Friday, August 16, 2013

Barely Alive Excerpt #PromotionalBookTours

Barely Alive (book #1)

Elk was hella delicious. Raw. I’d never had it cooked, but by the time I’d found the herd, I don’t

think I would’ve waited to take a piss before eating. I snapped the herd bull’s neck and took down a

smaller cow elk. The rest finally caught on I was out for blood and they scattered into the woods, the

thunder of hooves on moss fading quickly into the shady forest.

I devoured a significant portion of the largest one. I couldn’t wrench the ivories from the bull’s

jaw, so I decapitated him with a nearby rock and cradled the head under my arm and swung the smaller

female on my shoulders. The going was a bit rough, but nothing stopped me. The meat filled me. Iron

rustled through my blood. I could breathe again. The unbelievable relief slid along my extremities. The

gray disappeared almost before my eyes. Hey, yeah, Paul is back!

Every waft of air didn’t leave my fingers freezing and the minute hairs moving on my arms didn’t

itch. For the briefest moment, normal returned. I adapted. The animal weight on my back didn’t exist with

the return of my invincibility. If I pumped my fist into the air, would anyone see me?

My trip hadn’t taken long. I rushed onto the lawn and dropped the elk on the porch. Her blood

had marked me and I stripped off my shirt before heading inside the house, flexing my pecs because

they’d returned to their full selves and didn’t resemble a pre-teens concave chest. Yeah, Heather should

see me now.

And, there she was. Holy crap, she was staring at me, too. I froze. I couldn’t look away. Our eyes

met and the kiss from the night before tingled on my lips. Maybe my nerves were extremely sensitive

around her regardless of how well I’d been fed or how recently. She seemed to have an odd effect on

my physiology – not to mention my anatomy. Her gaze strayed to my wide shoulders and lower to my

stomach. I wanted to cross my arms over my chest.

Heather met my eyes again, but only after having her fill of the view. Jeesh, the girl relegated

me to a specimen in moments. Should I be flattered or feel exploited? I wasn’t some Chippendale. Her

lips tilted, not into a smile but the suggestion of something for later. I hoped. She angled her body toward

James’s room. “Grandma Jean said we should move him outside as soon as you get back, but he’s not

letting anyone touch him. Says it hurts too much.” Aw, her voice created goose bumps where I was

definitely not cold. She screwed her mouth to the side. “Plus, I’m not sure we can carry him. Connie and

Travis are stuck in the library working hard on theories. Grandma Jean and I can’t carry him by ourselves.

Your mom refuses to touch him when he screams.” She offered a small smile, I’m sure to reassure me and

maybe to offer apologies. She’d tried.

I’d have to muscle James out. He’d have a complete turnaround once he had some meat in his

stomach, just like when he was shot.

“Thanks, Heather. I got this.” I passed her, brushing against her arm with my chest… okay,

totally on purpose, but my physique had returned and I couldn’t help it. “Sorry.” She looked down, her

cheeks pink. Yeah, I still had it. If only she knew she tore me up inside, more than a simple flush would

Inside James’s room, Connie, Grandma Jean, and Mom gathered by the window, murmuring

between themselves. I sought my brother in the bed, prepared to roll my eyes and make a face at the

women clucking in the corner. But I forgot my intention and couldn’t stop myself from bursting out,

“Holy crap, James. What’d you do while I was gone? Hell.” He’d grayed – and I don’t mean his fingertips

– I mean his face, his chest, his upper arms, hell, even his lower arms. He matched the way my fingers

had been no more than an hour ago. He hadn’t had the virus long enough to make that drastic of a change.

Without asking his permission or giving him a warning, I wrapped the comforter around him and

bundled him into a cradle hold. He winced, a small moan breaking free. His feverish eyes flicked from

object to object. He licked his lips, a dry rasp when his tongue hit flesh.

“Let’s go, bro.” I rushed him, jostling as little as possible, to the front door and onto the deck. I

settled him onto the porch swing. He sighed when I released him. His head lulled to the side, his mouth

agape. The immediate lethargy freaked me out.

I looked at the elk body, two inches from his feet and a head surrounded by blood. He didn’t

acknowledge their presence. I was going to have to feed him. Fine. Whatever. He wasn’t dying on me.

Not yet.

Dropping beside the closest body, I tore into the tough skin and yanked out a chunk of flank

muscle. I shoved the entire handful into James’s mouth. He didn’t move. Nothing. I grasped his lower

jaw in my fingers and forced him to chew, up, down, up, down. “Come on, James. You need to swallow.

Just give me one good swallow and I’ll leave you alone. Promise.” Like hell I would, but in that exact

moment, I’d say or do whatever the hell he needed to hear.

In the distance, a phone rang, the tinny peal loud in the silence yet subdued beneath my heavy

breathing.

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"Living at the Whitheeads Zoo received a complimentary copy of this series for review. All opinions are my own."