Chapter Ten:

Sugar wouldn't let anyone get near me, so I had to yank myself up without a saddle and with my hands tied. By the way the men whistled at me, I had shown a bit more than just my ankles.

It was a good thing that I wasn't proper. Because if I were, I would probably be quite suicidal at the moment from embarrassment. I was wearing nothing but a slip and a large, bloodied shirt, I was barefoot, and my entire leg was showing up to my knee.

And I had just shown a good part of my thigh to a bunch of men I didn't know.

"Do I get a bridle?" I asked once I was up.

"No," said Brexley, and Mark swung a loop over Sugar's head so that they had a way to hold him and, therefore, me.

Sugar reared, screaming and pawing at the rope.

"No! Easy, Sugar. It's alright. It's okay." When the quiet, soothing words didn't work and I felt myself sliding from his slippery wet back, I cried out, "Cut it out, God damn it! I'm up here!"

Sugar landed back on the ground and stayed there this time, letting me know that he was unhappy with my choice with a shake of his head.

I watched as Wulf was booted into line, and Fanny and the children and Will, who was giving them all the evil eye. The knights didn't even try to threaten Little John, but he pushed his way over to his wife. Fanny half hugged him as Johnny was thrust into a different group.

"You'll put him here with us," Fanny said, and surprisingly, the knights let him. Maybe they weren't all bad.

The other eight of her children, not including Wulf, were also put in with her and John.

I looked back at Wulf, and saw that he was staring at me. What are we going to do now? I thought at him, but he didn't respond. He just kept on staring at me, an unreadable look in his eyes.

"Come on, boy," Jason spat at him.

He ignored him, and I saw a flicker of spite light his eyes for a moment before they went back to being concealed. Jason cracked the handle of his whip down on Wulf's shoulder, and I screamed, hearing the bone break with a crunch. Wulf grabbed his arm, spinning around with fire in his eyes.

This time, Jason struck him with the right side of the whip, again and again. I could tell that he was trying to make Wulf fall to his knees, but he wouldn't. Not until he fell over dead. Finally, when Wulf looked even worse than I did, Jason stopped.

"Let that be a warning to you," he hissed.

I swallowed hard, composing my face into a stoic mask. Wulf didn't look at me again.

"Get moving," Brexley ordered and the first group of men started off.

I was last, after Wulf's group of prisoners. They were keeping everyone separated so that we wouldn't overpower them.

We tramped along through the forest for what felt like hours in silence. I was swaying on top of Sugar, trying to squeeze my hands out of the chains.

"Where are we going?" I asked, faking indifference.

The knight didn't even look at me.

"Are you Mark or Quincy?"

He still didn't respond.

"He's Mark. He's angry that you can ride the stallion and he can't," said the other knight.

"So you're Quincy?"

He nodded, and Mark gave him a look that could have frozen a dragon. Quincy shrugged.

"She's not doing anything."

"You always were a sucker for a pretty face," Mark spat. "You're such a fool."

"I don't think he's a fool," I said quietly, softening my voice.

Mark narrowed his eyes at me.

I was thinking of a plan, but with Mark here, it would never work. I had to think of a way to get him out of the picture.

An hour later, Brexley showed up and helped me out, although he didn't know it.

"Has she been any trouble?" he asked.

"No, my lord," Quincy answered.

"Good. Mark, can I talk to you?"

Mark nodded, handing my rope to Quincy, and the two of them rode a little ways away.

"So," I said, sidling closer to Quincy. "Do you have a girlfriend?"

"No," he said, grinning.

"A wife?"

"Nu-uh."

"Why not? You're pretty cute."

He flushed with pleasure.

"Thanks."

I continued to watch him, searching for the keys to my chains on the pretenses that I was giving him a once over. I could have sworn that Brexley gave the rope to Mark and the keys to Quincy, but where were they?

Quincy ducked under a tree branch and as he shifted, I saw a flash. The keys! They were attached to his belt.

"Would you give me a kiss?" I asked, looking up at him from beneath my eyelashes.

He looked at me in surprise, and then looked around for Mark. Seeing that he was around a corner and couldn't see us, he nodded, pulling his horse to a stop.

The women and children from my band who were following us gasped, the men giving me a dirty look for kissing men behind Wulf's back. I didn't care at the moment though, because I was trying to get to the keys, pretend that I was just passionately searching Quincy's belt, and trying not to choke or gag from his overenthusiastic kiss.

Finally, I got the keys, kissed Quincy for a moment longer, just to make it look good, and then I pulled away. I forced a smile, leaned closer, and grabbed the rope holding Sugar, swinging around to give Quincy a swift kick. Sugar began prancing forward, trying to race off. Quincey fell out of his saddle, hitting the ground with a thud. I spat, trying to get the taste of him out of my mouth, and swung back around on top of Sugar, giving him a kick to get him running faster.

