Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Malibu

by Lynn Dickinson
 
So I grew up in Detroit, a hard-scrabble place where the weak are killed and eaten. Somehow I managed to land an adulthood in Santa Monica, California. I've been here now for over twenty years.
Santa Monica is the kind of place where people from all over the world come to visit for two weeks in August, or maybe July.  The rest of the year, it's ours. The people here tend to be liberal, spiritual, community-minded, environmentally-conscious and politically active. We do yoga, meditate, exercise outdoors and eat organic, locally-farmed, fresh produce that we buy at the farmers market or the local food co-op. There are plenty of people here who could afford to live anywhere they choose, and they choose Santa Monica. Those people live north of Montana street - or at least north of Wilshire Blvd. The rest of us live in rent controlled apartments, and opt into low-paying service professions or the uncertain livelihood of the entertainment industry.
 


 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: J.J. Nite


 
J.J. Nite
 
 
Twitter ID: @jjnite
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jjnite1
 
Describe yourself in three words:
Loyal
Loving
Creative
 
 
Tell us a little about your latest release:
"Bruises of the Heart" released in August of 2013. It follows Tori as she hides an abusive relationship from those that love her and how she ultimately gets out.  The subject of relationship abuse among teens isn't talked about as much as it should be. Maybe my book will help someone.
 
What is your earliest memory?
I remember sitting on the couch with my mom. She read to us every night before bed and fostered a love for books in all four of us from a very early age.
 
What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?
The day I married my husband. We actually were married by our pastor in his office and then did a big wedding ceremony for everyone else. The thing is that only our parents and siblings knew we were already married, so it was a little funny for us.
 
What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?
Fostering children. We were told it was going to be very difficult to have children so we went into foster care hoping we might be able to adopt someday. We had our daughter for 3 years, 5 months, and 3 days before her adoption was final. Our son's took 2 years, 1 month, and 4 days. Both placements were roller coasters for different reasons, but so worth it in the end.
 
What have you learned in life so far?
To not take anything too seriously.
 
Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?
Mercedes Lackey, Hannah Howell, Sean Connery, Jon Bon Jovi(if he brings his guitar), and my husband.
 
 

Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about J.J. Nite?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Anna Clayton "Christmas Love"




Blurb:
Dee Wallace's father died six months before her mother made her spend Christmas Day with a man Dee hated, the bully from school and a house full of strangers. There she meets Max Portland, who somehow made everything about her first Christmas without her father better.
Over the next several years, Dee and Max come together at Christmastime and the timing is never right for them to be together. How many Christmases does it take to grow up and fall in love?
 
 
Author:
Anna Clayton lives in upstate NY with her husband, kids, dogs, cats and a bunch of other pets.  When she's not playing matchmaker in her stories, she loves to read, cook, hike and connect with readers.
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
 
