This content was originally posted on www.reading-romances.com as part of the Stitch Blog Tour in 2012.
[Isaac & Alessa’s first night back together - This would fit in between Chapters 35 & 36 in Stitch!]
Alessa numbly fingered the bare shrub at her feet as Isaac folded the letter and put it back in his pocket. He reached for her hand, squeezing through the thick gloves.
“Less, it’s okay,” he pleaded, willing her to look at him.
Alessa sighed, shifting uncomfortably on the frozen ground. She couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from her sister again; she’d only just gotten her back.
The rough tips of Isaac’s gloved fingers brushed against her chin and she reluctantly lifted her eyes to his. In the cold crystal moonlight, he looked every bit the ghost she’d once believed him to be.
“She’s safe.” As much as she craved a moment to wallow in her shock, Alessa couldn’t resist the entreaty from his shining cobalt eyes. “Probably safer than she would be here with us,” he added. Isaac’s whispered breath floated into the periphery of Alessa’s vision – it was quickly getting cold, she realized.
Pushing her anxiety aside, Alessa tried to focus on the present, on Isaac. She gathered her pack and slipped it over her shoulder. “You’re right. We should go.”
Isaac nodded silently and got to his feet, pulling Alessa along with him. The wind gusted as he brushed off the snow that still clung to the back of his jacket, the thin wool of his pants whipping in the breeze. Alessa noticed that he was favoring one leg, keeping the pressure off the ankle he’d twisted during their mad dash from the compound. They wouldn’t make it far tonight.
Alessa strained in the moon’s glow to pick a path through the thick undergrowth of the forest, Isaac following closely behind. There was sure to be some sort of flashlight in her pack, but she knew it would be suicide to use it – the guards were undoubtedly looking for them, and the last thing they needed now was to draw their attention. They trudged along, Alessa fretting silently over her sister until she tripped on an exposed root and caught herself against a tree trunk, grumbling about the darkness.
Steadying her, Isaac tugged at Alessa’s elbow to steer her toward a well-illuminated outcropping of rocks to their left, the moon shining clearly on them through a break in the trees. “It might be easier to scramble up the rocks… Fewer places to trip, right?” Alessa smiled to herself – no matter what blows life dealt them, she could always count on Isaac’s practical side to shine through. She realized in that moment how much she’d truly missed him the past several months. His presence made her feel complete, secure. She wasn’t on her own anymore.
Sure enough, the boulders proved an easier path and they quickly made progress up the hill. Reaching the top, Alessa turned to offer her hand to Isaac, wincing as he gingerly pressed off his injured foot with a grimace.
Once Isaac had landed two feet on solid ground, Alessa was overcome by the urge to hold him, to reassure herself that he was real. She pulled him into a tight embrace, wrapping her arms around his narrow waist and nuzzling her face into his chest. Panting faintly from the climb, his warm breath pressed through the knit of her cap as he pressed a kiss firmly into the top of her head. Alessa could hear the smile – and the relief – in his voice as he murmured, “I missed you, too, baby.”
Alessa grinned and squeezed him tighter, unwilling to let go of the moment just yet. She looked up at Isaac, drinking in the line of his nose, the curve of his jaw, the swell of his lips. A part of her still didn’t believe that this was happening, that he was actually back in her arms.
There was still so much to talk about, so many months apart to cover, so many decisions to make for tomorrow and the next day and the next. But she was dead tired, and after what Isaac had been through today, he must be feeling even worse. So she let the questions linger. For tonight, Alessa just wanted to revel in the one thing that mattered: they were together again.
“This is far enough, I think,” she said.
Isaac looked for a moment like he might argue, but then he reached down and planted a quick kiss on Alessa’s lips. “Fine with me,” he smiled.
Dropping his pack, Isaac fished out a couple blankets and set them in a clearing on the ground with a flourish. “Your pallet, my queen.”
Alessa laughed. “Nothing but the best…”
Isaac crawled in and held the covers open invitingly for Alessa with a mischievous grin. “Get in here.” It may have been a meager excuse for a bed, but Alessa had never been so eager to lie anywhere.
Dropping her backpack, she snuggled in next to Isaac, her back pressing against the broad expanse of his chest. Alessa sighed contentedly as he pushed her hat aside and buried his face in her hair, breathing deeply. Finding the only exposed inch on her neck, Isaac gently pressed his lips to her skin, sending shivers down her spine. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be than here,” he purred.
Her eyelids already fluttering closed against her will, Alessa could only squeeze his hand in response. Submitting to the irresistible pull of sleep, she reminded herself that tonight was only the beginning; she’d have many more nights cocooned in the warmth of Isaac’s limbs. A lifetime of them, in fact.
And basking in Isaac’s touch, it was easy for Alessa to brush aside the truth – that with the dangerous mission they had before them, she didn’t know how long that lifetime might last. But with Isaac’s steady breaths on the back of her neck, she was willing to let herself be lulled into a peaceful sleep. Isaac was here now, and for tonight at least, that was the only thing that mattered.