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[chapter 9 continued]
When Mira awoke again, she turned over to find Olivier sprawled in a sofa chair beside the bed, sound asleep with his mouth slack. Someone had started an IV line in her arm while she slept, and the tubing snaked away from her forearm to the bag hooked onto the bedpost. She examined it for a moment, blinking until the lines of medical text came into focus, not that she could make any sense of them. Her head felt significantly better—whatever they were dripping into her bloodstream seemed to be having the proper effect.
She lay back and let her eyes drift closed again, the steady rhythm of Olivier’s breathing lulling her into a calm approaching sleep. For the first time in a long while, she could sleep without desperately grasping at the threads of things from the day that she needed to remember—spells, patrol mission plans, people’s names, anything and everything. She resisted the impulse to run through the last things Quentin had told her during demolition training. Just relax, she told herself.
Sleep had almost overtaken her again when she heard the door open and Etienne’s voice cut through the quiet.
“Olivier!” he called.
Mira heard the door click shut behind him as he called Olivier’s name again. She pushed herself a little more upright and said, “He’s sleeping.”
Etienne heard her just as he rounded the corner of the short hallway that led to the main bedroom. “Mira,” he said, almost sighing. “You’re awake.”
She nodded, brushing the hair from her face. “Yes, and that’s more than I can say for this one,” she said with a nod towards Olivier.
Smiling, he came over to her bedside and placed a gentle hand on her forehead. “How are you feeling?”
“Much better,” she replied, but something about his expression made her hesitate instead of elaborating. His gaze was distant, and even when he glanced down to look at her, she could tell he had to fight some more pressing concern in order to focus on her. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Hmm?” he murmured, occupied now by the IV bag hanging from the bedpost.
“The IV is fine, Etienne. What’s wrong?”
He looked down at her solemnly. “Something’s happened.” Before she could ask anything else, he turned to the sofa chair where Olivier was sleeping and shook him awake. It took two firm shakes before Olivier jerked awake with a phlegm-filled sound resembling a toad crossed with a sick cat.
“I’m awake,” he declared, disoriented. His eyes met Etienne’s, and his face lit up. “Etienne! I’m awake.” He wiped a trail of drool from his cheek and noticed Mira sitting propped up slightly in bed. “Oh, Mira’s awake as well! Hello, Mira.”
“Hi,” she said, lifting just her hand from its place resting on top of the covers and giving him a small wave. She looked back to Etienne. “Etienne, what’s going on?”
Olivier caught the line of her gaze and saw the seriousness of his friend’s expression. “Etienne, what is it?”
Etienne paced the narrow aisle between them and finally stopped with his hands on his waist, trench coat pulled back by the motion. “It’s Jean-Pierre. He didn’t return with his patrol.”
No one said anything for a moment. Mira couldn’t find a place to begin understanding the gravity of Etienne’s words. “What—what do you mean he didn’t return with his patrol?”
“The other mage who was with him said they were spotted by secret police,” answered Etienne.
“How?” Olivier demanded. “He’s on an afternoon patrol—we’ve never had problems for routine patrols before curfew.”
“I don’t know,” sighed Etienne. “The other mage said he and Jean-Pierre spotted the police and followed protocol—basic evasion. Before they knew it, it was a full out chase. They split up and Jean-Pierre never made the patrol rendezvous. The patrol got back almost an hour ago, and still no sign of Jean-Pierre.”
Olivier dropped his head back until it touched the sofa back then bobbed up, squinting hard to fully wake himself up. “Get me Julien,” he said as he rocked to his feet.
Nodding, Etienne stepped out of his way. “I’m calling the board together. I want to know what the hell is going on.” He turned to Mira and frowned. “Mira, back to sleep.”
Mira opened her mouth to protest, but she was speechless. “I—Sleep?” she finally managed to stutter. “You can’t expect me to sleep after hearing this kind of news. And miss the board meeting?”
Etienne let out a deep breath and knelt next to the bed. “Mira,” he said softly. “You need rest. I’ve been pushing you too hard these past few weeks.”
“I’ve been pushing myself too hard,” she argued. “It’s not your fault. But I refuse to sleep through this.”
“Mira,” he sighed, his head hanging as he searched the carpet for patience.
But Olivier came over and stood behind Etienne. “I’ll come by when we’re done and let you know what’s going on,” he offered gently. “But Etienne’s right. In the meantime, you need to sleep.”
Mira set her jaw, fighting the urge to push the issue further. “Thank you, Olivier,” she said finally.
Etienne checked his watch. “You’re due for new antibiotics in an hour. I’ll make sure you get something to eat, and we should have news by then.”
She looked from Etienne to Olivier and back again. “All right,” she sighed, slouching down under the covers. “Go.”
Etienne straightened, pausing to smooth the covers before he and Olivier turned out the lights and slipped out. Mira sank her head down into the pillow. With each breath in and out, she tried not to think of Jean-Pierre. But every time she succeeded, her thoughts turned to Lucas.