To my loyal readers and future readers, I am providing you with the first chapter of Dynasty of Deceit for free! Dynasty of Deceit is a mainstream thriller/suspense novel and a different genre than Hollywood Under the Covers, which is an acquired taste and not for everyone. I want to give my loyal readers a chance to “try it before you buy it” offering where you know upfront what to expect. Don’t worry, I have included a little bit of Hollywood in this storyline based on of a true event I was directly involved with, but I will tell you more about it in a future blog. If you have interest in murder and crime cover ups, black ops fixers, endurance athletes, combat training, the psychology of nonverbal behavior, political cleaners, Chandra Levy, Marilyn Monroe, the Shoe Bomber, and the struggle of a young girl trying to make sense of it all, Dynasty of Deceit is for you. Enjoy!
Book Description: Dynasty of Deceit
As a debutante to one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in America, Angelina Holley appears to have it all, but public perception is deceiving. Her young life is full of disheartening tragedies, including her family’s resentment toward her for not being born a male.
When her grandfather is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the twenty-five-year-old is forced to return home from college and prepare to take over the SWIPE (Secretly Wipes Indecent Public Errors) Agency’s leadership position. Angelina is thrust into a male dominated environment where elite soldiers protect their high-profile clients. The clients’ errors are wiped out and altered to shift blame by public perception. She is shocked to discover the black-ops agency is in bed with powerful, government officials and responsible for Marilyn Monroe’s cover up, among other highly publicized, unsolved murders.
Angelina’s rebellious uprising begins when she finds herself in the middle of a disturbing cover up of Chandra Levy’s murder. Her internal struggle to protect the client or give the victim’s family justice triggers a downward spiral of deception. As the sole heir to the Holley Dynasty, manipulation threatens to strip Angelina of her birthright, and in the process, her innocence is lost in a twisted web of murder and deceit. With the help of an unlikely ally, she is empowered to fight back by using her natural ability as a truth wizard and hardcore combat training to disassemble, restructure, and rebuild her world before it’s too late.
The following is an excerpt from Dynasty of Deceit by Brandie Knight. Note: The book layout is not the same as the original.
APRIL 2001: PRESENT DAY
The manifestation of danger jolted Angelina Holley from a deep slumber into the darkness of her sanctuary. Sticky duct tape stretched over her mouth and circled around her cranium with a thunderous screech. Strands of hair pulled in a relentless weight of tension from the industrial adhesive, triggering a sensation of little needles puncturing her scalp. Her breathing amplified. Airborne molecules of synthetic resin invaded her nostrils and lingered in the nasal cavity. As she struggled to break free, a thick cable tie dug into her wrists shackled behind her back.
Before Angelina departed for college, her combat trainer warned the heiress to the dangers of living outside the family’s protection. By being born into one of the wealthiest families in America, she was a target for hostile behavior. The Holley’s wealth, power, and influence rivaled the Rockefeller’s with an old money status.
Her grandfather insisted on security precautions to protect Angelina living beyond the walls of the Holley compound. A high-tech security system protected her off-campus home. The live surveillance streamed into the SWIPE Agency on the East Coast. A new identity and background story gave her added layers of protection. Angelina’s combat trainer cautioned her to stay in character for her safety.
The intruder was a professional who could override the security system. Angelina did not stand a chance at being rescued. She had to rely on her own abilities with hope of escaping the terror.
Various tactical scenarios raced through Angelina’s mind for using her strong legs as a defense mechanism. Her foot catapulted a solid kick from the wall toward the large, dark figure.
A profound grunt emerged from the man as he struggled to place a dark hood over her head.
Angelina’s body swung around with both legs against her chest in a fetal position. With a forceful kick of both feet, she contacted his groin.
An agonizing moan arose as he fell backwards with a loud thump. The wooden shelves crashed with books tumbling to the floor.
Angelina rolled off the bed with a bounce to her feet. She maneuvered through the house by memory recall to the kitchen. Angelina leaned against the wall, her fingers fumbled around for the broom. Her hands clasped the wooden stick from behind and flipped it horizontal with the tile floor. She knelt on her knees to create a tripwire near the bottom of the doorway. Deep breaths controlled her fear. She remained immobile and listened for the trespasser.
His heavy steps grew louder and louder.
Her grip tightened around the stick.
