Welcome to the sneak peek page! A page that is only accessible to the lucky folks who get access to it, so yay you. However, sneak peeks are only up for a week, so enjoy them while they're up.
This week's sneak peek is the 1st episode to my upcoming serial that will be available on my Patreon, which is entitled The Adventures of Swift. Full disclosure, it still needs some work, but I hope we all enjoy the story's potential.
“Give it up, Swift,” the thief shouted from her perch atop the five-story building, watching as the masked crusader fought several of her men at once. The only thing she knew about the woman wearing the snug rubber suit was that she was quickly becoming a pain in her ass.
One of her henchmen went flying backwards after Swift had delivered a powerful uppercut to the underside of the man’s jaw. Swift lifted her head, eyes focusing on the woman in charge. A smile played on her lips, the only part of her face that wasn’t covered by the rubber mask covering her head. “No way, JT!” Swift chuckled. “You’re not getting that diamond. So, hop into your getaway car and get the hell out of Whitevale.”
“Jewel thief,” Swift replied with a coy smirk.
The thief’s top lip curled in disgust and her eyes narrowed, but Swift couldn’t see the glare directed at her because of the black veil covering her face. “That is a terrible name. Do you honestly think you can keep me from getting that diamond, Swift?”
“Oh, JT, I plan on doing more than that,” Swift said as one of the thief’s henchmen came rushing towards her. The thief watched as she grabbed hold of the man’s shoulders, and using his momentum, Swift flipped him over her shoulder, and he landed on the ground with a loud thud.
Swift pulled a gun from the utility belt around her waist and pointed it up at the thief. Seconds later a grappling hook attached to a thick fired out of it, and the hook lodged itself into building a foot below from where the thief stood. She watched as Swift ran up the side of the building as the cable rapidly reeled itself back into the gun. Before she reached the roof of the building, Swift kicked off the side of it.
Swift sailed into the air, and as the cable continued to retract into the gun it arched at her sudden desire to take flight. The thief stepped back a few steps and readied herself for a fight. Swift landed in a graceful crouch a few feet in front of her, the corner of her mouth turned up for a smirk. She stood and tilted her head forward as she said, “Good evening, JT.”
A low growl emitted from the thief. The moniker was so unimaginative and showed how little thought Swift had put into it. “It’s good to see you’re in such high spirits, Swift,” she tried to say in a casual tone, but her words held the bite of her anger. “But you know what they say about those who boast prematurely?”
“No. Please enlighten me, JT.”
The thief took confident strides as she closed the distance between her and Swift and ran the tip of her tongue across her top lip in an alluring manner. When she was close enough, the thief reached out and ran a well-manicured finger down the soft skin covering her nemesis’s jaw. “They fall the hardest,” she whispered as she took a firm hold of Swift’s chin. The sound of a helicopter drawing close could be heard in the distance. “Enjoy your flight south, bird.”
The thief pulled out the weapon that had been sitting in the holster resting at the small of her back and had been hidden underneath her cloak. Not bothering to wait for Swift’s reaction, she pulled the trigger, and a pulse of energy landed in the center of Swift’s chest. The masked crusader stumbled backwards and fell over the edge of the roof.
A dark, sinister laugh came from the thief as she walked over to the edge of the building needing to watch Swift plummet to her death. Her merriment was cut short when she saw that the vigilante had sprouted wings and was gliding gently to the ground as she circled the building. “Got try a little harder than that, JT, if you want to roast me,” Swift shouted up to her.
The wind began to pick up as the helicopter flew closer to the building, a rope ladder hanging from it open side. “I do hate to leave a good fight, Swift,” the thief shouted. “But don’t worry, we’ll meet again. Soon.” The thief took hold of the rope ladder when the helicopter hovered over the building and began to climb up. As soon as she was inside the hovering aircraft, she yelled, “Let go!” The thief settled into one of the seats and stared out of the window. A severe scowl marred her face as she started to brood over her failed second attempt to retrieve the diamond.
The helicopter listed to the right as it flew towards the harbor. The thief was knocked out of her thoughts and she scowled at the henchman sitting next to her. She snatched the headset he held out to her. Once she had it on he asked, “What are we going to do about the diamond now, ma’am?”
