Being thirteen has pitfalls of its own, but growing up has never been this hard.
Jenna had promised her mother that if the worst happened during her dad’s weekend, they would meet at Red Hill Ranch. When she finds seven words spray-painted on her dad’s wall the morning after a deadly outbreak, she makes a promise to herself: to get to the ranch with her seven-year-old sister, Halle, and to get them both there alive.
Among Monsters is the companion novella to Red Hill, both exploring from different perspectives what many broken families experience every other weekend: What if your children aren’t with you when the world ends? What would you do to get to them? What would they go through to get to you?
For Jenna, seeing her mother again is worth everything. Determined to keep her promise, she is faced with experiences and decisions that force her to leave her childhood behind.
“You’re scared. You’re too scared to keep going.”
“Honey,” Dad began.
“You had to walk one day, and you’re scared? You killed a dozen infected and walked away without a scratch. We hit a parked truck at fifty miles an hour and barely noticed. Why are you suddenly opposed to Red Hill?” I was trying to remain calm, but with every point, my tone got higher.
Tavia clasped her hands together. “We’re all scared—”
“Then, stay!” I said, my voice transitioning to a weird chuckle even though I found none of what they were saying funny. “You don’t have to come with us. But our mom is waiting for us at Red Hill, and that is where Halle and I are going.”
“Not today,” Dad said.
“Then, when?” I asked again, emphasizing each word.
“When I say,” he said, sounding final.
I laughed once without humor. “I’m not asking to go to the mall. We’re talking about Mom being alone without us! She’s waiting for us! Do you honestly think I care that you’re”—I used my fingers to make quotation marks in the air—“the dad right now?”
He stomped over to me and leaned into my face, taking me back to a time when my parents had still been married. “You’d better start caring. Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean I won’t whip your ass!”
Tavia pulled him back, and he flipped around, picking up a pillow and throwing it against the wall.
She eyed Dad warily. She was now seeing the side of him that Halle and I were used to, a side that I had been waiting for since this began.
“Andrew, maybe you should take a walk and see if you can do anything more to secure the house.”
Dad turned to her, his face severe. The skin between his brows had formed a crevice, as deep and as dark as his anger in that moment. His hazel-green eyes burned bright against his olive skin. Just when I thought he would start yelling again, he left the room.
Tavia took a deep breath and held her hand to her heart. “That was—”
“Typical,” I grumbled.
“You fight like that with him a lot?”
“We used to but not lately.”
“He gets pretty mad, huh?” she asked, glancing at the closed door.
“He has a temper. He’s working on it—allegedly.”
“Is that why you want to get to your mom so bad?”
My eyebrows pulled in. “What would you do if you were separated from Tobin?”
“She’s my mom. If I scrape my knee, I call for her. If I’m sick, I ask for her. If I’m scared, I cry for her. If there’s an apocalypse, I’m going to the ends of the earth for her.” My eyes and nose burned. The sudden emotion surprised me. I wiped my cheek and sniffed, staring at the floor. “It’s forty miles. We can make it.”
“We…we don’t know if Tobin can make forty miles. Who knows how long that would take on foot?”
“It doesn’t matter if we waste time here. What were you two talking about? How to convince me to stay? For a few days? For a week? Forever?”
“No.” She shook her head. “We’re just worried about the little ones being able to make it that far. We need a car—or at the very least, a way to carry the supplies. I can’t hold Tobin all day long. I can’t run with him. It’s too dangerous to try.”
“I like you, Tavia. I’m not trying to be mean, but no one’s asking you to come with us. If you want to stay here, stay here.”
She was taken aback. “I know, but we can’t do this alone. We need one another.”
“Brad will leave eventually for Shallot. You need my dad to stay.”
“It’s not so different. You need him to leave.”
“But he’s my dad. I’m not going to give up on seeing my mom again because you can’t travel with Tobin.”
Tavia’s sweet smile fell away. She wasn’t being confrontational, but she did have the look of a mother bear protecting her cub. “Halle can’t make the trip either. You would be risking her life if you go, especially if you try something as ridiculous as leaving without your dad. We’re the adults, Jenna. He’ll listen to me.”
I took a deep breath and lowered my chin. Tavia was pretty intimidating. I thought about what Mom would say when I told her about this conversation later. She would want me to fight. She would want me to do anything I could to get Halle and me to Red Hill.
“My dad and I have had our ups and downs,” I said, keeping my voice low and steady. “But if you try to make him pick between you or me, you’ll lose.”
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with international bestseller, Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. She has also written apocalyptic thriller Red Hill, a novella titled A Beautiful Wedding, and the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy.
Jamie lives on a ranch just outside Enid, OK with husband Jeff and their three children. They share their 30 acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.
Find Jamie at http://www.jamiemcguire.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!