The trespasser entered the kitchen, tripped on the broom handle, and knocked it from Angelina’s hands. A breeze of masculine perspiration swept past her with his large body plummeting toward the ground. When his chest hit the floor, a blast of forced air emerged from his lungs.
Angelina felt around in a sweeping motion to locate the broom. She scrambled to position the wooden handle downward with limited movement of her hands. Her weight thrust into an underhanded wrestling move with a forceful jump and jab to his back.
An irritated growl erupted from the intruder.
She hurried to exit the house into the backyard. As Angelina managed to get outside, the guy pulled the handle from her grasp. She landed a side kick to the wooden door, hoping to hit him and slow his progression. The windowpanes shattered on impact and glass rained upon the concrete porch.
Angelina dashed around the side of the house and through the front yard without sight from the dark hood. Her arms tried to extend in front of her body, but the hard plastic dug into her wrists. The industrial tape smothered her cry for help.
Heavy footsteps approached from behind her.
She ran faster and collided into the hood of a car. Pain shot throughout the lower half of her body. The impact sent Angelina backward, falling to the ground.
The aggressor grabbed her with great strength and tossed her over his shoulder. A moment later, he placed Angelina in the trunk of a vehicle.
After a long, nauseous ride, the automobile came to an abrupt halt. Three doors slammed, and footsteps approached the confined area. As the trunk opened, a strong diesel odor loitered in the air. The kidnapper tossed Angelina over his shoulder and transported her up a flight of clanging metal stairs. Once he reached the top, the abductor sat her in a cushioned chair, dragged a seatbelt across her lap, and clicked it into a locked position.
A short time after the ascent into the unknown skies, the hood lifted to her nose, and the tape ripped from her lips.
She released a distressing scream.
“Are you Angelina Holley?” The rustic voice sounded distorted. The man reeked of gunpowder and smelled different than the original captor.
“Are you the granddaughter of multi-billionaire John Holley?”
The guy grabbed Angelina’s throat and applied pressure. “I get off on torturing spoiled rich girls.”
“You are after my roommate, not me.”
“We know you’re twenty-five-year-old Angelina Holley. The sole heiress to the family fortune. You’re a doctorate student at the University of California in San Francisco.”
“I am not Angelina. But, I have a big paper due tomorrow. If you do not mind, can you return me to my bed?”
“Five-feet-eight-inches. Long, blonde hair. Slender build. You fit the description.”
“Seriously? You described ninety percent of the female population on campus. It is California.”
“We have a video message from Hazel Holley. Your grandma sends her love.”
“Please don’t hurt me. Do whatever they ask of you, Angel.”
Angelina’s eyes widened in disbelief. Her stomach plummeted into the depths of a black hole. She was thankful the hood masked her tell-all reaction from the kidnappers.
“We’ll kill her. You need to talk.”
She took a profound breath to calm herself. The unwavering rules of being a Holley raced through her mind. She could not cave under pressure to protect her family. She had to keep a strong mental state and speak with credible confidence. “Are you people deaf and dumb? I am not Angelina.”
“If you don’t spill your guts, I’ll do it for you.” The executioner placed a sharp blade against her throat. “Where is the SWIPE Agency’s headquarters?”
“Dah-what agency?” She pulled away from the knife. “Why are you asking me? Why not Google the location?”
A long silence blanketed the plane’s cabin.
“Last chance. Where is the SWIPE Agency?”
“Is it a modeling agency? Cause Angelina is a knock out.”
A roar of laughter erupted throughout the cabin, and the hood jerked from her skull.
Her eyelids fluttered several times adjusting to the light. Once the lavish interior came into focus, she recognized the black décor accented with twenty-four carat gold.
A soldier hovered over Angelina. Her combat trainer and grandfather’s right-hand man, Cruz, sat behind him with a crooked grin.
Cruz wore camouflage pants with black combat boots. The form-fitting, tan shirt emphasized his muscular chest. The rolled sleeves had the seams cut to accommodate his massive biceps, which had a circumference of her thigh.
Angelina’s blood pressure soared to new heights. “What the hell, Cruz?”
The gold flakes in Angel’s emerald eyes were a predominant sign of fury. “Soldier, remove the cable tie.” She leaned forward in the chair.
Cruz laughed and waved the man from the area.
