IRIS ARRIVED with her skinny jeans that fitted her sexy long legs perfectly. My brother’s gray shirt layered over the top of dark blue long sleeves and a scarf snaked around her neck. She was also wearing a remarkable smile on her radiant face.
I didn’t miss the curves she gained for over a couple of weeks. She got her shape back.
Gael admitted he ordered everyone, and Iris talked to them like nothing happened. She was still pissed at me, and that was damn frustrating!
“Are you sure, guys you want me in?” she asked, ignoring my presence at the passenger seat.
“Get in,” I said since Frost and Lois didn’t bother to reply, or they were waiting for me to have a gut to answer.
“Ready?” Lois asked her. The two seemed back to normal.
“Yup. It’s been a while. I hope I don’t get too rusty.”
“Just stick with us, and you’ll be fine.” Frost looked at her and smiled over the rearview.
“Stay focused and alert. Take your mask with you in case we bump into infected.” I offered the extra respirator mask I brought from my cabin. “Did you bring your gun?”
I felt relieved when Gael finally issued her one—I wanted her to learn how to protect herself even when we were not around to cover her ass.
“Yes, I had it with me,” she said, averting her gaze outside the window.
Two days ago, she had her shooting practice with Gael, and all I could do was watched her from a distance because she chose Gael to train her over me.
I couldn’t blame her though—if I were in her position, I would do the same—not trusting someone like me again.
At first, it was a little bit rocky, but it wasn’t a surprise that she hit the bullseye on her second round, and with constant practice, she could be our second shooter if she stayed longer with us.
“That girl is a catch. Who’d have thought a tiny little twig is badass when it comes to handling guns?” Gael patted my back when Iris was out of sight after their shooting practice.
“I’ve no doubt on that matter. She snatched and pointed my gun on my groin, remember?” I cocked a brow, and Gael found it amusing.
“I told you she’s gonna be our asset.” He smiled proudly.
“How far are we going?” she asked.
“An hour trip or so, if we could find a good amount of gasoline and some supply. If not, it will take us a little bit longer,” Frost said.
“I missed cheeseburgers and fries,” Lois blurted out.
“Damn, I missed Hawaiian pizza,” Frost seconded.
“No way! With pineapple chunks?” Iris grimaced. “Are you serious?”
“You didn’t like it?” I asked her.
“I might like it now.” She laughed. “I missed watching movies though, chatting. God, I missed twitter.”
“And Instagram,” Lois added.
“Of course, girls missed them,” Frost agreed.
“I know what app you missed the most, Templeton.”
I shifted on my seat to look at Iris. “What?”
“Tinder?” Her brow rose.
“That’s my girl!” They high-fived, and that made me want to punch Frost. “Don’t tell me you don’t have Tinder account, Officer Snow.”
“Officer Snow?” she asked, seemingly surprised.
“You don’t know he’s a police officer or he’s Snow?” Lois inquired, amusement flashing in her brown eyes.
“The first one, but based on his expertise, I was expecting him to be on that line of work,” she admitted with a hint of sarcasm.
“Good judgment. He’s in LAPD.”
Iris whistled and nodded.
“You sound so surprised.”
She shrugged, meeting my gaze. “Well, not anymore, Officer. And I admired your way of interrogating a suspect.” The steel in her voice was enough to send me a message, and it hurt a lot.
“Not an officer anymore. I broke the law many times, and this is not LA. So this is out of my jurisdiction as an enforcer.”
“I wonder if our President is still alive though, or perhaps Sam Heughan.” Lois looked at Iris.
“Who’s Sam fucking Heughan?” asked Frost.
“I bet him for the next Bond. If you don’t know him, Frost, just shut up. It’s just, he’s hot and oh, my God his ass.” Lois giggled.
“His what?” I chorused with Iris, making us stared at each other.
“Wow! Power couple. I ship you two. #TeamIrilt, that sounds terrible. Colir? Not so cool. #TeamColtis! Yay!” Lois laughed, then Frost joined her, fist-bumping one another.
I must say, I enjoyed being around them, and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like this since my brother’s death.
“Just drive, dumbass,” I ordered.
“Lois, that’s probably his double,” Iris whispered.
“What are you two whispering about?”
“Because we are talking about Sam’s ass.” She widened her eyes at me which made me feel better that she started to talk to me.
“Let’s not talk about his ass anymore, shall we?”
“Ugh, you’re a spoilsport.” Displeased in about a hundred ways, she slid the window opened and looked outside.
