I will never understand Isellta.
He is nothing like my other harem members, who adored me.
Preyuna looked off into the distance.
He is not Nayla.
Preyuna towel-dried Nayla’s broad back as slowly and as carefully as she could.
“Do you have to go?” His voice was sweet, sad music.
“I must. I am the Queen of the Fey. As such, I must repay my people’s debt.”
He turned to face her. “I will miss you, my Queen. What will I do without you?”
She smiled and gently wiped the water off his face. “If Mark Caten is a man of honor, he will not keep me that long. I will repay my debt and come home.” She smoothed the towel down his iridescent chest feathers. “I will come back to all in my harem and to you.”
He smiled. “Will you choose me again when you return?”
She unfurled her wings and flapped them. “Of course.”
Tears trailed down her lovely face as another memory filled her mind with sight and sound…
Nayla walked down the street with her. He carried himself with pride and dignity. If he was still hurting inside, he didn’t let it show.
Preyuna wanted to hold his hand, wanted to link arms with him. But that would have been showing a sign of weakness in a foreign land.
She kept her hands down at her sides. It was enough to know that he was there.
That he was walking beside her.
That he would be the last familiar face she saw.
They walked up the long winding driveway all the way up to the top of the cliff.
She was silent.
And so was he.
There was nothing to be said.
They reached the top.
She turned to him. “I must go on alone. Will you be okay?”
“My sister will take care of you. She will take care of all of you in the small amount of time that I am gone.”
He went down on one knee, took her hands into his hands, and pressed his forehead against them. “Be safe and well, my Queen.”
“I will. Nayla, I will return.”
She looked him over one last time, slowly drinking him in.
His exposed chest feathers.
The way his vest clung to his frame.
His bare arms and painted nails.
The teasing hints of skin along his sides.
His close-fitted, low-slung slacks.
The gold sequins threaded into his gray-blue hair.
The small crystals pasted in matching arches above his eyebrows.
“Yes, I will definitely choose you when I return.”
When I return.
When will I return to my home?
My lovely Nayla?