A trip to Las Vegas changes everything. Things are looking up then tragedy strikes. Emma moves back to Oklahoma with more on her plate than she ever imagined. Can she finally get her life together and put the history between her and Charlie to rest?
Charlie raced into the corridor, down the center of the house and straight into Emma’s room where he found her listening to the iPod, oblivious to the scene unfolding around them. Charlie and Emma were caught right in the middle of Mother Nature unleashing weather on a scale neither of them had ever witnessed before. Wasting no time, Charlie grabbed the stunned young woman and as he ran from the house with her in his arms the earphones fell from her ears and he shouted, “Where is the nearest tornado shelter, Em? We need to get there now!”
The terror was clear on his face and he felt her stiffen as she clung on to him so tightly that her knuckles went white from the strain. He felt safer with her in his arms, despite the absolute carnage that was unfolding just a few hundred yards away from them now. He was trying his best to shelter her too from the huge hailstones that were hitting them both relentlessly. He could feel them ripping into the fabric of his jacket. He ran as fast as he could, holding her as if their lives depended on it. She must have realized she was hindering him and wriggled out of his grasp and grabbed his hand as she ran along side him.
“Over there.” He heard above the roar of the wind and thunder as she pointed to the old Fitzgerald place just opposite her parents’ house. It was a large log cabin style home, which had in the past housed a substantial and well-stocked tornado shelter in the grounds. She had often told him that the place always made her grimace. He agreed though, that its odd looking, two-toned wood construction made it one of the least attractive buildings in the area. Thankfully, it was buried within a large forested plot and was barely visible from anywhere until the winter cleared the leaves from the surrounding trees. It wasn’t too long ago that sweet, old Mrs. Fitzgerald had moved into a home near the big city and the place was now empty. He hoped that the shelter was still there and open. He later found out that Mrs. Fitzgerald had always made sure that Emma’s parents knew to use the shelter with them being her nearest neighbors. Emma wriggled from Charlie’s arms and they ran for their lives toward the side of the property. The storm was almost on top of them. He cautioned a glance back toward the house and saw that the funnel had touched ground and expanded in the time that they had run across the road and to the shelter. The thunder rumbled on, each clap merging into the next as the noise of the hail on the tree branches and the asphalt of the road made it almost impossible to hear anything else.
Ripping at the overgrown foliage surrounding the doorway, he managed to ease the door open just as the full force of the tornado hit the neighborhood. Huge pieces of unidentifiable debris, along with pieces of farmyard machinery, large chunks of clapboard, and roofing that had been ripped from the recently destroyed houses were swirling around just meters in front of them. The noise was thunderous. The pressure changes were causing havoc with their ears and there was no way they could communicate effectively.
Charlie turned to grab his sweetheart to pull her into the safety of the shelter and he found she had vanished. His heart failed when he realized that she could be anywhere by now if she had been caught in an updraft because the power of this storm was terrific. He stood from his position near the entrance and glanced around in every direction. Even though it was pointless he started frantically shouting,
“Emma, Emma where are you? Emma!”