June is SHIFT Series month (as well as the main character, Leah Brayton’s birthday!), plus SHIFT won’t be free across all bookstores much longer, so now might be your chance to get it for zero dollars. To celebrate all that, I’m sharing the beginning of one of my favorite scenes in SHIFT (Shift Series 1). Enjoy!
We walked for a while through the desert night, seemingly the only living things out this late. The dirt road was empty, no street lights to guide us, just the bright, spotlight moon overhead. Finally, a little house came into view. It was on the opposite side of the road from where Cici’s house was, long behind us. The closer we got, the more certain I was that it was Drake’s. Once we were standing in front of it, I could have sworn I could feel him, sleeping in the top, right window that overlooked the front lawn. I threw a pebble at the window without thinking.
“How do you know that’s not his parents’ room?” Megan exclaimed in a harsh whisper as she ducked in case one of his parents came to the window.
“I just…do,” I replied, the night lending me courage and taking away any doubt.
Megan laughed, holding my hand and pulling me away from the front of the house, to where we could wait along some bushes and not be seen. But I didn’t want to wait in the bushes. I knew that was his window, and I wanted to see him, as soon as he opened it. I pulled on her hand, making her stay beside me with a laugh of my own. I felt impetuous and dangerous. Much more brave than I normally would have been.
The house was bigger than Cecelia’s, but only a little. The front porch light was on so I could see the color. It was painted in a dark, terra cotta red, with a dark brown door, and a natural wood fence around it.
“Drake!” I whispered into the darkness, toward his window. There was no way he could have heard, but I couldn’t find my voice to call any louder.
Megan laughed again and pulled on my hand.
We waited for a few moments longer, and just when I was starting to think it was a lost cause, even though I knew he was sleeping on the other side of that window, the air changed. In no time at all, he opened his window and stuck his head out with an expectant, disbelieving expression. Then he saw me and a huge grin spread his perfect lips.
“What are you doing here?” he mouthed more than whispered.
“We’re having an adventure!” Megan called up to him.
He laughed under his breath and motioned for us to wait for a second, then stepped away from the window. I realized he’d been shirtless and my heart skipped a beat.
“Ha!” Megan laughed quietly. “Now what should we go do, once he comes down? Maybe he has a friend we could go meet up with!”
I just shrugged. I didn’t really care what we did. We could have sat on a rock and done nothing, and the fact that he was there would have made even that amazing.
We turned our backs to the house and leaned against the short fence that surrounded the yard to wait.
A sound caught my attention, from the desert in front of us. The rolling of rocks under a soft foot. The rustle of a bush.
“Shh,” I held my hand up to Megan, though she wasn’t saying anything.
We both stopped breathing.
I peered into the darkness ahead of us, willing my eyes to gather more of the moon’s light so I could see into the wilderness beyond the road.
There wasn’t anything. I must have been imagining it. The night was playing tricks on me.
Then some sort of dog, or a coyote, stepped out of the darkness toward us.
Megan started to yelp but I clamped my hand tight over her mouth while my heart went to pounding in my chest.
Then another stepped out of the darkness. And a third. They were short haired—too short haired to be coyotes—with varied coloring. They didn’t look friendly at all, like a pet that had lost its way. They weren’t looking at us as companions…
I swallowed the scream building in my throat.
Ears back, the way the dogs eyed us was intense, measuring us up as they stalked forward with eerily quiet movements. My mind racing and the sound of my speeding heart in my ears, I darted to the ground, grabbed a rock sitting by my feet, and flung it toward the front of the group in the hopes of scaring them away.
They lowered their heads as they kept coming toward us. Cornering us. The two on the flanks moved around to the side and as they stepped closer I could see the way the fur on their backs was raised. Their teeth were bared.
They meant to attack us.
We could run. My mind raced ahead of me, a hundred miles an hour. We could run and we’d probably make it to the house. The yard wasn’t so big. And Cecelia didn’t lock her door at night, so I had a feeling that Drake’s parents didn’t either. We’d be caught sneaking out, but who cared at this point? I’d rather be grounded than eaten by wild dogs.
“On the count of three,” I whispered to Megan, “we run for the front door.”
She just nodded, tiny and frantic, beside me.
The dogs stepped closer. We might not have until three.
A wave of intense heat pulsed through my back. Then a loud, ripping snarl came from behind us and in that instant, I knew we were done for. They’d been closing in on all sides, sneaking up from behind. But as soon as I thought it, warmth was flying up behind me, leaping over the fence to my right.
If you liked that, make sure to pick up your e-copy of SHIFT (Shift Series 1) while it’s still free!