It’s too late.
“Feel my strength. Take it. Use it. Don’t worry about me. All I want…I want you to get stronger. I want you to escape from that monster holding you prisoner.” Jay’s voice wobbled as he added, “I want you to come back to me.”
I know it’s too late.
His breathing is too slow, too shallow.
Everything I’ve done.
Everything I’ve tried.
I can’t do anything else.
I’ve lost him.
Jay pressed the side of Isellta’s head against his chest and held it there. “First time I met Maelin was in a deli. Mark Caten was being his normal awful self, yelling at the deli guy over some dumb thing. She walked over to me. I saw her and she stole my breath away. Right from that moment, I wanted. I wanted to drop everything and run away with her. I wanted to get her number, but by the time I thought about it, Mark Caten had finished his tirade. He gave me the order to leave and you know how he is. When Mark Caten gives an order, the whole world has to stop moving. You’re just supposed to drop whatever you’re doing and hop, skip, jump to obey him. Next time I met her was in the middle of a rainstorm.”
He laughed at the memory. “I’m sure I looked like a drowned rat. But she looked beautiful. The rain made her hair look straighter, somehow blacker. The raindrops stuck to her eyelashes. I wanted to kiss them off. Do you think that’s strange? Maybe it is. I don’t know. Anyway, that was the first time she used her magic on me. Freaked me out like you can’t even begin to imagine.”
He gently rocked back and forth as if Isellta were a sleeping child. “It doesn’t freak me out anymore. But I do worry that I’m a little addicted to it. Whenever she leaves me, I feel like the separation is something physical, like she’s tearing herself out of me. It hurts so bad. I don’t know. Maybe that’s something normal. Maybe that’s what it’s like to be in love. Is that how it feels for you to be separated from Robin?”
The door opened and a middle-aged man in a furry gray suit entered the room.
Jay stopped rocking. “Who are you? What do you want?”
LM stopped beside the bed. He contemplated the skinny, blond fey nestled in the human’s arms. His gaze traveled down the long, limp line of the fey’s black wings.
They’re so beautiful.
“Who are you?”
He reluctantly transformed back into his true form. “My name is LM. I am an unnamed fey of no schie a kehn.”
“I’m Jay. What do you want?”
LM’s gaze returned to Isellta’s wings.
They’re so perfect. It isn’t fair. Why are his so perfect and mine’s such a wreck? Why can’t I have beautiful, functional wings too?
“I’m here to help.”
I wonder if I should help. He has it so good. What does he know of life’s harder truths? What does he know of abuse and betrayals? Nothing. He has people who care about him. I had only one and no one else.
So, why should I help him when he’s had it so easy? If he dies, he dies. At least, he’ll have people who will mourn him. If I die, who will notice? Who will care?
Jay’s expression brightened. “You can help him?”
Yes? Or no?
“Maybe. Can I see him?”
Jay gently laid him on the bed. So gently. As if he were made out of the most delicate porcelain.
LM’s jealousy flamed higher.
Capernaum was the only one who ever cared about me.
There was no one else. There was never anyone else.
And I stand alone.
“It’s okay, kid.” Jay said to Isellta. He stroked his soft bangs off to the side and kissed his forehead. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
LM frowned. “Why are you like this about him? He is not of your kind.”
Capernaum was not of my kind, but he cared about me. I don’t understand that either.
“I don’t care if he’s ‘of my kind’ or not. That doesn’t matter to me.” Jay looked down at the unconscious fey. “He matters to me. Isellta is just a kid. A good, sweet and caring kid. I will do anything for him.”
That doesn’t really explain anything.