“Say it right!”
“Marco’s not a priest! What difference does it make?”
“Falk!” She purses her lips and glares as I let out a long sigh.
“You may kiss the bride!” Marco announces with a big grin. “Slip her some tongue!”
Katrina giggles, and as I place my lips on Hannah’s, everyone cheers except Charles, who starts to cry instead.
I smile at the memory. It hadn’t been my idea, but I was okay with it. It made Hannah happy. Next to keeping her and Charles safe, that is my primary function. I even danced while Marco wasted battery life playing some music he’d found in a storage unit. It felt like tenth grade all over again—my dancing skills haven’t changed much since then—but Hannah smiled when I twirled her around and laughed when I nearly fell on my ass in the attempt.
Movement next to me causes me to open my eyes again. Charles is awake and kicking his little legs. Katrina says he’ll start crawling pretty soon. He’s already rolling himself all over the floor when given the chance.
I push back the blankets and scoop him up. He smiles and makes little cooing sounds as I carry him out of the room.
“Hey there, hot stuff!” Christine looks over at me from the couch in the living room.
I glance down, realizing I’m just in my boxers.
“Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t want to wake Hannah.”
“Who says I’m talking to you?” Christine raises an eyebrow at me, stands and takes Charles from my arms. “How’s my handsome little man today?”
I take the opportunity to grab a cup of coffee and head outside.
The front porch of the huge house is the perfect place to hang out in the morning, but I bypass it and walk off into the yard to loiter under a tree. I lean back, light a cigarette, and watch the community in front of me come to life.
Katrina and her boyfriends come out of the house first, hand-in-hand-in-hand. They’ve started talking walks in the morning together, claiming they’re trying to get in some daily exercise. I have no doubt they’re getting their cardio in, but I don’t think walking is what’s keeping them in shape.
I nod as they wave at me, hiding my smile behind the smoke.
A door opens across the street. Hugo and Frank emerge, also holding hands. They joined our pack a month ago. Katrina has the idea that we should seek out couples to join our group, believing they will be less likely to represent a threat to the rest of us. I’m not sure I buy into her philosophy. I only agree to these guys because they’re gay.
Does that make me a bigot?
Katrina’s been talking to an older man and woman who have been hiding out in a campground near Stone Mountain and wants to bring them here. I’m still suspicious, still cautious, but I agreed to go meet them. There’s nothing altruistic about it—Katrina says they have working solar panels on their motorhome and that the man is some kind of scientist.
Both might be useful.
There are still packs of men out there hunting women. No one as organized as Caesar and Brett’s group, but they’re around. Hannah has talked about rescuing the women they’re using for barter, but we haven’t made any attempts.
I’m torn on the whole subject.
It’s the right thing to do, or at least it would be i
f we didn’t live in the world we live in. This is a selfish world, and I’m a practical person. Anyone we try to rescue puts the rest of us in danger, and I’m not ready to put my family in the line of fire. Maybe that makes me an asshole. I don’t really care.
Hannah’s perspective is different. She feels for each and every woman she knows is out there. At some point, it’s going to become a bigger issue for her. Right now, I keep her distracted with Charles, but he’ll grow, and her need to bring peace to those women’s lives will grow along with him.
I stomp out the cigarette and erase the thought from my mind. It’s a topic for another day. I head back inside briefly to dress and grab my rifle before I do a quick patrol around the neighborhood. It’s quiet today, and I see nothing of concern. When I return, Hannah is on the porch with Charles lying across her lap, sucking away. I head up the steps and lean over to kiss them both on their heads.
“Did you sleep well?” I ask.
“I did, thank you,” Hannah replies with a smile. “Did he have you up early?”
“Nah, he believes in Sundays, too.” I return the smile and run inside to make some breakfast.