heather lin book

Lady of Mars: Chapter 54

Capri waited until the next morning to reveal the note’s contents to Marianne. Thanks to the meds, she had still been sleeping soundly when Capri returned to her room. Once she felt confident she hadn’t been missed, she fell into her own bed.

She woke to the sound of a bell ringing. She rolled out of bed, did a quick check of her hair, and put on a robe to see to Marianne’s needs. Capri was still exhausted from her adventure outside of the palace and the confrontation with Briony; all she wanted to do was go back to sleep. But Marianne—and the note—wouldn’t wait.

The blond was sitting at her vanity, and the lights were on. For the first time, she saw that Marianne had a digital window like Briony’s, only hers stretched from floor to ceiling on the wall beside her bed. The scene was of a bright sunrise over a lush, green jungle. It might have been a wild planet like Alcatraz, or it might have been a scene from Old Earth. The Amazon.

A lot of ladies liked the windows. Even though they were on a giant, floating spaceship, they could fool themselves into thinking they were anywhere.

 Marianne was dressed in a robe, applying some kind of face cream. She was still pale, and her hand shook, but she was able to function. The PICC line remained in her arm. If she couldn’t hold down food and drink today, she would be hooked up again.

“There you are,” she said with a brief glance in Capri’s direction. “I need a bath, and send for more ginger tea and snaps.”

“You must be feeling better.”

Marianne laughed, but the sound ended in a grimace. “I have to try or the medical team will never leave me alone.”

“You’re attending the memorial, then?” Capri asked as she threw some discarded clothing and bedding into a basket.

Marianne glared at her in the mirror. “I’ve already spoken with Ekon. He knows I’m in no condition to go.”

“He hasn’t changed my instructions.”

The blond snorted. “I don’t care about that. You might be reprimanded, but he won’t touch me.”

Capri pursed her lips. She wasn’t afraid of the repercussions; she was annoyed because it would be easier to slip out the following evening with Marianne out of the way.       She made the call for ginger tea and ginger snaps and felt a pang of disappointment. She had wanted to attend the memorial, to give Lady Agatha and the others a proper sendoff—but when made to choose between the dead and the living, the living had to win out. As far as she knew, Brody still fell into the latter category.

“Ekon will touch you, either way,” Capri informed Marianne, leaning casually against a sturdy bedpost.

Marianne turned in her chair, suspicion in her brown gaze. “What is that supposed to mean?”

She held up the note and raised an eyebrow, leaving no room for her to doubt the note’s contents. Marianne stood to grab it and read the schooled handwriting. Her eyes widened in disbelief. “He can’t. I can’t. It will kill me.”

“Then tell him no,” Capri suggested lightly.

“And risk losing everything?” Marianne retorted. “I don’t expect you to understand. You haven’t had him the way the rest of us have. You’ve never had the pleasure of his company. Of his favor.

Capri nearly revealed everything she knew. Her exhaustion made her feel volatile.  It was Marianne’s fault she’d never been a proper lady, and now she had the gall to stand there and degrade her for it. She settled on a less-revealing but equally-scathing retort.

“I have had him.”

Her comment had the desired effect. Marianne froze while the information sank in. “Liar.”

“It’s true,” Capri said. “And as the only other lady who has ever bedded other men, I can tell you with absolute certainty that ‘the pleasure of his company’ is mediocre at best.”

 Marianne’s hand moved so fast Capri only felt the slap against her cheek. If the blond had been at full strength, she might have tasted blood. Capri was too pleased to have gotten under Marianne’s skin to even feel offended.

She gave her lady a terse smile. “I’ll run your bath.”


They didn’t speak of the incident again, and the following morning Marianne wasn’t able to speak much at all. Capri found her throwing up again. She called the medical staff to give her fluids—but she declined the anti-nausea drip on her lady’s behalf.

“It makes her feel worse,” Capri insisted.

The medics protested, but she held her ground.

The fluids provided enough relief that Marianne slept, leaving Capri to her own devices again. Tonight was the night, and despite outward appearances, her stomach was in knots.

Capri stood in her room, toying with the locket around her neck. There were three parts of the plan to save Brody. They all needed to go smoothly, and they all relied on her. She had no one to talk to. Though Briony, unknowingly, had a part to play, she couldn’t speak to her about it. Their friendship was still strained. The timeline was too tight.

She forced herself to push back the feeling of loneliness, to stop worrying and start acting before Marianne woke up. She went down to the infirmary and approached the medic at the front desk.

“My lady Marianne needs some anti-nausea medication.”

The woman smiled politely and nodded. “Of course. Let me just check her records and find something suitable.”

She disappeared through a sliding door, and Capri caught a glimpse of what lay beyond: storage closets, mostly, and no other people that she could see. She was the only one in the waiting room, which she’d been counting on. Illness was rare in the palace.

She’d exited through that very door after her last two stays at the infirmary. The place was always manned by medics, and guards were posted in the halls outside. Anyone within the palace had access to what they needed whenever they needed it. There was no reason to waste resources protecting the medicine on the inside when it was so carefully guarded on the outside.

By the time Ekon discovered a reason to up security in the infirmary, it would be her doing, and her task would be complete.

Capri hid her locket under a cushion and stepped boldly through the door the woman had gone through. She’d just found the closet of sedatives when she heard the medic return. She hid inside the door, fingers on the vials of propofol, trying not to breathe. The waiting room door opened. The woman stepped out, paused, and then came back, passing by the closet again.

Once the footsteps retreated, Capri hurried out to the small waiting area, grabbed the locket, and hid in the bathroom until the medic returned to her post.

The vials and a syringe were tucked safely into a hidden pocket of her dress, and she could only hope their absence wouldn’t be noticed until Brody was free. She straightened her hair and clothes and stepped out.

“I was wondering where you went,” the woman said pleasantly enough.

Capri smiled apologetically. “Sorry. Bad timing.”

She took the medicine with a quick thanks and went straight back to her room. The prep work was done. All that remained was to execute the rescue.

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