Part 1670 – It’s A Hank And Dave Flashback! Yay!

Hank and Dave followed Mark Caten to his room. They still carried their weapons. Dave had tried to make a case for leaving them behind and taking their chances. Hank had shot that idea down.

He looked over at Dave.

I wish he didn’t have that mask on.

I wish I could see his face.

I wish he could see mine.

Hank smiled and turned his head forward.

But we would be very bad guards if that were so. We’d be staring at each other the whole time. I’m sure of it.

Dave subtly bumped hands with him.

Hank’s heart raced.

He remembered…


Hank examined the stitches on his hip and sighed.

Score another injury from working as Caten’s guard. At least, I should get a cool looking scar this time. It’ll look like a crescent moon, if it heals nicely.

There was a knock on his door.

Hank pulled up his pajama bottoms and opened the door.

Dave stood on the other side. He was still dressed in his guard uniform: red robe, black gloves. But his hood was down and his face was unmasked.

“Hey.” Hank smiled. “What are you doing over here?”

“Are you okay?”

Hank shrugged. “Just needed a whole bunch of stitches. But, hey. I’m still alive.”

Dave lowered his gaze. “You didn’t have to take the hit. I was—”

“Dave. It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“But. You did it to protect me.”

Hank looked at the cotton candy-colored streaks in Dave’s hair.

The way his hair hung in his eyes.

The way it made him look a whole lot younger and more vulnerable than he really was.

I would do anything to protect this man.

“I would gladly do it again. Just for you.”

Dave raised his gaze. “Do you mean that?”

“I mean exactly what I say.”

Dave let out a soft exhale before flinging his arms around Hank’s neck. “Eeeee! You’re so romantic!”

Hank laughed.

“I want you. I want you. I want you!”


Dave released him. “Unless you don’t want to. Does it still hurt? If you don’t want to—”

Hank pulled him into the room and closed the door. “I want to.”

Dave’s eyes sparkled with excitement.

And Hank just couldn’t resist.


Hank bumped Dave’s hand in return.

I would do it all over again. I would face any danger just for you.

Mark Caten stopped outside his bedroom door. “Well. Here we are.” He pointed at Hank. “You. Go find Preyuna.” He pointed at Dave. “And you stay with me.”

Hank pressed his knuckles against Dave’s hip to keep him from objecting. “I’ll be right back.”

Dave bowed his head and went into his guard stance as Caten entered the room.

Hank waited for Caten to close the door. “It’s okay, babe. I’ll be right back. Even if I have to physically carry Preyuna over here.”

“Is it right?”

Hank shrugged.

“You saw the sort of things he did to her. Is it right for you to—”

“Dave, if I don’t obey him, he’ll hurt you. I will not let that man hurt you. Not ever. You understand me?”


“You are the most important person in my life. You keep me sane. You keep me centered. If I lose you, I don’t know what I would do. And that is the truth. Stay here. I’ll be back.”

Dave nodded.


Hank searched the entire premises, including every staircase in the room of staircases. He finally found her in Mark Caten’s/Maelin’s shared painting studio.

The sight of the twelve million painted Mark Caten’s almost made the guard want to go back downstairs. But he thought about Dave and he powered forward.

Preyuna stood before Isellta’s portrait. Her arms hung flat at her sides.

Hank cleared his throat. “Uhh, Your Majesty? Caten wants to see you.”

She didn’t respond.

He hesitantly reached forward to tap her.

“Look at him.”

Hank quickly pulled his hand back.

“Jay’s peace dragon lover painted this portrait. You can tell. Her lines are imperfect. Her colors are soft and hazy. Just what you would expect from a peace dragon.”

“Caten wants—”

“But it’s him. She captured his personality, his softness. All of those small details that make Isellta Isellta.” Preyuna hesitated. “Is he dead?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to check on him yet.”

“He is going to die. You know that, don’t you?”

Hank looked at Maelin’s depiction of Isellta.

His calm, sweet expression.

The tilt of his head.

The relaxed set of his hands.

“Yeah. I know. Can’t you do something? Anything? No matter how crazy and nonsensical.”


“It’s going to break Jay. He loves him. He sees him as just a kid. Maybe as his kid brother. Maybe as his son. I don’t know.”

“And you think it won’t hurt me?”

Hank didn’t know how to answer that question.

“I know he hates me. Everyone here does, except for my fellow fey. If I were in his position, would anyone try to rescue me?”

Hank refused to even try to answer that one.

“No. They see me as the Evil Mistress trope come to life. I have no heart that beats. I have no blood that can be shed. I have no tears that can leave my eyes. That’s what they think about me.” She sighed. “Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming just like him. Cold and cruel, just like Caten.”

What can I say to that?

Her voice sharpened. “What does Caten want?”

“Well, it’s night time. I can only presume he wants you for one thing and one thing only.”

“Isn’t that the truth? I don’t want to. I don’t feel like dealing with him and his filthy hands and…everything else.”

“He’ll be mad if you don’t—”

She spun around to face him. “I know that!” she snapped.

He quickly backed away from her.

“Let’s go. I don’t want to deal with him right now. But I don’t want him to go dragging me by my hair again.” She snapped her fingers. “Come, guard.”

She strode out of the room as if she had just put a major down payment on it.

Hank hurried after her.

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