~ Chapter Five ~

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Completely and utterly lost in thought, Perri didn't hear the near-silent footsteps approaching her from behind.

Perri tensed and gasped sharply.

Something hard pressed against the back of her head and a husky voice whispered, "Don't move."

A gun.

Her heart was immediately pounding its way up her throat and sweat coated her palms.

In the back of her mind, she could at least appreciate the fact that whoever it was behind her... they were alive.

A survivor.

"Put your hands where I can see them." The deep voice, that could only belong to a man, added.

She splayed her arms and a second person moved to take her tomahawk.

Gavin was still waiting outside. Waiting for her to let him in.

Her eyes flicked about, though she wasn't actually searching for anything. She needed to speed up this encounter. It wasn't safe to leave Gavin out there by himself.

The second man took the laser pointer from her other hand and stepped away again.

"How did you get in here?" Asked the husky voiced man.

"A window upstairs." Perri replied.

"Are you alone?"

For a moment she thought about telling a lie. She didn't know these men. Didn't know if they were good or bad.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and said, "No."

"How many others?"

"Just one."

"She's lying." Whispered the second man.

Ignoring his remark, the husky voiced man asked her, "Where is this other person?"

"Outside. Waiting for me to open the door." She clenched her jaw. Soon, she would find out that was a mistake. Giving Gavin's position away.

"Move the bodies and open the door." He demanded.

But, he wasn't talking to her, she realized.

The second man growled with disapproval and dragged his feet as he strode to the pile of corpses stacked against the door.

Perri watched him drag the bodies to one side, just far enough to get the door open. He was constantly brushing his blond hair out of his eyes.

She might have giggled if she didn't have a gun to her head.

The blond man turned the door handle and if Perri had blinked, she might have missed it.

The door burst inward, right into blondie sending him tripping over corpses and onto his ass.

Gavin was inside the door a moment after blondie hit the floor and was pointing his machete down at him.

The husky voiced man quickly wrapped an arm around Perri's neck and held her close. The gun now pressing into her cheek.

There was silence as the men stared each other down.

Blondie's eye flicked between them, but he didn't dare to move.

"Mind shutting the door?" Asked the husky voiced man in a calm, almost bored, tone.

With his free hand, Gavin pushed the door closed behind him and said, "Happy? Now let my friend go."

"You first. Put the machete away."

Gavin lazily scratched at his stubbled chin as he considered his options.

"Fine." He finally said and sheathed the machete at his side.

Blondie scrambled to his feet and went to his companion.

The gun fell away from Perri's face along with the arm across her and she found herself being shoved forward.

She rushed over to Gavin's side.

The husky voiced man casually waved his Beretta M9 pistol as he asked, "What are you people doing here?" And he holstered the weapon at his hip.

"We were just looking for a safe place to stay 'til morning." Gavin answered.

"Where did you come from?" One hand remained resting on the gun at his side, the other raised up to his face and he traced his bushy mustache with his thumb and forefinger.

"An evacuation zone up in the mountains."

The two men shared a look, their brows low.

"And exactly what brings you down here, so close to the city?" Asked blondie.

"I'm looking for someone." The words came out quicker than Perri had expected. She hadn't even taken a moment to decide whether telling them was wise.

"Well, you can't stay here." Spat blondie.

"Shut the fuck up, Terrence. That's not up to you." Growled the husky voiced man.

He looked back to Gavin and Perri. The intensity of his gaze as he studied them was intimidating to say the least.

He ran a hand through his short, dark hair. "Whereabouts will your search be taking you?"

"Don't." Gavin muttered, so quietly only Perri could hear.

She disregarded his warning. "Into the city."

"And then?" That husky voice was less sharp now.

Perri cleared her throat. "If I don't find anything in the city. There's another evacuation camp about a hundred miles going West. That's where I'll check next."

"What are your names?"

"I'm Perri. This is Gavin."

"My name's Max." He gave a pointed nod to blondie and continued, "That's Terrence."

Max nudged Terrence with an elbow. "Give her, her shit back."

Terrence scowled and gaped at the order but obeyed.

"Follow me." Max said before turning and walking away.

Gavin shook his head at Perri.

"Come on." She whispered and stepped ahead.

He sighed before hurrying after her.

Terrence kept pace behind them.

"Why the change of attitude?" Gavin asked, directing his question at Max.

"We're going into the city as well." Max replied. "We could use the extra bodies."

"How many of you are there?" Perri couldn't imagine that there would be more than a handful.

"You'll see."

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