Chapter 1

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Tuesday 15th October 2013

It had been a whole year since Reed and Ayah had been on board the Paradise Island. Although the world hadn't ended with the Mayan calendar, as everyone had predicted, it really had gone to shit for a while. It seemed that every other day or week some tragedy was occurring. Even the non terrorist stuff was crazy.

Reed was only glad that their family had survived it all unscathed, and relatively untouched by it all. Some good things had happened too, of course, but against the magnitude of the crazy, bad stuff, it barely made a dent. Ayah cried each time some new disaster struck, man-made or natural and he had a hard job convincing her that the world would get by. Though not for everyone, life did go on for them and they had to make the best of it they could. It didn't seem to help that the agency was facing a lot of flack for not calling in their best 'retired' agent to help deal with the disasters either. But they were a secret agency, there wasn't much they could do.

The best thing that had happened by far, was the birth of their baby girl, Olivia, who was now nearing a year old. It had been a blissful, uneventful year in their personal lives. The Bookworm's Hideaway bookstore had taken off with more success than Ayah could ever have hoped for. Her sales so far were enough to keep them in a comfortable life, without the addition of Reed's New York stock exchange job. Everyone was happy.

Gideon and Anita had recently got engaged and neither Reed nor Ayah could imagine their life being any better, except with the minor addition of more children and more free time to spend with each other. Reed's job went on from eight in the morning to seven o'clock at night and Ayah's days were spent at the shop, looking after Olivia or on the new writing career she had been influenced into starting. Though they kept out of trouble, they were very busy.

Thanks to her very own website, and the combination of a public forum and a publishing firm taking on two of her customers as writers in the past year, Ayah had been inspired to write. At first it was just one or two children's books for Olivia, then, with encouragement from her customers, she began writing adult fiction. Which had led to one successful murder mystery novel. Reed was amused by the fact that the very first person to be killed in her first book, was a stock broker. And by the end, it turned out that the boss of the company had him killed because he coveted his family, consisting of a wife and baby girl. There was a big twist at the end but for Reed, he always liked the whole aspect of 'life imitating art'. Though this time, it was 'art imitating life', since he already knew that his boss, his colleagues and most of his friends coveted his life. But not one of them would dare to try and take it from him, particularly not by force. Unlike Ayah's character, he would never allow himself to be killed, and certainly not if he knew it was so that some other man could get his hands on his wife.

The best thing about Ayah's writing, however, was that she wrote under a pseudonym and had found a young, aspiring model, to become the face of her novels. The model got to be famous, attending book signings and photography events, while Ayah got the quiet home life she craved. Most of her customers knew the truth, but no-one denied her the peace and quiet the pseudonym gave her and vowed never to reveal the truth to someone nosy enough to tell the world. Even the reporter who had first raved about her store, Christopher, knew the truth and didn't feel like telling anyone. He was a regular customer, as were about twelve others who all gathered on a Saturday afternoon for the newly developed book club.

Meanwhile, Ayah was rather in awe of her husband. While he praised her for her writing, the success of the bookstore and for producing a beautiful, healthy baby girl, she quietly adored the way that he took care of everything. Right down to taking Olivia for a walk around the house in the middle of the night, when she couldn't sleep. He really was a marvel.

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