Come and Find Me

Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron Read Free Book Online

Book: Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hallie Ephron
are ready to take the plunge, we’ll sit on a beach. Drink a toast. Tell ghost stories and scare each other to death. (Ha Ha!) Build a bonfire and sleep out under the stars.
    Diana could almost smell the wood fire, burned down to smoldering coals. It reminded her of the time that she and Daniel had camped in the Grand Tetons. They’d lain twined together in a double sleeping bag, looking up, the sky so close that Diana had felt as if she could poke Jupiter and run her fingers through the Milky Way.
    That sleeping bag was one of many things that she’d simply left behind after Daniel died, fifteen months, one week, and three days ago—she knew without having to check the calendar. They had been living in a weather-beaten farmhouse and working in a converted railway container tucked into a ramshackle barn. With their nearest neighbor miles away, the greatest danger was getting mistaken for a deer during hunting season. They’d been major players in the hackers’ underground, and Daniel had achieved both the privacy and the notoriety he’d craved.
    To earn the money they needed to support their spartan lifestyle and insatiable lust for the latest technology, they sold copies of Data Sucker, a program Daniel had written that infiltrated computers through the Windows operating system. Always the entrepreneur, Jake had then suggested that Daniel write another software that they called A-Sucker, which protected computers against Data Sucker. Turned out there was an even bigger market for that.
    Diana remembered the day she’d had her epiphany. Daniel had been sitting at his computer, intent on a game he was into, his face aglow with colors radiating off the screen. With the sides of his scalp shaved bare like some shock troop commando, and his worktable mounded with coils of cable, jury-rigged circuit boards, hopped-up laptops, and surveillance equipment, he looked every inch his pseudonym, SOK0S. Sow Chaos.
    “Daniel,” she’d said.
    He was using a headset, but still Diana could hear the apocalyptic drumbeat and gunfire. She waved to snag his attention. When he looked over she mimed taking off the headset. He took it down, letting it rest around his neck.
    “You see this headline?” she asked. “ ‘Death in a Medical Mix-up.’ Charles River Hospital.”
    He rolled his eyes. “All we did was look around and bring down their database,” he said, his gaze returning to his computer screen.
    “We didn’t just bring it down. Listen. ‘Hackers wreak mayhem resulting in the death of at least one patient—’ ”
    “Bogus. That is so not our fault.” Daniel clicked the mouse. His screen lit up and Diana could hear the rat-a-tat of machine-gun fire.
    “We destroyed their databases,” Diana said. “They had to reconstruct medical orders from scratch. Apparently they got one of them wrong.”
    “Not our fault,” Daniel said, his fingers dancing on the keyboard.
    “But it was a foreseeable consequence of something we did.”
    “A lightning strike could have had the same results.” He put the game on pause and turned to face her. “People like that deserve what they get. They stockpile a mountain of private information and then do a lousy job protecting it.”
    “Then once again, mission accomplished,” she said, flashing him two thumbs up. “We’ll get you a banner saying so. And I’m sure the woman who died thanks you too. She was fifty-two years old.”
    “All right already.” Daniel looked longingly back at his screen.
    “Daniel, she wasn’t fragged in some combat sim. She had a name and a family, and they did everything that they thought they were supposed to do”—Diana heard her voice catch, surprised by the rogue emotion that sideswiped her—“but she died anyway, needlessly, meaninglessly, because we thought it would be a great idea to trash their system.”
    He winced. She knew he hated raw emotion. Well, that was just too damned bad.
    “Remember when my mother had cancer? She turned

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