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Look Good, Book 2 - Look Out

Look Good, Book 2 - Look Out

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The worst has happened, and now Eddie's and Angel's survival is in question. They only hope to evade their enemies and take refuge in their homeland as the war escalates into the heat of wartime espionage and combat.Though Eddie is the daughter of a prominent businessman and Angel is a key political spy in Intington, their love has only increased their enemies' determination to eliminate them, even if it means murdering government assets to do so.Did they make it?

Sample - Look Out

“I think Angel is the killer.” Karl pointed a finger dramatically in Angel’s direction, while the other rebels sat around in a circle waiting for the accused’s reaction. 

Angel’s expression gave nothing away. 

They were in a large, abandoned barn that must’ve once homed cattle or sheep when the farmers still had the freedom to use their own land as they pleased. Angel and Eddie, the youngsters of the group, had no recollections of driving through the countryside as kids, and viewing herds of cattle munching lazily on grass. By the time they were born, control of livestock had been taken over by the government, the animals moved to enclosed sheds where they were treated like products rather than living creatures. 

The only heat source in the barn was the tarpaulin sheets bundled in a corner, and bales of hay that the rebels scattered around the floor when they first arrived to take the chill off the cold, damp stone. Leon found an empty metal churn when they arrived and set a contained fire inside it by rubbing dry sticks together to create a spark. They’d all watched, bright-eyed and shivering, mesmerized when they saw the first frail wisps of smoke curling up towards the high ceiling. They’d crowded around the barrel, warming their fingers which were already turning numb with the cold. 

It was Angel who rose and wandered around the barn, staring up at the ceiling while the other rebels enjoyed the tingling in their fingertips. Eddie watched him. She recognized the expression on his face, the lowered eyebrows, his mouth twisted to one side in concentration, sniffing like a stray dog scavenging for food. 

When he finally returned to the flames, he said, “We can’t keep the fire going. It’s dangerous.”

“It’s contained,” Leon said. “It won’t spread.” He’d attended a scout group as a kid, one where they still practiced survivalist skills. That was where he’d learned to set a fire without a match.

Angel shook his head and pointed up at the ceiling. “It isn’t that. The barn is watertight, which is great for keeping us dry. It also means there isn’t an outlet for the smoke. Carbon monoxide poisoning. It’ll kill us all eventually.”

Everyone had slowly shifted away from the barrel, holding their breath.

“We could create a hole,” Angel continued.

“But then we risk the smoke giving us away.” Leon’s shoulders had slumped as he used water collected from an outside trough and doused the tiny crackling flames that had barely been given life.

After, they shared the tarpaulin sheets and bundles of hay between them, devising a way of cocooning themselves inside the sheet and stuffing hay around their legs and torsos, the way past generations might’ve stuffed a turkey or chicken with herby sausage meat for a roast dinner. There was more hay on the upper mezzanine level which could be reached by climbing a rickety wooden ladder. Up there, the barn smelled sweeter, untouched by any animals that were once kept inside the barn, and the rebels adapted this as their sleeping quarters, assigning themselves a spot, and creating a lumpy mattress of dried grass to lay on. 

Angel and Eddie slept huddled together for warmth. Eddie would never have thought it possible that she could sleep with someone’s arms wrapped around her. At home, she had a king-sized bed all to herself, and always slept in the middle, her hair fanned across the pillows, limbs taking up as much or as little space as she wanted. Now, she couldn’t imagine sleeping alone. Angel had his own inner furnace going on, and she found that if she slept with her head buried against his chest, and her hands clasped together under her chin, the only part of her that remained cold was her toes. 

This morning was the coldest since they arrived. Eddie awoke shivering, despite Angel’s arms around her, and for the first time since joining the rebels, she missed her home comforts. She missed waking up, walking downstairs to the kitchen in her short pajamas, and helping herself to a freshly brewed coffee with brown sugar and cream. She could taste it now. Maybe she felt colder because she was hungry—something else she’d never experienced in her privileged life. Her hands trembled when she rubbed them together for warmth. She barely had the energy to walk outside to pee. So, when Karl removed a pack of cards from the back pocket of his jeans and suggested they play a game, she’d agreed halfheartedly.

