Authors: M. Lauryl Lewis
PRAYING FOR GRACE
BOOK FIVE OF THE GRACE SERIES
M. Lauryl Lewis
© 2014 / Larson Falls Publishing & M. Lauryl Lewis
Cover image © Andres Gradin. Used under license via Shutterstock.com
Other Books by M. Lauryl Lewis
The Grace Series
Grace Lost (book 1)
Tainted Grace (book 2)
Dark Grace (book 3)
Fallen Grace (book 4)
New Adult Romance:
The Sun Trilogy
This Side of the Sun (book 1)
For my son, Henrik. I love you so very much, brave boy. You are my hero and an inspiration to so many. You are a blessing and a miracle in so many ways. We will walk this path together, hand in hand, and I know you will grow into a great man who will do great things.
The crossing to Tatoosh Island was rough, tossing our canoe in all directions. Danny would tell us later that he had almost turned the vessel back for fear of capsizing.
“There’s only three places we can land the canoe,” explained the young man. “I’m going to steer us toward the old light house. No one’s lived there for over fifty years. We should stay there for the night,” he shouted over the noise of the heavy winds and surf.
Baby Emmett had begun crying once we were well away from the shores of Neah Bay. I picked him up and tucked him beneath my coat to warm him. I quickly adjusted the makeshift sling so that I could still help with rowing. At least here, out to sea, his cries would be drowned by wind and waves and not attract the dead. The sun was nearly set by the time a small cove came into view. The cliffs of the island rose at least a hundred feet above the sea, standing sheer and rugged. The light house looked down upon us. It was daunting, rising to meet the sky and looking like it could fall from the cliffs and into the waters that it guarded below.
“Danny?” I called out, raising my voice above the wind. “How will we get up the cliffs?”
“Won’t be easy,” he called back. “There’s a lot of stairs to climb. Let’s worry about landing the boat first.”
I reached out to the island with my mind, searching for danger. I didn’t sense the dead. A sea lion barked in the distance as if warning us away. The wind was worse here near the shore, seemingly trying to blow us away and back out to sea. Nothing about this place felt welcoming. Still, the rocky and jagged shore came closer by the moment. Danny directed all of us, except for himself and Boggs, to stop paddling. The heavy canoe lurched as the stern found the ground beneath the water and scraped along rocks that would likely tear apart a more modern fiberglass hull.
Boggs jumped out, making a loud splash beside the boat. He was knee-deep in the cold water and struggled to pull the canoe farther onto shore. Danny joined him, jumping into the waves on the other side of the vessel. He was nearly knocked under as the canoe jarred to one side. Susan followed suit, seeing that they needed help. Abbey stood, holding onto the gunwales on each side. I could tell she was preparing to jump off onto Boggs’ side to help the others as they struggled to keep control of the canoe.
“Abbey, no, stay in the boat!” yelled Danny.
The girl looked at me, her eyes filled with worry. I nodded and she sat on one of the thwarts, near to me and the baby. Nathan stood on his good leg, using the bow seat to rest the knee of his other leg. He was using his oar against the sea floor to help steady the boat.
Finally, after much effort, enough of the canoe was on dry land to keep it steady. Danny and Susan helped Nathan from the craft while Boggs helped me and little Emmett. Abbey had already scrambled to shore and waited for the rest of us. In short order we hauled supplies to the stairway that wound up the steep cliff face. Danny worked quickly to tie the canoe to man-made concrete pillars on each side of the beach. He explained that by anchoring it at two points it would prevent it from being damaged by the sea. We would only be able to leave at high tide, as low tide would leave it beached.
Finally ready to climb the stairs, we gathered at their base. Each of us carried what we could. In Nate’s case that meant his make-shift crutches and a back pack. In my case it meant baby Emmett and a pack slung over my shoulder, filled with his diapers and clothes. Susan, Abbey, Danny, and Boggs each carried a weapon and their own pack. The four of them would return to the beach for another load after we got settled inside.
I stood, looking up at the steep steps. Boggs placed his hands on my shoulders.
“Are you ready?” he whispered to me.
“Yes,” I answered as I cradled Emmett and held him close.
