Saturday, 4 April 2015

Competition: Morning Angel

Morning on this grey Saturday. I have a chapter for a new WiP. The only trouble is I have no plot, no real idea of where it will lead. I am asking for your help. Read the first chapter  (yes, it's unedited, don't nag) and then in the comments, tell me what you'd like to see happen next. The best idea as picked by the boss (my daughter) gets a choice of either a copy of any of my backlist OR a copy of In-Decision (due out 15th April), and the book dedicated to you.
The competition closes Friday 10th April at 6pm BST.

Help me please, my lovelies. I need your ideas. 

Morning My Angel

Prologue
As expected the message pops up as soon as I log on.
Morning Angel.
Quickly I type a greeting in return.
Morning Charlie.
Anything further will have to wait until I’ve had my fifth cup of coffee. He knows that now.
Of course, my name’s not Angel and his isn’t Charlie but if we want to greet each other like we’re relics from a seventies show then it’s no one’s business but ours.
I smile at the computer and wander off to find more coffee. It’s just gone nine in the morning and I’m just about to drink cup four. This will elevate me from zombie to almost human. Yes, I will talk a lot about coffee. I’m addicted and if you’re one of these ‘green tea plucked from the Himalayas only on a full moon in a month beginning with Z’ types we’re probably not going to get on. I like my coffee black and strong, just like my dog.
I know what you thought I was going to say but you’re wrong. I don’t give a fuck if my men are built. If you think picking me up and banging me against a wall is a sign of a real man you can think again.
“Morning, Darryl.” I paste on my brightest smile for the man who walks past me.
Darryl mutters at me as he walks past. Darryl doesn’t like me much. It’s mutual. The guy’s a dick at the best of times but he’s the best decoder we’ve got so I leave him alone. 
I sigh in relief as I down half the coffee in three swallows and top up my mug full to the brim.
“You’ve got no time to drink that. Conference room now!” Dominic Cook, the coordinator, stalks past, his usual frown pasted to his face.
I take another swallow, fill the mug again and follow him at a leisurely pace, admiring Dominic’s tight ass. There’s no point rushing. Landry and Gill will take six minutes and forty-five seconds to arrive from two floors up. I know their routine. I pull a face. Meetings all morning. No time to talk to Charlie. Morning Angel was all I was gonna get until crisis 5440 was over. You think I’m joking about the number? I log each and every single one in a folder labelled Full English. Why yes, I am OCD. Thank you for noticing.
The usual suspects take their place in conference room 1.  Dominic who coordinates the operations. A red-head with a vile temper and an eye for detail that makes me green with envy.
Landry and Gil, the muscle. Tall, black twins. Da-yam. Darryl. You’ve met him already. Ryan Winslow, the accountant. Blond, sharp. If we can’t afford it he won’t let us do it.
And me.
Jimmi Fortune. At your service. Thirty-four. Dark hair, brown eyes, I don’t break mirrors. The brains of the agency.
Dominic glares at us until we all sit down. We all sit in our usual positions. I lean back and stick my feet up on the table, crossing them at the ankles. Landry knocks them down before Dominic explodes. I think about doing it again but decide against it. Instead I look around the table and wonder which one of them is Charlie. Landry and Gil have girlfriends. Gil likes dating models. Landry’s girl is half his height and twice as scary. Dominic has a wife – supposedly. None of us have ever seen her. Darryl likes men. I send up a silent plea that Charlie’s not Darryl.
Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been talking to this man for two years since I joined the agency, and I still don’t know who Charlie is. It’s a game. For both of us.
“If you’re ready to do your job, Mr. Fortune,” Dominic snaps.
I slurp my coffee loudly and pretend to pay attention.
Dominic scowls and taps at the iPad on the table. The screen springs into life showing the round face of middle-age man, balding on the top and grey around the edges.
“Who is he?” Landry asks. Six minutes older and half an inch taller than his twin he is shy in a public situation but he’s the one with all the questions. It’s easy to underestimate Landry. I don’t.
“Jonathan Michaels,” Dominic says. “Entrepreneur. Now an investor in London. He’s gone missing.”
Gil taps the table. “So why’re we involved?”
The agency didn’t work missing persons cases.
“Because he’s a friend of a friend,” Dominic says. “We have to find him before Scotland Yard or the FBI do.”
“We don’t do cases for friends,” Landry says in a flat tone. “Company policy.”
Dominic inclines his head. “Normally yes, but not this time. He’s insisted.”
He is the boss. Him upstairs. The owner of the agency and generally a sleeping tiger who only emerges when we screw up. Which isn’t often. 
He has a name - Callum David Ross - but we never use it.
From the way the twins are scowling they’re about to say something stupid, so I decide to get down to business. “When did he disappear?”
“Three weeks ago,” Dominic says. “He left the office at 9pm and never arrived home. The journey takes thirty minutes.”
“And we’re only just getting involved?” The agency usually gets involved within forty-eight hours. Three weeks was a long time in a K&R.
“Local LEOs thought he’d been in an accident. His car was found by the Thames but divers didn’t find a body. They contacted the embassy as he’s an American citizen. The FBI thought it was a kidnapping but no ransom demand has been made.”
So no kidnap and ransom. “Why us?”
“Because money has gone missing.” Darryl spoke for the first time. “A lot of money. From his clients’ accounts.”
“Michaels took the money?”
“That’s the general belief, yes.” Dominic’s frown intensifies. He seems personally pissed off about this case.
Landry leans back in his seat and slurps his coffee. “This sounds more like the FBI’s bag than ours.”
Dominic looks at Darryl who just shrugs. They’re having a whole unspoken conversation with their eyebrows – just the two of them. A fact which doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of us.
“What are you not telling us?” Gil demands.
Dominic takes a long time to answer but finally he says, “Jonathan Michaels is a partner in this agency. If he isn’t found this agency is at risk.”
Jonathan Michaels. I thought I knew the name. The real silent partner of CDR. An old college buddy and extremely successful businessman, he’d lent the money to him to start the business eight years ago. Now he was in trouble and so was the agency.
“Where do we start?” I ask.
“I’ve sent you everything we already know about Michaels,” Dominic says. “You, Landry and Gil are booked on a flight to London this evening.”
“You’re not coming?” I raise an eyebrow an eyebrow. Dominic’s like a head louse. He never lets go.
“Not this time. I’m going to follow the trail this end. There’s no record of him entering the states but that don’t mean jack. You coordinate the London operation and report back to me. Darryl and I will stay here. The whole agency is working on this. Nothing else matters until we find Michaels, dead or alive.”
I finish my coffee and head for a refill. I have planning to do before we leave.
London. Could be worse.

