Lisa Mason
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2019 by Lisa Mason.
Cover, colophon, and art copyright 2019 by Tom Robinson.
All rights reserved.
Bast Books Ebook Edition published July 9, 2019.
Bast Books Print Edition published August 13, 2019.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Excerpt 2
The Conversation
A hulk in a wolf mask and a full-body wolf costume, reeking of Eau d’ Lycanthrope cologne, stands with his back turned toward Lightfoot, tense against the banister. An ostrich with impossibly long legs towers before him on the terrace. A smirk on her lush lips. Hands planted on her shapely hips.
There is no mistaking Rex Whoever and the lovely, leggy Zena Kinski.
Lightfoot stills her breath until nothing, no sound, no sigh, emerges from her nostrils or mouth. The pupils of her eyes widen. Her sensitive ears prick up.
“I know exactly what’s going on at Hades, Mister Big Shot,” Kinski says in a smug whisper.
“How could you know,” he replies, his whisper poisonous with contempt, “exactly?”
“I’m famous on Chrome. I’ve got fans and friends everywhere. Every kind of Blend. I’m an open-minded sort. What they know, I eventually know.”
“You don’t know a thing,” Rex growls in that forced, affected way. “You have no clue what dangerous business you’re stepping into.”
“Don’t I? Ten thousand free-trade credits a month says I do.”
“I won’t be intimidated by the likes of you.”
“Ten thousand credits. Or else.”
“Or else what?”
“We’ll expose you. For starters, I know you’re not a wolf. Not even a canine or a canid. Not a Feralist, either, hm?” She plucks at his ruff with polished fingernails, her Tatt strobing scarlet on the back of her hand. “I know who you are and what you are.”
He jerks away. “You know nothing.”
“Don’t I? You’ve got a lot to lose, Sir High and Mighty.”
“So do you.”
Like what?”
“Try your life.”
Kinski chuckles. A throaty chirp. “Are you threatening me?”
Rex doesn’t answer that. “What assurances can you give me that your sordid little scheme won’t escalate into higher sums? Or you won’t expose me after you’ve had your fill at the trough?”
“Dear me, I can’t at all assure you the monthly sum won’t go higher if your activities at Hades continue. But I can assure you that as long as I have my fill at the trough, I will never expose you. And I can certainly assure you I will never have my fill. I like luxury too much. A dancer’s career has a limited lifespan. Even a famous dancer like me. In a few years, I’ll require something extra to supplement the lifestyle to which I’ve become so happily accustomed.”
Rex falls silent. Then, “What if I told you you’re interfering with the most important advancement for every Blend on Chrome to come along in two centuries?”
“Oh?” A smirk in her whisper.
“The most important advancement since Liberation Day!”
“What if?” Kinski answers. “Don’t tell me you’re appealing to my conscience. You.”
“Maybe you’re satisfied with yourself, but millions of Blends aren’t.”
“Isn’t that just too bad for them.”
“You have no pity for other Blends who only want to improve their lot in life?”
“Why should I? I’m delighted with mine.”
“You’re selfish and vain and cold.”
“On the contrary, I love all the Blends. I wish every Blend well. And I’m sure they can improve their lot in life without your sordid little scheme.” Kinski executes a perfect pirouette and moves to the terrace door opening onto Bunny’s bedroom. “I’ll expect to see your free-trade credits in my bank account tomorrow morning. And on the first of every month after that. Till death do us part. Kind of like a bond-mate, isn’t it?”
“The most important advancement for every Blend,” Rex repeats, desperation in his voice.
“This conversation is over, sir.”
“Yes, it is.”
* * *
For the rest of Excerpt 2, join my other patrons on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 or https://www.patreon.com/lisamasonfantasyandsciencefictionwriter?alert=2. Thank you for your support while I recover.
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* * *
NOTE: To be continued in October, 2019.
On Tier Three, you’ll receive all of the posts of Tier One, including The Essential Digest with a Tribute to Yoshio Kobayashi, my original vegetarian recipe for Spicy California Rice, and the September movie review of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, all of the posts on Tier Two, including a delightful new Lisa Mason urban fantasy story, “Crawl Space,” with a Foreword and an Afterword, and my Monthly Writing Tip. And on Tier Three, CHROME Excerpt 2. After I’m done posting CHROME, I’ll give you the ebook and start excerpting another novel.
If you continue on to Tier Four—and I hope you do—you’ll receive my memoir-in-progress, Sticks & Stones Will Break My Bones, about the violent criminal attack on me and the aftermath.
Added Note: In October 2019 on Tier Three, I’ll be starting blogs about the inspiration, research, and literary and historical influences of CHROME.
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