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“Great . . . I’ll try to make it.” Rapp turned his attention away from the kids to Mr. Sourpuss, who was standing on the other side of the kitchen. “Irene wanted me to pick you up.” He checked his watch. “She wants us to get there early so we can go over a few things.”

“I can drive myself,” Nash said gruffly.

“Still pouting, I see.”

Maggie cleared her throat extra-loud and said, “Come on, kids. Let’s go. It’s time to load up.” She took a washcloth to Charlie’s face and then unhooked and plucked him out of the chair. She handed him off to Rapp and said, “He needs to be dropped off at day care. Make sure Grumpy gets the car seat from the back of the van.” She kissed Charlie and Mitch and then walked over to her husband, kissed him, and said, “I love you. Be safe and have a great day. I’ll call you later.”

Thirty seconds later she was gone with the kids and Rapp was standing in the kitchen with Charlie in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. Nash was leaning against the far counter looking at Rapp as if he was trying to figure out if he could take a swing at him and not hurt Charlie.

Nash took a sip of coffee and said, “I have a bruise on my chest.”

This wasn’t Rapp’s thing—handling people with kid gloves. He was tempted to put Charlie back in the high chair and kick his dad’s ass, but that would be a little shortsighted. The only thing that mattered today was getting Nash to the White House. Rapp swallowed his pride, ignored every code he’d ever learned about leading warriors, and said, “I’m sorry. I wish it hadn’t come to that.”

“Come to that . . . that’s your apology.”

Rapp sighed. “Listen . . . let’s talk in the car. There are some things I need to say to you, and . . .”

“And what?”

“When was the last time your house was swept?”

“Probably a month ago.”

“We’ll talk in the car.” Rapp’s word was final.

They left through the side door. Nash handed Rapp a diaper bag and walked over to the two-car detached garage to grab the car seat. Charlie saw the neighbor’s cat and about jumped out of Rapp’s arms. He pointed and bounced and yelled and when none of that worked he grabbed a fist full of Rapp’s hair and gave it a good yank. Rapp was so amused by the kid’s determination that he just laughed.

Once Nash had finished wrestling with the car seat, they strapped Charlie in and were off. Nash didn’t speak for the first minute. When they got to Glebe Road, Rapp said, “I know you’re mad at me, but you have to tell me where we’re going.”

“We’re going to the Dirksen Senate Office Building. You know where it is.”

Rapp thought, Holy cow, he really is losing his mind. Then he jerked his head toward the backseat and said, “Charlie’s day care.”

“Oh, take a left.”

Rapp pulled onto Glebe and said, “Listen . . . I’m not the easiest guy to work with, and neither is Stan, but you have to take a little ownership in this.”

“In what?” Nash asked, obviously irritated.

“You think I knocked you on your ass yesterday because I’m frustrated with my job?”


Rapp shook his head. “I’ve known you for how long . . . and I haven’t once laid a hand you . . . other than that time in the Kush when I dragged your shot-up ass out of the line of fire.” Rapp looked sideways at Nash. “It’d be nice if you kept that one in mind before you condemned me to hell.”

Nash shook his head and looked out the passenger-side window.

Rapp scoffed. “That’s it. You’ve got no reply to that one. I risked my ass to save your ungrateful ass and you’ve got nothing to say.”

“I knew you were going to hold that one over my head for the rest of my life.”

“That’s usually the way it works when you save someone’s life, Mike. To tell you the truth I didn’t think about it until yesterday. When you were being so unreasonable.”

“Unreasonable . . . me?”

“That’s right, Mike. You’re a professional. You know better than anyone that in this day and age you can’t say shit, because it might get recorded. But that didn’t stop you from coming unhinged yesterday. I warned you twice, but you just kept on.”

“And then you hit me.”

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