January 12, 2021

Smoke Screen

 

 

Smoke Screen
K. Nilsson
(The Blue Trilogy, #2)
Publication date: October 29th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

She was a distraction. He was a mistake.
Now they’re in each others’ way.

Rookie investigator Devyn Foster knows the pain of losing family. It’s what drives her to do what she does – finding the missing and the lost and returning them to their families.

Her latest assignment is no different, finding the computer a whiz who disappeared while working on a mysterious project. Even though his case has gone cold, she won’t let his elderly parents suffer. She will find him and return him back to them.

But that was before the one-night stand that changed everything…

Private Investigator Max Carson has never let anything—or anyone—stop him from getting the job done. So when he’s hired to track down a software program that could change the world, that’s exactly what he’s going to do… until he finds himself in a dead heat with a woman who’s just as determined as he is to get the job done on her own terms.

Now Max has to deal with two problems: how to get Devyn out of the way… and out of his heart.

Read an Excerpt:

Max Carson

Sigma Stormsoft, Culver City


As I drove toward my first case since opening the firm, adrenaline pumped through me. Even though the job was high priority, I had an unhealthy obsession with a blue-eyed fireball.

My client suspected Sigma Stormsoft stole the intellectual property his firm designed for someone else. The consequences were terminal—turn it over or die.

The case was no different from one I solved for The Agency. A company paired two employees on a top-secret project—one employee abruptly departed, leaving the other holding the bag. The firm scrambled to determine if the pair misappropriated the secrets, but they couldn't access it.

The password changed, but the remaining associate did not know it. Further, he was unaware of the colleague's plans; else he wouldn't have stayed behind.

I tracked the missing employee to another tech job. They hired him because he produced innovative ideas, giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace. Those innovations belonged to his prior employer.

Since then, technology firms mark their inventions with a DS, a digital signature. I was skeptical about Miller's assumption the thief was Sigma Stormsoft.

He gave me the job and paid a deposit, staging the payments based on the progress.

The TechKey CEO wanted to review all the files for the secret digital signature. Fat chance. Once I had the data, I would give it to James to examine. I wouldn't have a hand in ruining Sigma's business by handing Miller their technology. I had scruples.

Pulling into the area assigned to the security department, I checked my surroundings and headed for the door.

Misha Unger waited for me, a frown on his face. Unger, my client's "inside man," had been working for Sigma's CEO, Rathmore, for two years. Someone murdered his predecessor. The crime remained unsolved.

No matter how expensive the clothing, the Eastern European couldn't shed his inbred arrogance. I didn't expect the self-important tool would be my supervisor. Miller didn't give me a clear picture of the chess pieces. If he trusted Unger, he wouldn't have hired me.

The pompous man strutted, spoke in a loud voice, and gestured with sharply angled arms to get his message across.

"Come, I take you to security pod and explain you are the new supervisor," he said.

We stopped in front of a door with a code panel. Unger punched in a sequence of digits—the latch clicked, and we entered. Six people staffed the "pod" and they were divided into three shifts—morning, afternoon, and the last watch, which ended at eight p.m.

Brief introductions made, Unger took me to his office and returned with a box. It was a brand-new smartphone. He explained the policy behind the company-issued phone. All employees received one, but it had to remain on the property at day's end—I was sure they had a tracker on them.

"Did all the new employees receive their smartphone?" I asked.

"Yes, all of them, except for Ms. Foster. Deliver it to her later today," replied Unger.

Then he sent me down to oversee the employees going through security. I perched near the entrance.

Flushed, Devyn entered the lobby radiating assuredness. Behind the blue eyes, was a busy mind. Blood rushed to my groin as the lissome woman placed her things in the bin. On one uncommon night, I was the swordsman and she, the sheath. Since then, those eyes unmanned me with indifference. It saddened me there would be nothing more. Just like my mother, and former assistant, Shawna, women were users, both treacherous and betrayers. Since then, I swore off getting close to any woman.

