“Little help over here,” Noah yelled. I tossed him a small axe from my pack, and he caught it with one hand. Noah’s the one with surfer boy hair, pale skin, freckles and an ass any girl would want to bite.
I watched him take the axe and with three economical blows behead our zombie friend.
“Nice.” Garrity laughed—sometimes I think he enjoys his work too much—and did his own damage with a claw hammer he kept tucked in the back of his jeans. How he sat on that damn thing all day is beyond me. Garrity is the one with the dark, dark hair and the blue, blue eyes. He makes you want to—well, if you’re a girl—he makes you want to take your pants off for him. Hey, he might even make you want to take your pants off if you’re a guy, too. “Head’s up, Poppy,” he called out.
I turned—and lucky I did—because a big, bad and ugly was shuffling toward me like I was his last supper. “Not today, buddy.” My weapon of choice is a gun. I find it cleaner to just put a bullet in their brains. Or what’s left of them. Since my dad was a cop for thirty years, I know my way around a firearm. One shot and the creeper was down.
The boys still think one day I’m going to shoot them. I’ve told them that won’t happen as long as they behave.
“Where’s Cahill?” I called. Noah was sweeping the perimeter and Garrity was checking on his latest kill.
“He’s out back. The owners said the creepers come in through the back bushes.”
“Great. Nothing like sneaking off away from the pack,” I growled. I waited for the boys then we went around the side of the big farmhouse as a unit.
“Where are these bush—” I didn’t need to finish that sentence because Cahill was being tugged by six waving arms into the giant stand of bushes. “Jesuspleezus,” I sighed. “I can’t get a shot. He’s all tangled up with them.”
Garrity moved forward and so did Noah. Together they waded into the overgrown foliage and tugged two of the creepers free. That left Cahill enough room to turn fast and dispatch the creeper with his favorite butchering knife from his shop.
Cahill’s arms are about as big as my thighs and freckled. There’s barely any hair on them but what is there is a ginger-colored down. His eyes are bright green, and they can see right through to your soul. Or, at least, it feels like it. I watched him behead the thing with a fierce grunt and an even fiercer swipe of his knife.
Then I plopped onto the grass trying to catch my breath and get my heart to slow down. It was too damn fast in my chest. I felt like I was floating. Adrenaline cocktail, anyone?
“Come on, Poppy.” Garrity hauled me to my feet, and we all met up around the owner’s gazebo.
“They’ll be home tomorrow. We’ve secured the area. Those are the only creepers we could find. Anything else pops up they can give us a shout.”
I nodded. “Neighbors?”
“All alive and accounted for so far.”
Unlike the movies you see about the undead, they don’t spring up overnight in waves. They spring up one at a time like a flu victim—and like any other disease, there are some naturally immune. My own mother was bitten by the guy who broke in and killed my dad a few months back when this whole thing started. She’s a widow with a wicked scar but beyond that, totally fine.
You just can’t tell if you’ll be one of the immune or one of the infected. Best bet is not to get bitten.
“Good. Now can we go home and sleep? I’m tired.” I was tired, but I felt like a wuss saying it aloud—occupational hazard when you work with all men.
“Yep. Sleep is on the way.”
Garrity ruffled my short blue hair and I felt the touch reach my pussy. Damn him.
He leaned in, pressed his lips to my ear and said “How long is this stuff going to be blue, anyhow?”
“Until I get tired of the blue,” I growled.
He shrugged, that lazy, sexy boy shrug some men have, and said “Just asking. Don’t get all knotted up.”
I rolled my eyes, and when I turned I caught Cahill staring at me. That made my stomach curl in on itself. Those vibrant eyes on me. We were all messy and gross and banged up, but Cahill wore it well. So did Garrity. Poor Noah, he was staring at Cahill as usual. Noah would climb Cahill like a tree if he could get away with it. Hell, so would I.
“Come on. Let’s get you home. Boys check in when you get to the house. I’ll take Poppy home,” Garrity said.
We split up after one more sweep of the property. Our exterminating service would get paid pretty well for this. Corpse disposal was the job of the owner, plus it helped if they could see the work we’d done. Body count was important. Extra added bonus, the corpses served as a warning to other creepers who might stumble-shuffle-walk into the neighborhood. Garrity pulled me in with an arm to the neck. “Hanging in there?”
“It’s been a long year.”
“No girl should have to kill her dad,” he said softly.
We’d danced around our attraction since day one at the slushy bar. Now it was a steady back beat to every encounter we had. Problem was, as tongue-tied as Garrity made me, Cahill made me the same…just in a slightly different way. Lust is a funny, funny thing.
I figured it best to hang back and do nothing. Plus, we were too busy killing things to fuck. Right?
* * * *
“All’s clear,” Garrity said. We’d given the inside of my house a once over.
