Jay waited for her to leave.
He slowly counted to three hundred and five before returning to Isellta’s side. He sat beside him. “Hey, kid. If you can hear me, I’m gonna go back to Pinkerlee. I can’t just leave things hanging like this. I need to bring Robin here. I need him to bring you back.” He pushed Isellta’s bangs to the side and kissed the middle of his forehead. “I don’t want to lose you, kid. Not without doing everything I can. I promise I won’t come back without him. I will bring him back to you. I promise.”
Isellta shuddered hard in his sleep.
Jay felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart. “Isellta. Please.” Tears fell. “Don’t. Please don’t. Please. Please hold on.” He took hold of Isellta’s hand and squeezed it. “Feel me. Isellta. Feel me.”
He shuddered again.
Memories flashed before Jay’s eyes.
Giving Isellta his mask.
Isellta listening to John Denver.
Eating breakfast with him.
Devouring Preyuna’s Dove ice cream bars stash with him.
Isellta hugging him with all of his might.
The feel of his fingers grabbing the back of Jay’s shirt.
Jay pulled Isellta into his arms and held him. “I’m sorry.”
Tears fell on the fey’s blond hair.
Preyuna stalked up the hall, looking like a thundercloud that wanted to turn into an EF5 tornado.
She entered her room and slammed the door.
Hank raised his eyebrows under his mask. “Whew! Whatever she’s been up to sure didn’t make her happy.”
“Maybe she lost a bet?” Dave let out a happy squeak. “Maybe Doll Face woke up and told her what for! Hank! Call Jay now!”
Hank didn’t hesitate. He pulled out his phone and called Jay.
“Hey. Is Isellta awake?”
There was a long spell of silence that was answer enough.
Hank’s shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry. Is he…?”
“No. He’s still alive. Still unconscious.”
Something in his tone set off alarm bells in Hank’s head. “What happened?”
“He.” Jay sighed hard into the phone. “He’s uhh. Um. He’s slipping away. There’s. There’s no doubt about it. No pretending otherwise. No. He…he’s not.”
Hank’s world tilted wrong. He backed up against the wall for support. “What…what can we do? Is there anything?”
Dave grabbed his arm.
“I’m.” Jay cleared his throat. “Umm. I’m going to go back to Pinkerlee. I have to find Robin. Robin is the key to reviving him. I know it. I can feel it. If I bring him to Isellta, Isellta will wake up. No matter how far gone he is, he will wake up. I believe this.”
“Then, go. Just go. I’ll protect Isellta. You do what you have to do.”
Jay made a sound like he was trying not to cry. “Thanks.”
Arms embraced Isellta, but it felt unreal. Almost like a memory.
Who is it?
He grunted as a bad headache seized him.
“I’m here, Isellta. I’m here. I’m all that you want. All that you need. Don’t waste your energy thinking about anyone else.”
Isellta panted as the pain let up. “uhh uhh.”
Robin’s hands rubbed up and down the fey’s chest. “Don’t think.”
Isellta closed his eyes and lost himself in Robin’s touch.
He didn’t think about anything.
He didn’t question anything.
And, in the darkness, the nae bi sha bared his fangs in a fierce, loveless smile.