The Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material

The Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material by Vicki Pettersson

Book: The Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material by Vicki Pettersson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vicki Pettersson
with something first.”
    “Want me to take Ben for a little ride? Break him in for you?”
    “I think I can handle that on my own,” I replied dryly.
    “Too bad,” she said, demurely sipping her martini.
    “I want to find out who my real father is,” I said. “I think Xavier knows, but he’s keeping it from me.”
    “Why would he?”
    “Knowing him, it’s probably just a power trip, something he can use to keep me under his thumb.” I frowned and tapped my finger against my glass. “But I was thinking about it this afternoon. What if he knows where the guy lives? What if Zoe mentioned it to him at some point?”
    “What if,” Olivia finished for me, “she returned to this man when she left Xavier?”
    I smiled at her use of his name. “So you’ll help me?”
    She looked at me like I had the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which was unsettling. “I’ve already begun.” She rose and jerked her head, indicating I should follow. I did, leaving my present, my martini, and Luna on the couch behind me.
    Mother Nature was apparently determined to make the city of light look like a dimly flickering bulb. The glass wall extending through the bedroom normally offered up a 180-degree view of the valley’s surrounding mountain ranges. Tonight, though, the oddly low cloud cover kept us from seeing even two feet beyond the glass. Lightning slashed at the sky, and as thunder rumbled directly overhead, I shuddered, thankful we were safely inside.
    I turned my attention to the computer console, and sure enough, the machine was already on, bathing the corner of the room in an unflattering greenish hue. Circling to the other side, I saw the screen dancing with lipstick tubes and bottles of fingernail polish. I’d have wondered where Olivia found such a thing, but knew she’d probably designed it herself. Then I watched as she positioned herself in front of the monitor, placed acrylic against the ergonomic keyboard, and became the Olivia Archer most people never imagined.
    Her fingers flew, following paths that could as easily access data from government sites as blow through a game of FreeCell. She’d gotten her first fake ID this way, and as a teen I’d had her pull up my psych evaluations as well.
    Joanna Archer is suffering severe physical and mental trauma due to the attack and subsequent sexual assault she endured six months ago. Well, duh.
    Olivia hummed absently, her eyes fixed on the screen, brows pulled down despite repeated botox injections, and glossed mouth pursed in pretty concentration.
    She had discovered computers around the same time I had escaped into Krav Maga. Our mother had left no indication that she would ever be returning, and our father had so thoroughly removed himself that neither of us eventhought of turning to him, and I was emotionally unavailable, which left Olivia to fight her demons alone.
    I’ve always felt guilty at how I shut her out in those early days, but this—a skill few possessed—was the good that had come from it, as strange and unexpected as a lotus blooming in a trash heap. She’d developed an identity outside of her physical body, one completely at odds with the way others thought of her. She may have had a body manufactured in Sin City, but she had a mind to rival the finest graduates of MIT.
    In short, she was an unnaturally talented, self-taught computer genius.
    With an underground website catering to hackers and their faceless clients, her business generated a far greater income than her generous monthly allowance from Xavier. There were bulletin boards on everything from the technology needed to take care of outstanding parking tickets to assistance establishing offshore bank accounts, and help in funneling untraceable money into those accounts. Her screen name? The Archer, of course.
    Because Xavier had discouraged Olivia’s interest in anything beyond basic cosmetic application, she’d developed the habit of working at night, an M.O. that served her

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