Claire could feel K-Mart’s hair tickling her thighs. It made her shiver and glance down at the sleeping girl in her lap. You can’t think like this Claire, she reminded herself. The girl is eighteen for Christ’s sake! Claire wasn’t naive. She knew that once the apocalypse had come that the legal system had disintegrated, but she still had this gnawing guilt in the pit of her stomach every time she had a thought about how she might like to feel K-Mart’s hair against her thighs when the girl wasn’t asleep.
And sure, K-Mart would be turning nineteen soon and Claire was only six years older than she was, but still... The rest of the pigs in the convoy – the ones who weren’t already trying to bed the young blonde – would soon join the herd though. K-Mart was a smart, young woman, but even smart women had moments of weakness, and stupidity. Case in point, if the blonde were to wake up at this very moment, she would almost certainly be able to smell Claire’s latest lapse in judgment.
Claire had been allowing herself a small fantasy as she drove along the endless dirt covered highway. A fantasy in which she pulled the hummer over to the side of the road and had her wicked way with Sleeping Beauty. She forced the thought out of her head and focused on the road. Only the patches of asphalt, where the wind had blown the sand away every three hundred yards or so, gave her any indication that she was still following what used to be I-15.
K-Mart mumbled something in her sleep and then shifted onto her side, bringing her arm up until her fingers slid under Claire’s right knee. The redhead sucked in a deep breath. She could feel her pulse in her clit and longed to shift her position just enough to take care of the fact that her panties were now uncomfortably plastered to her. She couldn’t risk waking K-Mart though, so she ground her teeth together and gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles were white.
The fact that she could now feel K-Mart’s hot breath against her thighs did not help the situation. Man we have GOT to get more females in this convoy, Claire whined internally. K-Mart was the only other female, well besides Betty, but Betty was so unbelievably taken with L.J. that Claire didn’t even consider her. Claire had found K-Mart when she was only fourteen. It was much easier then. She had been sort of the kid sister that Claire never had. But the blonde was no longer a kid. She had grown into a beautiful, young woman – even in the midst of all the tragedy and chaos. And Claire was starting to notice.
The girl shifted again in her sleep and Claire’s hand automatically went to rub soft circles on the sleeping blonde’s back. It was something she did regularly when K-Mart was restless. Her touch soothed the younger girl almost immediately. The blonde stretched her legs out until her feet were against the passenger door. Claire, not for the first time, thanked God that the previous owner of the hummer had removed the bucket seats and replaced them with a bench. She wanted K-Mart in the front seat so she could always keep an eye on the girl.
She glanced down and noticed that when the blonde had stretched, her shirt had ridden up and a thin strip of pale skin was on display. It would be so easy for her to just shift her hand until she could run her fingers across that skin. The younger girl would be none the wiser when she woke. The redhead’s hand slowly trailed lower until just the tips of her fingers were touching the soft skin of K-Mart’s back. She held her breath and waited.
She let out the breath she’d been holding and very slowly curled the tip of her middle finger under the edge of K-Mart’s shirt. She followed the hem around until the backs of her fingers were grazing the blonde’s stomach. The younger girl shifted again, pulling her knees up and bringing the hand that had been tucked under Claire’s knee over the top of the redhead’s leg, hugging her thigh tightly. K-Mart’s hand now rested dangerously near Claire’s center.
“Claire.” The word was barely whispered and was attached to a small moan that only fueled the redhead’s fire. K-Mart was dreaming about her, and what kind of dream it was, Claire could only guess, but at the moment it didn’t matter; it was too much. She brought her hand away from K-Mart’s stomach and gently shook the girl’s shoulder.
“K-Mart,” the redhead said huskily. “K-Mart, I need you to move.”
The blonde stretched, waking up, flexing her fingers, which grazed against Claire’s center. Claire groaned. She couldn’t help it; the contact was so unexpected. K-Mart realized where her hand was and jerked her arm away. Her elbow hit the steering wheel and the hummer darted across to the opposite lane. Claire jerked it back, keeping it on the road easily. K-Mart sat up quickly, blushing furiously.
“Claire, I didn’t mean…” she trailed off not seeming to know where to go with the sentence.
Claire cut her off. “K-Mart, it’s fine. My leg was falling asleep. That’s all. You didn’t do anything wrong.” The blonde visibly eased at the statement. She let out a long breath and leaned back against the passenger seat.
“It’s getting late anyway,” Claire stated nonchalantly. “I need an extra set of eyes.
“Claire, this is Carlos. Everything all right up there? You falling asleep at the wheel? We can pull over.” The radio blasted through the awkward silence of the hummer. Claire pushed the talk button. “No, I’m fine Carlos. I just…looked away for a second. We need to keep going until we find a good place to camp. Break. Mikey, this is Claire.”
“You have anything on the satellites?” She set the radio down and waited for the reply. She glanced at K-Mart who immediately turned her eyes away. Great, now K-Mart is going to be embarrassed for the rest of the night. The older woman shifted in her seat and subtly tugged at the bottom of her shorts easing some of the friction they were causing against her aching center. She glanced at the empty pack of Camels sitting in the cup holder. She could really use a smoke right now.
“Claire, this is Mikey. About 25 more miles and there should be a bar called the Red Dog Saloon. It used to be well known by truckers because it is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Best thing is, it was also a restaurant, so we may be able to scrounge some supplies.”
Claire sighed with relief. They were running dangerously low on food and probably fuel. “What about gas?” she asked with little hope.
“They had pumps in the back if I remember correctly. I can see what looks like pumps on the satellite image, but who knows if they still have any juice.”
