Home > Unbreakable (Shadow Falls: After Dark 0.5)(5)

Unbreakable (Shadow Falls: After Dark 0.5)(5)
Author: C.C. Hunter

“I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt at all.” It wasn’t a lie this time. Hearing that Tami had a thing for him chased the pain away.

She picked up his hand and dropped the paper towel filled with ice on his hand. “You were awesome,” she said. In the corner of his eye, he saw his sister move a few feet away as if giving them space.

He glanced up at Tami. “Not really. I should have chased his ass off a long time ago.”

“Mindy wouldn’t have let you. Besides, I … never thought watching a guy fight would be hot, but it was.”

“You think I’m hot?” he asked, loving the sound of that.

She grinned. “I think you’re a hero.”

“So I’m not hot?”

She laughed. “You’re both.” She dipped her head and kissed him. It wasn’t one of those that came with tongue, but it was much more than a simple peck.

And it didn’t end quickly. It lasted, not long enough, but long enough for it to mean something.

When she pulled back, he looked up at her. “Are you only kissing me because I hit Eric? Because I don’t want to have to hit a guy every time I want to score a kiss.” He smiled at her, his heart still racing from feeling her lips against his.

“No,” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time. And …” she made a funny face, “since I’m gonna die soon, I figured I’d better do it.”

“In that case, do you think you should do it again?” It was a lame line. But it worked.

She kissed him again. And this one did come with a little tongue. He was nervous at first, but just like he thought, he didn’t suck at it. He suddenly felt confident. He even reached up with his uninjured hand and held the back of her head.

The sound of a ringing phone broke the kiss. His sister stood about ten feet away staring and smiling as she pulled her phone out.

When she looked at the phone’s screen, her eyes widened with panic. She came running up. “It’s Dad. Pleeeasse tell me you didn’t call him about this.”

“I didn’t,” he told her and stood up. “He’s probably just checking in.”

She inhaled a breath and took the call.

“Hey, Dad,” Mindy said, sounding extra cheery, but she really did sound okay. She paused. “I hate that. Yeah, we were ready to come back anyway.” She looked up at Chase. “Okay, we’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”

She dropped the phone back in her pocket. “He’s picking us up early. Something about a storm and a surgery he’s been called in to do. We’re going to have to leave this afternoon. Like soon, because everyone is trying to get out of town before the storm.”

“I hate that,” Tami said.

“Me, too,” Chase said. He wasn’t ready for this weekend to end. He plopped the ice he’d been using on his knuckles on the table. He moved his hand. It wasn’t broken, just bruised.

Mindy stood there staring at him, looking worried again. “Promise me you aren’t going to tell Mom or Dad about this.”

Chase studied her frown. “Promise me that you’ll be more careful from now on. And not hook up with jerks.”

“I promise,” Mindy said. “Now you promise. I want to hear it.”

Chase shrugged. “I already promised, but to make you feel better … I promise I won’t tell Dad or Mom.” His sister came over and hugged him again.

“I love happy endings,” Tami said.

As they walked back to the place they were supposed to meet his dad, they passed the palm reader. She was with someone else, holding a man’s palm in her hand, probably telling him lies. Then, as if the palm reader felt them, she glanced up. Her dark black eyes followed them. But it was her expression that concerned him more. It wasn’t evil. Not angry. It was sad.

Chase looked away quickly, glad Tami hadn’t seen her.

He didn’t believe the woman. He didn’t. But he gazed back one more time and for some reason he recalled what Tami said. I love happy endings.


As they were walking back to meet his dad, Mindy claimed she needed to find a restroom. And because apparently girls never went to the bathroom alone, Tami went with her. Chase sat down on a bench a half a block from the facilities.

He sat there practically glowing thinking about the two kisses, and trying to decide what he needed to do next. And not just kiss her again—oh, he was definitely going to do that—but wondering what a boy was supposed to do. Did he ask her to go out with him? Ask her to go to the movies with him? A thought hit that he didn’t like. His parents had been so strict about Mindy not dating until sixteen, would they feel the same way about him?

Shit! He didn’t like that. And for once he could really relate to his sister’s feelings.

A few minutes passed. His hand throbbed a bit along with the concern about his parents. Remembering Eric could still be around and might be stupid enough to try something, he stood up and walked toward the bathrooms, wanting to be there when they walked out.

Two girls came out of the facility but it wasn’t Tami and his sister.

He stood in the same spot, scuffing his shoe on the pavement, watching the exit to the girls’ restroom, trying not to worry. Chicks always took forever in the bathroom.

When another five minutes passed, he started pacing. If they didn’t come out soon, he was going in. His face heated thinking about walking into a girls’ restroom, but …

“Hey,” Tami called out.

He spun around and saw them walking toward him.

“I thought you were in the bathroom?” he said, sounding a little annoyed. He instantly regretted his tone, but figured he had a right. He’d been worried.

“I saw something I wanted to buy,” Tami said, and moved in close to him. “I saw it when I went to get the ice earlier.”

He almost said they should have told him, but bit back the words. He didn’t want Tami to think he was too controlling.

“Do you want it now or later?”

He paused a second. “It’s for me?”

“Yeah,” she said as if he should have figured it out.

He suddenly felt bad. He hadn’t bought her anything. Not that he’d really had a chance, but …

“I say you open it now.” Tami beamed and handed him a plastic bag.

“Yeah, open it now,” Mindy said, putting her two cents in. “You’ll like it.”

Chase looked from Mindy to Tami. “But I didn’t get you—”

“Don’t be silly, open it. It’s just a little thing. It’s not even really for you, but … well, sort of.”

Chase pulled a leather dog collar from the bag.

“It’s for Baxter,” Tami said. “But read what it says. I saw it when I was waiting for them to get ice for your hand. They had them hanging from a display case.”

