Word-Slingers – Guest Zee Monodee

Today is a little different. I have another repeat visitor, Zee Monodee. Instead of an interview with her, we get to meet and interact with a couple of the characters from Before the Morning! Let’s get to it, shall we?

Hey people! I’m Zee Monodee, the author of the Corpus Brides romantic suspense/espionage series, and it’s awesome to be here on Tory’s blog, getting to share a part of my world with ye all.
I racked my brains to come up with a topic, and I stumbled upon this document – the very first interview I did with the two protagonists from Book 2 of the Corpus Brides series, Before The Morning.
Read on for my first glimpse into these people’s minds.
A few words with Ash Gilfoy – a London-based paramedic, and the hero of this book.
How do you feel regarding this interview?
So-so. Not too enthusiastic. (Grimaces) Okay, can we get this out of the way already? You asked me to the bloody Ritz, lady, and everyone knows I hate having to wear a tie!
*chuckles* It’ll soon be over, once I get the answers I’m looking for…
(watches the dapper-looking, Josh Holloway lookalike squirm in his seat, and loosen his silk tie  and undo the collar button. What a fine specimen of male perfection… Anyhow, he’s not mine, so… *sigh*)
If you had to choose between Humanity and Nature?
Nature. Unless you betray it, Nature will never betray you first. Humanity… Let’s just say, there’s a lot of twisted shit in what makes up us humans.
Aren’t you being a little too strong here?
(lifts an eyebrow) Ye think?
I have a feeling this one’s gonna be trouble…
Your biggest achievement?
Having made a difference, in the lives I have saved. First as a cop, then as an ambulance worker.
The human foolishness that has most saddened you?
Domestic violence. Any time a man feels it’s within his right and privilege to hit a woman, to hurt her, play mind games with her… Anytime someone feels they are better than others, and thus have free rein to be bullies – that’s something I totally abhorred!
     
Your main quality?
Determination. Grit. Seeing things through once I start them.
The flaw you are most admonished for?
My temper that seems to boil over easily.
That indulgence you’re almost embarrassed to admit to?
I don’t have any indulgence. No time for it. And no need really.
Poor man. By now, I wanna reach out and hug him… but I hear his love interest is a very jealous and dangerous woman.
Happiness in one word?
(Sarcastic laugh) Does happiness really exist? Or is it simply the pursuit of something unrealistic?
Again, he needs a hug. Somebody hug that man, for goodness’ sake!
Something you abhorre?
Like I said above, men who use women as their punching bags or as their pawns in fucked-up mind games. Those pigs don’t have the right to call themselves men!
A fairy and a magic wand – if you had a chance to do it all again?
     
(Long silence) Would I change anything? I don’t know… Maybe I would’ve been there for the people who’ve needed me. Like with Rayne, my best friend when I was growing up. I should’ve convinced her to stay in England, and not get involved with that humanitarian agency that snatched her from all of us the minute she finished school. (Another long pause) And I would’ve made sure my best friend, Matt, and his wife, Karen, did not die, not like that, not through my hand…
Oh my! Ash Gilfoy is a tortured soul… Is there hope for him, a chance of happiness, of solace?
I have a feeling a woman can ease all his troubles, a woman who seems to love him – adore him, really.
But as I get to know her – Rayne Cheltham – I start having doubts, because Rayne is not what she seems…
A few words with Rayne Cheltham – a former clandestine agent (Oh. My God!) from the Corpus agency who is returning to civilian life…
How do you feel regarding this interview?
(Smiles, accentuating her beautiful, Eastern-European delicate features) That depends on the questions you’ll have for me. I already love this setting – is there a more gorgeous locale than The Ritz in London? – so now I’m waiting for what you have in store for me.
She has a smile on her face, but I can’t help but think her features are actually blank, not revealing anything… This woman is spooky, and I better be careful where I tread…
If you had to choose between Humanity and Nature?
Humanity. There’s beauty in the human heart. And humans can always overcome Nature, in most cases. We are what we make ourselves to be.
Your biggest achievement?
It wouldn’t be presumptuous to say that I have a hand in much of the peace you all get to experience in the world today. I’m proud of my service to my agency, to my country, and to the world at large.
(Pauses, eyes taking a faraway look). I might not be too proud of the means I’ve had to use to get to those ends, but it’s the result that matters, right?
The human foolishness that has most saddened you?
Not believing in love…
I wouldn’t have pegged you down as a romantic!
(laughs, a light, tinkling sound like the clink of fine crystal) I have a lot of facets – you’d be surprised at who the real me is really.
Oh, you’ve got me tickled… Who is the real Rayne?
(sad smile, that dies as she speaks) The real Rayne died seventeen years ago… She was a hopeful teenager who saw her one dream snatched from her, and there wasn’t anything she could do about that. Not without hurting the man she had always loved…
Ash?
Yes.
The atmosphere inside the suite’s salon turns heavy and wistful, and I know I need to bring us back on track. So I continue with my questions.
Your main quality?
Perseverance in the face of failure. I am determined to achieve all my aims, by any means necessary, and that’s definitely an asset in my line of work.
The flaw you are most admonished for?
Having my heads in the clouds… though most people don’t realize that I’m not really an airhead with half a brain and who spends her time dreaming about rainbows and butterflies. I tend to forget about people and the way they function, of circumstances. They call that being of a ‘sociopathic’ nature, but even a flaw can be turned into an asset.
Now this girl is giving me serious chilly vibes… Is there anything light at all inside her? Her intensity is borderline creepy…
That indulgence you’re almost embarrassed to admit to?
(laughs again, the same tinkling sound, this time more spontaneous) Ice cream! You can always bet you’ll find ice cream anywhere in the world – it’s a basic food group. Ice cream can make everything better, even for just a moment.
Happiness in one word?
Ash. To be with the one you love, in other words…
Something you abhorre?
Domineering people, and those who think they can swoop in and grab whatever they want from whoever they want, especially without having to pay any price. That attitude totally disgusts me!
A fairy and a magic wand – if you had a chance to do it all again?
     