As Danny took the first step upward, I noticed a lone figure above, looking down at us.
Accustomed to having Gus at my side and not having to speak all of my thoughts out loud, my warning was delayed slightly. “Danny, stop,” I urged, calling out to him with my voice.
He looked back at me questioningly. “What is it?”
“I saw someone up there at the top of the cliff.”
Everyone else looked to where I pointed, but the figure was gone. I still didn’t sense any of the dead, so assumed it had been a human. Whatever it had been, it was gone now.
“You sure you saw someone?” asked Boggs.
“I’m sure.” I had no doubt that I had seen someone.
“We need to be careful,” said Nathan, stating the obvious. “Danny, you said the island should be uninhabited?”
“Should be, unless someone else had the same idea as us.”
“I’m not sensing the dead,” I said over the howl of a wind gust.
“Sue, can you lead with me?” asked Boggs. “We’ll head up just a yard or two in front of the others to check it out?”
“I’ll go too,” offered Danny.
“What about me?” asked Abbey.
“You stay back with Zoe and Nate. He’ll need your help to climb the steps. Danny it’d help if you stay with me and Susan up front. We might need an extra set of hands.” said Boggs.
“Sure thing,” said Danny.
Boggs, Susan, and Danny led us up the steps, weapons at the ready. I could tell that Nathan was doing his best to keep up with the rest of us, but was hurting. His leg was still splinted and wrapped, and he wasn’t able to put any pressure on it. Emmett whimpered in my arms, and I stroked his tiny back to try to calm him.
Halfway up the rickety wooden staircase, Susan called out when one of the steps broke. Our progression toward the shelter above was immediately halted as Boggs grabbed onto her arm to help steady her. The board fell down to the shore, splintering upon impact with the jagged rocks below. I hugged Emmett closer and closed my eyes for a moment.
“Ok, everyone,” called Boggs from above. “Step carefully. Go slowly. We can’t afford any more injuries.”
To add to the treacherousness of the situation, rain began to fall heavily and the last shreds of light from the day threatened to disappear at any moment.
“Fuck me,” I heard Nathan grumbled behind me.
“Use my shoulder, Nate,” said Abbey quickly. “We can get it later.”
I looked back at the two of them. One of Nathan’s makeshift crutches had fallen and rested precariously several steps below. He was already leaning against Abbey, but it would make advancing difficult if they were to try to ascend the rest of the steps side-by-side.
“Boggs! Danny!” I yelled to the group who was well above us. “Nate needs help!”
“I’ve got him!” yelled Abbey. The look in her eyes told me that she didn’t want help.
Overhead the sky filled with a bright yellow-white flash that lasted too long to be lightning. Once the light faded, a large streak of glowing orange traveled toward the horizon. It was several minutes before the resulting rumble traveled far enough to reach our ears.
“What was that?” yelled Susan from above.
None of us had advanced on the steps since Nate had dropped his crutch. We were all soaked from the rain, our bodies and spirits beaten by the relentless wind. Emmett was howling loudly with cries of hunger and cold. I held him tight to me and continued toward the top of the cliff, careful to test each step before placing my full weight on them. I needed to get the baby into some type of shelter. I needed to get myself into some type of shelter. We all needed to get into some type of shelter. I had an ominous feeling about whatever had lit up the sky, and my ominous feeling began to turn to one of urgency. My breathing quickened.
“Whatever it was, I think we need to find somewhere dry, now!” I yelled as loud as I could.
I haphazardly clutched at the rickety railing to my right while holding Emmett as hard as I dared.
“Abbey, you guys need to hurry!” I bellowed, fighting with the wind to be heard.
“Zo, what is it?” called Boggs from above with fear in his voice. He was already making his way back down to us.
“I’m not sure,” I called back. “It just feels wrong. Get Susan and Danny to the top!”
Reluctant to turn away from me and the baby, he made his way back to the others. I didn’t look back to see if Abbey and Nathan were making progress. I had to just trust that they were. My thoughts drifted to Gus as I stumbled up the now rain-slicked steps in hope of finding safety. If he were here, he’d be able to help us. I grew angry at his absence and the anger made me work even harder to reach the top of the cliff. Another flash filled the sky as my final steps carried me to Boggs’ waiting arms. Out of breath, I locked eyes with him and knew that he saw my fear. Susan and Danny were already running toward a stone building that leaned very gently to one side.
