Trevor climbed the steps of the battle wagon and went in. Kaylee was sitting on the couch, staring into space.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“I’m worried about my uncle. He’s so tired all the time. Something’s wrong with him.”
“Have you asked him about it?”
“Of course, but he’s not saying anything,” Kaylee said, stretching.
“He coming back here tonight? Getting close to bed time.”
She giggled. “No, he’s sleeping in the house again. I think he’s trying to use this thing as an incubator.”
Trevor laughed. “He is?”
“He wants us to have alone time,” she said. “Surely you’ve noticed.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed,” he said, sitting on the couch next to her. “You don’t think he’s got a terminal illness, do you?”
She leaned into him. “I hope not. Why?”
“Because he seems to be arranging for your protection after he’s gone,” Trevor said. “Sounds like he’s already placed other members of his family in safe places.”
“Korea,” she said. “It’s weird not to think of it as North and South now.”
“Where’s your family from, originally?”
“You mean north or south?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Trevor asked.
“Mom’s family is originally from the north. My dad’s side…Ji-Ho’s side… is from Seoul. He wasn’t kidding about our warrior past. His family was part of the monarch’s secret service.”
“Interesting,” Trevor said. “Do you remember him having a lot of doctor appointments before this started?”
“What, you mean like for cancer or something?”
“Yeah,” Trevor said softly.
“No, but back then I was just a typical young person. I was much more tied up with Matt than I was with any of my family.”
“Matt,” Trevor said. “Emma. I hope they didn’t suffer too much.”
“You think they’re both dead?”
“I’d be shocked if Matt is still alive,” Trevor said. “They might have kept Emma alive as a sex slave.”
Kaylee shuddered. “I know, I try not to think about that. Wonder if it bothers Seth a lot?”
“I think it does, but he’s so infatuated with Kaitlyn. He and Emma were almost over. They weren’t in love anymore. Hell, they probably weren’t ever in love. He was always happy on nights when she was busy and he could hang out with us guys instead.”
“Matt was like that,” Kaylee said. “He thought I didn’t know.”
“I never could figure out why you were with him,” Trevor said.
“Don’t say bad things about him, okay?”
“I wasn’t going to,” Trevor said, turning to look into her eyes. “He was my friend. If we could rescue him right now, I would. Without hesitation.”
She sighed. “I know. Sorry. The whole thing makes me feel guilty.”
“Because it led to us being together, and I’m so happy now,” she said. “I think we should take advantage of this time and get to know each other a little better, so to speak. It’s time.”
Trevor kissed her softly, and she responded, turning her body towards him, deepening the kiss. They were both frantic after a few moments.
“Let’s go in the back,” Trevor said, his breath coming hard and fast.
Kaylee nodded, and got up with him. He led her into the bedroom, closing the door behind them.
“Shoot, I didn’t even make the bed from last night,” she said. She pulled her top over her head, Trevor moaning at the sight of her.
“You’re beautiful,” Trevor said, pulling at his own clothes.
She watched him as she finished undressing, and then they were in bed together, kissing and caressing and moaning, taking themselves to the place they both longed for. They laid on their backs afterward, looking up at the housing for the mini-gun. Kaylee giggled.
“How romantic,” she said. “Making love under that thing.”
Trevor snickered. “Anywhere would’ve been good for me.”
“We work,” she said, turning towards him. “Don’t we?”
“I’ve never had it like that before,” Trevor said. “I’m so much in love with you.”
“I know, me too,” she said. “Don’t get too sleepy yet. I’m not finished.” She rolled on top of him, both moaning at the renewed contact, kissing hard. “My, you’re not done yet either, are you?”
Those were the last words between them for a while.
Sam walked onto the big veranda and sat next to Garrett, John, and Sid.
“Thanks for putting men on the ridges,” he said, looking at Garrett.
“It’s a pleasure,” Garrett said. “I wouldn’t worry too much, though. Not for a few days. We hurt them bad, and they lost most of their easy routes over the border. I think they’ll have to pull people off other campaigns to come after us now.”
