LENGTH: 1,493 words
This story is included in the anthology, Flashed!
Robin of Locksley is renown for his prowess and cunning, and none of the men among his band of outlaws can best him when it comes to the bow and arrow.
None but the brash youth called Will Scarlett, who can bring the man called Robin Hood to his knees in more ways than one.
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A lusty cheer rose from a clearing deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest. The archery tournament was a way for Robin Hood’s band of outlaws to practice their aim and work off nervous energy as they waited for the Sheriff of Nottingham to make his next move.
Robin’s was the score to beat -- each shot from his bow struck true. But then young Will Scarlett stepped forward to challenge him. The pitch went silent, men craning their necks to watch the exchange. Will’s deep blue eyes pinned Robin in place; a slow smile played around the youth’s wide lips like a promise. From the crowd, a drunken voice jeered, “No one bests Locksley!”
Will’s low voice didn’t carry beyond Robin’s hearing. “No one but me.”
The arrogance in that remark, despite its ring of truth, made Robin step up behind Will as he aimed his bow for the far target. Every eye watched them, every breath held in check. Robin waited, so close to Will that his breath stirred the reddish gold curls that brushed the younger man’s nape. Studiously ignoring him, Will drew back his bowstring, arrow held steady, bow taut --
At the last possible moment Robin leaned against the hard, tight body beside him. The familiar ease with which they pressed together thrilled him. One hand came up around Will’s waist, over his hip, to clutch the codpiece hidden beneath the youth’s tunic.
Will’s arrow shot from the bow with an audible plunk!, sailing over the heads of the now laughing crowd. As he spun around, furious, Robin shrugged. “You missed.”
Anger blotched Will’s pale skin. His mouth worked around bitter words that failed him, and the laughter changed to taunts. From the sidelines Little John called out, “Mayhap the bow was not the only thing set off at Robin’s touch.”
Someone else jeered, “Tell us of Locksley’s firm grip, Will.”