Skin
Author:Kylie Scott

Roslyn braved a smile. His eyes widened, looking startled, if anything. It soon gave way to skeptical. Fair enough. Dewey decimal 791, Public Performance: she sucked at it.

 

Up close, the man was even more intimidating. A black AC/DC shirt drew tight across wide shoulders. The colors were faded, like he’d worn it a hundred times. He stood half a head taller than her, his body built lean but solid. He had to be about half a decade older than her twenty-eight. In no way did his face look boyish, despite the twinkle in his eye. The rifle strapped to his back spoke of serious things, its muzzle sticking up beside his head.

 

She would still get away. There had to be others out there. Rational people. Trustworthy.

 

Her knuckles throbbed, the back of her hand swelling and darkening. Any escape attempt involving punching him was right out. Sneaky would be her best bet.

 

“I’m fine,” she said. “Let’s go.”

 

The man tipped his chin, turned toward the van and pushed back the side door. No ninjas, but lots of supplies: canned goods and blankets, a couple of guns, some knives, and one shiny aluminum baseball bat. Her hands itched to wrap around the smooth handle and exorcise some fear and frustration.

 

He reached inside for a backpack, threw it over a shoulder. His gaze returned to hers, assessing. The corner of his mouth rose and little lines deepened beside his eyes. Ah, she’d apparently amused him. Her scaredy-cat shaking hadn’t stopped. She clearly wasn’t kidding anybody with her evil eye.

 

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.

 

And for once, Roslyn didn’t say the first thing to come to mind. Something along the lines of his shoving a can of soup up his ass to keep his false words company. Nor did she start in on the hundreds of questions sitting on the tip of her tongue. Instead she sucked in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and lied to her new arch-enemy. “Alright.”

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Roslyn Stewart. Yours?”

 

“Nick,” he said. “There’s a pickup we can use just down the hill. Let’s get a move on. Sun goes down soon. The infected’ll be coming out.”

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Nick watched the woman out the corner of his eye. She was pressed against the pickup’s passenger-side door like she’d melded herself to the metal. Physically as far from him as she could get without actually leaving the vehicle. He’d put the child lock on, jammed the window shut. She wasn’t going anywhere.

 

It had actually worked. He had her. Fucking amazing.

 

Roslyn.

 

The skirt of her gray school uniform had hitched up one side, caught on the seatbelt. She’d been too busy staring out the window, trying to ignore him, to notice. What a very nice slice of skin. Her thigh tempted him big-time. Shot his concentration to shit.

 

And he needed to focus on driving.

 

The old farm truck rocketed along the road leading out of town, flying past overgrown orchards and vineyards, swerving around debris and the occasional abandoned car. Using older model vehicles was best. Newer ones with their fancy electrics were a bitch to deal with.

 

Behind them, Bald Rock sat in the distance. No signs of life. No one followed.

 

So far.

 

He had been observing the school for the past two weeks, monitoring the nine inside. Scaling the stone wall had been simple. Taking her would have been just as easy, but this was better. She needed to know those supposed friends of hers weren’t trustworthy. Needed to know she’d be better off with him.

 

Roslyn was definitely something with her choppy, auburn hair and pointy chin. In her mid-twenties, most likely. She had a pretty mouth like a doll’s, only she wasn’t tiny or delicate, she was just right. That school uniform … fuck, he couldn’t get his head around it. Filthy thoughts, the sort bound to reinforce the pissy looks she’d given him, kept bubbling up inside his brain. The things he wanted to do with her. The things he would do with her. Just a question of when. He needed patience. Timing was everything.

 

A zombie stumbled out of a lone farmhouse as they drove past what would have once been a man. Blood or dirt or some gory mix of both caked its chest, arms and chin. Its mouth yawned wide, an arm rising in some macabre version of a wave as they cruised by. Only the hello had more to do with its desire to eat them than anything friendly.

 

Roslyn gasped and bolted upright in her seat, the whites of her eyes flashing.

 

“You haven’t seen one before?” he asked.

 

“No.”

 

“This is the first time you’ve been outside.”

 

She nodded.

 

“Shit. You really have no idea how bad it’s been, do you?”

 

No answer.

 

“They don’t like sunlight, but they’ll come out if they think they can get a meal. Noise always attracts them.”

 

She gave him another questioning glance, then settled back into her seat, face pale and eyes wary.

 

She definitely didn’t trust him. Sure as shit didn’t believe him when he said he wouldn’t hurt her. It made her smart. He would never hurt her, but anyone who trusted strangers these days was an idiot destined for a short life. He would provide for her. He’d prove himself to her.