We’re just two weeks out from the release of SWITCH IT UP, so I thought I’d share the first chapter with readers so they can get a taste to tide them over until release day! If you’re not already a subscriber to my New Release Announcement List, be sure to sign up today — I’ll be running a few special list only giveaways in the coming weeks.
Release Date: February 19, 2018
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“Settle in and prepare to be entertained.” ~ RT Magazine
This wasn’t the first time Maddy had hacked into a kinky website. Porn sites weren’t the easiest to weasel into, but certainly the most fun. Oddly, the task brought her a sense of accomplishment her day job didn’t fulfill. It also provided hours of amusement on an otherwise boring Thursday night.
She adjusted the boom microphone on her headset as she waited for her business partner to accept the audio chat request. While she sat idle, she noticed a heavy layer of dust along one end of the long dining table she used as a desk for her dual computer setup. The fine particles’ perfection was marred by a line of paw prints courtesy of her cat, Samoa.
“Hey, Maddy.” Steve’s baritone voice rescued her from her debate about the merits of attaching dusting pads to Samoa’s paws. “I was just chatting about you to a potential client who insists his site is secure enough without our ‘extremely expensive services.’”
“If it truly is, he wouldn’t be talking to you,” she replied. “Send me the details and I’ll show him just how much he desperately needs us.” Maddy tried not to sound eager about the idea of schooling some unsuspecting n00b who doubted her skills.
“That’s my girl.” A soft ding sounded over the line as Steve received an email. “And another satisfied customer who can’t stop praising your work. You make this too easy sometimes, Maddy.”
Fact of the matter was, most of the time this job was too easy. “Got a live one for you, if you’ve got the time.”
“I always have the time for you. Finished up work for the night already?”
“You mean the exceptionally boring list of client websites I was given to intentionally break into? Pfft. Please don’t insult me. Packets are already on the way, along with my billable hours.”
She wouldn’t have to mention how bored she’d been with the tasks. How the work lacked challenge. Steve would know their job of rooting around an assigned website for glitches and then putting together a solution package for the customer was work she could execute blindfolded. Even though the responsibility didn’t give her the same exhilarating rush of infiltrating unsuspecting sites, it certainly paid the bills.
“Just grabbing a snack between meetings.” He paused, a sign he was ingesting his go-to snack of Funyuns. No doubt there was a can of Dr. Pepper nearby. “Go ahead and educate me, wise master.”
She verified they were the only ones on the private network he’d set up before she tapped a button on her keyboard to share her desktop screen. While she didn’t doubt Steve’s skill in the least, in their line of work it paid to double and sometimes triple check before execution.
“Holy shit.” Surprise filtered through her earphones as Steve got an eyeful of her latest discovery. “Warn a guy next time.”
Maddy winced. The XXX-rated splash page that displayed a nude woman bound with ropes of pink LED lights had probably shocked Steve’s vanilla mind. She’d forgotten not everyone was as comfortable with deviant behavior as she was. Risks had been a part of her everyday world since the age of twelve, when she’d stolen her father’s car and taken a joyride to Disneyland.
“Sorry.” She drummed her fingers on her desk as she waited for him to get over his surprise. She didn’t feel bad about scandalizing him. Steve O’Doyle wasn’t just the co-owner of Devtag, working out of the East Coast bureau while she provided support out of her home office in California—he was also her ex-boyfriend. As far as a kick-ass gaming companion and business partner, Steve was the man. However, when it came to the matter of sex, the poor guy had “clueless” stamped across his forehead. Too married to his work to have normal, healthy relationships.
“Take a look at what I just ran across.” She right-clicked to open a window for the source code, effectively covering the explicit image to preserve Steve’s sensibilities. While he wouldn’t care what the website was peddling, he would be interested in the strings of code used to construct the site.
“This is…whoa.” Quiet whispers sounded as Steve read through the lines populating his screen. “I think you hit the motherlode.”
