“Am I embarrassing you?” he asked.
“Not at all,” she said with an amused smile. “Please, Nick. Do go on about our combined bodily fluids currently coating my nether regions.”
“Well, my sperm is all through the cute little tuft of hair just above your pussy. I’m really going to have to give that another wash. It’s a bit sticky.” He did so, diligently, while she grinned. Never mind, he took the task seriously enough for both of them. What an excellent job description. He’d be the caretaker of Roslyn’s vagina. The guardian of her sweet cunt. “That’s better. See, now your pubic hair is all beautiful and clean. Not a curl out of place.”
“You’re sure about that?”
He made a show of combing the little tufts of hair with his fingers before placing a gentle kiss on her mound. “Yes. Perfect.”
Her body shook with laughter, lips trembling trying to hold back a smile. “I hate you.”
He paused, the wet washcloth still covering her sex. So many times he’d heard those words come out of her mouth. This time, she didn’t mean it. No doubt about it. He knew that. It still stopped him.
“Shit,” she said.
“No, it’s not. Nick. Look at me.”
After a moment he did. Her hand beckoned him closer and she started to sit up. Which was dangerous. She could easily hurt herself.
“Hey. Be careful.” Quickly he put an arm behind her, helping her up. Her arms wrapped around his neck and hung on tight. He took as much of her weight as he could, letting her catch her breath.
“Oh,” she said with a wince. “That’s a bit sore, actually.”
“Do you want to lie back down?”
“Hang on. I’ve got your pain meds and antibiotics.” He picked up the neatly labeled pills and the bottle of water, popped the tablets into the palm of her hand. No way would she be getting an infection or something and getting sick. “Here.”
She put the pills in her mouth and drank half the bottle of water in one go. Her face was still pale. Bruises lingered beneath her eyes. “I’m okay.”
“You should lie back down,” he said. “You need to rest.”
“Shh.” Gently she kissed him, over and over, until she’d covered his lips entirely. He held still and let her go on for as long as she liked. Forever would be fine. That would work for him. Her lips were so soft. But eventually she sighed and rubbed her nose against his. “I don’t hate you. I don’t. I never should have said that. I promise I will never say it to you again. I—”
“Nick,” Sean bellowed, his timing fucking horrible. He ran into the room with a set of keys jangling in one hand and a rifle in the other. “Time to move. We’ve got a situation.”
Sean shoved a key into the lock, swung the door open. Nick had seen that tight-lipped look on the captain before. It never meant anything good. Dread sunk his stomach.
“Locals have put together a lynching party,” said the captain. “Guess who they want to hang from a tree on Main Street?”
“Where are the guns we came in with?” Roslyn asked, letting Nick help her to her feet. This wasn’t so bad. Her head spun a wee bit, but she’d manage. These yokels had left her with no other option. Over her dead body they’d hurt him. “They’re not touching you.”
Nick just looked at her.
“I’m serious,” she said. “Pull any more of that self-sacrificing bullshit and I’ll shoot you myself.”
The man looked to Sean, eyes trying to communicate something. Did he think she was a complete idiot? Honestly? Without further ado she thumped him in the belly with her good hand. Nick gave a startled oomph. Truly, in her current mood, violence suited her.
“You think I don’t know what it means when you make eyes at him?” She pushed past him.
The idiot winked at her. “Don’t be jealous, Ros. I still like you best.”
“You’re not even mildly amusing.” She stalked up to Sean the Viking. “Our weapons. Where are they?”
“They boys and I have agreed to help get you out of here, but that’s it. You’re on your own. I don’t want this getting out of control,” said Sean, his forehead bunched up.
“Then don’t let it. They are not taking him. So you need to get us both out of here safely,” she said, not-so-quietly fuming. “We’re going to need our guns for outside your fence line.”
Sean stared at her for a moment then nodded and crossed to a large locked cabinet on the wall. The keys were produced once again and an impressive cache of firearms revealed. “If either of you break the peace out there I will use whatever force necessary to stop you. Is that understood?”
“Perfectly,” she said.
Nick came up behind her. “Ros—”
“No, Nick. I’m not staying, and you’re not getting killed by these inbred, redneck imbeciles. It’s not even up for discussion.” Anger boiled up inside her. That these people would attempt to do such a thing blew her ever-loving mind. She grabbed her fancy gun with the silencer and torch combo then nabbed a second pistol, just in case. Looked like the bulk of what they’d arrived with had been confiscated and moved to the cop shop. Handy. Managing the weapon with her left arm in the sling would be annoying, but removing it would sic Nick onto her instantly. It stayed put for now. “Neither idea is acceptable. You feeling me?”