Angel’s bare feet exhibited a professional pedicure with dark rose polish. Cruz’s eyes moved up the tan skin of her firm legs. Her tiny, pink shorts were made from the highest quality of soft silk. The matching crop-top exposed a flat, defined stomach and covered the bottom curves of her breasts by a small margin. Her nipples seemed eager to say hello by extending outward to salute him. His eyes lingered for a few moments until he felt a sense of guilt. Her long, loose curls were rays of sunshine. Little Angel Holley had developed into a stunning, young lady.
“Your grandfather will be proud you didn’t crack under interrogation.”
“You kidnapped me.” Her nostrils flared more with each breath. “Why?”
“It’s what I do.” Cruz shrugged with a mischievous grin.
“You know, knocking on the front door is good social behavior and quite effective.”
“But not as fun.” Cruz’s deep blue eyes reflected a devious sparkle. “I trained you well. Your combat skills are impressive.” He paused for a moment of revelation. “Angel, an elite soldier status may be in your future after all.”
“I go by Angelina now. And flattery is not going to work. I am annoyed with you.”
Cruz nodded with a smirk and busted out singing a song.
“I have outgrown your singing ploy.”
In the past, Cruz sung to Angel during the heat of an argument where the lyrics reflected the moment. The maneuver guaranteed to make her laugh.
Cruz continued to sing off-key.
Angelina’s lips tightened to sustain a straight face. “Oh, my gosh,” she burst into laughter. “Please stop. My ears are crying.” She teased the thirty-four-year-old soldier.
“I am embarrassed for you.” She blushed. “Please take off the restraints.” Her lashes batted in a flirtatious manner.
Cruz rose from the chair. His six-foot-three-inch, solid physique towered over Angelina. He reached around and clipped the cable tie from her wrists.
Angelina’s heart rate accelerated with Cruz so near.
Paul “Cruz” Primo had the most bewitching features with Mediterranean skin, dark hair, and soulful eyes. His edgy good looks and powerful body reminded her of a blockbuster action hero.
After graduating high school, Paul joined the Navy and earned the elite status of a Navy Seal. An admiral christened him with the nickname Cruz for his ability to cruise past the world’s most safeguarded places without a trace.
Eleven years ago, Angelina’s great-grandfather, King James, recruited the ex-Navy Seal to work for the SWIPE Agency after six years of military service. The timing aligned with the raging hormones of a fourteen-year-old girl, where Cruz consumed her daily thoughts.
The stubborn tape peeled from her hair, leaving behind traces of sticky residue. “Cruz, I have a big paper due tomorrow. Please take me back.”
“Gryphon summoned you,” he said, returning to the cushioned seat.
“Grandfather has the worst timing.”
“I have orders to deliver you to your grandparents by breakfast.”
“Fine. Can you have the jet ready for a return flight afterwards?”
The inner corner of Cruz’s brows drew in and up for a quick five-hundredth of a millisecond as his shoulders slumped.
“What are you concealing from me?”
“Don’t use your human lie detector skills on me. Cause I don’t want to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
Cruz sighed. “It’s a one-way trip with no return flight.”
Angelina processed the information. “I am not returning to school?”
“Movers will pack the house and ship your belongings.”
Angelina unbuckled the seatbelt and stood from the chair. “Why?” She paced around the plane’s cabin among the three soldiers.
“You’re a Holley,” Cruz said in a matter-of-fact tone. “You’re not in charge of your own destiny.”
“Why is this happening now?”
“Gryphon has me under a gag order. The situation is not good.”
Her abdomen churned more violently than an off-balance spin cycle of a washing machine. She eased onto the black leather couch and felt nauseous.
“The circumstances are undesirable. And your family needs you.”
After flying through four time zones, the sky had a hint of colorful light emerging from the horizon.
Within fifteen minutes, Angelina would arrive home for the first time in eight years. The consecutive stay in California was for Angelina’s protection to make her less vulnerable as a target for criminal activity.
Her family’s estate spread across 186,000 acres in an undisclosed area of New York. The thriving land appeared to be a military base with an infirmary, medics, family housing, training facilities, underground bunkers, three helipads, and a private airstrip.
The preferred method of transportation was planes and helicopters. If someone drove to the main area of the estate, the long trip would be excruciating. After reaching the Holley’s property line, an obscure, dirt road led the driver another sixty miles before reaching the hidden compound. Once inside the thirty-foot wall, there were several layers of high-tech security to protect the elite domain. Night vision, surveillance cameras sat on top of camo boxes where extractable AK-semi automatic, Draco guns policed the property. The curvy road stretched ten miles before reaching the watchtower nestled in the trees. The purpose was to turn away unwanted visitors at the enormous wrought iron entry.
