The girl grows up a Miller’s daughter; kindness and care are replaced by Mother’s lust for status and finery; and Father’s life is lost to greed and foolery. Shingles splinter on a sun-baked rooftop; rodents run beneath rotted floorboards; and Father dies, leaving her and her mother with nothing.
The girl learns a lesson about the cruelty of life. Faith fails her. Her best friend disappears. And Mother whispers, “Love is weakness, my dear. Remember that.”
She’s sold into slavery, the day she becomes a woman, tears carving paths through the grime on her cheeks. Abandoned. Left to live out her days with lecherous men, groping hands, and a greasy proprietor.
She blooms inside four walls like Evening Primrose. Out of sight. Out of mind. Beauty shrouded in darkness.
But the thing is, not everyone walks through life obtusely. Not everyone is blind to the light.
Some see what others don’t.
He grows up a Drunkard’s son; purple bruises and split lips are his friends; and a youth without food on the table teaches him to have sticky fingers and quick feet. His parents die before he’s nine and ten; the Sheriff comes to collect; and he flees for fear of the whip.
The boy learns a lesson about the cruelty of life. Faith fails him. He disappears. No letter. No note. And Guilt mocks, “Look what you’ve done.”
He turns to the streets, robs from the rich, shares with the poor. Afraid. Left to live out his days running from lawmen, a price on his head, and no place to call home.
He learns to live without like a candle sans flame. Unfulfilled. Uninspired. Ready, but no spark.
Things change. He sees her again.
He’s different. He’s not like the rest of them. He stayed because he wanted to talk, catch up. Find out what she’d been doing for the last decade, and well, that much was obvious. Or it should have been. She’d been here. Thighs spread. Walls up. Rouge on. Putting on a show, selling her talents, using her feminine mystique to make Lord White rich and lure drunken, gambling fools from off the streets.
They’d empty their pockets; she’d let them in.
She’s a whore, or she usually is. But he’s different. He’s not like the rest of them. He sees beyond the corsets and her painted face.
He’s her lover, her Robin, her best friend.
He sees her for who she really is. He never asks about the men she takes to bed, and she never asks about his inked-face on posters.
Days turns into weeks, weeks bleed into months, coin leaves his pocket – but she’s not a whore, not for him – silver for words, silver for time, and he doesn’t touch her without her permission.
Not until she lets him.
And oh how she lets him.
Her breath catches in her throat, kisses flush her skin, and he’s buried so deeply inside her she doesn’t know where he stops and she begins. His soul presses into hers, and she feels, for the first time she feels safe. It tastes like copper, and salt, and sunshine on his skin. Smells like leather, and pine, and paradise found as she comes, and comes, and comes, unraveling beneath him, legs wrapped around him, sweat glistening between her supple breasts, body trembling as he ruts against her, drawing out her pleasure and tensing as his follows.
He falls to the side, arms pulling her against his chest, fingers lightly brushing strands of hair away from her face. His touch is different, soothing, home.
They breathe, sleep, wake to Starlings singing outside thin stained-windows, and then they fuck again.
Reality bitterly bites two moons later.
“We can’t keep doing this.”
He’s right. She knows he’s right. But. “You weren’t complaining a moment ago.” Her heart races, chest heaves, come still on her belly.
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” He wipes her clean with his balled up tunic, presses a kiss to her brow. “Regina, I love you.”
“I know.” His brow furrows; his face falls. She sits up, straddles his waist, threads her fingers into his hair. “Robin. I love you, too. Of course I love you.”
Her fingers scrape gently at his nape, and she leans in, about to kiss him when he whispers, “We need to talk about it.”
She huffs out a breath. There it is. Anxiety and fear bubble up, churns bile in her stomach. She’s been foolish; this is foolish; they were foolish.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
He’s a thief. She’s a whore. This was never going to work out. Why did she think this could work? Why’d she think this was safe?
“You need to quit.”
“You know I can’t.” She shakes her head, leveraging herself up and grabbing her robe.
“We could run. Nothing’s keeping you here.”
Her nostrils flare, her shoulders rise and fall with every breath. “You’re a fool if you think he’d just let me walk out of here.”
“Maybe.” He gets up, pulls on his trousers, brushes the back of his fingers against her cheek. “But there’s a ship that’s leaving for Port de-Paix tonight. I think we should be on it.”
“And what then? Where will we go then?” She gathers her hair to the side with a ribbon. “We’re orphans. Practically penniless little nobodies.”
“Precisely. We could disappear. Start over. Be anyone we want to be.”
Someone knocks on the door. Time’s up!
“Robin, this is crazy. We can’t–”
“Do you trust me?” He’s standing in front of her now. Palms coasting down her arms to weave their fingers together.
She sighs. “I do.”
The girl grows up a Miller’s daughter; kindness and care are replaced by Mother’s lust for status and finery; and Father’s life is lost to greed and foolery. Shingles splinter on a sun-baked rooftop; rodents run beneath rotted floorboards; and Father dies, leaving her and Mother with nothing.
The girl learns a lesson about the cruelty of life. Faith fails her. And Mother whispers, “Love is weakness, my dear. Remember that.”