Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRb dedicated to book promotion. And today, I’d like to welcome author C.J, for sharing with us an excerpt from her latest release, a fascinating speculative fiction novel, Beautiful Disaster.
Read ahead to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!
About The Book
When chemists Danny and Kevin accidentally create the ultimate beauty cream–with a little inadvertent help from Danny’s biochemist girlfriend, Maggie–they’re convinced they’ve hit the jackpot. After all, who wouldn’t pay anything for the ability to permanently remove blemishes, burns and even scars?
But a discovery like this is one many would kill for–something the three quickly learn when they are targeted by a rival corporation and their murderous corporate spy, Suzanne. Even worse, it isn’t long before the unstable formula’s decidedly nasty side effect pops up. If Maggie, Danny, and Kevin can’t figure out a way to fix it, the world will soon learn that there’s a heavy price to pay for beauty.
As the three scientists struggle to save humanity from potential disaster, they will have to overcome deadly mercenaries, the sociopathic Suzanne, and the man pulling everyone’s strings: the mysterious Boss. Will this Beautiful Disaster be the beginning of a brand-new world or the end of mankind?
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Suzanne Verassing, Safety and Human Resource coordinator of Lexi Corp. was making her usual trip to the security office with an armful of baked goods. Since her hire date Suzanne had been cultivating the friendship of all of the security personnel. She believed if she was seen often enough, and shoved enough baked goods down their throats, they would feel she harmless and would cease to notice when she came around or at least not be alarmed when she did. Her plan worked, for, on every trip to the security office, which she made several times a week, she would download several days’ worth of video surveillance on a flash drive she carried with her at all times for opportune moments of piracy. Then she would watch it at her leisure at home or occasionally in a vacant Lexi office and forward any pertinent video off to Teaberry Cosmetics, Lexi Corp’s main competitor.
Suzanne was actually employed by Teaberry, the, CEO of which had no compunctions about getting ahead in the cosmetics business no matter the risk or illegality.
Suzanne Verassing or as she was known at Teaberry, Suzanne Hemlock, was a jack of all trades so to speak, a hired gunslinger for companies, which like Teaberry left their scruples behind after their stock first became public. With her chameleon-like features, Suzanne could fit in anywhere and conform to any type of situation. At five foot four 120 pounds, with shoulder length dark hair and hazel eyes, she had deceivingly soft facial features which contrasted her extremely physically fit and heavily muscled body. She covered up her muscles with long sleeves and full-length skirts. At Lexi, she was the Human Resource woman who wore her hair in barrettes and favored pastels and flower-printed outfits. With a permanent smile on her face, she could always be found around the company delivering home-baked goods to someone’s office or a conference room.
Teaberry hired Suzanne because her abilities included theft, actual and informational, and product sabotage. She was not above seducing anyone who might have valuable information or needed to be slowed down if they were on the verge of a significant breakthrough. She also had a knack for destroying companies from within by preying on the weaknesses of essential members of staff, such as alcoholism, gambling, etc. What Teaberry didn’t know was that Suzanne also was a hired assassin and that she advertised on the dark web for extra money and for the sheer thrill of killing. She especially enjoyed making a murder look like an accident or a natural death. However, there was something to be said for the out and out wham bam bullet through the head approach. She often wondered if she was more of a sociopath or a psychopath but decided that was society’s problem to figure out at some point. For now, she would just enjoy the ride.
For two long years, Suzanne had integrated herself with these self-absorbed non- productive piles of emotionally driven drones. She had plastered on a smile after fake smile. She had signed every birthday, get well, and retirement schlock filled card until she wanted to puke. Known as the happy homemaker of the company, she had brought in baked goods by the dozens, which gave her stomach cramps. Finally, yes finally she was going to get out of this stifling environment and move on to something that didn’t involve skin care or the beauty industry. If it required chemistry, she wanted the end result to at least blow-up.
“Actually that might be a fitting end for Lexi a lab explosion with these annoying lab rats blown up in a fireball. Whoops, something went wrong, and just when they were having a breakthrough, what a horrible tragedy. Well, it’s time to butter up Mitchell and Roger,” Suzanne said to herself as she grabbed a tin of cupcakes and headed for the security office, unaware that she was about to hit pay dirt.
Later, after leaving the security office, she headed on home and watched the video she had downloaded. On it Suzanne saw Kensington and Montgomery (code names, “Dumb and Dumber”) run to the UV-VIS (ultraviolet, visible spectroscopy) with some sort of sample to analyze. She noticed Dumb and Dumber were acting stranger than usual, and something seemed different about them as well. They didn’t look as repulsive as they usually did. Their skin glowed as though they just had a body wrap, which was doubtful. She wasn’t sure they even bathed.
