by J.J. Massa
A girl can't choose who her parents are, but Tabitha Baker isn't complaining. Her mother died when she was young, leaving her with a psychic gift and precious memories. Her father loves her, though. He's a good man—the entire country agrees. They just don't know their president is her father. Her lineage is a state secret. Everyone has secrets, but sometimes it's a real problem.
Garth Cavanaugh is a Secret Service agent assigned to the President of the United States. He doesn't tell most people that, only his family. His twelve brothers and sisters all work in various fields of law enforcement. He'd like to introduce them to the woman he's dating, but she seems to be hiding something, maybe even someone. Whatever it is, it's big. He wants his family to meet the woman he loves—not watch him nurse a broken heart. That he can do by himself…
Tabitha Baker walked into the bar shivering and seated herself near the end. It was a relaxed kind of place.
“Double Bourbon,” she ordered when the bartender stopped in front of her.
“You got a preference?” he asked her, bored.
“What can I say?” she smiled, “Jim Beam Black or it doesn’t really matter.”
The bartender grinned. “I think we’re gonna be friends, honey.”
Jimmy’s was a comfortable neighborhood bar that reminded Tabby of the establishment from the TV show, Cheers. She sipped her drink and relaxed, grateful for the laid-back atmosphere. Tabby wasn’t looking for companionship. She just needed a drink and a moment around people. It was nice to hear voices yet not be expected to interact.
Tired of unpacking and organizing her things, she’d decided to explore her new surroundings. Her new townhouse was in a nice neighborhood and she had walked for a few blocks. It was cooler here than it had been in her South Carolina home. She had found the bar at the perfect time; the bourbon would warm her for the chilly walk home.
“The minute you put that glass down, you’re my best friend,” Tabby grinned back at the man.
Laughing, the bartender set the drink on the highly polished bar and took the money for it, moving away.
As she sipped her bourbon, Tabitha reflected on her move to Maryland. The main reason she had relocated to the Washington, DC area was to be closer to her father.
She shuddered, fighting back the cold chills that took over every time she thought about the assassination attempt just months ago, his first year in office. It had been so scary and upsetting. The shock and fear was still so great that she couldn’t stand the idea of missing one more minute with him. It was her deepest fear that he’d be killed that way, even though he hadn’t been injured in the shooting.
Tabby had known that she wouldn’t see much of him in person when she moved to Washington, but she would see more of him. Tabitha Baker was the best-kept secret in Washington—maybe the entire country. Her father was President of the United States. It was at his request that she’d moved north.
She had been so young when her mother died. Serena Baker’s much older husband had only recently died when Tabitha had been conceived. Later, she had made it clear to her daughter and close friends that she loved Langley Dalton, Tabitha’s biological father. Serena had the ability to see the future and didn’t want anything to stand in the way of the good her lover would do for the country and its people.
“Need anything else?” the bartender was back, pushing a bowl of pretzels in front of her.
“I’m all set,” she smiled, lifting a pretzel to her lips. She really didn’t feel like talking, just thinking.
The bartender nodded brusquely, a smile in his navy blue eyes. “I’m Dave. Let me know when you’re ready for another one.” He winked and moved away.
She smiled, feeling comfortable. He seemed a nonthreatening sort of guy. When her hand wrapped around the shot glass, though, she felt a little jolt. Although indistinct, her inner vision told her that Dave wasn’t as mild-mannered as he seemed.
Tabby had the ability to tell things that had happened by touching objects. It was both a blessing and a curse and she was very careful about what she touched.
She didn’t have the ability to see the impending events like her mother had—not in the same way. When she began researching something, she would automatically know what information would be needed in the future and how best to find it.
Looking into the clear, copper colored liquid, Tabitha thought about her home. She’d lived in South Carolina most of her life. Although she’d traveled to spend time with her father sometimes, she was used to South Carolina. She loved it there.
She’d attended an all girls’ school in South Carolina after her father was elected the neighboring state’s senator and had been required to move to Washington, DC. Tabitha’s legal guardians, Elaine Taggart and Clive O’Brien had gone with him, as part of his staff.
Although the University of South Carolina had supplied some of her college education, Tabby had transferred to Meredith College, a woman’s university, after achieving her associate’s degree. Late in her second year at college, she began having trouble with a male student.
At the time, Tabby hadn’t wanted to tell her father about it, so she’d moved to Raleigh, not too far from home, although it was not on the coast and she didn’t like it as much. After working hard, she’d gotten her degree there and had tried to start a life. Things hadn’t gone too smoothly and she missed her father. She’d be happy in Washington, of course she would.
Without speaking to anyone, Tabitha finished her drink and prepared to go home. As she headed for the door, she ran into another patron, literally. The man was completely nondescript, though for some reason, he made her uneasy. She didn’t see him follow her as she slipped out the door.