Welcome to Rookie Romance, Donna Del Oro!
Lies In Wait
Author: Donna Del Oro
Publisher: Musa Publishing
For love of country or love of a woman? These are two of the choices FBI analyst/undercover specialist Jake Bernstein faces when he goes undercover for the Joint Counter Terrorism Center. His mission: Go to Silicon Valley and identify the masterminds behind what the JCTC chief believes is a coordinated terrorist plot that may involve five American cities. As a disaffected, biotech scientist, Jake is recruited and tested in a harsh, brutal way. But slowly, the pieces of a possible terrorist plot begin to emerge.
In his desire to see his lover, Meg, he breaks cover and flies to rendezvous with her in San Diego, unintentionally involving her in his case. To stop the deaths of thousands of lives, he must gain access to the terrorist cell's inner circle and learn the details of their plot. Because the terrorist cell knows about Meg, Jake must now prove his loyalty to radical Islam and do the unthinkable. Or the undercover operation will fail.
As the cell lies in wait for the final, deadly call to action, Jake is desperate. Do his duty, expose the plot and save thousands of lives? Or save Meg? Is he clever enough to do both?
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Amad kept the boy in his line of sight. The youth walked stiffly, as if he had a rod holding his back straight. The weight of the vest, no doubt, caused him discomfort. Fifteen pounds of Semtex and ten pounds of steel ball bearings, tightly packed with wires attached to a detonator that weighed another pound. The boy’s hands never left the pockets of his bulky jacket, as he’d been instructed. Good thing today’s cool breeze from the Adriatic made people bundle up. No one would give him a second look.
A good boy. Simple minded, but devout and brave. A poor villager from north of Kandahar, a madrassa graduate who rarely spoke. His hooded brown eyes bespoke a short, miserable life. Today, the boy would kiss the hem of the Prophet and be rewarded for his sacrifice.
The boy was expendable, so Amad’s focus shifted to the scene before him. Peripherally, Amad noted the great shipping channel on his left as he climbed the steps of a pedestrian bridge. Jet-black gondolas, leashed to their colorful poles, bobbed and swayed in the brisk sea breeze. A monolithic white cruise ship sailed into view, rounding the bend of the docks. How he would love to blow that up and send thousands of Satan worshipers to a watery grave! Ah well, perhaps—Inshallah! Allah willing!—some day.
Although the day was windy, the sun bathed his face with a strange warmth. He exulted in the warmth, for that meant St. Mark’s Square, Piazza San Marco, would be filled with tourists. And Italians scurrying about to wait on the spoiled Infidels. In the distance, the soft strains of an orchestra drifted out to the channel via the broad walkway he was approaching to his right. The walkway of the winged lions.
The two columns of winged lions, the symbols of Renaissance Venice, towered over the crowd as it moved along with him toward the square, their destination not quite the same as his. Amad held the vain Venetians in silent scorn. Long before their Renaissance, the city’s Jews loaned money to the Devil Crusaders while the Venetian merchants gladly stocked their traveling coffers. Today, they would all pay.
For past and present sins against Allah.
Of course, for him, that was not his only motive for revenge. Many ghosts filled his head, crying for retribution, including that of his beloved brother. Mostafa lived inside Amad’s head, a voice among thousands, strengthening him, making him resolute and hard. One infidel’s death for every Muslim death. That was the righteous motto of a true ikhwan. A brother of Allah.
Amad, dressed in the high turban and polished suit of a Sikh businessman, stopped at the outer corner of the Doges Palace. Around the corner, the vast Piazza San Marco fanned out to the west of Saint Mark’s church. It was time to get down to business. In one hand, Amad held a mobile phone, specially programmed so that a certain sequence of numbers set off the detonator inside the youth’s vest. With feigned care, he studied an English-language tourist map while remaining at the corner. From his vantage point, Amad could peer over the map and track the young martyr’s progress toward the center of the piazza. Another ikhwan, the boy’s recruiter and handler, had rehearsed the youth the day before, and thus far, he showed no signs of hesitation. The boy, as instructed, walked among the milling crowd in front of St. Mark’s church and halted.
Brief ly, Amad wondered how much damage the church would suffer. No matter. He’d already estimated the fatalities would range between fifty and sixty. The wounded, another fifty—perhaps. One never knew. Due to the crowded conditions at this time of day and the added weight of the vest, the numbers killed and maimed would be high.
