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STEPFORD, USA (Accidental Spy Small Town Adventure 1)
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Meet Jade Snow before she becomes Accidental Spy extraordinaire!
Enjoy FREE prologue and the first 6 chapters!
READ FREE: NEW MEGA-EXCERPT: prologue + 1st 6 chapters:
STEPFORD, USA (Accidental Spy Small Town, USA #1)
The adventure takes off as one of Jade’s new friends utters the famous last words:
“Oh, don’t listen to them! Stepford is a virtual paradise, marvelous for raising a family. Everything will be fine!”
From that, Jade’s new conspiracy investigation in the most unlikely of places begins, and doesn’t let go until she releases the town from its hidden dark past and rights all the wrongs, while putting her and her unborn baby’s lives in grave danger!
A small teaser:
The full moon was surreally bright, but that didn’t help. This part of the Hidden Lake shore was so secluded, so few ever ventured in this direction that not a single soul was likely to hear her scream.
Except one. If he cared to listen… If he cared about her… But now, she knew with absolute certainty he didn’t. No one did. The world, her world, was ending.
How will her mother survive this? And dad? He’s just started recovering from a stroke. Gathering what strength she still had left, she struggled on wet grass as her new summer dress turned to filthy rags. But there was no escaping from the cold fingers pinning her down, or from a rough hand that crushed her mouth.
The last thing she thought was: how could he? The last thing she smelled was the freshness of the night lake, overpowered by a foul stench of a drunken, sweaty male. The last thing she saw was a menacing shadow obscuring the light of the moon.
Then, she saw no more. She felt no more…
I never thought of myself as a stay-at-home little housewife. A mere eight weeks ago I’d been dodging stray bullets in Afghanistan together with Paul, my new husband. But then again, I’d never pictured myself as a marrying type either.
My name is Jade Snow, I am twenty eight, an investigative journalist and a freelance documentary filmmaker. I met Paul, a brilliant journalist for Time magazine, on one of our expeditions. My crew got word that the Taliban should be in one of the villages of southeastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border. Our documentary about the Iraqi and Afghani insurgencies would’ve been enhanced dramatically if only we succeeded in getting that coveted footage of the bearded, dust-covered Taliban warriors.
We were in the very thick of things, when the shooting started. My crew was trapped, and Paul came out of nowhere and saved the day, just like (I’m embarrassed to say) that proverbial knight in shining armor. And as if that wasn’t enough, as they’d say in romance novels, that’s when our eyes met and we knew…. Basically, you get the drift.
When you are in the line of fire every day, you know very quickly who’s who around you. You also don’t waste your time on unnecessary doubts and deliberations. Paul and I didn’t. A month later we were married and since our lives were very busy, me – shooting my documentary, him – writing his pieces for Time magazine, the honeymoon was brief and almost perfunctory: four days at a luxury hotel in Dubai, part of the nearby United Arab Emirates. Dubai is a Switzerland wannabe of the Middle East – so close to all the skirmishes, yet so prosperous, so clean, so quiet and so neutral. Well… sort of prosperous, apart from nearly going bankrupt recently, and sort of neutral, at least officially.
We spent our time making love, walking on the beach (in case you were wondering, just walking since public displays of intimacy are a huge no-no in these parts), making love (alas, strictly in our hotel room), enjoying peace and quiet, and making love (lots of it). It was loads of fun, restrictions aside, but we had to get back to the hell across the Gulf.
Trouble started when one morning I felt sick. At first, we thought it was just the food – you know, the inedible, indigestible kind Afghanistan is so famous for. But when the excruciating abdominal pain and the extreme nausea didn’t subside after a full week, Paul talked me into flying back to Dubai to see a proper doctor.
Turned out, I wasn’t sick at all, I was just pregnant. And that’s when my life changed forever from the predictability of danger-ridden assignments at the hottest spots on the planet to the shock of the unpredictable existence as an expecting housewife.
The doctor shook his head reproachfully and pronounced that I had too much stress in my life and if I wanted to keep my baby, I should consider changing my lifestyle.
“Meaning?” I managed to squeak out indignantly.
“Meaning, young lady,” continued the doctor, sternly knitting his bushy eyebrows, “you should stop chasing the Taliban and start living a peaceful, restful life, with good and regular nutrition and in a safe environment.”
I hated that man!
But Paul agreed with him immediately and wholeheartedly. One week later, he persuaded me, forced me really, to move back to the US. He knew I didn’t have much of an excuse. The documentary was basically done and I could leave my crew behind to finish up some additional footage.
We returned to New York, to Paul’s spacious apartment on Upper West Side, where he spent his days applying finishing touches to his work. Meanwhile, I was trying to look like I was busy, too. I went around, obsessively re-arranging furniture in compliance with the principles of my new hobby, feng shui, all the while feeling like a caged tiger. Before long, Paul’s eyes started acquiring a certain alarmed look every time he’d turn around to find yet another furniture piece not in its familiar place. But at that point, his series of Front Line Essays was published to a chorus of favorable critique; my crew came back and our documentary went into production. Soon, I ran out of furniture to re-arrange, having already feng shue-ed the whole place to death. There was nothing left for me to do but to be bored, between debilitating attacks of nausea, of course.
From there on everything got worse… Paul got a new assignment, of all places, to Africa. I envied him since I was about to begin resembling a small barrel on long, thin legs and in my condition taking on any new assignments was out of the question.
