It’s true! On April 12th, Project Renovatio will be a real, readable book, but you can pre-order the ebook for $0.99 starting NOW if you follow this link. The price goes up on release day!
That’s fun by itself, but I thought we’d up the action with a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. You don’t have to pre-order to enter (I mean it would be nice, but I can’t make you, because rules). To enter, send me a message via the Contact Me page OR my Facebook page. Say whatever you want. I just need your name. On release day, I’ll put the name of each entrant on a list and randomly draw the winner.
Small side note – only US residents are eligible for the drawing – again, because rules. Blah.
Bringing the book to this point has been a long road of thrills and hopes and some heartache. I’m absolutely thrilled that I can now share it with you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
I’m sure you want to know what it’s about, so scroll down to read the description and first chapter, and I’ll see you at the bottom.
Levin Davis has it made. At 20, he’s a college graduate with a dream job, a beautiful girlfriend, and a life that can only get better – until he receives a mysterious letter suggesting his long-dead father is alive and hiding an extraordinary secret.
Distraught, Levin meets the letter’s author, who could pass for his twin. The stranger claims to be part of a genetically engineered race designed to survive global catastrophes and rebuild society, and he insists Levin and his sisters are as well.
Despite his disbelief, Levin uncovers not only the bizarre truth of his existence but also Project Renovatio’s ominous purpose – to secure genetic superiority, the new race must live according to harsh demands or risk severe penalties inflicted on their loved ones. If Levin hopes to protect his family and live a free life, he must escape Project Renovatio – or rise above himself to fight them.
Levin looked away from his computer screen and back to the torn-open envelope on his desk. At first, he’d kept it in a drawer, but he opened the drawer repeatedly to ensure the envelope was still there. He moved it to his desk top for more convenient visual confirmation of its presence.
How could a few papers completely disrupt his focus?
After three more glances, he quit trying to get any additional work done. He removed the papers from the envelope, put them in his wallet, and threw the envelope in the trash. As he shut down his computer, his cell phone pinged.
Rana’s name lit the screen, as if she knew he needed to talk to her. The papers in his wallet could change both of their lives.
Rana and her mother wandered through the bright gymnasium among a few hundred other people. Dozens of foldable cardboard displays rested on cafeteria tables arranged in neat rows throughout the space.
They found her sister stationed under a basketball hoop. Standing adjacent to her poster board, Dayla proudly explained her study on length of memory. She’d compared the number of digits different groups of people memorized, an advanced study for a fourth grader. Most of the other kids completed projects on volcanos or tested the theory that plants die when watered with mouthwash.
As they moved towards Dayla’s display, stopping along the way to see some of the more interesting projects, Rana’s mother typed messages on her phone. She brought her hand to her forehead after a ping. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“What?” Rana peered at the phone but couldn’t read the message.
“I arranged for someone to cover me on this trip. She didn’t show. We have no representation at the conference.”
“What does that mean? Do you have to leave again?” Her mother had returned from a two-week trip last week, and she usually had long breaks between work assignments.
She wiggled her thumbs over the screen. “I’m not sure. We’re trying to land a big project and networking is important. Let me make a call.” She stepped towards the wall as she pressed her phone to her ear.
Listening to the beginning of the conversation, Rana brushed her dark hair from in front of her eyes and scanned the many faces in the room. Her friend was supposed to meet her.
“Rana, over here!” Jacey waved from the open exterior door. Her short, blonde hair shone in the sunlight spilling inside.
“Hey, Jace. How’s Brayden’s project going? I haven’t seen his yet.”
“Ugh. He insisted on stuffing Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke. Like a thousand other kids haven’t already done that.”
Rana squinted. “Didn’t you do that for your fourth grade project?”
“Exactly. Would it kill him to be original? He only had six years to think of a new idea. Too bad he waited until last week to start it.”
Rana laughed. “Dayla’s worked on hers since January.”
Jacey headed for the display on the end of the first row. “Yeah, but you guys aren’t normal. I bet she didn’t copy your idea, either.”
“No, not even close.”
The friends wandered through the sea of friendly chatter, studying the projects and asking questions of their creators. Dayla spoke enthusiastically about her project, talking with her hands and arms and nearly hitting Rana in the face.
Her mother found Rana and Jacey next to a project on bug traps. “I need to go to that conference. Not getting that account means layoffs.” She pursed her lips.
Rana picked at her nails. “It’s okay.”
“Jacey’s mom will give you a ride home. Love you.” She kissed each of her daughters and headed for the exit.
Jacey scrunched her nose. “That stinks. Wanna come over for dinner?”
Rana tapped her fingers against her leg. “No. I’ll text Levin to come get us. He’ll want to take Dayla out to celebrate her project anyway.”
An hour later, Rana and Dayla climbed into their brother’s Corolla and headed into town. Dayla beamed. They hardly ever got to eat out.
