Olivia disappears into the mist. I look at Will and he smiles weakly still looking after her.
‘You’ll see her again. I promise Will.’
After a while, a young feminine faced lad in scraggy clothes and a cloth cap swaggers up to us.
‘Hello. I’m... Well you know who I am.’
‘Yes. Are you Oliver?’ He nods.
‘Why is Olivia sending you with us?’ Will looks up when I say her name.
‘Um. She didn’t say.’
‘Ok. Let’s get going then.’ I leap onto Charlie and wait while Will and Ollie mount. I stare at Oliver.
‘Are you going to ride sidesaddle?’ I ask grinning. He blushes, mumbles something and swings his right leg round. I dig my heels into Charlie’s flank and we set off. I don’t know where we are going and I don’t care. As long as my little brother is as far away from the police as possible... He’s all I’ve got left and I love him.
‘We will have to keep an eye out for The Rats.’ I weigh up Trash and Sergeant Hook in my mind. Which is worse? Oliver’s voice cuts through my thoughts as easily as a blade.
‘Bloody Hell Oliver. I thought that you would know that.’ How could he not know who they are? They are the rulers of the backstreets.
‘Sorry. But I have led quite a different life from you.’
‘Murderers, the terror of the backstreets. The best robbers, pick-pockets, spies, everything. They are led by Trash, a great big bear of a man with muscles of steel and a heart of iron. He once was having a fight with another Rat, our dad tried to break up the fight and Trash shot him.’
‘Oh. So you only have one parent?’
I shoot him a glance.
‘Shut you mouth and don’t meddle in stuff that ain’t your business.’
His eyes widen and he looks at his feet.
‘Yes Oliver. We’re Backstreet Orphans and are good at it but it’s not easy. Our lives were bloody hard enough even before we met Olivia Now the entirety of the Police force want my little brother dead because he saved her life. People like us are stuck between The Rats and the Police. But people like Olivia are two bloody high and mighty to do a thing about it.’
Will fingers the scar on the back of his neck where the noose cut in.
It’s been around two weeks since we left now. My thoughts keep turning to Olivia. I wish I knew what she thought of us. Her locket is hanging round my neck with a lock of her hair inside. I’ve had it ever since I first met her in the carriage and stole it.
Archie is being really protective of me and Oliver has been pretty quiet and hasn’t a clue what’s going on.
‘Will, Oliver down.’ Archie points out a police patrol and I throw myself to the floor cutting my arm on a thorn.
‘Oliver! Get down you idiot!’ I look up to see Oliver is still standing in plain view of the Police. I grab his hand and pull him to the ground. He lands with his his face close to mine and blushes. A lock of long dark hair escapes from his cap and he tucks it back. He looks down at my hand which is still holding his and I let go. He smiles and I smile back. There is something about his smile... I had been getting ready to tell him off but I just can’t. He just looks so innocent.
‘You know. Um. Ollie, you shouldn’t really. You’re on the run from the Police as well now you know.’ He nods.
‘Sorry. Can we get going? I don’t like woods. I much prefer the towns as I feel safer there. More people can see you.’
‘That’s exactly why we are in the woods. But yes we are going into town. Only the backstreets mind. You can run from rats more easily than Police.
‘I thought The Rats were more dangerous?’
‘Yes. But I know my way around the backstreets and I have this.’ Archie spins dad’s pistol and Oliver’s eyes widen.
‘You not going to use that are you?’
‘If I have to, yes.’ He grins and we set off.