Courtastrophe: A YA Spy Thriller (E-Book)
Courtastrophe: A YA Spy Thriller (E-Book)
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Blackmail has no age limit.
After 5-year-old Courtney's caught hacking into the FBI database she's given an ultimatum: Work for the government or be tried for treason and ripped from her family.
- Child Spies/Family of Spies
- Adult Protector
- Strong Female Protagonists
- Brother With Down syndrome
- Evil Madman
Blackmail has no age limit.
Before Courtney McMasters became the Director of a black-ops spy agency, she was a five-year-old who lived a normal life with her parents and older brother.
All that changes the night the FBI storms their home and takes her family into custody. When they discover Courtney is a certifiable genius, the government blackmails her parents into letting her work for them in exchange for their family's freedom.
Eighteen-year-old Kat Dagger thinks she is the youngest person in the military, thanks to her father, a General in the Army. But when an assignment goes terribly wrong, she assumes she'll spend the rest of her career behind a desk job.
Courtney and Kat's worlds soon collide, and everything around them erupts into chaos. What will they do when the people they trusted become toxic? Each girl must fight for survival. Will they escape the people trying to silence them, or will Courtney and Kat become more deaths covered-up by the government?
Courtastrophe is Book 1 in the Courting Disaster series and a second series in the "Unleashed" world. If you like Alex Rider, the Gallagher girls, and Embassy Row, you'll love this YA spy thriller series.
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Glass shards spray over the wood floor when the flash bang crashes through the bedroom window, rolling to a stop next to the king-size bed in the darkened room. It explodes at the same time black-clad bodies rip the front door off its hinges and storm the home. The blast is deafening. Of course, that’s what it’s expected to do.
Marc and Audrey jerk awake. If the blast had been for any other person, the explosion would have worked perfectly. But this isn’t just any home. And Marc isn’t just any man.
Audrey screams and covers her ears, but it’s too late. Marc already knows this, noting the ringing in his ears, and his woozy equilibrium. He punches the false front on his headboard, feeling his military-grade shotgun slide into his hands. The spray of shot will compensate for his double vision. Four black-clad men, covered in body armor and carrying tactical-grade weapons, storm his room looking like shadows. Four shadows crumble to the ground, hit in the only place their body armor doesn’t cover: the face.
Marc grabs his wife and rolls with her off the side of the bed and onto the ground. He motions for her to stay on the floor and leaves her with the rifle. He yanks his side table drawer open and grabs his service pistol and a knife, then creeps around the bed, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs.
Glass cuts into his feet. Bloody footprints trail behind him on the carpet. He’s oblivious to the sulfurous stench of smoke, the haze it leaves, and to the darkness. Sight isn’t necessary. He knows this house like the back of his hand.
Marc jumps over the dead bodies littering his bedroom floor. He shoots a shadow lying in wait to the right side of his doorway. He stabs another in the neck.
A spike of adrenaline mixed with fear snakes down his spine. His eyes dart to the only thing that matters to him right now. Shadows lurk at the end of the hallway near his children’s bedroom doors.
He raises his pistol and fires, unloading the clip, aiming for legs and heads while closing the distance between himself and his children. He’s at his daughter’s room.
A stinging sensation shoots through his hamstring and the house tilts on its axis. He falls to the ground. Tranquilizer dart. A shadow carrying Marc’s shrieking five-year-old daughter walks out of her room. Another shoves Jacob, Marc’s fifteen-year-old son, down the hallway toward his father. Jacob, handcuffed with blood smeared from his lip to his chin and his glasses askew, stares wide-eyed with his almond eyes. Snot streams out of his nose into his mouth, unchecked.
Jacob lunges for his father. “Dahd!” The shadow yanks the boy back by his handcuffs.
Marc stares at Jacob and blinks. As if in slow motion, Marc shakes his head to get Jacob to stop. Marc’s arms are yanked behind his back and zip tied.
Jacob struggles to escape his captor, slamming the shadow into the wall with his shoulder. Another shadow grabs the boy’s arms, but Jacob shoves back, knocking them into the wall too.
Fear snakes down Marc’s spine. He watches Jacob, his senses too dulled to call out to his son. Don’t fight them. Let them take me.
Jacob breaks free, using moves Marc taught him. He runs toward Marc with his hands still secured behind his back. A shadow tackles Jacob from behind. Father and son lay face to face, inches from one another on the floor of the hallway.
“Take care of your sister,” Marc slurs. A taser in his back shoots volts of electricity through Marc’s body. His body convulses, and he loses consciousness.
They’ve had Marc sitting in the cinder block room on a bolted-down metal stool for hours. Enough time for him to notice every detail of the room. Sensors for scanning changes in body temperature. Video cameras. Microphones to record movement and sound. And, of course, the giant two-way mirror dominating the wall in front of him. Who knows how many people are observing him, trying to interpret each gesture or cough, hoping to justify his incarceration? They’re probably monitoring his heartbeat and a dozen other indicators for lies and misdirection.