The new smartphone vibrated. Turning my back on the queue, I took the call. It was Unger summoning me back to the pod.

When I arrived, Unger's expression was impatient and dour. He tapped his watch. I was late. He led the way through a door marked Authorized Personnel in block lettering. The security panel required a thumbprint identification to enter. Unger programmed my prints into it by taking my hand and pressing my thumb onto its scanner.

Once the process completed, we entered a windowless room housing eight servers. The thermostat read fifty degrees Fahrenheit, the optimal temperature for the machines.

He logged on to my desktop computer. A blue box prompt asked for a user ID and password. He hunched over the keyboard and typed them in, but the characters weren't visible to the naked eye. Someone encrypted them. He added me as a new user and logged out.

Unger checked his watch. "Go to your inbox. I sent registration link. Set password. It will get you inside servers—I go now."

The firm installed a CCTV app on my phone. It could live-stream every place within a range of closed-circuit cameras. I kept track of her whereabouts on the mobile without being noticed.

At noon, the surveillance staff took lunch breaks, staggering them based on seniority. Stella, a junior member, stayed behind to cover the shifts. I stayed with her, switching the monitors from screen to screen until I spotted Devyn. She entered the dining room with her co-worker and their boss, Steve Leslie.

I seized the opportunity to "walk" her floor and give her the device when she returned.

"Stella, I am going on rounds. Can I bring you anything—coffee, a sandwich, crackers?"

She looked up at me, uncertain if my offer was genuine. "Someone said there's a coffee bar in the computer department. If it's not too much trouble, I'd love a cappuccino."

"Okay."

"Thanks, Mr. Carson." I had a déjà vu moment. Nobody had called me "mister" since I worked at The Agency.

I took the elevator to Devyn's floor. When the doors opened, the department's gatekeeper sat eating at his desk.

"Hi, Pierce."

"Hi, Max."

I showed him the box. "It's Devyn's smartphone."

"She's tied up with Mr. Leslie. I'll give it to her. If she has questions I can't answer, I'll refer her to you," he offered.

Idiot. I knew where she was. I was security. I handed the box to him. Stalling, I said, "Stella suggested I check out the coffee bar."

"It's down the hall."

Waving a half salute, I strolled in that direction. Except for me and the gatekeeper, the floor was deserted. Devyn's room was the third on the right. I glanced toward Pierce to see if he was watching me, but he was crunching on his celery.

I slipped into her office and nosed through the drawers; it appeared most of her belongings were in the locker. She was settling in. The computer was on, but the screen was locked.

Devyn stashed a compact, lipstick, and sexy librarian eyewear in the small desk drawer. I picked up the items, one by one, and examined them. If they were real spy gadgets, she would get fired.

Devyn wasn't here by coincidence. I needed to know her game. The elegant feline required close supervision.

Recalling Pierce say she was tied up, my cock twitched. I pictured Devyn collared, leashed, and under my interrogation. Meow Mix anyone?



Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

K. Nilsson's love of reading began with the Bobbsey twins. When she ran across some Italian True Romance novellas stashed in the attic, the musty serials hooked her on adult fiction. Though black and white photos were dramatic enough to know what the stories were about, she taught herself to read in Italian and translated them to her friends. She's an unapologetic reviewer of books, restaurants, and vacation destinations. An amateur photographer, K. loves taking editorial photos and documenting her travels. Her personal philosophy, sleeping is a waste of time.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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7 comments:

  1. Great cover, it's very fitting for the book title.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree, the cover is a good for for the title. Are the books stand alones?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, Smoke Screen is the second book of the Blue Trilogy. Thanks for asking.

      Delete
  3. Sounds really good. Great excerpt.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This cover is perfect for the title and storyline. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Blue Trilogy and the Improper book series are excellent! Read them if you get the chance.

    ReplyDelete

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