ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads) (8 page)

BOOK: ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads)
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Chapter Four

Anita jumped to her feet, her eyes darting from the television to Bruce. “This can’t be happening!”

Bruce stood up at well, walking towards the television, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes either. “Did I miss something?”

Anita glared at him. “What the hell is going on?”

As she said this, she heard the whoosh of a door being opened and the thumping of footsteps afterwards. “What is all this noise about?” Richard asked as he stepped into the room.

Anita glanced at him, her mouth opening to explain the catastrophe that was unfolding right before her eyes. But he looked over her shoulder, his eyes narrowing as he read what was on the screen. “An invasion?”

“This is surprising,” Bruce said in a voice that didn’t sound half as surprised as it should have been.

“It says Palestine is claimed just cause. What did you do?” Richard demanded, turning on Anita.

Anita sucked in breath after breath, but she didn’t seem to be getting any actual oxygen. The room started to spin around her as she struggled to figure out what the hell was actually going on. “I don’t know!”

“Russia’s behind this,” Bruce said, almost physically stepping in between Anita and her father.

Anita turned her gaze to him. “Of course Russia is behind it, but I thought we had time. The resolution was supposed to be a deterrent.”

“Israel is a goddamn sitting duck. This is a disaster.”

Anita could feel her lunch tumbling up from her stomach. “Oh God,” she whispered.

Bruce opened his mouth to say something, but the sharp ringing of her cell phone stopped him in his tracks.

She slipped it out of her back pocket, answered it, then pressed it against her ear. “Did you leak the fucking resolution?” Victoria’s voice filled the earpiece.

Anita’s eyes went wide. “I resent that! Of course I didn’t leak the fucking resolution!”

“Language!” Richard cut in.


Someone
leaked the resolution.” Bruce stared right at Anita, his voice almost eerily level.

“All right, well, someone did. Someone tipped off the Palestinians that we were interfering,” Victoria said.

“It’s a UN resolution, not a private IM message! The word was gonna get out anyway. This is just an escalation of what would have already happened.”

“Only, you didn’t predict this would happen.”

Anita stepped out of the living room. “I’m not fucking psychic. I thought by the time it made it to the UN floor, Russia would have felt the opposition of the entire world against her.”

“This isn’t Russia.”

“This
is
Russia. Palestine hardly has the military to invade another country. How do you think they did this?”

There was a pause, during with Anita could hear the full force of everything that was happening behind Victoria, from excited voices to the shuffling of papers and feet. “We shouldn’t even be discussing this over the phone. Come into the office,” she ordered.

Anita hung up the phone, too frightened of what was unfolding around her to be annoyed with Victoria’s tone. She stepped back into the living room to find both Bruce and her father staring intently at the screen. CNN was showing footage of what looked like Palestinian military over the border. The sound of rapid fire gunshots filled their living room.

“I have to go in,” she said.

Bruce turned to look at her first. “I’ll go with you.”

The two of them muttered a hasty goodbye to Anita’s father before rushing out of the house and to the car they had come in. Anita drove through the eerily quiet suburban roads, not reaching D.C. soon enough. She raced down the highway thirty miles per hour above the speed limit, a tiny voice in the back of her head praying that they don’t get pulled over by a cop, although considering the fact that Thanksgiving Day was well underway, the chances of that were slim.

After almost thirty minutes of driving, she finally turned into the nearest parking garage to the White House. She swung the car into the middle of two parking spots, cut the engine, and then frantically scrambled out, Bruce following her the whole way.

As they entered through the side entrance, Anita took note of the lone reporter on the lawn, grasping the microphone with her left hand and pushing her hair out of her face with the other. After a quick security check, they scurried down the halls until they reached the entrance of the Oval Office, framed with two secret service men.

Anita passed by them with no trouble at all, but as Bruce tried to pass, one of them slammed a hand into his shoulder. She turned, flashing a questioning glare at the both of them.

