It was like being struck by lightning.
The shock of it all set him reeling and he tumbled off the bed.
He rolled onto his back and lay there, trying to catch his breath. Desperately trying to collect up all of his scattered wits.
So wildly unfamiliar.
She peeked over the edge of the bed. Are you okay?
He looked up at her.
May Rose Farlington was far from his mind.
“I’m no longer certain what ‘okay’ even means, miss. Do you…” He sat up. “What is your name?”
“ah. I see.”
She smiled. But you can call me Missy.
Her smile grew. Raven. Lovely shirtless Raven.
He let out a sharp cry.
He rose quickly and hugged her.
She hugged him too.
Robin approached the first door he saw and tried to open it.
He snarled and threw his body against the door repeatedly.
OPEN! DARN YOU!
A man who smelled of elderberries tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, sir, but I—”
Robin turned on him and attacked him with his claws.
The man tried to escape.
Robin tackled him and resumed his attack.
“Well, I think the book was better.”
“The book was rubbish. The movie improved the story.”
Robin dug his claws into the man’s neck and looked up at the couple of interlopers – a man and a woman.
They stared at him in shock.
Robin snarled at them and crushed his captive’s throat.
The male interloper took off running, leaving his companion companionless.
Robin rose to his feet and approached her. “How many control rooms does this place have?”
She frowned. “You’re a murderer, a marauder, and a no goodnik. I don’t have to—”
He grabbed her throat. “My claws are broken, but they still work. How about you answer my question?”
She gasped as he unsheathed his claws. “One. There’s only one.”
“That the truth? Or do I gotta squeeze harder?”
“It’s true! It’s true!”
Robin thought it over. “How many places do you monitor and where are they?”
His jagged claws pierced her skin.
She stiffened. “Three: Pinkerlee, Jackson, and Henspence.”
“Are you lying?”
“No. Please. Please let me go.” She tried to pry his hands off her neck. It was a feeble attempt at best.
“Then, he ain’t here. Thanks.” He dug his chipped and broken claws into her neck.
She couldn’t even scream.
Missy laid her hand on his chest. You really are too pretty. I hope you know that.
He laughed – a happy, tearful muddle of a laugh. “What did they do to you?”
They stole my voice. Good thing I can talk like this, right? They…
She bowed her head. They broke me. Even more broken than I was before. I can’t disobey him anymore.
She twisted her fingers. If Antioch tells me to stake you, I’ll have to stake you. I won’t be able to help myself.
“Missy. Come away with me.”
MLO found me before. He’ll find me again. I might as well just stay here.
“No. Missy, don’t.”
She looked up at him. You could order me to stay with you.
“And give you no choice in the matter? I am not like that, miss.” He skimmed his hand over the top layer of her hair. Its softness surprised him.
Raven. You should go. Leave me behind.
He shook his head.
Maybe. Maybe if I’m good. Maybe if I do everything they’ll tell me. Maybe they’ll give me my voice back.
“You know they won’t. Antioch won’t.” He knelt at her feet. “Missy. Look at me.” He breathed out a shaky sigh. “Just look at me.”
Her gaze met his.
A moment of breathless silence passed between them.