Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sneak Peak #2 -- A NO GOOD ITCH (A J.J. McCall Novel - Book 3)

This is the opening scene of the new J.J. McCall novel--still in progress but will be ready for delivery on December 16th as promised. 

The series of events that follow may or may not be inspired by an actual meeting that I can neither confirm nor deny ever happened...



Prologue

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” ~ Sun Tzu

 

In the convoluted world of intelligence and spies, nothing made more friends of enemies than fear, failure, and the fear of failure. This fact was no doubt why the FBI representatives had been summoned to the Russian Embassy in Washington.

 The  Minister of Foreign Affairs reeled after a reported "heated discussion" with the U.S. Secretary of State, who promised harsh and swift diplomatic sanctions following the arrest of Secret Service agent Maddix Cooper for spying on behalf of a the Russian Foreign Intelligence--the SVR. Coupled with the identification and death of Svetlana Mikhaylova, a Russian sleeper operative caught operating deep inside the FBI, the arrest of FBI Agent Chris Johnson for serving as Svetlana's cutout, filling andretrieving all of her dead-drops to keep her identity concealed, and international heat for military incursions into the Ukraine, the tense political situation had outraged their now tight-lipped government contacts in Washington and New York and dried up critical sources of American intel, threatening to paralyze the SVR's intelligence mission across the United States unless they quelled the fury. Thus, the come-to-Jesus meeting called by the SVR Resident was inevitable and necessary.

 FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall marveled at the embassy's ornate grand lobby. The rich white and dark European marbles accented by cardinal red carpet runners, a stately winding staircase crowned in gold, and paintings of lush landscapes brightening the halls and sitting areas, was among the most beautiful embassies she'd visited. The sight was impressive if also a stark reminder of the country's willingness to spare no expense when it came to putting up deceiving fronts and paying American traitors.

"We'll need a dump truck for the bullshit about to be heaped on us today," J.J. whispered to her co-case agent, Tony Donato. As the lead case agent behind the ruckus, she'd been ordered to listen and not respond.

"Shhh," Tony whispered in reply. "The walls have ears."

Resident Andrei Komarov, the Russian equivalent to the CIA Station in Moscow, led J.J., Tony, and the Assistant Director of Counterintelligence John Nixon through the hallowed embassy halls until they reached a well-appointed conference room. It contained a stately mahogany-paneled walks, large open armchairs, and an oversized table large enough to seat Komarov's ego and attitude, both massive in her past experience.

The group, all dressed in their services' uniforms--pin-sharp woolen suits in late fall hues concealed under beige all-weather overcoats--was met by the only other declared SVR officer in the Russian Embassy, Security Officer Aleksey Dmitriyev.

Jolted by his appearance, J.J. avoided his gaze, kept their handshake and greeting brief. The last time they met, he was not working for her. Now, he was--and the only other person in the group aware of his status was Tony. Butterflies rolled in her stomach as everyone took their seats and the meeting began. She forced a poker expression and prepared herself for the barrage of lies.

Komarov settled in at the head of the table and prepared to talk, his face reddened and contorted as if every word he was about to speak, no doubt carefully selected by the Foreign Minister, would sear his throat and exit his lips like sharpened razors carving him from the inside.

"We've all met before and are quite familiar with one another," Komarov began, shooting a slicing glare through J.J. Her aggressive targeting of SVR officers for recruitment was legendary...or infamous, depending on which side of the table you were sitting. She sat in awe of him, the Russian James Bond in looks and dress, who was void of any semblance of his accent. "So, I'll feel free to dispense with the introductions and pleasantries since we all understand why we are here today."

J.J., Tony, and Nixon exchanged strained glances before she took a deep breath to brace herself as Komarov progressed through the four steps of surviving a massive operational failure.

Step 1: Admit nothing.
"There has been a spate of unfortunate and seemingly unfounded reports regarding the activities of our foreign intelligence service inside the United States," he said.
Her birthright, her gift, the ability to detect lies, sent the sensation of an army of crawling ants through her fingertips and up the length of both arms. She clenched her teeth and prepared for Step 2: Deny Everything.

