He removed his jacket and hung it on a rickety chair to dry in front of the fire. "We're goan to talk," he said, his accent thick. He dragged out another chair, sinking his tall frame into it.


"You doan like me here?" As his gaze leisurely roamed over me, he pulled a mason jar of clear liquid out of his backpack. He'd scored moonshine? Taking a sip from it, he rasped, "Then you're welcome to stand up and walk out."

I darted a glance at my clothes. I'd set out a clean outfit-jeans, a sweater, an almost-matching bra and panty set. Unfortunately, they were a good five feet away.

I cast him a baleful look, tightening my arms over my chest, sinking even lower in the bubbles. "You need to leave so I can get dressed."

"Oh, doan let me stop you. But me, I ain't leaving until you admit how you feel."

"You're going to blackmail me?" Now it was a matter of principle. He'd crossed the line by barging in here and taking a seat, and now he expected me to reward him for it?

"You can always go." He propped his boots up on the table, easing back to balance his chair on two legs. With a smug grin, he put his hands behind his head.

He was so cocky, I wanted-nay, needed-to wipe that grin off his face. I'd reached my limit. I could die tomorrow, and I refused to spend my last night on earth getting manipulated by a moonshine-guzzling Cajun.

Besides, I wasn't too shy. I'd worn my skimpy cheer uniform to school in front of slavering teenage boys, and my best friend Melissa had pantsed me routinely. "Fine." I twisted in the tub to rise with my back to him, then stepped out and marched to my clothes-

Wham! He'd crashed back in his chair?

Stifling a grin, I wiped myself semi-dry with my old T-shirt, then pulled on my panties.

"E-Evie?" His voice sounded strangled.

I reached for my bra, might've showed side-boob, didn't care. When I had the strap fastened, I glanced over one shoulder.

Next to the overturned chair, Jack knelt with his lips parted, breaths ragged. His chiseled cheekbones were flushed, and his muscles were tensed-like he was about to lunge at me. "You . . . you stood up?" He swiped a shaking hand over his mouth, and again, his eyes dark with lust. "Never thought you'd stand up, ma bonne fille." My good girl.

With a shrug, I reached for my jeans. "If you can't handle the heat, stay out of the cabin."

He swallowed audibly. "Brulant." Sizzling hot. "And believe me, cher, I plan to handle that heat." Then he was on his feet, coming for me, those heavy boots pounding the wood floor.

His every step multiplied my anticipation. He was going to kiss me again, and just the idea filled me with energy.

No, no, no! This was wrong. I didn't want him to hit on me just because he was drunk and hard up.

Before I could put on my clothes, he'd spun me around, looping his arm around my lower back. "You swished that pretty ass in the wrong direction, bebe. You should've come to me when you were all naked and wet."

"Don't you dare make moves on me. You're just going to accuse me again of mesmerizing you."

"Non. I realized you didn't have all your powers when I first started wanting you-that day I caught you alone in the school courtyard, in your cheer skirt . . ." His expression was smoldering. "I wanted to lay you back on that table and take you right there, Evangeline."

I shivered at the way my name rolled off his tongue in that accent. Irresistible. I knew this, because I was struggling to resist.

He was right; I was gone for him. Stupid to fight it. I gazed up at him, whispering, "Just don't hurt me again. If I kiss you, and then you get disgusted . . ."

He gave a low laugh, moving his hips against mine. "Does it feel like I'm disgusted?"

I gasped. "Jackson!"

He grinned that heart-stopping grin. Gorgeous lips. I wanted them on mine.

But just before he kissed me, he said, "You might be different from what I thought, but I'm goan to protect you. I'm goan to try to accept all this. But you got to accept me."

"Accept you? What are you talking about?"

"I'm a nineteen-year-old bayou boy. I got a fondness for liquor. I'm goan to say stupid shit. Doan you go getting your feelings hurt at the drop of a hat."

I laid my palm against his face. "You're going to get more than your feelings hurt if you stay with me. And it will be my fault because I don't want to separate from you. You wanted me to let you go."

"That was before I realized something. I wasn't goan to live a long life even before the apocalypse. Before we had cannibal miners, zombies, and slavers lurking around every corner. Now I figure I'll spend my limited time left doing what I want."

"And what do you want?"

His grin deepened. "You're what I want, and I'd like to be doing you." He leaned down, taking my lips with his own.

As we kissed, the drizzling rain began to pour, pelting the cabin's tin roof. The last time I'd heard that sound was the night I'd gone to Jack's home in the bayou.

He drew back. "Christ, your lips are sweet. Doux comme du sucre." Sweet like sugar. He yanked off his shirt, revealing his damp, muscular chest, and the rosary around his neck. I'd missed seeing him like this.

His hands landed on my ass, giving it a possessive squeeze. "Tu es a moi, Evie. You're mine. Every part of you." He leaned down, took my lips again. Between kisses, he said, "I told you once and I'll tell you again: There is nothing that can happen that we can't get past. Just give me a chance to get to you. Promise me."

"Jack . . ."

"Promise me. You doan leave me again."

Staring at his lips, I nodded. "Would you always come for me?"

He drunkenly murmured, "Chase you like a junkyard dog."

I laughed. How could I feel this much happiness in our situation? "I'm glad I don't have to hide this any longer. No more secrets then-for either of us." Wait. Had his eyes darted? "Do you have something you want to tell me?"

"Non, rien." No, nothing.

"Are you . . . are you lying to me? Jack, nothing is more important than trust right now. Considering this game, this whole world, we have to be able to trust each other."

"I'm not lying. You can trust me alone," he said more firmly. "I got no secrets. Except for how bad I want you."

Relieved, I gave him a shaky nod. "I believe you."

"Good." He scooped me up, lifting me against his chest to head for the cabin's little bed. "That night by the pool, you would've let me have you if I'd gone slower. I'll do that now. Nice and slow, me."

"We can't be together like that. What if I hurt you with my powers?"

"What a way to go, ma belle."

"I'm serious."

"So am I." He strode toward the bed, dipping his mouth to mine for brief, wicked kisses, blanking my thoughts. "You love me too much to hurt me."

I didn't bother denying that, just leaned up for more of his lips. Our kiss grew deeper, tongues tangling. I'd heard the phrase "drunk from his lips." I literally was from the moonshine.

There was French kissing, and then there was Cajun French kissing. Spicier, harder, wilder.

That's how it was with Jack Deveaux. Burning out of control. Probably just as destructive as an inferno. And I didn't care.

He drew back and tossed me on the bed-

The blanket collapsed; I was plummeting into a pit, arms flailing. At the last second, I snagged the edge with my fingertips.

Jack dove for me. He snatched my wrists just before I lost my grip. "Jesus! I've got you!"

I could barely hear him. An ear-splitting foghorn sounded from the roof of the cabin.

A signal for this . . . trap?

As Jack lifted me back into the room, I gazed below. Rusted rebar jutted from the ground at least ten feet down. He yanked me against him, cupping the back of my head protectively.

There'd been no mattress; someone had spread a thin layer of foam across a bed frame, then camouflaged it with a bright blanket and pillows.

"Dear God," I muttered when the horn died down.

He hugged me tighter until I could feel his every shuddering breath. "I . . . I could've killed you."

"Who would do this?" I asked, though I knew. That loud signal had been like a quitting-time horn for a factory-or for a mine.

"Cannibals." Jack grabbed my clothes, shoved them into my arms. "If this is their trap, they're goan to come running. We got to go, bebe. Fast."

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