Third time to that door for sisters three. Two chances gone and only one left to save me from that cold ditch at night.
— Paun Goss-Masters, Stolen Hearts in My Palm
Linsan sat on the richly appointed bed and tried not to think about the luxury. The hotel was definitely more impressive than she thought it would be, with a marble tub with magically heated water and perfumes of every time. The carpet was thick and rich. Through one door, she spotted a second bedroom and small quarters for the “servant” but Miska had made it clear that only two beds would be occupied that night.
On the far side of the room, Brook paced back and forth as she frowned. She had said nothing since reading the newspaper announcement.
Miska sat in a corner, watching Brook move but saying nothing. She wore her usual shorts and stained shirt, but a deep red dress hung on a rod behind her. She had a box of matching shoes on the table next to her.
Linsan couldn't picture the blonde wearing anything with so many ribbons and ruffles, but she was curious to see the results.
Miska pushed herself up. “Princess?”
Brook held out a hand. “Okay, I have an idea.”
“Which play?” Miska said with a sly grin.
Brook glared at her, then snorted with laughter. “No, no play or story. We're going to invade the auction.”
Linsan said, “I could probably get in as a musician…?” She said, her voice trailing off as she thought about the badges. A high profile auction would be a perfect opportunity to look for a patron; there would be competition to play and she doubted anyone would allow a nobody to slip in. She wondered if her mother's pin would have a chance, but she couldn't imagine anyone could remember her mother with so many talents in one place.
She shook her head. “No, that won't work.”
“Right,” Brook said. “Then, you're coming in as my lover.”
Linsan blinked. “W-What?”
Miska snorted with amusement.
Brook blushed. “It's just a role, just like you suggested with Miska. I have my servant—”
Miska cleared her throat.
“—and she's already an odd choice for these closed-minded assholes. I've already heard some of the gossip starting. Not to mention, that cow in the back room obviously thought that I was sullied by even letting Miska touch me.”
“How?” Miska added. “She just poured you a glass a wine and practically shoved her fingers in my ass to measure my ‘inseam’ whatever that is.”
“I grew up with this crap. I know the looks, I know that sniff and attitude. But let's use it. I'm traveling alone, there are so many pretty people on every single corner, so it might make sense I would pick up someone that caught my interest. A brief fling of fun before tossing you aside. Right?”
Linsan cringed at the idea, but then she remembered Garters Sweet and Soft, a song about the very thing they were talking about. She smirked and opened her mouth.
“No!” snapped Brook. “Do not tell me! No!”
Then Miska joined in.
Brook tried to resist but then smirked. “But, it would work, right?”
Linsan shrugged. “We can try. It's the only thing we can do. What about you? Are you coming with us?”
“No. I need to take the investigation paperwork to the local guards. It might convince them to help, but I doubt it. They aren't required to do anything as we are rather distant from Cobbler's End, but the notary statements are verifiable and we might able to prove that those bastards—”
She smacked the picture of the murderers.
“—are the ones who killed my daddy. Or at least enough to make a scene while we find others to disrupt the sale.”
It was a thin, fragile plan even worse than their previous one. But Linsan couldn't think of another. “I'll do it.”
Brook's shoulder slumped. “Um… one other thing.”
The tone worried Linsan.
“The paperwork doesn't talk about your daddy's violin. They didn't know it was stolen. There is barely a chance we can get the murderers, but you might see your family's legacy sold off in front of your eyes.”
Linsan struggled with the sudden surge of sorrow. She tensed for a moment to fight the emotions and then nodded. “I told you before. I'm here for you. I will try to save Palisis, but if I have to choose you over it, I have no doubt I will pick the one that means the most in my life.”
“And that is me, right?”
“Yes, you fool. I will choose my friend.”
Brook smiled. “I-I'm sorry.”
Linsan hurried over to hug her tightly. They held each other close, not as lovers but as close friends. It felt right and she smiled at the sense of peace that filled her. “Come on, I have to play your star-struck lover ready to seduce you into bringing me into your life of luxury.”
Linsan broke the embrace and headed for the door.
Miska went ahead of her with the shoe box in her hand. She held the door open for Linsan.
In the entrance, Linsan turned around. “Oh, Brook?”
Brook sniffed. “Y-Yes?”
Linsan grinned and stepped around the corner as she called out. “You have a great idea. Just like in the song Stolen Hearts in My Palm.”
The door closed as Brook screamed “Bitch!”