The Impossible Adventure

Meet Your Misadventure #1 of The Clan-Vampire Clash

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Sam's story: Chapter 1

written by Betsy Flak on 2019-01-22

Today, Sam's story (a reader-guided stand-alone prequel of The Clan-Vampire Clash young adult paranormal fantasy series) finally returns, kicking off season two with a vampire-versus-vampire-hunter battle! And of course, there's some good old-fashioned human drama too.

To celebrate the return of Sam's story, I'm going to share the first chapter. Previously, the entire first chapter has only been available to members of my readers group, The Troupe. Because I'm in such a good mood, I'm going to post the whole thing!

Without further ado, here's Chapter 1 of Sam's story (Title TBD, The Clan-Vampire Clash: A Stand-Alone Prequel). It takes place between the events of The Unleashed Creation and The Impossible Creation, but you don't have to read either one to understand what's going on in Sam's story.

Chapter 1

Friday

Her throat parched, Sam turned around. The desert’s stunted trees whirled about her, cold and unwelcome. Her toes dug into a gritty mixture of dirt and sand. A million scents assaulted her nose, most of the desert, of a burning heat and baked earth and sage. Beneath those were the smells of civilization, of car exhaust and hot pavement, of fast food and sugary drinks.

“Gnash.”

A cool hand brushed against hers.

“Gnash, we have to go.” A man with a glittering black gaze stood before her. In a tight T-shirt and jeans, he dressed more plainly than anyone she’d seen in Los Angeles, save her fellow out-of-state interns. Above him, the night sky stretched out like a moth-eaten blanket. Its stars were backlit holes that pricked her eyes.

Sam squinted against them. Her mind moved slower than molasses. “Who’s Gnash?”

“You are, remember?” Those eyes of midnight snapped and fizzled with impatience. The man tugged Sam forward.

She stumbled over a dying weed for half a breath. Then she caught herself, far more graceful than usual. The thorns of a nearby cactus stung her ankle.

“We have to go. They’re coming.” The man tilted his head toward the horizon.

There, a cloud of dust obscured the base of the foothills rising out of the desert, a million shades of brown and tan dotted with olive green.

Sam licked her lips. The taste of salt and metal overlaid something sweet and sour, like she’d binged on her favorite candy. “Who’s coming?”

Them.

Sam’s brows furrowed. “Who’s them?”

The man’s fingers riffled through his locks, stick-straight and as inky as the night sky above them. His biceps flexed, pulling at the taut sleeves of his T-shirt. Starlight fell on the lines sweeping and swirling around his upper arms. “The Clan, Gnash. The vampire hunters. The ones who’ve vowed to hunt us down to the ends of the earth and kill us.” He glanced back at the horizon.

Ahead of the dust cloud, five silhouettes raced toward them.

The man’s frown deepened. “Never mind, we’re too late. We’ll have to fight.” Talons grew from his fingertips. He sank into a squat, his arms loose at his sides. Fangs poked between his lips, blinding white against scarlet.

None of it surprised Sam.

Angling his head toward her, he caught her in a beady eye like a raven’s. “Are you going to help or not, Gnash?”

A breeze whipped Sam’s hair across her face. Why did he keep calling her that? And what was she supposed to help with?

“You might as well give up. You don’t stand a chance out here. Not against all of us,” a deep voice called out.

I know that voice. Sam’s head popped up, her blond waves swishing over her shoulders. Her gaze widened with shock.

There Bobby was, her fellow intern, nerd, and friend.

There Bobby was, at the head of a pack armed with swords and daggers and wooden stakes.

There Bobby was, brandishing a fireball in either hand. His eyes burned reddish instead of their usual melted chocolate. They flicked to Sam.

Bobby clenched his jaw. Tension lowered his voice to something verging on a growl. “Sam, back away from it slowly, then come to me.” Shifting back to the man in front of her, Bobby raised a fireball. Its flames sparked orange. “One move toward her and you’re done.”

The man snorted. “Aren’t I done anyway?” But he stayed where he was, his feet planted in the dirt between two gnarled trees, nothing more than woody branches topped with prickly needles.

Sam followed Bobby’s instructions, picking her way between the low cacti and yellowed weeds so dry they crackled at the slightest touch. Once a Joshua tree separated her from the strange man, she sprinted to Bobby’s side. Through it all, the man didn’t move one muscle.

The instant she reached him, Bobby heaved a sigh of relief. Canting his head toward the others, he muttered, “I’ll take care of her. You take care of it.”

