Beatrix slept late into the afternoon and beyond, it having taken her several hours to find a comfortable place to sleep on the hard ground that didn’t include something sharp sticking into the small of her back. Eventually, she’d given up, accepting that she’d never find such a luxurious position and yearning for her comfortable four-poster back at home.
She woke, disorientated, at around four in the afternoon, and spent ten minutes staring round at the inside of the ‘hut’ (or rather, the heap of twigs and soil that served as a hut) and wondering where on earth she was and what on earth was happening. Carla’s bed was empty, so Beatrix slowly made her way out of the hut and into the sunlight outside, remembering fragments of their crazed flight the night before as she did so.
In the clearing, there was no sign of Carla either. She spent a moment standing in the doorway of her hut, watching the people flow amongst each other.
‘You look lost.’
Again, she jumped. I really must sort that out, she told herself irritably. It just doesn’t do to go around leaping every time someone breathes.
It was Keiran, leaning up against a tree, that characteristic laugh in his eye, that warm smile upon his face. ‘Want a hand? I’ll show you the ropes, if you like.’
She opened her mouth to tell him she was absolutely fine, thank you very much, and wouldn’t want to impose on his valuable time, she was sure. And she didn’t need or want the help of outlaws, not now, not ever.
But something inside her faltered, as it so often did around him, and she found herself suddenly unsure. For the first time in her life, she felt very lost and alone. She wasn’t comfortable here. At least back home she’d known what was expected - of her, of everyone. Here she had nothing. Not even her reputation. Here she had nothing to hide behind.