Hold Me: life after the outbreak, book 3 by LJ Baker
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Published: April 16th, 2014
Nothing comes easy in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world and Andi is used to losing the people she cares about. But when Will gets infected so soon after getting him back, she can’t accept the possibility that her life may have to go on without him. She clings to Dan for support through one impossible situation after another, and although there are some bright spots, the darkness just keeps rolling in.
When finally things seem to be settling down, and she thinks she might actually have a shot at a normal life, the unthinkable happens. She struggles with knowing nothing will ever be the same again and moving on to honor the memory of the one person she thought would always be there. But that’s easier said than done, and Andi finds has to fight harder than ever just to hold on.
Dan and I found the parts we needed, a small cache of fuel, and even a few cans of beef stew, just in time for the rain to begin. I was actually used to walking in the rain, but he insisted we hang back a bit and wait for it to slow down. We found an abandoned hardware store to sit in until the big baby decided he wouldn’t melt in the storm.
The store was a mess, shelves knocked over, most of the good items cleaned out, but scattered around in the mess, there were still some usable finds. Dan found a canvas tool bag halfway under one of the fallen shelves and he pried it loose to fill with whatever he found that might be useful. I wasn’t really sure what most of it was, but he seemed to have an idea what he was doing so I left it to him.
In front near one of the large windows, there was a workbench and stool, so I made myself comfortable and sat down to wait. There were names carved into the wooden top of the workbench with dates and little sayings. Some were written in pen, listing the date they were there, and others were carved in with whatever tool they might have had at the time. There were a few dates that were recent, but most of it looked to be from before the outbreak. The kind of thing teenagers did to leave their mark on the world. Back when it seemed like that was so important.
I’d actually been in that particular store a few times with my Dad when I was younger. Even if it was just to run a small errand or pick something up for Mom, he usually brought me with him. I could remember when I got to the age where it was more of a chore than it was cool to hang out with my dad. In another life, I might have been one of those kids carving their name into the work bench, counting the minutes before I could get back home to complain to my friends about the agony of my wasted time.
I pulled out my knife and absently carved my name into the splintered wood. Making a mark on the world was so much more important since the outbreak than ever before, because life was so much more uncertain. Not that carving my name into an old piece of wood would make my existence mean something. It didn’t. But I wanted there to be some evidence in the world that I was there. That I existed. That I mattered.
“Whatcha doing, love?” Dan came up from behind me and peered over my shoulder.
I shrugged and continued carving the last letters of my name. “Making my mark.”
Dan raised an eyebrow and sat down next to me. He looked like he was about to say something, maybe tell me not to worry or that we weren’t all going to die, but instead, he pulled out a screwdriver from his newly collected hoard, and started carving his name in next to mine.
Andi Sheppard and Dan MacNamara. Our names immortalized forever in a useless wooden table.
I looked over the words and pressed my finger to the indentations in the wood. It wasn’t much, but it was something. If the world ever went back to something resembling normal, it was something to let them know we were there. I wanted to do something important. Something that would be remembered.
“Do you ever think that there is no point to all of this?” I tilted my head up and looked at Dan. He narrowed his eyes and glanced over me like I was a little nuts. “Like… everything we go through… then we die and it’s like we were never even here. We don’t matter.”
“Of course we matter. Just as much as we ever did. You think that because there are zombies that everything that was important before, just isn’t anymore?” He turned to face me and trapped my legs between his knees.
“Yeah, don’t you?”
“No, I do not. If we were ever anything more than insignificant blips in time, then we are much more important now, than we ever were. What we do in this life matters, Andi. The people we help, the differences we make, just the fact that we survive at all, is important. You are important. You will be remembered and missed and thought about after you’re gone. The same way you would have been if that virus never took over and the world was exactly how it was two years ago.”
Dan took my hands into his and looked for a long moment into my eyes. “What did you want for your life before the outbreak?”
It was a valid question. I didn’t have a real answer, but it was valid.
“I don’t really know, I guess. To go to college, find a career, get married, have children. The usual stuff.”
“Okay, so you might not get to go to a traditional college and have that whole dorm experience, but tell me why you can’t do every one of those things now?”
“Don’t be insane. I can’t…”
Can’t what? Go to college. But, I’d learned more in the two years since the outbreak than I ever would have at college. Find a career? I’d almost joined the military and after my stint at the infirmary, I knew I had options. Get married… well not legally, but that didn’t even matter since there was no real government and law anymore.
“I don’t know. I mean, I guess that makes sense. It’s just that… I don’t even know.”
Dan smiled and lifted my chin up to look at him. “Sweetheart, you can do anything you want to do. As much as things are different, they’re the same. It’s whatever we make of it. We are the pioneers of this new world. Like Ben Franklin and shit.”
We both laughed at his ridiculousness, but he was right. I was focusing on all the wrong things. If I wanted to leave a mark, there was so much more I could do besides carve my name into a forgotten workbench in a ransacked hardware store. I could find a way to really leave a mark.
L J lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, four kids, two cats, and an inherited dog from hell (a.k.a. the sewer gremlin). Though writing has always been her first passion, she got a degree in psychological counseling and worked in the mental health field for awhile, which she finds very helpful in dealing with her crazy family. She is a lover of all different types of music and books, switching between genres so wildly it sometimes makes people wonder if she has multiple personalities. She is most likely to be found writing romance stories of all kinds (contemporary, erotic, new adult, young adult, fantasy, etc.) and enjoys jumping genres just for the fun of it. When she’s not writing, she prefers to spend her time reading, taking photos, or spending time with her family.
One print copy of Hold Me: life after the outbreak, book 3 by LJ Baker. US only.