How do you fight dragons? Do you dare hold a sword against a master samurai?
Kayla Odachi was alone, an orphan lost in the world, largely ignored by society. Odd occurrences have been plaguing Kayla ever since her mother's death. She has no idea the importance of her role in the secret war among the “gifteds” responsible for nearly all the atrocities in human history.
It’s hard enough being a 16-year-old girl in a new school with a new crush. Can Kayla solve the mysteries surrounding her in time to save herself and possibly the world? Or better yet, can you?
Eden Wakes is the introductory novel of the Eden Faction series, a tightly-paced, suspenseful, adventure about ancient conspiracies and secret wars.
If you like Victoria Aveyard, Sabaa Tahir, or Bella Forest, you will LOVE the first installment of this Young Adult Epic Fantasy series.
“Broken sternum. Six cracked ribs. Dislocated lower mandible. Shattered orbital socket. I could go on. It seems like half his bones are broken,” the doctor said, looking over the medical charts of patient John Stevens in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital in North Austin. “Was he in a fight?”
“We don’t know,” replied the attending nurse. “He has a severe concussion and probable memory loss, so we’re not getting answers from him anytime soon. The only other person at home with him was his foster daughter…” She paused to flip through her notes. “…Kayla Odachi, and she’s not talking. CPS thinks she might have been abused. We’re running a rape kit right now.”
The doctor shook his head. “I highly doubt a little teenage girl could have done anywhere near the damage this poor fellow went through. There had to be another person there, if not five other guys.”
The nurse nodded in agreement. “Is that what you’re going to tell the police when they question you about the injuries?”
The doctor rubbed the back of his neck. “Honestly, I have no idea what to tell them. There’s no blunt force trauma or bruising consistent with a weapon. Hell, there isn’t even bruising consistent with someone bashing him with their fists. Whatever hit him, hit everywhere at once.” He paused to push his falling glasses higher up on his nose. “If I had to guess, I would say he was caught in an explosion with the shockwave slamming him against the wall.”
The nurse examined the patient. “I don’t recall seeing any burn marks on him.” She flipped through her notes again. “The EMTs didn’t mention any explosion or fire damage to the house.”
The doctor gave a short laugh.
“Something funny doctor?”
“No, sorry. None of this is funny. I just find all of this so incredibly impossible.” He scribbled on his notepad. “What was the name of his foster daughter again?”
“Kayla. Kayla Odachi.”
“She’s the half-Japanese girl two rooms over?”
“Yes, doctor. 15-years-old. Long black hair. Fair skin. Six feet tall. Light brown eyes. She’s the only person who looks like that in this hospital.”
“I thought so. And what about her injuries?”
The nurse switched to a different folder in her hand and opened it. “Let’s see. She has bruising to both her wrists. Bruising on her inner thighs. A swollen left eye. And a broken left big toe. All injuries are consistent with a struggle and potential sexual assault. We’ll have to wait for further tests to see if she was indeed raped.”
The doctor nodded as the nurse described Kayla’s injuries. “None of these makes any sense…” he mumbled to himself.
Kayla had her monthly check in with Mrs. Martinez, her CPS-assigned caseworker today. It had been almost one year since the night she and her previous foster father were at the hospital.
Kayla hated these check-in visits. Mrs. Martinez would ask the same questions each visit, and each time her answers wouldn’t change. Kayla accepted the inconvenience, understanding that this was Mrs. Martinez’s job. Plus, she has always been kind to her, something few people seem to offer.
On some visits, she would bring Charlie, her Golden Retriever and German Shepherd mix with her. Charlie loved Mrs. Martinez. She kept a box of doggie treats in her office, which was still mostly full — probably because Charlie was the only beneficiary of said goodies. He would often lie down next to Mrs. Martinez instead of Kayla. Whoever Charlie trusts, Kayla implicitly trusts as well. Charlie was fiercely protective of his master. Their bond formed four years ago when Kayla found the puppy version of Charlie inside a storm drain. His body covered in frost and barely breathing when Kayla heard a soft whine walking home from school.
Today was just Mrs. Martinez and Kayla.
“Are you thirsty?”
Kayla nodded her head. It was early June in Austin which meant temperatures in the 90s or higher.
She poured a glass of ice water for herself and one for Kayla, then added a slice of lemon to both glasses. A small gesture, but seemingly a difference-maker to the troubled youth she was typically assigned. “How has life with Mr. and Mrs. Cooper? You’ve been with them for at least six months now, right?”
Kayla took a sip of the lemony-flavored water. She opened her mouth to say something then shrugged her shoulders instead. The Coopers were one of the better foster parents to Kayla, but that was a low bar to clear. Kayla had suffered through six foster families since her mother died seven years ago. The shortest stint was three months, with the Stevens. Given what later emerged, it turned out to be a good thing.
“You might be interested to know Mr. Stevens is currently on trial for sexually assaulting at least two of his foster daughters.” Mrs. Martinez pulled out a copy of the Austin Statesman, dated three weeks ago, with his face on the front page. She placed it on her desk for Kayla to read.
Kayla didn’t react, instead staring into her water glass.
