Isellta went limp in the nae bi sha’s arms.
The creature licked his lips.
He’s just so tempting.
So perfectly tempting.
But not yet.
“Not yet, little fey.” He kissed Isellta’s lips. “Not yet. But soon. So soon.”
Isellta’s heart raced and his breathing struggled to keep up with it.
But his breathing was unable to do so. It was still too slow.
Something inside his head buzzed. Or maybe it was just his eardrums. Isellta didn’t know. He couldn’t tell.
He couldn’t think.
He couldn’t try.
Thinking brought on his headache. His headache brought on a whole volley of aches and cramps.
So, Isellta played it safe. He didn’t think about anything at all. He simply laid in Robin’s arms and kept his focus on breathing. Just breathing.
In and out.
Up and down.
Inhale and exhale.
But even that was becoming difficult. Something in his chest felt heavy. Maybe it was his ribs. Maybe it was his muscles. But it was a chore to keep the rhythm of the rise and fall.
He just wanted to stop.
He wanted to give in and stop. To go completely blank and free from muscle cramps and headaches.
Free from the unrelenting darkness.
Free to see light again.
But he kept trying. He kept his focus on breathing, just breathing.
He just couldn’t explain why.
He only knew that it was important to keep trying, to keep going on, to stay alive.
He needed to stay alive.
He just didn’t know why.
So, he kept breathing, even though it was difficult.
Even though he couldn’t understand why.
Jay finished his bowl of cereal and put it in the sink.
He returned to the table.
Isellta was still unconscious.
Jay pulled a chair next to Isellta’s head and sat. “Hey, kid.” He ruffled up Isellta’s hair.
Isellta’s wings stayed limp against his back. They didn’t even twitch.
Jay’s heart hurt. He cleared his throat. “Hey. You know, it isn’t all that hopeless. I have a plan. Two possible plans. Do you want to hear them? I’m sure you do, so I’ll just keep talking. The first plan is the best one. I’m going to call Robin later tonight. Yeah, I’ve called him several times now and he’s gone and shot me down. But this time will be different.”
He paused for dramatic effect. “This time, I’ll have him talk to you. You’ll hear his voice again. That alone should wake you up. What do you think? Isn’t that a terrific idea?”
His heartache increased as he imagined Isellta’s enthusiastic reaction.
If only you were awake…
“Umm.” He cleared his throat again. “Second idea.” He chuckled. “Well. It’s a funny thing. I received a whole bunch of calls from someone named Ambrose. Is he a friend of yours? He claims to be a friend of Robin’s. Is that true? Can I trust him? Anyway, he left three hundred and ninety-nine messages on my phone. Can you imagine that? I honestly don’t know how that’s even possible. Like, he must have been doing them back-to-back. Maybe he used magic. I don’t know. He wants me to call him back. He has a whole bunch of questions for me, I guess. I don’t know.”
I miss you, kid. I miss you so much. Can you hear it in my voice? Does it come through clear in my words?
I miss you.
“I love you, Isellta. I’m not gonna give up on you. I’m going to keep trying to find a way to bring you back. I know there has to be something else. I’m just hoping that Robin will talk to you. I hope that will be enough to bring you back. So, hold on, Isellta. Hold on.”
He swept Isellta’s bangs off to the side and gently kissed his forehead. “Just be strong, kid. Make it through the rest of today. Stay alive. Don’t leave me. Don’t die. Please don’t die.”