Ten years is a long time to be cooped up in one place. So when Nadia’s father tells her that the zombies have all rotted away, she sneaks outside the city walls for a little fun. Only the zombies are still very undead, and being dragged through the woods by a sexy but slightly crazed renegade isn’t the kind of fun she expected…
Nadia scurried up the rest of the ladder and into the small structure. When she glanced back, he crouched over the thing, cleaning his knife on the tattered remains of its faded blue dress. She grimaced when he dragged the corpse to the base of the tree.
“What are you doing?” she called down.
“Shh. You want to attract another?”
A mix of embarrassment at her ignorance and annoyance with his highhanded attitude washed over her. She scooted to the rear of the blind and waited as he pulled himself into the drafty wooden box.
“Why did you leave that thing by the ladder? And I want my cutlass back.”
His gaze flitted over her as he reached out of a small window to retrieve a bucket of water.
“First, you can have that overgrown knife back when I say. Second, zombies can smell the living. If you stay any place long enough, they’ll find you.”
Her mouth fell open. Then, as if her presence meant nothing, he pulled off his shirt. It must have been a specific color once, but now dingy brown described it best.
“Leaving the zombie by the ladder should cover up our scent and keep them away for the night.”
“Oh.” His words registered somewhere in the back of her mind, a mind busy ogling his bared chest. Her mouth went dry as water played down sinewy muscles to his flat stomach. Done too soon, he rooted around in the pack he’d worn over his shoulder and pulled out a navy t-shirt. A shirt that highlighted the blue of his eyes. Damn. He was gorgeous underneath the horrible clothes and shaggy brown hair.
Not in the mood to be caught staring, she busied herself by investigating the damage to her aching feet. She peeled off her shoes and grimaced. “So, where are you taking me?”
“On what?” She looked up to find him watching her. The rough wood pressed into her back as she squirmed under his intent examination.
“What you’re doing out here.”
She stared back at her savior-slash-kidnapper and sighed. Her father’s first rule was never to trust outsiders. And she recalled that horrible sign in perfect detail. She didn’t want this man’s blood on her hands.
He snapped his fingers in front of her face. “Hey. I can tell you’re thinking up a lie. Don’t bother. Women like you don’t just wander into the woods. Not before the world turned upside down, and sure as hell not now.”
“Women like me?” A note of wonder and outrage seeped into her voice.
He leaned forward and breathed her in. Her body stiffened at the primal show of interest, but there was no escape.
“You’re too clean and too pretty. You smell like flowers for fuck’s sake and sound like a Yankee.” He inched nearer and closed his eyes. His breath warmed her neck.
Torn between encouraging and punching him, she shifted away. “What’s going on here? Zombies haven’t been seen in these woods for years.”
With a quiet laugh, he leaned back against the far wall. She shivered from the loss of his body heat.
“Years huh? That ivory tower you been living in must be real nice.”
She let out a shuddery breath. “I hadn’t seen one in years before today. All I know is I’m going for a walk one minute, and then some crazed redneck that won’t even tell me his name is dragging me through the woods. Oh, and of course there’s the whole being stalked by flesh eating monsters. That’s the best part.” She stomped her foot and winced. Damn blisters.
“Jeb.” A small smile played at the corner of his lips. He reached for her foot.
“What?” She bit her lip as he pulled off her sock.
“My name is Jeb. What’s yours?”