Read The Blood Bargain Online

Authors: Macaela Reeves

The Blood Bargain (9 page)

BOOK: The Blood Bargain

The minutes before he pulled back from me felt like hours. My mind wandered to those who had lost their lives in the outbreak. Was this similar to the pain they felt at the teeth of the infected?

His eyes closed, we sat in silence for a moment. The coloring of his face improved, shifting from that gross pale white to his deep European tan. As I marveled at his chameleon effect his eyes flipped open, focused on my face.

“Should it not change things between us?” Even the tone of his voice had improved. I frowned at his question. Not knowing how to respond, I did the mature responsible thing. I headed for the door as fast as I could.

Then he blocked my path.

The blur of movement went unnoticeable to my eyes. Again. My jaw clenched. There is nothing in the world that pisses me off more than being toyed with. Why the hell would this thing care what its food thought? I was nothing but livestock to him, a lamb to slaughter...

I spoke, my voice
quivering. “I
am still the lamb, and you are still a wolf.”

“I am more than just a wolf, Miss Younger.” There was something in his voice, it couldn.t have been sadness.

Without another word, he stepped out of my way to the left. I didn

t turn toward him. My eyes watering and I had no desire to show him the effect he had on me. My feet however, did pause with my hand upon the cool metal of the door knob. As I turned it slowly the twin marks he

had left on my inner wrist rose to the light. What he had taken.

ll have to prove it, because right now all I see is your fangs.” I murmured. With that I pushed out the door and ran home as quickly as my feet would carry me.






I woke to a soft knock at my door. Not wanting to leave the peace of sleep I groaned and rolled over. After another knock, the slight creak of the hinges vibrated in my ears as the door edged open.

?” How you
? You missed breakfast.” Zoe's voice filled the space, I could hear the reservation in her tone. Sitting up slowly, I rubbed my eyes and stretched.

“What time is it?”

“From the sun I

d say almost noon.” Zoe walked across the room and opened the curtains. Thankfully she was nice enough to only pull them back about halfway. Crap if I had slept that long that meant Zoe and Candice handled breakfast prep w
ithout me. As well as cleanup.
Something I usually more than chip in for.


m sorry.”


s alright. Figured you needed it.” She sat down at the end of my bed. On impulse I pulled the quilt up to my chin. Heart to heart moments made me uncomfortable and she had that look on her face like there was something she absolutely had to ask me, but wasn.t sure how.

“Are you okay though? He didn.t...hurt you did he?”


s not nice to interrogate someone just after they wake up, brain function isn

t at one hundred percent. Still, I know Zoe means well.

“It stung a little...but I

m okay.” I showed her my wrist, the twin holes had already scabbed over.

“I mean.
..he didn’
t hurt you hurt you?” I must have shot her a confused look as I just answered that. She
ollowed up the repetitive question with a body gesture that made my eyes pop.

“Oh my god, no. Zoe! It Nothing like that.” She exhaled is a relieved sigh. I was currently embarrassed for both of us. Good thing she didn't pull out a little rag doll and do the whole
how Zoe where the
bad man touched you’

“I just wasn

t remember the movies about their kind and
know all the rumors. They

re so strong compared to us...”

“Can I help you guys around the house today?” I wanted to change the topic faster than my mouth would move.

“Sure!” Her face lit up at the offer. “Yeah your Dad mentioned you

re off wall duty.” I winced.

“Did he use the word permanently?”

’m sure he’
ll come around. Although why you like being on the line like that I

ll never understand. Any who, I

ll be downstairs helping
the boys with their letters. I’
d love for some company when you

re ready.”

On queue there was a crash and a giggle from the floor below us. Undoubtedly boys being boys. She stood quickly and made a beeline for the door, I could almost hear the rehearsed motherly warning before it left her lips.

I was more than grateful that she didn

t bring up my pending nuptials. That was, if she knew.

When I finally got out of bed I felt refreshed, rejuvenated. Definitely better than I had in weeks.
When I hit the bottom of the stairs, Zoe announced my presence like
the prom queen had just entered the room.

“There she is.”

“Sissy!” Two little smiling faces ran at me. Even though there is no blood between us, I have never ever minded them referring to me as such.

“Little bros!” I gave each a high five.

play tag with us?” Max and Tyler jumped up and down in a giddy.

“I would love to play tag with you!” I smiled just as wide as they did. The boys, like the few others born after the walls went up were the first true innocence the world had seen in ages. They lived in a safe secure
nvironment, without real fear. Sure they knew the basics
like don’
t go
anywhere alone, stay inside the wall, but they had never seen...well evil I guess.

We spent the next hour or so running around the
front yard. I admit I haven’
t felt that carefree in ages. It was nice to just take a load off and replace it with tickles and giggles. When the boys got grumpy I knew it was close to nap time. I chased them back into their mom who

proceeded with the whole tuck in, read a book routine. I admit, I stood in the doorway listening to the familiar words of one fish two fish, Dr.
was something you never outgrew.