The thief’s lips tightened as she stared out the front window. “We’re going to get that damn diamond, but we need to make a pesky bird go extinct first.” The man didn’t say anything further, allowing the thief to go back to her thoughts, which centered on how she would get rid of her biggest annoyance.
Late. So, so, so, late. The thought repeated itself in Isabella Delgado’s mind as she rushed through the crowd of people milling about on the sidewalk. Running around the corner, Isabella almost collided with a woman pushing a stroller. She narrowly missed the woman and her baby by taking a quick step to the side. “Sorry!” She shouted over her shoulder as she kept her hurried pace and quickly headed for the main entrance of the imposing building that sat on the corner she had just come around.
Isabella entered the building, and she slowed to a casual stride as she walked over to the door that had “Authorized Personnel” sign on it. She swiped her badge over the security panel that unlocked the door, and it didn’t do anything. Frowning, Isabella swiped her badge, and still, nothing. She did it several more times, and then the security guard sitting behind the front desk said, “Running late again, Delgado?” He sucked in air through his teeth as he flipped through his sports magazine. “Boss is gonna be mad about this one.”
“Yeah, I know, Chuck. Can you fucking let me in?” Isabella snapped, not in the mood for his brand of douchebaginess.
Chuck tossed his magazine onto the security desk and smirked. “Not with that attitude, missy.”
Isabella bit her tongue in a vain attempt to stop herself from going off on him. Fortunately for Chuck, her boss showed up. “Angela,” she called out as the woman walked over to the door. “Can you let me in? My badge isn’t working, again.”
“You’re late, Delgado,” the older woman pointed out as she swiped her badge over the security panel, which emitted a chime to let her know the door had unlocked. Angela pointed at her and said to Chuck, “She’s with me, Charles, and if you do not get her badge fixed—like it was supposed to be yesterday—I will make sure you get put on the night shift for the rest of tenure here.” She strode through the door, and right as Isabella stuck her tongue out at Chuck, Angela called over her shoulder, “Come along, Isabella.”
Isabella ran after her boss and when she fell into step next to her she said, “Thank you for that. I don’t know why he continues to be a jerk to me.”
“Because his father is friends with the head of security, and he thinks he can get away with murder around here.” They reached the solitary elevator that occupied the small lobby beyond the secured entrance, and Angela gestured for Isabella to get out of the way. She took several steps back as Angela opened a secret panel next to the elevator. A female, electronic voice said, “Please state your full name and position please.”
“Angela Johnston, head of research and development.”
“Good morning, Angela,” the robotic voice said. “Please stand by for retinal and biometric scans.” A palm reading device slid out from a panel that was next to the open one, and the one above it slid open. “Please stand in the appropriate location for retinal and biometric scans.” Angela shifted a little so she stood on the floor markers that put her in the perfect position for the retinal scanner, then she placed her hand on the palm scanner. “Scanning in one, two, three….” Isabella saw the blue glow of the scanner go over her boss’s face. “Scan complete.”
The elevator door glided open and Isabella followed Angela onto it, but her boss turned around and stopped her with a cutting gaze. “What are you doing?”
Isabella stared at her boss, and with some hesitation, she said, “Uh…getting on the elevator?”
Angela released a soft, annoyed breath. “You have to do the scan, or you’ll get us both killed.”
“Right,” Isabella said as a disjointed chuckle came from her. “Can’t forget about that scan.”
Angela rolled her eyes and Isabella mentally berated herself for being so stupid. She had been at this job for six months, and she still felt like a newbie which caused her to do some idiotic things at times. Isabella moved to the open panel that had the speaker box in it. As soon as she stood in front of it the mechanical voice said, “Please state your full name and position.”
“Isabella Delgado. Research and development assistant.”
“I’m sorry, Isabella Delgado, you are not in the database.”
“What?” Isabella looked at Angela. “I was in the database yesterday.”
Angela walked off the elevator and released another exasperated breath. “I’m sure we just need to reprogram you into the system. I’ll log you in as a guest, but stop by security and have them put you back into the system.” She glanced at Isabella out the corner of her eye. “Though if you continue to be late it may be unnecessary.”
