Chapter Twenty-Seven | Kisses Sweeter than Wine

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Cash stood at the foot of a full-length mirror. A splash of color broke her usual all-black attire. Beneath her freshly laundered jacket was a silk shirt of bright silver that glowed against her dark skin. Gideon let out an approving noise from her place on the bed.

"You look good," the vox insisted.

"Honest?" Cash asked, pulling her, now third, black stetson down over her carefully arranged braids.

"Cross my heart," Gideon grinned, jumping down from the bed. She handed a black leather bolo tie and the woman looped it over her head and tightened it beneath her collar.

Cash's heart was beginning to patter irregularly in her chest, butterflies dancing up a storm in her guts.

"What am I doing, Gid?" she asked as she stared at her reflection with a derisive expression.

Gideon didn't respond, simply rolling her eyes and adjusting her own outfit in the mirror, smoothing the fur on the top of her head with a hand wetted with spit.

A thunderous knock interrupted Cash's erratic thoughts. Gideon raced to the door and opened it. Asimov stood there in a simple dress shirt and slacks, clipping his leather suspenders in place.

"How's it going?" he asked in his chill tones.

"Cash is getting cold feet," Gideon accused.

"I am not," Cash snarled back, "just feeling silly about all this."

Asimov smirked. "It is a bit ridiculous," he agreed.

"You hush!" Gideon ordered, "it is not. It's romantic and lovely."

Cash laughed at the indignant expression that had spread over the vox's features. "Don't worry, Gid, I'm not going to back out now."

"You better not," Gideon hissed, "or I'll skin you alive."

"You'd have to beat Boss to it, I think," Asimov observed.

Another knock interrupted any further discussion. Asimov opened the door and Csy flounced in.

"Are we ready," they asked, their voice lush with tentative excitement.

"I think so," Gideon said.

"As ready as I'll ever be," Cash said with a deep sigh.

"Here," Csy moved toward the liquor cabinet and poured four shots of Cash's own moonshine. "A toast for nerves," they said with a sly grin.

The four friends grouped together and lifted the small glass cups in careful fingers.

"To love!" Gideon said excitedly.

"Something like that," Csy retorted.

"Hear hear," Asimov intoned.

Together they tipped back the booze. Cash felt the burn steady her nerves and she took a gulp of air to chase it down. "Damn, I make good booze," she wheezed sending a ripple of laughter through the others.

"Come on," Gideon pulled on Cash's hand, "You don't want to be late."

The four of them left Cash's room and moved together through the hallway toward the porch. Cash's feet felt heavy as lead but her head may as well have been full of helium for how she worried it might drift away.

"You're looking a little grey at the gills there, Cash," Asimov observed.

Cash made a noise in her throat, not being able to summon any coherent thoughts in response.

They arrived at the porch. Cash stared out into the yard which had been carefully decorated by the large and gentle hands of Tate. An arch littered with vines and flowering plants stood directly across from where Cash stood now. Asimov and Gideon flanked her, leading her with their presence down the aisle. Csy passed around them, taking the center of the arch for themself. A lone caelifera instrumentalist sat on the porch, strumming a guitar with their long exoskeletal limbs. Bare filament bulbs were strung like fairies over the heads over the few guests in attendance. Cash swallowed dryly as she took her place to the left of the arch. Asimov stood beside her, and Gideon across on the other side. The air felt suddenly warm and close around her as the french doors swung open once more and Boss stepped through.

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