YAPC would like to welcome Jaci Wheeler to the blog today. She is here to share an excerpt and some info about her newest release Operation Child Soldier that is currently on preorder and releases May 2. If this looks like something you would enjoy reading, please go pick up a copy!
I was trained from birth to be the best Agent possible. Growing up in a Military Training Academy for unwanted children has its perks. I might not have ever been to a dance but I am a sharp shooter, master at hand to hand combat and best hacker the Academy has ever seen. I trained my whole life to pass the final and become an Elite agent. The only problem? My entire life has been a lie. My father is a monster and I’ve been trained to kill monsters.
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“Hej, det er Mette,” I answer in Danish.
“Mette? This is Bastian’s pre-school. We thought he might be hiding but we have searched the entire school but cannot find him.”
The mother in me wants to break into hysterics. They found us. How did they find us? I’ve been so careful. It’s been years, so how did they find us now? Calm yourself, Mette; you can break down later once you find Bastian. I immediately shove the hysterical woman aside and bring forth the cold, hard spy. She can handle this efficiently. Assess the situation and proceed. Taking a deep breath in, I exhale and ask the important questions.
“How long was he gone before the teacher went to look for him?”
“How long did you search before you called me?” I can tell I am scaring her now, and that isn’t my intention, but the faster I can get these answers the faster I can get him back.
“About twenty minutes.”
We have been on the phone for about ten, so that means they have forty-five minutes to an hour head start. Crap! They could already be out of the country by now. It’s time to end this conversation now and get my child back.
“Thank you for letting me know; I appreciate it. A relative probably picked him up, I will find out and let you know.” This is clearly not the reaction she is expecting and I can hear the panic in her voice.
“Oh no, Miss; we would have known if someone picked him up early. He would have to be signed out and you have a very strict rule that you are to be the only one listed. This is very serious; we must call the police.”
Time to break out the rusty acting skills, Mette; your son’s life depends on it. If the police are called, I will never get out of here in time so I force a laugh and add a tinge of airhead to my voice.
“Oh silly me, I bet it was my father. He is in visiting from the States.” Truth.
“He mentioned he might pick Bastian up and take him out for a treat. I assumed he knew what time school let out, but it is much earlier in the States so I bet he got confused.” Lie. I hold my breath and pray she buys it; I don’t have time for this. I quickly look at my watch and scan the area once again. Nothing.
“The States? I thought you were Danish?” Good, focus on that. I switch from the Danish we were speaking to perfect English.
“No, my mother is Danish, but my father is American. I was born here and he left several years later,” I say in perfect English that obviously shocks her from the intake of breath I hear. It doesn’t matter what she knows now because our cover is seriously blown anyway.
“Hi, baby. Did you have fun with grandpa? I’m so glad you are home; you scared me to death. Bastian just walked in so I really must run and scold my father for scaring us. I am so sorry, and please apologize to the teacher for me, but I must get him in the bath and wash his sticky hands and face. Have a nice day.”
Before she can protest, I hang up the phone. I have no other option without knowing who he sent or which direction they went. I have only one option: to call the monster himself. He doesn’t want Bastian; he wants me. My son just happens to be the pawn in his sick and twisted little game.
Tears start to prick the back of my eyes and make my vision blurry. I force them away quickly and allow my anger to fuel my hatred for the man who robbed me of my youth. I hide Mette away and bring back Aria, the assassin with the cold heart. She will serve me well.
Knowing exactly where he will be, I dial the number I swore I’d never use again. He picks up after only one ring. The snake was waiting for me.
“Aria. Or should I say, Mette?” He has the gall to laugh. The smugness is flowing off his tongue and all I can think of is how I will cut it out. Later, after I get Bastian back. And I will get him back. And then Edward will pay, and anyone else who is stupid enough to stand in my way.
“Edward,” I say my voice dripping with venom. “Name your price. It must be high for you to be so stupid.”
“Oh, my dear sweet Aria. Always were the cocky one, weren’t you? But you are right to be so. The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree does it, my dear?”
“Edward, you are trying my patience so you have exactly five minutes to give me back my son or so help me I will serve your heart on a platter. This. Is. Not. An. Idle. Threat!” I say, enunciating each and every word so he knows just how serious I am. He knows not only that I would do it, but that I could do so very easily because he taught me how.
“You will get him back once you do something for me. I have one last job that only you can do, Aria, and then you will get your precious son back.”
“You self-serving, arrogant…”
“Do you really want to waste time name-calling or do you want him back?” He asks, the smugness slipping back in his tone. I hate his tone almost as much as I hate him.
“You have exactly one hour to grab the go bag I know you have stashed away somewhere and board a plane to the States. I will have someone meet you at the airport to go over your assignment.” He’s so assured that I will comply. Little does he know I’m done blindly following his rules. If he thinks he can get me that easily, he has clearly underestimated me.
“That is where you are wrong, Edward. I am not following your rules. You will play by my rules from now on, do you hear me? You think you can waltz back into my life, steal my son, and tell me what I’m going to do? Have you forgotten who you are messing with? Your biggest mistake is taking the only thing left I care about, because now I’m not only dangerous, but I have nothing left to lose. You have exactly ten minutes to bring my son back. And Edward, unlike you, I don’t make idle threats,” I say and hang up.
Aria is back. And she’s going to love making them scream.
About the Author: Jaci Wheeler lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband and two precious kids.
Her love of literature began in Jr. High when she was introduced to Lowis Lowry’s books. Since then she has had a passion for writing Young Adult books, and creating strong female leads. When she’s not writing she is advocating for Autism Awareness and involved in the deaf community.
Her favorite things to do are play with her children, craft with her friends, sleep while her husband watches movies and indulge in her favorite addictions: Coffee, candy and shoes.
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