James and Tyler climbed the steps. “Mind if we join?” Tyler asked.
“Not at all,” Garrett said. “You guys are impressive warriors. My hat’s off to you.”
“Likewise,” Tyler said.
“You want to ask us something,” Sam said.
“Our people, in the alternate location,” Tyler said. “We’d like to go check on them. Maybe bring them back here.”
“If they’re still alive,” James said.
“I said to quit saying that,” Tyler said.
“Can’t help it,” James said. “We don’t know how many of our people got captured. I’m pretty sure they’re wondering where all the people at the reservation went.”
“How many people we talking about?” Sid asked.
“Several hundred,” Tyler said.
“You have a way to contact them?” John asked. “Phone, for instance?”
“We don’t know how they’ve been tracking us,” James said, “so we’ve been reluctant to use a phone call.”
“That’s smart,” Sam said. “If you want to sneak there and look, I’m willing to join you.”
“Me too, but Yvonne will probably insist on coming along.”
“I could send some folks with you, if you think it would help,” Garrett said.
“It would be better for a small group to check things out,” James said. “You, me, maybe Sam. Zac, perhaps.”
“That’s what I would suggest,” Sam said. “How far away is it?”
James and Tyler glanced at each other.
“C’mon, Tyler,” James said. “These folks are family. No reason to hold back.”
“I wasn’t holding back because I didn’t consider them family,” Tyler said. “I held back in case any of us was captured.”
“I’ll take a walk,” Garrett said. “I understand why you want to keep it a secret.”
“I’ll join you,” John said. “Sid already knows where it is, I suspect.”
Tyler watched as the two men left, then turned back to the others.
“It’s not that far as the crow flies,” he said, “but it’s south. Somebody blew up a pass between here and there, so we have to go around.”
Sam and Sid glanced at each other. Sam snickered.
“Crap, you guys blew that, didn’t you?” James asked. “Should’ve figured that out. Probably stopped the constant influx of Islamists coming over the southern border.”
“Didn’t help us much long-term,” Sam said. “They overran our RV Park anyway, as you know.”
“It was a good try,” Tyler said. “The location is off Barrett Lake Road, about halfway between the town and the lake.”
“If we take Jeeps, there’s a way around our handiwork,” Sid said. “I know that area like the back of my hand. I can get us through.”
“We’ll probably need to take some extra gas,” James said.
“Not a problem, there’s plenty of Gerry cans,” Sam said. “Maybe we ought to take the newer Jeeps instead of yours, though, Sid. They get better gas mileage.”
“That’s true,” Sid said. “We should take the two with winches.”
“When should we leave?” James asked.
“How about sunup tomorrow?” Sam asked. “Where we’re going, the cover of darkness is just going to be a hindrance.”
“I agree,” Tyler said.
“If they’re okay, I suggest we leave them where they are,” Sid said. “We just come back here.”
“I agree,” James said.
“I need to think about that a little,” Tyler said. “I’ll sleep on it. It’s getting late.” He got out of his chair.
“Your wives are there, aren’t they?” Sid asked.
Tyler turned and nodded, then went into the house to find a bed.
“Maybe we should bring three Jeeps,” Sam said. “That should be enough to bring your wives back.”
“There’s kids too,” James said. “Look, we all miss them, but if they’re safe where they are, I’m good with leaving them there until we clean the enemy out of this county.”
“It’s up to you guys,” Sid said. “Sleep on it.”
James nodded and got up, going into the house.
“We’re done, guys,” Sam said in a loud voice. John and Garrett walked back over.
“Everything set?” Garrett asked.
Sam chuckled. “This is going to be a plan-as-you-go operation, I think.”
Sid chuckled. “Yep.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” John said.
“It’ll be fine,” Sam said. “I just hope they find their people safe.”
“They might have left for an alternate location on their own, you know,” Sid said. “There were warriors there to protect them. They might have had a reason to split.”
“That thought has crossed my mind,” Sam said.
