Isellta kept his gaze fixed on Preyuna as she searched his memories. It’s going to be different this time. This time she won’t hurt me. She’ll be gentle. She won’t want to hurt me again. I told her I trust her.
I trust her? I don’t have a choice. I have to trust her. I have to trust that she…Oh.
Marakai Mal Hoven sat at her loom, busily weaving. She didn’t look up when he entered the room. He toddled over to her, eager to be near her. He stood on his tiptoes and watched in awe. She was working with so many lines! And they were all so very straight. So colorful! “Preddy. So preddy lines, Momma.” He fluttered his small, fluffy wings.
Before he could dwell too long on that memory, Preyuna pushed it aside and kept searching.
Isellta clenched and unclenched his fists. It’s okay. It’s okay. She’s not hurting me. I can trust her. She won’t hurt me this time. I can trust her. She won’t hurt me. I trust her. She won’t hurt me. She isn’t hurting me. She won’t—
He shuddered as the first of the Mark Caten memories appeared. The way Caten looked at her and talked to her and touched her…Isellta wanted to curl up into a ball and hide his face.
“You are not my creator!” Preyuna yelled in unison with her memory.
Isellta cried out in pain as she obliterated it. She tore into the next one and the next one and the next one before they could even start to play out…before he could have a chance to recover from the previous memory’s destruction.
And there were so many memories.
His mouth opened wide, but he had neither the voice nor the breath to scream. His wings flittered in an erratic pattern, shedding feathers. All of his nerves jolted with the need to run, run, run fast, fast, fast.
I can’t. I need to do this. I want them gone. I need them gone. If I can just get through this…I can get through this. I must get through this. Just wait it out. She’ll be done soon. It will all be over soon. Just wait. Wait. Wait. Wait…
It seemed to take forever and just a few minutes all at the same time. He honestly had no idea how long it truly took for her to reach and annihilate that last memory of Mark Caten. As soon as it was gone, she released him.
Isellta exhaled a sharp breath. He stood quickly to get away from her, but his legs were in a dysfunctional state of being. They found a way to tangle each other up. He stumbled back and tripped over his own feet. He fell forward.
Preyuna caught him. She guided him to the bed and pushed him down into a sit.
Isellta felt as if all of his innards had turned into ice. No…Please no.
“So? Do you see? Do you understand why I will NEVER let you surrender yourself to Mark Caten?”
“He is a heartless, soulless brute. To call him an animal or even a monster would be an insult to such creatures.” Preyuna put her hands on his shoulders and forced him onto his back. She sat beside him on the bed.
The blood drained from his face. He could feel it happen.
She played her fingers along his neck and throat. “You are a lovely young man. You shouldn’t be with a brute. You should hrrash ka kae with someone who is better than that.”
After everything she’s done to me last night and this morning, is she really going to force me to do this again? I don’t want to.
I don’t want to.
“Your Majesty, please. Please.”
She smiled. “Please what, Isellta?”
But I surrendered myself to her. Doesn’t that mean I can’t refuse her? But my body is my own. I have the right to say who does and doesn’t touch me. But I surrendered my body to her.
But I don’t want to.
“I can’t. Please. Not now. Please. Please?”
Anger flashed in her eyes, only to quickly die away. “Fine. I want to have breakfast anyway.” She lightly pressed her index finger against the middle of his throat. “We’ll hrrash ka kae later.” She got off the bed. “Right now, Eschia will dress me. Feel free to watch, Isellta. I have nothing to hide from you.”