Markey’s Last Chance Pt 1
Undines of the Pacific 1
By A.M. Halford
Hello, I’m back, and this time with the first couple chapters to a current work in progress of mine loosely based off the Little Mermaid. Thank you again to Stormy Glen for organizing this wonderful blog every season.
* * * *
Waves crashing on the sands. Gulls chirping overhead. Sealions barking on the distant rocks. It was all so familiar, and yet there was a disconnect as Markey stepped onto the beach, his legs shaking as he adjusted to the weight of supporting himself upright. It didn’t matter how many times he did this, walking was still odd.
Markey shook the water from his hair, and rubbed the droplets away from his eyes as he looked about the secluded beach. This was his fifth time coming to land, once every year during the spring through to the end of summer, and his hopes of succeeding had dwindled to zero over the years. Tradition dictated that he needed to continue his search until his twenty sixth year arrived. He would be twenty-six this winter. This was his last chance to find a husband and gain a complete soul.
“Welcome back, Markey.”
Glancing to the surrounding rocks, Markey nodded to the tall woman standing at the base of a set of stairs leading up from the beach to the lighthouse above. Red hair, green eyes, and a rounded belly stood out the most about her. “Hello, Freja.”
“Come on.” Freja motioned for him to follow her back up the steep steps. “Let’s get you dried up and on your way. Oscar’s out fixing a boat motor at this time, but he’ll be back for dinner, and tomorrow he’ll take you around town.”
A part of Markey hated that his elder sister was so comfortable and happy on land, even while her stomach was swollen with her third child. She’d found Oscar on her first trip to land, and she hadn’t returned to their home beneath the waves since. Sure, she sent her young to them to be raised and cared for properly, but it wasn’t the same. Yes Oscar was irritated when he leaned his children would be sent away immediately, but when he realized they were born with gills, needing water to survive, he relented.
“Oscar can’t wait to hear about how Alex and Storm are doing. I keep telling him they’re fine, we’ve received all the seashells they’ve sent, but he still wants to hear someone else tell him that.”
At least Markey wouldn’t have to worry about this part of a relationship with a human man. Undine men and human men were the same in that aspect, they couldn’t have children. Thank Neptune! Like undine women though, undine men required the same connection with human men if they were to obtain a full soul and live happily. For that reason they came to land in search of a husband, but not just any human man would do. No, it had to be the one connected to them by the red string of fate.
Markey looked at his left hand and the red transparent ring glowing around it. When he’d first started this part of his life the ring had been bright and solid. Now, it was like the dying light of an eclipsing sun. Soon there would be nothing left of his string, and Markey would wonder the oceans alone.
“You’ll find him.” Freja set her hand on Markey’s shoulder, squeezing it gently. “No one in our family has ever failed to find their match.”
“First time for everything,” Markey mumbled.
He brushed off his sister’s hand and continued up the steps. He didn’t care about finding his match anymore. He just wanted this to be over. Disappointment and heartache were a cold, hard substance to swallow. He’d done it four times now. At least after this year he wouldn’t have to feel it anymore. He wouldn’t feel anything, actually. Markey couldn’t wait for that moment to come.
Coming to the top of the stairs, Markey’s eyes rested on the lighthouse his sister maintained. She also used it as a boarding home for undines looking for their human matches. Oscar ran a boat mechanic shop nearby, and also helped out with the lighthouse. While Freja was pregnant Oscar did all the shopping allowing her to stay inside with the excuse of her being ill, again.
“So, where do you want to start first?” Freja asked and walked around Markey to the house attached to the lighthouse itself. “Job hunting or husband hunting?”
“Job hunting,” Markey answered, following her in.
“There are a few places in town that are hiring, though I think Josh’s Fish Fry might be your best bet,” Freja explained as she handed him a towel resting on a stool by the door. “You know seafood better than any human, and it’s a restaurant, so plenty of chances to look around.”
Markey wasn’t going to explain that he was just looking for a job to pass the time, not because he wanted to find his match. Again, he found himself looking at his pinky and the dimming red ring sitting there. The day it vanished was the day he could finally move on in his life.
“You know where you room is,” Freja indicated a set of stairs leading up to the second level of the house. “Your clothes are still up there. Take a warm shower and get some rest. If you want dinner, it’ll be ready in two hours.”
Thanking her, he ambled up the staircase and into his room. It didn’t look like anything had changed since he’d left last fall. Except, he knew things had. Markey was no longer the hopeful boy he was in the previous years. He couldn’t even bring himself to pull up a shred of longing for what so many other undines had found before him. A complete soul and true love.