She sat up straighter as Steve fell quiet. “Biggest steaming pile of shit you’ve ever seen, right? You’d think a sex website would have stricter security protocols.”
Steve’s loud snort came through her headphones. “My skills aren’t top-notch, but even I know better. Whoever coded this drivel should have their geek license revoked. No one codes like this.”
“Except for maybe some pimple-faced junior high school dweeb working on a WYSIWYG interface,” she responded as she wrinkled her nose at a string of characters she recognized from her basic computer classes freshman year of college, which had indeed had what-you-see-is-what-you-get software. She’d never seen programming code this disorganized and simplistic. It had been too easy to crack, and Maddy hated easy. Easy meant a loss of revenue. “They’re just giving away their porn. Quality sex videos should never be free. Fucking amateurs.”
“School ’em, Maddy-girl.”
“You going to stick around to watch?” she asked as she pulled up a search on her second desktop computer. The one with the unmasked, fully legal IP address she used for her everyday browsing. As she read the extensive background on the About tab of the website, she recognized the name of the owner, Kochran Duke. “Hey, I know of this guy.”
“Didn’t you know I have lovers all over the country?” Maddy giggled at Steve’s snort. “I didn’t say I knew him, just that I know of him. The Duke family owned most of downtown San Francisco when I was in high school. Think my mom mentioned chatting with Kochran’s parents a few times at the country club when she took tennis lessons Dad gifted her one Christmas. Also called them stuck-up prudes, if I recall correctly.”
“Which is saying a lot coming from your mother.”
Steve hadn’t needed to point out the obvious. Her mom got along with everyone, and found the tiniest detail to like about the meanest, rudest person in the world. For her to express her aversion to the Duke family said a lot about how they conducted themselves.
The knowledge that Kochran owned the club wouldn’t stop Maddy’s intrusion of the website. He might have connections and nothing better to do with his parents’ millions, but she had megaskills that trumped bored millionaires.
She cleared her throat, antsy to get started. “You never said if you’re going to hang.”
“I’ve got a meeting with a new client based in Japan at ten, but I can stick around for a few more minutes. Always a joy to watch Maddy Zane, badass hacker extraordinaire, work.”
Maddy smirked. “All right. Let’s see what this place is really all about.”
A few keystrokes got her back to the front page of the website for a fetish organization near Sacramento called Noble House. According to the scrolling marquee across the top, it was a hybrid kink club with a physical location to serve members as well as the website.
“Unique concept, I’ll give it that much,” Steve said around a mouthful of snacks. “Odd name for a BDSM club, though. Not that I’m well-versed in that department.”
Maddy had seen and heard plenty of BDSM club names, but nothing like this. As though Kochran equated his business to some modern-day fairy tale of sin where he probably saw himself as the ruler. Given her mother’s description of his parents, it wouldn’t surprise her to hear. “Think I’m going to snoop around a bit more. See just how lax things are.”
She focused on her custom-built secure desktop with its high-level encryption that allowed her to surf without anyone tracking her geolocation and quickly added a bunch of random information to the membership database. When it came time to complete a sexual interest list, she blindly filled out a few pertinent details. Thankfully Steve couldn’t see the screen of that computer, but no reason to tick off boxes for stuff she actually liked.
Once that was done, she had the system generate a random password. When a generic confirmation email arrived, she snorted loud enough to disturb the cat now sleeping on the corner of her desk. She glanced to the computer’s clock. “Accessed and joined without spending a dime in forty-one seconds.”
“Looks like we’ve got another idiot playing with a toy he has no right to own.” Steve’s short burst of laughter signaled his amusement. While Maddy knew Steve wasn’t into kinky sexual practices, she did know he got a thrill from illegally accessing websites. That shared interest was why they’d started a legitimate business together even after their relationship had fallen apart.
“Time to find out just how far down this rabbit hole we can go,” Maddy stated as she assigned herself a screen name, choosing something she would have never dreamed of in real life. She pulled up a blank email and shared the username and password with Steve. “Just use this account for right now. No reason for both of us to be there if it’s not necessary.”
