Sneak Peek: Chapter 4

Troy Samuels entered the lab at the Diamond T five minutes before his appointed start time of 8:00 a.m. He walked to a locker that stood in one corner of the lab and traded his light jacket for a full-length white lab coat. Troy was a graduate from Colorado State University, and his brilliance in understanding the genetic code and gene manipulation earned him accolades and recognition from his professors. When Julian Reichert called the university and asked for their best and brightest, Troy Samuels’s name topped the list, and from the minute Julian met the affable, twenty-six-year-old graduate student, he took a strong liking to him.

The job and the grant from the Diamond T was a godsend to Troy, whose widowed mother helped pay his college expenses until his younger sister, Emma, enrolled in college. From that point, Troy and his wife, Shelly, lived on student loans and the income Shelly received as a secretary in the research department at the university. When their first child was born, Shelly quit work at the university and took a part-time job when they moved to Rifle where Troy could be closer to his work.

At precisely 8:00 a.m., Dr. Jonathon Ryder walked into the lab. On the previous day, Troy and Dr. Ryder flushed ripe eggs from the Domino cows and fertilized them in-vitro with sperm from the Diamond T Dominion III bull. Troy removed one of the petri dishes containing a single developing embryo from its temperature-controlled incubator and placed in under the light microscope. He sat at the table and looked into the microscope. The formation of life was unfolding right before his eyes as he watched the division of cells create the new beginnings of what would be a living, breathing animal. It was amazing to him that this embryo, now in the fourteenth hour of cleavage, could be split into two, four, or even eight individual, identical embryos, and that each of these embryos would become a living calf.

Today, he and Dr. Ryder would place one of these divided embryos into the uterus of the original mother and seven others in the uterus of “common” surrogates. This was a process that Troy and Dr. Ryder repeated monthly at the Diamond T with eggs that were recipients of the myostatin blocker gene, the gene that the two of them had successfully isolated months earlier. In one year’s time, one prize cow, producing eggs that were fertilized with the sperm from Dominion III, could produce dozens of superior offspring, but the calm, relaxing atmosphere that Troy thrived in at the Diamond T was about to change.

It was just after the announcement that Troy and Dr. Ryder had created the synthetic myostatin gene that Troy began noticing unusual events that concerned him. The first came when he noticed a gray sedan following him from the Diamond T to his home in Rifle. He wasn’t sure how long the car had been shadowing him, but he first noticed it on one of his late-evening drives home from Oak Creek Valley.

He hadn’t given it a second thought until he saw it in Rifle driving on the street in front of the apartment, and then it was at the bank and again near the grocery store. Now, every time he walked out of the door of the apartment, he looked for the gray sedan. When he asked Sherry if she knew someone who drove a gray sedan, she told him no, but Troy couldn’t ignore the mysterious way the car kept showing up.

Sneak Peek: Chapter 3

Fifteen minutes before Julian Reichert arrived at the scene of the crash, Angeline walked into the lab at Calf Creek. The sun’s rays touched the tips of the pink ledges on the western edge of the narrow Calf Creek valley and began their descent along the cliff to the valley floor. Martin was in the lab early, continuing the work he started the night before. The state-of-the-art lab was a model of organization and sterility and reflected the expectations that were important to both Angeline and Martin. It was a welcome environment that aligned with Angeline’s dream. Her veterinarian was at a stainless steel table, his head and shoulders stooped over, looking into a microscope.

“Morning, Martin,” Angeline said. “You sleep here last night?”

“Hi, Angeline.” Martin chuckled. “I thought about it, but these stainless steel tables aren’t very soft. You and Elliott take your morning jog already?”

“As a matter of fact, we did. It’s a great morning in the canyon.”

Angeline’s appearance never went unnoticed by Martin. Her work attire could land her a job as a model for Western wear with her Wrangler jeans over boot tops and long-sleeved plaid shirt. Her auburn hair was gathered in a ponytail that hung through the back of the baseball cap and down to the base of her slender neck. More than once, Martin had expressed his opinion that the baseball cap was discord with her Western wear. She responded by telling him that she was on the cutting edge of starting a new trend, replacing cowboy hats with baseball caps. Angeline Reichert was comfortable in her own skin and in any setting.

The relationship between Angeline and Martin Evers extended far beyond their common goal of developing a top line of beef cattle. Over the years, Martin had come to know the two sides of Angeline that few people knew. There was the hard-driving business woman whose unrelenting focus on achieving her goals made her intolerant of anyone who did not buy into her vision. She was brutal. And then there was the kind and compassionate Angeline who had endeared herself to Martin and his wife, Cheryl. She had touched their lives by leaving a livestock show in Dallas, Texas, to be by Cheryl’s side when she lost their first child. Few people knew the compassionate Angeline Reichert.

Angeline walked to the coffee maker and poured herself a half cup of black coffee with one packet of Splenda.

“You hear the news this morning?” Martin asked.

“I haven’t,” she responded as she lifted the coffee cup to her lips. “Is there something I should know?”

“Lizard and Buzzy crashed on the Devil’s Backbone last night. They’re both dead.”

“What!” Coffee spilled from the cup as Angeline jerked her head up in surprise.

“The announcement was on the radio thirty minutes ago.” “Were there any details, like how it happened?” “Not many,” Martin said. “Initial reports were that the driver was just careless and left the roadway. Not a lot of details, but both occupants of the truck and two cows were killed, but I’m beginning to think your gate is only swinging on one hinge.”