Wow… it’s so surreal to be finished and all posted. It’s been quite the ride. I know this part doesn’t answer everything and wrap it all up in a pretty red bow, but frankly, life’s like that. We don’t always get resolution. I just wanted Alex and Isabel to get to a stage where there was room for the other in each other’s lives. Obviously, they’ve come a long way, but they still have far to go. What I guess I’m trying to convey is that life doesn’t stop at happily ever after. It keeps going and Alex and Isabel will keep going and learning beyond what I’ve written here.
Although, I am tempted to write a sequel. We’ll see how that goes.
By the way, I have never written a “love” scene before. Hopefully, you’ll find it realistic. This part just about gave me hives.
Thank you to everyone who left feedback, I've appreciated every bit.
, you know how much you rock. Thank you for being a wonderful beta and for being so encouraging all the time. As I've said before, you're so bad for my ego!
, You've been so unbelievably fantastic and I can't tell you what it means to have you love my fic so much. It's made posting it an absolute pleasure. I was terrified that no one but myself would like it, but having such a terrific response eased my fear completely.
, be on the edge of your seat no longer. Thank you for your feedback and support, it has been greatly appreciated. Oh, and I loved writing Isabel's jealousy. It was so much fun to have her fight with herself.
, sorry, but there's no more spa fun. However I hope what happens between them eases your disappointment somewhat. Here you are. Thank you for your words. They mean a lot to me.
Thank you to the feedbackers and the lurkers. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
I wake to find myself in my old house, I’m not sure what I’m doing here, but I don’t stop to question it. I clamber out of the bed and pad barefoot into the kitchen. I gasp in shock when I see a familiar form sitting at the kitchen table. He has his back to me, but I can still tell who it is.
I run up and embrace him from behind, throwing my arms around his shoulders and pressing the side of my face to his hair.
“Grant! You’re alive! But… how? I mean is that even possible? I thought you were dead!” I stop my overjoyed ramblings as I notice that Grant has yet to move or even acknowledge my presence.
“Grant?” I ask with trepidation. His silence and stillness have alerted me to the fact that something is desperately wrong here. I pull back and glance down at the floor in embarrassment at his lack of response to my affection. And that’s when I realise what I’m wearing. A fluorescent pink tube top that stretches across my fairly ample bosom, a leather mini skirt that barely covers the necessities, ripped fishnet stockings and knee high PVC boots. I look like a cheap hooker.
I gasp and wrap my arms across my bare midriff in an attempt to cover myself, all the while looking around for a spare jacket or pair of pants to put on, but to no avail.
“Don’t cover yourself up, Isabel. You should let everyone see your true worth.”
I freeze at the sound of Grant’s voice and turn around, my breath stopping in my throat as terror grips my heart.
He’s dressed in the suit we buried him in. His skin is clammy and pale and his eyes are an opaque milky white.
“You’re… you’re..” I stutter, backing away as he shuffles towards me.
“Dead?” he finishes for me with a soulless smirk of his cracked lips. “You should know. You’re the reason I died. You killed me.”
“No… no… I didn’t. I didn’t know Jesse was like that. I swear.”
“You led him on. Like the whore that you are, you didn’t even have to try. Was he a good fuck Isabel?” he asks grasping my wrist tightly and pulling me into the living room and pushing me onto the couch where Jesse and I had drunken sex.
“Grant… please…” I beg as he pulls me back up by the hair. It’s then that I notice the crowd that have surrounded us in the living room. The entire room of people have expressions of disgust and distaste on their faces as they look at me. I can hear whispers of ‘whore’, ‘murderer’ and ‘slut’ but can’t pinpoint their location.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a slut looks like!” Grant’s arm that had been grasping my wrist, gives a vicious jerk, throwing me to the ground.
I go to rise but he places his boot on the centre of my back and pushes me back down.
“Did you have fun, Isabel?” he taunts in a cold manner that twists the shards of my already broken heart.
“Did you have fun letting my murdering best friend fuck you all over the house the day I was buried? Did you? Answer me!”
