Part Forty-One:

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Part Forty-One:

Michael had forgotten the feeling that you get while taking a shower. Jaz had let them each have a shower and Michael had jumped at the chance.

After peeling off his clothes, he chucked them to Jaz so she could wash them. Michael clambered into the shower and turned the water on; he liked it warm - not too hot, and not too cold. He then tackled the task of cleaning himself with a bar of soap.

Michael hadn't showered in about a week. His skin was covered in a layer of dirt and grime and he must've stunk like an old garbage bin. Michael ran the water over his tanned skin. He attempted to comb out his hair with his fingers but it was very knotty. It took him ten minutes to fully clean himself, and then Jaz tossed him a towel, his cleaned orange camp shirt and shorts.

Once he was fully cleaned, Michael stretched out on the couch and dozed off.

•••

In the morning, everyone ate a light meal of sandwiches and shouldered their backpacks. It turned out Jaz used a sword, so her and Zoe started pretend-sparring.

Charlie watched them with a smile on his face - particularly Zoe. She had tied back her hair back in a low ponytail and her eyes were wide with mischief and excitement. Charlie thought she looked beautiful.

They set off ten minutes later, heading to their right. Charlie walked behind Zoe who was showing Jaz her map. She was tracing her finger across the paper when it happened.

The ground suddenly fell away beneath her feet and she stumbled, before Zoe went over the edge of a cliff that went down what looked like thousands of feet into a dark, spooky-looking, abyss.

"Zoe!" Charlie cried. His reflexes were quick. He grabbed her hand and gripped it as she went over the edge, but Charlie knew he wouldn't be able to hold for a long time.

"Hang in there!" Charlie yelled.

"Do you think I have anywhere else to go?" Zoe screamed back, her voice echoing around them.

Suddenly, some of the ledge started crumbling where Charlie was standing. In one swift movement, he tumbled over the side. Charlie flung his arm around desperately and found a grip.

"Charlie! There!" Zoe yelled. She was pointing to a small ledge below them. Charlie let go of the cliff and him and Zoe slammed down onto the ledge, which was just large enough for the two of them.

Charlie helped Zoe struggle to her feet. They each held the cliff wall with one hand, but Charlie was holding Zoe's shoulder with his other one.

"You shouldn't've saved me." Zoe sniffed. "I wasn't worth it."

"No, please don't put yourself down." Charlie pleaded. "You're amazing. You're beautiful, smart and you seem to always know what to do. You may be conscious about yourself, yet you're a good friend. Your only flaw is that you're too prideful, and to me, that's what makes you, you. I've fallen in love with you, been dragged into an abyss so deep I can't climb back out - literally. So Zoe, please don't think like that. I'll still always like you at the end of the day."

Charlie thought Zoe would slap him, or even worse, push him off the ledge. And as they hung there, tired, dirty and lonely, something changed in Zoe's eyes.

"Charlie, you're sweet, loyal and caring. I don't know what I would do without you, and I definitely don't deserve you."

She glanced down at the hole beside them and shuddered. Pure evil radiated from it, almost as if someone were whispering to her, calling for them to jump down.

"Zoe," Charlie murmured, drawing her attention back to him. He leaned in and rested his forehead against hers. "If anyone doesn't deserve the other, it's me."

It took Zoe five seconds to respond to that. Yet when she did, Charlie couldn't've imagined her responding in a better way.

Because Zoe had pressed her lips against his.

I'm sorry, I really am.

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