When the Storm Comes Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“You know, if we don’t survive, the first thing you need to do in the afterlife is apologize to Grandpa Donovan for complaining about his name.” She paused and the phone line went quiet. I knew she was waiting for me to laugh, so I snorted and did my best not to snivel like a kid.

It would’ve been a good joke if we hadn’t been staring the apocalypse right in the face.

“God, Mom.” Doctors always seemed to have a terrible sense of humor. “Can we not plan the afterlife when the zombie apocalypse just started?”

She had the nerve to scoff and I could almost see her rolling her eyes. “Zombies would require some kind of virus. This is an impending tsunami, and you have close to eight hours before it hits. That’s not impending. Don’t be dramatic.”

I barked out a laugh. Her insanity was just too much, which was her point to begin with. “Cat Five hurricane hovering just off the coast and now the Canary Islands explodes. I think that’s a good lead-up to zombies.”

Because what else could happen next?

The slow-moving storm off the North Carolina coast already had the lights flickering and some of the local neighborhoods were starting to flood. We were so close to the water that wasn’t uncommon, but when it combined with a tsunami, no one was sure how far inland the water would go.

“Well, interesting events do come in threes, and really, it was one island. One volcanic explosion, not a dozen.” She sighed. “You’re just as dramatic as your father. He’s going to be so frustrated he went on that tour. No cell signal at all. He’s not going to be fit to live with when he gets back into town.”

I groaned at her idea of being helpful. “I’m pretty sure it’s bad things come in threes.”

And now I was going to start obsessing over what else could go wrong.


“Wait. A volcanic eruption. A tsunami. A hurricane. That’s already three.” There. Now we didn’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop.

“No, no, no. The volcano and the tsunami count as one.” She had that mom voice that said she was right.

“I think the fact that you’re in Spain while I’m here is bad thing number three.”

She made another scoffing noise. “Just think of this as an experiment to see if my planning was useful.” Her sincerely excited tone had me shaking my head. Yep, this was definitely one big experiment, like an alien mad scientist pulling some strings just to see what would happen.

“But, since you’re the one who gets to see how my plan works, tell me what you’re going to do as soon as we get off the phone. Oh, and don’t forget to take notes. Handwritten just in case the phone doesn’t work for long or it gets lost.” She was trying to be feisty, but the teasing tone in her voice had finally started to fade and her voice cracked.

“Oh, I wish your father were here.” She took a deep breath and I could almost picture her mentally battening down the hatches. “At the very least, his I told you sos would be a wonderful distraction.”

I didn’t have a good response to that because I was going to be on Dad’s side with this. They were never leaving me home alone ever again. If they traveled to the grocery store, my ass was coming with them until I was, like, eighty.

But right now, the only thing we could both do was ignore our frustration and growing emotions, so I took a deep breath and parroted back what we’d already discussed. “I’m going to gather up the important papers, your jewelry, and all the food I can pack in the car.”

Going through the plan again made it easier to stay focused, and the more I talked, the steadier I felt. “Then stuff like extra blankets and like toilet paper.”

She jumped in when I paused. “But?”

I had to laugh even though nothing was funny. “But you want me out of here in thirty minutes tops.”

She sighed and I could almost see her nodding. “People are going to be running around a bit mad for a little longer, but before too long, the roads will be nuts.”

She sucked in a quick breath before I could tell her I remembered. “Don’t worry about your father’s or my clothes. Just your stuff and practical things. Understand? We’ve got enough in our luggage to be fine until we can buy more.”

Shaking my head, I smiled. “Got it.”

Pushing away from the counter, I had to tease her. “Now aren’t you sorry for threatening to ground me for forgetting to take the travel box off the roof of the car?”

She just snorted, still unwilling to admit she’d lost her shit over something stupid. “I’m going to ignore that.”

As I laughed, she continued. “We’re far enough inland we’ll be fine, especially since the problem seems to be aimed in your direction. But, sweetheart, I don’t know how long it will take us to get back to the U.S. Ideally, I want you to stay at the cabin for as long as it’s safe and don’t worry about us. Be careful.”

