This week’s Excerpt of the Week is from The Becoming: Revelations, the third book in The Becoming Series!
What is The Becoming: Revelations about?
Brandt Evans is floundering. Leadership of their dysfunctional group wasn’t something he asked for or wanted. Their problems are numerous: Remy Angellette is grief-stricken and suicidal, Gray Carter is distant and reclusive, and Cade Alton is near death. And things only get worse.
While Brandt and Gray are on the hunt for supplies, a still-recovering Cade is kidnapped by a militant group of survivors. On Brandt’s return, he’s told of a conspiracy involving test subjects, pathogens, and CDC doctors.
Brandt’s race to save Cade takes him back to the dangerous streets of Atlanta, where not all is as it seems. And with a horde of infected closing in and the rescue mission in jeopardy, he comes tantalizingly close to a cure that might save what’s left of humanity from the ravages of the Michaluk Virus.
In this week’s excerpt, Brandt and Gray have just returned from a supply run to discover that something is very, very wrong at their safe house. Hit the cut below to read the excerpt!
Brandt knew something was wrong before he and Gray reached the halfway point down the block on which the safe house sat. He noticed it as he walked beside Gray, one hand clutching a gallon jug of water, the other on the rifle in a tactical carry against his chest. The first thing that tipped him off was the apparent stillness that had settled over the street. Real or imagined, it unnerved him.
The second thing that made Brandt suspect not all was right was the sight of the van parked haphazardly in front of the safe house—a vehicle that most assuredly had not been there before. It had jumped the curb, half parked on the sidewalk, the other half jutting into the street. It resembled a sleek dead black whale beached on a shore. Nothing around it moved.
Brandt’s eyes widened. His pace quickened, and he took four hurried steps before forcing himself to slow down. Racing into an unknown situation wouldn’t do anyone any good, especially if he walked straight into a trap. Brandt set the water jug he held on the pavement beside his left boot and glanced at Gray. The younger man had also noticed the oddness around the safe house and had begun to offload anything unnecessary that he carried.
“Who the hell is that at the house?” Gray asked. He shifted his heavy pack, loaded down with food and other supplies they’d found, closer against his back and nervously drew his gun from the holster at his side.
“I don’t know, but I really don’t like it,” Brandt acknowledged. He abandoned the water in the middle of the street, figuring he’d come back for it, and sped his pace to the house.
As Brandt stepped onto the curb beside the van, he lifted his rifle to his shoulder, instinctively hunching down as if to make himself a smaller target. His heart hammered as he eased up to the vehicle and peered into its tinted windows. He didn’t see any movement inside. There was no blood anywhere in it either, Brandt verified after he’d slid the side door open and looked into the vehicle, sweeping it for dangers. He didn’t think anyone infected had been inside. He shook his head and motioned to Gray to stay behind him as he hurried through the tall grass to the front porch.
Brandt was certain something was wrong when he reached the porch and saw the front door wide open, the glass shattered, the lock broken beyond repair. He sucked in a sharp breath and tightened his grip on his rifle as he crept up the steps. “Oh Jesus,” he murmured. He barely heard Gray’s footsteps on the boards behind him as he stepped into the house.
Brandt swept his rifle across the entryway, checking for any immediate dangers in their vicinity, even as he slid deeper into the living room. It was too dark to see by just the light from the front door, so Brandt ripped his flashlight free from his pack and flicked it on.
The first thing on which the flashlight’s beam lit was a puddle of blood, partially clotted and spread across the floorboards to soak into the edge of the rug. The body of an unknown man lay at the source of the blood, collapsed onto his face on the floor. A Sig Sauer P226 lay near one of the man’s hands. He was definitely dead.
“Oh fucking—” Gray started. He didn’t manage to finish his expletive before Brandt ran for the stairs, yelling out, heedless of any dangers remaining in the house and tossing everything he’d ever been trained to do aside.
“Cade! Cade!” Brandt shouted. He charged up the stairs, his boots thudding heavily on each step. He shrugged his backpack off halfway up the stairs to rid himself of its extra weight. He could hear, below and behind him, Gray’s voice joining his as the younger man took his cue from Brandt and yelled for Remy.
“Brandt!” a woman’s voice called out. Brandt nearly fell as he stopped and turned, catching himself on the railing before going back the way he’d come. He jumped over his own pack as he searched for the source. He recognized Remy’s voice as she called out again. “Brandt! Gray! In here!”
