Courtney has been hurt many times in her life. Her mom left when she was only 6 months old and her father disappeared the same night. Now Courney is seventeen and lives with her foster parents, Reagan and Ronnie.
Courney has never been loved by anyone. At school she is severely bullied with no friends or support. Courtney has lost all hope in ever finding someone who cares and has numbed all of her feelings in fear of being hurt again. When one day she meets Hunter, a new kid who just moved from Florida, he tries to reach out to her. Courtney ignores him, fearing to be hurt and abandoned again. But When everything Courtney knows becomes a lie and she is stuck in the middle of a web of secrets and mystery will Hunter be the only one there to help her? Hunter cares for Courtney as more than a friend, but does she realize the obvious? Can she save what she thought was lost? But most importantly can she love Hunter back, or will her feelings and emotions be forever numbed...


13. Chapter 12



    The shaft was dark and wet and it smelled musty- like an old artifact that hadn't been looked upon for years.  The men were trying to squeeze into the shaft, but were too much of a blundering mess.  I heard Halock's voice call out to them with so much volume it echoed through the shaft.

    "Let them go!  The Coolman's have agreed to certain measures!  I have them now, we must leave!"  I gasped in horror.  They had told him!  But-but they couldn't have, it would ruin everything!

    "Hunter!" I yelled.  He didn't stop moving.

    "I heard, it's too late to get them if they are leaving," He replied, "We'll find them somehow, but we can't at the moment.  I'm so sorry"

    I kept moving as if in a dream.  The air became colder and colder as we moved on, and the smell of the shaft was giving me a splitting headache.  How long we crawled through tunnels and passageways I don't know.  But hunger was starting to give me pains and my eyes started to feel heavy and useless.

    "We're almost there! I see an exit!" Hunter cried out.

    "How long have we been in here?" I complained in a whiney voice.

    "I'm not sure, but Halock hasn't left yet!"

    "How do you know?"

    "We would have heard the vehicle go.  We can hear practically anything from these tunnels!"  I got silent and tried to listen, I heard a low grumble.

    "What's that noise?" I asked up to Hunter.

    "They are just revving the engine; we are here" I saw Hunter remove another door like the one we entered the shaft through.  A gust of freezing air hit me, but it was fresh air! Fresh air!  I took a deep breath, letting it take over the smell of dust and rot.

    "How far down is it?" I called out to Hunter, who was leaning over the side.

    "I'd say just a few yards, we'll jump"  He replied, "I'll catch you, Courtney, don't worry" was the last thing he said before swinging his legs out and jumping.  I scrambled over to the edge when I heard him hit the ground.

    "Are you OK?!" I shouted.  When I reached the edge I gasped in horror.  The ground was longer than a few yards!!  It was four of me!  Hunter got up from the ground and wiped off his jeans.  That's when I noticed the snow.  As white and soft as cotton balls.  It had a layer of it already on the ground and some was even still floating down from the sky.

    "Alright, Jump!"

    "ARE YOU CRAZY?!" I shouted down to him.  A playful smile crossed Hunter's face.  Shrugging his shoulders he said, "Maybe!  Let's find out!"  I groaned.  My hands were trembling but I swung my legs over the edge. Hunter was below me, arms out to catch me.  Closing my eyes tightly, I took what I thought might be my last breath.  Then, before I could stop myself, I flung myself out from the building and into the air.  It passed in a moment but so many sensations were there.  The heavy burst of air, the rush of being in danger, the soft snowflakes landing on my almost bare arms, and the complete trust I was putting in Hunter.  I let out a scream as I fell into his strong arms.  I was shaking even worse now, but noting was broken, Hunter had caught me.

    "Are you Ok Princess?" Hunter asked, wiping a stray hair from my face. He was smiling triumphantly down at me.

    "Yes, but having Rapunzel's longhair would have been quite useful just now"  Hunter laughed at my weak attempt at a joke.

    "Well we bett-" He was cut off as three cars came barreling out of the building.  One was a truck and in the back I saw my parents, tied up together, sitting helplessly.   Amanda screamed at me, "RUN!  THIS PLACE IS ABOUT TO BLOW!!!"  Hunter grabbed my hand and started running towards the hills.  I stumbled along after him through the snow, but after being in that shaft for so long my body was unwilling to work with me.  The cars drove out of sight and I was crying now.  The tears in my vision didn't help my running.

    "Here, get on my back" Hunter offered, getting down.   As I went to strap myself to his back someone shouted to us from behind.      "Help!  Please! Wait for me!"  I jerked my head around and saw Jack running towards us.  I don't know if I'd actually call it running, more like falling over while he kept moving forward.  If it hadn't been these circumstances I would have laughed.

    "What do you want?!  You work for Halock you blundering idiot!" I shouted back.

    "PLEASE!" was all Jack said.  Hunter stood up and looked at me.

    "We'll wait for him.  He is too weak to live on his own"  I nodded slightly but I still wanted to just leave him there to suffer.  Then what Halock said came back to me.  Him killing Jack and about his men.

    "I'll go help him" Hunter said, running off to help Jack support himself.  I wanted to sit down so badly, but having the layer of snow on the ground made it a bad idea; this was the only clothes I had and I wanted it dry.  I looked at the building where we had ben locked up.  It was plain and old looking with cracks and crags along the wall.  It wasn't tall and the shaft had been on the top level.  I had supposed that it would be underground, an maybe some of it was, but we had been above the whole time.  Hunter and Jack came over, taking my attention from the building to them.  As soon as Hunter let go of him, Jack collapsed to the ground.

    "What happened?" I asked Hunter.

