Digital Slave

If Hannah can't find Ian soon, he'll be lost to her forever as a digital slave...

Hannah and Ian face a drugged gang of werewolves forced into working for MAX Home Security while one of their many enemies is hell-bent on revenge. Things get worse when Ian is kidnapped by the werewolves and taken to a secret facility. Hannah will have to use all her resources to find him after someone from upper management stumbles upon Ian’s innate gift of technomancy. If not, MAX may turn Ian into a brainwashed slave to harness his abilities.

Excerpt:

A werewolf's shrill howl sent Hannah Franklin's heart hammering. How would they get out of this? Ian's apartment was on the second floor. It wasn't as if they could make an easy escape through a window, unless either Ian or Bernard had the ability to fly and they hadn't informed her. After the last few months, she wouldn't be surprised.

No, they wouldn't be getting out of here without a fight. Unfortunately, she couldn't picture them coming out unscathed, not against werewolves.

Bernard squealed as another full-bodied bang reverberated from the door. The gnome darted toward her and Ian. "You people are crazy. What have you gotten yourselves into?" He shoved past Ian and rushed into the kitchen, muttering all the way to his gnomish house.

"Hell, I wouldn't mind knowing the answer to that myself." Ian cursed. "We have to get you out of here. There's no way to know how many werewolves are out there, and I don't want you hurt." The intensity in his voice scared her.

READ MORE

By no means did she want this to be their final stand against MAX Home Security's newest minions, but there had to be something they could do.

"I don't want them to hurt you either. Let's just try to make it out of this alive. Both of us. So don't do anything irrational. What's the plan?" Hannah dug through her purse, grabbing the handgun she kept there. There'd been very few times when she'd had to use it, but now was the perfect time.

Ian closed his eyes, extended his hand toward the door, and whispered in the foreign language he used for his magic. The energy in the room spiked, and she scooted away from him, unable to bear the sting.

Hannah aimed the gun at the door. The door wouldn't hold out much longer, wards or not. The wards weren't nearly on the same level as the werewolves. Those feral beasts would rip them apart in this confined space. The gun barely helped to even the odds.

Fear chased through her, and she whispered a prayer, hoping they would all survive.

The clomping of feet on the kitchen's tile floor drew her attention to Bernard, who paced back and forth. "They are too upset to manipulate. They're berserk, if you will. Any ideas, Ian?" the gnome said, keeping his voice low.

"Wards will fail soon. There's no way out of here now, unless we jump the porch. Who says they wouldn't be there too? Or we could break a leg, unable to run... We have to fight. On the other hand, we could ask what they want, if anyone out there has any remaining sanity left. Who knows?"

Ian focused on the door. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. He was fighting to hold the wards in place. That was the only explanation.

The reinforced hinges on the door shook, the wards barely keeping them connected to the door. Regardless of what Ian was doing, the door would soon fail.

"I heard you knocking. What do you want?" Bernard piped up, his voice carrying a thread of panic.

"What are you doing?" Hannah asked, surprise creeping into her voice.

"I'm not going to die today, and if I can help it, neither are you two. I've survived wars, famine, plague, and I won't die now because you two dragged some puppies home. This gnome's ass won't be burned by you two!" Somehow, despite his words, Hannah could tell the gnome cared more than he let on.

A low, growling voice came from outside the door, the words barely recognizable. "We want Ian Bradley, puppet. Give him up, or we will continue knocking until the door falls down. My pack is hungry. If he comes out, we'll leave without eating you two. Maybe."

Another loud bang and Ian dropped to his knees grabbing his head. The top hinge fell to the ground. As he turned his head toward Hannah, she could see his mouth forming an I love you, but the sound was lost to the massive crash of the door.

Hannah was thrust back from Ian as the half-human, half-beast monsters surged at him. She fired off a shot, but one of the creatures knocked the gun from her, sending it sliding to the other side of the living room.

"Now, now, Ms. Franklin, I'd hate if you did anything that might get you hurt." His accented voice was familiar even through the gravelly pitch. He placed a big, furry foot on her chest, pinning her to the ground, then he cocked his head to the side as the other beasts clamped their clawed hands onto her boyfriend.

"Don't hurt her, or I'll kill you all," Ian yelled, thrashing about in their grasp.

Fear curled in Hannah's gut. She hated this. Hated that after all they'd been through, they would be torn apart by werewolves. Literally and figuratively.