“Only her,” the man said.

Anita shifted her gaze from Bruce to the men for a short moment, before her urgency kicked in and she stepped inside.

As they shut the door behind her, she saw the president standing in the center of his office, his head turned up but his eyes looking at nothing in particular. “Mr. President?”

When he turned to face her, his bloodshot eyes made her blood run cold.

She gulped. “This is my fault… It was my resolution.”

He shook his head. “No one even believed he could touch Israel.”

“We left them unprepared for too long. Of course he could.”

“Putin knows what he’s doing. He’s starting the next world war.” He shook his head, looking away from her. “Everyone talks about it, but no one thinks that there is leader crazy enough to actually do it.”

“Putin isn’t crazy. He’s gambling. He doesn’t expect a full scale response.”

“America can’t live with herself if she betrays Israel.”

“We need just cause.” Anita took a step towards him. “We can’t just declare war on Palestine like that. We need—” 

“No.” When the president stared at her, she saw the same timid, confused, fearful Holland she had met before his Senate campaign all those years before. She wasn’t even sure he still existed. “Not, Palestine. Russia.”

Chapter Five

“This is what is happening,” Anita declared as she paced back and forth along the rug in the Oval office. “Putin is driving western control farther and farther back. He wants to grip the Middle East and use it as a weapon against us.”

The president nodded, taking off his glasses and placing them on the desk in front of him. A sigh slipped from between his lips as he rubbed his eyes. “Exactly. Which why he needs to be stopped.”

“But war?” Anita asked. She stopped to stare at him, wringing her hands and biting her bottom lip.

“Ever since you left the military, you’ve shied away from it every time it’s reared its head,” Holland said, stepping around his desk.

“A war of this magnitude could quite literally end the world.”

Holland shook his head. “Putin is doing that already.”

Anita shook her head. “If we’re going to do this, we need support. A joint declaration.”

“From who? Europe’s economy is holding on by a string. The last thing the UK, France, or even Germany would want to do is get into the third Great War. This could devastate them.”

“There’s no doubt about that.” Anita looked down at her heels, her mind working a mile a minute as she chased that invisible and illusive solution. “China has a stake in the Middle East.”

“Not enough to start a war, and certainly not enough to work with us.”

“Well, what do you suggest that we do?” Anita threw her hands up in frustration.

Holland shot her an intense gaze, narrowing his eyes as he seemed to be chasing that same illusive solution Anita couldn’t manage to grasp. “We find just cause. We prove that Russia is funding this invasion, and then we get Putin on the phone.”

Anita’s eyes went wide. “To do what? Threaten him? You plan to shower him with empty promises?’”

Holland shook his head. “They would be far from empty.”

Anita’s heart started pounding against her chest, but she tried to keep her stare as even as possible. “We can’t go blindly into war with Russia.”

“It wouldn’t be blind. It’s time the United States asserted itself.”

“Into Middle Eastern affairs? Again?”

“Israel is our ally. We cannot stand by and do nothing.”

“Can’t we just get help?”

“The rest of the world will follow our lead.”

Anita shook her head. “That is a gamble and you know it.”

But Holland had stopped listening to her, he stepped behind his desk and buzzed Victoria in. “Mr. President?” her voice filled the room.

“Get me Hector and John in the situation room, now,” he said as he lifted his blazer off the back of his chair and made his way to the door.

Anita stood in the center of the rug, stunned.

“Are you coming or not?” Holland said, ducking his head at her.

She nodded and followed him out of the office, across the hall and down multiple flights of stairs. By the time they had gotten there, it looked as if John, the General of the United States Army and Hector, the director of the CIA had only just arrived. The two of them stood on opposite sides of the room.

Hector, whose eyes were covered by the baseball cap he wore, spoke up first. “We have two field agents ready to go,” he said, already a step ahead of both Anita and the president.

John spoke before Holland could. “What do you plan to do with field agents?”

