Part 1875 – “Tell Me To Come Back.”

As soon as he said it, Jay knew that he had done it all wrong.

I should have built up to it.

I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that.

“You.” Maelin paused as if she were trying to process that reveal.

“Mae, don’t. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t want to kill him. I don’t.”

“But…you tried?”

“Yeah. I thought maybe it would be better for him to die at my hands instead of being devoured by that monster. But I couldn’t do it. I had my hands wrapped around his neck. All I had to do was squeeze. One firm grip and he would have been dead. But I couldn’t do it. I love him. I want him to be happy. I want him to reunite with Robin. Maybe that will never happen. But if I kill him, it will definitely never happen.”

“Oh, sweetheart.”

“Mae. Mae, I’m so scared. I keep imagining what his death will look like. The pain he’ll suffer. The fear. The helplessness. Will he know, Mae? Will he know that it isn’t Robin? Or will he die thinking that he was killed by the one he loves?”

“I don’t know.” She paused. “Jay, I want to come back to you. I know you’re hurting. I want to come to you. I want to comfort you.”

“Mae, I need you. I need to collapse in your arms. I need you to hold on to me and keep me in one piece. But. I know. I know you can’t. It would be stupid for you to go all the way over there and—-”

“Jay. Just tell me to come back and I’ll come back. You know I will.”

He bowed his head. “I know.”

“Then, say it.”

The words burned in his throat.

“Say it. Tell me to come back to you.”

He swallowed hard. “I can’t. Stay there, Mae. Find Robin. Drag him back here if you have to.”

“But—-”

“I’ll be fine.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “No, I won’t. But Isellta needs Robin. He needs him now. I don’t know, Mae, how much longer he has. I just have this bad feeling that it won’t be much longer and it kills me.” He bit his lower lip and tried to control himself. But his eyes welled up with tears anyway. His voice wobbled as he said, “I failed him. I told him that I would keep him safe. I told him that my room was a safe place. He trusted me.” His tears fell. “Isellta shouldn’t have trusted me.”

“Jay. Sweetheart, it wasn’t your fault. Trust me. Believe me.”

“I could have done more to protect him. He never should have reached this point. It’s my fault.”

“It isn’t. I know you. I know you did everything you could to protect him.”

“I didn’t. I should have had him come with me.”

“To Caten’s office? Would you have really wanted to expose Isellta to Mark Caten’s mean spirited jibes and taunts?”

Jay went silent as he imagined that scenario.

“He would have said something cruel. You know he would have. You know how Caten is. Isellta’s feelings would have been hurt. He would have run out of the room. Preyuna would have found him and we would still be in this moment with you blaming yourself for what went wrong.”

Jay frowned. “Are you trying to say that all of this was inevitable? That there was no way for us to have prevented all of this misery?”

“I don’t know if inevitable is the right word. I just know that this possibility makes the most sense to me. Knowing how Mark Caten is and knowing how Isellta is, this possibility is a clear, straight line.”

He rubbed away his tears.

Maelin kept talking, “But it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. It really doesn’t. All that matters is getting Robin over to him. He will wake up. Isellta will wake up. I know he will. Robin won’t even have to say a word. Just his presence will be enough. The touch of his hand.”

“Then.” Jay cleared his throat. “Then, stay there. Don’t come back without him.”

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