“Grant, please… I’m sorry!” I gasp as his foot presses into my spine.
“You’re sorry? You’re sorry?” I feel myself being pulled to my feet and pushed forward so that I stumble into someone. “Look at what you’ve done!”
My lungs constrict as I come face to face with Grant’s mother.
“How could you?” she asks so quietly I can barely hear her. I cringe as she shrieks the question again.
“How could you? You whore! You killed my son! You killed my baby!” she screams as she sobs uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” I cry repeatedly, hot tears spilling down my face.
“I don’t think you are Isabel,” whispers Grant menacingly from behind me. He circles me in a predatory fashion and sniffs my hair before returning to face me.
“Grant, I am so sor-” My sobbed words are cut off as Grant closes a hand around my throat and squeezes.
“I really don’t think you are. You took my life, Isabel. Now it’s time I took yours.”
My hands clutch at his vice like grip, trying to get him off me but it’s no use. I glance wildly around to the circle of people, looking for assistance, but all I get are blank stares. I struggle wildly in his grip before I hear the shadow of Alex’s voice calling to me.
I can’t place him in the circle; I search and search but can’t seem to find him. I try to scream to him, but the hand at my throat constricts my voice box. I need to find him… I need… I need…
I sit up abruptly and gasp for air, the terror leaving me breathless and dizzy. I reach out to steady myself and my hand comes into contact with the bare skin of Alex’s chest. For a moment I let him hold me, revelling in the safety of his embrace before I snap back into reality. It’s then that I realise that it was his intervention that woke me from my dream. I grimace in embarrassment as I consider that I must have really been creating a large disturbance for Alex to come check on me like this.
I pull my hand from his chest like I’ve been burnt and concentrate on steadying my breathing. Not only do I have to contend with my own demons, but also the combined effect of Alex’s close proximity and the residual fear left over from my nightmare makes my task almost impossible.
“Isabel… are you ok?”
I duck my head and try to block out the heat of Alex’s hands as they grasp my elbows securely.
“I’m fine,” I mutter almost inaudibly wishing like anything that he’d just let go of me and return to the couch.
“I don’t believe that. You’re shaking,” he states resolutely as I continue to stare at the monotonous pattern of the bedspread and curse my traitorous body. I don’t deserve Alex’s concern after what happened between us.
“Was your nightmare about your husband?” he presses, whilst I remain silent. Please, just let it go, I plead mentally trying not to glance up to stare at his bared chest.
“Isabel… what happened to Grant… it wasn’t your fault.”
My head snaps up at this comment and my eyes must fairly blaze with fury.
“How dare you.” My voice is quiet and it quivers with the rage I’m feeling.
Alex seems taken aback by this statement and his brow furrows as he opens his mouth to retaliate. I cut him off.
“Do you think I’m stupid? You think you know everything about that situation just because you heard a twenty second, drunken explanation? Don’t stand there and tell me that I didn’t cause what happened and pretend that you know everything about it. You don’t know shit, Alex! You didn’t live it and you don’t have to fucking deal with the consequences!”
“I may not have had to live it Isabel, but all that means is that I haven’t lost my fucking objectivity,” he grinds out forcefully with a level of emotion that I have never heard from him. The shock of Alex swearing is intensified by the anger glittering from his eyes in the darkness. Never have I seen Alex this animated.
“Are you that vain that you think everyone’s actions revolve around you? Newsflash Isabel, it isn’t all about you! It never was!”
I suck in a breath and try to grasp what he’s saying.
“Grant didn’t cheat on you and beat you because you’re a horrible person. Grant did it because Grant had control issues. And Jesse? He was probably screwed up long before you entered the picture. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
I sneer at his reasoning and point out the obvious flaw in his exposition.
“Oh please. You don’t really believe that. God, you can’t even look me in the eyes because I’m such a horrible person.”
His jaw clenches and his body stiffens as I utter this and I wonder what it was about that statement that offended him. As far as I know I’m only stating the truth.
