As soon as she was gone, Isellta sat up. He carefully thought over her words and weighed the sense in them.
He saw the obvious truth.
She wants me to give up without even trying.
I have to try.
Jay stood still at his post.
It would be nice if something would just happen. Then, I’d be able to use my weapon and my years of training.
I’d feel like I earned my paycheck for once.
On the bright side, it’s bound to happen. Given the sort of person MarkCaten is, someone will always try to kill him.
And I’ll be there to always stop them.
No matter how thrilling it would be to wallop his head off myself.
The phone rang.
“Hello. Mark Caten—What?” He sighed. “Why are you so inept? I swear a monkey sick with influenza and high on bath salts can do your job better than you. No. No, I don’t have to come down there. Take care of it yourself, ya dingbat.”
Jay drifted into a daydream about Maelin.
When will I see you again? Oh, I miss you. The way you touch me. The way you always smell like ginger and clementines.
Please come home to me.
Mark Caten slammed the phone back into its base. “I swear we just keep hiring the wrong people.” He pushed his seat back and rose to his feet.
He snapped his fingers. “Guard. Come with me.” He strode to the door. “I need to pay a visit to those numb braineds downstairs.”
“They just don’t know what the heck they’re doing. Come on.”
Jay followed him.
Isellta went downstairs and stopped at the receptionist desk stranded in the middle of the large, otherwise empty room.
The receptionist pushed her thin glasses up her hooked nose and intoned in the flattest voice possible, “Oh, Mr. Caten. What a thrill to see you down here amongst us plebians.”
“I’m sure it is. I need to talk to someone down here about unsuppressing a fey’s teleport ability.” He oozed a smile across his face. “Would I speak to you?”
“No, Mr. Caten. You’d have to talk to Joe-Bob. He’s the one who handles all unsuppressing detail work.”
“Would you mind paging him for me?”
“No, Mr. Caten. Joe-Bob has gone on vacation to deep South Africa. He won’t be back until late September.”
“What?” That doesn’t make sense. Why would he let him be gone that long?
And why now?
“Page him and tell him to come back right away.”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Caten. He is out of phone range.”
September. Wait here until September. He shuddered. “Isn’t there anyone else who can—-”
Someone else entered the room.
The receptionist looked up. “Oh, hello, Mr. Caten. Gee. I guess you have a twin brother or something. How happy for you.”
Mark Caten gave his look alike an irritable look. “What the vast, stinking heck?”
Isellta returned the look with interest. “And who are you supposed to be?”
“I’m freaking Mark Caten, fool.”
“No. I’m Mark Caten. Says so on my driver’s license.”
“Fool! If you’re going to fake being me, get your details right. I don’t have a driver’s license. I don’t freaking need a driver’s license. I have chauffeurs!”
Jay stepped forward. “Yes, Mr. Caten?”
“Smash his head in.”
Jay could feel his face turn pale.
Isellta gave Jay a panicked look. “Jay.”
“This is some high drama.” the receptionist intoned flatly. “I could sure use some JuJu Fruits and popcorn right about now.”
How can I get him out of this? “It doesn’t seem right. No offense, Mr. Caten, but it just doesn’t seem right.”
“Who cares about what’s right? Just smash his head in.”
“But, for all I know, he could be the real MarkCaten. I’d rather not kill the real you by mistake.”
“Oh, how noble of you. Just smash him.”
“I say smash them both.” said the receptionist. “That would be so exciting.”
Isellta glared at her. “Keep out of this.”
“Well, it would be. Blood everywhere. Brains everywhere. Such excitement.”
Mark Caten glared at her. “You are a sick woman. Sick. Sick. Sick.”
Isellta looked at Jay. “Jay.”
“Yay. Smash. Smash. Smash. Blood and guts and gore everywhere. Hurray.”
What can I do?
“Guard. If you don’t do it, I will. And that, for your information, is not an idle threat.”
I can’t kill him. I can’t.
Jay dropped his weapon and walked over to Isellta.
“Hey, moron! You’re forgetting something important.”
“No, I’m not.” He stopped in front of the fey and whispered in his ear, “Change back.”
“I have a plan. And it does not involve smashing your head open. Trust me.”
“Oh, my. I think they’re going to kiss.” Her voice managed to sound even flatter. “This is the most awesome day ever. I’m so glad I didn’t call in sick today.”
Jay moved away from him. “Trust me.”
Isellta swallowed hard and transformed into his true form.
Mark Caten marched up to him and slapped him hard across the face.
Isellta blinked rapidly as he remembered another slap.
“That’s what you get for impersonating me and doing such a crummy job of it.”
“Mr. Caten. That wasn’t—-”
He punched Jay in the gut, causing him to double over. “If you say that wasn’t necessary, I’ll punch you until you start bleeding from your mouth.”
“Of course. Mr. Caten, please. Have your people unsuppress his teleport ability so he can leave.”
Mark Caten stared at him in stunned disbelief before bursting into rounds of laughter. “You aren’t just a moron, guard. You’re an ultra-moron. This fey belonged to my daughter. Therefore, he’s mine.” He pinched Isellta’s face. “You aren’t going anywhere, fey. So, give up. You’re stuck here until I’m dead.”
He snapped his fingers. “Guard. Let’s go deal with my idiotic employee who doesn’t know red from green.”
Isellta and Jay exchanged a look.
“Guard! Do I have to drag you by your ears?”