Back to Home

Clara sat with her daughter Cheyenne in the middle of the living room of the safe house hidden in the mountains. It was the first time they were all together since Christmas last year. It would’ve been the perfect family reunion had the circumstances been different and if Rafe had been there too.
Cheyenne was still in a state of shock. Only hours before she was with her husband, Steve. They were planning on taking a trip to the Capitol so the President could meet his first grandson. Everything ended when Steve’s phone rang.
“Honey, you need to eat something,” Clara reminded Cheyenne. The young woman shook her head. Clara was worried because her daughter had not cried. The boys said Cheyenne had sat stoic since she arrived at the safe house.
“Mom!” Noel, her oldest son burst into the room. “You need to see this!” He picked up the TV remote and turned it on. It was one of those old flat-screened TVs where the images were not projected through a hologram.
Brice, the youngest Dalton, had also come into the living room with Jordan. They all stared in horror at the scene on the screen. They saw a group of armed men in the Oval Office with the Vice President. The latter sat on one of the couches, but he looked far from comfortable.
“Hello, Mr. President,” one of the men said. The message was obviously for Rafe. “Like the coward you really are, you fled and left your people to suffer in your stead.”
The man’s face, unlike the others in the room with him, was uncovered. He grinned into the camera like a crazed maniac. “And in the absence of the President, the Vice President, of course, holds the office. This is what should’ve happened to you.”
The camera zoomed in to focus on the Vice President’s face. He held a phone to his ear. He put on a brave front, but his eyes were as round as quarters.
Clara felt Cheyenne grab her hand tightly and sob. She squeezed her daughter’s hand. She had to be strong for all her children and the people who were doing their best to keep the First Family safe.
They all watched as the phone the Vice President held give off a spark. Clara waited for an explosion, but it did not come. But what happened next was no less horrible.
The Vice President began shuddering and his eyes, while still open, lost focus. In a matter of seconds, blood started trickling out of his nose, eyes, and mouth. His mouth opened in a silent plea, but no sound came out.
Everybody watching could see that the Vice President was in agony. The shuddering stopped as suddenly as it had begun and the poor man’s lifeless body slumped and fell to the floor.
Cheyenne cried out loud as she saw a familiar scene. It was exactly what had happened to Steve. “Mom!” she sobbed.
Clara wished she could turn the TV off, but they were all frozen by what they’d just witnessed. The terrorists had killed the Vice President with a phone.
It was Jordan who finally reached for the remote that Noel still held. She turned the TV off and sat down in one of the armchairs. Clara looked at her gratefully. She felt as though her entire body had turned to jelly. The only strength she could muster was focused on holding her grieving daughter.
“Dad’s gonna stop him,” Brice said defiantly. “He’s gonna stop all of them, isn’t he Mom?”
Clara nodded, not trusting her voice to sound as confident as her son’s. She was terrified of what those men would do to him. But she was more afraid of how he would react to the televised murder.
“We’re safe here. There are no smartphones anywhere in the house or with any of the secret service agents here,” Jordan reassured everybody. “And yes, Brice. I’m sure your father will make sure they pay for what they did.”
Clara gave Jordan a grateful smile. The younger woman was a rock. She had not wavered since their escape from the White House. She knew she could trust Jordan with their lives.
They all sat in silence for a few minutes with only the sound of Cheyenne’s sobs breaking it. Jordan stood up and quietly walked out of the room.
Jordan waited for the water to boil. She used to laugh at her grandmother who said tea was the solution to every problem. Yet there she was, preparing it for a family that had just witnessed one of their members being threatened.
Her hands shook as she reached for the cups. She had to stop and take deep breaths so she wouldn’t alarm everybody else with the sound of breaking china. Everybody was already feeling on edge.
She almost jumped out of her skin when the kettle started whistling. “Get a grip!” she scolded herself silently. She was luckier than most people, in a way that she never thought was possible.
She had lost her parents when she was young. They died in a car crash along with what would have been her little brother or sister. Her mother had been two months pregnant according to the doctor who had broken the news of their death in the emergency room.
She was sent to live with her father’s mother who took care of her until her dying day. Who would’ve known that losing her only known blood relation five years ago was going to be a blessing? At least she didn’t have anyone to worry about.
But she knew that was a lie. She was as worried as everybody else in the other room. She took her role as the President’s Chief of Staff to heart. That man, while not old enough to be her father, had indeed treated her like family.
Her hands seemed to function automatically as she prepared tea for everyone. She was searching through the cupboards for a tray when Noel entered the kitchen.
“You need help?” the sixteen-year-old boy asked.
He looked like he needed something to keep him busy. Jordan knew how horrible it felt to sit helplessly as the world seemed to fall into chaos. “Can you check those shelves over there for a tray?”
Noel did as she asked without a word. “I don’t see any. But there are these huge plates,” he offered with a forced smile.
Jordan smiled back. “That should do. We can stack the cups on one, and use another to for the tea, milk, and sugar. I couldn’t find any lemons.”
“It’s okay. Mom will understand. Maybe we can go outside and check if there are any in the garden.” Noel was trying to sound relaxed.
“Sounds good. Let’s ask Sidney if we can all step outside for a bit later.” She prepared everything swiftly and had lifted one of the plates when Noel spoke.
“Why are they doing this? That brotherhood?”
“Brotherhood?” Jordan raised an eyebrow.
“Yes. The man…the one who spoke, he had a band on his arm. It had some words on it, but all I could read was ‘brotherhood.’ Why are they doing this?”
For the first time in hours, she felt a ray of hope. Noel had gotten information they could use to learn more about the threat. She looked at the pained expression on the boy’s face and remembered the question he had asked.
“Noel, people do a lot of crazy things for a lot of reasons. Some do horrible things to protect what’s important to them. It could be people they love, a faith they believe in or for power.” She paused and carefully thought of the next words she would say. “We don’t always easily understand what other people do because…well, because we haven’t lived through what they have had to live through.”
“So you think they have a reason? That what they’re doing is right just because they believe in it?” The boy’s voice sounded indignant.
“No. Whatever their reasons are, it doesn’t excuse hurting and killing people. It doesn’t give them the right to terrorize the entire world.” She felt herself get stronger with every word she uttered. “And it’s our job to make sure that they don’t win. It’s our job to not give in to the fear they want to use to cower behind.
She looked at Noel who nodded but still looked confused. “That’s what your dad believes in. And you can be sure that he will find a way to fight this. And when we’re all ready, Noel, we will be there to fight with him.”
She smiled at the boy who was able to smile back more confidently at her. “Let’s get this tea to them. Cheyenne might need something stronger, though,” he remarked.
Jordan laughed out loud. The sound seemed foreign even to her. “Don’t underestimate the power of a good cup of tea.”