“That is not why…the reason why I can’t…” he grunts.
I roll my eyes at him, my actions belying the wild beating of my heart inside my chest. A wild hope has sprung up there and no matter how I try to silence it, there it remains.
“Well, why don’t you enlighten me then?” I snap rudely, my tone an attempt to cover up my embarrassment and shame over this topic.
“When you walked into the office on your first day… I saw you.”
My eyebrows raise in mute question, wondering where he could be going with this.
“I mean I really saw you. I saw the pain you were trying to hide and the vulnerability you kept hidden beneath your icy exterior. I saw you. I saw you struggle with your inner demons every day and I marvelled at your strength.”
He takes a steadying breath as I listen in silent, breathless wonder, my previous anger already forgotten. The way he’s describing me sounds almost reverent and… pained. As if this admission is costing him more than I’ll ever know.
“When you first walked into the office that day… I felt things I swore I’d never feel again. Things that terrified me. Things that I fought. But I can’t fight them. They’re a part of me, just like you’re a part of me.”
He pauses and it’s all I can do not to burst into tears at the beauty and raw emotion of his words. I listen with baited breath; my complete attention trained on him as he mentally prepares himself for what I know will be a huge revelation for him.
“So you see…I couldn’t look you in the eye because you’d know. You’d see how I really feel about you and you deserve so much more than I’ve got to give you. You deserve… everything.”
He looks up at this point and for the first time, I actually make eye contact with Alex Whitman. I gaze into the hypnotizing caramel of his eyes and gasp at what I see there. It’s all there for me to see, the stark adoration and hopeless pain that comes from wanting something you know you can’t have.
As much as his eyes reveal, they also pierce into my very soul and I know he can see me. The real me. This isn’t some projection of what he wants from me. Both Grant and Jesse created their own versions of me. For Grant I was supposed to be his perfect wife that all his friends could envy, and when I fell short, he couldn’t cope. For Jesse I was a cause. I was the pretty girl in need of rescuing. I was the point of obsession for a sick man. I wasn’t a person to either of them, I was an ideal.
But Alex is different. He sees me, warts and all. He sees the Isabel who has a martyr complex. The Isabel who craves control because for so long she didn’t have any. The Isabel who takes everything upon herself and blames herself for other people’s actions. The Isabel who struggles to let anyone in. The deeply wounded, vulnerable Isabel.
A tear trickles down my cheek as I realise that Alex sees all this and still wants me, still feels for me.
We sit there staring at each other as we both let the revelation sink in. Alex has to adjust to the fact that what he strove to keep hidden is now out in the open and he has nothing to hide behind now. And I have to adjust to the revelation of Alex’s feelings for me, something I never thought possible, never even considered because it was too ludicrous. He knows what I’ve done and yet he can still feel for me. I’m awed and humbled by his confession.
We sit there, his hands still grasping my elbows and burning my skin from the contact, our breaths mingling, our eyes locked for a small eternity.
“Isabel,” he whispers finally, his vulnerability clear, “say something.”
Slowly, I raise my right hand and place it against his jaw, my fingers glancing on the soft skin of his neck as I trace his cheekbone softly with my thumb.
“Thank you,” I whisper back, not willing to raise my voice any higher in case I break this beautiful moment.
His eyes close softly and he leans into the contact as his hand that was cupping my right elbow releases its hold and drifts down to come to rest on my waist.
Somehow in the midst of this, our bodies migrate towards each other until our foreheads are touching. I’m content to stay here for the rest of my life, just breathing him in. Just absorbing whatever it is that makes Alex so… Alex.
My left hand rises up, dragging lightly up his bare chest to snake around his neck and pull him more firmly to me.
I want him closer.
I need him closer.
Alex’s other hand that was cupping my left elbow drops down and encircles my waist, his hand resting on the small of my back, anchoring me to him.
I bury my head in the crook of his neck and am amazed at the contradicting feelings coursing through me as he idly strokes my back in a soothing circular motion. My heart is beating double time and bursting out of my chest with happiness and yet I’m so calm, so at peace.
