Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chapter 25 Part 1

photo: Bridget Ruffing
Robin was sitting by the fire as it hissed and sputtered beneath the falling snowflakes. A red streak of blood ran from his nose, and one eye had already begun to swell as Tuck attempted to clean him up.

"You had it coming, Robin."

"I know it. But what has gotten into him?" He winced against the stinging of the cloth.

"The girl. A woman can turn your head like no other power on earth." Tuck pressed deeper into the cut with a smirk. He thought Robin was being melodramatic, again.

"Says the celibate friar." Robin received a shove for this bit of cheek. Looking up, they saw Alexis standing awkwardly at the edge of the clearing, and Will watching from a few feet behind her. Dropping her gaze when their eyes met, she turned to Will and gestured for him to stop hiding.

With a sigh, he advanced, taking her hand as he passed and leading her to sit on the log beside him, across the fire from Robin. "Alexis is staying here." He said flatly, trying not to think about how much he had hurt his cousin, trying not to look at the deep gash in his lip. Guilt was a terrible thing, weakening the strongest determinations in a matter of seconds.

"I thought we'd been over this." Robin raised a sarcastic eyebrow, noticing the boy's hand clutched tight around Alexis's. "Have you asked her what she thinks of all of this?" His gaze had shifted to where she sat, embarrassed and uncomfortable, battling the panic rising in her throat. A triumphant grin waiting at the corners of Robin's mouth.

"He has." Alexis answered quickly, feeling the heat rising to her face despite herself. "And I agreed. If I am welcome here, I would like to stay."

"Ah, well, that's another thing entirely, isn't it? But I guess it doesn't matter what I say in my own camp anymore, since Will obviously knows best." Robin ignored Tuck's condemning glare.

Alexis could feel Will tensing up beside her. "Don't." She whispered. But her face paled when, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Adam watching from behind a tree, the rabbits he'd been out hunting lying killed and forgotten at his feet. Frantically, she tried to loose her hand from Will's grip, but he was too busy arguing with Robin to notice.

"She is staying, and that's final."



"Will, let go." She whispered harshly.


"Ugh." She groaned in defeat. "Can you please fix my shoulder now?"

"Oh, right." He released her and found a needle. By now, Robin had rolled his eyes and moved on, announcing that he was going into town.

Looking back to Adam's hiding place, Alexis saw that he was no longer there, and the rabbits were gone with him. Closing her eyes, she tried to focus on her breathing, and not the fact that she might have just made the worst mistake of her life.

Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chapter 24 Part 2

photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing
 When Alexis looked up, she was struck by a tiny snowflake landing on her cheek. They'd stayed there— How long? It had felt like seconds, strung out like beautiful hours, neither daring to speak or move, knowing that if they did, this moment would have to end and they'd have to face all the problems and questions that could not be ignored.

She glanced at him, kneeling beside her, and sighed. They couldn't stay here much longer; it was snowing and would be night soon enough. "Come on." She whispered, struggling to her feet and offering a hand. She tried to ignore the increasingly painful throbbing in her shoulder.

"Thank you." He continued to hold her hand after he had stood. The tears were dried and the anger and sadness had faded; all he was left with was a breathless gratitude. She had agreed. She was staying. He wasn't losing her, and, somehow, this wasn't all a dream. She was standing here by his side, her hand in his, and, for once, she wasn't trying to pull away.

"Are you alright?" She asked, hoping he couldn't hear her heart pounding in her chest.

"I'm fine." He blushed and lowered his gaze as he replied.

"We should, um..."

"Yes, I suppose."

They trudged slowly down the hill, feeling the awkwardness between them creep back in. What had happened? Alexis trembled when she recalled how his soft hair had felt in her fingers. She had held him in her arms. She had agreed to stay, when just that morning she had wanted nothing more than to be rid of him and all the pain and embarrassment that came with the feelings he stirred up inside of her. How could she have done this?

Will shot nervous glances out of the corner of his eye at the girl walking beside him, and marveled that she was still there. He had been so angry before. Angry at her on top of everything else, so what had she done? She had made him, for a little while, forget all of it. How?

"Will?" Alexis hesitantly broke the stifling silence.


"Do you think you could do something about my shoulder?" She blushed deeper, holding the needle and thread still attached.

"Oh, right, sorry, yes!" Cursing his ignorance, he picked up the needle, sighed, and dropped it again. "You should probably sit down."

Alexis grimaced, recalling that this was going to hurt, and nodded, starting off in the direction of the camp. She stopped and turned, realizing that he wasn't following her. "Will, we can't hide from them forever."

He sighed, looking back to the tree they had sat under. "What if he doesn't let me back?"

"Will, I saw the look on his face. There's nothing you can do to make him stop caring about you. It was just an argument. They happen all the time. You scream, you fight and cry, and, if you plan it right, you go back to the way things were and forget about it." The words sparked on her tongue. Was this truth, or mere wishful thinking?

"And what if he doesn't let you back?" Will asked, in a tone more bitter than he had intended.

"What if he doesn't?" She stared at him, praying for and fearing his answer. This could be her last chance at freedom.

Will was silent, floundering in surprise when the question was flung back at him. He knew his answer, but was it too soon to give it? Could he trust her, trust himself?

Sighing, and unsure whether to be disappointed or grateful, Alexis waved for him to follow. "We'll never know if we don't try." She turned and continued up the hillside.

"Alexis." He raced to catch up, taking her hand back in his own. "If you can't come back, then—"

"Please. Don't make promises you can't keep." She stopped him with a look, her words whispered and gentle. This wasn't a reprimand, this wasn't meant to make him feel guilty. It was an honest plea. "Now, come on, let's just see what they have waiting for us."

Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1