Christmas Day, 1998
 
Deidre Wallace wanted the world to cancel Christmas.
It wasn’t fair. Everything went on like normal for everybody else, but her world would never be the same again.
Her dad was gone. He’d died six months ago, and she missed him even more today than when he had first passed away.
Now she had to sit in the backseat of the car while Mom drove them to his house for Christmas dinner. She hated him. He had been there when Dad had died, and he should have saved her dad.
Just last week Deidre's mom had forced her to sit down so they could watch the movie Home Alone together. If that kid had made it through the holidays and could fight off burglars, she should be able to stay at home for just a few hours without a problem. She’d tried that argument before they’d left the house. Her mother wasn’t having any of it.
“Jingle Bell Rock” came on the radio, and her mom began to hum along. How could she? Why did she think that it was okay to feel happy when everything about their lives felt wrong?
“Can you shut off the radio?”
Dee's mother glanced over her shoulder before reaching out to the dashboard to turn the volume down. “I thought you liked this song, Dee. Remember how you and Dad used to dance around the living room when it would come on?”
Of course she remembered. Dee remembered everything about her dad, which was more than she could say for her mother. “Yeah, I remember. That’s why I don’t want it on.”
She saw her mother’s shoulders slump, and she pressed the power button on the radio. “Honey, I know you miss Dad, but it’s okay to remember all of the good about him. Especially this time of the year. You know how much he loved the holidays.”
Dad hadn’t just loved Christmas. He’d made it magical. For as long as she could remember, every year on November first, he would head out to the garage, climb up into the storage rafters, and bring down box after box of holiday decorations.
Every day until the weekend before Thanksgiving, he’d come home from his factory job and yell, “Dee! I need your help finding my Christmas spirit!” right after closing the front door. Dee would drop whatever it was that she’d been doing to run and body slam into him for a hug.
He’d picked her up and hugged her with her feet dangling above the floor up until last Christmas. Dee thought that she had grown too tall, and she'd told him she was too old to be treated like a little kid anymore. At twelve, she was probably getting kind of mature for everything else, too, but she wasn't ready to give up the tradition with her dad.
No matter how grown-up she felt, she still hugged him when he'd call her to the door, and when she did, she’d inhale the scent of tar from his work at the factory. She didn’t care that it wasn’t that great of a smell. It was her favorite because it was his.
They’d make their way to the garage where he’d place his hands on his hips. Dad looked like the most handsome man in the whole world when he stood there. She’d loved his curly, dark brown hair, huge grin, and how he always wore T-shirts with cartoon characters on them. He'd been perfect.
Dad’s mouth would slowly drop from a smile into a frown before he’d sigh and say, “Well, pumpkin. I can’t decide what we should put out today. There’s too much to choose from. Should we just cancel Christmas and forget about it this year?”
For years she'd screamed “No” and dashed to a box, opened it, and grabbed the first thing she could get her hands on. This past year, her dad had played along when she just grinned and he gestured with his hand to give her the okay to dig in. On really good days, Dad would let her pick two or three decorations to put out around the house.
Mom always watched from the couch when they'd come into the house and would say things like, “I really don’t think we have room for all of those decorations” and “It looks like the Christmas spirit threw up all over our house.” Dad and Dee would laugh while Mom shook her head and smiled.
When the house was all decorated, Dad would take her to visit Grandma and Grandpa at least once a week for hot chocolate and cookies. Mom would stay home because she'd said she didn’t want to intrude on their time together. Dee knew better. Her Mom didn’t always get along with Dad's parents. No one ever talked about it, but it hadn’t been that hard to figure out. Even when they'd go over for other holidays and birthdays, Mom would always have a reason why she wouldn't be able to go.
The best part about Christmastime was when Dad would dress up as Santa, knock on the windows, wave, and leave treats outside the door for everyone. He'd done it up until their last Christmas together. Her parents had said time and again it wasn't her dad, but she knew it was him in the Santa costume. Dee would have known his eyes anywhere.
Dad even did his Santa routine on Christmas Eve. He’d put on his suit, fill his bag with presents, and make a ton of noise as he shuffled around the Christmas tree and placed the gifts around it. Dee could tell he knew she’d always watched from the stairs.

RELEASE DAY: Monica Goulet "Follow Me Home"



Blurb:
16-year-old Kelsey thinks her new house far away from Tulsa is the perfect place to escape her past—until she meets Jay, the boy who used to live there.
After a series of mysterious break-ins at the house, Kelsey discovers the culprit is Jay, but before she can confront him, Jay inadvertently sets in motion a series of events that leave Kelsey and her family devastated and wind Jay up in juvie.
Desperate to fix things, Kelsey confronts him only to discover Jay’s not the delinquent she expects, but a boy with a past more messed up than hers. Against her better judgment, the two of them form an unlikely friendship she keeps secret from everyone.
Then Jay asks for a favor she didn’t see coming – one that leaves Kelsey torn between her growing loyalty to Jay and throwing away the new future she worked so hard to build.
 
