I should feel bad about leaving Jay and Isellta.
I should be thinking about running back to them.
I should be mentally apologizing to Jay.
I didn’t want to stay in there.
I couldn’t stay in there.
Maelin stopped outside Preyuna’s bedroom door.
I will apologize to Jay later.
She raised her fist.
First thing’s first.
She knocked on the door.
She knocked again.
She tried the doorknob.
It turned easily.
The door opened without any resistance.
Maelin entered the room.
The light from the hall spilled into the dark. The room was silent.
No one was in the room. Maelin stood alone in the dark.
She retreated to the hall and closed the door.
I really don’t want to walk in on Caten and Preyuna when they’re both naked and busy.
She thought about her irrational, unnatural fear.
Preyuna is behind it. I know she is. I could let her get away with manipulating me.
Maelin thought about Isellta.
I will not let her get away with manipulating him.
She strode to Mark Caten’s room.
Preyuna has done more than enough to that poor boy. I will not let her get away with this.
Preyuna rolled over on her side and brought her knees up.
I let him get away with too much and for what? What do I get in return?
Underlying fear of what he’ll do next time.
That is all I get from him. That is all that he gives me.
Pain and anger and fear and hatred.
So much hatred.
Yet, he has promised me Isellta. The sheer audacity of it! Isellta is mine! How can he promise to give me what is already mine?
But he will remove Isellta’s two guardians or, at the very least, nullify them. They won’t be able to stop me from—-
The door opened.
Preyuna raised her head.
Maelin stood silhouetted in the doorway.
Preyuna had a moment of childish desire to cover her head with her blanket and ignore the other woman. She smirked as a better avoidance behavior came to her.
She straddled Mark Caten.
He slept, peaceful and easy.
I don’t want to do this, but it’s the easiest way to scare her off.
She pressed down on him and mentally cringed at the feel of him.
I hate him.
I hate everything about him.
She moved against him.
I hate how he makes me feel.
I hate him.
She closed her eyes.
I hate him so much.
Maelin stopped beside the bed. “I can see you’re busy right now, but I will have you know I don’t appreciate being controlled.”
Preyuna dug her fingers into the sheet.
If I could kill him.
If I could just kill him.
She couldn’t hold back the moan, the rush of desire.
I hate him.
I HATE HIM!
She bowed her head. Her body ached for her to continue, to finish what she had started. “What do you want, peace dragon?” Her voice was heavy and rough-edged.
“I went into the monitor room.”
Preyuna’s hair fell over her bare shoulders. “So?”
“What did you do? Why did I feel so afraid? Why was Isellta attacked by monsters in there?”
Preyuna breathed heavily as she struggled to evade the truth. “Why do you think I did it? Maybe it was your own perverted imagination. Maybe Isellta was just weak.”
Maelin didn’t respond to that.
Preyuna sat back. “Maybe it was a ghost.”
“Or maybe it was just you. Jay didn’t sense anything. Only Isellta and I felt it. I am a peace dragon. I do not feel fear like that. That was unnatural.”
“Doesn’t mean that it was fey magic.”
“What else would it be?”
Preyuna scoffed. “This whole conversation is killing my arousal, just so you know.”
“I doubt it.”
The two women regarded each other.
“What does Mark Caten want with Robin? Can you tell me that much?”
“I see no reason to tell you anything, peace dragon scum.”
“Is Robin here?”
“Is there a reason for me to answer your questions? No.”
“No, he isn’t here?”
“No. Yes. Maybe. Who knows? Or maybe all of the above. Who can honestly say?”
“Were you trying to block us from seeing Robin’s arrival?”
Preyuna smiled. “You’re grabbing at chi keo hairs. Give up, peace dragon. You’re wasting your time.”
Maelin gave her a long, considering look. “What did Caten promise to give you? Your freedom? Isellta? Both?”
“You’re asking a lot of questions, peace dragon. Questions that I have no interest in answering. If that bothers you, too bad. Go run back to your lousy lover. I’m sure he’ll comfort you.”
“Preyuna, please. Can’t you put aside your bad feelings/disdain/whatever and just do the right thing for Isellta? He needs to see Robin. He’s desperate to see him again.”
Preyuna laughed harshly. “Oh and of course I’ll let Isellta see that ugly wreck of a vampire. He simply doesn’t fantasize about him enough.”
“NO!” She uncovered herself and got out of bed. “Get out of here, peace dragon scum. This is a battle you will never win.”
“Does that mean Robin is here?”
“Out. Now. Or I will throw you out.”
Her eyes turned white. “Out!”
Maelin seemed to think it over. “Fine, but we will discuss this later. I will not give up.” She turned and left the room.
Preyuna sat on the edge of the bed and rested her hands on her bare legs.
I can’t keep doing this.
I can’t keep siding with Mark Caten.
I don’t want to become him. But maybe it’s too late.
Maybe I am already him.