An Unyielding Desire (After The End Book 2)

BOOK: An Unyielding Desire (After The End Book 2)
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AN UNYIELDING DESIRE (After The End, Book Two)

Amourisa
Press and Kit Tunstall reserve all rights to AN UNYIELDING DESIRE. This work may not be shared or reproduced in any fashion without permission of the publisher and/or author. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters engaging in sexual activity are over the age of 18.

© Kit Tunstall, 2014

Cover images: Depositphoto.com/©deyangeorgiev2; ©SolominViktor; ©romancephotos; ©sprokop

 

Thirteen months after a solar event and government sabotage crippled most of the world's electronics, Mina and her family endure on their farm. At first, the return of her brother-in-law and the remaining members of his Army platoon is cause for celebration, but it doesn't take Mina long to discover he has brought a dangerous man into their midst. Determined to claim Mina for his own, Shane's pursuit is relentless. She finds solace in Cooper, but knows she can't act on her attraction if she wants to keep everyone safe from Shane. When Coop discovers Shane's true nature, a violent confrontation ensues that splits the group and brings more danger to the farm, leaving the group fighting not just to survive, but to keep their haven intact.

 

August 2020, 13 months after The End

Chapter
One

A commotion woke
Mina Marsden from a sound sleep—or as soundly as anyone could sleep these days. Over the past thirteen months, it had become second nature to reach for the shotgun by her bed as soon as she woke up, but especially when the rumble of engines had shattered the quiet of the farm, followed by the bang of car doors and several voices.

Her stomach tightened with anxiety as she hurriedly lit the lamp and slid on her clothes. She knew of only a handful of people in the area who had running
cars since The End had crippled most electronic devices, including vehicles, thirteen months ago. None of them were likely to be out visiting after midnight, especially with the new reality of up with the light and in bed shortly after dark.

Though she knew it was p
umped and ready, Mina still double-checked her shotgun before sliding on shoes and creeping out of her room. She could hear laughter from the yard, and it lessened her anxiety a bit, though she didn’t drop her guard. As she drew closer, she recognized her oldest sister’s happy chatter and excited squeals. She shifted the way she’d held the weapon, but didn’t completely let it rest against her side as she stepped out onto the wraparound porch of the big house her grandfather had built with the help of her father and uncles.

The
scene that met her eyes was pure chaos. At first, her fingers tightened on the gun when she saw two camouflage-painted Humvees sitting in the yard. The sight of the soldiers standing around filled her with fear, especially when she saw their guns, considering how bad looting had gotten within months and often included former military or other positions of power. At second glance, she realized none of the soldiers were holding their guns at the ready. All were slung over their back, and the men and women looked relaxed.

Then her gaze fell on
Lia, who held her husband in a tight embrace. Mina set her gun on the porch swing and ran down the stairs to greet her brother-in-law. Her other two sisters, her parents, and her brother were all waiting to do the same. She paused by her mom, asking softly, “Where’s the baby?”

“Ty’s sleeping, and we thought he’d be safer there while we checked out what was going on.”

She nodded, hoping she would be able to see the first meeting between Tony and the baby he’d never met. Ty had been born eight months after Tony’s deployment, which had happened one month before the solar storm that had taken the power. Lia had been frantic for the past thirteen months, having no contact with her husband and no idea where he’d been.

Mina
had started to believe they would never see Tony again, so it was a bit of a shock to see him standing in their front yard, along with several other soldiers. He continued holding and kissing his wife until her father cleared his throat a bit loudly.

Lia
and Tony both looked a tad embarrassed when they moved slightly apart, though still touching. “Sorry.” Tony pushed back his overgrown black hair, which had been cropped short to his head when he’d left more than a year ago. “I’ve just missed you so much, Lia.” He looked away from his wife and briefly at the rest of them. “I’ve missed you all, of course.”

Her father stepped forward, holding out his hand. “It’s good to see you, Tony.”

“You too, Winn.” Tony shook the hand before pulling her gruff father in for a big hug.

Mina
couldn’t hold in a small giggle at her father’s flummoxed expression that quickly faded to one of warmth as he hugged him back. Her father wasn’t the most demonstrative man, and he’d always been disapproving of Tony’s military career taking him away from Lia on a regular basis, but apparently he had eased up during the time his son-in-law’s fate had been unknown.

After an awkward moment, Winn extricated himself. “Who have you brought with you, Tony?”

Her brother-in-law turned to face the soldiers surrounding him, while keeping Lia plastered to his side. “This is what’s left of my platoon, sir. We were in Germany, preparing to ship out to Afghanistan, when the Pulse hit.”

“The Pulse?” asked her brother, Finn, who was an inquisitive fifteen-year-old. “Folks around here it mostly call it The End…as in, the end of everything.”

Tony nodded. “That’s a good name too. We’ve heard it called the Pulse in Europe, though some are calling it America’s Parting Gift.” He must have interpreted his brother-in-law’s confusion correctly. “There is some suggestion that our government took an active role in making sure the rest of the world was completely crippled in the same manner as us.”

Mina
gasped, accidentally catching eyes with a handsome brown-haired soldier standing nearby. He didn’t seem surprised by the revelation, so she figured it must be common knowledge, or at least speculation, in military circles. Looking away from his green eyes, she returned her attention to Tony and Finn.

“How’d you get home?” asked
Lia, clutching his jacket as though she couldn’t bear to let go ever again.

