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Authors: Denise A. Agnew

Darkfall

 Darkfall

The Wasteland Trilogy, Book 2

Denise A. Agnew

Published 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62210-194-8

Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2015, Denise A. Agnew. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

Manufactured in the United States of America

Liquid Silver Books

http://LSbooks.com

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

Blurb

A woman determined not to repeat the past and a former SAS soldier reunite to survive in a challenging new world forged by an apocalypse no one could stop.

Penny Graham once fought her powerful attraction to former Special Air Service soldier Ian MacDaniel. But when their undeniable attraction was condemned by her father, they parted ways. Apocalypse pushes people to violence, and when she turns to her father for help, Ian volunteers to rescue her. Forced to fight for survival while trapped in a bunker, they can’t ignore the desire still sizzling between them.

Dedication

To the hero in my life, my husband Terry.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Marie D. Jones, who gave me the idea (even though she didn’t know it at first) to create a story featuring the Long Valley Super Volcano.

Chapter 1

Bangor, Maine

April

Penny Graham sat in the bunker in the basement of her condominium and wondered if this was how her world would end.

The hard wood bench bruised her rear like rock, and every muscle in her body felt tight. She clenched her cell phone. Her hand trembled, and she loosened her grip. Not that she could summon a damned signal down here.

Face it girl. You made your last call.

“Shut up.” She squashed the insidious voice of terror and doubt.

The nasty voice in her head that told her this tomb would be her final resting place…she needed to control it. How long had she sat here half tempted to chew her fingernails like she had when she was fourteen? Six…no seven hours since the nut jobs topside had forced her to retreat and right after she’d made that call to her father.

Loud voices outside had long since faded, but she couldn’t shake the suspicion
they
waited for her. They lurked in the bushes, perhaps, or maybe sat in her living room enjoying the contents of her refrigerator and she couldn’t hear them. A mass of writhing, out-of-their-freaking-minds humanity. The thirty-five-thousand-person population of Bangor had turned into raging lunatics because it wasn’t just her world ending, but theirs too.

Fear had transformed people. She understood because apprehension had been her companion since January, since she’d had to run from Mother Nature’s wrath. She hadn’t turned into a maniac because of terror, but she tried to give people a little slack for their panic. Who was she to judge when she’d experienced the out-of-your-mind and fight-or-flight response? Then today, everything came crashing down and all bets were off. Fight today would have meant her death. Fleeing into the bunker became the only choice.

She glanced at the phone again, half wishing Dad would try to call. She’d tell him people had broken into the gated community and criminals had started to plunder and pillage like old-time Vikings.

She shivered in reaction to the thought. She had everything she needed down here to survive for a few days, including food and water. Weariness crept over her; she was tired. She rubbed her face and sighed.
So tired.
She glanced over at the separate room that served as a bedroom. She could lie down on the double bed and rest.
Damned tempting.

Since the six men had rushed her front door and broken it down, she’d done the only thing she could and escaped to the bunker room in the basement. If she opened that door and they were still out there, she had no way to escape. Kicking, screaming, biting, using the gun sitting on the bench next to her might put a dent in them. She could hide again in this claustrophobic hole. Her mother had lived in this condo for a long time before…

Not going there now.

Penny sucked in a slow, pained breath. Keeping this place might have proven a mistake. Or not. Dad had said she should keep it, with the bunker room it was a great feature you rarely saw in real estate. She’d rebelled at first. After all, she’d stayed independent of Dad’s opinion the last few years. She didn’t want or need his help that way anymore.

Then Frank had happened and her world turned darker and scarier in ways she’d never expected. She wondered for a half second if Frank had survived Long Valley’s first angry eruptions. He was probably still in California trying to stay alive. But even a bastard as tough as Frank had an expiration date. The fact she didn’t feel a thing either way about those facts didn’t surprise her. People had lost their moral compass, rioting, blaming, and who knows what else. Was she any different? She didn’t feel like she even knew herself anymore.

Her heart banged in her chest, her breathing coming so fast she knew if she didn’t slow it down, she’d hyperventilate. At least Dad wasn’t here to see her not handling a crisis very well. Retired army General Alexander Graham would tell her to man up. In January she had. For exactly two weeks she’d crossed from California to Maine, danger dogging her heels as the Long Valley Super Volcano in California erupted and strangled the country into submission. Living in the condo since January had given her time to decompress somewhat—until earlier today. Still, her muscles felt weak, and the trembling rolling through her wouldn’t subside.
Adrenalin.
She put the cell phone down on the bench and steadied her breathing.

The news said the Long Valley eruptions had stopped for good as the volcano appeared to return to dormant status, but the trouble in Bangor had just started. Yeah, she’d heard of the riots up in Buckleport where her dad’s security business thrived. She’d heard the never-ending reports on the number of dead, the state of the economy—the doom and gloom machine pontificated relentlessly. More than once she’d looked out the front windows of her condominium, seen the ominous gold and red glow to the west and wondered in graphic detail how the super volcano had destroyed so much of the country. In Maine they were extremely lucky. People had felt safe for a long time until the economy broke and things fell apart socially as hordes of people from everywhere else headed for wherever they could, including Maine. Bangor wasn’t so small and peaceful anymore. Nowhere was.

