Alia blinked and barked out a laugh. "From what Ember said, I am fairly sure they met in the middle on that one."
"She mentioned him to you?"
"Yes, when I was in Teness before I came here to the geo station." She thought about it for a moment. "I don't know if I can get leave from my duties."
"It is already done. I have contacted the prefect and have arranged clearance for you to attend the wedding and ceremonies."
She smiled at him, not looking into his eyes. "When do we leave?"
His tone was smug. "How fast can you be ready? The creeper is idling on the other side of the escarpment."
She blinked. "Do I need to bring clothes?"
Symon looked as if he wanted to say something naughty, but instead he said, "Clothing will be provided for you. Your circumstances are known."
She nodded, ignoring the lump in her throat. As the Terran Volunteer, she had ship suits and jumpsuits and nothing more. The insulated clothing had been given to her by the Yana government, it wasn't even hers. She had nothing.
Alia set the heat and maintenance levels of her small facility to keep it above freezing. She plugged in a few data runs that needed to be processed, then pulled on her leggings and coat.
Stomping into her boots, she quickly rinsed and dried the tea set, putting the accessories into the fridge so they wouldn't freeze.
At Symon's nod, she pulled on her gloves, wrapped the lower part of her hood so that only her eyes were exposed and vulnerable. The Yanese cloaks were known for their insulating properties, but they were valuable and not offered to aliens. Alia had to make do with the snowsuit.
He pulled the door open and waved for her to precede him. Symon latched the door behind them and took the lead. She followed closely through the swirling snow, catching up when he paused to wait for her. In this whiteout, only a few feet made the difference between life and death, so getting lost was not a good idea.
She threw her senses open again, keeping a tight grip on his signature as they walked to the creeper. The hum that the vehicle emanated was only audible from a few feet away. The snow absorbed all other sound.
Symon practically threw her into the creeper, she shivered around in the cab until she was firmly seated and he took the steering mechanism into his hands to start them moving.
"How long have you been out here? Ember didn't mention it." The instrument readings in front of him lit the path that would lead them back to Teness.
"Six months alone in that shed?"
"Yes. It isn't the worst assignment I have had." She shrugged to hide her defensive instinct. She was touchy when folks insulted her home.
He nodded, his black hair sliding free of his hood. "What do you know about Yana wedding ceremonies?"
"They are similar to Terran ones except in the restriction of wedding parties. The bride and groom take different vows depending on their level of marriage. If it is convenience, they agree to honour their families, if it is a love match, they swear to formalize if their love brings children, and if a covenant, the bride must be a vir... How is Ember having a covenant marriage?"
He set the creeper on auto and turned to look at her. "There has to be a virgin on the wedding night at a covenant marriage, but it does not have to be the bride, merely a member of the bridal party."
Ten miles from her home and safety, locked in a vehicle with someone claiming to be her best friend's brother, she only had one thing to say, "No fucking way."