Authors: Kate Morris
Tags: #romance, #post apocalyptic, #apocalyptic fiction, #military romance
Copyright © 2014 by Ranger Publishing
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is
ISBN 13: 978-0692276280
ISBN 10: 0692276289
Table of Contents
I'd like to send out a huge thank-you to the fans of
the series. I love hearing from you, and your letters and emails
have meant so much to me.
I would also like to thank my friends and
family who have encouraged and supported me throughout this
process. It's been quite the adventure with many ups and downs, but
through it all your words of inspiration kept me going.
"Wake up, Reagan."
John's voice startles her from a dreamless
slumber, and she blinks confusedly. She automatically reaches for
the pistol on her nightstand. His hand stays hers.
"Reagan, wake up, babe."
His face is inches from hers and very
pinched with worry. His deep baritone is barely above a whisper so
as not to awaken Jacob at her side. Their room is almost dark as
pitch. A low-wattage nightlight in the closet allows just a small
shaft of shadowy light partway into the large space.
"Come on, babe. We need you. Doc needs
"What's going on? What time is it?" she asks
with delirium and clears her throat. What the hell? It's still dark
outside, too, no light coming through the windows or French
"It's almost five, but your grandpa needs
you. He said to get you. The boy's not doing so good," he tells her
She glances to her side where Jacob is fast
asleep in her big bed with her.
"Don't worry about him. I'll take him to
Sue. Come on. Get dressed."
John pulls her to a sitting position and
hands her a shirt, bra and jeans. She swings her legs over the side
and slips into the pants first, not caring that he's seeing her in
just her panties and a cami top. If Grandpa is sending him up to
her, then it's bad. John turns his back to her so that she can pull
on the rest of her clothing and goes to the other side of the bed
to gently scoop the sleeping baby into his arms. His rifle is slung
over his shoulder. Night vision gear hangs from the heavy cord
around his neck.
The "boy" is with the visitors' group, the
group her damn worthless Great-uncle Peter brought to their farm
two days ago. When he'd announced that he was traveling in those
massive RV's, which had rambled and sputtered down their drive,
with sick women and children, they all knew that turning them away
wasn't going to be an option. Yesterday she'd worked tirelessly
trying to come up with an answer to this sickness the two patients
are carrying. She knows that her grandfather has been doing the
same. They are the only doctors within a twenty mile radius, maybe
further, and there is no other help coming to their rescue, no
hospitals to transport them to, no clinics or FEMA centers from
whom to seek aid. She and he are the clinic, the only help that
these people will get. Nothing about their illness makes sense. But
it hadn't stopped her from trying to diagnose it. This was one of
the reasons she'd gone into medicine in the first place. She loves
to solve complex problems. And solving this one could mean life or
death and the life or death of some of her family members should
they contract it, as well. However, when she'd wanted to follow in
her father and grandfather's footsteps and go into medicine, she'd
foolishly thought she'd have access to any modern medical equipment
she'd ever need. She'd been very wrong. She hadn't accounted for a
worldwide apocalypse destroying most of the hospitals, society as a
whole and the humanity of many.
"How long have you been up?
you up?" Reagan asks him, her voice groggy and weak. This isn't his
watch shift, and he'd not slept much the day before, either. John
still hasn't caught up on his sleep from their city trip, and he
definitely needs to unless he is doing some sort of new
post-apocalyptic sleep deprivation study.
"Your shoes are here at the end of the bed,"
he gestures as he sways back and forth to keep Jacob asleep. "I
just couldn't sleep well. Don't like our new visitors. I went down
to hang with Kelly and Derek, and that's when Doc sent that young
girl to the back door to get one of us to fetch you. Guess she's
been in there acting as his nurse all night again."
The tight-lipped young girl had also been
with Reagan all day, as well. Has she even slept at all? Why had
she not gone back to her group of people and allowed one of them to
relieve her? Reagan's mind is too fuzzy to focus on the finer
details of it.
She snags a rubber band off of her desk for
her hair and pulls it into a haphazard ponytail before she and John
descend to the second floor where her sister Sue already waits. Her
eyes are worried, but she takes Jacob without pause and retreats
back into her room. John descends the stairs first as Reagan
follows. They are practically running, and Kelly is waiting on the
back porch with his rifle. He's holding a small flashlight so they
don't have to turn on all of the house lights. The other Army
Ranger's body language is tenser than normal.
