Shay nodded and waved his friend into the room. Pyra roosted on his desk, cooing and squawking at the boy until he held up an arm and whistled. She flitted quickly to her master’s limb and jumped up to his shoulder.
The tan boy smiled. She was, indeed, about the size of a finch, much larger already than the bird that had hatched from a golf-ball sized egg two weeks prior.
“She’ll be fully grown by the end of summer. She’ll lose the down and have her adult plumage in no time at all. But,” he said, “you said something about Sable. What’s bugging her?”
“She called herself your toy.”
Shay grimaced as though the word left a bad taste in his mouth, spitting back “toy?”
“She’s said things like that before, but-.”
“It’s not true! Kali, I-! I’d nev-never treat her l-l-like a- a-!”
“Of course not!”
“I had to ask, Shay. Case… She said something similar. Oh, she admitted it was a lie,” the dream fae said, seeing her friend’s hurt face at the revelation. I worry about Sable, all right? She’s very fragile.”
“I don’t… Wh-w-why would she even th-think that? I love her…”
“Have you seen the, ah, scars?”
“That’s a no. Ask her about them. On her collar, right here. And try to convince her it’s not true.”
“What, did Gavin brand her or something?”
Kallima’s jaw dropped, and Shay’s eyes widened.
“He didn’t! She’s not a who-!”
“Shhh! How did you know?”
“Well, it’s not exactly uncommon. Whores are almost always branded like that, when they’re poor or underage. But Gavin… She’s not even sixteen. How could he do that?”
“She said he said that she was acting ‘privileged,’” Kallima said, making air quotes around the word.
“Like hell! The poor girl’s terrified of being anything but miserable. I won’t touch her without permission, I swear, but even when I ask if she wants anything, she says not to worry, to just enjoy what I get. I’ve told her that’s not fair, but I’m not gonna force her to-.”
Shay grew rigid at the voice, tucked his arms behind him, and bowed his head.
“Hello, Father,” he said.
Kallima turned around to see the man who spoke. He was lighter than Shay but possessed the same soft facial features and wavy brown hair, also tied back in a black ribbon. He narrowed his eyes at the boy.