Tossing the damp towel aside, he stepped into the attached bath—one he shared with his neighbor whoever that was this year—and turned on the shower. At least Freja was right about him needing the hot shower. His bones were already starting to feel the chill. To think he could swim in the coldest waters in the oceans, and yet just being on land and in the wind for less than twenty minutes made him shiver. Human bodies were baffling!
As he washed, his fingers lingered on the smooth skin of his neck. Usually his gills were located there, making the area raised and a bit rough to the touch. His entire body was transformed in this state. His skin, having more of a shark like quality to it when he was in the water, but with the same color as humans, was now smooth and so easily broken. Two legs, flimsy weak things, took the place of his powerful dark blue tail. Even his hands were different, lacking the webbing they usually had to help him swim.
The only things that didn’t change with the transformation were his hair color and eyes. Auburn hair and stormy grey eyes made him stand out amongst his siblings, but he hadn’t cared. Until recently, Markey had always thought himself lucky to be born with such striking features. Now, he felt cursed by them. As attractive as he was, he still couldn’t find the one human that would truly appreciate him.
Oh, men liked his looks. Markey couldn’t count the number of offers he’d gotten. It didn’t matter how many men sought his companionship though. If they weren’t the one, it was just pointless sex.
With his depression growing, Markey got out of the shower, dried off, and slid into bed. Maybe a short nap would help lift his spirits? He doubted it, but it was worth a shot all the same.
* * * *
Fog clung to the seaside town of Sedna, Oregon even as the sun rose to its zenith. It was a cold, dismal spring day, but nothing the locals weren’t already accustomed to. Markey pulled his coat closer to him as he got out of Oscar’s truck and looked at the sign above the small dock side restaurant. Its white paint could use a touch up, along with the greying blue trim. Josh’s Fish Fry was painted in bold letters across the front of the building, with a fish on a hook and line at the end of it. Seemed he also had a tackle shop attached to the building. A sign reading “Now Hiring” in bold letters hung in the restaurant half’s window.
“Ready?” Oscar asked before slamming the truck door and walking around the hood. “Josh is an old friend of mine, and I’ve already spoken to him about you.”
“Thank you.” Markey fought to keep the irritation from his voice as he followed his brother-in-law into the establishment. At least the inside didn’t look as shabby as the outside.
“Hey, Bethany, where’s Josh?” Oscar shouted to a woman hurrying across the floor with a try full of food.
“In the back,” she hollered back. The place might not be shabby, but it was sure as shit loud! With the kind of business this place was obviously doing, Markey wondered why the owner couldn’t afford to pain the outside.
Oscar led the way to the back and Markey found himself rubbing at his finger the further they went inward. It was like a warmth radiating around his little finger. Frowning, he looked down—half expecting to see he’d been bitten by something—only to gape. The once faded red ring was bright and there was even a string leading off of it.
“Oscar.” Markey stopped his brother-in-law from advancing another step.
He knew Oscar couldn’t see the string, but he didn’t care. He still held up his hand and smiled like a fool. He’d thought this year would just pass in disappointment, that he wouldn’t find what he was looking for. Seemed fate hadn’t abandoned him.
“He’s here,” Markey said.
“Oh, hey Josh.” Markey turned to his right and felt his jaw go slack. The red string was connected to the owner of this restaurant?
* * * *
“Look, if you’ve got beef with one of my customers, I’m not going to be able to hire you.”
“Huh?” the man Oscar brought in with him, Markey if he recalled the name right, blinked up at him. “What does a cow have to with this?”
“He means if you’ve got a problem with someone here,” Oscar explained. Josh wasn’t even sure why he needed to explain such a simple term. Where was this Markey guy from that he didn’t know what he meant?
“Oh, no.” Markey quickly shook his head, his shoulder length auburn hair gently moving around him. “No problems.”
“Okay then, follow me,” Josh instructed as he left the kitchen and went into his office. He’d been helping his cook because of the sudden rush. Normally they didn’t pick up for another hour, but with the thick fog clinging to the town several ships still hadn’t left. “So, Josh tells me you’re looking for work.”
“Yes.” Markey smiled at him, his dark grey eyes looking intently into his own. Josh couldn’t remember seeing another with that shade of eye color. It was almost like looking at a roiling, stormy sea.
“Ever wait tables before?”
“For the last four years, seasonally,” Markey answered. “Here’s my resume.”
Josh accepted the offered paper and glanced over it. He knew all the names on the sheet, and their managers. He also knew they were all hiring as well. “Why aren’t you trying to get your job back with any of these?”
“Um, well.” Markey laughed uneasily, his hand reaching up to scratch the back of his head. “I had some trouble at one, another didn’t pay well, and the other two just didn’t feel like good fits.”
“What kind of trouble?” Josh asked, setting the resume aside.
