This excerpt is from the next BeauTEAful Summer story, English Breakfast. I’ve cut the scene short here, in deference to people who might be sensitive to such material after the events in the news this past week, but it may still be disturbing for some. Do remember than this is fiction, and romantic suspense, so the outcome is fixed at “happily ever after” in this particular case, no matter how bad it seems at the moment. If you do read it, I hope you enjoy the set-up…
Karen went to the end of the bar and opened her
laptop on the desk area underneath the surface. Patrick had known she
wouldn’t be able to say no, especially with someone’s life potentially
in the balance. It wasn’t fair, and as soon as she got the data off the
drive, she’d send him packing in no uncertain terms.
Firing up a program that would isolate her USB
port to protect her computer from potential viruses, she inserted the
disk and waited.
As she watched the screen, she was all too aware
of Patrick’s presence. That heady scent of rich spice and musk, those
broad shoulders that took up most of the space in a room, and that
magnetism that drew in everyone within a twenty-foot radius…it was all
too overwhelming. Whenever they were in the same room, all she wanted
to do was strip him down and…
A window popped up, prompting her to enter a key.
She fired up the encryption program she’d written and watched as an
indicator bar moved across the window. It reached the end and stopped,
opening a blank dialogue box with an error code displayed.
“Smart. Very smart. But not as smart as me,” she murmured, her fingers flying across the keyboard.
clicked enter, and several documents opened in the background as a big
white dialogue box popped up over the center of it all. There was a
single line of text in the box.
Access Outside Protocol. Ten minute destruct delay.
A countdown clock started ticking down just before
the white box disappeared. Experimenting with a few mouse-clicks, she
accessed the file structure without issue, but any attempt to copy files
appeared to be blocked. Shaking her head, she looked up at Patrick.
“I’m in, but it looks like I triggered a self-destruct sequence of some sort. Better come take a look, quick.”
He came around the bar and she moved aside as he
started glancing through the files. “Any chance we can move these off
the USB before it goes?”
“Doesn’t look like it. Pen and paper? I might have some around here.”
He shook his head and reached into his jacket
pocket for his cell phone. “Pictures might work.” He snapped a photo of
the file open on the screen, closed it, and then opened another. “How
much time do we have?”
“Not enough.” She checked her watch. “Maybe three
more minutes, if we’re lucky. We should move back. Like now.” Karen took
a step back, then another and another as he frantically clicked two
“Come on, Patrick! Now!”
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