“Strong,” Lazlo finished for me. “You’re always trying to be strong and isolated. And I get it. You can kick my ass, hands down. But we’re here now!” He spread his arms wide, referring to the trailer and quarantine as a whole. “Can’t you just let your guard down for a minute?”
I squirmed and looked away.
“Just because I offer to sleep somewhere-”
He moved towards me, his mouth covering mine before I could finish. One of his hands went to the soft skin of my side, and when I started kissing him back, he squeezed slightly, sending warming tingles through me. His other hand was on my cheek, cradling it. My back pressed against the counter behind me, and he leaned into me, pushing me against it.
I loved how desperately he kissed me. Nobody had ever kissed me like that before, like he couldn’t breathe without me. Butterflies swirled through me, and my heart hammered so hard in my chest, I was sure he could feel it. I felt weak all over, but I didn’t hate it.
When he stopped kissing me, we were both panting, and he looked intently at me. His eyes had gone dark with passion. He pushed the hair from my face, and I was surprised to find that I had knotted my hand in the fabric of his shirt, pulling him tightly to me.
“Are you okay?” Lazlo’s expression changed from heat to concern.
“I…” I could barely catch my breath, and as much as I wanted to kiss him again, I was too scared to. “I need to take a walk.”
“Oh.” Hurt flashed across his face, but he hurried to erase it and mask it with false indifference. He took a step back, so I could move. “Yeah. Sure.”
“Sorry, I just…” I ran a hand through my hair and wouldn’t look at him as I slid by. “I need to get some air.”
“No, I understand,” he lied.
I pushed out the front door before I could say anything else awkward and stupid. With night falling, it had gotten significantly colder, especially after spending so many days in the desert heat.
Bright white street lights allowed me to see as I walked on the winding trails through the trailers. Wrapping my arms tightly around me, I mis-stepped several times, but eventually, I found my way to Ripley’s cage.
Linking my fingers through the chain link, she came over and nuzzled at them again. I wanted to sob and throw up, so I just wrapped my arm tighter around my stomach, holding it in.
I didn’t understand how I could handle myself so well in a zombie fight but not at all in real life. It used to be the exact opposite. I had forgotten who I used to be entirely.
Ripley tired of rubbing against the cage and went in the corner to take a nap. I had gotten myself under control, but I wasn’t ready to go back yet. I wandered around the quarantine, avoiding other people as much as possible, and tried to focus on what really mattered: seeing Max.
My options were counting on Tatum’s ability to pull strings and get me a sanctioned visit or breaking in.
I made my way over to the building. It looked like a giant fortress. No windows on the first floor, and the windows on the second had bars over them, guaranteeing that no zombies could break in. Or no one could break out. The walls were smooth concrete, without any divots or cracks, making it impossible to scale.
The only ways in or out were through two sets of massive steel doors, protected by a punch code and two armed guards. This quarantine had been so well thought out, I would’ve been impressed if I hadn’t been trying to break in.
I stood near the doors, chewing my lip and trying to think, when two men in blue scrubs walked up. They said something to the guards, punched a number in the keypad, and went inside. I didn’t recognize either of them, but an idea dawned on me.
“Um, hi,” I walked up to the guards, and they both barely looked at me. “I’m not feeling well, and I need to see a doctor.”
“Talk to Bishop, and she’ll set something up for you,” he said, keeping his eyes fixed on some target above my head.
“No, um, I know the doctor.” I shifted my weight. “He’s a friend, and he checked me out today, and he said if I have any problems, to come back and see him. And I’m having problems.” The solider looked at me skeptically. “Doctor’s orders.”
“What’s his name?” he sighed.
“Blue Adams,” I smiled gratefully at him.
He clicked on the black radio attached to his uniform and said Blue was needed at the front entrance. A static voice replied that they’d send him down in a minute. I took a deep breath and waited. I had taken to pacing, but finally, Blue came out the front doors.
“Is everything alright?” Blue looked worried when he walked over to me.
“Yeah, yeah.” I started walking away from the guards and motioned for him to do the same. I didn’t think they liked me, and I didn’t want them overhearing what I had to say.
“Is it something with your hip?” Blue asked.
“No, my hip is fine.” I waved it away. Once we were far enough, hidden in the shadows of one of the trailers, I crossed my arms over my chest and whispered. “Can you get me in to see Max?”
“Remy, I already told you, I don’t know anything,” Blue shook his head.
“Blue, come on,” I pleaded. “I’m not even supposed to know he’s in there. I need to know what they’re doing with him.”
“I want to help you.” He rubbed the back of his neck and looked over his shoulder, as if he expected somebody to be lurking there, watching. “I think he’s on the third floor. I haven’t seen him, and they haven’t called him by name, but from what I’ve heard, I think he’s up there. I can move around the area he’s in, but he’s in a locked ward.”
“Do you think you could get me in?” I asked, my excitement growing.
“Maybe.” Blue sounded pained. “I’d have to dig around, and I might be able to, but it’d be a one-time thing. Then I’d get fired and you’d be put in the stockade.”
“Stockade?” I shook my head, not familiar with the term.
“Yeah, it’s like prison,” he said. “It’s in the basement of the building. If you screw up enough, you either go in the stockade or you’re exiled.”
“We just won’t get caught then.”
“We couldn’t not get caught,” Blue shook his head. “But you’re missing the point. Even if I did get the passkey, I couldn’t get you up the third floor. I couldn’t even get you to the second floor.”