Rudolph yanked himself away, but Alisen held on. They almost wrestled, then, for a short time. Rudolph found himself shoving at her, and she wrapped her arms tightly around his middle so that he could not be rid of her. Then he tripped on the clumsy-laid fire-log pile, and they both went down, Rudolph landing hard on his back, Alisen cushioned by his chest.
Although there was anger in the air still, she unlaced her arms and gingerly touched his cheek.
"Are you alright?" She whispered, urgently.
Rudolph did not move. He did not open his eyes. Alisen was appalled, and moved away from him, onto the grass, making to get help from the house.
Suddenly, Rudolph was upon her, clutching wrists and forcing them down onto the grass. He sat on her stomach-- and he wasn't light -- so that she was completely pinned down. She spat grass and cursed him for deceiving her. She had been so worried.
"Now then...What was it you wanted to talk to me about?" Rudolph smirked.
Alisen stared up at him with eyes of white-heat and spoke very slowly:
"I was going to apologize to you. Seems like you don't care about me though." She hadn't meant to say that last part. It just seemed like she should speak her mind, since she felt she had nothing left to lose with the boy. She was surprised when Rudolph's face changed from annoyed to wide-eyed with concern.
"Do you really think I don't care about you?" He asked. Alisen thought of a counter, while his weight on her stomach squeezed more air from her lungs.
"I'll answer...just...please...get off of me...can't breathe..." She whimpered.
Immediately, Rudolph leapt to his feet. Alisen clutched her middle and took deep breathes.
"What...have you been doing the past few days...besides eating." She teased with a smile.
Rudolph laughed, and plopped down next to her.
"But really" He said to her, "You feel I do not care for you?"
"Well. You haven't exactly been speaking to me. So..."
"You said something that hurt me. I needed time."
"So you disliked me."
"No! Well...to be perfectly honest with you... yes. But only for that day and the next. Then. I was still thinking about you. But...not with hatred in my heart. Something else."
Alisen's heart went haywire, and it felt like it really had jumped form her chest. And her stomach filled with the sensation of butterflies. She tried to keep still when she spoke next. "Is that bad?"
Rudolph tilted his head back, and Alisen saw the leaves sticking out of his hair. She reached over to pull them out. He caught her wrist, softly twisting his fingers with hers. He put his other arm around her, pulling her close, until the bridges of their noses touched and he could hear her pounding heartbeat, and she could feel his, beating her same wild rhythm.
"Not exactly." Rudolph whispered. And as his lips formed the words the brushed against Alisen's. And then they kissed, and Alisen tried not to cry, for she was so relieved he was not angry, and so relieved that he loved her, and happy that she was kissing the boy who she herself loved.