Monday, December 31, 2012

The Lightning Struck Tower by Theo Fenraven


Gray Vecello and Cooper Key are back in the last book in the Precog in Peril series. Snatched by PsiOps, a covert arm of the government, they’re offered training in exchange for their psionic help. Will they take the deal, and if they don’t, what will PsiOps do to them?
Gray and Cooper meet new friends and enemies in this final chapter of the trilogy. The story takes the reader from New York City to Ely, Minnesota, and back to Gray and Cooper’s marina in Red Wing, where they will face the ultimate test of their powers. Someone will live… and someone will die.


Chapter 1

The sound of a key in the door made us swivel our heads. The knob turned and the door was pushed open. My heart rose in my throat.
“Oh, good, you’re awake,” said Jolly Roger, eye patch firmly in place. “I think it’s time you met the real SOS.”
I was stunned... for about five seconds. Then I said harshly, “You’re behind our abduction? Those were your men who assaulted us outside Richard McCollough’s building?”
Cooper gasped softly and slid over next to me. “We were snatched. You snatched us.”
The implications of his words were not lost on me. When the SOS grabbed you, you weren’t seen again, or so the rumor went.
Roger stepped into the room, gesturing at someone behind him. A cart was wheeled in by a man wearing a skin-tight tank, cargo pants, and boots. He parked it near the nightstand and left. Roger closed the door behind him.
“Figured you’d be hungry by now.” Fetching the desk chair, he set it down at the foot of the bed and straddled it backwards, folding his arms across the top and fixing us with a sharp eye. “You have questions. Ask them.”
Neither Cooper nor I reached for the food. I gazed back at him with so much anger in my eyes, I’m surprised it didn’t shoot out and burn him to a crisp. “You talk first. Start with why we’re here.” I glanced around the room. “Wherever ‘here’ is.”
“You’re still in New York City. This is a safe house we maintain.”
Cooper said, “Why do we need to be in a safe house?”
“You don’t, really. It was convenient, that’s all. A quiet place to talk.”
“We could have done that at our hotel.”
Roger snorted. “Yeah? So if I’d strolled up to you on the sidewalk, you would have come with me without question?” My sour expression told him my answer. “Yeah. That’s why I had you brought here.”
“Are we prisoners then?” Cooper asked, and I heard a tremor in his voice.
A surge of protectiveness went through me and I wrapped an arm around him, drawing him close. He sagged against me and I was grateful for his warmth.
Roger rolled his eyes. “I find what might be one of the best psionic teams ever and just my goddamn luck, you’re fucking fruit flies. Could you not touch each other, please? I find it offensive.”
“Fuck you,” I said clearly, taking Cooper’s hand in mine. “You lied to us, betrayed us, shot us full of drugs, and threw us into what has to be one of the ugliest rooms in the city. You don’t have the right to tell us to do anything. Plus, you didn’t find us. Graham sent us to you.”
“I want to leave,” Cooper said in a small voice. “Can we go?”
Roger huffed a bit as he straightened. “You’re not prisoners. You’re... guests of the federal government. We want to talk to you about some things. I want to talk to you.” His gaze went to the nightstand and then the floor. “This is an ugly fucking room. Better quarters await, I assure you.”
“We don’t care. We want out,” I insisted stubbornly. The smell of food was nauseating. Under the anger, I was still scared. “I don’t understand what’s going on. I have to understand. Do you hear me?”
“I hear you,” Roger said almost soothingly. “I apologize for our methods in getting you here but you’ve already admitted you wouldn’t have come voluntarily.”
“Who are you? Who’s ‘we’?” I asked.
“I work for a government division known as PsiOps. You call us the SOS.”
“Arcanum isn’t SOS then?”
“No, they only think they are. Arcanum is comprised of a group of the wealthiest people in the world. Three Americans belong, as well as a man from China, someone from Japan, and an Arab from the Middle East.”
“And they have an interest in people with abilities.” I bit my lip. “They use them, right?”
“Pretty much. You met Damon Winter, who works for Richard McCollough. He’s a good telekinetic.” Roger pointed a finger at the cart and the silver lid lifted off a plate and floated in the air. “So am I.” The lid spun lazily, stopped, and then whizzed off, crashing into the nearest wall with a clatter. “My guys had to knock Winter out fast to prevent him from using his ability on them.”
“You’re much better now than when we met,” Cooper observed. “Or was the demonstration at the bar meant to convince us you didn’t have much power?”
Roger grinned. “Very astute. Yeah, I purposefully made you think I was still learning. Truth is, I’m very good at wielding the power.”
