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Deep Dive

Lauren Winter

Copyright © 2021 Lauren Winter

Cover Photo Credit: Deposit Photo

Cover Design: Canva

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19


Also by Lauren Winter

Deep Cover

About the Author

Chapter 1


“We are lost, aren’t we?”

Before I can respond, Meghan taps hard at her phone and busily studies the little map on the screen. “We’re lost,” she concludes.

Her colorful bracelets slip from her wrist toward her elbow. Her side ponytail matches the many plastic bracelets on her wrists, not to mention her bedazzled jean jacket. Even though she has been my best friend for the past five years, I have never asked why she always dresses like a teenager in the eighties.

But I have a much bigger problem than my friend’s wardrobe in front of me. “No, we’re not,” I protest. Then I stop short. “I don’t think so?” I watch out for the names of the street but it’s too dark to see any of the street signs. The dim lights of my headlights can barely illuminate the outlines of the road. Now I’m even less sure. “I hope we’re not,” I admit with a tinge of defeat.

Meghan snaps a quick selfie and makes another post of our nocturnal adventure on social media, then she flips back to the map. “Okay, turn right here,” she orders. I have never met anyone who is as obsessed with social media as my friend. She can get 100 likes before breakfast every morning.

“But I know it’s on this street.” I try to keep my eyes on the winding road while glancing down at my phone. I’m not familiar with this part of town. There are a lot of old houses and small windy roads. The air here is colder and fresher than where we live, since it is closer to the coast. I can smell the salty air seeping through the cracked car windows. The basement apartment Mom and I live in is dank and musty from years of humidity. Poor. That’s how people would describe us. I’ve never thought of us as poor, but I guess that’s what we are. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be cruising the streets at night for free furniture.

“We’ve been circling this block for thirty minutes now. Just turn here.” Meghan is getting impatient. She isn’t someone who can sit still for long. She’d rather get us even more lost just to see what happens rather than circling the same block again. While we speak, she makes another social media posting with a poll on whether to advise me to go down a different street, and twenty of her friends have already given her the thumbs up virtually.

First, I bite down on my lips. Then my shoulders shake. With my peripheral vision, I can tell that Meghan is doing the same. That’s why we’re friends. No matter what ridiculous situation we find ourselves in, we can still find humor in things and laugh.

“What? They don’t even know where we are!” I laugh so hard that tears come to my eyes, and I continue on my route and ignore Meghan’s protests. I focus on the road and know that I’m going the right way. I don’t want to wind up on some small, unlit side road by the sea and actually drive off a cliff. The engine rattles and hums under the hood of the truck. The speedometer has been broken for years, but I have always been able to tell what speed I’m going by the various sounds and clicks the old girl makes. I pray that I have enough gas to get us home. The gas gauge is also broken.

A ring of light dazzles my eyes. Meghan has just pulled out her lighted makeup mirror next to me. From the corner of my eyes, I can tell that she is putting on lipstick.

“What are you doing?”

She gives a loud smack and wipes off the corner of her mouth with her fingers. “Am,” she calls me by her nickname for me. “In case we get rescued by cute state troopers, I want to look nice.”

“We’re not lost.” I laugh and yell into the darkness in front of us.

“There it is!” Meghan elbows me in the ribs, pointing to the side of the road with her other hand. Her bracelets click against each other.

By the dim yellow streetlight, I see a two-story blue house with a gray shingled roof and a black door. It’s a small, modest house that looks like all the other houses in the neighborhood. The yard is in desperate need of maintenance, but it’s not the murder shack that I have feared. To be honest, I was worried for my safety when I decided to come here. That’s why I dragged Meghan out on a Saturday night. I don’t want to wind up dead in a ditch only for a free couch.

It’s too dark for me to see the address numbers. “Is this the right place?” Even in park, I am still clutching my steering wheel with both hands. I wonder how Meghan is so sure that this is the right place. I don’t want to be knocking on some stranger’s door at night. I reach for my phone and decide that I am going to call first.

Earlier today, I saw a posting online about free furniture. “Old, good quality furniture looking for a suitable home. Free.” Looking for a suitable home? The ad makes it sounds like they are giving away a puppy. But Mom and I desperately need a new couch and some chairs. Since I have no money, I decided to try my luck. I called the number and a crisp male voice answered. He was polite but terse, just like his posting. He’s cleaning out his parents’ old house and has a lot of

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