The redhead smiled. “Worth a try, thanks Mikey.”
“Not a problem Claire. The exit should be coming up in the next twenty to thirty minutes. I’ll keep you posted before hand. Out.”
Claire set the radio back down and gripped the steering wheel. Then she reached down under her seat and pulled out the Mossberg 464 and handed it to K-Mart. The younger girl’s eyes went wide. “I’m coming in?”
“Don’t be crazy,” Claire instantly snapped back. “It’s just in case. You’re definitely staying in the hummer.” K-Mart narrowed her eyes like she was annoyed with the redhead’s overprotective ways, but Claire could tell underneath she was relieved. The older woman’s lips curled up on one side as she thought about K-Mart’s reaction. She knew the girl would rather sit in the hummer all day if it meant she didn’t have to go on a clearing mission.
Claire had never allowed K-Mart to clear. In truth, she didn’t know what she would do if she lost the kid. It would be like losing a loved one. She shuddered just thinking about it as she pulled into what used to be the parking lot of the Red Dog Saloon. She drove around back and pulled up to the gas tanks. “Stay in the hummer, and lock the doors. Be ready to unlock them if you see me running back.”
K-Mart nodded. She knew the drill. Claire stared into the younger girl’s eyes for a few seconds, puzzling over what she saw, but not having the time to dissect it. She opened the door and shut it quickly. She heard the lock behind her and pulled her Glock 17 from the holster. Beside her, Carlos, Chase, and L.J. were getting out of their vehicles. “Let’s work quickly, but thoroughly. I don’t want to miss something just because we’re all tired and ready to rest.”
She twisted the knob and nudged the door open with her boot. She took a deep breath and tried to smell anything that even remotely reeked of decay. The air was fairly clean, only a bit musty. She didn’t let that lull her into a false sense of security. Narrowing her eyes, she pointed her gun and moved forward. The first room was clear. Carlos, Chase, and L.J. made their way into other rooms as Claire slowly walked up the stairs to the second floor. She opened the first door and found a room with a small bed, dresser, and TV stand. She walked over to the closet and, holding her breath, opened the door quickly backing away at the same time. Nothing. She glanced under the bed only to find a few boxes.
The other rooms had been the same. No sign of anything. This place was really in the middle of nowhere, not even the undead had any interest. She went back downstairs and found the others with similar stories. Carlos had the best news. He had cleared the kitchen, and it was still well stocked with canned goods.
Claire smiled. Finally some luck.
They went back to the pumps but, as expected, they were dry. “Well, can’t win ‘em all I guess,” Claire said to Carlos as he threw the nozzle down.
He grinned at her. “I guess it may be time to hit the city again.”
Claire shuddered at the thought, but he was right. They had been draining these little stations dry for months now. If they wanted to refill the tanker, they were going to have to go big or go home. “One day at a time, old man.” She winked and walked over to Chase who was on top of the tanker. “How we looking on fuel?”
The cowboy tipped his hat up and scrunched up his face. “Well Claire, we probably have another two weeks. Maybe longer if we stay in the same place for a few days.”
Claire sighed. They never stayed anywhere for multiple days. It was just too risky, but maybe this place could offer them shelter for another day. It didn’t seem to be the undead hangout. She looked over at Carlos who was loading up the four-wheeler with cameras. “Get my perimeter up, old man,” she called with a smile on her face.
“Right away, oh fearless leader,” Carlos called back with mirth. It was good they could still find reasons to smile. As Carlos set off on the four-wheeler, Claire went back to the hummer. She grinned at K-Mart putting on her eyeliner. Shaking her head at the girl, she tapped a fingernail on the window through the grating. “All clear,” she stated, walking to the center of the circle of cars. K-Mart climbed out of the hummer and followed Claire.
The two started picking around for things to start a fire with. It wasn’t hard with the way everything was falling apart these days. They easily ripped off a few of the boards from an outside shed. Claire broke them in half with her boot while K-Mart arranged them for the fire. The redhead walked into the old saloon and grabbed a bottle of rum off of the shelf. Nobody in the convoy was stupid enough to deaden his or her reaction time with alcohol these days, but it sure made a good fire starter, and sometimes Betty used it in the ambulance for sterilization. She poured a small amount onto the boards and tossed a lit match on top. Flames roared to life. It got cold during these long desert nights.
After the team had loaded all of the canned goods and alcohol from inside, they scavenged anything else they could find. Claire took the clothes and linen from the rooms upstairs, the toilet paper, soap, and towels from the bathrooms, and was able to find a couple of flashlights, the good kind that lasted basically forever. All in all this had been a great success. She had even found half a carton of Lucky Strikes tucked away in a cabinet. She didn’t tell anyone about that particular find. She and K-Mart had gotten their cans of food from Otto and went to sit beside the fire. Upon opening hers, she found it was chili. “Score!”
She smiled as she showed K-Mart the contents of the can. The blonde grinned back and then scrunched up her face. “Mixed fruit,” she said with disappointment. Claire set her can by the fire to heat up. “Save it for dessert,” she winked. “We can share.” The younger girl instantly perked up. She looked at Claire with all the emotions of a girl in love. When K-Mart looked at Claire that way, it made it really hard for the older woman to resist just leaning forward and capturing those pouty lips.
Claire shook her head when she realized she was staring at K-Mart’s lips and the younger girl was giving her an odd look.
They ate their dinner in quiet conversation and then settled down in the hummer for the night. Tomorrow Claire would have to work out the plan for a city raid. She hated anything to do with the cities these days…