Saturday, June 25, 2011
J is for Jaded
Hailey, you're the winner of a copy of Slipping the Past. I'll shoot that out to you soon. :)
It took me a good long while to think of something that went with J. Every time I tried to come up with a topic, all I could think of was my last name.
From Dictionary.com, here's the definition of jaded: A disreputable or ill-tempered woman.
Since Alice isn't disreputable, she must be the other, an ill-tempered woman. She was one of my biggest challenges to write and is also one of my favorite heroines. She is a woman taken to the brink, one step from giving up, holding on only because she wants to save others from her fate.
Meet Alice MacKay, former wife, mother and overworked explosive ordnance tech, working in Trios Space Port.
MacKay stood. Pulling open a cabinet inside the wall, she retrieved a rucksack that held her tools. She wouldn’t take a flack suit. It weighed too much, and she needed to be able to swim. Besides, she didn’t have time to pack. A couple of grounding bracelets sat in the bottom of the drawer. MacKay scooped them up and crammed them into her bag. This wouldn’t be the first time she’d dealt with voltage, and they’d helped in the past.
Turning, she caught Boomer snooping on her bookshelf. “You’re still here.
“It’s your lucky day,” he said, continuing to pry into her business. “Sea wasps sound like water creatures. Did you happen to notice I used to be a Marine? I can handle the wasps.”
He pulled a book off the shelf and opened it. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, a first edition print, and something he didn’t need to smear his skin oils all over. MacKay bristled.
“You like Alice in Wonderland?” He thumbed through the pages.
“My first name is Alice.” Why did I tell him that? MacKay strode over and pulled the treasured book from his hands. She’d already suffered one casualty at the Marine’s hands. The paperweight could be replaced; the book was priceless. She placed it back on the shelf and locked gazes with him. “It was a gift. As for you being a Marine, I noticed, and it isn’t one of your better qualities in my humble opinion.”
“I’d say it’s an advantage.”
“Really? So, tell me how you’d handle these things?” She took a step closer and tipped her head back to look him in the eyes. Inches separated them. “Kill them? Bad idea. Let me give you a clue. You’re from Earth.” She jabbed him in the chest with her index finger. “Sea wasps are nasty aquatic creatures from another world. They’re territorial, highly aggressive, and in this case, better alive than dead. They could be the only reason that bomb hasn’t detonated. That water they’re in will carry a charge. The current will cause muscle spasms, pain and possible loss of consciousness. You have any heart problems?”
Heat flared in his eyes. Crowding his space hadn’t affected him the way she’d expected. At the least, he should have retreated. She took a step back and he snagged her wrist, tugging her back into the vis-à-vis.
“Your name really is Alice?”
“I asked you a question.” Gods, she’d melt if she didn’t get away. She twisted out of his grip and put space between them.
“No.” Boomer shook his head and closed the freshly-opened distance. “Both of my hearts work fine, and you know you need my help with this.”
“Yes, my name is Alice. Don’t ever use it, and I’ve managed to work through worse situations without your help or anyone else’s for that matter.”
Two hearts. She should have known. He’d claim to be half Odroxian. She didn’t want to admit it, but two hearts could give him an advantage against the voltage he would encounter inside that tank. He might be useful after all. But she’d be damned if she’d tell him that.
MacKay swung the pack over her shoulder and brushed past him. Following, he grabbed her arm and stopped her. She eyed his hand. He let go.
“I can help.”
“You could also get me killed.”
But he did have two hearts, and if he could keep the wasps off her while she defused that bomb... She had insulating bracelets that should ground most of what the creatures hit her with, but it wouldn’t stop the zap from hurting like hell. The fewer stings she received, the better. She would already be freezing her ass off in the tank. A little help could go a long way. Maybe he could help.
“I thought you placed the ad for this reason. These sea wasp things sound like trouble—more trouble than you can handle. Let me take care of them while you defuse the bomb.”
Do it MacKay. Nothing says you have to keep him as an employee afterward. She sighed. “You’re not going to leave, are you?”
MacKay shoved the pack into his hands. “Carry this.”
“Does that mean I got the job?”
“It means—carry it. I’ll decide if you get the job when I’m done with the freighter.”
Boomer grinned. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Call me MacKay.”
That voice. MacKay’s heart jumped. And that smile reminded her of her husband when he’d been alive. When Glenn had smiled like that, she’d never been able to say no. She knew little about Boomer, and what she did know generated a fluttering in her stomach and sent red flags up all over the place. He knew how to put her off balance and emotionally disarm her, a lot like Glenn used to do. She hadn’t intended to bring him along, but now found herself with an assistant.
Her hands shook, and her heart raced. She’d given him shit for being jittery, but here she was, shaking as if she was about to go out on her first date. For the first time in five years, she’d noticed a man sexually. Not just any man, but one that reminded her of a happier time in her life, something she’d never get back. Nothing good could come of this.
“Do what I say and stay the hell out of my way.”
“Are you always this personable, MacKay?”
“I’m looking for an employee, Mr. Boomer, not a date.”
“Not a problem. You’re not my type.”
MacKay paused. What he’d said stung. She might not have a supermodel’s beauty, but she didn’t resemble a mud gat either. What was his problem, and what the hell did he mean she wasn’t his type? She knew better than to ask, but the words just leapt from her mouth. “And what exactly is your type, Mr. Boomer?”
“Less antichrist . Softer, feminine. More, you know…nice.”
“I’m not the antichrist, Mr. Boomer.”
“It’s your story. Tell it the way you want to. I’m looking for a job, Alice, not a date. So why does it matter?”
He’d thrown her words right back in her face, and for once, she’d wished she hadn’t said them.
“It doesn’t.” MacKay stalked away.
But it did. Why? She shouldn’t care if he found her soft and female. But damn it all to hell, she did care. And it bugged her more than the fact he’d found a way to worm himself into her employment.
Have a great weekend!
D L Jackson