C.C. Hunter: When Life Hurts, Love heals.
C.C. Hunter's Books
I got so many emails from my Derek fans worried he'd never be happy with Kylie's decision to give Lucas her heart. As a writer, I wanted to give you all an inside peek into Derek's point of view. Below are scenes that were either in Chosen at Nightfall and I rewrote them from Derek's point of view or wrote scenes that happened off stage during Chosen at Nightfall. I hope you enjoy.
Panic thickened the air. Derek sensed it. Burnett had just broken Kylie's cabin door because he'd heard her jumping around and thought she was under attack. But nope. Derek walked into Kylie's cabin behind Burnett, feeling the humidity of emotional havoc steaming off everyone in the room. Kylie held the magical sword in her hands, the thing glowing with her power. Della, her fangs extended and her eyes bright green appeared ready to attack. Fear and the need to protect Shadow Falls came from all the other campers Burnett had gathered to come here.
Derek had to concentrate to keep adrenaline from overpowering him. Someone had jumped the fence and broken into the camp. And of course, everyone suspected it was Mario coming after Kylie, which is what brought them storming into Kylie's cabin and finding her standing there with her sword as if prepared to fight.
The sensation of danger radiated from everyone, even himself. His muscles tensed and his blood coursed faster. He'd nearly died at Mario's hand. He knew how dangerous Mario could be. Drawing in a deep breath, wanting to feel only his own emotions and not those all around him, he focused on the facts. And one fact stood out.
It might not be Mario. It could have just been some animal that tripped the alarm. Or one of the weres who had gotten out undetected and hadn't been as lucky getting back in. It wouldn't be the first time it happened. Burnett just didn't know about it. The camp leader would shit his pants if he knew everything that went on.
Then again, it was Burnett he was talking about. Every now and then, Derek got the feeling the vampire knew a hell of a lot more than he let on. Derek wasn't afraid of Burnett like some of the campers, probably because Derek could read the man's emotions. And what he felt most wasn't anger. There was nothing evil about Burnett, his top emotions were loyalty and concern. That, and lust for Holiday. The man had fallen hard for the other camp leader. Derek couldn't blame him. He knew what it felt like to fall hard.
He'd fallen for Kylie. But he was moving past that. He had to. Kylie loved Lucas. And as much as Derek hated admitting it, Lucas loved Kylie, too. Derek felt it. Even now, when Kylie was so pissed at Lucas she wanted to strangle him, just standing in the same room with them, the love they felt for each other almost overpowered the panic.
Derek had loved her, too. Or he thought he had. Recently he'd begun to wonder if perhaps his feelings weren't somehow more tied to not wanting to lose her than honestly loving her. Not that he hadn't cared about her, he had.
Hell, he still did. But from the first day he'd met Kylie, Lucas had been on her radar and she had been on his. It seemed the were and he had been competing for Kylie from day one. Derek had won for a while. Then he'd screwed up and backed off. Or maybe it wasn't a screw up. Even then he'd sensed Kylie's affection for the were. Maybe what felt like a mistake had been the right thing after all?
Burnett shifted his gaze to Della. "Stay and guard Kylie. We'll go look around."
Derek felt Lucas's emotions arch into protectiveness. "If you don't mind, I'd like to stay here as well," he said to Burnett.
Burnett nodded. And then Chris, Hayden, Jonathon, and Derek all followed the vampire out. Derek glanced back through the doorway and saw Kylie and Lucas glance at each other. Yup, it was love.
He didn't have to like it, but he could accept it. What he'd felt for Kylie had been special, but he was ready to move on. And if he'd truly loved her, would he really be able to let go so easy?
* * *
"We're going to search every inch of this property," Burnett said once they moved away from the cabin. "Perry is flying overhead. Hayden, you go with Jonathon to cover the north side. Chris, you and Derek go south. I'll cover the east. I've got Will and Fredericka covering the west." His gaze shifted to Hayden and then Derek. "You two have a keener sense to detect anyone invisible. If you feel anything, call me immediately, got it?"
