Isellta winced as Preyuna helped him off the bed. His legs trembled. His nerves jangled with the need to push her away, to get away from her. “Um. I think I can do it on my own.”
“I doubt it. You can’t even stand straight.” She put her arm around his waist.
I shouldn’t be this way. Not right now. It doesn’t make sense. She isn’t being mean to me. She’s helping me.
But it won’t last. At the end of the day, she will turn around and hurt me just like she did before. She’ll grab me and pull me and squeeze me and it will hurt so bad.
But this is all my own doing. She didn’t trick me into surrendering myself to her. It was a choice that I made.
He straightened his shoulders.
So, I must live with it the best I can.
“Your Majesty? You will tell me if Robin is here?”
She smiled. “As soon as I see him, I will.”
Does she mean it? Or is it a lie?
“Come on, Isellta. Step forward.”
He nodded and obeyed.
Would she lie to me?
Yes. She’s done it before. When she chased Robin away last time…
“Another step. Come on. Keep going.”
She chased him away…
Oh, what if she does it again?
He tripped over his own feet.
What if…What if she already has?
“Wait. Your Majesty, can I trust you?”
“If you do see him again, will you really tell me? Or will you chase him away like you did last time he came here? Or have you already done it?”
She regarded him with regal calm. “Do you really think I would do that?”
“I don’t know.” He tilted his head. “Maybe?”
Her calm turned frigid. “So ready to think the worst of me. Isellta, I am the only one here you can fully trust.”
“Jay works for Caten. It’s his job to protect Caten. If he had a choice between saving you or saving Mark, who do you really think he’d go for first?”
Her words stole his breath out of his chest.
Who would he save? Me or…But Jay hates Mark Caten. He loves me.
“He wants to protect me. He cares about me. Jay would save me first.”
“Are you really so sure? He didn’t fight all that hard when you surrendered yourself to me. He gave in very easily.”
Isellta thought over Jay’s words and actions. “He gave in because—-“
“He didn’t care enough.”
He frowned. “That isn’t true.”
She shrugged. “If it makes you happy to think that.”
What if she’s right?
He took her hand and pulled it away from his waist. He backed away from her in halting, clumsy steps. “Jay is my dearest friend. I trust him completely. He cares about me. I matter to him. And you are wrong about him.”
Her eyes turned white.
Isellta didn’t flinch.
“Then, I’ll have supper alone.” Preyuna stormed over to the bedroom door. She stopped and looked back at him. “But, in time, he will prove me right and you wrong.” She left the room.