Chapter Fifteen-Part Two ~Maddie~

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I'm lying on the couch, hands on my stomach, feeling stuffed and happily satisfied. I haven't been this full in a very, very long time. Aiden belches across the way and I laugh.

I don't want to leave this place.

I want to live the last hour of my life over and over again.

We poured bottles of water in a huge pot and boiled an entire bag of rice in it on the grill out back. We topped the rice with green beans and gravy we made from these little packets of gravy powder. Weird, but so, so good. And we didn't stop there. We must have opened a hundred things, tasting them against the test of time. Things I never imagined existed, let alone imagined would survive after this long. Like small packets of Cool-Aid that you mix with water and sugar and taste like sweet heaven on earth. And Twinkies? Don't even get me started.

My stomach rumbles in contentment, such a contrast from the usual angry, hungry sounds of my stomach. I'm so full I could cry from happiness alone.

"Lookie what I found!" Alex interrupts my thoughts, dancing into the room holding a bottle of something. "Tequila!" she answers for us.

I strain my neck, looking upside down at her, "You're crazy."

"Oh come on!" she whines.

Aiden quickly sits up. "I'm in."

She whoops in excitement as she sets the bottle down on the glass coffee table and leaves the room, returning seconds later with some shot glasses and salt. She lines up the glasses and opens the bottle, filling each glass with the amber colored liquid.

I sit up and cock a brow at her. "Three glasses? Really?"

"Oh, you have to have at least one with us! We have shit to celebrate."

I eye her skeptically as she gestures to herself, "Hello! I've been mauled by a disgustingly creepy dude trying to make me his new wife and survived. We've all survived. For this long, on our own. We are going to make it to the free nation and live long, fucking happy lives. So let's forget all the other bullshit and have some fun!"

Her optimism sparks something in me, but... "We're not even old enough to be drinking," I say, feeling a little nervous. I've never had a drink of alcohol before, let alone been drunk.

She spins herself around in a circle saying, "I don't see anyone here who cares." She waits for my response adding, "Come on Maddie. I double dare you."

I relent. "Fine, but I get to dare you next."

"You're on!" she replies, only too happy to oblige. "Lick your hands," she directs us and we do so. She shakes some salt on them and hands us each a shot glass full of tequila. "To us!" she exclaims.

"To us!" we say together. I clink my glass to theirs and follow their lead, licking the salt from my hand and shooting back the burning liquid. It stings on the way down and makes my nose burn. I choke back the urge to cough and my mouth is left with a tingling sensation, the lingering taste of tequila on my tongue. That wasn't too bad.

"My turn," I say to Alex with excitement, rubbing my hands together.

"Give me your best shot Maddie."

"My best shot huh?"

"Yep!"

"Let me think for a minute." I start contemplating. Should I make her strip naked and run around the house? But with her brother here...nah, and I don't want to see that anyway. I could pour a can of creamed corn on top of her head, that would be funny but such a waste of perfectly good food. Hmm... I think I got it. "Pillow fight," I finally answer.

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