Excerpt from Filters!
Posted by alexisanneauthor
My first short story in the FILTERS series, Polarized, is out now! Book 2, Grayscale, will be available this weekend. The series tells the story of six people dealing with having their lives turned upside down when their private messages are publicly released by a group of hackers.
In the excerpt below you’ll meet television reporter Veronica Thomas. She is married to divorce attorney Rick Thomas, and they have two small children. But thanks to the hacking scandal, she now knows her husband cheated on her the weekend before. Veronica is stuck working the story of a lifetime while her marriage is falling apart.
I hope you enjoy reading the excerpt!
Veronica Thomas was having one hell of a day. Spectacularly good on the one hand, and phenomenally bad on the other. Talk about your opposites. One minute she was on Cloud Nine with happiness, the next she just wanted to crawl into a deep dark hole to cry.
The good was so, so good. A crew met her at the door this morning, she didn’t even get to wave good morning to the security guard. And they’d been hitting it hard ever since. They went straight to a murder-suicide, but turned that over to another reporter almost immediately because just up the road a guy with a sword had gone on a rampage. All the networks had gone wall-to-wall with coverage so she’d been picked up by national. The package had been perfect. The videographer had managed to get some really spectacular footage of the guy just before cops took him down. And her stand-up had been dead-on.
They wanted her live for the evening shows. Live on national television.
Dream. Come. True.
And now they were down in the business district following the arrests of five different men and women on charges of corporate espionage. Two were CEO’s. Sure the suicides, murders, fights, and brawls were all spectacular, but they were so ordinary. The everyday common problems brought to a boiling point. But this, this was juicy. Secrets, lies, and money. Lots of money. Even the big and bad were being brought down thanks to Hacktastrophe.
And thanks to this late-breaking story, the networks were having a fit over which stories to cover. At the moment she was doing both.
Two stories on national television in one night.
It didn’t seem real.
But then she remembered her personal life. And well, that brought her right back down to reality. Rick had cheated on her. At least he had this weekend while he was in Atlantic City. More than likely there were others.
But that one email had been enough for Veronica. She didn’t need to read the rest. At least not today. She had work. National television, to be exact. Her broken heart could wait.
The worst part was she wasn’t surprised. She was shocked, yes. But the reality was she expected this. They were miserable shadows of their former selves. It only seemed fitting they’d also started living separate lives.
Didn’t make it hurt any less.
What were they going to do? Even though she hated her life and, at least at the moment, wanted to kill her husband, she found it impossible to imagine a different life. A life without Rick. She couldn’t picture Sundays without all four of them. She couldn’t picture holiday’s without her kids because they were with their dad. It just wasn’t right. They were supposed to be a family.
Where had they gone wrong?
It had been a fairy tale. Maybe that was the problem. Fairy tales weren’t real.
Rick had just passed the bar, she had just landed her first top ten market. They were perfect for each other. Young, ambitious, living life to the fullest. He had worshipped her and she had adored him. He was going to work his way up to partner and maybe start his own firm. She was going to land an anchor job and start a serious series of investigative reporting. They were going to have two adorable children, a boy and girl. They were going to live happily ever after.
At least they’d gotten the adorable children right. And Rick was a partner in his firm. And she was weekend anchor. But everything else had stagnated. She knew it had, but was clueless how to fix it.
Sometimes it felt like they were puppets. They looked the part and were moving, but it was hollow. They were empty. The life that once made them who they were was just… gone.
And neither of them seemed to know what to do about that.
So maybe it was for the best she’d opened that particular email first. Maybe she needed that shock to the system, to awaken her from whatever slumber she’d allowed herself to drift into. Because in the end, their lives weren’t real and it wasn’t fair to anyone. Not to them or their kids.
She just didn’t want to go home. She didn’t want to face Rick and see the betrayal in his eyes or hear those final words ending their marriage.
She wasn’t ready. Not yet.
