Authors: Meghan March
Copyright © 2014 by Meghan March LLC
All rights reserved.
Photo © tankist276
Photo © MaxFX
Cover Designer: Helen Williams,
Editor: Madison Seidler,
Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except
for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Warning: This book contains two alpha males determined to make one woman their own. Read at your own risk. Due to explicit sexual content, graphic language, and MFM ménage, it is recommended only for ages 17 and up.
A plane fell from the sky.
It was quite possibly the only interruption that could have dragged Rowan out of the epic pity party she was throwing herself. It was the kind of pity party one threw when a carefully planned life and decades of hard work were demolished by a complete and utter shit storm. And not demolition by a run-of-the-mill shit storm. A shit mudslide, followed by a category five shit hurricane. Rowan doubted anything other than the plane, the fifty-story building it toppled and the hundreds of lives that had been violently and tragically cut short could have pushed the thoughts of the lying asshole and blackballing bitch who owned his sad sack from her mind.
Rowan had to swallow back the bile that rose when what she’d just seen started to sink in. The loss of life ...
What the hell just happened?
The symphony of honking horns that filled the Chicago streets died abruptly, right in time with the falling plane. For a single moment, the lunchtime crowds on North Wacker Drive completely stilled.
A beat of silence.
Then chaos erupted.
“We’re under attack!” a woman screamed. She was only three feet away from Ro, and her screech nearly ruptured an eardrum.
Terrorists. Okay. That makes sense. Doesn’t it?
“Run!” a large man in a suit shouted as flames burst from the collapsing building.
Traffic stood still. The familiar sound of idling engines and car radios was eerily absent. Rowan’s gaze darted around frantically. The traffic lights and DO NOT WALK signs were dark. There were no fire truck sirens screaming toward the building that was quickly becoming a fully involved inferno. No ambulances were rushing to the scene to try to save potential survivors.
A greasy feeling of panic pooled in Ro’s stomach. Loud popping noises punctured through the sounds of chaos as the glass globes of the nearby light poles shattered before bursting into flames.
Without taking her eyes from the disaster playing out before her, Ro rooted around in her bag for her cell phone. Her panic spiked when she pressed the button and swiped her finger across the darkened screen. Nothing. It had been nearly fully charged when she’d unplugged it from the charger on her desk only twenty minutes ago. Ro’s continued furious pressing of buttons did nothing to bring it to life.
Her brain snapped into focus.
No way. It’s not possible.
A firefighter crashed into her bistro table as he ran toward the burning building. Her uncapped bottle of iced tea toppled, spilling onto her lap. The splash of cold liquid freed Rowan from her temporary paralysis, just as three other firefighters ran past.
Thank God help is on the way.
In that moment, she made her decision. She reached down to yank off her pumps, swapped them for the ballet flats in her bag, and started to run.
The sidewalks were crammed with frantic people, and Ro veered into the road, running down the middle of two lanes of frozen cars. Dodging the doors that were flung open, she sprinted the five blocks to her condo, forcing down the bubbling fear that threatened to strangle her. Her building was still standing, and there was no sign of smoke or flames. Residents crowded the sidewalk in front of the building, some were yelling, but most looked completely bewildered. Ro shoved back the instinct to try to explain what she thought might be happening. They would all think she was crazy.
As crazy as I sometimes thought dad was.
She darted around the crowd and threw open the lobby door and headed for the stairs. Seven flights later, she bolted down the hall and jammed her keys into the lock.
Even though she knew her condo was going to be silent, it still felt unnatural. There was no hum from the fridge, and the displays on the microwave and stove were black. There was no annoying blink of 12:00.
As was typical when Rowan was alone, she started talking to the empty rooms.
“This isn’t happening.” She dropped her bag at the door and headed into the bedroom. “He couldn’t have been right. It’s just not possible. It should have been the opposite of possible.”
She tore off her light gray suit jacket and blouse, dropping them on the unmade bed. The tangled sheets were evidence of her sleepless night. It was unbelievable how the things that had kept Rowan up for all hours could instantly seem so inconsequential. Especially when she thought about the insane tragedy she had just witnessed. She could only begin to imagine how the people at Ground Zero had felt on that fateful September day. Sick with helplessness. Suffocated by fear. Ro leaned against the wall, sagging into it for support. She needed to stay calm. She needed to focus.
In the positive column—maybe the only item in the positive column—if her father’s Vietnam vet slash doomsday-prepper on steroids predictions had actually come to pass, the dick-tastic Charles, his strap-on wearing mistress of evil, and the utter disaster they’d made of Rowan’s professional life had just ceased to matter.
Ro pushed off the wall and headed to her dresser. The bottom drawer yielded a few well-worn pairs of jeans and old t-shirts she kept for sleeping in. Tossing them on the bed, she headed for the walk-in closet, flipping the light switch as she entered. No lights flicked on. Obviously. But the habit was too ingrained to stop.
The lack of lights triggered another bout of talking to herself. “I just can’t believe this is happening.” Ro knew, rationally, that she could be completely wrong. Probably was wrong. But something in her gut had her believing the worst. It was like a Magic 8 Ball from middle school:
All signs point to yes.
Too bad her gut had kept eerily silent about Charles. Ro forced the thought away.
Not important anymore
Moving farther into the dark closet, Ro shoved aside the rows of sophisticated suits and the tasteful blouses she’d so carefully selected to make up her work wardrobe. No slut gear for her, despite what her recently acquired reputation at the firm would suggest.
So ridiculously unimportant now.
Within seconds, she had her hands on her salvation. A camouflage MOLLE backpack. Dad’s Army surplus special. This particular backpack was one she’d grudgingly dragged from dorm rooms to apartments before finally shoving it into the corner of her closet in the swanky condo she’d been oh-so-proud of until she realized just how superficial she’d become.
She hefted the bag from the closet and dropped it on the bed. She unzipped the main compartment and surveyed the contents. MREs, bottled water, first aid supplies, a flint and steel, lighters, Ka-Bar, compass, flashlight, batteries, hiking water filter, single person tent, emergency blanket, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a host of other random survival gear. And a
for the love of Christ. Dad must have added that during his only visit to the city last summer. Hell, knowing him, he’d probably swapped out most of the contents with fresh supplies. Her dad was strange and amazing that way. Anything to make sure his girls were safe. Even if they thought he was a few pieces short of a full puzzle some days. Returning to the closet, she felt around until she laid her hands on her only pair of hiking boots, tucked away in the back of her shoe rack, and then pulled a sparsely-used black Helly Hansen rain coat from a hook on the back of the closet door. Ro tossed the coat on the bed next to the backpack and grabbed a hooded sweatshirt, handful of socks and underwear, and added it to the pile of jeans and t-shirts on the bed. She dressed in a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt, then rolled the remaining clothes into small bundles and shoved everything that would fit in the backpack before sitting on the bed to pull on a thick pair of socks and the boots. From her position on the end of the bed, she could see directly out the window to the building frenzy on the streets below. Small fires were starting to spread and would soon probably rage out of control without the luxury of fire trucks. Would the hydrants even work? Mobs of people shoved their way in and out of the stores, carrying everything they could hold.
Good to know it took less than ten minutes for the looting to begin.