Friday, February 18, 2011

Chapter 36 The Morning

Waking up in someone's arms is so different from waking up in a bed warmed by your own body heat.

A bed doesn't hold you. You can pull the covers up close and pretend, but there is a lightness to it that's very unlike waking in solid arms generating their own heat with your head against his shoulder and his heart beating in your ear. Half asleep, I just lay there, unwilling to move and scared to wake him.

Alex's foot moves. He brings one leg up, his hand on my shoulder giving me a small squeeze like permission to move, letting me know he's awake and aware that I'm awake too.

"Sorry, did I wake you?" I refuse to give up contact with him in this dark room. My back stays pressed to his chest as I stretch out my legs and my arms into the dark. It's a strange feeling to know that I'm moving my body and not being able to see my limbs out in front of me.

"No." Alex gives a small chuckle, his warm breath seeping between the strands of my hair and to my neck. It's innocent, yet so intimate to share the warmth of our bodies while surrounded by the cold of a dead room. "If he is honest, he will be back soon."

Alex turns on the light in the bag, letting the rays escape only slightly until our eyes are used to it. We have a breakfast of more dried fruit and meat and share the jug of fresh water.

I'm surprised that I managed to sleep through the night. That's probably another difference between sleeping in a strange bed and sleeping in someone's arms. "Alex, how do you know what time it is? That Yosef should be here to open the door soon?"

He takes a drink of water before putting the lid back on and sliding the small jug into the bag again. "It is just the way. Life underground."

"You lived underground?" It doesn't seem to fit with the man I know. This tanned fit man couldn't have come from underground. The types of people I imagine crawling from the ground are all pale and flabby from living in confined spaces. The memory snakes it's way into the forefront of my thoughts and it's a punch to my gut when I realize where I get that image from. Uncle Wiley.

Alex doesn't answer. He shifts, moving me so that he can look into my face. But the danger of his eyes makes me stare at his chin and its light brown stubble. It's a mistake. I close my eyes, but still I feel his lips gently press against mine.

My mind goes blank. I don't want to fight him. I don't want to run from him. This isn't like the kisses I've gotten from boys back home. Those were all just practice kisses, more dares really. Something done among friends to pass the time.

But Alex is a grown man and has been for a while. He's fought and had a child. At some point he must have been in love with someone. Real love where you imagine what your child will be like when they're an adult. Only now he's here with me, asking my help to save his daughter. What happened?

His kisses are small and tender. My eyes are closed, but I can feel him taking his time, kissing my upper lip and then my lower. One hand on my hip holds me close, and I lift my arm that's in the way and put it over his shoulders so that there are no barriers between us except for the darkness of my closed lids.

Eventually the door opens. We are still in each others arms when the light from Yosef's lantern falls on us. Luckily neither of us are in any sort of compromising position. I mean, we're both still dressed and relatively unruffled.

Still, Yosef chuckles. "Time to go, lovebirds."

Yosef has Alex and me go in front again as he starts directing us, but at the very first turn when Yosef tells us to go left, Alex stops.

"This is not the way."

I freeze and turn towards Yosef though I can't see him behind the light. Is it possible he is leading us somewhere else? This entire experience has been much too easy for us, and not what I expected for my first time out in the Wildlands.

"Of course it isn't." Yosef practically growls at Alex. "They're lookin' for you. We spotted a couple not far off from here. You two're clearly trouble."

"So then where are you taking us?" My voice warbles ever so slightly.

"Another way out that leads to one of the other buildings. A little known way away from here."

I glance at Alex again as he turns towards Yosef. "No."


"No. We go out the same way." Alex tilts his chin at the right hallway.

I bite my lip. So far Yosef hasn't seemed incredibly agitated. Not like yesterday. I don't even think he has a gun pointed at us. At least, he wasn't waving one around when he came and got us. Just the electric lantern.

"You must be crazy. They are looking for you." Yosef speaks slowly like chiding a difficult child.

But Alex doesn't budge. "If they see us leave, they will be after me, not you."

Yosef is quiet for a moment before he lowers his light, his eyes carefully scanning the two of us. "Do you know something we don't that you're willing to take that burden?"

Alex doesn't say anything more. Yosef mumbles an "all right" and Alex starts down the tunnel he wants to go down that will lead us back to the place we entered.

"So why did you let us in anyway?" My voice disappears down the dark hallway ahead of us.

Yosef grunts. "Figured you'd be handy to talk to. Until we realized you were on a first name basis with one of the most dangerous men of our territory."

I catch Alex's eye and see a knowing glint from him. What did I say? We didn't say very much at all. Except for last night. Last night I said Henri's name. Twice.

"You were listening in on us."

Yosef laughs. "Of course. Trust only goes so far. We did stop when he started keeping you quiet."

