Muscles low in her belly tensed as his finger teased her. Her hands fisted in his shirt and her legs opened wider, giving him access. So damn close. The aching pressure built to epic proportions. He kissed her till her head spun and her cunt clenched greedily at the finger he slid into her. He rubbed at some secret spot inside her and his thumb brushed over her clit, back and forth, and she came hard. His mouth covered hers, silencing her as it went on and on. Her body bowed beneath the pressure, every muscle drawn tight. Not a single thought remained in her head. The orgasm drained her completely. She lay lax on the bed as he pulled her pants up.
Nick dragged the sleeping bags out from beneath her, covered her.
Raucous laughter came from somewhere outside the door. It chilled the blood in her veins.
Nicked leant in closer. “Keep your shoes on. I want you ready to run.”
“What’s the plan?” she asked, not looking at him.
“We wait till they’re passed out, then you go out the window. Get in the pickup and get the hell out of here.” Nick stood up and motioned for her to do the same. He spread one of the waiting sleeping bags out across the mattress. “Take your shirt off. If they check in on us they’re going to expect to see you undressed.”
Her hands shook as she did so. Shook so bad he had to help her.
“The bra?” she asked.
“No. Leave that on,” he said, his gaze hard. “I don’t want them seeing any more of you than necessary. ”
He pulled off his shirt and turned off the light. They both lay down, a sleeping bag covering them, especially the tell-tale boots. He put his arm around her, drawing her closer to keep her warm. The temperature was cooler in the bedroom, away from the heat of the fire. Now that her body was cooling she could feel the difference. But she’d never been happier to get away from people in her life.
“Talk to me, Ros.”
“And say what?” she asked.
He sighed, rested the side of his nose against her forehead, getting closer than she knew how to take just then. Pity she couldn’t bring herself to move away.
“I didn’t kill anyone who wasn’t bitten or a danger in some other way,” he said. “Some people lost it, couldn’t take the pressure. They put us all at risk. I don’t enjoy killing, but I won’t hesitate if it’s necessary.”
She swallowed hard. He was a soldier … had been a soldier. She knew this was part of his job but hearing him say it so coldly, so definitely—her little world trembled.
“What’s Blackstone? Who’s Emmet?” she asked.
“Blackstone is where you’re going to go. You get back on the Northern Highway and you’ll hit it. Okay? That’s where you go when you get out of here. Don’t hesitate.”
“Alright. And Emmet?”
He shifted slightly. “He was our leader. The highest-ranked asshole left after everything went to shit. He wanted women and he was prepared to kill to get them.”
“Bet your friends out there loved him. What did you think of him?”
He didn’t answer for a while. “I wanted him dead. I just didn’t do it.”
“He killed anyone who stood up to him. But I think … I think I was so used to being told what to do, it was almost second nature. I like to think I would have shot him before he hurt an innocent, but honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t even know why the fuck I was still alive back then. What I was supposed to do with myself. And everyone seemed to agree with him.” He made a noise, soft and bitter. “But they were just planning when to take him out. They didn’t trust me to help. I wouldn’t have trusted me either, if I was them. I was a fucking mess. Drinking much more than I should have. Taking all sorts of shit.”
“And the women Pete talked about?”
“Were willing. Always.”
“And did you treat them badly? Because that’s how it sounded.”
Another deep sigh and his chest brushed against her through the thin fabric layer of her bra. “I wasn’t always as respectful as I should have been, no. But I’ve never raised my hand to a woman, I swear.”
At least he didn’t make excuses. That was something. He had no need, because apparently she was prepared to make them for him.
His fingers stroked her hair, the nape of her neck. “I wish I could tell you I’ve always tried to do the right thing. But I can’t,” he said, his voice so very soft. His lips brushed against her temple. “I did what was easy and I did what I wanted. Other people didn’t factor into it for me. I’m sorry. I know you deserve better.”
She said nothing.
“I’ll get you out of here. I promise.”
“I’m scared,” she admitted.
“I know.” He huffed out a breath, held her tighter.
They lay in silence for what felt like hours. Her mind wouldn’t quiet. All the things he’d said rolled around and around.
