Authors: Jillian Eaton
Tags: #Horror | Vampires
The Girl With the Gun
I guess that was no
less than I deserved for asking questions I didn’t really want the answer to.
Because this morning we found their heads.
Talk about a grisly discovery. My body gave an involuntary shudder and Hunter grimaced.
“It was pretty nasty.” His hands dipped into the front pockets of his jeans. “Hayley mentioned what you said. About them being vampires. I think you’re right.”
Well that wasn’t something I heard every day.
“You do?” I blurted.
“Yeah.” Hunter’s stare was less intense than Maximus’ had been, but no less intrusive. I fought the urge to squirm as his green eyes tried to probe far deeper than I was willing to let them go. “I mean, it’s the only thing that makes sense, right?”
“It’s a better theory than zombies.”
“Right? Everyone knows zombies can’t run for shit.”
“And they’re all gross and oozy looking.”
One eyebrow lifted. “Oozy looking?”
“You know.” I curled my fingers into claws and scrunched up my face. “Their eyeballs are falling out and their skin is peeling off and they make lots of grunting noises and walk around like this.” And throwing any future chance of a romantic encounter with Hunter out the window, I proceeded to walk around him in a stiff-legged circle doing my best zombie impersonation. To my surprise Hunter laughed. He actually
and the deep, husky sound of it stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Wow,” I whispered.
“What?” he said.
“I just… I can’t remember the last time I heard someone laugh.” My arms fell back to my sides. Laughter was something I had always taken for granted. I think it’s something we’re all guilty of. And we have no idea how important it is until it gets taken away from us. “It’s good. To hear someone laugh again.”
We were both quiet for a moment.
“Hayley said you had a name for the vampires,” Hunter said abruptly.
“Drinkers.” Eager to change the subject – I was so
the reflective type – I nodded with a little bit more enthusiasm than the topic probably called for. “They call themselves drinkers. They were sent here as a sort of test. To see how quickly they could wipe out an entire town.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Because – because one of them tried to kill me. And she told me everything before she died.”
I know what you’re thinking.
Lola, you can’t just pretend Maximus never existed. Didn’t you learn your lesson when you didn’t tell your dad or Travis about Angelique?
To which I say: no, I did not.
I mean, what was I supposed to say? That I was stupid enough to trust the wrong guy who just so happened to be a drinker and it got my best friend killed? I already blamed myself for Travis’ murder. I didn’t need Hunter to blame me too. So as far as Maximus was concerned, I would be keeping my mouth shut. At least for now.
Hunter’s eyes widened. “You saw one of them
? How? Aren’t vampires supposed to be immortal or something?”
“I didn’t just see her die, I killed her.” Yeah, yeah, another lie. But I had totally earned this one. Besides, I needed to up my street cred. “One shot to the heart and one to the head.” I patted my back pocket where my gun was more or less tucked safely away. “That’s all it takes.”
“That’s bad ass, Lola.” Looking at me with newfound respect, Hunter pulled open the door and gestured for me to walk in first. “What until I tell the others. They’re going to freak.”
After standing for so long out in the sun I struggled to see where I was going in the dimly lit hallway. After banging twice into a row of lockers I felt Hunter’s hand close around my upper arm. His grip was warm and steady and weirdly reassuring. Usually I didn’t like it when people helped me – I was the quintessential do-it-herself gal – but there was just something about Hunter that put me completely at ease. Maybe it was his dimples or his charming boyish grin. Or maybe I was finally ready to relinquish control and have someone else in charge for once. Someone willing to make the hard decisions. Someone willing to take the hits. Someone willing to make all the stupid mistakes I usually made.
“Easy,” he said with a chuckle. “Give your eyes a few seconds to adjust.”
A combination lock pressed into the small of my back as I leaned against one of the lockers. “I’m still not used to the power being out,” I admitted.
Hunter pivoted to face me, his hand slipping away from my arm. His features were cast in shadow, but I saw the flash of his white teeth when he smiled. “You and me both. I never thought I’d miss air-conditioning this much.”
“Or hot showers.”
“Hot showers.” He actually groaned. “What I wouldn’t give for a hot shower.”
“And fast food.” My stomach grumbled testily, reminding me I was long overdue for a meal. I seriously hoped there was a buffet of food waiting for me in the gym. “I really, really miss cheeseburgers and fries.”
“I miss TV.”
“What was your favorite show?”
His smile turned a little sheepish. “Supernatural.”
“Really?” I bit back a startled laugh. I had never pegged Hunter for the paranormal type. Although maybe that explained why he was so willing to believe in the unbelievable. “That was…”
Travis’ favorite show too
. “…the one with the two hot brothers, right?”
“Sam and Dean,” he confirmed with a nod. “The Winchester boys.”
“I can’t believe you watched that.”
“Oh yeah? Why not?”
“Because you’re a jock.”
My eyesight had adjusted enough so I could see both of his dimples flash when he grinned. “And jocks don’t watch anything expect for ESPN and the NFL Network, is that it? I have to say Lola, I always thought you were a little bit more open-minded than that.”
Hunter Billings had thought about
Get out of town.
This was easily the longest conversation we’d ever had, and we had known each other since the third grade when Hunter moved to Revere from someplace down south. I never imagined he even knew I was alive, let alone that he had actually thought about me. It was pretty flattering, to be honest. Especially since I was totally not his type. Then again, it was a well-known fact that Hunter flirted with anything that had breasts. So maybe I shouldn’t have been
flattered. But it was definitely something to think about, and a nice distraction from all the running and the maiming and the slaughtering.
