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(Still Breathing Volume 4)
By Mena Thrace
Copyright 2015 by Mena Thrace
Cover Design by Mena Thrace
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses or establishments, groups, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is meant for sale to adult audiences only. It contains sexually explicit scenes and language which may be considered offensive. All sexually active characters in this work are eighteen (18) years of age or older.
Thank you for supporting the work of the author.
Contact Information: MenaThrace@gmail.com
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This is the fourth book of the ongoing erotic serial Still Breathing. While each part can be read individually it is the author's belief that you will enjoy the series better if read in order. New installments are forthcoming. This series is not recommended for readers with an aversion to cliffhangers, graphic depictions of sex or serialized fiction.
Start with Volume I of Still Breathing, Ad Noctum.
Table of Contents
Excerpt From Parting (Still Breathing Volume 5)
A Note To My Favorite People In All The Worlds
If You Liked This Story…
“Stupid motherfucker.” Garland fired another bullet, this one straight into the guy’s head. The last thing they needed was for him to come back while they were down there with him.
“How did you know that would work?” Nathan stared at her as she rushed over to drop to her knees behind him. He peered over his shoulder at her, his eyes wide.
“I didn’t. I got lucky.”
“I had to do something to get him to drop his guard. I figured at best I could get him to get close enough for me to sink my teeth into his neck. At worst he would kill me before I killed him. I just wanted to take at least one of them out.”
She managed to get the rope loosened enough that he could do the rest. He yanked his wrists free and slowly stood as she did.
“Here. Take this. I hate guns.” He stared at her as she put the firearm into his hand, letting go of it as quickly as she could. She grimaced as she wiped her palms on her jeans before moving back to the corpse.
“Are you okay?”
She looked in his direction, pausing as she searched the corpse for any other weapons. She was hoping for a blade of some kind. She was pretty sure he was looking at her; without her glasses she could not see the man’s intense stare.
“Don’t worry about me.”
“That’s not an answer, Gar-”
Footsteps overhead made them both freeze.
Nathan quickly and quietly moved for the stairs, ducking into the shadows just as the door swung open. Garland found nothing of value on the guy; she quickly moved back and away from the corpse. The best she could do was duck down below one of the columns. There was no place for her to hide. It didn’t matter anyway; she was unarmed and there was no escape. She doubt she could charm her way out of another mess.
Footsteps hurried down the stairs. Garland tensed, her eyes locked onto the shadows where she knew Nathan hid. She could not see him. She couldn’t even make out his shape. She blinked and narrowed her eyes, trying to lock onto him. As the person pounded down the stairs all Garland could do was try to pick Nathan out of the shadows. She finally saw him move, saw his tall form emerge from the shadows; she held her breath as he stood, the hand with the gun raising and-
“Cooper.” He sighed the name in relief. He unfolded from the shadows just as his son stepped into the room.
“Are you okay?”
She stood and stepped closer to them, her eyes going down to the bat clutched tightly in Cooper’s hand. It was bloody.
He looked back and forth between the two of them, his scowl deepening. They didn’t have a lot of time.
“Come on, we have to get the hell out of here. I only got one of them. Haven’t seen where the other two went. I thought one followed me but now I don’t believe he did.”
He turned and headed up the stairs. Nathan motioned for Garland to head up and followed her.
“Where were they headed the last time you saw them? Do you know what directions they went in?” Nathan moved to one of the front windows, ducking down to peek out between the curtains. Cooper went for another, frowning as he looked around the best he could without giving away his position.
“The last time I saw them they were both heading after me, into the woods. They lost track of me and split up. I managed to take one down while sneaking back here. I heard the gunshot and came running.”
He went to a different window and peered out as Nathan turned to look at Garland. She was searching the room, her eyes narrowed as she blinked around. He knew she needed her glasses.
He saw what she was looking for and headed over to the couch. The stuff that had been stripped from them was piled there, including the weapons taken from both of them.
“Garland. Here.” He picked up her jacket and glasses, handing them to her when she made her way to him. His eyes never left her face. A slight frown tugged at his lips.
“Thank you.” Her relief brightened her face as she slipped the wire rims on, immediately relaxing as the world came into beautiful and soothing crystal clarity. She caught Nathan staring at her and she started to say something when Cooper suddenly turned, stepping back from the window.
“One of them is heading this way. He looks pissed; guess he found his friend.”
Nathan turned towards the front door as Garland grabbed her blades.
“Both of you head out the back.”
“Do not argue with me, son. Move.”
“We’re not leaving you, Nathan.” Her blades felt good in her hands. She did not like being unarmed, vulnerable. She was prepared for a fight, not about to let him face the enemy alone. He turned to her, frowning.
“You two-” His gaze suddenly shifted from her to something behind her.
“Get down!” He yelled. She had time to see Cooper dodge into the hall. Nathan grabbed her shoulder and pushed down, causing her to drop to the floor at the foot of the couch as bullets rushed overhead. She stared up at his face. His jaw was set in determination, his gaze fierce as he fired back. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t blink. He didn’t duck or show any sign of concern about getting shot. He just stared at his target as he calmly pulled the trigger.
Two shots. Two shots was it before sudden silence. He turned to look down at her.