Beyond the gates, German Shepherds roamed the grounds. In the past, the bomb dogs and third-party trainers worked with the government on designated missions. Angelina’s grandfather purchased the intelligent animals, who responded to various commands for added protection.
From the sky, the Holley mansion appeared as a cross with north, east, and west wings. The long south wing was the grand entrance and formal part of the manor.
After the jet landed on the airstrip, a soldier appeared in the doorway of the aircraft and handed a bag to Cruz.
“Looksee pajamas is not appropriate attire for breakfast with your grandparents.” Cruz grinned. “Here is an outfit retrieved from your room. I’ll be outside.”
After Angelina changed into a custom-designed sundress and leather studded, Prada sandals, Cruz drove her in the off-road ATV to the north yard nestled between the north wing and west wing of the three-story, rock mansion.
The vast north yard was the training grounds for the agency’s soldiers to maintain fit bodies. Sectional zones spanned across the area for target practice, calisthenics, a short obstacle course, tetherball, balance beams, wood chopping, and unusual exercise equipment such as ropes tied around large boulders. Beyond the forest, running trails and an elite, twenty-five-mile, obstacle course sprawled to the north.
The sun rose and settled into the flamboyant sky. Several dozen soldiers trained with various combat exercises.
Angelina’s grandfather, Gryphon, recruited the soldiers from Special Forces. Once the elite men served time in the military, they became part of the extended family with lifelong commitments to the SWIPE Agency.
After her grandfather completed the leadership event to earn his rightful place as the next leader of the SWIPE Agency, his father, King James, gave John Holley the code name, Gryphon. John was the new king taking over the reins to guard the powerful people of the United States of America. Above all, he was the protector of the Holley legacy. The powerful, majestic Gryphon was known as the king to all creatures and the guardian of the godly. The Gryphon symbolized divine power, and is named after the mighty Griffin embossed in solid gold on the Holley Family Crest.
Two German Shepherds broke away from the pack and charged toward Angelina. “Yogi. Buddy.” She knelt to pet and hug the longtime companions. “I missed you so much.”
Cruz scanned the busy area. “It’s time.”
Angelina rose with a dreadful feeling about the family meeting.
After winding through several long, oversized hallways, Cruz delivered Angelina to the formal dining room where John and Hazel Holley welcomed her home.
The extravagant white and gold room was a pillar of the Holley’s wealth. Angelina adored the large columns, floor, and fifty-seat table constructed from the rarest Calacatta Marble. The elegant, natural stone was mined from an exclusive quarry in Carrara, Italy. The Calacatta Marble, extraordinary in appearance, swirled with thick gold veins.
An exquisite chandelier hung above the seventy-eight-foot table. The intricate gold frame accented the oil lamp along with a hand painted globe and oil tank. Crystal prisms dangled from the frame, capturing reflective images for a warm ambiance.
The historic piece hung in the main parlors of two brothels located in New Orleans, The Chateau Lobrano d’Arlington and The Arlington. The most notorious madam of New Orleans, Josie Arlington, owned both locations, but grew out of the first house. Josie moved the booming business to a four-story mansion with sixteen bedrooms to better serve her distinguished clientele.
In the late eighteen hundreds, Thomas Holley and Josie argued about the mediocre new talent who lacked the skills for a job well done. Josie had a soft spot for Thomas. After extensive negotiations, she sold the treasured chandelier to Thomas with the promise of retaining his future business.
For over 120 years, the brothel chandelier was an intriguing conversation piece within the Holley family.
On the west wall, a soothing waterfall, back-lit with sparkling gold, flowed over diamond gemstones. The unique falls stretched throughout the rectangular room in an artistic presentation.
The east wall held paintings by Van Gogh and Picasso for pampered guests to admire while dining. The two pieces of history were worth ninety-five million dollars and were enclosed in temperature controlled cases. The displays maintained forty-five percent humidity and ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit to prevent fading, mildew, and decomposition to the irreplaceable artwork.
Since Angelina’s thirteenth birthday, her grandparents had legal guardianship over her. “What is the emergency?”