This feeling is new and completely foreign territory for me that it doesn’t even hit me straight away what it is that I’m feeling. But when I inhale the manly scent of his skin because I want to know everything about him and want be as close to him as possible, that’s when it happens. The sudden burst of illumination.
I’m in love.
I love Alex Whitman.
I don’t know how long I’ve loved him, when it started or if it was just a gradual process. But I am certain of what I’m feeling; it’s there, powerful and real. And now that I know, I can’t keep it to myself. I have to tell him.
I pull back and stare him straight in the eye, rejoicing when he looks straight back at me with such strong emotion burning in his eyes.
“Yeah?” he asks hoarsely, as my hands twine together around his neck.
“I love you,” I whisper, watching his reaction.
He looks stunned, but his expression beyond that is enigmatic. I can’t read him in this moment and it scares me more than anything.
“Isabel…” he pauses and my heart constricts so painfully that for a moment I can’t breathe.
He doesn’t love me back. Oh God… I’ve made such an idiot out of myself. My heart tightens and I can feel it begin to crack as Alex searches for the right words to let me down easily.
Oh God… why does love have to hurt so much?
I go to pull my arms from around his neck but his arms come up and lock my retreating limbs in place after placing a tender kiss to the inner face of my right wrist.
I shudder at the intensity of the contact despite the pain I’m feeling.
“… I’ve loved you since the day I saw you.”
My heart stops and my lungs constrict at the simple statement uttered so frankly that I can’t doubt his sincerity. He loves me. Alex Whitman loves me. He’s always loved me.
What in the world did I do to deserve this miracle?
I can’t help my reaction to his declaration.
I throw myself at him.
My legs lock about his hips as my arms curve around his neck tightly and I pepper his face with kisses.
I’m that happy I could cry, sing, dance and generally make an idiot out of myself. I hear Alex’s delighted laugh before he begins returning my affection and the genuine elation I hear in his voice has me soaring even higher.
With one arm placed on my back and the other tangled in my hair, Alex halts my impetuous kisses and draws my head down slowly to his for a real kiss.
My heart is exploding in my chest as the slow descent seems to take an absolute eternity. My impatience grows as our lips near each other’s but Alex won’t let me hurry up the process. He seems content to take his time.
By the time Alex presses his lips to mine, the sweet impatience and desperate need has me so keyed up that fire shoots through my body in a liquid wave. I gasp and Alex takes the opportunity to slide his tongue into my mouth. I melt into him, wanting to climb under his skin as his tongue slides against mine, caressing and teasing me into a frenzy.
I am so engrossed in the moment that I’ll probably remember everything about it for the rest of my life. The gentle grip of his hand in my hair, my breasts pushing into his bare chest, his free hand wandering up and down my back as I straddle his lap.
I strip free of my shirt and arch into him as his hand makes contact with the heated skin of my back sending sparks of electricity through my body and creating an urgent desire to touch, feel and satiate myself with this man. I can’t get enough. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.
His kiss is so relentless that oxygen is beginning to become an issue for me. But that’s ok, if I die now I can honestly claim that I’ll die happy. Which is something I couldn’t have imagined a week ago. My family have forgiven me and Alex Whitman loves me. Alex loves me. Me. Isabel Evans.
I can barely grasp it. Somehow, this wonderful man loves and wants me.
He lays me back gently on the bed and positions himself over me before continuing his assault on my senses. His hands roam incessantly and I moan as he breaks free from our oxygen starved kiss to apply his kisses to other areas of my exposed skin.
His hands run across my bared stomach as I trace the ridges of his defined abdominal muscles with the tips of my nails. His muscles aren’t ostentatious like Grant’s and Jesse’s, but they reveal a hidden strength I hadn’t totally been aware of before. He’s definitely leaner than both of them and he’s more wiry than built, but after having the teenage girl’s dream of big, strong and muscly and having Grant use that against me, I have to admit that Alex’s unobtrusive strength and quiet power seems like a dream come true.