"Go with us, and we'll keep her alive. She'll live on, and no one will be the wiser about what happened here. Don't go with us peacefully, and she dies right now." The werewolf stared her down, the pressure of his foot on her chest heavier now.

COLLAPSE

Techno Crazed

He will risk everything to protect her...

Private investigator Hannah Franklin's life is turned upside down after being contacted by a former employee of MAX Home Security, the leader in security services. But they're not just protecting people anymore. Hannah's informant claims to have proof that MAX has ordered the assassination of politicians who stood against the corporation.

When her informant is killed and an attempt is made on her life, Hannah has no choice but to contact a freelance hacker. Her only hope now lies in the hands of a man she never expected to welcome back into her life.

Ian Bradley has lost his girlfriend and his job, as well as having acquired a very annoying gnome. Now his ex, Hannah, is in danger, and she needs his help. Ian vows to protect Hannah with every resource available to him -- and as a technomage in a high-tech world, his resources are almost endless...

Excerpt:

Hannah rested her forehead against the cool, metal desk. She anxiously awaited the moment when she could dive into bed and close her eyes. Cheating spouse cases currently flooded her office. Most of the ones she’d worked were fueled by insecurity and simple misunderstandings that could’ve been resolved through conversation or therapy. Just two more reports to file, then she’d be able to call it.

Memories of her soft blankets and the comfort of her pillow relaxed her bunched shoulders. Her eyelids drooped, and she exhaled, ready to give into her exhaustion.

Ringing jarred her from the edge of sleep. She jerked upright and rubbed her eyes. Clearing her throat, she reached for the office telephone. She used an old landline since they were more secure than the wireless communication devices on the market, which ranged from implants in the ear to high-tech cell phones.

“Franklin Investigations, how may I help you?” she asked, stifling a yawn.

READ MORE

“Is this Hannah Franklin? I need to speak with Hannah.” The male’s deep voice radiated urgency, with panic underlying his tone.

“This is she. Who’s calling?” Her spine stiffened, and tension tightly wound its way through her. She grabbed a stylus pen and poised it over her e-ink notepad. The electronic leaflet awoke within seconds filled with comments from her previous assignment. Tapping an icon in the top right corner, she brought up a clean page.

“Rich Granger. Listen, I can’t talk for long.” He paused. “Shit! Hold on.” Rummaging and his frantic breathing sounded over the phone. “Okay. This is the deal. I used to work for MAX Home Security. Everything was fine until a few months ago. A turnover happened with the corporate execs. You’ve heard the news, right?”
How could she not? Everyone was talking about the scandals involving the home security giant. Some of it was a bit too sci-fi weird, even for her. Yet, it also made her think of… Grrr… No, she wouldn’t do that to herself.

“Yes, I have. What’s this about?” She kept her voice professional and scribbled down notes about the new potential client.

“You know the senators who spoke against them are dead, yeah? Well, that’s not a coincidence. I have proof that MAX killed them. Meet me at the donut shop on the corner of Fifth and Main Street. You need to see this. Shit!” Sneakers smacked pavement and tires screeched over the phone line. “It’s too late,” Rich said. “They’re here. A freelance hacker I know can help you finish this. Malloc. Reach out to him. This needs to stop.”

The hackers she’d met weren’t the most trustworthy, but if he could help… And wait, she’d be finishing this? Alone? Reluctance rose within her. Her caseload was already full. Besides, after opening her own firm, she needed compensation for her time. Bills streamed in faster than paychecks. However, none of her current assignments held this level of excitement. This case could drive in more business.

“All right, I will.” She scribbled down the hacker’s name and notes about the donut shop.

Men yelling and the distant sound of thundering footsteps disrupted her thoughts.

“Mr. Granger? Rich? Hello?” She glanced at the caller ID to write down Rich’s number and turned to her computer, keying in the digits to a reverse lookup search engine. She needed to know who exactly this guy was.

A gunshot blast rang through her ear, and she jumped out of her chair, dropping the phone.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Lisa Kessler, Author wrote:

Fun and unexpected... Sarah weaves futuristic society, magic, and a grumpy gnome into a fun story!

Kinley Baker, Author wrote:

Techno Crazed is a fantastic beginning to the series. The story is full of diverse, engaging characters and fun twists along the way... I can't wait to read more about Hannah and Ian.