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The knock at her door was not only unexpected but unwelcome. After her little heart to heart with Sebastian, she was still trying to find the right way to approach William about the reality of the situation. Trained in defensive strategies and fighting, she had never learned the art of sugar coating situations; needless to say, she had objected to being the one to bring it to the others. But Sebastian had been right; he was the youngest in the group, and they were far less likely to believe the urgency behind the matter if it came from him.

Life had swept the rug out from under them. It had shoved them in the back while they stumbled. It had knocked them onto the ground, and just when they managed to crawl back up onto their hands and knees, now it had the nerve to come back with a swift kick to the kidney just for good measure. What was the best approach to giving bad news when you already lived in a constant state of depression and despair? How do you tell a bunch of strangers you had just learned to cohabitate with that the scarce amount of food that they have been starving off of is now gone?

You didn’t. That was the only honest answer she could come up with. She didn’t mind being the bad guy. She would even play the scapegoat if push came to shove. But to be the gust of wind that extinguished the last flicker of hope? It was too big a burden to bare. And so her dilemma stood. While the knock at the door was a welcome break from the internal debate raging in her head, a visitor could only signal more trouble.

When she opened the door and found William waiting outside her doorway, she knew it had to be bad. Bad, bad. “Evening,” she greeted him with a sarcastic two finger salute from the temple. He liked to act Sargent, and she liked to mock the fact that he had elected himself dictator of their motley little crew. “To what do I owe this pleasure of a visit?” While Davidson took the crown for sarcasm and Sebastian was a close second, it was a tool that Anna still carried in her arsenal, though she hardly ever used it. It had much more of an impact when used seldom in her humble opinion.

“It appears as if we have a bit of a delicate situation on our hands.” She wondered if Lenore and Sebastian had lowered themselves to a bout of fisty-cuffs and were in the need of medical attention that was, of course, not available. When William delivered his next sentence, her jaw dropped and her breathing stopped, “It appears that our lazy Hayley may be infected.”

Well, shit. It should hardly come as a shock. Now that he spoke the words, she saw all the clues aligning in her head. She wondered why she hadn’t worried about it before now.

“Well that’s hardly an ideal situation.”

“Hence my presence at your doorstep.”

She dreaded her next question, “Did you coming baring gifts?”

“Just one, I’m afraid. We are a bit low on resources, as I am sure you are aware.”

It was the perfect opening to broach the topic she needed to discuss, but it hardly seemed appropriate timing now. As he dropped the duffel bag to the ground on the floor next to him and unzipped it, she expected him to pull a gun or even perhaps a baseball bat from its depth.

What emerged was neither. “Fuck me,” she whistled. She had never seen a machete up close and personal before. Just the sight of it sent a tingle of excitement up her spine and adrenaline through her veins.

“Hopefully you will not need it.” He pointed it down as he clutched the handle and passed it carefully off to her. She could only imagine the damage, intentional and otherwise, she could yield with this beast.


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