“My finances were the last things that needed to be looked at, believe me.” He started chuckling, and she liked the sound. It was manly, masculine, and had this little tingle moving through her. Sex was the last thing she should have on her mind, especially with her almost rape situation, and maybe she was suffering from some kind of “been saved from a near death experience syndrome.” But whatever she was feeling, it felt good and real, and for the first time in her life and living in this new, shitty world, Rebecca wanted this moment to last.
But it was clear Collin wasn’t feeling this “moment,” because all he did was stare at her with this unreadable expression.
The moaning and groaning from outside grew louder, and she moved to the back of the loft and rested against the wall. Collin stayed where he was, finished his food, and then leaned against the wall diagonal to her.
They were silent for several seconds, and then she decided to speak again, trying to ease the sudden awkward tension in the air.
“How old are you, and where are you originally from?” Small talk seemed like the safest route right now, and besides, she didn’t want to sit here, neither speaking. She lived in silence, and having someone to actually converse with was nice.
He brought his legs up, rested his forearms on his knees, and looked at her. The light from the lantern didn’t quite reach him, and the shadows covered half his body. “I’m thirty-seven and originally from New York. I stayed at my place for about six months, safe because of where I was located, but I eventually ran out of supplies. I knew staying there any longer would be my death.” He stared right at her. “New York was consumed by the infection in a matter of weeks, as were most of the larger cities.”
She heard major cities around the world had gotten hit the hardest, and then it moved outward, sucking up the health and life of every state in the United States. The vaccine had already made it across the ocean to Europe, Asia, and the rest of the continents, and soon the entire world was one giant infected cesspool of walking corpses.
“So, I grabbed what I could and left it all.” He rested his head on the wall, breathed out, and closed his eyes. “It is what it is, and there is no going back. We can only focus on the here and now.” He turned just his head and stared at her. “I never looked back, never wanted to either. My life back there…” He looked away from her and stared at the holes in the roof. “My life back in New York was filled with drugs, embezzlement, illegal activity, and a lot of fucking violence and death.”
Rebecca’s heart started pounding fast and hard at his words. They were cold, deep, and held a lot of darkness to them. It was obvious that whatever Collin had done before all this, it hadn’t been anything good.
“But even though I wasn’t a good man back then, and honestly still am not, you and I are the same, Rebecca.” He looked at her again. “We are survivors.”
Collin watched Rebecca sleep, saw the movement of her chest rising and falling, and should have felt like a sick bastard for wanting her the way he did. She may not have come out and told him that she had either been attacked in the past or raped, but he had seen the truth on her face back at the store.
And then when he said they were both survivors, he had seen that same painful and true expression cover her face.
They’d been talking about bullshit before she nodded off. He hadn’t wanted to wake her, because she was clearly exhausted if she could pass out with him being here. And hell, he didn’t know how anyone could get any decent amount of rest with the moans and groans coming from the infected right outside this place.
He moved closer, trying to be quiet so as not to wake her. The sun was starting to set, and although he should turn off the lantern to preserve the battery life, he wanted to be able to see her clearly. She was on her side with her back toward the edge of the loft. The haystacks were blocking her from actually rolling right off the ledge, as were the wooden beams running horizontally.
She’d taken off that big, bulky jacket, and although she had several layers on underneath it, he could see she was a tiny thing. The shirt she wore gapped open at the front slightly, and her delicate little collarbones were showing.
He was a fucking asshole for watching her as she slept, but there was this possessive side of him that reared its head as soon as he had seen her. She was vulnerable as well as strong, and he wanted to protect her.