Crystal Jake

By: Georgia Le Carre

The Complete EDEN Series Box Set



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I sincerely hope I don’t leave anyone out, but no doubt I will. And when I do remember I will give myself a hard time and make it a point to mention you in the next book.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Nicola Rhead, Caryl Milton, Elizabeth Burns, Sue Bee, Cariad & Nichole from Sizzling Pages, B.J. Gaskill, Rene Giraldi, Chelle Thompson, Sandra Hayes, Terry & Donna Briody-Buccella, Tina Medeiros, Sharon Johnson, Tracy Spurlock, Simona Misevska, Irida Sotiri, Lan LLP, C.J Fallowfield, Drew Hoffman, Nadia Debowska-Stephens, Maria Lazarou & Nancy of Romance Reads.





BOOK 1





Ha, ha, ha, bless your soul.

You really think you’re in control.

Well…

—Crazy, Gnarls Barkey





PROLOGUE


Crazy

‘NOOOOOOO,’ I HOWL, but there is gravel or grave soil in my throat, and nothing other than an ugly, dried-up rasp travels out of my mouth. My head shakes back and forth like a mindless wind-up toy. Even my body is denying the horror before my eyes. Without warning my knees buckle under me, and I find myself in a heap at the doorway of his flat. Frantically, I begin to crawl toward him, screaming, babbling.

I can’t lose him! Not him! Oh God, not him. Please. Not him.

Two feet away from his body and it occurs to me: this is just a nightmare. Of course it is. It has to be. Any moment now I’ll wake up. And the first thing I’ll do? Call him and tell him how much I have missed him, how much I love him.

I feel the floor scrape against my bare knees. It isn’t a nightmare. It is real.

We haven’t spoken for two weeks. I had exams and when I called his mobile, it went straight to voicemail… Shit excuse. I should have called again, I should have emailed. Why hadn’t I? I should have known.

I hunker down over his body, my pose ungainly, heavy, that of a suffering beast. My buttocks hit the floor and my legs fold up and cross under me. I press my fingers against my open mouth and stare at him. His lips and fingers are blue and the rest of him is ashen and still. He can’t be dead.

It can’t be real!

The stillness of a dead body is impossible to describe. And yet when you see it you refuse to believe it. You always think it is a trick. A mistake. A ploy…. But a needle is embedded in his arm, which is blackened with the skin stretched and unreal. It looks as if it belongs elsewhere. That is not my brother’s arm. I know my brother’s arm as intimately as I know my own.

My breathing is shallow and trembling. I suck a huge burst of air into my lungs and pull the offending needle out. My stomach twists. It should never have entered his body in the first place. I throw the syringe away. It hits something and rolls on the wooden floor. It also leaves a tiny hole in my brother’s flesh that does not bleed. I swallow hard. My hands are shaking badly.

That means he didn’t suffer, a voice whispers in my head. He did not even have time to pull it out before he was gone to wherever it is he went to.

Oh God! He is nineteen. He can’t be gone.

CPR. I should give him CPR. There must be something I can still do. I grab his shoulders and try to drag him across my thighs, but his body is so heavy, so cold, and so stiff and foreign that my shocked hands fly away from his shoulders as if they have touched fire. I gaze at him as he lies unmoving. The blood that ran without rest during his short life has stilled within his veins. Everything has cooled and hardened. He is like a piece of wood.

With a sob of intolerable, indescribable anguish I reach for him and with every ounce of my might I drag his cold, dead weight toward me and lift it onto my lap. I touch the soft brown hair that flops across his forehead and it feels different. His scalp has hardened and changed the lie of his hair. I caress his hair, his face, his hands. Holding his head pressed against my stomach I close my eyes and begin to rock him the way a mother would comfort her distressed baby.

But there is no comfort—his head is a hard, unfamiliar weight and the action produces an odd thud made by his stiff hand repeatedly hitting the floor. I stop. In a daze I look down on his face.

His mouth is open, the tongue—a strange, dull color—is pushed against his teeth. Without the healthy sheen of saliva it looks gross. I try to close his mouth, but it is locked open. His eyes are not fully shut and through the slits I see the whites. I try to lift a lid to see once more the beautiful blue eyes I have known all my life.

If I could at least see that.

But his eyelids are glued shut. They will not budge. Tremors shoot through my hand as I still the gruesome desire to force his eyelid open. When we were young we used to lick the salt from each other’s skin. I am suddenly filled with the strange desire to lick his skin.

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