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Preview of Chapters 1 & 2 below

Even when the President is selected at random, politics is still a dirty business. Opponents plan their attacks from the shadows, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Former Army helicopter pilot, Susan Turner is Selected as the next President of the United States.  In order to avoid a nuclear war, she must overcome personal demons and learn to navigate the murky waters of international diplomacy.

Five years ago, the Dove Revolution changed the political structure of the United States.  The President, Senate, and Congress are no longer elected by the public, they are Selected at random every two years.  

A shadow organization known only as The Board, advances their sinister agenda by taking advantage of their anonymity and Susan’s tendency to make brash decisions.  Blackmail, espionage and murder are all in play as The Board manipulates geo-political events to spark a war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

With the help of her former Squadron Commander, General LeMae, Susan Turner attempts to lead the nation through these turbulent times while battling her own internal demons.  Susan is a battle-hardened war veteran but she must learn what it takes to be a world leader.  Nuclear war and the future of the human race hang in the balance.

Chapter One

Susan Turner looked up through a haze of white dust and saw a group of men in black suits huddled around her body. The muffled ringing in her ears overpowered their voices. The men helped her to her feet and they ran as a group toward the entrance to the underground tunnel. Her hearing slowly returned, screams of panic in the hallway replacing the ringing. As they ran, she recognized the men surrounding her were Secret Service agents.

Four agents surrounded Susan as they jogged through the underground tunnel together. Ten yards into the tunnel, she slowed down. In mid-stride, she took off one heel at a time and returned to the pace of the group. There were no words exchanged; they moved together in focused silence. Four hundred yards down the tunnel, the group stopped at two large steel doors. The lead agent opened the doors and light from the helicopter pad above burst into the tunnel.

Before moving toward the helicopter, the agent standing behind Susan shouted into his headset, “Checkpoint Bravo. Waiting for clearance.” He nodded as the response came through and relayed the message to the group: “Let’s move.” They ran from the tunnel into the daylight and across the tarmac to the open doors of the helicopter. 

The agent sitting across from Susan handed her a communications headset. “Ma’am, are you okay? Any injuries?”

Susan wiped the sweat and dust from her face. “No, I’m fine. My family?”

“They’re safe. Your children were brought to a safe location under the Pentagon, and your parents are there with them.”

She nodded. “Is it over?”

He pursed his lips before responding, “I don’t know. I only heard snippets of radio chatter while we were on the way to the helipad.”

Susan leaned back in her seat, cupping her hands over her face and replaying the events in her mind. The group stayed in radio silence for the remainder of the brief flight. The helicopter landed at Andrews Air Force Base and the doors immediately opened. Susan and her security detail rushed across the tarmac and boarded the Boeing 747. She walked onto the plane in her bare feet. Jogging on concrete caused the pinky toe on her left foot to bleed. She left a trail of blood down the center aisle of Air Force One.

Chapter Two

Eight Months Prior

Susan Turner looked over the helicopter instrument panel at the lush green tree line of the Sawtooth Mountain Range in northern Idaho.

The radio crackled in her headset. “Turner this is HQ. Jacobs is on his way out to finish up your shift. We need you back at HQ.”

“Roger that.” Susan Turner focused her attention back to the flight gauges and the timber hanging from cables attached to the fuselage of her helicopter. Just outside the drop site, she brought the CH-47 to a steady hover and contacted the ground crew foreman. “Emerson, this is Turner. Waiting for clearance to unload.”

The ground crew foreman replied, “This is Emerson. You’re clear.”

“Roger. After this turn I’m heading back to the airstrip. Jacobs is coming out to finish up the shift.”

“Tommy and Greg causing trouble again?”

Nobody could ever accuse her boys of being dull. Susan smiled and half-chuckled to herself before responding, “I think so. Nothing I can’t handle.”

Susan gently lowered the last log from the hook to the ground. After the all-clear signal from the ground crew, she pulled back on the stick and began the fifteen-minute flight back to company headquarters. 

She finished her postflight checklist and walked from her helicopter toward the Bighorn Logging corporate offices. Susan kept her shoulder-length brunette hair in a ponytail and wore jeans with a long-sleeved flannel shirt. Her attempts to avoid unwanted attention from the other pilots and loggers were only moderately successful.