Alex’s gentleness and reverence when touching me has seduced me into a liquid, burning state. I’m boneless, and melting into his sweeping touches across my hypersensitive skin and his ardent yet delicate kisses. But his ministrations have left me aching and on fire. I burn for more of his touch, for the completion I know I’ll feel with him inside of me. It’s so encompassing that my thought process has completely switched off. All I am, all I can be in this moment is sensation. I can’t act, can’t think, can’t do anything but feel as Alex incites a riot beneath my skin.
Time has no place in this moment. This culmination of months of pain and longing is ethereal, timeless, nothing can touch it. I don’t know how long we spend exploring each other’s bodies, finding out what stirs the other, what areas can drive the other crazy with a caress. Every curve, every scar, every indentation is uncovered and committed to memory. This need to touch, to know the other person inside out fills me with a sense of deep contentment and peace.
Alex’s need to know every inch of me speaks of a deeper commitment than just one night of meaningless sex. With Jesse, it was a race, a rush to reach that point of completion. A desperate need to feel the mindless rush of an orgasm. There was no acquainting ourselves with each other, no urge to please the other person, it was two people using each other to achieve their separate goal. But with Alex it’s so… personal. What we’re doing, what we’re striving to create is a connection. Something deep and strong. It’s ironic, I finally know what it is to make love with someone and we haven’t even consummated our relationship yet.
My chest heaves with anticipation as Alex poises himself over me, preparing to make us one. To complete us both. His smouldering gaze drops to mine and he pins me with a look so intense I can barely breathe.
“Are you sure?” he pants, his discomfort as obvious as mine as he strives to keep himself from losing control so that he can make sure that I’m ready for this. I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for this, but I do know that if I don’t try I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. It’s time for me to jump into the unknown. To let go. To live again. Even if the thought of letting someone that close still scares me.
It’s time I started living again and I plan to start right now.
“Alex,” I whisper as I raise myself up and kiss him softly. “I’m ready.”
I run my fingers through his soft, short hair as we kiss and he swallows my gasp as he slowly enters me.
We both still as we try to get used to the sensation of being joined. Alex rests his head in my neck as I try to overcome the overwhelming emotions coursing through me. The only sound in the room is our harsh, heavy breathing and the occasional drip from the bathroom tap in the adjoining en suite.
The moment is so surreal, yet so overwhelming. I didn’t think it would be possible to feel this much.
Alex raises his head from the curve of my neck and brushes some hair back that had fallen over my face. He pins me with his steady gaze and his message is loud and clear. There’s no turning back now, for either of us.
I nod, my wordless agreement causing him to smile softly and brush a soft kiss against my lips. The kiss then turns into something more, something more heated. I ache for Alex to relieve the burning desire within me and when I’m certain that I’m about to die from desperation, that’s when it happens.
He begins to move.
Slowly. Steadily. Smoothly.
The initial shock of the intensity of pleasure he’s created ebbs after a moment and I begin to move with him.
We move together in harmony, our minds seemingly in tune with the other’s as we slowly build towards climax. Hours seem to pass as we slide against each other, our skin slick from sweat, our faces flushed and glowing reflecting the burning heat within.
We both hold back from reaching that peak as long as we can, both of us not ready to disengage from each other, wanting to be one as long as possible. But it’s too much to hold onto for too long. Well before I’m ready to let go of him, my completion rolls over me with the force of an atom bomb, knocking every single thought out of my head with its powerful intensity.
I collapse, bone weary from bliss and satiation and vaguely recognise Alex’s prone form pressing me into the mattress. After a moment, my mind slides back together, thoughts begin to form and I begin to reflect on what just happened.
My gaze flickers to the left and I see Alex’s hand still intertwined with mine next to my head. I smile, my eyes welling with tears as Alex clutches my hand tightly, as if it’s a lifeline. I can feel his chest heaving on top of me, his body still intimately pressing into mine as we both fight for recovery. When I’ve regained enough strength and will to move I clasp my hands across his shaking back and hold him to me. If it were possible to crawl inside him, I probably would. That’s just how strong the compulsion to be close to him is. He can’t ever be close enough.