Levin drove to the 50’s style diner Dayla chose. Oldies music mixed with loud conversations and banging dishes filled the place, and the smell of old vegetable oil permeated the air, but Rana didn’t complain. Over dinner, Dayla told Levin about the science fair projects, and Rana filled him in on her latest debate team assignment. While the girls did all the talking, Levin sat quietly and tore a straw wrapper into microscopic pieces.
Rana leaned forward and stared at him until his eyes connected with hers. “Something wrong?”
Levin set down the wrapper, pursed his lips, and peered to the far end of the restaurant. “Dayla, why don’t you go play that video game?”
Her face lit up.
He pulled quarters from his pocket, handed them to her, and pointed towards the game. She bounded off.
With the two of them remaining, Rana folded her arms on the table and listened to Rock Around the Clock while she waited for him to talk.
Levin retrieved his wallet from his pocket, pulled papers from it, and unfolded them. “I got a weird letter in the mail today. From a guy my age who lives in San Diego. He also sent this.”
He held the papers and slid a small photograph across the table.
She picked it up. “He sent you a picture of you?”
She analyzed the picture for a few seconds before spotting what he meant–the subject’s nose was too thin. The man’s other features–black, wavy hair, dark eyes, olive skin, and medium build–appeared identical to her brother’s. “Who is this?”
“His name is Scott. His dad’s a reputable scientist who only has a couple more weeks to live. Scott said he went through some paperwork, and he stumbled onto evidence that his dad has a secret, well, ‘other’ family.”
Rana still held the picture but glared at her brother. “What did he find?” And what does this have to do with us?
“Old bills, a couple letters, and this.” He handed her a paper displaying a color copy of a photograph. “Those kids are me and you. The man is Scott’s dad. I was five, and you were one.” He leaned towards her. “I think this guy is our dad.”
Scowling, Rana studied the man in the picture, who sported dark hair like hers and Levin’s. She shook her head. “Our dad died before I was born.”
“According to Mom”
“Why would she lie about that?”
“Maybe there was something about him she wanted to keep hidden–like a secret family. I tried to find information about him on the internet and came up empty.”
Rana huffed. “I can’t believe Mom would hide something this huge from us, especially for so long.”
“She does go on a lot of business trips.”
“Well, consultants do that.” Since her promotion, their mother left town for work assignments with increasing frequency, leaving them in the care of their stepdad, Walt. Before tonight, Rana had no reason to suspect her mother did anything other than what she’d told them. She’d even brought them souvenirs a few times–cheap goodies that vendors handed out at conferences. Rana kept a keychain flashlight bearing the name of a security company next to her bed. If her mother had a secret relationship, she’d gone to great lengths to hide it.
Unable to stomach the idea of her mother leaving them for days or weeks at a time to have an affair, Rana changed the subject. “How’d this guy find you?”
“He used a combination of the old paperwork and the internet. Mom’s name occasionally appeared, and she wrote our names in some of the letters. He must have Googled my name and landed on my company’s website. He probably included his own picture when he saw mine on the staff page.” Levin sipped his soda. “It’s not every day you get mail from your doppelganger.”
She tapped the table with the edge of the photograph. “So what do we do with this?”
“What do you think about flying to San Diego to check it out?”
She stopped tapping. “Have you talked to Mom?”
“No. I want to see for myself first. You should come with me.”
“Are you crazy? I have school. I have a debate tournament next weekend. And what about Dayla?”
“What about her?”
“Well, this obviously doesn’t involve her. She’s Walt’s daughter. And she would hate it if we went on a trip and left her behind.”
“What if she isn’t Walt’s daughter?”
Rana tilted her head and held up the picture. “She looks nothing like this guy.”
“She doesn’t really look like Walt, either.”
“How many secret families do you think Mom has?”
“I’m just saying. If this checks out,” he pointed to the photograph, “Dayla might have a secret father, too.”
Rana stared at the picture and fidgeted with her black curly hair, which greatly contrasted with Dayla’s straight, reddish-brown locks. Dayla’s striking green eyes, thin physique, and freckles further differentiated her appearance from those of her siblings. Until now, Rana assumed Dayla inherited her looks from Walt’s side of the family. But Levin was right. Aside from her height, Dayla didn’t resemble Walt or the relatives they’d met at reunions. If Levin’s theory was correct, their father was dying in California, and Dayla’s could be out there somewhere.
Before Rana could further consider their parentage, Dayla plopped next to her in the booth. “I ran out of quarters.”
Rana passed the picture to Levin and faced her sister. “Levin’s taking a trip to California, and he asked me to join him.”
Dayla smiled. “Really? Can I come too?”
Levin answered for Rana. “Of course you can.”
Want to read more? Here’s the link to pre-order again, and I thank you sincerely for coming with me on this journey.
Oh, and don’t forget to enter the drawing! 🙂