Hello all! Happy New Year! For at least the next three months, I will be writing about a set of characters from Port Shadeau Washington. They are a settlement of Arkane people that blend into the Seattle cityscape seamlessly. Ailee Creed is the main character, at least for the next three months. Come join me on this ride and welcome to the 2021 version of Short Story Saturday!

Ailee sat down on her couch and stared at the list in front of her. She had a few days before she started work, and she planned to make the most of it. It was a brand new year and she wasn’t going to waste it wondering why Gideon had gone silent just before Christmas. He wasn’t returning her phone calls, or her texts, and now that the new year had rung, and his gifts still sat under the tree. She shook her head to clear the thoughts of the past from her mind and focused on her list. She wanted to go hiking, see the city a little more, and relax before Monday. The long holiday weekend would lend nicely to being able to get lost in a couple of crowds, blend in with the Jejune and get lost in Port Shadeau.

    Port Shadeau was one of the oldest Arkane settlements on the West Coast.  It was built around Jejune and was now the oldest part of Seattle.  It had been like that forever, the Jejune and the Arkane blending seamlessly with the Jejune none the wiser.  It worked out for everyone involved and Ailee was happy to finally be here.  After her father had died, she’d had to get out of Cheveaux.  Gideon hadn’t understood, they’d argued about it, but in the end, she’d moved anyway.  

Just before Christmas she’d moved into a small studio apartment above a bookstore named the Librarie.  Ailee had felt at home there immediately.  A few days after moving in, she’d found out that the little cafe in the bookstore was hiring, and she’d jumped at the chance to work there. 

    Her life was finally falling into place.  As best as it could at least.  She’d stayed up late the night before to ring in the new year with a glass of plum wine and then gone to bed.  Now it was time for adventure.  Ailee grabbed her list and shoved it into the pocket of her bag before setting off into the city.  

    She spent hours exploring the city and when she fell into bed that night, she was excited to go hiking the next day.  She was planning to take her camera and was hoping to get some good shots she could frame and put on her wall behind her table.  Before she fell asleep she texted Gideon, just on the off chance that he’d respond. 

Ailee: I hope that you had a good day.  Just wanted to tell you that I love you and I miss you. 

She waited a few minutes and when there was no response, she plugged her phone in and rolled over to go to sleep.  She woke up the next morning and drank her cup of coffee before she left to go hiking.  She drove a little outside the city and the recent snowfall made the couple hour hike beautiful.  She got some good shots and was able, thanks to her tripod, to get some really good pictures of herself while playing in the snow.  She went back into town as the sun was setting.  She found a great place to eat dinner and managed to catch a couple of shots on her camera of herself watching snowflakes fall under a streetlight. One of the things she hoped to find was a competent person to help with her amateur photography.  

When she got home that night, she took a hot shower and then made herself a cup of hot cocoa.  While she waited for the milk to boil, she sent another text to Gideon, just to see if he’d respond.  She curled up on the couch and read for a little while.  Once her cocoa was gone, she carried the cup to the kitchen just to have an excuse to stretch her legs.  She was irritated that she still hadn’t heard from Gideon.  She wanted to believe that she’d given up on the whole idea of their relationship, but it wasn’t so easy to let the last couple of years go.  They’d been fine, everything was great up until her dad had died unexpectedly.  Things had been rough and when she felt like she wanted a change of scenery, she’d asked him to come with her.  He hadn’t wanted anything to change. Ailee had needed nothing but change. 

Walking back toward the couch, she passed the Christmas tree she planned to take down the next morning.  She stopped and looked down at the gifts still sitting under the tree.  She had spent so much time shopping for the right gifts.  Carefully wrapping them with tags and ribbon.  Making sure that they conveyed every bit of love and devotion she had for him.  She paced away from the tree and toward the couch and tossed her phone down onto it.  She turned back around and looked at the tree again.  She bit her lip and considered what to do.  

