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Authors: Kadi Dillon

Storm Warning

BOOK: Storm Warning
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S
torm
W
arning

By Kadi Dillon

Copyright © 2011 by Kadi Dillon

All Rights Reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

©cover design by angel Art Studio

 

For questions and comments please contact Kadi at
www.kadidillon.com

Find Kadi Dillon on
Facebook
!

 

In Memory
of

Rebecca Ann Dillon

 

 

 

Kadi Dillon

 

Chapter One

 

She was eight years old again. Her biggest
worry was what to dress Barbie in
for their picnic.
She’d had a hard time deciding between the red dress and the green, but ultimately the green had won.
Barbie’s blond hair was clumsily braided and swept up in the same style Tory saw her mother wear.
Mommy was
inside
making cheese sandwiches to have with
their
tea.

Sunday lunch
had
already
been
devoured and Tory Fairchild had done her duty without
complaint
, drying
each dish
until
it
shined. Now, she and Barbie sat in the backyard on a pink
and white checkered quilt, watching the storm clouds roll in
, and
waiting
for tea time to begin.

She knew it was coming
,
but
she didn’t get up from the
blanket
. No matter what she did—
no matter what she said—it happened anyway.
She
watched and waited.


It’s okay
,” she
assured
Barbie
as the wind whipped her hair from her face
. “That twister is going to suck
Mommy and Daddy
right
up,
but it won’t touch us. Don’t worry.”

There was a dull roar somewhere in the trees. It sounded like one of those freight trains they waited forever and ever for at the railroad crossing outside of town.

H
er mother
came out of the house like a bullet
shot out of a gun
, pointing to the field
. Tory didn’t
look this time. She stared
hard
at her mother
, memorizing her pinched features
.
The twister
was here now
, she thought, clutching Barbie to her while she trembled. It always came.

The sirens screamed and she covered her ears as she sobbed. It wouldn’
t be long now until her parents were taken away. And she would have to watch.

 

Tory jumped up from where she slept in the front seat of the SUV.
Propped on the dashboard,
her sneaker clad feet
hit the windshield with a thump. Swearing expertly, she righted
her chaotic position and sat up. She fought for breath as the tornado sirens continued to ring in her ears.

No, not a dream, she thought
,
disoriented. The sirens were really sounding. Tory swore under
her breath and reached in
to
the
back seat
for her binoculars. She jumped out of the SUV and ran a
round it to find her
teammates
struggling to set
up equipment.

What time was it? It was dark out
,
but the lightening was so intense
and
electric
that
she could see the ground with every step.
She estimated the wind to be at thirty-five miles-per-hour, maybe more.

“Damn it, did everyone fall asleep?” Tory
muttered
and quickly turned
on the radar units. “W
here is it located?” s
he hollered to Frankie
Lowe,
who manned the radars.

“We’re right
behind it.
Two miles
northeast
of us moving at thirty miles per hour.
Funnel was spotted and called in to the National Weather Station two minutes ago by another chase team.”

“We go
t some wicked footage already.”

Tory glanced back at Joel, who was shooting from the back of one of the trucks. “Great.
Keep that camera rolling, Joel!”

“Yes ma’am,

he grinned

“Jesus, what time is it?” Tory
picked
up weather bulletins
and scanned them
.

“One twenty-three.”

“This
cell came out of nowhere, Tory,
” Jack
—Joel’s twin—
said,
coming up beside her.
“If I hadn’t been up taking a—ah—using the
facilities
, we would have just now been alerted.”

She nodde
d. The sirens sounded again, drowning
out any conversations they might have needed to have. Fortunately, Tory mused
,
watching her team handle the equipment and
p
rocedures—communication wasn’
t needed.
Her
team was solid.

After eight seasons of chasing storms, she knew without a doubt that she could rely on her team for anything. They’d been through the ringer together—including the
ir
latest crisis. It cost
a substantial amount of
money
to chase, and funds were lower than ever. Even with Tory working off-season and saving every penny,
the
Pirate’s bank account was running on fumes.

The shrill of
the sirens died down again.
Tory picked her binoculars
up
and set th
em on her nose. Any minute now. S
he bit her lip and waited.

“Where’s my brother?” she asked. “He’s going to want to get this on film.”

“I’m here.” Adam Fairchild dashed around a truck and set his tripod on the
ground
, anticipation shining like a light in his
sleepy
eyes
. “Let’s do this.”

Moments later
, t
he funnel dipped down and spun furiously. As it descended, it collected mo
re dirt and debris and
it
grew
. Black on black, she thought with a shudder.

