Accepting Fate:Destiny 02

By: Deanna Chase

Acknowledgments

As always a big thank you to Stefanie my editor, Angie Ramey, and Lisa Liddy. Your help is invaluable. And thanks to G. Without your patience and endless support this book wouldn’t exist.





Chapter 1

Dear Reader,

The Destiny series is set in an alternate reality that is just like ours with the exception that everyone really does only have one true soul mate. And that connection has a magical element that affects not only the couple, but the people around them. This is Jax and Derek’s story.

Jax

During certain moments in life, reality melts away, trapping the people living it in a state of disbelief. When they know nothing after that moment will ever be the same. When they can’t breathe while an invisible weight crushes their chests. This is my moment—the horrific moment that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Sweat pools in my palm beneath the phone clutched in my hand. But I can’t let go. I can’t tear my eyes from the words on the screen, looking at the last text I’ll ever get from the vibrant girl I’ve known since the first grade. My eyes are burning. I’m sure I’m crying, but I can’t feel the tears. My face is too scorched from the blaze less than twenty feet away.

“Jax!” a faint voice yells for me, but I don’t move. I can’t. I can’t leave her.

I take a step forward, ignoring the intense heat. The window I’ve climbed in and out of so many times is blown out, spurting flames into the cool night air. After another step, I let out a small cry as my foot slips in the soggy mud. But before I go down, strong arms catch me.

The scent of ash mixed with soap invades my senses, and I look up into the stricken face of Derek, my best friend’s brother. A sob catches in my throat as he sets me back on my feet. I clutch at his singed shirt with my free hand and press the phone to my chest as if having her words against my heart can bring me closer to her.

“Out of the way,” a firefighter in full gear calls as he runs past us.

Neither of us moves. We both watch in horror as Derek’s family home burns.

Sirens fill the air, and before I know it, two paramedics are pulling Derek and me apart.

“You both need medical attention,” the woman says gently. “There’s nothing you can do now.”

Nothing you can do. The words haunt me as I let the woman guide me to the back of the ambulance.

Derek shrugs off the other paramedic. “I’m fine.” He jogs to my side and holds my hand in both of his. His hardened gaze is trained on the house as if willing Carly to walk out on her own.

She’s not coming, though. The proof is in the texts. I tear my gaze from Derek and read the last message one more time. Tell Derek I love him.

I nearly choke on the emotion strangling me. But it’s nothing compared to the raw animal noise Derek makes as he reads over my shoulder.

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to block out everything. The desperation. The hopelessness. The raw pain from knowing I’d been too late to help her.

Forty minutes ago, I got the first text from Carly.

Oh my God! I’m trapped in this bathroom.

Me: Did you lock yourself in or something? Call your dad. We’re going to be late.

Fire! Dad’s not answering. I called 911. The window’s stuck. Omg. Jax. The smoke is too thick.

I stared at my phone, unable to process the words she’d written. Fire. Smoke. Trapped. My body went ice cold, and then panic raced through my veins. I had to get her out of there.

Mom and Dad were away for the weekend, so I did the only thing I could think of. I grabbed Mom’s keys even though I didn’t have my driver’s license yet. Dialing Carly’s number, I flew out of the house. She didn’t answer. Instead she sent more texts.

It’s too hot. Can’t breathe. Call Derek.

My fingers shook almost uncontrollably as I typed back: Put a towel under the door and lie down.

Tears streaked down my face as I sped toward Carly’s house. I called 9-1-1 just in case, and the operator told me trucks were on the way. Then I called Derek and left a frantic message. Driving recklessly, I pressed Carly’s number over and over again, getting no response. For seven agonizing minutes, I heard nothing. Then the last text came through. Tell Derek I love him.

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