Robin watched Isellta’s spirit crush and crash until the fey was down on his hands and knees.
If only I were there.
I’d comfort you.
I’d protect you.
I’d save you.
Mark Caten grabbed Isellta’s hair and pulled his head back.
Isellta’s wings flittered out in erratic patterns.
Robin punched the monitor, cracking the screen.
This is stupid and pointless.
He turned and marched out the door.
If he’s here, I will find him.
I swear I will find him.
I will take him home.
Raven entered the room.
There was only one bed in sight.
A body lay stiff and silent on it.
The fear overpowered Raven.
His knees buckled and he fell.
He couldn’t breathe.
He couldn’t swallow.
He couldn’t move.
He couldn’t think.
And the body on the bed did not acknowledge him.
It lay still. Oh, so still.
He scrabbled up into a sit.
I cannot do this.
I do not want to see it.
I do not want to know what they have done to her.
I wish to stay…to stay ignorant.
But I cannot.
I am here.
I am right here.
He didn’t trust his ability to walk. So, he crawled over to her bed.
Where is her scent?
Why can I not smell it?
Why does she not respond to me?
He stopped beside the bed.
He pressed his head against the mattress.
I cannot breathe.
I cannot even take a breath.
Missy, please talk to me. Just one word. Any word. Please. Let me hear you again.
He extended his claws and dug them into the top of the mattress.
Maybe I am wrong.
Maybe it is not her.
Maybe it is not her!
He pulled himself up to his feet.
He looked at the body on the bed and trembled.
It was Missy.
Isellta couldn’t stop trembling. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t stop.
Mark Caten pulled out his cell phone. “Hey. We have an intruder in the control room. Get your sorry bottomed self over here and take him downstairs. Yes. I know we don’t put anyone down there anymore, big whoop! I want this one down there while I make some phone calls to The Institute.”
“Please.” Isellta’s voice was barely a whisper.
Mark Caten didn’t even acknowledge it. He kept talking on the phone.
Isellta looked back at the monitors.
His wings flared out in shock.
Robin was on the screen again. He was in a separate control room.
Robin! Look up here. Look at me. Please see me.
He turned and left the room.
Missy lay on her back.
Her arms flat at her sides.
The blanket around her flat and smooth.
Raven climbed on the bed and sat beside her.
“Missy.” His throat hurt and burned. “I am here. Look at me. Open your eyes and look at me.”
She didn’t move.
Her eyes opened, but they were devoid of their usual bright energy.
“XQ. Missy.” He came down to her and hugged her tight. “Missy.”
She did not respond to his touch or his voice.
He whispered in her ear, “I am going to get you out of here.”
She looked at him, but there was no spark of recognition. For all intents and purposes, he might as well have been an uninspiring wallpaper sample.
“It is me. Raven. Do you remember? Sitting on the desk in that old classroom. Sitting underneath it. Do you remember? Reading together.” He laughed, but it did not sound happy. “Barnabas Collins. That Angelique witch had taken control over Josette’s mind. It was a spell of some sort. Barnabas told Josette I love you. Josette rejected him. She thoroughly thrashed his feelings. She broke his heart. He swore a solemn vow that he would never return.”
She turned her face away.
“As he strode away, the spell weakened. Josette called out to him, but it was all too late. He rode away on his horse and he never looked back.”
She shook her head. Only XQ.