“What’s wrong with field agents?” Anita asked, more inclined to defend the director of the CIA than an asshole like John, the trigger-happy United States General.

John ignored her, his gaze fixed on Holland. “Mr. President, if you are planning to infiltrate a base, you need to send people that know what they’re dealing with.”

But Holland shook his head. “I’d rather risk exposing a member of the Intelligence than actual military personnel. If it comes out that we put our military on their grounds, we could be facing a lot more than the decision to go to war.”

John reluctantly agreed, and the four of them went to work mobilizing the operatives. They danced around each other with their words and their bodies, drafting strategies and coming up with plans A, B, C, and D. Anita found that she had almost forgotten the bigger picture, the looming, violent future in light of accomplishing this relatively small task. It was simple: send men into the newly erected Palestinian base to conduct an analysis of the artillery and to trace its whereabouts. Anita found herself almost actually calming down as she sat down at the table and watched the field agents through their bodycams. Until, that is, they were able to determine that the Palestinian invasion was nearly undeniably fueled by the Kremlin.

“Get Putin on the phone,” Holland said, but he didn’t have time for his order to trickle down the ranks. He picked up the phone on the small table in the back corner of the room and started dialing. Anita watched the room spin as Hector took off his baseball cap, squeezing it in his hands. The three of them listened to the president’s words, watched him declare war on Russia.

She racked her brains for any other solution, but she found none. When she took her position at the start of her term, she promised herself she would make a third World War a fundamental impossibility, but for the last three years, a series of short fixes to small problems had led to this moment, right here. The moment that started the third Great War in under a century.

“Russia had it coming,” Hector muttered.

“We all did,” John said.

Anita could only agree with the both of them.

Chapter Six

Anita sat alone in her office, listening to the sounds of the afternoon happening right outside of her window. She leaned over her desk, her hands folded in front of her as she struggled to wrap her mind around what had just happened, what she had just
let
happen. “What have we done?” she whispered.

No sooner had the question slipped out did she hear a knock on the door. “Come in!” Her voice came out horse and weak.

The door opened and Jori stepped inside, shutting it behind her. “The president just gave his press conference.”

Anita nodded.

Jori sat down in the chair across from her.

Anita could feel her harsh gaze. “What is it, Jori?”

“How could you do it?”

“There are no other choices.”

“I disagree.”

Anita shook her head. It wasn’t a question of agreeing or disagreeing. This was life or death. They were faced with two decisions: a bad one and a horrible one. It seemed that everywhere she looked, the world was forging on and dragging her behind it. The United States had been playing the reactionary role in foreign policy for far too long. This was the only thing she could have done. “I don’t know what you expect from me.”

Jori shrugged. “Maybe to be the woman I used to know?”

“Times are changing. People have to change with it.”

“But, aren’t you afraid at all, about how many lives are going to be affected?”

“Every decision I make affects millions of lives.”

“You know what I mean.”

Anita leaned back into her chair. “I’m afraid I don’t.”

“You started World War III.”

“It was going to happen anyway.”

Jori nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. Anita could see her eyes brimming with tears. “As a politician, as a tactician, I have stood behind your every decision from the moment you stepped inside of the White House, because I trusted you. You were my white knight, my infallible hero.”

Anita flexed her jaw. “That’s hardly fair.”

“Rhodes, you were my best friend—”

“Were?”

“Yes, were,” Jori replied as she stood up. She turned to leave, but then stopped herself, chancing one last glance back at Anita. “As a friend, there was a time I would have stood by you, no matter what you did. But that version of you would have been the one I met on my first day of middle school. She was the kind little girl with frizzy hair and glasses, who then turned into the scary badass who graduated high school when she was sixteen, and then became the fearless woman who decided to protect and serve. But she was never this. She was never the suit in an office pushing buttons and ending the world.”

