Edge of Valor: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Survival Thriller(2)

To Liam, she was as beautiful as ever.

Hannah didn’t have Charlotte or Milo with her. They must be with Evelyn’s husband, Travis, who’d taken to grand-parenting Liam’s infant nephew, L.J., like a duck to water. The Brooks had taken Hannah’s children under their wing, too.

“Sutter,” Liam said. “Quinn killed Sutter.”

Hannah’s skin paled, her green eyes darkening with concern—and anger. Liam shared her sentiment.

At least Quinn had eliminated the scumbag. Liam had seen Mattias Sutter’s slain corpse at the Vortex warehouse with his own eyes.

Outnumbered, he and Quinn had fought their way out, battling both the half-crazy nihilist gang led by Xander Thorne and a surprise attack by a private paramilitary force.

They were battered and bruised, but they’d survived.

Thanks to the aid of James Luther, who’d provided overwatch and eliminated a team of armed contractors about to overwhelm them.

Luther, the same former militia member who’d set fire to Noah’s home with Milo sleeping inside. The same man who’d turned informant and helped them beat the militia.

Liam despised him, too, but the man had saved their lives. Unsure what to do with Luther, Liam had stashed him in a safe house outside of Fall Creek.

But that was a problem for later. They had more immediate concerns.

Lee returned with a jug of sterilized water, canisters of salt, and a stack of bandages and set them on the counter. He pulled medical supplies from the cabinets that shared space with beakers, petri dishes, and microscopes for science classes. The air smelled of Betadine and bleach.

“Is anything broken?” Hannah asked Evelyn. “Will she be okay?”

“Check her ribs,” Liam said.

Evelyn shot him an exasperated look. “Already done. I am a medical professional, you know.” She finished her examination. “Quinn, you’re extremely lucky. No broken ribs. Several deep bruises and lacerations we’ll need to take care of, though, including that hand.”

Lee brought over the supplies from the counter. He handed Evelyn a water bottle.

“This is a homemade solution of saline,” she said. “We’ll use it to flush your wounds, remove debris and bacteria, and inhibit its growth. Salt draws moisture from bacteria, which destroys it.”

Using a clean nail, she punctured a hole in the container and squeezed, using the narrow stream of saltwater solution to clean the cuts in Quinn’s hand.

Quinn winced.

Evelyn patted Quinn’s shoulder. “You need to rest and recuperate. You understand?”

Dully, Quinn nodded.

“And you,” Evelyn admonished Liam. “For once, you must take it easy—”

A commotion came from the hallway. Voices raised. Rapid footsteps.

Liam’s heart rate spiked. Ignoring the flare of pain, he reached for his Glock.


Day One Hundred and Two

The staccato click, click, click of a cane echoed off the tile floor. “Where is she?”

Lee attempted to block the door. “Molly, you shouldn’t see her like this—”

“Don’t you presume to tell me what I can and cannot do!” Molly snapped. “Try and stop me, see what happens. I guarantee it’ll be over my dead body! Or more accurately, yours!”

Liam let out his breath and released his hold on the Glock.

Molly pushed Lee aside, who threw up his hands in defeat and stepped back. “Yes ma’am.”

The old woman hobbled into the room, cane smacking the floor, sharp blue eyes peering from the wrinkled span of her face.

With an abashed expression, Lee trailed after her.

Molly caught sight of her and blanched. She gave a sharp, startled gasp. “Oh.”

She’d probably planned a royal tongue lashing to put her rebellious granddaughter back in her place. The horrific sight of the beaten, bloodied girl was enough to stay anyone’s tongue with pity. Even Molly’s.

Quinn looked up through the matted locks of her hair. A mix of dread, guilt, and longing tinged her swollen features.

“Gran.” Her face crumpled. “I’m—I didn’t mean—I’m sorry.”

“Hush, child.” Molly’s cane clattered to the floor. She shrugged off the Mossberg 500 shotgun, leaned it against the wall, and shuffled to her granddaughter.

She leaned forward and cupped the girl’s mangled face in her hands with incredible gentleness, as if cradling a fragile baby chick.

Before she could say anything, the hulking form of Atticus Bishop filled the doorway, his billowy afro making him appear even larger. Pastor of Crossway Church on Main Street by day, super soldier by night.

“Where’s my girl?” he boomed.

Three more figures crowded into the room. Dave Farris, the owner of Fall Creek Inn, ham radio aficionado, and town council member, and Jose Reynoso, the newest Fall Creek Police Chief. He was quiet and easy-going, solid as a rock.

Samantha Perez shouldered in behind them, her short black hair pushed behind her ears, an aggrieved scowl on her face. Her law enforcement uniform was wrinkled, and fatigue lined her bronze skin.

For a moment, the medical ward went dead silent as everyone absorbed the shock of Quinn’s condition.

Dave removed his winter cap and twisted it in his hands. His warm smile didn’t fade, though his weathered face lost some color. “We’ve been worried sick for both of you.”

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