June, 2012: A couple of small bombs are exploded in a Rio de Janeiro favela and Tijuana, Mexico; few casualties but riots and looting follow.
July, 2012: A mysterious plague which turns normal humans into flesh-eating cannibals destroys Central and South America and decimates large swathes of Europe and Asia.
August, 2012: Governments worldwide collapse, chaos ensues and the plague mutates into something much more than anyone could have anticipated.
Join a group of survivors from Europe and the Americas as they search for a way to patch their lives back together while dealing with personal issues from their former lives which continue to haunt them. Nothing lasts forever, not even the beginnings of the plague.
Excerpt from Beginnings: Book I
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Florestana Coelho awoke from an afternoon nap. She was surprised she had been able to sleep, but she also knew she had to get as much rest as possible. Once she landed in Los Angeles, her life would be a whirlwind of coke parties and non-stop filming. She was a beautiful young woman and there was a reason why she was one of the most requested Brazilian porn stars in the world.
At the tender age of twenty-two, she’d been in the business since she was thirteen. She was a genuine child of the favela; abandoned by her beautiful mother who was barely a tween when she gave birth to her, she ran off with the same boyfriend who had stolen her daughter’s virginity.
Such was life in the favela and in Brazil—a beautiful country with dark and ugly secrets that were neatly kept hidden away from the rest of the world.
Like most children of the favela, she didn’t know who her father was, although her mother had claimed he was some rich homem branco from a European country. It was a country that started with an “S” if she remembered correctly...Switzerland? Sweden? What difference did it make? It was obvious she’d been sired by a white man, as her mother was a classic beauty of West African, Native Brazilian and Portuguese blood, but Florestana possessed not a drop of her mother’s exotic beauty.
She was a lithe and tall beauty with light olive toned skin, naturally bronze hair and the most gorgeous ocean green eyes, a snub nose, and full luscious lips. She had the face of an angel; certainly most people would find it hard to believe Florestana sold her body to the highest bidder. She was so breathtakingly beautiful that she should have been a rich old man’s trophy wife. Perhaps when she was in Los Angeles this time around, she would get lucky.
Florestana stood, stretched and walked to the bathroom where she started the shower; a cold one, as it was late autumn, yet the air still felt hot and humid. It didn’t help those in the favela that Rio sat next to a lush, beautiful beach. The stench of raw sewage and the makeshift houses made of the cheapest materials possible allowed the cold to invade as well as the heat. She couldn’t wait until she had enough money to live in one of the fabulous apartments on the flat land. Or perhaps she wouldn’t have to come back this time. Maybe she could just blend in and wait for some American to pick her up and marry her. She would have the time on her hands and there were so many beautiful people in Los Angeles and countless opportunities.
The small boom which sounded like a gunshot brought her out of her contemplation. She quickly shed her clothes, took a shower in record time, and slipped on a pair of cut-off jean shorts and an oversized magenta tee shirt which draped from her shoulder seductively. Her breasts were small and perky enough she didn’t need a bra so she was rocking her NHOs in the worst way.
Florestana finished her outfit with a pair of comfortable three-inch espadrilles she’d picked up at the Beverly Center on her last trip to Los Angeles. She was used to the catcalls and the whistles, but she was greeted with none of this as she stepped out of her little shack with an oversized Ed Hardy backpack.
Had that noise been a dirty bomb of some kind? An attack had happened just weeks ago outside the city of Manchester in England. It turned out it was a dirty bomb which had cancer causing agents. The epicenter of the blast, Salford, was unlivable and all the residents had to be relocated.
The air didn’t smell particularly different but it appeared to be a thick, viscous smog which made it hard to breathe. She was lucky she hadn’t gone on a bender of cigarettes and booze the night before, otherwise, she would definitely need her inhaler. As it was, she busied herself with taking deep breaths.
An old rickety cab meandered its way down the street and Florestana waved it down. The older man stopped and she hopped into the back.
“Darling, I’m not working,” the cabbie responded in quick Brazilian Portuguese.
“I will pay triple your usual rate. I need to get to the airport as soon as possible. I am catching a flight to Los Angeles,” Florestana explained in a husky voice.
“Los Angeles, California? Lucky girl! Okay, if you weren’t so pretty, I might not have been as open.”
“I’m also offering three times your usual rate.”
“I couldn’t take your money, honey. You’ll pay the usual.”
“What’s going on? Where’s all this smoke coming from?” Florestana asked the cabbie.
The cabbie shrugged his shoulders. “They are saying a separatist group planted a bomb here in the favelas but what good would that do? No one was injured but it has produced this acrid smoke. The government insists there is nothing for us poor folk to be worried about as the smoke is about as carcinogenic as cigarette smoke. That is supposed to make us feel better.”
She couldn’t stop herself from laughing, though it also sent her into a fit of coughs. “They don’t care about us. I bet you if this bomb was let off anywhere near Copacabana, the government would really be worried. Step on it, honey, the sooner we get out of the favela, the sooner we can breathe!”
Nieve Callahan listened to “Written in the Stars” on her iPod as she stocked weapons into large wooden boxes labeled “Car Parts”. This was the last shipment and the last drop off they would have to make. After that, she and Cillian Doyle, her boyfriend and the love of her life, could leave America once and for all.
They had spent two long years here working for the real IRA. Neither she nor Cillian gave a damn about the cause, but as it was their families business, they didn’t actually have a choice to just walk away and attend the University of Ulster.
Nieve, christened Niamh Aisling Callahan, had changed her name to the phonetic spelling of Nieve Ashley before she and Cillian decided to take her father up on the offer to come to America for the two year stint. It was odd…America was a foreign place to her though she was actually American through her maternal grandmother.