    "It's his leg and ankle.  He injured himself following us into the shaft," Hunter explained, "He said that Halock had left him to die there in the explosion along with five other men" I looked down at the boy who had hurt me since seventh grade.

     "Are we far enough?" Jack forced out.  He opened his eyes; they were still clouded up.  My heart beat faster, he was still in Halock's possession.

     Ignoring his question I shot one at Hunter, "Do you think they drugged them?"

    "I can't tell, but we need a place to talk and rest"

    "I know somewhere we can go" Jack offered, trying to stand up.

    "Fine, show us" I said.  then without warning the gray building exploded, shooting flames and pieces of cement into the sky.  The red stood out against the white snow, like a drop of water in a dry desert.  We all started walking without looking back.




     "Here, it's not much but it will be enough" Jack mumbled. We walked into a hole that was in the side of a hill.

     "What is this?" I asked, sitting down on a log.  Hunter sat down next to me and took my hand.

     "I just kind of found it one day, but I never told anyone about it" Jack answered simply.  There was silence after that for quite some time.  I was shivering and so was both of the boys.  Hunter wrapped his arms around me, trying to warm me up just a bit.  The cold bit into me like sharp knives, penetrating me from the outside in.  Watching Jack sit alone shaking like a leaf became too much.

    "L-lets see if w-we-e can start a f-fire" I stuttered between my clattering teeth.

    "It's w-weird that it could be s-so c-c-cold out, this is the f-first snow we've h-had.  But a fire w=would be n-nice.." Jack agreed.  Him and hunter started searching for sticks as I found a few stones to put around it.  I was reminded of the night when Hunter and I had made s'mores.  It seemed oh so long ago, almost like an entirely different life.

    "H-here, this should b-be enough" Hunter placed a huge pile of sticks next to me.  I laughed a bit.

    "How are w-we actually g-going to start the f-fire?" I asked.

    "I have k-kept some s-supplies here, lets see if I have m-matches!" Jack announced, limping to a corner.  Hunter sat down and scooted in closer to me.  I lay my head down on his chest.  We were both still shivering and the idea of a fire made me weak int the knees.

    "Y-yep!  I have some m-matches and some other s-stuff" Jack limped back over and started to light the fire.  When the flame was created I saw his eyes in the light.  The veil had gotten thinner, I could tell.  It was only when the fire was started and Jack had pulled out two blankets that I dared ask him anything.  Hunter and I were cuddled together under one blanket and Jack was under another.  I had forgotten my hunger in my curiosity and was ready to rain questions on Jack.

    "Jack, what did Halock do? Why did you follow him? I asked.  Jack looked up at me.

    "I don't know.  Anything before serving Boss-I mean Halock-is a blur, a mystery"   He replied, staying away from my gaze.  I didn't stop looking at him, making him uncomfortable.

    "What happened when I yelled at you?  Why did you act so...odd" I asked.  Jack looked at me again.  As he went to talk the confusion hit him again.

    "Uhh, Whoa, I'm spinning!" He yelled.  I jumped up and ran over to him.  Hunter did the same.  Jack sat there, holding his head.  His face was beaded with sweat even though it was freezing.

    "Jack, Jack?! are you Ok?!"  He just lay there, dumbfounded.  Then, like clouds moving away after a storm, the veil on his eyes was lifted, I saw it.  He let out a gasp and stared at me.

    "You-Your Courtney Coolman?" He asked in a confused tone.  Wait, had he lost his memory?!  If he had this would be bad, very bad.

    "Ya, what do you remember" I asked, frantic.  Jack looked from me to Hunter.

    "Lets start simple; Who are you?" Hunter asked.

    "I'm-I'm Tristan Halock, from New York, and my parents are Jack and Rachel Halock" He replied slowly.

    "You're who?!?!" Me and Hunter exclaimed together.  Jack/Tristan looked at us confused.

    "I'm Tristan.  The last thing I remember clearly is my father, Jack Halock, telling me that people would start calling me Jack and that if I ate this food I would become stronger.  I drank it.  Everything else....its a blur!  You, Courtney, I hurt you, didn't I? Hunter, you helped her!  It was like I was being controlled by a monster!  I-I-I...." Tristan put his head in his hands, moaning.  I was dumbfounded.  This was Halock's son, Tristan Halock, who had been living a lie for years, never being accountable for what he did.  Tristan looked up from his hands and straight at me.

    "Tell me what's happened and what I've done, Tell ME!"  When I told him everything he had tears streaming down his face.  I had even told him about my feeling issues.

    "I know where he is taking your parents" Tristan whispered.  Hunter looked at him then at me.  Tristan continued, "We will get your parents back and stop my father, that I promise you"  I nodded my head.

    "Deal," I said, "And we'll help you get revenge on your father, if you tell us everything"  Tristan nodded.

    "I had a brother who dies in an accident, Joshua, right before I was...drugged.  I was in seventh grade.  Jack was an alcoholic and I was beaten every night.  My mom worked 24/7 and I rarely saw her.  When Jack offered me the eat the pill and drink the water I thought it was an act of kindness, an apology.  He has fed us those pills everyday since.  I remember hurting you, whenever I did there was a pang of guilt but it was overcome by the monster that consumed me.  Eventually I forgot I was even Tristan...until now.  There isn't much else to tell really but if you ever have think of a question I'll tell you"   Silence filled the dirt cave.

    "I don't think I can even ask for an apology, can I?" Tristan put his head back in his hands.

    "Tristan Halock, I forgive you" I whispered.  He looked up at me and I saw the true person he was.  He wasn't the bully I always knew, but a kind misunderstood teenager.

    "Thank you, thank you so much" Tristan whispered.          

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