She leaned into her monitor as far as she could while zooming in. Suzanne couldn’t believe what she saw. Kensington and Montgomery both had perfect, unblemished skin. Had they actually come up with something? No. It wasn’t possible, she thought. She waited for them to suddenly combust, or for their first layer of skin to slide off in a crusty heap, but nothing happened. They just stood there grinning at each other and doing what appeared… Wait, they’re seizing. They are having the start of some sort of grand mal. No, oh God, they’re dancing and chest bumping.
She immediately texted her contact at Teaberry, Gretchen Meadows, and told her she was sending a feed off her computer. Once the feed uploaded, Suzanne and Gretchen began an Internet Relay Chat (IRC). They start an Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
G- Why are they analyzing the formula now? Are they double checking the ingredients? They should’ve examined the formula ages ago. They needed to have run it through the spectroscopy months ago for the quantitating determination of the different analytes. They can’t be checking to make sure their sample complies with the Drug and Cosmetic Act for the FDA now. It’s crunch time.
S- I wonder if the morons are using Nanotechnology and or nanoemulsion. That’s a little beyond their limited scope.
G- Of course it was experimental in 1998 and is the new hot ingredient we hide in the label. Of course no one advertises it that way. Who wants to buy something that bores into your skin and then possibly into your bloodstream and lymph system?
S- Think again, G. Some of these women would give 10 years off of their life to look 10 years younger now. What do they care if things run amuck in their system and eventually damage their tissue?
G-Why are you just showing me this now? It looks like they have been working on this for some time. What have you been doing over there?
S-These guys are idiots, grade “A” morons who spend the whole day playing games and socializing. The odds of them coming up with anything slightly marketable and innovative are the same odds of a pig winning the lotto. I’m looking through the previous video to see the breakthrough moment. I’ll also look for any specific ingredients or at least find out where they keep their notes.
G-Teaberry is paying you a lot of money. You had better do more than just look at the video and guess at what they came up with. I want that formula, I want everything surrounding that formula and no trace of anything or anyone connected with it after you have it. Is that clear?
S- Yes, G. I understand. You will have it all and Lexi Corp. will have nothing once again.
G- Signed off.
Suzanne was nervous and for Suzanne nervous was unthinkable. She disregarded the most recent portion of the download since it appeared those two grade A idiots were just throwing ingredients into a bowl. And when they combined the two containers, she figured they were making their lunch again. Several months ago she’d been fooled. While viewing a surveillance video, she thought Dumb and Dumber were looking unusually focused as they compared notes from battered notebooks. She had carefully taken notes of every colored-coded jar, only to learn that the morons had been making chili for themselves and the rest of the lab.
She couldn’t find a moment in any of the videos where Kensington and Montgomery had manufactured a formula. In fact, she could barely find a moment when they were actually working. Suzanne thought she had it back in July, but then a series of explosions and an evacuation of the lab destroyed that possibility.
She sat and pondered things. She began to wonder if the video in which they’d been making chili might have been when they actually created the formula and the latest video with what appeared to be them tossing random ingredients in was part of that same formula. Did I misjudge those idiots? Are they that brilliant that they can come up with a working formula in that short of time? Did they just need a deadline to perform? No. They are idiots that got lucky, and now they will be the late idiots of Lexi Corp.
Suzanne packed a “to go” bag. For her, this meant a Glock 21 .45 cal. with a silencer, a .223 DPMS rifle in a case, plenty of ammo and enough explosives to wipe out an entire city block. She also put in a change of clothes; she would walk past the Tweedles as Suzanne from HR, but would come out a warrior. She put all of this in her Land Rover. Soon after arriving at Lexi Corp., she had the car outfitted with plates registered to that moron Brian Conner. She never drove the Land Rover to Lexi Corp. before given she felt it would not go with her happy homemaker image. But today, when the big bang occurred, the last car seen going through security would be Conner’s Land Rover, and his ID badge would be used in the entryway. It was always good to be prepared and to have a scapegoat, and Conner, the jackass, was perfect.
About The Author
C.J. graduated from Illinois State University and has lived her entire life in the Chicagoland area. She is currently semi-retired, works part-time at the local library and lives with her husband and two dogs, Chili Pepper and Molly. She finally managed to put down on paper the strange and humorous story that had been with her for several years. This is that story and this is her first book.
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