Wisteria (Wisteria Series) (8 page)

BOOK: Wisteria (Wisteria Series)
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* * * * *

 
 

Moments later, Wisteria lay down to sleep, but her thoughts were full of mixed images of her family and the surreal groans from the biters below. After several hours of trying to sleep, she gave up and left the room. She wandered around the penthouse apartment and found her way to the roof.

While there, she saw a black ball the size of a volleyball, spinning on the center of the roof. She walked over to it. It seemed to be rotating by itself and seemingly floating in mid-air. She reached to touch the ball, but someone seized her hand.

“Touch that and it will rip your arm from your shoulder.”

Wisteria turned to find Bach, standing behind her while clutching her wrist. His hand lingered before letting go of her. She reminded herself that he was still a jerk for what he said earlier, along with his callous apology. He had saved her life and she was trapped in his home, so she decided to bite her tongue. “What is it? And if it’s so dangerous, why is it up here?”

“Because I would not put something so dangerous inside the house.”

“Why do you need something like this at all?”

He stepped up to the ball and reach toward the spinning sphere.

“Don’t!” She grabbed his hand.

Alarmed, he glanced down at her fingers on his skin. For a second, she thought he actually blushed, but then remembered it was nighttime and dark so she couldn’t really tell.

“It will not hurt me.” He removed her hands and then placed his on the black ball.

Suddenly, all the lights on the roof when out.

“How do you think we get power Wisteria? The biel core powers the building.”

“Oh, right.” She tried to sound convincing and not completely confused. “I thought you used diesel generators.”

“Generators?” He paused and sighed. “But they are disgusting and loud. Why would I do that?”

Sensing another insult coming, Wisteria decided to wrap up the conversation. She simply nodded and started to leave. “Good night.”

“I am sorry about what I said before,” she heard Bach call out.

 
His apology caught her by surprise. “You apologized already.” She stopped, but didn’t look at him.

“No, that was not an apology. I…”

Wisteria was relieved. She wasn’t in the mood for another off-hand remark. Things were bad enough without having to deal with the teenage drama king. “Don’t worry about it.” She continued going.

“I have not had a visitor here in over a year,” he admitted.

Wisteria guessed that accounted for his lack of manners, but she still wasn’t going to set herself up to take more of his harshness.

“I am not saying that to try and justify what I—” he paused blocking her path. “Please, do not leave.”

He wants me to stay forever?
Wisteria almost choked and then she calmed down. The panic in her mind was slightly abated, but Bach still might use her for bait for the biters or eat her himself when they ran out of food.

“Wisteria?”

For a moment, he seemed familiar
. No, I don’t know this boy or the other one
. “Sure, I’ll stay for a while, I guess.” She shivered in the cold air.

“Perhaps we could sit in the greenhouse?” he suggested.

 

* * * * *

 
 

It was obvious Wisteria was cold. Bach figured the greenhouse would be warmer, but she did not seem sure. Cautiously, she scanned the glass building as she fidgeted with her sleeves. He watched her eyelashes flutter while she looked around and she shook her head. “I’m fine out here,” she told him.

“But you are cold.”

“I’ve been worse off.” Walking to the ledge of the building, she sat down.

He sat down next to her.

She forced a smile, but he could see that there was no happiness in her eyes.

She was probably still mad about before, but that was not Bach’s concern. Now that the scavenger was up here, he could keep a better eye on her and he wanted her to confess that she knew him.

Avoided eye contact, she fidgeted with the short red dress, attempting to pull it over her jeans.

“Here.” He took off his jacket and spread it over her legs.

“No, no.” She took if off and handed it back to him. “I said I’m okay.”

“If you want it, you can use it, but I am not going to use it.” He laid the jacket on the ground beside her. “In case you change your mind, Ria.” He remembered just then that she hated being called Ria.

Her head jerked up, but she kept quiet. She looked upset as if she needed to speak, but didn’t.

It was then that Bach realized she was afraid. “You are not a prisoner here,” he assured her.

“I know,” she said cheerfully. “Once the biters are gone, I’ll be gone too.”

It still stung him that she was so eager to go. Bach wished he knew why. Perhaps, he should go with Enric and Felip on one of their excursions to the human settlement in the north. The sandwine seemed to make both of them more open to consider Terran girls and maybe it would work for him. All it took, according to Enric, was food and cosmetics. Then Bach remembered he had something of Wisteria’s. “These were the things you were collecting in the shop.” He took out brightly colored tubes from his pocket and placed them on her lap. “Your friend dropped it on her way out.”
Why would she risk her life for junk like this?

“This isn’t mine. I’m not sure peach lip gloss suits me.” Wisteria studied the objects and seemed to be puzzled. “I wasn’t in that shop looking to buy makeup. I was trying to get her to go home. If I had just listened to him, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Listened to who?”

“Andrew. I was supposed stay in his line of site and if those girls weren’t leaving, I was meant to leave them and just get out.”

“And who is Andrew?”

“Andrew and I work as trackers in Norton.”

“What exactly do trackers do?”

“Mainly watching and monitoring the biters, studying their behavior and their numbers. If we need to, we cure them.” She fiddled with her blouse.

“Cure them? How? This sickness has no treatment.”

She didn’t move and at first Bach thought she was asleep.

“Wisteria.”

“We shoot them, Bach.” she sadly confessed. “No one knows how to treat them, but whatever we learn, we tell the soldiers and they take some actions.”

“Why are they making you do that?” Bach couldn’t believe someone as weak as her would have a job so insanely dangerous.