Clutching their swords and daggers and stakes, the four fighters charged the man. Unnatural speed made them a blur.

The man met that blur inch for inch. The hunters surrounded him, attacking, feinting, and parrying together like a pack of wolves around a prized buck. But the man held his own.

Bobby turned away from the skirmish and toward Sam, the fire still crackling in his hands. Clapping them together, he smothered it. Nothing of the fireballs remained but ash and charcoal smoke smelling of bonfires and childhood memories. The smoke disappeared into the night sky. The ash Bobby dusted off on his shorts. It came off his hands in gray puffs.

Sam jerked her chin toward the melee. “Shouldn’t you be helping them?”

“No, I’m more danger than help to them right now. And definitely more help to you.” His bushy brows furrowed, Bobby skimmed blazing-hot fingers over Sam’s skin, first along her cheeks and jawline, then down her neck to her collarbone. “Does anything hurt? Did it attack you…or bite you?”

Sam shook her head. Bobby’s fingers grazed her bare arms, leaving a warm, tingling trail in their wake.

Her stomach flipped. She’d never seen Bobby like this, strong and protective and…somehow predatory. It was the antithesis of the Bobby she saw every day at work, the one who was nice and friendly and smart and lacked even a whiff of danger.

“Good.” Bobby dropped his hands away from her.

It was like a punch to the gut. Gulping her disappointment away, Sam shifted toward the brawl in the desert. Dirt spat up from beneath the feet of Bobby’s four friends—or allies or whatever they were. They circled the man crouching in the middle. Using coordinated strikes, they fought the man, their blades oblong flashes beneath the stars. Even without a weapon, the man dodged and deflected their blows.

Beside Sam, Bobby’s hands closed into fists. His teeth ground together, his bright gaze glued to the combat.

“So, um, what are you doing way out here?” Sam asked.

Bobby’s eyes crashed down to hers. Something like anger smoldered within them. “What are you doing way out here, Sam? You know you shouldn’t be out here at night, even with me and the Cell protecting you.”

“Protecting me? What do I need protecting from?”

Bobby ripped up a dead plant. Using both hands, he molded it into a ball. “You know what, Sam. The Indestructible. I can only do so much against them, at least not without risking myself and everyone around me, especially out here.”

Crrrr-ack!

Bobby’s head snapped up. His fingers crushed into the ball of tumbleweed. “Shit.”

One of Bobby’s friends lay crumpled at the base of a Joshua tree. His limbs stuck out at awkward angles. He didn’t move. The other three kept their enemy at bay, but they peeked over their shoulders at Bobby.

Bobby glanced back at Sam. His Adam’s apple darted up and down. “Sam, you stay here, okay? I gotta go help.” With a frown, Bobby sprinted to the body. Once he was within five feet or so, he dropped to his knees and slid the rest of the way. Dust spewed up around him. His molded ball of tumbleweed at his side, Bobby glided his hands over the fallen fighter like he had over Sam.

“Sam! Sam, come over here,” a voice whispered in the dark.

This voice Sam knew like the back of her hand.

This voice Sam hated with the fury of a thousand suns.

This voice Sam couldn’t escape, no matter where she ran.

Spinning around on her heel, Sam snarled, “Logan.”

Her ex-boyfriend poked his perfect face out from behind a thick cactus a few inches taller than himself. His chiseled chin jutted out, his full lips as kissable as ever. He extended a lean, muscled arm toward her. “It’s okay, Sam. We don’t belong out here, us regular humans. Come with me. We don’t need to stay for this.” Logan gestured behind them where Bobby stooped over his injured friend while the others battled the strange man.

“And why would I do that?”

As beautiful as any angel, Logan stepped out from behind the cactus. A breeze tousled his curling hair, somewhere between gold and brown. The stars followed him like a spotlight. His amber eyes reflected their light.

Sam backed away from him.

“Because we belong together, Sam.” Taking another step forward, Logan offered his hand again.

Sam spat onto the ground at Logan’s feet. “Then why did you break up with me?” She raised a hand before Logan could tell her the same lies again. “And don’t give me that ‘I needed to be on my own for a while’ BS. You got together with Jessie about half a second after we broke up.”

“No, Sam, that’s not true. Jessie and I aren’t together. That’s just a rumor.”

Rage flowed through Sam’s veins, boiling her blood. “Oh, yeah? Then why did I see the two of you making out by the pool? We live in the same goddamn apartment complex, Logan.”