He refuses to move, staring straight forward at his reflection in the two-way mirror, ignoring the spotlight glaring into his eyes. He’s wearing an orange jumper now, his feet tended to, and the cut on his lip scabbed over. The ringing in his ears has subsided to a reasonable level, too. Bruises and cuts cover his face and torso from the agents who removed him from his home. They’re thank-you gifts for killing several of their team members. Marc’s hands rest on the metal table, folded together, tethered to the table by a metal chain attached to his handcuffs.
The door opens, and a man walks in. Navy blue single-breasted suit and matching tie. Lean build. Dark, short-cropped hair with more gray than black. A deep purple birthmark resembling the shape of broccoli snakes up the man’s neck. He drops a thick file folder on the table, then takes off his suit jacket, hanging it over the back of the seat.
“Hello, Marc. I’m Simon LeMonte.”
Marc stares over Simon’s shoulder at the mirror as if at attention.
Simon leans back in his seat and tilts his head as if studying his prisoner, letting the silence fill the room. Marc doesn’t move. Doesn’t look at Simon.
A smile twitches at Simon’s lips. He lifts the cover of the folder and runs his finger down the top page. “I’ve read your file. A fascinating read. I needed clearance to look at it.”
Simon’s finger stops midway down the first page. “Graduated West Point. Sniper School. Rangers. 82nd Airborne. You’ve bounced all over the world doing black ops: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa, Soviet Union, Japan. Even a few missions here in the States.” Simon turns another page. “You got married, had a kid, and retired from the dangerous stuff so you could stay close and help your wife care for your son with Down syndrome. Very admirable.” He looks up, narrowing his eyes at Marc. “Or the perfect cover for espionage.”
Marc continues to gaze at the mirror as if no one else is in the room.
Simon’s lips press into a thin line. “We found a hacker in our system last week and tracked them back to your IP address. Considering the know-how it took to get in, we’d have thought you’d take more care in covering your tracks. At first, we thought maybe someone was piggybacking off your IP address, but when your name was flagged, we looked deeper.”
Simon tilts his head. “Except nothing in your file hinted at the knowledge necessary to hack our security. So, we waited. When you logged on last night and started poking around again, we had to act.”
Marc sighs. “We were asleep. You saw that when you stormed the house.”
“Yes, we did. Which had us confused. Until we found this.” Simon slides a picture across the table to Marc. “Do you know who’s tablet this is?”
Marc’s eyes flit to the picture, but he says nothing.
“It’s your daughter’s tablet.” Simon points to the picture. “Look at what’s on the screen.”
Marc looks again and his brows furrow.
Simon leans his elbows on the metal table, tenting his fingers under his chin. “Your daughter was hiding in the closet, clutching this tablet to her chest, when we found her. The FBI seal was still on the screen.”
Marc’s jaw pulses. “She’s only five.”
“That’s what we thought. We had men check the perimeter and every square inch of your house. There was only your family.”
“Are you saying my kindergartner hacked into your system?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
Marc stares at him, unimpressed.
Simon stares back.
“We think she may have a genius-level IQ.”
“Or the FBI’s security needs to upgrade their security.” Marc raises an eyebrow and stares at Simon.
“Where’s Courtney?” Marc asks.
“Your daughter is in excellent hands.”
Marc’s hands slowly ball into fists on the table.
Simon glances at Marc’s hands.
Marc leans over the table, his restraints going taut. He stares Simon in the eyes and says, “That’d better mean she’s in my wife’s hands.”
Simon doesn’t move. “Your wife consented to have Courtney tested.”
“You leave my little girl alone,” Marc’s voice is low, ringing with warning. “She doesn’t need to be treated like some science experiment. She’s a child.”
Simon holds up his hands, offering a bland smile. “Consider the alternatives. They caught your daughter hacking into a federal agency’s system. The FBI’s system. That’s a federal crime. Depending on what she was looking at, they could consider it treason.”
“She. Is. Five.”
“She’s still a threat to National Security. Either you work with us, or we take her from you and strip you of your parental rights in the name of National Security. Which one do you choose?”
Marc’s jaw pulses. “Where are Audrey and Jacob?”
“Your wife is with Courtney, overseeing the testing process. Jacob took a liking to one of our Agents and decided to shadow her for the next couple of days. Jacob’s getting a tour of the facility as we speak.” Simon pushes away from the table and straightens his tie. “We are confident Courtney was the one to infiltrate our system. Right now, we want to find out exactly how smart she is, why she was there, and what she’s capable of. That means you are free to go. If you allow us to continue working with your daughter.”
“And if I don’t?”
“You’ll be considered a co-conspirator and left to rot.”
Marc’s jaw pulses, and he stares at Simon. “I have conditions of my own.”
“Take me to my daughter first.”