Tex sat in the driver’s seat of the yellow rig. Karen was still sleeping, laying on the couch in the salon. Alexis came in the door. “You guys decent?”
Tex chuckled. “No, but we’re dressed.”
“Oh, brother,” Karen said, sitting up, trying to shake off the sleep.
“Good,” Alexis said. “I’m just here to pick up my bag. I’m going in the purple coach.”
“That one already has four people in it,” Tex said.
“It sleeps six,” she said, “and there’s two couples there.”
Tex snickered. “Jordan and Ashely got together, huh?”
“Not officially, but they’re sharing that queen-sized bed in the back,” Alexis said. “Nature will take its course. Those two are made for each other anyway.”
“Maybe I should go there and you should stay here,” Karen said. “You seem to be interested in Mr. Tex here.”
Alexis laughed. “Yeah, like you’re not. Sorry honey, but I know when it’s time to cut and run. He’s all yours.”
“Nobody’s asking me what I want?” Karen asked.
Tex chuckled. “Yeah, what do you want?”
“I don’t think I should talk to you about it,” Karen said, face turning red.
“Have it your way, then,” Tex said. “There’s still time.”
“Time for what?” Karen asked. “You men are incredible.”
Alexis snickered and left the coach. “Have fun with her, Tex. She’ll probably be worth it.”
“Shut up,” Karen said, winding up for a tirade. She stopped. “Oh, never mind.”
Tex turned and smiled at her.
“Turning on what little charm you have isn’t going to help,” Karen spat at him.
“Temper temper,” Tex said. Then he paused, looking at her. “On second thought, keep that fire burning.”
“Do you know how sexist that comment was?”
Tex shook his head as he headed to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“I need to disconnect the power cable,” he said. “Mind?”
She shook her head, Tex’s stare making her uncomfortable. “Go. Leave me in peace.”
He left and she laid back down, mind spinning, a mixture of anger, sorrow, and excitement. Control yourself.
Alexis noticed Tex outside the coach, and trotted back over.
“Sorry I’m leaving you with that mess,” she said. “I’m still interested if she doesn’t come around.”
“Can’t get past what happened in there, can you?”
She fought back tears for a second, then took a deep breath. “It’s hard. I had more of a connection with Lily than some of the others.”
“I know,” he said as he coiled up the power cable. “I’m sorry you lost your friend.”
“You’re too good for the redhead,” Alexis said. “Nobody’s going to be able to tell you that, though, are they?”
Tex chuckled as he tossed the cable into the storage compartment and locked it. “She likes me. I catch her looking at me.”
“Oh, I have no doubt you’ll win her over at least partially,” Alexis said. “I’m afraid you might not be happy when you realize what you’ve got.”
He laughed. “If she gives me half a chance, I’m gonna curl her toes good.”
Alexis smirked. “Yeah, I’ll bet you’re damn good at that. I’ll see you when we get to the next place. Be careful.”
“You too, little lady.”
Tex watched as she walked away. She was beautiful in every way, he thought to himself. Then he sighed. She’s not what I want.
“Hey, dummy, we’re next, you know,” Karen said out the door. “Why did you wait until the last minute to do that stuff back there?”
“I wanted the batteries charged up to the max before we left,” Tex said as he climbed back into the coach. “Sticking around, or are you gonna find another coach to ride in too?”
She was silent for a moment. “I’ll stay here.”
“Good,” Tex said, pulling the door shut. He sat in the driver’s seat and adjusted the mirrors and seat. “There’s your seat.”
“You want me riding next to you?”
“Well, if you’re on my lap I won’t be able to steer.”
She laughed sarcastically. “In your dreams.”
“Yep,” Tex said as he fired up the engine. “I like that dream.”
“Oh, brother,” she said. Tex drove forward in a lurch, Karen losing her balance and falling against his side, her arm going around his chest. She righted herself as he grinned at her. “You did that on purpose.”
“I didn’t,” Tex said. “The ground is a little soft. Tires were settled. I liked the contact, of course.”
