I AM HERE
THE METEORA TRILOGY
Sawyer never saw it coming. He never expected Jesse to finally respond to him. He never expected the meteors to take out LeVeque tower. He never expected an old woman to try and eat his face off. Sawyer thought that when he went into work that night it just be another boring evening at the bookstore. But the impromptu quickie in the bathroom is just the beginning. Sawyer, with his gorgeously infuriating boss Jesse, his best friend Chloe and her little brother Jaden are in for more than a boring night.
The undead are rising up and they will have to find their way through the aftermath. With the aid of Jesse’s wryly sexy ex-lover/best friend Topher, they will attempt to head south to find a safe haven in a world turned to bedlam. But with the government keeping secrets and the infected turning, it’ll prove that the nightmare is far from over.
As Sawyer struggles to come to terms with his new world, he’ll also face the conflicting truth that he is in love with not one, but two, men.
It leads him to ask life’s great question: can you find love in a zombie apocalypse?
“I really liked this one you guys! I Am Here is the first book in a planned trilogy. This story definitely has a clear ending and a nice resolution. But we don’t learn the full details behind what caused the zombie infestation and presumably that will come as the series continues. So while this book could probably stand alone, if you are like me you will be eagerly awaiting the next installment. So if you are looking for a good thriller with lots of excitement and suspense, and enjoy a little horror mixed in with your romance, I’d definitely recommend it.” – Joyfully Jay Reviews, 4.75 out of 5 Stars
“This is a book I’ve been meaning to pick up a while. Now that I’ve read it, I’m sad I didn’t do it sooner. I loved this book. Loved it! Lots of short, hot sex scenes. There’s some gore (it’s unavoidable) but not much. Despite it being a longer book, the story was fast-paced, something I enjoyed a lot. I managed to read the whole thing in one sitting.” – Reviews by Jessewave 4 out of 5 Stars
Why I had agreed to come into work, even though today was supposed to be my one day off, I wasn’t sure. I kept telling myself it wasn’t because I was irrevocably and pathetically in love with my boss. But we know that’s a lie. Yet the chances of me admitting that out loud were about as great as the chances of me swallowing a rattler whole.
I came, though, despite my better judgment, which told me I should be on a couch being lazy. I couldn’t even use the excuse that I wanted to see the meteor shower. Nope, because I had been stupid and had made it perfectly clear the day before how lame I thought the meteor shower was.
Yeah, way to go there, Sawyer, my boy. Fucking meteor showers.
So instead of being home and being lazy, there I was, in the deader-than-dead bookstore, watching dust fall on a copy of Water for Elephants. And Patty, the decrepit old bitch, was off with the rest of Columbus, watching a bunch of lame-ass rocks fall from the sky.
Oooh, so freaking exciting. Let me get my noisemaker.
“You look like you just ate a lemon,” Jesse said. His deep, velvety, milk chocolate, oh-God-please-fuck-me voice rolled over me and not only gave me an eargasm but damn near gave me a real orgasm.
“Shut up,” I snarled at him, even though my insides went mushy and what I really wanted to do was get on my knees and beg him to fuck me. Nope. Instead, like the jackass that I was, I shot him an annoyed glare and continued to pout.
“I don’t know why I keep you,” he said as he crossed his arms over his chest. The muscles in his biceps bulged, and I could feel my cock twitch.
I gritted my teeth, which probably came off as another snarl, and looked sideways at him. I sniffed. “Well, I don’t know why we’re open.”
“You know, you better start watching that sassy mouth of yours,” he warned, his deep blue eyes narrowed at me.
I only acted like this toward him. Hell, I was the only one who acted like this toward him. Everyone else got along. I got along with everyone else. We were one, big, happy bookworm family. But I couldn’t keep my hormones in check, and the fact was that Jesse grated on my nerves. I swore he purposely did things to piss me off.
