Authors: Rose Wynters
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Phase Two: Evaluate
by Rose Wynters
Territory of the Dead Series, Book 2
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events listed in this book are products of the author's imagination, or used fictitiously.
Phase Two: Evaluate (Territory of the Dead, Book 2)
All Rights Reserved
© 2014 Rose Wynters
Book Cover Image Credits:
Gloomy Apocalypse, © Isoga, 2014
Used under license from Shutterstock.com
No parts of this book may be used, duplicated, copied, or reproduced without written permission from the author, with the exception of small quotations used in reviews or articles.
This e-book has been provided for your personal enjoyment only. Sharing or posting it publicly is strictly prohibited.
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Other Books By Rose Wynters:
Wolf Town Guardians:
Wolf Town Guardians - Born to walk this world as both wolf and human, these men take their role as protectors very seriously. Enjoying sensual pleasures as they please, this group of alpha werewolves are the finest when it comes to protecting their hidden settlement.
Guardians are the masters of self-control, taking pride in their authority and hard, muscled bodies. That all changes at the first scent of their mates. Their control snaps. The mating heat begins.
This is their stories.
Book One: My Wolf King
Book Two: My Wolf Protector
Book Three: My Wolf Cowboy
Once upon a time, the world was just a black void. Then one day man came, but he wasn't alone. He was followed by an ancient evil, a scourge determined to steal his soul. Centuries passed. Humanity did all it could to protect itself against the evil ones, but they weren't equipped to fight this battle. Instead, all they could do was pray that Hell didn't set its eyes upon them.
It got to be too much. Something had to be done.
Born out of desperate need, warriors were chosen. Immortality was granted to those strong enough to fight the battle that would never end. No longer mortal, these men have stood in the path of dark and horrifying evil, bearing the load when there was nobody else that could.
It's all coming to an end. Time has ran out for humanity...
Book One: Rubenesque Rapture
Book Two: Curvaceous Condemnation
Book Three: Delicate Devastation
Book Four: Voluptuous Vindication
Territory Of The Dead Series:
At 18, Tabitha thought little beyond enjoying her freedom and finding a boyfriend. Working as a checkout girl in the small-town of Pleasant, she was full of dreams about her future. It all changes when the first zombie slams into the glass of the local grocery where she works. Now her only dream is to survive the zombie apocalypse. Pleasant will never be the same again.
Book One: Phase One: Identify
Book Two: Phase Two: Evaluate
I squinted down the barrel of the rifle as I held it tightly in my sweaty palms. It seemed extraordinarily long to me, the weight heavy in my stiff clasp. The afternoon sun beat down on my head and shoulders.
It was hell.
The stuffed scarecrow target erected several feet away wavered in the sunlight like a mirage in a desert. The combination of nerves and heat was wearing me down. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear my vision. It didn't help.
“Any day now,” Kellan muttered impatiently, standing a few feet away. He was staring at me intensely, but his eyes and expression revealed nothing. “Just line the sight up on the scarecrow and pull the trigger.”
Yeah, he made it sound so easy.
Kellan was half the reason I was so nervous.... And so hot. Something about the way he looked at me made me extremely flustered. Being in his presence for three days hadn't helped that any.
“Okay,” I replied, feeling completely inept and embarrassed.
We were standing in a field next to his home, or compound, as I liked to call it. He'd brought all of us out the hour before to work on shooting and target practice. Everyone else, including my mom, seemed to take right to it. I was the only one having problems.
Kellan cleared his throat.
Inhaling deeply, I pointed the tip of the rifle in the direction of the scarecrow and squeezed the trigger. My body wasn't expecting the recoil. It shocked me badly, and in response, I swung around in surprise... And so did the rifle. Horrified moans and gasps filled the air, at least from everyone but Kellan. He muttered a harsh expletive as he shook his head exasperatedly. I had to give them all credit, though. Even my dad moved fast in the face of imminent disaster.
Kellan reached out and grabbed the rifle as I immediately blushed and rubbed at my shoulder. It didn't really hurt, but it gave me something to do. “Sorry, everyone,” I finally choked out, completely mortified as I looked down at the ground.
Could anyone be a worse shot than me?
“It's okay, Tabs,” Dad replied, but his normally ruddy complexion had paled considerably. He exchanged a long look with my mom before looking back at me. “I'm sure with a little more practice you'll be shooting like a pro.” It didn't escape my notice that his reassurances sounded a tad puny.
