Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 15
The Summit

It takes a while for me to stop crying, but I keep going. I spot Soren sitting on a ledge, clutching his rope for dear life. Of course, I think, this is his challenge! He must be terrified. I can't excatly say I'm not. I can't look down, because if I do, I will definitely throw up.

He calls my name and I'm taken aback. "Ellery!"

I hesitate, but respond. "What? Do you need help?" I shout to him. He nods frantically. I guess it's okay to help him because I'm sure Rory is almost done climbing by now. He'll definitely win.

I climb onto the ledge with him. "What's wrong."

"I don't...I don't know...I h-hate hights."

"You have to climb!" I tell him. But I understand his fear. I toss my grappling hook around the same place that his is caught on. It's hard--he must be a pretty good aim.

"Climb next to me," he tells me. I nod. I'm actually surprised he was able to get this high on the mountain. Maybe he resists the temptation to look down better than I do.

We ascend the side slowly but steadily. I'm extremely happy Devil's Tail doesn't have snow at the summit. I help him throw his grappling hook. Eventually we reach the top. Rory is already sitting there, jacket wrapped around his shoulders. I can see my breath in the air, it's so cold.

I desperately want to run over to him, lean my head on his shoulder, and cry, but I can't. I'm sure he won't let me. That's why I'm taken by surprise when he calls me over. I sit next to him, Soren zipping up his jacket and sitting alone. Teryn, I'm assuming, won't be arriving.

"I'm sorry," is the first thing I say to him. He nods.

"I get what you were trying to say. You meant we just have to be friends. Like before all of this." I'm glad he finally gets it. It's been rocky for a while now, but I think it may just have flattened out.

He sneaks his hand over and clasps mine in it's grip. I'm happy for a friend now. I tell him about Teryn. He heard, too. From his earpiece I overhear a voice. I almost forgot that mine is no longer switched on. "What did he say?" I ask.

"They're coming to get us."

"You won," I tell him. He nods.

"But there's still time." I smile quizically.

"Time for what?"

"For..." he begins hesitantly. "For this." He reaches his other hand around me and embraces me in a hug.

I let him. Maybe I was wrong in the hotel room. Maybe he is just right for me. Each time I feel his hands around me, or hear his voice say my name I'm sure of it. But when I think about it, it's not right.

Maybe, just maybe, right now heart wins over mind. So I apologize again and kiss him. He accepts, but I can see he's taken by surprise. "So you do love me?"

It takes me a while. I think, I begin to speak, I stop, and I think again, before telling him, "I don't know."




The instant we step on the helicopter, I ask about Teryn. Rory tries to stop me. "Ellery, no, It's not a good idea to--"

I don't let him finish. I hurry up to Dmitria. "Is Teryn all right?"

She pauses. "I'm afraid--" I stop listening here. I know what I missed when I turned off my earpiece. And I'm glad I did. "Teryn is..." Dmitria is reluctant to tell me. "dead."

New tears spring to my eyes. They're tears of anger, hate, sorrow...regret. I should have known. Actually, I knew all along. I just didn't admit it.

Rory takes my hand. He's so comforting...especially now. What am I thinking? "But I thought this wasn't supposed to kill people!" I shout. I think I can feel Rory's tears moistening my shoulder, but I can't tell.

"We've done everything, Ellery, this is the way it is. You can't truthfully say this is safe, but this isn't in the least bit our fault. Your friend Teryn jumped."


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