The Price of Time
Would your character change ...
if you had all the money in the world?
And all the time?
Would you become a better person?
Imagine Agatha Christie meets Michael Crichton in a fast-paced, philosophical mystery thriller.
There’s a secret in Silicon Valley. A discovery. An invention. One so startling and surprisingly sinister that it needs to be concealed—at any price.
Tim Tigner takes a step back from his bestselling Kyle Achilles series to introduce Zachary Chase and Skylar Fawkes in a fresh standalone novel that’s bound to keep you glued and guessing. With secluded meetings, sudden disappearances and strange murders; secret agents, skillful assassins and sexy locations; The Price of Time is packed with fast-paced action and first-class intellectual intrigue.
Propelling the thrills and perched at the middle of the mystery is one of humanity’s great questions: Would finding the Fountain of Youth be a blessing?
Prepare for sleep-deprived nights and skipped chores while repeating the phrase: "Just one more page."
"Tim Tigner is the antidote of Dull." —Steve Wilson
"Clever to the point where you can't put the book down.” —Maryellen Crane
"I defy anyone to anticipate his plot twists." —Henry Shop
"Still trying to catch my breath. He is a superb storyteller." —Amy Peck
"A thinking person's thriller." —Glen Robins
Amazon named Tim Tigner an All-Star Author in December, 2017 and every month since for being one of the most popular authors on Kindle.
His books are recommended for fans of David Baldacci, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Nelson DeMille’s John Corey, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, Mark Greaney’s Gray Man, Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon, Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath, and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon.
Release date: May 1, 2019
Publisher: Tim Tigner
Print pages: 334
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The Price of Time
Palo Alto, California
December 24, 1999
PIERCE DUBOIS bunched his beefy fists, attempting to mask his irritation. He was unaccustomed to discourtesy. Certainly not from people whose paychecks depended on his support. Certainly not after being summoned a thousand miles on Christmas Eve.
What couldn’t wait a few weeks until the quarterly meeting? Did the offending executives somehow sense what their angel investor had planned? Had they divined that he wanted to call it quits after seven disappointing years, to enter the new millennium free from past mistakes—and quarterly million-dollar payments? Could this power play be the CEO’s last grasp at dignity, at going out on her terms?
Pierce hoped he had it wrong. That they’d found another investor. Someone who’d keep the research progressing toward a possible payout. But as he sat there waiting for the tardy executives to arrive, he wasn’t holding his breath.
He shifted his gaze from the three empty chairs to the five faces that had gathered around the Silicon Valley conference room table. A table that, like everything else in the adjacent offices and laboratory, Pierce had paid for. Three bright-eyed scientists, an administrative assistant, and the CFO all sat quietly, studying papers and avoiding their investor’s eye.
Despite their cloaked responses and coy behavior, Pierce sensed suppressed energy in the room. Something was up and dammit they knew what it was. But they weren’t sharing.
Irritated by the petty game, he picked up his phone and called his driver—who was also his pilot. Pierce hadn’t become wealthy by wasting money. “We may be heading home momentarily. Be sure the plane’s ready.”
Yes, sir. Now that was a proper response. We don’t know where they are, but surely they’ll be here shortly sounded infinitely less satisfying.
Punching off his phone, Pierce decided that he had never really cared for any of the Eos team. Their science, yes. He loved that. Their work ethic, fine. Seven of the eight were married to the job and only the job, so they put in the hours. But the lot of them were more sheep than wolf. Sure, Lisa Perera, the CEO, could show some tooth. And Felix Gentry, the CFO, occasionally displayed a full set of incisors. Neither, however, was a true carnivore. Neither was part of his pack.
Sounds of activity resonated from the outer office as Pierce picked at a pesky splinter in his left forefinger. A remnant of his last wood-chopping workout. The commotion had to be coming from the missing execs. Eos Pharmaceuticals only had eight employees.
All heads turned toward the door as Lisa Perera and David Hume entered the conference room. She wore the confident countenance of the consummate CEO but appeared more shaken than defiant. The Chief Scientific Officer was much less guarded. He wore a dazed stare and strode without his usual spring.
Neither apologized for being late.
Lisa sat at the end of the table opposite Pierce. David settled into one of the two empty chairs to her left. She took a deep breath and said, “We’ve just come from Kirsten Besanko’s house.”
All eyes turned toward the sole empty seat while Lisa continued. “She passed away this morning. Her husband found her in the pool when she didn’t come in for breakfast after her morning swim.”
Gasps erupted around the table.
Allison began sobbing without abandon.
Lisa answered the obvious question. “The paramedics aren’t sure what happened. Probably a stroke or heart attack.”
“She was only thirty-three,” Ries said.
“She was six months pregnant,” Allison sobbed, adding, “She didn’t want anyone to know.”
