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06 October 2018 @ 02:39 pm
Back to _One Love_  

Ebsa whistled at the size of the bonus. Two month’s pay! Yippee! Add it to the house fund. A note that popped up on his comm informed him that Paer was Across. And another from his mother.

Yeah. I’ll grab some home time before the next assignment. Relax.

But this time I'll do my laundry first, mostly because I'm not sure I've got any clean clothes left. Except my suit. I could surprise Mom by being all spiffy . . .

Wearing it did let him wash everything.

And it was all well and good in a northern hemisphere winter, but the corridor to Montevideo dumped him into a mid-summer heatwave. The coat came off, and he abandoned all thought of surprising his mom in a tie.

He walked into the restaurant in the mid-afternoon slack time . . . also known as the dinner prep time.

"Well! Look what just walked in the door! Humph!" His mother looked him up and down, and shook her head. "Paer said you needed a new suit. And I see you need new shirts as well!"

"Mom . . . "

"That old suit was nice, I'll ask Madam Raod who that man's tailor was. Now, I think a wine reduction sauce would be a good for tonight's special . . ."

Madam Raod and her husband, the Chief of Police, came for dinner.

Ebsa stayed in the kitchen and tried to not listen . . .

" . . . in Paris regularly he'll need a business suit and a more formal suit and a tuxedo."

"Arg!" Ebsa shuddered. "Thank the One for the bonus I just got!"

Laughs from the kitchen crew. "That's what happens to ambitious people." Lupe sounded a bit proud.

Well he's known me since I was a kid. He and Mom worked for the same restaurant until I felt the power and she had to move to the enclave. And when she and Rico opened there own restaurant, Lupe and Jose were the first people they hired.

Jose nodded. "The President's daughter! I think even Madam Taix had trouble believing that."

Ebsa shook his head. "No, she was afraid I'd be so hurt when that snotty High Oner dumped me. I'll bet she hasn't said that since she's met Paer."

"Oh no, nothing but praise for 'that sweet girl' since that cooking contest." Lupe shook his head sadly. "Beaten by a hotdog vendor. It's a wonder you're allowed in her kitchen."

Ebsa grinned and shook his head. "That was fun. I missed last year's. I'll bet it was a great deal more . . . organized. I wonder if they'll do it again this year?"

And faintly from the front, Madam Raod’s voice. “. . . tuxedo.”

And his mother. “Perhaps two suits, and shoes, his are scuffed past redemption.”

“Good thing I just got a big bonus.” Ebsa turned back to the stove and got to work.

Mr. Safron's shop was next door to a shop specializing in wedding dresses. Ebsa gave the fluffy white confections in the window a wishful look before the two women hauled him into the tailor's.

With two women choosing everything he needed . . . It totaled up impressively.

And it was going to look so good.

Ebsa thought of his crude rings, and sighed. “Next up, rings. I need an art jeweler.”

Oh, the looks from Mother and Stepmother.

Mr. Safron chuckled. “Go talk to Mr. Ortego. He makes some very interesting items.” The address was just a few blocks away.

The women herded him back to his car, and he fetched his rough rings from the trunk.

Mr. Ortega was not busy, and happy to chat.

“I was playing with metal work and faceting while I was in the field. This is sort of the idea I had . . .” Ebsa trailed off as Mr. Ortega’s brows dropped as he stared at the rings.

“Eww. Well, it’s nice idea, the mobius strip, yes? But it needs to be smoother, a shining circle. Like this.” The big man stared at the ring . . . and it became a shining circle. “And your idea for the setting is . . . interesting.”

Mr. Ortega stared at it, and Ebsa’s strip holders were suddenly symmetrical and also shiny. “Natural diamonds are . . . not currently popular, but this one has a nice touch of blue. The cut is acceptable. And the matching wedding ring . . .” which was suddenly smooth and shining . . . “Needs a bit of sparkle, and matching the big stone will be difficult . . .”

Ebs pulled out the box of all his practice pieces, mostly very small.

Mr. Ortega—whom Ebsa had realized was probably a Withione from the Ortega subclan—looked from the padded box full of the little faceted pieces. “You did the work yourself? From a larger piece?”

“I’m with External Relations. An Explorer scout. I took a couple of rough diamonds I found as part of my mission bonus, and used them to learn faceting.”

“Well, well. If you ever get tired of the Directorate, come see me for some advanced training. Now . . . You’ve got the big diamond at the top of the twist of the mobius strip. So let’s run some littler diamonds in a channel down each side, and on the wedding band, I believe these seven small stones . . .”

It was beautiful.

Everything he’d envisioned, made perfect.

Professional.

Mr. Ortega turned his leftover scrap gold into a thick masculine mobius strip, took a look at Ebsa’s scratched and battered watch, and shook his head sadly. “No stones for you.”

Ebsa ponied up the rest of his bonus to pay for the labor.

All I lack is nerve.

And to pick a time that won’t crash my potential father-in-law’s reelection bid.

***

When he got back to Gate City, he managed a few day's overlap with Paer.

They headed for their favorite restaurant, for dinner and chat.

“Avalanche. They were amazingly lucky there were no fatalities, but they couldn’t get their vehicles or equipment out, and better than three quarters of them couldn’t walk out. One guy hiked for the gate, and jumped through unprotected when they opened it.” Per shivered. “I’d never seen what that does to the peripheral nerves before. I gave up and gave him a slug of Joy Juice, to the glares of the real doctors responding.”

Ebsa grinned. “You’ve got permission to carry.”

“Yeah, but they didn’t like my using it.” She sighed. “And then they heaped praise all over me for the bone and tendon repairs and would not stop talking about me going to medical school. I . . . am not ready for that yet.”

“Whoo, look at the Hot Shot Agent, dating outside his social circle!”

Ebsa glanced over his shoulder, identified the heckler as unthreatening, and turned back to Paer. And caught a faint sadness in Paer's eyes.

Because she's not the one being called the hotshot agent? Or because . . . well, no husband, no children? Ebsa, boy, you'd better get your plans together. Next year's the election, so the year after is the wedding. Right?

Although . . . from what I’ve heard . . . perhaps I should reevaluate the political impact.

Paer reached across the table. “You’ve got your ‘planning something diabolical look on.’ What are you thinking about?”

“Politics. Will you still love me if I . . . am wrong about a possible . . . umm . . .”

“I will love you no matter what . . . and when are you going to tell me about it?”

“Next week, if my analysis supports my gut feelings.”



 
 
 
(Anonymous) on October 7th, 2018 02:59 am (UTC)
typo
"there own restaurant" => "their own restaurant".