Her grandfather pulled out the chair for his wife. “Hazel has prepared this hardy breakfast. We shall eat while the food is hot.”
John Murray Holley was one of the most powerful men in North America. During the nineteenth century, the family’s wealth evolved from oil leases and real estate investments. The real estate became prime properties leased to commercial tenants. His political and governmental strongholds started with ancestors from the seventeen hundreds when the Holley family established a version of the SWIPE Agency.
Angelina’s grandfather reminded her of a strict military general. He was a tall, white-haired, distinguished gentleman with a number two buzz cut. John sported a mature body that used to be a well-defined combat machine.
“Thank you for preparing breakfast.” Angelina smiled at Hazel.
“Anything for my favorite granddaughter.”
“I am your only grandchild.”
Hazel had a slight nervous shake that placed her short, silver curls in motion. “Yes, my dear.”
Last year, Angelina’s grandparents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. During the marriage, John and Hazel conceived one child, Jimmy Holley. Angelina’s parents, Jimmy and Gina had one child. They wanted a large family to keep the bloodline alive but failed to make the dream a reality.
The grooming period of Angelina’s youth involved etiquette classes and social dance lessons for her introduction as a debutante into high society. On the opposite realm, athletics became a part of Angelina’s routine with gymnastic lessons and combat training. Angelina had to adapt to her environment contingent on the situation.
According to the family, Angelina Holley should have been a boy. There was a high demand for male domination to carry on the Holley name. Since she was the sole heir, her grandfather had Angelina sign a contract on her eighteenth birthday. The terms of the agreement required her to avoid thrill-seeking activities, extreme sports, and any circumstances considered life-threatening. When Angelina marries, the Holley surname would not change to her husband’s last name, and the children born into the marriage would take the Holley name.
The intense pressure overwhelmed Angelina from the family’s high expectations. She often wished for a brother to take on the burden.
After twenty minutes of eating breakfast in silence, Angelina had to speak her mind. “I have an important paper due today that counts as forty-five percent of my final grade.”
Hazel’s face showed signs of sadness.
John cleared his throat. “You are not returning to school. Doctor Rutherford diagnosed me with Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Dementia,” Angelina said in utter shock.
“There is no cure,” Hazel said, lowering her eyes.
“I forget things and experience disorientation.”
Tears dripped from Angelina’s face and splashed onto the breakfast plate.
“I need to pass along vital information to you before the dementia robs me of my memories.”
Angelina stood up from the table and wrapped her arms around him.
“Your great-grandmother deteriorated from the disease. The biggest heartbreak was when she didn’t recognize me. Her own son.”
Angelina’s weeping grew louder.
He pulled away to make eye contact. “I cannot lose my dignity in front of my soldiers.”
“Angelina, you’re very important to our family’s dynasty,” Hazel insisted.
“With your father’s premature passing, you are the heir to the family business.”
“Yes, sir.” Angelina bowed in sorrow.
“I’m blessed to get my affairs in order.”
“Does Cruz know about the disease?” She wiped away the tears.
“Yes, but tell no one.”
“I cannot hear your brain rattle.”
“Yes, sir. I understand.”
John rose from the head of the table. “Angel, walk with me.”
Angelina followed her grandfather into the meticulous garden in the northeast yard. The rainbow of flowers and plants reflected an artistic expression. A variety of floral fragrances lingered in the area and overstimulated her sense of smell.
“Our black op’s agency protects powerful high profilers. SWIPE stands for Secretly Wipes Indecent Public Errors. The error is wiped out and can be altered to shift blame by public perception. We create an illusion for the greater good of the greatest number of people.”
She knew the ethical theory of utilitarianism as a psychology major.
“In the late eighteenth century, Henry Holley III, my great-great-great-grandfather was a part of a secret society. He helped the members gain access into powerful political positions. Throughout the nineteenth century, our grandfathers were fixers of problems for prominent government officials and wealthy families.”
Copyright 2017 Brandie Knight. All Rights Reserved.
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The official release date for Dynasty of Deceit (320 pages) is May 15, 2017. The novel is now available for presale at $4.99 (USD) ebook and $19.95 print on Amazon. There is a match discount available where you purchase the print version and get the ebook for only a $1.99. The link below is for Amazon in the United States. If you are located outside the USA, check your local Amazon site. The print edition will be available by worldwide booksellers as well. Thank you for your continued support. You rock!