Pierce saw shock register on a few faces—but not all. To him, the information was anything but surprising. It implied the answer. Pregnancy significantly increased the odds of having a stroke.
He didn’t mention the connection. He hadn’t flown all the way from northern Montana to talk about Kirsten. Best to move things along. “Why don’t we knock out this meeting so you can move on to personal matters? Lisa, you said we had something supremely important to discuss.”
The CEO struggled to pull herself together, taking a deep breath while momentarily closing her eyes. It was the first time Pierce had seen her anything but perky and polished.
With a photogenic face and an all-American fencer’s quick wits, Lisa Perera was more handsome than pretty. She had shoulder-length brown hair complemented by bright brown eyes and a smile that effectively camouflaged a computer-like brain. Pierce expected her to end up hosting a talk show—once her biotech career bombed.
“Yes, of course,” Lisa said, snapping herself back into form with a transformation that was both audible and visible. “Thank you for interrupting your holiday to join us on such short notice.”
Pierce decided to set the tone then and there. “You didn’t give me much choice on the phone. Or much information.”
“As I said, some messages really must be delivered in person. On that note, I’m going to pass the baton to David. He’s earned the honor.”
David Hume, MD, PhD, and CSO, was the reason Pierce had funded Eos Pharmaceuticals. When he invested, Pierce bet on people. Despite delivering disappointing results for seven consecutive years, the Chief Scientific Officer still struck Pierce as the smartest man he’d ever met.
Unfortunately, intelligence wasn’t everything.
David stepped up to the proverbial plate by lifting his head. As he prepared to speak, the fire reignited in his eyes. “It took forty-two more iterations than I would have liked, and nearly twice as many as I predicted when we first took your money, but forty-three proved to be the lucky number.”
Pierce felt his heart palpitate. Did David just say lucky? “You succeeded?”
“We did,” David confirmed, his exuberant expression blasting away all doubt. “Our latest compound keeps telomeres completely intact through thousands of cellular reproductive cycles. There’s zero degradation.”
Telomeres were like metal tips on the ends of DNA zippers. They kept the long strands from getting fouled up during the unzipping and re-zipping process at the core of cellular reproduction. When telomeres malfunctioned, people got cancer. When they wore down, people aged. By keeping telomeres in pristine condition, Eos—the name of both their product and their company—would act like the elixir of immortality.
At least in theory.
Pierce couldn’t believe his ears, even though he had been fantasizing about this moment for seven years. “What are you telling me?”
David’s enthusiastic gaze didn’t waver. “Without extensive, long-term clinical trials, I can’t be definitive. But at this point, and by all indications, we believe we can arrest human aging with two shots of Eos a year.”
“People won’t age a day after their first injection.”
Pierce found himself speechless but quickly recovered. This was definitely too good to be true. “How confident are you in your findings?”
“Confident enough to start using it.” David gestured around the table. “All of us have.”
Pierce felt like they’d just attached jumper cables to his dreams. If David and the others believed in the safety and efficacy of Eos enough to use it on themselves, then they weren’t puffing him up as part of a pitch. When it came to science and safety, these were serious people. The leaders in their field. “I was only hoping for a slow-down. The ability to buy a few more years. Maybe a decade. You’re telling me you invented immortality?”
David raised a palm, but the other research scientists’ microexpressions might as well have been nods. Ries, Eric, and even Allison grew glows of pure pride. “No, far from it. People who take Eos can still die from any number of causes.”
“Just not old age,” Pierce confirmed.
“That’s what all our evidence indicates.”
Pierce found himself propelled to his feet by an irrepressible burst of energy. “Well, Merry Christmas! We’re about to become the richest people on the planet.”
His mind plowed forward as he paced. “If what you say is true, Eos is worth more than all the oil in Saudi Arabia. There’s nothing people won’t pay, and there’s nobody who won’t pay it. The big pharmaceutical companies will go nuts at auction. We’ll get hundreds of billions for the rights.” Pierce ran rough calculations as his lips and legs expelled excess energy. Expected purchase price. Anticipated royalty stream. His percentage ownership. He’d just become the wealthiest man alive—even if nobody knew it.
David raised his other palm, halting Pierce’s pacing. “There is one problem. We can’t sell it.”
LISA PERERA studied her company’s chairman while trying to ignore the empty chair to her left. She’d long suspected that Pierce’s parents had only named him after seeing his eyes, which were as penetrating as any she’d ever encountered. She felt that stare now and she shot it right back.
Pierce had visibly run half the range of human emotions in the span of a few seconds. From irritated to confused to disbelieving to hopeful to elated to despondent, and now he was quickly coming around the bend toward enraged.
She would lasso her cowboy and land him in a happy place, but only after he sweated a bit. He had intended to cut them off. To starve her company of oxygen. Best he suffer for a few seconds now, feeling her greater power at his moment of greatest triumph, lest he hesitate the next time she needed support.
