Authors: Ravenna Tate
Copyright© 2016 Ravenna Tate
Cover Artist: Jay
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All
names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you to my amazing
White, for keeping this series
consistent, and for making sure the Weathermen are heroic and their ladies are
Copyright © 2016
the year 2112, weather researchers around the globe made history with a
computer program nicknamed The Madeline Project. The program used a complicated
series of electrical pulses to induce changes in clouds. The intention was to
prevent or lessen catastrophic weather events such as major floods, tornadoes,
and hurricanes. The first real-time test, in 2116, proved moderately
successful, and the researchers continued to tweak the program, hoping for
complete weather modification one day.
something went terribly wrong in 2117, when a group of hackers gained access to
The Madeline Project and tried unsuccessfully to take it down it with a virus
they called Tommy Twister. The program took on a life of its own, and instead
of lessening the effects of weather events, it increased them to catastrophic
proportions. By 2118, over eighty-five percent of the Earth above ground had
been rendered uninhabitable due to the effects of near-constant and powerful
storms. And to date, no one has been able to stop The Madeline Project, or find
the hackers responsible for this devastation.
in the year 2125, Earth’s population lives underground in sprawling cities,
built during the nuclear war scare of 2072. Communication between cities and
across continents is only possible via the Internet. And the only people who go
above ground routinely are an international group of weather researchers and
storm chasers dubbed Storm Troopers. Their mission is to collect data during
the barrage of catastrophic weather events, in the hopes this data will assist
researchers in taking down The Madeline Project.
financial backing for these cities, the network of interconnected computers,
and the Storm Troopers is provided by a group of friends who met in college,
and who each built multi-million dollar communications and IT companies before
The Madeline Project went awry. They’re a powerful, wealthy, ruthless group of
men who take what they want, when they want it. They call themselves the
Overton stood outside the massive building that housed Ingram Properties,
convinced she must be out of her mind to think she could pull this off. All the
determination and ambition she’d felt earlier faded as she eyed the concrete
and steel monolith in front of her.
only other building this large in
one owned by Dominic Greco, who presided over Greco Communications. But Dominic
wasn’t the Weatherman on Madison’s mind right now. She was here to confront
Ingram, the CEO of Ingram Properties.
squared her shoulders and walked into the lobby. Giant placards decorated the
walls, advertising the more upscale complexes
company managed. She knew the history of the company, and she knew as much of
history as anyone could find online.
she didn’t understand were the things she’d overheard her boss, Ralph Campbell,
discussing with someone who either worked at Homeland Cyber Security
headquarters in Central, or did up until recently. That was what she was here
to find out.
fact that Ralph or anyone from HCS hadn’t sent her was immaterial to Madison.
She would uncover this mystery, and figure out once and for all what the hell
was really going on at HCS, and what exactly it had to do with the Weathermen.
woman behind the desk was an imposing figure, shaking Madison’s confidence once
more. She eyed Madison with a stern frown. “May I help you?”
I’m here to see Mr. Ingram.”
woman glanced down at her keyboard. “Name?”
late, Madison realized the woman was looking for her name in their system.
I don’t have an appointment.”
woman glanced up, her face now registering boredom. “He’s not available. Would
you care to speak with his administrative assistant to make an appointment?”
No, I came here to see him today.” She handed the
woman her business card. She’d had it clutched in her hand for ten blocks, so
it was slightly damp now, but that couldn’t be helped. “Please let him know I’m
woman eyed it, her brows rising slightly when she realized Madison worked for
HCS. “Will he know what this is about, Miss Overton?”
Tell him it’s about the empty warehouse in Central.”
look on the receptionist’s face told Madison she knew nothing about that, and
for a second or two Madison wasn’t sure her ploy would work, but the woman
finally adjusted her headset and pressed buttons on the keyboard.
There’s an investigator from HCS here to see Mr.
Ingram. She says to tell him it’s about the empty warehouse in Central.”
Madison heard a voice too soft to make out on the other end. “I don’t know what
it means either, but Miss Overton says
Can he make time for her or not?”
words too soft to hear, then the receptionist nodded and looked up from her
keyboard with a fake smile. “It’s the elevator with the maroon door. Key in
code 78945 for his floor. Anne Bates will meet you at the elevator and take you
to Mr. Ingram’s office.”
smiled. “Thank you.”
Now she had to go through with it.
How many lies had she told already? What if
Ingram took one look at her, guessed she was a phony, and had her escorted out
of the building by security
What if you uncover the biggest
story about the Weathermen to date?
be fair, the receptionist had inferred she was an investigator because her
business card had
Office of Cyber Crimes
on it. That wasn’t a lie so much as an omission on her part
to correct the woman. So technically, she hadn’t told any lies. Not yet, at
elevator was whisper quiet and smelled like old money. She could only imagine
would be like in person. His pictures
online showed a man with an easy, confident smile and deep blue eyes that
twinkled with mischief. She wondered if his brown hair was really as soft as it
looked in photos online. Not that she’d be testing
out, of course.
Unless it gets you the information
Because a man like
Ingram could be seduced that
easily into giving away all his secrets.
Time to get a grip, Madison.” Her soft words sounded
loud in the empty car, and she was grateful when the doors opened on the top
floor. A woman dressed in a navy blue suit, sporting an impeccable hairstyle,
and extending a hand with a perfect manicure stepped toward her. Madison felt
fat and dowdy in front of her.
Hi there. You must be the investigator from HCS. I’m
shook the woman’s hand. “I’m Madison.”
