Sequel to Portal to Eden
Jacob Forrest is a genius who’s neither liked nor understood. That is until he meets Dr. Peter Fairfax and falls hopelessly in love. But Peter isn’t free, and Jacob takes a job three thousand miles away, nursing his broken heart. Then he learns the expedition to the planet Nibiru and the city of Eden will be headed up by Emma Bradley, Peter’s fiancée. On the assumption Peter will be going as well, Jacob does things he’d never thought he would, in order to get a position in the expedition. Only to learn, once he arrives on Nibiru that Peter isn’t there.
In an effort to make the best of a bad situation, Jacob allows himself to become friends with Marine Sergeant Oskar Eriksen, only to be once again disappointed. But things in Eden aren’t going well, especially when other Terrans, who don’t have the planet’s best interests at heart, portal there. The original commanders of the expedition are sent back to Terra, and it’s left to Jacob and others to keep their city safe. But with the power of Terra behind those they call the unholy trio, can they manage it? And will Jacob ever be anyone’s good luck charm?
I slowed my pace -- I didn’t want to seem precipitate -- and turned the corner to the corridor where Oskar’s room was. I balanced the tray in one hand, removed my glasses and slid them into a pocket. I could see things fairly well close up, but at a distance -- not so much. I growled when I had to toss my head to get the hair out of my eyes, but it was more out of excitement than annoyance.
A number of men and women wearing shirts of blue or brown stood in a knot just outside my lover's door, and Oskar stood in their midst.
“You dog,” one crowed, giving Oskar's arm a playful punch. My steps faltered.
“I didn't think you could do it!” Another smirked, and Oskar scowled at him. At least I thought ... hoped ... he did.
“This was a great idea,” a third cackled, “though it really took you long enough. What a kick in the ass to Forrest,”
I came to an abrupt halt.
“This is so choice. Did he really think you'd fallen in love with him? Come on, give us the details.”
“Yeah, tell us all.”
“Talk, my man! What was it like, fucking the tightest tight-ass on Nibiru?”
The tray tilted in my suddenly numb fingers, and two of the plates hit the floor with a crash. The group whirled to see what had caused the noise.
“Oh, fuck. Doc.” My lover's -- Eriksen's face was pale, as pale as I imagined mine must be.
“It -- it was a joke?”
Some of the soldiers and scientists had the grace to look away, uncomfortable, while others just sneered. “A pretty damn good one. Admit it, Forrest. You fell for it hook, line, and sinker. If anyone had it coming, it was you.”
I waited for Eriksen to defend me, to deny it, to tell me that while they were joking, he hadn't been. His eyes skittered off mine.
“I see.” I felt like a fool, standing there with my hair in my face and hanging down around my shoulders. I tightened my grip on the tray, turned on my heel, and walked away.
“Let him go, Rick. You did what you said you would do.”
“Fuck you, Jones!”
I heard his footsteps coming after me, but I refused to break into a run. It was bad enough I'd given them the satisfaction of seeing how devastated I was by the knowledge of Oskar's -- of Eriksen's betrayal.
“I didn't mean to hurt you.” His hand closed around my upper arm. “Please, Doc. Let me explain.”
“All right, go ahead.”
“You have to understand. Yes, it was just a stupid joke, but --”
My heart cracked as he admitted it, and my chest felt as hollow as it had when I'd first arrived in this city. Word would go through Eden with the speed of light, and once again people would be snickering behind my back, gloating about how I'd been seduced and abandoned. It would be the same as when Peter had had to leave me behind and rumors at the university began to fly.
Only this time there was no Cape Canaveral for me to escape to.
“I made it so easy for you, didn't I? You must have been laughing at how easy I was.”
“Doc, no! It wasn't --”
“Sergeant Eriksen, from now on you will address me as Dr. Forrest.”
“Let me finish, goddammit! Are you going to let a stupid joke come between us?”
“There is no us, Sergeant.”
“Jacob, you can't mean it!”
“I do mean it, Sergeant. You and your friends had your laugh at my expense --”
“Jacob, let me explain.”
I continued as if he hadn't interrupted. “And as far as I'm concerned, that's more than enough.”
“But we have something special!”
“We have nothing.” I glanced down at the tray I still held, then back at his friends, at the spilled plates. “You can clean that up if you like. Just make sure Franklin gets the plates back.”
This time when I hurried off, he didn't come after me.