For Celia Kyle … Thank you for inviting us to write in your world. When I discovered bear books I binged on yours, and now we can’t believe we are a part of the Grayslake Series.
Cover by Sara Eirew Photographer & Mayhem Creations
Chapter 1 Lola
“You window licker.” I bring the heel of my cowboy boot down on the dash of the car, making me jerk the car into the wrong lane before I right the wheel again. Thankfully, there wasn’t any oncoming traffic.
The rap music completely dies under my assault. It had a good run. I rub the spot I just kicked in appreciation that the radio even lasted this long, but I had to give it one last kick just in case. It had worked twice before.
I’ve been on the road for over twelve hours, and Grayslake is approaching as fast as the snow is starting to fall. And it seems to be getting heavier by the second. I’ve never driven in snow. Heck, I’ve never even seen it in real life before. The closest I’d ever gotten was when my tiny online graphic design company got asked to do brochures for some fancy ski lodge out in Colorado. I’d spent three days looking at stock photos of snow.
I debate pulling over and just maybe touching it for a second. I bite my lip, mulling it over in my head. Picking up my phone, I see I’m twenty minutes outside of Grayslake. Maybe it isn’t such a good idea. I need to get to town before the snow gets too thick. My bald tires can’t take much more of this. I’m not sure any part of this car can take any more of this. The thing could fall apart at any moment.
At the thought, I hear a loud click come from the engine.
“Edith. Don’t you do it.” I glare at the check engine light. “We can’t get stranded out here! Those shifters could be here.” I glance out both side view mirrors, then my rear view. “We need to investigate before we just stumble across one in the wild. We get ourselves into trouble when we don’t plan first.”
I try to reason with Edith, but she has a mind of her own and her time is clearly coming to an end. Maybe getting this wild hair about finding out if these shifter whispers were true wasn’t such a great idea, but I needed out of town, and for some reason this was the only thing that was driving me. Almost like there was an invisible string pulling me.
I knew the moment I saw that eviction tag on the door of the apartment I share with my mom that she hadn’t paid the rent and mostly likely spent my share I’d given her. I didn’t feel like sticking around and picking up the pieces this time. I packed a bag, grabbed my laptop, and took off after leaving a note of my own taped to the door. Told myself I’d go as far as Edith would take me, and I headed in the direction of Grayslake.
I still haven’t even heard a peep from my mom. I’m not sure why I thought she’d be calling my phone begging me to come back. Oh, yeah, money, that’s why. Still, over twelve hours after I’d left and not a single call or a lousy text. Who am I kidding? She probably hasn’t made it home yet. She can up and disappear for days on end.
Shit, is that what I’m doing? I cringe at the thought of being like my mom. My mom likes to be different. New people in and out of her life all the time. She never keeps a boyfriend more than a month. She thinks of herself as a hippy. I had another word in mind, but I kept that to myself. She’s still my mom after all.
Flipping on the wipers, I wince at how it’s only making it worse. The snowy ice smearing makes it almost impossible to see out of the window. I can’t see for crud now. I check my phone again and it still says I’m twenty minutes away. Grr. How is that even possible? I’m stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of shifter land. Oh, my God. It’s like the one Friday the Thirteenth movie and I’m just going in circles, but instead of having a beat-up van, I have an old Volvo.
I glance at the speedometer and see I’m only going fifteen miles an hour. I push down on the gas to pick up speed, but my tires don’t agree. I’m instantly sliding, the car spinning out in circles.
“Edith, get it together!” I yell at the car, but she once again doesn’t listen to me.
We hit a metal rail that gives way too easily, sending us over the snow-covered hill. We slide down, and the journey feels like it takes seconds and hours all at once, until the car comes to an abrupt halt. My head hits the steering wheel, making pain shoot through my body all the way to my toes.