Outlaw

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Captive

June sat on the floor with her back against the bars and elbows on her knees. The trailer cell bounced up and down, up and down over every damned root or stone in the path, and there was a constant whine of an ungreased wheel turning behind her. She swallowed another stone of saliva and came to the realization that vomiting was in her near future. Each breath seemed deeper than the last but she couldn’t catch her wind. Trees drifted past. Their bark was brown. The edge of the forest couldn’t have been far. She put her eyes back into her palms.

Kensington sat across from her. His blonde hair was slicked almost brown from grease and shined in the flickers of sunlight through passing trees; it was the same off-golden color of the Sheriff badge he’d pinned back on his chest.

“Ms. Foster, listen to me,” Kensington said over the shrieking wheel beneath them. “Just because he’s the King doesn’t mean he’s innocent.”

“The King is the King,” she muttered. She peeled the top of her thumbnail and pinched it off the corner of her skin. A little red drop grew in its spot. She swallowed again. “Why is he leaving if we don’t have Chambers?”

Sheriff’s eyes narrowed at something on her neck. She ran her fingers along the skin beneath her jaw and felt the soft pink mark where Chambers had sucked on her neck.

“He knows Chambers will follow if they have you.”

“Shit,” she ground her palms into her eyes. “Can we tell the Blackguard?”

Kensington smiled and banged the back of his head off the bars behind him, twice.

“Your revered Blackguard is nothing more than King Gallant’s hired lackeys. The man who forced you into this cage was none other than Blackguard Samuel Hightower of Gorringham.”

With the way he looked at her, he might as well have just spat on her. She stood with the floor bouncing under her knees and gripped a bar for balance.

“What about my Father?” She asked. Sheriff stood, holding the bars as trees passed behind him. “Or Captain Artemis Crucial—the fiercest beacon of morality Librae has ever seen?”

The corners of Kensington’s mouth perked up, though he did not seem to be delighted.

“You fought Crucial in the grove with your bare hands.”

She waved her hand in front of her face to clear away his words, they smelt of whiskey anyways.

“Weren’t you discharged from the Blackguard with dishonor? Maybe the low path of being a proper booze bag had something to do with that.”

“Honor is not found in print,” Kensington said. “But we have to play the game right now, we have to obey the King.”

“What would my father think if he saw how little you cared about finding his murderer?”

Kensington nosed back into his straight-spined posture, having apparently gathered his wits. He pulled a flask from his coat and unscrewed the lid; he took a careful sip, making sure some was left when he held it out to her. She stared into the dull globes of his jaundice eyes. His pupils never had the pinhole focus of a sober man; moonshine dilated them to sphere lenses viewing something wider.

“Your father’s killer gave you that hickey,” he said.

She took the flask and emptied its contents. Straight down the back of her throat. She took heavy gulps and ignored the sting, because something about the burn seemed to warm everything else.

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