I kept as low as I could as I ran through the undergrowth. I could hear him behind me, but only him. He must have outpaced the rest of them. I knew I was fast and I’d hoped I was fleeter of foot than he was. At least in this. Being pursed as a possible murderer in no way compared with being pursued by a man one would like to be caught by.
I was panting for breath and as I dropped down behind an outcropping of rock I prayed he would not hear me. I hoped he might pass by my hiding place. I didn’t want to hurt him but no way would I let him take me. I didn’t fear for my safety at his hands, I knew he would only take me prisoner, but I had no such faith in the others.
They were led by the sheriff who would like nothing better than to lay into me, and his followers would happily join in just to keep on his good side. They didn’t know that he had committed the murder and blamed it on me just so he could be rid of me.
I did my best to control my breathing, pressing myself lower into the ground as if trying to lose myself in the dank earth. I could hear him close by, too close for comfort. Why did it have to be him, the one I’d lusted after for months, ever since he arrived? Gradually I gained his friendship, and I’d thought perhaps more. I’d seen the way he looked at me recently and I was gathering my courage to approach him. I’d been so wrapped up in my own reaction to him that I’d missed the other glances cast his way. By the sheriff.
Yet again I’ve let my distraction over him get me into trouble. I can hear someone ahead. And they’re still behind me. I’m fucked.
“Quickly, this way. Now!” A voice hisses. It is him. By all that’s holy, it’s him. Somehow he’s got ahead of me. I rush toward him, only thinking as I reach him that he could be about to betray me. I’d trusted my life to him. A hand grabbed me and pulled me down.
I stared into his eyes and he held my gaze as he whispered, “I know a way out of here. Do you trust me?”
“Always.” I spoke without volition. It simply was.
“Good.” He smiled and I knew. “I trust you and I know you didn’t do this.”
“Do you know who did?” I murmured and he nodded.
“Follow me, keep low and we’ll get out of here.”
I’d follow him anywhere.