“Why can’t we sell Eos?” Pierce asked, his molars practically grinding.
“Consider the consequences,” she said.
“The consequences were exactly what I was considering the twenty-eight times I handed you a million-dollar check.”
“Set the money aside for a second and think big picture.”
Pierce flung his hands like a frustrated ape. “You’re telling the man who funded your dreams and livelihood for the past seven years to set the money aside. That’s awfully convenient. And completely unrealistic.”
Silicon Valley attracted the best and brightest. The toughest and most tactful. All were eager to participate in promising projects, to work around the clock in hopes of fame and fantastic financial rewards. This was one of those rare moments where the lives of those select scientists and engineers actually exceeded expectations. Where dreams and reality converged.
Lisa was determined to savor every moment. And to let her team participate.
She turned to David, passing him the proverbial baton.
“What does the world look like when nobody is getting old?” David asked, his expression unfazed by the chairman’s outburst, his tone genteel.
Lisa marveled at the way her CSO could connect with just about anyone at any time. There was something about him that people found both disarming and inspiring, regardless of the circumstance. Her hypothesis was that he naturally evoked their better angels by using his big brain to see things from their points of view. That and that he had a Christlike appearance—complete with long hair, chiseled features, and soulful eyes.
Pierce’s expression softened a second before he answered the question. “Without aging, the world looks a lot less wrinkly. And competition for slots in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue gets mighty fierce.”
Chuckles erupted around the table. From everyone but David. “Actually, the world becomes considerably more crowded and dirty. It—”
Lisa zoned out while David took Pierce through his description of the dystopian world they’d create by decimating the death rate. They’d discussed it many times—with shouts and tears and shivering spines.
She found it odd that none of them had considered the costs of victory during their early years. Her explanation for that collective shortcoming was that the goal seemed so mythical and elusive that everyone had been 100 percent focused on achieving it. On the public glory and personal rewards of cracking history’s greatest medical mystery.
Only when her team reached the point where they were plunging needles into their own flesh had their thoughts turned to the broader future ramifications. To the impact on the ecosystem, the economy, and the human psyche.
Pierce smacked his fist against the table, ending Lisa’s reverie and refocusing her attention. “People will figure it out. They’ll cope. They always do. It’s what humans do. We adapt to challenges.” His eyes were shooting lightning at the man destined to make all his dreams come true.
Lisa knew that evoking this reaction was part of David’s plan. Not a failure of tact or tactic.
“I’m not going to walk away from billions just to ease your conscience,” Pierce continued. “You can buy yourself all the therapy in the world, if that’s what you need. Hell, you can found an entire university named in your honor and dedicated to the subject. Do what you want with your money. Just don’t attempt to stand between me and mine.”
Lisa intercepted the challenge, just as they’d planned. “No one’s attempting to come between you and your big payday, Pierce. We’d just like to propose an alternative method for obtaining it. One that will make your new life much more enjoyable.”
Pierce pivoted in her direction. At fifty-four, he was twenty years older than anyone else at the table, although few would guess that by looking at him. Or postulate that he’d made countless millions off a petroleum-processing patent.
Pierce looked like the healthy outdoorsy recluse that he was. The kind of guy you could send into the woods with a knife and expect to come back with a bear. Always dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, he had intense green eyes, permanently tousled hair, and a stubble beard.
“You know a better way to cash in on Eos than selling it to Big Pharma?” Pierce asked.
Lisa smiled. “Much better. Please allow us to elaborate.”
“All right.” Pierce pushed back and put his feet up on the table. His boots were of the hiking kind, not cowboy and certainly not the polished leather loafers you’d expect to see descending the airstair of a private jet. She didn’t object. She could ignore the insignificant slight if it would allow her investor to feel like a leader while he was actually following.
“Big Pharma is powerful because it has the mechanisms required to market to the masses. Sales representatives. Physician relationships. Advertising resources. But why should we market to the masses?”
The feet came down and Pierce leaned forward. “You want to limit sales to the elite?”
Lisa ignored his question. “Suppose we priced Eos at a million dollars. There are about forty million millionaires in the world, many of whom have many millions. Taking into account their families and friends, we could probably get a hundred million customers worth a million dollars each quite easily. That would gross the company one hundred thousand billion dollars. That’s a one followed by fourteen zeroes, and it’s more than the eight of us could spend in a million years.”
Lisa was certain that Pierce had done the personal wealth math. With just one billion dollars in the bank, a person could spend a thousand an hour for a hundred years and still have a fortune left over.
“Go on,” Pierce said. “Get me to your conclusion.”
“When the numbers are this big, seeking to maximize financial return is foolish. What would be the point when we could never spend the money?”
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