"We have no information to substantiate the many reports circulating in the media nor can we speak the involvement of any of our staff. However, I can assure you that if any such activity had occurred it was orchestrated by rogue officers conducting unsanctioned operations. If ever discovered, they will be dealt with accordingly. Which brings me to my next point..."

As the lies continued, the annoying sensations intensified. The itch stretched through her back and up into her neck. She shifted in her seat and tensed her body to suppress it.

A moment of relief would come with Step 3: Demand Proof.

"If your Secretary of State persists in her current path and continues to threaten sanctions against our diplomatic corps, we must require access to the evidence used to justify these unfounded accusations against our government or we will be forced to reciprocate and target the U.S. embassy in Moscow."
They always demanded proof because they knew the FBI couldn't provide the most critical elements, at least not so early in the investigations. Such provisions risked revealing FBI sources and methods, potentially compromising the Russian Embassy recruitment sitting across the table from J.J., as well as the FBI's knowledge of the existence of the listening device found in the White House Situation Room, and announce the President had postponed for reasons unbeknownst to her.

Nixon cleared his throat. "It's forthcoming," are the only two words he offered, which was two too many in J.J.'s book. He said, "Continue with your little speech, please," in his typical condescending, patronizing way.

From the pinched expression on Komarov's face, he took the comment in the spirit in which it was intended, just as J.J. would've, which certainly contributed to Step 4: Make counter-accusations.
"And if your government should bring forth any evidence against the Service, we may be required to present our own proof that these arrests are merely a provocation to discredit Russia and increase hostilities within the international community given U.S. opposition to our security operations in the Ukraine."

Bullshit. But J.J. gave credit where it was due--the guy was good.
"We're not here to debate the validity of your political and military agenda," Nixon replied. "The FBI's primary concern is securing the homeland from terrorists and spies. So, if we could cut to the chase, why have you requested our presence here today?"

J.J.'s eyebrow arched. She'd never known Nixon to be a man with backbone. He usually preyed on the weak rather stand up to the strong.

"Ahh, yes," Komarov said, relaxing his tone and his posture, resting his back against the chair. "We brought you here to extend an olive branch, if you will. I've been asked to assure you that the Service is not controlling any operations targeting citizens inside the United States. I've been informed that negotiations regarding the specifics the new plans are underway within our executive channels that will demonstrate this new era of cooperation. We would like to collaborate on issues, such as terrorism, which would be of great benefit to both our countries."

By now the itching sensation had permeated J.J.'s entire being. If the body had over a billion nerves, every one of hers had been stimulated in the worst way. She clenched her legs together and strained not to dissolve from her chair into the floor in a scratching frenzy.

But the truth had been revealed. They wanted to purchase conciliation with terrorism intelligence. J.J. felt relieved. With FBI Director Russell Freeman at the helm, U.S. national security could never be bought for so cheap a price. 

_________________________________________________________

Intrigued yet? Make sure you catch up with Books 1 & 2 if you haven't done so. I promise you, Book 3--A No Good Itch will not disappoint!  

 
Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorsdskye 
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDSkye1 
 
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/S.D.Skye/e/B00AMAUFK8   
And don't forget to subscribe to http://authorsdskye.com for automatic updates.      
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The 5 Do's and Don'ts of Being a Happy Writer (On Your Way to Publishing Success)

The Do's and Don'ts of Being a Happy Writer (On Your Way to [long-term] Publishing Success) 

I was asked to give a presentation at a writer's guild meeting a few weeks back and I tried to think about what kind of wisdom I wanted to impart on my audience. What have I learned after five years in this business between being rejected by literary agents (at least 100 of them), self publishing my first book, getting that book picked up by a Big 5 publisher along with a second book, and then going BACK to self publishing the subsequent 5 books, including the three in my J.J. McCall series.

I don't know if anything I've learned is particularly profound, but what I know is that every word is true. If you want to be a successful writer, you have to find a way to be a happy writer--you have to find a way to love what you do, every day, through success and failure, through sales ups and downs, through weeks and weeks devoid of sunlight and human contact because you're so deep in your work, through rejection, through bad reviews and good reviews and more bad reviews. The act of writing a story must give you some level of satisfaction, some level of joy. Maybe not consistent joy, but enough of that sweet spot to keep you coming back for more...even when more sucks to the high heavens, even when you're not where you want to be and frequently question the insane voice that told you you will get there....someday.

