Destined to Fly: An Avalon Novel

BOOK: Destined to Fly: An Avalon Novel
5.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

For Roberto
Thank you for being right by my side every step of
this journey and so many others

For Nix
With much love —
You left us too early!
I have no doubt wherever you are,
you are sure to be flying high

The limbic system
is a complex set of nerves and networks in the brain supporting a variety of functions including emotion, behaviour, motivation, and memory formation. Its purpose continues to unfold, though it appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life, with feelings such as fear and pleasure. It operates by influencing the endocrine and nervous systems and is highly interconnected with the brain’s pleasure centre, which plays a role in sexual arousal.


Do you ever feel like the hands of the universe have picked you up and hurled you into a sphere that challenges the very core of your being? Somehow, my journey has taken me to a place I never expected to find myself in, let alone knew existed.

It all began with one weekend that awakened my sexuality and ultimately sparked something in the depths of my soul, and I still feel as if I’m tumbling out of control in the midst of a psychological and sexual tornado I have no defence against. I don’t know how the kaleidoscopic events of recent times will end and can only hope my loved ones will endure the journey with me.

If I had known then what I know now, I can only wonder whether I would have chosen this path? Perhaps I never had a choice and the path chose me …

Either way, what has happened in the past has happened, the present is what it is and the future will be what it will be. I can only hope and pray that somehow, I am destined to fly.

Part One

Speak or act with an impure mind,
And trouble will follow you.


Lake Bled

adame Jurilique slaps Josef’s cheek in blind fury.

‘How dare you deceive me? After all I have done for you and your family over the years. This is how you repay me?’

Josef’s arms are secured firmly at his sides by two hefty security guards, Frederic and Louis, and although he quickly turns his head to the side, attempting to deflect her vicious slap, the corner of her ostentatious diamond ring has slipped to the inside of her finger and slices his cheek. Her lips curl into an undeniably satisfied smile at the vision of his blood, forming droplets on his skin.

‘All I wanted from you was her blood. Was that honestly too much to ask?’

Dr Josef Votrubec remains resolutely silent, refusing to meet her cold eyes.

‘Answer me, Josef!’ Her anger is displayed in her fists, bunched into white-knuckled balls, at odds with her otherwise elegant style.

Madeleine considers her options as her previously valued and loyal employee stands defiantly before her. She hadn’t wished him any harm until he betrayed her so deceitfully; now she concedes she may be left with no choice but to deal with him once and for all. She cannot allow a single loose cannon on her tightly-run ship.

Madeleine remembered when her close friend, Lauren Bertrand, had called to say that she, Lauren, had been invited to be a member of the elite Global Research Forum. Madeleine and Lauren attended the same Swiss finishing school in their youth before turning a shared passion for chemistry into successful careers. Lauren had since become a leading French chemist who often did consulting work for Xsade. Madeleine had already been keeping a very close watch on the developing Global Forum — the closer she could get to whatever the esteemed Harvard man, Dr Jeremy Quinn, was involved in, the better — and her interest was sparked further when Lauren revealed that Jeremy Quinn was keeping classified research files, including medical records, on the Australian-based psychologist, Dr Alexandra Blake.

Then she learned that Dr Blake’s work on visual perception was sponsored by another forum member, Professor Samuel Webster, who was venturing into the field of sexuality and neuroscience. She was hooked. So
she organised for her discreet information technologists (strictly off the record, of course) to hack into the two men’s computers to find out what exactly what was going on.

Just as a buzzard can sense roadkill, every fibre in her body could sense that Quinn was onto yet another ground-breaking discovery. Her instincts were confirmed sooner than anticipated when her researchers discovered that Quinn’s major benefactor, the enigmatic and always-discreet philanthropist, Leroy Edward Orwell, — or Leo, as he was known — was flying into Sydney the same weekend as Quinn was meeting up with Dr Blake. As Xsade was on the verge of finalising a patent on their ‘purple pill’, developed to combat female sexual arousal disorder, she knew she would hit the jackpot if she could continue to access information on what Quinn and Leo were up to.

