heather lin book

Lady of Mars: Chapter 19

Capri stood frozen, staring at the closed door. She hadn’t given Shots—Brody—much thought in the last four years. He’d seemed to have disappeared after saving her from the full brunt of Sullivan’s attack, and it was just as well. She didn’t need another reminder roaming the halls of the palace.

Then her door had opened, and there he was, looking harder, rougher, angrier than she remembered. But that memory belonged to Capri, and tonight she wasn’t Capri. She was the Prize. He was the Victor. She knew her role well.

At least, she’d thought so. Something had gone wrong, and then she was herself, and he was himself. The way they’d been before.

What was it that made her want him? Did she feel like she owed him for saving her? Was it the safety he represented? He was the only man who had been on her side in her youth, who had never looked at her the way men usually looked at her. Maybe she was genuinely attracted to him.

It didn’t matter the why. In the end, every version of him had rejected every version of her.

A knock sounded on the adjoining door, and Briony let herself in.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “That was quick.”

Quick usually meant rough, painful. It wouldn’t occur to her friend that the deed hadn’t been done at all.

“Oh, my God, Capri—what did he do to you?”

Briony rushed over, breaking Capri from her daze. She realized then that she had tears streaming down her face. Her robe was torn, and her hair was a mess. She looked like she’d been roughed up, but the only thing hurting was her pride. Maybe her heart.

“Nothing,” she managed.

“This doesn’t look like nothing,” Briony pressed, holding her gently by the shoulders and checking her over for signs of injury.

Capri pushed impatiently at her friend’s hands. “He didn’t do anything. He didn’t want me.”

She turned and fumbled through her closet for a robe that actually covered her. She stripped off the other garments and left them on the floor.

Briony was stunned. She moved slowly to pick up after her.

“Didn’t want you?” she repeated, disbelieving.

Capri didn’t answer. She was already in bed, turned away and hugging a soft pillow to her chest. Briony sat next to her and rested a hand on her leg.

“I’m sorry, Capri.”

She didn’t answer.

“Ekon won’t be upset,” she said gently. “He knows better than he should that this couldn’t be your fault.”

“He won’t know at all,” Capri said. “I don’t think he’ll tell him.”

A welcome numbness was beginning to set in. She just wanted to put tonight behind her.

“Well, then, we’re the only ones who will know tonight was anything other than the usual success,” Briony said. “Don’t let him get inside your head. The next Victor will worship you like all the rest.”

Briony squeezed her leg, hesitated, and then took her leave. Capri hugged her pillow closer. She was right, of course. Capri was good enough for King Ekon. Men—mostly men—paid more money than many made in three years’ time just to spend one night with her. They all left satisfied.

Why hadn’t he?

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