[title color=”blue-vibrant” align=”scmgcleft” font=”arial” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-1em”]Blurb:[/title]
In a divided future where class lines are clear and status is everything, how would you survive? Would you be ruthless or drift into the shadows to keep a low profile? Would you wear a mask and hide in plain sight? Would you have the courage to rise up and take a stand?
In the Reliance on Citizens trilogy, you’ll meet citizens from the Elite and Working Class who will do whatever it takes to survive. Some will fight for a better future no matter the personal cost.
In Price of a Bounty, readers will experience a world divided by class from multiple viewpoints. When people have nothing left to lose, what would they do to survive? For those who no longer trust humanity, can faith in their fellow man ever be restored?
The sequel, Canvas Skies, delves into political intrigue. The Resistance gains followers, and the main characters attempt to close the class divide.
Heart of Humanity considers the consequences to a society severely divided. Are years long enough to heal a broken society, or will it take generations?
Throughout the trilogy, love plays an important factor.
[title color=”blue-vibrant” align=”scmgcleft” font=”arial” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-1em”]Excerpt:[/title]
The following excerpt is from about halfway through the second book in the Reliance on Citizens trilogy. Let me introduce you to my friends. Keira, Aimee and Guy are three of the main characters. Throughout the series, Keira hides behind a couple of different masks: Madeline and Kendra. Aimee is actually Keira’s sister, April. And although Guy (a.k.a. Richard, Jr.), is introducing “Kendra” to his parents for the first time, they’ve actually been together for quite awhile, in what capacity is for you to discover. Oh yes, some people wear masks, and some masks are more obvious than others. Even when you think you know someone, you may want to ask yourself, “How well can we ever know another person?”
[title color=”blue-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”arial” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-1em”]Canvas Skies[/title]
The Grand Opening
My golden skirt brushed against my legs as I moved around the room. The lighting enhanced the artwork. It made each piece stand out, brought each to glory. When I reached the sound system and pressed “play,” a smooth classical melody provided the finishing touch.
I turned toward Keira. “I agree. Thank you so much for being here tonight.”
“Are you practicing your lines?” She smiled and handed me an official looking black leather folder.
“Maybe a little. Is everything ready?”
“It looks like it. The caterers are.” Keira tilted her head toward the back room.
“Alright then. This is it!” I walked over to the front door and released the lock. Not five minutes later, the first of the artists arrived.
“Kendra, come here. I’d like you to meet Hisoka Watanabe. He painted the picture we were talking about the other day.” Keira didn’t turn to look at the painting titled “Rainy Day.” Instead, she remained intent upon the artist. She smiled and held out her hand.
Hisoka paled slightly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss…”
Keira didn’t speak.
“Miss James,” I finished.
Keira lowered her hand without receiving the expected handshake.
My brows furrowed. “I’ll just leave you two to get acquainted.”
As I walked away, Keira said, “Mr. Burke will be here tonight too. Don’t act so surprised when you see him.”
The Burkes were fashionably late. They paused inside the open doorway and observed the full gallery. A cool evening breeze meandered by and made my skirt dance. Guy turned to close the door.
Keira stood on the other side of the room talking with artist, Natalie Kozlovsky. She created sculptures from copper wire and glass beads. Keira focused on one in particular, a unique and beautiful piece. She completely ignored the latest arrivals.
Guy began with introductions. “Miss LaFleur, this is my father, Richard Burke, president of Burke Investments.” Mr. Burke, Sr. stood tall at about six feet and had straight jet black hair and penetrating blue eyes.
I bowed my head respectfully then looked into his eyes as an equal. “Thank you for your assistance in making tonight possible. I must have taken up a good deal of your son’s time.”
“I’d say it was time well spent, wouldn’t you?” His gaze never left my face. I felt like a mouse about to be devoured by a bobcat. A shiver ran all the way down to my toes as I realized, this man is a predator.
I signaled to one of the caterers, eager for a distraction. A young woman appeared at our side and offered drinks.
Wine glass in hand, Guy continued, “This is my mother, Beatrice. She has always been supportive of the arts.” A shimmering blue evening gown enhanced Mrs. Burke’s tall slender frame. A sprig of tiny white flowers was nestled tastefully in her sandy brown hair.
I smiled warmly at Guy’s mother. “Mrs. Burke, you might enjoy the three paintings in the front display. They were created by a local artist named Hisoka Watanabe.”
“Hm…” was Guy’s only response.
