Friday, December 5th 2:00 am
Sisterhood Headquarters – Middleburg, VA, outside Washington D.C.
Tonia Rawlings strode down the long, empty corridor. Her urgent steps made sharp echoes on the granite floor. Outside, her security team was assembled, awaiting her command. It seemed fitting that she was the last to leave…given what she was about to do. Tonia took one last look to sear the memory in place before stepping out into the night.
“Do it,” Tonia ordered.
Flames exploded through the windows, shattering glass across the grounds. They licked the sky in swaths of bright hungry reds, violent oranges and insatiable yellows. The fire jumped from building to building, laying waste to years of effort and thousands of sacrifices. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Tonia whispered.
Pamela Griffin turned. The mother in her heard a strange break in Tonia’s voice. Pamela shivered, feeling the severe night chill that found its way under collars and inside gloves. An acrid cutting smell of smoke filled the air. She stole another glance at Tonia but could read nothing from the woman at her side. How awful it must be to give tonight’s order, to destroy something loved, even to preserve something valued. But, following Vivian Delacroix’s lead had always meant sacrifice. No one was exempt.
Pamela touched her lightly on the arm. “Tonia, it was planned.”
“Yes, it was,” she nodded without turning. The last thing Tonia needed right now was direct eye contact with Vivian’s first recruit. Architects had created the exterior of the Sisterhood’s headquarters, but Tonia was the one who massaged the plans to meet their unique need – a fortress, destructible from within but impregnable from without.
Was it really so long ago that she and Vivian had found the site? Tonia remembered how Vivian had jumped out of the car and sprinted, laughing, across the property. Tonia ran right behind her, eyes trained on the tree line for enemies, ever Vivian’s protector. Vivian stopped, spun around, her arms held high. Her eyes sparkled with destiny. “Here, Tonia. Can’t you see? This, this, is where we will gather our strength.”
They had laughed then, in the exact spot where Tonia now stood. Every computer system in the Sisterhood’s vast holdings updated to servers in a manmade cavern beneath her feet. Their entire history, recorded in bits and bytes, was a maze of money and covert investments. One explosion would obscure hundreds of millions of dollars in assets as well as their research, the research that had likely brought disaster to their door.
“Move out,” Tonia bellowed, her voice returning to its normal boom. The women, jolted into action, leaped into their Jeeps. They divided into pairs and raced away. Any law enforcement officer worth his badge would take one look at their expressions, unblinking eyes, bodies rippling with strength, and become suspicious. The women were not assassins or Marines, but they sure as hell looked the part. They were more than capable of protecting their own; after all, they were their Sister’s Keepers.
( Continued… )
© Reprint 2015. All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Nichol Bradford. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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