Broken Queen

Page 26

Vittoria is standing beside the door. She’s in her bra and panties, which is surprising, considering the soldiers around the penthouse. Her makeup has long since worn off and her hair is stuck to her forehead like it’s wet. She’s also barefoot and just looks out of sorts. A little lost.
“Where are your clothes?” I ask.
She looks down as if just realizing she’s not quite dressed. “I was sleeping.”
“Hm.” I pad across the room and get back into bed. I’m tempted to take the pills the doctor left, but I know they’ll knock me out, and I don’t want that. But just beneath the glass of water is a folded piece of paper. I take it, recognizing my brother’s handwriting.
Bruno and I are going to see Tilbury. Get some rest. I’ll let you know what we find.
I glance at Vittoria and crumple the note. Amadeo and I were supposed to go together, but given what’s happened, I get it. I’d be hobbling along, and Vittoria would be left on her own. Even given the soldiers, one of us needs to stay with her.
“You’re creeping me out a little standing there like a ghost,” I say as I drop the note into the drawer and sit back against the headboard.
“I’m not a ghost,” she says and walks over to the bed. I notice she’s teetering a little, and when she raises her arm, and I see the bottle of whiskey, I can guess why. “Amadeo said you’re not taking the painkillers, so I brought whiskey.”
“Good girl.” I take the whiskey and drink straight from the bottle.
She walks around the bed, lifts the covers, and climbs in to sit beside me. She takes the bottle and drinks from it, then hands it back.
“You okay there, Dandelion?” She looks odd. Like she’s already had some whiskey, for starters, and I’m not sure she can handle a whole lot of it. But more than that, it’s that strange look she gets in her eyes, and it’s coupled with a distance I don’t like. Crazy I can handle. And she is fucking crazy. But that distance is unreachable.
“I heard you curse,” she says.
So I wasn’t quiet. I take in the dampness at her hairline and realize her hair isn’t wet. It’s stuck to sweat.
“I woke you up,” I say.
She shrugs a shoulder. “I didn’t want to sleep anyway.”
She bites her lip. “Yes.”
“They’re just dreams, you know. Not real.”
She looks at me curiously. “Does that work for you?”
It’s my turn to shrug my shoulder.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“I’ll be fine. The assholes who did this won’t. You should get some sleep.”
“That’s what Amadeo said.” She reaches out a hand to touch a bruise on my lower ribs. “Can I stay with you?”
“Don’t want to sleep alone?”
She shakes her head.
“When did he leave?”
“I’m not sure. He went to bed with me, but that was a few hours ago, and he’s gone. Bruno too. It’s just the soldiers.”
“And you’re giving them a show in your underwear.” I take a sip from the bottle.
“I just walked down the hall to come here. Nobody looked at me.”
“They looked, trust me. Don’t prance around like this in front of them, understand?”