Isellta entered Preyuna’s room and closed the door.
I don’t want to love her.
I just want to love Robin and I want Robin to love me.
But she’s all that I have.
He walked over to her bed.
She sat up. “Isellta.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“I’ve given it some consideration. I would like you to stay here in my room, but Mark Caten comes in here whenever he wishes. You should not bear witness to what that man does to me. No one should.”
“I understand, Your Majesty. Where would you like me to stay?”
“In your former room, of course.”
His wings flared out. “I can’t stay in there. The monsters will get me.”
“There are no monsters in that room, Isellta.”
“I can’t stay in there. They’ll bite me. They’ll tear my feathers. They’ll scratch my skin.”
“Can’t I stay here with you?”
Her tone of voice killed any further debate.
He bowed his head in submission. “I’ll gather up my clothes.”
“I have already done so. There’s a suitcase over by the door. It is full of your clothes.”
He peeked up at her. “Are you mad at me? Is that why you’re kicking me out?”
“No. It is only so I can have some privacy when Mark Caten comes calling.”
“That is the only reason?”
“The only one.”
She got out of bed and took his hand.
He held his breath, expecting the worst.
He swallowed hard.
She led him away from the bed and over to her vanity. “This is something I should have done earlier. Hold your hands out. Spread your fingers apart. Yes. Like that, but further. Perfect. Keep them like that.”
Preyuna opened the middle drawer of her vanity table. “Here it is.” She pulled out a bottle of gold nail polish.
She smiled. “You haven’t seen anything yet.” She painted his fingernails.
He watched with mouth agape and rapt attention.
She stayed within the borders of his fingernails. No overlapping on his skin. Perfectly even strokes.
“It’s so pretty. How do you know how to do this?”
“I’ve been with Mark Caten for a long time now. I’ve had to learn how to take care of myself.”
She smiled. “I’m not done yet.”
A full hour later…
Isellta marveled at his transformation. Gold nail polish covered his fingernails and toenails with tiny Swarovski crystals decorating each nail. A prismatic choker circled his neck and gold cuffs embraced his wrists.
Threads of glitter and tinsel sparkled in his hair.
Preyuna had convinced him to put on his harem clothes and he could see why. The outfit made everything else sing in harmony.
He smiled at his reflection in amazed disbelief. “I look so…pretty.”
She laughed. “Of course, you do.”
He flapped his wings.
What would Robin say if he saw me like this? Would he like it?
Why wouldn’t he like it? Everything’s so pretty. “Thank you.”
“There’s nothing to thank me for. I would do this with any of my harem members.”
“I know. But thank you all the same.”
Isellta left Preyuna’s bedroom with his suitcase.
Jay was nowhere in sight.
Isellta’s wings flattened against his back.
He probably went to bed. It’s been a long, hard day for him.
He’s probably sleeping. I shouldn’t bother him.
I don’t want to go into THAT room.
It doesn’t matter what she says. I know the monsters are in there, waiting for me to be alone and vulnerable.
I can’t go in there.
I don’t want to be alone.
The monsters will find me in there.
They’ll hurt me.
I just can’t.