Edge of Valor: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Survival Thriller(3)

Never one to mince words, Perez flat out asked what everyone was thinking. “What the hell happened?”

In a halting voice, Quinn told them. Her meeting with Xander Thorne and his crazy band of nihilists in the woods. How she’d glimpsed Mattias Sutter. Her rash decision to go after them and kill him herself.

How Sutter had gained the upper hand and outed her, though they’d both ended up in Xander’s makeshift prison cell. The attack on the warehouse.

Their escape as she fought side by side with a killer. How when Sutter had turned on her, she’d stabbed him.

Everyone listened in rapt silence.

“How did you know where to find me?” Quinn asked.

“Milo,” Hannah said.

With a wince, Quinn closed her eyes and nodded.

“You gave me a heart attack,” Molly said. “I could’ve died from worry. You’ve got good people who give a damn. Pardon my French, pastor. Don’t go taking that for granted.”

“I know,” Quinn said through split lips.

Molly jabbed her withered finger at Liam. “That goes for you, too, big soldier.”

Bishop shook his head, guilt in his eyes. “I should have gone with you.”

Liam waved a weary hand. “I asked you to keep them safe. They are. You did everything I needed you to do.”

“Still, you shouldn’t have to go it alone. No soldier should ever be alone. I should’ve had your six.”

Liam shrugged him off. The attention made him uncomfortable. As a Delta Force Operator, he’d had a team of brothers. His army unit always had his back.

In the years since, though…

Before the Collapse, he’d sought isolation, hiding away on his homestead in northern Michigan. It was easier, safer.

And devoid of purpose, joy, or meaning, a voice in his head reminded him.

Here, he’d found all three. Here, he’d found Hannah.

“We made it home. That’s what matters.”

“They’re right,” Evelyn said. “You both have people who care what happens to you. Getting yourself killed in the name of honor doesn’t help anyone.”

She handed clean dressings to Hannah to finish binding Quinn’s palm and returned to Liam’s side. She unbuttoned his shirt and eased him out of it.

Cold air hit his chest, his skin pimpled with goose bumps. Old scars marred his torso—slashes from knives, circular white blemishes from a bullet or two, the raised nubs of shrapnel peppered across his bicep and left upper ribs.

Evelyn told him to lay back as she peeled the pus and blood-soaked bandages from his lower left side.

With a scowl, she pointed at the red pucker of his most recent gunshot wound. “You can die of an infection as easily as the next guy. You must allow yourself to heal. No more heroics.”

“Point taken,” Liam said. “But I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”

“What does that mean?” Perez asked.

“There’s more.”

“How can there be more?” Dave asked.

Reynoso kept his steady gaze on Liam, already expecting the worst. “Out with it.”

“The Sinclairs,” Liam said. “There’s another one.”


Day One Hundred and Two

Hannah’s heartbeat thudded in her chest, her ears. Trepidation shot through her. “What do you mean?”

“They call him the General,” Quinn said. “Or at least, Sutter did. His name is Byron Sinclair. He’s Rosamond Sinclair’s father. And he knows about us.”

Everyone stared at Quinn in shock.

Her voice shook. “He knows we killed Rosamond.”

Though a propane heater warmed the room, a chill sucked the heat from Hannah’s body. For a second, everything went fuzzy and distant.

She inhaled a sharp breath and forced herself to remain present, to understand what this meant—the threat it presented to her family and her home.

“Can we even trust Sutter?” Reynoso asked.

“Sutter had no reason to lie,” Quinn said. “He was using the information to torture me. He didn’t think I was getting out of that place alive.” She raised her chin. “I did, though.”

Hannah dabbed the crusted blood from the side of Quinn’s face. Her hands trembled; she bit her lip and willed them to steady. She had to think, to remain clear-headed and focused. “What exactly did he say?”

“That the governor of Michigan gave him a small army. He’s supposed to go after some threat in Illinois—”

“Alexander Poe,” Liam said.

“—But he’s coming here first to get his revenge.”

“When?” Reynoso asked.

Quinn kept her gaze on the carpet. “Sutter said a couple of days, but who knows.”

Reynoso cursed.

“Who says we couldn’t try to reason with him?” Lee asked.

“Like how we reasoned with Rosamond?” Perez said. “That worked out so well.”

“Tell him we had nothing to do with his daughter’s death.” Lee flashed a guilty glance at Bishop. “No offense, Pastor. I know it’s a lie, but what else are we going to do?”

“None taken,” Bishop said. “I understand the need for deception when facing an enemy such as this. Except, I doubt it would work. All Southwest Michigan knows Fall Creek defeated the militia and put a stop to Rosamond. It’s no secret.”

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