The Black Rider - J.B. Trepagnier

Chapter 1


ell, shit just got awkward, and I didn’t think the end of the world could get any weirder. The Horseman of Pestilence was still on his knees in front of me, holding my hand, and the Horseman of Death looked like he wanted to murder him. Honestly, the only reason Aeron’s balls hadn’t gotten up close and personal with Smurfette was because Leif was still holding my hand, and no one was talking.

I was furious. Aeron had numerous occasions to explain why I kept drawing horses. I’d asked about that crazy horse so many times, I’d lost count. Deep down, I’d had my suspicions, but I kept telling myself it couldn’t be possible. Sure, I somehow could draw the future, and there was a lot of biblical shit going on, but I kept telling myself the Book of Revelations wasn’t really coming to life in that way. My father was just somehow making shit happen.

“Ariel, let me explain—” Aeron started.

I ripped my hand out of Leif’s.

“You had every chance to explain when I kept asking about your horse. You could have said something when I tattooed those horses on the pumpkin. You even had a third chance when we got to my apartment, and there were fucking horse paintings all over the walls, you shit!”

Leif got to his feet.

“She has a point. You should have gotten her up to speed on the way down here. What were you doing the entire ride down the West coast if you weren’t explaining things?”

Aeron ran his fingers through his pale hair. He looked madder at Leif than he was at me, and I was the one screaming at him. Leif just had my back. Leif might be defending me, but I didn’t trust either of these men anymore. Everything I could remember about the Book of Revelations was that these fucking men ushered in all the shit I saw in the world.

How did I know Aeron didn’t try to get on my good side to get me here so that Leif could make something even worse with my blood? Maybe they wanted to wipe out all the people with blood immunity too. How was I supposed to get the fuck out of here when this entire city was militarized, and everyone knew Leif and Aeron had been looking for me?

“Because of this right here! You know how she reacted the first time we told her. That’s when things were normal in the world. Tell me, Leif, when was the perfect time to break that out when it was just the two of us on the road? If she ran, I might never find her.”

“How about my apartment when I straight up asked, asshole? What is this? I’m not helping either of you make this worse. You can both fuck off.”

“Ariel, I didn’t lie to you,” Aeron said. “I said I would tell you everything when my team was together because I knew how you would react.”

“You don’t get to talk to me about lying. I want the truth. All of it, or I’m out. How do I know your team isn’t the bad guys? You’re the fucking Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I remember my verses. You bring the end of the world when you come!”

Leif held up his hands in surrender.

“We need snacks if we’re going to tell a story. I imagine you ate pretty rough on the road. We’ve got our farms up and running here. I can get you a hot meal and snacks.”

“I got her Cheetos and nachos,” Aeron grumbled.

I felt this little twinge in my chest. Yeah, he did, and it meant so fucking much to me at the time when I realized he did it for me and not him. He fucking made me pancakes and cooked for me. He tried to make this shit world as better for me as possible. As mad as I was at him right now, I’d developed feelings for him on our trip. I always did have total shit taste in men, but I thought Aeron was one of the good ones, and he even passed the Miss Mabel test.

Maybe there was something that could be said during this story time that would make falling for the Horseman of Death not seem like the biggest fuckup I’d ever done relationship-wise. It wasn’t like I had a choice about listening. This place was crawling with armed soldiers. Aeron and Leif had been helpful so far, but I had a feeling that would change