THE WHOLE TRUTH (Book 1, Supercharged Files)
by Jody Wallace
Release Date: October 31, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: Long Novel (100K+)
Rating: PG-13 (cussing, violence, sexxoring)
From: Meankitty Publishing
Cover: Venetian Cat Design
Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords
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A human lie detector is hired to unmask a mole but discovers her powers can’t protect her when even the bad guys are superpowered.
Cleopatra Giancarlo is different from your average twenty something career girl. For one thing, she knows when people lie because she can see the truth in their shadows. For another, she doesn’t use her power for good. Or evil. After repeated failures to help others, she mostly just uses it to get deals at Bloomingdale’s. She fears what the government would do if they discovered her ability, yet she longs to find out if there are people like her out there. If there’s anything more she could be.
She gets her wish when two strangers whisk her away from her old life and introduce her to the world of suprasensors. John Arlin and Samantha Grooms represent an organization called YuriCorp, one of many privately-owned firms that employ supras like Cleo to increase their profit margin. Any of these firms would be thrilled to have Cleo on staff, and their methods of recruitment aren’t always friendly.
But even in the world of supras, Cleo doesn’t get to be normal. Her new boss wants her to go undercover and seek traitors in the company ranks. Her new friends know what she can do and how to work around it. And her new assignment might end up with her in a coma–or worse.
Note: This books stands completely and totally alone despite me saying it’s the beginning of a series. Book 2 of the Supercharged files will get written if enough readers ask for it. Otherwise I have to write the things that editors and readers ARE asking for :/
***** EXCERPT FROM: THE WHOLE TRUTH *****
Scene 1, 2500 Words
I see shadows. But not dead people.
When they found me, they weren’t ninjas, just garden-variety men in black. Excuse me, people in black. The frustrating part wasn’t that they invaded my home but that I should have been expecting it. After all, I’m the only person I’ve ever met who can do what I can do. Besides write advertising copy. Anybody can do that as long as they have a penchant for buzz words and hyperbole.
No, as far as I know, I’m the only freak like me in existence. I should have been ready for this to happen. I should have had a bag packed, with stylish travel wear and airline-friendly cosmetics.
But I didn’t. They caught me completely unaware. I’m stupid that way, even if I can discover any truth by asking the right questions.
I got home from another late night, after a normal week at work, if there is such a thing. I unlocked the door, cursed it when it stuck, and had almost kicked it shut when I noticed them.
A man and woman I’d never seen before were in my living room watching my newest indulgent purchase. Wait, technically that would be my new Kate Spade purse. While it’s sparkly, it doesn’t do any tricks worth staring at. They were watching my widescreen TV.
The man rose when he noticed me, as if he always stood when a female entered the room. He inhaled audibly but made no sudden moves.
Had I surprised their….illicit TV viewing?
“What the hell are you doing in my house?” I asked from the safety of the foyer. I would have taken off without asking questions, but they didn’t seem aggressive. I mean, they’d been absorbed in Andy Griffith.
The man’s lips parted slightly. Then he gave a sharp nod.
“Cleopatra Giancarlo?” he asked, smoothing the lapel of his expensive suit.
“Maybe.” I propped the door open with my toe, tensed to run. “Maybe not.”
“I see you were working late again, Miss Giancarlo,” he said.
“Working late isn’t a crime.” Unless you were a mobster or something. When the man didn’t respond, I continued.
“Who are you people?” Let them try to claim they were friends. Let them try to lie to me. I didn’t step away from the door.
The man glanced at the woman. She shrugged.
“My name is John Arlin. This is my partner, Samantha Graves. We’re happy to meet you, Miss Giancarlo.”
Their actual names, and they were honestly happy to meet me.
Samantha reclined against the arm of my sofa with my cat—my cat!—in her lap. I hoped Boris got hairballs all over her spiffy tweed.
She smiled at me. Her teeth were unnaturally white. “Shut the door,” she said. “You’re letting in mosquitoes.”
I backed onto the porch, only to notice a gigantic man in a dark suit step out of a vehicle at the curb. He was nearly twice as tall as the car. He waved.
Safer inside or outside?
Outside lurked their giant. Inside I could see their masks if they lied. I went in, closed the door, and held my keychain at the ready. I’d read somewhere you could stab people in the eyeball with your key to incapacitate them. Provided you had the guts to do so.
“Please don’t feel threatened. We just want to talk.” John adjusted a sleeve and glanced at his watch. His dark jacket parted to reveal a crisp white dress shirt and…
Did I see a holster?
“You’re in my house without my permission. I feel threatened.” I inched into the room, toward the phone, my cell having disappeared in the depths of my work satchel three days ago. I knew it was there because I could call myself. I just couldn’t find the damn thing.
