Please welcome Paxton Summers, who is here to tell us more about her Clone series.
CLONE: Book of Eva
by Paxton Summers
When a world leader’s daughter meets a clone, a doomed love affair begins.
In the year 2087, a great war erupts upon the face of the planet, destroying most of the earth. Mankind turns to cloning to survive. Over one hundred-fifty years later, the planet is divided into two factions. There is a shortage of food and an abundance of illness. Most live on the scraps of the wealthy, who wallow in excess.
This is the world Olivia Braun inherits. Sick from birth, she wakes up from surgery with a new heart, only to discover she is the youngest president of Aeropia, an empire that has created and used clones to maintain their position of power since the bombs dropped, but her rise to power was no accident and the fall won’t be either. Before her transplant, Olivia conspired with a clone to free those Aeropia had enslaved.
Now, enemies lie in wait, hidden among the population. Even friends can no longer be trusted, and Olivia must make a choice that will decide the fate of the free world. Before her tale of corruption, forbidden love and war ends, the mighty will be brought to their knees.
By a clone.
AVAILABLE OCTOBER 1ST. PRE-ORDER FROM:
The first time I met Axel, a pack of boys were beating him in the garden on my parents’ summer estate. Five of them pummeled him; meaty sounds and grunts followed each punch.
“That’s for telling me I can’t have it.” Slam. A fist flew and another oomph. “Cocksucker.”
“Hold the fucker down,” another said.
“You aren’t so tough. Big dumb fuck. We’ll teach you your place.”
Easy for them to say when it was five to one. I crept up behind them as quietly as I could, not even daring to draw a breath. With my size and lack of physical strength, the element of surprise would be all I had going for me, and it shouldn’t be wasted.
The person they pounded was out of view, hidden behind the bulk of the bullies’ bodies. Even though I couldn’t see him, I knew they were giving him a terrible beating, and that he must be male, for the slurs from their mouths sounded as though he intimidated them.
Each time their fists or boots connected, as they were kicking him, too, a thud ensued. He didn’t speak, choosing silence over screaming for help. The only sounds he made were the occasional grunt or moan, when someone’s knuckles or steel toes connected with his torso.
From the back, I recognized them. Boys from the local village who had no business here. They’d trapped their victim in the hedges, using the thick vegetation to contain him while they delivered the beating, pounding on his ribs, face, and anywhere they could strike. Certainly they would have killed him had I not intervened.
“Stop!” I moved for the cowards. “I’ll report your trespassing to my father.”
They whipped around, and their eyes widened.
Even though they were twice my size, I did not back down. “You have no official business on this estate.”
“Says who?” one of the more stupid lads asked, obviously unaware of who I was. From the looks on his buddies’ faces, at least they weren’t clueless. They vehemently shook their heads at their friend. One even delivered a sharp elbow to the witless one’s ribs as he opened his mouth to say more.
“Sorry about that. He’s not the brightest bulb on the tree, Ms. Braun.”
None of them were if they were trespassing on the property. “Get out of here.” The conversation was over, and I was only interested in getting to the wounded boy in the hedge. “Now!”
Nobody messed with a Braun. They bolted in every direction, running as though I had a charged weapon pointed at them, and perhaps I had. My family name was something to be feared.
“Come back and I’ll tell my father,” I screamed as they disappeared from view.
On the ground was a bag, fruit from the estate conservatory spilled out onto the pavers, for the fruit outside would not look so perfect. Theft, no doubt.
I looked down into the bushes and saw him. The brown pants and tunic gave away his identity, that of a slave. The boys who’d beat him were the thieves, not this clone. I instantly recognized his face, even though he wouldn’t look at me. General Axis’s clone.
“They were stealing from the conservatory?”
He nodded but continued to avoid eye contact. It was obvious he’d caught and tried to stop them. I’d seen him tending the conservatory orchard from a distance, and supposed it was his primary function when he was at the summer palace from May to November. Beyond that, I’d paid little attention to the clones and what they were doing. Regardless that he was a clone, the lowest in the food chain, he’d done nothing wrong and did not deserve the punishment the boys had given him.
A ball of heat built in my chest as anger seeped into me. This wasn’t right, and my father would hear about it. I didn’t care the victim had been a clone—his suffering had been unwarranted.
I stretched my arm out to help him from the box elder, waiting for him to take my offered hand. He tried to roll to the side, and his gasp told me the motion hurt, but it also told me other things. Like how desperate he was to avoid any contact with me. I waited, ignoring his rejection of help, certain if he couldn’t roll over, he wasn’t climbing out of the hedge on his own. “Come on, take it. Let me pull you out.”
He refused, turning his head away. With a sigh, I leaned down and grabbed his wrist, doing my best to heft his solid frame out of the shrubs. “The more you help me here, the faster I let go of you.”
He clasped my wrist in return and, using the support I offered to climb from the greenery, stood. When he straightened his spine, he towered over me. Most men his height would slump their shoulders in an unintentional need to be smaller. This clone did not.
