Brody was in turmoil. He had been ever since Capri had shown up with Jax, his dead wife’s gun clutched uncertainly in her dainty little fingers. Her soft hands were meant for holding other bits. He should have made her go back.
But he hadn’t. Instead, he’d watched her stand there clear as day and get herself hurt trying to help them. Trying to help him.
After all the horrible things he’d said to her.
He’d felt the same punch in the gut as when he’d pulled Sullivan off her four years ago. He’d felt the same dread as when he’d gotten to his apartment and found Colin waiting for him. He hadn’t seen where the bullet landed at first, didn’t have a chance to see how bad off she was until after he’d shot the bastard. He was prepared for the worst, the devastation he’d faced upon finding his wife’s body on the floor, his baby girl dead in her bed.
The images came to him clearly, and he knew in an instant she would be added to that list, his list of loved ones. His list of failures.
How? How had she managed to find all the soft parts of him and make him feel again? He ground his teeth together as he cleaned his gun in his room. His relief at discovering she’d only suffered a flesh wound was as devastating as if she’d died.
He fucking cared.
He had thought they would kill him. He didn’t exactly believe in God, didn’t exactly believe in Heaven. But he imagined Jill and Maxine sitting on a cloud somewhere—because it was too painful to just imagine them gone—watching him and waiting for the perfect moment to end his life. Then he’d decided they must want him to live for a while, to suffer with the loss, the weight of what he’d done. And that was fine, too.
But he’d been wrong. This was their revenge. They’d break him first, using Capri as the means.
He just had to get her back to Mars. That was it. Drop her and forget about her. She’d be safe there. Sure, she’d be back getting fucked by whoever the hell Ekon or the auction decided, but she’d be safer than anyone was when they were with him. Today had proven that.
But the thought of her in someone else’s arms put him into a rage, too, and he threw the unloaded gun across the room. He watched it bounce off the wall with a sense of satisfaction that could only come from violence.
He needed it, craved it, but here on the ship he had no outlet. They hadn’t landed on the Green Patch yet. He couldn’t go off-ship and find a bar. He’d start a fight over something, anything, and then he’d really get to lay into somebody.
But all he could do was punch the wall on the way out the door and find a beer to calm his nerves. He wanted whiskey, but even that would have to wait until they got to sector 39 and he could restock.
“Brody,” Colin greeted him distractedly from the table.
Leroy sat with him, looking miserable. Brody knew he was worried about Capri, and that didn’t help his mood. The mechanic liked her. She liked him, too. It shouldn’t matter to him, but it did.
Weak. When had he gotten so fucking weak? He felt trapped on the ship, too close to her, and there was nothing he could do.
He nodded a brief acknowledgment to the captain and reached in the fridge. He ripped the top off a beer and downed it in a few gulps. He grabbed another.
“Should Capri see a doctor?” Leroy asked. “The Green Patch is the most civilized place we’ll be between now and Mars.”
Brody ignored him in favor of reaching for a third bottle.
“Shots,” Colin said, warning him to show a little respect.
Brody took a long sip. What the hell happened to Capri being his responsibility? Why was everyone so worried about her all of a sudden? He had his suspicions Colin had taken a liking to her, but that just couldn’t be. How the hell would he finagle taking on a lady of Mars as part of the crew? Brody wouldn’t survive it, and, more importantly, neither would she.
But why else would the captain look so concerned? Why else had he been so proud after the fruit raid? Why the hell else had he been okay with Jax dragging her out of his room and making her help them?
Maybe Colin could exchange Brody for Capri. Ekon would want his head, anyway. He knew it. He wasn’t stupid. Capri might be damaged goods, but she was the king’s damaged goods.
Brody almost laughed. Exchanging a gunman for a useless girl. The king would never stand for it, and the captain wasn’t that stupid.
Then again, maybe it was a bigger opportunity—to exact his revenge on him for the death of his sister. Colin had to blame him. There was no one else to blame, and someone always needed blaming.
Brody was spiraling to the dark corners of his mind, but Colin’s sharp tone snapped him back to the present.
“Ain’t nothin’ a doctor can do I ain’t already done,” he snapped.
Colin chose to ignore his tone and nodded his acceptance. He fell back into thought, sipping his coffee, considering their next move. Thanks, in part, to Capri, they had the money they’d been promised. They’d pick up the goods they were slated to deliver to Mars, and then it would all depend on what Ekon had to say.
He might take Brody. He might try to take them all. He might do business with them again or he might not. They’d likely wind up on Ptolemy to lay low for a while if he proved dangerous or unreasonable.
It wouldn’t be the first time. Colin had started out a legitimate businessman. Some days he still was, but he wasn’t afraid to cash in on something reckless. None of them were. They all knew the risks. They’d all signed up for this life, in one way or another.
But not Capri. Capri hadn’t asked for any of this, and now she was lying all bandaged up and woozy in the next room. His fault. Again. His fucking fault.
Brody slammed the glass bottle down on the counter with unintentional force, and it broke. All that remained in his hand was the neck of the bottle, and out of pure frustration he threw it. It hit a cabinet, leaving a long scratch in its wake.
Leroy eyed him warily, hand hovering over his gun—like the little prick had a chance in hell of killing him. Colin was on his feet, ready to grab him if it went any further. Brody breathed heavily, seeing red.
Every fucking thing he touched broke.
“Go and cool down, Shots,” the captain ordered. His eyes were fierce, and his hand was on his own gun.
Brody balled his hands into fists and realized his right palm was wet. It began to sting, and he looked down at the gash. The sight of it only added to his anger. He turned his glare on the captain, saying nothing, but staring him down, ready for a fight—wanting a fight.
“Don’t think you’re the only one upset about this,” Colin told him, “but she knows as well as any of us what can happen in a gunfight.”
“She don’t know nothin’,” Brody snapped. “What the hell happened to keeping her safe until we get her back to Ekon?”
“We needed help.”
“She ain’t meant for this kinda shit.”
“She handled herself just fine.”
“She shouldn’t have to handle herself at all!”
“Go, Brody,” the captain told him again, voice icy, using his given name. It was enough of a hint that he was about to get himself booted.
Brody scowled. Leroy glanced between them, looking slightly panicked, like a child whose parents were fighting. But his hand remained on the revolver, and Brody knew if it came down to it the mechanic would at least try to shoot him.
And hadn’t he promised to stay alive until Capri was back on Mars? He turned and stalked off.