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Samantha Evans is determined to make a name for herself in the cutthroat world of advertising. Newly hired by a prestigious ad agency, she volunteers to work on location in Mexico City as a personal assistant to the beautiful and driven creative director Katrina Edwards. At first the association seems promising. But Ms. Edwards seems preoccupied in a way that makes Samantha increasingly uneasy. In fact, many in the group seem like they are not being completely open about the project including David Ayala, the mysterious and moody photographer for whose attention the two women find themselves competing. After several strange accidents and numerous appearances by an unknown man, Samantha discovers the truth: not everyone on the team is in Mexico to create a stellar advertising pitch. When her sleuthing leads to her abduction, she is brought to the pyramids of Teotihuacán and comes face-to-face with the venomous evil of the South American crime boss known as “The Serpent.” Now Samantha must not only fight for her life, but she must also discover if she can trust the man she’s come to love.
- Pages: 224
- Size: 6 x 9
- Released: 01/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
About the Author
K.C. Grant was born in rural Idaho but has made Utah her home for most of her life. She lives in northern Utah with her family. She lives in northern Utah with family. After serving a full-time, Spanish-speaking mission, she returned to Weber State University, where she received her bachelor of arts with a double major in English and Spanish. She has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and studied briefly at a local college in the state of Michoacan. Over the years, she has been a frequent contributor to several family/home-oriented magazines, such as LDSLiving, Natural Life, The Washington Family, and BackHome and has also written for the Deseret News and KSL. She is an active member of both the League of Utah Writers (where she was a chapter president for three years), LDStorymakers, and the Association for Mormon Letters. To learn more about the author, visit her website at www.kcgrant.com
I stared at the bill in front of me in disbelief. “This is impossible! I’ve
never had a credit card balance this high before!”
The overstuffed chair behind me luckily caught my fall, since I was
still focusing on the offending paper in my hand. It had been a rough
Monday. Roger Mellon, the five-foot-four, one-hundred-sixty-pound,
thirty-five-year-old divorcé with the dubious title of being my manager,
had none-too-subtly made advances at me again as I’d struggled with the
new copy machine. Then I’d had to squeeze into a cramped elevator and
stand next to a man who would have benefited from the deodorant ad I
was working on. The final insult had come when the deli shop messed
up my order and I’d ended up with a turkey on rye instead of the Monte
Cristo sandwich I’d nearly fasted all day for.
And now this.
I double-checked the envelope to make sure I hadn’t received Britney
Spears’s invoice by mistake. Nope. Samantha Evans it read in accusatory
print. But when had I ever shopped at custom boutiques? And unless I’d
spent a recent day at a spa and then blocked it from my memory, someone
had had a day off on me. At least I was familiar with the businesses, some
of them local San Diego hot spots for the rich and pampered, but certainly
nothing that I could indulge in on my wages. One day I might be a
copywriter or even a manager for Phizer-Lewis Advertising, a prestigious
agency I’d been with for almost a year now. At the present time though, I
was still just a lowly grunt paying my dues.
After a quick breath to sustain myself, I muttered out loud, “I can handle
this. I’ll just call the credit card company and tell them my card’s been stolen.”
Just to make sure I had all the facts, I went to retrieve my purse and
looked in an inside pocket where I kept my important cards. Drat. My credit card was still intact along with my work ID, my library card, and a Ben
and Jerry’s buy-one-get-one free coupon. Now I was confused. Reaching
for my cell phone, I punched in the customer service number from the
back of the credit card. After a few moments of elevator serenades and
mastering the “push one for this and two for that” directions of the
monotone hostess, I finally came in contact with a live person who read
verbatim: “Hello and welcome to Bank First USA, where your business is
our first concern. I’m Joanie, and who am I speaking with?”
I told her, along with the indisputable fact that someone had access
to my card number.
“All right,” my server replied in the pleasant, yet detached, way that only
a hired hand can employ. “If you’ll give me your security password.”
“Thank you, Ms. Evans. Now, will you repeat for me what the problem
“Well, I just got my bill, and there are some charges here for . . . almost
a thousand dollars that I know nothing about! I checked my purse and
found my credit card, so somehow they must just have my number. I’ve
bought a few things on the Internet lately,” I explained, “but some of
these unfamiliar charges are for local businesses, so I don’t know what’s
“All right, Ms. Evans,” the representative continued as if she’d just
been told something mundane—like the weather was sunny. “I’ll transfer
you to a supervisor, and he should be able to help you.”
Why didn’t she just do that in the first place? They must get paid
according to how long they’re on the phone “helping” customers. So I
repeated my story to the supervisor, who appeared only a tad more interested
in the situation, as if I’d added to the story that there was a possibility of
showers later this evening.
“Ms. Evans,” he drawled in a tone that leapt from paid employee to
patronizing parent, “thank you for finally notifying us. I have your bill in
front of me and see that some of the charges go back almost two weeks.
Responsibly reporting a stolen card within the first twenty-four hours is
imperative in stopping this type of identity theft, you know.”
