“My ‘sellta.” Robin woke quickly. His pupils widened.
There were no bars before his eyes.
No cold metal held his mouth shut.
His head was no longer pinned to the wall.
Hope and joy clenched his throat. “‘sellta! Where—” He raised his head and startled at the sight of Preyuna standing before him.
“Hello, ugly vampire.”
Robin wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. “Where?” He swallowed hard. Everything inside of him was buzzing, such very happy buzzing. “Isellta. My beautiful fey. Where is he?”
Preyuna exhaled through her nose. “He isn’t here.”
“Wha? I don’t—”
“Oh, please. Don’t go saying that you don’t understand. You do understand. Isellta is dying.”
The buzzing stopped. His body felt hollow and cold. “Take me to him.”
“Please! Let me—”
“Kill Mark Caten. You have to kill him. You must—-”
“What the devil do I freakin’ care ’bout freakin’ Mark Caten? Killin’ him ain’t gonna make Isellta no stronger. You want that Caten fool dead? Go freakin’ do it yourself!”
“You baseline idiot! Do you really think it’s that easy?”
“Tch. Ain’t seein’ no reason why not.”
“Fine. Let me rephrase the question for your inferior wits: Do you really think I’d ask an abomination like you for help if I could do it just fine by myself?”
Robin managed a semi-shrug. “How would I know? You could be one of them super bossy ‘Oh do this. Oh, do that and that and that’ chicks.”
“Maybe I am. But maybe I have the power to bring Isellta back.”
“Then, freakin’ do it already! Whatcha waitin’ for?”
“I’m waiting for you to kill—-”
“Oh, darnation! You got a freakin’ complex about killin’ that guy. What? You gotta crush on Caten and he ain’t havin’ you?”
She punched him and furiously pushed his head against the wall.
“Ah! What the—”
She lowered the muzzle.
“No! No! Don’t—”
She pushed his lower jaw up, forcing his teeth to clonk together. She covered his mouth with the metal mouthpiece and buckled it tight to the muzzle.
He looked at her with wide, frantic eyes. Please. Please don’t leave me like this.
The muzzle’s bars broke the perfect lines of her face, splitting and dividing them. “Kill Mark Caten and I will give you everything you desire: your freedom and Isellta.” She tilted her head. “Don’t you think that’s a worthwhile exchange?”
Yes. I oughta say yes, but…but…
There’s somethin’ off about this deal. I ain’t trustin’ you.
“You don’t have to trust me. Just kill him. Make him suffer the whole time. Let him scream. Let him bleed. Let him become a broken, sniveling mess. And you will be free to go home with Isellta. It’s a very good deal. You would be stupider than the average human if you pass it up.”
Say yes! Say yes! Don’t go blowin’ this chance. Just say yes and I’ll see him. I’ll see my ‘sellta again. Oh, just to see him again.
But I ain’t trustin’ her. How can I? She’s made it more’n clear she hates me.
Would she really let ‘sellta go home with me?
Would she even let me see him?
Do monkeys spontan’ously generate from freakin’ banana peels? Nuh-uh. And I ain’t no monkey.
No. You’re lyin’ to me. I know you are.
“Oh, you’re just so smart and clever. I ought to applaud you.” She turned into Isellta dressed in a sheer black crop top and low slung tight black slacks. His feet were bare.
Robin’s pupils widened.
Isellta sauntered to the middle of the room. His waistband shifted uneasily with each step as if it were about to fall off his narrow hips.
Robin’s face burned as he imagined how soft his skin would be. He imagined what it would be like to pull those slacks all the way down.
Isellta stopped and idly flapped his wings. He smiled.
Robin winced as that simple, sweet smile did things to him. Powerful, provocative things.
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Darn darn darn shoot darn darn darnDARN! Not nownotnownotnow!
Isellta tucked his arms behind his head and stretched with a slow deliberation. The shirt rose a little higher. The slacks slid a little lower.
Oh freakin’ hot darnation! What am I supposed to do? I can’t move. I can’t—-
Isellta’s smile lifted into a smirk. “I hope you’re enjoying the skin show, Robin.” His expression turned hard and mean. “Because from this moment on, you will never see it again.”
‘sellta. I ain’t sure what you’re goin’ on about, but please. Get me outta here and we’ll go home. My beautiful fey, let me take you home.
“I’m going to ignore all of that unseemly blather. You refused to kill Mark Caten. So, you lose.” Isellta lowered his arms and strode back to him. He spread his hand above Robin’s heart and leaned his face close to the muzzle. “You will never see me again.”
‘sell… Robin’s eyelids drifted down as his day exhaustion overcame him. ‘sellta. ‘sell…
He fell asleep.