"Reagan," he acknowledges her, his deep
"Bad?" she asks Kelly.
"Yeah, real bad, I guess," he admits.
Kelly lowers his eyes to the ground. Reagan
breezes past him in a sprint and beats John to the door of the med
"Don't come in here," she warns him, and
John stops in the threshold instead. The teen girl Sam is indeed in
the shed with Grandpa, and he has given her scrubs and a mask and
latex gloves to wear. Reagan dons the same type of gloves, a mask
that she pins behind her ears and a surgical gown that she
retrieves from the pile in a plastic bin near the door.
"I'm here, Grandpa. Is he coding?" she asks
calmly. The boy is on a cot that Derek carried up from storage that
would've been for guest overflow at the house someday when too many
great-grandchildren came for a weekend, summertime visit.
"Not yet," Grandpa returns on a whisper, a
frown marring his features. "He's declining quickly, though."
Their grandparents had always made grand
plans for the farm to eventually be used in such capacities by the
girls and their own families. That day is never going to come. Now
the cots are being used to treat people with sickness likely spread
by end-of-the-world diseases. The woman rests on a second cot
against the back wall of the shed. Reagan notices a third, smaller
cot in the other corner near the back, which also effectively
blocks the door to the arsenal. Someone has been sleeping in it.
Her Grandpa takes Reagan to a side area of the shed so they can
"Is anyone else sick?" Reagan indicates
toward the third cot.
"No, that's for Samantha. I insisted Derek
bring it in here for her to rest from time to time. She seems
reluctant to return to their camp," he explains to which Reagan
frowns and nods.
"What's the situation with Garrett?" she
presses about the boy.
"I'm afraid he's getting worse, honey. He's
had three mild seizures. I had to pull the feeding tube because he
kept choking on it involuntarily which led to more vomiting," he
states his observations very quietly.
Reagan returns to the unconscious boy on the
cot, removes one glove and feels the skin on his arm and
"He's freezing cold, clammy. Skin's pale. He
was like this yesterday, just not this bad. He actually woke up a
few minutes here and there until I sedated him again. Elimination
yet?" she asks. Grandpa nods. The boy's body organs are failing.
They were failing when he'd arrived two days ago. There just hasn't
been an improvement.
"Yes, about twenty minutes ago," he tells
"Cheyne-Stokes breathing pattern present,"
"What does that mean, ma'am?" the girl with
the funky black hair asks.
"Short breaths in and long, deep breaths
out. Just the opposite of what it should be," Reagan's mind is a
flurry. "Come on, damn it. Think!" Without knowing exactly what
illness is destroying this boy's body, it is making it so difficult
to properly treat him. The pregnant woman looks just as bad.
"His IV popped, Reagan. I couldn't get one
back in. He's just eliminating everything anyways."
Her grandfather isn't ready to accept defeat
with this kid, either. It's written all over his tired features
with grim determination.
Grandpa says, "We have to get liquids into
him again so that we can run another IV."
"John!" she shouts to the door without
looking because she knows he'll be there. "Go get me some towels or
a blanket, please. Stick them in the dryer to heat them first.
We've got to get this kid warmed up. Hurry!"
"We have to get fluid in him, Reagan. He's
beyond dehydrated. I don't think he'll make it if we don't,"
Grandpa says with anger in his tone as John sprints away.
"Let's do another IV," Reagan states
"Reagan, his veins are done. They're like
the desert, honey. I tried and couldn't get one in," Grandpa
affirms once more.
They debate a while longer as Sam paces the
tile floor in the med shed chewing her thumb nail. She's a ball of
tiny nervous energy, and Reagan's pretty sure by her dark circles
that Sam has not had much sleep. In the meantime, Reagan had caught
up on some much needed sleep the two previous evenings from the
city trip. She's finally feeling human again and able to better
reason things out with the few extra hours of shut-eye. The stress
of the city trip and being in constant danger for four days had
lent its toll on her body. She's not sure how John is still
He comes back into the room twenty minutes
later holding a small blanket. John, on the other hand, has
apparently only slept a few hours before he was back up with the
other men both nights. Derek told her yesterday that he'd only come
back downstairs after she'd gone to sleep with the baby. John looks
frosty, ready to take on the day with only those few short hours of
sleep each day. Reagan's puzzled by him, which is nothing unusual.
It has to be their military training.