Author: Wendy Higgins
Release: February 16, 2-17
Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.
Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times. In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.
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A golden hue of sunrise turned night into dawn. I sat on a small boulder, staring at the sliver of sun through trees of the Nevada parkland, the same spot where I’d been sitting silently in the dark for two hours in the cold. I couldn’t take Remy’s whimpering and soul-crushing cries each time she fell back asleep in the tent, venturing into nightmares of what she’d seen the night before. What we’d all seen. I might never sleep again.
Mom. Dad. Abuela.
I fought back another wave of debilitating grief that made my bones feel like liquid—like I’d never have the ability to stand again. Have to be strong. Have to be strong. I rocked back and forth with my eyes shut tight. I couldn’t afford to give in to the loss. If I did, it would consume me whole and devour my will to live. I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly.
We’d been fired up to leave the nature preserve last night and head north to the base in Utah after hearing the Morse code message, supposedly from other military personnel in hiding, like us. But we decided to wait until morning since we needed more light to plan our trip on the map. Plus, headlights in the night would be too easy to spot, and we were all worthless last night, running on adrenaline and vengeance, one step away from crashing. I never did crash or sleep a wink, even though my adrenaline was long gone.
The soft sunrise was too pretty—too majestic—for the way I felt inside. Raw. Like my heart had been grated. During the night, I’d begun to believe the sun would never rise again, and now that it was I felt as if the Earth were mocking what we’d been through, reminding me just how miniscule and unremarkable we were. A new day was happening despite what we’d lost. The world wasn’t stopping to mourn. It felt wrong.
We’d been so close to the camp yesterday where the Disaster Relief Initiative, the DRI personnel, had taken my parents, my grandmother, Remy’s parents, and Rylen’s wife Livia. We watched in confusion as those DRI bastards fled. Then we’d watched in disbelief as Air Force jets dropped a bomb on that camp, obliterating our family and the people from our town. Oh, God.
I pressed the back of my hand to my mouth and squeezed my eyes shut. Even while the world fell apart around us, I never imagined anything would happen to my parents. I never let myself believe it was possible, even after watching my Grandpa Tate shot and killed by a Disaster Relief Personnel—fucking Derps. Who was I without my parents? I was the daughter of an Army man and a Mexican dancer. A Green Machine and a Señorita. A small bubble of laughter worked its way through a sob in my throat when I thought about my parents’ silly banter with each other. Their relentless love and devotion to me and my older brother, Tater.
The sound of a tent’s zipper wrenched through the morning solitude and I quickly wiped my eyes. I looked over and saw Rylen crouching as he pushed through the opening. The golden hue of sun made his blond hair and the scruff on his face stand out. His eyes met mine and I had to swallow hard at the sight of pain in his expression. I’d already cried so much last night.
Seeing those solemn gray eyes brought back a flood of memories: young, scrawny Rylen Fite, loved and cared for by my parents like he was their own son. And his eyes reflected his remembrance too, as if he felt their absence as prominently as I did. But he’d lost a wife, as well. Maybe she hadn’t been his wife in every technical sense of the word, but he’d been trying to make it right. Every bit of his loss was reflected in the heavy way he sat on the rock beside me and rubbed his face before staring out at the sunrise.
Wendy Higgins is a soccer mom and backstage drama mama. Most people in her tiny bayside town don’t know she’s a USA Today and NYT bestselling author of paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction romances. Wendy is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time in her pajamas, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.
Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.
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