I sucked in a quick breath and exhaled before responding evenly,
“But my card hasn’t been stolen. As I said, it’s right here in my purse. I
don’t know what’s going on.”
Was it just my imagination, or did I actually hear him snort?
“Well, give us a few days to research this, and we’ll get back to
you. In the meantime, we’ll put a hold on your credit card until we can
decide if we’re able to reissue you a new one. Was there anything else I
could help you with?” he added.
“No.” I sighed. “I’ll wait for your call.”
Hanging up, I realized that days, maybe weeks could pass before this
was resolved. My frustration neared anger. I’d been a customer of theirs
since high school, and my balance had never reached this amount before.
Weren’t they supposed to have people who monitored this sort of thing?
If a person who usually only had charges from places like Walgreens
and Barnes and Noble in the amount of a few hundred dollars suddenly
started living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, shouldn’t some pencil
pusher over at “Bank First USA, where your business is our first concern”
“Great.” I stood up, looking out the window. “What do I do in the meantime?”
The day had been sunny and, with May on our doorstep, the
temperature along the San Diego county coast had already climbed into
the seventies. I realized how lucky I’d been to find this quaint little upperstory
apartment so close to the beach. Between my roommate Terri’s
income and the remainder of my student loan money, I figured I could
hold on until a promotion came and I finally started seeing a decent
My thoughts snapped back to the problem at hand. What if the
bank called and said they wouldn’t cover the charges? If they found me
responsible for the bill, would I have enough money to fly home in
July for the big 2008 Evans reunion? It almost sounded like they were
thinking of taking my card away permanently. Could they do that?
It then occurred to me that this might be something I should alert
the local authorities to as well. I picked up the phone and started calling,
but the process sent me into déjà vu as they shifted me around to a few
departments before someone could finally help me. I found out that help
meant different things to different people. I told my story again, and I
imagined the female officer humoring me and writing all of it down.
She asked me for some personal information, and then she added, “I
suggest you obtain a credit check monthly for the next three months and
report any changes to the appropriate party. Is there anything else I can
help you with?”
“Uh, I guess not.” I sat there, dismayed. “Is that it?”
“Ms. Evans.” Her tone was weary. “Do you have any idea how many
calls of this nature we get every week? We don’t have the manpower to
investigate every one of them. If any other threats to your identity occur,
you’re welcome to give us a call and we can add it to your record. Naturally,
we’ll forward this on to the DA’s office. But I’m afraid there’s nothing else we
need from you.”
Flipping my cell phone shut, I wrapped my arms around myself,
not feeling the slightest bit reassured. In fact, I felt unsettled, vulnerable.
Violated. What good was law enforcement if they couldn’t enforce the
I turned away from the window and stared at the empty apartment.
With all of that “taken care of,” I was left with only the dilemma of what
to make for dinner before Terri got home. I could offer her the choice of
a now-soggy sandwich or whatever else I could scrape up. We’d used to
take turns making dinner until I realized that Terri’s idea of cooking was
mac and cheese or takeout dumped in a pot. Even after the day I’d had
today, I realized I was in the mood to cook something after all. It would
help take my mind off of things.
As I peered into the darkened corner of a cupboard, I realized that
in spite of all her faults, Terri was an acceptable roommate, even if she
was a little “flower child–ish” for my taste. Even though Terri was older
than me by about five years, she seemed to appreciate my tendency to be
the dependable one. She also never judged me—not that my lifestyle was
worthy of much scrutiny. Terri worked by day in a secondhand clothing
store she co-owned, where she sold apparel that artisans referred to as
“antique clothing.” Then at night she hung out at some of the nearby
clubs. Since she was unable to supply me with a consistent schedule, I
often had leftovers when I decided to cook.
While I stood debating over the stove, the apartment door opened.
It was Terri, actually home and bursting in with her usual joie de vivre.
She was wearing a bright purple peasant dress and unwrapped a yellow
print scarf from around her neck as she said, “Hey, roomie! Cooking
tonight? Great! What are we having?”
Terri’s thoughts revolved around two things, men and food. Probably
in that order.
I answered from the kitchen area a few feet away, “Well, there’s a soggy
turkey on rye or,” inspiration dawned on me as I continued to look at the shelf, “pasta with Alfredo sauce, garlic bread, and a slightly wilted garden
salad, all made to order.”
“With mozzarella melted on the garlic bread and lots of fattening
ranch dressing?” she anxiously questioned.
“Of course.” I tried to eat my bread minus the cheese and salad with
dressing on the side, but sometimes my love for food got the better of
me. Terri had a consistently healthy appetite, which she naturally carried
around with her, along with a few extra pounds. But nobody seemed to
notice the pounds because of her carefree attitude and positive spirit. The
fact that she had hair that bordered on red and curled into untamable
tresses halfway down her back was also good for distraction. Terri was
anything but average . . . inside and out.
