The Cruel Summer Giveaway is starting June 13th!
There's a Grand Prize of 25 ebooks from 10 great apoc authors, myself included :) Come join this Facebook event to enter to win and check out the spotlights on each author, including excerpts from their novels, news on upcoming stories, and a Q&A section where you can ask all the burning questions you're dying to know the answers to. What's the best mobile weapon to carry in the end of days? Med supplies or water - which do you ditch when the going gets tough? Is 12.4% an acceptable interest rate on a credit card?
No, it's not.
Now come join me and some of the kindest, funniest, darkest human beings I've ever had the pleasure to compete for sales with at the Cruel Summer Giveaway!
In the End will be FREE Thursday - Friday! If you haven't picked up your copy yet, go get it!
But until then, here's an excerpt:
We tread into the water. The coldness creeps up my pant leg, licking my skin and sending shivers through my body. This is going to be a long, exhausting ordeal. One made even longer by the fact that we all just ran two miles and will now be swimming those miles into the current of a freezing cold river, some of it underwater.
No one complains as we sink into the current. Nothing beyond the involuntary gasp at the sudden coldness. Then we’re moving. They follow my lead as I swim us upstream, trying to remain as perfectly centered in the water as I can. I don’t know how many infected are on the other bank, but I imagine quite a few. I can hear them now and then moaning in the trees but I haven’t seen any yet. Doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat.
“Ali,” I whisper, over my shoulder, “keep an eye on the west bank. Quietly and calmly let us know if you see anything.”
Silence is my answer.
“Al,” Syd breathes behind me.
“No, I heard you guys,” she whispers back, sounding annoyed.
“Then what’s with the silent treatment?” I ask quietly.
More silence. Just when I’m about to snap at her, she finally answers me.
“I’m all turned around,” she grumbles. “I was trying to figure out which bank is west.”
“On the right,” Syd and I say together.
I look over my shoulder at her incredulously. “Are you shushing us?”
She rolls her eyes. “If you would use normal directions like left and right, this wouldn’t be an issue. But you have to go all tactical Rambo. What’s next? Is there an infected at my 20?”
“Are you serious? What about ‘stage left’?” I whisper back sharply.
Alissa narrows her eyes at me. “It made perfect sense.”
“To who? The cast of Cats? Who uses that as a direction?”
“It worked didn’t it?”
“I have no idea. Did I turn the right way?”
“Did I put an arrow in your heart?”
“No,” I reply, feeling instantly annoyed that that was a possibility.
“Then yeah, you got it right.”
“I have an idea,” Syd whispers, drifting in the current between us.
In the End is the finale to the Quarantined series, but it did leave a few really major questions unanswered. I realize this is annoying as hell for some readers. So, I've added an epilogue to the book that I will share with you here.
Epilogue – 9 Years Later
The cart that I’m hiding in is wheeled into another room farther down the hall. I can feel the wheels struggle and squeak over the uneven stone floor. My over-excited heart is in my throat as we turn a corner, heading into a room that I think, I hope, I know. I clutch my baby close to me, caressing her hair gently to sooth her. If she makes a sound, we’re dead. They’ll know we’re here and all will be lost.
Light glares in through a small gap between the doors of the cart, hurting my eyes that had adjusted to the darkness. There’s supposed to be drawers and drawers, boxes and boxes of medical supplies stowed in here, but I cleared them to make room for baby and I. It was the only place to hide. It was our only choice.
For 6 years I’ve been trapped inside this prison. During that time I’ve never seen anything other than this island and the people on it. Never a foreigner. Never a Risen.
Today, I’m hoping to see both. I’m hoping to be liberated. I’m praying for freedom.
“We’ll just take some measurements on you,” Taylor’s familiar voice says. “Do a few tests, if you don’t mind.”
“And if we do?” a young man’s voice challenges.
“Then you can leave right now.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
Lies. If leaving were so easy, baby and I would have done it a long time ago.
“Do your tests,” a girl says defiantly. “We’re not infected. We have nothing to hide.”
“Not that you know of. But the infection rate isn’t what it used to be, not since The Cure,” he says sarcastically. “Thanks to that little beauty of a failure, the last we checked, incubation took over a week before a person fully turned, meaning you’ll be locked in here for more than two. Are you prepared for that?”
“We don’t want to move in,” the boy complained. “We just need to speak to someone. Someone who makes decisions for the group.”
“How do you know you’re not talking to him? How do you know I’m not the Grand Poobah? The king of the island?”
I giggle before I can stop myself. The word Poobah and the idea of Taylor with a crown on his head are too funny to me. He’d probably wear it backwards like his baseball caps.
My giggle must give me away because the doors to the cart are suddenly flung open. Light blazes in, burning my eyes. I blink rapidly out at the dark figures slowly taking shape in front of me. In the cages I can see two boys, one very tall with blond hair and nice eyes, the other a little shorter with dark hair and laughing brown eyes, and a pretty girl with long, red hair and sad eyes.
“Beth, what the hell?” Taylor asks, exasperated.
I frown at the scolding. “I’m sorry, Taylor.”
“What are you doing in there?”
“Playing hide and seek with daddy.”
He raises his eyebrows suspiciously. “Does he know he’s playing this game with you?”
“No,” I admit reluctantly.
“Cheater. Get out of here. You’re not supposed to be in here, you know that. It’s dangerous.”
I go to climb out of the cart, stumbling slightly. One of the guards in the room with Taylor reaches down to help me out until I’m standing, sullen and embarrassed in front of everyone.
“My mom lets me in here all the time.”
“Yeah, when it’s empty and it’s just you and her. Seriously, sweetie, scram. Your dad will kill—“
The door behind me swings open, my daddy standing in the entrance.
“Taylor, have you seen Beth?”
Taylor silently rats me out with one stern finger pointed at my face.
Daddy sighs in relief and annoyance. “Come on, let’s go.”
“But I was going to help Taylor with the prisoners.” I whine, trudging toward him.
“You’re 8 years old, baby. Let’s worry more about taking your bath and less about becoming a warden.”
“Hey, brat,” Taylor calls after me. I turn to find him holding up my baby doll, the one my mom sewed for me on my birthday this year. “Don’t forget Little Miss, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong here.”
I giggle, running back to take the doll from him. “Why do you call her that?”
“You don’t know that song?”
I shake my head, hugging my doll close.
“Come on, man,” Taylor says to my daddy. “You aren’t even raising her right.”
“Blow me,” daddy tells him.
“What does that mean?” I ask.
“It means don’t ever repeat it,” Taylor tells me. “It also means Music Education in the rec room in an hour, you hear me?”
I smile at him happily. “Yes!”
“Alright, beat it.”
I go to leave with my daddy, careful to get on his right side because he doesn’t have a hand there. He likes to have his left side, his Fighting Side, free to keep me safe. Before we pass through the door, I look over my shoulder longingly at the prisoners I’m leaving behind. At the adventures we could have had together in the outside world. The blond boy smiles and waves at me, but when I go to wave back, I stop. My eyes meet with the pretty girl with the red hair and I want to run up to hug her.
"Joss, what's wrong?" the brown eyed boy asks her.
Her eyes are watching me, following me as I leave the room with my daddy and my doll. And she’s crying.
This is the end of the Quarantined series, but for more of this world, read its sister series, Survival.
Author of YA/NA science fiction and romance peppered with wit and sarcasm.