Road's End: Apocalypse Riders (6 page)

BOOK: Road's End: Apocalypse Riders
12.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I knew if I spoke, I would tell him to stop - so I remained silent. I was sure that even in the dim orange light of the fire, he could see the heat in my cheeks.

He turned back to his work, though, heating the needle and drawing another line. I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't really want him to do anything, did I? The war in my head was silenced when his hand trailed to my inner thigh again. He exhaled a long, hot breath over my mound, gently pushing my knees further apart as he did it.

Oh, God, I have to stop this. He can't do this.
But his fingers were pressing the damp fabric of my panties against my pussy. I shook my head in denial but the words never came out.

"Shh," he said soothingly, rubbing my thigh as he moved over, putting himself between my legs. He pushed aside the fabric and inhaled deeply.

His touch was like an electric shock. His fingertips merely brushed my soft and swollen lips, but my whole body jerked. I bit my lip to quiet myself. His hand tensed around my leg as he felt my wetness.

He looked up at me before turning back to the fire - it was a look full of dark promise. And God help me, I didn't want to stop him.

He burned one more line, squinting close over the design, his breath warm against my skin. Then he was pushing my panties aside again and, with a shuddering breath, he planted his lips on my pussy with a hot, wet kiss.

The sound I made was more of a yelp than a gasp. My hips bucked, or at least they tried to - he pinned me in place with both hands.

I knew I should stop him, but the heat of his mouth was incredible, and his tongue dragging along my folds was making my heart race and my whole body shake.

Words finally rushed out of me as my tight control over myself began to crumble. "Wait, Adam, you can't... I shouldn't -" My body's movements were in contrast to my denials.

He reached right up my shirt and viciously twisted a nipple until I cried out. Even then he didn't release the hardened bud, only rolled it between his fingers as he spoke.

"You've said enough," he growled.
Damn, he's seriously hurt that I don't trust him
. "You're done talking. You're just going to come for me, now."

I was so close, too. But fear and anger gained a foothold. My wrists were still bound and the mark on my hip felt sore and tight. But more than that, I was scared. I was afraid of the feelings he drew out of me, afraid of the awful, desperate need in my belly and in my chest.
You're not supposed to feel these things for your kidnapper.
"Branding me wasn't enough? You have to do this to me, too?"

He recoiled as if I'd slapped him. I had a moment of doubt, then. Maybe I was judging him too harshly.

He pulled himself up over my body so his face hovered above mine. He radiated heat as he trapped me there in the hay, examining my face, trying to read something in my eyes.

"I have nothing to give you," he growled, "And apparently my words are worthless. What else can I do? How can I make you trust me?"

"Let me go."

His face hardened. "No."

My body still burned for him, despite our conversation, so when he kissed me, I was not strong enough to immediately resist. His lips devoured mine in a slow, sensual slide, slick and musky with my own fluids .
Oh, God
. I was sinking; my head was spinning.
This has to stop
. I whined and he withdrew, breathing heavily. "I think if you'd let me kiss you before, I never would have been able to make myself leave you alone."

"You would have kidnapped me right then."

"Goddammit!" He heaved himself to his feet and stalked across the barn, kicking over the pot near the fire as he went. "What the hell am I supposed to do? Let you get yourself killed? Let those guys catch you instead? Nobody will hurt you where we're going.
am not going to hurt you. All I'm trying to do here is protect you."

"All I wanted was to be left alone," I said quietly. "You don't owe me because I saved you, and you don't get to claim me because you helped me escape those men. Ask yourself, Adam, are you trying to keep me safe? Or are you just trying to keep me?"

He went cold. It was like a chill entered the room. His face dropped all its heat, all its passion, and turned to stone. "I'm sleeping outside," he said, and that was it. He didn't even slam the barn doors shut behind him; he just pulled them closed with a quiet click.



I slept fitfully, but I did sleep, and I was awash with guilt when I rose in the morning. I'd gone too far.
But why should I feel guilty? What is wrong with me?

The mark on my hip was red and swollen, but didn’t look infected. I was surprised to see a tiny round bird. I’d expected angel wings or a devil’s tail or a skull. But it was a simple bird, with the letters “DA” above it and “MC” below it and an “A” to the right side.
Devil’s Ashes Motorcycle Club. A for Adam.
I wondered if that meant that he intended on keeping me for himself instead of using me to bargain or barter or sell.
Stop thinking like that. We haven’t reached the end of this road yet. Anything could happen.

He'd left one of his saddlebags inside, though not the one with our weapons. I dug out a fresh pair of undies and a t-shirt - the last clean ones. I couldn’t dress with my hands bound as they were, so I stuffed them into the pocket of my oversized pants. We'd have to stop and wash some things soon, anyway. Or just find new stuff.

. I was thinking about things we'd do to continue on, not things I'd do when I escaped.
Am I giving up?

Once dressed, I found him sitting on a large stone just outside the front door. I don't know why I felt the need to make at least some sort of peace between us. His face was drawn, tired, and just as stony as the night before. I leaned against his motorcycle, regarding him for a moment.

Are we still being chased?”

Yes.” He looked off towards the horizon, where the sun was still rising. “I punctured their tires back there, but they would have repaired them by now. Hell, they probably found brand news ones somewhere in that city.”

Who are they?”

“Satan’s Remains. Another group of motorcyclists. Rivals.”

Rivals. Corpses walk, populations dwindle, and they have time to be rivals.
I kept that thought to myself. Instead, I whispered, “Did you kill any of them?”

His face twitched. He looked grim. “One. The one guarding their bikes.”

I had a vague memory of that gunshot.

