Title: The Dispatch
Genre: YA Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic
Email: hyalineblue079 at yahoo dot com
The First: First time these two knuckleheads are honest with one another about how they feel.
I sink closer to Nick, and lean my head against his shoulder. He tenses.
“Don’t move. This doesn’t have to mean anything. Just…just don’t move.” I whisper into the night, as though I meant for the trees to hear, not him.
“I know. Please—I just need someone close, for a few minutes.”
“No—I can’t be close for just a few minutes.” He pulls back, but catches my face in his rough palm. “Damn it Cadia, I cared for you from the beginning. I didn’t want you coming with us because you make me—I act stupidly when you’re around. I take dumb risks. You know what the first thing was that I thought when you ended up with us that night? I thought, damn it all—I’ll have to watch her die.”
“There’s no reason to assume—“
“Yes, there is! There’s every reason to assume that any of us isn’t getting out of this. And I could handle that thinking about Vi or Kasha or myself, but not about you.”
I want to speak, to contradict him, but I can’t. Instead, I catch his face in both my hands and steady him. His cheeks are rough with several days of stubble, and I trace my thumbs over it as though I can smooth it away, smooth away the lines worry has creased between his eyes. I pull him into the moonlight with me, illuminating his face. He swallows hard—I can feel his jaw tense—and then he looks at me.
“That evening, in the lodge. Before they took you.”
“I kissed you because I thought it was over. Because I thought they were going to…and I couldn’t imagine letting you go without having one—just one—moment like that together.”
He looks at me, defeated and defiant in one determined glance. Pressure—sweet, stifling and terrible—builds in my throat, and I capture his mouth with mine before I can stop myself. My arms are around his neck, my hands pressed into his matted hair. His body wraps around mine, engulfing me as he kisses back.
“Assets and liabilities,” I whisper as I free myself from his powerful embrace. “I think this is an asset.”
“You have no idea what kind of a liability this is,” he replies as he gathers my face in his hands and kisses me, fiercely. My hands move down his back, feeling the sinewy muscle flex beneath my hands, catching against the ridges of a deep scar on his shoulder. He leans into me, warm and real and as broken as I am, and then lays his head on my shoulder. I feel his breath against my neck and rest my cheek on his rough hair.
“We should either get some sleep or keep moving,” he whispers after a long pause.