“Trixy Malone?” Steve asked a minute later.
The mocking tone of Steve’s voice made her roll her eyes. “Just poke around a bit to see if you can figure out the busiest sections so we can avoid them.”
Though she could find out the information in a few minutes, it would keep Steve occupied while she hunted for the best spot to drop in a beauty of a program she’d written to allow her to return to the site undetected whenever she wanted. Most of the time the websites she hacked weren’t worth a revisit, but who was she to pass up a free ticket to unrestricted porn?
“Based on the webstats, the video archive is the most visited area,” Steve offered a few minutes later. “Members’ message boards come in a close second. The archives would be the easiest place to drop in a virus, but also too predictable. Even with the rudimentary code, the website admin would quickly find the intruder. Then again, if it was the same coder responsible for this junk heap, maybe not. Taking the chance isn’t worth it. Better to find someplace more secure.”
Samoa jumped off the desk and wound between her legs, meowing loudly that it was well past dinnertime. “Yeah, yeah. Demanding fat cat, aren’t you?”
“Hey!” Steve exclaimed, clearly offended. “I know I’ve let time get away from me, but no reason to insult a guy for a few extra pounds.”
“My roommate is reminding me it’s well past dinner time.” Maddy scooped up Samoa and scratched between her ears. “Didn’t you say you had a meeting? I’ve got this from here.”
“Yeah,” Steve said with a sigh. His reluctance to leave came through the line. Like her, he clearly wanted to explore further.
“I doubt we’re the first ones to discover the hole, Steve. Not even sure it’s large enough to notify Kochran. Probably just a fluke.” Anomalies weren’t uncommon on the internet, but she didn’t believe that was the case. Something told her this couldn’t be written off as a simple glitch.
“Could be a potential client,” Steve noted. “All right with you if I stick around?”
That was the beauty of their partnership. Steve saw dollar signs and a possible new contract that would further expand their business. Maddy saw ways to pad her hacker resume. It was a win-win for them both. “Of course. Be back in about ten minutes.”
She tossed her headphones to the desk as she rose. The brief break in the action would let her clear her head, concoct a game plan, and get some much-needed fuel. She made her way to the kitchen to grab a can of tuna for Samoa and a container of soup for herself. Not her preferred dinner, but certainly the easiest and quickest. And according to the note stuck to the cabinet, her only choice. She leaned a hip against the counter and noticed a second note affixed to her refrigerator. A third and a fourth on her coffee pot. All bright little slips of neon-colored paper reminding her she hadn’t been grocery shopping in three weeks.
Restocking her cabinets took time, and now that she’d discovered a weakness, she didn’t have time. With full access to the website, she wanted to exploit the flaw that called to her, as addicting as any drug. Groceries be damned.
If she’d found the way in, so could someone else. She wasn’t about to let some jerk-off swoop in and claim this victory. Not when she’d rightfully done so. Steve wouldn’t want that to happen either.
Some people found pleasure in whips and chains. Madeline Zane got off on skirting the law. Laws were more like guidelines anyway. A line drawn in the sand just begging to be crossed. Maddy hadn’t yet found a single line she hadn’t been willing to leap over.
Samoa had already curled up in her worn office chair by the time she arrived at her desk again. Maddy gently nudged the cat away, settling down in front of her setup. Samoa strutted across her desk, leaving another line of tracks through the dust before settling in one corner. The cat’s lemon-yellow eyes flashed, clearly annoyed plans for a nap in the comfort of the chair had been interrupted.
Pissing off her cat was the least of Maddy’s concern. As she settled her headphones into place, she saw Steve was still logged in. She’d hope he hadn’t been able to get out of the meeting he’d mentioned earlier, but it didn’t appear so. “Find anything?”
“Despite the ease we got in with, everything looks well organized,” he offered.
“At least something around here is done right.”
She wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Just a place where she could settle down for a bit and innocently interact with legal, paying members of the site. Sure, she’d broken countless federal privacy laws, but she had to entertain herself somehow. If she hadn’t gotten out of San Francisco, her life would have been the typical upper-middle class life her parents had settled into. A brick rancher with a white-picket fence and a pool in the backyard. Days spent shuttling two-point-five kids to karate and ballet lessons. Nights entertaining the neighbors and gossiping about the same thing day after day. Rituals of civilized social interactions where she’d be expected to mask her truest desires. Nothing wrong with that sort of lifestyle, but Maddy had known at a young age she’d been destined for something else.
Shaking off the phantom threads of the life she didn’t want, Maddy focused on the website. While everything looked interesting, she was especially intrigued by the four tiny blue letters in the top right of the window.
“Hey, Steve, you see the beta-testing section?”
“Logging in now.”
She followed without hesitation. User-level testing meant that section wasn’t fully functional yet, but the developer welcomed feedback from users. It also meant glitches that were prime for exploitation. Bugs that could be manipulated, as Steve would say.
Though the graphically intense section took a few minutes to load, the speed still surprised her. “Someone spent a lot of time constructing this. Reminds me a little of SimLife.”
Steve laughed. “You know, it does.”
SimLife was a quirky computer game she’d played as a teen where she’d spent hours meticulously developing a computer-generated character. The game hadn’t kept her attention long, as the personality parameters she’d given the character had caused it to set fire to the house in a fit of paranoia and perish.
A towering building that resembled a fortress stood off to her left. Thanks to a quick round of Google-fu that displayed images of the actual building, she knew it was the BDSM club in virtual glory.
Thick, lush forest surrounded the building, the summer-green leaves blowing gently in a computer-generated breeze. It was a nice effect that added a layer of authenticity to the world.
“Guess we’ll see just how close it truly is. Let me whip something up for us.” The controls were easy enough to quickly figure out. She put together a character truly fitting of the handle Trixy Malone. Red flowing locks. Big boobs. Shapely legs that went on for miles. After a few adjustments—and the addition of a low-cut, tight fitting outfit she would have never selected in real life—she saved the character. Steve’s wolf whistle confirmed she’d chosen wisely.
She dropped her newly minted avatar in the center of a pixelated cobblestone street. She used the arrow keys on her keyboard to steer toward a signpost at an intersection. Three arrows directed the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. To her left was the club. To her right, a city center bustling with activity.
“Interesting,” she said, tapping her fingers again the desk again. “Wasn’t expecting there to be anything beyond the club in here.”
“How about we split up?” Steve offered, “You can check out the town and I’ll take a look at club.”
Maddy glanced through the coding before asking, “Can we do that?”
“You’re not the only one with skills, Zane.” A second later a duplicate of her Trixy avatar appeared on the screen. “Simple enough to drop a loop into the code to trick the program into allowing us two av’s of the same character. Go forth and explore. Let me know what you find.”
She watched Steve guide the dupe of her sim toward the club building before she headed to the right. As she drew closer, she noticed mixed-use buildings that housed a variety of businesses. Strange for a fetish club website. She wandered around for a time, making small talk with the other simulated people through simple chat bubbles. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular in this secondary world, just somewhere to settle into comfortably and put her observation skills to work. Steve hadn’t said anything for a few minutes, so she assumed he was busy exploring the club. Or getting his mind blown.
She approached a pair of sims who were obviously not inhibited by the public setting. The female avatar sat on an ornate park bench, her legs spread. A man kneeled between her thighs, his face buried deep as he worshipped her. Just as Maddy passed, the woman grabbed the man’s head and gave off a high, keening wail according to the little chat bubble that appeared over the sim’s head. Of course simulated public sex would be allowed in an explicit virtual theme park.
When she noticed a yellow blinking light at the corner of her screen, she remembered her old computer game’s need to be fed at regular intervals. “You getting the same notification, Steve?”