I gasped and stared at his chest, certain I’d met a giant. General Axis was tall, but I’d had never been in close enough proximity to him to get the full effect of just how big he really was. Perhaps the shock came because I’d always avoided my father’s military leader every chance I could, not liking the way he watched me when he thought no one was looking. I never understood how he’d commanded so much respect before now.
From where I stood, Axel and I were practically chin to shoulders. I had a hard time understanding why he’d let those boys beat him. He obviously had the size and strength to stop them if he desired.
At the time, Axel was around the age of nineteen, at least six-foot-four, and twice my weight. Two years senior to my seventeen and healthy to my scrawny and sick. Even though he was a clone, I felt in the presence of greatness and couldn’t help the slight buzz I got from being so near. And then I got a closer look.
I tipped my chin up, and my mouth dropped open. “Oh.” I blinked, and my heart skipped. My stomach did this strange flip-flop thing, and heat washed across my face. “Wow,” I breathed out, almost silently. I was pretty certain he hadn’t heard, or he’d have looked away again.
My knees got all wonky, and little jolts raced up my arm from where we made skin-to-skin contact. I swore I could feel his pulse beat under my fingers, matching time with my own.
He pulled his wrist free and backed away as I continued to stare.
“Wait,” I said, shaking off the awe. “What’s your name?” I didn’t want to call him clone. And wow, seemed a little impersonal. The clone was more human to me than most of the people who came through the palace. He was the hero of my mother’s antique romances, the ones I’d squirreled away in my room and read until the pages were coming free from the spines.
In a matter of seconds, I’d become a victim of hit-and-run love at first sight.
All my life I’d wanted to meet someone like him—the man of my dreams. Only he was a clone, and any kind of a relationship between us would be forbidden. Impossible. I didn’t care. I was captivated and wanted to know more about him. “Please, don’t walk away. Tell me.”
He stopped his retreat. “I have an I-dent, a creation registration number.” He touched his cheek and ducked his head. The act was both boyish and charming on so powerful a figure.
“No, I mean a name, not an i-dent. I’m Olivia.” I stepped closer. “What name do you call yourself?”
“I know who you are. It’s prohibited for me to have a name, to even think about having one.” He eyed the corner of the house. “I should go.”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s just us out here.” I picked up the bag of fruit and pushed it at him. “What name do you go by?”
He made no move to take it, as though he was afraid we might accidentally touch again. “I haven’t ever had a need to claim one.”
“We shall have to change that.” I thought for a minute and then smiled. “I think I’ll call you Axel. Do you like that?”
“It sounds like his name.” He shifted on the balls of his feet but didn’t run.
“It does, doesn’t it? We’ll keep it between us. I like it much better than a number, or calling you clone.”
“But that is what I am.”
Then he lifted his gaze to mine and smiled. It reached his eyes like the sunlight that warmed me on a sultry day, and it took my breath away. I wanted more. “Thank you,” he said, shifting his attention back to stare at the ground.
“You’re welcome.” I tucked the bag under one arm and reached out to take his hand.
He took several steps in reverse. “Don’t touch me.”
“Why?” The moment of closeness we’d shared, vanished.
He didn’t answer but turned and walked away. I followed him, doing my best to keep up, but his legs were so much longer than mine and stretched the distance between us rapidly. It didn’t take seconds for the wheezing to start. My chest hurt, but I did not let it stop me. I wanted an answer to my question. So I jogged, pushing limits I never should’ve.
He whipped around. “Go away.”
I came to a complete stop and sucked in a sharp breath. The bag dropped from my arms. The fruit rolled all over, scattering at our feet. He’d raised his voice. They never did. My chest cramped, and my heart fluttered inside my ribs. Not the steady beat I usually had, but as though it struggled to find its pace. I dropped to my knees, gasping for air, certain I would die. My hand went to my breast, and I willed my heart to beat normally. I needed my medicine and would never make it to the house to get it.
“You shouldn’t have followed me.” He stooped to brush the hair from my eyes and touched my cheek. “I’m a clone, Olivia. I’m not allowed to touch you or speak to you. They execute us for it.” Then Axel did the bravest thing. He lifted me in his arms and ran to the front steps of my home, calling for help.
Three rules broken to save my life. Three that could get him executed. I had not known. I’d been buried in my own little world of romance novels and gardens, failing to learn the laws of our land, living a fantasy instead of facing reality, and it could cost Axel his life. I’d never felt so ignorant or helpless.
General Axis came out and took me from his arms. “What did you do to her?”
Axel shook his head and retreated a couple of steps. He stared at the ground.
General Axis didn’t say anything further, but the look on his face promised Axel would pay. I worried at that moment I’d killed him, my question of why I shouldn’t touch him clearly answered in the commander’s cold accusation. I opened my mouth to speak, to tell General Axis he’d saved me, but I had no air or voice. Then, I swam in darkness.
Coming in 2016…
The continuing tales of the Clone Series by Paxton Summers.
Paxton Summers is giving away a limited number of review copies. If you’d like to review Clone ~ The Book of Eva, please feel out the form below.