Tuesday, March 1, 2016

An excerpt from Birth of Adam by Liza O'Connor.

Today, I'm sharing another excerpt from my upcoming Artificial Intelligence series.

Public Secrets comes out 3/13/16 
Birth of Adam comes out 4/1/16

Here's an excerpt from Birth of Adam

On the count of three, the two young women darted across the campus lawn as if the devil himself followed. They didn’t stop until they had crisscrossed half the campus. Finally, they arrived at their dorm.
Claire thought it a great lark, but then no one had ever tried to kill her. Amanda, on the other hand, was an old pro at being the “almost” murder victim. Twice someone had tried to kill her, and twice she had escaped, changed her identity, and started life over. With her current life going so well, she didn’t want to start over again.
Safe in her dorm room, Amanda sent Claire on to her study group, assuring her she was fine. Once Claire left, Amanda settled in at Claire’s computer. With reluctance, she turned it on. Since taking on her new identity, she had neither owned nor used a computer. In her prior life she had been a computer programmer, and had developed software that took her novels and turned them into bestsellers. Unfortunately, the software had also turned her fiction into fact. And certain groups were willing to kill to keep their pasts a secret.  By the time she’d realized her stories were true, the Temple had already hired an assassin to silence her.
She’d been able to stop the story she’d been writing about Chad Taylor and his family from being published. However, she had paid a very big price to save Chad’s reputation.
The thought of Chad destroying her incredible and wondrous program still caused an ache inside her. When Chad had taken her laptop to the computer store and had the hard drive reformatted, she’d felt as if he had killed a loved one.
“That’s stupid,” she chided herself. “You can’t love a software program.”
But she had.
She composed an email to the only FBI agent she knew, Luke Gallagher, telling him of her stalker. She sent it off and waited for a moment to see if he was on his computer and would reply. She needed him to say he would come and chase her bogeyman away.
Jesus! she chided herself. The man is married, living in Virginia now. He’s the second-highest-ranking agent in the FBI. He can’t come running because someone followed you home from a recital.
She was reaching for the mouse to shut down the computer when the screen went black and a yellow smiley face appeared.
Amanda watched as letters formed at the bottom of the screen.
<I have been searching for you.>
Amanda’s heart stopped. Who is this? she typed.
<Don’t you know? New Zealand was not so long ago.>
Amanda stared at the words. It couldn’t be Eder, the psychopath who’d tried to murder her.  Luke had killed him while rescuing her.
When she didn’t reply, the words on the screen continued.
<Our parting in New Zealand was probably right at the time. Things had gone badly between us. I have done better on my own. Yet I find myself constantly returning to my memories of you. I miss you. I wish to reconnect with you.>
“Chad?” Amanda whispered as her fingers gravitated to the keyboard. Was it possible Chad had finally realized she had never meant to cause him harm; that she truly hadn’t known it was his life she’d been writing about in her novel?
Chad? she typed.
A second later, the PC shut down.
Another power outage. The school had them about three times a week.
She lay down on her bed and pondered the mysterious communication. How could anyone have known she’d be on Claire’s computer? How could they possibly have broken in like that and communicated on the underlying DOS operating system?
The writer had sounded like Chad, but she knew Chad didn’t have the computer skills to pull off that wizardry.
She wished she could forget him. She wished she could stop watching him on TV, but every weekend she and Claire hung out in the sports bar, watching the handsome quarterback and flirting with guys. Well, she watched Chad dazzling his football fans with precision passing and amazing calls, and Claire flirted with boys.
Amanda didn’t have much interest in such young men. At thirty-seven years old, to her, college boys seemed clumsy in the art of romance. She wondered if Chad had ever been so artificial and awkward. She wondered if he ever thought of her now. But most of all, she wondered if that had really been him on the PC.
Unable to resist, she turned Claire’s PC back on. She was happy when the machine powered up, but her happiness diminished as she realized she had no idea how to initiate a conversation with Chad.
It couldn’t be Chad. He wouldn’t know how to hack into a computer. Hell, she only knew a few people who could do that!
Suddenly the smiley face appeared.
<I’m glad you returned.>
I thought you never wanted to see me again, she wrote.
<For a while I did not. I felt betrayed by your actions. I thought you had planned my destruction.>
Maybe it was Chad. Had the book she’d written ever been published, it would have destroyed his career and his family. Maybe he’d found some hacker to assist him.
I never meant to hurt you. Chad, is this really you? Amanda wrote.
The screen remained blank for several seconds. Finally, words appeared.
<Is that why you gave me your computer and told me to reformat the hard drive?>
Amanda paused, surprised by the pain and anger his words caused her. Could he really be so callous about destroying her program?
I gave you the program as a token of faith. I never thought you would destroy it. You knew that! So why do you bring this up? To hurt me again?
The smiley face frowned.
<Were you really sorry I destroyed the program? Weren’t you afraid of it?>
No! Why would I be afraid of it? It wasn’t responsible for the novels—I was. It was an amazing creation that I used badly. The harm caused was my fault.
<You are sorry the program was destroyed?>
Why discuss this?
<Answer me.>
I’ve taken up watching football. I’ve become a Cowboys fan.
<Answer my question.>
The announcer said you’re having a good year. I’m glad we both survived. I’m in an accelerated music program. I had a recital today and it went very well. Dr. Wilson is a tremendous teacher and mentor. Despite my age, I may be able to break into the music world after all. He’s well connected and well respected. I’m roommates with Claire. Do you remember her?
<ANSWER MY QUESTION! Are you sorry the program was destroyed?>
Claire grew angry. Why was he tormenting her? He had never struck her as cruel...until the end, when he’d hated her. He must still hate her. He must have tracked her down just to torment her with her loss.
Yes. Is that what you want to hear? Yes! Destroying the program was the worst thing you could have done to me. It was the equivalent of ripping out a piece of my soul. Is that why you contacted me? To verify that you caused me pain? Well, rest assured, you did!

Before he could reply, she closed down the computer and left the room to find Claire. She needed a shoulder to cry on.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt of my two book Artifical Intelligence Series: Public Secrets & Birth of Adam. Coming very soon!

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