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Praying The Price

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A new kind of Science Fiction from a lover of the genre. Hold tight, it's going to be a real adventure! As are all great works of science fiction, "Praying The Price" is a prophetic novel. If you enjoy science fiction, suspense and intelligent conspiracies, "Praying The Price" is definitely for you. A great tale that takes the protagonist, rogue agent Joel Renner, around the world in hopes of evading the pursuing Central Intelligence Agency. His last mission is to redeem himself by saving humanity from the dastardly plan of The Group; a centuries old organization seeking an ultimate world order that will benefit a small fraction of human beings at the expense of the masses. Meet wonderful characters like Mellow Deus Marveluscious, world-renowned celebrity reporter and Will Barnes, crusty old investigative journalist. Written by a lover of science fiction that has grown bored with what's been coming out for the last 20 years. If you're itching for a good read, "Praying The Price" is your ticket to adventure.

Scifi / Thriller
Steven Lance
Age Rating:

Chapter One

Emergent minds ponder fear, conjure first prayer

Enigmatic heavens spawn copulating gods that breed Holy ones who imbibe sacrament of royal blood; a crossbred hatching, rare, slithery species that suckles at the breast of mother future even as it singes phallic hairs of father past...

For blondes with sunbronze-framed smiles of perfected white orthodontia, making fun the order of every day, in the surf, on the slopes, for vineyard visiting drunkards and the jacuzzi stoned, it’s all the same, a monied version of real veneering that of blacks and browns, of urban slum dopers and uzi users and heat-baked, chemical-caked foreign produce pickers on the lam from disexistence to nonexistence; none of the above more important than creating illusions according to market demands, namely, that mass-craving for graphic acts that leave nothing to imagination ergo the artless artform of depicting dismembered nude vixens.

“La-La-Land,” just doesn’t do it justice.

Hollywood, quintessentially superficial, nevertheless serves up models for the world to emulate, portraying states of being to be vicariously attained thereby assuring oneself of some higher god(ess)-like status than currently held as s/he eats dirt to survive and squat-shits in mud, gladly paying for momentary vacation from squalor vèritè.

Cinema soothes. It is enormous business. As such, sleaze is its lifeblood.

And when it comes to suckling filthy nourishment, no one has siphoned off more than Maddie Hatter, the Los Angeles Post-Herald’s Hollywood beat reporter/gossip/slob.

But, that’s old news. The infamous purple-haired, muu- muu clad Maddie Hatter is dead, dying as she had lived; outrageously. Seems she had been lunching just two weeks ago with a hugely popular actor the size of three men, when he, slurping oysters at a dozen per minute clip, suddenly ceased. Members of his entourage became concerned when his eyes began to glisten and protrude and his fat face showed a strange hue of blue. One burly bodyguard had promptly applied the Heimlich maneuver to Maddie’s obvious dismay. Preoccupied with inhaling butter-dripping lobster tails by the handsful, Maddie Hatter never saw what hit her: The pearl, stuck in her dining partner’s throat, had been dislodged with such force that it burrowed deep into her eye.

Although the L.A. Post-Herald’s star reporter had been rushed to a hospital and the pearl cautiously removed, infectious complications progressed from bad to worse leaving Maddie Hatter stark raving mad for days before death.

Hollywood mourn?

Over-the-top lamentations, champagne and tears, and business per usual.

Thus Robin Fine Stein, distinguished Post-Herald owner/ publisher, tall, dark, handsome, in his late forties, surrounded by the lavish accoutrements of huge success, settles back into the lush cushioned recesses of his bullet-proof stretch limo, reaches for the scotch and answers his signaling cellular.

“Yeah...Teddy?” His voice is deep, made softer with a rasp. He waits for a response. “Good. Give me more volume... Good.” Robin Stein routes the call to open speaker before replacing the phone. “Come on, come on...Get in,” he says with some irritation; a chafing hoarseness; either physical or spiritual in origin.

A you-never-can-be-too-thin poster girl ducks her head sheepishly into the limo, hesitating as if she is unsure the media mogul is indeed talking to her. She slides chic imports down her nose, looks over the dark lenses with violet eyes. Impeccably made up, with a coiffure and breasts to die for, the 5′9" beauty removes her sunglasses and steps, hunched over, into the dark interior.

