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LEVEL 16: SOLID CAUSE
I waited, and it tore up my insides. Zach needed to answer and then find me. The Gamers’ Guild might its leader back, and three new members.
“Please, Zach!” I clutched the receiver.
His radio message continued and each time I cursed. After several more repeats, my will shattered. I let my drop to the desk. “Where are you?”
A tear formed in one eye, but I wiped it away. I promised myself I’d cry no more. The radio crackled, and I lifted my head.
“Tiffa, is that you?”
I dove onto the desk, sending a cup of pens flying. As I grabbed the radio receiver, I tumbled to the floor. “Zach? Oh, Zach, tell me it’s you!”
“Your voice is amazing. I worried you were dead.”
I held the receiver to my chest, and hugged it, as if it were him, my long lost love. “For months I thought I was the only one left. I’ve played tough girl, but every single day was terrifying.”
“Why did you do it? Why did you fake your death?”
The elephant had come to the forefront. He never heard my broadcast. “Forget that, are you okay? What about the Guild?”
Jessie’s voice crossed the frequency, “We’re fine, but we’ve been through so much. A helicopter crash killed Kessa. Do you remember her?”
“The crazy chick who blabbed about angels?” I rubbed my eyes. “That sucks... and Wesley?”
Zach’s voice crackled over, “He’s gone. A group called G.O.D. Mode murdered them both.”
I bit my lower lip and exhaled. Kessa was insane, and Wesley a jerk, but neither deserved death. Once again, the name G.O.D. Mode came into play. I wanted to know the whole story, but I had a more pressing question. “Where are you?”
“In Kentucky... Before he passed, Wesley told me of your faked suicide. We took out one of the G.O.D. family, and since, you’re our number one priority.
I shook my head hard. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster. A lot of shit has happened.”
“My group. We were five, but lost one. Another might not make the night. A zombeast got him.”
“The corpse animals? We’ve run into things, too. Listen, it’s getting too dangerous out there. Tiffa, tell me your location. We’ll come find you.”
A tear threatened to slip out, but I fought it. “Moundsville, West Virginia; the penitentiary. We’re heading for Bellaire. There’s a camp there, and I’d wager G.O.D. Mode, too.”
“Then don’t go alone. You’ll need my help. I’m different now.”
The image of evil Zach flashed through my mind. “What do you mean different?”
“You’ll see. Just promise you'll stay put. See you soon.”
Panic filled me. “Please, don’t go! It’s too dangerous. What if we don’t survive?”
“My radio isn’t mobile. I’m no use to you from here. We’ll be together soon.”
The radio went silent.
I climbed into the chair with a knot in my chest. Zach might not arrive for days, but I needed him more than ever. Garrett cursed from outside the office. I jumped as he opened the door.
He tilted his head. “What’re you doing in here? Hell, you look like crap. You need your beauty sleep.”
“Thanks, sweet as always.” I shot a glare.
“There are showers down the hall.” He shrugged. “And they work. Go clean up and relax. I’ve already sent Dyonna down there. She smelled like manure, but don’t tell her I said so, okay?”
I rolled my eyes, but a shower sounded alluring. “Is there hot water?”
“Minimal. Don’t take long or we’ll run out.”
“Thank the gaming gods.” I had an itch I didn’t want to scratch in front of him. “A shower... It’s been months!”
I walked past Garrett, but he grabbed hold and pulled me close so close our noses touched.
“Even as filthy as you are, you’re sexy as hell.”
Before I pulled away, he forced his lips onto mine. I craved killing the bastard, not kiss him, but the warmth of another’s lips had me moaning.
My heart wanted to fall for him again, but then he reached around and squeezed my ass. I pulled back and punched him in the face.
Garrett stumbled and grabbed his lip, which I’d just busted. “You bitch! You hit me after I gave you a present?”
“What present? You’re no gift to the world!” I left and slammed the door. “Arrogant prick!”
The fact he’d kissed me made me want to tear off my lips. He had a death wish, putting his hands on me. My fists were so tight, my overgrown fingernails threatened to draw blood from my palms.
I continued stomping and followed the signs to the showers. No sound of water. Hadn’t he sent Dyonna to clean up, too? I pushed open the door. A torch sat in a sconce next to the door, providing light to the windowless chamber.
She didn’t respond. Water rested on the floor by the farthest shower. Dyonna’s tribal outfit lay on a bench. She left her clothes? Did she want to walk around naked with Garrett able to see? Oh well, the scumbag was hers.
I turned on the faucet and hot water poured over my bare skin. It turned lukewarm, but was still heaven. I pulled off my filthy vest, kicked off my boots, and threw my pants on the bench. As I stepped into the water, I let it run over my face. Pure euphoria. I realized how much I missed showering.