Isellta left his room.
Dave was slouching against the opposite wall. He perked up. “Hey there, doll!”
Isellta whispered into his hands and pushed the spell towards Dave.
An iron wall appeared between them.
“I’m sorry, Dave. I need to do this and I can’t be distracted.”
Isellta returned to Preyuna’s room and entered it unannounced. He crawled onto the bed and sat beside her.
She slept. Her hair lay in calm, well-ordered lines of silver and red, but her expression was deeply troubled.
She is beautiful and her body is perfect. But, other than simple admiration for a beautiful creature, I don’t feel anything for her. I wonder why.
Why can’t I love her?
Why can’t I love Robin and her?
Is love usually one at a time like that? Or is it just me?
She opened her eyes.
The pain within them shocked and saddened him. “I’m sorry.”
If only I could be what she wants.
If only I could give her what she needs.
But I can’t.
“I’m sorry for waking you.”
She rubbed her eyes. “What do you want?”
He swallowed hard. “Your Majesty?”
She lowered her hands. “What?”
“Umm. Where is Mark Caten’s room? I mean, his bedroom?”
She sat up and gave him a hard, scrutinizing look.
This is a bad idea. I should run back to my room. “I want to…to talk to him.”
“If you’re planning to ask for your freedom, don’t waste your time, your energy, or your breath. He will never grant it. Not even if you slept with him.”
“All the same, I want to talk to him. I still don’t believe that killing him is the only solution. There has to be a way to make him understand, to make him agree, to make him—”
“Don’t fool yourself, Isellta. Mark Caten is incapable of caring about anyone beyond himself. He is completely heartless.”
“But, Your Majesty. Robin’s coming. He wants to take me home. If he can’t…If I can’t leave…” His voice wavered. “He’ll leave me behind and I’ll never see him again.”
“Do you really think that Mark will care about your sob story? He won’t. He’ll laugh at you. He’ll make you feel stupid and small and petty. He’ll make you feel like the lowest of the low-borns. He’ll call you belittling nicknames. If you’re hurt or angry, he’ll laugh at you. If you don’t want to hrrash ka kae with him, he’ll coerce you into it. He won’t care if you don’t want to do what he wants. He’ll make you do every ugly thing he demands. What you want and what you need doesn’t matter. It will never matter. I will never matter to him.”
Her words hung in the silence between them.
“He needs to die, Isellta. Maybe it will set us free. Maybe it won’t. But he needs to die. Can you do it? For me? For us?”
Isellta traced the blanket’s pattern with the tip of his index finger. The gold nail polish shined in the light.
He looked up at her. “Take me to his bedroom.”
Isellta followed her down the hall.
Neither one spoke.
Isellta didn’t even think.
He didn’t want to think.
He wanted to be blank.
But he couldn’t stop shaking. Every now and then, his wings would spasm into a nervous flitter.
All too soon, they stopped outside Mark Caten’s bedroom door.
“You know what you have to do, Isellta. So, do it. And don’t you dare fail me.”
A handful of his wings’ feathers floated to the floor.
She opened the door for him. “Go. Get it done and we’ll be free.”
He nodded and entered the room.
She quietly closed the door behind him.
Isellta came as close to the bed as the barrier magic would allow.
Mark Caten slept completely sprawled out all over the bed.
It made Isellta think of Robin.
It made him long for Robin.
If I kill him, I’ll be able to run back to Robin.
I’ll be with Robin.
I want to be with Robin.
I need to be with Robin.
Isellta covered his nose and his mouth with his hands. It amplified the sound of his breathing.
I shouldn’t think about it.
I should just do it.
Get it done.
I want to go home.
What if she’s wrong?
What if I kill him and it accomplishes nothing?
“Aish ka hae…”
He’d be dead and I would be trapped here forever.
“Aish ka hae sah…”
I would have his blood on my hands and for what?
“Aish ka hae sah vae…”
Is that what I want?
Do I want his blood on my hands?
Mark Caren cried out in his sleep. “No. no…my little girl…no.” He rolled over on his side and sobbed. “my baby. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Isellta lowered his hands. “I can’t do it.”
But if I leave this room and he’s still alive, she’ll hit me. She’ll be mad at me. She’ll keep hitting me until I cry.
Maybe she’s wrong.
Maybe I can talk sense into him.