they discover the true meaning of Roy’s Independence Day.

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Chapter 1-1
Chapter One “Check out this. Southwest Gate.” By the tone over his radio headset, there was no question what Roy was being asked to check out. Not some depressed loon looking for “suicide by cop” achieved by jumping the fence. Nor some a-hole who thought he could actually cover the seventy yards between the fence and the White House without tripping a dozen alarms and alerting the ground teams. Secret Service officer Roy Beaumont swung his sniper rifle around until he could see the Southwest Gate. He had the broadest field-of-view of the grounds from his perch on the roof of the Residence. Hank lay on the East Wing roof and wouldn’t see squat, which would totally bum him out. Fernando’s post on the West Wing roof had prime sightlines to the Southwest Gate. Mike was on the other side of the roof facing Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Square and couldn’t see this direction at all. Mike’s was the most boring post because idiots always came across the wide South Lawn, rather than bolting for the short crossing to the North Portico, probably because of the attraction of the Oval Office overlooking the South Lawn. As Secret Service counter snipers, they were set up for overlapping fields of surveillance and fire. They provided overwatch protection for the ground security teams, but their primary duty was to monitor the distant stretches of D.C. in search of threats. Any decent sniper could attack from a half mile away, a good one from a full mile or more. The shot could be taken from a hotel window or a parked van. It was the counter sniper’s job to find them before they found the White House. And on the incredibly long, boring watches, they also had overlapping views of any distraction. Sometimes it was a cute kid with a balloon out on The Ellipse (and it never hurt that cute kids often had cute moms in tow). Or a gaggle of dumb-ass protestors whining about something the Secret Service snipers couldn’t even figure out from their signs—they really needed better PIOs, Public Information Officers. It could even be a cool car, though after a while it took a lot to be cool. By the fortieth or fiftieth Ferrari to swing past the White House even that sweet ride began to pale. Only one thing didn’t. Roy spotted her through his open left eye and let instinct guide the rifle scope to her face so that he could see her with his right eye. No question who Fernando was on about, just the way the woman walked was something special. Monday morning on the last day of June had dawned beneath a brilliantly blue sky which left Washington D.C. sparkling. By midday it would be cooking his brains lying out on the roof on overwatch, but for the moment the day felt fresh and alive. And the woman walking up from the Southwest security gate embodied life. There was a spring in her step. She wore professional clothes, which at the White House seemed to be synonymous with damned dull, but even they couldn’t hide this woman. A shock of dark red hair, which gathered fire-gold highlights from the summer sunlight, framed her fair complexion. Her shape was very nice indeed and even professional clothes couldn’t hide her overall fitness. He scanned down. Good legs wrapped in sheer hose, runner’s or cycler’s legs. Despite the youth of her face, hers wasn’t the wild energy of some teen or twenty; this was a woman grown and powerful, and she absolutely knew it. “Damn!” “Told ya,” Fernando sounded very pleased, as he should. This woman was prime material. “s**t, man. Can’t see a thing from here.” Hank was definitely missing out. Suddenly the woman was gone from the scope. She’d jinked sideways out of his view fast enough to mistrack even his sniper instincts. Roy scanned the sidewalk, but he saw no cause such as someone else in her way or an unexpected mountain lion on the South Lawn. He re-centered on her face. This time she was looking right at him with brown eyes beneath strong brows and she looked eight kinds of pissed. She gave him the finger, then disappeared out of sight into the West Executive Avenue entrance to the West Wing. He laughed. Not one in a thousand noticed the snipers lying on the White House roof—though they were always there if the President or First Lady was in residence. If either of them came out, whether to walk the gardens or to cross to Marine One, a full SWAT team would be up here as well. No planned movement today, so it was just the snipers and the sky. The few people who picked out the counter snipers typically cowered down and scuttled a bit. Not this one. Attitude. A hot redhead with attitude. A seriously fine start to a long summer watch. “Enjoying something about the view, Agent Beaumont?” Any warmth of the morning drained out of Roy as he rolled over to look up at the speaker. How six-two of barrel-chested, bad-ass senior agent moved so quietly was a constant mystery to all of the counter snipers. Dressed in a charcoal gray three-piece, the head of the Presidential Protection Detail looked completely out of place on the White House roof and yet there was no question that he absolutely ruled the roost. “It’s,” Roy cleared his throat and tried again. “It’s a beautiful day to be sitting overwatch, sir.” “Uh-huh.” The guy must be getting way too old if a hot woman didn’t do it for him. Though Roy had seen his wife, Agent Beatrice Anne Belfour, and she was a seriously fine piece of agent. “It’s not nice to be pointing your weapon at civilians.” Rumor was the President wouldn’t even make the crossing to the Marine One helicopter if Frank Adams wasn’t at his side. It would take a better man than Roy to argue with the leader of the PPD. Or maybe a dumber one—as he could feel himself about to do just that. “How else are we supposed to assess civilians on the grounds without pointing our weapons at them?” He did his best to sound completely innocent. He had binoculars close to hand, but the Nightforce rifle scope on his heavily modified Remington 700—called a JAR by the Secret Service for “Just Another Rifle”—was much stronger and offered a superior view. And why in all creation was he teasing his boss? Maybe he really enjoyed getting in trouble as so many of his ex-girlfriends had told him. Crossing Frank Adams was a sure