The sky was quickly getting darker and she knew that she should go back to camp, but Raven couldn’t seem to make herself move. The ring she had successfully stolen from the man on the road gleamed in her hands and she couldn’t turn her gaze away from it. She had seen diamonds before, but none that were quite so beautiful as the little one set in the gold.
Her mask sat limply beside her on the grass, forgotten for the moment as she let her mind return to the earlier events of the day. The man she had stolen from, who was surely a duke or someone titled, had been very handsome and she could not make herself forget his face. From his brown eyes, which were framed by long black lashes and that smile, which she was ashamed to admit had taken her breath away.
Of course she would never see him again, not if she was lucky. Men did not usually go chasing after the little thief that had stolen a measly bag of gold, but some were known to scour the forest for her. This man though did not seem like he was the kind to do something so foolish, even for a ring which was obviously very valuable.
“Raven,” a deep voice called out from close by. The thief grimaced and quickly slid the jewelry back into the pocket of the pants she wore. “Come out, Raven,” the voice called again and with a sigh, she stood up. The bushes where she had been hiding did well to keep her covered while she sat, but came up to her waist when she stood. She was easily spotted a moment later and met a pair of emotionless green eyes.
“Hello, Ian. Here I am and what do you want?” she asked in annoyance, stooping to pick up her mask before abandoning her hiding place. When she tried to push past the beast of a man, he thrust his arm out and caught her around the waist.
“I have told you time and again woman, that is no way to speak to your husband,” he growled, pulling her fiercely against his chest, close enough that his bushy beard scratched her face. Raven sneared and tried to pry herself from his hold, but his grip was too strong for her to break from.
“I’m not your wife, not yet.”
“No, but you will be soon enough. Now stop fighting me and come back to the camp. That blasted horse of yours found his way to the camp, covered in blood again,” said Ian, loosening his hold on her. She stepped away from him with a huff and turn in the direction of home. “Your brother cleaned him up, but your father is not happy and neither am I. How many times must you be told not to go out on your own before you will listen? Will it be the day that you don’t come home and your family is forced to mourn you?”
There was no answer from the girl at his side, who instead of answering glared at the path in front of her. Of course he was right, he always was and she hated that about him. But she didn’t care about the danger of it, didn’t care that one day she might rob the wrong man and that would be the end of her. There was something about the thrill of stealing that sent a surge of energy through her body.
But she knew she needed to stop, if only for the sake of her mother and father. She knew how they worried about her and that was why she would marry Ian, because they needed to know she was safe and protected. And how could they be calm if she kept down this path, sneaking off most mornings and picking the pockets of the wealthy?
Raven decided then that she would stop, just not yet. The wedding was set for the beginning of spring, just two months away. When she sealed her fate and became a wife, only then would she give up her thieving recklessness. This she swore to herself.
Not another word was spoken between them as they made their way back, there was only a stony silence. Just before entering the camp however, Ian stopped Raven and turned her to face him. Their eyes met, blue staring into green, and he parted his lips to speak, his tone much more gentle than it had been.
“Forgive me for my outburst. I only want what is best for you and if anything were to happen to you Raven, I don’t know what I would do.” He allowed himself to show some emotion, which he very seldom did and for a moment, she saw the love he had for her and it sent a pang of guilt through her. Slowly, he placed a warm kiss on her cheek. “Goodnight my darling.”
That night after she’d received a firm scolding from her parents and had been sent to bed without supper, Raven cried. She wished more than anything that she could love Ian, but she knew in her heart that she never would. And when she fell asleep much later, it was with the man from the road that invaded her dreams and not her betrothed.