The game had at least distracted them from their current situation. Karl had taught them all how to play the card games he remembered his grandparents teaching him as a kid. Rummy. Go Fish. Killer Ace. At first, they’d sat around subdued, taking part to pass the time rather than from any sense of fun. But they’d quickly gotten the hang of the rules and embraced the games which degenerated into squeals of excitement whenever someone won for the first time, accusations of cheating followed by loud laughter when some people lost, and wide smiles. The games brought them closer. Everyone joined in, including Valeria who’d been hesitant at first, preferring to keep herself apart from the others, lost in thought.

Now, Angel’s gaze roamed the group, and he flipped over his card to reveal the killer ace. “It was me,” he said. 

“I thought it was Valeria,” Eddie said. 

The aim of the game was that the ‘killer’—the person dealt the ace of spades—had to wink at someone without anyone else in the group noticing. Whoever was on the receiving end of the wink was killed, and out of the game. Eddie hadn’t managed to guess the correct killer once yet.

“Why did you think it was me?” Valeria asked.

“It’s the twitch in your left eye,” Karl said, grinning. 

“I don’t have a twitch in my left eye.” Valeria pulled a strange face trying to keep her left eye wide open while everyone stared at her, waiting for a glimpse of movement.

“There it is!” Karl said. “Bam! That’s why the rest of you were confused, and I snuck in with my correct identification. I’m too good at this.”

Everyone laughed as Karl gathered the cards into a pile ready for the next game.

A loose board in the door to the barn moved aside then, and Laurence slipped sideways through the gap, his backpack over one shoulder. “I found breakfast,” he said, shrugging the bag onto the floor in the middle of the circle. 

Leon was closest. He unzipped the bag and began removing food which he set in a small pile on the floor. There was half a loaf of brown bread. A packet of sliced salami, the meat curling at the edges. A jar of strawberry jelly, still a third full. A packet of broken biscuits. Tiny balls of mild cheese, the kind a child might eat straight from the wrapper. Two bottles of flat Diet Coke that didn’t fizz when Karl tried the lids. A packet of tomatoes. An unopened pack of Jell-O. 

Leon hesitated with his fingers wrapped around the item at the bottom of the bag. “Is this what I think it is?”

“What is it?” Eddie blurted out. She was so hungry that the little stash of food already resembled the grandest feast she’d ever seen, but she stared at the opening of the bag, itching to find out what was in the bottom.

“Show them.” Laurence grinned. He adopted his usual stance, feet spread wide, hands on his hips, but Eddie noticed the way he winced as he moved his right arm. 

“Ta-dah!” Leon pulled out a box of chocolates still wrapped in cellophane. “Where did you find this?” he asked.

“You’ll be surprised what people leave in their trash in the posh suburbs.” Laurence shrugged. 

He and Leon had explored the woods a couple of days earlier, searching for food. They’d returned with nothing but some containers they’d filled with water from the spring, but Laurence had explained that, if they followed the spring, the woods backed onto the town, the massive houses guarded by high walls. 

They’d debated, as a group, electing a couple of them to go into town to find food, but the majority had voted against it. The citizens of Anslo were unsettled. If they were recognized as rebels, someone would be sure to turn them into the authorities simply to save their own lives. 

“You went to the town?” Valeria’s tone was accusing. “Why would you do that? What was the point of calling a vote if you’re going to do whatever the hell you want anyway?” 

“I know. I’m sorry.” Laurence raised his hands in mock surrender. “We’re starving. We need to eat, or we may as well give up right now and turn ourselves in.”

“We find food together. That’s what we all decided.” 

