The vivid images of twisted memory woke Capri until she finally gave up on sleep.
She sat in the cold, hard desk chair, knees to her chest, going over Brody’s words in her mind. Not the hurtful ones; she couldn’t stand the way they made her stomach clench. She focused on his revelation about Sullivan.
If what he said was true, the connection between Marianne and Sullivan was too much of a coincidence. She could have set the whole thing up. But that line of thinking… it was too horrible. Even Marianne wouldn’t do that.
Ekon’s own admission came back to her. “Somehow she always manages to capture my queen.” Capri shivered and pulled Leroy’s jacket closer around her.
She would do it if the alternative was losing her place at Ekon’s side. How had she convinced her cousin? “Don’t you want to fuck one of Ekon’s famous beauties?” That was probably all it had taken. That was all it took now—that, and enough money to win the auction.
Anger simmered inside of Capri, more anger than she’d ever felt. Brody’s cruelty. Marianne’s trap. The idea of going back there only to face another Victor. She felt trapped. There was no place of comfort left on the ship, no one to turn to. Knowing what she knew now…Mars was just a different kind of prison.
But at least in the kingdom, in the palace, she had Briony. She had more space, some of it her own. She wouldn’t be borrowing someone else’s. In this moment, if she had to choose between the two, she would choose Mars.
And Marianne needed to pay for what she did.
Someone knocked on the door at breakfast time. Leroy, she guessed. She ignored it. She dozed for a bit, forehead on her knees, and woke up at 1:00 with an aching neck and growling stomach.
She still had four days left on the ship. Staying in this small room wasn’t realistic. She marveled at the fact that not twelve hours before, she’d been in a state of elation, feeling like part of the team. It had taken so little to crush her.
Maybe she wasn’t as brave as she’d thought.
She went to the mess area, hoping no one else would be there, but they all were. Some kind of pre-exchange meeting. She grabbed a packet of dry cereal from Brody’s stock—which she hated doing, but she still had no food of her own—and a bottle of water.
She didn’t sit. She tried to stay invisible, to disappear into the corner of the counter while they continued the meeting. She didn’t mean to look at them, but she did.
Leroy was watching her. He offered a tentative smile. Brody glared at him from across the table. She looked down at her cereal before he could turn the angry look on her. Her defenses were weak. Lack of sleep and frayed emotions. She wouldn’t be able to take it.
“I know it’s difficult having a female on board, but I’m going to need you two to think with the right parts today,” Colin said, making no effort to hide his irritation. “We’re landing in an hour. I’d like the bargain to be in our favor.”
“Aye,” they grunted.
Capri finished gulping down her water and went back to Brody’s room. She made herself shower and change. She chose the jumpsuit she’d bought. Practical, but pretty, and pretty things made her happy.
She left her hair down this time. She was done playing pirate.