One time, even though I was running around like a turkey at Thanksgiving, trying to help three customers, he asked me to go get a book for him instead of asking Molly. Let’s ask the person already busy instead of the chick standing behind the cashier counter. Yep, that makes perfect sense.
My lips twitched into a taunting smile, and before I could stop myself, I said, “I know better ways to occupy it.”
Silence rolled over us, and I became acutely aware of what I’d just said. I held his gaze, barely able to keep my face straight. Inside, I was flipping out. I mean, full-on, beauty-pageant, mother-bridezilla freak-out. Something crossed his indigo eyes, and for a small second, I thought he’d take up the offer. But then he just shook his head.
“Go shelve something, Sawyer.”
I resisted the urge to heave a sigh and walked off. How many nights had I spent jacking off to him? Well… Let’s not go there. But who wouldn’t? He was nicknamed Jesse James (though his name was really Jesse Wiseman) because not only did he have that rugged cowboy look, but he was straight up from Texas. He was a real man: broad shoulders, tapered hips, and muscles all over the place. He always had a devil-may-care smile and a flirty glint in his eyes with the customers.
I just wanted to run my fingers through his short-cropped, sandy-brown hair. I wanted to pull it as he rode me into Sunday. I loved when he came into work with stubble. It gave him that bad-boy, outlaw look.
Personally, I had never been able to grow a beard, but I had always enjoyed seeing one on other guys. Especially on Jesse.
Okay, Sawyer, stop thinking about him. You’re seriously about to have a hard-on at work. I chided myself and piled a selection of general fiction books on a cart. Ever since the Christmas season ended, closing had decreased to a two-man job, which meant Jesse cut down closing shifts to two people, and I played the pack mule.
I was nineteen and worked at the local bookstore in the mall. Not that it was a bad bookstore. It was actually decently sized, and the people were great. But unlike the rest of the kids I graduated with, I hadn’t gone off to college. I didn’t even try with community college. No, I wanted to be a writer.
Lot of good it was doing me right now.
I was pining over a man who hated me, and who I, to some extent, hated. I was still living with my parents. I was futureless. Yep, great life choices, Sawyer.
An elderly woman with curly gray hair and a warm, wrinkly face walked in. The first person in half an hour. She pulled her coat tighter around her hunched frame, as if she could still feel the chill from outside. It was early February, and we were balls-deep in snow. Tonight was shockingly the first clear night in a week. Perfect timing for the precious meteor shower.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” I asked as I approached her.
“No, thank you,” she said, her voice wobbling as she spoke. “I’m just browsing. Out stretching my legs.”
I nodded, offered a warm smile, and said, “All right. Just let me know if you need anything.”
I pushed the book cart I’d acquired down the aisle and parked it in the front of the fiction section. I wasn’t sure how many people were actually in the mall—outside of those of us who were actually working. My guess, there were no more than twenty. The meteor shower was a big event. Huge! They’d been chatting it up for weeks. I didn’t see the appeal, but then again, there were people who didn’t understand why I liked men. I guess the world is filled with all sorts of opposing opinions.
My bangs fell in my eyes, and I pushed them away with a quick motion. I had dyed my bangs blond on impulse a few months ago and wasn’t sure whether or not I liked them. There was a lot of upkeep. I found out that same theory applied to long hair. I’d grown mine out from sheer laziness.
While I stood in front of the fiction section, looking for where to shelf Philippa Gregory and playing idly with my lip ring, I heard Jesse call out.
I heaved a sigh, jammed my hands into the pockets of my jeans, and stomped over to him, secretly admiring how he looked handsome in a button-down. Best thing about being a peon in the retail world? You got to wear whatever the hell you wanted. Okay, there were some stipulations. But jeans weren’t one of them.
“I’m going to run the trash down, since no one is really here. Keep an eye on the front, okay?”
A smart-ass comment popped into my head, but I behaved and said, “Okay.”
I turned around without another word and walked back to my cart and began to shelve. Eventually the old woman left, saying before she slipped out the front, “Thank you.”