Nice to meet you.
didn’t tell us to expect anyone from HCS, so I’m sorry about the cool reception
I didn’t tell him I was coming.” Again, not a lie.
Oh, well I guess that explains it then. Please follow
hallway was lined in wood and her heels sank into the carpet as she walked.
Madison’s heart pounded so loudly she was sure Anne could hear it. Any second
now she’d be outed for the imposter she was.
stopped in front of a set of double doors that bore a plaque larger than it
needed to be for any human to read it. It told the world that
Ingram, CEO presided beyond these doors. Madison
smiled as she came up with an anagram from
name. Via Grim Gong. Maybe the plaque on his door should say that instead?
Here we are.” Anne’s voice was so cheery Madison
wondered if she got a headache by the end of the day from being that excited
opened the doors and stepped aside. “Madison Overton is here.”
Send her in, Anne. Thanks.”
soon as Madison crossed the threshold, the smile faded from her face and she
had to work hard not to drop her jaw. She wasn’t prepared for the sight of
Ingram in person. He stood, a bright smile on his
face, and her first thought was how tall he was. Not abnormally tall, but six
five, at least. The suit he wore couldn’t hide his muscles, so of course she
pictured him naked.
crossed the room where she stood rooted to the floor, his hand extended, and
his beautiful blue eyes filled with curiosity and interest.
Fuck me sideways
. He was checking her
Well, hello there.”
shook his hand, her voice still gone, and flinched a bit at the jolt of
electricity that shot up her arm. From the carpet, or from him? Holy fuck, he
was gorgeous up close and personal.
I thought I knew everyone at HCS.”
swallowed hard. “I’m new.”
he was toying with her, but instead of making her angry, she felt the urge to
giggle like a damn schoolgirl. What the hell was she doing here?
finally released her hand, and Madison missed the contact immediately. What was
wrong with her? Was this what a stroke felt like?
Madison Overton, right?”
nodded, her gaze roaming over his hair. Then she realized why it didn’t appear
as long as it did online. He had it tied back in a small ponytail.
Oh my God
. How fucking sexy was
Nice name. How long have you worked at HCS?”
. “One month. I started a month
nodded slowly, his grin now
morphing into a decidedly playful one. “Here in
In the field office.”
Did Ralph leave?”
No. We work together.”
Not a lie
All right.” He didn’t sound convinced at all. This was
a horrible mistake. “Come on over and take a seat. Let’s talk about the
sat, and was surprised when he took the chair next to her instead of retreating
behind his desk. “Do you have another business card I can see?”
blinked a few times before recalling the one she’d given the receptionist
downstairs had never been returned. She dug in her bag and pulled out a second
one, then handed it to him.
took it, frowning. “I didn’t realize they had a need for a second investigator
in this field office.” He glanced up. “Is there something going on I should
took a few deep breaths, trying to gather her thoughts. “I was hoping you could
tell me that, Mr. Ingram.”
leaned back, crossed one ankle over the opposite knee,
grinned again. “It’s okay to call me
known Ralph a long time. I’m sure, as his associate, you and I will get to know
decided not to acknowledge the innuendo in his voice, but it gave her a thrill,
just the same. “All right,
, then. I wonder if
you could tell me why you and the other Weathermen have your own security teams
watching an empty warehouse in Central that HCS once used to detain
was obvious he was trying not to laugh, and that confused
more than angered her. Who was this man that he had her boss wrapped around his
finger? Obviously he didn’t give a shit that she knew this, which meant for all
she knew, he’d been the one who had told Ralph about it. Who the hell was she
Have we done that?”
Have we deployed our security teams to watch an empty
warehouse in Central?”
Yes, you have. Why are you playing games with me?”
Did Ralph tell you this?”
Does it matter where I heard it?”
grin was gone, just like that. He uncrossed his legs and sat up straight,
leaning toward her in a way that had her wanting to bolt. She was a damn fool.
because I don’t know you. It matters because our contacts at HCS are the ones
about the warehouse, and
they know we’re using it and why. If you really worked for them, Miss Overton,
you would know that.”
picked up the receiver on his desk phone and she stood, but one look at the
dark expression on his face and she suddenly didn’t know what to do. If he
called Ralph, she’d lose her job.
fishy was going on with Ralph. Maybe with the entire agency. She wasn’t
entirely sure yet what it was, but if she got fired, she’d never find out
watched her, his hand poised over the buttons on the phone, but his expression
giving away nothing. The sudden change in his demeanor was both terrifying and
sexy as hell. The power emanating from this man made her dizzy.
What’s your decision?” His voice was soft, but filled
with command and confidence. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he knew she
wasn’t an investigator with HCS.
What are my choices?”
Sit back down and tell me who the hell you really are,
and why you’re here, or I call Ralph and find out on my own.”
I do work for HCS.”
Good to know you didn’t make a fake business card. But
we both know you’re not an investigator with them.”
swallowed hard again. “No. I’m not.”
moved his hand. “Now we’re getting somewhere. Sit down.”
man had no right to tell her to do anything. She turned around, intending to
leave, but his hand was on her arm in two seconds. “I wouldn’t do that if I
shook off his hand. “How dare you!”
How dare I? Seriously? You lie to my receptionist,
then to me, and now you think you’re simply going to walk out of here? The
second you’re out of this office I’m on the phone to Ralph. If you want to keep
whatever job you actually have at HCS, I’d suggest you sit down and tell me
what the hell is going on.”