He groans and goes to lift himself off me, but I lock my legs around his retreating form and hold him tightly with my arms, halting his retreat.
“Don’t,” I whisper softly as he looks at me with puzzlement. “Not just yet.”
I’m not ready to let him go just yet. I want to keep this bubble of intimacy that we’ve created going as long as possible. I’m not sure I’m ready to face the aftermath of this, but I know I’ll have to. And soon.
“Izzy,” he says with a hint of amusement in his voice, “I’m heavy.”
“No you’re not.” I reply steadfastly, even though he is a tad.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
He pins me with that gaze again and I’m unprepared for it. After months of avoiding eye contact, his focussed stare is a tad unnerving. That, coupled with the obvious double meaning of his words, leaves me a little shaken.
“You won’t,” I reply in a voice that is less than certain and wobbles with an untraceable fear. I’m not ready for this conversation and I’m not sure where it will go. I don’t think I’d be able to bear it if he decided that what happened between us was a mistake. If he tries to downplay our night together, it’ll be the blow that I won’t survive. After everything else that’s gone on in my life, it’ll be the one thing I’ll never be able to recover from. All the progress I’ve made dealing with the Grant/Jesse situation and reclaiming my self confidence will be lost forever.
He withdraws from me and rolls to this side despite my protests and immediately my heart constricts with fear from the distance between us. The only thing that keeps me from completely breaking down is that he rolls onto his side to face me. I turn over as well and for a moment, we’re both silent, staring at each other across the small but yet enormous gap between us in the bed. I’ve never felt so distanced from him.
He tentatively reaches an arm across and strokes my shoulder, the movement so tender it slightly soothes my fraying nerves.
“I might,” he says, breaking the silence. His voice not reaching much above a whisper. He traces his thumb over the skin of my arm as if committing it to memory. His words confuse me momentarily before he adds to them.
“I might hurt you.”
The worry in his voice is evident and my heart’s constriction lessens somewhat, making it easier to breathe.
“I don’t want to hurt you Izzy. I don’t ever want that to happen.”
He looks conflicted and pained and the fear that leaves me breathless comes roaring back.
“W-what are you saying?” I stutter quietly, hoping that the wild galloping of my heart isn’t as audible to him as it is to me.
“I’m saying that if we’re together, really together, then I’ll probably hurt you. Someday. Somehow. I couldn’t live with myself, Izzy, if I did that. I just couldn’t bear it.”
Tears smart my eyes and my breathing is coming in shaky pants. I’m trembling I’m that scared. I can’t let him go now that I’ve had him. I need him. I can’t cope with everything without him.
“Alex… the only way you could ever hurt me is by leaving me.” The tears that had welled before began to overflow down onto my cheeks uncontrollably; my breath hitches as I try to regain my control.
“Alex, please don’t push me away! I need you.” I can barely get the last sentence out because of the tears clogging my throat. I’ve never felt this terrified in my life. It’s like being in slow motion car crash. You’re watching it all happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Alex wants to leave me and I can’t make him stay.
The tears blur my eye and blind me. I can’t see him right now and that just adds to my terror. My chest is so tight it feels like I can’t breathe and my tears certainly aren’t helping with my breathing difficulties.
The sense of relief I feel when Alex’s arms wrap around me and crush me to his chest is almost crippling.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” he mumbles into my hair as he strokes my back in soothing circles. I sob into his chest and hold him close to me, my need to touch him tripled by the fear of almost losing him. I’d been almost certain that he didn’t want me anymore.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. God, that’s the last thing I wanted to do!”
He tilts my chin up and forces me to look at him, forces me to see the truth written so starkly across his face.
“Do you know just how important you are to me? You’re the only worthwhile thing in this world. I don’t know what I’d do if I…” he trails off and the pain in his eyes is so acute it hurts me to see it.