“Go with them! I’ll help Nathan,” said Boggs with urgency.
I nodded and wrapped my arms around Emmett, who was still shrieking. I looked back briefly and saw Abbey clambering up and over the edge of the cliff. Boggs lifted her to her feet and pushed her gently toward me, indicating that she should join me. I held my hand out to her and we ran together, leaving Boggs behind to help Nathan.
I felt my arm jolt when Abbey slid in the mud, landing hard on her knees. I swung around to help her back up and was glad to see Nathan leaning on Boggs, the two of them making a fair pace. Without speaking, Abbey stood and although she bore a look of pain on her face, she said nothing and began running with me again.
The rain continued to batter us and the wind was even angrier here on top of the island. My hair had come loose from its ponytail and whipped at my face and eyes. Three more streaks of orange light crossed the sky, resulting in three more thunderous rumbles.
At last Abbey and I reached the edge of the building, where Danny and Susan were trying to open a window that was sealed off with plywood and a padlock. Danny resorted to using a rock to try to break the lock. Even then, the plywood would need to be pried off once the lock was removed. I bounced Emmett gently in hopes of calming him.
“Abs, come with me! Let’s try another way in!” I yelled, knowing most of my voice was being carried off into the storm.
She nodded and we set off together around the nearest corner. The next window over was sealed off just like the first, minus a padlock. A door stood just beyond the window, with a single two-by-four screwed in place. I tested the door knob, finding it locked. I hadn’t really expected any different.
“This window might be easier to get open. Go tell Boggs!” I shouted above the wind.
As Abbey ran back to the other side of the building, I held the crying baby even closer and scanned the surrounding area. It was dark now as the sun had made its way past the horizon. I couldn’t see far. I couldn’t be certain, but for the briefest of moments I thought I saw a flicker of light in the distance.
Suddenly, Boggs set his hands on my shoulder, causing me to jump.
“Come quick! They got the window open,” he said.
He took the baby from me and we hustled to the window together.
“Climb in first! I’ll hand you the baby once you’re inside.”
I could barely hear him over the wind that was now constant. I wiped rain water from my face and nodded my understanding. Someone had set a piece of cloth on the window sill to cover shards of broken glass. I hoisted myself up and as I began to tumble inward, one of the others caught me enough to break my fall. I clambered to my feet and took baby Emmett as Boggs held him out to me.
“I’ll help Boggs,” said Danny. “Get the baby farther into the building.”
“Here, Zoe. Over here,” I heard Susan’s voice coming from my left. It was dark enough that I could barely make out her form, but walked toward her nonetheless. “Abbey and Nathan are in the corner sitting on the floor waiting for you guys.”
“We need to cover the window!” I heard Boggs shout. “Danny, Susan, see if you can find any furniture or anything heavy we can move?”
“We need light!” said Danny. He sounded oddly calm despite the storm and unavoidable darkness that now surrounded us.
Within seconds, light flickered from behind me. I turned and saw Nathan with one arm around a shivering Abbey, the other holding his lighter up. Knowing the flame wouldn’t last forever, I quickly surveyed our surroundings for anything useful. The room in which we stood was large. The walls were old, with paint that was peeling and areas where plaster was worn through until just the lath remained. Not much had been left behind in what had housed a light keeper many years before. An old iron stove was one of the first things to catch my attention. It could prove a source of heat and light. A large table that looked like it had been from perhaps the 1950’s, and several small wooden crates that were stacked neatly off in one corner. Danny and Boggs had also noticed the boxes and were already busy moving several closer to the open window.
“What will you do with them?” I asked as the wind howled outside as if trying to creep into the building to torture us.
“Zo, hand Emmett off to Abbey? It’ll probably take all four of us to move the big table over and lift it into place. We’ll set it on-end and move the boxes in front to hold it in place. It’s the best we can do without tools.”
I was already handing the baby to Abbey. He was still wailing, his baby breaths now coming in shuddering gasps from exertion.