COPYRIGHT © 2019 Miu
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Author.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All pictures and multimedia used are not the author’s work and doesn’t claim any legal rights.
MATURE CONTENT and VULGAR words not suited for young readers below eighteen (18) years old.
After threading the snow, acclimatizing, resting, and passing a bad weather, five days had passed since Alvaro, and the others began their climb from base one to base two.
It was a slow climb, and everyone in the group knew why. Each one of them were expert climbers. A pro at what they were doing, but Maxine was not. And with that, the group was moving quite slow.
Maxine had to be taught almost everything for putting on crampons on her boots and how to use them to cross the ice ladder. Besides that, she was moving so slow and had to take frequent rest because her stamina and endurance was lacking. Very lacking.
With the pace they were going, it would be a miracle if they reached the peak before two months.
But even so, no one complained as each and everyone in the group took it as an opportunity. Henry took the time to get to Maxine’s good side. Always there whenever the woman was having trouble, which was actually quite nice of him, and he was handsome to boot. It would be nice if Maxine developed some feelings for him.
Aaron, on the other hand, was happy he had more time to be with Rozarria even though the woman was avoiding him nonstop.
As for Alvaro, well . . . he had his reasons.
But still, Alvaro knew it was dangerous. Time spent in the ice was borrowed time. The more they spent their time here, the more likely they’re going to be buried alive. Massive blocks of ice could crumble and fall anytime.
“At this rate where this is going, I’m afraid we won’t make it to the peak before Christmas,” Alvaro said while he walked closer to Rozarria. He wanted to engage in small talk with her while the others helped Maxine crossed the ice ladder.
Rozarria looked at him and said with a tone as cold as her face, “Aren’t you worried about your fiancée?”
Crossing his arms, Alvaro replied with a smile, though his voice didn’t have any warmth in them, “She wanted to climb regardless of the consequences. It will be a good lesson for her, so she knows what she’ll be facing ahead.”
Grinning, he added, “And she’s not my fiancée.”
“Not yet, at least,” Rozarria countered, “but it is where you’ll be headed eventually.”
Alvaro stared at her, which made Rozarria uncomfortable. “What?” she asked.
Skimming his fingers on his jawline, Alvaro wiggled his brows. “Are you sure you’re not jealous?” he asked, eyes twinkling in mischief.
Staring at him, Rozarria flashed a small smile that was almost sarcastic. “Don’t flatter yourself.”
Alvaro huffed a laugh. “I think I have every right, don’t you think? Your rosy cheeks are proof of that.” He continued to tease. Rozaria was finally showing her expression, though only a bit. It was a step in reaching his goal.
Looking away, Rozarria covered her face with the hood of her jacket. “It’s the cold.” She then shot Alvaro a smirk. “I’m not the only one whose face is red.”
Alvaro’s grin widened, and he replied with a low, deep voice, “It’s the cold.”
He then leaned closer to her, eyes half-closed, pupils dilated.
“Really?” Without thinking, Rozarria’s emotionless gaze traveled towards Alvaro’s thin sensual lips, puffing hot air.
“Really.” The words rolled in Alvaro’s tongue, slow and hypnotizing.
While they continued to tease each other, on the ice ladder, Maxine was having a hard time crawling her way towards the other side. Though the craves were two meters’ wide, it was deep. It was enough to send her in her coffin if she fell.
She was so tired. Her limbs were sore and weak and heavy. And to her worsening predicament, she was battling altitude sickness, heart palpitations, hyperventilation, and panic attacks all at once. The feeling was horrible!
Alvaro . . .
Unconsciously, she stared up ahead to where Alvaro was standing on the other side, chatting and sharing a smile with Rozarria. He didn’t even bother to glance at how she was doing –– not even looking at her nor any intentions of helping her.
What’s more, he was smiling genuinely and freely with a woman he barely knew. And based on how comfortable they were with each other’s presence, Maxine knew that they were more than business partners.
A flush of heat crept on her face as her shock transformed into anger. Her eyes grew hot that tears pooled beneath her eyelids as her lips pressed in a flat line.
She pushed herself up, wanting to storm them. But when she moved, her crampons brushed against the ladder, and it was enough for her to lose her balance and fall.
Fortunately, her body reacted fast, and her hand managed to hold the edge of the ladder. But she wasn’t safe just yet. Because she was physically unfit for rigorous adventures, she was quickly losing her grip, and she panicked.
Among the many who called her name, only Alvaro’s voice rang in her ears. Her eyes zeroed on him, sprinting towards her with a rare worried expression on his face. It was the first time that she saw him like that. His expression was worried with a tinge of panic and fear.
He loves me. See, he cares so much about me . . .
She didn’t even know what happened next. She was consumed with all these happy thoughts. The next thing she knew, she was in Alvaro’s arms, carrying her to the other side.
“Are you alright?” Alvaro asked after he laid her on the surface.
That was only when everyone snapped out from the shock, and they huddled closer to her, asking how she was.
Frankly . . . she was never better!
Forcing a smile, Maxine replied, “I-I’m f-fine . . .” Apparently, even though she was feeling happy, her body, however, hadn’t recovered from her almost near-death experience.
But . . . if that is what it takes to see the worry on Alvaro’s face . . .
Something like madness crossed in Maxine’s eyes before it disappeared quickly.
From that day onwards, Maxine had been busy trying to get Alvaro’s attention. From the simple act of hurting her foot against a block of ice to the extreme of slipping from a crevasse to deliberately falling when they climbed down a twenty-meter hole to the other side. And each time, Alvaro had saved her again and again.
She was crazy. She was out of her mind. Desperate and in need of reassurance or she would break. She would gamble her life just to see Alvaro’s worried expression if she had to. Just to feel she was important in his life.
It went on for another five days until they had reached camp two. There were already other groups who were setting their camp while most had their tent set up much earlier.
It was already eight in the evening when Alvaro finished setting his tent. Feeling a little stuffy inside the small area, he grabbed his meal and a bar of chocolate before he stormed out towards the bonfire where logs surrounded the dancing fire.
Most were already sleeping and resting, though some were huddled together on the scattered bonfire, chatting and drinking something hot to chase the cold away.
Alvaro chose the farthest fire, away from the people. He planted his butt on a log, placed his food to his side, and casually lit a cigarette. Taking a deep drag, he puffed the smoke from his lips in the form of a sigh.
These past five days had been brutal with Maxine tripping and falling to her death and all. Of course, he knew the woman was deliberately doing it. But what else could he do when she doesn’t listen to him anymore? Let her die?
. . . That . . . isn’t a bad idea . . .
For a moment, Alvaro entertained the thought. With her death, most of his problems would be solved. People die whenever traversing Freezing mountain. It was an ideal place to commit murder.
The thought put a smile on his face until the image of his grandfather skinning him alive put him back to reality.
Rolling his shoulders, he sighed again before he rubbed his neck.
“This is rare, seeing you so troubled.”
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