I'm pretty fucking stuck, aren't I
. Enemies behind us who definitely wanted to grab me. The dead anywhere and everywhere, waiting for a chance to take a bite out of us. What chance did I have?
Why does it all have to be so fucking bleak?
I wanted to trust him. But after everything I'd seen and been through, he and his story were just too good to be true.

I could give in. Live in that pretty dream for a while, before it all goes to shit again
. It would have been so easy. Too easy.
Not smart.

"What were you before?" he asked.

I’d been lost in my thoughts, and his question surprised me so much that I actually answered. "A teacher."

He chuckled. "Little kids?"

"Yeah. I did a year of 1st grade and a year of kindergarten before... you know. Why?"

He shrugged. "Just curious. When you were out of it, you were mumbling about glue sticks and lunch boxes."

I stared at my feet. I didn't want to think about those kids, that time. Not ever again. "I was there," I whispered. "When it started."

He reached out and took my wrists in his hand. He tugged on the end, loosening the knot. "What happened?"

"They locked us down for three days. The parents tried to storm the doors. They were the first real herd of the dead. An enraged mob, already in a violent frenzy... Half of them had been killed and turned before anyone even realized anything was wrong with them."

The twine fell away. My wrists were raw and sore, and he rubbed them gently, soothing away some of the discomfort.

"I was there when the kids started turning."

He released a breath as if he'd been holding it and squeezed both my hands tight. "I was on the highway with my brothers when our town turned. We were away when it started, off at some chapter meeting, I don't even remember. We tried to rush back. We could see the fires from the road."

I could picture it. Him on his bike, surrounded by other bikers, Van, Preacher, watching the billowing smoke from afar and being helpless to stop it. Being unable to save anyone because it was already too late. I squeezed his hands back.

"Why the bird?" I asked. "The mark. Is it ‘cause your buddies called you Lark?"

He smirked. “You’ll laugh.”

“I won’t.”

“It’s my road name. The guys used to tease me because I could sing well.”

I didn’t laugh, but I did sputter. “Sing?” I couldn’t even begin to picture it.

“Yeah. Like playing a guitar and doing cover songs at bars. For pretty girls. Holidays.”

I bit back an impulse to ask him to sing me something. I’d opened up more doors that morning than I wanted to already. I didn’t need him to think I was trying to flirt or anything silly like that.

"Come on." We took a quick inventory of his bags. One held our weapons and other supplies. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing his gun, and it turned out he’d taken a second pistol from the man he’d shot. Another bag held clothes. The third held food - our last three cans. We would need to scavenge very soon.

“Today,” he said. We shared one of the cans - some sad and soggy green beans - before he climbed onto the back of his bike. My wrists were still untied. I rubbed them as I considered what this meant. What my options were.

“Get on,” he grunted. And I did. The further we got from the city, the more afraid I was of being alone.
If I can find a vehicle, or a bike, or something to help me travel faster, then I’ll go.
I knew I was fooling myself. Getting on the back of that bike voluntarily was the first step towards giving up. Giving in.
There just aren’t any good options.

We’d barely gone a few miles before he stopped. We were on a dirt road through a sparse forest. Trees lined the road, but they were spaced far apart. “What is it?” I asked.

“The dead.” He pointed. There, a corpse shambled up the road ahead of us. It had heard us and was now slowly heading in our direction.

“It’s just one,” I said, “Give me my knives and I’ll take care of it.” Stabbing it in the brain was one way to kill them, but it had to be done right. A simply knife to the gray matter wasn’t quite enough. You had to dislodge or destroy the brain stem. I preferred burning the things myself. Easier.

“He could just be preceding the herd.” I squinted up the road. No movement. But Adam was right.

Still, this one would have to bite the dust. I turned and pulled my knives from his bag. “Josie…”

“If there’s more out there, we don’t want to shoot this one and attract their attention.” I slid from the bike and strapped the sheaths around my waist. I pulled both knives free and approached the corpse. I heard Adam follow behind me, but I didn’t turn. I didn’t need his help.

The corpse was a tall, thin man. He wore a rumpled suit. One leg of the pants was missing. His eyes were white, face slack, mouth bloody. He didn’t breath, of course. He made no sounds at all.

He picked up speed once his senses, whatever they were, locked onto my presence. It wasn’t so much of a run as a falling forward and catching himself with his feet. His hands reached towards me as he rushed ahead, grabbing at the air.

I stopped walking and let him come. When he got close, I ducked low and rammed my shoulder into his stomach. His hands grabbed, but his own momentum worked against him and he toppled over my back, twisting and rolling as he gained a hold of my shirt. It was a bad angle for him, though, and I wrenched easily away.

I kicked him twice as he tried to stand, then finally descended. With a knee against his back, I grabbed his head and jammed my knife in where skull met neck. He immediately went limp.

“Not bad,” Adam said, “Slow, though. What do you do when there’s more than one?”

I couldn’t answer. Something was crashing through the woods behind him. Something big. Branched flew out ahead of it, scattering onto the road, clanking into the motorcycle. “Oh, shit.”
He should have stayed on the bike. We shouldn’t have walked so far ahead of it. We shouldn’t have stopped at all.
So many bad moves. We’d gotten complacent about the dead.

Adam turned as a herd of them shambled out from the trees and swarmed over the bike. It disappeared in the mass of bodies.

“No!” He took one step towards the mob. I grabbed his sleeve.

“Are you crazy? Move!” The herd wheeled together, turning down the road. Turning towards us. It was an absolute flood of them. There was no way to fight, we could only run.

I took off, listening for Adam to follow. He did only a moment later.

BOOK: Road's End: Apocalypse Riders
12.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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