I never quite understood why someone thanks you when they didn’t buy anything. But, whatever, I guess. I gave her a two-finger salute and continued down the alphabet. Why the hell we had so many Stephen Kings, I wasn’t sure. But my hostility toward the infinite copies of It might have been because I hated Mr. King with a passion.
“Fucker,” I grumbled at a copy of Under the Dome and jammed it in front of the face out.
One more person wandered into the store, blowing into his hands and patting himself down, as if he could beat out the cold. He nodded in my direction.
“Evening. I just wanted to pick up a copy of The Great Gatsby. I called in earlier and had it put on hold.”
Yeah, because you’re the only person who put it on hold. I walked over to the counter and asked, “Name?”
“Carter,” he said as he ambled up to the counter.
I opened the back counter and rifled through the selection of holds. Well, lookie here. There were actually two other copies of The Great Gatsby on hold. I pulled out the one marked “Carter” and handed it to him. “This it?”
“Yeah,” he said, anxiously handing it back.
I took it and rang it up, asking just to make small talk, “Not watching the shower?”
“Actually, I’m heading to meet the family next so I can,” he said, his gaze jumping to me. I took that as my cue to hurry up.
“Have a nice evening,” I said as I finished the sale and handed him his bag. He left without a backward glance.
I sighed and walked over to where I’d left my water. Jesse came back up to the counter just as I took a big gulp.
“Any sales?” he asked. He rubbed a hand up his arm and shivered.
“One,” I said, setting the bottle down. “You look cold.”
His eyes met mine, and a chill ran down my spine. I licked my bottom lip and said without thinking, “Need someone to warm you up?”
Slowly his brow drew up, but Jesse didn’t respond. I was getting tired of his stony face. I could feel the color rushing up my neck and kicked myself mentally. “Right…so… I’m going to piss.”
My arm brushed his as I walked past. He was twice my size and dominated me in height by three inches. I was a scrawny string bean. I did track in school, so I wasn’t completely worthless, but my muscles were puny compared to Jesse’s. I could just picture him wrapping his strong arms around me. Yeah…I really needed to stop thinking like that.
I walked to the bathroom in the back room and relieved myself. I stalled while washing my hands, not eager to make it back up there to face Jesse and boredom. I pulled my cell phone out, checked the time. Only thirty minutes left before close. I could survive.
My phone vibrated just as I was about to put it away. My friend Chloe sent me a text announcing the meteor shower had started. I rolled my eyes, responded with a sarcastic “yippee,” and put my phone back in my jeans pocket. When I opened the bathroom door, I came face-to-face with Jesse.
“Uh… Can I help you?” I said slowly and a tad awkwardly.
“I can’t decide if you do it on purpose or just to drive me fucking insane,” he said. His eyes were dark, like a building storm, and I couldn’t tell what it was that was rising up in them. Anger? He looked annoyed but not pissed. Frustration maybe?
“Huh? Do what?” I asked dumbly, not sure what he meant.
“Do you just get off, fucking with people’s heads?” He took a step forward, backing me into the bathroom.
“Uh… I’m sorry; I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Jesse. But I’d like to leave the bathroom now.”
“Just answer me, damn it! For once, will you be serious, Sawyer?”
“I don’t have a freaking clue what you’re talking about!” I snapped, starting to get frustrated and pissed myself.
“What have you been doing all night? Ever since you fucking started working here? My biggest mistake was hiring your ass!”
“Are you firing me?” I shrieked, a little higher than I wanted.
“No, you dumb fuck!” he snarled, and I could tell that he wanted to rip his gorgeous hair out.
“Then what the hell are you getting at?” My back bumped into the wall, and I suddenly felt like a cornered rabbit, staring into the jaws of a wolf. I didn’t like the feeling. “Seriously, Jesse, if you don’t back the fuck up right now, I’m going to deck you.”
Yeah, like I could really do damage. It would be like punching Superman.
