This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….
Rattlesnake Falls Book 1
“Shelley? Are you awake? We should get moving — I think your friend is about out of patience. She’s already called twice this morning.”
She groaned, annoyed that the excitement of hearing Dillon’s voice through the door was tempored by the fact that apparently Tabby was being even more needy than normal and bugging the poor guy. Not to mention his mom.
“I’m up now,” she called, forcing herself upright. “Give me twenty minutes, and I’ll be ready to go.”
She heard the faint ringing of the landline in the background.
“Fifteen would be better.”
Dillon’s footsteps faded as Shelley slid out of bed and got her bag from the floor. Swinging it up to the cozy spot she’d just vacated, she fished out clean clothes and hurried to put them on. Tabby had better hope the trip was long enough for Shelley to cool off, because that girl was going to get one hell of a lecture when they saw each other again.
Shoving the t-shirt and shorts she’d worn to bed into a corner of the bag, she slipped on her shoes and did a quick check to make sure she hadn’t left anything.
Giving the book she’d spent way too much time finishing last night a quick half-smile, she turned and walked out the door. Dillon was on his way down the hall again, his expression serious.
“I know she can be a horrendous pain. I’m really sorry for the—“ Dillon shook his head and put his hands on her shoulders.
“I just talked to Mike. They had a fight after the last call, and Tabitha ran off. He’s trying to figure out which way she might have gone. Do you know if she’s ever been up here before?”
Shelley shook her head. “Never — she told me before she left. Are there trails that lead out of camp? She’d probably stay on the trails. She wouldn’t want to get lost. But she doesn’t always use her head either…” she pushed past Dillon. “We have to get up there. We have to find her!”
Aware of him behind her, she stalked out through the small kitchen and into the living room where Diane was sitting in an easy chair, her brows drawn together. She got up when Shelley came in and reached out a hand. Decorum was the only thing that made Shelley stop and take it.
“I’m sure they’ll find your friend, dear. Now you two drive safely. You can’t help her if you get hurt yourselves.”
Shelley mustered up a smile, and then leaned forward and kissed the woman on the cheek.
“Thank you. For everything. I hope we’ll see each other again soon.”
Dillon pulled his mom into a hug.
“We’ll be careful, Mom. I’ll let you know when we get to camp.”
Shelley followed him out to the parking lot. “How long will it take to get there?” She opened the passenger door of her car and tossed the bag on the seat, shutting the door again.
Dillon reached for the door of his truck. “An hour and a half or so, depending on how your car takes the gravel. Don’t go any faster than you have to — I’ll slow down if you do, okay?”
She nodded and turned to go around to the driver’s side.
She turned at Dillon’s voice and cocked one eyebrow up.
“We’ll find her. Mike’s probably got her already.”
Shelley managed a wry smile. “Thanks. I’m sure you’re right.” She looked at him for a long, awkward moment and then half-turned, pointing to her door. “I…guess we should get going then.”
“I guess so.” He gave a rough laugh and managed to look both embarrassed and adorable at the same time. Shelley got in the car before he could see the warmth blooming in her own face.
Good grief, woman — get a grip! She followed him through town and out onto a two-lane highway, wondering just exactly where this trip would take her. She was attracted to the man, that was for sure. And it sure seemed like he was attracted to her too. But they were so different — their lives were so different. She knew people made that work every day, but she wasn’t sure how. It seemed like so much…work.
But relationships were always about work, she supposed. Lord knows her friendship with Tabitha wasn’t ever easy. She’d wondered on several occasions why she didn’t just move out and leave Tabby to her own devices. But she never went through with it. Maybe because Tabby was her oldest friend and the only person Shelley could pour her heart out to in the middle of the night and know that in the morning, her secret would be safe, and the best cure for a hangover would be sitting on her nightstand.
Dillon turned right onto a narrow gravel road and Shelley pulled her focus back to driving. The country they were passing through was beautiful, so green and lush with new spring growth. The fresh smell of rain still hung in the air, and she wondered if it had rained again this morning.
And if Tabitha was out in that forest somewhere, lost on the side of a mountain because she couldn’t control that damn temper of hers.
The constant vibration and shifting of the gravel road set her teeth on edge, and she gripped the steering wheel tightly for better control. Maybe Dillon was right. Maybe Mike had already found Tabby, and she was waiting at the camp already…
Shelley didn’t see the pothole, but she felt the front right tire hit it, and heard a loud pop.
Suddenly it felt like the whole right side of her car was sucked into a vortex of some sort, and she panicked, slamming her foot on the brake. As soon as she felt the back of the car slide sideways on the loose gravel, she knew that had been a collossal mistake. She yanked hard on the wheel, but it was too late. The world was spinning and she was at the center, hanging on to the wheel for dear life until the car slammed side-first into something hard with a jolt that smashed her body into the door before everything went dark.
Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 9!
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