Welcome to the first ever First Chapter Friday, a day for peeking behind the scenes at some of your favorite authors and seeing their writing process. On this blog hop you have a chance to win some rare prizes from some awesome authors, a signed copy of the first chapter posted. Details will be posted below. I've been deep in my layer working on The Pandora Principle that will be part of the the Secret Worlds Box set. This is still in final edits so it counts as a WIP.
The Pandora Principle
“I’m not going.”
I carefully lowered the mascara brush from near my eye lash to avoid black nose and glanced at my roommate Serenity. She stood in the doorway of our bathroom with her arms crossed in over her Dallas Cowboys t-shirt. Despite the fact the team hadn’t won a SuperBowl in almost two decades, she still clung to her fandom. She always did love an underdog. Her mahogany hair cascaded over her shoulders in a tumbled mess. Her tanned legs were bare except for the pajama shorts she wore. Her brown eyes were narrow at me and her jaw was set with her pouty lips pressed together.
“You have to.” I widened my eyes and gave her a pleading expression. “You can’t just abandon me with all those tech heads. I’ll have no idea what they are talking about.”
Her rich, husky chuckled bounced off the blue tile walls “You’ll be fine, Cassi.”
“No, I won’t. This project is a chance that we can have something classish together.”
“Classish? Is that even a word?”
“I’m a writer. I can make words up.” I waved my hand dismissively. “Besides, you’re avoiding. Why now? You were so excited about this.”
“That’s before I realized Mercer Chaplin would be overseeing this.”
I sighed and my insides tingled just at the thought of his picture. “That was a surprise. A good one. You can get some guidance from one of the Social Media geniuses of our age.”
“That’s more of what you want,” Serenity said. “I’d be fine without anything from him.”
“Why not? He’s fascinating. Only twenty-nine and he’s one of the biggest names in the industry. This is our chance to get some bonus points before we get thrown out into the world.”
“I don’t want bonus points from him.”
“What about the other two companies?” I tugged on her arm. “Come on, this is your chance to show the world your talent. I’ll bet you’ll be running this project by the end.”
Serenity smirked. “Not with Mercer there. He doesn’t let anyone steal the spotlight. Probably why he’s the only representative for three companies.”
“What so you have against him?”
She shook her head. “You’ve seen the interviews. He’s an arrogant asshole.”
“So is the football team here. They don’t stop you from doing what you want.”
“If they were in charge, they might.”
I sighed and let my head droop. “I was really looking forward to this. It won’t be the same without you. Would you really leave me alone?”
Serenity raised an eyebrow. “This won’t work.”
I crossed my arms. “I don’t see what you are worried about. This this is so big, I doubt Mercer will have much time to spare more than a few words for either of us.”
“You have no idea.”
“Are you really willing to give up the intern credit just because you hate him? This was something you’ve been dreaming of since our sophomore year.” I shook my head. “Seems kind of stupid to me.”
Serenity’s eyes narrowed. Got her. I kept the triumphant smile from my face and gazed at her with the question hanging in the air between us. If there was anything Serenity hated in the world, it was being called stupid.
“Fine,” she grumbled.
I grinned and bounced on the balls of my feet. “Good. Now hurry up and get ready. We’re going to be late.”
“Don’t hog the bathroom,” she called as she hurried to her bedroom.
I finished applying my mascara and took a brush to the mass of red hair until it hung in a silky sheet down my back. A kiss of fire, an old boyfriend had called me. Little had he known how much of a role fire had played in my life. I sat the brush down with a click that echoed through the bathroom. No, it had played with my old life, not here and not now. Once I’d graduated, my family would swoop in to pull me back into their world filled with flame and myth. Until then, I planned to enjoy every minute of college life I had left. My hazel changed to amber as I smacked my lips, now glittery with gloss, and grinned into the mirror. Something was beginning today. I could feel it.
“What are you doing still playing around in the bathroom?”
Serenity stopped outside the door, now filly dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that read “Nerd Girls are Sexy.” I grinned at her and sprinted to the door, grabbing my keys along the way. We hopped into my car and took off to the University. The auditorium had all but filled up by the time we arrived. We squeezed past a couple of guys leaning against the back wall. I sighed. It looked like we’d have to stand for the presentation.
