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Eden book 1 eden series, p.1
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       Eden Book 1 (Eden Series), p.1

           David Holley
Eden Book 1 (Eden Series)


  David Holley

  Jeremiah Pinto

  Published by Misery Loves Company

  Copyright © 2012 Misery Loves Company

  EDEN logo and cover art designed by David Holley

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Written by

  David Holley

  Story by

  David Holley & Jeremiah Pinto


  First and foremost, we would like to thank our editor, Rebecca Wilson, for providing outstanding service and for a keen attention to detail that vastly improved the quality of our story. We would like to also thank our pool of test readers: Abby Kessler, Mia Holley, Jessica Pinto, Katie Loftus, Byron Jackson, Chris Ovdiyenko, and Adria Ovdiyenko.

  David Holley thanks his daughter and muse, Mia, and his true love, Abby Kessler, for giving him the strength to reinvent himself and for providing support and encouragement throughout the journey.

  Jeremiah Pinto would like to thank his wife, Jessica, for all of her love and support.

  This story is dedicated to anyone who has ever lost someone they truly love.


  Chapter 1

  Today was unlike other days. No, today was something altogether different indeed. For once, she wasn’t chained to her lab, no small feat. As it was, the last time she left her station was several months ago. And on that day, she did the very same thing that she finds herself doing at this very moment. But that was a different day and under very different circumstances.

  Evelyn looks into her rearview mirror, and her piercing blue eyes stare back. Her golden strawberry hair flows just past her shoulders, and as the steering wheel swivels to complete a turn, her hands are free to primp and powder. She inspects her shimmering nails and deems them immaculate, fresh from a polish of rose-colored coral. She is scented in an exquisite perfume that has just a hint of wild lavender. She is sure that no stone has been left unturned; her porcelain skin burns with the thought of looking into her husband’s eyes once more.

  Because today is the day that her husband, Noah, will be coming home after his third, and most certainly last, tour of duty. Cold rain washes over the windshield, as the metronome swipes across, erasing the years of empty resolution. Time has been cruel, and the world even crueler, but despite everything, Evelyn feels more hopeful today than she has in years.

  “Peggy, mute the radio.” The litany of negative spin dies instantly upon her command.

  This is her day to celebrate, even if the rest of the world has no reason to. Stopped at a red light, she gazes across the grey blight. London is so dreary in October.

  While her husband has been at war a world away, Evelyn has battled a different conflict at home — pandemic viral outbreaks are posing a far greater threat to the existence of mankind than even the relentless fighting. Countless virulent strands of influenza have run rampant across the globe, killing millions of people and leaving millions more at death’s call. As head of Pathology at the World Health Organization, Evelyn fears she has seen more death than even her battle-weary husband.

  But today is a new day and a fresh start for a marriage that has been on hold for more than half its duration. This is partly her doing, she recognizes. Her life’s work, dedicated to the help and welfare of others, has taken her around the world. And after more than a decade of searching, she has finally discovered a game-changing breakthrough. The turning point came when an assignment took her to Somalia eight months ago. There, she witnessed a particularly wicked strand of H1N1 wipe out an entire village in Badhan, sparing only a brother and sister from the complete extinction of a bloodline that traced back over 100,000 years. This precious seed, from the cradle of man, held the key to Evelyn’s discovery.

  When she discovered the siblings, they were managing the care of the remaining twenty-two infected townspeople after more than 3,000 had already perished. Within three days of Evelyn’s arrival, all twenty-two had succumbed, leaving only the brother and sister to endure.

  Zuzi, at twenty-four years old, is a statuesque woman of almost six feet and her brother, Asad, six years her elder, stands six inches taller. Both are sculpted like Greek statues — and completely immune to the virus. When she studied them further, Evelyn found they share a common gene that lies dormant in the majority of humans. What her esteemed forbearers had discarded decades earlier as junk DNA was in fact an active gene in these two. After a thorough sweep, Evelyn was able to find only very few instances of the active gene among her human samples. Further research revealed that only one in roughly 10,000 humans actually have the working gene in their DNA. The discovery of the gene, which she named AZ22, had been a revelation to her research.

  While her study is still in its infancy, she hopes to one day engineer this gene that exists in all of us to reawaken in future generations.

  Although time is of the essence, she has far more pressing concerns at the moment. For the first time in her memory, Noah Lockheart, her husband of twelve years, needs her. After having served his country at war, fighting the Knights of Palestine for what has felt like an eternity, he is finally coming home. A highly decorated soldier, with numerous citations for valor and heroism, Noah has served as Captain of the Elite Special Forces Brigade in the British Army. But after having seemed so impervious to the effects of war, he suddenly appeared lost after a failed night raid in Tora Bora, Afghanistan that left most of his squadron dead and Noah’s impeccable record tarnished. His Special Forces unit took another blow when the disgraced captain decided to cut short what could have been a legendary career.

