* Excerpt from Book 3 *

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"Thomas!"

Thomas raised his head, disbelieving.

Cherise faced him at the far end of his vision. Her glasses picked up some reflective light from the clouds. She must be a figment of his imagination. But as he watched, she inched forward.

"You're frozen in fear," Cherise said in her liquid voice. "I know the feeling."

Thomas stared. He was beginning to think that maybe she wasn't a hallucination. He opened his mouth to speak, but all that emerged was a croak.

Wind roared through the chasm below, and the pack of wild zoved sniffed the air behind him. He clung to the slimy platform and whimpered in terror.

"Focus on my face," Cherise said. "Ignore whatever is behind you or below you, and look at me."

Thomas obeyed her command. He owed her that much. "Cherise," he whispered, wanting to reach for her. He didn't dare.

She pulled away. "Stay focused on me."

He did. In a way, obedience felt good. It overrode all his thoughts of danger. The last thing he wanted to think about was how devastatingly high up he was, and how long the fall would be.

The rail-bridge swayed sickeningly, and Thomas clutched it with a cry of desperation. All he could think about was staying on top. He trembled violently. The cold would do him in, or his weak muscles, or the slathering jaws of ...

"Thomas, look at me," Cherise said.

He didn't dare raise his head. The chasm moaned, empty and black; a mouth ready to swallow him.

"Focus on my voice." Cherise inched back, away from him. "Stay with me."

He extended one hand along the rail, then the other, and pulled.

"You helped me get past my fear," Cherise said. "You saved me, once. I've come to return the favor."

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