Want to be a happy writer who can weather storms of publishing future? Do...and don't do the  following...

1. Do -- Write for the love of writing. Don't write to achieve another author's level of success.

The biggest lesson I've learned is this -- for most writers instant success WILL NOT come. You will not be discovered by a Big 5 publisher. Even if you are discovered, most WILL NOT be bestsellers, rather you will whither away and die in the mid-list. No movie producer or book editor is stalking your Amazon or blog page waiting on you to become the next big thing so they can give you a 7-Figure deal or turn your book into a movie. Your chances of becoming the next big thing are slim and none--especially if you give up, which so many authors who don't achieve their "author ideal" tend to do. And the reason that most people give up is because they aren't writing for the love of writing--they are writing for the sole purpose of achieving some other author's success. And if that's the case, you may as well quit now.

You can't do it. 

If you're not happy in the grind of writing, tapping those fingers at 3 AM, cloaked in funky pajamas, with an IV drip of coffee, no audience, no help, nothing but you and your pen and notebook---or laptop? Then you won't find sustainable success in this business. You might get lucky...but it probably won't last. Those who love the grind will out last them all. The more books you write and publish, the more likely you will be to find success--whether you're lucky or not.


2. Do -- Write what you love (not necessarily KNOW). Don't -- Follow trends.

I write what I love...which is why I STILL love writing so much. Now, get this. Three years ago, I pitched the idea for my J.J. McCall novels to my agent. He thought the initial concept was good but when I made J.J. a lie detector, he hated it. He wanted it to be like a Clancy or a Silva type book. And I'm not Clancy or Silva. I'll never out Clancy, Clancy or out-Silva, Silva. Just won't happen. All I could do is find the story that I love, be the best S.D. Skye I could be, and see what the audience thought. Admittedly, my initial sales were almost non-existent. 

I think they're up about 100-fold...and growing a little bit every month. Why? I can only imagine current events have sent people back looking for good spy novels. How in hell could I have predicted more than three years ago that I would write a series about Russian intelligence versus the FBI just in time for Russia to make incursions into the Ukraine or Edward Snowden to seek asylum in Russia. Or predict that Book 2 in the series, which centers on a major Secret Service failure, would be on sale right when there was a major Secret Service failure.

I wrote the stories that I loved, whether they sold or not, and eventually they started to find their audience. And I think that's what you have to do. If I find above average success with these books, I will be able to sustain because I'm writing what's in my heart...not what's trending.

3. Do -- Learn to accept criticism. Don't -- Take all advice. 

The first thing I learned in this business is how to accept and process criticism and I don't think any other skill has helped me stay as happy in the publishing business than that one.

Truth is -- not everyone is going to love your work. Some people are going to dislike it...intensely. Some people are going to hate it. Some people are going to wake up and shit on your baby just because they can. It's just a fact of life. Deal with it.

How do you deal with it? If you're like me, you'll start with a shot of vodka, tell them to piss off...and then after you cool down, you will read the soul-searing words with an objective eye and find the grain of truth that you can use to make your work better in the future. I believe the reason that I've had some level of staying power is because I not only have learned how to accept criticism...but then I use the good parts of it make my work better the next time. No greater satisfaction than taking what was meant for your harm using it for your good.  

The thing is, though--you can't take everyone's advice. Some advice won't apply to you. Some people just flat out don't know what the hell they are talking about. It's true.

The best way to discern between the two is to KNOW YOUR CRAFT. I don't have an MFA. I have an MBA. But I've read enough books on craft and taken enough classes to know what's BS and what actually applies to my work.

If you learn your craft, really study it, then you'll know how to filter criticism and advice.

4. Do -- Have the drive to be successful. Don't -- Judge your success on someone else's journey. 

What gets me out of bed every day is writing stories and transcribing these voices in my head everyday. That's what gives me the energy. The love of writing.

What keeps my ass in the chair....through editing, and Beta reads, and sunny days when I'd rather be outside playing with the other kids, is my desire to reach as wide an audience as possible for my work. To write the best stories I can write...and to publish them in a way that people will fall in love with my characters as I have. 