“Are you o-”
The front door slammed open. Nathan quickly turned, swinging the gun around. His movements were smooth, economical. She knew she should look towards the door, move or do something other than stare at him but she couldn’t stop herself. He pulled the trigger one more time and the man at the door dropped, his gun falling uselessly to the floor.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry if I hurt you. I shouldn’t have shoved you.” Nathan looked at her as she slowly stood. Cooper came back into the room, peering at the dead men with a typical lack of emotion. He went for the gun, shoving it into the back of his jeans as he stood and walked out the front door. He stretched, swinging the bat a few times as he worked out the massive amounts of adrenaline still pumping through his veins.
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Where in the hell did you learn to shoot like that?”
Something like a smile crossed Nathan’s face as he turned to pick up his gun belt from the pile of their things.
“I was a forest ranger. Before all this. I guess I was good enough, all things considered. I learned a hell of a lot of transferable skills from that job.”
“I’ll say. You didn’t seem at all bothered that you were being shot at.”
“Dad!” Cooper’s yell startled them both. He ran back into the house, his eyes huge. Garland finished strapping her blades back on, her hands instantly going for the handles as she heard his tone.
“We have to go. Now!”
“What is it? Do you see someone else?”
“I see a whole hell of a lot of someone elses. We have to go! Now! There’s a herd moving this way!”
“The fucking gunshots.” Nathan shook his head as they ran for the front porch. Garland cursed under her breath as she saw the giant group of shambling dead heading their way. They were still far enough away that they had a couple of minutes before things got bad but the sheer number of them was off-putting. If the car did not start for whatever reason they were going to have to run for it.
Seeing another flood of the undead so soon after her camp had been overrun and her people destroyed caused a painful twist in Garland’s stomach. Her face became an unreadable mask. Her hands instinctively tightened on the handles of her blades.
“Get to the car.” Nathan had the keys in one hand, his gun in the other. They ran down the steps as four of the dead stumbled around the sides of the house. They immediately surged towards them. Cooper slammed his bat into the head of one, the satisfying thunk causing the boy’s face to twitch into a small grin. Garland didn’t know what she was going to do until she was doing it; she ducked down, her hand wrapping around the ugly little bastard of a gnome that she had wanted to smash into the concrete before they left the area.
The zombie stumbled her way, what was left of its hands reaching towards her.
Not here, not now.
Garland came up swinging, her hand wrapped tightly around the gnome. She slammed the thing into the zombie’s skull, the smell of its rot making her eyes water. Its stench made her angry. She wasn’t sure why it did but it did and she channelled that anger into her next few hits. The thing stumbled back and fell, finally and truly dead. What was left of its face mocked her. For one mad moment she was afraid she would move to keep slamming the gnome into what was left of its head, over and over and over until there was nothing left of it; thankfully she was able to rein the urge back before she did something stupid.
They didn’t have time to waste.
She dropped the gnome, grimacing as she realized fluid from the thing’s head had gotten onto her glove. She ran for the car, sliding into the front after Cooper was in. She slammed the door just as Nathan started the car. The set of his jaw relaxed when the car roared to life; he had half expected that it would not.
Garland did not look back as they finally put the town behind them.
Good fucking riddance.
They drove in silence.
At some point Garland realized Cooper had sacked out in the back. He slept curled up on his side, a duffel bag his pillow.
The rain had thinned to a fine drizzle, making the already gloomy atmosphere even more oppressive. The dark sky pressed down, the heavy gray clouds appearing ready to drop on them at any given moment.
The areas they drove through were not familiar to Garland. She trusted Nathan when he said he knew where they were and what town she had spoken of wanting to be dropped off at. He was more familiar with the area than she was; she didn’t ask questions but she was able to infer that he and his people had scouted the nearby towns enough to have a good grip on the layout of the roads.
She knew how foolish she was to believe it could happen but as the time passed by she found herself hoping against hope she would see the small four door Marshall had managed to find a few towns back heading their way. They had been trying to find another working car; that had been one of the things Gabe and their two friends had headed out with the intention of finding on their latest supply run.
The group had been talking about moving on for a few weeks but without another car the idea of doing so seemed foolish. They had arrived at their latest camp in two cars but one of them died shortly after they settled. They had been joking it would be one hell of a fit when it came time to move on if they did not find another working vehicle. It came to Garland that the problem had been officially solved.
The realization caused a wave of pain to wash through her.
There were no words to describe the grief that welled within her as she thought of sweet laughing Clara playing with little Merri, the baby giggling and cooing as Clara made funny faces at her. Merri had been such a happy baby. They had all considered the tiny girl to be their little ray of sunshine. She had been born into a fallen ruined world but as long as she was able to keep the joy she seemed born with...
Her hands knotted in her lap.
His voice brought her back from her thoughts.
“Are you okay after what went down back there?”
Cooper snored in the back.
Her face was a careful mask. She was hellbent on hiding the sudden ache that lanced through her as she realized that since Merri was gone the sleeping boy behind them was the youngest survivor that she knew of.
He looked at her from the corner of his eye, noting the stony way she stared forward as the car carried them towards the next stage of their fucked up adventure.
“I’m fine. It’s very kind of you to keep asking if I’m okay. I promise I am. What about you?”
For the first time since they had driven away from the herd Garland turned her full attention to Nathan, sweeping her gaze over his face as he considered her question.
“Well, all in all I guess I can’t complain. It could have been a whole hell of a lot worse back there.” He took one hand off the steering wheel to comb through his messy dark hair. “Fuck, for that matter I’m surprised it wasn’t. We were lucky. Very fucking lucky.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling myself since things went belly up. I’ve been extremely lucky. Has a way of making one nervous, though.”
He chuckled and gave a small knowing nod.
“Yes. Yes, it does.”