C.C. Hunter: When Life Hurts, Love heals.
C.C. Hunter's Books
Derek shares Kylie's pain; Lucas and Kylie share a secret past:
Meet the guys who rival over Kylie's heart.
"Did you pack your new underwear that I bought you yesterday?"
"Yes," Derek Lakes muttered, certain seventeen was too old to be reminded to pack his underwear by his mom. Biting back a retort, he looked around to see if any of the other teens waiting for the camp buses had heard his mortification. Were all moms this exceptional at embarrassing their offspring, or was his mom just extra talented?
"I wish you wouldn't go," his mom told him for the tenth time.
I wish I didn't have to go. A hungry flock of birds squawked from overhead, as if adding their two cents. Derek frowned and looked up, before focusing on his mom. "Going to Shadow Falls is important to me," he said, and it was. Not that he could explain it to his mom. There were things they didn't talk about. His father-all things concerning his father-was at the top of the list.
He glanced over his mom's shoulder. Anticipation buzzed in the air. Other teens stood by their parents' sides. Most were attending the normal summer camps. What he wouldn't give to be one of them-a normal.
A blond boy around sixteen walked past, and his eyes changed from coal black to yellow as his gaze focused on Derek. This one wasn't a normal. The boy nodded a silent greeting. Derek responded with only a slightest twitch of his brows. Perhaps he should feel a bond, a kinship with those like him, but he didn't. All the other Shadow Falls' campers were going to camp to learn how to use their powers. Derek was going to learn how to lose his.
"I already miss you." His mom wrung her hands together and right then emotion, so thick it bordered on desperation, filled the air and seeped into his pores.
His chest muscles tightened and his gaze shot to his mom. Was she that distraught over his going? She drove him crazy, but he'd vowed never to hurt her. His Fae father, who'd abandoned them, had hurt her enough. Focusing on her pale green eyes, Derek read only a hint of sadness.
But if the transferred emotion crowding his chest wasn't hers, then whose was it? His gaze shifted to the left and halted suddenly on a girl. Her light blond hair cascaded around her shoulders and her blue eyes shined with the watery sheen of unshed tears.
His mom followed his gaze, and she chuckled. "Oh, Derek. She's pretty."
He frowned at his mom and prayed the girl hadn't heard. Not that he hadn't made the same assessment. Well, he hadn't thought of her as pretty, more like freaking hot with curves in all the right places. But chances were, the girl, obviously upset, wouldn't appreciate being checked out by a guy . . . and his mom. Not that he stopped his slow admiration up and down her body. As his bad luck would have it, she hadn't even noticed him.
"Oh, Kylie," the girl's mom said. "Did I. . . ?"
He stopped listening, but filed the girl's name away. Kylie. It fit her. Soft and light, so unlike the heavy emotion she exuded.
He ached to move closer, to touch her and lessen her pain. Even an accidental brush of his shoulder, could offer her a small reprieve. He might as well use his gift, before he lost it completely.
"Is she . . . gifted?" his mom whispered.
He'd been so busy admiring her assets, he hadn't checked. He tightened his brow to see beyond her physical self, and while her brain pattern was not completely one of a normal, it was unlike any he'd ever seen. He fixed his gaze harder and quickly slammed against her closed shields. Closed shields amongst supernaturals were considered exceptionally rude. Not that she came across as ill-mannered, just aloof, and . . . hurting.
He continued to stare. Normal or not, he couldn't be completely sure.
The doors to the buses opened. Teens, eager to escape their parents, rushed forward, stirring anticipation in the air. And while his reasons differed from the others here, he was just as impatient to go, too. He needed to get this summer behind him.
Because he knew his mom would never let him leave without the mandatory hug, he went ahead and did it. Her maternal love mixed with sadness poured into his chest alongside the girl's more intense sentiments.
"I'll call." He picked up his suitcase-with his new underwear-and walked to the bus.
He looked back before he stepped up into the vehicle. His mom waved. He smiled, but his gaze shifted to the girl again. Kylie looked toward the buses, her raw emotion vibrated around her, and he felt her shudder from a sense of loss and abandonment.
He attempted to push the emotion away, but it was too strong-too arousing. He held his breath to see if she'd move toward the bus. Was she or wasn't she like him? He waited and hoped she'd walk his way, or that she'd at least notice him.
A crowd of others suddenly stood behind him-their impatience to get inside prickled his skin. He turned and took one step up into the bus, but a girl, with coal black hair, wearing dark shades-her vampire pattern easily readable-blocked the bus's entrance. She stared out at the parking lot, her brows above the glasses pinched in concentration.
Her attention shifted to him. "What the hell is she?" she asked, her tone leery.
Derek glanced back at the blonde. "I have no idea." Yet, he longed to know the answer, just as he longed to help her.
Lucas Parker stood in the corner of the dining hall, surrounded by a least six other werewolves, some of whom he knew from last year's camp and others who were new to Shadow Falls. Unlike the other supernaturals, the werewolves maintained the pack mentality. Not that they didn't play nice with others, but their loyalty to their own kind was instinctual.
"Fresh meat is arriving." Fredericka, a second-time camper, raised her face and sniffed at the air. Nodding toward the door, she leaned so close that her warmth bled into his arm and annoyed him. He shifted his shoulder away, worried what her closeness might mean. Their one-time hook-up last year had been a mistake. Though he sympathized with her plight of being raised by rogues, a romantic relationship was not something he wanted to pursue.
A new group of campers came meandering into the dining hall. Silence fell in the room as they all turned to see who they'd be sharing time with for the next two-and-a-half months. He studied the newcomers as they walked into the door--witch, shapeshifter, werewolf, vampire, and . . . Damn!
Kylie Galen. Lucas's breath stopped in his throat when the blonde stopped right outside the door, as though she were afraid to enter. Was it really her? Three years ago, during his first time at Shadow Falls, he'd half-hoped and half-feared he'd meet up with her. She was one of the few who knew the truth of his beginnings. The only one who could ruin everything he'd worked so hard to attain here at the camp. Hope that he was wrong swelled in his chest.
He studied her, taking in her long blond hair, her shapely feminine form, her soft blue eyes-eyes he remembered even after eleven years. His hope shattered. Not only did he recognize her eyes and odd brain pattern, but when he slammed against her closed shield, there was no mistaking the blonde as his former next-door neighbor.
Fredericka, still too close, released a low throaty growl. He didn't have to ask what had brought on her menacing sound. Kylie's refusal to reveal herself was not viewed as favorable among the supernaturals. But to his kind, anyone hiding behind their shield was viewed as a threat.
Strangely, as a boy, he hadn't seen the young innocent child as a peril. He'd simply been curious and intrigued. So much so, that he'd never told his parents about the girl, possibly a supernatural, even when she'd been the reason they'd had to leave like gypsies in the middle of the night.
Kylie reluctantly took another step forward, stopping in the doorway this time. Lucas saw a boy-a fairy-move in behind her. The Fae leaned close to her and whispered something in her ear. His mouth almost brushed against her cheek then his hand caressed her shoulder. Lucas felt the frown tighten his lips and an unexpected growl escaped his throat.
Fredericka turned and stared at his unexpected behavior. He looked away, not wanting to admit to her, or even to himself, that his growl had stemmed from a show of possessiveness. Kylie was nothing but a threat to him, and he'd be wise to remember it.
He kept his gaze locked on her, noting and appreciating all the ways she'd changed. A new hope filled his chest. Maybe she wouldn't remember him. She moved inside the dining hall and as her gaze shifted across the room, he knew the moment when she spotted him that his last hope was futile, because something close to terror filled her eyes.
This was going to be a hell of a summer.