Busy?
Charlie pops up on screen just as I sit down. I’d swear he had a camera on me if I didn’t check for surveillance every day.
Going to London tonight.
I know.
Of course he does. He knows me. I don’t know him. He knows it drives me wild that I can’t track him down. He also knows it’s a turn-on.  Fucking bastard.
You coming too?
Not this time, Angel.
Shame. Away from home – you never know – the mice could have played. I swallow down the disappointment and scan through the information on Michaels.
There’s a long pause before he replies. It’s not unusual. Sometimes hours go between our replies.
I know.
I know? That was it? Geez, sound enthusiastic, why don’t you? I don’t bother to reply.
You’re sulking, Angel.
 I raise a finger at the screen and then realize he can’t see me.
Fuck off, Charlie.
You don’t mean that.
Yes, I do. Go away. Got work to do.
I’m going. Mustn’t disturb my Angel.
If there was one person I’d like to disturb me it was the mysterious Charlie.
Goodbye Angel. Don’t get into trouble.
‘Bye Charlie. I wasn’t making that promise.
I sigh and look at the face of Jonathan Michaels. “You’d better be worth it.”


8 comments:

  1. This is SUCH a good set up that my mind whizzed off on all kinds of tangents. NEXT I suppose they need to head off to London and i think it would be really cool if Jimmi has some kind of life threatening experience that he escapes by the skin of his teeth that ups the tension and confirms his opinion that he IS the brains of the outfit. Or possibly that he knows something he doesn't yet know he knows that could spoil the plans of the antagonists. I'd also really like to see some confusion arising from someone bad getting at his PC in the office and pretending to be Charlie to get him to do something very questionable. And a fist fight on top of one of those London tourist busses! And maybe a torrid encounter with an off-duty Blue and Royal who doesn't remove his cuirass and helmet. Sorry, getting silly now. I'll stop.

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    1. Also, pretending to be Charlie might make Jimmi think Charlie isn't with him, which might or might not be the case, depending on who you decide to have as Charlie.

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  2. Michaels has amassed his fortune by embezzling money (not, as indicated, by being a shrewd business man), luck and knowing who to bribe for information. However, Michaels illegitimate son, who inherited a monumental fortune when his mother passed away, is the real deal; clever, eye for detail, honest, hard-working, fair. And he just so happens to be Charlie, something even 'him upstairs' isn't aware of. 'Charlie' suspected Michaels to be corrupt but couldn't be sure of it, until he disappeared; he wants nothing more than for Michaels to be brought to justice. Michaels' clients, in the mean time, have banded together; forming a solid front, no information is coming forward from them. Or something like that... after all, you are the author.

