Google+ The Bluestocking Firefly: February 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Birdhouse

It's been awhile, but I've finally done a bit more work on Amy. In case you've forgotten where we left off, the rest of this story can be found here.

Amy hesitated, and then said, “I haven’t decided yet.”

“Annieka — ” Brenner stopped and faced his daughter. “Annieka, allow me to observe something that seems, to me, patently obvious.” He tucked his hands into his wide sleeves and looked down at her. “You do not have a plan. Moreover, even if you did have a plan, you do not have the followers you would need to execute it. I recognise I raised both you and Cam to be independent, but I believe I also raised you to formulate a strategy and have methods of adapting as the situation changed.”

“Still lecturing after all these years, Dad?” Amy asked, her voice flat, as they stepped out of the military compound and back into the echoing halls of the Parliament building. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprise. We never were good enough for you.”

Brenner let out a small huff of air. “That is your interpretation of the matter, Annieka, not mine. When did you become so narrow-minded?”

“When did your mind become so broad?” Amy retorted.

“If you wish to leave C-Prime,” Brenner said, “I would suggest that the most favourable option at the moment is to acquisition a short-range hunter and swap it for another bird once you’re out of the system. If you change idents at the same time you’ll drop off the Commission’s radar again.” He paused. “I assume you have multiple idents for the purpose.”

Amy gave him a brittle smile. “I am my father’s daughter.”

“Indeed.” He gestured to the left. “This way. We will need to take a transport to the Birdhouse.”

“This isn’t my first time on C-Prime, Dad.”

“No. Of course not.” He stepped back. “After you, then.”

The Birdhouse, C-Prime’s primary housing facility for military ships and groundcraft, was located approximately twenty kilometres from Parliament, on the grounds of the massive Stanton Air Base. The Parliamentary transport dropped them at SAB’s main gate; blank-faced guards with Longnor Mark V sidearms (biometrically locked, computer-directed targeting system, 98% accurate) checked their idents, took their fingerprints and eyescans, and waved them through onto a military transport. Fifteen minutes later, Amy followed her father off the transport onto the tarmac outside the Birdhouse, where they were greeted by a diminutive woman with red hair.

“Lieutenant Perry Slater, Secretary,” she said, saluting. She didn’t even come up to Brenner’s shoulder. “I understand you’re interested in a bird. Captain Newton sent me to look after you, sir.”

Brenner returned the salute. “My daughter, Ensign Annieka Brenner.”

Slater saluted again. “It’s an honour to meet you, ma’am. If you don’t mind my saying, sir, your father’s that proud of you. He says you’re a natural flyer.”

Amy frowned. “I think you must be mistaken. I’m sure my father doesn’t talk about me.”

The lieutenant grinned. “All the time, ma’am. Why, he’s said if you were to take to the air with the best of the flyboys you’d wipe the sky with them.”

“Thank you, Slater, that will do,” Brenner said mildly. “Before you thoroughly embarrass both of us.”

“Begging your pardon, Secretary,” Slater said. She turned towards the doors of the nearest hangar and said over her shoulder, “If you’ll both just come this way, we can have a look at the birds we’ve got dirtside at the moment and see what might suit your needs.”

Previous: The Idris vault
Next: Pelican

365 Days of Rain, part 9

The rest of 365 Days of Rain can be found here.

“Yeah. Not convinced.” He glanced over my head and tugged me to the side so that a customer could come through the door. “You can start tomorrow. Be here by eight thirty. Good morning, Mrs Jameson. After the latest Julia Quinn?”

He moved away from me to lead the customer into the New Arrivals section of the bookstore. I hovered by the door for a moment, wondering if I should stay, and then gave up and left.

My phone rang as I walked towards the Farmer’s Market.


“I hear you’re back in the country,” said a familiar teasing voice.

“Adam!” A smile spread across my face. Adam was one of my oldest friends; we’d gone to the same schools since we were tiny. “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon!”

“I wasn’t expecting to have to hear from my mother that you were back,” he retorted. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming back stateside?”

I sidestepped a jogger and sighed. “Well, it was all kind of sudden and I didn’t really tell anyone other than my parents because I kept hoping it wasn’t real. Where are you now?”

“Portland. Want me to come up? I’m not doing anything this week.”

“Don’t you have a job?”

“Oh, Katy my love, keep up with the times. Consultant, remember? And I’ve got nothing on the books after this afternoon, so I can be all yours for as long as you want me.”

I spotted Mum and Grandma up ahead and quickened my pace. “Sure, that sounds good. I’m starting a new job tomorrow morning, but I don’t know what my hours or days are yet. Pretty sure my evening should be free at any rate and I’d love to see you.”

