Jay sighed. “I don’t know, Your Majesty. Love is a strange thing. Sometimes it’s the result of ten million things that slowly push a couple from like to respect to love. Other times it’s like stepping in front of a freaking locomotive. It just hits you and hits you hard. And you can’t say why you need this one special person. You can’t articulate what makes that one person so special. You just know that they are. I could be wrong, but I think that’s how it is with Isellta and Robin.”
Preyuna tossed her hair over her shoulder. “That sounds like a load of empty-headed nonsense.”
“Was there anything else you wanted to ask me before I magically shove you out of my room?”
“Yeah. Can you cure Isellta’s cold?”
She scoffed. “It’s the common cold, guard. There is no cure for it – magical or otherwise.”
“Okay. Just figured I’d ask. I have one last question and then I’ll voluntarily leave.”
“Did you make Isellta sick?”
“I don’t know why you still think that. He slept outside exposed to the elements and it isn’t summer yet. He caught a cold.”
“And you had nothing to do with it?”
“It’s just a simple cold. If I had used magic to make him sick, he wouldn’t be up and around right now. He’d be hopelessly bedridden. Maybe even unconscious. I wouldn’t give him something as low scale as a simple cold.” She smiled the fakest smile ever. “And that is my answer, guard. I’m sure you can find the door on your own. Have a nice day.”
Jay left the bedroom and leaned back against the wall.
She’s right. It’s just a cold.
So, why can’t I shake this feeling that it’s her fault?
What’s going to happen on Sunday?
“Mmm. Such good soup.” Isellta’s shoulders slumped. “I’m so tired and achy and I just feel awful.”
“It will pass, angel.” Maelin put the empty bowl into the sink and returned to him. “Come on. Let’s get you back to your bed.”
“Okay, Maelin.” He shivered again. “It doesn’t make sense. How can I be shivering when my body’s running too hot? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Isellta. May I touch you?”
He gave her a wary look. “Where?”
“Just your arm. I want to help you up.”
He smiled and flapped his wings. But his wings looked heavy and tired.
Maelin helped him out of his chair.
“Mae? What’s going to happen on Sunday? If I still feel like this, I won’t want to go outside. But Robin can’t come inside.”
She led him towards the doorway.
“This is a private residence and Robin is a vampire. He can’t come inside without permission. What am I going to do?”
They left the kitchen and walked in silence as Maelin struggled to come up with a good answer.
He hugged her arm.
“Well. If you can’t come out to him, I’ll carry you out to him.”
He flapped his wings. “Would you really do that?”
“Without any hesitation.”
“Thank you, Mae.”
“Anything for you, angel.”
Isellta tripped over his own feet.
His wings hung limp down his back.
His face was dry and warm and an unhealthy shade of red.
He tripped again.
And Isellta and Maelin hadn’t even reached the first corner.
“Time to make a judgment call.” Maelin led him to Jay’s room.
“shh. It’s okay.”
He whimpered. “Don’t hurt me. Please.”
Her heart ached for him.
What did Preyuna do to him to make him so fearful?
“I won’t hurt you. Ever.”
She guided him to Jay’s bed.
Isellta trembled and Maelin knew it had nothing to do with his fever.
Tears stung her eyes. “It’s okay. It’s just me. You can trust me.”
“Jay isn’t here. I’m alone with you. You’re going to hurt me.”
She guided him down onto the bed.
“Just like her, you’re going to hurt me.”
He turned away from her and curled into a fetal position.
Her tears fell. “Isellta. I am not Preyuna. I will never touch you without your permission and that includes all acts of intimacy. I will never betray you.” She covered him with the blanket. “If I hurt you, Jay will be hurt as well. I will never hurt and betray the ones I love.”
His whimpering died down as he quickly fell asleep.