PART 3, SECTION 28

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I was terrified of dying . . . but part of me felt more alive than I'd ever felt. A wave of obliterating attraction passed from my lips to my knees, then another. I didn't want to think about anything but Bryce's warm body. If I could focus on just the pressure of his arms around me, then it didn't matter where I was. 

I kissed him. I kissed him really deeply.

And he returned my kiss in such a sweet, tender way.

His hands spread around my waist and down over my butt. I couldn't help but let out a gasp.

For a moment I wasn't trapped inside a narrow box. For a moment my world hadn't gone to pieces. For a moment I was just a girl again. Unafraid. Alive.

But in a moment of strange, irrational self-preservation, I thought about Mr. Hershel and the horrific infestation of larvae that had filled his skull cavity. I thought about the illness that had almost killed Morgan soon after she'd been attacked. I thought about the body I'd helped Ian carry from the locker room, and I thought about what the boy who'd locked us into the coffin had said about keeping the "disease" from spreading, and, very quietly, I tried to spit out whatever of Bryce's saliva had gotten into my mouth when we'd kissed.

I knew I was about to die anyway. I knew that I'd already slept with Bryce, maybe even without protection, and if he was carrying whatever terrifying disease that was causing people to act so bizarrely, he may have already passed it to me. Or maybe I'd even passed it to him. But there was something that just wouldn't let me let go of keeping every chance for life open, no matter how small it was.

Bryce hugged me again and rested his head against mine.

"I don't want to die," he whispered. He was no longer crying. It was just a simple, quiet statement.

I rested my hand on his arm and very softly rubbed my thumb back and forth, just to let him know I was still there, and awake.

He reached for my hand in the darkness and held on to it.

I clicked on my phone. I squinted in the sudden glare of the screen. I kept it on just long enough to see that there was only two percent of the battery left, and no reception to speak of.

I turned off the screen, lay my head back down on Bryce's shoulder, and tried to prepare myself to die.

It occurred to me that if I kept turning on my phone, one time soon it wouldn't turn back on, and after that I wouldn't ever see any kind of light again.

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