Chase turned the dog collar around and read the inscription: NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON A CHALLENGE.

“Crazy, isn’t it?” Tami said. “It’s the same thing the fortune-teller said.”

“Yeah,” Chase agreed, rubbing his finger on the soft leather.

Tami made a face. “I’ll bet the crazy lady saw it earlier and just used it. But … it’s not a bad saying. And I know how much Baxter means to you.”

“He does. And … I like the collar. Thank you. And Baxter will thank you.”

She lifted up on her tiptoes. Her lips came so close to his that he could feel her soft breath. He also felt her soft br**sts against his chest. And that felt really, really good.

“You’re welcome,” she said. Then she kissed him.

Mindy chuckled. “I hate to rain on your parade, but you two don’t have time to play kissy-kissy. We need to meet Dad.”

Chase frowned at his sister and tucked the collar in his coat pocket. Then, not turning his back on a challenge, he reached over and slipped his hand into Tami’s. It fit perfectly against his.


His dad drove like a bat out of hell to get to the cabin. Supposedly, he’d heard about the incoming storm while skiing and had driven Chase’s mom home to start packing. “Five minutes,” he said as they walked into the cabin. “There’s some talk that the storm could come in earlier and I have to get home. I can’t be delayed here.”

His dad tossed his coat on the sofa. “Amy? You packed and ready?” he called out to Chase’s mom.

“Almost,” came her voice from the bedroom.

“Go,” his dad said to them. “I’m serious, grab everything, drop it in your suitcases, and let’s fly out of here. Four minutes. If we’re late, we’ll be stuck waiting for several hours for runway time and the storm could come in early.”

Mindy and Tami took off to the room they shared, Chase turned to go to his. Then he realized something was wrong. Baxter hadn’t met him at the door. Baxter always met him.

“Where’s Baxter?” Chase muttered, looking around and checking his pocket for the dog collar Tami had given him.

“Just get your bags packed,” his dad said.

Chase didn’t want to piss his dad off, but instead of going to his room, he darted past his dad to find his mom.

She was rushing around the room, tossing their clothes into the open suitcase.

“Where’s Baxter, Mom?” he asked.

His mom had just tossed a handful of clothes toward the bed and she froze as if the question rolled around her head. She stood there for one second and then her eyes widened with worry. “Crap!” She ran out the bedroom door.

“What?” Chase asked, running after her.

“I let him outside to potty and was standing out there watching, then your dad called to tell me how soon we had to go and I completely forgot him.” She ran past his dad.

“Are we packed?” his dad asked his mom.

His mom ignored him and opened the back door and ran out on the porch. “Baxter?” she called. “Come here, boy!” When the dog didn’t come running, she took off down the porch.

Chase followed and started calling his dog.

“What is it?” his dad asked, stepping out on the back porch.

“I let Baxter out and forgot about him.” His mom ran from one side of the property to the other calling the dog.

Chase took off toward the woods, worried Baxter had chased a rabbit or something. The dog wasn’t one to run off, but if a small animal showed up, he’d probably give chase on pure instinct.

“Chase?” his father called out. “You go pack, I’ll see if I can find Baxter. You, too, Amy.”

Chase wanted to argue that his dog was ten times more important than packing, but he saw the expression on his dad’s face and knew he meant business.

As he walked back into the cabin, listening to his dad call out Baxter’s name, Mindy ran right into him. “What’s wrong? Is Baxter missing?”

“Yeah,” Chase said, frowning.

“Crap!” Mindy said. “How did he get out?”

“I did it.” His mom stepped in behind him. “I’m so sorry, Chase,” she said, guilt lacing her voice. While Baxter was the family pet, the black Lab had picked Chase as his person the moment they’d brought him home from the shelter, where his previous owner had just dumped him off.

“It was an accident,” Chase said, not wanting to blame his mom. He knew how much his mom loved Baxter, too.

“You want us to go look for him, too?” Tami asked, standing behind his sister.

“Have you two finished packing yet?” his mom asked.

“No,” Mindy answered.

“Then let’s all hurry up and finish and then we can look for him together.”


Chase sat in the backseat, his head reclined, his eyes closed. He simply could not believe his dad was doing this. Leaving Baxter! How could he leave Chase’s dog? Every now and then Tami would brush her hand against his. It felt nice, and he would have liked it if he wasn’t hurting so much inside. If he wasn’t so damn angry at his dad.

Suddenly, feeling as if he would burst if he didn’t try one more time to convince his dad, he lifted his head up. His dad’s gaze, as if knowing Chase wasn’t finished fighting the battle, shot to the rearview mirror and his eyes locked on Chase’s.

“Jimmy is going to find him, Chase,” his dad said before Chase could say anything. “He told me he was going to look for him right after we hung up. He’ll find him. You’d be amazed how good he is at … finding things … and as soon as the storm is over we’ll have Baxter flown to Houston.”

“Then let me stay and help this guy find him. I’ll fly back with Baxter,” Chase gritted out. “Please take me back and let me find my dog.”

“No, I’m not going to leave you here. There’s a hell of a storm coming and I want to know my family is safe.”

“And what if they don’t find Baxter before the storm comes in? You know your friend isn’t going to look as hard as we would. He probably doesn’t even like dogs. Please, let’s not leave,” Chase begged. “Let’s all stay and find Baxter. He’s part of this family.”

His dad’s expression tightened.

“Damn it, Dad, his first owners already abandoned him. He’s going to think we did the same thing.”

Chase saw his dad’s hands on the wheel tighten. “I have to get home, Chase. There’s a surgery I can’t miss.”

Every muscle in Chase’s body clenched. “Would it kill you to miss a day at work? Why is your damn work more important than Baxter?”

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