Schooled (Codename: Winger 2)

Secret agent and teenage computer genius Theo Reese lives in two separate worlds—and they’re about to collide.

Theo’s high school computer science club is gearing up for a competition, and Theo agrees to lend his knowledge of cybersecurity to help them win. The covert agency he works for also needs his talents. An encrypted key that allows access to the nation’s electrical grid has been stolen. Theo’s skills are crucial in its recovery before disaster strikes.

When the file shows up at the competition as one of those to be decoded, Theo must find a way to be both an average high school student and Winger, his secret identity. The file must be secured—all while protecting his teammates from those who will use any means necessary to get the file for themselves.

Type: Novel / 59,161 words
Format: Ebook / Paperback 
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

“All in all, this is a grand slam book, one I highly recommend.” – Taz, 5 stars and a “A TNA Page Turner” at The Novel Approach

“…if you’re looking for a read that is suspenseful, entertaining, and very up-to-date technologically speaking, then you will probably enjoy this novel.” — Serena Yates, 4 stars at Rainbow Book Reviews

“Schooled was a fast paced story that I read in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed the writing style and loved Theo and how he grew throughout the book.” — Louisa, 4 stars at Love Bytes

“The mystery in this story is tied in nicely with Theo’s school life. … His abilities are a unique asset to himself and the school – when put to the test, it was awesome to see it all come together.” — Avid Reader, 4.5-stars at Wicked Reads YA Edition

From Chapter One

The bell ringing for lunch was the best sound ever. My stomach grumbled as I put my economics book and tablet into my backpack and headed for the door. It took a lot of restraint not to push my way through my classmates who were way too slow.

It sounded like there was a monster in my belly. Coach had put the team on a new training regimen when we returned from holiday break two weeks ago. He designed it to improve our stamina for the second half of the hockey season. The side effects were muscle pain, occasional leg cramps if I didn’t cool down properly, and an appetite that turned me into a ravenous beast.

In the hall, I moved quickly, weaving around my classmates like I was avoiding defensemen on the ice.

Eddie was right on time, as always, at the intersection of the science and English wings. He shouldered his messenger bag, fell in step next to me, and interlocked his fingers with mine.

“How’s my favorite hockey player?” We slowed down just enough for him to kiss me on the cheek. With the swim season under way, he looked forward to lunch as much as I did.

“I’m good now that I’m with my favorite swimmer.” I gave his hand an extra squeeze.

“Theo Reese,” Mrs. Hollingsworth called from behind. “A moment, please?”

This was not a good time to consult with the computer-science teacher. I’d been in her advanced class for three days when I was a freshman, and we had quickly determined that I already knew her curriculum. We became friends, though, and we often chatted about technology. I enjoyed her spin on the latest and admired that she kept up, even though she taught pretty basic stuff to most of her students.

“Doesn’t she know it’s lunchtime?” Eddie asked.

“How often do teachers care about that?” I didn’t let Eddie go, and we cut across the crowd to get to her. “Hey, Mrs. H,” I said when we got to her classroom doorway.

“I know you’re on your way to lunch, and I promise I won’t keep you long. I wanted to float something by you.” She turned from me to Eddie. “Could we speak alone?”

“Go on. I’ll catch up to you.” I let Eddie’s hand go. “Can you get me a chicken sandwich?”

“Sure can. Try not to get lost in a lot of tech talk.” He grinned at me. He wasn’t wrong; this kind of discussion was my weakness.

He raised his cute eyebrows at me before he dashed off to join the lunch line.

Mrs. H stepped into her room and I followed. “The computer-science club has a competition in two weeks and it involves cyber security. Each team comes to the competition with a file that contains a secure document. In turn, the other teams have to try and crack the encryption. I know security is a specialty of yours, and I wondered if I could persuade you to come in and look at our work, offer advice—” She hesitated for a moment and that was weird. “—and travel with the team to consult on-site.”

Wow. This was completely unexpected. I knew the club worked on some advanced projects and competed occasionally, but I didn’t know they got into stuff like this. I didn’t expect to be invited to participate, and I suspected I could crack their projects in my sleep.

“Doesn’t the club usually meet when I’m off campus?” The proposal intrigued me, but I enjoyed afternoons at MIT where I took classes that challenged me. “I’m not sure I could swing that since the semester’s just started.”

She looked sheepishly at the floor. “I might have gotten clearance from Dr. Shorofsky. He said he’d consider it to be credit toward your lab assignments since it’s only a couple of weeks.”

“Um. Okay.” I didn’t know quite what to say. “How’d you even know who to ask?”

“I’ve got connections.” Based on the devious look in her eye, I decided not to ask more. I had my ways to get information and I shouldn’t be surprised she did too.

“I can work with the team on what they’ve developed and point them in the right direction to increase the security. I wouldn’t feel right consulting on-site. I’d be a….”

“A ringer, to borrow one of your sports metaphors. Yes, you probably would be.” She guided me farther into the classroom. “There’s a quarter-million-dollar prize for this competition—half goes to the school, a quarter goes to the club, and the rest splits up among the students to use for college. It will be cutthroat among the teams. Imagine what this program could become with that money, not to mention the cash the individuals would have for their college funds. The team is doing good work, and I’m not asking you to do any for them. Like you suggested—hack what they create and guide them to make it better. During the competition, you could make sure they’re going in the right direction.”

“Ah, Mr. Reese, there you are,” Coach Daly said.

Why was everyone calling me from behind today? I wanted some lunch and time with my man. But for Coach to look for me now—that wasn’t a good sign.

“Mrs. Hollingsworth, do you mind if I borrow him?”

The plea in her eyes surprised me. This was super important to her.

“Of course.” She looked to Coach for a moment before her gaze settled on me.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, which caused her to exhale. Had she seriously held her breath? “I’ll come back before I leave today.”

“Thank you. I’ll share more details then.”

She seemed relieved. I had no idea she had such a competitive streak. I’d never been asked to consult for the team before.

Coach gestured for me to follow. The hall didn’t have much traffic since nearly everyone was at lunch.

“We’re headed to my office,” he murmured. “You haven’t responded to some urgent texts.”