Isellta fluttered his wings as Maelin opened the bedroom door. Jay. My dear Jay. I get to see him again. I can’t touch him, but that’s okay. I can at least see him.
Maelin entered the room.
Isellta tried to follow her, but Preyuna’s magical barrier pushed him back. His wings went still.
Jay had rolled over on his side facing away from the door. He’d pulled his blanket all the way up to his neck. The only visible part of him was his sandy brown hair.
Maelin looked back at him. “Are you okay, angel?”
He nodded. “I’m okay.” His wings flattened against his back. “I’m okay.”
Her expression turned concerned. “If this too difficult for you—“
“No. It’s fine. I’m fine. I’m okay.” I just want one good moment before I go back to her. Just one. Just…He smiled at Maelin. “I’m fine. You don’t have to worry. I’m okay.” I don’t have to go to Her Majesty just yet. She didn’t give me a time limit. So, it is okay. Anyway, I am not going to think about any of that right now. “I’m here.”
Her concern softened into understanding. “I’ll step out of the room and give you two some alone time. I’ll be over by the kitchen door. Call me if you need me for any reason.”
She left the room and walked down the hall.
As soon as she was outside of eavesdropping range, Isellta sat in the doorway. “Jay? My dear Jay. I’m here now. Sorry if I’m talking too loud. I’ll be quieter. I don’t want to disturb you.” He lowered his volume as he continued, “I just wanted to let you know that I’m…I’m okay. Maelin made me a delicious meal. I wish you could have had some. I think you would have really liked it. She called it an omelet? It had so many things in it! It was wonderful. And she put SO much cheese on it. Maelin is such a good person. She’s a good one. You’re very lucky to have her.”
Isellta glanced down the hall. Maelin was still out of hearing range. He looked back at Jay’s head. “I’m going to miss her when she leaves, but I know I won’t miss her as much as you will. Maybe? Maybe Her Majesty will let me comfort you when that day does come. One can always hope. Right?”
Jay took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose.
“But I don’t know. I don’t really know how much of a comfort I’ll be. I won’t be the one you want.”
He glanced down the opposite end of the hall. Preyuna was nowhere in sight. “Maelin asked me if I’d reconsider staying with you and her. Oh, Jay! It’s such a lovely thought. I wanted to say yes. I wanted to so much. I still do. But I can’t. I know I can’t. If I do….If I tell Her Majesty that I want to break my agreement with her…If I tell her I don’t want to be with her…I know. I know she won’t be happy. She’ll be angry. She’ll…”
Isellta flinched at the memory of waking up naked and hurting. “She’ll hit me. She’ll hurt me. But that doesn’t matter. What matters the most is she’ll take her anger out on Robin. She’ll send him away like she did before. Or she won’t tell me when he comes. Or she’ll kill him. Jay, I can’t take that risk. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I wish things were better. I wish…I wish. I wish for so many things, my dear Jay.”
Isellta stood. The motion was very klutzy and uncoordinated, a little like a newborn fawn trying to stand. But he managed to remain on his feet. “I wish she could stay.”