Brandt’s brain pinpointed the woman’s voice in the kitchen, and he caught Gray’s arm and hauled him along as he headed in that direction. Brandt’s heart raced, and his hands shook as he pushed the door to the kitchen open, afraid of what he’d find, hopeful that it’d be both women safe and in one piece. But something in Remy’s voice dinged at his instincts, warning him that not everything was okay.
When Brandt and Gray moved into the kitchen, the sight that greeted Brandt took his breath away. He managed a quick intake of breath through his clenched teeth and let go of Gray’s arm, lowering his rifle and taking a quick step toward Remy. The woman was perched on the dining table, her booted feet resting in one of the chairs. Another Sig Sauer was on the table beside her. In her hand, she clenched a small Ruger Brandt had never seen, her knuckles white with the force of her grip. A large bruise darkened the side of her face, extending down onto her neck. The look in her eyes was infuriated, her face tight with exhaustion and suppressed emotion. But it was what she had the Ruger pointed at that captured most of Brandt’s attention.
Remy held the gun pointed steadily at a short, squat, dark-haired man as unfamiliar to Brandt as the handgun Remy held. He was duct-taped to one of the dining chairs, his lip split and his jaw scraped and scabbing. A bullet wound decorated his left thigh. Another was plugged into his abdomen, and a furrow disfigured his upper right arm, as if a bullet had just barely missed him. The man’s chest heaved with the struggle to breathe. He was severely wounded, likely dying, and there was no medical care Brandt and Gray could possibly offer that would do the man any good. Brandt’s eyes flicked from the man to Remy’s slender form. The woman had climbed off the table and approached the man. As Brandt watched, she kicked the man hard in the shin. The man let out a low groan of pain.
“What the fuck is going on in here?” Brandt demanded. He grabbed Remy’s shoulder and tugged her back from the man. “Where’s Cade? And who the hell is this?”
“Cade’s gone,” Remy said. She looked at Brandt with wide eyes, the pain in her voice evident. A bolt of shock zipped through Brandt, and he took an involuntary step back. “She’s gone. They took her. This bastard’s people took her. And he won’t tell me where they’re going.”
“Took her?” Brandt demanded. His shock swiftly turned to anger. “What the fuck do you mean, they took her?”
“Just that, Brandt. They took her!” Remy snapped. She turned on him and raised her hand as if she were going to hit him with her gun. Brandt caught her wrist and forced her arm back down to her side. “They broke in while we were upstairs. They attacked us and held us at gunpoint. They started grilling Cade for information, and when she wouldn’t answer them straight, they took her and told him and his fucking buddy to kill me.” She kicked the duct-taped man in the shin again, harder than before. This time, Brandt didn’t bother to stop her.
“Information,” Brandt repeated, simply stating the word as his brain raced to come up with a reason why some unknown group would come after them. He turned his eyes momentarily to the man fastened to the chair, studying him closely, trying to decide if this was a man he’d seen before. The examination was futile; he didn’t recognize the man at all. “What kind of information were they asking for?”
“They were looking for you,” Remy said. “They kept asking where you were. Cade tried to tell them you were dead, but they didn’t believe her. They just kept pushing, and she … well, she caved. She told them you were out on supply and wouldn’t be back for days. That was when they asked which of us was Cade, and they took her.”
“And this guy ended up taped to a chair … how?” Gray prompted. He stepped closer to look the injured man over.
“I put him there.” Remy waved the gun around, and Gray’s eyes lit onto it. He gave her a slight smile. “Thank you for giving this to me, by the way. I stashed it in my bra. He had no idea. I rolled over and shot his sorry ass. His and his friend’s.” She swallowed hard, and Brandt put his hand on her shoulder again, squeezing it gently and reassuringly, as she continued. “I killed the other guy. This one, I didn’t. I figured we could get some information from him, so I’ve been trying to keep him alive until you got back.”
Brandt pulled away from Remy, his mind reeling as he glanced between the young woman and the trussed-up man in the chair. “What about Cade? How was she when you last saw her? Was she hurt?”
“No, she was incredibly pissed,” Remy replied. She took a step away from the man to let Brandt take over the attempted interrogation.
“God help the guys who took her, then,” Gray murmured. A smile crossed his face before it faded just as quickly.
Brandt nodded and stepped in front of the seated man. He stared at him, trying to decide on the first line of questioning he should pursue. Brandt wanted to make it fast; he wanted to get what he needed as quickly as he could. Because he planned to go after Cade, and he was going to pull her out of whatever mess she’d been dragged unwillingly into. It was the least Brandt could do, because by all appearances, it was his fault she was in it to begin with.
