Why did I fell upon your arms? Was gravity dragging me down or your beauty tugging me beneath your sheets? I pride myself on being the stronger man, but in your presence, I am but the weakest.
— One Mistaken Night (Act 2, Scene 1)
Still covered in soot and dust, Linsan was afraid to sit on the bed. If she did, she had no doubt she would be sleeping in a matter of seconds. It was also the one truly clean thing in the cramped room that Brook had paid too much money for.
Two hundred and fifty crowns for a single room? That was far more than Linsan’s father made in a month and Brook had slapped it down in a fit of rage and impatience.
She had to admit, having access to money, on the other hand, made life easier. Though, there was no money in the world that would bring Dukan back or return Palisis. Well, money would probably get Palisis back, but it would far more money than Brook had access to.
Linsan sighed and shook her head. She didn’t know what she was doing at the moment, other than struggling with her skin crawling with disgust and the desperate need to sleep away the rest of the night.
She glanced at the bed. It was about the same as her bed at home, which was barely enough for her spread out. She couldn’t even imagine how both Brook and her were going to sleep in it.
For the countless time since entering the room, she considered sneaking out and taking up Calibo on his offer. Sleeping out in the air wouldn’t be comfortable, but she had never shared a bed with anyone before and she had only her mother’s plays and stories to fall back on.
Somehow, she doubted sharing a bed with Brook would result in the romantic drama of One Mistaken Night and Brook didn’t have a husband that would hunt Linsan down like in Hunter, Prey, Brother. She chuckled to herself. Her mother played the sister in Hunter and Linsan remembered sitting on the edge of the stage with her father as they cheered for her.
Exhaustion turned her chuckle into a giggle. Linsan blushed and covered her mouth until she could control herself.
She looked at the foot of the bed where Brook had put her traveling case. It took over much of the remaining space in the room but she didn’t want to move it. Brook had left it open to reveal a neatly packed container with dividers separating bathing supplies, sleeping outfits, and even a morning dress. The corset that Brook had been wearing earlier hung off one edge from where she had tossed it.
To Linsan, Brook’s case looked more a case for the costumer, the woman who did makeup and hair for larger plays. It also smelled much the same, with multiple flowery perfumes filling the room. The source came from four bottles neatly tied to the side of a divider with ribbon. There were other containers with hair oils and lip waxes, various dishes of makeup, and even a small sewing kit.
Linsan yawned and she glanced at the door. “Come on, I need a bath too.”
She decided to distract herself by walking over to the case and looking over Brook’s outfits. With the tips of her fingers, she teased up the top one to look at the one below. It had lace and embroidery on it, which surprised Linsan. She set it down before she noticed her fingers left a faint smear on the white fabric.
Swearing to herself, she clasped her hands and looked over the rest of the case. The morning dress caught her attention. It was the plainest thing she had ever seen in Brook’s outfits. Only a little embroidery but with no ruffles or lace. Compares to the frilly dress Brook had tossed behind the lid of the case, the morning dress would have been a far better choice for their fight.
The door creaked open.
Linsan stumbled back, blushing as if she had been caught.
Brook slipped in and closed the door behind her. Her cheeks were flushed, though Linsan didn’t know if it was from the heat or the chance she would be caught seen in public. She wore one of her sleeping shirts; the brilliant white material sloped off her shoulders and breasts before reaching down to cover everything but her ankles. Brook’s dark curls had been weighted down by her bath. The strands marked a dark calligraphy along her skin and shirt. She had also removed her makeup, leaving a plainer face but one that looked more honest to Linsan than ever before.
“I was just looking,” Linsan said.
Brook’s cheeks turned red and then she glanced at the bed. “I don’t mind. I left it open, didn’t I?”
Linsan nodded. She felt uncomfortable in the tight quarters with her former enemy. The need to run away rose up, choking her. It couldn’t have been Brook’s more intimate outfit. Linsan had been behind the scenes in a multitude of plays where actors would strip with no concern other than switching outfits before their call. Nothing Brook had would surprise her, but somehow being in a room together left her feeling awkward.
She cleared her throat. “I-Is there hot water?”
Brook pushed a strand of hair that had clung to her cheek and pushed it over ear. She nodded and then circled around the tiny room until she could pull herself up on the bed. She almost seemed deliberate as she tucked her ankles to the side before looking at Linsan.
Linsan gulped at her dry throat.
Brook arched her back slightly. The fabric of her sleeping shirt shifted to outline her breasts and hard nipples. Her eyes were wide and focused on Linsan.
Linsan couldn’t help but think Brook was searching for a response to her arrangement. Her stomach fluttered with nervousness. There was something about the look, it reminded her of the same one Brook had given her in the car in the village. She didn’t know what it meant, only that it was different than every other expression she had seen on her friend’s face. Struggling with a blush on her cheeks, she cleared her throat. “I-I should get… I need to take a bath.”
Before Brook could respond, Linsan grabbed her travel pack and stumbled out of the room.