When a beautiful young woman plummets to her death from the
balcony of the U.S. Capitol, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna
Curtis is summoned to help handle the high-profile case.
Anna is teamed with brash FBI Special Agent Samantha
Randazzo and they discover that the victim is one of the
city’s highest-paid escorts, and the suspect is the
District’s most powerful elected official. This case could
make Anna’s career—or ruin it.
At the same time, Anna’s budding romance with Jack
Bailey, the chief homicide prosecutor, is at a crossroads.
Determined to gain respect in the office, Anna prefers to
keep their relationship under wraps. The scrutiny that comes
with the office’s most important case will inevitably expose
their relationship, if it doesn’t destroy it first.
The investigation leads Anna to Discretion, a high-end
escort service that caters to D.C.’s elite. When a series of
shocking developments turn the case upside down, Anna and
Samantha must race to find Discretion’s remaining escorts
before they become the next victims.
Even now, Caroline got nervous before every big
job—and this was bigger than most. She knewhow to
smile past smirking hotel concierges and
apartment–building doormen who deliberately looked
the other way. The key was looking confident. But
committing a crime in the U.S. Capitol was a different
She tried to radiate authority as she strode up the
marble steps to the Capitol's Senate carriage entrance. It
helped that she was dolled up like a successful K Street
lobbyist: ivory St. John suit, Manolo heels, hair
painstakingly highlighted just the right shade of blond.
Two men coming out of the portico murmured hello to her,
and she smiled as if she greeted congressional staffers all
the time. One staffer turned to watch her pass. His glance
was appreciative but not shocked; she was young and
beautiful, but she looked like she belonged in this world
of high–octane political deal–making. Good.
She stepped out of the muggy August twilight and into
the air conditioned cool of the security vestibule. To calm
herself, she concentrated on the feeling of lace garters
skimming her thighs. This was one of the riskiest moments,
so she arranged her face into its brightest smile.
"Hello." She greeted the two Capitol Police officers
with cool professionalism. "I have an appointment with
Congressman Lionel." Her heart beat like hummingbird wings
as she handed her ID to the officer sitting behind the
counter. The guard just smiled as he cross–checked
the ID against a paper on his clipboard. He scribbled
something down and handed back her ID, along with a
rectangular sticker that said visitor in red. "Just stick
that on your suit, ma'am. Your escort will be right down."
Caroline pressed the sticker onto her jacket as the
second guard sent her Fendi bag through the X–ray
machine. When she was on the other side of the metal
detector, she took her purse off the belt—and
She stood in the quiet entranceway, sensing the officers
checking out her legs. The hallway was 1800s chic: mosaic
floor, arched ceiling, black iron candelabras casting a
golden glow on flesh–colored walls. She'd heard that
the Capitol was one of the most haunted buildings in D.C.,
and she imagined the ghost of John Quincy Adams swirling
through the corridor. Was it always so empty? This was a
private back entrance reserved for congressmen, staffers,
and VIP visitors who'd been pre–cleared. And it was
almost eight p.m. on a Sunday. Most employees were home.
Still, she wished it were busier.
A gangly young man rounded the corner. He wore an
ill fitting suit and sneakers, along with a smudge of
tinted Clearasil on his temple. An intern. "Ms. McBride?"
"Yes." Inwardly, she cringed at the sound of her real
name, but she was an expert at keeping a serene face no
matter what was in her head. Besides, the kid was harmless,
in the way that only a young man wearing his first suit can
be. His sleeves were too short, exposing two inches of
pale, freckled wrists. He reminded Caroline of her little
brother, whom she adored.
"I'm Chester! Congressman Lionel's intern! I can take
you up to his office!"
"Thank you." She walked with him down the corridor.
"So what are you here to see the Congressman about?"
"Constituent services." She smoothly changed
tacks. "What do you do for the Congressman?"
Men—whatever their age—were always happy to
talk about themselves. The intern enthusiastically
described the process for answering congressional
correspondence. "We can send sixty different form letters,
depending on what a constituent asked about!"
He stopped for a breath as they entered the most
beautiful corridor Caroline had ever seen. The hallway
itself was a work of art.
