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Authors: Dana Black


BOOK: Conspiracy
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Copyright © 2012 by Dana Black 

All rights reserved. 


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 




Product Description


A high-stakes, romantic thriller, set in June, 1982. Beautiful TV producer Sharon Foster is mingling with the stars and the high-rollers in Madrid for the final round of the World Cup Championship. So is the man she loves, US soccer goalie Keith Palermo. If they’re lucky, Keith and his US soccer team will do well in the tournament, and Sharon’s new American TV network will generate great ratings and revenues. If they’re luckier still, Sharon and Keith will consummate their love.


But the lovers are about to be caught in a deadly conspiracy. Even now, in the remote hills of Utah, two American military guards lie brutally murdered. A crate of a lethal new nerve gas is missing and on its way to Madrid, carried by a tall, sandy-haired mercenary who will stop at nothing. Soon the eyes of the world will be on the great Madrid stadium, the cheering crowds, and an event so shocking that it could change the course of history.


Sharon and Keith find their lives intertwined with a colorful cast of characters, each immersed in their own personal dramas and crises. A glamorous network newswoman struggles with her faithless British rock-star lover—and with her taste for cocaine. A pretty teenage Russian gymnast hopes to defect to the West, to save the life of the unborn child she secretly carries. A powerful Russian spy, a wealthy US businessman, and an ambitious TV director all struggle to stay ahead of their competitors and their enemies.


But all their struggles may soon be over, for unless Sharon and Keith can discover and stop the World Cup conspiracy, the deadliest weapon in the world will be unleashed before a TV audience of billions—and America will be blamed.



June 13, 1982




In Madrid, the time was 6:30 p.m. 

Sharon Foster sat on the corner of her desk, alone in the small dimly-lighted office the Spanish government had provided. With growing impatience she dialed the Soviet press office for the third time. 

For the third time she heard the harsh electronic blare that the Spanish telephone system used as a busy signal.

What is it with you people?
she thought. 

Then the office door opened.

In the doorway, Keith Palermo. Smiling at her. His dark eyes sparkled with his good humored, laid-back confidence. 

She felt a little reflex gasp, a combination of happiness and excitement. And surprise, too, because she hadn’t expected to see him until next week.

Keith was the goalie of the USA soccer team, here in Spain for the World Cup soccer championships that UBC was covering. A UBC associate producer, Sharon had met him at a reception five months ago, and the two of them had dated several times since. But their schedules never seemed to allow enough time for the relationship to go where she hoped it would.

She hung up the phone. “I can’t believe these Russians,” she said. 

Turning to Keith, she stole a quick glance at her reflection in the office window. She always dressed tastefully, this evening wearing a white silk blouse and a light blue wool cardigan over a dark blue wool skirt. Her light blonde hair, recently cut in the expensive salon she’d treated herself to three weeks ago in Manhattan, still looked freshly brushed. 

“That’s my greeting?” he said, coming closer. “Your opinion of the Russians?” His shoulders stretched the fabric of his black T-shirt, which clung to his lean, muscular frame, not too tightly, but enough for any woman to notice. Just as no woman would ignore the way his jeans hung in a perfect fit on his slim hips. 

She took his hand and felt herself drawn into his arms. Where she wanted to be.

“Sorry,” she said. “We’re in a diplomatic wringer here. It’s great to see you!” 

He felt warm, and solid, and strong. His tousled black hair and firm jaw gave him the look of a fighter. Up close, Sharon could see scars around his eyes and chin, from past encounters on the soccer field.

He said, “Why don’t you just go upstairs and yell at them?” The Russian press and government staff who traveled with the Soviet soccer team were here in the same office building, two flights up. 

He went on, “And then we can get out of here and find a secluded place with candlelight and wine.”

“Great idea,” she said softly, about to kiss him. 

The phone rang.

