MOONLIGHT Excerpt

 

Buy Moonlight by Arshad AhsanuddinApril 2042; the White House, Washington, D.C.

Alexander Collins, the Vice President of the United States, stepped into Kevin Daniels’ private office after a perfunctory knock. He was short, but powerfully built, and his arrogant bearing made him seem like a lion dressed in a gray suit. Daniels looked up at the intrusion and frowned. They had been allies on the ticket in the beginning, but their interests had diverged after Los Angeles, when the supernatural world had exploded into the light. He had no doubt that Collins was involved somehow with the movement to delegitimize the Armistice, that the preparations would have required the support of one of the moderators of the Senate, but he didn’t have enough evidence to actually make an accusation.

“What do you want, Alex?”

Collins planted his feet on the other side of the President’s desk. “I’m told you’ve employed a rogue Sentinel on your daughter’s protection detail.”

Daniels tossed the file he’d been reading carelessly on the desk. He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Yes, I did. He didn’t ask to become a Sentinel, so why should I penalize him for his ancestry?”

Collins rolled his eyes. “That’s very egalitarian of you. So what’s the real reason?”

“What makes you think there’s another reason?” Daniels asked with a scowl.

“You interfered in the internal workings of the Secret Service to have him reinstated, and you ordered for him to be designated specifically as your daughter’s bodyguard. There’s already been political fallout in the ranks from your blatant favoritism toward a metahuman, not to mention the obvious conflict of interest between his loyalties to us and the Armistice. There’s something underhanded going on here, and you’re willing to take the flak for it for your own reasons.” Collins leaned forward to rest his hands on the desk and glared at the President. “Exactly what do you and Jameson have cooking?”

Daniels leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head. “I don’t see what business it is of yours.”

Collins sat down in one of the other chairs without any further invitation. “You might be happy enough to be labeled an Armistice sympathizer at the end of your career, but I still have aspirations left, and I have no intention of letting you torpedo my re-election because of your misplaced trust in those freaks. Now tell me why you brought one of them in.”

Daniels smiled grimly. “Not a chance.”

Collins ground his teeth together, apparently to keep from shouting. “I’m going to find out, Kevin. Sooner or later, I’m going to put the pieces together. And when I do, we’re not going to be chatting about it in your office. Either you tell me what I want to know, privately, or I’ll go right to the press as soon as I discover what you’re up to.” He leaned forward to fix Daniels with the intensity of his expression. “We can still be allies, Mr. President, but you have to trust me.”

Daniels weighed the pros and cons in his mind. True, Alex would be a valuable ally to have in my corner, but could his loyalties be trusted when the chips were down? Probably not. However, if Collins followed through on his threat to find out Andrea’s condition, then revealing it to the world would destroy any chance she would have at a human life, not to mention sever the bond of trust between father and daughter. In the end, it comes down to one simple question: Do I think he has the skill and tenacity to actually ferret out the truth?

There were any number of ways that the Vice President could identify Andrea as a Sentinel, from using their intelligence services’ advancing knowledge of Sentinel physiology, to employing Sentinel or vampire agents to test her. Can I be sure she’ll be safe if I don’t bring him into my confidence? No, not really. Either I trust the one man, or I’ll have to rely on the discretion of the whole army of men that he will throw at the problem. “All right, Alex,” he said finally. “I’ll fill you in, but if you endanger my daughter in any way, I swear that I will have you killed. Are we clear on that?”

Collins drummed his fingers on the desk. “Crystal.”

Daniels laid his hands back down on the desk and ordered his thoughts. “Andrea is a latent Sentinel.”

Collins whistled in surprise. “Jesus. No wonder she’s been all pissed off lately.”

“No, that’s just Andrea being herself. She doesn’t know yet.”

“Then how do you know?”

Daniels exhaled a deep breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Nick felt the Gift when he shook her hand at the wake. He wanted me to keep her in the country to make sure she’s safe, but I wouldn’t take that freedom away from her. So we compromised, with him offering extra protection in case the Court of Shadows catches wind of what she is and tries to eliminate her.”

Collins’ eyes narrowed. “So she’s a latent Sentinel. Lots of people are. The Court doesn’t bother to kill latents. There’s just too many of them. Not to mention the fact that she’s your daughter—her death at the hands of a Nightwalker would galvanize the entire country against them. There’s something more, isn’t there?”

Daniels took a deep breath. “She’s the Wind of Air.”

Collins stared at him. “And knowing that, you sent her back into Court territory?”

“I can’t make her a prisoner. She’s safe as long as no one knows. I couldn’t have pulled her out of school without an explanation, and she would have demanded a reason.”

“You could have come up with a pretext.”

Daniels steepled his fingers in front of himself. “If I lied to her, then she would never have forgiven me when she eventually found out.” He sighed again. “And she will find out, Alex. It’s inevitable. I just need to buy a little time for her anger over Catherine’s death to cool off, and then I’ll tell her. She’ll see reason then, I hope.”

Collins shook his head slowly in disbelief. “Kevin, you’re gambling with your daughter’s life. Are you really that cold-blooded?”

Daniels scowled at him. “My career already cost her a normal childhood. Should I take her youth, as well? She’s almost done with the school year. Once she finishes, I’ll give her the facts and let her make her own decision. That’s all I can give her—a few more months of being human before her life implodes. Until then, this is the best way I can think of to protect her.”

“This is going to end badly,” Collins said. “You know that, don’t you?”

Daniels picked up the file he had discarded and opened it again. “If it does, I’ll know exactly who to come looking for when it’s time for payback, Alex. Now keep your mouth shut and get the hell out of my office.”

 

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