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I ran down the dark street, my heart pounding in my chest. The gash in my scalp released a stream of
blood, and it trickled down my face and into my eyes, turning my vision red. I wiped it away and picked
up my pace, ignoring the aching pain that was gradually beginning to appear in my legs.
     A quick glance over my shoulder confirmed my suspicions—Everest was still following me, his feet
smacking loudly against the asphalt. The streetlamps highlighted his tall form, casting a long shadow
behind him.
     “Tessa!” he yelled, and his voice echoed in my ears. "It’s not what it looks like!”
     I pushed his words aside and turned a sharp corner and jogged into an alley, nearly slipping on
the wet ground. I realized too late that the alley was a dead end.
     I quickly searched for a way out of this situation, and my heart jumped in hope when I spotted one. I
heard Everest enter the alley as I grabbed the ladder rungs and started climbing the fire escape.
     The metal ladder shook when he pursued me, and my stomach rolled in terror.
     It felt like forever before I reached the roof, where I scrambled over the edge and stood. I hurried
to the door leading into the building. My hands wrapped around the knob, and my chest loosened in
relief as I shoved it open.
     A familiar pair of strong arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me away from the door.
     “Leave me alone!” I screamed, trying to elbow Everest. He ignored my pitiful attack and clamped
a hand around my mouth, silencing my yells.
     “Please listen to me, Tessa,” he whispered into my ear. “It’s not what it looks like.”
     I fought against him, using every ounce of energy I had left. He didn’t budge, and after several
minutes of resisting his strength, my body fell to exhaustion.
     My knees gave out, and I burst into tears as Everest gently lowered me to the ground, keeping
his arms wrapped around me.
     I clenched my fists in his shirt, my shoulders shaking with sobs. “Please don’t kill me,” I cried into
his hand. I didn’t expect him to understand me, but he did, and a look of horror crossed his face.
     “Tessa, where would you get a crazy idea like that?”
     He removed his hand from my face so he could hear me better. I probably should’ve screamed for
help, but I didn’t. I just wanted Everest to kiss me and tell me everything was going to be ok.
     “T-two men came to m-my apartment and tried t-to kill me. They said y-you had sent them. And
t-then you chased me, and n-now…” I looked down at his arms, which were still preventing me from
running away. Immediately he let go of me and scooted back, giving me some room.
     “Tess, I wasn’t trying to kill you,” he said. “I didn’t send anybody to kill you, either.”
     “T-then why did you c-chase me?”
     “Because I wanted to explain the conversation you overheard.”
     I started crying again, relieved that Everest wasn’t trying to kill me. “I’ve been s-so scared,” I sobbed,
and he pulled me into his arms.
     It took a while for me to calm down, and when I did, the pain in my head was overwhelming. The
world started spinning, and I braced myself against him.
     “Everest…” I whispered.
     Then everything went dark.

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