CHAPTER ONE

Mckey Black sat beside the hospital bed and stared at the prone figure on the mattress. Tears ran down her cheeks as the reality of the situation began to sink in.

Jethro was dead.

He lay on the mattress in his habitual blue jeans and white t shirt, his brown hair hung in waves over his shoulders. A leather thong was wound round his neck with a tiny black cross on it. Mckey wiped her eyes and sniffed, she had never felt such fear or pain. Her dogs, chocolate Labrador Kahlua and Alsatian Toby, lay at her feet and whined softly. Mckey reached down and scratched the Lab behind his ear absent-mindedly. She took a deep, shaky breath and refused to give in the panic that threatened to overwhelm her.

Mckey couldn't lose him, not after everything they had been through. They had survived the Smilers, mutated zombies that grinned as they ripped you apart. They had survived the Squirrel Horses, strange aliens that had tried to take over after the Smiler epidemic exploded. But she didn't know if they would survive this.

Mckey struggled to her feet and wished she had her rifle with her. She felt sick to her stomach and there were no pain killers left in her little beige shoulder bag. A hand dropped onto her shoulder and squeezed, Mckey turned and flung her arms around the neck of Jethro's brother. Ash sobbed into her shoulder and Mckey squeezed him tightly. A small smile crossed her lips as she thought of how much Ash had changed since they had met.

His shaved head now had light brown stubble on it. He had swapped the vests and patched jeans when they had left London for black trousers and a white shirt. Mckey had a sneaking suspicion that the fourth member of their little band might have had something to do with that. Ash released her from his death grip and went back to his spot on the floor beside Ferelith. The ebony skinned girl took one of Ash's hands in both of hers and kissed the top of his head when he laid it on her shoulder.

They had met Ferelith a few months ago, just before the Squirrel-Horses tried to take over. She was still trying to find her parents and sister but nobody had the heart to try and convince her that the search was hopeless. Everywhere they went, Ferelith would insist on a thorough search just in case. The others didn't mind, it wasn't as if they had anything else to do. And Ferelith was a nice girl. Blonde dreadlocks hung down her back, held out of her face by a black band. She wore a white shirt with puff sleeves and a grey and white skirt, fishnets tights and knee high black boots. Mckey always felt under dressed next to Ferelith but it was impossible to hate someone that lovely.

Mckey turned back to the bed and sighed as Ash once again jumped to his feet, he tried the door again but it was locked.

"Is he dead?" Ash whispered. Mckey's blue eyes grew wide as Jethro's eyes snapped open and he sat up and looked around the room before fastening his gaze on Mckey.

"Yeah, he's dead" she replied. Kahlua and Toby began to growl, the fur on their backs raised and they bent low ready to attack. Mckey swallowed as Jethro slipped off the bed and flexed his heavily muscled arms. He turned back to Mckey and peered at her with his head on one side.

"Do you know who we are?" she asked. Jethro smiled, his canines elongated into fangs and the pupils in his eyes stretched until his eyes were entirely black.

"Yeah, you're my breakfast" he said, giggling like a little boy. Ash reached out and tried to pull Mckey back but she refused to move.

"Vampires? Seriously?" he whispered.

"Drawing the line again, Ashley?" replied Mckey. Ash gulped and shrugged, after zombies and aliens he wasn't sure how much more he could take. Jethro moved across the small space and twined his fingers into Mckey's black hair, a tear rolled down her face. Mckey's hair was longer now than when they had first met, it was pulled back into a ponytail of ringlets and Jethro used it to yank Mckey's head back and expose her throat. He bent his face down to her flesh, his fangs scraping her skin. Mckey's voice suddenly whispered in his ear and he stopped, jerking back as images flooded his mind.

"I love you Jethro." He blinked a few times, his eyes returning to their normal shade of sea green. Jethro frowned and smiled and frowned again as his memories pushed through the fog in his mind, he dropped to his knees and suddenly Mckey was infront of his. Jethro's eyes went wide as he laid a hand on her belly, she stroked his head as he sobbed at what he had become.