Derek nodded, but he wanted to correct Burnett. He'd felt Kylie when she was invisible because he'd cared about her, but he wasn't sure his senses would pick up just anyone. He hadn't picked up Mario the night Kylie and he had run into him on the way back from her grandfather's place.
As Derek and Chris, another vampire, headed into the southern part of the campgrounds, he heard every noise. The cold of the fall bit through his jacket. Chris, the thin blond vampire, was on super alert. His eyes were a golden green color, and he shifted his head left to right, no doubt with his super hearing a mosquito couldn't scratch his butt without being overheard.
"You feel anything?" Chris asked him.
"Just your fear," Derek said.
"I'm not afraid," Chris snapped, sounding like a typical vampire out to prove himself as a badass.
Chris was afraid, Derek felt it, but he didn't see any sense in arguing with the vamp, or even confiding that he was frightened as well. Maybe it was because he was fae, and just felt more emotion than some, but he'd stopped thinking of emotions as making one weak. Everyone felt them, it was how people dealt with the emotions that defined them.
They walked for the next hour without talking. Both their fears subsided as the night progressed and the moon slowly slid lower in the sky. It seemed nothing trespassed on the grounds except a few extra coyotes Derek had sensed a while back.
All of a sudden Chris stopped, his fear inched up, his eyes growing brighter. He raised his head in the air and sniffed as the beginning panic subsided.
"It's Burnett," Chris said, his fear vanishing. "He's close by."
Correction, he's here. Burnett landed right in front of them.
"Anything?" Burnett asked, looking at Derek.
"No, but . . ." Derek felt the need to be honest, "just because I picked up on Kylie doesn't mean it will work with others. Sometimes it's the connection I feel to a person that makes them easier to read."
Burnett frowned. "Fine, let's call it a night, but keep your cell phone close. If I need you I'll ring." Burnett flew off, leaving only a sense of wariness in his wake. The night seemed to go silent with his departure. It always did. Derek noticed that it did the same with Della, but not so much with some of the other vamps. Sometimes Derek wondered about that. It was almost as if the creatures around knew something about these two vampires that no one else did.
"I'm going to go to the lake to meet someone," Chris said after Burnett was out of hearing distance.
Derek nodded and watched Chris leave. It was probably that new vampire, Shawnna. Derek had seen the two of them sitting beside each other at the vampire table. Derek headed back to his cabin, cutting through the woods. He was almost there when he felt it. Not really a presence, but something. He started to reach for his phone to call Burnett, but the feeling faded. He paused again to try to grasp what he'd felt. It hadn't been evil, whatever the feeling was, but it was like a tickle to his memory as if he'd sensed it before. And it hadn't been a bad sensation. Something soft, slightly vulnerable. Maybe even feminine.
Was it just the residual of seeing Kylie tonight? The feeling reminded him of what he'd felt when he'd sensed her presence when she'd been invisible. Was Kylie here and invisible? He stopped and turned a full circle. "Kylie?"
She didn't materialize. Kylie wasn't the type to play tricks. He closed his eyes, trying again to feel it, but it wasn't there. Maybe he'd simply imagined it? Maybe just thinking about Chris with the new girl had induced a touch of nostalgia and he was missing Kylie. He couldn't deny he missed her. Or rather he missed the idea of having someone. A soft someone who made him feel that thrill.
He walked home, but every noise-a lizard hopping from one plant to another, a bird call, the wind rustling through the trees-it all seemed extra loud. And as he moved, he had a crazy feeling he was being followed. Not that he sensed anything, or anyone, specific. Whatever he'd felt before was gone. This . . . whatever it was, was just a . . . suspicion.
The temptation to call Burnett lingered, but trying to figure out how to explain it gave him pause. He didn't want to alarm the camp leader when he wasn't sure.
Hell, maybe it had been an animal communicating and he simply hadn't gotten the message strong enough to know for sure. But then he recalled the slightest bit of recognition, as if the sensation wasn't all that new. He'd felt it before, but when-or more importantly, with who?