She got into her seat, flustered, and pulled violently on her seatbelt, causing it to stop before it was out far enough. She yanked again, and it stopped even shorter. “Dammit.”
“Pull it out slowly,” Tex said. “You’re triggering the locking mechanism.”
She tried to calm down, then pulled the belt slowly and clicked it shut.
“See,” Tex said. “Told you.”
“Can you not say anything for a while?”
“I’ll try, but it’ll be difficult,” he said, glancing at her as he made the turn onto the road.
“You’re going to keep at me until you’ve won,” she said.
“No, I’m gonna keep at it until I’m sure there’s no chance,” Tex said. “Big difference.”
She settled in, trying to keep her gaze out the windshield. Tex laughed.
“Quit laughing all the time,” she said.
“I’m a happy guy. Haven’t you picked up on that before?”
“You’re a hick joker,” she said.
“That’s not nice.”
She broke her forward gaze and looked at him. He was already looking at her, and their eyes locked. “Dammit.”
“You are the prettiest thing,” Tex said. “Anybody ever tell you that?”
“Every guy who wants to get into my pants,” she spat back at him.
He laughed again.
“Quit laughing,” she said. “What’s so funny about that, anyway?”
“You,” Tex said. “You know you’re hot, and you think every man wants you. In case you haven’t noticed, every woman with this group is flat-out gorgeous. Not every man is interested in every pretty woman. We all have our types.”
“Oh, that again,” Karen said. “Lucky me. I’m a hick magnet.”
“There you go again, making comments that aren’t nice.”
“Two can play your game, you know,” Karen said.
“Good, flirt with me then. Try to get me interested. Let me know that the yearning you have for me is as strong as the yearning I have for you.”
She laughed. “This is absurd, you know.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I think it’s kinda fun.”
“Fun? Oh please,” Karen said. “You’re so full of yourself.”
“I could make a joke about that…”
“Stop! Don’t be crude. That turns me off faster than anything.”
“Oh, so you’re not turned off now, then,” he said.
“I didn’t mean that. Dammit. Never mind. And quit laughing.”
He glanced at her again, catching her watching him. “Caught you.”
“Shut up,” Karen said. “Ever heard of if looks could kill?”
“That’s not the look I’m seeing,” he said.
“Then you aren’t reading me very well.”
Tex snickered. “Maybe not. Time will tell.”
“Can we get off this subject?”
“Sure, what do you want to talk about?”
“How do you know Jules and Ivan?” she asked.
“Why would you want to know about that?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
Tex chuckled and glanced at her. “Because it’s about me. I figured you’d want to talk about something not related to us.”
“There is no us,” she said.
“I meant you and me both, not you and me together.”
“Uh huh,” she said, cracking a slight smile.
“This is just ridiculous. Okay, forget about your past. What do you think is going to happen with California?”
“You would ask me something I can’t answer,” Tex said.
“Certainly you have some kind of idea.”
He took a deep breath, then looked at her. “Okay. California is going to be tarnished by this in ways that will be difficult to heal. I’ll probably go back to Texas when the war is over.”
“Too many people here believe in Santa Clause, and they’ll continue to pursue him even if he’s holding a bloody knife behind his back. The Germans fell for that.”
“You’re talking about Hitler.”
“Yes,” Tex said. “Southern California was bad enough. We’ll really have to watch our backs when we get to the Bay Area. Some people up there think the UN represents a stabilizing authority, and don’t see the danger in giving up liberty to be taken care of.”
“I’ve been on the receiving end of the UN’s caretaking,” Karen said. “All of us need to stay here after the war and remind people about it. Constantly.” She looked at him, tears brimming in her eyes, a look of resolve on her face.
“There,” he said to her, feeling himself choke up. “That’s what I saw in you. That’s why I’m interested. I’d follow you into battle any day of the week, during and after the war.”
“Stop,” she said softly. “I’m upset, but I’m not brave.”
“Yes you are,” Tex said. “Don’t ever say that.”
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
Copyright Robert Boren 2017