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Not this week. He smiles at me, and I feel like I’m melting into the seat.

Caleb! What are you— But it was too late.The creature quickened its strokes until it arrived within two feet from us. I shut my eyes, burying my face against Caleb’s neck.

The alligator bellowed and when I dared open my eyes again a few seconds later, the reptile was bleeding from its eye sockets. Caleb had ripped out its eyeballs, leaving it thrashing in agony. Caleb turned away and began swimming against the current. I felt his whole body tense—pure muscle challenging the might of this terrifying river that was so bent on swallowing us up. Caleb won. It was a slow and steady process, but a few minutes later he was climbing back onto the bank. I rolled off him and lay on the ground, panting.I stared up at him, then let out a scream. I pointed to his shoulder.What’s that black thing?

He glanced down. A leech, he said. I expected him to immediately pull it off. Instead he crawled over to me and began running his hands over my own arms. I shivered as his hands brushed down my legs, reached up beneath the hem of my ripped jeans and touched my thigh. Then he lifted up my wet shirt to reveal my stomach. I screamed again on seeing a black leech writhing and sucking on my own skin, just above my panty line.Lie back, he ordered.

I leaned back, but only enough that I could still keep an eye on what he was doing with the leech. I gasped as he lowered his mouth to my stomach, his mouth enclosing the leech. I shivered as his lips brushed against my abdomen. Then I felt a sharp pain. He sucked the leech from my skin and threw it over his shoulder. He jumped up several feet away from me, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and spitting on the ground, I assumed to rid himself of any trace of my blood that might have entered his mouth. I couldn’t imagine the amount of self control it must have taken him to do that. I knew he craved my blood as it was. If he allowed himself to taste even a drop of my blood, he might not be able to stop himself from sucking me dry.

You may want to check beneath your clothes, he said, casting me a sideways glance.Hm, I muttered, spotting two more passageways to our left.

This place was so big, we could be searching for hours before we ever found them. I wasn’t in the mood to waste any more time, so regardless of what the consequences might be for us, I began shouting the names of my family at the top of my lungs.My voice reverberated around the chamber and echoed off the walls. I shouted until my voice was hoarse, pausing for a few seconds in between.

Abby gasped and squeezed my shoulder. Her lips parted, her blue eyes wide. I hear someone calling, she whispered.I could hear nothing still. She walked toward a tunnel to our left and ran through it. I followed her, pushing my legs to keep up with her speed. She gripped my hand as we passed through tunnel after tunnel, pulling me forward in the darkness. Finally, she stopped short and listened again.