We were on the Paper Tiger, a climb along the underside of a low overhang that made me feel like a gecko trailing upside-down along a tree branch. There was a thin wavy crack in the rock just big enough to jam my fingers into though Edward had taped me up so much I looked like I was wearing gloves. He was worried. My hands were so small that I could slip an entire one into the same space he could only lodge into up to his knuckles.
“You might have to fist jam that,” he said, eyeing my hand skeptically. He picked me up by the palm and curled my fingers into a fist, eyeing it dubiously.
“Are you going to ask me to hit you now?” I asked with a grin and he rolled his eyes at me.
“You’re going to have to make a fist up in there and wedge it in the rock.” He put his palms flat to the sides of my fist, mimicking the crack to illustrate his point. “It’s probably gonna hurt like hell, but it might be the only way.”
He was right again. It did hurt like hell, especially because I was hovering a foot or so off the crash pad, hair dangling and all my body weight hanging from my poor fist that was lodged up in the crack of the rock. Even though it was cool under here, shaded and almost chilly, I broke out in a cold dew of sweat. I dislodged my hand and fell to the mat, rubbing my shoulder and wincing as I carefully flexed my fingers.
“Yeah, not ideal, but you’re gonna have a hard time otherwise.” Edward took my hand and pressed his fingers into my palm, the muscles underneath them protesting for a moment before they relaxed. He stretched each of my fingers out, pulling his own along them individually and though it felt like heaven on my aching digits, I was stuck in a mire of dirty, dirty thoughts.
Replacing his fingers with his mouth.
In my head.
Edward made it a whole lot farther along the crack than I did, shimmying along like he was on a mission, abs in fine form. I had just begun debating whether or not to tug the crash pads farther along when I saw him falter, fingers slipping along the rock and I put my hands out instinctually to soften his fall. He landed heavy and would have busted his skull open if it weren’t for my hand, which padded his head from a rock.
A very sharp, very hard rock.
“Ah!” I squealed and leapt away, clutching my hand to my stomach and jumping around in pain. My stomach rolled and I really hoped I wouldn’t throw up or pass out. Edward was behind me in an instant, pulling me against his chest to get me to stand still and examining my hand carefully over my shoulder.
“I told you,” he chastised me, sighing under his breath. “Just let me fall next time.”
“I didn’t mean it,” I whimpered, even though I really had meant it and was secretly glad it was my hand and not his head. It was already starting to swell, the back of it throbbing, and it was painfully hot. Edward tugged me back to the shade and the crash pads beneath the overhang, sitting beside me to doctor up my hand with more of his fancy green goop. It hurt, not enough to make me think that it was broken, but I wasn’t entirely sure that all my little bones weren’t bruised bad enough to qualify. He gave me his water-bottle, still cool from the bottom of his backpack, to wrap my hand around. It wasn’t as good as an ice pack, but it was better than nothing.
“Well, Sparkles, we’re going to have to find something else to do for a week or so,” he spoke with his eyes trained on my injured hand and I frowned at him. I wouldn’t think he’d be willing to stop climbing just because I hurt my hand. Maybe he felt a little guilty about it?
Not guilty enough to forego the nickname, obviously.
He insisted on driving my car home, citing driving-safety standards and my inoperable hand as his excuse. I sat in the passenger’s seat, which I had never done before, and watched him wrap his hand around my gearshift, failing miserably at the whole ‘don’t think dirty thoughts about Edward’ deal. He called Jasper on the way and asked for a ride back to his own car, stuttering halfway through with his ears stained red before he snapped the phone shut, rolling his eyes. I hadn’t heard what Jasper said, but I wondered if it had something to do with me. He wrote his phone number on my arm and told me that he’d never forgive me if I didn’t call him the next day to let him come check on my hand.
I stood on the sidewalk and was so glad that he was getting into Jasper’s car when he waved at me. I’m sure I turned a shade of red unbeknownst to man and by then he was too far away to see it.
When I ran out to the car later that night to retrieve my ipod, the gearshift was dusted with a fine mist of white powder, the fingerprint of his thumb clear on the very top of that shiny black ball.