|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
All three nearly jumped out of their skin when Robin swung from above into their path. "I've been looking for you. Will, Adam, Alexis." As they caught their breaths, Robin wasted no time addressing them and assessing their condition, his eye settling on the girl with a condemning look, waiting for her reaction.
Alexis's lips clamped shut and her eyes widened. Everything in her body grew tense as she realized what Robin must know, and filled with an overwhelming urge to run away and not stop until all of this was behind her, but was hindered by Adam's strong arms wrapped about her. Also, she thought ruefully, she'd tried to do so before, and where had that gotten her?
She dropped her gaze, sensing the challenge in Robin's eyes and cowering. She was now entirely in their hands, and they could sway her fate whichever way they pleased with no obstacles. She felt sick.
"How did you know her name? I never told you this was her." Adam demanded in confusion.Why was Robin using the girl's name as a weapon? And, why, he wondered for the hundredth time, had Alexis kept her identity a secret?
"I know a lot of things about her now." To Alexis's astonishment, the malice drained from Robin's voice, and he only sounded weary, as if the knowledge of her past was a heavy, unnecessary burden. In that moment, Alexis saw that he understood. He knew exactly how she felt.
And yet, there remained something in his eye, in the powerful command of his personality, and the cunning, scheming nature of his mind, that filled her with more distrust than she had felt before. What had she gotten herself into?
"But we can talk about that later. The three of you have been very much missed back at the camp, and I'm glad to have found you. You must be cold and tired, and Alexis," The name tasted strange on his tongue, "I can only imagine your condition. Please, if you will, allow me to lead the way." Robin cast another glance at his cousin, who was staring back at him with the same anger as he had before, diluted only by a tinge of curiosity. Stifling a sigh, he led them on, retracing his steps back to the camp, trying to decide what to do, and if any of it could bring back the trust of the two people he loved most. Judging by the look on his cousin's face, it didn't seem likely.
"Alexis, what is going on?" Adam whispered earnestly into the girl's ear, looking about him suspiciously.
She could not reply. Her mind and heart were racing as she asked herself the same question. What was going on? And what would Robin do to her? How much did he know? And would he tell Adam? She felt guilty for keeping secrets even from him, and she thought she would tell him eventually, but he wasn't ready. What would happen when he found out, and from someone else?
She looked at Will, who kept his gaze locked straight ahead, trying to remove her from his vision and his heart, and she couldn't blame him. These people were the only ones still living that had ever cared for her in any way, and now even they would be taken from her by something that had happened long ago, something she had never been able to control. The winter air about them was bitterly cold, but she felt none of it, even as the icy wind bit and whipped her cheeks till they turned a bright scarlet.
Shutting her eyes against the torrents of panic and nausea that threatened to drown her, too scared and too hurt to cry, she considered once again if it would have been better if she'd stayed in that dungeon, if she'd gone to the scaffold.
Start at the Beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1