Chapter 14 Summary
When Cinder awakes, she finds Dr. Erland and Kai kneeling over her. Dr. Erland seems unperturbed as always, but Kai is extremely agitated. He apparently saw Cinder pass out, and he demands to know what Dr. Erland was doing to her. Calmly, the doctor claims he was trying an ancient technique called chiropractics to help with a crick in her neck. Cinder listens dully, noting the orange light in the corner of her visual interface. He is lying.
When Kai helps her up, Cinder notices with surprise that she is feverish and sweating. This should be impossible; normally her system prevents her from feeling hot, just as it prevents her from blushing. But right now she has a more pressing concern: Dr. Erland knows that she is a cyborg, and he may tell Kai.
For some reason, Dr. Erland does not tell Kai anything—not even that Cinder is immune to letumosis, a fact that would definitely interest him. Instead, the doctor concocts a poor lie about Cinder being called to the palace to fix a faulty med-droid that was necessary for letumosis research. Cinder is relieved to keep her cyborg status a secret from the prince, but she also feels suspicious of the doctor. Why would he hide the truth about a breakthrough in his research?
Kai asks Cinder about his broken android and she is embarrassed to admit that she has not even looked at it. She stammers an excuse about being busy, but she cannot explain enough to make herself sound convincing without revealing her own abnormalities.
Dr. Erland makes a breezy comment about the necessity of protecting patient confidentiality, and he switches off the holographic representation of Cinder’s body. She listens to him uncertainly, unsettled by his obvious comfort telling lies to the prince, and unsure why the lies are necessary.
Eventually Cinder gets up to leave. Dr. Erland nods, indicating that it is okay with him if she goes. However, he mentions offhand that he has her ID number. She nods, guessing that he means this as a subtle threat: if she does not return when he wants her, he can find her and have her brought to him.
Cinder bows to the prince and hurries out, berating herself for stammering and being awkward in his presence. She tells herself that she should not care about this or about Prince Kai generally. It is silly and girlish to develop a crush on the prince—but that seems to be exactly what she is doing.