(Long pause) I’d have told Ash I loved him a long time ago… I wouldn’t have given him up, and I’d have fought for us…
Now, that’s eerie, because Ash said practically the same thing—
He did?
Suddenly, I know I’ve won the upper hand. Rayne is no longer a creepy sociopath sitting in front of me, but a woman with a huge crush who’s just been told the object of her fantasies might feel the same about her. So cute! But I’m gonna make her stew a little…
I’m sorry, Rayne – you’re gonna have to wait for Monday, May 21, on Tory’s blog, to read the answers to his interview! Think you could last until then?
(She gives me a cryptic smile…)
“I’m gonna let you off the hook. This time…” she says with a small smile.
FAN INFO & BIO
Zee Monodee
Stories about love, life, relationships… in a melting-pot of culture
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she’d stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.

From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit ‘on a fence’, whether cultural or societal, in today’s world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is married,mum to a tween son, & stepmum to a teenage lad.

Buy Links:

Before The Morning: An action/adventure, romantic suspense tale on the backdrop of a clandestine espionage agency – come read the story of Rayne, a spy who leaves that life in the name of love, & Ash, the man who changes her world! 



WALKING THE EDGE (Corpus Brides: Book 1): A romantic suspense novel, wherein an amnesiac woman is on the quest for her forgotten memory… Escape from London all the way to Marseille, France, and discover the secrets, deceit, danger, & the powerful love, she uncovers during her search! https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/304/Walking-the-Edge  

Contact Links:

Facebook & Goodreads: Zee Monodee

Twitter: @ZeeMonodee


EXCERPT – Before the Morning

From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd’s Close freehold, Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.

Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.
Get a grip!
She was a professional on an assignment, an elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her agency entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.
Before today, she would’ve said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.
But she wasn’t sure anymore. She’d never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.
Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents’ mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she bid her old life goodbye.
For the first time since that day, she was back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.
Why then, of all times? She was a hair’s breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she was ready to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy’s criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick was that she had to make her target’s death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination that didn’t leave any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing that could lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn’t an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.
In other words, a consummate actress who got to her ends by manipulating people and circumstances. All those years of drama school, at her mother’s insistence when, obviously, she’d be too tall to become a ballerina, came in handy. In fact, her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the drama school’s end of year play had caught the eye of the people who had recruited her into the Corpus. Seventeen years into the agency, fifteen of them as Kali, her operative name, a sociopath with no apparent conscience who followed her orders with diligence. Never had any one of her targets come close to figuring she was an undercover agent. Her track record was flawless—each assignment undertaken with one hundred percent success rate and a marginal body count.
Until today, when she’d almost gotten burned.
Ash had recognized her down there. For a second, she’d thought her cover was blown. Then, she’d taken a deep breath and forced herself to remain in character. Never panic, always stay in control, breathe and gather your wits—the first lesson drilled inside the mind of any secret agent. Pulling on a blank face was one of her fortes, and Ash had bought the act. He thought she was Irina, clueless twenty-year-old from the dirt-poor suburbs of Moscow who didn’t speak any other language but Russian.
She’d had a few close encounters in the past, but never like that. Rayne and Kali had two separate, compartmentalized lives that ran parallel. The two should never have touched, because that would end up making a mess of her. She could keep each persona separate, as long as she could push Rayne to some dark corner of her mind. Her job taxed her, and she walked the tight line of paranoia every single second while undercover.
But if Rayne came to the front during a mission . . . .
Damn it, she wasn’t a rookie agent on her first mission. Cherries, as the CIA called them. Hell, even during her first undercover operation, she’d had no qualms and no trouble achieving her aim.
Why today, when everything was smooth sailing toward a much-desired goal?
She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the windowpane. The glass was warm against her clammy skin.
She was sweating?
That will not do. I have to take control again.
She had to forget about Ash, about Rayne, and focus on being Irina, the one who would bring down a notorious criminal. Her agency and the whole world counted on her to take out the piece of scum. She was their last hope, sent in as the trump card after good cops got killed when trying to bring Nikolai to justice.
Someone knocked on the door, and she pulled away from the window. Damn it, she still had a job to do.
Willing confidence to steel her spine on a deep breath, she turned around. She blinked a few times, called forth tears. She was supposed to be a young wife who’d just been hit by her husband, a man she’d left downstairs at the party with a leggy blonde draped all over his side.
The moisture trickled onto her cheek, and she swiped her eyes to smear the kohl and mascara.
There—she should present the desired picture of despair.
Da?” she answered as she stepped toward the door.
The panel opened quietly. “Zdrastuyte, Gaspazha Grigorievskaya.”
Hello, Mrs. Grigorievskaya. Such formality. Only one man addressed her with such deference and respect—Boris Petrov, Nikolai’s right-hand man.
Zdrastuyte, Boris Ivanovich.” She replied him with the same formal greeting, using his patronymic name to further show her respect, as was customary in the Russian culture.
Boris was the least disposable target in the whole operation—the keystone. She had to bring him down, or at least create a rift between the two men. Everything would crumble afterward. Nikolai wouldn’t have his main pillar of support, and would thus crash down through the pyramidal structure of his operations.
“Are you okay?” he asked as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.
She shrugged, forced a small, tremulous smile. Russian wives, she’d learned, tolerated a lot of their husbands’ outbursts. “It’s nothing.”
“You shouldn’t listen to what Mikhail said. He is just jealous that Kolya’s attention is not wholly directed onto him any longer.”
“It does not bother me,” she said in a small voice.
Make a move, she silently urged him. For her plan to work, Boris had to capitalize on the simmering embers of passion that flared between him and his boss’ wife, and that he denied all the time. She’d already lost too much time, and had to start the measles process.
I have to take matters in my hands. There’s no other way.
She trained her eyes on him. Boris was a big, burly man in his mid-forties. Anyone could imagine him knocking out a person with just a flick of his thick wrist. Toying with him was like playing with fire—she could get burnt. But she had no other choice. The time had come. Five months to gain Nikolai’s trust and compliance; two months to insidiously plant the seeds of discord within the criminal’s entourage. She didn’t have much leeway to work at influencing outcomes anymore. No—she had to provoke.
Rayne inhaled, felt the oxygen fill her lungs and clear her brain. She forced herself into her character. What would Irina do?
She gasped, and brought her hands to cover her mouth. With rapid steps, she rushed to Boris’ side. She reached out with one hand and trailed the tips of her fingers along one of his eyes, swollen nearly shut from a blow.
“You shouldn’t have,” she said in a soft whisper, letting tears streak down her cheeks. “Not for me.”
Boris’ swift intake of air was the only sound that hissed between them. He closed his eyes under her touch.
Do it, she urged.
“I am so”—she paused and sobbed—”so sorry.” Her voice was small and breathless, heavy with sadness.
Boris settled a heavy, meaty palm on her hand, to keep her fingers unfurled on his cheek. “Forgive me, Irina. I couldn’t let him say those ugly lies about you.”
He is caving.
“Boris, please.” She pleaded with him.
“I will do anything for you.”
“I am a married woman.”
“Why don’t you leave him?”
She gasped. “I cannot. I pledged myself to him.”
“But look how he treats you!”
“Borya,” she said, using the nickname for Boris, “back in Russia, for every one like me, there are ten other girls, more beautiful, waiting to take my place.”
“There isn’t any woman more beautiful than you in all of Russia.”
She smiled, making sure she displayed sadness and resolution on her features.
“You are such a sweet man.” When he wasn’t forcing underage girls into the cargo holds of boats docking out of most major European ports, plying them with drugs before supplying them like meat to brothels and sex perverts.
“Leave him,” Boris said, the words a subtle urge.
“I can’t. Where would I go?” She gently tugged her hand from under his and took a step closer to him. “I can’t go back to that life, Borya.”
“Irina, please—”
The sound of the door opening startled them. Nikolai stood on the threshold, his tall, dark form an intimidating silhouette in the dim doorway.
Kali threw one look at Boris, shook her head softly, and took a few steps away. The back of her knees hit the edge of the window seat. She stumbled backward into a sitting position on the upholstered ledge.
Nikolai’s narrowed gaze went from Boris to her, and back to his right-hand man.
“Leave us,” he said softly, the words obviously an order.
Boris nodded and exited the room.
Good—she’d sown the seeds of doubt. Her “husband” would wonder what went on between her and Boris, and Boris would try to get closer to her. She would play on this nearness between them, subtly make people wonder if something was happening behind Nikolai’s back.
At that point, she would move her final chess piece—Nikolai would die at the same time as Boris. For the world, things would look like an altercation gone wrong between a spurned husband and a forbidden lover, with her caught in the crossfire. That’s how she’d ensure her exit from the operation.
Yes, all the pieces of the game were falling into place. She just had to play along.
Nikolai closed the door behind Boris, the click of the latch falling into place sounding louder than it should have.
He turned toward her, pressed his shoulder against the doorframe, and pushed his hands into the pockets of his Gieves and Hawkes champagne-coloured, tailor-made linen trousers.
Her “husband” focused his steely grey eyes on her.
The stare burned into her skull. Still, she refused to look up. Not yet.
And there you have it, guys and gals. Zee Monodee! Hope you enjoyed this repeat visitor. I always love having her.

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