Chapter Thirteen | Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'

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Cash woke up to a plank of wood smacking her in the face. She let out a yelp, as the person behind the door gave a gasp. Cash sat up on her elbows and Boss peaked around the edge of the frame.

"Cash what...what are you doing down there?" Boss asked hesitantly.

Cash tried to speak but her voice came out too hoarse for words. She cleared her throat and tried again. "I had come to apologize and then thought better of it."

"So you just slept out here?" Boss asked dubiously.

"I don't remember that part," Cash mumbled.

Boss slipped out the door and sat down beside her, still in her nightgown and robe.

"You smell like booze," she said wrinkling her nose.

"Of that I am not surprised," said Cash through the throbbing ache that was beginning to take hold of her skull.

Boss observed her with poignant sympathy. "I'm sorry for pushing you last night, Cash," she finally whispered.

Cash let out a sigh that was mostly groan. "No, now you've done it. I was trying to apologize first."

Boss laughed lightly. "Well. I do like showing you up at every opportunity."

Cash smiled despite the caked feeling of her mouth.

"Go get yourself cleaned up," Boss offered Cash a hand and she took it, her muscles aching in protest as she moved toward her own room.

Inside she stripped down, letting her clothing fall in a heap at her feet. She bent at the waist and let her arms droop next to her head, stretching her tight back and limbs. It had been a few cycles since she'd had enough drink to black out. She did not miss the morning afters.

Straightening back up she made her way to a bowl of fruit that was more decoration than breakfast. She selected a Petruchian banana, peeling back its orange skin and biting down on the sweet pink flesh inside. In quick strides she made her way to the bathroom, tossing the empty peel in a bin and turning on the tap to the showerhead over the large tub.

As the room slowly filled with warm steam Cash took deep steadying breaths, doing her best to not immediately vomit back up the fruit. She carefully climbed into the tub and let the hot shower cascade over her with a grateful sigh. She sank down into the embrace of the warm wet stone beneath her, letting the water rush over her whole body as she sat, the steam clearing her aching sinuses. Cash lost count of the minutes but the soles of her feet had gone wrinkly where they lay in the rushing puddle of water at the bottom of the tub. Already regretting it, she reached over and turned off the tap, cutting off the water and the comfort of its heat.

Cash stood carefully and reached for one of the monogrammed towels, wrapping herself in its fluffy embrace and making her way toward the mirror. She waited as the steam in the room slowly evacuated, finally using an edge of her towel to wipe at the mirror's surface, lines of beaded water streaking across its face.

As roguishly appealing as her eyepatch was, Cash couldn't help the feeling of anxious grief that gripped her as she observed her own visage without its presence. The damaged flesh was puckered around the staples that had been used to seal it shut in the absence of her eye, which had been removed wholesale. She turned her head from side to side, taking in the effect from every angle her good eye allowed.

A knock on her door startled her from her scientific examination. Cash donned a robe and made her way toward the door, opening it just a crack. One of Boss' staff blinked back at her expectantly.

"Yes?" Cash asked.

"Mr. Asimov would like to see you," said the woman before turning and moving on to a new errand.

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