All at once the overwhelming anger she thought she was over consumed her again.  She took a couple of steps and snatched the largest gift from under the tree.  In a couple of steps she stood before the small fireplace in her apartment and tossed the gift into it.  She felt satisfaction in watching it burn.  She turned around and grabbed the two smaller gifts and tossed them into the fire as well before she sat down on the couch and watched them burn.  Once they had burned out, she stared at the fire a little longer.  Then she went over and did her best to put the fire out for the night. 

Once it was done, she crawled into bed and slept better than she had since Gideon had stopped responding to her.  The next morning, over coffee, she planned out how she was going to pack up her Christmas decorations.  She spent most of the morning doing just that and once she was finished she was ready to relax.  Needing a change of scenery, she went downstairs to the bookstore to wander around a little bit.  She ended up picking up a couple of new books and felt like wandering a bit more.  She liked the atmosphere in the bookstore and couldn’t wait to start working.  

When she got to the counter she smiled and had a great interaction with the girl behind the counter.  She seemed to be about her age and she hoped maybe they’d get along once she actually started working.  With her new purchases in hand, she went back upstairs. Later that evening she went out for a walk.  She had located the four closest Drift points in case she wanted to go anywhere, and she enjoyed walking around the back alleys and places off the main streets.  It might seem a little dangerous to some, but this was Port Shadeau, crime was dealt with differently here.  There wasn’t much of it, as you never quite knew what you were going to walk into.  Once it was fully dark, she wandered back to her apartment.  

Work the next day was a crash course in managing the small, but busy cafe.  By lunch time she wasn’t sure she was going to remember everything, but the customers were friendly and the other employees were great too.  The former manager had been Jejune, and the mostly Arkane staff was happy to finally have an Arkane manager who would understand their unique circumstances a little better.  One of the employees had just completed her Initiate the spring before and was still a little jumpy if something got dropped.  Another of the part-time barista’s had a sister getting ready for Initiate in a couple of weeks.  She was a nervous wreck and Ailee knew she’d have to see how she was feeling closer to the time to know if she could handle the counter or if she needed to just be wiping off the small tables and helping out with the bookstore cleanup as well.  

Around lunch time she was introduced to the young dark haired woman from the bookstore that had rang her up the day before.  Marlowe Lark was about her age and lived upstairs in the other loft apartment with her husband, Wilder.  Marlowe managed the bookstore and loved her job.  After they both left for the day, Marlowe invited her to go out and get some dinner, apparently her husband was working late. 

“So how do you like Port Shadeau so far?” Marlowe asked her as they walked down the street toward Marlowe’s favorite little restaurant.  

“I like it so far.  It’s been just me for a couple of weeks so it’s kind of nice to have someone else to talk to.” Ailee told her with a small smile. 

“I wish I’d known sooner, we could have hung out for New Years.  Wild had to work that night so it was just me and a couple of friends.  I could have introduced you.” She said with a smile, as she tucked her dark hair behind her ear. 

“That would have been nice.  So how long have you lived here?” 

“A couple of years.  We like it here.  We moved a bit after Initiate, while Wilder was climbing through the ranks.  But we’ve been here long enough that we think we might stay.” 

“What does he do?” 

“He’s a Diffuser.  Only, they don’t have a Diffuser station here, so they work with the regular fire fighters.  The local house is mostly Arkane, but there is at least two in every house in the city.” 

“That’s cool.  Port Shadeau is so different from almost every other place.  It’s so weird to mix so easily with the Jejune, it almost makes me wonder why we have to hide at all.” 

“I get that, but look what happened to the Vampires when they came out a hundred years ago.  There are so many restrictions for them, I’m surprised there isn’t a national registry for them.” 

“For all we know there might be one, but it’s so tightly controlled by the Crones and Sages that the Jejune will never hear about it.” 

“True. It’s probably for the best.  I knew a Vampire once, I can’t imagine having to go through that stuff.” 

“Yeah, me neither. What if we had to register every time we moved? It would get taxing.”

“True.” Marlowe nodded as she held the door open for Ailee. 

They had a nice meal and the conversation flowed easily between them as they walked back toward home. They said goodnight and Ailee was excited to see her again the next day. It might seem insignificant, but she finally felt like she’d made a friend. For the first time since she’d moved there, she felt justified in the decision. She had made a friend and was hopeful to make more.

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