Home > Unbreakable (Shadow Falls: After Dark 0.5)(3)

Unbreakable (Shadow Falls: After Dark 0.5)(3)
Author: C.C. Hunter

Not wanting to call the guy out just yet, but damn close, Chase focused on eating his hot dog. But not happy, he forgot his manners and shoved the rest of the bun and meat into his mouth.

“You want something to eat?” Mindy asked Eric, pulling the nachos toward him.

“Yeah, I’m starved,” the guy said. But he didn’t partake in the nachos. Instead, he looked across the table. “You gonna eat that hot dog?” he asked Chase.

With his mouth full, he didn’t answer before Mindy said, “Oh, he’s done. He already had one.” Before he knew what she planned to do, she popped up and stole Chase’s second hot dog and dropped it in front of Eric.

Chase chewed the bun and meat in his mouth with a little more gusto and stared at his sister.

She glared back.

Eric never seemed to notice the glaring match.

Before Chase could swallow and claim dibs on his lunch, the creep picked up the hot dog and practically pushed the whole damn thing in his mouth.

The guy’s cheeks puffed out. Oh yeah, Chase thought, realizing why big bites looked disgusting. The gawker/hot dog stealer now had a little mustard oozing from his lips, and with his cheeks stretched out like a chipmunk, he probably couldn’t even feel it.

“Are you ready to go have our palms read?” Tami asked, as if sensing the tension.

“Palms read?” Eric said, his mouth still full as he made a face. “That’s stupid.”

Chase leaned forward. “Then I guess we’ll see you later. Come on, Mindy,” he said, and when he heard his tone, he realized he sounded a bit like his dad. Deep and serious.

Tami stood up as if she completely understood and agreed with Chase’s plan. Then she picked up Mindy’s phone and dropped it in her pocket. “You ready?” she asked Mindy.

Mindy, however, didn’t answer Tami. She’d gone back to her favorite pastime of glaring at Chase.

“Hey, I think it’s stupid,” Eric said, still talking around Chase’s hot dog, “but I’ll go along for the laughs.”

“Good.” Mindy cut another cold look at Chase as if warning him not to come between her and the boy she obviously thought was going to be her Prince Charming. Not that there was one thing charming about the guy.

Chase almost spoke up right then and told the guy to take a hike or go hang out with his vampire buds, but another glance at Mindy’s tight-lipped, squinty-eyed glare and he knew she would raise all kinds of hell. He didn’t want Tami to get mixed up in their sibling rivalry. So he shut his mouth, snagged his soda cup, and stood up.

The hot dog thief could come, but Chase wasn’t going to take his eyes off him. Stealing a hot dog was one thing, but if he tried anything with Mindy, he’d have more than Chase’s eyes on him.

Chase had never started a fight, but he’d finished several. People always thought bullies picked on the little guys, and they did, but being big had make him a target of some of the bullies who wanted to claim they’d taken out the tallest kid in class.

Unfortunately, it hadn’t worked out for them.

Chase summed up Eric. Probably sixteen, he had a wide set of shoulders on him and probably a tad more muscle. Chase didn’t care if the guy was older, or if he was built like a brick house. If he stepped out of line one more time, he’d put him in his place.


“I’m kind of scared,” Tami said later while standing beside the palm reader. “You go first.” She shot Chase a sweet but vulnerable smile. He was hit again by how pretty she was. Her father was American but her mom was Hawaiian, and she had the perfect blend. Her skin tone was just a tad olive and her hair was a couple shades lighter than black, and her eyes dark brown. He couldn’t actually say she was his type. He didn’t know if he actually had a type. But Susie Muller had also been brunette with dark eyes, not that Susie held a candle to Tami.

“Do you mind going first?” Tami asked, making Chase realize he’d just been standing there staring at her like an idiot. Probably even had that goofy smile on his face, too.

“No, that’s fine.”

The palm reader sat at a table with a black tablecloth, her hands folded on top. A sign on the table read: CAUTION: I WILL TELL THE TRUTH, NO MATTER HOW GOOD OR BAD.

