May 3, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: MIND: The Beginning #SciFi #Romance

I've reached the middle of MIND: The Reckoning, book three and possibly the final one of the MIND series. I know the first book had a shaky start, but the story is coming along nicely and I can't wait to see where the new one ends up.

Have you read MIND: The Beginning? I'd love to hear your thoughts. For those of you who haven't, here's Chapter 1 for you to check out!

October the 8th 2033, Saturday

            The taxicab pulled up to the curb, squeaky brakes announcing its presence. Precisely why Dina stopped so far from her destination. After handing the cabbie a fifty, she clutched the canvas bag, exited without a word, and hustled toward the shadows surrounding the nearby buildings. A tiny strip mall with a gourmet pizza shop, cigar bar, and bakery marked the end of the business side of Main Street. None were open, not a surprise at this hour. Sporadic traffic came through the drag as she walked north in the direction of the Sunny Hill Apartments.
            She studied the area, trying to determine where exactly she’d ended up in New Jersey. She’d traveled an hour from New York City and was now near Upper Edgewater, far from any destination she’d ever had in the state. Not her preferred locale either – the town seemed like an upper class foo-foo kinda place.
            Dina turned her attention back to the problem at hand: she needed to make contact. She breathed in the crisp fall air to help clear her head. With no thoughts cluttering her concentration, she reached out to Duncan, trying to make a connection. All her energy targeted him while she continued down the street.
            She willed Duncan to hear.
            Half a block later, a headache formed and she stopped trying to link with him. Same result every time she’d tried the last few days. Nothing. Rubbing her temple, Dina sped up, fearing what she would find when she arrived.
            Duncan always answered her. He’d never let three days go by without responding, no matter what they might or might not be arguing about. This wasn’t like ignoring a phone call. He couldn’t turn his head off, unless he was hurt or dead. Since she knew he was alive, the former applied. Worries about how hurt and why swirled around her head like gnats.
            Dina reached a soccer park on the corner and swung her head around, taking in the location. She crossed the street. Two of the blocks had rows of houses all the way down. On the corner opposite the park, an old Victorian house converted into a hair salon stuck out like a bright pink sore thumb. Dina waved off the bitter chemical smell coming from the back of the property and continued down the sidewalk. Houses on both sides eventually gave way to larger lawns and industrial buildings. She weaved through the curved road until it ended. Beyond a large patch of woods, she noticed a small sign for the hidden apartments.
            The two-story U shaped building came into view a few steps later. Dina slowed, reached into her bag, and retrieved a pair of binoculars. She stopped at the hedges, set the binoculars for night, and peered through. Each section of the U had an apartment, six in total. Duncan’s address was 2B, which logically put him in the upper middle section, right where she couldn’t see from this vantage point. She lowered the binoculars and attempted one last time to link with Duncan.
            Knowing he was here and not answering pissed her off, mostly because it scared her and she hated fear more than anything else. That fear had brought her here. Considering what it took to shake her in her boots these days, Dina would never fail Duncan when it counted.
Never.
No matter what.
            A deep breath, followed by a slow, relaxed exhale helped her clear the clutter from her overworked brain. It took a few extra seconds this time, but Dina did what she had to and reached out to Duncan, at first thinking his name and then silently asking him to hear her.
            Answer me, please, let me know you’re okay.
            Another pinch of a headache came instead of a reply. Focusing on the pain kept the fear tied back. Dina cut crossed the lawn leading to the main entrance. She sauntered up the concrete walkway, searching the second story windows. None showed any light.
            “Can I help you?” a gruff voice asked.
            Dina lowered her eyes to a tall, beefy, ginger kid of about twenty standing before her in some Men in Black get up, minus the sunglasses. “No,” she muttered, turning her torso away from him while slowing her steps.
            “Afraid I can’t let you in,” he said, raising a hand and altering his steps sideways to meet her.
            “And who are you, carrot top?”
            “Security. This is private property. ”
            “This is an apartment building.”
             “Sorry, you’re going to have to leave the premises.” He grabbed her wrist, jerking her off balance.
