Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Color Me Grey by JC Phelps - An Excerpt

Today we're featuring an excerpt from Color Me Grey by JC Phelps - a novel that was a Quarterfinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Here's what Misty Baker at KindleObsessed.com has to say about this new novel on the scene:

"I have always loved books where female leads are thrust into, what is stereotypically, a man’s position, and this little ditty is no exception. J.C. Phelps did a wonderful job of weaving suspense, intrigue, and lust, resulting in what was a very pleasurable, and solid read. Each character had their own unique qualities and the use of “code names” while developing each was an engaging way to keep the reader guessing as to who they “really” were. The plot, however, is where Phelps’ writing really shined. As a reader the push and pull of a story is what keeps you reading. “Where is this going?” “I know something big is about to happen… but what is it?” This more than anything is what made “Color Me Grey” so exciting, you could always feel something bubbling just under the surface… even in the most sedated moments of monologue."

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Here's an excerpt to give you a taste . . .

Mr. Black was about 6’ 3” tall and had the look of a gangster. He had shaved his head and it looked good on him. His eyes were almost black and unforgiving. In the parking lot of the Skylight he had been sporting a look that said he was cooler than cool and he wore the same face today. He pointed down at me and in his rough, deep voice and said, “Up. Let’s go.” He hiked his thumb toward the door.

I got myself right up out of the chair with no hesitation. His demeanor demanded it. He was already out the door, but I made sure to be right behind him.

The elevator ride was uneventful and we went directly to Mr. Black’s SUV in the garage. He unlocked the passenger’s door and opened it for me. I stepped up into the vehicle and he shut the door for me.

We ended up in front of my place and Mr. Black got out and met me as I came out of the vehicle. He opened the back passengers door and pulled out what I thought had been his dry cleaning and a manila envelope. He handed me the bag-wrapped clothes hanger and said, “That’s a business suit for you. I think we got your size right.” He still held the envelope as he walked me to my door.

“You need to wear that suit for this job. You have forty-eight hours to complete your assignment.” He handed me the envelope and said, “Everything you need to know is in here. Good luck.” With that he was gone.

I got into my house and went directly to my room. I hung the outfit on the door and sat on the bed and opened the envelope. Inside I found a piece of folded paper and a floppy disk.

The paper read:
First Federal Bank
17721 1st Ave.

Find and retrieve file name FALSEPRETENSE

You must find a way to get this file from the bank’s computer database from inside the bank.

It must be brought to the office by 0930 hours, Wednesday.

Use of excessive force is not an option.
This is a covert act and is to go undetected.
Okay. I had to break into the bank’s computer and steal a file. I could do this from home! I suppose the bank was testing its people for security reasons. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get on one of their computers. Getting the file would be easy. Think.

I started to get undressed to put on the suit. I had my shirt off and my pants undone when I remembered the cameras staring down at me. I quickly slammed the bedroom door and finished putting on the suit. It was a perfect fit and quite flattering.

I had formulated a plan within half an hour of sitting on my bed. I made a quick phone call to my dad to get the ball rolling and stepped out the door.

I had decided I didn’t want to take a cab. I might have to sit in the car for a few minutes before I went in to get up the nerve and the driver might get suspicious of me.

Within the hour I was at my destination. I found a parking spot on the street not far from the main door and went directly into the building. I went straight to the island loaded with forms so I could check things out. I grabbed a deposit slip and began to fill it out so I would be doing something else other than looking around. The security guards were posted on either side of the main door. Both of them had their thumbs in their front pockets making their elbows stick out and they were casually scanning the room.

When I finished filling out the form I went to the appointment desk and asked to speak with an officer because I wanted to make a substantial deposit. I was directed to the waiting area and did just that, waited. It only took a couple minutes for an officer of the bank to come and get me. I followed him back to his office and sat down.

He said, “How can I help you today?”

“I would like to make a transfer from another bank and start a new account here,” I said and handed him the deposit slip.

His eyes widened at the sight of the sum and said, “This should be no problem, Ms. …?”

“Miss Stanton,” I said. “This is my dad’s account, I hope that won’t be a problem.”

“If he has authorized the transaction it should be no problem,” he replied, pushing buttons on his keyboard.

I waited while he put the information in. He had a baffled look on his face.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.

“This doesn’t seem to want to work Miss Stanton,” he said. “I better go get my supervisor. Please stay here, I’ll be right back.” He left the room.

I got up and quietly shut the door and ran around to the other side of the desk. I had the file right in front of me but there was no floppy disk drive on this computer. Shit, shit, shit. I didn’t have much time so I quickly set up a Hotmail account. I labeled it stealingfromu@hotmail.com and used the password “firstfederal.” I was going to e-mail it to myself. I hoped it wasn’t a huge file. It must not have been because it didn’t take long to get it to go through. I barely got sat back down before the officer and his supervisor came back to the room.

