Saturday Excerpt: Fatal Invasion by Marie Force

The latest in the Fatal Series by Marie Force is definitely a can’t-miss read. Whether you’re an old fan or brand new to the series, this book is a fantastic combination of romance, suspense and adventure! Keep reading to discover more.

About Fatal Invasion:

Fatal Invasion by Marie ForceFirst the fire, then the heat…

A brutal home invasion. Two small traumatized survivors who may have witnessed the horror. Lieutenant Sam Holland has never worked a case quite like this one, in which her eyewitnesses are five-year-old twins. But when Sam steps up in a big way for them, she risks her heart as much as her career.

While Sam and her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, go to battle in more ways than one for her tiny witnesses, her colleague Sergeant Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales battles his own demons. Months of unbearable grief and despair come to a head in an unimaginable way that threatens Gonzo’s status with the department and his relationship with his fiancée, Christina.

With trouble both at the precinct and on the case, Sam struggles to keep her priorities straight at home and at work while trying not to lose her heart to her latest crime victims.

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***

They broke The news to Scotty the next morning at breakfast. “So,” Nick said tentatively, “what would you think if Mom came with me to Europe?”

Thirteen-year-old Scotty, never at his best first thing in the morning, shrugged. “It’s fine.”

“Really?” Sam said. “You wouldn’t mind? Shelby, Tracy and Angela would be around to hang with you, and Gramps and Celia too. We thought maybe Mrs. Littlefield could come up for a weekend or two if she’s free.”

“Sure, that sounds good.”

Sam glanced at Nick, who seemed equally perplexed by his lack of reaction. They’d expected him to ask to come with them, at the very least.

“Is everything okay?” Sam asked her son.

“Uh-huh.” He finished his cereal and got up to put the bowl in the sink. “I’m going to finish getting ready for school.”

“Okay, bud,” Nick said.

“Something’s up,” Sam said as soon as Scotty left the room.

“I agree. He didn’t even ask if he could miss school to come with us.”

“I thought the same thing.”

“We’ll have to see if we can get him to talk to us before we go—and not in the morning,” Nick said.

“I’ll ask Shelby to make spaghetti for dinner. That always puts him in a good mood.” Sam’s phone rang, and when she saw the number for Dispatch, she groaned. “Damn it. You jinxed me!” So much for getting out of Dodge without having to worry about work. She took the call. “Holland.”

“Lieutenant, there was a fire overnight in Chevy Chase.” The dispatcher referred to the exclusive North- west neighborhood that was home to a former U.S. president, ambassadors and other wealthy residents. “We have two DOA at the scene,” the dispatcher said, reciting the address. “The fire marshal has requested Homicide detectives.”

“Did he say why?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Okay, I’m on my way.” Thankfully, she’d showered and gotten dressed before she woke Scotty. “Please call Sergeant Gonzales and Detective Cruz and ask them to meet me there.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Sam flipped her phone closed with a satisfying smack. That smacking sound was one of many reasons she’d never upgrade to a smart phone.

“You’ll still be able to come with me, right?” Nick asked, looking adorably uncertain.

Sam went over to where he sat at the table and kissed him. “I’ll talk to Malone today and see if I can make it happen.”

“Keep me posted.”

A ringing phone woke Christina Billings from a sound sleep. Two-year-old Alex had been up during the night with a fever and cold that was making him miserable and her sleep deprived. Her fiancé, Tommy, had slept through that and apparently couldn’t hear his phone ringing either. He was due at work in an hour and was usually up by now.

“Tommy.” She nudged him, but he didn’t stir. “Tommy. Your phone.”

He came to slowly, blinking rapidly.

“The phone, Tommy. Answer it before it wakes Alex.” He needed more sleep and so did she, or this was going to be a very long day.

Tommy grabbed the phone from the bedside table. Christina saw the word Dispatch on the screen. “Gonzales.”

She couldn’t hear the dispatcher’s side of the conversation, but she heard Tommy’s grunt of acknowledgment before he ended the call, closing his eyes even as he continued to clutch the phone.

 

Christina wondered if he was going back to sleep after being called into work. She was about to say something when he got out of bed and headed for the shower.

Nine months ago today, his partner, A. J. Arnold, had been gunned down right in front of Tommy as they approached a suspect. After a long downward spiral following Arnold’s murder, Tommy had seemed to rebound somewhat during the summer. But the rebound hadn’t lasted into the fall.

In the last month, since his new partner, Cameron Green, had joined the squad, Christina had watched him regress into his grief. He’d said and done all the right things when it came to welcoming Cameron, but he was obviously spiraling again, and she had no idea what to do to help him or how to reach him. Even when lying next to her in bed, he seemed so far away from her.

Sometimes, when she had a rare moment alone, she allowed her thoughts to wander to life without Tommy and Alex at the center of it. She loved them both—desperately—but she wasn’t sure how much more she could take of the distant, closed-off version of the man she loved. They were supposed to have been married by now. Like everything else, that plan had been shoved aside to make room for Tommy’s overwhelming grief. It’d been months since they’d discussed getting married. In the meantime, she took care of Alex and everything else while Tommy worked and came home to sleep before starting the cycle all over again.

They didn’t talk about anything other than Alex. They never went anywhere together or as a family. They hadn’t had sex in so long she’d forgotten when it had last happened. She was as unhappy as she’d ever been. Something had to give—and soon, or she would be forced to decide whether their relationship was still healthy for her. She did not want to have to make that decision.

Only the thought of leaving Tommy at his lowest moment, not to mention leaving Alex, had kept her from making a move before now. She loved that little boy with her whole heart and soul. She’d stepped away from her own career as Nick’s chief of staff to stay home with him and had hoped to add to their family by now. When she thought about the early days of her relationship with Tommy, when they’d been so madly in love, she couldn’t have imagined feeling as insignificant to him as a piece of furniture that was always there when he finally decided to come home.

Christina hadn’t told anyone about the trouble brewing between them. In her heart of hearts, she hoped they could still work it out somehow, and the last thing she needed was her friends and family holding a grudge against him forever—and they would if they had any idea just how bad things had gotten. Her parents had questioned the wisdom of her giving up a high-profile job to stay home to care for her boyfriend’s child, especially when she’d made more money than him. But she’d been ready for a break from the political rat race when Alex came along, and she had no regrets about her decision. Or she hadn’t until Tommy checked out of their relationship. This weekend they’d be expected to celebrate at Freddie and Elin’s wedding, and she’d have to pretend that everything was fine in her relationship when it was any- thing but. She wasn’t sure how she would pull off another convincing performance for their friends. Tommy was one of Freddie’s groomsmen, so she’d get to spend most of that day on her own while he attended to his friend. Dangling at the end of her rope in this situation, more than once she’d thought about taking Alex and leaving, even though she had no legal right to take him. Another thing they’d never gotten around to—her adoption of him after his mother was killed. What would Tommy do if she left with his son? Call the police on her? That made her laugh bitterly. She’d be surprised if he noticed they were gone.

Tommy came out of the bathroom and went to the closet where he had clean clothes to choose from thanks to her. Did he ever wonder how that happened? He put on jeans and a black T-shirt and then went to unlock the bed- side drawer where he kept his badge, weapon and cuffs. She watched him slide the weapon into the holster  he wore on his hip and jam the cuffs and badge into the back pockets of his jeans, the same way he did every day. Holding her breath, she waited to see if he would say anything to her or come around the bed to kiss her goodbye the way he used to before disaster struck, but like he did so often these days, he simply turned and left the room.

A minute later, she heard the front door close behind him.

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