“Yeah, I see it. I was just going to ask you about it. Health depletion, maybe?”
“I think so. Give me a second.” She steered her sim to a frozen yogurt cart to purchase a small tub. She clicked “eat” and her sim gobbled up the sweet confection in record time. The yellow dot changed to a red heart, her sim content with her life not hanging in the balance.
“Well, isn’t that clever? Think we’re good to go now.” Easy to see how hours upon hours could be lost inside with members dropping a few cool bills in a short span of time. It was more than just a way to interact sexually with the club and other members. They could also have entire lives. Families. Jobs, for fuck’s sake, as she thought about the sim that had sold her the treat. “Looks like there are two settings. A single payment system for an allotted amount of time and another game mode like this. Either way, someone is going to make a fortune when this program clears beta testing.”
“No shit,” Steve responded.
“How are you making out?”
“This place is unreal, Maddy. Never seen anything like it.”
“Not offending your virgin sensibilities, is it?” She hadn’t thought of it before, but perhaps it would have been better for her to explore the club aspect of the sim instead of Steve.
“Very funny. I’m a grown boy who can handle—holy fucksticks. These two guys are in a wrestling ring doing some seriously impressive MMA moves. This is better than watching Conner MacGregor in the cage…or maybe not.”
“Okay?” Maddy asked, concerned Steve had gotten in over his head.
“Guy just came out of the crowd, grabbed the other guy’s dick and started blowing him. They both took the first guy down. Time for me to move along.”
Maddy giggled at the panic-tinged words from her friend. “Sure you don’t want to switch?”
“No. Things can’t get much worse than that. Let you know if I find anything else worth discussing.”
She wanted to point out Steve was going to probably run into a lot he’d have questions about, but she left him alone for the time being. Instead, she angled toward a theater and decided to go inside to see what kind of moviegoers this place catered to. It wouldn’t be hard to guess, given the atmosphere, but she wondered if the movies would be computer-generated as well. As she slipped through a pair of swinging doors, she found a darkened theater with most of the seats filled.
Up on the oversized screen, the images weren’t simulated as she’d thought. Instead, it appeared to be a live feed from inside the real club. It was an odd mix of life and computer-generated simulator she found fascinating. Surprisingly, the video quality was remarkable. The decor of the room on the screen was impeccable and lush. The theater around her, though truly just an artful arrangement of pixels, had the same attention to detail.
A sign this place wasn’t just some run-of-the-mill porn site managed by a bunch of sweaty, kinky people looking to make some money. This was how these people lived. They breathed bondage and domination.
Small conversations bubbles appeared over the heads of several members. Though they appeared interested in the video playing on the screen, the hot ticket for the night would be a session starring Kochran Duke himself. If the accolades were to be believed, Kochran wasn’t just the owner of the club, but an active participant. The Hardcore King of Noble House had quite a reputation, and a number of fans judging by the chatter taking place among the theater patrons. Evidently, he was the best at what he did. The only person she knew who was that good at what he did was a comic book character, and she seriously doubted Kochran had an adamantium-coated skeleton or looked like Hugh Jackman.
While she didn’t consider herself a prude by any means, that was a lot of naked flesh parading around as entertainment for the audience while they waited for the featured scene to begin. They’d taken a page straight out of Rocky Horror—the avatars on the stage acted out whatever was occurring on the screen. Right down to the orgy. Thighs and shoulders and breasts and butts and cocks all came together in a pile of sinfully decadent human flesh. Loud moans and groans accompanied the sounds of flesh slapping together.
Outside of the sim, her body temperature rose. She was alone in her house, Steve couldn’t see her, but that didn’t stop her cheeks from heating as she watched the people writhing on both screens. She shivered. Goose bumps crawled up her arms, collected at the base of her neck, shot down her spine and punched her in the gut. She’d gone from world-class hacker to wanton sex goddess in two seconds flat.
Now she understood why Noble House was considered one of the premier fetish sites on the internet.