When it comes to judging my success, I have learned to STAY IN MY LANE. That means, I don't judge my success by what Silva and Clancy have done. I judge my success by where I was 5 years ago, 4 years ago, 3 years ago, 2 years ago, 1 year ago. I started out selling less than 10 books a month. Now I'm selling well into the hundreds (for the same book). When I was with a Big 5 publisher, I had ZERO online pre-orders with any bookseller. With my J.J. McCall series -- not only do I have pre-orders, but I have them in like 4 countries. I mean, who knew???

By judging my success by where I've been versus where others have been, then every single step forward is success and it keeps me happy...and it keeps me writing.

5. Do -- Seek Publication. Don't --Seek Validation. 

There is a difference, I've learned. There was a time when I did think my work was good enough if an agent didn't want to represent me or an editor didn't want to publish me. With my very first novel. I thought I didn't have what it took. I hired an consulting editor who had previously worked with a Big 5 publisher and she told me to throw it in a drawer and start the next one. I was deflated to say the least. Almost gave up. Then I had a Come-to-Jesus moment. And during that moment, I really had to decide if I believed in myself and my story. I sat and read it from beginning to end--and laughed my head off. It's really funny. And I said, "Somewhere in this world, there is ONE person that will get something out of this book and I'm going to try and sell it to that ONE person. Damn what the literary agents say. Damn what the editors say."

And I self published that book--which four months later was represented by a pretty major NY agent and published by a Big 5.

I didn't wait for validation. I believed in my story enough to know I could reach ONE person...and one person was good enough for me.

Where so many people fail is that---ONE person isn't good enough. They want ONE million and when one million doesn't come in the FIRST MONTH they give up. You have to learn that if you believe in your work enough to sell it to one -- then you can sell it to one more.


So, I hope writers feel rejuvenated and inspired to stay happy and keep pushing another day. Sometimes, that's all it takes to find success.

---S.D. Skye


 

Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorsdskye 
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDSkye1
 

And don't forget to subscribe to http://authorsdskye.com for automatic updates. 
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/S.D.-Skye/e/B00AMAUFK8  





 






Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A No Good Itch -- PreOrder Your Copy Today!

Are you ready for Book 3?
It's on the way. Available December 16th. 
Order on Kindle today and it will automatically ship at midnight on release day! 

It's twisty turny goodness with an ending that will leave you ready for Book 4!!

www.amazon.com/Good-Itch-McCall-Novel-Espionage-ebook/dp/B00NMFWP30


IN THE GAME OF ESPIONAGE, SPY TAKES TRAITOR.
J.J. MCCALL TAKES OVER.

The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence hench-man, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. They are stepping into a possible war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions, while trying to dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History.

Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance is in Moscow trying to capture a fugitive American who has stolen White House intelligence and is planning to pass it to the Russians—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.

And when J.J. finally learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty, her life may never be the same.

If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Memory of the FBI on 9-11 (A Repost)

A Memory of the FBI on 9-11...


Some people may read this blog and wonder why I'm so passionate about U.S. national security. The anniversary of 9-11 is a reminder.

I'll never forget.

I'd arrived for work at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington and suddenly came down with a splitting headache. So, I decide to walk to the CVS Pharmacy three blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue on 13th Street.

As I'm walking to the store I hear an explosion. I stop in my tracks thinking it must be construction...or at least that's what I hope. After leaving the store moments later, I see smoke billowing up in the area of the Pentagon.  I could smell it in the air. But again, I'm thinking construction--maybe someone went a little overboard.

When I got back to the office, my colleagues were hovered around a television set. Watching the news. The two towers were hit. The Pentagon--hit.

First, stunned silence and tears. Then, confusion. Running up and down the corridors to find out who knows what. Then--Rumors.

We heard that a 4th plane was circling Washington and that FBI Headquarters was a potential target. There had been rumors of a potential attack on FBI headquarters circling around based on some suspicious surveillance activity detected near the FBI and other government buildings in the months leading up to 9-11-2011. But nothing substantial--until that moment.

Some of my colleagues said run and get out of D.C. Others said they were going to stay and support the investigation--they knew one was coming and that it was going to be massive. As for me, my son was not even a  year old...and all I wanted in that moment was to see his face again.