way to pull guard detail on a Congressional aide—a truly meaningless assignment. Frank Adams’ eyes scanned the distance over Roy’s head as if reprimanding Roy from turning away from his post. How were you supposed to please a guy who wanted everything perfect all the time and wouldn’t even respond to a bit of banter? Roy sighed and rolled back onto his stomach. The guy was a typical, senior-level square with no sense of humor…or hot women. The silence was so long Roy almost turned to see if Adams still loomed behind him or had slipped away as silently as he’d appeared. “Yep. I never solved that problem,” Adams finally broke the morning stillness. “Beware pretty women; they can be hell on ya.” Roy did glance over his shoulder to see a bemused smile on Adams’ face—the guys would never believe him because it was a known fact Frank Adams didn’t smile. He decided silence was his best option and turned back to his sweep of the grounds. “Met my wife at the wrong end of a gun, Roy,” Adams sounded pretty damned pleased about it. “Just be careful of what you’re looking at.” “Yes, sir.” Hard to imagine someone pulling a weapon on Adams and expecting to live through it. Though Roy had met his wife—the head of the First Lady’s Protection Detail—and maybe Adams had been the one lucky to survive. It was only after Adams silently departed that Roy realized that the head of the PPD had actually used his first name. Roy hadn’t known he even knew it. Sienna Arnson made it from the White House entrance to the Oval Office without taking a single breath. Ten minutes in security, another fifteen to sign and countersign the receipt of her permanent badge, and seven more waiting in the outer office with the President’s three secretaries for company. New breath-holding world record! And if she didn’t remember how to breathe very soon… “Maybe I’ll be the first ever person to faint on the Oval Office rug.” “No. You wouldn’t be the first,” an amused voice said from close by her elbow. She’d thought she was alone except for the secretaries diligently focused on whatever mayhem lay on their desks this morning. “Good morning, Daniel,” She’d met White House Chief of Staff Daniel Darlington III several times before, enough that she felt more at ease for his presence. She risked a small breath that did nothing to ease all of the tension of her first day serving in the White House. He was the sort of person who everyone called by his first name. Daniel did that to people, even angry senators demanding Presidential access and being told “no.” At the moment she appreciated it. He was desperately handsome, surfer blond, intensely brilliant, and invariably kind. “Who before me?” “Well, me for one,” he bowed as if fainting in front of the President would be an honor. “My first time in the Oval was the interview that jumped me from being the ex-assistant to the President’s recently deceased first wife to being the new Chief of Staff. In fact, maybe I’m still locked away in a rubber room and dreaming all of this. Oh, I do like the sound of that. Is this Walter Reed Hospital by any chance?” Sienna laughed with him, but knew the feeling. She’d worked her ass off to get here, but it still didn’t seem real. To make it to— “You can go in now,” one of the secretaries waved her forward. She took the first step, but Daniel didn’t accompany her. “Aren’t you coming?” “In a minute. You go ahead,” he waved her on. “Bravery is taking action when you’re scared spitless,” she whispered to herself as there was no way she could spit right now even if her life depended on it. Just one of a hundred lessons her father had drilled into her over the years; drilled being the operative word. He’d been a Marine Corps captain by the time she was born. Now he was a brigadier general. Being a grownup in her mid-thirties hadn’t slowed down his need to provide advice for every single occasion. The wonder was that this piece actually had relevance at the moment. Squaring her shoulders—and ignoring Daniel’s friendly chuckle as if he had read her mind—she proceeded through the door. And made it two steps before stumbling to a halt. You’ve been here before! The internal shout did nothing to unglue her feet from where they’d become rooted on the glossy hardwood floor. Five years ago she had accompanied her father here when he became the commander of HMX-1—the group responsible for the Marine One fleet of helicopters. Kathleen Matthews had still been alive then. Oddly, the first First Lady of President Peter Matthews had left the Oval Office décor untouched. It had looked as plain as day on Sienna’s first visit. The President’s second wife had clearly taken a hand. The bulk of the Oval Office lay to her right. The two couches and circle of armchairs that had been in blah-beige were now a rich, chocolate-brown leather. Their sharp contrast to the light walls and bright parquet floor felt much more powerful, as if to say “serious work is done here.” The prior administration’s selection of soothing pastel paintings had once again been replaced by the portraits of George, Abe, and J.F.K. who all looked down at her from their perches high on the wall as if to ascertain she wasn’t about to royally screw up. First day on the job, boys. No promises. There was no fire in the grand fireplace, but the broad mantel had two stunning bouquets of peonies that somehow only emphasized that this was the seat of Presidential power. Geneviève Beauchamp Matthew’s hand had clearly been at work here. Sienna wanted to grow up to be just like the First Lady. But as she was neither a tall, curvaceous French-Vietnamese nor a senior level director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, that wasn’t going to happen. The view to her left was even more daunting. Backed by the morning sunlight sweeping in through the curved windows, President Peter Matthews was standing by his desk, leaning down to make some quick notes. It was alarming how much he’d aged. Elected as one of the youngest Presidents in history, barely past the legal age of thirty-five. The seven long years since had definitely taken their toll, but there was still an intensity and a liveliness to him. With just six more months until the elections, he’d be retired in eight. When he was, she’d be out of a job, but she didn’t care.

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