Jade’s heart stuttered as a shiver feathered down her back. His soft lips and minty breath drew her into his kiss as she savored the moment. She pulled him closer. Their union fit like a glove. Everything about it seemed right. So why did that nagging part of her brain tell her to stop?
You know why. Her Mama taught her better. She couldn’t lead him on, especially because of what would happen in less than forty-eight hours.
She broke their connection and pushed him away. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
His furrowed brow betrayed the hurt she inflicted.
She flinched. Why did I come today?
He took her mitted hand. “What are you afraid of?”
How could she answer without divulging her entire plan?
Water trickled over rocks filling the silence and chilling the growing distance she’d just put between them. Lord, I could use some wisdom here. Was she even talking to Him again?
“I barely know you.”
“Don’t give me that. Something in your past is holding you back.”
Bingo. A past that had to be kept there because she had no future.
She snatched her hand away. “Why do you need to know?”
He squeezed her shoulders. “I care.”
She stiffened. That’s what he said too and look what happened.
“I’m not him.”
Um, what? Was he reading her mind now? “What are you talking about?”
“The man who hurt you. He’s not here.”
She fixated on the ice crystal tunnel ahead inviting its guest to explore. Could she trust him? The last cop she trusted betrayed her and she ended up in the hospital with a broken arm and a concussion. She swore to never make that mistake again. Her gaze met with his. “I can’t—”
Static crackled followed by mumbled jargon.
Jade cocked an eyebrow. “What’s that?”
Aiden fished a two-way radio out of his pocket and held it up. “Safety reasons.” He pressed the button. “Come again, Jacob.”
“Took…surprise…get…danger…” More static.
Aiden hit the radio a few times, jiggling it before pressing the talk button. “Didn’t catch that. Say again.”
Boom! The tunnel shook as the crystals tinkled, playing a tune of confusion in the small cave. Some icicles crashed to the rocks and shattered into millions of pieces. Darkness overtook the tiny area.
Jade gasped and fell into Aiden’s arms. “What was that?”
“Whatever Jacob was trying to warn us of.” He broke their embrace, grabbed a flashlight from his backpack, and turned it on. “Stay behind me.”
The beam of light illuminated the cave as they inched forward toward the opening where they’d entered earlier.
Moments later, Jade lost her balance, stumbling into the back of Aiden. “Whoa! I tripped on something.”
He shone the light behind her.
Jacob lay with mounds of ice snow piled on top of him.
Aiden pointed the beam upward. The cave’s entrance had been totally filled in. Was there another way out?
~ ~ ~
“Is he?” Jade couldn’t finish her question. What happened? Who or what caused the avalanche, and why? She hugged her body to ward off the quivers overtaking her being. How would they get out? Lord, if you’re listening, we could really use your help.
Aiden placed his fingers on Jacob’s neck, checking for a pulse. “He’s alive.” He searched his pockets.
“What are you looking for?”
“His radio. It’s not here. Looks like whoever did this, took it or Jacob dropped it. I can’t use my credentials when calling for help, just in case the perp is listening. I can’t blow my cover.”
“Will you be able to get through?”
He pulled his out. “We’ll see.” He switched channels. “Anyone out there? Two hikers need help. Avalanche. Over.” Static.
He tried again. Nothing. He switched channels and spoke again. Silence.
Jade threw her hands up. “It’s useless. The radio isn’t working. We’re going to die here.” Man, she sounded like a melodramatic diva in a bad movie. Get it together, girl. You’re stronger than this.
“This is not happening on my watch.” Aiden switched channels once more. “Anyone out there? Hikers need help. Avalanche. Over.”
Static crackled. “Coastguard…position…breaking up.”
“North east cave in the Mendenhall Glacier, West Glacier trail. Over.”
Silence. Jade held her breath. Would they find them before they froze to death? Before Jacob went into hypothermia?
Aiden repeated their position. Did he also have doubts?
Crackle. “Copy that. Sending units…hour to two. Sit tight. Over.”
Like they were going anywhere.
Aiden pressed the talk button. “Be aware of possible threat in the area.”
“Say again.” The faint voice held surprise.
“Threat caused the avalanche. Guide is down. Need EMS. Over.”
Aiden pocketed the radio. “We need to pray they get here fast.”
Jade rubbed her arms. “Who would do this?”
“My guess? The cruise caper.”
“I’m getting close to identifying him. And, he sees our connection.” He knelt beside Jacob and eased him on his side.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking his injuries.” He peered closer. “Someone hit him on the back of the head with a blunt object. His pulse is strong.” Returning Jacob to his previous position, Aiden gently shook him. “Jacob, can you hear me? Come out of it.”
The movement jarred the guide awake. “What happened?” He eased himself up on his elbows.
“You tell us.” Aiden helped him into a seated position.
Jacob rubbed the back of his head. “Man, he hit me hard.”
Jade stepped forward. “Who? Did you see him?”
“He wore a mask.”
“Did he say anything?” Aiden inspected the caved in opening, chipping away at the large boulder of ice with his pick.
“Yes. Something about getting even with you and finishing Nathaniel’s job for him.”
Aiden stopped and turned to her. “Who’s Nathaniel?”
Perhaps it was time to come clean.
. . . to be continued
Click here to go to Part 10 – Confessions.
This first appeared in Christian Life in London.