“It won’t happen again, ma’am,” Isabella adamantly stated, but a part of her mind laughed because it knew she would be late again.
Once Angela registered her as a guest, the two of them stepped onto the elevator and went down to the secured floors of the building that housed the research organization known as Emerald Technologies and Development. The company did research in numerous fields. From medicine and technology to cosmetics, health drinks, and food production. The organization’s mission was to make life better for humans around the world. How Isabella had landed a job at the company she still wasn’t quite sure, but she was glad to have gotten it.
She walked quickly behind Angela as the two of them got off the elevator and headed for the massive conference room that occupied the middle of main floor for the weekly meeting with the company’s CEO and founder. They opened the door and the woman in charge of Emerald stopped her presentation. “Ms. Johnston, it is a pleasure to have you and Ms. Delgado joining us this morning.”
“I do apologize, Sabine. It seems Ms. Delgado is experiencing some issues with the security systems,” Angela replied effortlessly, not at all bothered by the offhanded comment. Isabella sat next to her boss, a little in awe of her calm demeanor.
Sabine’s authoritative gaze landed on Isabella. “Be sure to speak with technology about your credentials after the meeting.”
Isabella nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” Sabine didn’t normally scare her, but today she seemed to be a bit of an ice queen, and Isabella had no desire to end up on her bad side.
“Before I was interrupted, several of our projects are entering the final phases of being approved by the government. A few will be sold to the military; others will be going into the private sector. The scientists leading them will be the primary points of contact for their respective projects. This means all assistants will need to step up in supporting them over the coming months.” She changed the slide of her presentation. “I would like to congratulate the R&D team for their neurological implant reaching the testing phase. It will now be tested in mice. Hopefully the device will work as planned.”
Sabine turned off the presentation and faced everyone who sat at the long conference table. “I have received word about our bid for the contract with the federal department of health and safety. Our primary competition is Ainsworth Enterprises.” Several grumbles and groans sounded around the table, and Sabine smiled. “I understand the aggravation, but this has been an excellent year for us, and it does seem like the CEO of Ainsworth, Ainsley Breckenridge, plans to take her company in a new direction and away from medical research, which has been its primary focus for the last few years.”
Sabine chuckled quietly. “Little does she know our interests are vast, but under a different banners. Either way, I want you all to compile a portfolio of our contributions to medical community and get them to me by the end of the day. I’ll also be stopping by each department to do my weekly check-ins. Any questions?” She gave the gathered group a curt nod. “In that case go back to work and do something extraordinary today.”
Isabella almost snickered. The company motto was a lame one, but damn if it didn’t drive the staff to make Emerald the top research and development company for all sectors of the country. Angela stood up from her chair. “Go to technology, Isabella. I don’t want you to make me the reason why Sabine’s mood gets any worse.”
“Why is she in a bad mood?” Isabella asked, not used to seeing their confident leader this agitated.
Angela looked around then lowered her voice as she replied, “You didn’t see how tense she got when she brought up Breckenridge?” Isabella shook her head. Body language wasn’t her forte. “That’s her ex-wife and they’ve been in competition ever since their divorce ten years ago.”
“Oh…” Isabella sucked in air through her teeth. “Damn.”
Angela nodded. “Mmm-hmm, and whenever Ainsley does something new it irritates the hell out of Sabine because it means she needs to switch gears, but she can’t because we need this government contract.”
Isabella pressed her lips together as she tried not to laugh. The fact that their company’s goals were driven by their boss’s need to one up her ex was a little comical, but laughing outright in front of her boss would definitely kill her career. Once she felt like she wouldn’t laugh, Isabella drew in a deep breath and said, “Ah, that does put her in a conundrum.”
“Exactly, so it would do you well to do what she said and not cause trouble today,” Angela said as she put her bag on her shoulder.
“I do not cause trouble,” Isabella countered. If anyone caused trouble it was her labmate Tonya.
Angela pinned her down with a pointed stare. “I don’t care who the troublemaker is, but there better not be a sound heard from lab five today. Do you understand?” Isabella nodded. “Good. Go to technology. I’ll push the daily department meeting back until after lunch so you can get this taken care of.”
