Donovan Nash has a secret he ll do anything to keep. But he s the prime suspect after someone steals a fifty million dollar executive jet, and FBI agent Veronica Montero put him squarely in the crosshairs. As she digs, she discovers Nash s secret a revelation that, if made public, would stun the world. Operating on her own agenda, Montero blackmails Nash into helping her hunt down a man she wants dead.
Powerless against the information Montero holds, Nash is forced into a situation far deadlier than either of them could ever have imagined. The man they are after isn t the criminal they expect, he s a terrorist with a plan to use the stolen jet to carry out an unthinkable and devastating act that could plunge America into the most heinous conflict since World War II.
When Nash and Montero are taken prisoner aboard the stolen jet, they will have only one opportunity to execute a daring midair attempt to stop the attack. Success could cost them their own lives, but failure could cost millions of innocent lives.
About the Author
Philip Donlay learned to fly at age seventeen and was first published at eighteen. In the aviation world, success came quickly and he's been flying jets since he was twenty years old. Whether flying a Saudi sheik, nighttime freight, or executives of a Fortune 500 company, Donlay has logged over six million miles while spanning the globe. Donlay burst onto the literary scene in 2004 with the publication of his first novel, Category Five , followed by Code Black , Zero Separation , Deadly Echoes , Aftershock and Pegasus Down . He is an avid fly fisherman and divides his time between Montana and the Pacific Northwest.
Read an Excerpt
By Philip Donlay
Oceanview PublishingCopyright © 2013 Philip Donlay
All rights reserved.
Six months later
"I don't like this," Michael Ross said from the pilot's seat. "We need to do something else."
A flash of lightning briefly lit up the darkened cockpit, and Donovan Nash saw the concern on Michael's face. Dead ahead, rapidly building thunderstorms boiled across the horizon, staccato bursts of cloud-to-ground lightning peppering the earth. Before he could agree with Michael, the Gulfstream sank abruptly.
"Hang on!" Michael shouted the warning as he shoved both throttles all the way to the stops. The Rolls-Royce engines spooled up, their distinctive high-pitched whine filled the cockpit, and the airplane strained against the unseen river of air. Turbulence slammed into the airplane and tossed them up and down in the violent night sky. For a split second Donovan felt the air in the cockpit turn supercharged, the hair on his arms buzzed a brief warning, and then it seemed that a flashbulb went off a foot in front of his face. Blinded, Donovan fought the spots that danced before his eyes and felt the sizzle of adrenaline hit his system. His ears popped from the pressure change. A moment later, he heard the deafening roar of thunder.
Michael banked the Gulfstream hard to the left. "We're out of here. I'm breaking it off to the south! Tell the tower we just took a lightning strike!"
Donovan blinked savagely to clear his vision while the distinct smell of ozone filled the cockpit. Heavy rain pelted the windscreen.
"What's flashing?" Michael asked. "How bad did we get hit?"
"We lost the right generator." Donovan took a quick look at the overhead panel as well as the circuit breaker panel. Cloud-to-cloud discharges bolted across the horizon. The orange-purple glow expanded as it danced upward toward the stratosphere. Tendrils of white-hot lightning arced from the maelstrom and peppered the ground below. The entire western sky lit up with so many individual bursts of lightning that it looked like a solid wall.
"I'm thinking we should break out of this any second." Michael called out as another blistering display of lightning lit up the sky around them.
Donovan found he was holding his breath, mostly out of wonder, but also some trepidation. He'd seen the weather charts before they'd left Washington D.C. A fast-moving front was sweeping down from the northwest, and now it was creating an unyielding line of severe weather marching southward across Florida.
It was just the two of them on this leg. The Spirit of da Vinci, one of Eco-Watch's, sixty-million-dollar special-purpose airborne scientific platforms, needed to be in West Palm Beach to begin a series of proving runs for a new camera system. Underneath all the added equipment, the da Vinci was essentially a Gulfstream IV corporate jet — minus all the aesthetics. In the rear cabin, among the racks of electronic gear, were modular science stations. The most recently installed was a state-of-the-art, high-resolution imaging system that was slated to begin official flight testing the next morning.
"This is getting uglier by the minute," Michael said as he tightened his harness.
"Forget about landing in West Palm Beach. Once we get out of this, we can figure out where to go." Donovan winced as another burst of lightning lit up the cockpit. Michael was more than his longtime colleague — they were more like brothers. Their deep friendship and considerable flying experience had been honed by over a decade of flying together all over the world. Officially, Donovan was the boss, a detail that Michael frequently ignored, though Donovan was smart enough to understand that that was one of the ingredients that made everything work. With a camaraderie and understanding that had been forged in hundreds of dangerous situations just like this one, there was no one Donovan trusted more at the controls than Michael.
They were out over the ocean, paralleling the worst of the weather. As they flew toward a small cluster of harmless rain showers that had popped up over the ocean, they clipped the top of the wispy clouds and the airplane buffeted momentarily. Michael couldn't avoid the next one, and the da Vinci hit it dead center. The precipitation hissed passed the windows and the Gulfstream reeled from the turbulence, its nearly hundred-foot wingspan flexed up and down in the dark clouds.