She headed to Mr. Frederick’s office to turn in her flight book. In the hallway outside his office, she saw two men in tailored black suits with freshly starched white shirts guarding the door. Susan approached the doorway as if the men didn’t exist. The man on the left took a step forward to block the doorway and held up his right hand. “Susan Turner?”

Susan caught his eyes quickly darting down her neckline. “That’s me.” She casually pointed toward her eyes with her right index finger. “Eyes up here young man.” During her time in the army, she spent the majority of her days fending off unwanted advances. The loggers in Idaho were no better.

The young man’s face instantly turned bright red and he stuttered, “Ma’am, General LeMae is waiting for you.”

As she walked past the guards into the office, Susan noted that both men were carrying Beretta M9 service pistols inside their suit jackets. Her boss, Mr. Frederick, and General LeMae immediately stood up.

General LeMae casually leaned against the desk; with his khaki pants and blue-checkered flannel shirt, he could have been posing for an L.L.Bean photo shoot. He took the cigar out of his mouth and smiled. “Lt. Colonel Turner.”

“Curtis.” Susan nodded her head. “I see you’re still smoking those Montecristo’s. You know they’re going to kill you one day.”

General LeMae grinned. “They wouldn’t dare.”

Susan kept a straight face. “I’ll bite. What’s going on? The file on Mike’s death has been closed for years. I’m done talking about it, on or off the record.”

General LeMae stared at Susan while he took a puff on his cigar. He exhaled and turned toward Mr. Frederick. “Would you mind lending us your office for a few minutes?”

“Of course, sir,” replied Mr. Frederick as he stumbled out the doorway past the security guards. He gave a nervous glance back at Susan as he walked out of the room.

The security guards closed and locked the door, leaving Susan and General LeMae alone. General LeMae walked over to the couch, sat down, and took another long drag from his Montecristo. Susan sat down in the chair across the room and stared into General LeMae’s eyes. “Okay, Curtis, enough with the charade. What do you want? This clearly isn’t a social call.”

General LeMae tapped his cigar and looked out the window. “Susan, I have good news. You’ve been selected as the next President of the United States.”

Susan stared for a moment at General LeMae with cold eyes. She broke the silence. “You know I don’t want the job.”

General LeMae stood up, walked to the window, and paced back to the door. He turned back toward Susan. “We thought you might have this reaction and that’s why—”

“Excuse me? Who is ‘we’?”

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Susan snapped back, “Last time I checked the newspaper, you were a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

General LeMae raised his eyebrows. “True . . . but I don’t have to remind you that after the Dove Revolution, the President, the Senate and Congress are selected at random every two years—”

“So you’re here to threaten me? Nice, Curtis.”  Susan straightened her back in defiance.

General LeMae raised his hand in defense. “All right, slow down, no need to get aggressive with me. I was in the room when the random selections to public office were generated and I knew you’d decline. I’m here as a friend.”

Susan watched General LeMae pace back and forth across the room puffing on his cigar. Her heart raced. She took a sharp, deep breath and exhaled to regain focus before speaking. “My answer is still no.”

General LeMae nodded. “I know you don’t need a reminder, but your official decision can’t be recorded until September fifteenth, seven days from now. Take some time to think about it. As a friendly warning, this year’s selection names are being announced to the public this evening at six p.m.” General LeMae thumped the ashes of his cigar onto Mr. Frederick’s desk.

“That still doesn’t answer the question of why you’re here,” said Susan.

General LeMae briefly looked down at the floor. He picked his head up and looked Susan in the eye. “I’ll be frank. Our relationship with the Soviet Union is headed in a dangerous direction. It’s been over a generation since two nuclear powers have threatened each other in such a serious manner. The country needs a real leader. You’re the right person for the job and you know it. Don’t put that burden on someone who can’t handle it.” General LeMae paused. He could see the frustration and shock in Susan’s face. “When you get your thoughts together, give me a call.” He handed Susan a scrap of paper. General LeMae stared out at the airstrip for a brief moment while taking a puff off his Montecristo. He sharply turned and walked out the door and down the hall, followed by his security guards.

Susan sank into the chair and sat alone in the office.