SL Earthquake: Derek & Hayden – The Excerpt

My Storming Love: Earthquake story, Derek & Hayden, comes out in a week, so – as tradition dictates – it’s time for an excerpt!

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When two men with complicated past meet at the conference in Alaska, things are already on shaky ground.

Derek Warden is certain his boss sent him to cover the conference in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, to punish him for something. After an unpleasant phonecall from his father who tries to stop him from going, Derek is ready for the whole thing to be over before it even begins.
Hayden Shaw has been looking forward to this conference for months. The problem of fracking is very dear to his heart and he couldn’t wait to spend the long weekend with like-minded people.
Neither of them expected the big earthquake, but most importantly – they didn’t expect each other. Meeting again after over a decade may result in something even more surprising that the ground trembling under their feet.

THE EXCERPT

Derek Warden wouldn’t have called himself a city boy before, but now as he was driving through the Alaskan forest to a little resort in the middle of nowhere, he began to reconsider. He had nothing against nature and wilderness, but there was something spooky about the deserted road shadowed by the thick forest on both sides. Glancing up to the overcast sky, Derek almost wished he had somebody with him, until four crows suddenly flew from the trees on his left, screeching loudly, and he jolted in his seat.
Yeah, no. He was glad nobody was here to see that.
Derek wondered what he had done this time to piss off his boss so much, since he was sure sending him to this conference was her revenge for something. He had protested as soon as he heard the word “fracking”, knowing full well that his father would blow a gasket when he found out. Unfortunately, Jane had just rolled her eyes and told him to put on his big boy pants and stop worrying about his senator daddy. Derek had been tempted to tell her to shove it, but didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.
So here he was, on his way to waste most of his week listening to a bunch of environmentalists go on and on about the dangers of fracking. As if there was something new they could be saying that hadn’t been said a hundred times before or that he couldn’t pull from the web. Or from memory. God knew he had heard it all years ago.
A face he hadn’t thought about for years appeared in his mind and Derek tightened his grip on the wheel. Those were not memories he wanted to relive. His phone started ringing and Derek was glad for the distraction until he glanced at the screen and saw his father’s ID. He considered not picking up, but that would only delay the inevitable and at least now no one would overhear it. Derek turned off the music and pressed the green button.
“Hello, Father.”
“Please tell me you are not on your way to that bullshit conference!” One thing Derek and his dad had in common was that they both preferred to get right to the point; although Derek liked to believe his approach was less hostile than that of his father.
“I thought we talked about you spying on me,” he said, straightening in his seat. He rolled his shoulders to relax, since he didn’t want to be stiff all day tomorrow. His hip was going to give him hell anyway and that was more than enough.
“I wouldn’t need to keep tabs on my own son if he was smart
enough not to cause me problems.” “I’m not causing you any problems, I’m doing my job. It’s not like I’m working for The Washington Post, Jesus. And you’re not a freshman senator, something like this won’t even show up on
any radar.”
His father snorted. “Shows how much you know. This kind of thing always get noticed.”
“I’m not advocating for either side.” If he was to take a stand on fracking, his father wouldn’t like the results, but Derek wasn’t interested in starting another war.
“It’s political activism disguised as a scientific conference!”
“So it’s the kind that will never make the front page and you know it.” Less than five minutes of talking to his father and he already itched for a smoke. Dammit. “Is there anything else you wanted?”
“I wanted to remind you not to disappoint me again, but I should have known that’s too much to ask for.” His father ended the call and Derek was left to listen to the silence as he stared at the road ahead of him.
Some things would never change.

§ § § §

The resort looked dwarfed by the expanse of forest around it, but on the inside it turned out to be spacious. There were two big common rooms on the ground floor, separated by the lobby with a wide staircase and an elevator, and the restaurant in the back visible through the glass door. From what Derek could see at the first glance around the aread as he waited for the receptionist to end the call, there were about thirty people mingling around.
Yeah, Dad, a real threat to you and your fourth term, he thought and ran a hand over his buzz cut. Derek hoped he wasn’t going to be the only reporter here, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be the case. Maybe the rest of his kind had better and less vindictive bosses.
“Good afternoon and welcome to the Alaskan Moonlight Resort, how can I help you?” The receptionist was a young woman, probably around twenty-five, and her name tag said “Susan” with a small drawing of a pine twig underneath the
name.
“Hi, my name is Derek Warden and I’m here for the conference.”
Her professional smile transformed as her eyebrows shot up. “You don’t look like a scientist.”
Derek swallowed a sigh and smirked instead. “I will take that as a compliment.”
Susan blinked a few times in quick succession and turned pink as if she just realized what she said. “It was meant like a compliment, since you stand out from the crowd. But I apologize,” she told him before turning to her computer. “I will check you in right away.”
Derek waited in silence, but when he took his key card from her, he smiled. “You were right, by the way. I’m not a scientist, I’m a reporter.”
She nodded politely, but he could tell she was still embarrassed. Well, he’d tried to be nice, there was nothing more he could do.
He picked his backpack from the ground and threw it over his shoulder. “Thank you,” he said to Susan before turning away.
“Mister Warden,” her voice stopped him and he faced her again. “Please be advised, we’ve been experiencing minor earthquakes in the last few days. It’s quite common around here, but can be surprising for the visitors from out of state.”
This trip’s just getting better and better. He thanked Susan and left her desk. He glanced at the key card sleeve. Room 203, and another pine twig drawing. Derek took a few steps to the staircase before he looked up as he heard someone going down the stairs quickly, only to come face-to-face with Hayden Shaw.
And that was the moment the ground started to shake.

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And if you want to follow our entire series of stand-alones connected by the same earthquake, keep an eye on this page or on my Facebook, since I’ll be sharing the links to all the titles.

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