They blew through multiple cloud layers. Each sliver of clear air allowed them an all too brief view of the squall line dead ahead. Donovan often thought of this as a three-dimensional chess game played at three hundred miles per hour. They couldn't see the massive anvil tops above them, but he knew the line of thunderstorms blossomed well above fifty thousand feet.
"I saw some lights dead ahead." Michael pointed off the nose as the Gulfstream broke out of the clouds into smoother air. He wordlessly pushed up the throttles, and the da Vinci gathered speed immediately.
"We're due east of West Palm Beach. If we can —"
"You smell that?" Michael interrupted and snapped his head toward Donovan.
Donovan turned toward the darkened cabin and tested the air. It only took a moment to confirm what Michael had detected. Smoke.
"We need to get this thing on the ground. Now. Is that an airport out there?" Michael pointed. "See the rotating beacon, just this side of the interstate?"
"That's Boca Raton." Donovan typed KBCT into the flight management system and grabbed the microphone. Donovan watched as the FMS data confirmed that it was the Boca Raton airport. The acrid smell of burning insulation continued to drift up into the cockpit.
"Tell them that's where we're landing." Michael pulled on his oxygen mask and then banked the da Vinci and began to slow the speeding jet.
"Tower, this is Eco-Watch zero one," Donovan transmitted. "We've got Boca Raton in sight at twelve o'clock and eight miles. We'd like a straight-in approach for runway two-three."
"Roger, Eco-Watch zero one. You're cleared for a visual approach to Boca Raton. Contact Boca Tower on 118.42. He knows you're coming."
Donovan clicked on a flashlight, turned, and pointed the beam of light into the cabin. The smoke was visible, and as Donovan played the narrow beam around the cabin, he guessed that the smoke was originating from the aft equipment rack.
"Still burning?" Michael said through his mask while concentrating on the fast approaching airport.
"It's not bad, yet. It looks like the lightning fried the new equipment we just had installed. We've still got all our aircraft systems — everything we need to get this thing on the ground is still working." Donovan spun in the frequency for Boca Raton. "We'll deal with it on the ground. Just keep flying. We're almost there."CHAPTER 2
Lauren peeked in on Abigail, making sure her two-year-old daughter was tucked in and sleeping peacefully. She adjusted the blanket and then lightly rested her hand on Abigail's forehead, taking in the smooth skin and the perfect smell of baby shampoo.
She quietly left Abigail's room and went back to her own bedroom. She checked that the baby monitor was on, and then collected the paperwork she'd brought home from the office. As a senior meteorological consultant with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the scientific articles were required reading and piled up quickly if she didn't stay current.
Lauren felt her frustration rise, Donovan should have called by now. She operated best with order and discipline in her world and right now, at least as far as her husband went, she had nothing remotely resembling order. He'd been especially distant and distracted before he'd left for Florida. She'd been thinking about it all evening and couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. There had been little signs for weeks now until Lauren wasn't even sure when things began to change — only that Donavan was different, or they were both somehow different. Theirs was a relationship trapped in a loop of silent discontent, and she wasn't sure how to identify the issues, let alone break the cycle.
Lauren headed downstairs to make herself a cup of hot tea, but as she passed the closed door to the study, she heard a small beep coming from inside the darkened room. She clicked on the light and went in to investigate. The smoke alarms were fine, they'd been checked recently. The bookshelves held nothing electric, so she moved to the desk just as the beep sounded again. Lauren turned toward the credenza and pushed a key on the laptop computer. The moment the screen blinked to life, she found the problem — a low-battery alert. She located the power cord on the back of the drive and discovered that it was loose. She firmed up the connection and sat down to make sure the battery was going to accept the charge.
It seemed odd that the cord could have worked itself out. In a house with a two-year-old, Abigail was usually the easiest explanation, but she wasn't ever allowed in this room. A row of books lined the wall behind the computer, and as Lauren looked closer, she noticed some dust. In the dust she spotted marks that told her the dictionary had been slid in and out recently.
Curious, Lauren knew that when Donovan needed help spelling something, he defaulted to the computer. There was no way he was going to wrestle with the massive volume to verify a word. She pulled the dictionary out and was surprised when a DVD slid out from between the pages and fell to the floor. Using her thumb and middle finger she picked up and studied the disc. The title, One Earth, was printed in bold black letters, followed by the warning that the DVD was an Academy Screener copy, for awards consideration only and not for public viewing.
Lauren knew exactly what she was holding. One Earth hadn't been released yet, but somehow Donovan had gotten his hands on a reviewer's copy of the documentary about Meredith Barnes. Over the years there'd been many television shows about the life and untimely death of celebrity conservationist Meredith Barnes, but this was a major Hollywood production and there was early Academy Award buzz for the project.
They'd both known that the movie was being made, and when she'd asked him about it, Donovan hadn't seemed concerned or even acted interested. Despite his history with Meredith. Despite the certainty that he would be depicted poorly in the film. His position was that everything between him and Meredith had happened twenty years ago and that he was happy Meredith's work was still relevant after all this time. End of subject.
