Unremarkable (Anything But #2)(9)

By: Lindy Zart

Choosing to ignore her last comment, he said, “We’ll find more UDs willing to stand beside us. I have confidence in that.”

“I hope so. But what if it doesn’t happen? What if it is just us?”

“If it comes to that, at least we will have fought.” His eyes slid to her face and away. “We can be proud of that.”

Juli scoffed. “Pride doesn’t get you far when you’re not breathing. And our families? We’ll be dead to them as well and it will have been for nothing.”

Tight-lipped, he glared at her. “We are already dead to them. The second we transitioned, the people we used to be died.”

“Not where it counts. Not for me.” She swallowed, her eyes unwavering from his. Juli put a hand on his bicep and he tensed. “We agreed to be with you for a reason, Christian. You gave us something, you gave me something.”

His throat worked. “What?”

“Hope.” Her hand fell away. “Don’t make us regret it. Be our leader, but be fair. Be fearless, but not reckless. And you don’t give up hope either. Because the only time you’ve really lost yourself or become unfixable is when you lose that.”

Another bit of information to sidestep. “We’ll find more, Juli. We just have to search harder, in more areas. We haven’t been together that long. It takes time to build an army. And patience.”

His words were meant to reassure, but Juli didn’t look convinced. “You heard Dominic and Jax talking?”

Christian scowled, looking over his shoulder. Eyes weren’t on them, but ears were. “Part of it. Let’s take a walk.”

The sound of a voice being cut off caused him to stiffen and tilt his head. He grabbed the hunting knife from the waistband of his pants, his motions fluid, well-honed. The blade was large and sharp enough to cut through bone. Christian put a finger to his lips as his eyes met Juli’s and signaled what he was going to do. Giving a sharp nod, Juli confirmed she understood. She moved to stand before the group of fugitives like a protective mama bear and Christian felt a twinge inside.

He molded himself to the wall, his heart slowly pounding, his breaths even as he slid along it.

“I have better training than you,” was whispered across the expanse, but on the other side of the wall.

Christian froze and tried to duck around the corner, but not soon enough. A hand, small and pale, punched him in the throat. The struggle to breathe was immediate. Something pointy was slammed hard into his back, knocking him to his knees, and then a boot said hello to his chin. Loudly.

“Bested by a female—a small one, and a UDK at that. Tsk tsk. What will your groupies think?” she cooed.

Voices, frantic and angry, rose behind him, but his attention was trained on Jax and Dominic. Both were out cold or dead. They had to be knocked unconscious. There was no blood, so he ruled death out. That knowledge was so surprising he couldn’t adjust to it, though the proof was evident in their prone forms.

His eyes slowly lifted, trailing up black stretch pants, a pink top much too big for her slim frame, and landing on large brown eyes. Her jaw was tight, eyes flashing with determination. Her short, light brown hair was messier than usual, bangs hanging in her eyes. Up and down her chest heaved as she sucked air through her lungs. She smelled faintly of cigarettes and gum, like she’d had each within the last week, but not any more recent than that.

“Natasha,” he greeted in a mild tone.

Lips twisted with a snarl, she trained a gun on him and cocked it. “Don’t say my name like we’re friends or anything else.”

“Christian!” Juli moved for him and Natasha turned her weapon on her.

“Stop!” Christian lowered his voice and concentrated on keeping it even. “Juli, stop where you are. Don’t move.” His eyes never left the UDK’s face. “How did you find us?”

“It wasn’t easy.”

“And now that you’ve found us? Are you going to kill us?”

Hesitation flashed across Natasha’s face, and with it, indecision. It was gone almost immediately, replaced by a coldness she had always tried too hard to produce. “I won’t have to. If I found you, the others won’t be too far behind.”

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