How long has it been since I’ve done teasers, previews, etc. of what I really write?
You know what? It’s been too long, and I think it’s ripe time to rectify the problem. :)
In the event that my regular (musicians and music lovers alike) forgot, I write fiction books. Specifically, urban fantasy/sci-fi. A series about a group of friends and their superiors who act as the universe’s police force and crime investigators, it took shape in 2006 and I have written a book a year since. And in 2009, I gave in to the self-publication bug and released Book 1: Mages. Book 2: Secrets followed right before I went to Berks. I’m often the girl with a notepad in the back of a club, with one eye on the stage and one eye on the story.
I have called upon Gayle (The Editing Queen) once again and it is now time to release…Book 3: Lineage. Featuring some old characters, and giving face to some new ones, it throws the regular characters into 34th Century New York with a new twist on an old, unsolved issue.
Now, every book has its dedication. Book 1 is dedicated to the friends that have stayed me on course when I first said, “I think I’ll write a book” in spite of 18 credits my senior year of college and a 12am – 4am workshift. Book was written at several nightclubs – notably, the soon-to-be-reopened Cutting Room – and thus, goes out to them and, of course, my editor. Book 2 was the first book for which I had an editor and my gods, did I need an editor.
Book 3 was inspired mostly by two friends, both of whom I would trust with my life easily, and both of those guys have one common trait, even though their personalities are damn near opposite: they both tend to occasionally drive me nuts.
However, I would like to showcase one particular scene out of Book 3 here, and this is from Chapter 3. I gutted and re-wrote most of it, after a bout of the Exposition Condition. This scene, however, remains a favorite of mine, and features a new character.
Click to continue reading, and kindly leave a review. Expected release date for Book 3 is Christmas 2010.
Jason was not the type of person to be puzzled easily, but the latest report from Brookdale had left him rather flummoxed.
It was not a feeling that he liked.
“What the hell is going on?” he muttered. “None of this makes any logical sense!”
Caren was not the first phone call that they had received over the past week with a similar problem: tracked and confirmed shipments came up short after the preliminary inventory confirmed that everything was accounted for. Someone on the inside of all those hospitals was smuggling the supplies out, after the shipments were taken into inventory.
One case of inventory shortfalls he could understand, especially if it were a group of unscrupulous or disgruntled employees. But six other hospitals? And especially considering that this same thing was happening throughout the year? Charlotte had even gone so far as going after the supplies to see what was going on, and apparently stumbled on something big enough to warrant her staying there – without any contact their way. Det. Jacob Warren of the NYPD, though he could do nothing past filing the intergalactic reports, still knew better than to chalk it up to unscrupulous employee theft, what with the dead scientists turning up. Nonetheless, there seemed to be no connecting pattern, save for the fact that everyone affected was within the medical and pharmaceutical fields and nothing pointed to a suspect or a motive.
Irritated, he reached over to the intercom. “Alex?”
“Get in here.”
Alex showed up within moments, concerned. It was rare that Jason called him in for any reason whatsoever; either he would walk over to Alex’s office or they resolved the matters via intercom.
“Something’s not right in former Denmark?”
Jason’s frank stare confirmed it. “Took the words right out of my mouth.”
Alex’s hazel eyes trailed to the report printouts on his partner’s desk. “And nothing about production projections interests you at the moment.”
A wry chuckle. “Does it sit well with you that so far, a total of seven separate hospital administrators called me with the same problem in twenty-four hours?”
“And now you see why I’m preoccupied,” Jason noted. “It’s safe to say that our old problem is back and, as before, has no solution.”
“What are you doing about it?”
Jason shrugged calmly. “This is happening on their ends. I told the hospitals to call the PD and launch their own internal investigation, but really, not much I can do.”
“You’re sometimes quite full of it, Jay,” Alex chuckled.
Jason shrugged; a picture of nonchalance. “Only indemnifying us from any liability on our part, no more and no less. Besides, might as well give Caren something to do. Else she’d be calling us, won’t she?”