“You have a point,” I allowed. “I guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
“No, you shouldn’t.” His gaze locked on mine. “Lola, I–”
“Did you guys get lost or something?” Hayley’s voice echoed down the hallway and Hunter immediately looked away from me.
I only had a second to wonder about the dull flush in his cheeks before he turned and called out, “We’re right here, Hales. Just catching up.”
“About what?” she said testily. Rounding the corner she stopped short, mouth tightening into a suspicious pout when she saw how close Hunter and I were standing. Her eyes darted back and forth between us and it was so obvious what she was thinking it took all the will power I possessed not to roll my eyes.
“The new sex position article in Cosmo. Did you know there’s something called the sultry saddle? Wait a sec, of course you did.” My grin stretched from one ear to the other. Hayley was not amused.
“You know, you’re really not as funny as you think you are.” Her hands settled on her hips. “Hunter, the others are waiting for you.
I felt more than heard his sigh. “I figured they would be. Come on, Lola. You can help get everyone up to speed. They’ll listen to you.”
My snort was barely contained. “Why would anyone listen to me?”
“My thoughts exactly,” said Hayley.
“Because.” Stopping between me and Hayley, Hunter looked back over his shoulder. There was a smile on his face, but when I met his gaze I saw his green eyes were deadly serious. “She’s the girl with the gun.”
I followed Hunter and Hayley
into the gymnasium. Immediately I could see why they’d chosen it as their hangout. Oversized skylights let in a flood of natural light that reflected off the wooden floor and gave the gym an almost cozy feel despite its massive size. The bleachers had been pulled out and were scattered with a variety of blankets, books, old-fashioned board games, and clothes. Down at one end two guys were playing basketball while two girls laid sprawled out on a blue mat fawning over Channing Tatum’s abs in the glossy pages of a magazine. Rose Gordon, easily distinguishable courtesy of her frizzy brown hair, sat by herself at the very top of the bleachers while an older woman I didn’t recognize worked on some sort of word puzzle several rows below, her face scrunched with concentration as she absently chewed on the end of a pen.
Everyone looked so damn
and relaxed. It was mind-boggling.
“Don’t they know what’s going on?” I muttered under my breath.
Hunter stopped beside me. Hayley brushed past both of us without a backwards glance and made a beeline straight for Channing Tatum. I couldn’t exactly say I was sorry to see her go, especially after the dagger looks she’d been giving me the entire way to the gym.
Queen Bee was definitely Jealous with a capitol J, which was awesome in theory. But after barely surviving one vicious attack by a catty, manipulative, narcissistic female I wasn’t looking to start a fight with another one any time soon.
“Sure they do,” Hunter replied. “Well, at least the ones who aren’t still blocking everything out. There just enjoying some downtime, Lola.” He tilted his head towards me. “Haven’t you ever needed a little downtime to unwind?”
Yes. Of course I had. During the school year down time took up a significant part of my day. But during a vampire apocalypse? Not so much.
“I don’t know if I’d be playing basketball, but I guess it’s a pretty sweet setup.” Shading my eyes with the side of my hand, I glanced up at the ceiling. “Except isn’t it kind of…”
“Open?” Hunter finished for me when I hesitated. “Yeah, it is. But we barricade ourselves in the locker rooms at night.” He nodded towards two matching blue doors on the far side of the gym. “Girls on the left, guys on the right.”
Well then. Golden Boy had thought of just about everything, hadn’t he?
Except how to keep heads off his doorstep.
“Come on, let me introduce you to everyone. Well, re-introduce you,” Hunter amended as he took my arm and more or less dragged me towards the middle of the gym. “I’m pretty sure you know everyone here.” Raising his voice a notch he bellowed, “Hey guys! Listen up. Hayley found another survivor. It’s Lola Sanchez.”
another survivor? Talk about lame ass introductions. I wasn’t an orphaned puppy she’d rescued from the side of the road.
“Lola knows more about what’s going on than any of us. She even killed one of them.”
There. That was better.
one of them?” One of the girls who had been reading the magazine clambered to her feet and hurried over to us. She was short, petite, and big-busted; the quintessential cheerleader type with a sweetheart face and choppy bangs that framed large hazel eyes. I recognized her from school, but I couldn’t remember her name. Lacey? Livy? Something like that.
Hunter nodded. “And she knows what they are.”
“What the hell are they?” This came from one of the guys who had been playing basketball. He had a tall, angular body that matched his thin, angular face and black hair that had been buzzed down to his skull. He used to run in Everett’s crowd and when our eyes met he gave me a clipped nod of acknowledgement. “Good to see you’re still kicking, Sanchez.”
“Same to you Stevenson.” If he had a first name, I didn’t know what it was. Everyone – including me – had always called him Stevenson.
“So?” he said, his voice muffled as he mopped at the sweat on his forehead with the hem of his t-shirt. “What are they?”
I studied the rest of the group as they closed in around me, surprised to realize that I recognized all of them except for the older woman who if I had to guess was either a parent or a middle school teacher. She was pretty, in an over-forty dowdyish sort of way, with dark blonde hair and warm brown eyes.
My mouth twisted into a wry smile when I noted how everyone was positioned. You would think surviving something as monumental as a vampire attack would bring people together, but the all-powerful high school clique system was still very much in place.
To my left were the Barbies, in the middle were the Brains – comprised of Rose Gordon and the parent/teacher – and to the right were the Jocks. Even though Hunter was standing beside me I was fairly confident where he would fit in. But what about me? I didn’t belong with any of these groups. I was alone. Surrounded by my classmates I was more alone than I’d even been in my entire life. And I missed Travis so much my stomach ached.