Maelin could not sleep. Her thoughts kept moving in smooth angled lines from Isellta to Jay and back to Isellta.
She sighed and kissed the side of Jay’s neck.
He smiled. “mmmmm….”
“I’m going to check on Isellta.”
He opened his eyes at that. “Wha?” He sat up. “What’s wrong? What? What?” He glanced around the room. “Isellta…where? Where is he?”
She sat up as well. “I assume he’s in his own room.”
“What? Oh.” His shoulders slumped. “Of course. His agreement…Preyuna…I thought that was just a dream, but I guess it wasn’t.”
“I’m going to check on him.” Maelin said. “Make sure he’s okay.”
“I’m sure he isn’t.” His mouth went down into a sad line. “I’m sure she’s gone and hurt him again. The way she always does.”
She laid her hand along the side of his face. “If she has hurt Isellta, I’ll heal him. He’ll be okay.”
“The poor kid. I wish I could hug him and comfort him.”
“I’ll hug him twice as much for you. And I’ll tell him that a large part of that hug is from you. He’ll be comforted by that.”
He smiled. “I love you, Mae.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.” She leaned in and kissed him. “I’ll give you the full report when I come back.”
He nodded. “Okay.”
Maelin got out of bed and pulled her pink chenille robe over her red silk chemise. She tied her robe closed and left the room.
The lights in the hall were dimmed. But she had no problem finding her way to Isellta’s room. She knocked on the door. “Isellta? It’s me. Maelin. May I come in, angel?”
His voice sounded small and choked as he replied, “Yes.”
Maelin opened the door and found him sitting in a huddle on the floor. His breathing was ragged. She knelt beside him.
He looked away from her. “Jay’s mad at me, isn’t he? He wasn’t before, but I’m sure he’s had some time to think it over.” His voice wobbled and squeaked as he continued, “And why wouldn’t Jay be mad at me? He’s been so good to me, so caring, so kind and…and I…I pushed that all aside to surrender myself to the woman who hurts me. I’m so stupid. I’m just…just a stupid whore. That’s all I am.”
“I’m stupid and worthless and filthy. So filthy. It’s all over me.” He looked back at her. Tears fell down his face. “You see it, don’t you? You see it all over me and you hate me for it. You hate me because—-“
“Isellta, I don’t hate you. Jay doesn’t hate you.”
He hugged himself. “Robin will. Robin will hate me. I know he will. I know. He won’t want me.”
Maelin’s heart ached for him. “Isellta, can I hug you?”
She gently pulled him into her arms.
Isellta grabbed the back of her robe and held on tight. He cried.
“Robin won’t hate you.” She stroked the middle of his back over and over. “And no. You are not a whore, filthy or otherwise. Whoever made you believe that ought to be pitched off this cliff.”
“But I…I feel I feel I feel so filthy. After what she did to me, I feel horrible and ugly and dirty. I can…I can…I feel the dirtiness on my skin, inside all of my bones.”
She kept stroking his back. “What did she do to you?”
His crying alternated between whimpering and a sort of gasping cry. “I—I—she…I ca—I…I can’t. I can’t. I…”
“My poor angel.”