Alex couldn’t help but laugh outright. While he certainly had no tolerance for Caren’s incessant phone calls, he dealt with her by going through the motions, if only to get her off the phone faster. Jason dealt with her also, but he added a certain touch to the conversation by asking the direct questions that Alex stifled. Considering that it was always the same issue, there was never a dull moment in Caren’s clash of word and wit against them both.
“What about going into the inventory directly?” Alex queried. “Caren’s technician gave me access after the first round of shipment trouble.”
Jason thought it over for a moment and stood. “Go for it. The computer’s all yours.”
Alex sat down at Jason’s console and tapped a few windows on the screen that took him to the Brookdale employee login page. He typed in the appropriate passwords and a chime echoed from the speakers as the database loaded.
“Well and good…” Jason mused from over his shoulder. “Let’s check out whom they have.”
Alex navigated to the employee activity page and started to scan the list.
“Weird,” he muttered when he scrolled over the inventory employees.
It was certainly odd; Brookdale had grown to be one of the most developed hospitals in the Metro area and had enough employees that there was always definite activity in nearly every department, even the ones that have gone fully computerized. Even with a fully-mechanical inventory system like Caren’s, Alex expected to see a flurry of employee activity because shipments were a near-constant.
“This is strange,” Alex muttered as he went into the shipping-and-receiving reports. “I think I may’ve found part of our problem. Look at their shipping notifications.”
Jason leaned closer towards the screen. “I know that’s a lie,” he said as he perused the list. “We arranged for seven deliveries for the past three days alone.”
“So why is it saying that they only had one throughout the past week?”
Jason pressed his lips into a thin line as he contemplated. “Someone has to be tampering with the records, knowing that we’re looking… Unless the access is outdated and they update only when the supervisor logs in. Brookdale is one of New York’s busiest hospitals in this day and age. You might want to check on the supervisor’s log.”
Alex typed in a few more commands, and the screen spat out Access Denied.
He tried different passwords, and each one elicited the same response.
He turned to his business partner. “Huh?”
Jason was more flummoxed now than before he had called his partner in. “If it’s on their end, why would they reset the suppliers’ access to shipping-and-receiving supervisor logs, especially after we had to dogfight with IT to get it to begin with?”
Jason snorted. “And I’m the King of Old England.”
Alex let the sarcasm slide. “So, now what?”
Alex was surprised at the abruptness of that. “Just wait?”
“I don’t think things will change significantly between now and the next few days. I’ll talk to my guy at the IT department and we’ll chat with Jacob, but not tonight.”
“Going somewhere good?”
Jason’s grin was rakish. “There’s a festival going on in Old Gramercy. Coming?”
“Can’t. The bank wants to see me about the employees’ IRAs.”
“Give Natalie my best,” Jason smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
After his partner left, Jason folded himself back into the leather chair and stretched. It was already dusky outside, the sky had turned into a graying sort of purple with the setting sun and he was not far from his destination, only a mile or so uptown from Gramercy Park.
Music was something that kept his drive where it was and if he ever did need to focus, a background soundtrack was often what he needed. After a week like this, with a puzzle that he couldn’t figure out, Jason Watson was very happy indeed that events like the rock and fusion festival in Old Gramercy were around.
As he walked onto the parking levels and the landing platform, he couldn’t shake off an odd feeling that he wasn’t seeing the entire puzzle. The pieces were there, but for whatever reason, they just did not fit.
Though the train of thought was distracting, his takeoff was nonetheless smooth and the bike left little exhaust as he soared back to the New American Building spire. It didn’t take him long to spot what he was looking for.
A tent was set up in the middle of Gramercy Park and as Jason directed his airbike down to a parking area, he caught strains of rock music. Even from the air, it started to soothe his strained nerves, and he made a mental note deal with Caren in the morning. There might be something in the reports, whether hers or his own, that would clue him in to what was really happening.
However, now was not the time to think about work. With a smile, Jason set the security on his bike and left the parking lot, heading straight towards the tent.