The good news with the infection was folks got sick first. High fever, lethargic, sores, coma even. It was pretty easy to spot them if you paid attention. And then if they did die and rise back up, you could take care of business. Problem was that apparently a lot of folks had no one paying attention to them, or they were living with people who couldn’t stomach the taking care of business part. Which I can totally understand, truth be told.
“Thanks for the help. I want a long, hot shower and then a long, deep sleep.”
“Sounds good. Got room for company?”
I opened my mouth but no sound came out. “I—”
“Do you really have to think about it?”
No! But then again, yes…
“Of course,” I joked. “I don’t go jumping into the shower with just any guy.”
“And I’m not just any guy,” he said, tracing the zipper of my black hoodie with his fingertip. Garrity is the kind of guy who takes up space—big, broad, imposing, huge—all of those adjectives worked for him. “I wasn’t just any guy when we were serving up Polar Berry slushies, and I’m not just any guy now.”
“But you lust after the meat whacker, too.” He grinned. Clever description of Cahill. Made him sound both perverse and silly. Honestly, Garrity won hands down. There were feelings there for him, real ones. Cahill was just a hot, hot friend that I wanted to fuck. But I’d never tell Garrity that. He’d probably run around yelling I won! I won!
I rolled my eyes. “I think you’re both…” I trailed off. We were whispering because my mother was apparently asleep already. Her bedroom door had been shut when we came home so I tried to keep my voice down. The whole effect was that of a teenager sneaking in after curfew ended.
“Nifty? Sweet? Groovy? Fun?” He laughed.
“Hey, Poppy Cooper, kiss me,” he said and tugged my hoodie hard enough to make me stutter-step forward.
“Garrity,” I sighed. “Christ.”
He shook his head. “Unh-unh. Something about watching you dispatch creepers gets my blood pumping.”
He pulled me in, and I considered raising my objections. But then his lips touched mine, and I sort of oozed against him in a highly embarrassing way and got lost in that kiss. I kissed him back after a moment. It was our first kiss. All the flirting and sexual tension made it so intense, I felt like I was vibrating. I felt that kiss in my entire body. Scalp to toe and all the naughty, willing places in between.
“Let me in, Poppy. Let me in your room. Let me in your bed,” he muttered, pulling that traitorous zipper south.
“Garrity, I can’t. My mom…she’s sleeping and…”
He laughed outright, and I heard something in the distance. We both stilled, listening. Could be a roaming creeper, if so, our neighborhood watch would notice and call it in. When the noise stopped, I managed to pull free from him.
“And I’m beat,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to take you to bed and make you—”
“I need a shower!” I blurted. “Creeper brains.”
He cocked his head at me. “I’m not going to win this, am I?”
“No,” I sighed, grateful he saw it now.
“But I will win soon,” he said, leveling a finger at me before taking it and sliding it along my lower lip so that I felt the tug of arousal between my legs.
“I don’t doubt it.” It was the honest-to-God truth.
“Be safe. Lock up. I’ll come pick you up in the morning. Not sure what we’re working tomorrow. But someone somewhere is overrun with zombies. Infestation.”
“Wow, that’s so peppy.”
“Sad, but true, Poppy,” he said.
“Sleep well,” I said, guilt staining me on the inside. I wanted to try to explain to him just how much I actually wanted him. But I sucked at that stuff.
“You, too.” He started for the porch steps and hesitated. “Last chance to take advantage of me. Change your mind and lead me upstairs and ravage me like the easy man that I am.”
I snorted and covered my mouth. “Good night, Garrity.”
“Goodnight, Poppy Cooper.”
And he was gone. I watched his big, lumbering, ugly-ass green truck pull away and patted my pockets. I had my cell, I had my gun. I crept inside being as quiet as I could and locked the bathroom door behind me. I would take a long hot shower and then hit the sack.
It was just what the doctor ordered. You know, before reporting for duty tomorrow morning to dispatch a bunch of dead things.
© Sommer Marsden
We Kill Dead Things
Zombie Exterminators Series, Book One
Author: Sommer Marsden
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Erotic Romance, Horror
Poppy thinks her life is weird working the food court at Parktowne mall, until in one brief moment of creeper killing, things change forever. Now she's a freelance zombie exterminator along with her long lusted after co-worker Garrity (her not-so-secret crush), a somewhat lusted after bad boy Cahill, and pretty gay boy Noah.
When the four are hired to do a ballsy zombie clean up at St. Peter's Hospital, Poppy finds out just what's more scary than creepers:
The Evoluminaries, a zealot cult who think zombies are part of God's chosen, who happen to end up thinking Poppy might make a mighty good zombie incubator. She finds herself finally sleeping with Garrity, being hunted by a crazy preacher man and stumbling over the fact that Cahill and Noah have become lovers somewhere in the chaos. And that's all on the job.
Just another day in the life when you kill dead things...