Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SNEAK PEEK! Lust, Money & Murder Book 10, "Black Widow"

Setting: the close of a job interview in London

With little enthusiasm, Spyro Leandrou said, “Well, if I decide to make you an offer, we can discuss it.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hands flat on the table.

Elaine willed herself not to look at his prosthetic hand.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“I don’t think so. I just want to say that I’ve really enjoyed meeting you, Mister Leandrou, and I hope you’ll seriously consider—”

“Oh, come on!”

Elaine blinked. “Excuse me?”

He raised the prosthetic hand in the air, the gaps in the joints clearly visible. “I know you noticed this—how could you not notice it?”

Now Elaine felt uncomfortable, but she allowed herself to focus her eyes on the hand, the mechanical fingers. “Yes I did.”

He rotated his wrist so that it was palm up. The fingers started slowly moving, one by one, making a soft whirring sound. “Kind of creepy, huh?”

It was. But Elaine didn’t respond.

“I lost my hand a long time ago, stupidly, when I was a young man.” With his left hand, he pulled up his shirt and jacket sleeves, revealing the interface where his forearm ended and the bionic device began. “There are sensors in the nerves of my arm muscles that tell the motors what to do. Every time there’s a major leap forward in prosthetic technology, I upgrade to the latest and greatest. It took a lot of practice to learn how to use this one.”

He rotated the mechanical hand again, palm down, which looked robotic, and extended the index with more whirring noises. “I can type, hold a mouse or a pen—this one can do just about anything a real human hand can do. And it’s a hundred times as strong.” He grinned. “Watch this.”

He reached across the table, set the hand down beside Elaine’s empty water glass, and—with more soft whirring—the fingers began to curl around it, covering the thick base. Now Elaine could see that imbedded in the pads of the fingers, and at several contact points on the palm, there were flat spots made of metal that were flesh-colored and had squiggly indentations, like fingerprints, for gripping. “The only problem is, it’s tricky to do certain things—it’s hard to tell exactly how much pressure I’m exerting.”

He slid the glass to the middle of the table. The whirring increased in volume and pitch as the fingers clenched the heavy crystal glass tighter and tighter.

Elaine jumped as the first crack appeared in the side.

The fingers continued to tighten, with more and more force, as more cracks appeared. Suddenly the middle of the glass shattered all the way up to the mechanical thumb, with the top of the glass still intact—that piece flipped over onto the table upside down, like a little crystal crown, the jagged edges upright.

The robotic fingers continued to tighten, the whirring sound getting more and more intense...and to Elaine’s surprise, she saw that he was not looking at the disintegrating glass, but at her face. More shards fell away from the glass until there was nothing left but the very bottom, the heavy, disk-like base. That piece cracked several more times until there was nothing visible, just glass fragment and dust falling from completely clenched fist.

“The nice thing is,” he said casually, the fingers now unfurling, whirring more loudly, a few more small pieces shards falling from it, “you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself.”

With his left hand, he reached beside the table and pulled a small trash can up to the edge. He began sweeping the pulverized pile of glass into it somewhat clumsily, moving his arm from the shoulder and elbow, the hand itself now dormant.

When he finished, he gingerly brushed off the prosthetic hand over the trash can, blew on it a few times, inspecting it almost lovingly, she thought, until he was satisfied all the glass fragments were gone.

He looked at Elaine and smiled. “Good as new.”

She swallowed.

Lust, Money & Murder, Book 10 "Black Widow" will be released on April 5th, 2017. Pre-order links for Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords here.

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