Robin Fein Stein focuses on a slender, well-tapered, silk-stockinged leg. He meditates on the mesh weave pattern of sinewy illumination as it snakes upwards from her finely shaped ankle to her thigh and, momentarily, beyond, to delta swatch of satin sheen. But, she pivots, gracefully slides into and a little across the cushions. His eyes adjust from tight focus to wide angle to study what she is wearing. The Post-Herald owner is fundamentally piqued by the sea mist green presentation, so tastefully sensual that every tuck and fold seems ingeniously engineered to enhance the exquisite nature of the wearer’s body; the effect, so warmly inviting.

“Let’s roll,” he hisses, and his chauffeur shuts the door, hurries to the driver’s seat and heads for the airport.

Robin Stein’s decision to hire this lovely jade-haired creature to replace Maddie Hatter is made, regardless, or perhaps because of the fact that not yet twenty-four hours since Maddie’s death his office has been bombarded with over one thousand résumés faxed from all over the world; most of them with high-profile credentials. While he had long ago tired of Maddie’s columns and, many times, been sickened enough by her uncouth manner to fire her, she had been the best. And Hollywood rumor-mongering is very profitable copy. No media today lacks such non-news coverage. In fact, since the turn of the millennium, entertainment news has steadily encroached upon the space/time allotments for hard news to the point that real news is now relegated to small snippets amidst forest of ads buried deep in back pages or served up electronically as photon activating fillers between commercial hype and raunchy details of celebrity life; hard news time used by viewers to wander into bathrooms and kitchens releasing and refilling respectively in time for the next vaginal odor infomercial.

Media mogul Stein, obscenely wealthy and typically miserable, did not build his empire on inherited money and numerous strokes of good luck alone. He has also relied on his instincts and penchant for debasement of others. And, if his current trouser tenting is any indication, this young beauty has aroused Robin Stein’s instincts to colossal heights. He reasons that anyone with her inviting aura can only be perfect for the job of getting close, closer than the rest, to Hollywood’s beautiful people. Seeing as she has mesmerized a jaded, cynical, celibate man like himself, her effect would be merciless on the glam and glitter folk, notorious for their egos and insecurities.

The limo’s speakers convey the teleconferenced funeral of Maddie Hatter. Ancient Hebrew (surround-sounding much like a moaning bout with hairballitis) hacks and hucks its intended message to an oblivious audience.

“So...” says Stein with sneeze-like abruptness, “you want to become the next Maddie Hatter, eh? What makes you think you can do it?”

“I’m here, in your limo, talking to you, aren’t I?” Her voice has an immediately identifiable inimitableness; luxuriant; richly textured. Her violet eyes are keenly focused, unblinking. “I have always had a knack for being at the right places at the proper times. I’m sure that by now the Post- Herald must have heard from hordes of people who want this job. But...you see? They send résumés in hopes of convincing you that they’re right for the job. Here I am, in the flesh, talking to the right person at the right time proving I can do the job.”

Robin Stein’s coarse, short-cropped, silver-streaked black hair, bristles as a shiver of electrifying scalp itch accompanies waves of thoughts that splash against each other; interfering; diffracting and deflecting; crest-to-crest augmentations side-by-side with troughs of nullness. He thinks and visualizes feverishly nothing at all as wanton desires stalemate a normally unflappable business demeanor. He is aroused. His mind wanders. The pink tip of her tongue paints glisten upon her full parted lips. He marvels at the iridescent nature of her lip gloss shimmering sea mist to jade green one moment, mother-of-pearl pinks and violets the next. “B-But...Can you write?”

She smiles and Robin Stein is immersed in the warm confidence exuded.

“Mister Stein, I write even better than I look.”

As she twist-turns her torso away from him and reaches deep into her large leather satchel, Robin Stein suddenly realizes that he has not learned this beauty’s name.

The limo speakers spew a muddy mix of a Rabbi’s funereal throat-clearing, now nearing incantatious finale. Yet media mogul Stein hears only satchel searching sounds muted by fine leather.

“Here we are,” intones his creamy voiced companion. “These are just a few samples of my writing. All published. Newspapers mostly, although I have included a few magazine pieces that I especially liked. Of course, I also have vid-loid experience. Two years of OnLocs and specials with WCRP. All on file.” She magically produces a small card, hands it to him. “Here’s their Internet Designation. View them at your convenience.”

Maddie Hatter’s teleconferenced burial ceremony is mommentarily interrupted.


