Last week, we left Kate clinging precariously to a pipe along the outside of the building. Nothing like making someone realize their fear of heights when there isn’t time to freak out.
You all had to decide how she’d get down – and apparently you like Kate, and believe in her, because none of you wanted Eli to come to her rescue.
I love that.
You have a fairly big decision to make today. Let’s see if you all stay on the same page this time, or split the vote.
I clung to the pipe, pulling my body as close to it as possible. I glanced down and felt the sky and wall sway.
“Kate, we have to move. Quickly. You’re through the hard part. Come on.”
Eli’s normally level voice had an edge to it.
“You aren’t helping.”
I bent my knees, keeping my feet wedged above the bracket, sliding my hands down the pipe. Slowly, I let one foot slide off the bracket, down the wall, and shoved it behind the pipe, then repeated the motion with my other foot.
I felt the smooth bottoms of my ballet flats slowly sliding from their position, stopping only when I hit another bracket. I tried to hug the pipe, breathing heavy, my hands burning and the muscles in my arms trembling.
“You can practically jump from there. Come on!”
“Oh, shut up!” I turned my head to glare at Eli, and realized my mistake immediately. Everything swayed, my foot slipped, and I found myself sliding down the wall, my grasp on the pipes nearly gone, hands scraping along the old pipes.
When I hit the ground, my ankle buckled. Eli positioned himself between me and the ground to prevent further injury.
“Was that fast enough for you?” I grumbled, as Eli dragged me along the slick parking lot.
We made it to the back of the lot, a steep hill covered in trees and dormant blackberry bushes ahead of us. Eli squatted down and waved me on to do the same.
“Through the gap.”
I looked at the tiny break in the bushes, then back at Eli. “What?”
“Anton is waiting for us at the top of the hill. We can’t exactly get curbside service here.”
I crouched down, then laid on my stomach and began to shimmy my way across the mud, grabbing roots along the way to pull myself up the hill. The thorny bushes tugged at my clothes and hair, slicing any bit of skin that dared show itself.
If Eli was saying anything, I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t seem to hear anything but my own breath, my heart pounding, and a voice in my head reassuring me that I was going to get out of this okay.
The voice wasn’t entirely convincing.
I came to a halt, the tunnel of branches and thorns around me closing in.
“I don’t think I can get through here.”
I felt Eli lean across my legs, his arm reaching up against my side.
I turned my head to the side and grabbed for what he was holding out to me. A knife, thankfully sheathed.
“You just happen to have this on you?” I said, as I hacked away at a few branches, surprised at how easily they snapped.
“Important to prepare for every contingency.”
I slid the knife back in the sheath and placed it in my jacket pocket, pushing myself through the gap I’d created, grateful to find the road at the top of the hill on the other side. I struggled to my feet, and watched as Eli made his way out of the thicket.
As he came to his feet, he stared at me for a minute and smiled. “That’s a good look.”
I looked down at my mud-stained front, and shook a large twig from my hair.
“Thanks.” I looked around the road, finding no one in sight. “I thought Anton was meeting us here.”
“He’s just down beyond that curve. Shall we?”
I nodded, trying to ignore the sharp pain in my ankle as we quickly made our way to the bend in the road. I gasped as we made our way around, and Eli stepped in front of me.
“You are late,” Anton said through this teeth, Meera’s armed men standing on either side of him.
Big decision to make here. Is Anton with Meera’s men against his will?