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Though she’s tried out professions ranging from cleaning sea lion cages to cloning glaucoma genes, from patent law to training horses, Jessica Andersen is happiest when she’s combining all these interests with her first love: writing romances. These days she’s delighted to be writing full-time on a farm in rural Connecticut that she shares with a small menagerie and a hero named Brian. She hopes you’ll visit her at www.JessicaAndersen.com for info on upcoming books, contests and to say “hi”!
Sydney Westlake made her move a half hour before the shift change, when the armed men who guarded the compound on Rocky Cliff Island would be at their least vigilant.
Tiberius was too smart to have a clockwork-regular schedule for something as important as security, so the armed forces that guarded the mansion and surrounding grounds worked randomly staggered shifts. After eleven months on the island, though—three of them as a prisoner—Sydney had found patterns in the randomness.
Today they were on what she’d dubbed “Schedule C,” which meant the guard post located directly between her quarters and the boat dock would change shifts at 1:40 a.m. God willing.
“You can do this,” she said to herself. “You have to do this. For Celeste.” Her sister’s name had become a mantra, something she held on to when her bravery faltered.
At first Sydney had told herself she was helping her ailing twin by staying on the island off the Massachusetts coast and working for Tiberius. She’d been trying to find a cure for the insidious genetic condition that was slowly killing Celeste. The obscenely large income being funneled into an offshore account was an added draw, allowing Celeste to stay in their wheelchair-friendly, restored Victorian in Maryland with a personal aide, rather than moving to an assisted-living facility of some sort. It had all seemed like a godsend when Tiberius first contacted her through his figurehead company, Tiberius Corp.
Now, though, she knew better. Tiberius wasn’t a philanthropist and he wasn’t a visionary. He was a monster, a sociopath, a self-professed businessman who wanted to use her discovery to do terrible things. Or rather, sell it to other criminals, who would use it as a smokescreen, hiding their identities while they did God only knew what.
She had to stop it from happening.
Trying not to betray her nerves, she crossed the high-tech lab Tiberius had ordered built and outfitted to her precise specifications. When she’d first arrived, the huge room, filled with the latest cutting-edge biotech equipment and analytical devices, had seemed like paradise. Now, it was a prison.
Sitting down at the bank of a half dozen networked computers, each of which controlled several of the big machines and analyzed the resulting data, she tried to block awareness of the security cameras blanketing the huge room, tried not to think about the men who were undoubtedly watching her image on-screen.
She’d done her prep work well. They’d gotten used to her returning to the lab around 10:00 p.m. and working until one or so in the morning. If she were lucky, all they would see now was their tame lab rat pulling up the last set of results and then powering down the big machines for the night.
In reality, she was executing two programs she’d managed to sneak onto the island. One was an uncrackable lockdown program that would freeze all of the lab computers and machines until she typed in a password. The other would shut down all of the networked computers on Rocky Cliff Island—including the ones running power and security—for the space of five minutes, and then go back into hiding, supposedly untraceable by all but the original programmer.
Celeste had developed the routines just before she’d gotten sick; she was the techie, Sydney the bio-geek. Together, they’d used to joke, they were a nerd superhero.
Now, those powers would be put to the test.
“Okay, kids, do your thing.” Sydney powered the lab computer down right after she’d fed the programs into the network. In ten minutes, the lights should go out. Then, the next time someone turned on one of the lab computers, the only thing they’d see on the screen would be a text prompt that read: Password?
If she made it off Rocky Cliff Island, she would use the password as leverage to keep her and Celeste alive long enough to grab the money out of her accounts and disappear. Then and only then, she would contact the authorities and СКАЧАТЬ