 
Author:
Monica Goulet writes and lives in Oshawa, Ontario with her husband. She graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor's degree in English and Professional Writing. In her other life, she’s an instructional designer and a mother-to-be who likes ice cream, running, and losing herself in a good story.
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
 
Chapter One
 
For the first time in almost a year, I feel safe. My sandals slap against the uneven sidewalk, and I wave back at the old man driving by in a green pick-up truck. His toothless grin should scare the crap out of me, but something about this place makes it okay. I’ll even forgive its lack of a real downtown. I went in search of one of those quaint main streets with specialty coffee shops and expensive clothing stores, and all I found were a bunch of empty buildings for lease and a no-name pizza place. So much for small town charm.
I turn the corner to my house and skid to a halt. The edge of my sandal catches in a crack, and I lurch forward, scraping my palms against the cement. There’s a leg dangling out my bedroom window as if it’s not attached to a body. It reminds me of a cricket I caught when I was eight. I’d accidentally ripped its leg off trying to make it dance. I shudder and pick myself up, my palms burning.
I glance at the driveway. Mom and Dad’s cars aren’t there.
The person in the window struggles to squeeze his way out. Blue jeans and a ratty running shoe. Painter, maybe? Repair person? But there’s no work van in sight.
The rest of the body lowers from the window. I suck in a breath and duck behind a parked car just as he jumps.
 Five, four, three, two, one. I pop my head up just enough to see over the hood.
He’s crouched on the ground, so I creep up a little higher and let out a breath. He’s tying his shoe? What kind of thief would stop to tie his shoe, let alone come out empty handed?
Anger rises in my chest and I clench my fists. What does this guy think he’s doing? I pop up from behind the car without thinking. “You could have used the door, you know!”
My mouth snaps shut as soon as the words are out. What am I doing? For all I know this guy could have a gun or something. I almost duck behind the car again when he looks up, but he turns away again just as quickly as if I never said a thing. He just finishes tying his shoe and shakes his head to get the hair out of his eyes.
I finally catch a glimpse of his face. He’s young – my age maybe. Too young to be someone my parents hired. He heads toward the street, and I glance up at the open window again.
Something doesn’t seem right.
“Hey!” I yell. “Wait!” Against my better judgment, I start after him, but he still doesn’t turn around. My hand closes around the cell phone in my pocket. The police. I should call the police. I fumble with my phone, and it clatters onto the sidewalk.
The guy looks back.
His eyes lock onto mine, and I freeze. I stare back, expecting to see fear or guilt – anything other than what I see.
Sadness. It pours into me from his eyes and touches every nerve in my body. Still, he doesn’t run. He just stares at me until I can’t take it anymore, and I dive behind a tree. My breathing slows. I count to ten before poking my head around the tree again. He’s already a block away. I stare at his back, frozen in place. From here, he looks harmless. Blue hoodie, jeans, running shoes. He’s not even running away.
My curtain blows against the open window in the second story. In and out. In and out. The screen had been missing when we moved in last week. When I spin around again, I catch the last blur of a blue hoodie disappearing around a corner.
My cell phone is in pieces. I scoop them up and shove the battery back in. Still works. My fingers hover over nine-one-one. But I keep seeing the way he looked at me. The sadness. I shove the phone back into my pocket.
The front door is locked like I left it. I expect to find chairs overturned, vases broken, something, but everything is normal. The boxes we haven’t unpacked yet are still piled in the living room. The spare set of keys for my dad’s car still hangs on one of the pegs by the front door proclaiming “Home Sweet Home” above them – a gift from the previous owners who’d screwed it so far into the wall my dad couldn’t get it off without taking a chunk of the drywall with it. He hung it back up until he could get around to fixing it. Which, for my dad, could be a while. I kind of like it anyway.


 

RELEASE DAY: Kathy Bosman "His Halloween Kisses"


Blurb:

Ali’s never been so scared. She’s housesitting for a colleague on Halloween night, but the lights have gone out, and terrible noises and crashes send her imagination into overdrive. When her brother’s friend comes to her rescue, he kisses her in the dark three times. Once back in the light, Ali is embarrassed at allowing him to kiss her. Byron tries to ignore his strong attraction for Ali, especially seeing he’s not ready for a relationship. When Ali finds out why, she runs away, but life has other plans. What can bring them together? Fate, faith, or the memory of his Halloween kisses?

 

Author:

Kathy loves reading and writing even more. She homeschools her three kids, so in between unsuccessfully explaining the difference between subject and predicate or how to divide fractions, she enters an imaginary world of troubled and passionate characters whose stories take over the page. Kathy lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool, and bugs thrive. Her first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, came out in 2012 with Astraea Press. She belongs to the Romance Writers of South Africa Group (ROSA) which has been her greatest support and inspiration the last few years.

