Authors: Ravenna Tate
Copyright© 2015 Ravenna Tate
Cover Artist: Jay
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All
names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To David and Nicole for your
unfailing support and unconditional love.
Copyright © 2015
the year 2112, weather researchers around the globe made history with a
computer program nicknamed The Madeline Project. The program used a complicated
series of electrical pulses to induce changes in clouds. The intention was to
prevent or lessen catastrophic weather events such as major floods, tornadoes,
and hurricanes. The first real-time test, in 2116, proved moderately
successful, and the researchers continued to tweak the program, hoping for
complete weather modification one day.
something went terribly wrong in 2117, when a group of hackers gained access to
The Madeline Project and tried unsuccessfully to take it down it with a virus
they called Tommy Twister. The program took on a life of its own, and instead
of lessening the effects of weather events, it increased them to catastrophic
proportions. By 2118, over eighty-five percent of the Earth above ground had
been rendered uninhabitable due to the effects of near-constant and powerful
storms. And to date, no one has been able to stop The Madeline Project, or find
the hackers responsible for this devastation.
in the year 2124, Earth’s population lives underground in sprawling cities,
built during the nuclear war scare of 2072. Communication between cities and
across continents is only possible via the Internet. And the only people who go
above ground routinely are an international group of weather researchers and
storm chasers dubbed Storm Troopers. Their mission is to collect data during
the barrage of catastrophic weather events, in the hopes this data will assist
researchers in taking down The Madeline Project.
financial backing for these cities, the network of interconnected computers,
and the Storm Troopers is provided by a group of friends who met in college,
and who each built multi-million dollar communications and IT companies before
The Madeline Project went awry. They’re a powerful, wealthy, ruthless group of
men who take what they want, when they want it. They call themselves the Weatherme
Wallis ducked as a pad of paper came sailing toward her.
Did he just
that at me?
The pad smacked the door behind her, and Julianne watched Kane Bannerman
carefully as he eyed her from across the room. There were several more items on
his desk, all of them larger than that tiny pad of paper.
Who the hell still uses actual paper to take notes on?
No!” Kane stood, hazel eyes blazing behind his
sexy-as-fuck black-rimmed glasses. “No way. Tell me you did not
your way in here for another
face held an expression of utter contempt, and she understood why. Julianne
squared her shoulders. “I’m not here for a job interview, Kane. This time it’s
for a story.”
time it was for a story, or did
you think I’d forgotten that?” His tone was full of disdain, but really, what
had she been expecting? Open arms? She’d seduced him and then used him. He
glanced toward the landline. “I’m calling security. I have no clue how you got
past the front desk or my soon-to-be-fired administrative assistant, but heads
will roll for this.”
advanced toward him, keeping an eye on both hands in case he picked up the
receiver or another object to toss at her head. “Please, just listen to me.”
right hovered over the phone. “You have three seconds to tell me why I should
listen to you ever again.”
this would be easier if he wasn’t so freaking good looking. In five years the
man had actually grown more handsome, and he still filled out his expensive
suits nicely. He must work out every day. The memories of their hot encounter
right inside this office were still as fresh today as ever. “I’m not working
The Whole Truth
any longer. I
haven’t been for four years. I’m legit now. I’m with
Underground Technology Update
raised his brows. “Bullshit. You’re with
Fuck that. Why would they hire
Because I’m a good reporter and I can get an exclusive
story better than anyone with twice my experience.”
actually snorted. “Right. Because you lie to do so. Get out of my office.”
