My 15th Fiction Title
By Jeff Salter
Last month, I posted the blurb for my newest release — my 15th fiction title — published by TouchPoint Romance in mid-February. Today, I wanted you to read the “teaser” scene which precedes the first chapter. It was necessary to place this teaser before Chapter One, because the reader already knows — from the title, tagline, and blurb — that Pennie Lane is a human impersonating an android. Problem is, Pennie doesn’t find out that’s her new (albeit brief) job until the middle of Chapter Five.
“Exactly what’s supposed to keep me here, Ms. Lavender?” asked the hostile buyer, Knox Kendall, as he eyed me, off to one side.
“I have been instructed to comply with any legitimate request you make,” replied Elena Lavender, his primary contact at Delos Echo.
His blue eyes lit up as he stroked his firm chin. “Okay. If you mean that,” Kendall said slowly, pointing to me, “then leave me alone with this Model 8.5.”
My knees weakened, but nobody noticed an android’s brief waiver.
“I beg your pardon?” said Lavender, shifting her gaze between me and the ardent buyer.
“You heard me.” His lips thinned into a sneer. “Your boss said do what I want. And I want to see just how human she is.”
Lavender sputtered a bit, but (having already shown all her cards), had no viable moves.
Yeah, I know that imagery is wonky, but my head’s spinning. It felt like I was on the auction block and this leering rake had just won the bid to become my new master.
“Surely, you don’t intend…”
“Call your Bermuda boss again. See if he wants to kiss this Kendall contract goodbye.”
More sputter as Lavender rose slowly, started to move in my direction, but changed her mind and quietly walked from the spacious suite.
Fighting both panic and anger, I considered sprinting after her. But I figured I’d try to stay in character for as long as I could… until the last possible minute. If I can.
One eye on the door, Kendall motioned me over with his hand.
Like a proper android, I waited for his verbal instruction.
“Okay, let’s get down to business.” Not only had he overlooked my lack of compliance, but his attitude seemed to have shifted abruptly. “Now, what’s your given name again?”
I almost blurted out the real answer, Pennie Lane. “Here in the complex, I am called Ann, but I have been told my name may be changed by my eventual owner.”
“Right. Well, Ann, come sit down.” He moved his briefcase and patted the couch. “Right here next to me.”
I turned slowly and began those few paces. In this case, the steps were stiff and halting not because of my practiced mimicry, but due to my fright. Couldn’t yet discern exactly how Kendall’s manner had changed, but there was a distinct difference after Lavender left us alone together.
“That’s it. Have a seat.”
Taking care to keep my skirt hem as low as possible, I sat on the far end of the long L-shaped sectional sofa.
“No, slide a little closer.”
After I inched over, Kendall grabbed my elbow and pulled me to the center of the middle cushion, adjacent his. “I said closer. Now that we’ve gotten rid of the chaperone, we have a chance to get to know one another. How would you like that, Ann?”
Amateur actress (and recent college grad) accepts a far-fetched, and high-paying assignment to impersonate a sophisticated android prototype for one full day. The actual floor model android has developed a last-minute glitch, but the evaluation by the billionaire buyer must go on. Can Pennie Lane fool the haughty, leering buyer long enough to collect her bountiful per diem?
[JLS # 375]