Alice in zombieland, p.56

Alice in Zombieland, page 56

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 56

 

  Thump!

  At the booming noise, I spun around. A very pale, shaky Kat looked as though she’d been trying to walk over to me but had fallen to her knees midway. I rushed to her side and helped her up.

  “Are you okay?”

  “I’ll be fine. ” She limped over to sit on the edge of my bed, rubbed her hands over her face. “A little dizzy spell, that’s all. ”

  A little dizzy spell that had appeared suddenly, without warning. I thought of the scars on her arms. I thought of the other times I’d seen her this pale and shaky. I thought of the many days of school she’d missed.

  “Kat, something’s wrong with you and I want you to tell me what it is. ” I plopped beside her and crossed my legs. “No more evasions. You can tell me anything and it will never go any further, I hope you know that. ”

  Sighing, she threw herself backward, bouncing up and down on the mattress. “Well…you know how I told you my mom was a doctor at the hospital and that she’d told me all about you and that’s why I was there?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Well, I lied. I’m sorry,” she added before I could utter a word. “I just didn’t want to tell you the truth. I haven’t told anyone, not even Frosty. ”

  “Then what is it?” Confusion and concern beat through me. “Why were you there?”

  Her hands returned to her face, blocking her expression from my view. “I’m sick. My kidneys don’t exactly work right. I need dialysis, like, a lot. That’s the real reason I was up there. I overheard two of the nurses talking about you and decided to check you out. ”

  The concern took over and consumed me, making me shake. One word echoed in my mind. Sick. Sick. Sick. “Are you going to be okay?”

  “My mom…she had defunct kidneys, too, and she died at a pretty early age. Like, just after I was born. ”

  “Kat. ” I grabbed her hand and held on, never wanting to let her go.

  Her chin went straight into the air. The overhead light glinted off the sheen of tears in eyes more green than brown. “I don’t want you to treat me any differently. I’m still just me. ”

  Yes, she was still one of the best people I knew. I wanted to save her, somehow, someway, as I hadn’t been able to save my family and Brent, because losing her would destroy me, and I knew it.

  Every day the clock ticked—or not. The end could come in a heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second. Gone, gone, gone.

  Kat. Nana. Pops.

  Cole.

  I’d been keeping him at a distance, tiptoeing around him, I realized, thinking yes, I’d give him a chance, then no, I wouldn’t. Yes. No. Excited. Nervous. Always holding a little part of myself back.

  Well, no longer. I was done letting fear rule my life. I’d had that thought before, but this time the words were alive inside me. This time, I wouldn’t back down.

  “You said Frosty doesn’t know?” I asked quietly.

  “No, he doesn’t. ” Her gaze locked on mine, the gleam inside hard and harsh. “I want to keep it that way. Okay? I shouldn’t, but I still love him. If he finds out, he’ll either drop me or double his efforts to be with me for the time I have left. I don’t want him to drop me, but I don’t want him to only want me because I’m a limited time offer, either. I want him to fight for me just because he loves me. ”

  “He hasn’t noticed your fatigue? Your scars?”

  “Well, of course he has. But the days I’m tired I tell him I’m on my period and that settles that. Girl issues scare him. As for the scars, I told him I was in a terrible fight in junior high and the little witch scratched like a sissy. He asks me for her name and address at least once a week. I think he hopes to watch a rematch. ”

  I wanted to laugh at that. I wanted to cry. “I won’t say a word, I promise. ”

  Bit by bit, the tension eased from her. “Good. And now, to purposefully change the subject, I finally finished the rumor tree. You’ll never believe who the culprit is. ”

  I’d stopped caring, and yet, curiosity got the better of me. “Who?”

  “Justin’s sister, Jaclyn. ”

  “Of course,” I said, her name switching on a lightbulb inside my head. I was ashamed I hadn’t deduced the truth sooner. I hadn’t spoken to Justin since that night in the forest, when he and his crew had stolen my zombies, and Jaclyn had turned in the other direction every time she’d spotted me. “She hates me. ”

  “Hate is too mild a word. But it’s nothing personal, I don’t think. She hates everyone who’s involved with Cole. Even hated me while I was dating Frosty. Not that she ever said why. ”

  I knew why, but I couldn’t tell her.

  “Are you going to say anything to her?” Kat asked.

  “No,” I said with a sigh. “It’s over. Done. ” I wasn’t going to risk getting in trouble over something like this, not when I had so much to lose. Plus, Cole would be all over Justin, and he had enough to deal with right now.

  We all did.

