Mark Caten sat at the mahogany roll-top desk in his room. He pulled a sketchbook out of one of the drawers and flipped through until he found a blank page.
He took a pencil from one of the slots in front of him and started to draw lines.
And all of the lines in between.
Someone entered the room.
He didn’t look up from his drawing.
Preyuna. Well. I don’t have time for her right now.
I need to do this.
I need to get this done.
Before the memory passes.
Before I start to forget.
She stopped beside him. “Who is she?”
He swallowed hard and kept drawing.
Before that memory returns.
He erased lines and redrew them.
He thickened lines and added shading.
Little by little, she started to reappear.
Like a ghost in a fog.
The little girl he raised.
The young woman he remembered.
“Is it her? Is that Olessa?”
Then, the memory returned.
He saw her dead and splattered.
He set his pencil down.
The memory was gone.
The moment had passed.
Olessa was dead again.
“Give me the rest of those memories. Now.”
“As you wish.”
Antioch opened the door and entered the exam room.
XQ paced. Sparks and arcs of flames flumed off her fiery form.
He pulled on his fireproof gloves and approached her.
He knelt in front of her. “You did very well. I would have liked to see you kill them, but vampires can’t be killed by anything other than stakes.”
Antioch stroked her head.
Her flames calmed down.
She lowered her backside into a sit.
She bowed her head.
“Good girl. Good XQ.”
His hand moved in a smooth, repetitive motion as he replayed the whole misadventure in his mind. “But you tried to leave with them. That’s a problem. We will have to fix that. A good weapon does not abandon its owner.” His smile was kind and gentle. “Don’t worry, XQ. I can fix it. I know how to fix it. You’ll be fine.” His voice was loving. “I’ll take good care of you.”
She pressed her head up against his hand.
Isellta lay still where he had fallen. His back muscles spasmed, causing his wings to flitter. He turned his head to the side and tried to see the sense in her behavior.
It’s somewhere there.
She’s Queen of the Fey.
She wouldn’t do something nonsensical.
There’s a reason for her actions.
There’s a reason.
The sense of her actions is there.
Why can’t I see it?
Why can’t I?
Why would she betray me?
I trusted her.
I believed her.
It doesn’t make sense.
He shivered out a cry.
It doesn’t make any sense.
Why doesn’t it make sense?