At the high noon weather, the heat rose off the asphalt in waves. Rusting cars lessen down since there were no establishments ahead. It was almost silent other than the humming sounds of our car engine and the rustling of the wind against the open windows. Grass grew faster on the deserted road. It wasn’t like this before, and I wondered if we got the chance to get the life back we left.
“Chester. Two miles away,” Lois read.
“That’s where we’re heading,” I replied.
“Been there before?” Iris asked.
“Nope. Just in case we got into trouble. Don’t fight, unless I say blue.” Okay, that’s not exactly what I have in mind.
“Why blue?” I liked how curious she was over everything. She reminded me of Colton when we were just kids.
“Just came out.” Perhaps, I thought of a certain blue-eyed every night? I shook the thought out of my head and focused back on the road.
“Take everything you can. Just be careful with the infected. If you ever get into direct contact, just tell me immediately, okay?”
Our gazes collided—our connection spiked. Despite my desire to ogle her, my searing gaze made her frown. The fight, the desperation of talking to her to lessen her anger, and with the world that falling apart between us made me feel hopeless and weak.
My heart ached. Defeated, I shifted back and looked at the endless road ahead of us.
Frost tuned the radio in, finding an active frequency, but it was just a buzz and nothing it could grasp.
“Turn the shit off. It gives me a headache.”
“You mean heartache?”
I glared at him. ”Shut the fuck up, will you?” I couldn’t argue with him because he was definitely right on that part.
Frost was maybe a manwhore and a spoiled son of a billionaire, but he was a good person. He always meant his words. Anyone could call him an asshole, but he’d better be one than a liar by giving women false hopes.
“What got your panties in a brunch?”
“I got a few reasons.”
“Just keep your mouth shut, Frost, and focus on the road.”
“Sure thing, man. Sure thing.” He smiled evilly.
We arrived at Chester gas station. The giant sign of prices was tearing down. It had a car wash, tire shop, and a convenience store.
“I don’t think if there’s anything left.” Frost parked the car beside the road a few meters away from the vehicles, and an RV blocking the dingy gas pumps.
Wasps and flies were flying all over the deserted cars, and the smell was horrible—probably from corpses inside.
“You two wait here until I signal, and keep the door locked,” I told Iris and Lois. “Let’s go, Frost.” I yanked out the rifle and climbed out of the car.
The routine was not new to me—scouting the area as quietly as we could to avoid trouble.
Our boots crouched against the litters and broken glasses on the ground. After passing a few cars and we caught no movements around, Frost signaled them to come.
Iris used her scarf to cover her face like Ninja. She shrugged when she caught me staring at her. Her blue eyes stood out, slight anger flashed in her eyes.
“Come with me, and stay by my side all the time.” I took the other backpack from her since she had already her own.
“We’ll take care of the gas. You two, check the convenience store and the shop.” Frost walked away with Lois, not waiting for my protest.
We found a car with the engine was still humming. Iris and I shared a look. My pulse sped up as I stepped toward the store, ready for possible trouble.
“Stay behind my back,” I whispered.
“I can take care of myself.” She pulled her gun from her back in protest, loaded it, and now was on full alert.
“No doubt about that.”
After sweeping the area, I peeped through the glass window and couldn’t see any movement, we then entered the convenience store. It already raided by scavengers, but there were some food items left on the racks and scattered on the floor.
“I’ll check the grocery aisle and coolers,” Iris said.
“Just be careful.”
She glared at me before she walked away. With uncertain feelings coiling in my stomach, I went to the counter for some products and tossed anything useful to the backpack.
A yelp from Iris made my heart beat a million times. I rushed toward her and met her halfway. I pulled her into me causing her to gasp against my chest.
A wave of protectiveness was overwhelming as I wrapped my arm around her body and aimed my gun forward, searching for any disturbance.
She gripped my arms and shifted her head. “She’s infected.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw a woman leaning against the wall—her face was covered by her own blood and so as her clothes. Based on the bleeding, she must have just died a few hours ago.
Nausea squeezed my stomach to see a kid lying beside her—already dead. That tells the car outside.
“Jesus.” I took a breath and asked Iris, “Are you okay?”
She nodded against my chest, trembling, and barely able to speak. “The kid.”
“Whoever spread this virus was fucking evil.” That was all I could say.
“People do what’s in their best interest regardless of who gets hurt to satisfy their hunger even if doing so would cause another suffering.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“It’s Klaus Mikaelson.”
“Oh. I’m sorry you have to see that.” I didn’t know why I said that to her, but it felt like it would comfort her as I squeezed her into a hug.