“Sam, I…” Logan’s breath shook. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t’ve… Jessie doesn’t mean anything to me. She’s nothing compared to you. I only want to be with you. Please believe me.” His voice cracked at the end. Something like tears glistened in his eyes.

Sam wrapped her arms around her ribs, holding herself together. It was like she dangled in the middle of a rope, her mind tugging on one end and her heart on the other. Together, they tore her in two.

Her front teeth digging into her lower lip, Sam shook her head. “No, Logan, it’s too late. Too much has happened. You’re with Jessie and I’m…I’m meant to be alone. It’s too late.”

“No, Sam, that’s not true. I love you. Don’t you get that?”

Sam swallowed, the lump in her throat the size of a goose egg. For months she’d waited for those three little words. For months Logan had said nothing, leaving Sam aching inside. Two weeks after she’d broken down and said it first, Logan had dumped her. He’d never loved her. He never would. It didn’t matter what she did or how she loved him.

“Please, Sam,” Logan begged. His gaze shone more gold than ever.

Even as she stood there hating him for what he’d done and for what he was doing, Sam stepped toward him.

Behind Logan, a shadow did the same.

Sam cocked her head, the ends of her tangled locks tickling her elbow. What was that edging out from behind one of those scraggly trees?

The inky silhouette stalked closer to Logan, weaving through clumps of ragged plants with more thorns and sticks than leaves.

“Logan, you should—”

The shadow stopped. Black eyes that swallowed every speck of starlight bored into Sam. They challenged her, saying you can’t save him.

“The hell I can’t,” Sam muttered.

A sword glinted in the dirt a foot or two in front of her. Her heart thundering in her chest, Sam launched herself forward and grabbed the blade. She hurled toward whatever it was behind Logan.

Logan did nothing. He didn’t ask what she was doing. He didn’t move to help her. He didn’t get out of her way. All he did was watch, his perfect mouth falling agape.

Slashing the sword as a warning—and testing its weight and balance—Sam charged the creature. It crouched, waiting for her with a narrowed stare. Lips stained with blood pressed into a thin line.

An arm’s length away from the beast, Sam swung the sword with all her might, both hands on its hilt like it was a softball bat and she aimed for a homerun.

She met nothing but air. Off-balance from her swing, Sam stumbled as she turned around.

Only a stunned Logan stood there, breathing through his wide-open mouth. He pointed at something behind Sam, his finger trembling. Like it took every single ounce of effort, he croaked, “Sam.”

Talons sliced into her shoulder. Beads of red blood bubbled beneath them. Pain radiated down Sam’s arm, sharp and unyielding. She dropped the sword.

Encased in Sam’s flesh, the talons whipped her around. They shredded her shoulder.

Agony exploded down Sam’s arm and into her torso. Her knees gave out. She crumpled toward the ground.

The beast dug its nails into her upper arms like giant fish hooks. It kept Sam on her feet.

Sam gritted her teeth against the pain and the fear and the despair. Gotta get away. She tried to wriggle out of the creature’s hold, but it only gripped her harder.

Looming over Sam, the monster with the face of a human parted its crimson lips. Fangs half the size of Sam’s pinky gleamed. In a voice that was more animal than human, the creature growled, “Gnash. I christen you Gnash.” Those awful talons yanked Sam toward its mouth, its canines sharper than any dagger. Those unnatural black eyes stole her breath.

Sam pushed and pulled at the creature. She poured every last bit of strength and energy into escaping it.

Nothing worked. It was like it was meant to happen. It was like there was nothing she could do to stop it from happening.

The creature sank its fangs into her throat.

“Samantha Gloriana Howard, you stop working this instant!”

Sam startled awake, her chin jumping off her hand, her dry eyes popping open. She’d fallen asleep staring at the spreadsheet extended over her computer screen. All evening, she’d fussed with its data, making graph after graph after graph. But none of it hinted at what polymer blend she should try next. With a sigh, Sam swiveled around to face her two friends.

Beside the more-quiet Misty, Lynn flashed a mischievous smile. “I mean, I have no idea if that’s actually your middle name. Is it?”

“Nope.” Sam gathered her half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich and took a bite.

Lynn cocked an eyebrow. Tonight’s makeup darkened it almost to brown instead of its usual ginger. “That’s what you’re having for dinner? No, no, no. That will not do!”

With a shrug, Sam glanced at her monitor. “’Snot like we have time for me to pick up anything else. As it is, I’ll have to do my makeup in the car.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Misty adopted a scolding tone universal to parents—and to those with four younger siblings. “And who’s fault is that, Samantha?”

