What the heck? He hung up on me again?
Jay called Robin back.
It went straight to voice mail.
“This is Jay. Look, Robin. I know you’re jealous. I know. I know how much it hurts. If someone told me that my Maelin had slept with some strange guy four separate times, I probably wouldn’t take it all that well either. Frankly, it would freak me out. But. You have to believe me. There’s more to it than what you know. For starters, Preyuna doesn’t love him. She isn’t kind to him. She’s cruel to the point of heartlessness. I don’t understand it. I don’t know how anyone can do such things to someone as kind and gentle as Isellta. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It makes me feel sick.”
He sighed. “This message is running pretty long. I’d better end it now before I start rambling and get cut off. Robin, when you get this message, you have my number. Call me back. There’s so much you don’t know. Bye.”
Ambrose started the washer.
It rumbled to life, kicking and knocking as if someone were trying to bash their way out.
He stopped the washer and peeked inside, just in case.
There was nothing in there but clothes, suds, and water.
“Huh.” He closed the lid and restarted the washer. “Maybe it’s haunted.”
Ambrose winced as Robin screamed loud and long inside his mind.
He ran upstairs.
He ran all the way up to Robin’s room and opened the door.
The screaming stopped.
Robin sat against the bed with his knees bunched up and his forehead resting against his knees.
Ambrose walked over to the bed and sat next to him. “Hey.”
Robin raised his head. “Arrraaahh!” He bashed his fists on Ambrose’s chest over and over. “I HATE HIM! I HATE HIM! I…I…” His bashing slowed to a stop. “I don’t. I should and I don’t. Am’rose. I don’t know what to do. I see him in my head and he’s all I ain’t. Sweet. Lovely. Soft. Gentle. But it ain’t the truth. It’s a lie.” His shoulders slumped. “He’s just another fey. He’s got his perfect match right there. He don’t need me. I’m willin’ to bet he ain’t e’en gay.”
“Okay. Start over again. What happened? Did you talk to Jay?”
“What did he say?”
“Said that ‘sellta’s been hookin’ up with some obnoxious fey chick.”
Ambrose frowned. “That doesn’t sound like something he’d do. Are you sure you—-”
“I saw him do it, okay? I saw them. Before The Institute got all deep fried crisped, I saw Isellta on one of their monitors. He was with her. He was on top of her.”
“Maybe it was just that one—”
“Four freakin’ times, accordin’ to Jay. When I spoke to Isellta on the phone, he asked me if I thought he was a whore. I told him no and I meant it.”
“Now, that I know he has his own special hook-up babe, maybe I should think of him like that. He acts like one, he prob’ly is one. But I can’t. I think of him and I don’t see a cheap and willin’ whore. I just see him as him. I see my ‘sellta. Am’rose, I love him and it hurts bad.”
“I know.” Ambrose thought about Rebecca.
He thought about Maria.
He thought about Elsie.
“Believe me, I know what it’s like.”
“Ain’t likely. You’re hot. You’re every bit of all that. You ain’t damaged goods like me.”
Ambrose moved closer to him. “We all have damages, Robin.”
Robin looked up at him.