Isellta’s pulse raced as he scanned the monitors.
If I see him…
What will I do if I see him?
I’ll want to run to him. Even though I can’t stand, I’ll try to run to him. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have him hug me and kiss me. That nae bi sha pretended to be him, but he was never really him.
Oh, Robin! Robin. Robin, where are you?
Robin closed his eyes.
Day’s comin’ around, ‘sellta. It ain’t light out yet, but it soon will be. I can feel it comin’. My energy’s drainin’ down to nothin’. I can feel it.
‘sellta, can you hear me? You ain’t ignorin’ me, are you?
I’m tired. Just wanna fall asleep. But what if Olessa comes to me when I’m sleepin’? She’ll scratch my eye out and I won’t be able to see worth spit.
‘sellta. I’m here. If you can hear me, I’m here. Please. Please hear me. Please come to me. ‘sellta, I need to see you again. It’s been so long. It’s been too long.
If she scratches my eye out, I won’t ever see him again. Not really see him. Ev’rythin’ will be a blur. Ain’t even sure how I’ll be able to hunt like that. And if a hunter should catch me…
‘sellta, please. I ain’t even askin’ for freedom. Just come to me like you did before. Unmask me. Touch my face. Talk to me. Sing to me.
…I’d be staked so fast.
Would he know?
Would ‘sellta know if I were dead? What about Ambrose or Raven? Would any of ’em know?
Or would I be dead and unmourned?
Darnation, these are darned depressin’ thoughts.
Isellta. I’m here. I’m here I’M RIGHT HERE! Come to me.
Jay shook his head. “I don’t see him. He isn’t here.”
“But he said he’d come.” Isellta said softly.
Jay frowned at the outside monitor.
I’m letting him down again. But what can I do? If Robin isn’t here, Robin isn’t here. I can’t make him suddenly appear.
“What if he already came?” Maelin said.
“That’s a nice thought, but—” Jay flung his hand at the monitors in a frustrated gesture. “—-where is he?”
Isellta drew his shoulders inward. “I’m sorry, Jay.”
“No, kid. You don’t have anything to be sorry for. I’m not mad at you. Just frustrated.”
Isellta looked away from him.
“Hey.” Jay put his hands on the fey’s shoulders. “It’s okay. Trust me. We’re okay. I’m not mad at you. I’m not frustrated with you.”
“But it’s my fault anyway. If it weren’t for me—-”
“Stop. Just stop. No one’s blaming you for anything. Not one darned thing. So just stop.”
Isellta looked up at him with tears in his eyes. “You won’t send me away?”
Jay hugged him. “Never.”
Isellta returned his hug. “I love you, Jay, but it isn’t the same way I love Robin. It’s different.” He dug his fingers into the back of the guard’s shirt. “I don’t know why it’s so different. I don’t understand it.”
“It’s okay.” Jay petted the fey’s soft hair. “I love you too, kid.”
Maelin waited for the two men to finish hugging. They both clearly needed it.
She fixed her gaze on the outside monitor. There was nothing happening out there. No comings. No goings. Nothing.
“Jay, what if he has already come?”
“Hear me out. I don’t know why he wouldn’t be showing up on the other monitors. Just like I don’t know why I couldn’t find him in the dungeons.”
Nothing happened on the monitor. No one came. Not even a raccoon.
“Is there a way we could rewind the monitor to earlier in the evening?” She pulled her gaze away from the screen and focused on him. “Maybe to the beginning of nightfall and play it from there? Is that possible?”
Isellta gave Jay a questioning look.
“Yeah.” Jay’s expression brightened. “I can do that.”