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Hangover | Book Four The Fog Series | Chapter Two

Sara leaped into Chad’s arms. He nearly lifted her off the ground with the force of his embrace. Chad’s muscles all went taut, straining against his clothing. Benjamin’s mouth was dry. Sara laughed as Chad lifted her and spun her around before pulling her flush against him. “Sara,” Chad said, “I’m so happy you’re safe. I came as soon as I heard!”

Benjamin rolled his eyes. He felt like he was watching a Hallmark movie—formulaic, overacted, and saccharine—play out before his eyes. If only Sara would learn some terrible secret that would ruin Chad in her eyes.

“This all started twenty-four hours ago,” Benjamin said, crossing his arms. “Where do you live? South Florida?”

“Five blocks away,” Chad replied.

“And it took you this long to get here?” Benjamin asked.

“Hey, I had to come through a horde of zombies!” Chad argued, flexing. “Get off my case, man.”

Benjamin and his friends had dealt with Teds, too, though. It hadn’t taken them twenty-four hours to get back to the apartment. Whatever. Chad clearly wasn’t as much of the concerned boyfriend as he’d pretended to be. But Sara hadn’t pulled away from her; she presumably didn’t seem to have a problem with Chad’s response.

“You can tell me all about it,” Sara said, curling around Chad’s arm. “I’m sure it’s a great story.”

“Sure, doll-face,” Chad said.

Doll-face? Ugh. How annoying. Benjamin looked towards Alex and Elijah, and Elijah, at least, looked vaguely put out by Chad. Suddenly, Elijah became much more tolerable.

“Too bad you didn’t bring any booze with you,” Daisy said, swinging her bat over her shoulder.

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you guys,” Amber said, “But Ted’s smell is starting to get to me.”

Amber edged by Ted and unlocked the apartment that she, Daisy, and Sara shared. “True,” Sara said, “And I can finally show you the new place, Chad! You finally made it over!”

Chad wrapped his arm around her shoulders and smirked. “Sounds good to me,” he said.

“Well, if you need anything, call us,” Elijah said. “You know. If you guys have any problems or anything.”

Chad snorted. “There won’t be any problems now that I’m here,” he replied.

Oh, whatever! Benjamin scowled. Clearly, Chad was one of those self-absorbed individuals who thought he was God’s gift to New York City. What a jerk!

Sara, still clinging to Chad, walked into the women’s apartment. Daisy and Amber followed close behind. Someone shut the door with a resounding slam, and only then, did Benjamin look away. He sighed.

“Guess she’s taken, then, huh?” Elijah asked, crossing his arms.

“Looks like it,” Benjamin said.

He would never stand a chance against a man like Chad, who looked like he could have been on the same red carpet where Brad Pitt had just recently been infected with the zombie virus.

“I can’t believe she’d go for some jerk like Chad,” Elijah said, furrowing his brow. “He does seem like a jerk, doesn’t he? It isn’t just me?”

Benjamin sighed. “No, it isn’t just you.”

Although admittedly, Chad would probably have a better chance with Sara than Benjamin would. At least, Elijah was traditionally attractive; Benjamin was average at best and completely lacking in the impressive muscles that both Elijah and Chad had cultivated.

“Well, hey, she has two friends,” Alex pointed out, as he unlocked the apartment door.

“She does,” Elijah replied.

That was true, but Benjamin really preferred blondes. And besides, Sara was witty and intelligent. Daisy was nice enough, but she had a wildness to her that was—quite frankly—kind of terrifying. Benjamin had seen her straight-up murder a man coming out of a hangover. Admittedly, she’d thought she was killing a Ted, but even after being told her mistake, Daisy had been rather blasé about the whole thing. And Amber was a nice and pretty woman. Rational and level-headed. But she didn’t have Sara’s sense of humor, which Benjamin was slowly falling for. Sara was very nice.

Benjamin’s head throbbed. It was a blessing to walk into the apartment. Benjamin’s stomach growled and lurched. The desire to eat something and the desire to puke his guts out were warring for dominance, and Benjamin really just wanted to fall into bed a sleep off the worst hangover he had ever had in his life.

The three of them plopped onto the sofa. With a sigh, Benjamin sank back into the sofa cushions and stared at the ceiling, as if the white plaster could somehow soothe his headache, stop his churning belly, and eliminate the zombie virus. After a few seconds, Alex climbed off the sofa and walked into the kitchen. Benjamin head cabinets opening and closing, and each slam felt like a sledgehammer to his skull.

“I doubt we even have any food,” Elijah said, throwing an arm over his eyes. “God, that means we’re going to have to get some. Who even knows if grocery stores are going to be open? Do you think Amazon Prime will still have its two-day shipping deal? We could order groceries. Have someone else risk life and limb for us.”

“That sounds like something a stable human being would do,” Benjamin said.

“It’s eat or be eaten,” Elijah said tiredly.

“I guess we’re resorting to cannibalism, then,” Alex said, dropping between Benjamin  and Elijah, “Because we’re all out of food. Except for one pack of ramen noodles. Maybe if we take two noodles a day…”

“Great,” Benjamin said.

