Isellta strolled down the hallway, exuding Mark Caten confidence through the posh fibers of his Armani suit.
But deep inside, his back muscles twitched, trying to make his non-present wings flitter.
I can do this.
I have to do this.
I need to escape.
He stopped in his tracks.
Preyuna walked up the hall, heading right towards him.
His heart raced.
He wanted to drop the Mark Caten disguise and run the other way.
But I don’t want her to see me.
I am Mark Caten.
Mark Caten would not be afraid of her.
Even though it threw his body into a state of wrecked nerves and utter disarray, he strolled over to her.
She winced. “What do you want?”
Good question. What would he want?
He smiled – a total grease-bomb of a smile. “I’m sure you can guess.”
She sighed. “Not now. I have better things to do.”
“Better than what I want?”
“Look. I know you don’t care. But I don’t feel like it.”
I didn’t feel like it and she kept pushing me.
“Later.” His frown deepened. “You wouldn’t accept that answer from one of your own.”
She sighed. “Fine. Let’s just get it over with so I can go about my day.” She grabbed his arm.
No. nononono! This isn’t what I wanted! He pulled his arm out of her grip. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I…You can’t just grab me like that and drag me down the hall.”
“Fine. I’ll hold your hand.”
She gave him a suspicious look.
Keep it together.
What would he say?
“I don’t like…being treated with such little respect. I may not be better than you, but I deserve kindness. I want love. Real love. Not just tossed onto a bed and be told do it or else.”
Her expression did not change.
“That isn’t what I want from you or anyone. I want to be…” He sorted through his feelings, trying to make sense of them. What do I want?
“I want to be treated like I’m…important? No. It’s more than that and it’s less than that. I guess it all boils down to – I want to be loved. And I don’t know…I don’t think you can love me.”
“What has gotten into you? Have you been drinking?”
He shook his head. “Thinking.”
“So? What happens now? If you don’t want me.”
Oh, no! This is even worse. How can I get out of this?
Hope glimmered in her eyes. “Will you set me free?”
His back muscles twitched again.
“I…I’ll have to think about it.” He hurried away from her.
Only to realize that he was going the wrong way.
He would have to walk past her again.
The stress and frustration was too much for him.
His wings flared out.
“You aren’t Mark Caten.”
He turned and ran past her as fast as he could.
She followed him in hot pursuit.
If I can get downstairs, I’ll…
She’s catching up to me.
She’s going to catch me.
I don’t want her to catch me.
I don’t want her to touch me.
If only I could teleport.
If only I could…
If only I weren’t here.
She tackled him and pushed him down on the floor.
He tried to crawl away from her.
She grabbed his shoulders and flipped him onto his back.
He let out a panicked cry and transformed back into his true form.
He shivered. “Let me go. Let me go.”
“What is the meaning of this? What kind of sick game—” Her eyes turned white. “Mark Caten put you up to this, didn’t he?”
Isellta covered his eyes with his hands. “Don’t hurt me. Please.”
She’s on me.
She’s on top of me.
“Please let me go.”
“Did Mark Caten put you up to this?”
“No. This was my idea.”
“I just want…Queen Preyuna, please don’t hurt me. I just want to go home. I want them to unsuppress my teleport ability, so I can go home.”
“You thought it would be that simple.”
He shivered so hard his teeth chattered.
“I already tried that route.” She stood.
Isellta sat up into a hunch so low, he might as well have stayed on his back.
“It was the first thing I tried. Isellta. Believe me. I have tried everything. Every possible plan – both sensible and foolish – I have done it. Every plan has failed. This new plan, however, will not fail. Mark Caten will die and his people will see that I mean business. They will give me everything that I want. Anything I ask for, they will give it to me.”
She smiled and it scared the heck out of him. “You’ll see.”