I own nothing. Not Mr. Armstrong, nor the legend of Robin Hood. The fantasies, however, are all mine.

The Wisdom of Lies

I'm beginning to wonder about the wisdom of my lies. They have become startlingly vast and harder to maintain. My father believes that I am in the work room of the castle, embroidering. It's been a convenient excuse, one that allows me to vanish for hours from his sight for a host of secret purposes. Tonight, he thinks me engrossed in a new piece. I shall have to purchase a completed work in the weeks to come. It will, of course, be claimed as my own. Another lie.

In truth, I stand now on the third floor of the east tower, an empty stairwell used by guards to view daylight approaches of emissaries. No one is scheduled to man the structure for several more hours and I count on the strict regimen of the Sheriff's men to ensure my solitude as I wait. A loyal courier was dispatched at nightfall and I am desperate for the receiver of the message to arrive. If that is still possible. I can only pray. But I hold little hope of Heaven acquiescing to my begging. I have often lied in my prayers.

Even my message lied. It is our custom now to establish our meetings in code. 'At your convenience' means immediately. Tonight it seems our definition of immediate differs. No, it is dangerous for him to come here. They will not wait until morning to hang him should he be caught. Unbidden images of gallows and rope assail my mind. There have been too many of these visions lately. I intend to speak with him abut that. I keep wiping away the evidence of my tears. He can't know he has brought me to this. It is our lie; I do not love him and he does not love me. Of course, if he fails to appear, there will be no ceasing of tears and I know I shall have to lie yet again to explain them.

And then I hear the softest whisper of my name and I declare my heart forgot its job. When I behold him, said heart beats again, this time nearly out of my chest. And I neglect our lie and rush down the steps to throw my arms around his neck. He must be genuinely surprised because he does not tease me. Rather, his own arms encircle me firmly, as though content to hold me indefinitely. I will not complain. Eventually, he pulls away to catch my moist eyes. And I read concern in his.

"Tell me?" His request is so very gentle, sounding nothing like the outlaw he is.

I could lie. I could feign illness or night terrors. There's a measure of truth in the latter. My hand rises to his face, running over the stubble that marks him as so much older than the troublesome child I grew up fighting. How did we get here? He awaits my answer and I sense the arrival of a shift in our lives. My words can lead us somewhere entirely new. Are we ready for such truth? I hope so, because tears are falling again and I find deception suddenly impossible. This will require a deep breath to begin.

"I could not bear the stories. They take such delight in the telling. I had to see…I had to know."

Clearly I've confused him. "What do they tell you?"

"All the ways you've died." I cringe at my juvenile tone. My eyes seek a speck on the floor to contemplate because I can't witness his reaction upon hearing my truth.

If our lie is intact, he will surely laugh at this childish worry. Or be terribly offended at an apparent lack of trust in his abilities. When I feel his hand under my chin, I resist the pull to meet his eyes. But he is persistent, this Lord of Locksley. I dare to glance up and it is my turn to be confused. I can't read his expression. He is studying me and I feel conflicted at such scrutiny. It is probing into my soul, full of lies as it is. But it is breathtaking to be the sole center of his focus. He will speak to assuage my fears and suddenly I cannot permit it. I must remain in reality and this means not clinging to promises he shouldn't make.

There's only one way I know to occupy his mouth and the craving to do so overwhelms all propriety. Swiftly, I lean up and capture his lips, in no way tender in my actions. His tongue meets mine, taming the fierceness of my ardor with a deep thoroughness attesting to his practiced skill. In the time it takes to occur to me how very unsafe our location is, his hands kneading my hips make such anxiety evaporate. And my feet are moving, pushing him against the stone wall, trying to get closer. He lets me dominate the situation, though I suspect this is not a position most men would protest. Does he know how near I am to tearing off our clothes? Apparently, my demure nature is also a lie. Along with not wanting him, not needing him, and God forgive me, not loving him. Too many lies. And in this moment, I want to tell him. Everything. As if his knowing will give him the power to stay alive. But speaking would require an end to this kiss and I would rather die myself than halt this exploration.

Finally, he breaks the kiss. But honestly, who needs air? I try to pull him back to me but he defies me. Naturally. He wants to understand what just happened and I stop him from asking with a finger across his lips.

"You live as though arrows will bounce off you," I've said this before and I know he remembers. "You'd better be right."

I walk away before he has a chance to assure me. I walk away before I show him just how impure I really am. I walk away before speaking anymore truths. Because he knows. And perhaps now, I've given him a greater reason to survive.