Isellta hugged his pillow against his bare chest.
He could still feel her pushing down on him, doing everything she could to get a reaction from him. Her hands explored him.
And he didn’t react at all.
Not even an accidental spasm.
Even remembering how she touched him did nothing but fill him with a deepening sense of failure and shame.
He hugged the pillow even tighter.
Even more hopeless than before. She won’t protect me. She won’t even try.
Why would she? It wouldn’t make sense for her to protect someone like me.
I just want to disappear.
He pressed his face against his pillow.
Someone, make me disappear.
A knock sounded on the door.
Even though I know it won’t be her.
The door opened and closed.
Footsteps approached the bed. “Hey there, fey.”
The guard sat on the bed.
Isellta didn’t raise his head or acknowledge him.
“I heard about what happened with you and Preyuna.”
Isellta hugged the pillow so tight it should have exploded feathers everywhere.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I wouldn’t want to talk about it either. If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t the only guy in the world to have this problem.”
Isellta raised his head. “It isn’t just me being useless?”
“Did she call you that?”
He shook his head. “She didn’t have to. I feel useless.”
“You poor kid.”
Isellta sat up with the pillow still tight in his clutches. “I tried my best. I tried. I don’t know how I could have…” His fingers dug into the pillow. “I…I don’t know. It should have been instinctive. It should have just happened. I…I…”
“Hey.” The guard reached into one of his cloak’s long sleeves and pulled out a spare mask.
Isellta gasped. “Is that…”
“It’s for you. I know it won’t take the hurt and shame away, but it might help distract you from focusing on that negative stuff.”
Isellta blinked a series of surprised blinks. “It’s for me? You’re giving it to me?”
“Have a ball with it.”
Isellta released his death hold on the pillow. He took the mask and carefully examined it. His wings flared out in a happy flutter. “It’s wonderful.”
“That is actually a step up from the mask I usually wear. If you look at the front of it, it’s more ornate with the golden vines and curlicues all over it.”
“Ahh, it’s so pretty.”
“It’s my formal wear mask. I get to wear it when we have special visitors.”
Isellta smiled at him. “Thank you so much.”
The guard rumpled Isellta’s hair. “Not a problem.”
“Can you do me one more favor?”
“Do you still have your phone on you?”
“Can you…can you play that pretty song again? I want to memorize it.”
The guard chuckled. “Sure.”