She had jet-black hair, coal-black eyes, and she was dressed in bright orange. She reminded Chase of a gypsy. And maybe she was.

“Just two of you?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” Chase answered. Because Eric thought it was stupid, Mindy had decided against getting her palm read. He could tell Tami wanted company getting hers read, and if it made her happy … He didn’t really mind. He didn’t believe in it, but for Tami he’d do it.

Chase pulled out a twenty to pay for their reading.

“I can pay for mine,” Tami said. “My dad gave me money. And your dad hasn’t let me pay for anything.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Chase said, and was thankful his dad had given him ample cash. As he stuffed the change back in his jeans pocket, he cut his eyes around again to check on Mindy.

When he didn’t see them his heart shot into his throat. Shit! Had he let the jerk get Mindy off by herself?

But another sweep around and he spotted them. They stood about ten feet away chatting. As they’d walked here, he’d seen Eric try to put his arm around her and she’d pulled back a bit and took his hand instead. He liked knowing that Mindy was no fool. She might like the jerk and didn’t mind him holding her hand, but she wasn’t going to take any shit from him, either.

Glancing back at the palm reader, the woman motioned for him to sit down. He dropped in the empty chair across from her. She motioned with her fingers for him to give her his hand. He stretched out his hand on the table.

The woman reached over and slipped her palm under the back of his hand. Her fingers were warm, almost hot. For some odd reason, he recalled the lab tech with the icy touch who’d taken his blood this morning. And for one second he remembered he’d wanted to ask his dad about what kind of study it was.

His thoughts stopped when the woman, still holding his hand, shifted in her chair. It made a spooky creaking noise, and he wondered if she’d purposefully used a chair that groaned for effect. The woman stared down and slowly ran her thumb cross his palm. Her eyes widened suddenly and she jerked her gaze up and stared at him. Right at his forehead.

She gasped slightly as if she could see something in his head.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing.” She looked back at his palm and studied it for several long, silent seconds. Was she making up some crap? Hadn’t she practiced this before? Come on, just tell me I’ll live a happy life and collect your money.

“What do you see?” Tami asked, as if too excited to wait.

“I … see …” She paused. “I see that you will have amazing powers. But if you use them for good or evil is yet to be known.”

“That’s kind of ominous,” Tami said.

The woman looked up at Tami. “The future can always be a little frightening.” Then she looked back down, and after touching his wrist with her other hand, she traced a line over his palm only halfway across his hand. “You will come to many forks in life’s path. Some sooner than others. Some more painful than others. You will have to want to survive. Never …” Her voice grew deeper. “Never turn your back on a challenge. Fight for the right to live.”

Chase frowned. The woman was a lunatic. She was talking mumbo-jumbo, but for some reason her words gave him chills. He pulled his hand away. “Fine.” Glancing toward Mindy to make sure she hadn’t disappeared, he then looked back at Tami.

“You still want to do this?” he asked her, not sure he liked the stuff he’d heard and not sure Tami’s fortune would be any better.

“You’ve paid for it,” the palm reader said as if there were no refunds.

“Yeah,” Tami said. “I guess I shouldn’t turn my back on a challenge, either.” She chuckled, sounding a little nervous.

Chase stood up and moved the chair out a few inches, making it easy for Tami to get seated. Before he could move his hand, she sat down and her long, dark hair slipped over the back of his hand. His breath almost caught at how soft it felt. He wished he could leave his hand there. Enjoy the silky feel of her long strands against his knuckles. Yet suddenly afraid his touch wasn’t wanted, he pulled his hand away.

The woman leaned in and slipped her hand under Tami’s. Like with him, Chase saw the palm reader’s eyes widen and he heard her gasp. Okay, so that was how she played it. She pretended as if everyone’s palm told bad things.

But then she pulled her hand out from under Tami’s. “I’m sorry. I realize it was rude what I said earlier. If you would like your money back, I’m fine with a refund.”

November 1, 12 p.m.