She walked out, shutting the door behind her, before Anita could bring herself to say anything by way of a response. She stood up and rounded her desk. Part of her wanted run after Jori, but an even bigger part of her wondered what she could say. Jori wasn’t wrong, after all; she had changed, and this was big. She was having trouble convincing even herself that she had done the right thing, let alone anyone else.

It was as she stood there, her thoughts hanging in the air, that her door swung open, slamming against the wall next to it. Her head snapped up as she blinked twice, taking in the sight of Bruce standing there, looking disheveled with his flushed skin and his coat hanging wide open. “I have been looking for you everywhere.”

Anita shrugged. “I’ve been right here.”

“I heard what you did, and—” 

But Anita raised her hand. “Okay, everyone just needs to shut up about ‘what I did’. I didn’t make that decision alone.”

Instead of flaring up on her like she expected, Bruce remained curiously calm. “I just wanted to apologize.” He sighed, stepping into the room and shutting the door behind him. “I should have found you sooner.”

“What do you mean? You know exactly where I was. I’ve been with the president all afternoon.”

But Bruce didn’t seem to be listening to her. “I needed to tell you not to go to war.”

Anita rolled her eyes. “Well, if that’s what you barged in here to say, then you’re not the only one. You know what? News flash: no one wants to go to war.”

“You don’t understand—” 

“What? What don’t I understand exactly? I’ve been here longer than you, and I’m just as qualified as anyone else in this House to make those decisions. I’m so fucking sick and tired of people telling me that I don’t understand.”

Bruce crossed her office in three long strides and grabbed her shoulders. “They want a war.”

Anita glowered into his intense eyes, wondering what the hell he was talking about. “And who are
they
?”

Bruce let her go, stepping away as quickly as he had come. “I’ve already said too much.”

Anita set her jaw. “If you don’t have answers, you can get the hell out.”

“Look, I know I can’t you everything—”

“You haven’t even tried.”

Bruce let out a deep breath, looking away from her. “I am not what everyone here assumes I am. I am not a friendly entity. But those that I answer to want a war.”

“Are you a spy?” Anita’s eyes stung with the promise of tears. Her heart fluttered in her chest as she glared at him. “Are you a fucking spy?” She felt dirty just being in the same room as him.

He shook his head. “No. Not exactly.”

“So what are you saying?”

“That I know with all certainty that a war will end us. I should never have drafted that resolution.”


We
drafted it.”

“I manipulated you.”

Anita shook her head. “No. No, you couldn’t have known. I… It’s not like the thought didn’t cross my mind, but it’s just that the chance of it happening was so slim that—” 

“I knew. I have the resources to know these things, and I knew exactly what would happen.”

Anita’s eyes went wide as she stared at him, her mouth hanging slightly ajar. None of this made any sense… and yet it did. “You did this. You started the war.”

The tears that had welled up in Bruce’s eyes had begun to overflow. The large man Anita had met less than a month before, with his posture and his looks and his attitude, had been reduced to this trembling mess of organic matter standing before her. She wasn’t sure if she was more or less attracted to him because of it.

Even though she would do anything to avoid what was already happening. Even though she hated what he had done, seeing him like this, agonizing over a mistake she didn’t even fully understand, made her heart crumble. He’d saved her more than once. He’d made her feel more alive than anyone had in a long time.

And she could think of nothing to say. Every consolatory phrase felt like a lie. So she took the three necessary steps towards him, wrapped her arms around his torso, and rested her head on his chest.

She could feel it rising and falling as he heaved his sobs, his hands clutching to her relatively small body for dear life. They were both shaking in his pain, and when Anita finally broke out in her sobs of her own, she couldn’t tell whether she was crying for herself, or for him.

They stood there for another moment longer, before Bruce buried his chin in her hair and said, “I regret everything.”

BOOK: ALIEN SHIFTER ROMANCE: Alien Tigers - The Complete Series (Alien Invasion Abduction Shapeshifter Romance) (Paranormal Science Fiction Fantasy Anthologies & Short reads)
2.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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