Robin opened his eyes.
Isellta wasn’t there.
His world was dark gray and lined with metal bars.
‘sellta? Can you hear me? Come on. Say you can hear me. Let me know you can hear me. ‘sellta. ‘sellta. My pretty ‘sellta. Hear me. Please hear me. Don’t go leavin’ me all alone. ‘sellta. My ‘sellta. I’m here. I’m right down here.
Am’rose? Are you there? Can you hear me? Come on! YOU STINGY BLANKET HOGGIN’ ANCIENT OLD GEEZER! HEY! WHAT I GOTTA DO TO GET YOUR FREAKIN’ ATTENTION? WHAT YOU GONE ALL DEAF IN YOUR OLD AGE? HUH? YOU CAN’T HEAR MY VOICE NO MORE? STUPID, STUPID AMBROSE! COME ON! WHAT THE FREAKIN’ HECK YOU EVEN WAITIN’ FOR? I’M YELLIN’ WITH ALL MY MIGHT! BET YOUR HEAD HURTS. BET YOUR FREAKIN’ STUPID EARS HURT. BET YOU WANNA GET ON WITH YOUR DAY SLEEP, YOU SLOG-FILLED OLD BUZZARD GIZZARD! YEAH. YOU HEARD ME. GIZZARD. AS IN ONE FREAKIN’ GIZZARD. AIN’T GOT NO MORE’N THAT.
Robin watched the door.
But no one came.
Yell at me. Call me annoyin’. Tell me I’m bein’ a pain. Tell me anythin’. Just let me know I ain’t alone. Am’rose? You even there?
Raven? What about you? You hear me okay?
But no one spoke to him.
You fussbudgety ol’ mother hen. Always fussin’ about all the dumb stuff. What about now? Huh? Why ain’t you gonna fuss about me not callin’ you? You guys even miss me?
Ain’t no one gonna reply?
Isellta cried out as the dream faded. “Robin. Robin!”
“Shh.” A man’s hand petted his hair. “It’s okay.”
Isellta opened his eyes and looked up.
Jay was there.
“It was just a bad dream. You’re okay, kid.”
Isellta shook his head. “Robin was here. He was here. I saw him in my dream. He was here. I ran to him. And. And.” He sniffled. “Robin disappeared. Jay? Why did he disappear? Where is he? Jay, why isn’t he here? Why would he leave me? Why hasn’t he come to me? I don’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t know. Short of him being captured and staked, I don’t know why Robin would willingly stay away from you.”
Isellta curled his hands against his chest. “But I think he’s already here. But he hasn’t come to me. I don’t understand.”
Jay sighed heavily. “Well, if he is here—”
“He is. I can feel him here.”
Jay’s hand went still. A stunned expression came over his face.
“What? What is it?”
Jay smiled and it was like a ray of sunshine breaking through storm clouds. “I have an idea. See, there’s this prison cell in the dungeon. According to Mae, it smells a lot like Robin’s tangerine scent.”
Isellta fumbled up into a sit. “What? He’s here? He really is here? Did she see him?”
Jay sighed. “That’s the weird part. His scent is there, but he isn’t.”
“That sounds like fey magic.” Isellta held his arms out to Jay. “Take me down there. Let me see if I can see him.”
“You know, I was hoping you’d say that.”