* * *
Derek was in English the next morning when he felt it again. Burnett had called off the search and accepted it had been nothing but an accidental trigger of the alarm. He was even having someone come out and check it. But maybe Burnett shouldn't be so sure. Derek closed his eyes and opened himself to pulling the sensation closer. He knew the scared, slightly vulnerable emotion whispering across his senses was the same he'd felt last night. Only this time he felt a wave of curiosity with it.
He looked around the room to check if perhaps these feeling could be coming from someone here. There were sixteen students and Miss Cane, the English teacher, in the room. There were supposed to be seventeen, but Kylie hadn't shown up.
Was Kylie here, popping in invisible? He didn't think so. She wasn't . . . secretive like that. And this didn't feel like Kylie. It felt . . . different. A little less confident.
His shifted from student to student. One of the new witches met his gaze and smiled. Smiled with interest. He smiled back, but he knew the emotions weren't coming from her. That said, she was pretty and he'd seen her watching him play basketball last week. Maybe he'd see if she wanted to sit by him at lunch.
Miss Cane suddenly dismissed class. Derek saw all the boys watch the teacher write the assignment on the board. She was easy to watch. Rumor was a couple of the older boys had already hit on her, and she'd put them in their place. Derek read the teacher right away-she was here to teach, not tease.
As Derek walked out of class, he remembered he'd told his mom he'd give her a call this morning. He reached in his pocket, only to find it empty. Damn, he'd left his phone at his cabin.
Not wanting to be late to his next class, he shot through the woods in a fast run. He was halfway there when he felt it again. Only stronger. He stopped in the middle of the woods, did a complete circle looking for the source of the emotion. Nothing. Nobody.
Not even an animal.
"Who's here?" he demanded.
"I am," a feminine voice came behind him.
Was it the new witch? He swung around. A figure manifested in front of him. His first thought was Kylie, but he quickly realized his mistake.
Jenny. The chameleon from Kylie's grandfather's compound. That was why her emotions had felt familiar. He'd felt Jenny for a short while when Kylie and he were trying to escape from there.
Kylie's words echoed in his head. You thought she was hot, I knew you did. I saw the way you two looked at each other there.
Leave it to Kylie to get it right. Jenny was hot. Her dark brown hair hung down past her shoulders. It wasn't straight, but had a lot of bounce to it. She had big eyes that were kind of gray and kind of green. They made you want to look at them to decipher their color and the thoughts behind them. Her lips were full, the kind that filled a guy's head with fantasies late at night. And if her face and hair weren't enough, she had the perfect body to add to the fantasy. She wasn't very big, kind of small, but for sure there was enough there to make a guy take notice.
Was Kylie right about Jenny being attracted to him?
It hit him then, how stupid he was behaving.
Jenny shouldn't be here.
"What . . . what are you doing here?" he asked, a bit annoyed that she'd been following him around invisible.
"I . . . I, uh, is it like a crime to come here?"
"Yeah, when you don't come in the front gate it is." That's when it realized something. "You are the one who triggered the alarm, aren't you? You jumped over the gate?"
She nodded. "I'm . . . I'm trying to get to Kylie but she always has people around and that vampire she rooms with is . . . scary. I'm afraid she might smell me." She got a puzzled look in her eyes. "But how did you know I was here?" She tightened her brows and studied his pattern.
He did the same to her. As he expected she was chameleon-the same rare supernatural as Kylie. Which was kind of cool.
"You're just part Fae and part human, how did you know I was here?"
Something about how she said 'part human' annoyed him. Was he not up to her standards? Kylie must have been wrong about her noticing him, or noticing him a good way.
"I sense emotions," he said, realizing the emotion she felt now was disappointment. Was she disappointed in him? Hell, he didn't care. But his gaze swept over her again, noting how pretty she was. So, okay, maybe he did care a little.
She lifted her chin up a notch. "You can't feel us when we're invisible. Even a real fae isn't supposed to do that."
"So I'm not real?" he smarted back.
She tightened her lips. For a little bitty thing who was trespassing, she had an attitude.
"If I can't feel you, how did I know you were here?"
