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Bryce closed the door softly. He sat at the edge of my bed.

"Ashley," he whispered.

I'd been in a deep sleep, and I tried not to be too annoyed that he'd woken me.

I said, "If you're looking for a late-night Lady Gaga dance party, sorry, but I'm little worn out."

He laughed quietly. "I guess I'll go ask your mom if she's down then."

I smiled at the thought. "You'd probably have better luck with my dad."

I hadn't moved since Bryce had sat on my bed. I closed my eyes. I could feel his weight on my mattress. For a while he just sat there in the dark.

Finally I asked, "What's up?"

The night was completely quiet. There was no wind. There were no crickets. Just a deep, dark silence.

"I just can't stop thinking about it," Bryce whispered. "When they locked us up in those U-Hauls, I kept dreaming we were back in the coffin. And when I woke up, it was so dark I thought maybe I really was in the coffin again. I kept spreading out my arms, trying to convince myself I was only in the back of a van." He drew in a deep breath. I think he'd started to cry a little, but he was holding it back. "God, I really thought we were going to die together inside that stupid thing."

When he stopped talking, the night's silence rushed back in. It was almost like we were alone together in the coffin again.

"I thought we were going to die in there too," I whispered. What else could I say?

I sensed Bryce turning to look at me. I could just make out his silhouette. It seemed like he wanted to say more but couldn't find the right words.

I felt myself start to nod off again. I was exhausted.

"I'm really tired." I reached out and touched his knee for a moment, then I pulled my hand back under my covers. "I have a big day tomorrow."

"Right," Bryce said. "Sorry."

He stood and stepped softly from the room.

I heard him making his way quietly back down the stairs.

But now that he'd left, I couldn't sleep. I started regretting making him leave. I did want to talk about what we'd gone through together, at some point. I knew that no one else in the world would ever be able to understand what it was like to be trapped beneath the earth. No one else would ever be able to understand what we'd shared down there. No one.

I tried to go back to sleep.

I tried not to think about Bryce, or how alone I'd started to feel.

Instead, I thought about Morgan. But that only made things worse. I missed talking to her so much. I just wanted to call her on the phone like I'd normally do if I was feeling crappy, but I couldn't. It was hard to bear the idea that maybe I'd never be able to talk to her again.

I felt even more alone than before.

It was like I was a tiny speck of dust floating out in the frozen, starry universe.

For a moment I thought about waking Ian and talking to him, but I couldn't. It would be weird. Right now he was fast asleep in bed with Danielle, quietly keeping all of his secrets from her.

I lay awake for an hour, maybe two. I couldn't go back to sleep.


Just before dawn, I crept downstairs.

I could tell right away that Bryce wasn't asleep.

I lay down on the couch beside him, and I pulled the sheet over us both. . .

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DEAD IN BED By Bailey Simms: The Complete First BookWhere stories live. Discover now