I nodded weakly in response. Jayden tried to look serious, but I could see his handsome features drawn tight as he struggled to hold back a laugh. My eyes narrowed in response. I didn't find it too funny. Shooting was a lot harder than it looked.
Movement at the edge of the woods, behind Kellan's reinforced chain-link fence, caught my eye. I tensed in fear, afraid that the zombies had discovered us. So far, we'd been lucky and hadn't seen one in the three days since we'd been there. I stepped closer, afraid of what I'd find but too horrified to turn away.
The branches and leaves of the heavy foliage shook as a twig snapped loudly in the silence. A deer jumped out, glancing in our direction before quickly running away. I doubled over in relief before turning to look back at the others. I was surprised to see Kellan right behind me, his body alert, with the rifle raised and ready to fire.
He scanned the woods thoroughly before slowly lowering his weapon. It was amazing that he could move so fast, but so silently, and I shivered, despite the heat. He reminded me of a tiger, beautiful to look at but too dangerous to be in close confines with.
Kellan was the type of man that would always be at the top of the food chain, never at the bottom. He was too tall, too masculine, his very aura screaming power and demanding respect. Just being this close to him was affecting my body in a disturbing way.
Swallowing hard, I forced myself to look up at his face. Our eyes locked and held, his bright blue ones holding onto my brown ones with his sheer force of will. I didn't have the strength to look away, or maybe I simply didn't have the desire. I was drowning in his presence.
He stared down at me with an undefinable expression, his lips compressed tightly. The scent of his aftershave washed over me, woodsy and crisp in the late afternoon breeze. His square chin clenched as I continued to watch, in irritation or something else, I didn't know.
“Are we done here today?”
Jayden's voice was sharp as it cut through the magical spell weaving itself all around me. Feeling gauche, I cleared my throat and looked away, praying the others hadn't witnessed my foolish behavior. My face flamed, and I wanted to cry. Tomato-red was not a flattering shade for me.
I dared a quick peek at Jayden. The smile he'd had earlier was long gone, replaced with a frown as he watched us intently. Crossing his arms, he arched his dark eyebrow as he waited for a reply.
The moment was over. Kellan turned away from me, walking back up to the piece of wood lying on the ground. We were supposed to remain behind it for our target practice, but in my opinion, it needed to be a lot closer to our target. Preferably at point-blank range.
He stopped once he was beside it, but he didn't move it. Instead, he simply stood there, with his muscular back to us and his hands on his hips. We exchanged curious glances with one another at the continued silence. Kellan was a complete mystery. I doubted anyone could ever figure him out.
Finally, he spoke. Turning his head, he answered Jayden's question, “You're done, but she's not. If you don't want to wait, head back to the house.” His edgy, rough-sounding tone made my dad flinch, but not me. I was quickly learning that it was simply Kellan's way.
Jayden's expression didn't change. He wasn't backing down. In that aspect, the men reminded me of each other. Both of them were like alpha wolves, one younger, one older, but each a force to be reckoned with. In the wild, they would have fought until the death, or at least until one had declared victory.
In the end, Jayden shook his head and said grimly, “I'll wait.”
I stared at him in puzzlement. It was no secret that he wanted me around Kellan as little as possible, but I just didn't understand why. But then again, I really didn't get Jayden. He'd been completely different toward me since the night the zombie apocalypse started. I wasn't quite sure how to take it.
For years, I'd had a crush on him. He was cute, and he lived next door. A girl would have to be blind, to not have noticed him. It never did move beyond that, though, and once he'd left high school for college, the crush had fizzled out.
That was before the world had ended. Since he'd lost his parents, somehow, things had changed. It wasn't just because we were survivors of this terrible event, and it wasn't just that we were all living together now. It was something different, almost like our interactions had completely changed.
If I didn't know better, I'd think Jayden was interested in me.
It was a ridiculous thought, and one I forced from my mind immediately. I wasn't terrible looking, but then again, I wasn't a beauty queen. I was 5'4, a little plump, and just average. My hair was my nicest feature. It was thick and curly, the shade a light-brown with a natural golden hue. And even though it was long, I didn't want to cut it.