"I'll come back for you," I yelled to the rest of them.

As we neared the next group, Wulf included, I gave a shrill whistle, begging that he would hear it.

I galloped into sight, passing a shouting Brexley and Mark, and Wulf leapt out, swinging up on top of Sugar behind me.

"Come on, boy," I urged the horse faster, hearing Brexley and Mark behind me.

Even with two people on top of him, Sugar ran faster than I've ever seen him go and we quickly outran our followers. We looped and ran into the denser part of the forest, dodging trees and finally, I slowed him next to a stream.

Wulf slid off, and I followed suit, allowing Sugar to walk away. I knew he'd come back when I called and he was smart enough to stay out of the way of the knights.

I gave Wulf an exuberant kiss, and he deepened it, as if trying to make sure that we were both still alive.

"Here," I said, and handed him the ring of keys. I held out my wrists and he unlocked the chains. He didn't have chains on his wrists, but he was bleeding freely. I was wearing his shirt, so his chest was bare.

"Let me take a look at your shoulder," I said, and Wulf turned without a word.

It was broken, already turning a horrid shade of purple. I lightly felt it, trying to see where the break was or if it was shattered. Wulf winced a few times.

"Jesus, I'm glad you're okay," I whispered.

He turned and wrapped his good arm around me. I felt perfectly content sitting there with him, soaked in both his blood and my own. We were together, Brexley was far away…If only I didn't have a duty to save my people.

"We have to help them, Wulf," I said a little while later, while I was fixing his shoulder.

"I know. Of course. But we isn't part of the deal. I'll figure out some way to help and you'll stay here."

"Wulf," I said, surprised. "You've never been the type to treat me as if I'm below you."

"That's not what I'm doing!"

"Shh. Stop moving." I pushed his tense shoulders back down.

"I just…I just realized just how bad it was for you there. I mean, before, I was so furious that you were held there against your will, but I didn't know that he beat you like this." He sat up, shaking me off him. "Falcon, I can't stand the thought that he could hurt you again."

I pushed him back down a little more forcefully. "When you first yanked me off the horse and dragged me into the camp, I told you that he wasn't the best host."

"That he nearly killed you seven times? I was trying to forget that, futilely. I didn't want to think of you in pain. Or dead." He yanked me down on my back and rolled over on top of me with grand strength for a man with a broken bone.

"Do you have any idea how much you mean to me? How I couldn't live if I let something happen to you?"

I could imagine. His eyes were tortured just thinking about it. So gently that I could have cried if I was that type of girl, he touched my face, dragging a piece of my red brown hair from my cheek. I stared into his brilliant green eyes, my breathing shallow.

"I love you. I want to be with you forever. As your husband, as a friend, I don't care. I just want to be near you. You drive me crazy."

"It's too early for anguished thoughts," I commented, putting my arms around his neck and dragging his lips down to mine. "Save them for when we meet Brexley again."

"Never would be too soon."

I let him go, almost pushed him away.

"We have to save the rest of them. Robin wouldn't have run away."

Wulf shook his head. "Don't do that, Falcon. Don't let them push us apart. You can't really think that I would leave them at Brexley's will."

I sighed. He was right. The terseness of the situation could ruin us. It could ruin everything. For some reason, that only made me angrier with Brexley. That without even being there, he could control the situation.

"You can't get them back alone."

He frowned at me. "I will."

I gave him a forced grin. "I'm going with you."

Wulf shook his head. "No you're not, Falcon."

This time, my smile was real, if not nice. "I'm the one with the horse. You can walk all you want, but I'll be there too. You can't control me."

"I'm not trying to! All I want is for you to stay safe."

"I am as much the leader of that band as you are. My father was the leader! I can and will do as I please!" I shouted at him, getting up and drawing myself to my full height.

He stayed lying on his back on the ground looking up at me, his body language saying that he wasn't going to fight.

Suddenly, he smiled wickedly. For some reason, that smile- once my favorite smile- made my skin tingle and my blood thrum in my veins.

"I can see up your dress," he said.

I looked down at my slip, and then scowled at him, refusing to blush to the tips of my toes, as I would have liked to do.

"And your point is?" I asked blatantly.

Wulf's roaring laughter must have shaken the entire forest, it was so loud. I was sure for a moment that he was going to lead Brexley straight to us.

"Would you hush?" I asked as Sugar picked up his head, his eyes going wide.

Wulf kept chuckling, dragging me down next to him.