“I will.” There wasn’t anything holding me here, anyway. It wasn’t like my college would be standing tomorrow.

When the apocalypse was over, I was going to pick a college a lot further inland. “I love you, Mom.”

She let out a quiet sob before sucking in a ragged breath. “We love you very much. Now go get packed and get out of there.”

Pushing my emotions to the back of my mind, I did my best to focus on the practical. “Yes, ma’am.”

She chuckled and let out a sigh. “Try to call me when you’re safe.”

We both knew that would be a crapshoot, but I ignored logic. “I will. I love you.’’

She huffed and tried to sound frustrated. “You’re dawdling. Go get your chores done. I love you, but you need to go.”

I knew that—but hanging up would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done. “Always harping about chores.”

As she begrudgingly laughed, I forced myself to look down at the screen. “Love you, Mom.”

Then I hung up the phone.

“Okay, pout and panic later. Work now. We’re a family of planners. You can do this.” Looking around the kitchen, I tried to think logically. “Okay, food, important shit, then clothes.”

Naked and hungry wouldn’t work.

I wasn’t living in a reality show.

“After that, stuff to keep me busy and stuff that I might need in the future.” And any random shit that caught my eye…like private stuff I didn’t want to explain losing to the insurance company.

“But first food.” Focusing on all the canned goods and stuff like rice that would keep for a while, I filled up all the reusable grocery bags with food and piled it in the back of the SUV, grateful Dad had talked Mom into the monster version with the extended trunk space.

He was never going to let her forget what a good decision it was either.

When I got as much as I could in the car and the floor of the back seat was covered in cans and boxes of macaroni and cheese, I switched gears. Running through the house, I tossed everything in the list she’d given me in a duffle bag before adding some notebooks and random shit from her home office.

Once the had to haves were packed, I grabbed a big suitcase and shoved a bunch of clothes in, packing it as tight as I could. The mountains where the cabin was would be colder than it ever got at the beach, so I forced myself to think logically, grabbing two hoodies and laying them flat so they would fit.

It took another ten minutes of grabbing anything I could think of that might be useful before I told myself it was time to go. “Cards. Power cords. Old movies.”

God, we were packrats.

Part of me was tempted to keep packing more—there was still room in the car and I hated that—but I knew the most important thing was getting on the road. It would end up being a parking lot if I wasn’t careful. Then nothing I had in the car would be helpful.

And my mother would be pissed.

Nope, not worth it.

Making sure the house was locked, just in case it actually survived, I headed for the garage, refusing to stop for anything else that might distract me.

This was not the time for squirrel brain.

Pulling out of the garage made things feel more final and I could feel my heart rate starting to rise. I had a crazy urge to run back inside, but just seeing how many people were already halfway through packing their cars said I’d been right to leave.

Never question Mom.

That was what she was going to say once I told her all the crazy details.

Looking around as I wove my way through our neighborhood, I was glad to see so many people were getting out, but what worried me were the houses that were too quiet. It was ten in the morning. Most of our neighbors were at work or running errands.

Well, most of them, but not Trey.


I almost drove past his house. We’d grown up together and he’d been just as annoying our senior year of high school as he had been in third grade when they’d moved in. But now the annoying asshole was standing in his driveway looking fucking lost.

And damn it…why did he have his little sister with him?

Where was his goddamned car?

Where was his fucking mother?

Fuck it.

Slamming on the breaks in front of his house, I took a breath before jumping out of the car. “What are you doing? Where’s your car? You have to get out of here.”

“I know that.” His voice had risen several octaves, and if it weren’t for the baby in his arms, he would’ve been gesturing like a mad man. “My car is in the shop and my fucking mother went up to DC to march in some mothers with attitude thing. Her car is somewhere in the middle of Virginia and she took a bus the rest of the way.”


Before I could start asking questions to at least see if he had a plan, he started ranting again. “Unless I bum a ride from one of the neighbors, my only other option is to walk.”

