Cassie needed to warn Leila of Paul’s behavior. When she couldn’t find her, she paced the lobby, unsure what to do next. If Leila had gone to May’s or on some other errand, she was likely safe. As safe as she would be at the hotel with Paul in his current state, at least. But she had to make Paul see reason and calm down. On an inspiration, Cassie went to the clinic.

“I’m not a psychiatrist,” Doc said after she had explained what she was after. “You want a shrink, try taking him to the Thespians. Maybe some of that method acting will do him good. Live out his repressed fantasy selves or whatever.”

“You’re not being helpful.”

Doc took off his glasses and cleaned them with the tail of his lab coat. “I’m sorry.” He shoved the glasses on his nose, then gestured toward the medicine cabinet. “Look in there. If you see anything you think will help, go on and take it. Just be sure to sign the clipboard. We have to keep things professional.”

Cassie scanned the contents of the cabinet with skepticism. She knew what was on these shelves better than she knew what was on the shelves of her own closet, mainly because she had made most of these herbal tinctures herself. But these were astringents and vitamins; she needed a sedative, something like valium.

“I think there’s an old Seroquel sample in there,” Doc said. “Might be out of date, but it’s probably the best we can do without hunting down some Pharms.”

Cassie rummaged in a box of drug sample packets. “What is it?”

“Anti-psychotic, if I remember right. Check the PDR.”

Cassie went to the table where Doc kept his medical books and flipped through the pages of the Physician’s Desk Reference. “Sounds powerful,” she said, after reading the entry. “And dangerous. I don’t know if—”

By now Doc was peering down the throat of a boy who had wandered in complaining of an earache and scratchy throat. “Well, you’re the one who came in here saying the guy might be a threat. Seems like the risk to us all outweighs the risk to him of giving him a pill that’s probably expired and won’t help anyway.”

“Maybe we should just tie him up and gag him.”

“Cheaper than cutting a deal with the Pharms.”

It crossed Cassie’s mind to ask why he was so cynical today, but he was just anxious about the mission, angry that he hadn’t been able to go. He probably wished he could have a sedative himself so he wouldn’t jump every time he thought he heard the van pull up outside. Cassie pocketed the Seroquel.

* * *

Now she needed for Paul to take the drug. That would be tricky and would almost certainly require Galahad’s help. Glumly, Cassie sat on an ottoman in the lobby. Galahad and David had gone foraging with the Thespians, since they had been forced to give Alex the use of their shuttle for the lab mission. One could never tell how long a forage might take, but being teamed with the Thespians meant it could turn into any kind of crazy affair. Thespians were unpredictable, known for egging each other on to acquire their goods in the most dramatic and story-worthy way possible. A simple tossing of goods out an office window might turn into an elaborate scheme involving uniforms, secret codes, and window-washing machines. Such antics must then be re-enacted at the theater, preferably with vodka or tequila to add a little glory to the bad theatrics.

Cassie would be lucky if Galahad was back by suppertime. She needed to see him and it wasn’t just because of Paul. He had kissed her last night in the garden and the memory of his tongue probing her mouth and the heat of his hands on her skin made her dizzy. He had wanted her—she felt it when he ground his hips into hers, but in the end it had been his caution, not hers, that kept her from taking off her clothes right there and giving herself to him. When he took her to her room, he kissed her chastely at the door with a look that was oddly sad. The memory of last night and the promise of what must surely come next made Cassie weak in the knees, by turns anxious and giddy.

She stood and looked around for something to do. She couldn’t sit here like a fool all afternoon. At least if Galahad wasn’t back, that meant David wasn’t, either, and maybe that would be enough to keep Paul, wherever he was, from getting weird again. In fact, maybe by the time the foragers returned Paul would be back to normal and her worries would be for nothing.

She was about to look for Sid to see if he wanted help making trip wires, when the roar of an engine in the breezeway made her look up in a rush of Pavlovian excitement. But it was their own van she heard and it wasn’t the foragers but Alex’s team returning from their mission.

Others heard the van and filed out to the breezeway. Cassie pushed her way through the crowd as Julilla stepped down from the shuttle, composed as always and deep in thought. By comparison, Alex and the others appeared dejected. Alex refused to answer questions, waving off eager voices with a wave of his hand. “I need to give my report first,” he said. “We’re back safe, and that’s all you need to know. Mundo will make any relevant announcements after dinner.”

As the crowd parted to let him pass, Cassie caught Julilla’s eye. To her questioning look, Julilla shook her head, then hurried to catch up with Alex. Cassie looked around, wondering if anyone else had caught the look. From the way they were gathering around the van, trying to peer inside, she suspected not. But to Cassie, Julilla’s look had been all too clear. They had found nothing.


1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

I'll bet they didn't even get inside. And how is Cassie going to get that pill into Paul without Galahad's help?

Must read more!

As soon as I have time. Been doing all kinds of work today.