Isadora leaned back against the ancient oak tree, her long hair twisted into its steady roots and keeping her grounded. Quin was carefully ladling a portion of his stew- carrots, potatoes, and lamb- into two wooden bowls. He leaned back on his heels and blew lightly on Isadora's bowl before passing it to her along with a hand-carved spoon with a bird engraved into its handle. His thumb brushed against her palm as she tried to get a good grasp on it, and she felt her body tingle. She cursed silently. Rudolph. Rudolph. Rudolph. She chanted to herself.
It had been exactly one week since she had attempted to steal away that night. Quin had caught her that night and had walked her back to the house with an arm wrapped around her shaking shoulders. She had not been strong enough to leave that night, she realized. Isadora began to spoon the delicious food into her mouth with such a vigor it was as if she was willing it to give her renewed energy that instant. Choking a bit on the stew and earning herself a concerned glance from Quin, Isadora realized with a start that it had been Quin who rescued her when she had been stumbling around her first night without Rudolph. It was comforting to know there was such a person like Quin, a person who would always be there to catch her, to bring her back. But she also felt stiff annoyance churning in her bones. She needed to help Rudolph. She loved Rudolph. I do love him, she corrected herself with a frown. But I also love Quin.