Ten Seconds to Dead
L.A. Clayton
Publication date: January 20th, 2020
Genres: Adult, Thriller

Ten seconds may be all she has left …
Kate Edison witnesses her father’s death and, in order to keep his memory alive, decides to follow in his footsteps by joining the CIA. She molds herself into becoming exactly what the CIA is looking for—and captures their interest, both personally and professionally. But before she can finish the CIA process, Kate is offered a position as an espionage agent in another highly secretive government agency, which she accepts.
While completing her agency training, Kate is catapulted into a shadowy world where wealth and power are the ultimate goal, and those in charge will stop at nothing to get it. While on the job, Kate uncovers secrets that, if revealed, would cost her life, but if kept, could bring down a nation. Isolated and unsure of who to trust, she brings in a fellow agent, but pulling him into the web of conspiracy and lies puts a target on both their backs – and it will take every skill they’ve ever learned as agents to stay alive long enough to stop the enemy no one else can see.

The door lock was a joke. I could have used a credit card. 
I was inside in seconds. Cave started to speak again. “Kate, install the smoke detector cameras in the bedroom and living area first. Use the ones with the cameras on all four sides. Put the phone down while you install, and then pick it back up again. I’ll tell you what to do next.”
I set the phone down and looked for the smoke detector in the main living area. Even though I was moving as fast as I could, it was impossible not to notice how run-down the apartment was. It was as dirty and grimy as the outside of the building. Old, unmatched furniture was strewn against the walls, and the carpet looked like it carried as least ten different diseases. The whole place reeked of trash and mold and unwashed people. I gagged. 
I found what I was looking for by the front door and exchanged the smoke detector with one of mine. Then I went down the hall to the bedroom. The room had four twin-size mattresses pushed up against the walls, taking up almost every square inch of space. At each mattress, some of the drywall was punched out at the head and foot so that the pipes were exposed. 
Attached to the pipes were handcuffs. 
I felt bile rise up my throat. I knew exactly what we were surveilling here. 
“Edison!” I heard Cave shout from my phone. 
I picked it up. “I’m here,” I managed to croak out. I was trying to quell the vomit that was threatening to ruin this whole mission. “I’m in the spare bedroom.” 
“Edison, concentrate. I need you to install the camera in that room, or this was all for nothing. Don’t think about what you are seeing. Just work.” His words knocked some sense into me.
I put the phone down and found the smoke detector from my bag that would go in the room. Westwood and Cave clearly knew what I was walking into, as the equipment they gave me was made to look old and dingy. 
I finished installing the camera and picked the phone back up. “Done. Which one next?”
“Is there anything hanging on the walls?”
I crossed into the main room and found it void of any décor. But I did see some screws from something that had been hung up in the past. “Nothing hanging, but there are some random nails and screws in the walls.”
“Good, use them. Conner has no reason to suspect that anyone knows about his side business. He won’t be scanning for bugs.”
I put the phone down and start looking for the best-placed nail in the wall for surveillance. I found an ideal location and installed the device. 
I heard my name being screamed over the phone along with a load of expletives. I picked it up. “Cave, what?!” 
“Conner is in the outside hallway.” 
My blood ran cold. 
Cave’s words came fast. “There is an extra handgun in the bag. Get it out, keep one in your belt, and sit down and put the other on your lap. Keep your hand on the trigger. You are playing the part of the buyer. You are a Russian named Viktoriya. I am your boss, Vlad. Vlad is also your lover. Vlad is obsessed with Viktoriya and wouldn’t normally let her out of his sight. Vlad is a regular buyer; Conner is very familiar with him.” 
Then Cave hung up the phone. 
With my heart beating out of my chest I grabbed the gun and sat on the repugnant couch by the window. I inspected the window, preparing for the possibility that I may need to make a quick getaway. I didn’t let the fact that I knew extremely little about acting intimidate me; I couldn’t. This was life or death, and I would perform. 
I did my best to channel Viktoriya, pronounced VeekTOreeya, a person whom I knew practically nothing about. I threw one leg over the arm of the couch and swung the gun on one finger, like I was bored. I was grateful that I had randomly painted my nails the night before, also that I had taken a few minutes to put on a little bit of makeup earlier. I wished that I had red lipstick; it just seemed like something Viktoriya would wear. But my lip gloss would have to do. My long blonde hair and tight black clothes didn’t hurt the image I was trying to portray. 
I heard footsteps in the hall. I whipped the elastic out of my hair and let it fall around my shoulders. Then at the last second, I pulled the zipper of my catsuit down several inches. 
As the door opened…

Author Bio:
L.A. Clayton has been an avid reader her entire life, devouring books at an alarming rate. Her husband often jokes that if she didn’t buy so many books they could retire. She went to bed one night a reader and woke up with a fresh memory of a dream she’d had the night before, sat down and became a writer.
L.A. Clayton lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and their four young children. She makes time for writing in between wiping noses and packing lunches.