The following excerpt is from the novel I am editing, a zombie/disaster novel (yes, zombies–me, writing a zombie novel. As if!).
I heard screaming—female screaming–before I’d got halfway down the corridor. I froze in my tracks. The scream cut off. I heard a low murmur of voices. I took the last few steps and pushed the door open.
The hospital went quiet. There was a huddle of dark heads around one of the beds, but I could not tell what had happened.
“Kayla.” Liam’s husky voice came across the silent room. My leaden feet moved, and I tiptoed to his side. He was propped up in bed, Hemmingway open across his knees. His eyes were a wide, face paler than it had been, making the bruising around his eyes more prominent.
I sat down on the mattress. “What happened?”
“She woke up. Started screaming.” He gulped. “I guess I was similar, but I don’t remember.” He reached out toward me and his hand was trembling. “Kayla…I don’t know why I think this, but is that Simone?”
I turned toward him, my mouth slightly agape. Simone? Didn’t he know? Simone was dead. I had seen her die.
He took a shuddering breath and continued before I could answer. “Because hearing her screaming like that… it reminded me of something. Like a dream.”
“I can go see,” came out of my mouth. It wasn’t Simone. Who was I kidding? But I just… I just couldn’t blurt out to him “Simone is dead.” I turned my head to see if the attendants were still around the bed. Enzo was sitting beside the bed, bent over, speaking in a low, soft litany.
“Go see.” Liam’s voice was gently pleading. “I need to know.”
I heard a story, a grief, a regret. I reached out and touched his good hand, where it rested beside the book, and stood up. I padded over to Enzo’s side and peered down at the bed. The woman looked up at me with wide eyes, surrounded by dark bruising, so huge in her wasted face. Her throat worked and she croaked out something.
Enzo lifted her head and eased a glass of water to her lips. She sipped, sputtered and sipped again. He laid her back against the pillow and her face turned back to me. I scanned her features—hard to recognize through the bruising. Her hair, well, there were only patches of it. But it was dark. Simone had been blond. It wasn’t Simone.
“Kayla.” Liam’s voice, softly insistent.
I stumbled toward him.
He looked up at me. “Not her?”
I shook my head.
His face fell into resigned sorrow. “Not her.”
I sat down and held his hand. Tears trickled down my face, but Liam did not cry. He stared into space. “She died. I remember now,” he said quietly. He turned to me. “She died.”
“Yeah,” I breathed.
He looked away again. “She deserved to make it. She was…”
He sighed, and I wondered if I had missed something. I remembered the night, locked in the closet of an Italian farmhouse, Liam crying like a small child, Simone cradling his head and kissing his hands. I bit my lip and gazed at him from under my lashes. “Were you…?” I trailed off. I was afraid to ask. It was none of my business.It appeared Liam hadn’t heard me anyway.