From chapter two, when Ellie meets Katie at the White House residence:

Ellie stood and held out her hand. “I’m glad to meet you.”

The girl ignored the hand. “I think it’s stupid. I didn’t get elected; why do I need babysitters?”


But Ellie cut short her father’s scold. “Because sometimes the threats are aimed at the family. You want to hear what the ones today said?” 

Ellie didn’t wait for her reply, deciding she’d violate the practice of never sharing specifics of threats with protectees. “The first one wanted to fly a plane into the Rose Garden. Not very original. The second was scarier—he was caught with instructions for a homemade bomb before the morning was out. And the third knew you had a friend named Jessie from your middle school in Chicago. We’re still investigating that one. Those were just the ones that mentioned you. The ones aimed at your father…” She shrugged. “They’re garden variety nutjobs, today at least.”

Katie looked chastened, but only slightly. Ellie wondered if anyone had ever told her that every day dozens of threats were called or mailed in, either to the White House or other government offices. “I realize you weren’t elected, and it’s not fair that your life is constricted. We’ll do our best to create as little disruption as possible, but sometimes the restrictions will chafe.” 

The president weighed in with a crooked smile of approval, wisely staying silent.

Just when Ellie assumed she’d won that round, she noticed a movement from the corner of her eye. Something crawling behind the armchair. She instinctively reached for the Sig that was normally under her blazer—and a beige rat jumped on the cushions, next to the president.

He didn’t flinch. “Katie, how many times have I told you, keep that rat in its cage? Or in your room. 

“It keeps taunting the cat,” he explained to Ellie, “who’s too good-natured to eat it.” 

Katie scooped up the rat and placed it on her shoulder. Ellie’s heart rate slowed. A pet rat. She should have known the Princess of Darkness wouldn’t have a bunny.

“What’s his name?” she asked, hiding the queasiness she felt at the sight of the long, hairless tail. 


Ellie gazed warily at the small rodent grooming Katie’s hair.

“She doesn’t like women,” Katie informed her. 

“That’s okay, I don’t like rats.” 

Katie’s frown deepened, and Ellie figured it was only the presence of her father that silenced a rude retort. They were definitely getting off to a bad start, but then, she wasn’t here to be Katie’s best friend. Ellie only had to keep her alive.