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By E.G. Manetti
When I started the Twelve Systems Chronicles, I thought I was writing a trilogy, but the story kept coming. For two years, I drafted the story arc terrified my muse would desert me before I knew how it all ended. It has happened before. My muse did not desert me, but my characters continually surprised me. Initially, the novels were all from the Lilian’s (the heroine’s) perspective. As I reworked the drafts into publishable form, Lucius (the hero) refused to stay silent. And then, the other characters chimed in. My trilogy rapidly evolved into an epic series. Once I had the first two volumes published and the third on its way, readers were letting me know they wanted more Sci-fi than the first volume offers and were a bit hesitant to start a lengthy series. To make it easier for readers to embark on a multi-volume journey, and deliver the more robust Sci-fi elements, I bundled the first two volumes into one book. It started as an experiment on Amazon, but reader response was so positive it is now available on all four major platforms.
THE CARTEL – The Apprentice, Volume 1
Raised to wealth and privilege, Lilian’s future was shattered when her father was convicted of terrible crimes. By law and custom, she should have followed him into death to redeem her corrupt genetics. Desperate to avoid execution for crimes not her own, Lilian accepts an indenture contract with a powerful warrior. For three years, he will have total control of her body, will, and intellect.
Lucius Mercio commands one of the most powerful Cartels in the Twelve Systems. Clever, ambitious, and ruthless, Lucius intends to take his Cartel to unimaginable heights with the aid of Lilian’s brilliance. But first, he must keep Lilian alive.
BRIGHT STAR – The Apprentice, Volume 2
Despite the odds, Lilian has survived her first two seasons as Lucius Mercio’s apprentice, proving her loyalty to her new master. When his motivations and ambitions are revealed, they are far more extraordinary than Lilian imagined. Before Lilian can begin to meet this newest challenge, a ghost from her past will threaten to destroy Lucius’ slowly developing trust.
To survive the next set of challenges Lilian will need to find new reserves of courage, wit and determination. To advance his ambitions, Lucius must be more ruthless and devious than ever before. To succeed, Lucius requires Lilian’s brilliance, but keeping her alive will prove far more difficult than he anticipated.
Her briefs, why must it be the briefs? The encounter that began against the scarlet door encompassed the conference table before completing on the couch. The scrap of rose silk and lace could be anywhere. Including, as it happens, dangling from milord’s finger as he reclines on the couch.
Adelaide aid me. Lilian resists the dangerous urge to bend that finger.
“My thanks, milord,” Lilian says, collecting her lingerie and retiring to milord’s freshening closet. When she returns, there are but ten minutes remaining, she must speak now. “Milord, if I may?”
Milord reaches out and pulls Lilian down onto the couch and into the curve of milord’s reclining torso. A lazy hand starts to trace random patterns up and down her shoulder and arm. “I am listening.”
That lazy hand ceases its motion as milord wraps his arm around Lilian’s waist and pulls her back up against his chest. The lazy hand is back, now tracing patterns on her abdomen and ribs through her recently reordered attire.
“Yes, milord. It is the review of the Desperation Refinery. There is a wrongness to it.” The lazy hand ceases its movements.
“Desperation Refinery installed a state-of-the-art filtering system sixteen months gone. As of this sevenday, the refinery continues to pay for a sponge-based scrubbing service.”
“Fraud.” The single word contains anger and disgust. Fraud is a common challenge for the Serengeti Group, as it is for any commercial enterprise. Within the context of a cartel, it is tantamount to treason.
“I believe so, milord. Although I have not confirmed it and have not identified the source.” Lilian is certain of the facts but not her conclusions.
Milord sits up, setting Lilian to one side. “You are not certain?” With a few quick taps to his slate, the reviewer displays a complex set of records.
“There, milord.” Lilian indicates a section of the reviewer. “The amounts are not worth the risk. It could be an error. A failure to void the old contract when the new system came online.”
Milord glances over. “Do you think that probable?”
Lilian releases a breath she did not know she held. Milord is not angered. She has not erred, again. “No, milord, but it is possible. Is the other matter that increases my concern. Is Refinery Technician Simmons known to milord?”
“Why would you suggest such?” Milord is astounded. Lilian may as well have inquired if he was on a first-name basis with the freshener closet attendants.
“An archive search revealed a meeting request from Mr. Simmons dated several seven days ago. I could discover no other records of the meeting, but I do not have access to all the pertinent files.”
“Lilian, I assure you, I would recall such a singular event as a meeting with a refinery tech. Have you aught else?” Milord demands.
Honor endures. Lilian did not expect milord to be pleased by the paucity of detail. “No, milord. It is the same refinery, two anomalies, one truly exceptional. It cannot be a coincidence.”
Milord nods, reaching for his slate. “I believe you are correct. Lilian, I am establishing a secure file for this analysis. Report only to me.”
The Twelve Systems Chronicles are EG’s first published works combining science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure. InDtTale calls the Twelve Systems Chronicles “a fascinating read! … a complex story and superbly drawn characters … One hungers for more after turning the last page.” EG works in IT and writes as often as possible. When neither goes well, she cooks exceptionally and gardens adequately. EG resides on the East Coast of the USA with her beloved (and often confounded) husband and their severely OCD Jack Russell Terrier.