Hank grabbed his shirt off the floor and put it on. He buttoned it up as he headed towards the door.
Preyuna knocked again.
“Just a minute! I’m coming. I’m coming!”
He opened the door with the top half of his shirt still unbuttoned.
She looked him over and wrinkled her nose. “Let me in.”
“No. Jay is trusting me and Dave to keep Isellta safe from you.”
Her eyes turned white.
A dagger appeared in the air between them. The tip was dangerously close to his throat.
Hank didn’t flinch. He held his ground. “I will keep him safe.”
The dagger’s tip pressed against his throat.
“You can’t protect him if you’re dead.”
Hank smirked. “And how do you think Caten will react to you killing one of his personal guards?”
She scoffed. “Do you honestly think he’ll care? You guards are expendable to him. That’s why he doesn’t bother remembering your names.”
“That is all true. He doesn’t care about any of us guards. But he will care that YOU killed one of them.”
The dagger pressed harder, drawing blood.
Keep him safe.
No matter what happens to me, keep Isellta safe.
“I may be nothing to him, but he will take it personally that you killed me. You know this.”
My sweet, bubbly lover.
Keep yourself safe. Don’t let her touch you.
“He’ll see it as…as a threat. He’ll punish you.”
She narrowed her eyes.
“You know he will.”
I love you.
I love you so much.
The dagger pressed a little deeper.
“You know how he’ll punish you.”
“I know.” Preyuna’s eyes returned to normal.
The dagger disappeared.
Hank exhaled relief. His knees trembled, but he kept himself steady. He’d learned long ago not to show weakness to Mark Caten. Caten had the ability to see weaknesses and gleefully exploit them.
Preyuna was no different.
“I spared your life, guard. You will let me see Isellta.”
“No. Not happening.”
She shrugged. “Fine. I’ll just push you out of my way and—-”
“No.” He closed the door in her face and locked it.
HOW DARE HE!
Her eyes turned white.
Hank ran over to grab his spiked club.
“Hank? What’s going on?”
“Preyuna.” He made eye contact with Dave and his heart melted. “Keep Isellta safe. No matter what.”
The door exploded.
“I love you, Dave.”
“I love you too.” He took Hank’s hand and squeezed it tight. “I’ll always love you.”
Hank smiled. “Same, lover.”
Preyuna strode into the room, surrounded by a whole army’s worth of daggers and swords.
Dave released his hand.
Hank turned around and raised his weapon. He walked towards her, ready and willing to strike her down if he felt the need to do so.
She scoffed. “Do you really think that twig will hurt me?”
He stopped just a few steps away from the tip of the longest sword. “It won’t break your skin. Everyone knows that fey skin is one of the world’s hardest substances. But it will hurt. Underneath your skin, it will hurt.”
Her arsenal glowed with a white hot heat. “You’re filth just like Caten.”
“No, I’m not. I will hurt you to protect the ones I love. He’d hurt you just for the sheer fun of it.”
She flinched and the daggers disappeared. “I am not like Mark Caten. I am a queen. I have certain expectations that must be met. And Isellta…” She glanced at the unconscious fey on the bed. “He defies my expectations. He disappoints them.”
Several swords flickered and disappeared.
“He disappoints me.”
“It doesn’t matter, Preyuna. Isellta doesn’t deserve to be hurt. Or raped.”
She flared out her wings. “I am not like Caten!”
More swords disappeared.
She folded her wings into her back. “I’m not. I am not him.”
One by one the swords disappeared. Until only the longest one remained.
“And, contrary to what you believe, I am not here to hurt him or ‘rape’ him. I just want to see him.”
“Well, look over my shoulder. You’ll see him just fine.”
The remaining sword shot forward and touched the middle of his chest.
“Don’t try my patience, guard, or I will run you through.”
Hank raised his head higher. “You do that, Dave will kill you. And, if he can’t kill you, he will make you hurt. He will make you wish for death. I know him. He may seem like a silly fluffball, but I am his and he is mine. He will crush you for killing me.”
She looked over at Dave.
The last sword disappeared.
“Now, get out of here. Or we’ll see how many whacks it takes to break your skin.”
“Filthy low-born.” She spun around and strode out of the room.
The door reassembled itself and slammed shut.
Hank’s knees finally gave out on him. His spiked club fell out of his hands.
Dave jumped off the bed and ran to his side. “Hank. Hank. Hank.”
They hugged each other as tight as they could.
Neither one spoke, for there was nothing that needed to be said. All that mattered, all that was needed, was the other’s embrace.
In that moment, nothing else mattered.