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by Alex Kava
Description: Sabrina Galloway is the top scientist at EcoEnergy, leading the company's research team to a successful breakthrough in the quest for an alternative fuel. The promise of a cleaner tomorrow and the economic impact on world markets could be staggering. Then she makes an alarming discovery: someone has tampered with the production process, resulting in toxic waste leaking into the Florida waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. Fighting mounting terror fueled by too many accidents and untimely deaths, Sabrina pieces together the grim puzzle. The evidence points to a cover-up orchestrated by the chief executives of EcoEnergy. Now her determination to expose the company's secret has placed her in the crosshairs of a conspiracy that reaches further than she could ever imagine--America's biggest traitors are lurking behind the doors of one of the highest offices in the land. Desperate, Sabrina flees the company with damning evidence, aware that an enemy with eyes and ears everywhere makes each move a gamble. Running for her life with nowhere to hide and no one to trust, Sabrina knows her next step could be her last....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2007
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [637 KB]
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"A fine topical thriller involving terrorism, government coverups and toxic waste... Engaging supporting characters include Leon, a funky hit man losing his touch but not his heart, and covert operative Natalie Richards, "a black Emma Peel." Kava lightens the seriousness with some deft touches of humor. Genre fans weary of serial-killer fare will find this a refreshing read." - Publishers Weekly -- Publishers Weekly
"4 Stars!" - Romantic Times -- Romantic Times
Thursday, June 8
EchoEnergy Industrial Park
Dr. Dwight Lansik refused to look down. He hated the smell wafting up from the steel grates beneath his feet, reminding him of an odd concoction—fried liver, raw sewage and spoiled meat. He knew that no matter how many times he'd shower or how hard he would scrub—leaving his skin red and bruised—he'd still be able to smell it. That's why he usually avoided the catwalks overlooking the tops of the silver-gray tanks and the maze of pipes that connected them. He especially avoided walking over this particular holding tank, its massive lid left open like a huge, smiling mouth while the last trucks of the day emptied into it. But this was exactly where Ernie Walker had asked to meet.
That was Ernie, always wanting to emphasize whatever his moronic point might be by going to the extreme. Just last week the man had insisted Dwight meet him directly under the flash-off water pipe so Dwight could feel the excessive heat for himself. "Ernie, you could have just told me the damn thing's too hot," he scolded the plant manager, who had simply shrugged and said, "Better you feel it for yourself."
As much as he hated to admit it, Ernie was right. Had he not dragged Dwight to the Depress Zone he would have never discovered the real problem, a much more serious problem than an overheated flash-off water pipe. And how would he? His job kept him down in the lab, exactly where he was supposed to be, where he preferred to be, analyzing and calculating cooking times and coking temperatures. He dealt in recipes and formulas.
His wife, Adele, used to tease him and the memory brought a sting. She'd been gone almost a year and he still missed her terribly. Yes, she used to tease him—or was it goading—that he could break down any carbon-based object, including himself, just by looking at it. To which he confessed he already had. At a lanky hundred and fifty pounds he knew he amounted to exactly thirty-one pounds of oil, six pounds of gas, six pounds of minerals and a hundred and seven pounds of sterilized water. But that was the sort of thing he was supposed to know. He certainly couldn't be expected to know whether or not every depressurization valve was fully functional or that all distillation columns remained unclogged. That was Ernie's job.
However, it wasn't Ernie's job to mess with the computer program that regulated and controlled the process—the directions and temperatures, which stage, how long and how fast the feedstock moved through the pipes, what was depressed and separated and released. No, that wasn't Ernie's job. It was supposed to be Dwight's and only his. As the creator of the software program he was the only one with the authority and the access to change it and make adjustments. But those greedy bastards found a way to override it, to override him. And now Dwight hoped Ernie hadn't discovered yet another telltale sign before Dwight had a chance to do something about it.
Suddenly Dwight grabbed the railing to steady himself. Had the steel grate beneath him started to vibrate?
He twisted around to look toward the ladder at the end of the catwalk. Would he even be able to hear Ernie climb up the wobbly metal slats? The safety earplugs muffled all the mechanical churning, the hissing and clanking of the pipes and coils that zigzagged from tank to tank, the hiss of hydraulics and the whine of rotors and pulleys, even that sloshing of the liquid below. Despite the momentary sway, there was no one where the railing ended.
He waited, expecting to see Ernie's hands reach up over the top of the ladder that poked up toward the sky. Another tanker truck rumbled below, grinding gears and sending up a cloud of diesel fumes. And the catwalk started to vibrate again. There were no hands on the railing, no sign of anyone coming up. Perhaps it had only been the truck's vibration. That or Dwight's imagination.
He adjusted his safety goggles and checked his watch. End of the day. Where the hell was Ernie? Dwight had hoped to leave a bit early, but now he'd be stuck in traffic. The men at the airport Marriott would end up waiting for him. Did he care? Why should he? They couldn't start without him. They had nothing without him. After several brief phone calls he knew they wanted any information he had. Hell, they were lucky he had decided to do the right thing.
It was his grandmother who had insisted he be named after the great general Dwight D. Eisenhower, but never once in his life had Dwight Lansik acted like a general. Instead, ever the meek, obedient soldier or servant churning out the brilliant, heroic work and letting everyone else take all the credit. It was about time he took charge. And so what if he was a little late getting to the hotel? It wouldn't matter. These guys were chomping at the bit for the information he had, anxious vultures, ready to rip and shred and destroy everything he had worked so hard to create. They'd wait.
He forced himself to look down. The soupy glop they called feedstock sputtered and swirled beneath him in the 2,500-gallon tank, waiting to get sucked down and into the massive, sharp blades that would chop and dice and mince it all into pea-sized sludge. Putrid gases erupted from the mixture quite naturally without any electronic interference or prodding. No, this stink was not man-made, but simply the natural and inevitable results of dumping together rotting slaughterhouse waste: slimy intestines, rust-colored blood and bright-orange spongy lungs floating and bobbing alongside rotting chicken heads with the eyes still intact and staring. Surely chickens had eyelids?
Copyright © 2007 by S. M. Kava.