Scared, pannicked, I got the hell out of there. But I returned the next morning and was assigned to work the counterterrorism task force. If you were a warm body and could put 2+2 together you were assigned to work it. In the days and weeks to come, the FBI would help the world put together the pieces of what had happened. And during the course of the investigation, they gave us all these pins in remembrance.

I cringe when I hear conspiracy theorists talk about what the FBI knew and didn't know. What the FBI could and couldn't prevent. There is not one person at the FBI who wouldn't have given their all to prevent that attack if it was at all in the realm of possibility. Not one person who slept a full night during the course of that investigation. So easy to criticize when you weren't there and you don't have a clue of what you're talking about. The U.S. Government consists of more than these stark white buildings spattered across the D.C. skyline, it's made up of people. American people. Patriotic people who work with purpose every day.

And in a strange twist, but perhaps not, I would spend five years working on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon not two years later supporting the Iraq Task Force and our soldiers in battle there. 

What I remember most about 9-11 was...it didn't matter whether you were white, black, Latino, purple, or green, democrat or republican, protestant, Jewish, or Catholic, or whatever.

On that day, we were all Americans. One people. Never more perfectly united...at least not in my lifetime. And nothing mattered more than protecting this country and keeping us all safe.

It's a feeling I'll always carry with me, no matter where I go or what I do. And it's why I'm so opinionated on this blog when it comes to matters of U.S. national security.

I'll never forget.
________________________________

Now...back to writing the fun stuff. J.J. McCall Book 3 A No Good Itch is on the way. And it's really gooooooood.      

Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorsdskye 
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDSkye1
And don't forget to subscribe to http://authorsdskye.com for automatic updates.
 Check out my new release: The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel). 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Release Date Set --- A No Good Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) - Book 3

Book 3 --- December 16, 2014

It's been a while, but not all for naught. I've been working like a crazy person to finish the third book in this 5-book series, and I've finally reached the point where I can set the release date.

I'm so excited for this new story, which picks up where the last book left off. It takes J.J. McCall and Tony to New York to find and dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian intelligence sleeper network in U.S. history and stop a war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions. Six is sent to Moscow to save a Russian

I had so much fun writing this book because it delves into worlds I've worked in over my career in supporting RICO, Russian Intelligence and Russian Organized Crime operations/ investigations as well as my ongoing fascination with the Italian mafia in books and movies. So many twists and turns and an ending that promises to drop your jaw. My only hope is that you'll love reading the story as much as I did writing it.

New --- 3-Book SPYCATCHER Box Set



For new readers of the series, I'm also releasing a box set of the first three books of the planned five book series. This is for the many people like to get them and read straight through. So this new offering also will be available December 16th for your reading pleasure.



Back Cover Copy (In Progress)


In the Game of Espionage, Spy Takes Traitor 
J.J. McCall Takes Over

The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence henchman, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. This time they must stop a bloody crime war between Russian and Italian mob figures and dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History. With only two weeks to shut down the network and restore peace, the Task Force must solve the case before the murderous Mashkov strikes at the very heart of the team. Meanwhile, Six's conscience is tested when he heads to Moscow to help capture a fugitive mole and save a rogue Russian defector carrying a trove of intelligence from the FSB.

If you'd like to read a sample chapter of the work in progress, check out this link here.

http://www.authorsdskye.com/2014/05/sneak-preview-1-no-good-itch-jj-mccall.html

 Blog: www.authorsdskye.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorsdskye
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sdskye1


S.D. Skye Novels on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback
http://www.amazon.com/S.D.-Skye/e/B00AMAUFK8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
S.D. Skye Novels on Kindle – Worldwide Links
http://authl.it/zn





Saturday, May 10, 2014

SNEAK PREVIEW #1 -- A NO GOOD ITCH (A J.J. MCCALL NOVEL -- BOOK 3)

Hello there!

Writing can be a very cathartic process. When life...and the world are out
of a writer's control, one way we can regain control is to write our feelings in the pages of a book We can kill at will. We can torture. We can maim. And never do jail time...which really makes writing a wonderful thing.