Markey looked to Oscar who nodded. “Sexual harassment.”
“Let me guess, at the Tavern?”
Markey blushed and nodded.
“Well, I don’t see a reason not to give you shot. When can you start?”
“Today.” Markey sat up a bit straighter, his smile growing brighter. “If that’s alright.”
“How about tomorrow? We’ll get the necessary paperwork filled out for today though.”
Josh pulled out the employment papers and handed them to Markey to fill out. While Markey did that, Josh scanned a copy of his photo ID, his food handlers card, and his OLCC servers permit.
With everything done, Josh shook Markey’s hand and flinched. A jolt of electricity seemed to arc up his arm from their adjoined hands and race down his entire body. Markey, judging by the mirroring flinch, also felt it.
“Sorry, must have been some static electric build up,” Josh apologized as he released Markey’s hand.
“Of course.” Markey smiled and with a small bow of his head left Josh’s office.
“Hey, Oscar wait a moment,” he called his friend back.
Markey paused, by Oscar sent him on his way. “What’s up?”
“How well do you know that guy?” Josh asked, his eyes trailing after Markey even as he vanished out the door.
“He’s Freja’s younger brother, and has been coming to stay with us for the last few years around this time. Hard worker, earnest, a bit slow at some things, but a good guy,” Oscar explained. “I wouldn’t have brought him here if I didn’t think he wouldn’t be of help.”
“That wasn’t what I was asking.” Josh leaned back in his chair and stared up to the ceiling.
“Then be clear. What is it you want to know about Markey?”
Some part of him damn near asked if Markey had a lover, but he managed to keep his mouth shut. After his last break up, Josh was in no hurry to get into another relationship. No matter how attractive Markey may be.
“He said he had problems, I just want to know if I should expect that kind of thing to follow him.”
Oscar shrugged. “Markey doesn’t invite the attention, but as you can see he’s not exactly lacking in the looks department. I’ve seen men mistake him for a woman a few times. So, will there be a few? Probably. Will Markey encourage it? Absolutely not. Especially now.”
“Hmm?” Josh frowned.
“No, nothing. I’ll see ya later.” Oscar waved as he left the office.
Alone with his thoughts, Josh considered Oscar’s words and what might be coming. More than that, he wondered why he cared if Markey had a lover. And who was this he Markey had been referring to earlier?
Too many questions, unwanted feelings, and work to be done. Josh chose to focus on the work. He’d worry about his new hire tomorrow, when he showed up for his first shift.
Chapter Two comes tomorrow…
Romancing a Space Ranger
Planet Genus Nine is a key location for the human expansion into space and is presently used as a primary military base. Lieutenant James Wright is in charge of the new arrival, civilian architect Martin Black. Martin is on Genus Nine to build a new rec-center and hospital wing.
These two butt heads at any given situation, but an attack on the military base forces them to face their desires and each other. With an alien threat, meddling exes, and just their own stubborn prides in the way, can Martin and James find love together?
The stale, recycled air of the domed colony was certainly not any better than the recycled air on the ship. Still, the elbow room was much appreciated. Why did they insist on cramming people together like sardines in a can? It made for a horrible trip.
Martin stretched his arms, enjoying the ability to do so. Between the overcrowded quarters and the low bulkheads he hadn’t been able to stand to his full height of six-six for a week. Any longer and he feared forming a hump on his back.
“Are you Martin Black?” The firm, commanding voice came from his left and Martin turned to see the mocha colored man standing at attention in full fatigues. “I’m Lieutenant James Wright, your liaison.”
Right, he recalled something about someone meeting him when he arrived on Genus Nine, the military outpost located in the newly discovered Genus system. He’d thought it would be some paper pushing, desk jockey. Not this delicious looking dark chocolate treat.
“A pleasure,” Martin put on his best smile and allowed seduction to seep into his voice.
The scowl he received was not the reaction he was accustomed to. Usually men smiled when he turned on the charm.
“I’ll show you to your sleeping quarters and office, if you’ll follow me,” James turned sideways and directed Martin to follow him with a gesture of his hand.
Grabbing his bag, Martin followed his escort and took a certain pleasure in watching him from behind. He always did have a thing for a man in uniform, and James’ fit him perfectly. It wrapped around what was obviously a strong body, just enough to give definition to the muscles beneath. And that ass! He didn’t think those pants could frame it more perfectly. The dark grey wasn’t exactly complimentary, but it didn’t take away from James’ dark looks either. The silver winged pin marked him as a pilot, the addition of the single star between them indicated he was a Ranger—a specialized solider who was trained to fight both in space and planet side. Topping it all off, his black hair was cut short, as all in the military wore it.