  While his motives puzzle Evelyn, she is certain that time at war has hardened him. His eyes, once filled with life and wild wonder, now appear tired and bleak. After the failed mission, Noah was ordered on mandatory leave from his company and spent four weeks with Evelyn at their summer home in northern Spain. There, they spent quiet days punctuated by detailed accounts of all that had gone so terribly wrong for Noah and his squadron that night. It was decided during his sabbatical that he would resign his post at the end of his tour and pursue other interests in the civilian world. This suited Evelyn just fine, as she felt Queen and country had taken enough of her husband; she would use this time to fortify their own alliance. She never once believed the chatter painting her husband as a broken soldier. She knows that the cost of war could not wilt Noah’s spirit and, whatever his reasons for leaving, she is certain it was calculated. And while their marriage is strong, it had been tested; after so many years apart, their longing for one another may have weakened, but it has never wavered. She is overjoyed that the demands of the world, which kept them apart for so long, no longer have a say in the matter, not anymore. Not if Evelyn has her way.

  She channels her thoughts to happier times and smiles as she remembers the great lengths that Noah took to win her affections. His uncompromising guile and determination had been a constant for as long as she has known him. She recalls the world seeming kinder then, although hindsight suggests that they all should have known better. The signs of impending doom were everywhere, even then.

  Her heart quickens at the thought of the young Noah. Fearless and brimming with confidence, he was more than a little full of himself as he strode across the grounds at the University of Oxford. Not particularly tall, standing only slightly above average, he had a lean muscular frame and dark blue e
yes that burned bright when his eyes met hers eighteen years ago. She hadn’t been easily impressed, not like so many others, and actually had thought so little of him that when he first introduced himself to her she merely laughed and walked away.

  This response only fanned the fires of his determination. However, time and time again, his efforts came up woefully short. From beautifully scripted letters, to various art he created, all of his efforts yielded similar results, usually in the form of a half-hearted “thank you” or sometimes a more scathing, “Who did you get to do this for you?”

  Undeterred, it was obvious that Evelyn would never succumb to poems and trinkets. She was well on her way to becoming a scientist and had no time for unrequited love. She took herself much too seriously but Noah admired her tough exterior as much as he did her convictions. He decided the best way to her heart would be to challenge her intellect, and that’s exactly what he set out to do.

  Days passed, then weeks, and Evelyn was free of Noah’s distractions. He had decided to cool his jets and let time do most of the work. He even pursued other women, or at least that’s how it appeared to Evelyn, who was relieved that she was no longer in his sights and could focus on her own ambitions.

  After several months of careful planning, Noah was ready to unleash his stratagem. He knew Evelyn to be a methodical thinker and he felt certain that she would have developed a habitual work pattern to boost her productivity. This schedule would train her mind and enable her to maximize her intellectual effectiveness. She spent countless hours in the lab and in front of her computer, analyzing and studying scientific data. On the rare occasions that she went out with her friends, it was usually only for dinner and maybe a few drinks, but ultimately her life revolved around her passion. Her drive fascinated Noah and he was curious as to what fed it. He was convinced that they were similar, even if she hadn't realized it.

  It was winter, and a typical evening for Evelyn as she sat at her station combing through lab results, when she was startled by an instant message on her computer screen.

  “Pardon the interruption. I know you are busy but I’m wondering if you would help me with an experiment I am working on?”

  She glanced at the username. “S.I. Newton?” she said to herself, confused. She typed, “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

  “No, you do not, but I am well aware of you. I think you may have found your match in regards to your dedication to science.”

  That brought a smile to Evelyn, who wasn’t used to being complimented for her passion. Raised by a working-class family in Manchester, she was often misunderstood and usually ignored during an adolescence spent reading in the corner of their small flat, while her siblings demanded their parents’ attention. She recalled, rather sadly, how her mother would often refer to her as an unfortunate soul.

  “And how would you know that, Sir Newton?” she tapped quickly.

  “Well, like you, I spend most of my nights here at the lab,” he confessed.

  “Oh? How is it I haven’t noticed you?”

  “How would you? You seem to be entirely immersed in your own activities.”

  It was a point well-made. She knew she could be oblivious to anything beyond her periphery. “Fair enough. Now, how can I help you sir?”

  “I think I may have invented something that, as far as I can tell, has never been created before in this laboratory.”

  “That’s quite a bold statement Mr. Newton! I’m listening.”

  “Do try to keep an open mind when I tell you that I may have created an Alkahest.”

  Evelyn’s interest evaporated and she rolled her eyes. “An Alkahest? Really? You’re either daft or completely mad. Which is it Newt?”

  According to ancient theories of alchemy, an Alkahest is a hypothetical universal solvent with the power to dissolve every other substance, including gold. It was widely sought after for its medicinal qualities and was believed to be able to cure all ailments, a universal panacea.

  “Your skepticism is warranted and I can assure you I am neither. I will give you the formula and you can see for yourself if what I am saying is true. Do we have a deal?”

  “Hmmm…. This sounds like an exercise in futility, and I am not someone who likes to waste her time on junk science.”