Not good.

Not good.

I glanced around, seeing mostly empty driveways and dark houses.


“Okay, come with me.” He was such a dick the words felt like sandpaper in my mouth, but my mother would’ve smacked me upside the head for not offering faster to begin with.

When I told her about this later, I was going to do some strategic editing.

Trey went completely still, eyes wide and breathing just a bit faster than I thought was healthy. “Really?”

Had he thought I would leave him to get flattened?

“Dude, my mother will kill me if I don’t drag your ass out of here.” That got a chuckle from him and it looked like his breathing was slowing down to normal. “We’ve just got to get out of here fast. The roads are going to be a fucking nightmare between here and 95.”

There really needed to be more interstates between the beach and I-95.

“Yes. Fast.” He seemed to be trying to take a breath, but I wasn’t sure it was helping his brain work.

Since giving orders seemed to be the best idea, I headed up and took the baby out of his arms. “Samantha, right?”

I don’t remember how I knew that, but for some reason, it felt right and I was glad when he nodded. “I call her Sam. Mostly because it drives my mom batshit.”

Laughing, I nodded. “I hate having to agree with you, but yeah, I’d do that too.”

He shook his head. “God, some things don’t change even in the apocalypse.”

Oh yeah.

“Okay, I’ll put the baby seat in the car and move some stuff around.” It was a good thing I hadn’t packed the car completely full. “I have food. You need to pack clothes for you and the baby. We need your family’s important papers, documents, and stuff like that. Then we need baby gear. Oh, and a coat for you.”

What the fuck did you need to keep a baby alive and healthy?

She was so tiny I didn’t think real food was an option, but I was an only child so I had no idea what to grab for her.

Something in my face had Trey chuckling and he looked almost normal. “She’s a baby, not some kind of lizard person.”

“I’d know what to do with an alien. This…” I looked down at the sleeping bomb I was holding. “This is dangerous and unpredictable.”

He snorted, shaking his head. “Okay, clothes, papers, baby shit. Got it. I already started getting some stuff together while I was trying to figure out what to do.”

Thank fuck.
“Great.” Then I had a thought. “Shit. Did your mother take the car seat?”

Thankfully, Trey shook his head. “No, she left it just in case we needed to get an Uber somewhere to run errands.”

That was one good thing.

“Okay, you bring stuff out here and I’ll get her in and move the car closer.” We needed both of us to get the car packed, but leaving a baby in the car when it was parked on the street sounded like a bad idea.

Trey nodded, then gave me a long stare. “Thanks, man.”

Nodding, I ignored the weird feeling whirling inside me like that damned hurricane. “Hurry. We need to get on the road.”

That got him moving, but for some reason, he grinned again.

He was so weird.

But somehow, having him back to normal made everything feel better.

“You’re going to need help with the car seat.” He was probably right, but I wanted to get everything done fast, so he didn’t have time to gloat.

He ran back into his garage and grabbed what seemed to be the base of whatever she would go into. “It won’t take long. Her little bucket seat is right in the door. You can put her in there. She sleeps like—”

He shook his head. “Nope, not finishing that sentence.”

Probably a good idea.

“I’ll go look.” And try to see if I remembered how babies were supposed to go into it.

Ha, I was smarter than I thought. Remembering the babies I’d seen in the grocery store and places like Walmart, I had her secured when he came running back in. “Not bad, dork.”

I snorted. “This dork has food and shelter where the water won’t hit.”

He laughed and patted my head. “That’s why you’re my favorite dork.”

Since throwing something at him wouldn’t have been our best use of time, I glowered at him and picked up the seat. He flashed me a grin and pointed to the baby. “Feet get aimed toward the back seat and it will click into place.”

“Got it.” Hopefully.

Thankfully, it was as easy as he’d said, and before long, I had the back of the car in his garage so we could finish loading it.

Trey worked fast, or really had made a good pile earlier, because by the time I got the car backed in, he had stuff piled at the door. It was mostly stuff for Sam, but that was a good thing, so I nodded as he came out carrying more diapers.