His hand came up and a moment later, Cooper was yanked away from me and lifted into the air, legs dangling a foot above the bed. Roger held him there without effort while Cooper struggled impotently against invisible hands.
“Put him down,” I ordered, fear rocketing through me. “Please.” Roger lowered Cooper until he was once more beside me on the bed. He collapsed against me, shaking. I was dazed, thinking about the implications of someone with that much power walking around, and if there was one, there had to be more. “Can Damon do that?”
Roger’s grin got toothier. “Yeah. Why else would Arcanum want him?”
“Are we common then? People with abilities?”
“Not at all. Part of PsiOps job―part of my job―is to find you, try to figure out why there are any at all. It’s still relatively rare and there are people studying the phenomenon.”
“You told us you didn’t want to be poked and prodded,” Cooper reminded him. “When we met, you said that’s why you kept a low profile. You lied to us.”
“I stretched the truth. I do keep a low profile, and I was poked and prodded plenty when I was in the Marines.” He leaned over the chair back and narrowed his good eye at us. “But you know about that, don’t you?”
“We know you were in a special unit,” I said. “You were observed moving a glass of water across a table and General Pritchard brought this to McCollough’s attention.”
“McCollough didn’t tell you that so you must have seen it on the plane.”
“How do you know he didn’t tell us?” Cooper asked.
Roger blinked. “What?”
“You said McCollough didn’t tell us about Pritchard. How do you know that?”
“Jesus!” I burst out. “His office is bugged, isn’t it? Is that all you people do all day, eavesdrop on each other and play games? Christ.”
Roger laughed. “It’s all a game, don’t you know that? Every morning, McCollough has his office swept for listening devices. His pretty little secretary, who works for us, plants a bug when she brings in his morning coffee and removes it before going home at night.”
Appalled at the duplicity, I moved back against the headboard, taking Cooper with me, belatedly realizing I was trying to put as much distance between us and Roger as I could, not that it would do us any good given the strength of his telekinesis. “You’re all assholes, you know that? Why doesn’t he know you’re PsiOps?”
“The department is covert. Almost no one knows about us.”
Shaking my head, I closed my eyes in disgust. “So you work for both sides and collect two salaries.”
“Pretty much. It’s the American way,” he said flippantly before getting serious again. “Look, I paid my dues. I earned this. When they found out I could move things with my mind, they put me through a series of tests, some of them painful, as they tried to figure out why I was different.”
If Jolly Roger Dean, a marine trained to withstand extremes, was saying the tests they used on him were merely “painful,” I figured they’d probably come close to killing Cooper and me.
“That lasted a while. Hell, it lasted too long. There was a time when I wondered if I might be crazy. Then they ordered me to apply telekinesis in certain instances, on special missions. I was in the Marines. I did what I was told.”
“But it pissed you off, so why are you cooperating with them now? Why put us in the same position?”
A shadow crossed his face, so briefly I couldn’t swear it had been there. “PsiOps recruited me straight out of the service. They made it worth my while. I believe they’re doing good or I wouldn’t be here.”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear any more.” I couldn’t look at him.
He sighed and lightly tapped the top of the chair back. “You’re not ready to listen yet.” He stood. “Think about what I said. Eat, rest, I’ll be back later.” His eyes went to the cart. “The food’s not poisoned, if that’s what you’re wondering. Neither of you are worth a damn to me disabled or dead.”
Just before he walked out the door, I said, “Is this room bugged?”
He paused, the muscles in his back tensing. After a moment, he turned, crossed to the nightstand, and yanked something free of the lamp. “It isn’t now.” He left quickly, slamming the door behind him. I heard clicks as he locked it.
“This is fucking nuts,” I said heatedly.
Shhh....” Cooper moved his lips against my ear. “I bet there’s more than one bug.”
“Damn it,” I hissed. “You’re probably right.”
We tossed the room and found a small square device with a tiny antenna in one of the bed rails. With great pleasure, we took turns jumping on it until it was smashed flat. Then we flushed the pieces down the toilet.
“That ought to do it,” I said. Having exerted control, however limited, over our situation, and knowing we had to keep up our strength, I added, “Let’s eat.”
Releasing 1/13: The Lightning Struck Tower, Precog in Peril, Book 3

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