Heart of the Hunter(2)

By: Chance Carter


And just like that, I ended the only life I’d ever known. From that moment on, my days in Boston were numbered. My life was cheap. I was a target to every lowlife bounty hunter in six counties. The Donnelly Clan would see to it.

It was a stupid fucking move. That’s what you get for growing a conscience in my line of work. I had to skip town fast, and I knew it.

Luckily the wheels we took to the job had a duffle bag with a substantial debt collection sitting in the back seat. I knew I was fucking the family over as I drove off, not knowing where I was going. But like I said, they ain’t my family. Family means more than that. Family is something that touches you somewhere inside. I mean, I’ve never experienced it, I’ve never even got the faintest whiff of it, but sometimes you’re allowed to believe in a thing you’ve never seen, aren’t you?

Now, sitting here, living off that duffle bag in a haze of shit beer and the day-to-day grind, I wonder if I lost my mind that night. As it turns out, it wouldn’t be the last time some broad and a kid made me go fucking crazy. One day can change your life. That day began, the morning I met Kelly.





Chapter 2

Kelly

At least the sun was shining. If there’s one thing you can count on in the town of Stone Peak, Montana, it’s the beauty of nature. The view over the mountain range, the miles and miles of pine trees in the valley, the way the clouds gather around the snowy peaks, it’s enough to take a girl’s breath away. It’s enough to make you feel safe and secure in the world. It’s enough to give you a little hope.

When I was a little girl, I thought I wanted to get out of this place. I thought I was headed for the big city. I never understood the people in the town who said they’d stay there their whole lives. The same faces, the same stories, each day the exact copy of the one before. I saw the sameness of it all as a way of rocking yourself to sleep, singing you a sweet, carefree lullaby until, before you knew it, you’d slept away the best years of your life.

I didn’t want to wake up some cold morning and discover that I was just another familiar face, living out my days just like the rest of them. I thought I was headed for bigger things. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to find my destiny.

Destiny.

Life has a way of getting in the way of silly things like that. I know better now. I’m not foolish enough to think I have some great destiny in the world. I’m just an ordinary girl, scraping by as best she can, and I do it on my terms. I live the life I created, the life I built for myself through my own sweat and hard work, and for that, I will always be grateful.

“Morning, Kelly,” a voice called as I walked absently along the sidewalk toward the diner, chewing my healthy breakfast Snickers bar.

I looked up. It was Grace, the one person in my life I knew I could always count on.

“Morning, Grace.”

“Did you remember to pick up the ice from Harry’s?”

“Oh, shoot,” I said, slapping my forehead. I’d been so preoccupied that morning it had totally slipped my mind.

Grace shook her head. “Well, don’t worry about it. I know you’re doing your best with what the Good Lord gave you.”

I grinned at her. She was always teasing me.

“And why are you eating that crap so early in the morning? You know I like to cook you breakfast. Candy bars are going to be the death of you.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry, my mind was off wandering.”

“Oh, hush. It wasn’t Elle and Forrester you were thinking about, was it?”

I shrugged. “Do you think something like that will ever happen to me, Grace?”

“What? Some handsome, rich guy with a mansion in California rides into town and sweeps you off your feet?”

“Something like that,” I said, realizing how ridiculous it sounded.

Grace smiled. “You never know, kid. It happened to Elle.”

“It happened to Elle,” I repeated to myself.

She’d called me the day before, telling me how great things were, inviting me up to the vineyard. I sighed.

“You really do have your head in the clouds today,” Grace said. “But now, let’s get your head on serving some people breakfast, since that’s what I’m paying you the big bucks for.”

I love Grace. She’d been like a mother to me since I lost my folks when I was seventeen. She took me in, gave me a roof and three square meals every day. Eventually, she gave me this job waiting tables when I finished high school.

If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have ever made it this far. I owed her everything.

“I will, Grace. What’s the special going to be today?”