At some stage she heard footsteps outside. Seemed Pete and Justin were doing some guard duty. Mostly likely focused on keeping her in rather than the zombies out. Nick rubbed her back, mumbled some nonsense. Everything wasn’t going to be okay but she didn’t see the point in contradicting him. She got as close to him as physically possible and hung onto his arm. Sometimes acting brave was overrated.
Terror wore her out. She must have fallen asleep eventually, because Nick shook her awake. It was silent outside, in the lounge and in the outside world. Tension lined his face. He looked so serious, somber. But the big tell was the way he avoided her eyes. She’d never seen Nick afraid before. Not like this. It terrified her.
Nick put a finger to his lips, motioned her off the bed. Carefully, quietly, she moved. The shushing noises of the sleeping bag were like shouts. The squeaking of the bedsprings sounded like screams. He handed over her shirt and pulled back the curtain. The window screeched like a wounded cat as he slid it open. Kookaburras laughed somewhere off in the bush. The fence-line was clear. The sun had only just started to rise; stars still flickered overhead. Her heart pounded.
He slipped the pickup keys into her jeans pocket, helped her onto the window ledge.
“You drive straight through the gate and you do it fast. The pickup will break the lock fine. Up the highway until Blackstone. The tank is full. Don’t stop if you can help it,” he said, his voice low and rough. “There’s a gun and ammunition in the glovebox. More in the storage chest on the back. You use them to buy your way in if you have to.”
“I’ve still got my gun.” She’d slept with it wedged into her belt, safety most definitely on. “You’ll follow, right?”
Instead of answering he kissed her, mashing his lips to hers, hard and fast.
“Nick, tell me you’re coming too.”
He helped her out the window and down onto the dewy grass. Her breath misted the air.
“I’m going to follow,” he said. His eyes told her differently.
“You said you wouldn’t lie to me. Why aren't you coming?”
“Someone needs to distract them.” He grabbed the back of her head and pulled her in, kissed her one more time. Her top lip felt bruised. So did her heart. How the hell had it come to this?
“Go,” he said.
“Come with me.”
“Go. Now.” He gave her a push and pulled the window closed, his face set. “Run.”
And she ran.
Frost covered the pickup’s windshield and windows. She threw the door open and dived in, fumbling in her pocket for the keys. The tip of the key wouldn’t go into the damn ignition. Her hands were trembling. Her blood pounded behind her ears. She could do this. In went the key, finally, and she twisted it hard. The engine roared to life. She jammed her foot on the clutch and threw it into gear, flipped on the windshield wipers to clear the frost. Her foot hit the accelerator and the pickup’s wheels spun on the slick surface. Then it took off, thundering toward the double gates, bound with chains and rope in the absence of a padlock. If Nick said the truck would take them out then it would. And it did. The front of the vehicle crashed into the metal frames and sent them flying. The bone-rattling shriek of metal scraping against metal came from beneath the vehicle, then half of the gate lay on the road in her rear-view mirror.
From behind her came the first gunshots. The popping of a pistol, followed by the boom of something bigger.
They’d kill him. No. She couldn’t do this.
She slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a halt, smoke rising from the abused front tires. Nope, she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t leave him again. Driving away and leaving him alone to deal with those two bastards just wasn’t in her.
She’d tucked her gun in beside her. Seatbelt on. She spun the wheel hard, cracked plastic digging into her palms. Time to go. The pickup flew back down the road toward the ugly little house. More shots were fired and Justin ran out of the house, into the yard. Violence beat inside her. The least the bastard deserved was a bullet.
Driving and shooting at the same time always looked simple in movies. Her hand searched for the weapon she’d put beside her on the carseat. Bullets shattered the windshield not far from her head. The vehicle swerved wildly and she clutched at the wheel, trying to get it back under control. A headlight blew. Everything was out of control. She screamed and screamed.
Through the broken glass she could just make out the figure of Justin with his gun pointed at her. Her weapon rattled around on the floor now, beyond her reach. More bullets punched holes through the glass and she ducked. Justin had a grim smile on his ugly face.
He wanted to kill her.
That was fine. She wanted to kill him too.
Her foot pressed down on the pedal and the truck flew, actually going airborne for a moment when she misjudged the entrance to the driveway and jumped the gutter. The return to earth came with an almighty crash. Her teeth clattered, her brain rattled. With one hand on the wheel she sunk down in her seat and bore down on the bastard.