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“I think there is a very good chance that one or two of your friends is in a farmhouse out in the middle of a field. I followed the dead out to this building. They went inside, then came back out and took up sentry positions. ”

“What if it's The Summoner?” Samantha asked from the backseat.

“I don't think so,” he answered and looked toward the foreboding motel. “The dead came from the motel so my money is on that he's stuck in the there and Cian or Amaliya or both managed to make it to the farmhouse. I say we take out the four around the house and check inside. If we can avoid a direct confrontation with The Summoner, I am all about that. ”

“But he's asleep, right?” Innocente's brow was furrowed and she was clutching her massive tote bag tightly. The head of the Virgin Mary statue was slightly sticking out the top.

“I don't think so,” Jeff confessed. “The dead are up and walking and he is controlling them. He has to be awake to do that. ”

“Oh, crap,” Samantha said in an awed, yet terrified voice.

“Okay, so we go to the farmhouse, kill the already dead people, try to find sleeping vampires inside, somehow rescue them, and head back to Austin,” Sergio said. “And avoid The Summoner at all costs. ”

“Yeah,” Jeff answered.

Sergio pondered this, then shrugged. “Let's do it. ”

Jeff hurried around the truck. His leg throbbed a little but he ignored it. He had a job to do and he intended to do it. As he slid up into the backseat, Samantha looked toward him, her eyes wide with fear and excitement.

“You okay?” she asked, and touched his shoulder lightly.

He was surprised to feel a slight shiver inside of his belly and he suddenly blushed. “Yeah. ” He looked away from her and felt immensely awkward. Of course it was probably the adrenaline, but the concern in her expression had touched him. And he'd be stupid not to notice she was a very pretty girl.

Frowning, he redirected his thoughts. It was time to kill. . . no rescue. . . the vampires. He reached down and unzipped his bag and pulled out his baseball bat. Against the dead minions, this should work just fine.

“Mine,” Samantha said, and snagged it from him.

He looked at her, startled, but her grim expression shut up his protest. With a slight bob of his head, he reached in and grabbed a machete.

“Mine,” Innocente said, and held out her hand from over the back of the passenger seat.

Jeff sighed and handed it over. He reached down and pulled out another machete, this one smaller than the first.

“Mine,” Sergio said from the front seat.

“Oh, give me a freaking break,” Jeff exclaimed.

Sergio grinned over his shoulder at him. “Just joshing you,” he said. “I got the truck. ”

And before Jeff could ask what he meant, Sergio gunned the huge 4x4 vehicle and it roared into the field.

***

Samantha held onto the back of the driver's seat for dear life as Sergio maneuvered the big truck. The fence had long ago collapsed and the truck easily roared into the field. The four people inside were jostled around as the truck bounced and growled through the overgrown grass. A few times they hit something big and were thrown about, but the truck kept going straight for the old farmhouse.

The four dead minions turned slowly as Sergio found an old ruined drive and drove up over the rough terrain. It was severely potholed from numerous storms and Samantha fell into Jeff a few times. They hit one so hard, she hit her head on the roof. Jeff quickly pulled her close and checked to see if she was okay. She shoved him off and said she was okay, but her head ached now.

She wasn't even sur

e what Sergio planned to do until they hit the first dead minion of The Summoner. It was a blond woman whose head was listing horribly to one side. She looked like something out of a zombie movie. The truck barreled into her body and flung it aside. Samantha whipped around to see the woman's body hit a tree and fall to the ground. To her surprise, it struggled to get back up.

Sergio swore in Spanish as he whipped the truck around and aimed for two men rushing toward them. They were both more alive in appearance than the blond woman, but Samantha saw their dead eyes just before the truck hit them. The two bodies were flung backward and landed hard on the ground. A woman with a pink dress and high heels rushed toward the truck, a tree branch gripped in one hand. She struck the back passenger window and Samantha screamed as broken glass rained in on them. Sergio slammed on the brakes and they were all thrown forward.

Innocente muttered something in Spanish, wrenched her door open, and leaped out.

“No,” Sergio exclaimed and grabbed for her, but missed.

Samantha shoved her door open and jumped out, wielding the bat. Immediately, she was confronted by the dead women clutching a branch in one hand. Sam swung the bat hard at the dead female. The impact reverberated through her arms and into her body and the woman in pink spun away from her.

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