Her brows puckered. "That's what I was asking you."
He shook his head and realized he'd gotten off track again. Looking at her did that to him. Funny, he hadn't felt this way since . . . Since he'd first seen Kylie. "Is something wrong? Why did you need to see Kylie?"
"That's between Kylie and I," she insisted.
Okay, now that just annoyed him. She'd obviously been following him around. She might have even come into his bedroom last night. So she'd obviously come to him for help, but now she didn't trust him.
He swallowed his annoyance. "Then I guess you best go find Kylie." He turned to walk away. Just because he was attracted to her didn't mean anything had to come out of it.
No sooner than he gave her his back, did he regret it. Her sense of vulnerability washed over him again, and with it came a feeling of desperation. He was about to turn around and apologize when he heard her say, "I need your help. Please. You're Kylie's boyfriend, so I'm assuming you're a nice guy."
"I am a nice guy, but I'm not her boyfriend. So why don't you tell me what's wrong."
She blinked those big eyes at him. "But I thought you two were . . ."
She paused and frowned. "I . . . ran away from my people. I don't want to hide anymore. I . . . want Kylie to help me."
"Did Kylie know you were planning to run away?"
"No," she said. "But I think she'll help me."
She was probably right. Helping people came natural to Kylie. Good people at least. And Kylie had seemed to like Jenny.
He stared at her for a second. Again feeling his own attraction to her. "Okay, come to my cabin and I'll call Kylie."
She nodded and fell in step beside him, but hesitantly.
"Is anyone else at your cabin?" she asked.
"No," he said. "Everyone's in school. I was just going back to get my phone."
He felt a wave of nervousness from her.
"What?" he asked, confused. "I told you no one is there. What are you afraid of?"
She lifted her chin a bit. "I'm not afraid, I just don't know you well enough to be going to your cabin alone. I mean, I thought you were promised to Kylie. Now that I know you're not, well, you might . . . try something. I've heard Faes are tricky. And we all know you can't trust humans all the time. And you are part both."
He looked at her in astonishment. But damn, the girl was prejudiced. But immediately he remembered about the life she'd been forced to live, secluded from everyone but her own kind. He supposed it would make one leery.
"What do you think I'm going to try?" Did she think he was a rapist?
She blinked and blushed. "Something."
"Do I look like the type who would do something like that?"
She frowned. "Looks can be deceiving." She shifted her eyes up and down over him. "Yeah, you look like you could be trouble."
He laughed. He couldn't help it.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
"You are," he said. "You have a serious trusting issue. But at least you're honest about it."
She tilted her chin up a little more. "We were taught not to trust."
The humor he felt vanished as he recalled again Kylie saying how secluded the chameleon teens had been raised. Her lack of trust was understandable. And sad.
"Hey, I'm not going to try anything, okay?" He went to touch her, a quick touch to soothe her fear, but she slapped his hand. Not once, but twice.
"You said you weren't going to try something! What do you call that?" she asked.
"I wasn't . . . I was just going to calm you down."
"And that's sneaky."
"I'm not . . . Fine," he snapped. "I won't touch you." But right then he realized he wanted to. Wanted to touch her. Wanted her to want him to touch her. Damn, when had he grown so infatuated with her? He held up his hands. "No touching, I got it."
"That's better. Let's hurry so you can call Kylie." She started walking ahead of him.
Yeah, just in case I find you irresistible and try to kiss you or something!
"Do you know the way?" he asked, and his gaze lowered to her jean-covered butt. It was . . . nice to watch.
"Yes," she tossed the one word back over her shoulder and frowned. "What were you looking at?"
He blushed. "Nothing." Then he pushed the guilt aside and realized what she'd just admitted to. "If you know the way to my cabin, that means you were there last night?" Damn, he'd known he felt someone.
"I had to stay somewhere. I didn't want to be alone."
"And you call me sneaky."
She swung around on her heels and started walking backwards. For some reason, she looked adorable doing it. "I didn't look when you undressed."