“Okay.” Isabella turned to leave the conference room. Luckily the technology department was also on the same floor as the administrative offices. The department did work for the company, but it also handled security as well. Isabella’s best friend Elliot worked in the tech department. He was the reason why she had heard about the research job at Emerald.
When she walked into the tech area she found Elliot hunched over a work bench doing something with a soldering iron while wearing a magnifying head loupe. Isabella grinned and snuck up on him. “Mr. Gordon have I told you your ass looks wonderful in a pair of khaki slacks?”
Elliot didn’t look up from his work as he countered, “Like you were really looking at my ass when I’ve caught you looking at Angela’s more than once.”
“Don’t say that out loud,” Isabella said, hitting him in the shoulder.
“Ow, Isabella.” He dropped his instruments to rub his shoulder. “How many times do I have to tell you I am not a meathead, and you cannot punch me like that?”
Isabella rolled her eyes. “I told you to go to the gym more.”
“Not all of us want to be a muscle head like you.” He sighed. “What are you doing here?”
Isabella held up her badge and said, “Access issues. The system told me I wasn’t in the database.”
Elliot released a heavy breath and grabbed the badge out of her hand. The two of them walked over to a computer and he dropped down in the office chair. “You pissed off Annette didn’t you?”
“No,” Isabella replied with a huff. “I turned her down for a date.”
“Why?” He asked before glancing over his shoulder to make sure they were alone. “She seems like your type. Attractive, tall, and sweet.”
Isabella’s face filled with disgust. “It’s like you don’t even know me. Annette is definitely not my type.” She grinned. “You know I’m attracted to those authoritative female types.”
“This place must be a hazard for your libido then,” Elliot mumbled under his breath.
Isabella chuckled. “Trust me, you have no idea, but I do not play where I work. I don’t do office drama.”
“Shocking,” Elliot said as he got up from the chair. Isabella scowled at him and he grinned. “Oh, calm down.” He gestured to the computer. “I have it set up for you voice recognition.”
Isabella sat down and the two of them got her set-up with the voice recognition system, and then they programmed her into the retinal scanner’s database. As they were wrapping up Isabella said, “I’ve got a departmental meeting after lunch, but afterwards we can meet up so I can give you your shot.”
Elliot nodded. “Yeah that will work. How’s your transdermal thing working out?”
Isabella rolled her eyes. “It’s annoying because it doesn’t work like the neurological implant. We’re talking about setting you up with a new set of gonads to deliver the right hormones to your body, but the problem is that it’s not self-sustaining. We would have to cut into you every six months to replenish your hormone supply, and you can barely handle bi-weekly intramuscular injections.”
“Thank you for pointing that out, Isabella, really enjoyed that,” Elliot commented dryly with an eye roll.
Isabella chuckled and said, “I know you did. But, El, we’ve got to hit the drawing board.” She gave his cheek a pat. “I got you covered though. I’m going to keep researching until we find a new way for you to get your hormones.”
Elliot grinned. “I know you will.” He waved at her and said, “Okay, you need to go because Annette will be here in ten minutes, and I need to get back to work.”
Isabella gave his shoulder a light punch. “You are such a bore sometimes.”
“At least I will be a gainfully employed bore unlike some people.”
Isabella flicked him off then quickly turned on her heel to leave the tech department. There was work she needed to do anyway. She and Tonya were making some headway on their newest project which involved replenishing dead skin cells with steam cells. If they managed to find a way to make the cells last longer than five minutes, then the two of them will have come up with a new line of anti-aging beauty products on top of other things.
Isabella drew in a deep breath. She loved her work, but sometimes it got frustrating, and she wanted to go back to arguing with old people about their television or computer warranties over the phone. Giving, her head a slight shake, Isabella decided this was better and she mentally prepared herself for diving into her work.
Isabella bobbed her head to the beat of the song playing in her ears as she read the past notes on her and Tonya’s project. Working during lunch wasn’t a new occurrence for her, in fact it happened quite frequently, but it didn’t bother her that much. She was in the middle of doing an equation when she heard someone clear their throat as the song faded out.
Isabella looked up, and found a gorgeous dark-haired woman looking down at her as she held her tray of food. There was a smirk on her flawless face as she waited for Isabella to say something. Pulling her earbuds from her ears, Isabella smiled. “Can I help you with something?”
