USA Today Bestselling Author
Lani and Levi Blackburn have slid from the frying pan directly into the fires of Hell. When they uncover insinuations of a dangerous conspiracy that can be traced directly back to the foundations of society and permeates every part of life as the world knows it, they realize that to expose this evil is to shake the Earth to its core.
One by one, people begin disappearing. If not for Levi’s twisted, genius brother Milo and Dani’s talking cat Charmin Marvin, the two of them would also be missing–or dead. But someone is still playing games, stalking Dani and everyone connected to her, and the cat’s cradle web they’re weaving is becoming impossible to escape. Unless they can find a way to expose this massive cover-up and who’s behind it all, they’ll become the next vanished.
Now that the people trying to get Lani are out of the way speak, Lani is trying to rest while Milo works his magic on the computer. They need to know why Lani was targeted so they can get out from under all the crap they’ve fallen into. When their friend and neighbor Johan reappears having gone missing when the apartments were raided, he’s injured and wants to use the unregistered med machine. Lani is sleeping in it so instead he heads up to his apartment to find something he left behind.
A call for help has Levi and Milo running to his aid, leaving Lani and Charming alone in their apartment. When Charming figures out where the guys are he also registers the trouble they’re in. Johan has been killed and his apartment is locked down. The guys can’t get out.
This is a favorite scene as Lani readies Charming to carry Milos port invention to them through the vents.
She backed up several steps to get a better look at the building. Tall peaks and round domes, it looked like part of a duct system from her time. Then maybe a lot of those were ducts for the rest of the building. She bit her lip. Could they get in that way? Or better yet, could Liev and Milo get out that way?
“I don’t like the look on your face.”
She shrugged. “I was just wondering if we could get in there via the ducts or pipes.” She waved at the odd structures. “Whatever they are.”
“Not a good idea. We could end up anywhere.”
“True.” She turned to look back at the spot where the entrance should have been.
“What about us porting in?”
“Not coded for us,” he repeated patiently.
“Then how about the vents again …” She studied him. “Maybe you could get in.”
He looked at her askance. “What? Why am I the guinea pig?”
“Because you’re small, you can get into places I can’t.”
“I told you to lay off the bread and cheese,” he murmured with a sideways look.
“Did not.” She glared at him.
“Did too.” He moved over slightly, as if out of kicking range.
“Yeah, you’d better move,” she said in a temper. She considered his innuendo. “Am I getting fat?”
“Oh, brother.” He plunked down his butt with an exaggerated sigh. “In truth, you could use some flesh on your bones.”
“Not going to happen.” What a stupid conversation. And, with a cat, no less. “And it doesn’t change the fact that you can get into places that I can’t.”
“Agreed, but that also means that Liev and Milo can’t follow me back out, as they are as big as you.”
And, boy, did he give her a look. She loved him dearly, but since he’d learned to talk, … she turned her back on him. “True that they can’t follow you back out, but you could bring them something that will allow them to break out again.”
“It’s not a prison, and I can’t carry a crowbar. Remember? I’m a cat.”
“Glad you remember that.” Still, he was right about being limited in what he could carry. “It would have to be something small to fit on your back.”
“Like, treating me as a pack animal, … a, a, a donkey?”
His horrified tone made her laugh. “Exactly. Like an ass.” Still giggling, she wondered out loud, “What could they possibly use in there that they wouldn’t have taken in the first place?”
“Milo’s new personal stealth port.”
“A port he can take anywhere, coded for him. So he can move in and out anywhere he wants to.”
“Why wouldn’t he take it with him yet?”
“No need for it. They accessed the place like normal. They probably figured they’d exit the same way. Plus the personal port is not in the testing stage yet.”
“It might be a great time to hit that stage. As in here and now to get Liev and Milo free.” She couldn’t think of anything better. “But, yeah. I can see how that would be a hot product for the masses.”
“Some are on the market but not as transportable as this one.” Charming scratched behind his ear. “Milo’s portable model is ready, but he’s working to interact stealth technology with it. Another military application that will make them a ton of money.”
