If I could hear him down there, he wasn’t up here.
My feet raced to his door like the rest of me was an after-thought. Looking around myself, I shoved a chair under the knob to bide time. The pounding I heard was Elliot racing back up the stairs. I struggled into a shirt I found on his bathroom counter. He slammed against his bedroom door as I dashed again for the balcony but heard who must’ve been his night guard on the lower patio speaking frantic Spanish to someone else. I glanced at the window and saw a branch just outside.
I shoved the window open as Elliot slammed his door enough to make the chair grunt against the wood floor. There was no time to think as I climbed through the window onto the branch and used all my adrenaline to traverse the length like I would the monkey bars. My thighs scraped the trunk of the tree as I wrapped my legs around the bark and inched down while Elliot continued to pound the door and inch the chair across the wood. My toes just touched the wet ground when I heard the chair clatter to the floor.
Elliot bounded onto the balcony. “Find her! Now!” he raged.
Large leaves slapped my face in the darkness as I ran through the jungle the way Carlos and I had come in earlier.
An arm wrapped my waist and a hand slapped my mouth when I screamed.
“Shhh! It’s Carlos! Let’s get the hell out of here! We don’t have much time before he gets his dogs.” He took my hand in the dark and we ran, me on blind trust as I knew nothing of this terrain but what we’d crossed in the dim twilight. Now, not even the moon was out to cast any light on our path. On the way back earlier, he’d told me he’d walked this path from the time he was a child and could navigate the length with his eyes closed. The darkness around us made me feel we were in total darkness, but I no longer worried about things that scurried or slithered as long as they cleared the way for our footfalls.
“We’re going swimming. If he deploys his dogs, they’ll lose the scent at the water. We can catch air under the docks until I can make it back to my friend’s bungalow. We have to get off the island.”
I asked no questions. We rushed from the jungle onto the pier of a sleeping beach house. Carlos stopped short of the end and gave me snorkel gear. We secured our masks and fins before jumping into the dark water. He kept my hand, and I kicked my fins to help the pace he set. The salty water burned cuts on the bottoms of my feet, and I worried about not wearing underwear or anything other than this shirt. Hell, were the cuts bleeding? Would I attract sharks?
Carlos made us come up to the surface to blow water from our snorkels and take another deep breath before diving back under the thankfully soft waves.
After what seemed a mile of swimming, aching limbs and racing heart, Carlos slapped the bottom of a shark boat. We surfaced and Winston had my arms in his strong hands before I could argue about modesty. Carlos hoisted himself over the side while I rushed to close my legs and pull the soaked shirt over my knees. I caught myself against Carlos when Winston threw the motor into full speed. We went so fast, seemed we floated above the water and tapped the surface every so often. Carlos held onto me to keep me out of view of anyone who may be watching the water from their balconies or beach chairs.
“Looks like Winston has an empty boat from the shore,” he said at my ear. “Will the tribe take us in for the night?” he asked Winston as we took a long curve around what I guessed was the end of the island toward the opposite side as Elliot lived.
“D still needs permission from the chief. Should know tomorrow. We’re putting you somewhere no one would think to look. You must be quiet though. I’ll come back for you in the morning.”
“I need to see Bones before we leave,” Carlos told Winston.
“Bones knows. He has his ways. You’ll have what you need to make it to San Pedro Sula.”
“I left everything. I have nothing.” I broke my silence.
“You have the best allies possible on this island. Right now, that’s what you need to stay alive. Get down!”
Lynessa Layne is a native Texan who grew up in the small town of Plantersville, home of the Texas Renaissance Festival. She’s a fan of cosplay, exploration, history, loves the beach, a great book, Jesus, and America too (RIP Tom).
A military wife, she’s bounced around the US, including the settings in her Don’t Close Your Eyes series, currently landing in the heart of sweet home Alabama where she and her husband are raising their blended family.
Lynessa is best known as the author of the romantic suspense mystery series, Don’t Close Your Eyes. She is a certified copy editor and a member of Mystery Writers of America with work featured by Writer’s Digest and Mystery and Suspense Magazine. She has also graced the cover of GEMS (Godly Entrepreneurs & Marketers) Magazine and was a finalist for the 2022 Silver Falchion Awards for Best Suspenseand 2022 Reader’s Choice.
For more information on upcoming releases, swag, signing events and this series, visit https://lynessalayne.com and sign up for her newsletter, Lit with Lynnie.
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