The Dysasters (The Dysasters #1)(9)

Foster didn’t turn, but she felt Tate at her back. Cora’s watery eyes went to Foster’s face. “I love you, my little strawberry baby girl. Always have. Since the moment I saw you. Always will.”

“I love you, too!”

“Promise you’ll do as I’ve told you: Sauvie—the letter—the boy.” Cora gasped for breath between words, her voice trembling with effort.

“I promise, Cora! I promise!”

“Thank you, baby girl. Now, finally, I can rest.”

Cora’s breath hitched, her familiar brown eyes widening as if she’d been surprised by something remarkably, wonderfully amazing and then her hand fell from Foster’s face as she released her final breath.

Foster’s heart beat so fast and so unbearably loud, she felt like that was all she was—just one raw and bleeding heart in the middle of a football field.

“Cora!” she screamed. “Cora!”

Strong hands captured Foster’s shoulders, lifting her and pulling her from Cora’s still body. Foster fought—kicked and shrieked for him to let her go—but it was like fighting a brick wall.

“Hey! Stop it!” Tate shouted as he half carried, half dragged her from the football field.

“Get your hands off me! Let me go!”

“No! She’s dead, Foster. And she told me to keep you safe. I’m doing what she told me to do.”

Foster felt as if her body had suddenly melted, like ice cream splatting against hot concrete, chunks of itself liquefying until it was nothing more than a dark stain—a shadow of what it used to be. But she knew Tate was right. Knew deep in her heart Cora was dead. She stared back at her adoptive mother’s crumpled body as she let the football player lead her from the field and from the only family she had left.

She almost gave up then. All she had to do would be to jerk away from this guy and run. People were screaming and stampeding all around them. He’d never find her in this mess. Foster’s sharp eyes swept the crowd of hysterically milling people, judging the right time to get away—to go back—to be with Cora.

That’s when she saw her.


She was striding away from the football field at the opposite end of the destroyed bleachers. Her head swiveling from left to right, right to left, as she searched for someone. For them?

The rain had returned, obscuring Foster’s view, but there was no mistaking that it was Eve. Foster would know her anywhere, even though she hadn’t seen Eve since she was twelve. The woman was unforgettable with her velvet black skin, her closely shorn hair, and the enormous hoops she always wore through her ears. She was tiny—barely five feet tall—yet she seemed to fill Foster’s sight as she studied the panicked people around her with cold, expressionless eyes.

Foster knew Cora had been right. She’d died warning her about Eve. If I let Eve get me—get us—Cora will have died for nothing.

Foster planted her feet, throwing Tate off balance, and he stumbled to a halt.

“Not that way. We need to get to the parking lot. Find the car,” Foster yelled to him.

Tate nodded. “Over here!”

They ran, dodging debris and fallen people. Foster didn’t look at them. She refused to think about them and how broken and bloody and still they were.

The rain began again, and she put her head down against the slanting droplets and followed Tate. They rounded the corner away from the football field and Foster’s knees almost buckled as she staggered to a stop, gaping in horror at the scene before her. Half of the parking lot was gone, reset to dark brown newly tilled earth. The other half was a war zone of twisted vehicles, sections of the metal bleachers, and bodies. So, so many bodies.

Not now. Don’t think about them now.

Foster adjusted Cora’s satchel over her shoulder and charged forward to the section of the parking lot that was relatively undamaged. “We have to find a car. Did you drive here?” she shouted. Blinking against the rain, she scanned the patch of cars the tornado had randomly chosen to skip over. “Did you drive?” Foster repeated, whirling around in irritation when Tate still didn’t respond.

Tate stood twenty feet away, round eyes wide and unblinking.

“Tate!” Foster’s shoes squelched in the mud as she marched closer. “We have to go.”

“M-m-mom?” His chin quivered, and Foster couldn’t tell if rain or tears slicked his pale cheeks. “Mom!” He sprinted forward.

Foster clutched the satchel as she raced after him. “Tate!” she shouted, reaching out and snagging the crook of his arm. “Stop!”

“Let go!” Tate growled and tore away from her grasp. “My parents need my help!”

Foster’s gaze followed his outstretched hand. Metal entwined with metal to form a macabre sculpture. Long, blond hair swirled out from between two cars. One smashed on top of the other with such force it was almost impossible to decipher where one ended and the next began. Her stomach pitted as her eyes landed on stiff, square fingers reaching out, broken and awkward, from the sleeve of a maroon coach’s jacket.

“Dad!” Tate lurched forward as the wind changed direction, and Sleeping Beauty’s blond locks tangled around the snarled hand.

“Don’t.” Foster found Tate’s arm, her grip tightened as much to keep him from running to the awful gravesite as to keep her legs from crumpling beneath her. “They’re gone. Like my Cora. Gone.” Foster shielded her eyes as a sudden gust of wind pelted her with BB-like pieces of gravel.

P.C. Cast, Kristin C's Books