Authors: Gillian Zane
prequel to the Amazon bestselling NOLA Zombie series. This isn't a romance...there aren't any happily-ever-afters, this is just Romeo's fight for survival and how he became a NOLA Survivor.
It's Friday night in New Orleans and Tim "Romeo" Voiter has the night off. A night of rest and relaxation is something new for the former Marine, and he's looking forward to enjoying a fun night out with his buddy, Lucas Martinez. The two men try to ignore the emergency broadcasts and news about the spreading iKPV virus and just enjoy the evening. Romeo, true to his name, even hooks up with a hot redhead and plans on ending the evening at her place.
Plans come crashing down, though, as he comes face to face with what the iKPV infected really looks like–and it is not like any infection he's encountered before. Knowing the media is sugarcoating the virus and things are about to get a lot worse in his city, Romeo talks his family into leaving their urban home and bugging out to a more secluded and secure area; the compound his employers own at the edge of the city, deep in the marsh that surrounds New Orleans. But, as the infection spreads and New Orleans begins to fall under the chaos of victims gone made with the virus, Romeo begins to realize that the "stuff" has hit the fan in New Orleans and things will never be the same for the Voiters.
Zombie Romance Lovers Dream Book
” - Amazon Customer
5 stars to this prequel to Zane's NOLA Zombie series!
” - UKBookLover
SHTF. Copyright © 2015 by Gillian Zane. All rights reserved.
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::: created in the USA :::
To my favorite Marine.
Hopefully you’ll read this one.
from the lobby of the Royal Sonesta to a very hot and smelly Bourbon Street was surreal. The posh decadence of the hotel, along with its chilly air-conditioned halls was in startling contrast to the outside world. Lucas Martinez and I stepped out of the elegant interior of the hotel and onto the cobbled streets of the French Quarter and stood there idly taking in our new environment. The jazz band across the street belted out a raucous tune and the laughter and catcalls of the party-goers walking up and down the street created a buzz of excitement that saturated the whole crowd. There was no place like New Orleans.
We were both now officially off-duty and standing in the middle of the French Quarter. It was strange. Made my skin itch under the surface.
Having Friday night off was a new thing for me. Being on domestic soil on a Friday night was even more out of the ordinary. Hell, I wasn't used to being a civilian yet, so this new freedom felt odd and I didn't know quite what to do with it. Granted, I could easily entertain myself, I was pretty good at that, but it was still an odd feeling.
I liked being on the job, I liked keeping busy, I never knew quite what to do with myself when free-time loomed in front me. I had to fill it up somehow and lately that seemed to be with women or drinking. When I wasn't doing that, I was training or doing a detail. My family would have liked to have me with them, but that was another sort of drama I wasn't equipped to deal with.
Which brings me back to Friday night. I had a whole weekend looming before me, forty-eight hours of free time. Our client had just relieved us of duty and I had no other job lined up until Monday.
It was going to be one of those extremely hot New Orleans summer weekends. I could already feel the sweat dripping down my back after two minutes of standing on the street. We were still standing in front of the hotel and each time the door would open, when tourists left and entered the building, a crisp, air-conditioned wind would blow past us, our only relief. I decided, right then, I would make a goal, one that I would stick to this weekend–stay cool and stay inside, preferably in bed with a hot redhead. I had redheads on the brain.
Martinez and I had been on a standard protection detail for one of the high-roller celebs that like to frequent the Big Easy. With the skyrocketing murder rate and the threat of some kind of viral infection that was spreading in most of the major cities, we were constantly being called to escort New Orleans' wealthy as they went about their business. The world was going to shit, and lucky for me when the world went to shit, everyone wanted a grunt at their side.
This particular detail hadn't been that bad, it was my first VIP escort run. Boring, if I was being honest. The young actress had been getting death threats so we had to shadow her on the set for a few hours and then deliver her to her hotel. She was polite, quiet, and spent most of her time on her phone. Nothing tried to kill us, shoot us, or blow us up, a good day in my book.
Our client, who decided she didn't need protection since she would be holed up in the hotel all weekend, was superstar actress Selena Devay. She was one of the hottest females I've come in contact with, ever…and a redhead–which is where the redhead obsession came about. I wouldn't have minded hanging out in her hotel suite with her, but I think our presence made her nervous. We had been forced on her by the studio, so she wasn't receptive to us shadowing her all day, anyway. I didn't mind though, she was pretty easy to shadow and it was interesting being on set.
"I need a beer–shit, I need ten," Lucas Martinez said as he slapped me hard on the back. This is the first time I had been paired up with Martinez for a civilian job with MJ Security. He usually worked the VIP teams and was given the cushy clients, his choice always. Being a total ass-suck with Zach James, one of the owners of MJ Security, got him his way all the time. I don’t know how he put up with the rich clientele, I much preferred tactical jobs.
Tactical was usually just me playing Marine again- rescue missions, international escorts, and retrievals–the fun stuff. My brother had started giving me a lot of grief about being out of the country so much, which was why I was domestic now. He claimed he needed help with our little sister, Alicia. I did feel guilty for not taking more of an active role in her life since our parents died, so I had asked the bosses to give me a few more local cases. Those always turned out to be guarding someone rich. Boring, but it had its perks. One of which was working for really hot actresses as a bodyguard and ratting the Quarter.
The Quarter, what locals called The French Quarter, wasn't one of my favorite places in the city. It was a bit too touristy for me, but it was a prime location to get a beer and pick up hot women looking for a one-night fling.