“I’ve seen worse,” she murmured. Her breathing sent a warm sensation through my chest.
“Wear your mask.”
“My scarp is thick enough. You should wear yours.” Abruptly, she stepped out of our embrace and walked in the opposite direction.
Fucking great! She still hated me.
I ignored the pain squeezing my heart as I watched her grabbing supplies by herself as if nothing happened.
After a few minutes, my bag and Iris’ were full. We were able to collect some soda, junk foods, can goods, energy drinks, candy bars, and cookies.
I took off my mask as soon as we got out of the store. “Are you done?”
She was reading an old newspaper. “Done. It said here the economy increased its growth. This was a week before the apocalypse but look at our country now. A world is a rather awful place,” she said silently.
“Let me guess, another from Mikaelson guy. Your ex?”
“Yeah. My ex from The Originals.” She rolled her eyes.
I pulled the magazine on the rack, snorting. “Ariana Grande. Is she still alive?”
“I’m surprised you know Ariana. She’s probably sitting somewhere on the beach and sipping her cocktail.”
“Quite bright imagination you have there, Iris. Let me carry that.” I grabbed the backpack from her. She may gain a few pounds, but she didn’t have to carry loads of weight when I was around.
“I carry just right. It’s just bulky.”
“Look, Iris. I know you hate me, but we have to work together and let our anger set aside.”
“Water under the bridge.” She strode faster in our car.
I walked toward Frost carrying two gas containers and Lois was following him.
“There’s gasoline pump at the back. I guess, no one found it yet.”
“Let me help,” I suggested.
“We got it covered, man. I think it’s time you and Iris should talk.”
I nodded. “We’re good.”
“It doesn’t look good to me, but suit yourself,” he said before he left, leaving me puzzled.
I dropped the bag on the passenger side. Iris was sitting at the back and already pulled off her ninja mask.
I took the driver’s seat. ”Come. Sit in the passenger'. We’ll fill the tank.”
She hopped down silently after I grabbed the backpack and tossed it to the backseat. I started the engine and pulled over to find a way to the pump at the back.
Frost tapped the window. “Let me fill it from here, only a bike could get in there.”
“Does Lois need a hand?” Iris asked.
“Nah. She’s just guarding my ass around.”
I turned to Iris who was watching the area like a hawk. “We should talk about what happened last week.”
“Nothing to talk about, really. You were just following orders.”
“But you kept on giving me the cold shoulder.”
“I’ve no reason to talk to you.”
“Yeah.” She arched her brow.
“I know, I crossed the line. I should have approached you in a different way, but—”
“You cut the chase, right? I totally get it, and besides nobody brought me in. Of course, everyone had their suspicions.”
She shrugged it off. “I’m over it.”
“I didn’t know until the day I gave you an assignment. You should know that, but it’s unfair if you talk to everyone except me, don’t you think?”
For the first time, she met my gaze, pain flickered in her eyes. “They did not point and fire a gun on me!” She snapped.
I could feel the anger radiated through her, and she deserved a proper apology. I fucking deserved her retaliation, and it fucking hurt. “I’m sorry.”
“You already apologized.”
“But I do care about you, Iris.” My heart raced.
“You care about everyone inside the camp, and it’s not a surprise to me anymore.”
“It’s true, and thanks for visiting my brother.”
“How did you know?”
“No one put a flower on his grave.” I chuckled. She even troubled herself to pick up a flower for my brother, and I found it damn sweet.
“Oh, okay,” she said flatly.
“If I didn’t find you, would you ever come back?”
“No.” There was no lace of hesitation in her answer.
I nodded and couldn’t form a word. I had to blink as the pain constricted my chest.
Seconds ticked by...
I gulped the agony clogging in my throat. “Then, I was thankful I found you before you left me for good.”
“Will you look for me?” she almost whispered.
My mouth gaped. I wasn’t expecting her to ask that question, and I was glad she did. Emotion flooded my stupid heart.
Drawing my strength, I answered, “I’m probably still searching for you right now.”
“Just so you know, I don’t hate you. After I talked to you and Gael, I felt a sudden lightness in my chest for the first time since my brother died. It felt good to share the pain who understood what losing meant for someone.”
“You know you’re not alone anymore. You have us, twig. You have Lois. You have me. You can always reach out anytime you wanna talk to someone. You know that, right?”
“I know.” She looked at me, and my worry vanished into thin air. “Thank you, Colton.”
Damn! I fucking missed that.