“I apologize for that. Time has become critical, and it was expedient to meet you in private, instead of making an appointment.”
Was it true? I squinted, trying to detect the shadow that formed around the faces of any liars in my line of vision. No darkening. He was being honest.
It occurred to me that John and Samantha could be the people who wanted to buy the house from my landlord. The old coot threatened to sell the place out from under me every time I complained about the parking lot, if you could call a ten foot wide section of rubble a parking lot.
John continued. “Dinner’s in the fridge. Pastrami and jack on sourdough.”
Good guess…but the sandwich put him out of the running for home buyer. “You didn’t break into my house to talk sandwiches. Why are you here?”
“We have some information for you about an opportunity,” he said. “Will you hear us out?” He had yet to display a mask, the shadow veneer that appeared in front of a liar’s face, which did ease my nerves. That didn’t mean I was going to let my guard down.
“Cut the solicitous crap. What do you want? My television?” I doubted it, because their car outside wasn’t big enough to transport it, but bravado seemed smarter than fear. “Take it, I have renter’s insurance.”
He stepped closer, and I became aware of the fact he was tall, not to mention built. I was short. Could I key-poke his eye or not? More like his throat. Wasn’t the spot between your collarbones vulnerable? I patted my non-key-holding hand against my breastbone to check, my heavy work satchel thumping my hip.
John picked up my cordless telephone from the bookcase next to the couch and extended it to me. “The minute we make you nervous, dial the police.”
“I’m nervous right now.” I pressed various areas on my throat to test which was most stickable. Nervous people did that, protected their throats, or their boobs. I guess they were protecting their hearts, not their boobs.
“Sorry.” He tilted his head down. “Would you prefer to eat first? You must be hungry. We got the sandwich from Mazio’s.”
How could they know my favorite eatery was a dive three blocks down on the east end?
An ugly suspicion rose in me. A nightmare of a thought. They knew all these things about me because they’d been spying on me. Watching where and what I ate, how late I stayed at work.
“I’d prefer that you leave,” I told him.
“We’ll leave as soon as we talk to you.” He stepped closer, still offering the phone.
“I think you should go now.” I snatched the phone but John held onto it, keeping me within arm’s reach. His nostrils flared and his pupils dilated, and for a minute I got the distinct impression he was smelling me.
“John,” Samantha warned. “You’re creeping her out.”
He shook himself. I returned to the relative safety of my foyer with the handset. Since Mondo was in the street, I could make a run for the neighbor. So what if he wasn’t home? They wouldn’t know that.
Oh, wait. They probably would. My fingers found the nine. I pressed it, then a one. John pursed his lips and fingered his Snoopy tie. Snoopy?
They waited to see if I’d dial a third number. If they meant me harm, would they give me the chance to call for help? Maybe I should hear them out.
We all stared at each other until Samantha said, “What a soft, fluffy cat. Is this Boris or Natasha?”
I contemplated the additional digit on the phone. “Why do you know all this stuff about me?”
“We know all sorts of things about you. That’s what we’re here to discuss.” The woman slid Boris off her lap and rose.
First thing I noticed was she was really short, too.
Second thing I noticed was she had on four-inch heels, Manolos, which meant she was actually shorter than me. Mine were two-inch kitten heels, the same rose pink as my tiered ruffle skirt and blouse.
You know, that thing about secret servicemen in black isn’t true. Samantha had on a tweed suit. I know tweed’s the new black, but I was pretty sure John’s Snoopy as the Red Baron tie wasn’t regulation at Ye Olde Agency.
“You guys aren’t from the CIA, are you?” I asked. “FBI? NSA? Homeland Security?” The main reason I’d kept myself to…myself was my inherent fear of the government and what they’d want from me if they found out. You could only tip off the cops so many times before they got suspicious, and pretending to be psychic only works on television.
Samantha Graves smiled, and her long-lashed, blue eyes twinkled as if we were sharing a joke. She had a perfect, shiny black bob without a hair out of place, and she couldn’t be more than a size three. I could hate a woman like that.
“That’s correct, we’re not from any of those places. May I call you Cleopatra?”
“Not unless you want me to finish dialing 9-1-1 for the murder I’d be forced to commit.”
I had yet to see a glimmer surrounding either of them. They had yet to answer any of my pertinent questions.
John Arlin’s gun holster beeped the theme song from Shaft, breaking the tension, and he pulled a cell phone out of it. Phone, not gun. He spoke. “Arlin. Yes. Five minutes? I thought we had two hours. No, no problem.” He clicked it off, and he and Samantha exchanged a glance.
