Jay watched her sit alone. His heart sank to the lowest part of his stomach. “Maybe she would be happier if she didn’t have to worry about coming back to me. Maybe she would be happier without me.”
“Jay, how can you say that? Does she look happy to you?”
The guard shrugged. “If she’s unhappy, it’s because she feels that tug between me and her freedom.”
“Maybe I should just cut that cord…let her go.”
“NO!” Isellta got out of his chair without thinking about it. His knees gave out and he fell.
Jay caught him before he could hit the floor.
“It isn’t her fault.” Isellta clutched Jay’s arm and bowed his head. “Don’t push her away, Robin. She needs you as much as you need her.” His voice trembled. “If you push her away…If you tell her that you don’t want her anymore…If you tell her to leave and never come back…It will hurt.”
Jay guided him back up into his chair.
Isellta looked up at him with tears in his eyes. “Don’t push her away.”
Jay hugged him. “You poor kid.”
Isellta. Isellta. Isellta. Isellta. Isellta. Isellta.
Robin closed his eyes.
Ambrose. Darn it all. I wish you were here. You’d get me outta this darn freakin’ thing. Ha. I bet you’d tear it off with just your claws and fangs. Am’rose, I ain’t knowin’ what’s goin’ on with Isellta. He shoulda heard me by now. He shoulda come runnin’. But he ain’t here. My ‘sellta ain’t here.
Why ain’t he here?
I’ve only been shoutin’ and hollerin’ for him for hours. WHY AIN’T HE HERE YET?
Am’rose? Ain’t you gonna come bargin’ in here, yellin’ at me to stop my yellin’? Can you hear me at all?
Am I alone in this?
Raven? Can you hear me?
Is anyone out there hearin’ me?
‘sellta. Isellta. ‘sellta. ‘sellta. My beautiful Isellta. Hear me. Please hear me. Come runnin’ to me. I’M HERE!
‘sellta, come to me. Rescue me before next nightfall. I ain’t wantin’ to be all pinned up like this and unable to hunt. I don’t wanna be hurt and hungry all over again. Please. Before Olessa comes in here. Come to me, Isellta. Please come to me. I’m here. Isellta, I’m here.
Someone save me. Get me outta here. If you can hear my voice, come rescue me.
Isellta, come to me. Please come to me. Please! Don’t leave me alone like this. I don’t wanna be blinded. If I stay here too long, Olessa will come and she’ll blind me. I know she will. Isellta, come to me. Isellta. Isellta.
Where are you?
Why ain’t you here?
Isellta sniffled. “Has he shown up yet?”
“No.” Jay guided him into a proper sit and released him. “Not yet.”
“Oh. I don’t understand it. He is here, Jay. But…Are you sure? Are you—“‘
“Oh.” Isellta watched the monitor.
“Hey, kid. I know you want to be here when he shows up, but I worry about you tipping over on me again. Can I get you back to bed?”
Isellta shook his head. “Robin.”
“I know, but I don’t want you to get hurt. If he shows up, I promise I’ll let you know.”
The fey blinked quickly and tilted his head. “You’ll leave me alone?” He shuddered. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“I’ll talk Maelin into staying with you.”
Isellta twisted his fingers. “Will you be mad at me if I insist on staying?”
“No.” Jay laid his hand on top of the fey’s twisting and bending fingers. “I’d understand.”
His fingers calmed down. “Do you mean it?”
“I do. It’s your call, kid.”
“I want to stay, Jay. Unless…Will it make you unhappy?”
“Not at all. Like I said, I’d understand.” Jay smiled. “I would make the same choice.”
Isellta snuggled up against him. “Then, I’ll stay.”