In The Red (Day 3 - Afternoon)

Well, now I'm into negative numbers, Marisol smirked to herself. Lunar Veil was quite possibly welching on her share from the drogs, not to mention the meat that she'd had brought aboard. Of course, considering that Haddie's mischief had threatened to kill her and Jat nearly completed the job, she had to remind herself that getting off that boat while still drawing breath was an immeasurable win.

Owing to that, her visit to the scrappers had taken the very last of her coin, and also put her on credit to lecherous old Pete, the proprietor. With luck, she'd pull in enough tip money to handle the debt, but if her share from LV was in doubt she was a long ways from affording passage on the next boat. And none of that took to account the "old friend" who was looking for her...doubtless with a commission and a set of orders.

General Kau'li she thought. She hadn't seen him since he'd officially ordered her to stand down her unit, two years post Unification Day. Then, the order had made sense; the kind of partisan raids she and Bravo Company had undertaken were fast becoming impracticable in a peacetime Alliance who could shift boundless assets to counter any threat. Kau'li was no fool. Surely he wouldn't ask her to resume such a strategy...if he found her.

Until he did, Marisol was determined to live her life, return to her family, and above all else, keep breathing, something she'd done with a great deal of ease during her time at the cabaret. And so, for a few pleasant hours, she put it all behind her to concentrate on setting up some stage lights.

The work had been demanding, physical, and owing to rooting about the bowels of the cabaret, pretty filthy. But now it was done, all but the connectors to wire onto each cable. Though she’d made good progress, she doubted they’d have the new lights working for tonight’s show. When the call came for her to appear in the wardrobe room, her doubts became certainty.

“Ugh,” Remy scowled. “What were you doing?”

“Running cable,” Marisol shrugged, “for the lights.”

“Well did you have to pick up every dust bunny along the way?”

She laughed. “You’re just lucky I’m so small. No man alive could’ve run all that power between the floors without cutting some big holes.”

“And that,” he said, “is exactly why I called you down for a fitting. Look at what I found!” The dress was fiery red, a sleeveless affair with narrow straps for the shoulders. Beneath the plunging neckline was a form fitting waist from which fabric burst outward in a scattering of lace over silk. “This was in my ‘scraps’ box,” he said proudly. “I collect these to reuse the fabric. This one’s too small for me.”

Marisol studied the garment with a skeptical eye. “Too small for me, too,” she observed. “It’s size five. I’m a six.”

“Huh-uh. You’re a five.”

“Remy, I’ve had children,” she protested. “No way will that fit me…”

He pointed at her coveralls. “Get out of that sack. Go on…listen girl, you’ve got nothing I’m wired for…well, except your legs,” he said as she kicked out of the coveralls. “Wait here.”

Now self conscious in her bra and panties, Marisol did her best to avoid looking at her reflection in the costume room’s full length mirrors. The space was obviously just an old storeroom that Remy and Arturo had adapted to their needs. Near the mirrors were a half dozen racks of various costuming, ranging from the white tux and top hat she’d seen the first night to ball gowns, dance wear, and even more outlandish theatrical clothing. A sewing machine sat amid heaps of clothing. The room’s center held a table, apparently used for stretching and cutting cloth to any pattern that might be pinned underneath. All around her, the walls were plastered with sketches, hundreds of clothing design concepts, most of them for stylish women’s apparel.

After a few minutes rifling through boxes, Remy emerged with three pairs of heels. “I think these might be close,” he said, “but any of them will do for fitting. Slip a pair on.” As she followed his instructions, he nodded approval. “Just what I thought. You’ve got the legs for it, hon. Now, the dress.”

“It’s not gonna fit,” Marisol complained as she stepped out of the heels to wriggle it on. “See?” she cast a disapproving glance at a mirror, and at Remy over her shoulder. “I told you. It’s…”

“Perfect,” he smiled as he zipped the back.

It did look…nice. “Feels tight,” she offered weak protest.

“You want loose fit, become a nun,” he quipped. “Look at your waist! The only place you’re still carrying that preggers weight is in your head.” He took the shoulder straps, pinching the excess together. The result brought the neckline into place with her bust. “About an inch and a half off each,” he said as he made chalk marks on the straps. “And now, we show off those legs.”

“What?” It was odd to her that a few minutes’ worth of Remy’s appraisal could change her thinking about her own body. Marisol had often found it easier to simply ignore those aspects of her appearance altogether. They certainly hadn’t come to play in the time of war, child rearing, or working the restaurant. Mechanic’s garb was the most protective of all. The only person whose opinion she’d ever felt truly mattered was her husband…and he hadn’t seen her naked beyond the darkness of their bedroom in some time. So here she was, startled at her own appearance in a dress made for ‘pretty folk.’ “Wait a minute,” she protested. “I like the length.”

Remy cocked an eyebrow. “Oh, it’s perfect…for a school play or a funeral. But you,” he said as he turned her toward a mirror, “are a hot blooded Spanic temptress.” He dropped to one knee before her. “When you wear this onstage, you’ll want to belt out the song I’ve chosen…and you’ll want to dance. You’ll want to whirl…and make this fabric fly.”

She undid her hair, allowing the dark curls to land upon her shoulders as he began to fold the skirt’s fabric upward. “Okay,” Marisol acquiesced as she looked upon herself with new eyes. “Maybe hold it at the knee?”

“We’ll see. By the way,” he said as he set to work pinning up the new hemline, “When we’re through with this, I need you to bring me that black ankle length skirt of yours.”


“We’re gonna split that seam right up to the hip.”

Marisol frowned. “I don’t like you.”

Remy laughed.

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