In Book 3 of the J.J. McCall series, we pick up where we left off in Book 2. J.J. and Tony are on the way to New York to not only take down the financial hub of a Russian illegals network, but to stop a potentially bloody war between Italian and Russian organized crime. In a second subplot, if you will, I'm taking the readers on a somewhat cathartic journey to Moscow to catch an escaped spy who has run away with valuable U.S. intel and is threatening to take it to the press. Sound familiar? If not, it should. I will not state any names, but let's just say, the twists and turns the traitor's journey takes sure made me feel better! :)

Also, readers will finally find out the secret behind the death of J.J.'s mother! It could change J.J.'s life forever!

In this scene (still in progress), we find out just how much damage U.S. National Security faces if J.J. and Tony don't take down the traitor before he gets in the hands of the Russians.






Chapter 1
Monday Evening – Alexandria Jail

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had stacked so many charges against Maddix Cooper, the next time he set foot outside of a prison would be to take the pine box dive into a six-foot pit. They hit him with the sticky ones too. Mandatory sentences for espionage, conspiracy, first-degree murder, and obstruction of justice. The necessary maneuvers had left FBI agents J.J. McCall and Tony Donato in a major predicament: How to convince a man with zero motivation to divulge information contrary to his best interest – without the use of torture. This question plagued J.J. as she and her co-case agent crossed through the barbed-wire fence into the detention facility. With just a few minutes before they were face-to-face with the lowest form of human in existence, the answer wasn’t coming fast enough. Until inspiration struck, they agreed that the bees-to-honey approach would be more effective than idle threats.
The stench of confinement, an unsettling combination of despair and delinquency, permeated the cushy looking fortress on the outskirts of Northern Virginia and turned J.J.’s stomach. She’d spent more time in this hell hole over the past month than she had in her entire career and she didn’t care if she never saw it again.
Her last visit was at the behest of her jailed boss, forcibly retired Supervisory Special Agent Jack Sabinski, framed for committing espionage by his Jezebel, the dead Lana Michaels. Jack summoned J.J. and pled for her help in proving his innocence. J.J. focused her mind on interrogating her newest conquest—Mr. Cooper. He’d already ratted out Gary Mosin, the second member of Lana Michaels’ network of Russian intelligence sleeper agents during their showdown on the Devil’s Rest. Mosin disappeared off the grid and had fled to Moscow, while Maddix, to J.J.’s delight, sat on the verge of becoming some inmate’s bitch.
Never had an interrogation been so pointless from J.J.’s vantage point. He’d already blabbed Mosin’s destination. No way in hell would Maddix divulge the details of Mosin’s plans to them. The only reason he confessed their connection in the first place was to escape the bullet from J.J.’s gun.  Tucked behind the bars of Virginia’s premier correctional facility for newly arrested spies, he awaited a conviction that would guarantee if he died twice he’d still have to serve forty years. As far as he knew, a plea bargain might eliminate one of many life sentences. He had little reason to reveal another word. Certainly not out of the goodness of the cavernous pit where his heart was supposed to be. 
The Sheriffs walked J.J. and Tony through a series of security doors until they reached the interrogation room. They left their overcoats with their escorts and tugged their suit jackets straight before entering. The sight of Kendel Phillips’ murderer shrouded in orange and shackled at the hands and feet gave J.J. a burst of pleasure she hadn’t felt since her early morning romp with Tony. She prepared to speak when an overwhelming scent jarred her senses—the smell of contemptible swine.
“Figured you two would show up sooner or later,” Maddix said, his arrogance soaking up the little remaining tolerable air in the room. He scratched the 5 o’clock scruff seeping from his squared jawline. Red cracks peppered Maddix’s penetrating steel grey eyes and Lipton-sized bags bubbled from beneath them. His first few nights behind bars had left him sleepless and worn, an inconsequential justice for a scumbag who offed his own fiancĂ© in sacrifice to ensure the survival of his spy ring.
He locked his eyes on J.J.’s, all but ignoring Tony. “Hope you enjoy the view because I’ve got nothing to say to you…or your little partner here.” He jutted his chin toward Tony.  
“My, my, my,” J.J. said to Maddix.  A reddish blue bruise circled his eye and spread to the cap of his jaw. His gaze disintegrated under the weight of her glare and fell to his twiddling thumbs. “What an ugly fall from grace. Too bad, they don’t make an Armani perp suit. You used to wear him so well.”
