~ Chapter Twelve ~

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Max and Perri were satisfied with the safety of the apartment and had brought the rest of the group up.

Carter and Holloway set up their mapping station in the kitchen, while everyone else rearranged the living room to be used as their resting area.

The survivors wasted no time scouring through the supplies that had been horded and divided everything amongst themselves.

Perri sat by the door to the balcony with Gavin beside her and Skeet leaning against her; his eyes heavy. She watched the group dig through the neatly positioned supplies and glowered at them all.

They didn't deserve the treasure trove in that apartment.

She couldn't even bring herself to claim any of it. Even though, she knew she needed more water and batteries, she just couldn't.

She was the one to put that man down. The man who had been bitten only recently and turned. The man who had secured that apartment. The man who had survived and thrived only to die violently and alone.

"Perri?" A voice brought her out of her thoughts.

"Huh?" She responded.

Gavin smiled sincerely at her. "I said... do you want me to grab us some supplies before those vultures pick everything clean?"

"Oh. Umm." Perri cleared her throat. "Yes, please. You know what we need."

He simply nodded, stood up and made his way over to the others.

Perri watched for a moment longer before glancing down at Skeet. She had to tilt her head and bring it low to see his face.

He was just about asleep.

"Here. Lie down." She said as she moved away from the wall and put her knapsack down for Skeet to lay his head on.

He didn't say a word and as soon as his head hit the bag, he was out.

Perri's lips pulled into a smile before she stood up and stepped toward the balcony door.

The glass panes on the door were painted over just like every other window on that floor of the apartment building.

She peered over her left shoulder. Then, her right.

Everyone was either preoccupied or sleeping. It had been a long time since any of the survivors had, had the sort of security that the apartment provided. Or the amount of good supplies. They could rest easily for the time being.

So, Perri twisted the door handle and pushed the door open a few centimeters.

After one last check over her shoulder, she slipped out of the room without anyone noticing. Or so she thought.

Stepping out of the dimly lit apartment and into the blazing sun was near blinding.

Perri had to shield her eyes from the brightness that overwhelmed her.

When her eyes adjusted, she observed her surroundings and gaped at what she saw.

There was a bridge stretching from the balcony on which she stood and the balcony of the building across from her.

Granted it wasn't the safest looking bridge she'd ever seen, it still brought a smile to her face.

The man that had not only survived, but... thrived. If only they had gotten here sooner

The click of the door shutting behind her startled her and put a sudden stop to her thoughts.

She whirled to the sound.

It was Max who stood before her. One hand raised to block the sun as he blinked, trying to force his eyes to adjust.

"Bright out here, isn't it." He said by way of greeting, rather than a question.

"What do you want, Max?"

"I saw you trying to sneak out. Figured you could use some company." He gave her a crooked grin that made her skin crawl.

"How considerate of you." Perri said dryly. "But, I was just about to head back in."

She moved to step around him but, before she knew it, he had a hand on her throat and she was shoved against the door.

His grasp on her was firm but he wasn't hurting her.

She tried to push him away, but he didn't budge.

Her heart thundered in her chest as she panted through her nose and glared at him.

"You don't want to do this." Perri warned as she pressed her palms even harder against his chest.

Max shushed her softly as he took one of her wrists with his free hand and forced her hand away. Then, he advanced on her position some more, until his body was pressed against her own, trapping her free arm between them.

Perri turned her face away from his and pressed her lips together tightly.

"Look at me." His warm breath caressed her ear.

She refused to move or reply.

The hand on her throat suddenly grasped her jaw and forced her to turn her head.

Perri found herself staring into the eyes of a predator.

She could feel his breath on her face. Feel his chest heaving as it pressed against hers. Feel the heart beneath it racing faster and faster.

Perri stopped fighting. She took a deep breath and calmed herself as best she could.

Max's gaze shifted down to her lips as she said, "Go on then. Kiss me."

Their eyes met, and he saw nothing but a challenge on her face. So, Max cupped her cheek and pressed his lips against hers.

To his surprise, Perri kissed him back.

She kissed him until she felt his body become less rigid and he let his guard down.

Perri shifted on her feet and thrust her knee into his groin.

Max let out a yell that she quickly silenced by placing a hand over his mouth.

He held his nether region and his legs buckled beneath him, sending him down to his knees. Gasping for air and moaning in pain. "You. Are. So. Dead." He rasped.

"No. You are." Perri replied as she reached for the door handle.

She yanked the door open, slamming it into Max with a thud, before she went inside.

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