Isellta shivered as Eschia pulled down his pajama bottoms.
But…but it isn’t her.
He flexed and relaxed his hands.
She isn’t Her Majesty. She is Eschia. Eschia won’t hurt me. She has never hurt me like that. She won’t. Oh, Ancestors of the Nor’eastern Woods schie a kehn! Please don’t let her hurt me!
Eschia tossed the bottoms on the bed. “You have a very beautiful body, Isellta.” she said. “I know it isn’t mine to touch or to claim. You belong to Lady Queen Preyuna and she is the only one you may give pleasure to.” Her expression turned sad. “And even if you weren’t hers, you wouldn’t be mine.” She transformed into Robin.
Isellta’s mouth dropped open in wordless shock. A half-joyous/half-pained cry escaped. Completely disregarding his own nakedness, Isellta embraced him. He pressed his face into the crook of Robin’s neck.
And every breath was tangerine.
He grabbed the back of Robin’s shirt and held it as tight as he could. “I missed you. Oh, Robin! I’ve missed you so much. It hurts. It still hurts, but oh. Oh, Robin!”
The tangerine scent disappeared without even a whiff left behind.
Isellta quickly raised his head. “Robin?”
Robin was no longer there.
Eschia stood before him. Her expression was still sad. “And that is why you will never be mine.”
“I…I don’t…What? Robin?” Isellta started to glance around, but then he realized that his hands were holding onto the back of Eschia’s shirt as tight as he could.
His hands were still holding onto the back of Eschia’s shirt.
Isellta quickly released her. “Oh. Oh, I see. Oh…” Shame and desire burned him straight through. Shame for being so easy to fool. Desire for who was eternally out of his reach. And both made him feel even more naked than he already was. He was something to be pointed to and laughed at. Such an easy dupe! Such a willing fool.
He hugged himself, which set his desire burning hotter. I want Robin to hug me. I need to feel his arms around me.
He clenched his teeth and tried not to scream.
Eschia took his slacks off the bed and knelt before him. “Okay! One foot at a time.”
He looked down at her and panted softly. I want…
She looked up at him. “Come on! Lift your foot.”
He knelt. “Could you…Please? One more time?”
The conflict was clear on Eschia’s face. It took her several minutes to finally speak. “To what end, Isellta? It will be a lie for both of us and one that neither of us deserves.”
“I know. But…I miss him so much. I need his touch. I need—”
She shook her head. “What you need is him, not a lie that will disappear. Come on. It’s time you were dressed.”
She is right. I don’t want a lie.
I don’t want an illusion.
I want him.
Him with all of his faults and shortcomings.
Him with all of his secrets that I long to learn.
Just him as he is.
Isellta stood and lifted his foot.
Robin, I want all of you.