Meanwhile, Paul didn’t feel right leaving me by myself in New York. We need to talk, he said to me one day. Somehow, I didn’t really like the sound of that… Then he started. Didn’t the doctors say I needed a peaceful and restful atmosphere? So, he continued, that must mean the country. It turned out all my assurances that I was fine in New York, and that I had all the fresh air and peace I needed right where I was, fell on deaf ears. Paul was a man of action, coupled with an overactive imagination and a white knight in shining armor syndrome, to boot. I should know, this was the explosive combo I fell for. But now it was turning downright dangerous, as he insisted on treating me as his very own damsel in distress.
So, one fine day, Paul came home and happily announced that he rented me a wonderful cottage in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, a charming community about two and a half hours north of the City. Fresh air, mountain views, peace and quiet – what can be better for a pregnant woman? Paul’s rhetorical question hung in the air next to his smiling face, which stared happily into my mortified one.
He continued his assault. Green grass, birds singing, besides, didn’t I want to start working on my own book? Surely, those gorgeous mountains would provide plenty of inspiration! He was so convincing, I imagine that’s how the infamous snake in the Garden of Eden seduced naïve Eve into trying the forbidden apple.
I certainly saw Paul’s dilemma: what to do with me in my condition when he is so far away, risking his life in some godforsaken Somalia? From his point of view this was a perfect solution and a great way to appease his guilt – mission accomplished! And I… I was too exhausted to argue and somewhere deep down, skillfully implanted by my best friend and confidant, Rachel Weise, a doubt lingered. Who knows, maybe I should, after all, try a change of pace? Perhaps, the country would indeed be better for the baby? Perhaps, I could finally start working on the stories I always wanted to write, but never found the time? Perhaps…
And that’s how I was seduced into moving to the quaint town of Stepford, located in idyllic Berkshire County, MA.
Paul left for Africa two weeks later, after settling me down in our new country home. He gave me a long and passionate kiss, his dark eyes gazing into mine.
“Oh, don’t listen to them,” said Anne. “Stepford is a virtual paradise, marvelous for raising a family. Everything will be fine.”
I exhaled, relieved.
The women went back to their knitting, all the while chatting away about this and that, the latest neighborhood news and the freshest bits of gossip. I sat there half-listening and nodding distractedly. Shawna was knitting a baby blanket in cornflower blue and Karen, a baby hat in bright pink. Their fingers moved swiftly, neat rows appearing like magic from under their clicking needles. I better learn to knit like that soon, I thought. The baby sure could use a soft blanket or a prety little hat.
And then another thought slithered into my mind. Congrats Jade, it teased me, you’ve just landed yourself in pregnant housewives’ paradise. But then again, the thought continued, at least I won’t be alone any more. And who knows, perhaps, it’ll even be fun.
Some conspiracies hide in small towns with perfect façades
The GREEN DESERT Iraq prequel leads to the next, unexpected manifestation of the international journalist turned sleuth, Jade Snow, in the 1st Accidental Spy full-size novel, STEPFORD, USA. She’s now married yet utterly alone, what with absentee world-traveling journalist husband, stay-at-home mom-to-be, who lands in a perfect-façade “Small Town, USA,” located in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.
Stepford is a typical for the US, idyllic backwater paradise, complete with Victorian antiques, historic Blue Peacock Inn, the gossip central knitting club, and the good old boys’ club, to boot. Behind that boring yet presentable exterior hides a hideous coverup conspiracy, an ugly crime for which an innocent man was sent to jail. Amid small-town charm which behind its perfect façade conceals death, danger and buried secrets, Jade must solve the cold case, uncover uncomfortable truths, bring closure to victims and justice to the wrongly accused!
Along the way, she’ll discover her unexpected psychic gift and find predestined relationships she’ll treasure for life.
“Compelling until the very end. This is a very enjoyable book with terrific characters and a clever storyline that conjures truths from the imbedded lies and deceit of the higher echelons of Stepford. In a whirlwind of well crafted storytelling we experience Jade’s paranormal psychic visions and even venture into a virtual reality laboratory to discover that all is not as it seems. This novel makes clever observations on morality, class and perception with wonderful twists and turns that will surprise and intrigue. A purposeful puzzle, compelling until the very end. Looking forward to reading Lada Ray’s other novels.” ~ Mardi Orlando, Author
“This exciting page-turner will have you guessing from the very beginning. Lada skillfully weaves many surprises into this psychological thriller. Her exquisite scene setting together with compelling dialogue makes Stepford USA a fascinating, if at times nail-biting, read. I highly recommend Stepford USA. Jade Snow is intelligent, warm and witty. Join her as she puts the pieces together and helps release a town from its dark, hidden past.” ~ Jason Sullivan, Author
CATEGORY: psychological thriller, adventure, cozy mystery, crime, conspiracy, women sleuths, humor, psychic
Suitable for ages: 13 to adult
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ACCIDENTAL SPY CONFESSIONS – all past books and a sneak peek at future books in the series!
- Green Desert (Iraq prequel short)
- Stepford, USA (Small Town Adventure #1)
- Gold Train (Russia Adventure #2)
- Accidental Spy 3.3 Omnibus (Collector Edition) — coming soon!
- Dragon Gate (Asia Adventure #3 – in progress)
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