Friday, May 7, 2021

Incognito by Katie Delahanty - New Release

by Katie Delahanty
Series: Keystone, #2
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: May 3, 2021

In the virtual utopia of the Simulation, everyone will live peacefully and without fear or needs—at least that’s how they’re selling it. But the government plans to use this program to take control of the entire human race. Elisha Dewitt has just been given her first mission to help prevent this, and she’s ready to prove she can go incognito just as well as any other master thief.

Breaking and entering? No sweat. She’s done worse. Stealing a cassette tape from the museum vaults will be easy—in, out, done—until he shows up...and everything gets way more complicated. Garrett Alexander just has that effect.

Nothing is as it seems, and a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse begins with Garrett, her rival and match in every way. Not knowing who she can trust, Elisha decides it’s up to her to rescue everyone—even Garrett—before the world as she knows it comes to a brutal end.

We exit the elevator into the echoey warehouse that is home to Warhol’s paintings from the 1970s and are met with an oppressive wall of air that makes it hard to breathe. Much like the lobby, the only color in the space comes from the paintings lining the white walls. It is furnished with couches covered in white parachute material, but otherwise, the stark gallery is empty. Probably because it’s trying to suffocate us.

Tyson picks up two Campbell’s Soup cans from a bar as we pass it, and hands me one. The outside of the can is slippery with condensation and I resist the urge to press the icy drink to my throat.

“Thank you.” I take a micro-sip of the cocktail, relieved it tastes like sweet blackberries and basil—not tomato soup—though I don’t plan on drinking it anyway. I need to keep my wits about me.

Tyson leads me to a small rectangular room on the far side of the gallery. The cloud exhibit, with its white walls and wood floors, is filled with dozens of shiny, pillow-shaped balloons. The silver pillows slowly bounce about the space, seemingly as they please, on the breeze from strategically placed fans.

I leave Tyson’s side and the floorboards creak under my feet as I walk to the center of the room. Careful to avoid the security camera’s watchful gaze, I stand alone in the center of the space, letting the clouds dance around me. Isolated in a reflective heaven, I am overwhelmed by the peace that overtakes me, and I marvel at the magic in the exhibit’s simplicity.

“One of my jobs is to take care of the balloons,” Tyson says, joining me.

I refocus my attention on him, bringing my head out of the clouds. “You’re a cloud-wrangler?” I shift my drink to one hand and straighten his collar, letting my fingers linger on his chest. “I don’t think I’ve ever met one of those.”

“Oh yes. It’s a big responsibility,” he says with pretend seriousness, wrapping his fingers around mine. “It takes around three minutes to inflate a cloud and some of them last seven days while others, not so much. Valve malfunctions are a real problem.”

“Fascinating.” I hold back a giggle.

“But are you ready for the real trick?” He stares off into space, directing his AMPs with his eyes. “You’re wearing AMPs, right?”

“Actually, I’m not.” Still holding my drink, I push my glove down with my thumb, so I can flash him my wrist sticker screen. “Mine are in the shop.” The truth is, I am wearing contacts, but only to disguise the color of my eyes, making them appear slate blue. They aren’t connected to the internet.

“I’ll find you some AR glasses, then. Don’t move. I’ll be right back.” He heads out of the room.

“I’ll be waiting,” I call after him. “Unless I melt.”

“I’ll hurry,” he promises as he disappears around the corner.

Once he’s out of sight, I glance at my wrist. 8:39. It’s been less than twenty minutes. I should go now, get the tape. If I see him again, I’ll tell him I went to get some air. But if all goes well, I won’t see him again.

A tiny burst of heat erupts in my brain, interrupting my thoughts and sending a jolt of electricity down my spine. Despite the stifling night, goose bumps shoot up my arms and familiar buzzing begins between my ears. Even though I was alone in this room mere seconds ago, I detect someone’s presence behind me and I know who it is before I turn around.

There’s only one person who can sneak up on me.

Katie never knew she was a writer. Her childhood obsessions centered on old movies, costumes, fashion, playing dress up, and books. Lots of books. On her quest to play make believe for a living she decided she wanted to be a fashion designer and after satisfying her practical parents by graduating from UCLA with a BA in Communication Studies she went on to pursue her design dreams with a Professional Designation in Fashion Design from FIDM. She spent five years helping to design romantic dresses that were sold everywhere from Anthropologie to Nordstrom before the economic downturn led to a career shift and that practical degree came in handy. Now in charge of the ecommerce business for In Bloom Lingerie, she was asked to start the company blog. Not knowing what to say about lingerie but needing to use bridal keywords, she decided to start a fictional serial about how a girl named Olivia Bloom, who worked for In Bloom Lingerie, became engaged. And that is when Katie fell in love with storytelling and the path to make believe became clear. She has not looked back since. Katie lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

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