  16

  The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly

  At ten fifty-nine that night, I spotted a flashing light outside my bedroom window. Cole’s signal. He was here.

  The storm had left its mark, the sky an endless expanse of polished onyx, the ground dark and muddy. I’d been watching for him for the past five—cough sixty-seven cough—minutes, and had wondered how I’d be able to tag him. Well, now I knew.

  Filled with a bubbling kind of guilt, I double-checked the Pillow-Ali I’d rigged on the bed, then tiptoed down the stairs and to the back door. Pops and Nana were a lot older than my mom and dad, and their hearing wasn’t nearly as keen. I was taking full advantage, and I knew it, but their new rules had left me no choice. I had to do this.

  Hinges erupted into a chorus of noise as I eased the door open, and I cringed. I waited several seconds, heard nothing and locked up, then shoved the key into my pants pocket. The night was far colder than the day had been, and I was suddenly very grateful I’d worn a long-sleeved shirt, thick socks and boots.

  “Hey, you—”

  Our eyes met, and the rest of the world disappeared—

  —he had me backed against a bedroom wall, his body supporting mine. My legs were wrapped around his waist. His hands were flattened beside my temples; mine were in his hair. He’d imprisoned me with his strength to kiss the breath right out of me.

  “You okay, princess?”

  Princess. He’d once again called me princess, as if I’d sprung straight from a fairy tale. I melted into him. “I’m good. ”

  “More?”

  “Please. ”

  The kissing started up again, even hotter, wilder.

  For the first time, no one interrupted us. The vision was allowed to play out until the very end, a whole lot of kissing and heavy breathing fading into darkness and quiet. In that darkness, I experienced a surge of different emotions. Excitement, longing, nervousness. We hadn’t had a vision in so long, I’d thought they’d stopped for good.

  To me, this meant we had a future.

  “Why now?” he asked, here in the present. The stockade fence loomed behind him, trees at his sides. There was no moonlight, no flashlight, but I could see his face clearly. Dark hair was brushed back and damp, violet eyes were luminous. “What’s changed?”

  “Me, I think. ” As I’d already realized, some part of me had been pushing him away, resisting him. And then today, after talking to Kat…well, I was unsure how much longer I had with her, and I was envious of the connection she had with Frosty. I wanted that kind of connection with Cole, and I realized I’d decided I could have it, if only I would open myself to the possibilities.

  “Well, I approve. I want that. ” His voice was a husky rasp, as rich and decadent as chocolate. “What we saw. ”

  “Me, too,” I admitted.

  “Do you know me well enough now?”

  I knew he was strong, determined, protective, and that
he cared about his friends more than he cared about himself. He obeyed no rules but his own. In the Wild West days, he would have been an outlaw. I knew his sense of humor fit me, just as mine seemed to fit him.

  “Yes,” I whispered. “I do. Not sex,” I added. “Not yet. But…”

  “But more than what we have. ”

  “Yes,” I repeated.

  “Good. ” He took my hand, ushering me through the darkness and mud. I knew there were traps out here, but I couldn’t see them. Nor did I see any sign of the zombies. “One of the guys will stop by your house every hour to check things out. ”

  “Thank you. ” Cole’s Jeep was once again parked at the curb. Only difference was, Bronx wasn’t poised at the wheel. Cole claimed the driver’s seat.

  I buckled in and shifted to face him. “Everyone’s well?” I asked as we rambled down the road.

  “Yeah. Recovering nicely. ”

  “Where was the nest?”

  “A mausoleum in a cemetery. ”

  “And they were…what? Just sleeping in there?”

  He nodded. “We opened the door, and they just stood there, staring at us. They didn’t even put up a fight when we attacked. ”

  “Maybe something was wrong with them. ” Like…the essence of a poisoned spirit working through their systems?

  “Maybe. We’ve never encountered anything like it. ”

  “So you guys were able to ash them without any problems?”

  “Yep. ”

  And I bet they’d celebrated afterward. Throw me a pity party, because I wished I’d been there. I shifted to my other side and traced a fingertip over the dusty window, leaving a smear. “How did the boys find them?”

  Cole accelerated, passing one car, then another. “They were doing patrols and followed the smell, which was more rank than usual. ”

  We lapsed into silence, leaving me alone with my thoughts—which quickly switched from zombies to Cole himself. I knew where he was taking me. His home. We’d go to his bedroom, and what? Just start making out? And, crap! Even though we weren’t having sex, I hadn’t initiated “the chat” with him. Things could spiral out of control, or I could change my mind.
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