A rousing blast of electric guitar echoed from the stage; the bass player’s fingers keyed the string, the deep line soothed Jason’s taut nerves almost immediately. The rhythm of the song was well-paced and Jason couldn’t help the little spring in his step as he spotted a group of friends in the crowd. In fact, it wasn’t long at all until he was in about five conversations at once.
He loved every minute.
The band onstage changed, and Jason ventured a little closer, wanting to catch more of the music. He stopped thinking about what had happened earlier in the office and let himself drift on the peace for a while.
It’s good to let go.
The festival continued well into the evening; Jason did not mind or care for time, having been used to little sleep since his college days. Music was one of the few things in life that he would continue to stay up for until his last days, right next to a spectacular sunrise, a trip to a new place, and any person that caught his attention and curiosity.
“Sir? It’s two in the morning.”
The stagehand tapped Jason on the shoulder, jolting him back to reality.
“Oh. Well, have a good night.”
As he walked, he resumed his analysis of events, and still nothing made sense, even after a music-filled moment of rest.
Seven hospitals, all of which had inventory go missing after it was logged. Some were hospitals with the prior inventory problems – Brookdale had them the longest, and he was halfway sure that Charlotte had been hiding somewhere in the hospital compound for a time – and others simply had no other person to advise them. Some of the affected hospitals were new clients, others were long-standing. The only commonality they had was the nature of the problem and since Jason and Alex were all too well-acquainted with it, they always heard it first. News traveled fast in the pharmaceutical field.
It was odd, having to call in intergalactic assistance for a theft issue, but considering that there was no resolution in sight by any other means, it never hurt to call in a consult. Neither Alex nor Jason had expected to have the consult answered by a personal visit. Of course, they also hadn’t expected Charlotte to hide after the fact, but if anything, she had done so to protect the company and them.
However noble the act, the question remains to what she found that was so damaging that any association would be putting us in danger, Jason thought. She went in and found herself in over her head. But what did she find?
It wasn’t an easy line of thought to entertain.
The streetlights glinted off Jason’s breeze-stirred copper hair as he walked back through the crowds and said his goodbyes to some of the musicians whom he spotted in the crowd. Along the way to the parking area, he had several people approach him in more casual conversation.
“Coming back next time?” the coordinator asked Jason cheerfully. “We owe plenty to KramerMed and definitely want the partners here.”
“I don’t come here because of signatures, Sam,” Jason responded with a smile. “You know that I’d be here even if I were a hauler for the firm.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” Sam waved him off. “But Alex and you do fund half of the festivals around New York.”
He chuckled. “Yes. Still, where would we be without the occasional break?”
“Only too true.”
Jason continued walking, the music still echoing in the back of his mind. It was a good break indeed, one that he would probably carry into work tomorrow. He needed to be relaxed if he wanted to figure any of this out.
Where are the supplies going; who is taking them, and why are such extensive steps being taken on the receiving end to cover everything up? No way would Morham and Calhoun ever violate a confidentiality agreement, if such was presented to them, but the way they resurfaced…
Jason shuddered as he remembered the details of last year, particularly the scientists turning up on body bags. Though Drs. Calhoun and Morham were the ones that stood out, similar incidents repeated throughout the world, and not all of them had connections to KramerMed.
He was about to enter the parking area, and he still couldn’t shake the thought that he was missing the bigger picture. The circumstances, though they seemed obviously connected, had no concrete links aside from industry.
Surely, there’s something else. Something else that Charlotte knew that she hid from us in order to protect us…and Alex especially, considering she let him know that she had to go, even at an obvious risk to her own life. The question is, what did she hide?
Suddenly, Jason’s vision blurred and flickered.
“What the..?” he muttered as he paused in his stride. He blinked, struggling to clear the sudden disorientation; it was as though he was about to collapse into the deepest sleep of his life.
However worrisome, his eyes and mind cleared within moments, and he continued inside the parking area. He took no more than two steps before his eyesight blurred again.
He was unconscious before he hit the ground.