Emma J for Joy Pearce is on the twenty-second floor of Three Embarcadero when the birds begin to twitter. She is sipping her first cup of coffee and watching the rush-hour traffic crawl across the Bay Bridge into downtown San Francisco. A five-car pileup has blocked the Fremont off-ramp for ages, and she shakes her head, savoring her breakfast blend and feeling just a little bit smug. She doesn’t have to deal with that commute, thank her lucky stars. Living on Telegraph Hill and hiking ten blocks to the office is the way to go. She wouldn’t live anyplace else on the planet.

The birds, a flock of lively sparrows, swarm outside her window. Which is sort of odd. Emma just doesn’t see the tiny birds flying so high. Sparrows tend to be ground-bound, pecking at cookie crumbs outside a café on the mezzanine level. Odder still, they are diving and swooping, forming strange frantic patterns against the pink light of the rising sun. They begin to twitter in earnest now, almost screeching, in a weird frenzy. Sounding not like birds anymore, but some other feral creature, weasels or rats.

The birds rouse Emma out of her morning grogginess into mild surprise.

She had spent the night with Timothy and, half smiling, half frowning, has been mulling over what he’d said. She loves him, of course, but she just isn’t sure. No, wait. That isn’t right. It’s insane, what he’s asking. When they’re both so set in their ways. Things going so well, for the both of them, just the way they are.

She’d bounced out of bed with the completely genuine plea of a very hairy deadline. Buzzed into the office an hour early before the first of the flex-timers. Timothy. Dear sweet wonderful Timothy, but after five years, who would have thought? She sets her cup down, stands and stretches. She isn’t quite ready to start tearing apart the manuscript for Genes: Why I’m Me and Not You, Thank Goodness. The first chapter is a mess with lapidary moments, like the rest of the manuscripts Nigel Fontaine has turned in over the years.

More mess than brilliance in his projects these days. She must have a heart-to-heart huddle with the old coot sometime soon. She checks her calendar. Maybe lunch next week?

What’s with the birds?

A hollow booming rises out of the westward fog. Her windows begin rattling. Suddenly, flagpoles are tossing to and fro on the tops of high-rises.

The earthquake strikes.

From Shaken

Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Mason

Shaken is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

This is my ebook adaptation (and major expansion into short novel form) of Deus Ex Machina, published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in the anthology Transcendental Tales From Asimov’s (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide.

Emma J for Joy Pearce is at her editorial offices on the twenty-second floor of Three Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco when the long-dreaded next Great Earthquake devastates the Bay area. Amid horrific destruction, she rescues a man trapped in the rubble. In the heat of survival, she swiftly bonds with him, causing her to question her marriage to her long-time boyfriend.

But Jason Gibb is not the charming photojournalist he pretends to be. As Emma discovers his true identity, his mission in the city, and the dark secrets behind the catastrophe, she finds the choices she makes may mean the difference between her own life or death.

A list of Sources is included in the ebook.

Shaken, a Thriller, by New York Times Notable Author Lisa Mason, is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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More bargains for your reading enjoyment:

The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Summer of Love is available free on Kindle Prime until March 1, 2013 in the Summer of Love Serials 1 through 7.

And don’t miss The Story That Sold To The Movies. TOMORROW’S CHILD began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook and Kindle. Also on UK Kindle.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! If you love romantic suspense or historical mystery, this is both. Please give Lily Modjeska a try!

Thank you for your readership!