Tony, positioned across from Maddix, scanned the rat’s face and looked at him with a pained expression. “Rough night, eh? Did they forget to put you in solitary? Looks like you’ve been mingling with the locals.”
   “Nothing I can’t handle,” he said with a shrug. Then he leaned back and spread his legs wide, his arms dangling at the sides. “So, this is the reason you came all the way to Shangri-La? To gloat?”
“No,” J.J. said. “Seeing you in this state is the only bonus I’ll need this year, but we’re here to discuss your comrade in arms, Hawk—Gary Mosin.”
Given Maddix was a former Secret Service agent, the usual good cop/bad cop routine would have zero impact. After all, he’d performed both roles quite well. The puppet show held no mystery and every string dangled upstage like Christmas tinsel. The little information he’d revealed to date wouldn’t help a dog find bone. Even with the odds stacked against her, J.J. had to try to take down Mosin before he found comforting shelter in the eager, waiting hands of Russia’s FSB.  He’d hatched a what appeared to be a fool-proof escape plan before defecting to Russia, but even the best laid plans had vulnerabilities ripe for exploiting.
“Newsflash, doll.” He forced out a roaring laugh, overplaying his weak position just a smidge. “You get nothing from me without a deal. I want immunity.”
“Immunity?” J.J. said, blinking in a rapid motion. After rolling her neck and eyes, she folded her arms over her stomach, lifted a single eyebrow, and prepared to kill any dream he’d concocted of shaking his bid. She’d arrived with the intent to take the path of least resistance, but his crassness suggested he sought the off-road experience. “First of all, my name is J.J. or Agent McCall, not doll. Secondly, if you ever deign to—,” she started. Tony stopped her, resting his arm on hers to signal he’d take over. Tony understood better than anyone that the bees-to-honey approach went out the door with the word “doll.” 
“Listen, you ain’t gotta make this difficult. We didn’t come here to pick a fight. Give us the information we need and you can go back to counting the tiles on the ceiling… or whatever it is you do on the inside,” Tony said with a put-upon calmness. He reached into his pant pocket, pulled out a pack of Marlboro 100s and a book of matches, and pushed them to the middle of the table next to a plastic ashtray. “Enjoy. Our treat. But if you choose to stay on the difficult route, we can reverse course anytime.”   
Maddix cupped his hands and, with no show of gratitude, pulled the offerings near, his shackles jangling with his every move. He folded back the foil on the corner of the pack and knocked the open end against his wrist until a cigarette emerged. Then his brow drew together, furrowed in confusion. “You don’t have a clue, do you?” he said, his gaze ping-ponging between J.J. and Tony before he shook his head. “That’s why you’re here. You don’t know!” With a slight air of cockiness, the corners of his mouth edged upward in a sneer as he eased back against the chair. “At the rate you’re going, The Washington Post will get the scoop before you do.”
“The fuck you talkin’ about?” Tony snapped, his gruff New York attitude released like the Kraken. His face reddened as the sound of his grinding teeth emitted a low hum. Maddix’s arrogance stoked his anger, affecting Tony as easily as J.J.’s. “What part of ‘you ain’t gotta make this difficult’ did you not understand? You’re already testin’ my patience. I’m promise you that’s not a smart move, not for someone in your position…which in...” he glanced down at his watch, “about an hour will be bent over for some booty bandit.”
Maddix took a slow drag from his cigarette and rested the cancer stick in the ashtray. He again shifted his cocky gaze between the two. “The great and powerful J.J. McCall. Just as in the dark as he is, huh? Man, I should tell both of you to go fuck yourselves. I don’t need you. You need me.”
Tony’s fist curled into a tense ball, and J.J. pressed her hand to his arm to dissuade him from any impulsive actions. Like an electric current coursing through her brain, the touch sparked an epiphany, brought to light an answer to the question she posed to herself earlier. The solution to her Maddix predicament was so simple. How do you make a man divulge information against his best interest?
You don’t.



Blog: www.authorsdskye.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorsdskye
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sdskye1
Buy Links

S.D. Skye Novels on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback
http://www.amazon.com/S.D.-Skye/e/B00AMAUFK8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
S.D. Skye Novels on Kindle – Worldwide Links
http://authl.it/zn