“Excellent. I’ll see you in time for dinner tomorrow, then. Ask your mom if she’ll make pot roast. Her pot roast is killer. See you tomorrow, Katy love.”

He hung up and I tucked my phone back into my bra, shaking my head. Adam was so unpredictable. It would be good to see him, though. There was hardly anyone left in town from the old days — if I actually planned on staying in Olympia for any length of time, I was going to have to make some new friends. Oh god. The very idea made me want to crawl into a hole and never come back out.

Mum waved and I headed over. I could think about making friends later. For now, I had family members to deal with.

Kissing Fish, part 23

Not very happy with this, but never mind. Pushing ahead is good, right?

Find the rest of Kissing Fish here.

I clicked on the inbox and opened the first message.

Hey sexy, I see you’re looking for fun times in the Fife area. That’s a hot pic, but I bet you’d look even hotter wearing nothing at all. Hit me up, babe, and I’ll show you fun times… ;D
xxx roger

“Ew,” I said, deleting the message. I hovered over the second one for a moment, uncertain, and finally opened it.

Hi. I’m Tim. I don’t really know how to do this online dating thing, but, well, my friends signed me up for it and you seem like a normal person. And your picture looks like it might actually be a real picture. And a recent one. I guess I’m trying to say, in a really roundabout way, that you’re very nice looking and that it seems like if I were to meet you in person you might actually look like your picture, which believe me is a real problem on sites like this.

I also like the beach, which is useful when you live on the coast, right? Yeah. I’m in Dundee, which isn’t very far from you, I guess. So if you’re interested, message me back. If not…well, don’t, I guess.

Wow. Clearly Tim had some issues expressing himself through writing. Seriously awkward. That wasn’t exactly a promising start, but…well, who was I to be so picky as to throw him out from the get-go for being awkward? I was awkward enough myself. Besides, creepy and overtly sexual was one thing, but awkward was something else entirely. Although you’d think if you were writing a message you’d maybe spend some time on it so that the total awkward didn’t come through quite so clearly…

Frowning, I went to Tim’s profile. He seemed fairly normal. Thirty years old. Listed himself as head of IT in Dundee at a branch of a company I’d never heard of but that was apparently based in Edinburgh. Interested in football and jogging. Middle of three siblings. Liked Chinese take-away and crap films on the weekend.

“Okay, Tim,” I said under my breath, fingers hovering over the keyboard, “let’s you and me get a bit better acquainted.”

I opened a new message and frowned at the screen for a moment, trying to think what to say. Possibly trying to write this while drunk might not have been the best idea, but hey, if he thought I was weird he could always go find himself another nice-looking girl. I flexed my fingers and started to type.

Hi Tim. Nice to hear from you. I’d say I’m a normal person, except I can be a little weird. I haven’t got up to Dundee yet; is it nice? I like St Andrews so far (I’ve only been here a little over a day!) but it is so small! Your profile says you like crap films — any in particular? Looking forward to hearing from you.

I hesitated and then hit send. It made a happy little whooshing noise and went quiet. I sat and stared at the computer for a minute, my mind blank.

“Time for bed, Fish,” I muttered, shutting the laptop and pulling myself to my feet.

Faye was on the computer when I woke up in the morning, already logged into the website.

“Someone’s trying to chat with you,” she said around a mouthful of toast. “He says he likes
Army of Darkness, Fifth Element, and The Princess Bride.”

The Princess Bride is not a crap film,” I said, sitting down next to her. “It’s a cult classic.”

“Before you get enmeshed in chatting with your new lover, can you see me off?” Faye dragged a sweatshirt over her head and pulled on her shoes. “I can drag my sorry arse to the bus station myself, but it would be nice if you at least walked me to the door.” She gave me a sad face and then laughed as I bounded to my feet and threw my arms around her.

“Don’t leeeeeeaaaaave me!” I wailed. She started to walk towards the door, dragging me with her. “Noooooo,” I cried, pretending to sob into her shoulder. “Noooo, you’ll leave me all alone in this tiny town! Do you know what happens in tiny towns? Bad things happen in tiny towns!”

Faye was laughing as she wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed. “Silly,” she said. “I have to go! I have a job. And hearts to break.”

“You realise we’ve been living in the same place for the last six years?” I asked. “We’re going to go through serious separation anxiety once we realise that we don’t live near each other anymore.”

“We will survive,” she said firmly, and then spoiled the effect by ruffling my hair. “Right,” she said decisively, “I am off. I will see you soon, though. Whenever works.” She hugged me again and stepped out onto the porch. “I love you lots, and you will do fab.” She bounded down the steps and blew me a kiss. “Bye!”

I waved until she disappeared around the corner before going back inside. Taking a deep breath, I pulled the laptop in front of me and squinted at the chat window. “Right, Tim, let’s see how this works.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kissing Fish, part 22

Finally, at long last, there is more Kissing Fish.