Madeleine and Lauren were on a one-day conference together when Lauren informed her that the forum’s planned experimentation might not go ahead after all. Madeleine was left with no choice but to anonymously blackmail Quinn into continuing what he had been planning so meticulously for months. Much to her relief it seemed to work, as the testing went ahead as scheduled and the results she obtained from both Quinn’s and Webster’s computer systems were far beyond anything she had ever imagined.

Lauren’s casual phone call to Madeleine from Singapore, mentioning she had just bumped into Alexandra Blake, before she boarded a plane to London
was the icing on the cake. Having been thwarted by strengthened security on Quinn’s and Webster’s computer systems, Madeleine felt as if the universe was delivering Dr Blake to her doorstep and compelling her to act; accordingly, she arranged for the Blake woman to be forcibly escorted to a chateau in Slovenia and then to Xsade’s off-the-grid facility under Lake Bled.

Madeleine was sure she was on the cusp of discovering the source of the anomalies in Alexandra’s blood, unlocking potentially limitless profits for Xsade and earning herself the level of personal and professional power she had dreamed of for years. The best part would be finally outwitting the great Dr Quinn. There was no aphrodisiac more meaningful to her than social status and positional power. Quinn had, in fact, achieved her own ideal version of a networking nirvana in the pharmaceutical and medical worlds. In her mind, he rather arbitrarily and haphazardly stumbled upon the miracle cures that the world adored him for. It bewildered her that, apparently, money was never the driving factor for Quinn. He certainly never sold his formulas for the highest offer, because if he had Xsade would control the entire market. Well, this time, she wouldn’t let Xsade be ignored because of some misguided moral stance of Dr Quinn’s. She would discover his secrets before they went to the marketplace. This time it would be she who gained both the notoriety and the superprofits of the next great drug to save the human race, leaving Quinn to fade into insignificance. If she didn’t achieve
this and at the same time regain access to the enigma of Dr Blake’s blood, she could at least take comfort in the fact that she had personally destroyed their credibility in the eyes of the world.

Everything was going according to plan until Josef let her down at the last minute. As if mere pinpricks of Alexa’s blood were ever going to be enough for the detailed analysis she had in mind. All he had to do was extract a large sample of her blood while she slept after having ingested the purple pill. So simple, so easy and no one had to get hurt. She had no doubt that results from tests on Alexandra’s blood would have been remarkable and she is furious that she didn’t just do the blood extraction herself which, in hindsight, would have been far more effective, if slightly messy.

A smile that looks more like a snarl curls Madeleine’s lips as she allows her mind to wander indulgently further afield. If Alexa’s children’s blood is anything like hers, the possibilities are endless. Even if she cannot gain direct access to them, perhaps once the world sees the scandalous pictures of their mother Madeleine has up her sleeve, they might be taken into care. Then she could even offer to foster the children and have their bodies continually available to her for experimentation.

Despondently, she admits to herself that this is merely a daydream and snaps back to the matter at hand.

As she stands in front of Xsade’s version of Judas — and not in front of the one person in the world she
wants under her control, Dr Alexandra Blake — rage twists in her belly. This man, a trusted employee for the past five years, managed to ensure Blake’s escape from their facility and personally delivered her into the hands of her lover, Dr Jeremy Quinn, in Dubrovnik. Had she not treated him fairly? Paid him handsomely for his work as Xsade’s lead physician and Head of Research and Development? She can’t understand what drove this madness in him as he stands defiantly before her, secured by her henchmen.

Josef is valiantly maintaining his silence in the face of his boss’s venomous wrath. He knows only too well from previous experience that nothing he says will be tolerated until her fury subsides. Madeleine Jurilique is determined, powerful, manipulative, cunning, dangerous and, in general, should never be crossed — even more so when she is in this ferocious frame of mind. He has overheard muttered conversations in the staff canteens as colleagues likened her to the White Witch of Narnia or a barrel of aggravated, poisonous snakes and Josef can now understand why.