Let the power of the Believers reign and let terror strike the hearts of the Infidels.
The youth gazed up at the four horses on the front façade of the cathedral. Amad watched the boy then close his eyes. In all his purity and trust, the boy waited. Mustn’t make him wait too long...
Amad retreated to the other side of the palace wall, the side that faced the shipping channel. A gondolier waved to him and shouted something in Italian. Ignoring the man, he held up both the map and the mobile phone. One to conceal his face as he muttered a prayer in Arabic. When he was ready, his right thumb pressed the sequence of numbers. Amad counted five seconds for the signal to bounce off the nearest cell tower, which he’d located south of the shipping channel.
Silence followed as the explosion sucked the air out of the vast square. A moment later, the sudden eruption of sounds were indistinguishable from each other. The only one that stood out for Amad was the bell in the clock tower, which bonged once loudly.
Screams pierced the afternoon air.
Amad shuddered, then opened his eyes and looked up. His gaze met the gondolier’s a moment before the man dove into the well of his boat.
An elderly tourist couple f lung themselves on their knees in front of him. Amad hadn’t noticed them before. Their proximity shocked him.
“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” the woman cried, her eyes wild with terror. The man and woman looked up at him.
“I don’t know,” said Amir in perfectly accented British English. “The square. Something happened!”
“Mon Dieu!” The couple helped each other rise and then hurried around the corner.
Amad had the impulse to tell them, “No!” But why should he? They were infidels, just like the ones cut down in the square. Old, young—what difference did it make? Nevertheless, the woman’s long wail sliced through him and made him shiver.
Amad shook it off, turned his back and retraced his steps down the sidewalk and back across the pedestrian bridge. To his left, he acknowledged the Bridge of Sighs, but kept walking. He had to check out of his hotel as soon as possible. Then he would meet Ali and take a vaporetto—water taxi— to the airport. Their Sikh disguises and British passports would not be a hindrance, and they were on no country’s watch list.
The facilitator’s work was done for the day, but there was more work to be done. Three more willing martyrs for decadent Europe before summer’s end. Then, the Great Satan.
Ah yes. For America, he would plan something special. The challenge filled him with great purpose and excitement.
Guest Post- Tips for writing a seriesLies In Wait is Book 2 in my Jake Bernstein FBI mystery-thriller series. As I was writing this book, I tried to keep in mind several tips I've gleaned over the years—good tips for any author of a series. They are:
Begin with a strong stand-alone book.
This is my highest priority in launching a series. I had to pick my strongest idea and write the best book I could, as if it were to be the only one. In other words, I couldn’t sacrifice the story for my plan for a series.
With this in mind, I wrote A Bodyguard of Lies, an FBI mystery-thriller with echoes to World War II. This story introduces Jake Bernstein, ex-Navy SEAL and FBI analyst-undercover agent, a handsome, single man who’s an admitted adrenalin junkie with a high degree of intelligence. He’s sent to England, as a favor to MI-5, as part of a joint investigation into an elderly, naturalized American grandmother. His job: Uncover the truth. Is she the ruthless spy and war criminal, known as Hummingbird? While probing MI-5’s case against the octogenarian, Jake falls in love with the woman’s grand-daughter and finds himself at the brink of losing his promising career. When I finished this novel, I wasn't sure if I’d continue but readers wanted more of Jake Bernstein.
Establish a structure that is both predictable and extendable.
Since Jake’s strongest skill as an FBI agent is his unique set of undercover abilities, I felt I had plenty of future cases for him to investigate. He’s not only fluent in several languages, he picks up new languages like a sponge. He’s a chameleon and can pass for a Hispanic, a Middle-Easterner, an Italian, and so on. He’s quick-witted and is highly adaptable to any situation. Because of this, he doesn't operate strictly by-the-book and occasionally runs the risk of straying off the FBI reservation. Nevertheless, he’s a valued operative and so, in Lies In Wait, is sent undercover to Silicon Valley to infiltrate a suspected terrorist cell that’s lying in wait. While Meg, his lover from Bodyguard of Lies, starts a new life in San Diego, Jake assumes a new identity as a disaffected, Lebanese-American scientist whose knowledge of anthrax makes him acceptable to the terrorist cell. In this case, however, Jake finds himself taxed to his limits in ways he did not expect. What he discovers shocks him to his very core.