Find the rest of Kissing Fish here.

Which was how we wound up sitting in The Central on Market Street all afternoon, slowly getting pissed on cider. We were still there by the time dinner rolled around, which resulted in the excellent discovery that The Central offered absolutely fantastic burgers. The evening rolled on until both Faye and I were well into our cups, and even drunk there weren’t any particularly eligible looking men. There were a few students, although as it was still a week from the start of term most of the students had yet to turn up. The majority of the patrons were older. And I had no intention of chatting up a man in his fifties. Or sixties. Thirties? Yeah, sure, hit me up. Twenty? Erm. That just makes me feel like a skeevy cougar and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for that stage of my life!

“So,” Faye said eventually, leaning back against the seat, “what’s with you and Alex?”

I managed to swallow the drink I’d just taken without choking, and said, “What do you mean?”

“Oh, come on,” she said, sitting up and leaning across the table, “I fell asleep on the couch last night and I saw Alex coming out of your room this morning. Come on, tell me what happened.”

“Nothing happened,” I said. “He carried me to bed, I fell asleep, he fell asleep next to me. We both woke up in the morning.”

Faye looked disappointed. “Seriously?”

“Well, his arm was around me, but it didn’t mean anything.”

“Hah,” she said. “I doubt that. I bet he’d have shagged you if he thought he could have got away with it.”


“What? It’s no secret you two have had the hots for each other for years. Everyone knows it. Except Nate. Because Nate is an idiot.”

“Gee, Faye, tell me how you really feel,” I murmured into my pint.

“Okay, maybe not
everyone knows it, but it’s really obvious if you’ve been paying attention. Come on, Fish, don’t tell me it’s not true,” she said. “I’ve been friends with you for over five years and I’ve lived with Alex for two. I know the two of you better than anyone else.”

“Yes, and that’s grand, but it doesn’t mean it’s true,” I said. Denial. Denial was good.


“What about her?”

“He’s dating her.”

“Erm, yes. Yes, he is.”

“Is that why nothing happened?”

“Nothing happened because there’s nothing there,” I said. Lying. Lying is good. “Also because I was unconscious.”

Faye sighed. “Okay, fine, you don’t want to talk about it. But if something could happen, you’d want it to?”


“Hah! Knew it.” She grinned. “Okay, I’ll stop pestering you now.”

Faye and I stumbled back to mine at about eleven, leaning on each other heavily for support. In the back of my mind I knew that this was probably the most fun I was likely to have all year, and that was a horribly depressing thought. I liked St Andrews. It was pretty. It was small. It was quaint. It was small. It had a beach.

Did I mention it was small?

“See if anyone’s messaged you,” Faye said, kicking off her shoes and collapsing on the sofa with a sigh. She stuck her feet beneath Gatsby, who grunted, lifted her head briefly, and then put her nose back on her paws and went back to sleep.

“Do I have to?” I flopped on the floor and rested my chin in my hand. “Don’t wanna.”

“You promised,” she said sleepily. “There sure as hell weren’t any men
I’d fancy at the pub, and you didn’t make any awkward moves — ”

“Gee, thanks.”

“ — and since you weren't getting it on with Alex last night I guess that means it’s online dating for you.” She grinned at my expression. “Go on, check.”

With a sigh, I dragged the laptop over and logged in. While waiting for it to load I glanced over at Faye, whose head had drifted down to the back of the couch. She appeared to be asleep.

“Right,” I said to the computer. “Let’s see how much of a failure I am.”

It dinged cheerfully at me, informing me that I had two messages in my inbox.

“Seriously?” I clicked on the inbox and opened the first message.

365 Days of Rain, part 8

Long overdue, but I've finally updated 365 Days of Rain. You may all now rejoice. :)

The rest of 365 Days of Rain can be found here.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Farmer’s Market,” Mum said, her face tense. “Your grandmother needs bananas.”

“They’re good for you,” Grandma said. “Lots of potassium.”

Mum’s eyes met mine in the rear view mirror. “Katy, why don’t I drop you off at your friend’s bookstore? You could ask him about a job.”

“Mum — ”

Grandma’s eyes narrowed. “What’s this, Kathryn?”

Oh god. The last thing I needed was Grandma involved in my (non-existent) love-life. “Just a friend I ran into at the airport, Grandma,” I said.

“Is he attractive?” she demanded.

“Yes,” Mum said. I glared at her and she hid a smile.

“Thanks,” I muttered under my breath.

“Single?” Grandma asked.

“Uh.” He hadn’t mentioned a girlfriend, but that didn’t exactly mean he was off the market. So to speak. Not that I was looking. “Not that I know of.”

“Not one of those queers, is he?”


