The Boss Vol. 5

By: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott



My hoodie and thermal shirt under it were soaked through. I couldn’t take one off without the other.

Just the thought of it made my teeth chatter. The water was up to my hip now. The lapping water splashed against the rocks and there was nothing but cold and salt.

“Off. Off.”

I laughed. Madness creeping in. I’d said the same thing to Blake last night. I couldn’t get his clothes off fast enough. I couldn’t get him out of the stupid sleep pants he continually wore.

Naked.

Didn’t he know that night was naked time? Us time.

The only time I could touch and speak to the man I’d fallen for. The one who I wasn’t entirely sure existed outside of my own fantasies.

I got my sweatshirt up to my bra. The rocks burned. Could cold burn? Was I just one big freezer-burned slice of Grace? My teeth were chattering so hard I was afraid I’d loosen fillings.

Tired.

My arms were tired. I couldn’t get it off.

I was going to die down here with my grandmother’s damning words swirling in my head. No answers. Just more questions.

Everyone lied to me.

Everyone kept their true selves to themselves.

Leaving me alone.

Always alone.

The water splashed against my belly. I wiggled and thrashed.

“Off, motherfucker.”

Finally, it came free and plopped into the water. I fished it out and wrung out the sleeves. I shook so bad I couldn’t get much of the water out, but enough.

It had to be enough.

I twisted.

“Call,” I whispered.

Nothing but blackness.

The moon had shifted, so I didn’t even have that light anymore.

“Ring, damn you,” I bellowed.

I needed to know where to aim.

“A text even. Something. I need that tenacious Blake right now.”

I stared into the darkness. At least I hoped I was staring. My night vision was blurry at best right now.

The bloom of white light startled me. I slapped at the wall with my sweatshirt. The sleeve thwacking against the rock.

I heard my phone skid over rock.

Had I pushed it deeper?

I aimed for the same spot again. My arms trembled as I held my arms over my head and slowly pulled the fabric down.

The case came down, nailing me in the cheek.

I caught it against my neck. “Yes. Oh, yes.” I could barely feel it in my hands. Frostbite.

God, please don’t take my fingers. Take a toe. Whatever. Just not my fingers.

I fumbled with my cell and the face lit up again. Blake.

I swiped to answer the call. Passcode.

I tried to press my thumb along the bottom but it didn’t recognize my waterlogged, pruny fingers.

“Code. What’s the fucking code?”





Chapter Two





The call dropped into voicemail.

“No.”

The screen went dark. No signal.

“Dammit.”

I tapped until the screen came alive again. Recent calls. I tried to get my finger in that corner. Finally.

Finally.

The call dropped again.

I dialed again and held the phone up. One sliver of a bar. Not even all the way into one bar.

“Please.”

“Grace!”

I almost dropped my phone. “Blake. Oh, God. Thank God.”

“Grace.” His voice was so far away.

“The cove,” I screamed into the night. “Blake?”

I pressed my thumb into the button at the bottom of the phone. The call was gone. No signal.

Had he heard me?

I couldn’t get my fingers to work. Text? Could I get a text out?

A wave crashed in and flooded up my back. I curled my fingers around the phone, but it was worse than a bar of soap. Even worse, soap I couldn’t see.

It dropped into the water and the face glowed with a green text bubble before it went out and sunk near my foot.

I ducked under the frigid water and searched around in the darkness. In the frigid water that reminded me of fire.

It fell into the crevice.

The water sucking it down to lodge above my foot.

The foot I could barely feel.

I pushed that thought aside and lifted the phone out of the water.

Black.

No life.

I slumped back against my rock.

Had he heard me? Had it gotten through?

The water was still rising.





Chapter Three





“Grace!”

I didn’t want to wake up. It was warm, and everything had soft edges. Best of all, it was warm.

“Ms. Copeland.”

I dragged open my eyes. Blake?

Was I still dreaming? I’d been slipping between consciousness and unconsciousness for what felt like forever.

He sounded…frightened? Not like my Blake.

“Really? Ms. Copeland now?” asked a second voice.

I turned away from the bright light flickering around the walls of the cave. The circle of light bounced around like a drunk lightning bug. Ceiling, ledges, and then back again.

“Gracie. Come out, come out wherever you are.”

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