Hello and Happy Friday! My mental health is at a high today, with emotional well-being better than it has been for about 4 years, and I'm suspicious of this being a trick of my hormones but choosing to enjoy the day.
Outside temperatures are decent again, too, so keeping all my fingers crossed that everyone affected by the winter storms in the deep south of the USA will soon also be shaking off the horrible cold and snowstorms. Winter storms without power are no joke here in the northern latitudes and we have well insulated homes and winterized infrastructure. Please stay safe down there!
I've been writing almost every day for a few hours weekday mornings (hmm... this might be to blame for the improved mental health I'm enjoying, as well). The latest idea was supposed to be a short story, but it isn't cooperating and apparently is a long story. I don't think it'll reach a novelette word count, but it has too many words for a short. Editing once it's finished will hopefully cut it down, but I guess it's lucky for me this one is destined for releasing to Wattpad rather than seeking publication. Awkward word counts are hard to sell.
Anyway, in cold temperatures sweat is moisture and wet clothes are cold clothes so make sure you have a dry layer against your skin (swimwear and tight work-out wear that covers skin is awesome for this, a bikini or thong speedo ain't your friend), and wear at least one looser layer of clothes overtop. Shower curtains are small tarps which can be used as indoor sleeping tents to trap body heat closer to you. If you don't have enough blankets to sleep with layers above and below you, use clothes you're not wearing below you. Your mask will help your face stay warm when you need to go outside. Any head covering is better and warmer than no head covering. I hope you're safe and well this weekend!
Trevor cupped Leo’s cheek in one hand, her smile full of silent laughter one of the most perfect things he’d seen since getting assigned to Dockland. Then her fingers traced along his bottom jaw in a way that sent a tingle down the length of his spine. He leaned closer. She covered his face with her hand and shoved him into his chair with a laugh.
“You were a bad idea a week ago when I said you were cute and are a terrible idea right now, making you also a current waste of my time,” she said, picking up her tea and leaning back in her seat again.
“But you still think I’m pretty, right?” he asked.
“You already know the answer to that.”
“Yeah, I know. But it sounds better when you say it.”
She slanted a look at him and then shook her head. “I liked you more the first two weeks after we met when you were scared of me. I think I even liked you better last week when you couldn’t talk without scrambling the sentence. This confidence thing you’re starting this week with is just…” She held up one hand and made circles in his direction, as if she was washing an invisible window between them. The gesture, combined with the look on her face, clearly indicated that she was trying to find a single-word insult for describing all of him.
“Something you’d like to try getting used to because you find it appealing?” he asked hopefully, before she could come up with something negative. Her hand dropped and she studied him for a moment.
“Not what I was going to say, but okay.” She turned back to the screens, not quite quick enough with her tea to cover the little smile pulling at her lips.
Leo could honestly say he’d met lots of women like Trevor. She had his favorite combination of thick black hair, deep brown eyes, dark brown skin, sarcastic humor and quick comebacks his emotions usually tripped on and fell for. And, at the end of the week in Dock after meeting her, he’d been smitten enough to want to keep talking to her. Then Captain had assigned them to be a scan team and Leo’s wish of talking more to Trevor came true.
Usually smitten was as far as these things got for him because few women he found visually attractive stayed attractive once he learned more about them. Plus, it was impossible for him to stay attracted to anyone who didn’t return the interest. That one time, though, the person he was interested in stayed attractive the more time they spent together, and then she’d smiled the same way Trevor just did at something ridiculous he’d said. That other woman had been Lindsay. She’d left him behind three standard, Central World years ago.
At the end of three standard years being registered, they’d deregistered because (in Lindsay’s words) Leo wasn’t ambitious enough. Two weeks after leaving him, he learned she was moving in with a mutual Academy classmate who Leo had bested in every class except the one that mattered: Leo’s social class was way below the status his classmate’s family enjoyed. No amount of ambition would get Leo into the class Lindsay had decided she needed for passing through life.
The last he’d heard about her had been two standard years ago, right after he’d found out his Academy education would qualify him for explorations, and what he’d heard had only been a relationship registration announcement on a news page he was scrolling over. Her lips had been smiling in the announcement’s still holo, but he knew Lindsay well enough to see little signs in her face and posture showing she wasn’t happy. Likely she had access to enough income now to make up for things like joy and integrity, but based on that photo he doubted it. He’d silently wished her the best and scrolled to the next article.
The first week after meeting Trevor, when they were still in Dock, had been great for Leo. By the end of their first week shipside he absolutely liked her too much, of course, but had been blissfully assured by his low self-esteem that the attraction was one sided. Add in the fact she was mid-caste due to growing up shipside, so at least half the galaxy’s caste system above him, and it meant how attracted he felt was a distraction which would end very soon.
That is to say, he was assured the attraction was one-sided until the last cycle of their first week working together shipside.
In the hallway on the way back to living quarters, after they’d gone to the galley together for dinner, she’d first teased him about his skin being the exact shade of dark beige as their uniforms so it was hard to tell if he was dressed for work or not, and then complimented him as cute. He’d been shocked enough to stammer and ask her if she meant it. She’d laughed in that perfect way of hers and repeated that she thought he was cute, and then asked if he was really such a bolt that he hadn’t noticed she was attracted to him.
After that, he’d messed up every sentence whenever he was trying to talk to her about anything for all of last week. On the walk to the bridge for his shift this cycle, he’d gotten tea for her and then silently practiced what to say for the entire walk from the galley to the bridge. Now, finishing his coffee and chatting easily with Trevor about whether or not they should write an antivirus for Hodahvay’s latest prank, he wondered why he’d taken a week to remember how much he liked talking to Trevor.
This shift gave them eight uninterrupted hours babysitting NavCom for the regulation’s required six routes to the next planet, which would be presented to Captain for selection of what she considered the best course. Their conversation – momentarily disturbed only by recalculation commands and the actual work they were here for – spun off into more about their families and personal interests than any conversation they’d had for the past weeks. For Leo, it was perfect.
“So what kind of people are you usually attracted to?” Trevor asked, point blank, a couple hours into the second half of their shift.
“Usually women, and I like smart, funny, pretty, sarcastic, and mean,” he answered easily, ticking off each point on his fingers.
“Well, I got woman and mean covered pretty well,” she said.
“Smart, funny, pretty and sarcastic, too.”
She blushed just enough for him to notice and a little smile pulled at her lips again. “You keep saying stuff like that and I’m going to be too flustered to be mean,” she muttered.
“You told me last week your brother is mean, too. We could vid him and he can be mean to me on your behalf?” Leo offered. “But only by vid. I don’t need to deal with that in person yet.”
“Charlotte would be way too mean for your delicate, landsider feelings.”
“Even with all the training you’ve given me these past two weeks?”
“I have not even begun to be mean to you yet. These past couple weeks were just me finding out if you can handle someone being minorly mean.”
“My family is lowest caste and I’ve been bullied most of my life. I can handle minorly and majorly mean,” Leo said as if boasting. “I don’t handle it well, of course, but I’ve got Coalition health benefits to cover therapy now so I can handle it,” he added, flashing a grin at her. She had to cover her mouth with a hand to hold in the last mouthful of tea from her lunch, chuckling after swallowing it. “And now you know what kind of people I usually get attracted to, so what are your weaknesses?” he asked.
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!