I was seven when I realized that the world wasn’t always broken. That the way we live isn’t how it’s always been.
I beat the shit out of the little asshole who broke that news to me, and then ran to the Doc’s. Because she was always good for the truth.
Even when the truth was ugly as fuck.
I learned three things that day and it stuck with me, over the eleven years since.
Dusty Pate was fucking bully.
Punching someone in the nose is a learned skill set.
And the truth is better than a lie. Even when it’s ugly.
That thought more than any resounds through me as I stand on the rocking deck of a nameless boat in the middle of a nameless ocean, staring at a nameless coast.
Not really. All of them have names. But none of them matter and there’s no one left alive to give a fuck, so nameless works just as well.
“what do you think?”
I tilt my head just a little as Parker comes up behind me, reaching over my shoulder for my binoculars. He fits there, as natural as breathing, as familiar as the gun on my hip and the knife strapped to my back.
“I think we don’t have a lot of choices.”
He mutters a curse and from below, it’s echoed in a shrill furious voice.
“Any change in the princess?” I ask, my voice a low drawl.
Parker doesn’t take the bait. He’s still watching the coast and I take a moment to drink him in.
He’s still pale, even after the time on the boat, a kind of creamy paleness that begs to be dirtied. His straight black hair hanging in his dark eyes, and he’s tense. Coiled like a spring that’s waiting to burst, full of nervous energy that has been forced down and contained.
“No sign,” he murmurs. “We should go soon.”
The truth is—I don’t like unknowns. I can patrol up and down the south eastern seaboard, in and around the deadzone.
I’ve built my name on that. On my cold assessments and willingness to defend the Holdout.
But I hate walking in blind. And I hate it most when Parker is with me.