“Ms. Stanton, there seems to be a problem. The account number you gave us does not exist. We have called the other bank and they do have an account for a Mr. Stanton but there is not an authorization to transfer funds,” the supervisor explained.

“I see,” I said, putting a mad look on my face. “May I use your phone?”

“Of course,” the supervisor said and handed me the phone. He punched the nine and said, “There, now you can make an outside call.”

I dialed my house and said to the answering machine, “Daddy, they say you didn’t authorize the transaction.” I waited for a second trying to look more and more frustrated. Then I said, “Well, you could have told me that before I came down here and made a fool of myself. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.” And I hung up the phone.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “My dad already transferred me money into a different account at his bank. I’m really sorry that I wasted your time.”

“No problem. But Miss, if this wasn’t a misunderstanding you could be in some trouble. You should make sure your father knows his bank will be calling him to let him know of the attempted activity,” the supervisor said.

“I’d hope so,” I said and walked out the door.

I had a hard time not running from inside the bank. I walked a little faster than normal. I wanted to get into my car and speed away. I did pretty well until I got a couple blocks away in my car. Somehow, my foot wanted to plant itself to the floorboard with the accelerator underneath it.

When I reached my house my nerves had settled a bit. I went in the bedroom, made sure the door was shut tight and changed out of the suit and back into a t-shirt and jeans. I hung the suit back on the clothes hanger and neatly spread the black plastic bag over the outfit, just as I had received it. I made sure I had the floppy disk and drove back to the office.

Gabriella wasn’t at her desk and Mr. White’s door was closed. I went to it and knocked lightly.

“Come in,” Mr. White replied.

I opened the door and stepped in. I began to walk to the couch to set the outfit down.

“Close the door behind you please,” he said. I saw a playful look cross his face.

While I was doing that he asked, “Do you have some questions on your instructions?”

“No. I think I have the file,” I said.

If I hadn’t been watching for the surprised look I wouldn’t have seen it. It was apparent on his face for less than a second.

“Bring it here please,” he said putting out his hand.

“It’s not here but you should be able to access it from your computer.” I walked to the couch and laid the outfit down.

“Those were not your instructions,” he said.

“I understand, but the computer at the bank didn’t have a floppy drive.” I handed him the empty disk. Our hands touched and we both hesitated for a moment.

He reached over and put the disk in his computer’s floppy drive and motioned me over.

“Get me the file please.”

I leaned in slightly to turn on his computer and the heat of his body made me a little shaky.

I looked toward him when the computer asked for the password and he just looked back at me. ‘Fine,’ I thought and typed in his password. I logged onto the Internet and looked up the Hotmail address I had created at the bank. As I was doing this all I could think was, please be there, please be there. I got logged on, typed in the password and started to download the file onto the floppy disk.

“Fairly impressive, Ms. Stanton,” he said making me jump.

I looked at him and he had a smile on his face. It was a complete smile, not a sly grin that I had seen before. It was a wonderful smile and made me melt.

The phone rang and he picked it up. “Yes?” he said. “Yes, she’s here. Really? Yes I have it in my possession.” Then he hung up.

“That was Mr. Black. He lost you coming back from the bank. Seems you have a lead foot.” His smile was still there.

“Thank you for a job well done. Welcome aboard, Ms. Grey. Please have a seat while I finish this up,” he said, still smiling. He picked up the phone and dialed.

I chose to sit on the couch. His call was to the bank manger reporting our success and finishing up all the little details. I didn’t pay all that much attention to his conversation because I was trying to get used to my new name, Ms. Grey.

Mr. Black walked into the office just as Mr. White ended his conversation with the bank. He hovered in the door while Mr. White told me what lay ahead of me.

“From now on you will be at my beckon call. Do you understand that?” he said, all trace of the smile gone from his face.

I automatically picked up on the change and answered appropriately, “Yes, sir.”

“I will give you jobs as I feel you become suited for them. You have the benefit of some good training, but it’s not thorough enough.” he added.

“Mr. Black will get you started.”

J.C. Phelps is a wife and mother of three with a modest home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She knew that she wanted to be an author at an early age but didn't get serious about it until after her first daughter, Alexandra, was born. Ever since she finished writing Color Me Grey, the first book in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles, she has been happily glued to her computer screen.

Color Me Grey is available FOR KINDLE as well as paperback on AMAZON and until August 31st, you can get 25% OFF if you purchase it at CREATESPACE by entering coupon code: ETC33SHS at checkout. And be sure to check out JC Phelps' Facebook Page. She'd love for you to stop by!

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