Rima scowled as she shoved her brother out her new front door. "Get!" she ordered, trying to ignore the flush staining her cheeks red.
"Now is that anyway for a blushing bride to be behavin'?" he asked, stumbling on to the newly refinished porch. "Literally there, C.C. Don' tell me yer embarrassed about what's gonna happen tonight." His grin was pure mischief, since he knew he was getting under his new Matriarch's skin.
"Darius Lucian Cape!" Rima barked, standing in the door frame. She didn't know how intimidating of a sight she was, still in her wedding dress and her hair flowing behind her, but damn it, she had to try. He'd been teasing her ever since he came in to let them know that he'd unsaddled Mist and Star for them. Nathanial had been spared the worst of it, since he was out talking to the foreman about his workshop at the time, but once he'd come inside, Darius had gotten worse...and vulgar. Rima took a deep breath and crossed her arms. "Ain't Olivia waiting for you? Before it turns dark?" she asked pointedly.
Not that Darius could resist one last dig. He leaned to try and look over her shoulder. "Hope yah know what yer gettin' into with this new wife of yers, brother-in-law!" he shouted. Faintly, she could hear Nathanial laughing from somewhere in the house.
"I will get the shot gun," Rima said between gritted teeth.
"I'm gettin', I'm gettin'," Darius said with a roll of his eyes, finally stomping his way down the stairs to where his own horse was tied up.
Huffing, Rima shut the door and locked it, just to be thorough. No more annoying older brothers or well-meaning aunts from other families. Leaning her forehead against the cool wood of the door, she sighed, letting her flush fade. It had been a long couple of days, though at least the various wedding guests were in town still rather than crowding the still-renovating ranch. And with Darius gone, it was just her and Nate...
Which made her flush all over again, conflabit it. Well, no help for it. Rima turned around and picked up the slick silk of her skirt to walk through the house, hunting for her new husband.
She found him upstairs in one of the extra rooms, standing in front of her hope chest. The lid of the heavy wooden trunk, carved with swans and stars among the lattice work with cast iron fastenings, was open. That turned her flush from that of shyness to flat-out embarrassment. She'd seen Olivia's hope chest--a trunk packed with belongings to start a new life, from linens to a start on things for the first baby, that all Angel girls started putting together when they turned thirteen or so. It was especially important for Family girls, since they usually were moving to a new Family in addition to starting their own.
Olivia's was filled with quilts and sheets, little clothes, and so much hand-knitted lace it was staggering. Whereas Rima's... Well, hers was pathetic and she was the first to admit it. She'd never been able to sit still long enough to do much, except during the deepest parts of winter. There had been linens for hers and Nate's bed tonight, already out in place, and now it held a quilt for the winter months that had been made by unsteady, unpracticed hands. Otherwise... She smiled a little sadly as Nate pulled out the only thing in there that was well-made, and that's because it had been Seraphina who made it, not her. Of course he would find it. Her rag doll that had never really gotten played with much, and she'd put in her hope chest in hope a child of hers would maybe find more joy in it.
"Mama made that," she said softly, alerting Nate to her presence. "Did you know it has a secret?" She left the safety of the door and approached, holding out her hand.
He agreeably handed over the doll, curiosity on his face. "I can tell there's something unique about it," he admitted, tilting his head. "I simply can't tell what."
Rima grinned and gently straightened the lace collar around the neck of the face the doll was showing--the pigtailed yarn hair was brown like Daddy's, but the embroidered eyes were blue, like Rima had gotten from her mother. Seraphina had obviously not expected her daughter to get the Leon blonde hair. It was too fancy for a very small child, but for a more normal girl around ten, it was appropriate. The fabric had actually come from old dresses of Mama's from when she was a girl, according to Seb. Pale blue with subtle flowers printed on it, the dress was covered in lace and rickrack in gold and red, a good bit of it covered in a white apron.
"I ain't never seen these dolls anywhere but Angel," she mused out loud. "There's a bit of Earth-That-Was history attached to 'em, though most of it has been lost. See, there was some sort of slavery situation, I don' know specifics, and there was this secret path along houses for runaway slaves to get somewhere where they could be free. But there had to be signs, signals for when it was safe for them to come in and when there were folks who'd turn 'em back in were visitin'. So the girls would play with this type of doll out in the yard. They'd play with this side, when there were visitin' goin' on by those who were pro-slavery. And then..."
With a twist of her hands, Rima flipped the doll upside down, adjusting the skirt so it fell evenly over the one face and revealed the other. She had to fix the arms so they were down, and she smoothed the pink, butterfly-printed fabric. The black yarn braid's end needed tucked back into her knot, and the doll was like a real lady again. "Once it was safe, they'd show this face," she said with satisfaction. Rima glanced at Nate, and laughed at his reaction. He was eyeing the doll with wide eyes, and she knew he was trying to figure out how to make similar ones. Rolling her eyes, she put the doll back in the chest, under the protection of the quilt, and closed the lid. "Later, Nate," she scolded playfully.
He smiled back at her sheepishly. "Later," he agreed, and leaned in to kiss her. Sighing, Rima gladly kissed him back, feeling some of the butterflies settle. Nate knew her, inside and out, and he'd married her anyway. Things were going to be just fine.