A slow, rakish grin spread across his lips that made everything inside me explode with delight, like a firecracker going off. I swallowed a lump in my throat and flicked my tongue over my lips, not sure what to do. His hand shot out, and I flinched, prepared for a punch. Maybe I had said one too many wisecracks tonight.
Instead of punching me, though, his hand wrapped around the back of my neck and wrenched me forward. His lips slammed into mine. At first, I stiffened, not sure what the hell to think. But then my mind started going into overdrive.Oh my God, oh my God!
Yeah, that didn’t sound like a schoolgirl.
He pulled back when I didn’t respond, mostly because I was too stunned to respond. Jesse’s lips hovered over mine, and I could smell his spicy scent. He didn’t really wear cologne. He just naturally smelled good.
“Now you’re playing like you don’t want to kiss me?” His gaze locked on mine.
“Uh…” I whispered, as if we were exchanging secrets. “What just happened?”
“I just kissed you.”
He came in again, and this time I was prepared. His mouth sealed over mine, and I devoured him, my hands fisting in his short strands. His tongue parted my lips, dived deep, and claimed dominance over my own. I could feel my knees going weak, and it dawned on me what was happening. I uncoiled my fingers from his silky hair and slammed my hands flat against his chest, pushing him away.
“What the hell, man?” I snapped. My face was flushed.
Exasperated, he asked, “What?”
“Why the hell are you kissing me? Do you think you can just walk up to a person and do that? Like I’m easy?” I rambled, not really sure where my argument was going. I just felt like I needed to argue. Because I wasn’t easy. Even though I wanted this.
Jesse stared at me like I had just sprouted a second head, and it was Joan Rivers. He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Are you serious? Are you seriously saying this, Sawyer? You’ve been hitting on me all fucking night! Worse than any other time! I mean, what the fuck was that back there, offering to warm me up?”
His gaze turned flat, and then he just shook his head, grabbed my face with both of his hands, and said matter-of-factly, “Sawyer, shut the fuck up.”
He kissed me again, and this time I didn’t push him away. I melted into it. Who was I kidding? I wanted him bad. So bad that it hurt. My arms slowly slipped around his neck, and I pressed up against him, feeling every hard muscle. He backed me up against the wall again, my elbow jamming into the makeshift shelving unit that we’d rigged up.
“Shit,” I hissed.
“Are you okay?” He chuckled, reaching down to rub my injured arm.
I bit my bottom lip, toying with my lip ring. “Y-yeah.”
He smirked, knocking his head against mine, and flicked his tongue over the silver hoop. Slowly, he dropped his hands to my hips and rotated me around, walking me backward against the bathroom door, closing it in the process. I sucked on his tongue, standing on the tips of my toes, my Converse sneakers scraping against the floor.
His fingers slipped along my black belt, working on the buckle as I lazily began to suck on his jawline, running my tongue along his stubble. I nudged his head to tip it back and sank my teeth into the pulse point in his throat as he undid my belt and pants. I felt like a cat going into heat. I wanted him right then, damn the customers.
“You know how long I’ve been thinking about doing this?” he whispered, his voice deep as whiskey, husky with sex. His eyes, which had gone from dazzling blue to indigo, smoldered. He pushed my pants down, leaving me standing there in my briefs.
A chill ran down my spine, and I swore I could feel something moving through the air, something more than just sex. It pebbled on my skin, alive and wild. For a moment, it dawned on me that the front of the store was empty and ripe for picking; then I decided I didn’t care. I stepped out of my pants, kicked them to the side, and reached down for his buckle.
“Probably as long as I have,” I mumbled against his neck as I worked a wet trail along his throat.
He chuckled, a rich, low sound that was sticky and sweet like strawberry marmalade. He reached down to help me undo his belt and pants before reaching out and ripping my briefs down, leaving my fully erect cock exposed. I couldn’t help but let out a small squeak as the cold air hit me.
He dropped his head, kissing me hard, bruising my lips. I moaned into his mouth, my knees almost going out.
Copyright © Evelyn Shepherd