Chapter 1: Griffin
I went with Imogen to the Full Moon Party. Koh Phangan at its best. That was the last thing I clearly remember; everything else filters back hazy, like it’s been covered in a layer of gauze. I had a few drinks, a few pills, danced my ass off, and then woke up here, in some cramped little room on the lower level of a boat. I can tell it’s a boat even though there are no windows and the door is locked. The rocking motion. The sea salt air. Footsteps above me, muffled voices, and no one responds when I bang on the door. There’s only the thin shaft of pale light that trickles in from under the door. There’s no one in this room but myself, and I don’t need a mirror to know my face has been battered. My left eye is swollen shut and my jaw is tender to the touch. Still have all the teeth, though my lip is split, but that could just be because I’m dehydrated.
I stand up, sway on my feet. The room lurches and I nearly fall, but I don’t. Even in this condition, I’ve got good sea legs. Dad always said so. That’s the only time Dad and I ever seemed able to stand each other—when we were out on his yacht. Still, he’d have to make sure he took his meclozine an hour before getting onto the boat or he’d be puking over the side and wailing that he wanted to get back to the harbor.
I make it to the door and try it again, as though it might have somehow unlocked itself. I pound on it. “Let me out of here, ass**les!” I shout.
There’s a pause above me, then laughter. I don’t recognize the voices.
I sit down. My head feels funny. It feels funny in such a way that I know someone must’ve slipped something into one of my drinks, or given me a pill that wasn’t what they claimed it to be. Was Imogen in on this, too? No. She was just some silly girl on vacation from Dublin or Wicklow or one of those dumpy Irish cities.
I don’t know exactly how long I sit for, my back against the wall. The fuzziness in my head has started to clear, although there’s still a bitter taste in my mouth, like I licked a battery or something. Heavy footsteps approach, pause outside. The door inches open.
“Stay right where you are,” a low voice growls.
Two men step in. I recognize neither, though if I were expecting pirates, these two aren’t far off the mark. The taller one’s grizzled and looks like he hits the bottle a little too often. His face is riddled with pockmarks and his teeth are terribly crooked. The younger, shorter one actually has a red bandana wrapped around his head.
“Where’s the eyepatch?” I ask him.
He shoots me a look. “Did we say you could talk?”
He throws something down at my feet. It’s a plastic bottle, half-filled with water. While I’m grateful for the drink, I’m a little disappointed that the receptacle is not a bota bag or something a little more authentic. “Is this bottle BPA free?” I ask after I take a sip.
Bandana continues to glare at me but the older one chuckles. “A pretty boy and a wise ass,” he says. “Aren’t you a catch.”
I take another sip. The water stings the cut on my lower lip, but I welcome the pain because it’s sharp and it helps clear the cloudiness from my head. “I didn’t know we were fishing. You should’ve told me—I would’ve brought my gear. Where are we, anyway?”
“That’s not really any of your concern.”
“So what exactly is going on?”
“We know who you are.”
“Excellent. And who might you be?”
“You don’t need to concern yourself with that,” Snaggletooth says. “For the time being, you stay here. We’ll let you go, pretty boy, when your daddy-o pays up.”
I laugh. “Is this a joke?”
We stare at each other. “How much?” I finally say.
He smirks. “7.2 million.”
“That’s kind of a random number, isn’t it?”
“Don’t see how that’s any of your damn business.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
Snaggletooth rubs the lower part of his face. “Well then I suppose we’ll have to follow through with what we said we’d do to you. And honestly, I’d be just as happy watching the sharks rip you to pieces as I would gutting you myself. It’s an exquisite pleasure to play a hand in watching lazy, self-entitled pieces of shit like you meet their ends. So your daddy-o either pays or doesn’t. Don’t matter much to me—either way, I’ll be a happy man.”
His eyes shine in such a way that tells me he is speaking the honest to god truth. He winks, then the two leave the room, locking the door behind them. There’s no way my father would pay that much money. Not for me, anyway. Maybe for my brother, Cameron, but there’s no sign of him here, and anyway, he would never let himself get in a situation where abduction would be possible. He’s just not that kind of guy. I, on the other hand, apparently am.
“Shit,” I say, to no one in particular.
I’m going to have to get myself out of this one.
Chapter 2: Jill
It’s bittersweet, this graduation. I attend because most of my friends are up there on stage, while I’m sitting in the audience. I can’t help but wonder how things might have worked out differently if the accident hadn’t happened. Dad would be alive. Mom would not be in a wheelchair. I would be up there graduating, too.
Of course, I shouldn’t be thinking like this, and I know it. I’ll graduate next year—hopefully—and then I can still do everything I imagined I would. Get a job, my own place, try to carve out a life of my own. Except I won’t be traveling to any far off city; I can’t leave Mom, even though she’s told me more than once that I shouldn’t let any of this get in the way of what I want to do.
I get home that evening after celebrating out on the town with my friend, Jessica, and her family, who flew in from the Midwest. Mom’s nurse, Sharon, is on her way out, but she stops at the door and asks me how my day was.
“It was good,” I tell her. “The graduation was really nice.”
“It’ll be your time soon,” she tells me. Sharon is slightly heavyset with short, curled blond hair, exactly the way you’d picture a nurse, minus the white uniform and nurse’s cap. “Your mom’s still awake; I think she wouldn’t mind if you stopped in there for a few minutes.”
I drop my purse on the kitchen table next to a pile of mail. I walk down the hallway and into the living room, which, since the accident, has been converted into Mom’s bedroom. The blinds aren’t closed all the way on the bay windows and the moonlight filters in, casting the room in a milky glow. Mom’s wheelchair sits near the bed like a faithful steed.