The lights dimmed around us and the hum of hundreds of voices died away. A girl walked across the stage in a tan, pencil skirt and high pumps. I blinked in surprise. I knew Sheridan from a few of the classes we both attended. We’d both gravitated on the edges of each other’s social circles. Still, I would have thought she would mentioned to everyone she knew that she’d been named spokesperson of this little project. She tossed her blond hair off her shoulder and straightened the note cards on the podium. She smiled as she leaned forward to speak into the microphone.
“Good morning, everyone.” She flashed a dazzling smile to the crowd. “This is an amazing turnout. I didn’t even think we had this many people sign up.”
A chuckled traveled through the crowd. The truth was, not even a quarter of the audience was participating. The application process had been stringent and last for almost two years when Nerida University had first announced it. The board had chosen only the brightest to represent the college. Luckily, I had been one considered one of those. The rest had come to catch a glimpse of Mercer Chaplin.
“I know all of you are looking forward to embarking on this adventure as much as I am.” Sheridan continued. “So, without much further ado, I’ll introduce our guest and head of the Proprius Project. As the CEO of the Instafriend network, Mr. Chaplin is an inspiration to all of us. Let’s give him a round of applause.”
The music the played over the speakers mixed with the cheers the filled the room. He walked across the stage like he owned it. The gigantic screen above the stage pasted his face for even us in the nosebleed section to see. His black hair was pulled back into a neat pony tail that brushed the top of his shirt collar. The suit he wore sat on his athletic body in just the perfect way. He flashed his straight, white teeth at the audience as he took the podium.
“Nerida University,” he said. “This is quite a greeting.”
The cheers grew even more deafening and he raised a hand up. The noise settled to a low murmur. He cleared his throat and he grinned as his gaze traveled up the tiers of the auditorium.
“It’s great to see you’re all excited about this project like I am.”
Serenity snorted and crossed her arms. I elbowed her. I didn’t know what her problem with Mercer was, but she’s wasn’t going to waste my ogling time with snide sounds.
“Imagine a world where people could travel the world, become anything they wanted all from the convenience of their own homes.” He chuckled. “Sounds like a wild dream, huh?”
I laughed along with the crowd. That kind of talk usually belonged in science fiction stories. Then again, my family belonged in something out of fantasy.
“What if I told you this is entirely possible, and you’re going to create it?”
Murmurs traveled through the crowd. Serenity leaned forward, her rebellious posture gone. The screen shifted from his face to a two dimensional drawing of a visor connected to wires.
“Virtual Reality is still an untapped resource, and what I believe the next step in technology,” he said. “For the next year you will design and develop the first virtual reality device combined with a social media space that will allow users to connect across the Globe.”
The buzz of the audience echoed through the group. This was not what we had been expecting when we’d applied for the intern project. It was so much better.
“Is this even possible?” I asked Serenity.
She rubbed the back of her neck, but her eyes gleamed. “Oh yeah.”
I smirked at her. “Glad I dragged you here?”
She cut her eyes at me but a smiled hovered on her face. “Depends on if we’re successful.”
I scanned the crowd. “I’m surprised he let people that aren’t part of the project in here.”
She snorted. “He doesn’t care if it gets out. In fact he probably did some of it for the publicity.”
She had a point. Mercer never seemed to try to hide his life to the media. He constantly paraded his latest girlfriend out to different restaurants or shows. The reports had even filmed the entire first date with his last one. She hadn’t seemed to mind, either. Was she here, lapping up luxury at some suite in the Omni while he promised us greatness?
“In the lobby we have lists of the divided groups and your responsibilities. We officially begin next week and the leaders of each group will meet for a Retrospective every two weeks.” He waved to a microphone at the edge of the stage near the stairs. “Before I leave you, the floor is open to a few questions.”
With several burning on my mind, I pushed past the others in the back and sprinted down the aisle to the stairs and front of the microphone. The other students began to fill in behind me with raised eyebrows at my speed. Yes, first!
“Well, we have an eager one,” Mercer’s rich voice filled my ears.
My heart dropped into my stomach as I met his gaze and fell into the deepness of his green eyes. From that point on, I was irrevocably lost.
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