Red Alert

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Red Alert – Blackwood Security #8

How does a girl get over a broken heart?

As always, Bradley has the answer, and nineteen-year-old Tia Cain soon finds herself in New York with a new job, a new apartment, and a not-so-new appreciation of cocktails.

Guided by her boss, fashion designer Ishmael, Tia settles into life in the Big Apple only to find the world of haute couture isn’t as glamorous as she thought. Fortunately, she’s got sexy bodyguard, Cade, and her new online chat buddy, Eli, to take her mind off things. One has the looks, the other has the voice, and both make her heart do backflips.

But Ishmael’s world of sunshine and rainbows can’t last forever, and when the city reveals its dark side, friendships new and old are put to the test in a race for survival. Can love win the day, or will demons prevail?

Out now!
            

Excerpt – Welcome to New York:

I’d died and gone to hell. Okay, maybe hell was a bit of an exaggeration, but I’d landed in limbo at least. Where else would a small man in a sparkly red waistcoat with devil horns perched on top of his afro be playing ping pong across his desk? Each horn had a butterfly perched on the end, and two more were clipped to his lapels.

I hesitated in the doorway, about to back away when a ball flew past, missing my ear by a whisper.

The ball was swiftly followed by a paddle, and by some miracle, I caught it.

“Come on, join in!” the man shouted. “Myrna needs all the help she can get.”

The blonde’s pigtails smacked her in the face as she whipped her head around to look at me, her expression half surprise, half grimace.

The man—Ishmael, my new boss—snapped his fingers. “Myrna! Concentrate.”

She frantically tried to return his shots as I stepped forward, fast regretting my choice of footwear. What with my new job being in fashion and all, I’d worn four-inch LK Bennetts and a Calvin Klein pencil skirt, neither of which lent themselves to exercise. I glanced enviously at Myrna’s ballet flats. If only—

The ping pong ball zipped in my direction, and I shielded my face with the bat. Pop. The ball bounced off it and landed in a glass of water. 

Nice one, Tia.

Ishmael didn’t miss a beat. He simply fished a spare ball out of his desk drawer and whacked it straight at me. At least this time I managed to hit it back in his direction. All those tennis lessons Mother insisted I take as a kid had paid off at last.

“Move faster,” Myrna muttered under her breath.

After a minute or two, I kicked off my heels, which at least saved me from breaking an ankle. Ishmael bounced around like a monkey on speed, and at one point, he had a paddle in each hand and three balls in play while I puffed worse than an out-of-shape nicotine addict.

Then a cuckoo popped out of a clock on the wall, and Ishmael stopped mid-stride.

“Half past eight,” he announced. “Time to start the day.”

My stay of execution had ended.

He walked towards me, hand extended and fingers down. Was I supposed to shake it or kiss it?

“Don’t worry. I won’t bite,” he said. “Not at work, anyway. My lawyers tell me off.”

I gripped his hand and shook, and despite his exertions, I was the one sweating.

“Hi.” One word and my voice still managed to tremble.

“So, you’re Tia?”

“That’s right.”

“Bradley said you’d be coming today. And not a moment too soon, I must add. Since J’Nae left, I haven’t had anyone to throw things at.”

I swayed a little as the blood drained out of my face, but he just laughed. What the hell had Bradley got me into?

“Well, I need my power nap,” Ishmael said, dropping his paddles onto the desk. “Myrna will find you something to do.”

He flounced off, leaving me with Miss Pigtails, who peered at me over her glasses. Nice to meet you too, lady.

“Take a seat,” she said, motioning at the pristine white leather sofa behind us.

I sank back, sucking in a ragged breath now Ishmael had disappeared and I didn’t need to pretend to be fitter than a potato. Hell, I was so out of shape Internet Explorer could run faster than me.

Was it too late to go home? 

            

Excerpt – Models and Corpses:

Ishmael perched on the edge of his seat, bawdily upholstered in pink fur. “What does my schedule say?”

Myrna hurried to produce her iPad. “At ten, you’ve got an interview with Hot Banana magazine over at the Lincoln Center. Then you have models to look at.” She squinted at the screen. “Then… I’m not sure what this last one is. It says ‘Tito?’”

“Ah, yes, I added that one myself.” Ishmael looked extraordinarily pleased with himself. “T Ito. Professor Takashi Ito. I’m meeting with him because I’ve decided to change the theme for the show.”

Myrna turned white and swayed a bit. I leapt forward and grabbed the coffee out of her hand before it ended up as a Rorschach on the shiny, white-tiled floor.

“Ch-ch-change the show?”

“Yes. Butterflies are so last year, don’t you think?” He pulled the sparkly clips off his devil horns and threw them into the waste bin, followed by the pair from his lapels.

“But we’ve been organising it for months! A hundred people have been working on it. Everything’s almost finished.”

Myrna went from white to green, and I picked up the bin, just in case she needed to vomit. Because guess who would get stuck cleaning up the mess?

“Yes, I know,” Ishmael said. “But it’s just not ‘wow’ enough, don’t you think?”

Her mouth opened and shut but no words came out, so I decided to lend a hand.

“What are you changing the theme to?”

He grinned, and his rings clinked as he clapped his hands in glee. “Death! Models and corpses. Not that anyone can usually tell the difference.”

Now it was my turn to feel queasy. I hugged the bin tighter against my chest, ready to run out of the room if I had to. Visions of Ryan swam before my eyes as I tried, and failed, to stay on my feet. My knees gave way, and I fought back tears as I collapsed onto the sofa. Myrna was right beside me.

Models and corpses? This guy was certifiable.

            

 
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