His chauffeur’s voice sends Robin Fine Stein’s fingers to his armrest control panel which he fingers by rote, without taking his eyes off his guest.

“Yes, Otto?”

“Fifteen minutes ’til arrival, Sir.”

And the Rabbi’s words once again fall on deaf ears.

“So...Tell me...What’s your name?”

Again her smile conveys enormous information that fires his thoughts and warms his loins.

She slides closer to him and hands him a neat stack of tear-sheet copies. As she places them in his lap, she points with one long slender finger at the by-line on the top copy; tapping her amply lengthy, uniquely enamelled nail for emphasis; each tap upon the copies in his lap generating sweet sensations.

He looks down and reads aloud phonetically: “Mel-low De-us Mar-vel-uscious?” He looks at her quizzically, unable to resist peeking down the front of her dress at her exquisite breasts; frustrated that his view of her nipples is obscured. Robin Stein looks deep into Mellow Deus’ eyes. What he sees is unmistakable; smoldering; wanting. His timeworn but untested fantasy again invades his mind with overwhelming force, as it has countless times before. Only this time, with his desire being kindled with every tap of her tapered finger and knowing full well that only he can grant her fondest wish come true, Robin Fine Stein surprises even himself when he blurts out his trite cliché. “Just how bad do you want this job?”

Mellow Deus Marveluscious is completely nonplussed even though she knows precisely where this line of questioning is leading.

He hears the fluid sounds of her lips and tongue movements distinct from her breathy honey-toned voice.

“I’ll do anything...”

He swallows with extreme difficulty before wheezing another time-worn cliché, “Show me...”

Time stands still. She takes the tearsheets from his lap and places them on the seat that she has vacated; moving to her knees, to the plush carpeted flooring; she now, sensuously felines her way between his legs. In one quick motion she has his belt unbuckled, button undone, and his zipper gliding downward.

Robin Fine Stein’s brown eyes are the size of quarters as he watches the gorgeous woman prepare to engulf him with her moistened mouth.

As she looks one last time into the man’s eyes, she girders her resolve with a mindquiet pep talk: “What the hell, Darling. You’ve done it before. For free! For nothing! Think of it as a Las Vegas fling. Maybe you will come away with nothing but that lubricious reminder that will linger long past the tell-tale taste is swallowed away. But, then again, maybe ...just maybe, you’ll hit the jackpot.”

As Mellow Deus Marveluscious makes her final approach, opening her lips and mouth to accommodating dimension, she whispers, “Come here you little one-armed bandit.” giving it a gentle yank in hopes of payoff.

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Lauren Bickert: Firstly, it was an excellent story! I enjoyed it very much from start to finish!One or two minor points of constructive criticism:1: dialogue— there were several places in the story where I struggled to know who was speaking.2: one plot point: I’m new to werewolf fiction so forgive me if this com...

Katharina Reiber: Sehr gut geschrieben ich war gefesselt von der ersten bis zur letzen Minute.

gamer281: Ich bin eine mega große Leseratte und es ist daher nicht leicht mich für neue Geschichten zu begeistern, aber diese Story hat es mir echt angetan. Vielen lieben Dank, mach weiter so.

Bambi: Mir gefällt nur eines nicht- DAS ES NICHT WEITERGEHT! Bin total gespannt!

eotero945: Rara, pero excitante!!!

jodiedigg: Love it, it gets better with every reread. Can't wait for the next update. I've been following this and other of your stories for years.

Sonia: Me gusta, pero le da demasiadas vueltas a las cosas, a veces se hace pesada la lectura

Country Girl: Her husband is a dick and I hope you update it soon. I love it so far

jenniferballa22: Great job with the characters and their development. You made realistic characters that were relatable and deep. The storyline was well executed and flowed smoothly. The way you wrote was engaging and enjoyable. I LOVE that you obviously proofread and corrected before posting as well. Absolutely ...

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viewcoco2007: Amazing story. I thank the author for writing these books. I loved reading all 3 of these books. I definitely would recommend reading them. 😊❤️😊

viewcoco2007: Excellent read, just like the first book in this series. 👍I can't wait to read the 3rd book 😍

Mary Wilkins: I LOVED IT!!! 🤗

Gurleen Benipal: Seriously a great story!!! There are no grammar mistakes and it's easy to read! The characters are definitely well thought out but I just wish you made Sofia even more proud and as freaky as he is. A female who challenged the way he thinks and changes him (either making him go mad and makes him e...

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