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Stuck in Z Middle with You

Stuck in Z Middle with You

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Stuck in Z Middle with You

5/5 (5 Bewertungen)
75 Seiten
57 Minuten
Oct 24, 2020


For Zosia Walker, things can’t seem to get any worse. After too much partying and not enough studying, she’s lost her college scholarship and has to high-tail it back home. Paired with a string of one-night stands and dwindling self-esteem, Zosia feels like an out-of-control loser, and hates that her future is so unsure.

Paul Pelayo is drifting through life, just taking things one day at a time. He’s content to work the overnight shift at the same gas station where he’s worked since graduating high school, and sees no big rush to do anything else. The job doesn’t pay well, but he gets to sketch and read comics all night, which is just fine with him.

One night, Zosia pulls off the interstate on her way home from college to gas up her car, and it doesn’t take long for her to realize something is very, very wrong. Soon, Zosia finds herself trapped in the gas station with the aloof (but kinda cute) attendant, defending themselves from a horde of the living dead. If they can just survive until daylight without killing each other first, Zosia and Paul might stand a chance at making it out alive… and in love.

Oct 24, 2020

Über den Autor

Wendy Dalrymple crafts highly consumable, short and sweet romances inspired by everyday people. When she’s not writing happily-ever-afters, you can find her camping with her family, painting (bad) wall art, and trying to grow as many pineapples as possible. Keep up with Wendy at!

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Stuck in Z Middle with You - Wendy Dalrymple

Chapter One

Zosia Walker’s sneakers slid over the cement floor as she struggled with all her might to hold the heavy door. A droplet of sweat stung her eyes and her breath caught in her throat, as she glanced over at an equally sweaty and panting Paul. As he struggled and grimaced against the force that threatened to make its way inside, a strange thought occurred to her.

Wow, those dimples, she found herself thinking dreamily. They’re amazing.

Paul’s long, sandy hair was plastered to his forehead and the urge to push the strands out of his eyes briefly crossed her mind. She snapped out of her haze as another push from outside forced the door open wider. The scratching and moaning coming from the other side seemed unreal— silly even, like something out of a bad B-movie. And yet it was real. So very, very real.

We need something to brace the door! he grunted through clenched teeth.

Like what?! she said, exasperated.

Like anything!

With one last shove, Zosia and Paul worked together to push the horde back and secure the door once more. She felt the tiniest wave of relief as he flipped the deadbolt lever and it rammed home with a satisfying click. Zosia spied the high-back chair from the corner of the room and pushed it into Paul’s hands. He wedged the chair underneath the doorknob, then tested it for good measure. The doorknob rattled weakly for another moment and then, just as quickly as the moaning and scratching had begun, it ceased, and the little store was quiet once again.

Shit, that was close, Zosia exhaled loudly.

Dammit, Joel, Paul spat. I told him about leavin’ the delivery door unlocked after his smoke breaks.

Only a few hours before, Zosia had found herself speeding down I-275, hoping to make it home before her parents went to bed. Distracted by her predicament and in a haste to leave town, she hadn’t bothered to gas up her car, which she was quickly coming to regret. In fact, she hadn’t bothered to do much else besides pack up some essentials for a long weekend, a weekend that would no doubt be full of disappointed looks and lectures. Now, as the exit for Palmetto neared, Zosia wished she hadn’t been so negligent about something as simple as putting fuel in her car. Then again, automotive care wasn’t the only thing she had become careless about lately.

Zosia usually avoided getting off at the Palmetto exit at all costs whenever she traveled back home from Tampa. For one thing, instead of being an intersection surrounded by a little hub of civilization, it was just where a new road split off from I-275 some miles before it reached the main drag again. This meant no Starbucks, and the closest gas station was a couple of miles down the road. A rainstorm had followed her all the way from St. Petersburg down over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, giving Zosia even less reason to want to bother pulling off the road. However, on this night, with the light of the setting sun shining in her face nearly as brightly as her low on gas light, she knew she’d never make it to the Tamiami Trail. Sighing, Zosia veered to the right and headed south on the new road.

The rain began to finally let up as she pulled into the rural gas station, leaving a steamy layer of atmosphere hovering just above the earth. Zosia threw her Nissan into Park next to the first pump and slumped down into her seat, letting out a deep, self-pitying sigh. Her now useless University of South Florida parking pass swung from the rearview mirror, mocking her. She snatched the hanging pass and tossed it to the floor before opening her door, stretching her legs and taking in her surroundings.

This place is freaking creepy, she muttered to herself, scanning the area.

A fluorescent light at the edge of the parking lot, which let weary travelers know they’d reached Jim’s Gas-N-Go, flickered as if in reply, followed by a zapping noise and then a steady buzz. There were four pumps under a rectangular lighted overhang, and a short distance away stood a little glass-fronted convenience store of sorts. A warm breeze skittered a single empty Monster Energy aluminum can across her path, only to deposit it into a puddle left by the late summer rain. She kicked the can out of her path, hearing the hollow clinking sounds fade away as she absentmindedly reached for the pump.

Zosia cringed as she touched the sticky, ancient handle. The hose was attached to a bubble-topped machine that was probably older than she was, with little flipping tiles to keep track of her purchase instead of a digital screen, and no sign of a card reader. Not that any of my cards would have worked in an up-to-date gas pump anyway. She sighed and began to fill her tank as her worries shifted from her lack of funds to the state of her academic career.

What am I going to tell them? she thought to herself for the millionth time. They’re going to be so pissed.

As she pumped her gas, the drone of the cicadas in the scrub woods behind the gas station synched up with the hum of the ancient fluorescent lights. The combination of flickering bulbs and hypnotic sounds, as well as the heady scent of wet, rotting pine, and earth, put Zosia in a sort of trance. She didn’t realize that she had allowed herself to become so distracted until a flood of gasoline washed over her hand.

No! she shouted,

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