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Sneak Peak

Chain Reaction
The Hallie McKinley Series:  Book 3



     The European tour had been a complete success.  It was early August and 5th Asterix had stopped in Mears, Michigan on their way back to Los Angeles. Mears was a small town Paul Swartz, their keyboardist, knew well. His family owned a summer vacation home on Silver Lake and he had spent every summer there as a kid. Hallie remembered the story he had told about the long three day drive his family would make from Houston as soon as school dismissed for the summer. What made the long ride bearable was the knowledge of where they were heading. Paul loved Mears. He was especially excited about this visit, because he had convinced the rest of the band to film a video for one of their songs up on the huge dunes that separated Silver Lake from Lake Michigan. They were going to spend a week filming and taking a small vacation. Lex, a fellow band member and their manager, had rented cottages for them.  Paul stayed with his parents, who were thrilled to see him again.

     Hallie climbed aboard the pontoon boat that was going to take her across the lake to the dunes.  They had been crossing the lake in shifts, and since the guys always got more into the videos than she did, Hallie had happily chosen the last shift. She was dressed in a bikini Lex had chosen for the video.  As the boat was beached on the dunes, Hallie saw Lex for the first time that morning. He was wearing black sunglasses matching his hair, which was gently blowing in the breeze. He had on his swimsuit, which she was expecting.  However, Lex’s bare chest caught her off guard.

     Hallie had seen his chest before, but for some strange reason, right here, right now, she wanted to touch it, to feel the hair. It was entirely ridiculous she told herself, but logic didn’t make the desire diminish. She really wanted to touch him, and to have him touch her.  It was on par with some of the strange feelings and dreams she had starting having about him while they were in Europe.

     As the twenty-four year old approached, Hallie tried to slow the breathing to her now racing heart, another irrational response. He gave her a puzzled look.  “Are you alright? You have a strange look on your face.”

     Before she had time to think through her actions, Hallie reacted. She needed him right then.  “I’m feeling a little strange. Can I have a hug?”

His arms instantly wrapped around her body. His warm, bare chest pressed against hers. Did her breasts just swell? Hallie didn’t care. She memorized his arms around her bare waist, thrilled she was wearing a bikini, which allowed for so much skin contact. She laid her head against his chest and fought the urge to kiss it with her lips. Hallie put her hands on his back and squeezed his body closer to her. She knew their skin was already touching, but somehow he wasn’t close enough.

     Lex held her for a long time. Hallie didn’t detect any awkwardness in his body as she clung to him, unwilling to release the embrace. It was all so irrational.

Eventually, Henry Greenfield, their drummer, called to them to say they were both needed on the dunes. Hallie tried to ignore him, but Lex pulled slightly away, “Hallie?”

     She looked up, discovering his face only inches from hers. If she stood on the tips of her toes, she could have kissed his lips. Why did she desire this? His deep, blue eyes had hers captured for a moment. “Yes?” she finally managed to whisper.

     “It’s time to shoot the video.”

     “Okay,” she was still locked in his eyes.

Lex seemed as reluctant as she was to move from their embrace. He leaned down toward her face. Hallie’s heart went into overdrive. She closed her eyes as she felt his lips gently kiss her cheek. Hallie soaked up every second of the kiss, memorizing the feel of his lips on her skin.  His lips were warm.  They caused her entire cheek to warm as well. Was it her imagination or was this kiss longer than his usual peck?

His voice was whispering in her ear. “They’re waiting for us. If you need a hug later, just let me know.” Lex dropped his arms from her waist.  Hallie reluctantly let go of him.

     Suddenly, Lex grabbed her right hand. “Come on,” he half-ran, half-pulled her toward the giant dune.  When they reached the base, Hallie looked up at it. The mountain of sand was steep and tall.  Hallie had been so distracted by Lex, she had not realized how enormous the sand dune was.  Half way up, there was a small plateau where the film crew was set up.  Lex’s hands were on her waist. He had mumbled something about making sure she didn’t fall.  This was beach sand, soft and warm, she wouldn’t have gotten hurt.  However, Hallie wasn’t going to protest. He was touching her again.

Once they reached the plateau, Hallie started receiving the final touches to her make-up and blonde hair.   Lex walked over to Henry.

     “What was that all about?” Henry inquired.

     "Nothing,” Lex casually replied. “She was feeling strange and needed a hug.”

     “Uh-huh.  Well, at least you gave her some natural blush.”

     Lex chuckled, “Yeah, I noticed that.”

     What? She had been blushing! Hallie suddenly felt very embarrassed as she realized everyone had probably been watching her interaction. She grumbled under her breath.  Wonderful. Before she could ponder the consequences of her actions any further, she was in front of the camera singing.

They filmed all morning at various locations on the dunes. After lunchtime, they all went for a swim to cool off. Hallie had fun playing in the cool water with her band and crew.  Swimming was much more enjoyable now that she knew how. Lex had periodically wrapped his arms around her waist and then thrown her or dunked her. This time she didn’t mind.

     At one point, she climbed back onto the pontoon boat to get a bottle of water. She was feeling tired.  It had been a long day. Hallie suddenly felt her foot slip and realized she was falling backwards. Before she could catch herself, a sharp pain slammed into the back of her head.




     “Are you alright?” Hallie awoke to find Lex peering over her.

     “Yeah, I’m fine,” she mumbled as the intense pain consumed her head.

     “Maybe we should have a doctor check you out. You were unconscious for a couple of minutes.”

     “No, really, I’m fine.  I blackout sometimes, remember?” Hallie saw the concern on his face and knew he was really worried. Hitting her head had caused her to black out, and there was reason to be concerned. But Lex didn’t need to know how close he was to the truth, how alarmed he really should have been. 






     The following morning when Lex showed up for breakfast, he wasn’t happy about what he saw.  Making his way toward his best friend Matty, he kept his eyes across the room.  “What’s he doing here?”

     “He came to visit Hallie.”


     “Because they’re friends.  Do I detect some jealousy?”

     Lex would have normally shot Matty a look and had a defensive reply, but he didn’t bother.  “How long is he staying?”

     “I don’t know, several days.”

     “Several days?”  Lex looked at Matty.  “And you’re approving this?”

     “What are you worried about?  He has a fiancé.”

     “That doesn’t mean anything.  Do you know how many people cheat?”

     “He doesn’t seem like the cheating type.”

     “Have you confirmed he’s still engaged?  What if they called it off?  Do you know for sure?”

     “I haven’t asked him.”

     “Matty, you’re her guardian.  You need to know these things.”

     Matty sighed, “They’re friends.  She’s known him longer than she’s known us.”

     “Exactly, he’s another Warren.  How much do you know about the guy and her history with him?  Did you know she was going to move to St. Louis to live with him?”

     “He’s the one who helped save her at the trial, remember?  I have no reason to not trust the guy.”

     “I don’t like it.  Look at how he’s watching her every move as she gets more to eat.”

     “It reminds me of how you watch her.”

     “Exactly, that’s my point.  I’m going to keep a close eye on this guy.”

     “Jealousy doesn’t look good on you.  Please think before you act.  Hallie will be upset if you do something against him.”

     “I’ll do what I have to.” 

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