Chapter Twenty

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Yumi worked her magic and had the dress and tuxedo ready by the following afternoon. While Welkin locked everyone out of the office to change in actual privacy, May set aside her grudge just enough to let Lety help with her hair and make-up.

"Stop picking at your nails," Lety barked as she worked at taming May's eyebrows in the glow of the command center's screens. There were only so many places in the garage that were untouched by phantoms of grease and motor oil; they were making the best of their limited options.

"Sorry," May huffed, shaking out her hands and gripping the armrests of her chair to keep from fidgeting. "I'm getting nervous."

Lety sat back in her own seat and examined her handiwork. She was already dressed in a slick driver's suit, a pair of white gloves waiting on the table to complete her outfit.

"You're gonna be fine," she insisted, picking up a compact of shimmering highlighter and adding another quick swipe to each of May's cheekbones for good measure. "I mean, shit, you might even enjoy yourself."

"I'll be working."

"So will half the people there." Lety arched her eyebrows. "Besides, crime's in your blood, Tiny. Don't be surprised if you end up enjoying the job."

May ignored the jab at her dubious legacy. Her hands found one another again, but before she could pick at her nails, she settled for massaging her knuckles instead. "I just hope I don't say or do anything stupid and end up blowing this whole thing. We might not get another chance like this."

"Relax." Lety reached back into her makeup bag. "Close your eyes, I'm almost done."

May didn't argue. She did, however, wonder what more could possibly need to be done. Make-up wasn't something she was particularly experienced with, but they had been at this for a long time. She didn't think her face needed that much work. Opening her mouth, May intended to say as much when she felt Lety's lips smother her own. She seized as Lety grasped her jawline with one strong hand, holding her in place while she kissed her.

May broke away with a gasp.

"Lety, what that fuck?"

But Lety was unperturbed. She smiled down at May with a devilish glint in her eyes.

"That was for luck," she purred against May's flushed cheek. Before May could shove her away, Lety bounced back with a delighted laugh and held a tube of lipstick out like a sword en garde. "You'll need this for touch ups." She dragged a thumb across her own lips to drive the point home.

May snatched the lipstick, seething as Lety winked at her. Grabbing her gloves, Lety turned away and sauntered from the room. "See you down there, Tiny!"

"That wasn't okay, Lety!" May shouted after her. Cursing under her breath, she dragged the cosmetic mirror that rested on the table to survey the damage.

"What wasn't okay?"

Welkin's voice at the doorway made May jump, thankfully just before she set to work fixing what Lety had ruined.

"Nothing," she grumbled, sliding the lipstick over her smudged mouth and tidying the edges with the tip of her little finger. Once she was satisfied, she looked up and found Welkin watching her, concerned.

"Welkin!" she breathed, her previous frustrations forgotten. "You look so dapper!"

The Star stood tall in their perfectly tailored tux looking as refined as royalty. Their long hair was woven into an intricate braid that had been coiled and pinned neatly at the nape of their slender neck.

"That's very kind of you to say," Welkin replied with a polite bow. "And you are an absolute vision. Might I escort you downstairs?"

May beamed and rose from her chair. As she slipped her arm around Welkin's, she breathed a sigh of relief at the knowledge that they would be by her side tonight. Where she was anxious, Welkin was steady; their presence soothed her. For all of the Star's quirks, she was grateful for their companionship.

Arm in arm, they descended the metal staircase — May tip-toeing precariously to prevent her heels from sliding between the grating — and joined the others. Grant, who had cleaned up nicely in a tuxedo of his own, glanced up from his conversation with Dom and smiled.

"You look great, kids," he boomed. "Ready to do this thing?"

May exhaled slowly. "Ready as I'll ever be."

"That'll do. Lety should have the car out front for us. Let's get this show on the road."

Together they filed out the front door of the garage. May caught a few lingering stares from some of the crew, but everyone kept their opinions to themselves. She chose to believe they remembered how well she could hold her own, even though she knew it was more likely that Grant had given strict instructions for everyone to behave themselves. Outside a slick black town car waited. Lety circled around from the driver's side and held open the back door, its windows tinted nearly as dark as the car itself.

"Where did this come from?" May asked, eyeing the polished paint and pristine whitewall tires. "I don't remember seeing it around."

"We keep it in storage for special occasions." Grant nodded toward the warehouse in the neighboring lot and May huffed a quiet laugh as she realized she should have known the building wasn't as empty as it looked. "After you, kiddo."

She ducked passed Lety — who stared straight ahead but couldn't seem to keep a hint of a smirk from playing at the corner of her lips — and into the middle of the roomy back seat. Welkin followed behind while Grant let himself in on the other side.

"Everyone set?" Lety asked as she climbed back into the driver's seat. She flashed a fanged grin at them all in the rearview mirror. "Seat belts please."

The sun sank as they drove, weaving through the city and out the other side into a neighborhood of posh and generously spaced estates. May gaped at the luxury that surrounded them, hardly believing that she had once found the stately home of Connor's sister to be impressive. If Marina's house was a mansion, these places were veritable urban castles. Soon, the local traffic died off and the road narrowed, rising up into the hills.

Then, just as dusk settled into dusty and murky hues, a cluster of tail lights emerged over the crest of the hill. A line of expensive vehicles waited patiently for their turn to pass through a towering gated entrance to the front drive of an exquisite gothic manor in the distance.

"Woah," was all May could think to say as her eyes found it in the gloom.

"Indeed," Welkin agreed, pressing into the window to get a better look.

Within a few minutes Lety pulled the car to a stop where two intimidatingly large men stood waiting. Grant rolled his window down halfway and offered a small nod at the gentleman hovering at his door.

"Grant Parker," he said, sliding a gilded invite from his inner jacket pocket and passing it to the guard's waiting hand. "With guests."

The guard peered at the invitation, then tapped at the screen of a tablet that looked more like an oversized phone in his gargantuan hand. His eyes flicked from whatever it contained to Grant's face and back again. A loud knock on the opposite window made Welkin jump, and May had to lean across to help them roll down their window so the other guard could shine his flashlight in their eyes and check for uninvited guests.

When Flashlight nodded to his colleague, the first guard tapped the roof of the car and grunted a deep, "Enjoy the evening, Mr. Parker."

The gates swung open and Lety pulled forward.

They were in.

* * * * * * * * * *

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