She could just imagine. It sounded ideal for military use, but she’d hate for just anyone to get their hands on something like that. No one would ever be safe. “Do you know where it is?”
“Sure. In the kitchen. He’s got it on his bug computer doohickey.”
It took her a moment to translate what that meant, but she remembered Milo’s unusual little computer. “Wouldn’t he have that on him already?’
“You’d think so, but he left it on the kitchen counter. They must have been in a hurry when they left.” Charming walked to a spot in the sun and sprawled down sideways. “Not doing anyone any good anyway. I can’t carry it in.”
“But, if you could, do you think you could take it to them?”
At that, he slumped to the side and laid out flat. “Of course. But I’m not going back down to Liev’s apartment to get it.”
She glared at him. “Well, I’m not risking being separated from you as well. The chances of losing you are too great.” She bent, scooped him up into her arms, and stormed back the way they came. Thankfully the door to the apartment was still open. Maybe that wasn’t a good thing considering other strangers. She walked straight to the kitchen and turned in a slow circle, looking for the item. “Charming, where is it?”
He reached up, batted her cheek to get her attention, and then pointed to the counter, back against the wall. The doohickey blended in perfectly. She picked it up and studied it. “It’s so small. And it weighs nothing. You could easily carry it, if we can figure out a way to affix it to your back.”
“True. That won’t be easy.”
“We need something to tie around you to hold it firmly in place. It doesn’t need to stay in place for long, but we can’t lose it either.” She faced Charming. “Is this like a prototype, the only one that Milo has?”
Charming nodded, a grimace in place. “You better not lose it. Milo will never forgive you.”
“Hey,” Lani replied. “I’ve—more or less—forgiven forgiven him for time-traveling me two hundred years into the future.” She shifted her stance. “So he should remember that we did this to save him and Liev.”
“You. Not we.”
“Charming Marvin Summerland Blackburn! We are a family. We work together. We, as in the four of us.”
“Like The Three Musketeers, plus one?”
“That’s better. Now help me think.”
Charming sighed loudly.
Lani knew her baby was all heart, just under that crusty outer shell he sometimes projected to protect that soft heart of his. Luckily Liev had figured that out too. Of course Milo could care less about all the outer stuff but was totally impressed by Charming’s brainpower. So it worked out all around.
“A harness would be better than something that ties,” Charming stated.
“Ha. Glad to have you on board with my plan. The carrier will have to be something of a compromise, as I don’t know how to make anything here and don’t have any tools, like a needle and thread so …” Her mind raced. “Elastic would work.”
“Like they have that here.”
Lani glanced at her own clothing. “True.” And then she remembered. “But I have my old clothing.” She raced into Liev’s bedroom, but her twenty-first-century clothes were no longer here. Right, the pod room. She jogged over there. They had wasted enough time.
There, in a corner, she found her pile of clothes that she’d been wearing when she had arrived in this era. And in that pile … was her bra. Her new clothes had one built in. She studied her old bra, wondering if she could make it work without cutting it up, somehow salvaging it—remembering how much Liev had liked it—but there wasn’t another way, as far as she could see. She ran back to the kitchen where Charming and the small gadget sat. She opened the bread cupboard and pulled out a knife and went to work.
Ten minutes later, she raced back to Johan’s place, carrying Charming and the portable port.
“I look ridiculous,” Charming snapped, twisting inside his quickly tied harness—one bra cup around his belly with the new device nestled inside.
“You look great.” She lowered him on the patio. “In fact, it’s very stylish.”
“Ha, you’re just saying that so I’ll do this.”
“No, you need to do this to help Milo and Liev.”
“I know that.” He took several awkward steps, his tail flicking in sharp movements. “But you could have made it so I didn’t look fat.”
Mayer, Dale. Broken Protocols: Books 1-4 . Valley Publishing Ltd. Kindle Locations (3930-3995). Kindle Edition.
This is just the beginning as more and more subterfuge comes to light. The people they can trust are few, but they have to get to the bottom of all the corruption.
Suspenseful and action-packed with lots of fun antics from Charming as this series winds down to it’s conclusion.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Broken Protocols: Books 1-4!
Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.