Chapter 1 – The Hurricane
A category five hurricane named Delta barreled towards the city of Savannah. The wind’s bloodthirsty cries could be heard across the city, and the buildings on the shore shook with terror from the ferocity of the storm. The residents who had chosen to remain in the city made final preparations to protect their homes and businesses.
May Summer and her daughter, Jane, hurried to put up the remaining boards. May wiped sweat and the locks of her black hair off her face as she worked on the boards at the bottom of a window. She looked at Jane, who in her ratty old jeans and t-shirt, struggled to put up her own board.
“Hurry up!” Bob barked as he sat in his beat-up lawn chair, his pudgy hand waving a half-empty beer can at them. “And make sure you line them boards up nicely. You’re tilting them! Straighter! Straighter, dummy! You got to do that job right.” He tossed an empty bottle to the ground.
May glanced at her husband, wondering how long she had to work before she could join him.
She wanted to yell at him to come do it himself if he didn’t like the way they were doing it, but she was positive that he was too wasted to get up and be of any use to them.
Both May and Bob started yelling at Jane. “Faster, girl! How can you be taking so long to hang one stupid board? Can’t you do anything right? How stupid are you? Why can’t you work any faster?"
The board in question fell to the ground. The winds of the hurricane had just reached the shore, making it very difficult to accomplish the task at hand. Jane still had two more windows to complete at the back of the house when Delta hit Savannah with all its force.
Bob and May grabbed the beer and ran for the door. May slammed it on Jane just before she could race inside. She locked it, laughing, knowing full well that Jane was still outside. Jane sprinted to the front door, hoping to get there before May did, but she was too late: May, still laughing, had already locked it.
Jane returned to the backyard, where she had left the ladder. She leaned it against the house, near a window that she hadn’t boarded up yet. Blown by the hurricane winds, the ladder was very wobbly as she climbed.
Just before Jane reached the top, the wind blew the ladder over. She leaped for the window and was just able to grab the wet and slippery ledge. As she struggled to pull herself up, the ladder fell and hit her shins. Ouch!
May and Bob proceeded to get drunker. they finished the last of the beer, and they became meaner. “Where is that stupid girl? What’s taking her so long? Hey, stupid bitch, where are you? Get down here, now!”
Jane was in her room, drying off. “Ouch, ouch, ouch,” she said, as she put on dry yoga pants and a hoodie. “What’s the problem now?”
“Jane, beer! ”
Jane quickly ran downstairs. “What’s wrong?”
“Okay, I’ll go get some.” She headed to the kitchen, opened the door, and saw that all of the beer was gone.
Just then, Bob stumbled into the kitchen. “What the hell is taking you so long? It’s not a complicated process. Take the beer out of the fridge and bring it to the living room.”
Jane took a deep breath, gathered her strength, turned around, and announced to her stepfather that all the beer was gone. Bob looked stunned and then turned purple with rage at the possibility that they could be out of beer.
“How can the beer be all gone, you dumb bitch?” He stomped his six-foot, three-hundred-pound body over to the fridge. Shoving Jane to the floor, he ripped the door off and threw it aside. It hit Jane’s hips on the way down. He looked into the fridge and saw that she was right.
This infuriated him even more. “How the hell did you not get enough beer? What were you thinking?” He turned around, glared at Jane, and kicked her hard in the stomach. “Go get it!”
May stumbled in to see what the problem was and saw Jane lying on the floor. “Get off the floor, you lazy ass.” She kicked Jane in the chest. “BEER! NOW!”
When Jane got up, May yelled, “Beer! Now, GO!”
“There is a huge hurricane outside. I can’t go for beer now. Please don’t make me go out there.”
The veins in Bob’s forehead and neck throbbed as he stomped over to Jane. He walloped her across the face, slapping her so hard that his hand print remained across her face. “Beer. Now.”
Out of fear, Jane ran up to her room and grabbed her coat from the bed. Bob ran after her, yelling “You stupid bitch! Who do you think you are, disobeying me like that? After everything I’ve done for you. You can’t even do the simplest task.”
He stumbled on the stairs, giving Jane a chance to escape out the back door. considering the beating that would continue if she stayed and argued with them, it was safer to be out in the hurricane than at home.
Bob reached the back door. “You stupid, ungrateful bitch. You better not come back without the beer.”
Tears ran down Jane’s face as she stumbled in pain towards the beer store. With winds blowing a hundred miles an hour, she could barely stand up; trees were bent nearly flat from the force of the gale.
The walk to the store took forever; the wind whipped down the street with such strength that it pushed Jane’s five-foot-six frame back toward the house of horror. The rain plastered her fire-red hair to her head.
The rain was pouring down so hard and fast that Jane’s periwinkle blue eyes couldn’t see two feet in front of her. As horrible and scary as the weather was, though, it was not as scary as going home, so Jane continued to make slow progress.
As she struggled toward the beer store, the driver of a truck heading out of town, Arthur Forrest, saw her and pulled over. “Hey, do you want a ride?”
“No, I’m okay. Thank you.”
“Where are you heading?”
“Hate to break it to you, but the store is closed.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the last employee there. I nailed the last board to the door right before I left.”
“Oh, my God. What am I going to do now?”
“I don’t know much about the beer, but you better get in the truck quickly. As I was driving away from the store, the waves breached the barriers. The city is about to be flooded.”
Jane looked in the direction of where the beer store was, and all she saw was this huge rush of water heading towards them. She turned around quickly, and the wind pulled her bag off her shoulder and blew it over the houses.