“They didn’t force me. I guess it’s something I have to do. It was that or pest control,” Wisteria replied. “And rat catching isn’t a skill I have.”

“Sounds safer though,” Bach retorted.

“True, but I was tired of being afraid. Don’t get me wrong, tracking is terrifying, but at least I feel more in control because I’m doing something about my life. I’m not just sitting around, waiting for the biters to get me.”

“But this time, you were not in control. Your friend? That girl, she almost got you infected and the other one died.”

“Melissa died?” She looked to be even more dejected than before, although she did not sound surprised.

“Do a lot of people get killed doing tracking?” How could she put herself in danger daily, for people like the girl who abandoned her?

“No one lately; Melissa was the first in months,” Wisteria answered in a small voice. “Everything’s mad. Everyone has lost someone. I don’t even know what’s happened to my father.”

“He is not with you by the beach?”

“The beach, you mean Norton? I’m not from there. We—were nearby. Well, sort of, we were on vacation, my mother, brother, and me.”

“Your father?”

“My parents aren’t together. They haven’t been for years. He stayed back in Lagos with his other wife and children.”

“Oh, so you only had a part of your family with you,” Bach concluded.

She nodded her head as she continued. “We arrived in Bristol and three days later everything went mad. That was the first time we saw the biters overrun a town. We were stranded there, surrounded by biters or panicked people, but we survived. An old married couple, the Lawsons, took us in for a while. We stayed in their cellar and in exchange, we shared the food we brought from Paris.”

“And the biters did not find this cellar?”

“They had a fallout shelter. It was built in the 1950s. We lived with them for a few weeks, maybe a month. They were nice people, but they lost their family when Bristol was overrun with the biters.”

“How bad was it?”

She coughed, forcing her voice to become firm. “It was hell. There were thousands of them, attacking and eating people. They were killing and eating people for weeks. We heard the screaming for days.”

“How did you get out?”

“We were lucky. Someone started a fire, a big fire in the city center. It was big enough to draw most of the infected away from us. We were going to join a convoy that was heading to Luton Airport. We heard there were still a few planes flying. The convoy was going to take us, but not the Lawsons because they didn’t have enough space.”

“You left them behind.”

“No, they left us behind. The Lawsons poisoned my brother, and made him so sick the convoy was afraid he was infected. They abandoned us.” She recalled begging the leader of the convoy to change his mind. “At least they didn’t kill him or try to sell us for food or something.”

“Your mother must have been terrified.”

“Actually,” she paused and shook her head. “She didn’t want to go to Luton Airport at all. David and I pushed for it. My mum kept saying since the Lawsons risked their lives for us, we should let them go. Then, David conveniently got sick. She was convinced there was a safe haven on the coast. She’d heard a rumor about it.”

Bach watched all the expressions pass across her smooth face as she spoke.

“We started heading east, and joined up with another convoy of people. Someone always had a story about somewhere that was biter free and the convoy often argued about which way to go. Eventually, the convoy splintered and most started heading to Luton Airport, because they thought there were planes still leaving and airport security had somehow contained the threat.” She paused and looked away from him, as if remembering the terrible journey. “Weeks later, we ran into two of the vehicles of the Lawson’s convoy. The cars were empty. All eight people, including the Lawsons, were dead and all their possessions were gone.”

“The biters got to them?”

“They looked to be already infected,” Wisteria recalled. “They were shot in the head. It was the first time my mother gave me a gun. We kept going to the coast. I was amazed when we found Smythe and were finally safe. Only four of us made it to the Isle of Smythe. And now I’m here.” She sighed heavily and looked out over the roof.

The cool night wind blew through them, causing her hair to fly into her face. She fought to get control of it, and Bach smiled as he watched her run her fingers through her long black braids. He realized how much he missed being around her and girls in general.

Piper was the only girl he had seen in seven months. Occasionally, girls from the Jade Ocean would sneak across through a threshold. However, the Lord of Jarthan, who guarded the thresholds between two realms, caught onto this, when his daughter Alba was one of the girls who snuck across. “What do you think happened to your father?” he inquired.

“Bach, can we talk about something else?” She gnawed at her lip.

“What do you want to talk about?”

“How come you live up here?” Her dark eyes finally met this. “How are you able to live up here? The biters would’ve gotten up here by now.”

“It was completely abandoned when we arrived years ago.” His father’s Thayns made sure the building was secured. The Family had thousands of dens around Terran. In England, Bach knew of over ten.

“You found it just like that?” She didn’t sound like she believed him.

“We have been here ever since.”

“And you guys are still up here all day, playing video games.”

The three boys travelled through the country to see the extent of the destruction, but Bach didn’t feel it would the best thing to tell her that he was here to watch her world die. “Sometimes we go looking for food or video games,but our life here is dull.” Felip and Enric also made trips to a safe haven in the North as well. The girls up there seemed open to doing anything for cosmetics. Enric particularly liked to distract himself with multiple Terrans.

“You plan to just wait this out?” She seemed even more skeptical of his answers, but she didn’t press him further. “What was your life like before this? Any family, parents, girlfriends, or hobbies? Were you a rock star?”

“Last I heard, my father and two brothers were well. My mother is dead.”

“I’m sorry.”

Bach knew she was feigning concern, so he remained silent.

“What happened to her?” The girl’s dark eyes finally met his.

“Why are you so interested in my life?”

“Huh?” She paused as though surprised by his skepticism. “It helps to know who I’m sharing a roof with. And I told you about my life.”

BOOK: Wisteria (Wisteria Series)
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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