Kings of Quarantine (Brutal Boys of Everlake Prep #1) - Caroline Peckham ,Susanne Valenti

There’s nothing like starting your first day at a new school with your dad tossing a gun into your lap.

“Dad!” I gasped, snatching the nine millimetre Glock into my grip and shoving it back at him. “Are you crazy?”

His usually smooth brow wrinkled in that way that told me he was about to show me the sterner side of him. We were closer than two knotted necklaces and just as inseparable, but when his usually long fuse ran out, he was one scary son of a bitch. My fuse was longer than his, but I didn’t think I could pull off the Freddy Kruger stare he was pointing at me right now.

“Tatum, I’m only going to say this once.” He reached over into the back seat of our Audi A4 Wagon, hooking my backpack off of it and unzipping the front pocket. He stuffed the gun inside before I could voice any more complaints and barrelled on. “This is for your protection. You’re taking it with you.”

“Dad, it’s a boarding school for the richest kids in Sequoia State and beyond. What could possibly happen to me here?”

He released a sarcastic ha!, pushing his glasses up his nose. They were the only thing cliché about him being a virologist. He was a gun enthusiast, a black belt in karate, had scars on his knuckles from the fights he’d been in in his youth and his favourite hobby was doomsday planning. Like, he had legit bought a house in Elmwood Forest a few hours north of here with a bunker stashed with enough tinned food to get us by until the year three thousand.

To put it lightly, he was any teenage boy’s worst nightmare. That was probably why I kept my dating life brief and to the point. Besides, with the way we moved around all the time, one night stands were a good way to defend myself from a broken heart. If I had no intention of making something last more than a few hours at a time, then I never had to worry about heartache and all of those other lovely things I’d rather avoid. I’d already had my fair share of that when I was a kid anyway after Mom had up and left us.

Dad gripped the back of my seat, leaning in close and giving me a firm look. “I’ve seen a lot of life, Tater-tot.”

I rolled my eyes at the nickname and turned away, gazing through the iron gates ahead of us. A huge gravel driveway led up to the gothic manor house at the far end of it. It looked like something plucked out of a horror story, the clouds above not letting in a crack of light to brighten the ancient grey walls. Who even built a place like that all the way out here in the middle of nowhere? Count Dracula?

“Look at me, kiddo,” Dad growled and his tone set my pulse racing.

I turned to him, frowning as I tried to figure out why he was acting like a lunatic over me going to boarding school. It wasn’t like I’d wanted to come here. He’d been the one to push and push until I agreed. He had to work, he said. He needed to travel all over the country, he claimed. But why couldn’t I just go with him? I’d been doing it my whole life. Why stop now?

“You need some stability. And with the Hades Virus taking a grip in the world, I’m needed now more than ever.”

I clucked my tongue. The virus. For the past couple of months ‘the virus’ had been like a pissy next door neighbour in our lives who let his dog shit on our lawn and peeped over our fence any time we got too comfortable in our own space. It was an ever-present, lonely pervert of a neighbour who needed to get a life.

I knew Dad needed to do this. He was important. He was working on a cure to save millions of people when this disease got out of hand – which it would apparently. But there hadn’t even been a single case of the Hades Virus all the way out here in northern Sequoia. Not even in the next state over yet. The number of cases in America as a whole was only in the hundreds, but Dad was a virologist and he knew more about it than the government were letting on right now. If the virus got out of control, shit was gonna get