"These are the Brumidi Corridors," Chester said in an
excited stage whisper. "Originally painted in the eighteen
hundreds. Most tourists don't get to see them."
Every inch of wall and arched ceiling was covered in
elaborate paintings of American history. Chester pointed to
the figures of men sculpted into the railings of a bronze
staircase. "The Founding Fathers." He waved at a lunette
painting above a wooden door. "The Goddess of War." Despite
herself, Caroline was impressed.
The clack of her heels echoed off the walls as they
walked into a circular chamber, as large and ornate as a
cathedral. She remembered coming here ten years ago, on a
seventh–grade field trip. This was the Rotunda, the
ceremonial heart of the Capitol. She recognized some of the
iconic canvases: the Declaration of Independence, the
Landing of Columbus. The domed ceiling, 180 feet above, was
covered with The Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco
painting of the first President depicted as a god among
"Wow," she whispered.
For the first time that night, Caroline had a real sense
of the history of the place. It wasn't some TV backdrop. So
much had happened in this building, so many famous people
had made world changing decisions here. Who was she to be
prancing through? She was a fraud.
Then she noticed the paintings of revolutionary America.
Among hundreds of soldiers, explorers, and men in white
wigs . . . she saw only four women. Of those, two were
naked and on their knees.
She felt better. Some things never changed. She wasn't a
fraud— she was a constant.
Chester led her past a sign that said no visitors beyond
this point. They went up a series of curved staircases and
down some empty white corridors, then stopped in front of
an unlabeled door tucked around a corner.
"Here's the Congressman's hideaway!"
She had no idea what a hideaway was.
"His personal office," the intern whispered. "A little
oasis. Where he can get away from the hustle–bustle."
There didn't seem to be much hustle–bustle at this
hour, but Caroline understood the precaution. Her prior
appointments, at the Congressman's regular office in the
less glamorous Rayburn Office Building, had caused
difficulties. She was glad for the privacy this place
Chester pushed the door open and gestured for Caroline
to go in. He himself stood outside, as if fearful of
crossing the threshold. The door clicked shut behind her.
The hideaway was quiet and unoccupied. It looked more
like a sitting room in a nice hotel than an office. The
walls were deep maroon; the floors were covered in Oriental
rugs; a leather couch faced a white marble fireplace.
Pictures of the Congressman in action crowded every
horizontal surface. An antique desk in the corner seemed
less a place to work than a space for displaying more
A door at the back was open to a wide marble balcony
overlooking the National Mall. Caroline's breath caught.
The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial were framed
against a fiery sunset. It was a stunning view, better than
A man stood on the balcony, his elbows resting on the
railing, his back to her. The sunset threw his figure into
dark silhouette. She smoothed her skirt and ran a manicured
hand through her hair. This was the part she liked best.
She was good at it—great, to be honest. She had a
talent for it like nothing else she'd ever tried. It gave
her incredible satisfaction.
She smiled and walked out to meet him.
A woman's scream pierced the stillness of the Capitol
Officer Jeff Cook was on patrol on the Capitol steps.
He'd been a Capitol Police officer for twelve years, but
he'd never heard a scream like that around here. He put a
hand on his holster and turned toward the sound. His eyes
flicked over the scenery until they identified the source
of the scream. There—up the hill—the third
floor balcony of the Capitol's south wing. A man and woman
locked in a jerky dance. Cook couldn't make out the people,
but he knew the geography: That was Congressman Lionel's
The couple lurched left, then right. The woman shrieked
Then the man shoved her over the edge.
The woman seemed to fall in slow motion, emitting an
operatic wail the whole way down. Arms flailed in graceful
circles, legs kicked in lazy swings, as she dropped past
marble flourishes and arched doorways.
A thud. And silence.
She'd landed on the marble terrace in front of the
Capitol. Elegant for walking on, it was a disastrous place
to fall. What would that slab of rock do to flesh and bones
traveling at the speed of gravity?
Cook squinted back up at the balcony. The man was still
up there; he peered over the balcony, then turned and
disappeared inside. Cook ran up the Capitol steps.
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