Last Light by Claire Kent is available now!
Enjoy this apocalyptic road trip romance story.
Title: Last Light
Author: Claire Kent
Publishing date: November 13th,, 2019
Genre: Romance, Apocalyptic
It only took four years for the world to fall apart.
Now the last member of my family has died, and I'm forced to travel across what's left of three states to find the only people I know left alive. To survive, I'll have to salvage food and supplies and try to avoid violent men who've learned they can take what they want by force. The only way I'm going to make it is by trusting Travis.
Travis used to fix my car, and now he's all I have left in the world. He's gruff and stoic and unfriendly, and I don't really know or like him. But he's all I have left. He'll keep me safe. We'll take care of each other. Until we reach what's left of our town and can finally let go of one another.
Last Light is a standalone post-apocalyptic romance set in the near future after a global catastrophe.
Enjoy this fragment:
“You mad?” Travis asks after a couple of minutes.
“Thought it best to just scare folks like that away so they don’t get ideas.”
“I understand. I’m not mad.”
“So what’s wrong?”
If I’m getting to know Travis better, then he’s obviously getting to know me too.
“Nothing.” I shake my head as I try to find words for it. “It just makes me feel weird.”
“The idea that I need a man.”
I risk a glance over at him and see he’s studying me with a thoughtful frown.
I try to explain. “You know, it wasn’t very long ago when it never would have occurred to me. I was raised to believe a woman could do anything a man could. To know I could be independent. Live alone if I wanted. Or live however I wanted with whoever I wanted. The idea that I’d be somehow unsafe without a man to take care of me…” I clear my throat. “So it just… still sometimes feels weird.”
“Lots changed since then.”
“I know. Usually I don’t even think about it, but sometimes it hits me. And… I don’t know… I wish I could feel independent again. I wish I didn’t feel so small and helpless in this new world.”
“You are small.”
I make a face at him. “I know that.”
“No. I mean that’s what it’s about. A few years ago, life wasn’t about physical size. You could take care of yourself without a man because life wasn’t about fightin’ for survival. But we’re back to survival now. Like it was way back in history. Men are stronger. Not every single one, but in general. And that makes a difference when you’re fightin’ for your life. It’s not ’cause there’s anything lackin’ in you, Layne. You’re just not as big as a man.”
I’m not sure why, but the words actually make me feel better. I give him a little smile.
Travis adds, “Men might be stronger, but we’re not independent anymore either.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean what I say. Men can’t make it now without women any more than women can make it without men. We need each other.” He clears his throat and avoids my eyes. “I need you. Like you need me.”
“You think I’d’ve done nearly as good this week without you? You think of things I don’t. You’re better at finding houses with food and gas. You… you make things nice. I might not have even kept going if not for you, especially if we didn’t have that message. You make me…”
I’m staring at him in astonishment. “I make you what?”
Travis’s face twists like he’s regretting what he said. “Nothin’.”
I open my mouth, but his suddenly shuttered expression makes me bite back my words. He’s said more just now than he’s ever said to me before, and I don’t want to push too far and have him retreat again.
I like it better when he’s talking to me for real.
I think about everything we’ve said. “Just because I’m small doesn’t mean I’m helpless.”
He glances at me with raised eyebrows. “I never said you were.”
“I can shoot a gun and use my knife.”
“I know it.”
“I did okay with you. That first day. Getting you away from my motorcycle. I did okay.”
“You did good.” His voice sounds sincere, but he’s not meeting my eyes.
I frown. “What? What aren’t you saying?”
He opens his mouth and then closes it again the way I had earlier.
“Tell me.” My voice isn’t pushy. It’s almost pleading. “What did I do wrong?”
“You didn’t do anythin’ wrong. You did good.” He tightens his lips and then says, “You would’ve kept most people away. I mean it. But I coulda got your gun away if I wanted.”
“What? No, you couldn’t have!”
He doesn’t argue, but the look he shoots me is skeptical.
“Seriously? You could have taken it from me?” Not for a minute do I doubt his word. This man wouldn’t lie to me about something like that. “I thought I did okay. You backed off.”
“You did do okay. Like I said, you would’ve kept most people away from you.”
“But not you? If you’d wanted to get me, you could have.” I sigh and slump slightly. “What did I do wrong?”
“You relied on the gun. If your faith is in a gun, then you’re never gonna be able to always defend yourself.”
The words ring true, and I think about them for a long time. Eventually I ask, “Will you teach me? To do better? I know I’m small, but I don’t want to feel helpless. Will you show me?”
Travis turns his head, and both his gaze and his jaw soften. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll help you.”
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