Isellta smiled as he recognized Jay’s anise and cloves scent.
“Hey there, kid.”
“Hold on one second.” He rearranged the pillows. “All right! That should do it. Okay. I’m gonna lift you and set you against the pillows. You okay with that?”
“Okay!” Jay uncovered Isellta’s legs. He put one arm under Isellta’s neck and the other under Isellta’s knees. “Here goes.”
It wasn’t easy, but Isellta raised his arm and set his hand on Jay’s shoulder.
“Hold on, kid.” He picked him up so easily.
Maelin is lucky to have someone like him. He’s so good and kind.
He deserves to be happy.
“Jay. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, kid. Don’t worry.” He set him down against the pillows in a seated position. “There you go.”
“I mean it, Jay. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I hurt you.” He moved his hand from Jay’s shoulder to his face. “You’re so nice, so wonderful. You should never be hurt. Never.”
Jay smiled slightly and shook his head. “Life doesn’t work that way.”
“I hurt you. I made you worry about me. I heard you calling me. I wanted to run to you, but the nae bi sha talked me into staying.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“It was. It was my choice to make and I chose myself. I chose myself and what I wanted. I hurt you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You deserve better than that.” He clenched his hands into fists. “I don’t know why I’m like this. I don’t know why I must always hurt those who matter the most to me. I hurt them. I disappoint them. I—”
“Hey.” Jay put his hands on the fey’s shoulders. “It’s all right. We. You and me are all right. I’m not mad at you.”
“But you should be. You have a right to be mad at me. It would make sense if you were mad at me.”
“Isellta, how could I be mad at you when I’m happy you’re alive? You came so close to that edge. Isellta.” Jay’s eyes teared up. “Kid, I almost lost you. I wasn’t ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to lose you. I don’t know if that’s even possible. Isellta, I love you. That’s why I’m not mad at you.”
“Oh.” Isellta quietly considered the guard’s words, trying to line them up into something that made sense.
“Just promise me you won’t ever do that again. No matter what Preyuna does to you, don’t you leave me like that.”
Isellta blinked quickly. “I promise.”
He ruffled up the fey’s soft blond hair. “Good boy.”
Isellta’s wings flapped the best they could.
Maelin picked up the cup of cold tea and offered it to Jay. “This is for him. It’s made out of all natural ingredients. So, it should help him regain his strength.”
Jay looked up at her. “Thank you. And thank you for staying.”
“Well.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m not ready to leave just yet. I will let you know, Jay. I promise I will let you know.”
He smiled sadly. “You always do.”
He turned back to Isellta. “Have a sip of this. But don’t drink it too fast. It might overwhelm your system and make you sick.”
I don’t want to leave him. I wonder if he fully understands that. I want to stay with him. I always do. But this wanderlust…It’s not a conscious thing. It’s something internal. Something I have no control over.
She watched him minister to the young fey.
If only I could stay with him.
How long will it be this time? How many days? How many weeks? Will I have months with him before I get that urge to leave?
I’m sorry, Jay. I wish things were different. I wish I weren’t like this.
If only there were a way I could make it easier for the both of us. But there isn’t. I love you and you love me. Our separation will always be difficult, no matter what.
I’m so sorry, Jay.
You deserve better than this.