BOUND (Ch.#1) Book 1 in The Crystor Series

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Chapter One

Kira glanced up at the silver eyehook screwed into the gym ceiling. Threaded through the two-inch hole was the other end of the rope she held in her trembling hands. She gave it a solid yank to test its strength. She could do this. It wasn’t like she was afraid of heights—she’d dance along the edge of a four-story building if it meant not having to climb this stupid rope. It had to be a mental thing, some unreasonable fear of—something—that kept her feet glued to the floor.

Coach Andrews stood a few feet away with her arms folded over her flat chest. “Today, Edwards!” She shifted her weight and tapped the toe of one worn out Sketcher on the wooden floor. “Before I lose my patience.”

“You can totally do this,” Lydia whispered from behind Kira.

Kira glanced over her shoulder to glare at her friend. “Easy for you to say. You can shimmy up this thing like a freakin’ monkey.”

“So can you, if you just try. Now go, before we both have to do laps.” Lydia flipped her long blonde braid behind her back and gave Kira a gentle shove. “Up.”

Kira wiped her sweaty hands on her shorts and gripped the rope with purpose. The entire class watched. Some girls sat on bleachers a few feet away, snickering, while others stood nearby, offering what seemed like genuine support, but was more than likely a morbid desire to see her colossal failure up close. Either way, she didn’t like the attention. She closed her eyes and pulled her body upward before clamping the rope’s slack between her feet, and pushed off with her leg muscles.

“Good job,” Lydia said. “Now reach.”

Kira still had her eyes closed, so felt above her head for her next hold. The rope pressed into her palm as she gripped it in her hand. Maybe she could do this. She pulled herself up and adjusted her feet again.

“You’re gonna fall!” Kira didn’t recognize the voice, but knew it came from one of the girls on the bleachers by the way it echoed off the gym walls.

“Shut up, Carla!” Lydia yelled.

“Girls!” Coach Andrews’s voice bellowed. “One more word and it’ll be laps for the lot of you! Now get up that rope, Edwards. You’ve got three weeks until graduation and I’m not passing you until you do.”

Silence filled the gym as Kira reached again, pulling herself up one more section. This time the rope tangled around her feet causing her hands to take her full weight. Her fingers burned as they slid a few inches and fumbled to find a sturdy grip. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes to see how to fix the problem.

Big mistake.

It wasn’t the distance between her and the floor that sent a bone chilling surge of fear through her, but what she saw after she untangled her clumsy feet and looked up. She was somewhere else—the rope, now tattered and thin, hung over the rotting beam in an old barn. The wood groaned and sagged with her weight, and a trickle of blood seeped from between her bound hands and dripped down the length of her arm.

Kira screamed, yanking her hands free from their restraint—and the rope hanging from the ceiling. Lydia broke her fall and both of them collapsed into a heap on the gym floor.

The bleacher girls erupted in laughter, while the others froze in place, their faces a mixture of shock and humor.

“Pipe down! Everyone to the showers! Now!” Coach Andrews crouched by Kira and Lydia. “What were you thinking? You can’t let go like that. You could have been seriously injured.”

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