“Thank you.” Beatrice turned to her husband and curled her fingers in the crook of his arm. “Richard dear, let’s begin in the front and work our way around.”
The next person through the door was a surprise. “Thank you for coming, Mr. Delaney. It’s nice to see you again.”
He removed his coat and folded it over his arm. “The place looks wonderful. Your hard work has certainly paid off.”
“I hope so. There haven’t been any sales yet.”
“Where did you get your training, if I may ask?”
“At the Art Institute of Parisio. I’m from Mediterra.” My voice faltered as I noticed Guy’s father staring at me from across the room.
“So you’re new in town?”
I nodded lamely.
“You’ll have sales,” he said. “Let me be the first.”
Mr. Burke flew from my thoughts. “But you couldn’t possibly know what you want yet!”
Brody smiled. “Which piece is your favorite?”
“That one.” I pointed to the sculpture Keira had been admiring. She now stood on the opposite side of the room, her full attention on a painting of a waterfall. Guy drifted away from his parents and toward her. I returned my attention to Brody. “Would you like to meet the artist?”
“I would love to!”
A minute later, I introduced him to artist, Natalie Kozlovsky. By the time I pulled myself away, Keira and Guy were in the middle of a friendly discussion. His parents noticed and moved in their direction. I walked closer too and pretended to adjust the label of a nearby painting.
“Richard,” his father said, putting a hand on Guy’s shoulder. It was the only prompt Guy needed.
He turned toward his parents but kept Keira at his side. “Mother, Father, I would like you to meet Miss Kendra James from Vanover. She and Miss LaFleur met in Parisio. They’re roommates.”
“Roommates?” Beatrice Burke asked.
“Yes.” Keira’s eyes darkened. “After the car crash, and then my parents…” She began to tear up. “I needed somewhere to stay, and I didn’t want to stay alone.”
“Oh, you poor thing.” Guy’s mother actually sounded concerned.
“Parisio?” Mr. Burke’s deep voice cut in. “Do you have family there?”
“Yes, my aunt and uncle. While I was there, I took some classes at the Art Institute. My mother had hoped I would develop some skills. She thought it would be a good hobby for me. Unfortunately, art isn’t one of my talents.”
Was Keira actually looking demure? I’d never really had the chance to watch her work before.
Brody was at my side again. “She’s a good actress.”
“Is she a true friend?”
“The best,” I said.
“I can hardly wait to meet her.”
I turned and looked at him. Keira told me she’d had to break off the friendship for his safety. Did he really mean to forgo her sacrifice? Was that why he was here tonight?
“I need a sold sign. Natalie said you have them.” Brody handed me a cheque.
“Oh, yes. Here you go.”
“She healed up nicely, didn’t she?”
“From the gunshot wound. You’d never know by looking at her.”
While Brody went to post the sign, I returned my attention to Keira. Then he moved closer to them. A short while later, they were all talking like old friends, and I was once again left standing alone.
I moved around the room and began socializing with artists and guests. Brody’s prediction had come true. Paintings and sculptures alike were selling. Tomorrow, I would carefully package the artwork and hire a delivery service, but tonight…tonight was for mingling.
Hisoka was telling me about his plans for a series of paintings featuring prominent Gov buildings throughout Tkaron when I noticed Brody standing nearby. As soon as we hit a natural break in the conversation, I politely excused myself. I wanted to hear more about Hisoka’s inspiration for his artwork, but he would be here all evening.
Brody smiled as I approached. “I wish you the best of luck with your business, Miss LaFleur.”
“Thank you.” Although my back was to him, I could feel Hisoka’s gaze.
“May I take you out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate?” Brody asked.
“Um, I guess that would be all right. What time?”
“How about noon? Will you be here?”
“Yes, I’ll see you at noon then.”
He nodded once and turned to go. I watched as Brody walked out the front door and into the darkness beyond. Only when he was gone did I return to my conversation with Hisoka. Again, I felt eyes on me. I turned and saw Beatrice Burke scolding her husband.
An hour later, only a handful of people remained. The caterers were just about done cleaning up, and the artists huddled in a corner near the door, talking amongst themselves. Guy hadn’t left Keira’s side since he’d introduced her to his parents. At some point in the evening, Keira had told me he’d graciously offered to drive us home. His parents still lingered, and I remembered they had arrived with him.
I was gathering my coat and purse from the back room when I heard a slight noise from the doorway. I turned.
“Would you like to join us?” Hisoka spoke quietly.
“Us?” I pushed one arm into the sleeve of my white spring jacket. Hisoka stepped forward and helped me with the other. Although he stood close, it wasn’t uncomfortable.