As the European Managing Director of Xsade, Jurilique is one of the most powerful executives in the global pharmaceutical marketplace. She seems to have an uncanny ability to deliver the next ‘big drug’ to consumers, as well as huge profits to the Board of Directors and Xsade’s shareholders, so much so they have gradually allowed her to run the company more or less as she wishes. Jurilique’s unstoppable ambition has made her more callous and reckless with
each passing year, enabling her to make increasingly dangerous decisions and take unprecedented risks on behalf of the company. But as long as the money keeps rolling in, it seems the executives are happy for her to have free rein.

Josef himself has ignored his conscience and turned a blind eye, but her treatment of Alexandra Blake proved to be the final straw for him. At first he believed that Alexa, like so many others, was willing to sell her body for money or for the sake of research. It wasn’t until he found some of his boss’s files that he understood she had been specifically brought in for reasons other than what she had signed up to in her contract.

Under such extreme circumstances, she handled herself with a dignity he didn’t often find in people and he could sense the goodness within her. Jurilique’s demand, her order that he drain over a litre of blood from Alexa while she slept, had violated his personal and ethical values beyond any degree of conscience; no amount of money could make up for what she was asking of him, or the risks she was willing to take in relation to Dr Blake’s life. He could take no more.

As their standoff continues, Josef refuses to meet her eyes though he can feel the breath pass her porcelain-capped teeth before it hits the bloodied skin on his face. She slides her hardened, glossy nail under his chin, silently forcing him to meet her lethal gaze.

‘Be under no illusions, good doctor. You will be going nowhere until I have what I need, and you will be assisting in the process.’ She slides her nail along
the line of the wound on his cheek as she watches him flinch before her. ‘So you can kiss goodbye to the thought of seeing your sweet little wife again any time soon, just as you can kiss your professional future goodbye when all of this is over.’

An involuntary shudder ricochets down his spine at her words.

She steps back and issues her command to her ever-faithful henchmen. ‘Lock him up. He is boring me and the sight of him is making me ill.’

With a flick of her wrist she goes to dismiss them. She notices Josef is finally struggling against the firm grasp of her men.

‘To ensure he is secured I’ll organise for Dr Jade, our new head physician’ — she glares at Josef viciously with hate in her eyes — ‘to administer the same drugs that paralysed our dear friend and escapee, Alexandra, when we were moving her from the chateau to this facility.’

Panic and dread settle into Josef’s bones. He understands that this woman is beyond simply ruthless as he had presumed — she is a sadist. Her extreme lack of conscience now fosters a dangerous love of violence. He realises that his hope that her fury would dissipate and he could reason with her was futile. For the first time since he was taken, he suddenly fears for his life. There will be no escaping if he is completely immobilised by those drugs.

Madeleine finally sees in Josef’s eyes the fear that she has been longing to provoke. It inspires her further.

Josef continues in his attempts to struggle free, his efforts creating a sheen on his face. ‘Madeleine, please, you can’t do this, please, my wife —’

She raises her eyebrow at Louis who instantly bends Joseph’s wrist back onto his arm causing him to shriek with pain, effectively silencing his words.

‘Take him to the lab and I’ll page Dr Jade to meet you there. Under no circumstances let him out of your grasp, boys. You know what I pay you to do.’ She turns and a smile plays on her lips when she hears the distinct sounds of suffering in Josef’s screams as he is dragged out the doors backwards. She silently congratulates herself: at least she can always count on Louis and Frederic to obey her every command.

BOOK: Destined to Fly: An Avalon Novel
5.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Nexus 02 - Crux by Ramez Naam
Dead Man's Wharf by Pauline Rowson
The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
Wildcatter by Dave Duncan
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
The Time Between by Karen White