Author: Joel Fox
Publisher: Bronze Circle Books
Purchase on Amazon
California Governor Judith Rhodes is well on her way to becoming the country’s first female President. But at a campaign rally in Los Angeles, Governor Rhodes’s campaign is nearly thwarted by an assassin’s bullet—but for the quick thinking of Eve, who single-handedly foils the attempt on the Governor’s life. It seems almost miraculous that Eve survived….but things, especially as pertain to Eve, are not what they seem.
Eve, after all, is anything but what she seems. Jealously over the love of an 18th century New England pirate prompted a powerful witch to cast a spell on Eve. While she doesn’t age, Eve is condemned to an endless—and often tortured—life, cursed to remain on earth until she kisses the lips of the pirate lover who went down with his ship in the waters off Cape Cod in 1717.
Meticulously guarding her past by not residing anywhere too long or forming any lasting relationships, Eve has somehow reached present day, her secret intact. But after having wished for death a thousand times over, now Eve has a reason to live. And that reason is to see Governor Judith Rhodes become President of the United States. Throughout her interminable, often intolerable, existence, Eve watched women suffer, struggle, and fight to improve their position in society throughout American history. But now, in a strange twist of poetic justice, Eve is helping a woman run for President. However, Eve soon finds herself where she never wanted to be: in the spotlight. After centuries of keeping her tightly-guarded secret, Eve’s carefully-maintained life could start to unravel—inadvertently dooming Governor Rhodes’s quest for the White House. Dogged by a tenacious reporter who senses there is much more to Eve’s story than meets that eye, Eve will find that not just her secret—but her life, and the course of history—may be in jeopardy.
Brilliantly crafted and mesmerizing, The Mark on Eve grabs readers from page one. Seamless, suspenseful, and sensational, The Mark on Eve is an extraordinary tale rich with history, mystery, and intrigue. The Mark on Eve is destined to leave its mark on readers. Novelist Joel Fox, whose thirty plus year career in politics informs his latest novel, delivers a taut, tense, uncompromising tale.
Eve felt Sansone touch her lightly on the arm to gain her attention. “Remember now, no jokes,” he said.
“People are here to see the next President of the United States. They don’t want a sideshow from anyone else at the mike.”
“I’m not at the mike. I’m a producer; I never get out front.”
“What d’ya mean? You helped arrange this event. Who better?”
“Not me. Never me.”
Sansone edged closer to Eve and lowered his voice, keeping the cutting edge unsheathed. “A presidential race is a team sport. You’re part of the team pushing toward the goal. If you’re not part of the team, you’re dead weight. Either push or get lost.”
Eve did push. She pushed Sansone easily with no force.
“A word to the wise,” Eve said, “don’t shove me away. I’m going to be with Judith Rhodes when she’s elected president. I’ve waited too long for this to happen.”
Eve stepped back. Had she put too much emphasis on one little word? She would not be denied this moment in history. However, she must not be found out.
Their staring contest ended only when Judy Rhodes walked over to them. “Let’s get this show on the road,” she said.
Eve joined Governor Rhodes and Walter Sansone as they walked into the tunnel. A typical warm October day disappeared in the cool tunnel. Police cars and an ambulance were lined up in the center of the tunnel, allowing people to pass on either side.
Secret Service agents, wearing earpieces and speaking into wrist microphones, strolled behind them. Eve looked ahead out of the tunnel at the huge white screen, maybe twenty feet high, standing behind the stage and blocking the view of the field. However, from her position, she could see on each side of the screen the colorful clothing of those in attendance sitting in the top rows of the stadium. The stands were splashed with golden October early evening sun.
From the front side of the screen the final stanza of “God Bless America” was being sung by a country-western star, accompanied by thirty thousand or so other people. What a great day for the Rhodes campaign. Nothing would stop the march to the White House, Eve thought.
Walter Sansone was talking to the governor but Eve only heard bits of what he said. Judy responded with perfunctory nods. Going over the speech, Eve guessed.
From the corner of her eye, Eve saw a movement, a gangly Highway Patrol officer walking more swiftly than anyone else. He was on the other side of the cars parked in the center of the tunnel. When he reached the spot where a police car and the ambulance met, he looked down and saw the bumpers were touching. His face showed anger. He continued walking swiftly toward the field end of the tunnel, disappearing from view behind the truck-like ambulance.
Eve continued to walk with the governor. Sansone was on the other side of Judy, still exhorting her. Eve watched Sansone’s earnest eyes searching his candidate’s face to see if his instruction was received. For her part, the candidate continued with her practiced nod. Eve could not tell if the governor was absorbing the lecture.
Eve sensed they were approaching the end of the tunnel. The light was brighter. She looked up. The gangly Highway Patrolman stood at the end of the tunnel, his hand on his holster flap.
Why was he in such a rush to get ahead of them? she wondered.
He lifted the holster flap and started to draw his gun.
Eve felt panic grip her. She turned her head, looking for support. Nothing. No one else was reacting. Not the Secret Service agents. Not the candidate and her campaign manager. No one else saw any danger.
The gun cleared the officer’s holster. He was bringing it up to shoot. Who?
Instantly, Eve knew the target: Governor Judith Rhodes.
A jolt of adrenaline shot through Eve’s body. She lunged in front of Judy. She saw the flash from the gun and heard a boom like a cannon echoing inside the tunnel.
New England, 1717
Eve felt the musket ball smash against her chest. The impact knocked her back and she crumbled to the ground, dust billowing around her. The forest trees seemed to swoon in a circle above her. Pain surged across her chest in waves like ripples in a pond flowing from the place where a rock struck the water.
She slapped at her chest as if beating out a fire. She pulled and tore at the strip of leather that kept her deerskin shirt closed, tearing it open to her breast. The iron ball rolled over the mound of her right breast and dropped into her hand. She squeezed the ball and looked at the purple-orange-blue mark just above the breast. The ball hit her with such force as to sketch a steeple-like peak on her skin.
A shadow crossed her face. She looked up at a man’s dirty face partially covered by a scraggly beard. Long hair fell to the shoulders of his weathered coat. He smelled like the animals of the forest. He scowled, showing brown teeth and emitting a sour breath when he spoke. “Why ain’t ye dead?”
The question sent a shock through Eve’s system the same as the bullet had. The ball hit her hard yet bounced from her skin. A cough sent a spasm of a dozen knives cutting inside her chest. She should be more than pained; she should be dead.
Starting from the spot that throbbed on her chest, a shiver raced through Eve’s body. Could this mean the words of Tinuba Tam were true? She thought back to that awful day just one week before when she dared approach the only person she thought could help her: Tinuba Tam, the witch of Cornell Harbor.
Eve crashed through some bushes, a shortcut to Tinuba Tam’s lean-to. A branch caught against her chin and cut deep. She cried out, her hand slapping at her face. She could feel the wet—not rain, thicker. She looked at her hand and saw the blood from the wound. No time to stop now. She had to save Marcus.
The lean-to made of logs stood in a stand of cedar trees near a small clearing. The open end of the lean-to, covered with the remains of an old square-rigger sail to keep the rain out, faced east away from the prevailing wind. A puff of smoke curled from a hole cut in the roof.
Eve would not wait for a proper invitation to enter. Without a holler of greeting or a fist pounding the log siding, she flipped back the corner of the sail and stepped inside the lean-to.