Alice in zombieland, p.34

Alice in Zombieland, page 34

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 34

 

  I received more disgusted looks from the girls, and a lot more leering from the boys. Dang it! Why?

  “This might get ugly,” I heard Cole say.

  Because he planned to crush every boy’s face into the carpet for daring to look at me like I was— Oh. Never mind. Because Frosty stood a few feet behind Kat, and any guy who attempted to approach her got a mouthful of threats and several F-bombs for his efforts. Kat flipped off Frosty every time he did it, but the moment his back was to her, she would grin.

  “Hey, you,” I said when I reached her. “Is something wrong?”

  “Ali!” She threw her arms around me in a bear hug that was surprisingly weak. “I’m so glad you came, and I’m great, honest. So where have you been, naughty girl? If I’m remembering correctly, and I always do, the boy you’re with isn’t the one you agreed to come with. ”

  I sidestepped the question, saying, “Apparently Cole and Justin are enemies, and I can’t talk to one without infuriating the other. ”

  “Of course not,” she said, blinking as if I’d just told a joke she didn’t get. “Everyone knows that. ”

  “Well, no one told me!”

  “Why would they? The thing between those boys is like breathing. You don’t have to be told it’s happening, you just know. ”

  “A heads-up would have been nice. ”

  “And miss all the fun? Nah. ” She gave me a grinning once-over. “All the boys want a piece of my Ali. And why wouldn’t they? Look at you, all decked out. Love it,” she added in a singsong voice.

  Okay, so I’d put some effort into my appearance tonight. I’d had to, considering I needed to carry some kind of weapon. Not because I’d known I would be seeing Cole. Really. Three different silver necklaces hung around my neck, each a different length, to, uh, choke the zombies if necessary. Though I’d wanted to wear sequined flip-flops, I’d worn boots and switched the plain white ties for pink lace because, uh, the pink were sturdier. You know, for choking zombies if necessary. I had a blade stashed inside the left one. I also had a knife-carrying purse looped across my middle.

  I’d covered my injured wrists and hands with gloves. Yes, gloves were out of style, but maybe I’d bring them back. After all, I was the girl responsible for fringe.

  “You look amazing, too,” I told her. A scarlet baby-doll dress clung to her curves and stopped a few inches under her butt. A pretty sweater comprised only of white lace covered her arms. She’d wound the top portion of her hair into several knots atop her head, the rest flowing in glossy dark waves.

  “Yeah, yeah, I know. Being this beautiful all the time is a burden, though,” she said airily.

  Poppy and Wren stalked over to us, both clearly on a mission, their serious expressions filling me with anxiety.

  “What’s wrong?” I asked.

  The girls shared a dark glance. They were such a striking pair, the redhead and the model-perfect African-American, both dressed to kill. Poppy wore all white, like an angel, and Wren wore a bikini top and glittery shorts.

  Wren glared at me and said, “I told you something horrible would happen if you went after Cole. Now there’s a rumor floating around claiming you slept with him. ”

  My wide-eyed gaze snapped to Kat.

  She glowered at me, and I knew she was offended that I’d first thought of her as the culprit. “Hey! I would never say anything. ”

  “You knew?” both Poppy and Wren gasped.

  “I’m sorry,” I said to Kat, ignoring them. I should have known better. To the others, I said, “Everyone thinking I slept with Cole isn’t such a terrible thing, but for the record, we only talked. ”

  “Well, that’s not all we were told,” Poppy interjected. Like Kat, she was pale, her freckles stark. “The rumor also claims that you slept with Bronx and Frosty—all in the same night!”

  Wren had nodded as her friend had spoken. “Basically people are saying you’re a huge slut and any guy who wants a piece of you only has to smile at you to get it. I told you not to go after him. I told you. ”

  “I didn’t…I wouldn’t…” Dang it! The words were snagging in my throat.

  There was only one person who hated me enough to accuse me of something that skeevie. Mackenzie Love. Was she truly that vicious, though? I mean, I’d seen my social death in her eyes; I’d expected something from her end. But this, even though, according to Frosty, Cole had told his friends to be nice to me, was too much.

  Fury burning like a fistful of acid in my chest, I searched the crowd for her. I’d politely ask her if she’d done it. Then, when she smugly proclaimed that she had, I would smash her stupid face into the floor!

  Sadly, I found no sign of her.

  “Thanks for the intel, girls. Try and do a little damage control, and tell people how stupid they are. ” Kat twined our fingers and led my protesting form away. “As for me, I’m going to the bathroom and I’m taking Ali with me,” she called over her shoulder.