The sirens sounded for the
third time and Tory
watched in amazement
. Her heart thudded
painfully
against her rib cage
for
the next five minutes
as
the twister spun madly
, never quite touching
the ground.

The sky sucked the tornado back up and the dust settled
, leaving the open field quiet and once again undisturbed
. She let out the
breath sh
e’
d been holding and waited for the sirens to end before turning around and shouting.

“Did you see that
?
F-2
, call it in!

Armed with a notebook and thick-framed glasses, Kary Brewster smiled at Tory with serious, green eyes. “First of the summer. It’s exciting.”

“Mmm,” Tory agreed. She handed the data to her and helped haul equipment
back
to the truck. “It won’t be the last. I just
hope we can
finish the season.” Their funds wo
uld only take
them through June—if they were frugal.

Carefully, Kary folded the
sheet
and slipped
it
in her notebook. “Did you change your mind about the photographer, then?”

Tory shook her head
and struggled not to sigh
. “I don’t have the luxury of changing
my mind. He’s our only ticket
to
finishing the season.
But
nothing is guaranteed until his check is in our bank account.


He won’t bail. And it won’t be so bad
,” Adam said. “This guy
’s a legend
.”

Tory smiled because she knew Adam was looking forward to welcoming
the
ir
honorary—temporary—member of the team. They’d signed a contract with world-known photographer Gabe Wills, allowing him to tag along on their chase to shoot
pictures
.

It seemed
foolproof
, but Tory knew nothing came free. The guy was paying them five thousand a month to be in her back pocket—not her
s
physically, she knew, but she felt crowded all the same. Chasing wasn’t for thrills, it wasn’t for fun. It was for research.

Billy Small jumped down from
the other SUV, adjusting his ever-
present Kansas State
cap
over his mop of sandy brown hair. Tory handed the truck keys over to Adam.
Judging by
Billy’s
expression, he wasn’t thrilled about whatever he’d come to talk to her about. Since dragging the photographer around was his idea, she guessed it was that.

“Gabe’s flight is la
nding in Lincoln at one tomor—” Billy glanced at his watch. “Today.”

“Who’s picking him up?” s
he asked with a yawn.

“Uh, I can. I just want
ed to let you know. And Tory?” h
e added when she
turned to walk
back to the truck. “You will be nice to him, won’t you?”

“Why woul
dn’t I be nice to him, Billy?” She widened her eyes and kept her lips from quivering
with laughter
.
So little faith
, she thought.

“Ah, shit.”

Tory laughed devilishly and started back to the SUV. “We’ll review that footage in the morning. Everybody get some sleep.”

But she wouldn’t be getting back to sleep, she thought as she slipped her
headphones
in her ears.
No, she wouldn’t have a
decent
night’
s
sleep for a
long time. She never really did.

 

Tory
thrust Gabe Wills
and his money
from her mind the next day.
At a crowded truck-stop in Lincoln, s
he watched the video Joel had r
ecorded the previous night while they waited for their lunch to be served.

Billy had already left to pick their guest up from the airport. Everyone else
had
stayed behind to help clean and reset the equipment. Having finished with that, they all c
rowded in the semi-circle booth and sipped
soda. She thanked the waitress
when
their food
was placed
in front of them, once again reminded that if it wasn’t for Gabe Wills and his money,
she
would be waiting tables twelve months out of the year instead of eight.

She
dunked a fry in ketchup and bit into it dispassionately. She understood this was something her team needed.
The trucks needed gas, equipment needed cleaned and replaced frequently, hotel rooms weren’t free—but it burned.

T
hanks to a stranger,
the Pirates would chase again, a
nd Tory had nothing to do with that. She resented
that
. She
understood it—b
ut she didn’t have to like it.

After lunch was devoured, s
he paid the tab, packed away the laptop, and headed out to the SUV.

“We’ll be staying here in Lincoln tonight and we’ll head out tomorrow.
Crashing
at that
fancy hotel on the edge of town,
” Adam said as he
slid
in
to
the driver’s seat.

Tory sat in silence for a moment
, waiting for her blood to cool
. “I’ll sleep in here.”

He
scoffed. “Why do you have to be so difficult?”

“I
’ve thought about it and I
want nothing that
man pays for. He can tag along—or whatever—
and snap his pictures
,
but he is
not
interfering with my research.”

“And providing you with a very comfortable bed and good food is going to interfere with your research?”
He shook his head as he maneuvered the truck onto the highway.

“Yes,” she folded her arms.
“It
will.”

They pulled into the expensive hotel
Adam had talked about. Even though she secretly longed to
be able to spread out on a big
fluffy bed, her pride wasn’t ready to accept it.

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