Distracted by his observations of the man and all his deliciousness, Martin came up short when James stopped in front of a Land Rover. Colliding against a firm back, Martin suppressed a groan at the feel of that firm ass pressed against his half-hard cock. The fact they were the same height sure wasn’t helping anything. The only real difference in their builds was Martin was slimmer.
“Sorry,” he smiled as his liaison turned to glare at him impassively. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“If you’d please get into the vehicle,” James motioned to the Land Rover, his voice still in that trained neutrality.
“Of course,” Martin nodded. Setting his bag into the back, he climbed into the front passenger seat as James got into the driver’s side.
“Please do not attempt to move about the compound on your own,” James instructed as he put the Rover into gear and drove away from the airport. “If you do need to go somewhere other than the construction site, clear it with me first.”
“Understood.” This wasn’t Martin’s first time on a military base. He knew the protocol. Civilian contractors didn’t go anywhere without an escort, and they were restricted from going off base while the project was underway without supervision. Security, especially with the new facilities going in, was always tight.
They came to a building that looked like someone had stacked blocks together and connected them with a large pipe. Of course, the building was designed to allow wind to blow around and through it, preventing swinging and damage. Not that it was necessary inside a domed outpost like this one.
James parked the Rover and grabbed Martin’s bags before he was even out of his seat. Following his stoic guide, Martin glanced up to the tan sky. That was going to take some getting used to.
He’d grown up on a space colony with an artificial atmosphere, and a holographic blue sky. Here the sky was naturally tan, like the sand on Earth’s beaches, and he could see it through the clear dome. Clouds, a sickly yellow and heavy like moist cotton balls, scattered across the horizon. Martin could see electricity arcing between the clouds. The blue and purple streaks of light lit up the sky even from this distance. He felt a bit uneasy as he watched them moving toward the base. Electrical storms on Genus Nine were reported to be quite devastating. Logic said the domes protecting the base and connecting city would keep the storm out, but Martin still felt a shiver of dread creep down his spine.
“Mr. Black, if you’d please keep up,” James shouted over the drone of a shuttle flying overhead, coming in to land.
Pulling himself away from his observation of the alien sky, Martin caught up to his escort and continued into the building. The entrance was nothing more than a sterile lobby leading to two elevator doors. James pressed the call button and almost immediately the doors on the right opened.
The Lieutenant stepped aside, allowing Martin to enter first. All too happy to stand behind the delicious military man, Martin slid into the back of the elevator, his eyes instantly training on James’ ass as he pivoted in the small metal box, and pressed the button for the twelfth floor.
“Four apartments to a floor,” James started talking, “Yours is 1203.”
Meaning he had the third room on the twelfth floor. Easy enough to remember.
“And what about roommates?” Martin asked, intentionally letting the suggestive tone slip into his voice.
“Private contractors, such as yourself, are given their own quarters, Mr. Black,” James’ answer was, like so much about him, perfect.
“So, I can have company over without bothering anyone,” Martin smiled, “How nice.”
“All visitors must check in at the gate, and be approved for entry,” James replied. “They will be escorted to their location and must be gone before twenty-one hundred.”
“So strict,” Martin sighed. “What if my companion is, oh, military personnel?”
The sudden stiffness in James’ shoulders told Martin he was finally getting through to the man. Good.
“Please refrain from such things,” James said, his voice a bit tighter than before.
Damn, this was fun. Martin was enjoying himself a bit too much.
The doors opened on a ding before Martin could tease his escort further. James quickly lead the way down the corridor to the second door on the left. Swiping a key in the lock, James once again stepped aside, allowing Martin to enter first.
With a low whistle, Martin looked around the one-bedroom apartment. It was certainly a lot nicer than he’d been expecting, with a complete bathroom and kitchen, plus a small living room.
“You have one hour to unpack,” James informed him. “I’ll be back then to pick you up and take you to the construction site.”
“You know,” Martin moved in closer to James, pressing the man against the wall, “Instead of unpacking, you could help me with a small personal problem.”
Was that a blush? In the name of… holy supernova! The man was adorable.
“Please, Mr. Black,” James turned his eyes away, his arms ramrod straight at his sides, “If you wish companionship, call into the town and make a request.”
Well, that was no fun. A prostitute didn’t present any kind of challenge. “I’d much rather have you,” Martin emphasized by pressing closer to him.
“Then I must disappoint you,” James finally moved, gently pushing Martin back and leaving the apartment.
“I love a challenge,” Martin grinned at the closed door.
Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/VwviXM
About A.M. Halford
A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Her and her partner often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoys. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she can be found curled up with a sketch book, drawing whatever comes to mind.
A.M. got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she enjoys. She often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She likes to write believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.
A.M. Halford can be found here: