The Dysasters (The Dysasters #1)(11)

“You’re in luck.” Tires squealed beneath them as she swerved around tree branches and mangled car parts. “You happen to be sitting next to an American Red Cross first-aid certified—” Air fled her lungs as she slammed on the brakes, the seat belt catching and pinning her against the back of the seat. Silence hummed between them, broken only by the squeak of the windshield wipers and the steady, pleading whine of emergency vehicle sirens.

The parking lot, Tate’s stadium—those were nothing in comparison.

The tidy neighborhood flanking the high school had been destroyed—a bomb exploding in the middle of nowhere America.

And the people. The people crawling out of the wreckage and stumbling broken, bleeding and mute looked like zombies, more dead than alive.

Foster turned away, rocked by a wave of sickness and pity. Her eyes found Tate’s bleeding leg. She glanced up at his achromatic features, his expression slack with shock and eyes glazed with horror. Slowly, as if moving through mud, Tate lifted his shaky, bloody hand, reaching for the door latch.

She cleared her throat and threw the truck into first. “We’ll clean up that cut as soon as we get to the motel,” Foster said as the vehicle lurched forward, though she was barely able to press on the gas through the wild shaking of her legs.

“No, we have to stop. We have to help these people,” Tate said hoarsely, leaving behind bloody fingerprints as he gripped the dashboard.

“We would if we could, but we can’t.” To keep her hands from shaking as badly as her legs, Foster squeezed the steering wheel so hard her palms ached. “Listen. I can hear sirens. Help is coming. They’ll be fine,” she lied, averting her eyes from the survivors tripping over the wreckage like broken automatons.

“But this is my town.” Tate’s voice was so raw with pain that it made Foster wince. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Now they were both homeless.

But she didn’t stop. She didn’t even pause. She just kept driving. One thing at a time. One thing at a time. Foster guided the truck down the road, barely able to breathe as toys and clothes and memories became nothing more than speed bumps beneath the heavy tires.

“These are my people. I’ve known them my whole life.”

Still unable to control her shaking, the truck nearly slammed to a complete stop as she pulled into the motel parking lot. “Yeah, I get it, but—”

“Where did you grow up?”

The truck rocked as she ran over a stray piece of debris and guided it into a space a few yards away from her room. “San Francisco originally, then Portland, but Cora and I have been a little bit of everywhere since…” she trailed off, her chest aching with grief. She didn’t want to talk about her past. Not with Tate. Not with anyone. All she could do was keep charging forward. If she stopped for too long and found that one moment of stillness, her heart might just break into so many pieces she’d never be able to pick them all up.

“Then you don’t get it,” Tate continued. “I see these people almost every day. The same people. Every day. I couldn’t save my parents, but I can do something for them. They’re all I have left of my life with Mom and Dad.”

Foster put the truck in park, and turned to face him. “Look, I really do get it. We both lost people, but—”

“Stop saying that!” Tate shouted over the wind now nudging the pickup from side to side with harsh bursts. “You don’t get it at all!” Tate’s fist hit the dashboard with a loud thump. “That lady back on the field, she wasn’t your mom. My mom and dad are dead. You lost a road-trip buddy.”

Foster stiffened, her spine straightening like an enraged cobra seconds before delivering a poisonous strike. “Look, Douchehawk, let’s get something straight right now. You do not know me. You do not know what I’ve been through. And you do not have the right to ever talk about my Cora.”

“When I first met you I thought you were pretty. You know what I think about you now? I think—”

Foster held up her hand. “I do not give one solitary shit about what you think. And besides that…” Her tirade trailed away as thunderous pounding broke through the torrential rain and her pissed-off-ness, pulling her attention from Tate. The wind calmed, gently whistling through the loose window seals as Foster peered at the motel in front of them where three horribly familiar men moved from one room to another, banging on the cheap, dingy doors.

“Get down!” she hissed, nearly tackling Tate onto the bench seat.

“Shit!” she whispered, her face way too close to his. “How in the hell did they know Cora and I were here?”

Tate’s forehead crinkled in annoyance as his blue eyes met hers. “Probably because this is the only hotel in town.”

“Seriously? God this town sucks.” Foster scowled. “And that is not a hotel. It’s a motel. Now keep your voice and your big head down.”

Tate frowned. “My head isn’t big. Or at least not that big,” he whispered back. “Who are we hiding from?”

Foster grimaced. “Them,” she peeked above the dash. “Matthew, Mark, and Luke.”



“Father isn’t going to like this.” Mark muttered the words more to himself than to the two men striding at his side. But, as usual, Matthew, who always seemed to hear every damn thing, answered—even though Mark hadn’t asked a question.

P.C. Cast, Kristin C's Books