October 24, 2016 by evesummers
All eyes are on Josh Knox…
Fearless. Guarded. Cut-to-perfection. Daredevil rock climber. The best in the world.
This time he’s poised to scale Yosemite’s notoriously treacherous Sorcerer Spire, with Walkabout Media & Productions filming every move.
April Stephens’s dream to be a documentary filmmaker rests on her acing her internship with Walkabout, and that means getting the abrasive Josh to give her more than one-word answers in his interviews.
The problem is, with every step forward professionally, she and Josh are also taking a step forward personally, and after watching her stunt pilot father die in a fiery crash, a guy who risks his life for a living is the last person she should be falling for. Especially because in one month her internship will have them dangling three thousand feet in the air from the side of the Sorcerer. She’ll be filming. He’ll be climbing without a rope.
She had to make a move. And soon.
She breathed calmness into her jackhammering foot and then hooked the toe of her shoe across a
gumball. Pressing her thigh into the wall, she put her weight on the gumball and stood.
Suddenly, the handhold was in reach. She lunged for it. It wasn’t a good hold. Her hand was
slipping off it. She threw her foot over to a higher gumball, and before she knew it, her foot was
on a solid ledge and her hands gripped a nice, deep pocket.
Down below, Danny, Madigan, Theo, and Ernesto were cheering. She glowed with her
accomplishment. She rocketed up the final section of the route and then sat back in her harness
and Madigan lowered her down. She’d done it! There were high fives and cheers all around
when she reached the ground.
The knot through the front of her harness had tightened in on itself from being lowered.
Her fingers shook with fatigue, and she couldn’t get it to budge. Madigan helped her loosen it.
“Take a rest, and then I’ll teach you how to belay.”
The rock-climbing shoes were pinching like lobster claws, and she couldn’t wait to get
them off. She grabbed her running shoes from the base of the cliff and started toward the rock
pile to put them on.
And there was Josh, sitting on top of the pile. She continued toward the rocks like it was
no big deal. Had he been there the entire time?
He grinned and gave her a high five. She couldn’t help grinning back.
“Hollywood, huh?” he said. “That’s your nickname?”
“Not by choice.”
“I thought you went to UCLA.”
“Yeah. The two are totally different things. Theo likes to pretend he doesn’t know that.”
She pried the climbing shoes off her hot and clammy feet. Worried they smelled, she hurried to
get her running shoes back on.
“How’d you like climbing?” Josh asked.
Their eyes met, and the sensation was a little like falling, only euphoric instead of scary.
“It was really hard,” she said. “But fun.”
“That was a five-eight,” he said. “Not bad for your first climb.”
She looked down and tied her shoes to hide her blush. The rock pile wasn’t very wide,
and she was sitting quite close to Josh. Surprisingly, it felt natural. Preferable. She wouldn’t
mind being around him like this a lot more.
April looked up, and Madigan was watching her with a disapproving look, like she was a
schoolgirl caught doodling a boy’s initials in her notebook.
“Hey, Josh,” Madigan yelled over. “Do you have a second so we can talk
April forced herself not to look at Josh as he got off the rocks. Did Madigan actually need
to talk to Josh, or was he just trying to rescue her from her faux pas—being too familiar with the
She forced her eyes over to Danny, who was climbing the route she had just finished, but
her mind remained on Josh. Surely he had better things to do than hang around here and watch
mortals scrape their way up the cliff. Was it possible he had known the Walkabout crew was
coming here this afternoon and his being here was not a coincidence?
Mostly, though, she replayed their high five. Unless it was her imagination—or wishful
thinking—Josh had squeezed her hand a smidge longer and tighter than everyone else.