(Narrated by Melissa Moran)
I stuffed the NVGs into my Gore-Tex jacket, making sure the lanyard was secure around my neck, and glanced out the opening at the rapidly darkening sky. I didn’t dare look at the ground.
It was a long way down.
The jumpmaster knelt on the side of the ramp, held onto the aircraft, and stuck his head outside, searching for the drop zone.
What if the parachute doesn’t open? I thought.
Then Quinn will deploy the reserve chute, I told myself. You’ll be fine.
But what if that one doesn’t work? I argued.
Then you’ll be dead, so stop worrying.
I kept my gaze trained on the light above us. Red meant wait, green meant go. At this point I wished it would change to green already. Obviously, I had committed to the jump, since I was strapped to Quinn and Artemis.
Okay, committed might be too strong a word. Maybe trapped or forced to jump would be more appropriate. Either way, I couldn’t turn back now.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, reminding myself I was doing it for Lauren and Abby. Maybe if I thought of it as a dream, I’d be better able to function. Yeah, that was it. A dream.
My eyes flew open. The jumpmaster held up one finger. Panic raced up my spine.
Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
No. Definitely not a good idea. My body froze as the voice in my head screamed at me to turn back.
The light turned green. The jumpmaster struggled to his feet under the weight of his gear, thrust out his arm and pointed off the ramp. It was time to go.
Quinn muscled me forward.
Oh, Jesus God. I’m going to be the first one out.
I looked down as my feet reached the edge of the ramp. The wind howled past me through the gaping maw of the opening. It was dark. And cold.
Every fiber of my being wanted to dig in my heels and throw myself backward onto the plane.
“Can’t we rethink this, Quinn? I can’t—I really don’t want to go.” The panic in my voice was annoying.
“Too late, Kate,” Quinn yelled into my ear as he prodded me toward empty space. “Just fall forward.”
The wind tore the rest of the words from my mouth.
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