UBC reporter Rachel Quinn was on the line, her voice sharp with impatience. “Where the devil is Katya Romanova? The whole crew’s been waiting in the studio more than five minutes now!”



In Utah, it was 8:45 on a clear Rocky Mountain big-sky morning, and the sergeant was taking a new man out on his first igloo patrol. “Be back in time for lunch,” he said as they were getting into the vehicle. His wide mouth flashed a splay-toothed grin, as though he knew that at six-one and 258 pounds, he didn’t look like the kind who skipped very many meals.

The new man, a corporal, just nodded agreeably and hunched his own six-feet-five to fit into the passenger’s seat, reaching for the door handle.

“Don’t slam it.” 

The sergeant slid behind the wheel and rolled his window down two inches. “Okay.” He pulled his own door shut, slowly.

“Sealers?” The corporal glanced around the vehicle’s interior, his brown eyes wide. The bill of his uniform cap was polished, and the sergeant noticed with approval that the barber had shaved the hair around his ears right down to the bare scalp. His papers said he was from Kentucky.

“Sealers. Hurts your eardrums unless you crack the window.” The sergeant started the engine. He decided the corporal reminded him of a tackle he had gone up against playing high school ball—a real animal on the field, but shy when it came to conversation. That was okay with the sergeant, because he liked to do the talking on a patrol. He knew he could keep his eyes open while he ran his mouth, but some guys couldn’t.

And when you were on igloo patrol, it was look-sharp, be-sharp time.

“How much air we got?”

“About two hours, for two men.” The sergeant flicked a dashboard switch connected to the tanks under the vehicle’s seats, and then flicked it back to “off.” Then he added, “If we don’t breathe too hard.”

The corporal nodded again and squinted into the sun’s glare, trying to see up the access road. The igloos were five hundred feet apart from each other, in a mile-long arc, strung out along a paved service road half a mile away. None of the igloos was very big and none threw much of a shadow. At this time of day the round silhouettes blended in with the mountains that rose up nearly a hundred miles west across the flat plateau. The mountains still had snow on top and sparkled in the sun.

“How far do you think we’d have to drive to get clear?” the corporal asked.

The corporal looked boyish and sincere, and that made the sergeant feel kind of uncomfortable, because it reminded him that he wasn’t getting any younger. His own face had gone puffy with excess weight. Some nights he worried that the weight might be slowing him down. You didn’t want to slow down out here if you ever expected to get promoted or transferred to a better assignment. Tooele Army Depot, Utah, was not the worst, not by any means, but the sergeant and his wife had both grown up in San Francisco. They were hoping for a transfer to a post that had more than a two-room school, a one-room PX, and great sunsets.

He explained to the corporal that it depended on what kind of an accident they had. If only one of the two-hundred-pound bombs cracked, they’d need to drive a little over three miles before the outside air would be safe to breathe. Provided the wind didn’t change and carry the stuff right along with them. Sarin gas, called “weteye” or “GB,” tended to clump together and hang in a cloud. The newer stuff, Cobor, was more volatile, so it spread out farther and faster.

Besides the dispersement factor, Cobor was better than Sarin in two other ways. It penetrated through the lungs, but not through the skin, so it was easier to handle. Also, Cobor needed only one-ten-thousandth of the concentration of Sarin to kill a man. Roughly three parts in two billion. The gas triggered a sustained convulsion along all the nerve pathways, including those to the diaphragm and lungs.

“If you’ve had the antitoxin,” the sergeant went on, “you go into a coma till the medics find you. If you haven’t, you die strangling for air.” He tugged at his collar as though to illustrate. “You’ll see the film. They used monkeys. Pathetic as hell.”

“Where do they keep the new stuff?”

The sergeant indicated the center of the service road, the farthest point out in the arc. “Seven, Eight, and Nine. The grenade canisters in Seven and Nine, and about half the artillery shells in Eight. Enough to kill everything alive on the West Coast if the winds are right.”

BOOK: Conspiracy
9.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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