“Dibs on the pasta,” Terri pronounced as she flopped into a chair,
holding the back of her hand to her brow. “Aye, and what a day I’ve had
I stifled a chuckle. Terri thought she was Barbra Streisand and Bette
Midler reincarnated into one person, and it didn’t help to mention that
they were both still alive. To hear her sing would almost convince anyone
that she was right. I couldn’t help but smile when she lapsed into her
Yiddish dialect when she was in the mood for drama, which was often.
“I’m all ferclumped because Javier hasn’t called me for three days!”
she lamented, hands flinging about. “I shoulda known betta than to get
involved with an artiste! He’s dumped me. I just know it. I shouldn’t
have given in so easily. My grandmother always said, ‘Why buy the cow
when you can get the milk for free?’ But with a man like that and those
hands when he plays the drums, oy gevalt! I’m all undone!”
I knew what was coming next.
“One of these days, Sam, you’ll know what I mean.”
I let Terri get away with calling me Sam because she considered me
a friend, even though I thought it verbally drained me of any feminine
aura I was trying to maintain in this age of equality. I also usually let her
get away with a few unwelcome comments like that because . . . well,
Unfortunately my roommate only vaguely understood the whole concept
of morality, which was why we really didn’t socialize together that much.
Once, I’d broken down and went to a club with her after she said they had
some incredible Tango dancers from Argentina doing an exhibition. What
a mistake! Even though the atmosphere and performance had been full of Spanish flair, the dancing had been far from BYU ballroom standards, and
it had only taken a few moments with the alcohol flowing freely before
someone had tried to hit on me. Suddenly, an unexpected drink had
shown up in front of me—most likely as a token payment for a good time
ahead. I had smiled politely and refused, but I could see by the look on the
waitress’s face that she was thinking the same thing I was: “What’s a girl
like that doing in a place like this if she’s not looking for a good time?”
It was a different world.
At times like that I was glad for my religious foundation. I attended
the local ward, where I was a Relief Society teacher. Bishop Fosse and his
wife were great. They were an older couple with children in the process
of marriages and missions—a description that fit the majority of the
attendees. That didn’t mean the ward was completely devoid of young
male influence because we did have the neighboring UC San Diego
students attending. There were a few guys who I went out with now and
then, but I avoided any serious entanglements. Strangely enough, with
my sincere thanks whenever I was around Terri’s friends, Terri treated
the topic of religion and my conservative lifestyle with a certain respect.
In fact, I almost wondered if Terri did have a little more respect and
curiosity for my religion than she cared to show.
I thought about trying the old “golden question” routine from my
mission days on my friend but knew I wouldn’t get far with the effort.
I’d heard the sentiment stated before: “Thanks, I’ve got things pretty
much under control. I believe in God and think He wants us all to be
good people. I don’t hurt anyone, and I like who I am. What more could
Not everyone was ready. I would just bide my time until it felt right.
Of course, I was good at waiting for the perfect moment. The only
problem was I had the sneaking suspicion that sometimes those perfect
moments passed me by without my even knowing it.
by Customer - reviewed on January 17, 2012
This was a very exciting read. The suspense built and built and I was left wondering who the main character could trust and what I would have done in those circumstances. Plus I loved the details about Mexico and it made me want to visit this beautiful country.
A different type of suspense / mystery—in a good way.
by Jason - reviewed on February 18, 2012
“Venom” by K. C. Grant is a different type of suspense / mystery—in a good way. I think the term “slow burn” is a good way to describe the feel of the book, but that doesn’t mean it was boring. For me, a “slow burn” takes time to build up the suspense, like a pot of boiling water. And just like said pot, once the water does get to a full boil, it is quite turbulent. So, if it takes its time to develop, then what happens in the meantime? Grant uses this to develop her characters so when the spam hits the fan, you honestly care about what happens. The story centers around Samantha Evans, a woman in her mid-twenties who is working at an entry level position at a big advertising firm. She seems to be going nowhere fast, until opportunity knocks. The company is sending a team to Mexico City to work on a campaign. Samantha speaks Spanish fluently thanks to an LDS mission she served to California. Because of her knowledge of the language, she gets the chance to go with the group as an assistant / translator. Grant does a wonderful job creating the unique and definable characters that go on this trip. As a single woman, Samantha finds herself getting attention from a couple of the men on the trip—one she appreciates and one she doesn’t. But it’s not cut and dried. Just as Samantha starts to figure out these men, they do things that make her doubt their intentions. During the two week trip, Samantha comes to realize the people aren’t who they pretend to be—each for their own reasons. She discovers she is involved in much more than an advertising campaign. One aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the insight to Mexico and its culture. We learn it through Samantha’s eyes, so we discover things as she does. It adds a level of depth that many books lack. Did I enjoy this book? Yes, yes I did. Very much so, in fact. It’s written very well with enough detail to be interesting, but not bogged down. I came to like, or despise, the characters over time—I made a real connection with them. For me, this is more of a character story set in a mystery / suspense setting. Who would like this book? It’s a clean read with no bad language, sex scenes and very little violence. It’s geared more to an LDS (Mormon) audience as there are many references that non-members may not fully understand or appreciate.