“Where did your people take Cade?” Brandt started. He set his rifle carefully on the dining table and leaned over the man threateningly, letting his sheer size be his weapon against any resistance the man might offer. “Where are they going? When do they plan to get there? And, for that matter, what the hell do you want with me?”
The man didn’t answer at first, visibly resistant to Brandt’s line of questioning. Brandt gritted his teeth and drew his sidearm from its holster, pressing it against the man’s temple as if he were going to shoot him. The man cringed back in his chair and started to babble, breathless with pain from his wounds, and Brandt lowered the weapon as his goal was accomplished.
“They took her to Atlanta,” the man started. “They’re trying to lure you in. They tried to do it a month ago with Avi Geller but didn’t manage, because she was working for someone else. It was our backup plan to take Alton if you weren’t here, because the people who planned this knew you would come after her, and they’d have you right where they wanted you.”
“And what the hell do they want with me?” Brandt persisted. “Why are they after me? Why are they so desperate to get their hands on me that they’d take Cade in the hopes I’d track her to their location?”
“Because you’re the cure,” the man said, panting with the effort of speaking. “Or they think so, anyway. They think you’ve got the virus in you and you’re not showing symptoms, and they think that means you have the cure in you.”
“What? The cure?” Brandt repeated, baffled. “I don’t have the fucking cure. I was part of the damned control group,” he spat out. “I was never once exposed to the actual pathogen.”
“Wait, what is he talking about?” Gray asked, touching Brandt’s arm to get his attention. Brandt flicked his eyes to Gray, feeling his stomach turn over as he realized what he’d said. He swallowed hard and shook his head, trying to figure out how best to dig himself out of his own words.
“It’s nothing,” he said. “Not something I’m going to discuss with you right now.” Brandt turned back to the man duct-taped to the chair and studied him carefully, leaning closer as the man’s eyes met his. “Where did you hear all this shit about me being the cure?” he asked. He didn’t look at Remy and Gray. He could feel their eyes on him, the curiosity and suspicion rolling off of them in waves. “Who told you this?”
“Alicia did,” the man panted out. He cringed and flinched in pain. “Alicia told us all of it. All about the whole mess at the CDC.”
“Alicia?” Brandt repeated. His face chilled as the blood ran out of it. His hands went clammy, and he curled his fingers into fists. “Alicia who?” He paused as a thought occurred to him, and just as quickly as his face had paled, it flushed with anger. “Alicia Day?”
“Yeah, that’s her,” the man acknowledged.
Brandt gritted his teeth and straightened, his anger getting the better of him. He turned on his heel and slammed his fist as hard as he could into the refrigerator’s stainless steel door. His knuckles split, but he ignored the blood that welled to the surface as he snapped, “Son of a bitch! That bitch got out?”
“What the hell is going on, Brandt?” Remy demanded. Brandt glanced at her and put his hand up, wordlessly ordering her to shut up before he turned back to the man in the chair.
“Where in Atlanta?” Brandt asked. He took a step closer to him and leaned only inches away from his face. “Where is Alicia? And where did she take Cade?”
“Wait, wait, wait!” Remy said. She pulled Brandt back from the chair and stepped in front of him so his attention was fully on her. He allowed her to do so only reluctantly, his eyes scanning her face as he gritted his teeth. “Who the fuck is this Alicia you keep referring to? And what the hell is going on?”
“It’s nothing that concerns you, Rem—”
“Like hell it doesn’t concern me! This bastard held a gun to my fucking head!” Remy shouted, her voice echoing through the kitchen. She jabbed her finger at the man in the chair. “He tried to shoot me! And that redheaded bitch told him to! I want to know what’s going on, and I want to know five seconds ago!”
Brandt hesitated, looking from Remy to Gray and then glancing at the man in the chair, who smirked at him despite the pain he was in. “Not now, Remy,” he said. He hated how much his voice sounded like he was pleading. “Not now. I’ve got to get information out of this guy, and I can’t do that and answer your questions at the same time.”
“Answer the question,” Gray said. He stepped into the argument and grabbed the man’s forearm. Brandt tensed, and he wrenched his arm from Gray’s grip.
“Not now,” Brandt repeated. He raised his voice just enough to show the two that he meant business. “Get the fuck out of here while I get what I need from him.
Enjoy what you read? Want to know what happens next? You can pick up a copy of The Becoming: Revelations from Amazon today for $5.99! Or, if you haven’t read any of the series yet, you can start with The Becoming, which is the first book in the series, also available on Amazon for $5.99!