heather lin book

Lady of Mars: Chapter 36

Capri slept hard for a few hours, and then she fell into her usual nightmare. It was getting close to the time when she’d typically be expected to entertain a new Victor. The dream varied, but certain elements were always the same: her unraveling confidence, the wine into blood, Sullivan.

She’d never be rid of him. Not really.

Brody was there, too, now. The dark eyes, the stubbled jaw. His expression was grim, as it often was, and he was trying to tell her something. He was close to her, gripping her arm and shouting, fighting to be heard above a roaring wind. His hold on her arm kept getting tighter and tighter, but she just couldn’t hear him.

She tried to tell him he was hurting her, but he couldn’t hear her, either.

Wind whipped around them. She’d read about tornadoes, hurricanes. This had to be something like that. What other force could wrench him away from her and carry his strong body into swirling debris? He was gone, she was alone, but the pain remained.

In the same way she often came to realize she was dreaming, she realized the pain was real. She glanced down and found a bone sticking out of her arm, blood gushing from a torn artery.

She woke with a start.

Her fists were clenched in Brody’s pillow. The man himself sat on a chair, watching her. His thick forearms rested on his knees, and he held a syringe between the first two fingers of his right hand. Maybe she was still dreaming.

But there was no fog around the pain now. This had to be real.

How long had he been sitting there?

She forced herself up to seated, trying to conceal the amount of pain she was in. She wasn’t sure where they stood now, and while she didn’t think he would hurt her—not after all he’d gone through to keep that from happening—she couldn’t understand what he wanted.

“More pain killers,” he said.

She relaxed. He approached her and squatted down beside her. Capri let him take her arm. He unwrapped the bandage, examined the swollen flesh, and drove the needle into her skin. She barely felt it. His hand lingered on her arm, and she raised her eyes to his.

“Thank you,” she said obediently, assuming that was what he was waiting for.

Still, he remained, his brown eyes searching her hazel ones. What was he looking for? What was he thinking? As always, he demanded everything while giving nothing. She tried to reveal nothing, but after just a few days away from Mars, she found the mask she’d slipped on so easily for two years eluding her.

“You were dreaming,” he said.

“Yes,” she agreed quietly, cheeks burning. She couldn’t even feel angry that he’d intruded on her private moment; she was in his bed, after all.

He clenched his jaw. His gaze was dark, as usual, but this time she didn’t see anger, jealousy, or fear. Just guilt. “Tycho?” he guessed.

She shook her head. The pain was beginning to subside. Her mind was clearing, but she still couldn’t make sense of this man.

“I always dream around now,” she said.

“When you’re about to meet the next one?”

She nodded, and his eyes stayed locked on hers, holding her and maybe both of them in the moment.

“You dream about him?” he asked.

She knew he meant Sullivan. “He’s there,” she admitted, but she didn’t want to go into detail.

“I shouldn’t have said it,” he said.

It was the closest he’d come to an apology, and she accepted it. He might not be able to give her everything she wanted, everything she wanted to know about his past, but he was giving her this. A peace offering.

“You were jealous,” she said.

She held her breath, waiting to see if her words sparked another angry rage. A muscle ticked in his jaw, but that was all.

“Yeah,” he agreed, eyes moving to her mouth.

There was a pause, and he reached out to run his thumb along her lower lip, sending an electric shock straight through her. Her breath caught, and his eyes darkened.

“It shouldn’t matter,” he muttered, almost to himself, eyes still fixed on her.

Capri had been in and out since getting shot. She’d missed the last two acquisitions on Tycho. They were already on their way back to Mars, back to beautiful clothes, gourmet food—and doing exactly what was expected of her.

This might be her last chance to make a choice, to taste freedom before everything was decided for her again.

She wouldn’t let it pass her by. She hoped he wouldn’t, either.

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