He was quiet for a moment. “That wasn’t what I was going to say.”
“Then what?” she snapped.
With a grim face he took in the gun. “Calm down. Concentrate on what you’re doing. Are they both loaded?”
He nodded and cupped her face in his hands. His poor, beautiful head had taken such a beating. She hated the scar she’d put on him. Not that he hadn’t deserved it at the time. The second one these people had added, however, made her furious.
“Alright,” he said after a moment. “We get out of here nice and quietly. You stay behind me, okay?”
“Okay.” She’d see how it went. Maybe for the moment he’d forgotten this was a partnership, but she hadn’t. Till death do them part and all that stuff.
So was she. “Yes, okay. I heard you. Let’s get moving.”
His eyes narrowed but he let it go. “Sean, are there any shoes here for Ros?”
“Lila dropped off her boots earlier.” Sean grabbed her footwear from a bag in the corner.
“Thanks.” Putting boots on one-handed was harder than it looked. Nick knelt and wrestled them onto her bare feet. At least she wouldn’t be adding to the cuts and bruises from the gravel back at the cabin.
“She’s going to get cold,” he said. “Is there a jacket or something?”
“Here.” Sean stripped out of his own smart leather jacket and handed it to Nick. Her man seemed less than impressed at the thought of her wearing it. He rolled the righthand sleeve up just the same and proceeded to put it on her. The thing was size huge, falling off her left shoulder without her arm in the sleeve to keep it in place. He did up a couple of buttons and stuffed her pills into a pocket. She added her spare pistol to another.
“You’re all sorted,” he said.
“We need to move,” Sean said. He grabbed an extra pistol and relocked the cabinet. “Come on.”
Out front the night seemed still, at first. Shouting could be heard from Main Street, the rumbling hum of lots of voices. Though there didn’t seem to be much light coming from any direction. Windows were sealed and the streets were dark. Without the aid of the moon she’d have been stumbling in the dark. However hyped up the people of Blackstone were, they weren’t inviting infected to the party if they could help it.
No, they just wanted to hang an unarmed man. Nick would have been a sitting duck, stuck in that jail cell.
She shivered inside Sean’s coat. The air was crisp to the point of brutal, everyone’s breaths steaming in front of them. She felt chilled, inside and out.
Several more people waited outside. Sean didn’t stop to introduce anyone, but Nick nodded to the two other men. They all seemed to know one another, though the looks ranged from frosty to friendly. Frosty wore an army jacket, while Friendly dripped with guns. So at least the right people were on their side. Friendly looked like a walking paramilitary team rolled into one thoroughly oversized fellow. But when you were that big, you could probably pull it off. He didn’t quite reach Sean the Viking’s height, but he was built.
“This way,” said Sean, heading away from Main Street at a brisk trot. “Erin and Finn are trying to calm down the crowd.”
Frosty snorted. “Good luck with that. Tom’s been stirring shit for the last two days, since you arrived.”
“Who?” she asked.
“Never mind.” Nick kept an arm wrapped around her, helping her along. The meds were slowly sinking in, making her mind turn to mush. Things dwindled, the anger and fear fading, seeming not as sharp as they had been just moments before. Not good—she had to keep her focus. Had to stay with it.
They moved quietly down the darkened street. A door slammed shut as they jogged past and light seeped out from the sides of curtains as strangers snuck a peek. People were obviously expecting something and had taken cover accordingly. The ones who hadn’t had joined the mob on Main Street. Civilization had obviously fallen by the wayside while she’d been stuck in that school. Shit like this shouldn’t have continued to surprise her, but it did. Humanity had fallen fast and far.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” said Nick.
He barely breathed hard and she puffed away beside him. Past houses and across the remnants of a park they went. Like everywhere else, this area had been turned into farming land. Mulch and wood smoke scented the air. A children’s swing set sat in the middle of a crop of zucchini. An old slippery slide was surrounded by neat rows of beans. A cow gave a low, plaintive cry not too far away. These people were so lucky, so fortunate, and yet they wanted to kill. There’d been so much death. How they couldn’t have already have had their fill of it, she did not know.