Eileen O’Neal was as American as apple pie and had traded in the Civil Rights movement for the Irish Republican Army in the late fifties when she met Niall Connor. She was pregnant with Bronah, Nieve’s mother, by 1960. Her grandmother went on to have five children in total, including her aunt Cleona in 1962, her uncle Dubhlainn in 1965, her uncle Emmet in 1967 and her uncle Finbar in 1969.
Bronah unfortunately shared her birthday, January thirtieth, with one of the major incidents in Northern Irish history. She was twelve when the Bogside Massacre, also known as Bloody Sunday, occurred. She’d done her duty and married a hard-core member of the IRA, Padraig Callahan. Her parents weren’t exactly pleased as punch since Padraig was university educated and although an IRA member, it wasn’t something he actually talked about let alone advertised.
Nieve was born on the second of June, 1980, while Cillian, her soul mate, was born two years earlier on the nineteenth of June, 1978.
They were neighbors and grew up together, though his mother was Protestant and his father was Catholic. She’d been disowned by her family for marrying the “Ulster bastard” as he was known on Cillian’s mother side. He had no functioning relationship with his grandparents, the Murphys, and the marriage had torn his family apart.
When his mother divorced his father, she took his younger brother, Liam and his younger sister, Agnes, to live with her. Cillian was the only one who had decided to stay with his father. Had he not fallen in love with Nieve by that point in his life, he probably would have been raised on the Protestant side of Belfast.
Ah, those were the days, Nieve thought whimsically as Cillian wandered into the garage and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned off The Cranberries which had replaced Tinie Tempah and stared at her gorgeous lover.
He truly was a handsome man, with sandy brown hair, sky blue eyes, Roman nose, chiseled cheeks, perfect chin and alabaster skin. At 6’2 and 175 pounds, he was also the perfect foil for his petite girlfriend, who was barely 5’2 and 110 pounds.
It was one of the reasons why they made such an arresting and beautiful couple.
Nieve was what would definitely be considered “black” Irish. Her hair was dark brown almost to the point of being black, she had a rich olive complexion with cerulean blue eyes, a slender nose, cheekbones most women would kill for, and a beautiful sensual mouth meant to be devoured and kissed, which Cillian had done plenty of times.
“What time are we supposed to meet the crew?” she finally asked as he helped her load the semi-automatic weapons into the wooden boxes.
“Soon. We have to drop all this shit off but first I need you to make sure the place is wiped down and clear of all fingerprints. Also, can you do one last sweep just in case I missed anything? We drop the guns off and then we drive directly to LAX. We’ll stay at a hotel tonight as our flight leaves out tomorrow at eighteen fifty-five hours. We’ll arrive at Heathrow and take the Tube to the train station. We’ll take the train to Liverpool, pick up our vehicle and take the ferry over,” Cillian explained quickly.
“Why such a complicated route? We usually land in Manchester.”
“Yes, but since the dirty bomb incident, the authorities in Manchester are increasingly vigilant. We can’t take any chances, love. Relax, darlin’, soon we’ll be back at home and spending evenings at the local pub.”
Nieve smiled brightly before she kissed Cillian’s warm, inviting lips. “I love you, you know that?”
“Can’t be more than I love you, darlin’.”
New York City, New York
“I already told you he isn’t here!”
Bradley Jessup stared at his stepmother, Caroline, and felt the blood rush to his head. The stupid bitch made him want to scream.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know.” She tucked a lock of her naturally flaxen blonde hair behind her ear. “Seriously, I haven’t seen him in three months. He hasn’t called or communicated with me in any way. The Federal government dropped this off last week and I don’t know what I am going to do. There is no money, Brad.”
He realized she was telling the truth; she was even more in the dark than he was. Now that a problem had arisen, he needed his father more than ever.
Bradley snatched the document from Caroline’s hands and read it carefully. “The government says you have to vacate this place immediately. They’re seizing all of Dad’s property.”
“Yes, I know what it says—I graduated from NYU, remember?”
“A monkey could get into NYU, that don’t mean shit.”
“Well, it’s a lot more than what you can say about yourself, isn’t it, Bradley? Or have you forgotten you got thrown out of the Sorbonne so you won’t be graduating from any university anytime soon?”
“Where will you go?”
Caroline sat down on the sofa and placed her cup of coffee on the magazine table in front of her. “I was going through some of Charlie’s possessions and he has a cottage in Gordes. Do you know anything about that?”
“You mean the retreat in Provence? Of course I do. He bought it shortly after he told Mom he was leaving her for you and apparently, he was in Provence with you when she killed herself,” Bradley expressed coldly.
Caroline’s kaleidoscopic blue eyes stared back in amazement at Bradley. “Your father has never taken me there; I didn’t know the place even existed until about a week ago. I received that notice and realized that my whole life with your father has been a lie. I have been racking my brain about what to do since then. I can’t go back to my parents in Oshkosh—they would just die if they knew what was going on right now.”
“How do you plan on hiding away in France?”
“Gordes is famous for a château which was owned by the late artist, Victor Vasarély. I petitioned the French government for a Competences et Talents visa as I plan to write a biography about the history of the château. I just found out this morning they accepted my visa application,” Caroline explained softly.
“What do you plan to do in terms of money?”
“None of your goddamn business. I am not an idiot and I have enough money for Jonas and myself but I can’t take care of you, Bradley, you’re an adult. I can’t turn you away and you are free to spend as much time as you want with us at the cottage but I can’t provide financially for you...I’m sorry.”
“What I am supposed to do for money?” Bradley wailed. “These men who are after me aren’t anything to fuck around with—I owe money to the Russians, Caroline. The Russians. Do you know what that means?”
Caroline’s eyes iced over. “It means you’re in deep shit, aren’t you?”
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