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  3. I am thinking maybe Callum Ross could be the one doing the stealing but has framed Michaels for it. Michaels has gone underground in an attempt to clear his name.

    As the brains of the team, Jimmi is the one who is most likely to uncover the truth.

    Ross is the one behind Charlie and uses their flirting to his advantage, earning his trust and throwing him off the scent with red-herrings.

    Daryl meanwhile becomes the prime suspect for Charlie in Jimmi's eyes due to a run of coincidences, the first being that he is not in the London team.

    Jimmi has to uncover the truth, but he is going to need the rest of the team to do it and not everyone can be trusted. One of the team knows the truth and has been bribed with a share of the stolen money to keep quiet. Gil, perhaps, models sound quite expensive to date to me.

    And Jimmi could rescue the agency from closure by uncovering the truth, earning the love of Dominic in the process. Or Daryl, or someone else he meets in London. Whoever he ends up with the most chemistry with.

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  4. Really like this set-up, even without the editing. I didn't want to quite reading. I can't wait to read the full story. So I think Daryl should be Charlie. Some of the best stories come from hate-hate relationships that turn to love. Daryl is being a dick to Jimmi cause as the so-called brains of the outfit he thinks Jimmi should have figured out it was him by the breadcrumbs he's dropped during their computer chats. It could be a nice twist to find out that Mr. Michaels is actually innocent & someone close to him has set him up. Now Michaels is on the run trying to figure out who the real embezzler is & how to prove it. Hopefully this is going to be one of your full novels, cause I can see you really fleshing out this story. Good luck! :)

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  5. I like the framed Michaels idea that has been mentioned but I think Charlie should be 'him' and that's how come he always knows when Jimmi gets back to his computer and that he's off to London.

    I also think it would be a good idea to make Dominic's wife an accessory to the framing because of an affair with the real culprit and that's the real reason Dominic wants to work the American end.

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  6. Love the setup. One of my favorite TV shows was Leverage, where a group of thieves worked outside of the law to right the wrongs of the rich and powerful. Obviously, Jimmi's group doesn't seem like criminals, but I envision them working outside of the law just as well, more like mercenaries.

    So first up, Charlie is Callum David Ross, the mysterious boss who started the company. He is never seen because despite his intelligence, wealth and accomplishments, he is self-conscious about ***. This is where I leave it to your imagination and writing chops to decide what he doesn't want seen. Is he deaf and has to wear a cochlear implant or hearing aid, or is he missing a limb from combat/accident, or is he severely scarred/burned from an incident in the past, or is he a shifter and Jimmi is his mate? :) Ok, it's probably not the last one, but I just love shifter stories so much that I had to add that last one in. He also needs to be secretive as well because there are powerful people out there who would love to get their hands on him.

    So Jonathan Michaels, the missing individual, is Callum's best friend, and the only one who knows what he's like "behind the curtain." He's been kidnapped to get Callum out into the open and also to get their hands on the ***. Again, you can fill in the blanks. Is it a secret Swiss bank account, a formula for a miraculous medication, the schematics for the Houses of Parliament, etc? Callum has been using his resources and contacts to find him, but they haven't been successful yet. Jonathan, being a clever chap, decided to hide the information a while ago using a series of clues to lead him to the destination. Callum now needs his team to decode the messages and work out the clues to take them to the right place before the bad guys get there, having tortured information out of Jonathan.

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  7. Hope this makes sense. Lots of backstory (sorry).
    Jonathan Michaels has disappeared off the face of the earth after a large sum of money has gone missing. On purpose? Possibly. I think he is currently in a basement somewhere in London, hands bound and gagged. He did it to protect his friend – someone who’s helped him over the years and whom only Michaels knows the real identity of.
    Callum David Ross isn’t who he says he is. A person constantly in the public eye (MP, advisor, spokesperson for someone royal maybe – he’s British). The last place you would look for him is on the front page of a newspaper for example. He’s been living a secret life for many years and wants to keep it that way. Any sightings of CDR are well rehearsed decoys.
    His weakness however is Jimmi Fortune, gobby, arrogant, the man drives him silently up the wall even though most of the time he is across the Atlantic Ocean. Its why for the last two years he has been IMing him and why he has a folder on his laptop named Project Angel (sorry this is back story but you work it in that Jimmi gets hold of the laptop)
    So the real target is CDR not Michaels - extortion, kidnappings, car chases, (love Elin’s idea of a fight on top of open top double decker) and Jimmi is in the middle of it. He’s in London, out of his depth, and uncovering things about his boss that he didn’t know that are bound at some point to get him kidnapped.

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