“I know they didn’t find any evidence that he… abused you, but it would help us greatly if you could give us your account of what happened the night both of you were brought into the hospital.”
Kayla has tried to answer this question before. She gave an honest-to-God account of what she recalled, which unfortunately wasn’t much, but it was truthful to the best of her recollection. No one believed her. She stopped trying. “It doesn’t matter anyway. He molested the other girls. You don’t need my testimony.” She finally broke her silence. Her left hand wandered to the locket around her neck. The last gift and only remaining keepsake of her mother before she died.
“You know that’s not the point, Kayla.” Mrs. Martinez took her glasses off.
Kayla had been around long enough to know Mrs. Martinez does that when she’s tired or frustrated. Kayla wasn't trying to be difficult, but she knew that the word of a troubled orphan doesn’t count for much in this world. It was a lesson she learned quickly in her first foster home. Her foster parents at the time locked the fridge with a padlock so that the kids in the house wouldn’t “eat them out of house and home.” When she tried to complain to the CPS worker, they ignored her because the foster parent would remove the locks whenever they were expecting a visit.
“Kayla, darling. I’m on your side. You know that right? Let’s move on to a different subject. You just finished your sophomore year of high school. That must be exciting! Are you making friends? Have you met any cute boys?” Mrs. Martinez smiled and winked.
Kayla took another sip of water. “I’m pretty sure everybody hates me for some reason. The boys call me a freak because I’m taller than them and it makes them feel better about their shortcomings. The girls? They’re even worse. I don’t talk to them, I stay clear of them, but they seem to hate me anyway. They always think I’m trying to steal their boyfriends. God forbid I talk to a boy. That automatically means I must have slept with them. I get called all sorts of creative names, slut, whore, cunt, and… sorry, I didn’t write all of them down.”
Mrs. Martinez frowned as Kayla was describing her school year. “I can’t say that my sophomore year of high school was all that much better. You know, the word sophomore means ‘wise fool’ in Greek. Kids, like yourself, will soon grow out of their immaturity. Some faster than others, sadly.”
Kayla shrugged. The social acceptance of her peers wasn’t a priority for her. Her goals concerned maintaining a high GPA, so she could get a college scholarship and start fresh somewhere far away.
Mrs. Martinez looked over her meeting notes listing out the topics she planned to discuss. A wry smile appeared on her face. “You’re 16 now, old enough to drive, almost old enough to vote. I don’t know if your foster mother is talking to you about this, but it’s important that you know. If you are going to be sexually active, you need to use a contraceptive. We are in Texas after all. It’s a great state, but not a state that’s very understanding of a woman’s right over her own body.”
The topic made Kayla blush. She wasn’t expecting the conversation to shift to this area. Immediately, images of Tommy Davis streamed into her consciousness. Tommy was Kayla’s foster brother, currently living with her at the Cooper foster home. One year older, he’s someone who showed a great amount of care and kindness from the first day she moved in. Her feelings for Tommy had mostly been on the friend side of the fence. But now and then, her mind liked to hop that fence, lie down on the lush green grass, and enjoy the sunset before hopping back. “I’m not sexually active if that’s what you’re implying. You don’t have to worry about that.”
Mrs. Martinez seemed relieved. She gave Kayla a big smile. “That’s good to hear. You’re far too young.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “Unless you’re willing to tell me the truth about that night, I have another appointment.”
Kayla shook her head.
“OK, then. Can you send in the next girl? Her name is Isabelle. She should be the only one in the waiting room.”
“No problem, Mrs. Martinez. I’ll see you next month.” She left the office and scanned the waiting room. Kayla saw the profile of another teenage girl. Long blond hair covered her face from the side. Her head bobbed ever so slightly in a soft rhythm to whatever played from her earbuds. Kayla walked up to her and tapped her shoulder.
Isabelle looked up at Kayla and took a headphone out. She beamed at Kayla as if she was happy to see her. This confused her, as Kayla had never seen this girl before. At that moment, Kayla forgot she had to relay a message.
She was taken aback again by the lovely eyes staring up at her — big, blue, radiant eyes, like water from the Caribbean Ocean. Isabelle had perfect skin and no visible pores. She carried an expensive phone in one hand and a designer clutch in the other. Kayla pictured herself in Isabelle’s shoes with all her luxury goods and how life would be different if she was half as gorgeous as her.
What is a person like Isabelle doing at the CPS office? She’s too young to be a foster parent. We look like we’re the same age. Kayla composed herself and remembered her task. “Mrs. Martinez told me to send you in.”
The jovial teenager stood. She was about the same height as Kayla too, with a slim, athletic build. “Thank you,” Isabelle said, her voice sweet and cheery.
Kayla watched her walk into Mrs. Martinez's office and found herself strangely attracted to Isabelle — not so much physically. She was mysterious. It seemed like happiness was her default state, whereas sadness was Kayla’s. In their opposition, a connection sparked between them, humming, pulling at Kayla’s reserve. She paused, briefly considering listening into their meeting. That would be weird. She shook her head, ignored the impulse, and headed home.
Kayla looked forward to seeing Tommy again.