I’m not lying.” She fished in her bag for her business
card, nearly dropping the entire thing in the process. “Here.” She held it out
in front of her, and wished her damn fingers would stop shaking. “You can call
my editor and verify I’m working for them.”
placed the card on his desk and took a step back, just in case he decided to
pick up that glass paperweight. That would hurt.
eyed her first, and she tried to tamp down her traitorous body’s reaction. Her
nipples tingled, and an overwhelming urge to push him down on the floor and beg
him to fuck her again washed over her. The interview flashed through her mind,
in vivid detail and living color. All forty-seven minutes of it, during which
she’d flirted shamelessly with him. She’d shown plenty of cleavage, had made
sure he knew she wasn’t wearing panties, and then he’d fucked her, right here
on the very same desk.
for the sake of printing a story with the truth stretched out of shape like a
worn-out rubber band. She couldn’t blame him for being angry and wary right
now, but she wasn’t that person anymore.
he picked up the card and read it, but his expression didn’t change. He sat
down and tapped on his keyboard. “Don’t move or I will call security and have
you tossed out, even if this proves to be legit. Not kidding.”
stood as still as possible while she watched and listened to him speak with
Patti Zak, her editor, and cringed as he grilled Patti about her own
experience. Patti was a newer editor at
and didn’t have to answer to Kane, but she did anyway.
knew Julianne’s history, and she knew about the seduction and subsequent story
from five years ago. She also had seen the letter Julianne wrote Kane,
apologizing, and she knew about the retraction Julianne had convinced
The Whole Truth
to print. The retraction
had pointed out which parts of Julianne’s story were false. Despite all that,
Julianne had warned Patti that Kane might not be receptive this morning, and to
expect a call.
he finally ended the call, he glanced up at her with a cold expression in his
beautiful eyes. “It seems you’re legit, but why didn’t Patti call me and set up
an interview? Why did she send you here under false pretenses?”
I’m not here under false pretenses. I set up a meeting
under my name and credentials. If you were told this was a job interview,
someone on your end messed up.”
quick flash of annoyance on his face told her he knew that was true. He stood
again. “Sit. I’ll be right back.”
Are you going to let me interview you?”
turned his back on her and strolled toward the double doors to his office. “I
haven’t decided yet.”
This is for
Kane. It’s a prestigious magazine.”
glanced over his shoulder and regarded her like one might watch an insect they
were about to crush. “No shit. I’ve been interviewed for it eight times since
we all moved underground six years ago. You should know that, if you had done
your research. I can’t imagine what else I have to contribute.”
I did do the research. I read those articles. I’m not
here to talk about your financial wizardry or the way you revolutionized the
stock market in the chaos following the takeover of The Madeline Project. I’m
here to talk about the new teams you and the other Weathermen have put together
to track IP addresses and machine IDs of suspected hackers into the program.”
stared at her with nothing short of shock, and she smiled. Before he could
speak, she pulled out her digital recorder, placed it on his desk, and turned
it on. His gaze drifted from the gadget to her face, and back again, several
times, and it was all Julianne could do not to pump her fist in the air.
one else had this inside information, at least not from him. She’d be the first
one to break this story, and her career would take off because of it. All her
dreams were about to come true, and sexy Kane Bannerman was the reason for her
was that for a weird twist of fate?
couldn’t believe his perfectly shitty Monday morning had just been made worse
by the reappearance of a woman he had both hoped never to see again, and hadn’t
stopped thinking about for five years. She looked more mature than the last
time he’d seen her, and also seemed far prettier that he remembered.
was her hair. She’d stopped dyeing it bright blonde and instead had allowed the
natural copper to grow out. Her sapphire blue eyes now shone with confidence
instead of mania, and her voice had the soothing quality of a trained
professional who had seen camera time.
Wallis was all grown up and worked for one of the most respected industry
magazines of the day. She must have done something right to have impressed an
. But how the hell had
she discovered the new teams? They hadn’t told anyone. None of the Weathermen
would have breathed a word of them. How the fuck could they search code for
hackers’ machine IDs and IP addresses in secret if the entire fucking world
knew they were doing it?
took a deep breath. She had the damn recorder on already, and he could not
allow any of this to be printed online. “Turn that off. This is not an
stared him down, so he stormed over to the desk and reached for the recorder.
