We arrived early. I went in first and chose a small table off to the side of the room as far away from the dance floor and piano as possible. Guy sat at the bar, ordered a drink and turned his gaze toward the dancers. He looked like a businessman who had just concluded a long day at the office.
I saw Brody Delaney before he saw me, so I stood to get his attention. He walked over and joined me.
“Hello, Brody.” I smiled. “It’s nice to see you again.”
“How do we do this?” He started to hand me his briefcase, but I stopped him.
“Put that down. After a job well done, it’s traditional to sit and have a drink first. We’ll talk, and then make the exchange. There’s really nothing to it.”
He sat and placed the briefcase on the floor beside him.
“How do I know you’re not really working for Cybonautics? I wouldn’t put it past them, and this could get me into a lot of trouble.”
“You’re being paranoid. Why would anyone at Cybonautics hire me to do something that will only advance your career?”
He signaled to the waitress and ordered two martinis, one for each of us. As she was leaving, Guy walked by, stumbled into her, apologized and continued on to the restroom.
I put my hand on top of Brody’s and commanded his attention with my eyes. “Brody, I think you’ve got what it takes. You saw an opportunity and took it. I think you’ll make an excellent CEO at CalTech.”
“I can only do that if you’ve done what I hired you to do.” He spoke as if this had been his idea. That was a good sign.
“I have, and I hope you’ll remember that Kendra James gets the job done.”
“Kendra, now I have a name to go with your face.”
The waitress arrived with our drinks. As she turned to leave, Guy stumbled into her yet again, on his way back from the restroom. I covered my mouth and giggled. Brody looked at me rather than Guy. He smiled too.
I reached out my glass. “I’d like to propose a toast…to new friendships.”
Our glasses clinked, and we each took a sip.
“Do you like what you do, Brody?”
“I guess. It pays well. I didn’t realize I’d have to be watching my back so much though. Everybody wants the top position, but everyone can’t have it.”
“I know what you mean. Those access codes you wanted? They’ll help both you and your company get to the top, won’t they?”
“Yes, they should.”
The waitress returned then with an appetizer. “Oh, I didn’t order…” Brody began.
“I did, before you arrived. Thank you.” I smiled at the waitress who set down two small plates and a platter with artichoke dip and cubes of bread.
There was also small tracking device on the plate she set in front of me. I picked it up. “I hope you’ll remember who helped you get to the top and that we’ll be able to trust each other from now on.” I dropped it into what was left of Brody’s drink.
He looked down at his briefcase in alarm, then back at me. “Did I blow it?”
“Not yet. I can’t fault you for being cautious, but I wouldn’t try anything like that again. I am good at what I do. I hope you believe that now.”
He glanced around the room. I was glad to see that Guy had already left.
“I also hope we’ll be able to work together again sometime soon.” I stood and held out my hand.
“What do you mean?”
I dropped my hands to the table and leaned toward him. Did I really have to spell it out? “There may come a time when I’ll want to call in a favor from a friend at CalTech.”
Brody looked at me in alarm.
“Don’t worry. You could always say no. Until then, let’s get together for drinks every now and again.” I removed the list of access codes from my purse and handed it to him.
“That’s it, and to show you that I really am a nice person, I gave you a discount. I wouldn’t leave your briefcase unattended until you’ve emptied it. Enjoy the dip.” I picked up a small piece of bread, scooped up some artichoke dip, popped it into my mouth and swallowed. “Delicious!” I held out my hand again. “It’s been a pleasure working with you, Brody Delaney.”
“Price of a Bounty is a pleasant surprise. The action is fun and the growing complexity not only of the ploy but of the character’s relationships with each other keeps the reader hooked.” Kenneth J. Mayer (Amazon Review)
“This is a compelling, entertaining thriller and love story that is an allegory about the hazards of privilege and power, where absolute power corrupts absolutely. I felt for Keira immediately, a smart and conscionable woman who pines for the past as she listens to her mother’s favorite records, like “I’ve Got Rhythm,” the simpler songs of a bygone era, and yet who bravely confronts the future and will sacrifice everything for a good cause. Full of twists, genetic manipulation and subterfuge, it kept me turning pages. The ending was totally unexpected and I look forward to the sequel.” Annie (Amazon Review)
“Price of a Bounty effectively incorporates drama, action and romance to create an intriguing tale that once you start you won’t be able to stop. The book is fast paced, full of interesting plot twists and has characters that you genuinely care about. An excellent read.” Andrew M. Newton (Amazon Review)
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Let me tell you a little bit about S. L. Wallace. The surname is a pseudonym, but it’s a pen name based on fact. She is indeed related to the famous William Wallace.
You see, her mother has a passion for genealogy, and people in her family like to tell stories. That makes for some interesting dinner conversations. Her paternal grandmother always told outrageous stories, like how she was considering going out for Halloween with nothing on, just a raisin in her navel — yep, she was planning to go as an oatmeal cookie! Her mother, on the other hand, likes to tell family history as true, yet fascinating, stories. Because of her mother, she had heard the surname Wallace.
When the movie Braveheart came out, she went to see it. Once she heard the name William Wallace, she had trouble concentrating on the film because she kept thinking that name sounded so familiar. As soon as she got home, she called her parents, hoping to connect with her mother. Alas, she was not home, but her dad was, so she posed her question with the hopes that he may have the answer, or if he didn’t, that he would be willing to pass along the question to her mother upon her return.
“Dad,” she said. “I just got back from seeing Braveheart, and the main character’s name was William Wallace. Is he any relation, do you think?”
“Yes, he is,” her father said with certainty.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you’re related to Mel Gibson.”
Clearly, her father inherited his mother’s sense of humor, but he’s also a history buff. He went on to explain the Scottish clan system, including surnames. S. L. Wallace is honored to be able to carry on the name.
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