Still cranking away on the sequel to Tainted Blood. Here's an excerpt:
“Could I see you alone for a minute, Hauck?”
“No,” said Sveta, “you can’t see him alone.”
Yuri had never seen her in a dress before. She was draped over the arm of a red velvet recliner trimmed with gold fringe, swirling an amber drink before her at eye level. As she leaned forward to look more closely at it, Yuri saw the hem of her black dress slide up to mid-thigh. Black hose, black shoes trimmed in gold. Hair long, thick and colored blue-black like a Siberian sable.
Yuri tried to concentrate on the liquor glass Sveta found so interesting.
“Thirty seconds,” said Hauck.
He stood on the far side of the room watching seconds flick forward on a holographic presentation that floated a foot above a digital map of Detroit.
“I’m trying to concentrate,” said Sveta.
“It’s important, Hauck.”
Hauck pulled at his shirt cuffs, tilted his head and looked into the full length mirror near his rosewood desk. Perfect. Dark blue suit, brilliant white shirt, and a stunning red tie designed for the French president to wear to the G8 conference had not a friend of Hauck’s stolen it first to give him as a present. One final look. Excellent. He could not see the scar that raked across the base of his neck no matter how he turned his head.
The beauty of high collared shirts.
“Fifty seconds,” he said.
“Just a few more seconds, Yuri.”
Sveta’s frustration was beginning to show.
“I need to concentrate,” she said.
“Too late,” said Hauck.
“Yuri, I’m going to kill you.”
“What was the trick?” Sveta asked Hauck. “How was I supposed to tell it was poisoned if this was a real event?”
“But it is a real event,” said Hauck over his shoulder. “You drank from the glass and that was the first component. You are in no danger unless you ingest the second component.”
Sveta’s eyes narrowed.
“You mean you actually put the first part in my drink?”
She pulled a gun from her purse and pointed it squarely at the middle of his back.
“If you don’t tell me the second component I’ll shoot you.”
Hauck inserted a handkerchief into his coat pocket, trimmed it and turned to face her.
“First you must tell me how I did it. Our glasses were filled from the same bottle, yet yours gave you the first half of the poison but mine did not do the same to me.”
“It was already in my glass.”
“Bravo,” said Hauck. “But no. Try again.”
Yuri had never seen anyone so furious as Sveta. He stood transfixed, unsure what to do. In Hauck’s luxurious apartment, which occupied the entire fourth floor of a renovated building on the South side of Detroit, Yuri did not blend in well. In the living room, where each lamp fixture was a work of art, each chair or sofa a masterpiece of good taste, the disheveled computer genius looked like a sweaty rag tossed on folded, fine linen. His long, tangled moustache was wet with perspiration as he worried that Sveta really would pull the trigger.
“Just tell her the second component,” said Yuri. “That way she won’t shoot you.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
A sudden thought struck Yuri.
“Weren’t you guys on your way out to dinner?”
“One last chance, Hauck,” said Sveta.
She pulled the trigger.
“No,” screamed Yuri.
But all that happened was a loud click.
“Caffeine,” said Hauck. “No coffee, no tea or any kind of caffeinated beverages before midnight. Caffeine will combine with the first component to create a poison in your bloodstream. Alcohol is not a problem, of course.”
He was backing away from her as he said it.
She looked at her pistol in disbelief.
“You took my bullets,” she said.
“Knowing your temper,” he said, “I didn’t want to get shot before dinner.”
“You son of a bitch.”
“Now, Yuri, what is it you wanted to tell me?” asked Hauck.
“What, what is it that is so important?”
“Well, first off,” said Yuri, “she’s got another gun.”
Hauck glanced at Sveta, ignoring the new pistol she was pointing at him.
“Lipstick,” he said. “I added the other component to your lipstick.”
“You think you’re so smart,” she said. “I’ve got news for you; I’m not a pawn to be pushed around your mental board.”
“I can see that,” said Hauck. “I apologize. Yuri, what was so important that you had to interrupt us?”
“Don’t ignore me,” warned Sveta.
“You’re my first thought when I wake up and my last as I go to sleep, my dear. Now Yuri, what is so urgent?”
The look on Sveta’s face as she lowered the pistol was something Yuri had never seen before. Hope mixed with amazement. A touch of vulnerability. Hauck, of course, paid no attention.
“We’ve been hacked. No, that’s not exactly it. It’s more like our computer system has been infiltrated.”
“By whom?” asked Hauck impatiently.
“It’s more like by what.”
Sveta stepped over to stand next to Hauck. They looked like a royal couple on a wedding cake. Both of them staring at him, waiting for an answer he didn’t know how to explain.
“You’ve got to see it for yourself.”
“No time for that,” said Hauck. “If we’re compromised, we’ve got to wind up this operation and get out of here. If they’ve penetrated our systems, we don’t have much time to act.”
“It’s not like that,” said Yuri. “Just take a look. It’s been asking for you.”
And now it was Hauck’s turn to look both amazed and vulnerable.