Maelin carried a cup of cooled tea into Jay’s bedroom. “Sorry I took so long.” She stopped short.
Isellta lay on his bed completely alone.
“Where’s Dave and Hank?”
He slowly turned his head. “Hank was telling me about how they hrrash ka kae. It apparently overwhelmed Dave. He grabbed Hank and left the room.”
She smiled and shook her head. “That doesn’t surprise me.” She carried the cup over to him. “How are you feeling?”
“Thirsty and hungry.” He sniffed the air. “What’s in that cup? It smells good.”
“It’s jahaanashi tea. It’s made from the roots and the flowers of the jahaana bush that grows only in that unclaimed territory between the fey land and the dragon’s land. This particular blend is a Chinese peace dragon recipe. Do you want to try it?”
“Hm.” Maelin looked over his prone body. “I guess we need to get you up into a sit first.”
“I can do it.” Isellta pushed his elbows into the mattress and struggled to raise his head.
“It’s okay, angel. Don’t push yourself. I’ll help you. Will you let me touch you?”
She got up on the bed.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“It’s okay, angel.” She wedged her arm behind him.
He whimpered involuntarily. “Don’t. Don’t.”
“Shh. It’s all right, angel. You’re safe with me.”
Isellta broke out into a cold sweat as she spread her other hand on his chest.
I trust her.
I can trust her.
She won’t hurt me.
She has never hurt me.
She will never hurt me.
I’m safe with her.
Maelin guided him up into a sit.
He opened his eyes. “Uhh. uh.”
“It’s all right. I’m going to lay you on your side so I can rearrange your pillows. Are you okay?”
He looked up at her.
She is so kind to me. I don’t understand why.
“All right. I’m going to lay you down now and I swear I will not do anything else to you.”
She laid him down and proceeded to mess around with his pillows.
Isellta focused on his breathing. The easy rise and fall of his chest. No pauses between inhales and exhales.
It feels good to be alive.
“I’m sorry I worried you and Jay, especially Jay. He’s so nice. I hate seeing him hurt and upset.” The blanket was an out of focus mess of subdued colors. “I should have come back sooner. I should have known that it wasn’t really Robin. But I wanted it to be him so much. The way he touched me. The way he made me feel. The things he said to me. He said everything I’ve wanted Robin to say to me. I’ve wanted it for so long.”
Maelin took hold of him again. “I’m going to need your help this time, if you can.”
“Good. Can you raise your knees?”
There was a knock on the door.
Maelin released Isellta and sat up. “Who is it?”
“It’s me. Jay.”
Maelin quickly got off the bed and hurried over to the door. She opened it. “Jay!”
“Mae.” He hugged her and murmured, “Can I talk to you in the hall?”
She released him. “What’s wrong?”
“I just need to talk to you in private. Well. Somewhat private. Please?”
She studied his expression. “Okay, but could I reposition Isellta first? I want him to sit up so I can give him something to drink.”
“Of course. I’ll help you.”
“And then we’ll talk.”