She slid the disk into the computer and moved through the prompts until the first images appeared on the screen. A dirt road cut through a lush jungle, the faint sounds of screaming began to grow — there were shouts of alarm and the distant wail of emergency vehicles. The screams began to draw closer and were filled with more immediate urgency. An image began to take shape, a light-colored object surrounded by darkness. Slowly, the screen came into focus to show stark images of Meredith Barnes's murdered body being discovered in a muddy field outside San Jose, Costa Rica. A rapid-fire burst of still pictures ripped across the screen, actual photos from that day. Meredith's sightless eyes, her hair and chalk-white skin matted with blood from the single bullet wound to her forehead.
Lauren watched as the scene faded and was replaced with a young Meredith Barnes, smiling and laughing for the camera. Images showed a warm photo montage of her love for the outdoors as she went through adolescence and then graduated from college. Lauren, as well as most of the world, knew the story. Fresh out of school, Meredith Barnes had traveled the world researching and writing what would become her best-selling book, One Earth. Part science, part spiritual expedition, her book, along with her movie-star good looks, thrust her center stage. Her message wasn't just about what was wrong — but how each and every one of us could do something to heal our planet. Hollywood, captivated by Meredith's passion for life, showcased her journey and her message in a motion picture. The world fell in love with her.
After the movie, she produced and hosted a wildly popular television series about the hot-topic issues. Crisscrossing the globe, she and her crew dramatically illustrated how we were harming our planet. She highlighted what needed to be done to stop the damage. She was a frequent guest on late night talk shows. She participated in hot-topic political discussions. She held court at countless environmental rallies, speaking for a voiceless planet and championing a better future. She enlisted powerful allies — Princess Diana, Bono, Elton John, as well as other high profile A-list celebrities to further her causes. The public couldn't get enough — Meredith's fiery temperament coupled with boundless compassion made her a media darling. She influenced politicians and policy makers on a global scale, yet she always came across as warm and genuine.
Meredith's message: peace and conservation, a no-borders philosophy that would serve to save our "one earth" from everything we were doing to destroy it. As Lauren watched and listened, she understood all over again how Meredith had become such a cherished figure in the eyes of the world — and why she was still relevant. Part emissary for the planet, part celebrity, Meredith had touched millions of people. Beautiful and intelligent, powerfully charismatic, using soft-spoken kindness when needed — and her intense passion when calm diplomacy failed.
Lauren fast-forwarded through Meredith's college years then began watching again when she recognized the famous footage of Meredith tearing up a three-million-dollar check written to her foundation by billionaire oilman Robert Huntington. Meredith threw the pieces in his face, poked him in the chest with her index finger, and demanded to know how the heir to the Huntington Oil fortune could sleep at night. She rattled off a dozen ways his multinational company was killing the planet. The narrator of the documentary used the confrontation as evidence of ground zero in a bold conspiracy employed by Robert Huntington and Huntington Oil to murder Meredith Barnes.
The movie continued. Following the fireworks from that first meeting, it explained that Robert sought Meredith out, used her, and manipulated her by proposing a series of initiatives that led Huntington Oil to appear as if they were on the forefront of responsible energy-recovery methods. But the film implied that Huntington had another agenda: he seduced her to get close enough to orchestrate her death. The screen filled with images of the two of them as they traveled the world, their movements tracked by both Hollywood and Wall Street. One shot in particular of Robert and Meredith kissing distressed Lauren to the point that she looked away, as if she were intruding. The narrator continued to reiterate that Huntington was nothing more than a ruthless sociopath. A deeply flawed man who had no problems using a potent combination of charm and his unlimited supply of money in a premeditated, brutal plan to destroy Meredith Barnes and her message.
Lauren watched as the narrator explained that Huntington continued the charade of their relationship, that he exploited their combined influence by arranging an environmental summit in Costa Rica. An unprecedented gathering of political dignitaries and business leaders from all over the world convened to reduce the destruction of the rain forests, to develop alternative energy for emerging economies, and to set controls on commercial fishing as well as ban harvesting of oceanic mammals. By all comparisons to previous attempts, the Costa Rica summit promised to be an epic rally on behalf of our planet, but according to the narrator, Robert Huntington had other plans.
Excerpted from Zero Separation by Philip Donlay. Copyright © 2013 Philip Donlay. Excerpted by permission of Oceanview Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I fell in love with Donovan Nash in Category Five, and when Philip Donlay released Code Black...I couldn't put it down. I couldn't wait for his next book...and Zero Separation is the best one yet! I am already counting down the days for his next release! You won't be disappointed. If you haven't read them, order all 3. Find out in Category Five why Donovan Nash has this big secret...then sit back and enjoy the ride while reading these books! Sherry in Austin, TX
Would have rather it didn't end the way it did .
Great read, need to know what happens next
Uhyh hn bb
Excellent book. Well developed characters in a plot with lots of twists and turns