Maelin walked down the prison cell-lined hall.
His scent isn’t down this way. I can tell already I’m not going to find him down here. But I need to do this thoroughly.
Before I confront Preyuna, I need to be 100% sure.
Isellta swallowed the last sip of tea. “Mmm. So good.”
Jay smiled at him. “Hey. How about I give you a bath? You look like you could use one.”
I look like I could use one…Does he mean I look unclean?
Isellta thought about all of the things the nae bi sha did to him.
Maybe I do look unclean. I certainly feel it.
“I’m guessing you’ll need help getting undressed and all washed up. Will you be all right with me helping you?”
He nodded again. “I trust you. I know you won’t hurt me.” He lowered his gaze to his blanket. “Even though I have hurt you.”
“It’s all right, kid.” Jay put the cup on the night stand again. “So, come on! Let’s get you all cleaned up. Can you stand?”
“I don’t know. I can try?”
Jay shook his head. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Uhh, I guess I could undress you here in bed and carry you to the bathroom. I mean, unless you don’t want me to do it that way. If you’d rather try doing it yourself—”
Isellta gently touched his arm. “It’s all right, Jay. You can undress me and carry me.”
“You sure? You aren’t gonna freak out about me doing all that for you?”
“I trust you.”
Jay positioned himself in front of Isellta. “You sure about this?”
“All right. I need you to lean forward. Lean towards me.”
“Put your head against me.”
Isellta touched his forehead against the front of Jay’s shirt.
“Good boy. I’m going to unbutton your shirt now.”
He closed his eyes and inhaled Jay’s warm, spiced scent.
Such a good smell. It makes me feel safe. Like I could burrow into his scent and wrap it all around me.
He felt Jay unfasten the top button and move down to the next button.
And no one would find me hiding inside. As for Robin’s scent…
He opened his eyes.
Robin. Why isn’t Robin here yet?
Jay unfastened the last button on top. Isellta’s shirt draped forward. “You still okay, kid?”
“Do you want me to keep going?”
He moved his hands to the buttons below Isellta’s wings.
“Robin is here. I know he is here. But I don’t understand. If he is here, why hasn’t he come to me?”
Jay’s hands went still.
“He is a vampire. Do you suppose he’s stuck outside, waiting for someone to give him permission to enter?”
“Maybe.” Jay hesitated. “Isellta. Have you considered the possibility that he’s been staked?”
Isellta raised his head. “No. That isn’t possible. Jay, I would know if he were staked. I would know. I would feel it. I would feel his death inside of me. Our connection would snap and it would break me.” He smiled. “No, Jay. I’m not worried about my Robin being staked. He’s safe. He’s here. Jay, Robin is here.”