I have no regrets. Preyuna quartered an apple. Of course, I wanted to be the one to dress Isellta. But that doesn’t count as a regret. It’s just a simple statement of preference.
She threw out the core.
But after everything…
She diced the slices. It was a very satisfying sound—the knife shshhing through the apple’s flesh and then tck! on the plate. Over and over, a nice and steady rhythm. A clean, good sound.
After everything that happened last night, I’m sure my dressing him was the last thing he wanted. He’ll be okay with Eschia dressing him. He’ll be fine.
I have no regrets.
Even as she thought that last sentence, she knew it was a lie.
I raped him. I assaulted him with images he didn’t want or ask for, just to prove a point.
She carefully arranged the diced apples on her plate.
What’s happening to me? Why am I like this? This is not who I am. So, why am I doing these things to him? Why do I find it so easy to hurt him?
Preyuna went into the fridge and pulled out a plastic case of strawberries. She set five large strawberries on the chopping board. She put the rest back into the fridge.
Isellta is so easy to hurt.
She slivered the berries. The knife glided through their softness.
His trust is so easily broken and lost. But there is one sure way to win it back. She frowned. But doing that means letting him go. Because he will not stay with me if I release Robin. He will not want me. He will not love me. It will do NOTHING but make him want Robin even more. And that is something I do NOT want.
She artistically arranged the strawberries with the apples.
Besides that, what good would it do to release Robin? Sure, he’ll be able to go back home. Yay. Yippee for him. But Isellta won’t be able to return with him. Isellta will still be stuck here. Until Mark Caten is dead, Isellta and I are stuck here. I can only imagine how much more miserable Isellta would be about that.
She pulled a plastic bag of purple grapes out of the fridge. She plucked a handful of grapes and set them on the chopping board.
Jay plated his French toast and stopped next to her. “Is Isellta okay?”
Preyuna chopped the grapes in halves. They were so easy to cut — just slice through the thin skin and CHOP! “Is there a reason why he wouldn’t be?”
Jay scoffed. “Oh, I’m sure you already know the answer to that question.”
CHOP. CHOP. CHOP. “Just as I’m sure you already know your own answer. Great for us both. This conversation is over already because we have all the answers we need. Marvelous.”
“Preyuna. Is he all right? Can I see him?”
She arranged the chopped grapes on her plate. “Of course you can see him. I’m not stopping that from happening, you know. You just can’t get too close to him.” She grabbed a fork out of the silverware drawer, picked up the plate, and carried it to the table.
Jay followed her with his own plate of food.
Preyuna sat at the table and chose to ignore him. She stabbed a sliced grape with her fork. Jay loomed beside her, but she kept him on very steady ignore.
“Preyuna. Do you know where Robin is?”
She ate the grape. “Now, why would I know that answer? Robin doesn’t belong to me. He is none of my concern.”
“I didn’t say he was your concern. I just want to know where he is.”
“And you think I know that answer?” She laughed. “Oh, I turned him into a bracelet and I wear him all the time. There.” She tilted her head. “Is that the answer you’re looking for?”
“I want the truth. No flippancy. Just the plain truth. Isellta deserves to know if Robin is here.”
Preyuna ate her grapes, one half at a time, as she considered the best way to answer his question. “The truth? The truth is it doesn’t really matter if Robin is here or not. Isellta can’t leave.” She scooped up a thin strawberry slice and admired it for a moment. “Robin can leave all he wants, but Isellta is trapped. Just like me.”
“That isn’t much of an answer.”
She looked up at him.
“Even though, I’m inclined to say that it means Robin is here. Somewhere.”
She smiled. “If you’re so certain about that, why are you wasting your time asking me?”
“Because I am not certain. Because I want to know the actual truth.”
Preyuna looked away from him and ate her strawberry slice. “You should eat your French toast before it gets too cold.”