 

 

Now available on
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Excerpt:
Chapter One


Ali Micklejohn heaved a large two-seater couch in front of the door and sat down on the expansive three-seater to watch TV. Tonight was going to be a long night.

The wind blew in eerie echoes through the house she stayed in, knocking the loose window clasps like horror music with its squeaks, creaks, and sighs. The elements weren’t worth being scared of though. They were just sounds. No, this was South Africa, and even though she stayed in a fairly safe area, couldn’t someone be lurking in the shadows? Especially since she couldn’t lock the door. That was reason to be scared, she told herself, not all the strange creaking noises and “haunted” thoughts. The lock on the front door had given out on her this evening when she came home after struggling to turn the key for about an hour. The couch across the door provided her only way to feel a measure of safety.

Whines seared through the room; long, sad sounds that pierced into her gut. She shivered slightly and pulled her thin jacket closer to her chest.

Tonight was the 31st October. Halloween. And really, so what?

She’d never believed in Halloween, never celebrated it. Growing up in South Africa, Halloween had only taken off the last few years. Most of the older generation didn’t celebrate it at all. Some kids dressed up in outfits and went to parties. It hadn’t spread to the more serious generation yet.

Trick or treating wasn’t safe in a country where kids dare not walk the streets at night and knock on strangers’ doors. But decorations were all over the shops and even graced the school where Ali worked as a secretary. Spiders, witches’ hats, orange pumpkins, and zombie masks. Dark, sombre colours, which she actually liked in a perverse way. So, to a degree, she’d been immersed in the feeling of scariness, a feeling she normally found funny and wacky.

Not tonight for some reason.

She wasn’t the fearful type, never had been. Having survived being hijacked outside her parents’ gate, she’d learnt to appreciate every day, every moment, and she felt like a survivor. She was one.

The wooden front door creaked and groaned with the vicious spring winds. Why did spring always have to be so windy in Newcastle? She turned the TV up to drown out the sounds. She switched the channel to a comedy show and settled down with her large slab of hazelnut chocolate and a packet of crisps. Oh, the joys of living on her own for a change—she could have the whole bag to herself.

That’s why she’d decided to house-sit a few nights for a teacher at the school where she worked. And to get some time to think.

Besides, all her roommates were going out to a party with their boyfriends. Definitely not fun for the only single one left of the tight-knit group.

The TV made a fizz, and the light from its screen compressed into a small dot. All the lights in the house went out.

A power failure.

She sat frozen for a moment, unsure what to do next. This wasn’t her own home. Where did they keep candles and torches? At her place, she stored them in the kitchen drawer, and so did her parents in her childhood house. Wouldn’t that be the logical place? Blinking furiously, she hoped to find a light somewhere to guide her to the kitchen without bumping into something. Nothing. She couldn’t see a single thing. There was no moon tonight. Probably as overcast as it had been the whole miserable, rainy, windy afternoon. She spread out her hands in front of her and walked slowly, one awkward, terrifying step at a time.

In the darkness, the sounds were magnified. Wind whined like a strangled prisoner through every window, door crack, and ceiling board. Something tapped at one of the windows from the dining room. Tap…tap…tap. Probably just a branch from a nearby bush. It couldn’t be a ghost or a zombie, could it? Her quickened pulse didn’t believe any logical arguments tonight.

RELEASE DAY: Vivian Roycroft "Shenanigans in Berkeley Square"


 
Blurb:
The right man doesn’t know she’s alive. The wrong man’s out to change that.
Coralie Busche can only admire Kenneth Rainier from afar. He’s a most handsome philosopher of the Romantic movement and for months she’s eavesdropped on his conversations at the coffee house. If only she had the courage to join his debates… and perhaps more. Her feminine education of singing and sewing could be of no interest to such a man — but then that vexing rake, the Duke of Cumberland, brings her to Rainier’s attention and she can’t hide any longer.
Rainier has lived with his mercenary sisters for too long to suffer any illusions about women. They value money, position, and precedence, not life’s important things such as poetry or painting, and only very lucky men find true love. But when he notices Cumberland staring at a dark-eyed beauty hiding in the coffee house’s corner, Rainier is smitten. Perhaps there’s a chance he could be one of those lucky men.
Cinderella meets Romeo and Juliet with a gorgeous gown, an unusual ducal matchmaker with motives of his own, and two cynical, jealous sisters. With All Hallow’s Eve approaching, tempers flaring, and a duelist’s challenge thrown down, how can His Grace, the Scoundrel of Mayfair, teach some loving sense to two soaring sensibilities?
 
