#Chapter 58: Peak
“Man,” Matt said, huffing as we slowly made our way up the mountain, “who knew hiking was such a workout?”
“I’ll say,” Lori chimed in. By this point, she had piled her black hair on top of her head and was flapping her ratty black band t-shirt to cool herself off as we climbed
“You guys are a couple of wimps,” Jessica said, her long and slender legs allowing her to climb the mountain. with ease. She was wearing tight
leggings and an even tighter long- sleeved workout top that zipped up the front, and didn’t have a bead of sweat on her entire body. Her ponytail swung back and forth, its curls from the day before still somehow perfect after a night of sleeping on the ground.
“Says you,” Lori grumbled. “You’re. built like a gazelle.”
It wasn’t often that Jessica’s nerdy side came out in front of other people, but this was one of those rare times. ” Actually,” she said, sounding somewhat full of herself and making everyone groan, “gazelles are better suited for flat terrain, like plains. If anything, you should be the one who’s best at climbing like this, because you’re short and muscular Like a mountain goat
There was a collective silence
Finally, Matt was the first to burst out laughing, which started the chain, 1 even heard Enzo chuckle behind me, and thought I saw a smirk on James’ face in the front while Lori fumed, clearly trying not to laugh.
Lori folded her arms across her chest and stuck out her tongue
We kept climbing, taking breaks here and there for water and to catch our breath as the climb slowly got more difficult. An hour later, we were all getting annoyed at James for claiming that the hike was “easy” – except for Enzo, who stayed mostly quiet behind me, his brown eyes focused on me the entire time– but he kept promising that we were almost there.
Finally, just as we were considering
turning back, we reached the peak
We climbed up one last large rock face, having to help each other climb up. Enzo quickly came over as I tried to climb up the rock and boosted me up while James scrambled to be the one to take my hand, making me blush at the two of them practically competing for my affection
When I finally got up, however, the last thing on my mind was guys
The view was absolutely stunning The
way that the afternoon light shone across the colorful autumn leaves, mixed with the deep green of the pine trees, took my breath away. No matter how much we groaned on the way up, the view made it all worth it.
“You can see everything from here!” Jessica exclaimed, throwing her arms up and running over to the edge excitedly.
“Hey, be careful,” James shouted after her “You shouldn’t get so close to the edge”
“Oh, it’s fine,” Jessica said. “Hey, can someone take a picture for me? I have got to post this to I* *m.”
No one else volunteered, so I sighed and pulled out my phone to snap a picture of Jessica. She grinned and struck a pose with one foot up behind herself and two peace signs with her hands.
I snapped a few pictures and was putting away my phone when, all of a sudden, a strong gust of wind blew across the summit and made Jessica lose her balance
It all happened so quickly, but felt like slow motion at the same time. She started to fall backwards over the edge of the cliff, her arms windmilling wildly as her face filled with panic Lori and I both screamed, running for her, but we were too far away. We wouldn’t make it in time
Suddenly, there was a flash to our right.
Enzo moved so quickly he was like a lightning bolt. He shot forward and grabbed Jessica around the waist just before she fell
Everyone let out a collective sigh of relief, too grateful that Jessica hadn’t fallen to her death to notice that Enzo had moved at an inhuman speed to save her Jessica practically swooned in his arms, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.
“Thank you!” she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. “You saved me.”
Enzo put her down — away from the cliff this time and shook his head.
“Listen to people next time,” he said sternly
Jessica blushed and nodded.
“You IDIOT!” Lori shouted, storming over to Jessica with her hands balled up into fists. “You could’ve died!” She took the whimpering Jessica by both shoulders and shook her, shouting obscenities. But then she did something else that none of us expected.
She kissed Jessica.
Matt broke out into laughter again. Beside me, James started to laugh as well while Enzo flashed me an amused look. I couldn’t hold in my amusement either and burst into laughter with my friends, my eyes locked on Enzo’s the entire time
Jessica’s face was beet red when Lori finally pulled away
“Don’t scare me I mean, us– like that again,” Lori growled, to which Jessica nodded sheepishly
We spent some more time at the summit, enjoying the view and basking in the sun on the rocks. Despite everything that happened the night before, as well as Jessica’s near-death experience, it was a lovely afternoon. Jessica and Lori stayed practically conjoined at the hip, while Matt tried to see how far he could throw stones, much to James’ dismay.
I laid on the rocks and closed my eyes against the warm sun, letting its rays wash away my stress — and when I felt Enzo’s hand brush a strand of hair out of my eyes when no one was looking, I didn’t mind at all.
“I think it’s time to head back,” James. said after some time as he looked out at the horizon. The sun was beginning to set, and none of us wanted to hike back to camp in the dark, so we gathered our things and started to make our way. back down.
Going down was significantly more difficult than going up, and I eventually found myself lagging behind the group since I was so exhausted from what happened the night before. I wished. that James had warned us of that before suggesting that we climb this
mountain, but I knew that I would
remember that view forever, so I
figured that it was worth the struggle “Here, let me help you,” James said, holding out his hand as I struggled to climb down a small but steep rock face. I glanced up ahead at Enzo, who was with the rest of the group and
thoroughly distracted by Matt trying to sword fight with him with a stick while he was also trying to help Jessica climb down a small ledge at the same time.
I took James’ hand and he helped me slide down the rock face, landing on my feet at the bottom. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, when you’re looking down from the top of a mountain, everything seems far away and terrifying.
“Thanks,” I said, brushing myself off and continuing to walk. James walked beside me. He was quiet for a few moments before he spoke.
“Hey, about last night…”
My heart leaped up in my throat. Did he
remember almost kissing me? Did he remember the werewolf? Why did Enzo’s spell work on everyone else except for James?
“…I hope I wasn’t too weird during Spin the Bottle.”
I let out a small sigh of relief and shook my head. “You were fine,” I replied. “It was just an awkward game all around. Jessica gets drunk and does dumb stuff sometimes.”
James took a deep breath. “You and Enzo-”
“I know what you’re going to ask,” I said, stopping and turning to look at James. “Yes. Enzo and I–”
“I’m gay, Nina,” James suddenly blurted out.
My eyes widened. “But I thought–”
“I know,” he replied. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. Lots of girls have thought that I’m interested in them,
but that’s not the case. And I wanted to tell you before you got the wrong idea.”
I furrowed my brow, but felt oddly relieved.
“I think that you and Enzo really have a spark between the two of you,” he said quietly We continued to walk behind the group, watching them goof around ahead of us. Even Enzo finally conceded and picked up a big stick, chasing Matt with it while Lori and Jessica laughed loudly. I chuckled a bit, too; it was refreshing to see Enzo being anything other than serious for once. Sometimes I forgot that being a werewolf didn’t exactly mean that he wasn’t still a college-aged boy
“Thank you, James,” I replied with a smile “I think we do, too.”
The next morning, we were all anxious to get home after spending two nights sleeping on the forest floor, so we started to pack up.
Even though I came out here with the intention of killing a werewolf, got attacked and nearly dragged to another dimension by that very werewolf, I was glad that everyone was here. It was a wonderful weekend — minus the werewolf part.
While Matt and Lori were fighting over their choice of diner, Enzo was getting our bear bag down out of the tree a ways out of camp, and James was frustrated at his futile attempts to get his sleeping bag back into its bag, it started to rain.
Thus marked the end of our harrowing camping trip.
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