“Yes.” He never broke eye contact as he tilted his head toward the other artists who waited near the front door. “We’re going out for some dessert before heading home. You should join us. After all, our success tonight is because of you.”
I smiled shyly. “No, no. It’s because of all of you. Your talent is what brought the people here tonight.”
“No. Your talents are what brought them here. Hopefully, our talents will keep them coming back. So, will you join us?” He stepped away, leaving the decision entirely up to me.
I began to shake my head but then looked past him. Guy’s father was once again staring at me. I reached for Hisoka’s arm.
[title color=”blue-vibrant” align=”scmgcleft” font=”arial” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-1em”]Character Interview:[/title]
Guy: Here with me today is the lovely Keira Maddock.
Keira: Why thank you, but I think you may be a bit biased.
Guy: Fair enough, but with the upcoming election, I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to everyone. After all, you usually work behind the scenes.
Keira: Why did I get dragged into this? You’re the one running for reelection, not me, and some of these folks haven’t heard the story up to this point. Shouldn’t we begin, well, at the beginning?
Guy: Excellent point. Are you ready to share your story with the world?
Keira: Sure. The folks at Everyday Elite have already shined the spotlight on me more than once. I’ve gotten used to it.
Guy: Let’s test that theory. When we first met…
Keira: I’d been hired to kill you.
Guy: And your parents…
Keira: Killed when I was eight.
Guy: All right. How about your scars?
Keira: What can I say? Living on the streets is a bitch.
Guy: You have gotten used to it!
Keira: Well, there’s no point in letting your demons control you. Best to face them head on. You taught me that.
Guy: Would you mind if we dug a little deeper?
Keira: Not at all, but I still don’t understand how this will help you win the election.
Guy: We make a great team, everyone knows that, and I don’t have anything left to hide so the more open we are about you, the better. It leaves less for opponents to focus on so we can begin discussing more important issues like job growth and the state of our schools.
Keira: Uh-huh. So what did you want to ask me?
Guy: Let’s go back to when we first met.
Keira: When I was about to kill you or just after?
Guy: How about that whole situation.
Keira: Well, it was a pretty straightforward job, or so I’d been led to believe. All I can say is you shouldn’t have pissed off Elaine Ramsey. What were you thinking?
Guy: You know what I was thinking. The Resistance needed funding, and she had plenty to spare. It was pocket change to her. I never thought she’d kill for that.
Keira: And she wouldn’t have, not if she’d realized who you really were. And if I hadn’t realized who you were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Guy: Have I mentioned how much I love you?
Keira: Keep it up. It will keep you in my good graces. Next subject?
Guy: How about your childhood? We should never forget how Terene was before. It was a pretty scary place back then. You said your parents were killed. That’s an interesting choice of words. Wasn’t your father ill?
Keira: Yes, but he still shouldn’t have died like that. It was preventable!
Guy: Are you certain you’re willing to talk about this?
Keira: Yes, the people need to know. Because my dad was a Working Class citizen, he was denied the medicine that would have saved his life. His wife and my mother was mugged and stabbed on her way home late one night. She was just trying to make ends meet. She was just trying to keep us together. Instead, three little kids were left with no one but each other. We can never let that happen to anyone else, Guy, not if it’s in our power…
Guy: And it is. It is. We are the change we want to see. Remember?
Keira: Yes. Thank you. (looking straight into the vidrecorder) Don’t you forget it either. What we have today? It’s all because of this man sitting right beside me.
Guy: (clears throat) Thank you.
Keira: Are we finished?
Guy: How about one last question. Do you have anything left to hide?
Keira: No. If they want to know the rest of my secrets, they can watch the Palamara report like everyone else. (looking at the audience again) In case you were wondering about those scars Guy mentioned, that’s why they’re gone. Yeah, I think that’s it.
Guy: All right. Thank you for joining us tonight. Before you turn off the teleview, remember to ask yourself if you’ve done your part today. It’s not too late to help a neighbor. Reliance on citizens makes us great!
[title color=”blue-vibrant” align=”scmgcleft” font=”arial” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-1em”]About the Author S.L. Wallace:[/title]
Links to S.L. Wallace’s books and connections are:
Price of a Bounty at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Price-Bounty-Reliance-Citizens-ebook/dp/B005H93BBE/
Canvas Skies at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Canvas-Skies-Reliance-Citizens-ebook/dp/B007JUR5FC/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/authorSLWallace