“Veronica, we need you out here. Something is going on…”
She hopped out of her hiding place in the passenger seat of the live truck just as five more cop cars came barreling up to the building. They began waving at the news trucks lined up along the road. They were waving them away. Her instincts told her to run, but her body stayed frozen in place as her brain debated what it thought was happening. There was a story here, if she ran she would miss it. Of course if she stayed and died, it would be pretty damn hard to report it.
Her kids probably wouldn’t appreciate their mother being the idiot reporter who wouldn’t get out of harm’s way for a story.
So she screamed at her legs until they finally moved. Across the street, up the sidewalk, and in with the throng of others being herded away from the buildings. Her videographer, Ed, was slamming the doors shut on the van- she should have stopped to help him with that- and clicking the key fob to activate the alarm as he ran toward her with his camera.
That was when the explosion hit. It was probably a bomb, if she had to guess. It came from the inside of the building, exploding cement and brick and god knows what else, outward toward all of them. It was loud and powerful enough that she felt the waves of energy as they ripped through the air, pushing her and everyone else back, knocking them to the ground.
Sound seemed to lose all meaning for a while. She was covered in gray and rubble. The eyes of everyone around her were large and round with shock. She imagined hers looked the same.
Ed was already on his feet, his camera intact and on his shoulder, rolling. She should be helping, she knew that, but her first priority wasn’t reporting to the world. It was reporting to her family. She fumbled through her pockets until her hands closed around the sleek comfort of her cell phone. But as she glanced at the screen and pulled up Rick’s number, she paused. Should she call him? Was he really the best person to call first given the circumstances?
Her thumb wavered over her call log, the first five numbers were all work. But the next one was Jessica. She could call her. Jessica would let the kids know mommy was alright and she could answer Rick’s questions.
But if the kids heard her on the phone, they might want to talk. And there was no way Veronica was having a conversation with her kids right now. They might get scared.
And it was probably not entirely fair to Rick. He was still her husband and, more importantly the father of her children. The adult and responsible thing to do would probably be to let him know she wasn’t hurt.
She hit the call button before she could debate it for another second. It was just a courtesy call.
“Are you ok?” he shrieked.
She couldn’t remember ever hearing such fear in her husband’s voice. Not the time she forgot to call him after Hurricane Katrina. Not the time she called him from the back of a cop car. Not even in the delivery room when nothing seemed to be going right.
“I’m fine. They got us across the street before the bomb went off. Please let everyone know we are all fine.” She was going to simply hang up, but he was too fast. She caught his words as she pulled the phone away from her ear.
“Baby, please get out of there.”
He hadn’t called her baby in months. “Rick, this is my job.”
“You have no idea what else might explode around there. This isn’t worth your life, get the hell out of there. And don’t go back to that station. That place will probably go up too. Just go home. I’ll meet you there.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t take orders from my philandering husband. This is my job, genius. If you wanted to order someone around you should have married an empty-headed bimbo. I am perfectly capable of judging what I can and can’t do and I’ll thank you to stay the fuck out of my job, out of my bed, and out of my life. If and when you can keep you pants zipped I might have time to listen to something you have to say. I called to let you know I was fine. Please let our nanny and our children know for me. I have work to do.” She would have thrown the phone across the street if she didn’t need it desperately for work. But she did. So instead she mashed the red ‘End Call’ button as forcefully as her thumb would allow.
It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as throwing the damn thing.
That was when she realized she’d been yelling. And that every one around her was watching her with wary eyes and raised eyebrows.
But hey, the world was coming down around them. Did it really matter who knew her husband had paid a hooker to give him a blow job in the back of a limousine?
Her phone vibrated again. This time it was the network.
“Can you do a talkback live over the phone? Right now?”
Veronica looked at the chaos around her. She had no idea where Ed was or what the hell was going on. But she sure as hell had time to talk to the world about what she was seeing. “Yeah, let’s do this.”
Thanks for reading! If you want to read the rest, follow these links:
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And be sure to keep a look out for Book 2: Grayscale!
Thanks and much love! xoxo
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