Speaking of prime locations for beer, there was a man in front of us, spinning a sign around that read "Big Ass Beers" with an arrow pointing to the right. Since he kept flipping the sign, right could be anywhere, including the balcony which was flush with tourists trying to entice people to show a little skin for a cheap plastic bead.
"How about a big ass beer?" I asked gesturing to the very vocal barker, even though I wasn't too hip on cozying up to any bar in this vicinity. Too loud and too smelly. You couldn't enjoy yourself with the smell of vomit and piss in your nostrils and the sound of twerk music vibrating in your head.
“Don’t insult me with that shit, Romeo.” He drew out my nickname in his affected Hispanic drawl. “Draft piss," he scoffed. "I don't want to pay twelve dollars for piss, you want to hit the Marigny? I'm done with getting jostled by drunk tourists and I want a real beer."
"So, you want to go to the Marigny and hang out with hipster Mardi Gras hangovers instead of the drunk tourists?" I laughed. The Faubourg Marigny was in an outlying section of the French Quarter that was known for its more eclectic feel and was packed full of part-time NOLA residents. The kind of people that came for a visit and didn't leave because it was "so cool here." It was an interesting hang-out and boasted a great market and even better music attractions, but it was also becoming very popular with the trendy, constantly offended crowd. They walked around with a perpetual frown, or they rode their environmentally conscious beach cruisers, yelling profanities at the cars that dared to share the road with them. They all had their hair dyed odd shades of colors and fake glasses so they would look intellectual. The men had beards and too tight jeans and they sipped IPAs while talking about the latest trendy political topic. If you even remotely smelled of testosterone they began to hiss and do the sign of the cross even though they claimed to be atheists. I used to like the Marigny. Now it made me feel uncomfortable and itchy. And I couldn't pick up a chick to save my life in that place. They all wanted chubby guys with man-buns. The fact that I even knew what a man-bun was pissed me off.
"Damn, I like the Marigny. What do you suggest, oh, enlightened one?" Martinez frowned at me.
"We've got to drop the car off, let's just hit Magazine." The main office of MJ Security was located right off of Tchoupitoulas Street on Annunciation, in another iconic area of New Orleans called the Lower Garden District.
Martinez and I hadn't just landed our jobs randomly. We had both been recruited by Blake Miller, one of the owners of the firm and our former commanding officer when we were active Marines. There wasn't much difference between civilian life as MJ grunts and our life in the Corps, only now we got paid a bit more and we risked our lives a little bit less. That was a win in my book.
"Magazine, yeah okay, that sounds like a better idea. I want to check out that bar with the tree in the middle of it...Kirk was talking about it, said the bartender is hot.” Martinez was easy.
Before we could get the valet to bring us the car, a familiar looking female pushed through the doors behind us, pulled her baseball cap down to hide her face and headed in the exact opposite direction as us. It was obvious she was trying not to be seen and in a hurry to not be noticed. The striking red locks sticking out from underneath her cap clued me in on her identity almost immediately. It was our client, Lena Devay.
"Fuck," Martinez cursed when he saw where I was looking. We both fell in to step behind her, closing in fast and flanking her on both sides.
"Where ya going, Lena?" Martinez asked, startling her. She looked up, her big green eyes looking from me to Martinez. She was stunning on screen and just as pretty in person. I hadn't seen any of her movies, but you had to live under a rock not to see her on the news or on the cover of magazines. She was dubbed one of the hottest female celebs under twenty-five and was already clearing over 10 million a picture, which was unheard of with an actress of her background and age. This had been my first detail with her, but Martinez was one of her regulars. They usually had Baby, one of our female grunts, act as part of her entourage to blend in better. Lena's visit today had been a surprise, a last minute reshoot for some movie that they thought they had wrapped up, so they had called me in since Baby was on another detail.
"Lucas," she laughed nervously. "I just need to get out of there, I can't breathe."
"The studio was serious about you needing protection when you go out, girl, you shouldn't play with those threats. We were cutting you some slack by leaving you alone in the hotel room. If the studio found out they'd kill our contract. Now this?" he said irritated as we both matched her steps. It was easy, she was a little thing so she couldn't walk that fast.
"I'm just meeting a friend, I'll be fine," she argued.
"New Orleans leads the nation in murders, most of them happen near the French Quarter, it's not safe for a single female, death threats or not, to walk the streets of the Quarter alone," I added.
"I just need to get out, be someone else, not Selena Devay. I’ll be fine, it’s just for a night," she sighed. "I haven't even really gotten the chance to see the city. I've just gone from the hotel to the set, to a restaurant and then back to the hotel over and over again."
"You can't exactly go incognito, Lena, everyone knows who you are." Martinez yanked on the bill of her cap.
"I was going to lie low," she said lightly but didn't seem to believe her own words.
"Come with us," I added impulsively. "Martinez and I are going to grab a drink, at least if you're with us we won't worry so much."
"I don't know," she hedged.
"We can't leave you on your own, Lena," Martinez said.
"Fine, where are you going? I want to text a friend to meet me." She held up her phone.
"A bar called The Shack," I said.
"Sounds appealing." She rolled her eyes.
"You want to see New Orleans, you don't get any more local than this bar," Martinez laughed. When she smiled back I saw the star in her, the face that brought in 10 million dollars a film. Without make-up, dressed in jeans and a tank, her hair pulled back in a pony, she looked just like a normal, young woman, but the moment she smiled it washed it all away and dazzled me. She was probably used to getting her way with that smile.
"Fine, but you two have to change out of those suits, you look like undercover cops." She rolled her eyes and didn't protest as we led her back to the valet station to get the car.