“This is how it ends,” Elijah replied, “Starving to death. I knew we should have gone shopping!”

Benjamin rubbed his temples. His phone beeped, and he slowly lowered his hands. Benjamin pulled out his phone and saw the text notification. He pulled it open. It seemed that he, at least, would be at work come Monday. “Guess I’m going to work Monday,” Benjamin said.

“I can drive you!” Alex exclaimed. “It’ll be fun!”

“Last time you drove me, we were attacked by Teds,” Benjamin said.

“Well, I mean, that’s true, but I have to make money! Uber drivers don’t take days off, and you know what? I would bet that even more people than normal are looking for Uber drivers with all the Ted attacks that are going on!”

“I’m not going in,” Elijah said, checking his phone. “I guess I’m in for a long weekend, then. It’ll suck when it’s time to pay all the bill again, but you know what? I’m really going to enjoy this for now.”

“Wait! We have to work for Darnell tomorrow!” Alex groaned.

Elijah made a sound that vaguely resembled the cry of a dying rhinoceros. “No! Crap! I forgot all about that! Darnell is going to work us into the ground! God, I hate my life already!”

“Well, you did break the man’s mirror and curse him with seven years of bad luck,” Benjamin pointed out.

Of course, Benjamin didn’t believe in superstitions, but he was just petty enough to tease Alex and Elijah with them.

“But you don’t understand,” Elijah insisted. “Darnell has hated us for a long time—and for no reason at all! I mean, just because we’ve destroyed his bar a couple of times…it’s like indentured servitude. The absolute monster.”

Benjamin sighed. “So don’t go.”

“We have to go,” Alex replied. “You’ve seen Darnell. He would hunt us down over something like that!”

“Since you’re going out anyway, you can bring back food,” Benjamin said. “There’s a grocery store nearby, right?”

“Not close enough,” Elijah replied, “But you know what? Why should we even go outside with all of this going on? I think we should just risk Darnell coming after us.”

“Yeah, are you crazy?” Alex asked.

“We were literally just outside,” Benjamin pointed out, “As was Sara’s boyfriend—what’s his face—Chad. And we left in the middle of it and managed to make it back to our apartment even with terrible hangovers.”

“No kidding,” Elijah said. “I still feel like my head is going to explode. Maybe we should worry about food after a nap. We can order some.”

“Sounds good,” Benjamin replied.

“And we can see if the girls want some!” Alex exclaimed. “We can invite them back over with us.”

“That would be fun,” Elijah replied.

Benjamin nodded in agreement.

“Man, they’re all so badass, aren’t they?” Elijah asked. “Like, I’ve never really cared to much for the action babes, you know. Lara Croft, Ridley, whatever. But holy crap, have I changed my mind!”

“They’re really good at fighting the Teds,” Alex said enthusiastically, “Especially Daisy. I’ve never seen a woman swing a bat like that! I think if given half the chance, she could probably take on a whole army of zombies all by herself!”

“She’s a bit scary, though,” Benjamin said.

Elijah laughed nervously. “She is. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking it. I mean, she’s smoking hot. They all are. But when I look at Daisy, I feel like she would just…cheerfully murder me if I made her angry.”

“Probably while making references to Hamilton or The Lion King or something,” Alex said.

“Right?” Elijah asked. “That’s a little weird.”

“She’s someone with a wide, eclectic range of interests,” Benjamin replied, giving a one-shouldered shrug. “We know she likes the arts, at least.”

“I guess,” Elijah replied, stifling a yawn. “We can talk about it after a nap. Too bad we couldn’t convince them all to stay over here with us. Safety in numbers and all.”

“Right?” Alex asked.

Benjamin yawned and stretched. “I feel like I’m going to drop,” Benjamin said.

And he was so tired that he was even going to sleep in Ted’s bed. It wasn’t like it would kill him. Benjamin sat up and sluggishly walked into Ted’s room; he hadn’t really gotten to see it before, and it was surprisingly nice. Very tidy. Clean carpet, a made bed, and a massive, impressive TV that was significantly larger than the one that Benjamin had in his old apartment. That was a nice bonus.

Benjamin yawned and sank onto the bed, relishing the layers of blankets and the soft mattress. He breathed in the vanilla and cinnamon-scent of fabric softener and sighed. Benjamin rolled onto his back and gazed up at the ceiling. It was weird being in someone else’s bed, but Ted at least, seemed to have had good taste in mattresses. His was as soft as sleeping on a cloud, and Ted’s sheets and comforter were all very soft. No, this wasn’t a bad set-up at all. It was actually pretty sweet.

Benjamin wondered if Sara’s apartment was as nice. She and her friends were just moving in, so this would all be new to them. Did the women even have beds yet? Benjamin didn’t know; he had only glimpsed into their apartment.

Benjamin swallowed past the lump in his throat. It was impossible, but still, he thought about how wonderful it would be to have Sara with him, her arm strewn across his chest. Curled up against his side. Warm and beautiful in the half-light of the room. But that would never happen. Not when she was dating someone as attractive and muscular as Chad. Benjamin, no matter how smart he was, would never be able to match up to someone like that.

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