Sam waved her hand at her computer. “My stupid experiments’! Nothing’s making sense. See, this one, it’s supposed to—”

“Uh-uh, Sam. No more of that.” Lynn rolled Sam’s chair away from her computer, straight to her cubicle’s exit. “It’s Friday night. The Friday night of a long Fourth of July holiday weekend. No more work talk.”

“Yeah, for real, Sam. What are you even still doing here? All the higher-ups have been over at that executive shindig thingy all day. I left at three today. Lynn left at two. Now it’s…” Misty tugged her phone out of a teal wristlet. “Now it’s almost eight p.m. and you’re still here? Eating that pathetic dinner? Even Bobby didn’t stay past four today and you know how he is.”

“I know, I know, I just…” Working here keeps my mind off stupid Logan and his stupid perfect girlfriend, also known as the daughter of the stupid CTO. But Sam couldn’t tell Misty and Lynn about that. No, their past was a secret only Logan and she knew. When they’d broken up—okay, when Logan had broken up with her—a few weeks before this internship started, they’d decided not to tell their fellow interns. Why she’d agreed to that, Sam would never know.

Because I’m stupid and in love with him.

Was in love with him, Sam reminded herself. I’m over him now. Or I’m working on it anyway.

Lynn tugged on Sam’s arm. “C’mon, you can finish that gross sandwich on the way back to your place.” She looked Sam up and down, taking in her work-appropriate button-up shirt and slacks. “You’re wearing something else tonight, right?”

Sam rolled her eyes. Lynn and Misty had shown up at her desk in itty-bitty dresses, although the similarities between them ended there. With Lynn a curvy five-foot-ten and Misty a petite hey-I'm-five-foot-with-heels, no one could mistake one for the other.

And Sam was right in between them. Not thin but not curvy. Not short but not tall. Boring and in the middle. Totally, completely average. Nothing interesting or different about her.

Nothing that had kept Logan’s interests for more than a few months.

Sam shut those thoughts down. They wouldn’t get her anywhere, not back together with Logan and not over him. With the widest smile she could muster, she replied, “Of course I’m not wearing my work clothes! Though, I’m not wearing anything like what you and Misty are wearing.” She gestured to their sparkly barely-there dresses.

Misty collected Sam’s hands and tugged her up out of her desk chair. “Don’t worry, Sam. We know you better than that, even if we’ve only known you for a little over a month. We know not to expect you to wear a super-cute dress anywhere.”

“Hey, I have plenty of super-cute sundresses. Just not…” Sam’s brow furrowed. “Whatever you call those things the two of you are wearing.”

Walking backward toward the closest exit, Lynn wagged a finger at Sam. “One day I’ll get you into one of these. Then you’ll discover their magic. Now, let’s go. Bobby’ll be at your place any minute now.”

“Okay, okay, fine.” Sam grabbed her sandwich and sweater—it was always cold in these offices, though she hadn’t noticed it this evening as focused as she was on analyzing this week’s experiments. At least until she’d fallen asleep.

But that hadn’t been due to a lack of focus. Ever since Logan had broken up with her, every night Sam tossed and turned. Logan’s stupid smiling face echoed in her dreams, slicing her heart wide open again and again.

No, Sam, you’re over him. You don’t dream about him. You just have a little trouble sleeping, that’s all.

Behind Lynn and Misty and their bouncing dresses, Sam stepped out of their office through its swinging glass door.

Heat slammed into her like she’d entered an oven.

Sam unbuttoned her shirt and took it off, walking in just her tank top. A chattering Misty and Lynn led the way down the cement path past the empty parking lots. On either side, birds-of-paradise bloomed, their orange petals too bright for Sam’s strained eyes. At least her apartment—all the interns’ apartments—was only a five-minute walk away.

But for those five minutes, Sam’s brain was free to ruminate on certain forbidden topics.

Such as: how had she gotten herself into this mess?

Oh, that’s right. Logan. She’d been so happy with him, she’d chosen this crappy internship to stay with him all summer instead of one of the other three she’d been offered last winter.

No, that’s not true. She’d chosen this one because it paid the same as the others but came with housing unlike the ones in San Francisco. And it made her more well-rounded, being in a different area of expertise than her last internship. It would make her a better candidate for full-time jobs in the fall. It would land her a good job.

Or so Sam hoped.

But that hope didn’t lessen the way Sam hated her job. Well, maybe “hated” wasn’t the right word. It was more like it was boring her to death. Every day was the same. Get up at the same time. Go to the same cubicle. Do the same work. Have the same conversations. Stay late enough so that you’re too tired to do anything but exercise, eat, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat until the weekend, during which your fellow out-of-state interns dragged you out all over Los Angeles to tourist it up.

