Jay cleared his throat. “Mark—”
Mark Caten glared at him.
Jay closed his eyes and counted to 13,000. “My Divine Lord and Supreme Master—”
Mark Caten smiled. “It makes me so happy to hear you call me that. If I could get Ambrosia to say it, my life would be golden. Pure golden joy.”
“My Divine Lord and Supreme Master, I haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast. Could I please—”
“No. Your shift isn’t done yet.”
“I’m just asking for—”
“No. You’re gonna just have to stand there until I say you can leave.”
Feel the air come in.
Feel the air go out.
The air is clean.
The air is pure.
I am standing on a mountain.
I am serene.
I am at peace.
There is natural beauty all around me.
I am in peace.
Peace lives within me.
Peace is in my blood.
Peace is in my bones.
I breathe it in.
I breathe it out.
I am peace.
If he pushed me hard enough, would I be able to kill him?
No. It goes against everything I believe. Everything I am.
But if it helped Isellta get away from this place…
That poor kid.
I need to get him out of here.
Jay glanced at his employer.
Any way I can.
Maelin smiled as Isellta kept glancing down at her hand. “Do you want to hold my hand?”
“Then, go ahead.”
He carefully linked his fingers with hers.
“I won’t bite you.”
“I know.” he said softly.
She was struck by a sudden desire to wrap him up in a warm blanket and feed him chicken soup. “Are you doing something to me?”
He blinked in confusion. “I’m sorry?”
“Are you using base fey magic to make me like you?”
He frowned. “Why would I do that?”
She shrugged. “To make me care about you and your plight. I realize it’s a strange question, but I’ve been debating about it ever since we first met.”
“Because every time we’re together, I get these strong protective feelings about you. I don’t know if it’s natural or not. I honestly can’t tell. It has me mystified.”
He shook his head. “I’m not doing anything. I know I’m not doing any fey mind games. Besides, that sort of thing isn’t me. I don’t want to trick anyone into caring about me. I want to be loved. Genuinely loved.”
Isellta shrugged. “If that is even possible.”
“Why would it be impossible?”
“Because I’m me. I’m fey, but I’m wrong. I’m just all wrong. Everything I say. Everything I do.” He looked straight ahead. His voice was almost a whisper as he added, “Everything I can’t do.”
She gently squeezed his hand, which startled him into looking back at her. “It isn’t as impossible as you think, Isellta.”
He tilted his head. “How do you know?”
She smiled. “If you can get someone like me to care about you, anything is possible.”
“Even Robin and me?”
He flapped his wings.
Preyuna stood on the edge of the cliff, too angry to think.
Too bitter to sing.
The wind blew around her, breathing promises of warmer days and lightning bugged nights.
She raised her head into the wind and closed her eyes.
The wind whispered to her of her home far away where the days were always warm and the nights appropriately cool.
She flared out her wings.
No matter what I say or do, he will never let me go home. There will always be a promise for maybe next time and maybe next time and maybe if you were a better partner.
Yet, it is all a simple matter.
Mark Caten must die.