Piercing the Veil Book 1: Dangerous Opportunities
It doesn't look good for Natalie, Rich, and Lucas. With only two days until their life as they know it is over, can they keep it together long enough to make their technology work?
Dangerous Opportunities –
Bunching her hand into a fist, Natalie fought the urge to punch the computer screen in front of her or scream down the phone.
“It sounds like an amazing project, Miss Kitson,” the guy was saying. “It does. But it’s not finished or working yet, and I can’t invest in something that isn’t ready to go when there are a lot of young startups promising the same thing. I hope you understand.” He hung up, the fifth one today, telling her the same thing.
Rich had the good sense to look busy when she turned and glared. Instead of thumping the screen, she got up, punched the back of her chair, and stomped toward the kitchen to make another cup of coffee.
As she passed Rich’s desk, his hand twitched in the direction of his mug, but he thought better of it and paused. She grabbed it anyway, leaving him to tap away behind her.
Their other partner in business was Lucas, the guy in the front garden testing their product for the umpteenth time that day. Lucas thought they were close to ready on the AR glasses strapped to his head.
Entering the kitchen, Natalie had to fight the urge to scream again. It looked like a bomb had hit it. It hadn’t exploded, just splattered food, plates, cups, and coffee grounds everywhere. Then the bomb disposal team showed up, pulled apart the bomb, so its innards were everywhere, decided hazmat suits were needed, and refused to come back and risk anyone’s life in the mold that had grown since.
It was a mess.
Pretty sure that this meant their deposit on the rental they were in was gone as well, she did her best to find a small, cleanish space and fixed some more coffee. As she opened the cupboard to get more coffee for the machine, she frowned.
They had one packet of coffee left, two packets of ramen, and a leftover avocado that also looked like it was growing a new culture.
“We need to do another shop run before the end of the day,” she called to Rich.
As she glanced through the door, she saw him hold his hand out and stick his thumb up, eyes glued to something on his screen. Rolling her eyes, she tried not to rant at him. It wouldn’t be the first time that day, but the truth was, they were so close to being screwed that they didn’t have time to yell at each other anymore.
While she’d spent all day searching for an investor, Rich had spent the day trying to find someone who might commit to buying units. He was looking at marketing stuff she didn’t understand, and she sometimes wondered if he understood it either.
It left Lucas trying to figure out why their prototype glasses did everything but the thing they needed them to do.
“I think I’ve found a… Oh, no, never mind,” Rich backtracked as Natalie finally got the machine going.
“That’s got to be the seventh time you’ve said that today.” She stomped back to her desk to wait for the coffee.
“Hey… I’m trying to help. I know we’ve got two days as well, you know.”
“Two days and no way we’re getting the deposit back. I hope your bathroom isn’t as bad as you and Lucas have made the kitchen.”
“I’m sure it’s not worse than yours.” Rich sat back, the computer momentarily forgotten as he got up and wandered into the kitchen.
“Mine’s clean,” she yelled after him, feeling better as she heard him clatter and bang as he found a spoon, cleaned it, and finished off the coffee for them.
He was coming back out with two steaming mugs when a yelp came from the front yard.
“You okay?” Natalie called, hoping the answer was yes until she’d had her coffee.
There was no reply.
She looked at Rich, who looked toward the front garden. They took a sip of their drinks and waited. If they decided to put coffee above the well-being of their friend, then Lucas could be pissed off at both of them.
Another minute passed with no more noise. Natalie tried to sit with her drink and open the next document she had on the next investor. One of them was going to need to find some money, or they were going to be screwed and she was going to have to go back to daddy as a total failure.
She shuddered. Not happening. If she had to beg the final investor she had on her list and come up with some story about being in danger of being sold to some drug lord or something, she’d do it.
“You okay, Lucas?” Rich yelled again, also ignoring his workload. It wasn’t like either of them was making any progress.
“Yeah. I think I might finally have this thing doing something.”
Rich sighed, and Natalie rolled her eyes. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard that either.
“If this works finally…” Rich shook his head.
“I know. You want a girl on each arm and endless champagne. I’d settle for a clean house and something decent for dinner that isn’t pizza, takeout, or ramen.”
Sitting, Natalie took another mouthful of the black coffee, grateful they hadn’t run out of that yet. She made a mental note to check if they had the money for any more food shopping as she read her notes on the next investor option.
She was feeling more depressed, knowing this woman would be the hardest to persuade yet, when she heard another cry and a clatter from the front of the house.
Sighing, she turned away from the document and took the opportunity to do something else.
“Lucas, whatever you’re doing, it had better be making a difference.”
Her sneakers made a light patter as she stepped to the front bay window. At first, she didn’t spot Lucas. Their tech guy wasn’t standing in the middle of the garden where he normally was, although his toolbox stood open in the middle of the brown grass.
Fear crept into her mind as she looked around. What was he playing at?
She spotted him on the other side of the road. He was walking down the street away from them. He went farther before his mouth fell open, and he stared at something.
Looking like someone who remembered they’d left a stove on in the house, he clapped his hands over his mouth, turned, and ran back to the house so fast that he didn’t check the road and almost got hit. The driver slammed on the brakes and swore, but Lucas didn’t stop or acknowledge him.
Running out into the front yard, Natalie stopped Lucas in his tracks.
“What the fuck are you thinking, moron? Do you want to get yourself killed? Or worse, have our prototype smooshed by a car?”
“Nice to know what matters to you most,” Lucas replied, but he wasn’t as annoyed as he’d normally have been. He was busy looking at the world through the AR glasses they were developing.
After he stared at her for a couple of seconds, Natalie folded her arms and looked disapproving. He pulled them off.
“Okay, I think you need to see this.” He grinned, the first time she’d seen him smile in days.
She raised her eyebrows, unsure what had given him some confidence and merriment back.
“Rich. You should come out here and see this too.”
“You got it working?” he yelled back, still somewhere in the gloom behind Natalie.
She wasn’t sure what to do. Should she put it on and try it or let Rich do so, knowing the two guys were far more passionate about the level of technology than she was?
Lucas decided for her, thrusting it into Rich’s hands as he appeared in the doorway.
“Check this out, man. You’re going to be able to market this.”
Lucas’ voice carried genuine excitement for the first time in a long time, and she wanted to rip the glasses out from Rich’s hands and look. Instead, she waited as the two men had one of their geek-out moments.
“How did you get it to show the overlay properly?” Rich asked as he stepped outside with it on.
Lucas almost shrugged. “This and that. I took out a safety protocol or two. Nothing major. Didn’t want it to get in the way of the program making some random decisions and being able to function. I must have set up something wrong. It’s like there were too many constraints, and it couldn’t do the basics of what was needed first.”
Natalie frowned. She didn’t like the sound of removing safety constraints. It seemed like they shouldn’t do that, but if it was going to get them to a finished product, even if it had some quirks and bugs to figure out, it might let her call her investors back and see if they’d bite.
“Okay,” she relented. “Let’s take this thing for a spin and show us what you’re getting.”
It looks like they made it work, or did they? Find out on March 10th when Piercing The Veil Book 1: Dangerous Opportunities is released. Until then head over to Amazon and pre-order today.