The drop over the side had wrenched her arms, but Neeta grit her teeth and concentrated on hanging on. Fortunately, her gloves were textured to keep their grip even when coated in fluids and undead gore. When the shock of pain passed, she tried to force herself to think. Now what?
Just drop, she told herself. It's clear below here. Tuck in and roll. It's not that far. Let go, drop easy…
But she couldn't make herself. There was too much pain, and the thought of more terrified her.
"Roscoe," she breathed, but couldn't get the breath to shout. All round her, the whining and clangs and belches had become a confusing roar in her head. Dimly, she thought she heard a voice yelling that he'd catch her. Not Roscoe's. Marcel's.
I'm hallucinating. She glanced up, saw a twitching, bleached-out arm just inches from her hand. She let out a sob. I'm going to die.
No! I will not die like this!
She roared defiance and let go with one hand to grab the flooring in the direction of the stairs.
I will not give up!
She followed with the other hand.
I am going to live!
She ignored the phantom voice of Marcel calling her to jump. Like she'd ever want to be in his arms under any circumstances.
I am going to marry Ted!
She swung her arm out again.
"I'm not dying until I tell Ted I love him!"
She swung out again. Her hand hit the beheaded torso of a zombie, draped over the edge and blocking her progress. She brought it quickly back to the railing. Now what?
A hand grabbed her wrist.
She shrieked and let go with both hands, ready to pull the zombie down with her and beat it to death with her helmet if necessary. It was only half a corpse anyway.
Instead, she jerked to a stop midair as strong, very live hands gripped hers and a wonderfully, gloriously familiar voice yelped.
"For pity's sake, babe! I'm trying to help!"
"Ted?" Her question came out as a sob.
"Yes, and I love you, too!”
I’m not much for writing romance as a genre. I’d rather make terrible-wonderful puns, poke fun at social and political trends, and write new and interesting ways for zombies to make trouble for people. But I am a fan of love and romance as a part of a character’s life, and if there’s anyone who deserves it, it’s zombie exterminators Neeta Lyffe and Ted Hacker.
Unfortunately, they spend a lot of time getting in their own way in the romance department. Neeta, who has no trouble rushing a pestilent reanimated corpse and slicing its head off with a chainsaw, is nonetheless overcautious about committing to a living man – especially if there’s a chance he might get infected and become her next target. Ted, meanwhile, is a little oblivious. Ted’s known that they were destined for each other since the day Neeta freaked out and made mincemeat out of a hoard of zombies to protect him. He thought she knew that, too.
Neeta likes things orderly, but at the time, her life was anything but; a lawsuit left her on the edge of losing her house and her business, people either fannishly adored her for her role in the reality TV show, Zombie Death Extreme, or reviled her because she took off the head of one of the contestants after the zombies mobbed him, and she had just broken up with a sweet guy because he was way too fawning. Ted, therefore, decided to keep things neat for his Neeta and limited their romance to friendly and sweet…and he never said, “I love you.” Neeta, afraid of making a fool of herself and complicating what was a great friendship and business partnership, kept waiting for him to say “I love you” first. As a result, they made their relationship a lot more complicated than it had to be.
Love may not be as risky as taking out a walker intent on eating your brains, but it takes courage. Here’s hoping that if you find the love of your life, you don’t wait until your life is in danger before telling them. Find a more romantic moment than when you’re hanging from a precipice in the middle of a zombie attack.
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