It didn't matter, though. Hair or not, I wouldn't be the type of woman Jayden would be attracted to. Sara, the woman we'd picked up on the road, was much more his type. She was tall and willowy, her body naturally voluptuous. Something about her was just sensual and sexy. I wouldn't be surprised to find out she'd been a pageant child growing up.
I sneaked a peek at Jayden out of the corner of my eye. Sara was standing next to him, but her attention was focused on Kellan. I didn't have to be experienced to see she was crushing on him hard. Naked desire was written all across her face. She was staring at him like a dog would eye a T-Bone steak.
I really didn't know her well, despite living with her for three days. And none of us knew what had transpired the night Kellan paid her a visit in her bedroom. We hadn't seen either one of them until the next day, and nobody had mentioned it. She hadn't turned into a zombie, though, and she was still here. I supposed they'd worked out whatever issues he'd been having.
Kellan ignored her, turning back to stare at me. I groaned silently when he beckoned me over. The last thing I wanted to do was more target practice.
Dad cleared his throat before saying loudly. “If you don't mind, Tabs, I'm just going to head back to the house.” He glanced around ruefully at the others. “The heat and all.”
I knew my dad like the back of my hand. The truth was he was terrified of my shooting skills and wanted to get the heck out of Dodge. But who could blame him?
The others piped up, too, all with excuses to join him. At least everyone but Jayden. They quickly trudged off across the grass, back to the air-conditioning and comfort of the cavernous house. I wistfully watched them go.
“Okay, then,” Kellan said wryly, a rare smile twisting the perfection of his mouth. He wore it well. “Back to practice for you.”
He held the rifle out to me with one hand. “I want you to take your time and aim at the red circle painted on his forehead. If you can start hitting that, you'll be well on your way to becoming a good shooter.”
“I'll never hit that,” I groaned out, pulling the rifle back to my shoulder. “As long as it takes me to even prepare myself to fire, I'll be ate long before a bullet ever comes out any gun I'm holding.”
“In that case, you better learn quick,” he replied confidently, moving behind me. “We're going out tomorrow, and I want you to feel comfortable with a firearm. You never know when it will save your life... Or the life of someone you love.”
“We're going, tomorrow?” I croaked out in disbelief, craning my neck around to look at him. “Why?”
He shrugged his large shoulders. “Why not? I'd like to look for more survivors.”
“Why do I have to go, though? I'm not exactly search and rescue material.” I turned back around at his impatient look and tried to focus on the scarecrow. He had a giant pile of them lying on the ground next to it. Was there nothing this man was not prepared for?
I jumped when his arms slid around me, the hardness of his body pressed tightly against my back. I had to consciously fight to not lean back into him. Kellan didn't seem to notice, though. He adjusted the rifle, sliding it up my shoulder until it was firmly seated.
His voice tickled my ear, his minty breath washing over the side of my neck as he said, “Focus, Tabitha. There's a survivor inside of you, if you'll just let her free. I would be doing you a major disservice if I didn't give you the tools needed to reveal her. Don't be afraid of your strengths. Use them, develop them, and never rely on others to keep you safe.”
He was right. It was the best thing Kellan could have said to me. I inhaled deeply, struggling to block out everything but the target. It was now or never, I would never be more confident than I was in this moment.
Lining the sight up with the scarecrow's forehead, I gently squeezed the trigger. The recoil kicked me in the shoulder, but I didn't flinch. I was better prepared this time.
The bullet hit the scarecrow, right between its eyes.
“You did it, Tabitha,” Jayden said excitedly, from somewhere back behind us. For a moment, I'd forgotten he was even there. Dumbfounded, I slowly lowered the rifle.
Kellan muttered softly, “You're going to be a magnificent woman, Tabitha.”
His words surprised me. When I turned to look back at him, though, he'd already moved away. I wanted to call him back and demand an explanation, but it would have made me look foolish.
Instead, a silly grin split my lips. I'd done it. I'd hit the target.
* * * * *
Jayden and I walked slowly back to the house, Kellan quickly disappearing after announcing that practice was over. I might have missed the bulls eye on several subsequent scarecrows, but at least I'd managed to hit them on some part of their stuffed bodies. I was surprised to realize I'd enjoyed it.
My arms were trembling from the effort of holding the rifle in place. The heat and tension had sapped me of strength physically, but inside I was elated. There might be hope for me after all, at least, when it came to my shooting skills.