  “Nor do I. I promise you, it will be worth your while. I’m going to leave here now and get a bite to eat. Everything you need is located in the east wing in room 313. I have the formula written out on the white board and the elements are clearly marked on the table. Take a few minutes and look over everything, and if you aren’t willing to help me, I understand. But if you decide to do it, I can assure you it will only take a few minutes of your time. What do you say?”

  Evelyn’s curiosity was getting the better of her. “So, let me get this straight, you developed a universal solvent that has never been created in this lab and it takes only a few minutes to create it? I think you really are mad!!!”

  A couple of minutes passed as Evelyn stared intently at her computer with no response from Newton.

  “Fine!” she finally relented. “I could use a break, so I will come up in a few minutes to satiate my curiosity.”

  “Perfect! You will not be disappointed.”

  “Yet another bold statement, Mr. Newton!”

  When Evelyn entered the room she was relieved that the mad scientist was nowhere to be found. She also realized that this lab was far superior to the dungeon that she toiled in. She wondered if this Newton was a graduate student or perhaps a lab assistant. Her curiosity was put on hold when she noticed the faint sounds of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde playing somewhere within the lab. How glorious, she thought, why haven’t I ever played music in the lab?

  She walked over to the white board and read the directions. They seemed simple enough, but the components involved perplexed her: Two parts Pearl Ash Murhnein to every one part Uisge Beatha? She was certain she was pronouncing the ingredients incorrectly. And she had no idea what they were made of or what properties they held.

  Evelyn concluded that this formula was more akin to a recipe for witchery than science, but decided that it was a worthy distraction and went ahead with the experiment. She followed the instructions to the letter and, as she mixed the ingredients, felt an unexpected excitement surrounding the outcome. After a few moments of mixing and diluting, she set the contents to flame and waited. Her thoughts wandered as she tried to deduce who the aspiring alchemist could be. She carefully combed through the ranks, but came up empty. She realized that Newton’s observation was accurate, if only on the surface. She was painfully aware of how aloof she could be, but she wasn’t so out of touch that she couldn’t hear the not-so-subtle whisperings that labeled her a loner, something of an odd duck. She struggled with the nuances of social interaction, though she so wanted to connect with others. But no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t — which is why she embraced science over all else. She took comfort in knowing that science would allow her to help those she felt so disconnected from, and that someday, her passion would determine her legacy.

  Suddenly, much to her surprise and wonderment, a green elixir, bubbling and effervescent, formed in the beaker. Is this really happening? She shook her head in disbelief. She bent down to smell the substance, only to be interrupted by the opening of the door.

  Evelyn looked toward the entrance where, to her shock and disappointment, stood Noah, smiling broadly and carrying two large plastic bags. “Did it work?” he asked.

  “What?” she cracked. “Are you behind this nonsense?” Her eyes shot piercing arrows.

  Still smiling, Noah drew near Evelyn. “I am,” he admitted, placing the two bags on the long black lab table. “But I can assure you the science is real.”

  “Bollocks!” she blurted, and made a beeline to the exit.

  “Wait!” Noah pleaded. “Evelyn. I told you I created a universal solvent, and I still stand by that claim.”

  Evelyn paused to hear his explanation, staring at the ceil
ing with her arms folded. He took off his coat and hurled it without looking toward the coat rack, where it snared as if he had done it countless times before, which indeed he had. He pulled out the items from the plastic bags and arranged a table setting on the end of the countertop. With a Bunsen burner, he lit two candles he had at the ready.

  “Please, join me for dinner. I got you Chicken Tom Khah and Salmon Chu Chee from Tamarind.”

  “Tamarind?” Evelyn asked meekly. “But… that’s my favorite.” Clearly confused, she stood not knowing what to do, while Noah grabbed the beaker full of green liquid and poured its contents into two glasses. He handed one of them to Evelyn and raised his in a cheers fashion.

  “I’m not drinking that!” protested Evelyn.

  “Why not? It’s perfectly harmless.”

  Highly suspicious, Evelyn watched Noah drink from his glass. “Ahhhh…. That’s delicious!”

  “Delicious?” questioned Evelyn, inspecting the liquid in the light.

  “Go on!” Noah urged with a nod.

  She reluctantly sipped the liquid and, after a long pause, laughed when she realized that she was drinking nothing more than an intoxicating tea, similar to an Earl Grey, but with more flavor and richness than she had ever tasted before. “Aha, so you made water?” Evelyn gasped. “Well, you were right about the solvent.” She reflected for a moment. “Is that whiskey I taste?”

  Noah winked and then flashed a smile that seemed to warm the room. “Thanks for making tea.”

  She raised her glass to Noah and, as they clinked their cups, she realized that there was much more to this man than she had allowed. That evening, they shared a wonderful meal and in short time they fell into a love that Evelyn had never known was possible. Their connection forever changed her and her metamorphosis began. The walls she had built over the years slowly eroded and, in time, she learned to allow others into her world.

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