News Flash: Update

Emergency crew nearing the site of local plane crash

Thanks to a slight decrease in snowfall, the three teams making their way to the crash site of the Cessna 210 that was flown by Dr. Edward Tallman and carrying four other passengers, is reportedly making good time. The team leader radioed that they have hopes of arriving on the mountain ledge in less than two hours. With the temperatures dropping into single digits, paramedics worry that the weather conditions alone could present a significant risk to any survivors.

It is unclear if Dr. Tallman and passengers have survival training for extreme weather conditions. Local medical teams are on standby to treat any survivors. Yet with each hour that passes, hope of finding the Tallmans and Miss Collins alive diminishes. In spite of the dire situation, family and friends of the victims remain hopeful.

“I know Edward,” said a close friend of Dr. Tallman. “He’s a doctor for God’s sake. If at all possible, he’s doing everything he can to keep his family safe.”

October 31, 1:30 p.m.

Chapter Four

Tami looked confused. “A refund? No,” she said, a little hesitant, obviously finding the woman’s behavior as odd as Chase did. “I want you to finish. At least I think I do,” she muttered, then glanced back at Chase.

He didn’t say anything because he didn’t think it should be his call, but he secretly hoped Tami said no. He hadn’t liked the good-or-evil crap the woman said about him and he suspected he wouldn’t like what she said about Tami.

“Are you sure?” the gypsy asked again, putting Chase on high alert.

“Yes,” Tami said, now sounding determined.

She nodded and reached for Tami’s hand again. She traced a line on Tami’s palm and stopped only a fourth of an inch in. Then, blinking, she glanced away, as if to ponder some thought.

Chase saw her stare at her sign for several long seconds. She closed her eyes. She inhaled, her chest rising, then she let out the air slowly. When she opened her eyes she looked up at Tami and adjusted her shoulders. “You will have a good life. Two children. A boy and a girl.”

Chase stared at the woman, thinking her whole tone and demeanor had changed. And from the frown on Tami’s lips, he wasn’t the only one who’d noticed it.

Tami tilted her head to the side and studied the woman. “Why do I think you’re lying?”

The palm reader stiffened. She put her hand over her chest. Her large ruby ring caught the sunlight and flickered. “I speak from my heart.”

“But does your heart tell the truth?” Tami asked.

She raised her chin, her mouth thinned. “I have read your fortune, now be gone with you and let me find other customers.”

“What are you not telling me?” Tami asked, sounding frightened.

Chase wanted to reach over and touch her shoulder, but didn’t know if she would welcome it. Then he thought, what the hell? He put his hand on her shoulder. “Let’s just go,” he said.

“Am I going to die or something?” Tami asked the woman.

The woman’s eyes became cold, distant. “We are all going to die.” She glanced out at the crowd. “See her? She’s going to die.” The woman motioned to the right. “That boy there. He’s going to die. There is no one safe from death.”

Tami, frowning, stood up and stared down at the woman. “You really suck at this.”

“Just be on your way. Go!” She shooed them away like mosquitoes.

“Come on.” Chase touched Tami’s elbow. As they stepped a few feet away, Tami stopped and looked up at him. “Am I crazy? Didn’t you think she was lying, too?”

Chase chose his words carefully. “I think she’s nothing but an old biddy who doesn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground.”

Tami laughed and then sobered. “I don’t think I’ll ever have my palm read again.”

“Me, either,” Chase said.

Tami made a face. “I mean, all she tells me is that we’re all going to die someday. Talk about obvious.”

“Hey. It was better than I got. I might grow up to be evil. She might as well have said I’d be a serial killer or something. Oh, and I might or might not die. If I turn my back on a challenge I’m gonna be a goner.”

Tami laughed. “You’re right, she was just a crazy old lady, wasn’t she?” She leaned in and bumped his shoulder with hers. A nice bump. Like he was more than just her best friend’s little brother.

“Yeah,” he said, and not sure if it was accidental, he shifted a little away so as not to crowd her, but he couldn’t stop smiling.

Tami looked around. “Oh, crap.”

“What?” he asked.

“Where’s Mindy and that creep?”

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