Hello Friends! Today I’m delighted to share with you an extract of “Calculated Deception”, by K.T. Lee. The book is available to buy!
About the book:
Dr. Ree Ryland is an engineering professor who loves her job and plays by the rules. Her life is reassuringly predictable – until an enemy hiding in plain sight decides her squeaky-clean reputation is the perfect cover to commit a crime.
When Agent Parker Landon and his FBI team discover that someone at the university has been procuring military-grade hardware by disguising it as test equipment, all evidence points to Ree. After the FBI intercepts a shipment that puts Ree in the clear, Parker is forced to tell her that she’s being used as a pawn by an unseen enemy. And now she’s in that enemy’s crosshairs. Ree turns down the protective detail offered by the FBI and insists on using her inside knowledge to help with the investigation. Parker is leery of bringing a civilian on to the team, but he’s surprised at how much fun he has working with Ree, even as he tries to keep her out of harm’s way.
Parker, Ree and the FBI team find increasingly worrying evidence that someone is quietly acquiring everything they need to cause destruction on a massive scale. Now, they must uncover the motive and identity of the killer hiding among Ree’s friends and colleagues before it’s too late.
Dr. Ree Ryland’s practical black pumps clipped against the concrete sidewalk, breaking through the quiet of the early morning. She made a beeline to the civil engineering building to buy a coffee from the student-run lounge, filled her insulated mug exactly one inch from the top, added milk and sugar, and popped on a lid. After making small talk with the cashier and paying for her morning energy boost, she resumed her efficient pace until she reached her office. Ree dropped her purse on her desk, took a long pull of fortifying caffeine and pressed the power button on her computer at precisely 7:15 a.m.
Ree lowered herself into her chair, swiveled ninety degrees and plonked her heavy bag into the bottom drawer of her file cabinet. She locked the drawer and gave it a quick tug to make sure her things were secure, even though Indiana Polytechnic wasn’t exactly crawling with criminals. While Ree wasn’t worried about a student stealing her things, she didn’t want someone to come across her small handgun by accident. Ree quietly exploited the lack of a policy on concealed weapons on campus by carrying her secured Glock zipped into the front pocket of a purse designed for that purpose. Despite chiding herself for her paranoia in the busy daytime hours, she drew comfort from knowing she could defend herself when she worked in the building alone at night.
Ree placed her earbuds in her ears and selected a playlist on her phone before retrieving the thick pad of graph paper from the corner of her desk. The cheerful, fast beat of her favorite song served as the perfect complement to the calculations that needed to be finished by the end of the week. Bobbing her head as she worked, she pulled open her desk drawer to pluck out the pencil and ruler that were stored next to her “break in case of emergency” chocolate and high-powered calculator.
Holding the ruler steady, Ree drew crisp lines and arrows on her diagram, making sure she’d made the right assumptions before plugging the problem into her 3D stress analysis software. She nodded in satisfaction and turned to the keyboard. Her fingers danced across it, tapping to the rhythm of the music that drowned out her surroundings. Ree looked up from her computer to check her diagram and realized, too late, that she wasn’t alone. Her focus was broken by the sound of her own shriek.
When she realized that the cause of her alarm was waving a piece of paper and not trying to kill her, Ree slapped a hand to her mouth and felt her cheeks flush. Grinning, the man said, “Dr. Ryland? I’m sorry to sneak up on you…but do you have a moment?”
Ree’s heart pounded as she rummaged through her mental file to work out who was standing in front of her. While students were most often the people that visited her office at odd hours, the man in front of her wore dress pants and a polo instead of the typical uniform of a sweatshirt and jeans. He was tall and youngish, with short, dark blond hair, but looked too old to be one of her students. His eyes darted around her office, which meant that either she had scared him or he was in a hurry. Ree tried to remember if there had been any gossip about new professors starting this week but came up empty. Powers of deduction at a loss, she gathered up her dignity, smiled pleasantly and confirmed, “That’s me. What can I help you with?”
Parker returned a smile to Dr. Ryland with practiced ease. She wore simple but trendy clothes, had an athletic build, and her brown hair was pulled back into a neat twist. At 32, he couldn’t count on his looks to fool the professor into thinking he was an undergraduate student and had planned accordingly. Parker was playing the part of a college student interested starting a new career after spending several years working as an electrician. This alias was easier than most. Parker worked as an intern for an electrical contractor for a summer in college and had graduated with an engineering degree before getting recruited into the FBI. That the FBI recruited engineers wasn’t a secret, but it also wasn’t widely known, which would come in handy when he tried to convince the young professor that he was just another student.
Parker placed the form on her meticulously organized desk and explained, “I’m Parker Landon, and I was wondering if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to transfer to your section. I’m completing most of my school work after my day job and your 6 p.m. section would really help me out. But, your class is already full and I have to get your permission to attend. Can you sign off on an extra student? I promise not to be too much trouble.”
When the professor stared past him instead of answering the question, Parker tapped a finger on the paper, keeping his face even as he watched for signs that she had somehow seen through his façade. While unlikely, the possibility was ever-present in his line of work, and he forced himself to appear relaxed as he waited for her response.
About the author:
K.T. Lee is a writer, mom and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. When K.T. began to write the kind of books she wanted to read, she mixed clever women and the sciences with elements from thrillers (and a dash of romance) to create The Calculated Series.