Jay leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
What can I do?
I need to do something more. I can’t leave it like this.
I need to…
He opened his eyes.
I will not go back without Robin.
I promised Isellta.
I will keep that promise.
He sighed in frustration.
But what more can I do? What else can I do? What can I say to convince him to come back?
Jay knew the answer even as he was thinking the question. It made his heart sink to think it.
It’s the only thing I have left, the very last card in my deck.
I have to tell him the truth.
I have to tell Robin that Isellta’s dying.
Robin leaned his face against his knees. “It hurts. Why’s it gotta hurt so much? We ain’t married or engaged. Heck! We ain’t even proper boyfriends. We ain’t never kissed or held hands or done all of those cute couple things all cute couples do.”
“Are you including Barbara and I under that ‘cute couple’ umbrella?”
“Stupid. Stupid Ambrose. Why you e’en askin’ a question that dumb?”
“Is that a yes?”
Robin scoffed. “You wish.”
“So, it’s…No? You don’t think we’re cute?”
“You keep askin’ me that I’ll punch your stupid face.”
“As long as you don’t try to kiss me.”
“Huh!” Robin raised his head. “You really do think you’re hot stuff, don’t you?”
Ambrose shrugged. “I’m trying to be modest here. But you did call me hot AND all that.”
“This conversation is gettin’ stupider by the second.” Robin stood. “Let’s get that laundry done and o’er with.”
Ambrose looked up at him. “What are you going to do?”
“Scrub the clothes by hand. I’m hopin’ they’ll all tear. That’ll make me feel a whole lot better.”
“Until Raven kills you for wanton clothes destruction. And then he’ll take you shopping for ‘proper attire’.”
“Wow. That sounds like soooo much fun. No thanks.”
Ambrose stood. “What are you going to do about Sunday?”
Robin strode over to the door.
What am I gonna do?
Run to him.
I just wanna run to him.
Despite it all, I wanna see him. I wanna hold him in my arms. I wanna tell him I love him, despite his bed fun-time with that fey witch.
He turned the doorknob.
“Hey.” Ambrose stopped next to him and shoved the door shut.
Robin glared at him.
“I asked you a question.”
“And what? You want an answer? Fine. Here’s my freakin’ answer: ‘sellta was with her four times. That must mean she’s somethin’ special to him. He likes her. He likes bein’ with her. Maybe he likes how she makes him feel. How can I compete with that? I ain’t a girl. I’m a guy. I ain’t sure how he and I are gonna go about gettin’ all physical. But it don’t matter none. Ain’t gonna feel the same as doin’ it with a chick.”
“True. But will he really care about that detail? He’ll be with you.”
“Robin. A vampire’s life is both too long and too short to live with regrets. Go to him. Tonight, if you have to.”
“I can’t face him. Hurts too much. I’ll just lose my head and spout out stupid, mean junk. I know I will. And he’ll just run away from me all over again and I won’t get no more chances. Besides, why bother?”
The call went straight to voice mail.
“Hey. It’s me again. Jay. Robin, there’s something you need to know. I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I couldn’t get the words out. It hurts too much. Even now.”
I don’t want to say it.
But what else can I do?
“Isellta’s dying. Me and my guys have tried our best to revive him, but nothing’s working. But if you come, if he hears your voice, he’ll wake up. I’m not just grasping at desperate straws. I know he will. He loves you, Robin. If only you knew how much he loves you. Robin, forget about your hurt and jealousy. I know it’s a lot to ask for. But know this. Isellta is just a poor, sweet kid and he has been hurt. And abused. Not by me. I would never, ever hurt him.”
“I love him. I love him like he was my own kid. I would do anything to help him. That’s why I’m on the phone right now leaving you this really long message. Please. Please come. You have to. If you don’t, I honestly don’t know what else I can do. I’ve tried so hard. I’ve done everything. Everything. If you don’t come, Robin, what else can I do? Call me. Tell me you’ll come. Isellta needs you. Just come. Please come.”
Robin lowered his gaze to a random spot on Ambrose’s hoodie. “He has her. He don’t want me. I love him and he don’t love me. He’d rather be with some skeevy fey chick than be with me.”
“You don’t know that for sure.”
“Stupid. Why else would he sleep with her FOUR times? Why else would he just stay with her instead of comin’ back to me? Besides, it makes sense. Fey and fey…” He shrugged. “It makes sense. Fey and vampire? Really? How does that make any sense? We’re too diff’rent. I’m too mean and pushy. He needs…deserves someone gentle and kind. Someone who’ll treasure him from Day 1. Someone who’ll never slap him.” His heartache worsened. “And that someone ain’t me.”
“If I said all that about myself, you’d call me stupid.”
Robin looked up at his face. “That’s because you ain’t me. You ain’t scarred and ruined like me. You got so much goin’ for you it makes me mad to hear you put yourself down. It’s stupid, Ambrose. Just stupid.”