Hot and Haunted

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Book: Read Hot and Haunted for Free Online
Authors: Megan Hart, Saranna DeWylde, Lauren Hawkeye
past them, but one on the outskirts of the crowd had seen her and set off in pursuit. Its rotten fingers had snagged her backpack just enough to make her stumble on the uneven concrete. She’d skinned both her knees and her palms and twisted her ankle again. She still managed to kill it, and the four or five others that had shambled after her, before she could put enough distance between herself and the others.
    She was exhausted now, even after the few hours of respite she’d had. If anything, sleeping in Mac’s comfortable bed had only seemed to make her more tired. Now she yawned hard enough to crack the bones in her jaw as she slung her pack off her shoulders, wincing. At just before dawn, she didn’t expect a greeting party.
    She ought to have expected Anthony.
    He came out of the shadows at the bottom of the stairs and almost earned a fist to his side for the surprise. Fortunately for them both, Lira pulled her punch at the last minute; otherwise, she’d likely have broken her hand or one of his ribs. She scowled, cursing.
    “Sorry.” Anthony snagged her hand and kept her from pulling away. “I was worried. You didn’t come back on time. I thought . . .”
    She knew what he thought. That he would worry so much for her safety, that he would wait and pace in the dark until she came home, even if it was a day later than she’d planned . . . Lira had known this about Anthony for a long time, but it hit her hard, now.
    She’d been so stupid, thinking she didn’t want what he’d offered her, over and over. Crazy to believe she could keep herself from wanting more from him than fucking just because that was all she was willing to admit to needing. Skin on skin had always helped her forget what she’d gone through outside, yes . . . but it was Anthony who made her remember there was more to this world than pain and fear and anger.
    She waited for guilt to hit her but found no place for regret. What had happened in Mac’s apartment had been necessary at the time, but it was not the real and constant thing. It was not what she wanted. It was not what she needed. Mac had given her a few hours of respite, but Anthony had always made it possible for her to keep living.
    She launched herself into his arms and found his mouth with hers. Cupping his face, she kissed him, over and over again. When she tasted salt she pulled away, but it wasn’t from him.
    “Hey,” he said, using his thumbs to brush away the tears from her cheeks. “Shh, you’re here, now. I have something for you to eat. You want a shower?”
    She shook her head and found his mouth again. She clung to him, shaking unexpectedly, suddenly desperately cold though the temperature in the basement was always comfortable. Death was coming, not just for her, but for Anthony and everyone else in the shelter, and while Lira had faced it on her own a hundred times if once, the reality of it—of a world in which Anthony did not exist—threatened to knock her to her knees.
    “Hey. Come on.” Anthony bent to slide an arm beneath her knees, the other behind her back. Cradling her, shushing her when she made a feeble noise of protest.
    He carried her not to the shower room, but to the small private room he’d claimed for himself. Once it had been meant for brides getting ready for their wedding; now it contained several crates he used for his belongings and a narrow pallet. There he laid her down while they kissed. And kissed. And kissed. Her mouth felt swollen from the constant pressure of his lips on hers.
    He stripped her clothes, then his, without leaving her mouth for more than a few seconds. He had her bare beneath him in a minute or two. His hands found all the places on her he’d learned over the past few months.
    Lira was no longer certain she could believe in God, not with the world the way it had become, but she had seen miracles firsthand, more than once. This pleasure Anthony created with his mouth and hands and body against hers—that was a

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