“Miss Giancarlo,” he said, “could we convince you to go on a drive with us? Your cats, too.”
“Go with you? Do you think I’m insane?”
Samantha minced up to me and tilted her head to the side like a bird. “Do you think you’re insane?”
“No.” When you live with this affliction as long as I have, you develop great skill at getting people to confess the truths they aren’t telling. You realize you aren’t nuts.
“We read your blog. We’d been wondering about you, but the post yesterday cinched it.”
“My blog?” I kept an online journal called The Whole Truth. It’s part diary, part social diatribe, where I vent my frustrations about what liars people are and how screwed up the world is because of it. I’m not crazy. I don’t go around listening to politician’s speeches and unveiling the truth behind their words. That would attract attention of the wrong kind.
So much for all those precautions I’d taken to remain anonymous. The question was whether this was the wrong kind of attention—or the attention I’d always dreamed of.
“Your blog,” Samantha agreed. “We know what you can do, and so does at least one other group. You’ve got to make a choice and make it now.”
My stomach flopped. The moment of my own truth was upon me, and I had no idea how to handle it. “Is this where you say, ‘Come with me if you want to live’?”
John frowned. He looked so serious and concerned for my safety it was cute. And frightening. “We won’t hurt or coerce you in any way. They might.”
Of all the times not to see a mask! The air around both unwanted guests was as clear as lip gloss.
Whoever was coming was bad news. At least, John and Samantha thought so. “All right,” I said. “Where are we going, for how long, and why do you want to take my cats?”
“Trust us.” Samantha clasped my hand between hers. Something deep inside me warmed and tingled in an “I just ate homemade chicken soup” way. My uncertainty eased, though I still wondered how much danger was I in. Were these guys secret agents? Was the other group, the one they said was coming?
Would I be dissected? Hidden away in Area 51?
Did they know whether or not I was from Mars? No, Venus.
“You’re making the right choice.” John’s steady brown gaze locked with my own. He was really quite attractive. “We won’t force you to do anything you don’t want.”
Samantha dropped my hand. I swallowed hard, my gut, my instincts, leaping around like a fish on the hook. “I need to get my—”
“We don’t have time. Rest assured, it’s all been taken care of.” John leaned behind my sofa and snagged a cat carrier with Natasha, my white hellcat, already in it. Ooooh-kay. She lurked against the back of the crate, her eyes slitted with fury.
“Can they ride together or will we need the other carrier?” He pointed to a second blue crate behind the couch.
“Natasha needs her own space.” Especially considering what Boris usually did in the carrier. “I assume we’re using that black car out there? Boris would do better if I held him.”
“We can’t take the chance he’d get loose,” John said. “Can you help me?”
I scooped up the yellow tabby from the couch. John and I popped Boris into the crate while Samantha got a brown sack from my fridge.
“Let’s roll,” John said.
“I got your dinner.” Samantha smiled and held up the bag. “Diet Dr. Pepper, too.”
“Wow, you have been keeping track.” I’d only switched to calorie-free beverages a week ago when a lady at work asked me if I’d lost weight—because her mask said something else entirely.
“Your blog is very entertaining,” she assured me. “Just so you know, I disagree about the ten pounds, but it’s your body.”
No shadow! It shouldn’t have excited me as much as it did, not when my life was in danger. Or something. Suddenly, I wished my affliction was the ability to stop time and make people tell me what was going on. That would also help during Quentin Tarantino films.
Samantha hooked my arm and hustled me out the door, into the dark sedan, where the other guy, taller and broader than John, opened the back door for us to slide in.
“Hi, who are you?” I asked, hoping for a lie.
“Alfonso.” Alfonso the Ape Man. He checked the street both ways and hurried to the driver’s door. “Cats in back. Psytech’s almost here.”
The carriers fit on the seat between Samantha and me. Boris, the coward, yowled out his terror and pissed. Natasha yowled out her disgust at Boris’s actions and tried to claw Samantha through the small slits in the crate.
Samantha wrinkled her nose. “Aw, poor kitty. Sorry you’re so miserable,” she said.
Around her face, a thin shadow winked into existence.
I smiled. Gotcha.
Her eyes widened and she pinched her mouth shut.
We sped off, our tires—I swear!—squealing.
“Who exactly is behind us?” I angled Boris’s carrier so his pee wouldn’t slosh on us and the car seat. I poked my finger through the slats and wiggled it.
“The competition,” John said over his shoulder.
Samantha laughed. “The government is hardly what I’d call competition.”
She had no mask.
Somehow that worried me even more than being politely kidnapped by people who knew I had mysterious powers—and how to work around them.
(c) 2013 Jody Wallace