My whole face burns. Alex knew. Maybe not right away, but he figured it out. So his move this morning was only because he couldn't tell me they were listening in. Was he surprised at how easy it was to distract me?

Yosef takes us to the door where the kid from last night waits. Though he's surprised to see us, he answers quickly when Yosef asks about seeing any others outside. There are none. Yosef gives another look to Alex with narrowed eyes before he opens the door and lets us out. This time Alex holds the bag as we run to put distance between us and the humans at the lab.

Next Chapter -->


  1. So Alex used to live underground? How so very interesting. I hadn't seen that one coming either. It makes sense that they were listening, but I'm wondering if Alex heard them, or just kind of figured they were. Now the question is who's looking for them, Henri's men, or the wildlanders. At least now they know they're really on the run, to wherever it is they are headed.

    "scanning the two if us." point point....

  2. Alex is full of surprises, isn't he? So he's lived underground. He's got a lot of history for someone so young.

    Poor Paula...I really did feel her once Josef mentioned that Alex was "keeping her quiet".

    I'm wondering if Alex knows who would be after them. Like Yosef implied, he doesn't really seem as worried as you might expect him to be. So I'm thinking maybe it's Henri's men instead of the Wildlanders? That's my current theory anyway!

  3. Huh. I wonder why Alex once lived underground? I immediately thought of Wiley when Paula started thinking about her visions of what people who live underground look like.

    I don't think that Alex's only reason for kissing her was to keep her quiet, but I can understand her embarrassment. He could have found another subject to keep her talking about something else.

    I wonder what Henri will do if he ever finds out that Paula saw the lab. I also wonder who was out looking for them. So many questions! Very interesting!

  4. Crazy thing is, when I was reading this, I was wondering how long it would take for Henri to send someone looking for her. For him to realize she was with Alex.
    Something was off about the old man, to me. It doesn't surprise me that they were listening.
    I'm going to be disappointed if those kisses were only to keep her quiet! I like this paring, A LOT.

  5. So Alex lived underground? How interesting. (So that tan is natural? :) ) He's always full of surprises. I can't wait to see where this tidbit of information leads!

    I think Alex knows who's looking for them. I have no idea why I believe this, however. Maybe it's because he always seems to be on top of things. Can't wait to see the outcome!

    Like Qui, I'm going to be disappointed if Alex kissed her just to keep her quiet. :P (I'm such a sad fan of this pairing, haha.)

  6. Migy, it's a good question, one that I actually wonder a bit too, lol. I don't think he thought about it the day before, but it's possible it's something that would have occurred to him later on. Though I wouldn't rule out his having heard something that might have clued him in.

    Thank you for that. I fixed it. I'm surprised there weren't more typos, lol.

    Carla, oh yes. Alex is always full of surprises. He does have a story and we've barely dug into it at all. I don't know if we will within Paula's story. (But that's okay, because that just means more stories for later!)

    I'm glad you felt for her there. I figure it would be a little embarrassing and a little hurtful to have him make a move with another motive in mind.

    You're definitely onto my clue. :)

    Rachel, it's a good question. One I won't get to in this story, but it's okay. More to look forward to, lol!

    Haha, I'm sure that wasn't, but it is a convenient excuse.

    Oh man, when Paula sees Henri next...

    Qui, oh good one! He may not realize that Alex has her yet though, but I'm sure he would notice her not being home if not that night before bed then the next morning when she didn't get up.

    LOL! I'm glad you like this pairing. Only time will tell where they go though!

    Nicole, he did, and for the most part it is. One of these days we'll get to his story.

    I'm sure he has an inkling. He is a smart guy.

    lol! But I love that you're a fan of this pairing, lol. These two are so much fun for me, so I hope they're fun for others to contemplate together.

    Thanks for your comments everyone. :)

  7. It's funny, I never really thought about the trouble they'd be in when Henri found out before, but it dawned on me reading this chapter that yeah, he'd be a bit pissed to say the least.

    And now they're on the run, can't wait to see what happens next :D

  8. Hehe, I got two for one! Somehow I missed the last chapter (snuck by me). So my thoughts are this, what does Alex know about the room he's not telling? Why would this guy be so apprehensive in a room that's been out of commission for so long?
    Next questions, Who's after them? Is it Henri's men or the Outlanders?
    Alex seems pretty confident about getting away so I'm thinking, not the Outlanders? Perhaps he shouldn't be too confident though - I don't think Henri is someone to tick off, I mean dude's got his daughter, in a dangerous place and he basically betrayed them in taking her. Yep, they're in a fix!

    Looking forward to more TLF.

