Authors: Kadi Dillon
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
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Rebecca Ann Dillon
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.
making cheese sandwiches to have with
devoured and Tory Fairchild had done her duty without
shined. Now, she and Barbie sat in the backyard on a pink
and white checkered quilt, watching the storm clouds roll in
for tea time to begin.
She knew it was coming
she didn’t get up from the
. No matter what she did—
no matter what she said—it happened anyway.
watched and waited.
as the wind whipped her hair from her face
. “That twister is going to suck
Mommy and Daddy
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.
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
at her mother
, memorizing her pinched features
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
for her binoculars. She jumped out of the SUV and ran a
round it to find her
struggling to set
What time was it? It was dark out
but the lightening was so intense
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
and quickly turned
on the radar units. “W
here is it located?” s
he hollered to Frankie
who manned the radars.
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.”
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!”
“Jesus, what time is it?” Tory
up weather bulletins
and scanned them
cell came out of nowhere, Tory,
coming up beside her.
“If I hadn’t been up taking a—ah—using the
, we would have just now been alerted.”
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
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
latest crisis. It cost
a substantial amount of
to chase, and funds were lower than ever. Even with Tory working off-season and saving every penny,
Pirate’s bank account was running on fumes.
The shrill of
the sirens died down again.
Tory picked her binoculars
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
, anticipation shining like a light in his
. “Let’s do this.”
he funnel dipped down and spun furiously. As it descended, it collected mo
re dirt and debris and
. Black on black, she thought with a shudder.
The sirens sounded for the
third time and Tory
watched in amazement
. Her heart thudded
against her rib cage
the next five minutes
the twister spun madly
, never quite touching
The sky sucked the tornado back up and the dust settled
, leaving the open field quiet and once again undisturbed
. She let out the
d been holding and waited for the sirens to end before turning around and shouting.
“Did you see that
, 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
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
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
finishing the season.
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
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
, but Tory knew nothing came free. The guy was paying them five thousand a month to be in her back pocket—not her
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
over his mop of sandy brown hair. Tory handed the truck keys over to Adam.
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?”
dn’t I be nice to him, Billy?” She widened her eyes and kept her lips from quivering
So little faith
, she thought.
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
in her ears.
No, she wouldn’t have a
sleep for a
long time. She never really did.
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
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
in front of them, once again reminded that if it wasn’t for Gabe Wills and his money,
would be waiting tables twelve months out of the year instead of eight.
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.
hanks to a stranger,
the Pirates would chase again, a
nd Tory had nothing to do with that. She resented
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.
fancy hotel on the edge of town,
” Adam said as he
the driver’s seat.
Tory sat in silence for a moment
, waiting for her blood to cool
. “I’ll sleep in here.”
scoffed. “Why do you have to be so difficult?”
’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
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.
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.