Olessa ran to Mark Caten. She was only six years old. Her hair was coifed in salon perfect curls. A tea party dress poufed around her in satin, lace, and bows. “Daddy!”
He went down on one knee and held out his arms. “Olessa! My little girl.”
She ran into his arms.
He hugged her tight. “My crème brulee.”
“I love you, daddy. Daddy. Daddy! Help!”
He opened his eyes and found her cowering before Ambrose.
Ambrose bared his fangs and twirled an oversized spiked wooden mallet. “Dis adieu a papa.”
She raised her hands. “Please! Please don’t! I’m unarmed!”
He laughed. “Peu importe.” He struck her.
In the chest.
Over and over.
Blood splurted in viscous arcs.
He laughed and laughed as her blood stained his skin.
“NO!” Mark Caten opened his eyes. He lay there, panting, as the car drove on through the storm.
Is that how it happened?
Is that how he killed my little girl?
My precious Olessa.
What about The Institute?
How did he bring it down?
Gasoline and a match?
My little girl…dead because of him.
My Institute…burned down because of him.
He destroyed my video cameras.
His pet slut destroyed my Davisburg location.
I will make him pay.
I’ll make them both pay!
I swear I will.
Mark Caten sat up and clenched his fist.
“I’ll tear his heart out and slice it up with a cheese grater!”
His guards had no comment.
Jay pulled Isellta into his arms and hugged him. “I just thought of a really good song to sing to you.” He chuckled. “It might give you a bit of a headache. It does have a lot of nonsense words in it, but it’s a lot of fun to sing.”
He kissed Isellta’s head. “Feel free to sing along if you can hear me. Ready? Set? Annnd here we go!” He sang “Who Put The Bomp In The Bomp Bah Bomp Bah Bomp?”
Halfway through the second chorus, his door opened.
Preyuna entered the room, looking like she was the queen of the whole world.
Jay stopped singing. He scowled at her. “What do you want?”
“I don’t know why you feel the need to be constantly hostile to me. I want to help Isellta. Believe it or not, I do care about his wellbeing, guard.”
“You? Care about my Isellta? Baloney! He wouldn’t be like this if it weren’t for you.”
“His weak mentality is his own fault, not mine. But I am not here to verbally spar with an infant wit like you.”
“What do you want?”
She approached the bed.
Jay angled Isellta away from her.
She glared at Jay. “I want to see him.”
“NO! I don’t want you to touch him. You’ve done enough to him.”
“Oh, shut up. Do me a vast favor and shut up, you stupid nonsensical human. You don’t understand. Or maybe you’ve forgotten. I can see how he’s doing. But oh. You don’t want me to touch him. Fine. Goodbye, then.”
She turned and headed back to the door.
Jay looked down at Isellta.
His closed eyes.
His blank calm.
What’s going on in there?
“Wait.” He raised his head. “Preyuna, please wait.”
She turned around.
“I’m just…I’m frustrated. I’m scared. I just. I just want him to wake up. I want him to be okay. I want him to just…I…”
“If you start sniffling and sobbing, I will leave the room.”
Jay laid his face on Isellta’s head.
He’s just a poor kid.
Isellta, I just want to protect you.
“Please help him.”
“Idiot human. There’s nothing I can do to help him. But.” She strolled over to the bed. “I can find him in the fra nae shi, if you will let me. I can see how he’s doing.” She glanced down at the unconscious fey. “How he’s really doing.”
She whispered a spell into her hands and held them out in front of her.
A crimson hummingbird with silver wings hovered above her hands. Its wings twisted and turned in perpetual figure eights.
“Eh qui shu shi fey Isellta Mal Hoven.”
The hummingbird responded with a high squeak.