  9. We won't get to everything about Alex in Paula's story, huh?

    Perhaps....there will be a story (even an intermission) focusing on Alex? It would pretty much make my year, lol. He's so fascinating.

  10. You know, as much as everyone is looking for the "Alex Paula" combo, I'm rooting for a "Jimmy Paula" match up. It's so unlikely, but I could see it happening.

    If it is Henri's men after them, my guess is that it would most likely be Aaron, or one of the ghosts. Tis what I'm guessing at anyway.

  11. I like this layer being pulled back about Alex, underground? I so want to know more.
    And how appealing is a dangerous guy, kissing so tenderly? Unless he knows what Paula needs and wants, and is manipulating her. Naw. Not Alex! Or is anyone as they appear? Well done~

  12. poida, haha, to say the least, yes. I am really having too much fun bringing them home and all the ways it can go wrong, lol.

    Thank you. I hope I don't disappoint.

    Velvet, very good question! Keep that one in mind. (hee) Alex does seem to know something that he's not telling, but I have a feeling you'll be surprised.

    I like this term, "outlanders." Oh that's a good one. Yes, Alex does seem rather confident or foolhardy. Henri would not approve.

    Thank you, Velvet!

    Nicole, no, sorry, lol. But there will be other stories, and I'm sure that Alex's will be one of them. I'm thinking that after this story, I'll take a blog break and come back with a lot of short little stories about some of the "side" characters.

    Migy, you would, just to be stubborn, lol.

    It's not a bad guess at all. :)

    Drew, Thank you. Haha, true. She seems to feel a little bit manipulated, but I doubt that was his intention. Still, poor kid.

  13. "we did stop when he started keeping you quiet" Awfully decent of them.

    So here we learn a little more about Alex, that he has lived at least part of his life underground and that he's not above seduction as a means of shutting someone up. I wonder, did it occur to him how it would make Paula feel when she discovered the true reason behind his kisses? Or was it something he wanted to do anyway and he took advantage of the situation?

    No, Paula, I don't think he was surprised at how easy it was to distract you; that was the point of the exercise.

    It makes sense that they were listening, in such a situation there is no such thing as too much information (at least until the kissing starts). But what Alex did, insisting they leave the same way they entered, also makes sense and probably earned him so kudos in Yosef's eyes that he was wasn't willing to put any more lives in danger; he'd suffer the consequences on his own.

  14. It only seems like being stubborn, but after Jimmy has finished "disciplining" Alex for this affair, she'll end up being available again. XD

  15. I actually like how cautious Yosef is and it tells me that there's something further in the lab that he's either protecting or not wanting Alex and Paula involved in. I'm sure Paula will find a way back eventually. I like this introduction of a human faction. It's nice to know they haven't all lost the will to fight. I don't even think there is really any wrong or right side in this because humans have always been a curious race so the experimentation while ethically wrong was something that was bound to happen. That and human beings are so obsessed with their own mortality.

    I love the light reflecting off Alex's eyes. That's my favourite shot in this chapter.

  16. Illandrya, lol, wasn't it?

    "...he's not above seduction..." When you put it that way it sounds so bad! I guess it is true though. He clearly isn't. Though it probably is something that he wants to do, so perhaps he doesn't see it as seduction? (Though Kyrene did warn him about how appealing he is, lol.)

    But still. *coughcough* You don't sound very proud of Alex at this moment. Couldn't he have just seen that she was scared and selflessly was trying to distract her so she wouldn't worry?

    Possibly Alex's actions earned him some kudos. Or a shake of the head. Yosef may even be scratching his head.

    Migy, lol! That actually gives me a funny image. A horror struck Paula and Jimmy just going, "So..."

    Carnaxa, oh yes, I'm sure he has something further in the lab and doesn't want them involved. Probably more people. Maybe he has his own family as well.

    The idea of a human faction still out there fighting surprised me, but I like that idea too. I wasn't sure I was going to do this storyline at all, but I'm kinda glad I did.

    As for the right and wrong, oh man, I can't wait to get into more of why the experiments were done. I'm sure it ties into why they're scared of water and the fact that they're on a landmass in the middle of what's probably an ocean. I keep wanting to know what the rest of the world is like. It can't all be water! But the story seems to be taking its sweet time. Perhaps there's something else that I have to "research" or read about to light up that part of my subconscious, lol.

    Thank you. That was my favorite shot too!

  17. Yay, kisses! I'm gonna say, he could have distracted her any number of ways, but he decided to kiss her instead, so awww! :D

    I'm also very interested to know who is following them! And I agree with the others, Alex could easily fill out his own story!

  18. Laura, LOL! True, he really could have, but he didn't. Anyway I look at it, it's a sign.

    Oh yes, Alex definitely has his own story. Man, so many stories! I need to seriously write WAY more than I do right now.