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Breaking Character by Mark T. Conard Book

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Breaking Character by Mark T. Conard Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: Actor Paul Wilkinson is in a world of hurt. The cops are sure he murdered his new girlfriend's abusive ex, and a vicious drug dealer is after him for a batch of stolen narcotics.


Paul sees a chance to escape the heat when he's offered the bizarre role of an eccentric billionaire's long-lost friend. He accepts the part and takes on a new identity, allowing him to hide in plain sight while he searches for the missing drugs and the real killer.


When the trail leads Paul to where he least expects—back to himself—he must risk losing his identity, his freedom, and even his life to end the drama he's been unwittingly cast in. 


Breaking Character by Mark T. Conard Book Read Online Epub - Pdf File Download More Ebooks Every Category Go Ebooks Libaray Online Website.



Breaking Character by Mark T. Conard Book Read Online Chapter One


I told my friend Tony everything. About the gig, about Levy, Kautz, Bradbury, everything. It’s not that I wanted to disregard the terms of the contract. It’s just that Tony and I always talked about anything and everything going on in our lives, so of course I told him all about this weird offer.


“Look at this,” I said, carrying the new suit into his East Village apartment.


The place was a two-bedroom on the third floor of a walkup, an old brownstone on East 6th Street, a block known as Little India. Curry joints, one after the other, lined the street, and the smell of exotic spices always hung in the air. Tony Cogan was an alcoholic and a successful novelist, and he’d bought the property after his second novel hit the New York Times bestseller list. The apartment had high ceilings, parquet floors, matching white leather furniture, and large abstract paintings on the walls. Tony had an elaborate sound system with an actual turntable that was playing an old Police album, Reggatta de Blanc.


His reddish face usually needed a shave, and his wiry black hair had started to recede. He fingered the sleeve of the jacket. “Nice,” he said. He took a sip of the drink he was holding. “You look different with that haircut.”


“She did a good job.”


He went to his bar cart. He mixed himself another drink and poured bourbon neat into a glass and handed it to me.


“All right,” I said. “I’ll have a quick one, and then I need to get going.”


We sat on the sofa.


“Any idea what this’s all about?” he said. “This long-lost friend business?”


I sniffed the whiskey. “My best guess is that it’s some kind of a gag, a joke the guy’s playing on his wife.”


“Maybe. Rich people can be pretty fucking strange.”


“Yeah, the lawyer said a couple of times that Levy is eccentric, and he hinted that the whole setup is a practical joke.”


“There you go.”


“I even wonder if this Levy guy is an actor, or a character somebody’s playing.”


“What do you mean?”


“Maybe the whole arrangement is a theater piece.”


Tony pursed his lips, thinking about it. “I think I’ve heard of the guy.”


He set down his drink and pulled out his smartphone. He did an internet search, pressing buttons on the screen. “Yeah, here he is. Benjamin Levy, one of the Manhattan elite. Made his fortune in diamonds, favors the Democrats, hangs out with senators and movie stars.”


He showed me a picture of Levy in a ball cap climbing into the back of a limo. I glanced at it. “Okay, so he’s real,” I said. “Anyway, I’m not going to worry about any of this stuff. I’m just going to have some fun and make some money.”


Tony drained his glass. “Good for you.”


“It’s potentially a great role, too.”


“What do you mean?”


“I mean, the character, Richard Kautz. He’s damaged goods. He grew up poor, parents were alcoholics, and he got busted for petty crime.”


“Right up your alley.”


“I know, right? The part I love to play—the tough guy with lots of inner conflict. But, not only that, he’s also successful, got rich somehow, so that adds a whole other dimension to him. But beyond that he’s a blank canvas. I can turn him into whatever I want.”


“Do you have something in mind?”


I sat forward on the cushion. “I’m thinking about modeling him on the Victor character in that short story you wrote a couple of months ago.”


Tony laughed. “The guy who killed his dog?”


“Yeah, that doesn’t have to be a part of it. What I like about him is the way he’s generally uncomfortable. Right? He’s coarse on the outside, talks too much and says the wrong thing, offends people without knowing it.”


“Mispronounces words.”


“Right, mispronounces words. He’s insecure, so he’s trying too hard to impress. He speaks beyond what he’s capable of. That was a great way to reveal his character.”


“Thanks.”


“With Richard Kautz, this could be even more interesting, because he’s rich, right? He runs in elite circles, so the people he’s hanging out with are the wealthy and successful. He’s that much more out of place. He feels like an alien.”


Tony shuffled off the sofa and went to the cart to mix another drink. “Sounds like you may have something.”


I watched Tony move across the room. “What is it?” I said.


“What’s what?”


“Something’s on your mind.”


“How the hell do you do that?”


I shrugged. “I know you.”


“Yeah, I guess so.”


“So what is it?”


“Look, don’t get pissed,” he said. “But there’s something I have to tell you.”


I frowned at him. “What is it?”


“I went out with Felicia Plum last night.”


“You did what?”


“Yeah, she started emailing me a week ago. She really likes my books, says she identified with the Phoebe character in the second novel.”


“Yeah, right, moody, highly sexual, smart and talented.”


“Exactly.”


Felicia Plum was a thirty-something singer/songwriter. She was a gorgeous, tattooed brunette who was known for being dark and brainy. She’d had a couple of big hits, songs heavy in religious imagery about failed relationships.


“I’m not pissed,” I said. “I’m jealous as hell.”


“I knew you would be.”


“You going to see her again?”


“Yeah. We’re probably going to get dinner tomorrow or the next night. Look, she’s really cool. Plus, she’s got connections. She knows people in the movie industry. I’ll talk to her, maybe she can help you out somehow.”


The record had stopped playing, so he went over to the entertainment center, drink in hand, and turned it over. The music started again.


I thought about my parents. They’d both been my biggest supporters, especially my mom, and they would’ve loved to see me find some success, but they’d both died years before. “Let’s drink a toast to Mary and Burt,” I said.


Tony looked at me. “Your mom and dad?”


I nodded. “Yeah.”


We raised our glasses.


“There’s not even going to be an audience for this thing with Levy,” I said. “But if there was one, I wish they could’ve been in it.”


We drank. I finished the bourbon in my glass.


“So when’s this performance going to take place?” he said.


“Don’t know yet. I have to set it up with the client, Levy.”


“When are you planning to do that?”


I thought about it for a moment and pulled out my cell phone. “No time like the present,” I said.


I felt my throat go dry as I scrolled through my address book to the number Bradbury gave me for Levy. I punched the button to make the call. I stared at Tony across the room and took a breath.


“Hello?” said a man’s voice, answering.


“Ben?” I said. “Ben Levy, my old friend. You won’t believe who this is.”


 


 


 



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