Friday, February 18, 2011
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.
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