             “Whoa, don’t touch me.” She kicked his thigh hard enough to make him stumble back a step.
            Ego, perhaps, led to overkill when he straightened full height and pointed a gun at her. “Look, don’t want trouble or a mess, lady. Leave.”
            Dina looked the man right in the eyes. No longer a rookie, but not quite a seasoned pro, he glared back, trying to seem tougher than he was. She needed to link with him to get some answers. He glowered, waiting for her to move. When she felt a solid connection she said, “Do you know who lives here?”
            “Yes.”
            “Do you know who I am?”
            “No.”
            “Then I don’t trust you and I’m done playing around with a rent-a-cop,” she replied, approaching him with a no bullshit stare. “Just put it down.”
            “Can’t do that.” He debated his own words for a moment, fighting her verbal command, then reaffirmed his grip and straightened his arms, the barrel pressed into her collarbone. “Ma’am—”
            Dina didn’t let him finish. She swept his legs, shoving him backwards at the same time with a fist pound to his shoulder. He landed hard, gasping for air, giving her that split second to reach down, press her palm against his forehead, and give her final command. “Sleep.”
            The man’s eyes shut as his body obeyed her. Dina grabbed the gun, popped the magazine out, ejected the loaded shell, and threw all three pieces in separate directions before slipping through the main doors. Half expecting another security guard or two, she smirked in pleasant surprise when she made it to the stairs unseen. A quick glance down each hallway yielded nothing of interest, so Dina jogged up, staying on the balls of her feet when she reached the landing. Inching along the wall, she neared the corner to listen. With her eyes closed, her hearing grew sharper and she detected a slight breath of life.
Someone guarded Duncan’s door. 
            Never one to shy away from her gifts, even if it came down to her looks, Dina knew how to do what needed doing in any situation. Playing the flirt was easiest. She unzipped the black leather jacket to the middle of her breast line to show enough cleavage and red satin bra for attention. After peeling off her gloves and shoving them in her back pocket, she shifted her canvas bag to drape casually over her shoulder.
            Dina rounded the corner, stopped short, and flashed a wicked-sweet grin. “Oh, hi.”
            “Can I help you?” another ginger kid replied, though this one was older and by the looks of him probably related to the one outside.
            “Is Duncan home? I’m 1B,” she said, pointing backwards. “He has my spare.” She must have said something wrong because he removed his weapon and shoved it upward. Her hands shot up in protest. “Whoa, slick.”
            “How did you get up here?”
            Dina met his eyes and forced a link between them. Her anxiety, the fear of whatever had happened to Duncan and even a bit of guilt fueled her emotions, making the link stronger, quicker. Exactly what she needed. “Put the gun down.”
            “Can’t do that,” he repeated the same line his buddy said like some clone. She couldn’t risk an itchy trigger finger so she reasserted her control and repeated the order to lower the gun. The guard slowly dropped his arm. “Okay.”
            “Open the door,” she demanded.
            “Okay,” he replied and unlocked the door with several taps on a glowing blue keypad. Oddly high-tech, but perhaps part of the puzzle. Dina approached the guard, still in his slight trance, placed her palm to his forehead, and put him to sleep, too.
            As he slid to the ground, Dina entered the darkened apartment. Specks of light came from the bottoms of doorframes, not nearly enough to see anything clearly. She stepped lightly, gradually, letting her eyes adjust. She paused at the edge of the dim hallway light to listen again. This time she heard no breathing, took a few more steps.
            Someone touched her shoulder. 
            It wasn’t Duncan.
            Dina instinctively grabbed his wrist, crouched, and jerked the man forward, tossing him over her shoulder. He landed flat on his back. She rose. A dark hand shot out, latching onto her ankle. She spun, attempting to kick him away, but he was much stronger than the two lackeys guarding the building. One hard tug brought her to her knees. Without light, without sight, she was practically helpless. Dina scrambled toward the door. The man dragged her back and stood, looming above.
            His boot slammed into her stomach, shooting pain through her body. Dina coughed, cradling her abdomen, trying not to vomit from the sheer force. She looked up; the man had a weapon in her face. He squeezed the trigger. Duncan shouted. Everything else faded to black.
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