Was this what she had to look forward to once she graduated college and got that elusive good job?

Sam smothered the doubt. This was the path she’d chosen and so she’d stick to it. Whatever job she ended up with would be better than this one. She’d make sure of it.

When they reached her apartment door—one of at least a hundred, all matching brown in a sea of beige—a tall figure leaned against its frame, his nose stuck in a book.

“Hey, Bobby,” Lynn called out from the sidewalk leading to Sam’s apartment.

Bobby’s head jerked up. He snapped his book shut. “Hey, guys. You work late, Sam?” His warm gaze glued itself to Sam.

Her dream from earlier rushed back. Bobby at the head of a pack, holding fireballs and his eyes blazing red. Bobby, strong and protective. Bobby, his fingers gentle as they brushed against her arms and neck, making every inch of her skin tingle.

Sam’s stomach flipped. Seeing Bobby that way, even in a dream-slash-nightmare, what did it mean? Did it mean she was ready to move on from Logan? Did it mean she was ready for a rebound?

Those weren’t questions she could answer, not yet.

With her arms out to the sides, Sam showed off her work outfit, sans button-up shirt since it was crumpled in one hand along with her sweater. “Yup. Otherwise, I’d be outta these by now.” She unlocked her door and held it open for the others. Misty and Lynn pranced through it with Bobby trailing behind them. To him, Sam explained, “I just can’t figure out where to go next in my project. And you know Blair isn’t gonna be any help.”

As the other intern on Sam’s team, Bobby was familiar with Sam’s mentor and his nonexistent help. “Well, if you want to talk about it later, I’m all—”

A few steps away, Lynn spun around on her heel. Her hands slammed into her generous hips in the middle of Sam’s living room. “I heard that! I told you, Sam. No work talk. That goes double for you, Bobby. Tonight and this entire long weekend is for fun and games and parties. Work talk’ll ruin it. It won’t kill either of you to save it for Wednesday when we all report back to the office.” Lynn’s green gaze stabbed through Sam like a laser. “Now, do you need help figuring out what to wear?”

“No, I’m g—”

“Lynn, why’d you even ask? Y’ know she does.” Misty collected them both arm-in-arm and led the way around the corner to Sam’s bedroom. “Bobby, you can go back to readin’ or whatever.”

“Already am,” Bobby’s deep voice rang out of the living room.

Sam would’ve felt bad about her friends taking over the apartment, but her roommate—Jackie, an intern assigned to room with Sam by the company—was never home. Native to L.A. with parents and a girlfriend in the city, she rarely spent the night in their two-bedroom apartment way out in the Valley. Why Jackie had asked for corporate housing, Sam would never know. Maybe she took it because it was offered? Maybe the traffic to and from work wasn’t as bad as she’d expected? Maybe she hated Sam and couldn’t bear living with her?

Regardless of Jackie’s reasons for staying away, having an entire apartment to herself wasn’t the worst thing. Although, Sam envied Lynn and Misty’s close friendship.

After dropping Sam off in her bedroom, Misty and Lynn shuffled through the hangers in her walk-in closet, rattling them every which way as they sifted for gold, otherwise known as something for Sam to wear tonight. Little did they know that Sam had already assembled an outfit.

It was always the same song and dance with them, no matter how many times they went through it. According to Lynn and Misty, Sam never had anything “party-appropriate.” But when Sam whipped something out of her closet, they’d accept it—after a few grumbles.

In the meantime, Sam would relax. Slipping off her sensible flats, she sank onto her bed and rubbed her throbbing feet. She’d spent the first two-thirds of her day in the lab and her feet hadn’t forgiven her.

From inside the closet, Misty complained, “All you’ve got are work clothes, a couple of sundresses, and jeans in here.”

“Yup.” Sam bent her achy neck to one side, then the other, stretching it.

Lynn poked her head out of the closet with a scowl. “You’ve got to have something else, Sam.”

Sam flashed a sly smile, then hopped off the bed. “I do indeed. Wanna see it?” She didn’t wait for them to confirm. No, Sam walked to the edge of her closet and wriggled out the hanger she’d set up late last night. She jiggled it at Lynn and Misty.

As expected, their faces fell.

Lynn’s darkened brows even climbed up her forehead, the right one disappearing beneath her bangs. “You’re going to wear that? It’s just…it’s just jeans and a tank top!”