“Ingenuity,” answered a
dark-haired man standing behind Tony. He stepped forward to nod at Winn before giving Lia a smile that seemed too friendly. “Hello, Lia.”

Mina
frowned when her sister paled, not liking how she swayed. Perhaps shock and reaction were catching up to her. “Lieutenant West,” said Lia very formally, with a nod, before turning back to her husband. “How’d you get across the ocean?”

Tony looked a little pained. “The truth is, baby, we had to do some questionable things. There are still some governments, and even some individuals, with hardened equipment, including planes and boats. We stole a plane, and Shane flew us home.”

“Too bad I crashed us in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Lieutenant West with a humble chuckle. “It took a while to get to shore, and even longer to make our way here. Tony offered us all shelter if we helped him get home, but of course, that’s up to you, Mr. Marsden.”

Winn frowned. “And Mrs. Marsden.
Janie, what do you think?”

Mina
’s mom smiled. “Of course you’re welcome. More hands make lighter burdens for everyone.” She gave Shane’s gun an appraising look. “And better defense.”

“Yes, ma’am
.” Shane grinned.

“It’s late, but y’all can bed down in the barn tonight, and we’ll figure out more permanent lodgings tomorrow,” said Winn. He nodded to the two women who were part of the military group. “You ladies are welcome to the guestroom.”

Both of the women looked at Shane, who shrugged. “Like I told you weeks ago, I’m not your commanding officer anymore. You make your own decisions.”

“I’d be thrilled to have a real bed again,” said the girl with the dark skin and kinky
black hair.

“It seems a bit sexist though,” said the freckled redhead, who then shot a look at
Mina’s dad. “Not to imply you’re a chauvinist, sir. I just don’t feel right leaving the rest of the unit to the hay while I have a bed, just because I’m a woman.”

Winn shrugged.  “Suit yourself, miss. I imagine one of the guys would lik
e a bed, if the other girl doesn’t mind.”

“Don’t be an idiot,
Dana,” said the soldier with whom Mina had briefly locked eyes before. “Take the bed while you have a chance. One of these bastar—bums will steal it out from under you if you leave it unclaimed for too long.”

“Yes, Staff Sergeant Tidwell.”

“Coop,” Shane corrected. “He’s not in charge of you any longer either, Dana.”

Mina
yawned, quickly losing interest in the discussion of who would sleep where. The excitement was fading, and exhaustion was catching up. She knew she wouldn’t have a chance to privately greet Tony that night, so she slipped inside, going to Lia’s room to check on Ty. She thought about taking him in her own bed for a while, to let her sister have privacy with her husband after their separation, but figured Tony would want to see his little boy, even if he was asleep for the first meeting.

She left him sleeping soundly and returned to her room.
Mina undressed to her undies and slipped back into bed, returning the shotgun to its resting place on the nightstand. They had all been working hard to keep the place going, having to revert to manual labor for so many of the tasks they’d once considered easy, or no more than inconvenient. Her muscles always seemed to burn after the day’s exertions, and she looked forward to every bit of sleep she could get. As she drifted back to sleep, she wondered how the new additions would change the family’s routine. For some reason, the sparkling green eyes of that soldier—Coop?—stayed with her until she slipped into dreams.

*****

Breakfast was a crowded affair. Mina had slept a bit later than usual, but no one had knocked on her door to hasten her along. Even coming down about forty minutes past her usual time, the kitchen was still crammed with people jammed around the circular table. Others sat against the wall, plates balanced on their laps. She could just imagine how much her mom hated allowing that, since Janie Marsden prided herself on being an exemplary hostess. But what could one do with nine extra mouths to feed and not enough seats, she asked herself with a small shrug.

Mina
opted to grab her breakfast and go, wrapping a couple of sausage links in a pancake before slipping from the kitchen. The hot August sunshine was already beating down, even a little past eight, and she grabbed her hat from the rack on the porch before venturing down the steps and out onto the farm.

Her first stop, as
always, was the chicken coop. Ever since Mina was a little girl, it had been her job to collect the eggs every morning. That hadn’t changed when she graduated from high school, and it hadn’t changed after The End two months later. On autopilot, she entered the large building. “Morning, ladies,” she said to the clucking girls, before crossing paths with one of their three roosters. “And Lionel.” The fat black bird strutted on without acknowledging the greeting, and she went to work collecting the eggs in a wicker basket Mina had woven in a high school art class.

“You
chickies are lucky to have the shade.” The cement and wooden building was a few degrees cooler than the outside. “Otherwise, we’d have boiled eggs before I even got them to the house.”

The door creaked, and she looked up, surprised to see the green-eyed soldier. “Um, hello,” she said a bit awkwardly. Shyness was something she had battled all her life.

He nodded. “Good morning, Ms. Marsden.” Hovering in the doorway, he seemed a bit uncertain. “I was walking by and heard voices.”

She blushed, hoping he would assume it was the heat. “Just the one, I imagine. The girls don’t answer.” Lionel chose that moment to crow. “Though he does upon occasion.”

He grinned. “Just you and the chickens, huh?”

Mina
returned to checking the nesting boxes. “It makes getting the eggs easier if you’re friendly with them.”

There was a note of skepticism in his laugh. “That’s funny. My
gran always said chickens were so stupid that they wouldn’t know you were stealing their beaks until ten minutes after you’d made off with them.”

BOOK: An Unyielding Desire (After The End Book 2)
12.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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