As I tried to organize the papers and random shit he’d gathered, I pointed toward the roof rack. “That’s still empty. It should be watertight, but let’s try to put stuff up there that’ll dry, just in case.”

“Okay, great.” Nodding to himself as he threw the box of diapers to me, he ran back into the house and a couple of minutes later came back out with a trash bag and one of those baby bags moms always had that could carry anything and everything.

He handed me the diaper bag and then started for the roof carrier. “The bag has diapers and formula and everything she needs for about twenty-four hours.”

Since he seemed to know what he was doing with her, I just nodded and made sure we could reach the magic bag from the front seat. Pointing to the trash bag, I asked, “What’s in that?”

As he wrestled with the carrier, I walked around to see if I could help. “Baby clothes mostly. There’s also a few blankets and stuff for her and my winter coat.”

Good idea.

“That’s smart. We can dry all that out at the cabin if they do get wet.” My response had him chuckling as he locked the container.

“Once we’re on the road, I have a thousand questions.” Before I could respond, he ran back into the house.

Knowing the questions could wait, I stepped inside the house and called out. “Is there anything we need from the garage? Or the pantry?”

I couldn’t go much further without letting Sam out of my sight and that didn’t seem safe at all, so I was glad when Trey called out from deeper in the house. “Yes, there are more cans of formula and food, if you think we need it.”

Starting with the formula, I worked on grabbing all the baby stuff I could find. “Hey, do you have something like those portable playpen things? Something she can sleep in?”

She could nap in that bucket seat, but could she sleep in it all night?

Would that be good for a baby?

That had to be bad for her spine, right?

“Yeah, I’ll be right there.” In a few seconds, he came out with another duffle bag and some kind of origami-looking device that had to be for Sam. “I think this is it.”

There was no way for me to know, but I’d seen the papers get packed, and we had a ton of shit for the baby, so everything else seemed like it could wait. “One more time. Papers? Jewelry? Money that you’ve got squirreled away? Anything that can’t be replaced but can fit in the car?”

Trey shook his head, looking like he was mentally checking everything off a list. “No, I took some of the old family photos off the walls and put them in that suitcase earlier.”
“Great.” That’d been a good idea.

“Lock up and let’s get the hell out of here.” Climbing in the driver’s side as he shoved the duffle bag and the baby thing on top of the pile in the back, I took a deep breath and turned on the car.

As I flicked through the channels trying to find news that wasn’t just random panicking, he finished up and closed the trunk. “All done. If you pull out, I’ll close the garage door.”

Yes, he didn’t have the clicker.

Pulling out of the garage, I waited for him to shut the door behind us and just tried to get a grasp on how quickly reality had changed.

Hurricanes and tsunamis I could handle, but living with Trey Simons might be the death of me.

When the Storm Comes by MA Innes - Gay Romance Book Cover
Donovan’s day just keeps getting worse.

It might not have been the zombie apocalypse, but a tsunami and hurricane hitting the East Coast at the same time was definitely the start to a bad B-movie. Alone and doing his best to run from the impending wall of water that was only hours away, Donovan thought his day couldn’t get any worse. It could. Now he had a tsunami, a hurricane, and Trey…bad things definitely came in threes.

Trey’s day was finally looking up.

Stranded at home with his baby sister as chaos ensues was not how he was expecting to spend his morning, but then comes Donovan to the rescue. When his cute frenemy pulls up outside his house to rescue them from the impending storm, all Trey can think about is one thing…Donovan.

When an uptight cutie is trapped with a flirt who loves to make his new BFF blush, the storm brewing between them becomes the most powerful of all.

Author’s note: When the Storm Comes is a lighthearted take on an impending disaster. I promise that Donovan’s biggest fear is going to be guessing what’s in Trey’s clearly naughty duffel bag and how to deal with the smiling bomb in the back seat (aka a baby). The first book is a slow burn with lots of teasing and a bit of BDSM, but it will heat up in book two, When the Clouds Part.
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