“Don’t sit up so fast.”
I turned my head to the side to see Caleb sitting beside me. I was lying on a bed of leaves piled on top of sand.
His face was lined with worry as he looked at me. He reached out and touched my face, brushing hair away from my forehead.
“Oh, thank God.” To my right, Annora knelt in the sand. She had a look of relief on her face. “We thought we might have lost you.”
Memories of the burning submarine came flooding back.
“Would you like some coconut water?” she asked.
I just glared at her and turned the other way to face Caleb again. Caleb took the coconut from Annora and, sliding his arm around my back, helped me sit up and drink.
My head still felt dizzy, though my cuts seemed to have healed. I guessed Caleb had dripped his blood into my mouth while I’d been asleep.
He looked at Annora pointedly. “Apparently, something blew in the engine room and the force of the explosion unearthed the anchor.”
Annora nodded. “I only just got out in time myself.”
Clearly, Caleb had doubts about the story Annora had fed him. Though neither of us could prove that she had just attempted to murder me, I knew the truth.
But I wasn’t going to bring it up with Caleb. I wanted to handle the bitch myself.
“So now what?” I said, rubbing my head. “We’ve just lost the one safe place we had to sleep. Along with all the food and water we had there.”
“I’d almost finished scanning the island when I heard the explosion and came running back.” Caleb said. “I found nothing but jungle and beaches during that time. I’ll need to complete the search still, but it doesn’t look hopeful.”
That’s just great.
I shot another glare at Annora. I hadn’t believed it possible to hate her more than I already did. Well, she’d just managed to prove me wrong. Thanks to her, we’d lost everything that would have made surviving on this island a bit more bearable—comfortable beds, showers, toilets, food, fresh water, and clothes.
Now we had nothing but the clothes on our back. Hell, I didn’t even have shoes.
Images flitted through my head of Annora and I running around in bikinis made out of palm leaves. Caleb wearing a loincloth…
“What about you?” I looked at Caleb. “Aren’t you craving blood?”
“I found a boar while I was out last night. How are you feeling?”
“Okay. I think I can stand now.” Gripping the trunk of a tree nearby, I slowly propped myself up. Blood rushed through my head, blinding me suddenly. I closed my eyes, waiting for it to pass.
When I opened them again, I could see fine. My knees were a little shaky, but nothing that I wouldn’t recover from soon enough.
I realized only now that my pants were so torn, my underwear had been showing all this time. I supposed I’d better start getting used to wearing fewer clothes…
Caleb rose with me, indicating that Annora do the same. “We should find somewhere to sleep tonight before it gets dark. We’ll have to find somewhere up in the trees, near a stream. I passed by one last night, so I think I know where to look first.”
I stared at the thick jungle lining the beach. Then I looked down at my bare feet. I looked at Annora’s feet. She wore no shoes either.
“I’ll have to carry you both,” he said, following my train of thought. “We should leave now.”
Annora approached him first, reaching her arms around his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist. It left me no choice but to climb onto Caleb’s back. I made sure I bashed my legs against hers as roughly as I could as I climbed onto him.
Caleb was tall and sturdy—but both Annora and I were also fairly tall and with both our arms and legs wrapped round him, to say that there wasn’t much breathing space would have been an understatement. I hated that I had to twine my limbs with hers just to hold on tight enough as Caleb launched forward into the jungle.
I just hoped he would hurry and get us there as soon as possible. Especially when Annora pressed her lips against his neck. I scowled at her and rested my chin on his left shoulder, where her smug face was out of view.
* * *
It was lucky for Caleb that the jungle was dense. The trees shielded him from most of the sun’s rays.
As it turned out, what Caleb had seen the night before was more than a stream. It was a beautiful, crystal-clear lake. I breathed out in relief as it came into view through the trees. I was sweating. Both Annora’s and my limbs had been rubbing against each other. As soon as Caleb stopped, I jumped off him and walked over to the bank.
Discarding any concern for modesty—Caleb had seen me bare already, and I didn’t care what Annora saw—I stripped to my underwear and dove in. I realized as I was already underwater that I hadn’t considered the possibility of dangerous creatures lurking in these waters. But at that moment, I couldn’t think about that. It was just a relief to have fresh water. I scrubbed my scalp and ran my hands over my body, washing away all the sticky sea salt and sweat.
I wished I had some sort of soap. I caught sight of a bunch of exotic-looking flowers nearby. Hoping they weren’t poisonous, I reached up and grabbed them. They smelled wonderfully fragrant. I crushed them up in my hands and rubbed them against my skin. They smelled better than any bodywash I’d ever used.
By the time I climbed out of the lake, I was smelling like a flower myself.
I caught sight of Annora bathing further along the bank. She hadn’t bothered to even keep her underwear on.