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The Dom with the Dragon Tattoo

By:Jan Bowles

Chapter One

“May I take your bag, sir?”

“That won’t be necessary, thanks.”

Tyler Stone followed the gently swaying butt and billowing chestnut curls of the attractive young woman. It pleased him that the Corinthian Hotel employed bellhops of both sexes. He much preferred the female variety, especially as it gave him the opportunity to check out a shapely ass. The five-star hotel in downtown Boston certainly lived up to the hype and had been open less than a year. Expensive Italian marble lined the walls and floors, giving the thoroughly modern building an air of old-world opulence.

He just had time to breathe in her perfume before she stopped abruptly in the corridor. The pretty lady turned and smiled at him, showing her perfect white teeth. “This is your suite, Mr. Stone.” She deftly scanned the security key, and the door obediently clicked open a few inches.

He followed her inside and glanced, uninterested, at the tastefully decorated interior. In his line of work he got to stay in all manner of hotels. Even the high-end ones like the Corinthian were much of a muchness. They left him cold. So exactly what did he get for three thousand bucks a night? Well, he got plenty of room, including a separate living area, and all the latest technology such as Wi-Fi, widescreen TV, and a well-stocked minibar. The usual stuff.

The attractive, chestnut-haired girl waited expectantly as he briefly looked around. “Is everything satisfactory, sir?”

“Hmm, it’s fine. What’s your name, honey?”

“Tracy, sir.”

“You been working here long?”

“A few months, Mr. Stone.”

Tyler glanced at his new surroundings one more time. “Uh-huh. I see.” He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out his wallet. Then, taking out a fifty-dollar bill, he handed it to the girl. “There you go, honey.” He figured she worked for a low wage, and it was worth fifty bucks just to see that beautiful smile of hers.

Her cute mouth formed the perfect O as he pressed the crisp bill into her tiny hand. “Thank you, Mr. Stone, that’s very generous of you. If there’s anything else you need, just let me know.”

“I will, honey. You can count on it.”

Left alone, Tyler tossed his overnight bag on the bed then dragged his fingers through his hair. He’d been working sixteen-hour days for the last six months, and that king-size bed sure looked inviting.

Resisting the urge to rest, he moved to the living area with its luxurious seating and huge flat-screen TV. A suite of rooms might be considered an indulgence, but what the hell, he was here on business, so it was all tax deductible.

Cerberus Technology, the company he’d built from nothing, was known around the globe. Now, thanks to the determination and brilliance of his young team of software specialists, his company supplied the US military with state-of-the-art operating systems. He took pride in the fact that his systems boasted safeguards that made them almost impossible to hack into.

Of course, his competitors and enemies from abroad were constantly upgrading their own systems, systems that could be used to undermine the national security of the United States. He was determined to stay one step ahead of the game, which was why he was here in Boston.

He opened his briefcase and flicked through the file on Rebecca Miles—the reason he’d flown halfway across the US.

With her brilliant mind she could name her price, but so far she’d refused to even speak to him. She was never available by phone, her only response being a curt e-mail letting him know she wasn’t interested in his proposition. He considered Rebecca Miles the best software engineer in the US, possibly even the world, and he’d been trying to get her to join his company for over a year now.

Her photograph was pinned to the front of the file. “Huh.” She didn’t look like a laugh a minute. In fact, the dreary image made her look exactly as he imagined a thirty-three-year-old software designer to look. Unkempt brown hair aggressively pulled back from her face made her look stern and uninviting. Brown eyes without the slightest hint of a smile ever having reached them stared back at him with unmoved detachment. He figured that was why she wore such thick-rimmed glasses. Was she a brilliant intellectual? Undoubtedly. Was she also a sad geek? He didn’t know for sure, but he guessed she probably was. Whatever, Rebecca Miles was obviously a woman who was far more interested in her work than she was in her appearance.

Tyler shrugged. What did that matter to him? He was only interested in her genius. Reliable sources informed him that she was in the process of developing a revolutionary form of password protection, something that could dramatically transform his future business. There was no doubt in his mind that Rebecca Miles would be a major asset to Cerberus Technology.