Authors: Kelli Jean
Copyright © 2015 by Kelli Jean
All rights reserved.
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Cover Designer: RE Creatives,
Editor and 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.
“Dr. Kenna? I’m stuck.”
“We have to get her out! The lines are gonna blow!”
Surrounded by hellfire, thick black smoke burns my lungs. Walls, ceiling, everything are licking tongues of flames. Hissing, it whispers the deadliest secrets in my ringing ears.
“I can’t stop thinking about you,”
it tells me. “I want to feel my fists in your hair, pulling back your head…”
“It doesn’t hurt,” Lucy says. “I just can’t move. Please, I just want to get out.”
“Okay, Lucy. We’re getting you out.”
Fuck, it’s hot.
It’s all around us. It wants us.
What the fuck is that noise?
A snarling, snapping, starving beast, unsatisfied with what it’s already gotten, wants to devour us, too.
“Don’t go anywhere.”
“Go! Go! Go!” screams Gavin, grabbing Lucy by the hair.
I grab a fistful, too, and we haul ass out the door.
There’s no sun, no trees, nothing but blackness. Behind us, the inferno rages its orange light, showing distorted figures twisting and wasting away.
Lucy ascends, her dead body seized by the beast. Airless lungs fill, and her eyes open wide, seeing, looking, knowing something we can’t know. Her mouth opens into a massive O, elongating her face and dropping her jaw too far. From inside her, the beast’s roar unleashes. She pulls us into her chest.
“Ow! Fuck, Luce—”
Kenna’s screams had me up in a frenzy. I couldn’t believe I had fallen asleep after we’d gotten home, but I must’ve passed the fuck out. For a second, I had no clue what in the hell was going on or even where I was.
I grabbed her, trying to hold her down, but she was thrashing something fierce and ended up whacking me in the face with her forearm.
“Shit!” Jumping to my knees, I wrapped my arms around her flailing body.
Stiffening, she released a scream fit to tear the ceiling loose. I was fucking terrified she’d do some damage to her insides, going spastic like this.
“Help!” I roared. “Someone fuckin’ help!”
Thunder from the stairs pounded its way toward us, and Connor exploded into the room. Lights slammed on, blinding me for a moment.
“She’s havin’ some sort of nightmare!” I explained, tasting blood. My Baby Girl had busted my lip wide open.
Alys and X peeled into the room, out of breath, looking as though the dead walked among us.
“Phil?” Kenna’s confused voice rasped along my hearing, scratching at my heart.
I looked down into my Baby Girl’s face. She looked lost, her eyes unfocused, as she tried to find me.
“Yeah, Baby Girl,” I replied, my arms tightening around her.
She can’t hear you, dumbass.
No, but she
Sighing, she relaxed.
“It hurts,” she told me quietly.
Fucking hell, she was breaking me. Gently, I placed my hand on her face, and she closed her eyes, tears squeezing out.
“Where are her meds?” asked Connor.
“One of the front pockets in my pants,” I replied, swallowing past the lump in my throat. “On the floor.”
“I’ll get some water,” said Alys.
X, looking woozy, just stood there and stared.
We fuckin’ stank to high hell—all old sweat and adrenaline, toxic smoke and ash. Raw meat and blood and open wounds held the past day on us like a film of awfulness. Kenna had wanted a shower when we got home, but I had told her no, and she hadn’t fought me on it.
Kenna whimpered, and my heart cracked in half.
My sweet woman, give me your pain. Let me take it from you.
Alys came back with a glass of water, and Connor handed me two pills.
“Should she eat something?” whispered Alys. “When was the last time she ate anything?”
“I don’t know,” I replied, helping Kenna to sit up.
She took the Vicodin pills from me, making a face. I glared at her, and she popped them in her mouth, letting me hold the glass to her lips.
“Weed?” Kenna’s voice sounded hopeful.
“Shit, I could use some myself,” grunted Connor, opening the nightstand drawer.
“I’m going to make her some food,” said Alys, her voice growing strong with conviction. Food made shit all right. “Anyone want a sandwich?”
X grunted in the affirmative and followed her out of the room.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Connor sparked a spliff—
there goes the hippie lingo again
—and handed it over to me. Kenna plucked it from my fingers and took a few hard drags.
“Can I have some more water?”
She downed the rest of the glass, and then Connor headed to the bathroom to refill it. The scent of bacon goodness came wafting up into the room, and my gut let me know that Alys’s efforts were greatly appreciated. I was fucking starving.
Connor placed the refilled glass on the nightstand.
“I remember,” Kenna said, picking at a bit of the bandage on her right arm.
I took her fingers in my hand to stop her. At her words, Connor twitched, mimicking the feeling my heart just made.
“We blew up.”
Kissing her temple, I was afraid to hold her any tighter. Instead, I rocked her from side to side in the hopes that it would soothe her.
“Lucy’s dead, isn’t she?” she said loudly, since she couldn’t hear herself. “And Charlotte. She never made it out.”
“I don’t know, Baby. We were only concerned about you,” I replied.
I turned her face up, and her eyes were so sad.
“What happened?” she asked.
All of me sort of sagged into myself. I had no idea how to tell a deaf person what she needed to hear.
Connor placed a hand on her foot, and her eyes drifted toward him. He mimed writing something, and she pointed to her bookshelf. Pen and paper in hand, Connor scribbled and then passed the paper over to her.
Someone with a bomb blew up Rita’s office. It triggered two more explosions. The last one was from the gas line. You and Gavin made it out.
“Lucy? We took Lucy with us. She was hurt bad.”
Connor scribbled again.
We don’t know. We’ll find out more tomorrow, okay?
A few minutes later, Alys and X showed up with BLTs, and we all dug in.
“I guess we’re not going to Italy,” Kenna mentioned quietly. “The fucker.”
“Who?” I asked around a mouthful of BLT.
She didn’t answer. She hadn’t heard me. This was gonna take some getting used to. I grabbed the pad and paper.
Do you know who the bomber was?
Turning to look at me, her busted eye gave me a weird, sick feeling in my chest. It reminded me of the Sith Lord eyes from Star Wars.
“My guess is that Kyle guy.”
Kyle fuckin’ Whitestone, Rita Holmes’s psycho stalker.
“I thought he’d been arrested?” said Alys from her spot on the floor.
“He’s been in a nuthouse for the last month,” I replied, the inferno rising in me.
Kenna shrugged. Feeling my voice, she leaned back into my chest and scarfed down her sandwich. We finished the food in silence.
Half-eaten sandwich in hand, X’s head dropped back onto the edge of the bed, snoring.
“Come on,” said Connor. He and Alys heaved the soulless ginger to his feet. “Just shout if you need help,” Connor said to me over his shoulder. On the way out, he flicked off the light and quietly closed the door.
Cradling my Baby Girl in my arms, I wrapped her up in all the warmth, safety, and strength I had in me. She drifted back to sleep, knocked out by the Vicodin.