Her eyebrows drew together. “They seem to be everywhere these days. You can’t be too careful.”

“Grandma, you can’t
say things like that,” I said. Oh god. Grandparents. You can’t take them anywhere.

One of her bony shoulders hitched upwards towards her ear defensively. “Got nothing against them. Just saying be careful, that’s all. Don’t want to fall in love with someone who isn’t going to love you back.”

Well, if that wasn’t the truth. Even so… “Thanks for the advice, Grandma,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure Ryan’s not gay. Not that I’m planning on falling for him.”

She snorted. “You never plan these things, Kathryn. Of course if you ever want to have any babies you’re going to have to put some fat on those hips. Men like to see a woman with hips.”

Choking back a strangled laugh, I managed to say, “Thank you very much, Grandma. I will keep that in mind.”

“I’ll drop you off at the bookstore, then,” Mum said.

“Please,” I whispered. “Oh, god, please.”

I waved goodbye to Mum and Grandma and started up the block towards the bookstore. Lovestruck Leaves. Really? Geez, I hoped Ryan really wasn’t gay, because that would be a supreme disappointment. I mean, it would be fine, but your fantasies tend to get cold water dashed on them when you find out the object of said fantasies is not interested in your gender.

The bell over the door dinged as I walked in, and I heard Ryan call “I’ll be right with you” from somewhere near the front of the store. I turned my attention to a shelf as he finished up his conversation with the customer, a pretty young woman only a few years older than myself.

“Now, I think you’ll enjoy that, Tara,” he said, smiling down at her. “It’s a little less explicit than the last one, and she’s one of our most popular authors. If you don’t like her, come back and let me know and we’ll see if we can find you something else.”

“Thanks, Ryan,” she said, smiling up at him. She lingered for a moment, clearly hoping he’d continue the conversation, and then, with a supressed sigh, opened the door and went away.

“What can I help you with — ah.” The smile on his face broadened to a genuine grin as he saw me. “Katy Reynolds. Fancy meeting you here.”

“Hi,” I said. “Nice shop. Does your clientele usually flirt with you?”

He laughed. “Darling, I run a romance and chick lit bookstore. I’m an attractive man. They’re often lonely women. What do
you think?”

“Wow,” I said. “That — wow. Conceited much?”

Leaning forward, he rested his hands on the bookshelves on either side of my head, trapping me against the books. “Are you saying you wouldn’t flirt with me?”

“Um. No. Yes. Stop it.” Dammit, libido, sit down and shut up!

He tugged gently on my yellow head scarf. “Not a fan,” he said, stepping away. “Can’t see your hair.”

“Didn’t wear it for you,” I said, trying to take a deep breath without being obvious. Gaaaaah. Just being close to him was enough to send my heart careening off towards Shelton at sixty miles an hour. Not good, Katy, not good.

“So what are you doing here?” he asked. “Or did you just stop by to see me? Seeing as I did rescue you last night and all.”

“Haha,” I said. “I did actually stop by for a reason. Well. My mother made me come.”

He snickered. “Aren’t you a little old for your mother to still be making you do things?”

“Shut up,” I said. “She wants me to get a job. Or, well… I need a job. I’m an English and literature person. I’ve read a lot of chick lit. I’m kind of overqualified, but I guess I was wondering if you might need any help around the store.” His expression was unreadable, so I quickly added, “I kind of figured you wouldn’t — you’ve probably got college kids who come in and work shifts for you. Not a problem. Anyway, I’ll just…go now.”

“Reynolds, stop backing up before you fall out the door.”

I stopped. “Sorry.”

“And don’t say sorry.” He stared at me for a moment and then sighed. “See, I’m really torn.”

“Um. Why?” I asked when no further explanation appeared to be forthcoming.

“I really want to play the hero again and give you a job,” he said, resting one arm on the top of a bookshelf. “And then you’d be happy to have a job, and I’d get to spend time with you because, well, you know, you’d be working here. Except then I’d be your boss, and you could totally sue my ass for sexual harassment if I come near you, which quite frankly I’m not so keen on. So I’m torn.”

I stifled a laugh. “Wow. Those have got to be the worst reasons for hiring someone I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah, I know.” His mouth twisted. “Okay, fine, you’re hired. Mostly because I don’t like to think of you being unemployed and depressed. And at least if you’re here I can keep you out of trouble.”

“Oi!” I glared at him. “I don’t need you to keep me out of trouble. I don’t get into trouble.”

“You fell out of my truck.”

“That was me being clumsy, not me getting into trouble.” Quite frankly, I reckoned working for him was probably me getting into enough trouble as it was, and I was also pretty damn sure he wasn’t going to lift a finger to keep me out of it. If anything, he’d use both hands to pull me further in…