Preyuna took one last sip of her blackberry tea and set the cup on the kitchen table.
I won’t tell anyone that I have that filthy vampire’s phone. Not even Mark. There’s no reason for him or anyone else to know.
She pulled out the phone again.
She stared long and hard at Robin’s smiling face and tried to see what Isellta saw in him. But she couldn’t see it. All she saw was the crooked line running from the middle of his forehead to under his chin.
Preyuna saw his ruined eye and she couldn’t understand.
The kitchen door opened.
Preyuna shut the phone down and casually returned it to her pocket.
“Oh.” Maelin said. “I didn’t know that you were in here.”
“I would be surprised and impressed if you had known, peace dragon.” She picked up her tea cup and carried it to the sink.
Maelin met her there. She put her own cup in the sink as well.
“How is he?” Preyuna gave the other woman a disdainful side glance. “I assume I’m not allowed to see Isellta. So, tell me. How is he doing?”
“We’re working on getting him walking again. Is there anything you can do to help?”
“I might be willing to help. For the right price.”
Preyuna was taken by surprise. She had expected Maelin to glitch out about having to pay a price. “Name it? Interesting.” She turned to face her. “I want my freedom. More than anything in this world, I just want to go home. Make it happen.”
Maelin smiled. “And how do you propose I ‘make it happen’?”
“You’re a peace dragon. I’m sure you have something in your dirty magic arsenal that you can use.”
Maelin seemed to think about it. “If I agree to this, what happens to Isellta? Does he stay with Jay?”
Preyuna laughed. “What? Stay here? Do you seriously want sweet, delicate Isellta to stay here? If I leave, Isellta will no longer be under my protection. Mark Caten would have free access to him. He has already had Isellta’s wings snapped once. Who knows what else he might do to him if I leave Isellta behind?”
“I see. So, your price for helping Isellta is your freedom and his imprisonment.”
Preyuna’s eyes turned white. “You don’t understand, you small-minded peace dragon. After living with and dealing with Mark Caten’s abuse, I deserve something good. I deserve a reward.”
Maelin frowned, but managed to keep her composure. “Isellta is not a reward, Preyuna. Just as you aren’t Mark Caten’s trophy. He is a person just like you.”
“You don’t understand!”
Maelin’s expression turned sad. “Neither do you.”
Preyuna’s eyes returned to normal. “So, what does this mean, peace dragon scum? Does this mean you won’t pay me for my services?”
“No. It means I require a better price.”
“There is no better price! If I could get Isellta away from all of these fool-headed, nonsensical, muddle-brained humans, he would see! He would see me! He would finally see me and not some low-born, wingless, scarred, ground-kisser. He would want me, not Robin.”
“That will never happen and you know it. He loves Robin and nothing will change that.”
Preyuna considered throwing both cups at Maelin. “Well. It sounds like we are both standing on the wrong sides of this conversation.” She gave her the iciest look she possessed. “I think we’re done here.”
“Will you help him?”
“No.” Preyuna strode towards the door.
I should ignore her and push on through, but I am curious.
She stopped and turned around. “Yes?”
“Where is Robin?”
Preyuna laughed. “Why are you asking me? Do I look like I have him hidden in my pocket?”
“Isellta says that he is here. I searched outside for Robin, but couldn’t find any trace of him. But when I went down into the dungeon, his scent was centered in one particular cell.”
Preyuna folded her arms across her chest. She hoped that her expression didn’t betray her.
“But he wasn’t in there. Jay and I went into the monitor room to check if he ever made it here.”
Preyuna tapped her fingers against her arm. She hoped that it looked casual and simply annoyed.
Maelin tilted her head. “There was a fear magic attached to the monitor. It made me flee the room. I was afraid. I am never afraid. So? I want to know where Robin is.”
“Did it feel like fey magic?”
Maelin frowned thoughtfully. “No.”
“But you’re so quick to assume that I had something to do with it. Have you forgotten, peace dragon, I am not the only person with magic inside this building?” She smirked. “So, why don’t you spend a little more time cancelling out the other possibilities instead of jumping to conclusions like a fool human?”
Maelin had nothing to say to that.
Preyuna turned and left.