 
Author:
Vivian Roycroft is a pseudonym for historical fiction and adventure writer J. Gunnar Grey. And if she's not careful, her pseudonymous pseudonym will have its own pseudonym soon, too. Plus an e-reader, a yarn stash, an old Hermès hunt saddle, and a turtle sundae at Culver's.
You can find Vivian and her writing compadre, J.L. Salter, at their shared blog, www.TakeTwoOnRomance.Weebly.com, or follow her on Twitter as @VivianRoycroft.
 
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
 
Chapter One
 
Thursday, October 14, 1813
 
Strong sunlight poured between the pretentious columns fronting the Olympic Pavilion. Beneath the portico moved shadows not cast by the neoclassical architecture, shadows of completely the wrong shapes and sizes; and, when His Grace approached to a sufficient proximity, shadows creating noises both indiscreet and inappropriate for a public street. A flash of copper curls and a clashing maroon sleeve caught his eye, and surely only one couple in all of Mayfair would dare sport such an unfortunate combination of colors. Deliberately he clumped on the pavement, announcing his presence. The shadows whipped behind their sheltering column and the salacious noises ceased.
But as he passed, a calculated glance back proved his theory correct. Mrs. Beryl Fitzwilliam, née Wentworth, stood on her tiptoes and peered over her new husband’s shoulder. The Duke of Cumberland, His Grace, Ernst Anton Oldenburg, gave her a victorious grin; her bewitching green eyes lit with glee and she wrinkled her nose at him. Satisfied, he resumed his more usual manner of walking and continued on his way, permitting them to resume — well. Perhaps better not to pursue that thought.
Enchanting Beryl’s adventure was complete, her dreams now reality.
Leaving him free to acquire a new target.
Who unknowingly awaited his tender attentions within Trent’s coffee house, beyond the Temple Bar on Fleet Street, where he’d first laid siege to delicious Anne Kirkhoven, now Mrs. Frederick Shaw, a woman delighted with her husband’s literary success and essaying upon a few attempts of her own.
As His Grace crossed the coffee house’s threshold into its shadowy, happy clutter, a hush descended upon the crowded patrons, heads swiveling in tribute to his entrance. He’d long ago become accustomed to such moments and let his lips curl into a rogue’s smile in greeting, doffing his beaver, tucking it beneath his elbow, and tugging off his gloves.
There they sat, at a table near the yellow-curtained casement windows, three elegant gentlemen of the ton staring at his entrance. They all wore similar expressions of eyebrow-arching recognition, although George Anson’s little smile seemed tinged with a certain amount of relief, as well. Whatever topic they had under discussion, perhaps it was more beyond his reach than usual. Not that Anson was stupid, not at all; merely limited in his understanding of deeper subjects, such as anything beyond Goodwood, sporting life, and Gentleman Jackson’s saloon on Bond Street.
But his manners remained impeccable. “Well met, your grace. Won’t you join us?”
“It would be entirely my pleasure, Mr. Anson. Thank you.”
Surprise joined Anson’s relief. Well, if the subject was that deep, the invitation might be his first contribution to the discussion since sitting down.
They made room for him, Henry Culver and Kenneth Rainier scooting their chairs to the sides. Round-faced Trent brought a steaming pot and matching cup — his best, the ivory with blue and white flowers — sans any cream or sugar; only lesser mortals doctored Trent’s invigorating brew. Preparations complete, His Grace leaned back, cradling the cup, and inhaled the coffee’s essence. The aroma alone was sufficient to wake half the ton at dawn and keep them that way for days.
Deliberately, and with malice aforethought, His Grace stared even more pointedly than normal at Miss Coralie Busche, who hid in the shadows beside the dark paneling.


