The world has been destroyed by the Calamity virus, which has wiped out most of the population and left the survivors sterile. While searching for supplies, Lane encounters a young pregnant woman at the side of the road. Elsa is on the run from scientists who want to take her and her baby for research. Realizing she is in danger alone in the city, Lane takes Elsa home to her shelter beneath an abandoned factory.
Trapped together in a small room for weeks, the two experience an undeniable attraction to one another, but Lane has given up on life and any hope of finding love. Can Elsa and the impossible promise of new life give Lane the will to live again, or will Lane’s secrets tear their tiny family apart before it’s even complete?
Be Warned: f/f sex
Lane’s gaze fell on the willow tree that overlooked the river. From beneath the shadow of its branches, a young woman stepped forward. Long, blonde hair hung over her shoulders in matted ringlets. Dirt and blood smeared her face. A yellow-brown flowered dress covered her heavily pregnant body. The woman held a handgun pointed at Lane. Her hands didn't shake at all. She had killed before, Lane realized.
"I don't want to hurt you." Lane wondered if she had walked into some kind of trap. She'd heard of them on the road, pregnant women seeming to be in danger from men. It was all a ruse. They robbed any travelers who stopped to help, stealing their food and leaving them to die in the harsh wilderness.
"How do I know you're not one of them?" The woman looked Lane over, taking in the wrinkles and lines on her face caused by the stress of living in such a cruel, barren world.
"One of who?" Lane asked.
"The people who want my baby." The young woman lowered her gun and stepped forward. "You have no idea, do you?"
"Not even slightly," Lane admitted.
"What's left of the CDC is gathering up pregnant women for research. To try and figure out why the plague sterilized some women, but not others. They want to take my baby away and kill me.”
"The government wouldn't do that." It was Lane's turn to cast her suspicion. "They've been trying to help us."
"Right." The woman bit back sarcasm. "Then explain the men in black vans who have been chasing me. Like the one over there." The woman beckoned Lane forward.
Lane stepped closer to the young woman. Her fear of a trap was overwhelmed by her curiosity. She followed the young woman to the concrete wall. She leaned on the metal railing and pointed to a small van parked on the lower road. The drivers had clearly tried and failed to conceal it behind a large poplar tree, but the clean, waxed vehicle stood out like a sore thumb in the dusty wastelands.
"You ever think that maybe they're trying to help you?" Lane asked. "You carry a miracle inside you. Of course the government's going to be interested in you and your baby."
"I've heard stories," the young woman said. She looked at Lane with wide eyes that spoke of terrors witnessed and recorded for all time. "I've seen things. Women disappearing. Some coming back bleeding, saying they miscarried. Others say the vans are stealing their children, cutting them out and taking them away."
"There are a lot of stories in this world. They're often nothing but urban legends. There's no way to verify the truth any more." Lane reached out her hand and placed it on the young woman's shoulder to try and comfort her. She looked back across at the black van to see several black-clad soldiers climb out of the back. They pointed toward Lane and the young woman.
"Get down!" Lane yelled, pulling the woman down with her. Bullets hit the tree behind them, sending a shower of willow bark down on their heads. The woman started to tremble. The gun slipped from her grasp. Lane scooped it up and gave it back to her. "Maybe you're right. Maybe these aren't the good guys. We should get out of here before they arrive. What's your name?"