She was faster and grasped it, pulling it away from his hand. “You have no
right to touch that, Kane.”
And you have no right to force your way in here and
demand an interview. Turn that off, and we’ll talk.”
narrowed her eyes. This close, he could smell her damn musky perfume, and it
made his fucking dick hard. Damn this woman. Why did she still have such a
strong physical effect on him? Her face and that body still haunted his damn
dreams. Just touching the surface of his desk brought back that afternoon five
years ago, when he’d bent her over the edge of it and fucked her into oblivion.
I give you my word.” Although it was spoken through
gritted teeth, she must have believed him, because she turned it off. “Thank
you. Sit down.”
took a seat, and this time Kane made sure to sit behind his desk so he couldn’t
see her legs. Her shoulders rose and fell with the effort of breathing, and his
gaze drifted to her cleavage. Not as much was exposed as he’d seen five years
ago, but it was enough to make him remember what her ass had looked like naked.
He also remembered what it had felt like to sink his cock into her tight, hot
Why the hell does she have to be so
Like what you see?”
“Yes, but that’s beside the point.
Where did you get the idea I have a team looking for IP addresses and machine
IDs of suspected hackers?”
smiled. “You know I can’t reveal a source.”
Then you’ll get no information from me.” She wouldn’t
anyway. He couldn’t say a word about this. Not without all twelve of them
discussing it first, and then deciding what to tell the press, and what not to.
It’s the way they’d done business since college, and they sure as hell weren’t
going to change that policy now. Not when they had a real chance for the first
time in six years of tracking down these bastards.
Surely we can reach a compromise.”
leaned forward. “Julianne, if we each have such a team, and I’m talking in
hypothetical terms only—I’m not admitting we do or do not. Understood?”
nodded, her beautiful eyes sharp and full of hunger.
we each had such a team, do you
understand that if the world found out about them, we’d have no hope of doing
what we’re trying to do?”
gleam in her eyes faltered a bit. “Why don’t you back up and explain it to me
in a bit more detail, so I understand it from an insider’s point of view.”
was a tactic he recognized. “You mean so I can accidentally give you insider
information? I’m not quite that naïve.”
time she leaned forward, and it offered him a view he had no business looking
at. He was only a man, so he looked for a second or two, and then forced his
gaze to her eyes. She knew she had him again, and he cursed his weakness for
this woman. What power did she hold?
I know you’re not naïve. I never thought you were. I’m
not going to print anything you don’t give me permission to print. I told you
I’m not that person any longer.”
If you did, you’d be out on your ear. This is a cushy
job you’ve landed and I know you won’t do anything to blow it, but I need to
know where you heard that rumor from.”
Why? If it’s not true, what does it matter who spread
It matters because to catch these bastards we need to
keep how we’re doing it secret. Come on, Julianne. You’re an intelligent woman.
Surely you can see this. Did Patti okay this story?”
gaze faltered a bit more, and Kane resisted the urge to grin.
She doesn’t know about it, does she? What BS line did
you feed her for wanting to interview me?”
fidgeted in her seat. “She knows about it, but she told me not to get my hopes
up for the same reasons you just gave me.”
Then tell me your source or this interview won’t
happen, and I’ll be on the phone to the publisher of
as soon as you leave my office to complain about both you and
eyes widened. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Why not? You tried to ruin me five years ago, and now
you’re back, with information that could jeopardize our entire covert
it appears your editor
knows this. Doesn’t sound to me like you’ve changed at all.”
I apologized to you publicly.”
letter had been sent to his PR department, and he’d had it printed on the
landing page of his company’s website, as well as on the PR landing page. He
also knew about the retraction
had printed, but what Julianne didn’t seem to understand was that the
damage had already been done.
An apology and a retraction don’t prove you’ve
changed. I could have sued you for that bullshit story. Your apology and that
retraction saved you from that, but that’s all they did.”
I’m not here under false pretenses today.”