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If Finn hadn’t turned up, then he or both of them would be dead. Or worse, because there was worse. Her trust issues began to make sense. What those f**kers wanted her for would be a living nightmare, guaranteed. His stomach roiled at the thought of them hurting his girl. Scrubbing the inside of his head out to purge those pictures would be a mercy. There weren’t any limits to how far he’d go to keep her from such a fate. He’d do anything.

The bastards riding up and down the streets intermittently blocked off their lone escape route, a rickety old railway bridge. It didn’t seem to bother them that infected roamed the night. Because of their patrols, the only pissy footpath to freedom wasn’t an option. No one was getting across the river tonight.

Beautiful.

Smoke remained thick, but the flames hadn’t reached them yet. No more fires had been lit close by. Even the bastards had to have deduced they risked being caught between the fires and all the infected.

Finn crawled over on hands and knees, favoring one side. His arm was tucked up against his chest. Daniel added that to his list of worries. But Finn could take care of himself.

“There are less infected on the streets than there were a month back,” the kid commented, dropping onto his belly with gritted teeth.

“Noticed that while you were out and about?”

Daniel nodded, traced a hand over his girl’s back. She slumbered on, on top of him. He slid his hand beneath her shirt, pressed his palm to her back. Feeling her breathe, taking in the warmth of her skin soothed him. “Yeah. They’re running low on food.”

“Fine. How is she? Woken her up recently?”

“About an hour ago. She threatened me.” Dan grinned, heart swelling with love. He was just beginning to understand the things a man would do for love. “She has such a creative mind.”

Finn chuckled, casting an eye over his sleeping beauty. His gaze glommed onto the side of her breast where it pressed against Daniel’s chest.

After a hell of a long moment, wherein he was certain the guy had stopped breathing and quite possibly swallowed his own tongue, the kid’s gaze shot back to Daniel’s face. Hungry-looking eyes turned guilty in an instant. “Shit. Sorry, man.”

“Don’t worry about it. I know what it’s like.” Yeah, he knew what it was like. He stil wanted to hit the pretty ass**le, but he did know what it was like.

Therein lay the root of the problem.

Sharing was not in his nature, but nature would have to adapt. Ali needed this kid. Finn was a modern day gunslinger. Deep down he f**king hated it, but his girl needed this one nice and close. Preferably wrapped around her finger and deeply concerned about her health and happiness.

Every goddamn minute of every goddamn day would be best.

Daniel did not want to share her. Not with the kid, not with anyone, not even a little. He knew it would work, this insane idea of going halves, he just didn’t want it to. He had only recently found her and she was his. But he couldn’t keep her safe on his own, a fact that bit deep and hard and hung on as a pit bul would. How the hell to convince her? What Ali wanted and what would keep her safe and alive would likely be at odds in this case. She’d accused him of being pushy a time or two. His girl had no real idea how far he’d go to protect her.

The kid hung his head, shoulders rising awkwardly with a deep breath. “I’l go do another lap.”

“No.” Daniel sealed his eyelids tight, then opened them. Belief that he was actually about to take this step was a long, long way off.

“You’ve been at it for hours. It’s my turn at guard duty. You be the pillow.”

There was a moment of relief followed by a flash of

“what the f**k? ” on the kid’s face. “What? Whoa, aah … I don’t think she

would be okay with that. Let’s not upset her.”

Funnily enough, the thought of his girl upset at Finn didn’t bother Dan. Stil , it wasn’t a step in the required direction. “I think she would be less keen about having the hard ground beneath her when she’s feeling tender.”

“I can get my towel from my pack, roll it up for her. You know, like a pillow.”

Puh-lease.

Even in the low light, he could see the emotion playing out over the kid’s face, wary and want going to war. Desperation lit his eyes and he licked his lips before locking them tight. There was a certain satisfaction in making Mister Cool and Calm squirm. He didn’t hesitate to lie to the dick. “She has nightmares sometimes, loud ones. You need to be close. We can’t afford the noise. Lie down on her other side.”

Finn’s eyes flared in panic.

Sweet baby Jesus, the man could go al urban guerrilla warfare but was too shy to snuggle up to Ali. And he knew the kid wanted to.

“Dan, it’s been a while, and … Man, I …”

“Like her?”

The kid nodded. Emphatically. “Yes, I like her. Uninfected female, how could I not? And we’ve got enough on our plate.”

“Yeah, she’s very likeable. Especially when she’s asleep, all soft and cuddly.”

“Sort of my point. I don’t want to cause any trouble here.”

“I appreciate that, really, I do. But take in the big picture here, buddy. World gone mad, chaos, carnage, we all nearly died today.

That we’ve survived this long is pretty wild when you stop and think.”

The kid groaned. “So you’re saying you won’t shoot me in the back if I’m jonesing for your girlfriend?”

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