“If you what?” I softly prompt, hoping to get him to open up to me.
“If I screwed things up again. The only other meaningful relationship I’ve had… I screwed up. So badly. I can’t let anything bad happen to you Isabel, I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it if I hurt you.”
My heart aches for the pain that he’s experiencing. I know that pain. I live with it, day to day. I know just how nigh on impossible it is to overcome. I doubt he’s spoken to anyone but me about this. And he needs to know that what happened was not his fault. I hold his gaze and will him to believe what I’m about to tell him.
“Alex, your wife cheated on you. I know you’d been neglecting her, but she could have threatened to leave you, she could have just up and gone. Instead she chose to go behind your back with your best friend.” I stroke his cheek with my thumb and collect a stray tear that’s dropped from his eye. “Alex, she hurt you too. You had every right to be pissed off with her; you reacted as any other person would have in that situation. It was just a terrible misfortune that she crashed that night.”
“She wouldn’t have been out on the road if I hadn’t driven her to it,” he responds stubbornly, holding onto his guilt with a conviction only I can understand.
“And you wouldn’t have yelled at her if she hadn’t slept with your best friend. By your logic, shouldn’t that make her at fault?”
He blinks and after a moment goes to argue but I silence him with my index finger.
“Alex, there are so many factors that made up that night, you can’t just point the blame at yourself. No one’s at fault. Did you make it rain? Did you make her crash the car? Did you tell her to take your car instead of hers? It was an accident.”
He sighs and another tear falls down his cheek.
“Isabel, you know it’s not that simple,” he replies hoarsely.
“Alex, if talking to my family has shown me anything, it’s that you can’t keep holding on to the guilt you’re feeling. It’s not healthy. Life is made up of random moments, things that you can’t control. You asked me before if I was that vain to take it all on myself. I’m asking you the same question. Are you that vain that you think that the sole reason your wife died was because of you?”
He pauses, mentally stewing over what I’ve said. My breath catches as I wait for him to reply. Our relationship is hanging on his answer. If he can’t try to move on from this guilt, it’ll consume him and there’ll be no room for me in his life. He draws in a large, quivering breath and then slowly shakes his head. I smile at him, relief pounding through my system and then trace his lips with my thumb tenderly.
“That’s a start,” I reply softly.
“Yeah, it is,” he agrees, looking directly at me with that intense gaze I’ve come to cherish so much. When he looks at me, I feel like the only person in the world.
“It’s definitely a start,” he states seriously, letting me catch the deeper meaning of his words as he rolls me over onto my back and positions himself over me. He lowers his head and kisses me and this time, I feel the commitment he’s making to me.
I let his words wash over me and let them seep deep into my heart. It is a start, for both of us. I know it’ll be hard. There’ll be days when everything will compound and come down on us. There’ll be days when I won’t feel like talking, when he’ll shut me out. We’ll fight, we’ll hurt each other, we’ll hurt ourselves and it’s definitely not going to be easy.
But I do believe that in the long run, it’ll all be worthwhile, because in the end, we’ll have each other. Alex Whitman is worth fighting for and if I have to battle myself and him every day of my life, then that’s what I’m prepared to do to make this work. I need this in my life. I need him in my life.
My family isn’t going to be easy to persuade either, especially given my previously very bad taste in men and the horrendous emotional scarring I’ve received because of it. Alex is going to have a long road to travel to convince them that he’s worthy of my love.
There’s also the vague threat of Jesse hanging over our heads. One day he’ll be released and we’ll have to deal with that as well.
But as Alex tenderly strokes a lock of hair off of my face places a tender kiss on the curve of my jaw, I couldn’t care less.
Much later, as Alex’s snore rumbles through his chest, causing vibrations through my cheek as my head rests on his chest, I close my eyes and try to let the soothing rhythm of his respiration lull me to sleep.
I know we’re both far from healed, but in this very second as Alex’s arms clasp me tightly to him even in sleep, I feel free.
I’m Isabel Evans and I think I may have just found some absolution.