Risk Assessments

“Ah suppose this explains tha red carpet,” Dorian observed. “Care tah…” His question was smothered as the woman he now called “mother-in-law” took him into a firm embrace.

”Mi dios,” she quietly exclaimed after relinquishing the hug. “I saw the image capture from Ezra…that pendejo earned every bit of what he got.”

“And Ah don’t deserve tah be here,” he agreed. “Thought Ah could talk mah way out…wait…image capture?”

“The cop cruiser was equipped,” Marisol replied.

Dorian managed a weak chuckle. “Course they were. Still doesn’t answer tha obvious question…”

“The town marshal,” she said, “posted a warrant for you on the cortex. That’s how I found out. When Leona demanded the case file, we saw the capture. Good thing, too,” the woman added. “Federales had an admiral murdered not two miles from where the cops beat you down. Their suspect is still at large. Until Leona raised untold hell and got it dropped, they were considering just pinning the whole thing on you.” Marisol fixed him with a dubious eye. “You don’t know anything about that…do you?”

“More than Ah care tah.”

”Chinga mi,” she swore under her breath.

Dorian lifted a hand. “Rest assured, madre,” he smiled, “Ah spent tha whole evenin’ in tha saloon…”

“We know. There are witnesses. You played cards while you waited for some dental thingy to bake some teeth out back…but here’s the real problem, and why I’m here. The Nguyen brothers…”

“They were found?” Dorian asked. Now, he was wide awake.

Marisol’s expression darkened. “What was left of them. On Perdido. You’d think that was a good place to lay low, since it hasn’t been terraformed yet. There wasn’t enough air for the fire to burn proper hot…”

“Sounds like,” Dorian thought aloud, “whoevah did that wanted ‘em tah be found. So that leaves Russokova.”

“And you,” her eyebrows lifted. Marisol extracted the pistol from a pocket in her floor length skirt. “You’ve popped onto their scans, no matter how brief…”

“But fah all we know Ah haven’t been connected tah tha others.”

“I could give Liǎng gè shǐ about the intel chain,” she said with a toss of her head. “Except for Russokova, they’ve taken out everyone…which means they have anything you knew already. But I don’t need to remind you that we share a whole different history that’s best kept off the record.”

He glanced toward the pistol with a weary smile. “So, yah here tah close tha chapter?”

“Well…we have just about run through all your money,” she quipped. “Seriously, I thought I’d hang about to make sure you don’t wind up like the rest. Your aim’s not what it could be,” Marisol finished with a tap of her gun’s business end just above her right eye.

“Then Ah’m glad fah tha company. How’s mah betrothed?” he asked.

“Oh yes. You bought her an engagement ring,” she chuckled. “She’s shown it off all over town. For what Maria’s been broadcasting, Dr. Adler will have a busy practice when he opens his doors.”

“Ah thought we were waitin’?”

Marisol heaved a sigh which boosted a stray curl skyward. "Mi hija…I swear, she’s a force of nature…”

“Like her mother, if memory serves.”

“I didn’t tell her about you, or where I was headed,” the woman said. “Didn’t want her anywhere nearabouts if things turned ugly.”

Dorian nodded. “A wise decision. Ah don’t feel tha need tah expose her tah our business any more than she has been.”

Marisol slipped the weapon back into the folds of her skirt. "Si," she agreed. “Believe me, that girl’s getting up to enough as it is.”

“Oh?”

“Where to begin?” She tossed her head in exasperation. “She’s devouring books and captures on dentistry. She’s become a right pain in the pigu to every landlord with a scrap of office space to let. She hammers Leona daily with questions about managing money and accounts…”

He chuckled. “A very practical young woman.”

“Then there’s Abby.” Marisol fixed him with a droll eye.

Dorian raised the bed to a sitting height. “How is Miss Abigail? She healin’ well?”

She nodded. “Night and day. She’s got scars, but they’re very fine. Apparently using Maria’s cosmetics makes them disappear. Then again, it browns her up like the rest of the family.”

“Now that’s funny,” he chuckled. “So, she an’ Maria are good?”

“Thick as thieves,” Marisol sighed. “Natural conspirators. The other day, I overheard Maria asking Abby’s professional advice…”

“Uh oh,” Dorian smiled, knowing where this was headed.

“…on the best ways to consummate the marriage.” Marisol shook her head. “That girl,” she sighed. She reminds me so much of…me!” She looked up, shocked that the words had escaped her lips. The sight of Dorian laughing prompted a scowl, but as was typical of their post war bond, she soon dissolved into laughter right along with him.

“Ah promise,” he laughed, “that Ah’ll avoid any evaluations of her tutelage til yah’ve heard vows…”

“Says the whoremonger,” she snickered. “And of course, we never had this conversation.”

“Precisely. Please…hand me mah guns.”

“Not sure I want to be stuck in a room with a one eyed pistolero.”

“Speakin’ of which,” Dorian said, “Ah hope yah not plannin’ on sleepin’ in that chair.”

“Crossed my mind,” she said as the two pistols changed hands.

“Marisol,” he said earnestly. “You shouldn't be here. Yah neck’s way too far out on this. If Ah am on whoevah’s scans now, yah just put a target right on yah back. That’s a risk yah shouldn’t ah taken.”

Her expression grew thoughtful. “Risk. I remember a risk,” she said. “Remember SinJuen Peak?”

“Hold on…”

“I remember,” she said defiantly, “who carried me off that slope and then dug two bullets out of me. So shut up, civvy,” the former captain commanded. “We never leave a man behind…especially now that he’s our son-in-law.”

“Reg’lar watch rotation?” he asked.

“No. You sleep,” she said. “I’m good for the night.”

Dorian grinned. “Ah conjure you’re gonna be one tough mothah-in-law.”

That brought a smile. “Just you wait,” Marisol landed a hip onto his bed. “You’re familia now. Hell is just beginning,” her face blossomed into a grin as she leaned in to kiss his forehead.

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