“Yeah. You said there was no dress code tonight, right?” Her outfit folded over her forearm, Sam carried it over to her bed and began to undress. They hadn’t had a whole lot of time to begin with and now they’d wasted a bunch of it rifling through her clothes yet again.

Leaning against the whitewashed doorway of Sam’s closet, Misty frowned. “Yes, but…I mean, don’t you wanna get all dressed up?”

Sam wiggled her hips and butt into her jeans. “Look, the jeans are tight and the shirt’s low-cut even for you, Misty.” Sam would wear a lacy camisole beneath it, but she didn’t need to point that out to Misty right now. “And Lynn, I’ll put on some heels, I promise.” After buttoning up her jeans, Sam shook her finger at her friends. “But no jewelry. I don’t want to bother with it. I’ll just get hot and it’ll stick to me and I’ll be all uncomfortable and annoyed and it’ll be no good.”

Lynn crossed her arms beneath her chest, plumping her considerable cleavage. “Fine, but let’s see this outfit you’ve got.”

Sam tugged on her tank-and-camisole combo, then undid her twin buns. Her dirty-blond hair cascaded over her shoulders in sun-kissed waves. Slipping on her tallest sandals—wedges, not the spiky heels Misty and Lynn preferred—she stood up and posed for inspection.

After a moment of scrutiny, Lynn nodded. “Okay, you’ve got yourself a deal. Misty—”

“Already on it.” Misty disappeared into Sam’s bathroom.

She came out holding Sam’s makeup bag. It was still packed and zipped shut from last weekend since Sam didn’t bother with makeup on most work days. No one else on her team spent valuable time putting on makeup—it helped that they were all men—so neither did Sam. With all that tossing and turning every night, she could use all the sleep she could get. If she did give up on sleep before her alarm went off, Sam preferred to go for a run or a swim or do something physical, anything to keep her mind off things.

Lynn glanced at her phone. “Oops, we’re running late. Looks like we’ll have to do your makeup in the car.”

“Not a problem.” Sam reached for the plain black bag in Misty’s hand.

Misty snatched it away from her, hiding it behind her back. “Nuh-uh, Sam. I’m doing your makeup tonight.”

Sam wrinkled her nose like a weeks-old garbage bag had spilled open at her feet. Misty doing her makeup was about the last thing she wanted, but it wasn’t worth a fight. After all, she’d gotten to wear her chosen outfit, so she might as well yield on this. “Fine. Let’s go.” Grabbing her trusty wristlet out of her work bag, Sam tucked her phone inside it, next to her driver’s license, credit cards, emergency cash, and lip balm, all the necessities. Behind Lynn and Misty, she exited her bedroom and entered the living room right outside her door.

On the opposite wall, Bobby sat on the couch reading, his lanky form bent in two with his elbows resting on his knobby knees. At their approach, his head flew up. His dark gaze fastened on Sam. “Looks like you’re all ready.”

“Puh-lease.” Lynn gestured at Sam’s face, devoid of any makeup. “Obviously not. We still gotta do Sam’s face. But Misty’s gonna do it in the car. It’s what, like a forty-five minute drive to the beach?”

“As long as we don’t hit traffic.” His book in his hand, Bobby popped up to his feet. As Lynn and Misty sashayed to Sam’s front door, he dropped to the back of the pack to walk next to Sam.

She glanced sideways at him. “But it’s actually gonna take at least an hour to get there, right? There’s always traffic in L.A.”

“Probably. I’m guessing an hour and ten minutes or so.” Bobby peeked at Sam through his curly lashes. “By the way, I like what you’re wearing, no matter what Lynn and Misty say.”

After locking the door behind them, Sam twirled on a heel. “Oh, yeah? Better than my boring old work clothes?”

“Definitely.” Bobby grinned at her, displaying the gap between his front teeth. Not even a breath later, his smile faded in the setting sun. He tilted his head toward Misty and Lynn’s tottering figures rounding the corner of the apartment complex. “I better go corral them before they wander off the edge of the earth.” Long strides carried Bobby to the front of the pack.

Just like in my dream. A shiver crawled up Sam’s spine. Images of fireballs and fangs and blood danced before her eyes.

Stepping off the sidewalk’s curb to enter the parking lot, Bobby waved a hand over his shoulder. “C’mon you three, let’s head to the beach.”

Sam blinked the nightmare’s memory away. You’re being stupid, Sam. Although…I’m glad we’re not going to the desert tonight, creepy dream or no creepy dream.


To be continued...

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