His mouth dropped open a bit. He hadn't even thought about that. Right then, he didn't know if he wanted to laugh again or give her hell. "I'll bet you did look, didn't you?"
And her blush told him he'd been right.
* * *
The sound of a knock on his bedroom window had Derek jerking awake. When he spotted Kylie peering in, he ran a hand over his face. By the time his hand cleared his eyes, Jenny had turned invisible. He got up and opened the window.
"It's about damn time," he muttered as he hoisted Kylie up. "What the hell took you so long? I called you twice." He'd even texted her saying he had to see her. Jenny had finally told Derek everything about the chameleon leaders pressuring her into marrying another guy. About Hayden being her brother. It infuriated him sensing how trapped and vulnerable Jenny felt. How could people do that? But even as his understanding for Jenny had strengthened, she remained distrustful of him.
Once he'd gotten caught studying her eyes and she accused him of wanting to kiss her. He hadn't been thinking about kissing her until she said it, and then he thought about it. And a part of him hadn't stopping thinking about it.
Kylie's gaze shot to the bed and then to him. "You saw me at dinner and didn't say anything. I thought it wasn't important."
"What could I say in a room filled with vampires?"
"What's going on? Besides Jenny being here?" She looked around. "Jenny, you can make yourself visible. I already saw you."
A red-faced Jenny appeared. "This isn't what it seems. We weren't . . ." She pointed to the floor where a blanket and pillow were thrown. Her gaze flipped to him. "You were supposed to sleep on the floor," she snapped.
"I couldn't sleep, so I just . . ." He glared at Jenny. She was the most frustrating chick he'd known. Even worse than Kylie. "I didn't touch you."
Kylie shook her head. "I don't care about that."
"I do," Jenny said.
"I didn't touch you," he repeated and wondered why he'd let himself start liking this girl.
"Stop bickering and explain to me why you're here." Kylie wasn't happy about Jenny running away.
"I thought you would understand," Jenny told Kylie. "I guess I was wrong."
"Understand what?" Kylie asked.
"I had to leave. They wanted me to marry Brandon. I want . . . to live my own life. Make my own choices.
Kylie frowned and Derek felt her sense of guilt. "You're not wrong, I just . . . I don't know how to make this right. "How did you end up with Derek?"
Jenny looked from him to Kylie. "You always had people around you. I saw Derek and I figured if you trusted him then I could, too."
Trust him? Derek thought. If Jenny trusted him, he'd hate to see how she acted with someone she distrusted.
The conversation continued eventually drifted to Kylie's ghost. Derek could tell that Jenny shuttered at the mention of ghosts. Derek rested his hand on her shoulder to ease her fear. And the girl nearly bit his head off.
Derek looked at Kylie. "Do you see what I've had to put up with?"
All of a sudden, Derek's window shot up and Della lunged inside. "Okay, here's the thing, I just got a call from Burnett. He was doing walk-bys of our cabins and realized we're gone. He's on his way here. You've got one second to hide Girl Wonder over there, or he's gonna know she's here."
Jenny vanished. Derek instantly realized what this meant. They were either going to have to come clean with Burnett and hope he wouldn't just send Jenny back, or they were going to have to lie. Lie to a vampire who abhorred dishonesty.
But in the next second he felt Jenny's emotions-vulnerable, scared, and desperate. He felt the emotional bond he'd made with her. How had that happened? He didn't know, but instantly he knew lying was his only option.
He wanted to help her.
He wanted to get past her distrust of him.
And yeah, he wanted to kiss her.
Why, he wondered, did he always fall for the difficult and stubborn girls? Jenny was definitely going to be a challenge, but it was one he was almost looking forward to.
A note to my readers:
Since you've read Chosen at Nightfall, you know Jenny got to stay at Shadow Falls. To learn more about Jenny and Derek's budding attraction, be sure and read Reborn, the first book in Shadow Falls: After Dark. While Della takes center stage in this book, all your favorite characters will still be there, and Derek's struggle to win Jenny's trust will for sure be blended into the story. And now, as a special surprise, here's the first chapter of Reborn. Enjoy.