  I glanced over at Cole. He was speaking to Frosty, but his eyes were on me. Surprise, surprise, he was glaring. He also stiffened with every step I took away from him. Had he heard the rumors, too? Would he do anything to his ex when the truth came out? If the truth came out?

  When Kat bypassed the bathroom, I frowned. “Uh, where are we going?”

  “A place Reeve showed me last night and swore me to secrecy, since even she’s not supposed to know about it,” she whispered, sounding scandalized. “But you don’t count, since you’re one of us. Besides, you need a moment to calm down and we need someplace to talk in private. Just get ready to be weirded out!”

  She pushed her way through the crowd, snaked several corners, went down a flight of stairs, and finally, we were alone. No matter where I looked, I saw plush furniture and shiny knickknacks. The walls were papered with cherubs, and there were even alabaster columns to guide us to each new room.

  “What do Reeve’s parents do?” I asked.

  Kat gave a sad little sigh. “Well, her mom’s dead. Her dad’s a genius plastic surgeon with the hands of an angel, or so he likes to say. Every week he’s dating someone new. Oh, and don’t call him doctor. He insists we call him Mr. Ankh. ”

  We worked our way down yet another flight of stairs, the fresh air turning musty, with a copper tinge to it. My nose wrinkled. I recognized the scent of blood. I wanted to hold my breath, but there was another odor infused with it, one that caught my attention. Was that…rot?

  “Kat,” I said, tugging at her hold. “I think we should stop. ”

  “No way. It’s just a little farther. ”

  My heart beat so hard against my ribs I feared they would crack. You’re loaded down with weapons, remember? You’ll be fine. And Cole wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t used a… What had he called it? A Blood Line. The house has to be protected.

  When we reached the end of a long, narrow hallway, Kat stopped in front of the only door. I was shocked to my soul when she pulled a lock pick out of her bra and shoved the tip inside the tumbler.

  “Do you always carry one of those?”

  “Of course. Frosty once told me I had to be prepared for anything. I said, ‘What about being kidnapped, locked inside a room and held prisoner as some weirdo’s idea of the perfect female?’ And he said, ‘Totally,’ then showed me how to free myself if that happened. He refused to tell me how he’d learned, though. ” A twist of her wrist, and a click sounded. “Aha!” A little push and the door sailed open, welcoming us inside.

  I allowed her to pull me past the entrance. I’d find out what had caused the odor, make sure there was nothing nefarious going on, and then I would force Kat to bail with me.

  A few steps in, she released me, held out her arms and spun. “Well, what do you think?”

  I studied our new location. No longer was the floor carpeted with thick, soft fibers. There was dark, dank tile. There were several metal tables, some with cuffs for wrist
s and ankles—and there were drains underneath every single one of them.

  I thought…I thought she’d brought me to some sort of…torture chamber.

  Trembling, I reached into my purse and palmed the blade. Before I could talk myself out of searching for clues, I slipped past her, doing my best to hide the metal behind my arm.

  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” she whispered. Whispered, yeah, but still her voice echoed.

  “Probably not,” I muttered.

  “So you don’t think Reeve’s dad needs to buy a case of Febreze? Well, then, do you think he does secret surgeries down here?”

  “I think it’s none of your business,” a male voice boomed from behind us.

  Oh…crap.

  I felt like a Tilt-A-Whirl as I jerked around, facing off with the intruder. He was only a little taller than me, which put him at just above five-eleven. His pin-striped suit did not look anything like the suits my dad had sometimes worn to church the few times he’d attended. He had salt-and-pepper hair, skin tanned to a deep bronze and weathered with a few thin lines, though not unattractively.

  For an older guy, he was pretty hot—and he was eyeing us like we were rats in a cage.

  With my free hand, I grabbed Kat by the forearm and shoved her behind me, and maybe I used too much force because she stumbled and humphed. “Who are you?” I demanded, more with bravado than anything.

  “I am the owner of this house,” he said at the same time Kat muttered, “Say hello to Reeve’s dad. ”

  Kat peeked out from around me and waved. “Hey, Mr. Ankh. ”

  His jaw clenched as he nodded in greeting. “Kathryn. ” To me, he snapped, “And who are you?”

  You’ve faced zombies. This is nothing. “I’m Reeve’s friend. ”

  “Yes, I guessed that. What is your name and what are you doing down here with Kathryn?”

  “We were just looking for a quiet place to talk, honest,” Kat said, and even I wanted to believe her. All that innocence in her tone seemed impossible to fake.
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