Home > Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(5)

Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(5)
Author: Jody Hedlund

“It has to be one of the other drug companies.” Harrison glanced at the door, his brow furrowing. “I had my suspicions about what happened at the office. But now that they’ve searched Arthur’s house too, it’s clear they’re cracking on until they get what they’re after.”

Her dad had already perfected the formulas of two different drugs for Mercer, FDA-approved medications that had brought the company worldwide fame and fortune. Of course, during their creation, other pharmaceutical companies had attempted to steal Dad’s research, and he’d faced ongoing threats. Had that happened again?

“So was Dad on the verge of developing another drug?”

Harrison leaned forward. “Not just any drug, Marian. The drug.”

“The cure for VHL?” She hadn’t known Dad was still working on it, had thought he’d given up when he passed along his research to her.

Harrison’s eyes gleamed strangely behind his spectacles. “The ultimate cure for anything.”

“Oh.” Deflated, Marian slumped against the sterile chair. She didn’t want to hear about her dad’s obsession. She’d listened to enough of his theories throughout the years and had stopped paying attention to his rambling long ago.

Maybe if he hadn’t spent so much time running down all those rabbit trails, he would have found the cure for VHL by now. Ellen would be safe. And Marian wouldn’t have to spend every second of her life trying to succeed where he’d failed. Maybe they would have been together again instead of continually drifting farther apart, living separate lives in three different countries.

Whatever the case, she didn’t want to talk about “the ultimate cure.” Even though Harrison had always been willing to listen to her dad go on about his research, he knew how she felt about it.

She took a bite of the spicy chicken, savoring the blend of cumin and coriander and tomato. “This is delicious. We need to eat before it gets cold.”

Harrison pushed his plate away, untouched. “None of the drug companies would stir up this kind of trouble for just any drug—they never have before. But they would do anything, no matter how vile, if they believed Arthur had completed his work on the ultimate cure.”

She wanted to sigh in exasperation, but she finished her bite and responded evenly. “You and I both know his research for the ultimate cure was based on myths and historical gibberish.”

“And you and I both know Arthur is a genius.” Harrison glanced at her dad, studying him while she inhaled more of her dinner. “To be fair, what if his Tree of Life theory is valid?”

Marian released a short, bitter laugh. “Come on, Harrison. We’re scientists, and we’re trained to use empirical evidence. To test. To retest. To base results on solid observations not speculation. And most certainly not on tall tales.”

“He was rather secretive of late. Maybe he finally discovered the location of the seeds from the Tree of Life.”

Seeds? Tree of Life? Marian shook her head, her frustration escalating.

“We obviously don’t know all the particulars.” His voice was barely audible. “But Lionel Inc. pesters him unceasingly. I’d hazard a guess they’re behind whatever happened to Arthur, especially if they fancy getting their hands on a discovery.”

Whatever happened to Arthur . . .

During her last call with Dad, he’d been distracted and cryptic. One of his final instructions pushed to the front of her mind: If anything happens to me, go to my safety deposit box at the bank, Marian. You’re intelligent, and you’ll figure out what to do next.

At the time, she’d believed he was alluding to end-of-life decisions. But what if he’d known someone meant to do him harm? Or had he known he’d fall into a coma? If so, how?

Hunger fading, Marian placed her soggy plate onto the table.

Whatever was in the safety deposit box was likely what the intruders had been looking for when they’d broken into her dad’s office and home. Perhaps it contained something important, something Dad hadn’t wanted anyone else to know about, except her.

Why?

How would Mercer competitors know her dad had landed upon another medicinal discovery unless they had inside connections, perhaps someone close to her dad that they were paying to report to them? Perhaps someone working for Lionel Inc.? They had a branch in Sandwich, only thirteen miles from Canterbury.

Although the police suspected the trespasser into her dad’s house had used an electronic lockpick or some other specialized tool that left no trace of tampering, what if the intruder was a trusted friend who already had a key to Dad’s house, as well as a key to his office?

A trusted friend . . . like Harrison Burlington.

No, not Harrison. Kind, giving, gentle Harrison would never willingly bring Arthur Creighton any harm.

Even so, for now, it was best not to say anything about the safety deposit box. She picked up her plate of takeout and started to eat again, trying to don an air of indifference. But all the while she nibbled, she considered what kind of excuse she could give Harrison before she left again.

The bank closed in two hours. She had to see what was in the safety deposit box today. She wouldn’t be able to rest until she did.

 

 

~ 3 ~


THE SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX sat on the tall table in front of Marian. Even though the bank attendant had closed the door and left her alone, she glanced around the tiny viewing room anyway—which was more of an empty closet, paneled in dark wood with a single light overhead.

A couple of years ago during a visit, Dad had gone through the process of having her and Ellen sign as joint renters on the box. When she’d arrived a short while ago, the bank hadn’t given her any hassle as she’d signed the admission form.

Thankfully, she’d had no trouble finding the key to the box. The hospital staff had placed Dad’s personal belongings into safekeeping. After she’d arrived, they’d given her the plastic bag containing his keys, wallet, several wadded tissues, a scattering of change—including old coins like those on his dining room floor—and the Rolex watch she and Ellen had given him last Christmas, the one with an engraving of their love on the back.

Marian hadn’t found anything unusual in the assortment, nothing to give her any clues regarding what had happened to him in his last hours before he’d fallen into his coma.

She brushed a hand across the five-by-twenty-two-inch cold metal container. Now she could only pray she’d find some hint. She wouldn’t be able to rest until she unraveled the mystery of what her dad had been doing in his final days to attract so much danger.

Tree of Life. Seeds. Harrison’s whisper came back to taunt her.

“No,” she said. “That’s nothing. Nothing but a stupid theory of a desperate man.”

A man frantic to find a cure. A man who’d go to any lengths. A man who’d accept any hope no matter how ridiculous. All so he could save his wife from her rare genetic disease.

Marian had been a young girl when her mom had been diagnosed and when her dad had first started searching for the Tree of Life from the book of Genesis. At the time, Marian had loved her dad’s story about how God had planted the original Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden—a tree God said would allow men to live forever.

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