Laurie Parkinson, who’s lived in Laurel Hills all his life, is a gay sheet metal worker who’d rather be a gay hairdresser. Wheat Dupuis, who’s also gay, is the scion of one of Laurel Hill’s wealthiest families. He’d rather grow grapes than become CFO of Dupuis International.
Laurie wakes one morning to discover his family gone and his town decimated by a bacteria that has lain dormant for millennia, incased in ice. With the melting of the ice caps, the bacteria is released, and mankind faces a pandemic that could surpass the Black Plague.
Wheat and his family are on their way to safety when the unthinkable happens and he’s left behind. Laurie knows of a bunker in the woods outside Laurel Hill, where he intends to take refuge. On the way there, Laurie finds and rescues Wheat.
Can two such dissimilar men work together through a pandemic to find their families ... and possibly find love, as well?
“What a pretty house,” Mother said. Beyond the gas station stood a white clapboard farmhouse with maroon shutters and a small porch. She looped her arm through Laurie’s and urged him closer. “Do you think they’ll object to us staying with them?”
“We’ll go ask, Mrs. Dupuis.” Laurie glanced at Wheat.
“Would you mind staying with Father?” he asked his mother.
“Of course not.” She urged Father to stroll to a nearby flowerbed, murmuring to him.
Laurie had his carving knife, and Wheat had the baseball bat. Together they approached the house. Laurie tapped on the door, and when there was no answer, he turned the knob. The door wasn’t locked, and he pushed it open.
“Hello,” Wheat called. Again there was no answer, and he exchanged a glance with his boyfriend. Laurie shrugged and took a few steps inside.
“Is anyone here?” This time it was Laurie who called out.
Abruptly Wheat was struck by the odor, which he had no trouble recognizing this time, and he clapped a hand over his mouth. All the occupants of this house were dead, he was sure of it.
“This isn’t good,” Laurie said. He backed toward the door, dragging Wheat along with him. “
“No.” Wheat froze and stared up at the ceiling. “What was that?”
Laurie’s eyes grew huge and he tugged harder on Wheat’s arm. “I don’t know. All I know is we’re not spending the night here.” Laurie pulled the door shut behind them.
“Oh God, no!” Wheat’s voice was hardly a whisper. They raced back to the SUV.
“Will we be staying here, Morrison?” Mother asked. She seemed a little out of breath, and he realized Father was leaning against her heavily.
“No, Mother. Laurie, please get my mother in the car.” Wheat eased her out of the way, assisted his father into the SUV, and secured his seat belt. Father leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes.
“How bad is it, Father?”
He opened his eyes. They were bloodshot. “Nothing more than a bad cold, my boy. I’ll be --” He broke off, coughing. This time, when he took his handkerchief from his mouth, Wheat could see specks of blood on it. “-- fine in the morning.”
“Of course you will. I’m just going to get Mother now.”
Father waved him away.
He closed the door and ran around to the other side of the SUV. As soon as they were away from this place, he’d give his father some antibiotics.
“It wouldn’t be a good idea, Mrs. Dupuis,” Laurie was telling her as Wheat rejoined them. “I’m sorry, but we’d ... uh ... we’d never get the smell out of our clothes.”
“The smell? Oh. I see.” She gazed across the space to the house, and her lips moved silently.
Of course she’d say a prayer for those poor people. But ...They had to go.
She came up to them. “We’re all set. Jo found a spare gas can, and I filled that as well, so we should be good.”
“Get in the car, please?” Wheat asked.
“Jo, where’s Vic?” Laurie’s voice was tense.
“Right here.” She had the collie right beside her.
“Okay, good, get in the car, all of you.” Laurie turned to Althea. “Would you mind if I kept driving?” he asked her.
She studied him thoughtfully, then nodded.
“Okay, let’s get out of here.”
Once Althea was buckled up beside Jo, Wheat and Laurie got into the SUV and buckled up themselves. Laurie took the wheel again, drove around the pump, and headed toward the main road.
Wheat watched the house through the passenger side mirror. Did the curtain in the front room flutter a bit? Did the door open just a tad? “Faster,” he urged, his mouth desert dry. “You’ve got to go faster.”
Laurie didn’t question him, just stepped on the gas. In minutes they were back on the road. He sent a quick glance toward Wheat.
“Don’t slow down.”
“Why are you going so fast, Laurie?” his sister asked.
“He is driving fast, isn’t he?” Wheat scrambled for an excuse, then decided to throw himself under the bus. “My fault. I’m sorry. Everyone in the house was dead, and I guess I got spooked. Your brother is just humoring me.