|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
"You're still quite indebted to me when it comes to questioning, but alright." He smiled, absentmindedly rubbing the horse's neck as they walked along.
"Why did you two come looking for me? Where is Robin? And the rest?" She faked indifference, pretending the questions were posed out of nothing more than mere curiosity.
"That's more than one." He chuckled, not meeting her gaze. He thought it wouldn't be long before she asked, but he wanted to put off answering as long as possible.
"I know. I lied." She tried to pose the reply as a joke, but the fact of it wrenched her conscience. It wasn't the only thing she'd lied to him about.
"Robin is back at the camp. He wanted to wait and come up with a plan to find you, but Adam was impatient, and I came along to keep him safe, since I have a better knowledge of Sherwood." Will let out a deep breath, not daring to look at her, to witness the pain he must have inflicted.
"Ah." Alexis whispered. So, she had been right. Will didn't care about her more than he would anyone. She bit her lip forcefully to steady her wobbling chin. What had she expected? Certainly she deserved nothing more from him. Indeed, she was worthy of his full disdain. Hadn't she known this from the very first? So why did his words make her want to cry?
When they reached her camp, Alexis and Will lay Adam inside the lean-to, wrapping him up in his cloak. Turning, Alexis declared, "Well, thank you, I believe that's all. You an be going now."
"Excuse me? Going where?"
"Back to Robin, of course. I can take care of Adam, and I'm not about to let you freeze to death out here. Go back to your friends, where its safe and warm. No doubt they're worried about you in this weather." She gestured to the sky, which was now spitting out thick, heavy flurries of wet snow.
After taking a moment to come to terms with what she had just told him, Will shook out a nervous laugh. "Not a chance."
"You can take the horse, it will get you there in half the time." She explained quickly, not daring to look him in the eyes as she bustled about, packing up what food she could, lest she lose her resolve.
Will put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her and looking into her face. "What on earth makes you think I'm going anywhere?" His voice sounded worried, and, again, hurt.
She pulled away, putting on an annoyed expression to mask the shard of guilt inching its way through her heart. "What on earth makes you think you're not? Adam came out here to find me, and now he has. You've done your job, and he's safe with me. Go home."
"And where do you expect to sleep? With him?" He tried not to sound bitter, but his voice was colder and more brutally cutting than the frigid weather.
Alexis blushed and gasped, trying to look shocked by his insinuation, but she was more surprised to learn he had found her out. "Wh-what are you implying?"
"You expect me to believe you two are merely friends? A friend doesn't look at another the way you look at him."
"We are just friends! Honest!" Perhaps a few years ago, she would have considered this a blatant lie, but now, she discovered, it felt like the truest thing she had ever told him. "And how dare you? I would never—"
"Well, if you're not staying in there, then you need another shelter, not to mention a fire, and you aren't going to have much luck with either of those when you've got a broken arm." Will was confused by her reply. Of course, he'd expected her denial of such accusations. No, what surprised him was that she seemed to be telling the truth.
Alexis gasped, trying to hide her bad arm beneath her cloak. Had he seen through all her lies? "How did you..."
"Again, you never know when to admit that you're in trouble. Now, whether you like it or not, I'm helping you." His throat burned from all the words he swallowed down with his true feelings. "I'll get a fire going, and then set up some shelters. After that, we'll see about your arm." With one last stubborn glare, he turned and immediately began working on the fire, leaving Alexis floundering about, searching for an argument. But she could think of none. With an exasperated moan, she stomped off to huddle inside, checking on Adam and contemplating having to spend the next few days with both of them.
"Why me?" She whined, shaking her head.
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1