The Boss Vol. 5

By: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott

Chapter One





Ever have one of those days?

I definitely didn’t think this was going to be how my day started. A little breaking and entering—that was becoming pretty normal for me actually. Hmm, should probably work on that. Now, I was adding trespassing, and a dash of Nancy Drew shenanigans to my repertoire.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read one of those kitschy little sleuth books, but I seem to remember dear Nancy getting into more than a few scrapes. So, I guess maybe the moniker wasn’t that far off.

“You gotta be kidding me.” I stretched my arm as far as it would go. The tip of my finger brushed the corner of my phone, but instead of shifting it closer, now it was completely out of reach.

Fan-freaking-tastic.

I slid back down into the crevice. Exactly how I’d gotten into this predicament. The rocks were slick with moss and all manner of sea life I didn’t want to think about too hard. I tried tugging my foot out again, but my ankle was pretty much the size of a grapefruit. Oh, and wedged between two very stubborn rocks.

Obviously not as stubborn as I was, but definitely a contender for second place. Maybe even a tie.

I was currently trapped in the cove at the edge of my grandmother—no, Blake’s property.

Blake Carson, my…something. We hadn’t really figured out what to call our relationship. I’d dropped the L-bomb, then the center of our little universe had exploded. Now we were desperate hands in the night and all business by day.

However, I was fairly certain he’d be unbelievably pissed when he found out I was still breaking into his beach house.

Of course that might be a bit of information he received far too late. I was supposed to be at the townhouse hours ago to help for the party. At least I was pretty sure it was hours ago. I could only go by the tide currently rising.

I’d lost feeling in my foot long ago. It was December, and as far as I was concerned the ocean should be enjoyed from a window with a fireplace at my back, or way up on the beach with a parka, scarf, and possibly mittens.

Currently, my jeans were crunchy and I’d passed cold, only to come back around full circle. I cupped my hands around my mouth and blew on them to try and find some warmth, but I was pretty sure I was breathing out ice crystals.

At least that’s what my lungs were telling me.

The water lapped at my thigh. Hadn’t it been at my knee just a minute ago?

Had I slid lower? Or was the tide coming in farther?

Night had crept in before the water had risen. Winter. Short days and long nights.

Long nights with me wrapped around him.

Blake.

Deliciously warm. He warmed me from inside out with his body, and with the smoky words he only seemed to give me in the dark.

My eyelids were heavy. I fought against sleep just like I did every night. I liked the long nights. Long nights meant more time with him. More time with his lips on mine.

Taking.

Giving.

The sweet rumble of his groans into my neck—into my ear.

I hissed as a wash of cold water flooded between my thighs. So not where my thoughts had been going.

I’d been warm.

“Wake up, Grace.”

I shook my head.

“Wake up, Grace,” I shouted into the cave. The sound echoed and bounced around in the darkness.

I snapped into focus for a moment. I pushed up with my good foot. I had to get up just a little more. I had to reach.

Had to.

The face of my phone lit up the cave, then it vibrated.

Was someone calling me?

“Keep calling,” I said to the empty cave.

My iPhone didn’t have a good enough vibrate feature to actually help me. Why, oh why couldn’t I have one of those older smart phones that flopped around like a damn Mexican jumping bean?

I collapsed against the rock I’d been stuck to forever. It didn’t matter how many times he called me. If it was even Blake. He had a house full of people at the party.

Would he even notice I wasn’t there?

Would he care?

Would he look for me?

Maybe he’d go to the house. There was no way for him to actually know where I was.

No one would.

Secrets. Always secrets. My grandmother. My mother. Blake.

So many secrets.

I woke with a start. “No, Grace. Stay awake.” I didn’t even know what was a dream and what was reality. The dark was so complete.

The white flash of my screen made me blink. I slid lower on the rock, the surface scraping my back.

My back.

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.”

I wiggled down. I tried to grasp the hem of my hoodie, but my fingers just wouldn’t work. I pulled my arms through the sleeves. The clammy frozen skin started a chain reaction of shudders.

I had to get it off.

Had to do something to knock my phone down. It was my only shot.

I didn’t know if I had the dexterity to catch my stupid phone if I got it off the ledge, but I had to try. It had a Lifeproof case on it, but that was water resistant, not submersible.

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