“Get in, woman. We got to go.”
She opened the door and got in, wincing in pain as she did. As soon as she closed the door, a car floated by. Jane closed the door, and Arthur took off.
They sped down the road and across a swaying bridge. Then they hit a bit of traffic from others who’d decided at the last minute that it was time to leave.
Arthur looked at Jane. She was extremely cold and was starting to turn blue. He turned up the heat, grabbed a blanket that he had in the back, and wrapped it around her. The wind of the storm had knocked out the power, so none of the street lights were on. The gloom of the storm hid Jane’s bruises and injuries from Arthur.
Jane closed her eyes as her purple lips turned a very nasty blue, and her teeth chattered roughly. She wrapped the warm, dry blanket around herself.
“Don’t go to sleep yet,” said Arthur.
She opened her eyes once but then quickly closed them again as the struggle of the day finally caught up to her. Finally, she fell asleep with the previously unknown feeling of being completely safe. Arthur kept prodding her to wake, but with no luck.
He looked behind him and saw that they hadn’t gotten far enough away from the storm. He touched Jane’s cheek to see how cold it was, and it was freezing. He also felt a welt on the side of her cheek. He turned on the interior truck lights and saw a cut on the side of her face. It was too dark to make out the hand print at this point. She was still incredibly cold.
He saw an empty Walmart plaza and pulled up besides the building. They’d driven quite a long way from the storm, but in doing so, they had gotten too far away from any hospital or medical treatment. Arthur realized he would need to do something to warm Jane up.
Arthur was the son of the extremely powerful warlock named Electric Forrest, who could determine the strongest magical ability of any wizard, warlock, or witch. However, he had been unable to determine his youngest son’s power, and this had put a huge strain on the family. Things had finally come to a boiling point, two weeks ago, when Arthur had left the family home and moved to Savannah without telling anyone where he was going. He had removed all the family pieces that could be used to trace his whereabouts, from his person, and disappeared.
Arthur had grown weary of all the tension that the impasse had caused the family, and he had chosen to take a break from the family drama. He cut all ties with the family and had been living on his own for the first time. He had just gotten the job at the beer store when news of the pending storm had come. Arthur had grown up in Des Moines, Iowa. He’d never experienced a hurricane and hadn’t taken the warnings seriously—until the ocean had broken the barriers, and the waves had come rushing at him.
Arthur looked over at Jane. She had stopped shivering but was still extremely cold. He tried a magic spell that his grandmother had taught him. The spell removed all the wet clothing that Jane was wearing. He then removed his damp shirt. He maneuvered Jane so that she was lying across his body, and so that he had one leg on either side of her. Then he lay back against the window, holding Jane tightly as she slept, using his body heat to help her warm up. In the heat of the truck, and after the long, tiring day, he fell asleep holding her.
A few hours later, around midnight, Arthur woke up. He touched Jane’s skin and felt that it had some heat to it now. He was starting to get cold, and put his sweater back on when he heard a knock on his window.
He looked down at Jane and saw the hand print across her face. He pulled a magical cloak over her, hiding her from whoever was knocking. Just as he started to roll down the window, he saw a police officer standing there.
“Is everything alright here?” asked the officer.
“What are you doing here?”
“I waited too long to leave Savannah. I am here because I didn’t know where to go to find shelter. I just drove in the opposite direction of the wind and rain until it was safe to stop.”
“Well, you are going to have to keep moving because you can’t stay here.”
“Thank you, officer. I will.”
Jane, in the meantime, had finally woken up. She was a bit groggy and in a lot of pain. She heard the officer, and the guy she was sleeping on, talking. She lay very still, hoping the officer didn’t see her.
Once the officer had left, she said, “Thank you for not telling him about me.”
“Didn't see the need to.”
Her clothes were still soaking wet. He pulled out a t-shirt that he had in the back, and passed it to her. “Here, put this on.”
She then realized that she had no clothes on. “What happened to my clothes?”
“They’re on the floor there. I had to take them off so that you could warm up.”
“How did you take off my clothes without me knowing about it?”
Jane rolled her eyes, trying to figure out if this guy was completely insane or not.
“I’ll explain it to you one day.”
Arthur started the truck, and they continued on, westbound.
As they were leaving the parking lot, Jane came to the conclusion that the hurricane provided a great cover for her, if her parents survived Delta and the flooding, and sobered up enough to realize that she wasn’t home. The hurricane and the subsequent flooding would have erased her whereabouts and any clue of where she’d gone.
But just in case, she rolled up all the clothing and turned to Arthur. “Can you toss these in the clothing bin at the end of the lot there?”
“Are you sure? You don’t have anything else to wear.”
“I’ll figure it out later. Getting rid of these clothes is absolutely necessary.”
He looked at her and saw the determination in her eyes. He saw the bruise and remembered that she had been walking in a hurricane to get beer. Removing all physical traces from her past could be a good thing.
When he reached their destination, he jumped out into the pouring rain and tossed the clothes into the clothing recycling bin. While he was disposing of the clothes, Jane put on the sweater that Arthur had given her.
As he was getting back into the truck, when the interior light went on, he saw the huge bruise on her hip. “What happened to you? Are you okay? Do you want to see a doctor?”
“I’m fine and don’t need to see a doctor. I heal quickly.”
“Do you want to tell me what happened?”
She sat there in silence. Finally, she said, “Not right now.”