 

RELEASE DAY: Katy Newton Naas "The Visitors"



Blurb:
Sometimes soul mates find each other in unlikely places. But is love worth it if it risks your life?

Seventeen-year-old Noah is startled when he awakes one day to find that dangerous, irrational, self-serving, and destructive visitors called “humans” are coming to visit his beautiful, perfect society. All citizens are ordered to have limited contact and share minimal information with these visitors.

Sixteen-year-old Jady is thrilled to accompany her father and his crew on a trip to a recently-discovered planet, Verdant. The United States’ crew is hopeful that they can learn from this advanced yet similar species.

Despite their greatest efforts to fight it, it doesn’t take long for Jady and Noah to fall in love and begin a secret affair. But when their relationship is revealed, danger is created for everyone involved...
 

Author:
I graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Reading and Language Studies. I currently teach high school English in southern Illinois. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, including my young son, Aven, and my four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe.

 

Now available on
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Excerpt:

Chapter One: Noah

The overwhelming sensation that invaded my body when I awoke was so unfamiliar that it took a while to register in my brain – fear. Something was happening, and whatever it was, the society was afraid. After quietly pulling on the tan coverings I laid out the night before, I walked out of the male sleeping chamber. Once inside the solid white eating quarters, I found Lucy sitting motionlessly at the table. She stared ahead at the blank walls without acknowledging my presence. The look on her face only supported my thoughts.

“Lucy, what’s happening?” I focused my attention on her response, trying to read her emotions.

She shook her head. “I don’t know yet. I was ordered to come here and wait for further instructions.” Anxiety was rolling off of her body in rapid waves as she responded.

Before I could question her further, Sir Andrew walked through the door. We automatically stood up in respect at the sight of him. He nodded slightly to both of us, and without a word, motioned for us to follow him out the door. We trailed just behind him, quietly stepping out into the thick, humid atmosphere. Once inside his transportation means, we strapped ourselves in. The waves of anxiety coming off of Lucy’s body were only growing larger with every minute of silence. Her large brown eyes were wide and alert as she looked out the window. I watched over her shoulder as we passed the massive gray stone and brick buildings in the town’s center. The towering trees stood stiffly over our heads while the smaller plants and bushes swayed gently in the breeze our vehicle created. We were moving away from the heart of the community toward an unfamiliar area.

I considered the situation carefully. Something was definitely wrong. The lack of communication was extremely unusual. The fact that Sir Andrew, one of the most highly respected leaders of society, was taking us somewhere was strange in itself. His gift of intelligence kept him incredibly busy and made his appearance in our society rare. I watched him closely, trying to get a feel for his emotions, but as usual, he radiated nothing. He appeared to have no feelings. I guessed that he was somehow shielding himself, as he was aware of my gift, so that I could not read him. I knew better than to question him, though.

After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at a large, gray, castle-like building. Its structure was made entirely of stone, with small, intricate swirling patterns surrounding the doors and windows. A locked gate blocked the entrance, but it opened automatically as we pulled up close to it. We moved quickly to the main door of the building, still maintaining the silence. Sir Andrew put his hand on a small computerized gray box beside the heavy door so that it opened for us. Lucy and I stayed close as we followed Sir Andrew’s long, quick strides through a dark, damp corridor.

Finally, we arrived in a small room, where several men sat waiting. I glanced over them all to get a quick read – fear, anger, nervousness, irritation. Each man tried to appear serious and intelligent as they sat around a round table in tall, cushioned chairs, but I could see that they were as unsure and scared as Lucy and I were. Sir Andrew motioned towards three empty chairs at the table, and Lucy and I hesitantly took a place with the others.

It was Sir Andrew who finally spoke. “Noah and Lucy, we have brought the two of you here today for a very special reason. You are in a place that most members of the society will never enter, particularly those of your young age and position. This is a building where new technology is developed and tested. It is also the location where security for our society is monitored. It is for the second purpose that we have brought the two of you here.”

Lucy and I exchanged glances. Security monitoring? What could we possibly have to do with that? And from what did our society need security?