A banging noise startled her. Seconds later she heard footsteps coming down the basement stairs. At least she thought she did. She grabbed her gun as every muscle in her body stiffened in readiness for a fight. She stuffed her cell phone in the right back pocket of her jeans.
They’re back.

Someone pounded on the door. She gasped and covered her mouth. After a few seconds, another knock and then the buzzer went off. She ran to the door and switched on the small video monitor above the door. The black and white picture showed her a clear picture of a man dressed in khaki cargo pants, flak vest over a black turtleneck, his head covered by a black baseball cap, a pistol of some kind in his left hand. Familiarity stirred and then he lifted his face and glared right at the hidden camera that allowed her to see him on the monitor.

Oh, my God.

In a million years she never expected to see him again. Certainly not here and now.

He had to know she could see him.

“Penny! Penny, are you in there?” he asked.

His voice was unmistakable—she’d never forget those rugged notes of Scotland that teased the ears with deep tones and ragged edges. He’d lived in the United States enough years now that he’d picked up many American expressions and even that sexy, rough accent wasn’t as harsh as it had been when she’d first met him.

Ian. Ian MacDaniel.

Gorgeous eyes—those long-lashed gray eyes. Strawberry blond hair cut military short, and a chiseled jawline. He stood six feet four inches tall, but most women wouldn’t look at him and immediately think
hot.
They’d see tall, powerful and intimidating. He scowled often, and right now he bristled with energy that screamed combat-ready. But she’d seen another side of him, if only for a few moments one summer three years ago, and it had blown her away. Right before Dad canned any possibility that she’d get the chance to know the tall Scot on a deeper, far more intimate level.

Another reaction punched her. Relief. Staggering relief. At one time she thought she’d never wanted to see him again. Rejection could do that to a person. What a difference a natural disaster and sheer desperation made.

She wrestled with the door locks, then pulled the large door open on soundless, oiled hinges. Ian stood with awareness, as if he was anticipating conflict. His gaze snagged on her, relief clearing his stern expression. His attention darted behind her, then returned to her face. He stepped forward, and for a few seconds she thought he’d embrace her. She ached inside with a need for reassuring human touch. Yes, that would feel incredible. But she didn’t move closer. She felt as if they were in suspended animation.

“Ian, what the hell are you doing here?” she asked instead of flinging herself into his arms.

One corner of his mouth tipped upward. “Good to see you, too.”

She couldn’t think straight, and that bothered her. She drew in a slow breath but before she could apologize for her gruff question, his expression eased into concern. He holstered his sidearm.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

She shook her head but said the opposite. “I’m fine. How did you know I was here?”

One of his tawny eyebrows lifted. “I work for Sentry Security now. Your father didn’t tell you?”

Surprise hit her like a bullet between the eyes. “What? No. He didn’t.”

Ian’s customary scowl grew deeper. She sensed he wanted to say more but didn’t. On the other hand, it would be like her father to skip telling her he’d rehired Ian. He wouldn’t consider business something she’d want to hear, and in reality she didn’t want to know about his day-to-day business dealings. She didn’t want to hear much from him about
anything
. She felt resentment begin to stir, but shoved it down until it hummed low in the background.

“Dad sent you to help me?” she asked.

He smiled, and that rare expression turned his brutal-looking face to gorgeous in a heartbeat. “Bloody astonishing, isn’t it?”

She couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped. “Uh…yes. Definitely.”

She stood in awkward silence with Ian for a few moments before he spoke again. “How long have you been in here?”

Penny blinked and rubbed her forehead. An ache started in her temples. She glanced at her wristwatch. “Seven hours. Right after I called Dad…maybe a half hour later these six creeps broke down my front door. I grabbed this gun, shot over their heads to give myself some time, and ran down here as fast as I could.” Ian’s hard expression eased into wariness, and she smirked. “Good thing I didn’t mistake you for one of them.”

He nodded at the gun in her right hand. “You any good with that?”

She put the safety on. “After Frank…I took up lessons. So yeah, I’m good.”

He gave her a puzzled look. “Frank?”

She inhaled deeply. “Long story.” She didn’t plan to go into that fiasco if she could help it. “I tried calling Dad again but it wouldn’t go through.”

“Networks are going haywire. Even texting is acting wonky. I’ve been trying to relay back to Buckleport and can’t get through by phone or radio.” Frustration filled his eyes. “It’s a total cluster fuck. Sorry it took me so long to get here. Had some interesting obstacles along the way.”

She smiled at his understated tone. “Such as?”

“Traffic is a mess between Buckleport and Bangor. A lot of people heading north and some of them making their way to Canada. On the wrong side of the road.”

“That’s been happening for weeks.”

“Yep. Then there were these two sodding fuckwits who thought they’d take my SUV at a stoplight. I disagreed.”

She smiled at his description and could well imagine what had happened, and while he’d obviously come out on top, she asked, “How did you disagree?”

“I pointed my sidearm at them and told them to fuck off.”

“Did your SUV make it?”

“Yep. It’s right out front.”

She eyeballed him, a rush of worry striking her right in the stomach. “Did they hurt you?”

Now it was his turn to smirk, but he only smiled for a second and instantly sobered. “Hell no. I discouraged them with harsh language and a promise that I’d kick their asses. That was enough.”

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