“I was going to ask if I could sit with you since this place is packed, but I got distracted by your humming and the massive equation you’re working on,” the woman said with a slight chuckle. An accent laced her words, and though Isabella couldn’t quite place it, since it was a subtle one, the inflection was melodic. “You know what they say about a girl with a big equation, right?”
Isabella moved her books on cell manipulation out of the way, and as she gestured for the woman to take the seat across from her, she remarked, “They have big beautiful eyes?”
The woman sat down and smiled. “That too, but they also have big gorgeous brains.”
Isabella rolled her eyes and countered, “I’m not a hundred percent on tha, but I might be inclined to believe it since you say so.”
The woman’s vibrant, hazel eyes sparkled as she chuckled. “You should because I know a thing or two about beautiful brains.” She held out a hand. “My name’s Ainsley.”
“Hello, Ainsley,” Isabella said as she took hold of her hand and shook it. “Isabella.”
“Such a beautiful name. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Isabella.” She picked up her fork and asked, “What’s a girl like you doing in a café like this with several books on cell manipulation?”
“Lunch and needing to figure out this damn puzzle known as a weak cell wall,” Isabella replied with smile. Flirting with Ainsley came too easily, and she counted off the seconds in her head for when she eventually made a fool of herself. When it came to flirting, and dating in general, Isabella was an idiot savant at it.
“Impressive,” Ainsley commented with an arch of her left eyebrow. “And what do you plan to do with this information once you’ve cracked such a great mystery?”
Isabella studied Ainsley, becoming a bit leery of her. The work done at Emerald was extremely confidential, and her discussing it with anyone would violate her contract. “Another mystery,” Isabella answered coolly.
Ainsley chuckled and took a bite of the salad sitting in front of her. When she finished eating it she said, “Clever. I do adore clever. Since I won’t be privy to this great mystery of yours, Isabella, I’ll ask another question.” She smirked then let out a contemplative hum. “What are you doing tonight?”
“Working. I’m behind on a project,” Isabella answered with a subtle grin.
“Ah, so if I were to ask you to dinner then you would definitely shut me down?”
Ainsley nodded. “Perhaps your number then?”
Isabella pressed her lips together to prevent a smile from forming on her face. She shook her head. “Don’t think so.”
“Why?” Ainsley asked with a wide smile, and her brilliant, white teeth stood out against her light brown skin.
Isabella chuckled as she started to pack up her books and notepad. “I just met you, and I’m starting to think you wanting to sit at my table was a ploy to flirt with me and ask me out on a date.”
“It was,” Ainsley said with a grin. “But can you blame me? An attractive, intelligent woman catches my eye how can I not try?”
“Right, because this is what every woman wants. To be flirted with while eating their lunch.” Isabella stated curtly. She put her books and notepad into her bookbag. “I’m flattered, truly, but I am just not in the right state of mind to do this.”
“What’s this? Dinner?”
Isabella released an exasperated breath. “We both know it’s not just dinner. It’s dinner, endless flirting and drinking, and perhaps a steamy kiss which will lead to the two us ending up at one of our places. Then someone is doing the walk of shame home, never to hear from the other again.”
Ainsley laughed. “I see someone has an overactive imagination, or do you have experience in this area?”
Isabella slid her backpack onto her back and said, “That is a question you will never find out the answer to. Enjoy your meal.”
As she threaded through the tables, Ainsley called out behind her, “I’ll see you tomorrow at lunch, Isabella.”
Isabella shook her head and chuckled as she continued to make her way out of the café. Sure, Ainsley could pull of a well-tailored suit and had devastating hazel eyes, but it didn’t mean Isabella would automatically agree to a date with her. Not only did her interest in Isabella’s work put her off, but there was something about her name that seemed familiar to Isabella, but she couldn’t figure out what it was. Either way, none of it mattered because she wouldn’t be seeing her again.
“I think if we used a plant cell to deliver the enzyme,” Tonya started, “it might last long enough for us to implant it into a stem cell, then we could implant the stem cell into a pre-existing skin cell where it would, theoretically, take over, thus creating a whole new skin cell.”