Valeria was still sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring up at their leader. She’d been quiet since the day they watched Anton’s execution on the laptop in the farmhouse where they’d been hiding. His death had hit them all hard, but it seemed to have affected her the most. She hadn’t questioned Laurence stepping into Anton’s shoes—he was Anton’s appointed deputy, and as such expected to take the leader’s place should anything go wrong—but neither did she show him the same level of respect that she’d had for Anton. 

“I … wanted to help,” Laurence said. “I’m supposed to be taking care of you all. I’m not going to sit back and watch you all waste away in front of my eyes and do nothing about it.”

Valeria stared at him, refusing to acknowledge the breakfast piled up in the center of the ring they’d formed while they were playing. She was the first to break eye contact. “Warn us next time,” she muttered. “What if you didn’t come back?”

“I will.”

Leon raised the box of chocolates to his nose and inhaled. “Hmmm … chocolate mixed with rotten potatoes—my favorite. Did you find this in a trashcan?” 

“Where else would you find an unwanted box of chocolates?” Laurence sat in the space that Eddie had created for him by budging closer to Angel.

“A whole box though?” Eddie shook her head. “Why?”

“Lover’s tiff,” Karl said. “A man does something wrong, he buys chocolate and flowers, and his woman refuses to eat them because that would be letting him off the hook way too easily.”

“I’m not complaining,” Eddie said. “I would kill for this right now.”

“Lucky for us you don’t have to.” Leon put the box down and divided the rest of the food into portions, spreading jam on slices of bread with his fingers. “We’ll save the chocolate for dessert. One each now. The rest later when we’re crashing after the sugar rush.”

They were quiet while they ate, savoring the food. Eddie nibbled her slice of bread, starting with the crusts, chewing each mouthful for as long as she could without swallowing and saving the squidgy jelly part in the middle for last. 

“I can’t believe you found all this food,” she said eventually, licking her sticky fingers.

Laurence shrugged. “I’m a pro. When you’re desperate, you’ll sniff food out a mile away.”

Since they’d been lying low in the barn, they’d had time on their hands. It was inevitable that they’d all begun to talk about their previous lives before they joined the Defenders, and Eddie was fascinated by their stories. So, she wasn’t afraid to ask Laurence now, how he’d become a pro at scavenging for food in other people’s trash.

“I left home at fifteen,” he said. “My dad … he got killed. Freak accident in the factory where he worked. My mom didn’t cope too well. My older sisters had already left home, got married, had kids of their own. There was only me and my mom at home, and she realized I reminded her too much of him, so she started staring into the bottom of a bottle instead. She met a guy. Moved him in a week later. I think it was three weeks before I noticed the first bruise on her cheek.”

Eddie tried to picture fifteen-year-old Leon finding out that his mom was in a toxic relationship. She didn’t know how she would react in the same scenario. Would she stand up to the man beating her mom or would she run away, take her chances elsewhere? How could anyone call it unless it’d happened to them?

“I called the cops.” Laurence stared up at the ceiling. Remembering. “You know what she did? She told them she walked into a door.”

“And they believed her?” Eddie asked.

“They had no choice. You can’t force someone to tell the truth. Same as you can’t convince someone to leave a man who’s eventually going to destroy them, if destruction is the way out that they’re looking for.”

Eddie wanted to wrap her arms around him and give him a hug, but she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the group.

“So, I stuffed some clothes into my school bag one morning and walked out.”

“Did you ever go back?” Valeria asked. 

“Nope. She didn’t come looking for me, and I didn’t wait around to be found. I was sixteen when I met Anton, and the rest is history.” He popped a soft-centered caramel chocolate into his mouth and closed his eyes.

What are Cozy Apocalypse Books?

  • No gratuitous violence or sex scenes
  • No foul language
  • No weaponry lists or zombie gore

Main Tropes

  • Survival After the Fall
  • Forming New Family Bonds
  • Thriving After the End
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