Sara's Game

By: Ernie Lindsey

(The Sara Winthrop Thriller Series Book 1)



CHAPTER 1

SARA


Sara was late again.

She plowed into her office, greeted by the overpowering scent of cologne and hair gel. Teddy Rutherford, the clichéd heir to the throne and obnoxious VP of Research & Development, sat at her desk using her PC to play that little game involving dogs, cats, and giant cannons. Her kids loved it, but she never saw the appeal.

As the VP of Marketing for a growing video game company in Portland, Oregon, it was her job to get their Juggernaut series into as many hands as possible. And since she’d been promoted to a marketing position after a decade of hundred-hour workweeks as a tester, then up to VP, LightPulse Productions had grossed more in the past eight months than over the previous five years.

Marketing came naturally to her, and nobody in the industry had seen her coming. She had been interviewed in numerous magazines, made it into the upper half of multiple Top 40 Under 40 lists, and signed a contract to write a monthly column for Professional Mother. All while raising twin girls and their younger brother, alone, since the day their father left for the gym and never came back.

She’d been wined and dined with some incredible offers from Fortune 500 companies, but LightPulse was her home, the house she’d helped build, and she had no intention of leaving.

Even if it meant dealing with a privileged, spoiled cretin like Teddy on a daily basis.

He said, “These guys are pure genius, aren’t they? Nothing but flat animation, some bright colors, and the chance to destroy the enemy with a single click. And people play it for hours. Incredible.”

He was obtrusive, annoying, and infantile: a thirty-year-old man-child who had never had his dad around growing up. Jim spent more hours at the office running LightPulse than he did at home, and his three ex-wives certainly hadn’t been the right women to guide Teddy toward anything resembling a respectable human being.

But the fact that he’d been brazen enough to hack into her work account was more than an invasion. She probably would’ve been less offended if he’d put his hand up her shirt. She took one deep breath, then another, and tucked what she wanted to say back into her throat. Instead, she asked, “How’d you get into my system?”

He ignored the question. “I mean, really, look at it. I flick, it goes boom, pieces of wood go flying. Flick, boom, done. After Juggs 3 comes out,”—that childish nickname again, Sara thought—“we should look at going in this direction. Cut some of the staff, cut some costs. Get in good with Apple. Dad said—I mean Jim said—they were dying to work with us. Put something like this up on the App Store, charge a buck apiece? We can all retire and sip some boat drinks and swap wives.” He winked at her.

She looked down at the heavy crystal paperweight on her desk, wondering how big the dent in the side of his head would be.

“You’re trying too hard, Teddy. Now get away from my computer and out of my chair.”

Teddy stood up, lifted his hands in apologetic resignation, and then squeezed her shoulder as he walked around to the other side.

God, this guy is a harassment lawsuit wearing a fake Rolex. If he ever tried that with some of the hardcore gamer girls out in The Belly, he’d be toast.

“Sorry,” he said. “You shouldn’t leave your password written on a sticky note. And you’re late. I got bored.”

“Still not okay, Little One.” Being the youngest member of the executive team—and the owner’s son—was more of a scarlet letter than a badge of honor, and they all knew that the nickname was the perfect way to knock a couple inches off Teddy’s platform loafers whenever he got out of line. Vertically challenged (as he insisted he was, often), he had to look up a good three inches at Sara on the days he came into the office wearing unprofessional flip-flops.

He straightened the collar of his polo shirt, smoothed out his khakis, and gave a snort of disapproval, but nothing more.

Sara smirked.

Putty.

She laid her tattered and thinning leather briefcase on her desk and took her time unpacking, making Teddy wait on purpose, letting his impatience and ADHD reach a festering point. She was poking the badger, of course, but it was justifiable retribution, and he stayed silent.

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