Isabella leaned back on her stool, and tilting her head back, she placed her pencil on her upper lip. She tried to balance it as she spoke. “We could try it, but why?”
Tonya walked over to her and snatched the pencil off her face. “Because a plant cell has a cell membrane and a cell wall, but the human cell only has the membrane. If we use a plant cell it will give the stem cell enough time to form then we can use an alternate enzyme to dissolve the cell wall, leaving behind a perfectly healthy skin cell.”
Isabella lifted her head and stared at her labmate. It seemed like a crazy idea, but at the same time it was the most plausible one they had at the moment. “All right, let’s go through the plant enzymes, see what works, and hope for a miracle.”
Tonya nodded in agreement then the two of them got to work on her theory. Isabella was using an endoenzyme to wash out the inside of a plant cell when someone walked by the wall of windows for the lab. Not recognizing the person after a quick glance, Isabella continued with what she was doing, but something told her to look again, and when she did she muttered, “Son of a…” She pulled off her latex gloves. “Tonya, I’ll be back. I’ve got to go take a piss.”
Not waiting for Tonya’s response, Isabella quickly left the lab, and as soon as she was in the hall, she turned her head in the direction the person had gone. What she saw Isabella couldn’t believe. Sabine was walking down the corridor, and with her was someone Isabella honestly thought she would never see again. She began to head their way, pretending to go to the bathroom. Sabine stopped her as she passed and said, “Ms. Delgado, how is your project coming along?”
Isabella turned to face the pair and nodded. “Quite well, ma’am. Tonya and I may have a potential breakthrough.”
“Good. I hope you do. I’m excited to see how it unfolds,” Sabine remarked with a tight smile.
“You have managed to impress her. A feat I was never able to accomplish, and we were married,” Ainsley said next to Sabine.
Sabine glared at her ex-wife then looked back at Isabella. “Isabella, I would like to introduce you to Ainsley Breckenridge. CEO of Ainsworth Industries.”
Isabella and Ainsley shook hands, and Ainsley had an overly polite smile on her face. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, what was it again? Ms. Delgado?”
“Yes,” Isabella answered stiffly.
Ainsley nodded and let go of Isabella’s hand. “Beautiful name.”
The two of them held each other’s gaze for a moment Isabella released her quickly said, “Thank you. If you’ll excuse me, I must use the restroom.”
Isabella turned back around and made a swift escape, heading right to the bathroom and getting away from the awkward situation. As soon as she entered the bathroom Isabella walked over to the row of sinks and stared at herself in the mirror.
Ainsley was Sabine’s ex-wife, and she had flirted with her. A short, breathless laugh came from Isabella. She didn’t know what the hell was going on, but she planned to stay far away from it. After activating the sink’s faucet, Isabella splashed some cool water on her face, then got a paper towel to dry it off.
She had just thrown away the paper towel when the bathroom door opened. Ainsley sauntered in, hands in the pocket of her form fitting suit, her gait full of bravado. “I know this is awkward,” Ainsley said.
Isabella couldn’t stop the incredulous noise that came from her. “This is beyond awkward. My boss’s boss’s ex-wife flirted with me at lunch and asked me out to dinner.” She shook her head. “That’s not awkward. It’s a nightmare.”
Ainsley chuckled and said, “I get it, and I’m sorry about what happened at lunch. We can pretend it never happened.” She forced out a short, irritated breath and shook her head. “You were a nice distraction from my horrible mood. Sabine had pissed me off right before I had gotten to the café, and flirting with you made the day a little better, and I liked you and our conversation, so I asked you out.” Ainsley paused. “I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable.”
Isabella frowned, and eventually she decided to take it easy on her. “I understand needing a distraction, so I’ll forgive you.” She flashed her smile. “It was nice seeing you again.”
“You too, Isabella. Enjoy the rest your evening.”
They looked at each other for another moment then Isabella left the bathroom. Yes, having her boss’s boss’s ex-wife flirt with her was beyond weird, and probably inappropriate, but Ainsley wasn’t that bad, especially when she wasn’t being overly flirtatious.
Isabella went back into the lab, and as she walked over to her workspace she decided to focus on the work in front of her and not on Sabine’s striking and likable ex-wife.