Then we both set into laundry.

“Hey Zoe...”

“What sweetie?” Was always odd that she mothered me considering how close we were in age, but I wasn.t going to protest. Ever.

Instead I took a deep breath and phrased my question. “Do you ever miss your home?”

“This is my home.”

“I know, but I mean before.” She shot me the most stone look ever seen from her.

, This is my home. The before, hell, that was a world I barely remember.” I didn.t know what was more impressive, her resolve or the fact that I actually heard Zoe curse.

I picked up a 3T shirt from the hamper-
because it had a rocket on it-and hung it on the line. I found myself wondering how long it would be before mankind took another crack at space. At the rate we were going...

“When I was up there, it was like nothing had changed since the outbreak.” I mumbled.

She paused mid clothes pin. “What do you mean?”

“Everything was all still like, like it was before. And the dead were everywhere.” She shook her head her blond ponytail flying back and forth.

“It had to be a migration. Dr.
said they would travel whatever distance was needed for food.” That was not a migration. Hell, many were still in their cars. I didn.t want to upset Zoe though so I dropped it.

We finished laundry and went on to dinner prep. Dad didn.t come home for the meal. Mark and Zoe carried on light conversation about their days, the boys added harrowing tales of survival against plastic dinosaurs. I kept expecting him to walk in late, all apologies and compliments on the delicious smell, but the front door never opened.

After the last plate had been scrubbed, Candice declared she was hitting the bar, much to the eye roll of
her sister. Despite Zoe’
s reaction, I think Candice had the right idea.

I ran up the stairs to my room and did a two minute primp. Brushed my hair, changed into a
aqua tank top and silver fly away cardigan. The best a superstore raid had to offer.

There was a superstore about fifteen miles away, we had stripped it bare years ago. Still it looked a lot better than the ratty flannel kick around I had been moping in all day. A slipped my flip flops and found myself pausing when I reached for my butterfly knife.

I didn’
t really need it now did I? I wasn

t going out on watch. I wasn

t going beyond the fence, so what did I have to defend myself from?

I needed a drink.

The walk to the
arage was a blur, too many eyes on me, too many whispering townsfolk. I could only imagine their words: Oh look at the lovely bride to be, such a bright future blah
. Even better, she went over the wall, we should have expelled her to the wilds. Demon girl. Vamp lover. Endangered us all.

Now I really needed a drink.

Walking into the
arage, I caught sight of the one person I was not looking forward to seeing.

Cole was seated at the bar, elbow deep in what looked like half a dozen whiskey shots. Hunched over, he looked like a wreck. Wasting no time, I stormed at him, full on bitch mode. Before I got a word out, he caught sight of me and started hollering.

“ got some nerve. You know that?” From the way his head teetered he was completely drunk.

I literally took a step back. Him mad at me?

What u
iverse was this? “Excuse me?”

“Leading me on like that, was it just a coincidence you left me out your little engagement announcement? Or afraid I wouldn.t jump through hoops for you anymore?”

“Cole, you
, you left me for dead.” I screamed right back. What nerve he had to act like I had put him out.

“No, I

m the only reason you're still ALIVE.” Noticing we had drawn several eyes to our little spat he turned his back to me and focused on the bottle display behind the bar. I sat down next to him, not willing to let this go.

He ordered another drink and lowered his voice. “I had no way to
get to you. I shouted, you didn’
t come. I kept myself alive. That's what we

re trained to do. All of us.” He pointed at me when he said all. “I had a feeling you

d last until those bloodsuckers could break you out.
re resourceful and trained, and would have done the same damned thing I did.”

“You panicked.” I
him. He could give me any excuse in the book, but I knew the truth.

“Is that what this is about?” I didn

t answer him.

“You want me to tell you I was weak? Is that why you picked
him?” Cole let out a hiss. “You’
re right. I did. The last time I saw that many of those deadheads it was when they were eating my father and my brothers alive. I. Panicked.” With that he turned forward, taping his hands on the counter for another shot. We sat in silence for a moment while the bartender poured his fare. After he had delivered it with a smile, he sauntered off.

“For your information, my little engagement didn

t start until I got back. Nor did I have anything to do with planning it.”

“Whatever. From now on...” He took the last swig of the whiskey in his shot glass. “Find someone else to manipulate. I

m out.”

With that his big frame swung off the barstool and headed towards the door. Well crap. I had come here to punch him in the boy loins and curse him to the nine hells. Never expected him to admit some sort of
crush and accuse me of being a puppet master.

Honestly, I hadn.t a clue he felt that way. Sure he was friendly, but all the guys were. Was I supposed to take his smiles as a pledge of affection? If that's all it took you

d think half the colony would be lost in

“Well he walked out of here on his own two legs. I figured you

d knee him where it
ounts.” Candice sat down at the bar next to me. She looked like a fashion model with all that blond hair and her fall dress. I was sure she was here on the prowl for a guy, ever since Zoe

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