Short Story Saturday: The New Guy

Short Story Saturday is back! Sorry it’s taken so long to get back on track. Things have been a bit crazy the last year. After all of the ups and downs over the past year, I’m finally getting back to what I love. That includes Short Story Saturday. We’re going to continue the story of Port Shadeau, and if you haven’t read the first two entries (or just need a refresher) check out the first two parts here: Unwrapped, Leftovers. So now that we’re back and you’re all caught up, let’s get this show on the road! Here’s the newest installment of Port Shadeau, and be warned, this one is longer than the last two. I’d apologize but I’m not actually sorry. Enjoy this while you’re drinking your coffee and then have a great weekend you guys!

The following week had been long and frustrating for Ailee. Due to a scheduling conflict, she ended up working more hours than she’d planned and hadn’t had much time to spend with her new friend. Marlowe, it seemed, was having the same problems but they’d caught a few minutes here and there throughout the week. She was surprised when Marlowe appeared in the doorway to her office Friday afternoon. 

“I know you’re almost done, you have plans tonight?” She asked, a smile on her face. 

“No, thought I’d just relax, this week has been crazy. Melodie’s sister is in Initiate right now, so she’s been out most of the week. I get it, but I forgot to plan for that so I’ve been picking up the slack.” Ailee told her, turning in her chair to look at her friend. 

“We’re going out. Meet at mine around eight, and dress cute. We’re getting drinks with Wilder and some of his work friends. It’s time you met some new people.” Marlowe told her decisively. 

“I don’t know Mar, I kind of want to just relax.” 

“Nope. I won’t take no for an answer. You have to come along and save me from these damn Diffusers. All they talk about is fire.” She told her, rolling her eyes. “Eight. Don’t flake, I know where you live.” She added before turning and walking away before Ailee could respond.  Ailee shook her head but got back to work. 

Promptly at eight, Ailee knocked on Marlowe’s door. It was pulled open by a man with medium length dark hair and kind eyes. He smiled and pulled the door open wider, inviting her inside without words. 

“You must be Ailee, Marlowe told me you were coming. I’m Wilder.” He said, holding his hand out once he’d closed the door behind her. 

“Nice to finally meet you. Our work schedules have been crazy, it’s amazing we haven’t met before now.” She told him, shaking his hand before following him into the apartment proper. 

“I agree, seems odd. It’s been a few weeks now hasn’t it?” He asked as he leaned against the counter in the kitchen. 

“Something like that, zip me up.” Marlowe said, coming into the room and turning her back to her husband. Wilder smiled at Ailee before zipping the back of Marlowe’s dress up. He placed a kiss on her shoulder as he smoothed his hands down her arms. 

“You look great.” He told her with a grin as she stepped away and turned to face him. 

“So do you.” She commented as she leaned forward to kiss him quickly. “Ready?” She asked, pulling away and looking over at Ailee. 

“I guess. I have no idea where we’re going.” Ailee told her with a grin. 

“You’ll love it. Come on.” She told her as she moved toward the door. Wilder helped her into her coat before the three of them were out the door. 

It didn’t take long to walk down to the bar they were headed to. Ailee listened to Marlowe and Wilder talk the entire way and she could see why they were so perfect for one another in a matter of minutes. She envied the way he looked at his wife, she used to have that, or so she’d thought. She wanted it again. 

The bar was warm when they made their way inside and toward a table that already had a few people gathered around it. 

 “Hey guys, this is Ailee.” Wilder motioned toward her as everyone greeted the new arrivals. 

“Hi.” Ailee said shyly, slipping her coat from around her shoulders and draping it across the back of a chair. 

“Ailee, meet Milo, Noah, Travis, Declan and his wife Daisy, and Max. Where’s Lexie?” He added pointing each person out in turn. 

“Lex had to work late, but Kestral texted, he’ll be here soon.” Max told him with a grin before taking another drink of his beer. 

“Good.” Wilder helped Marlowe hang her jacket before he turned to head to the bar. “Ailee, anything specific you want?” He asked pausing before he got too far. 

“Whatever you’re getting Marlowe will be fine.” She told him with a smile. She liked Wilder. She turned to Marlowe as the rest of the table got back to conversation. It wasn’t long before they’d started talking to Daisy and the three of them were deeply entrenched in a conversation about one of their favorite authors when a beer was set down in front of Ailee. She nodded her thank you at Wilder before continuing with her point. 

They were so caught up in their own conversation Ailee almost missed the arrival of the last of their party. He had sat down next to her and she probably wouldn’t have noticed him at all if he hadn’t accidentally hit her with his elbow as he settled into his chair. 

“Sorry.” He said briefly, before turning back to Noah and continuing whatever he’d been saying before. Ailee just smiled slightly and turned back to her own conversation. It wasn’t until Ailee stood up to go get the next round of drinks for herself and Marlowe that she was faced with the stranger again. 

She made her way toward the bar and waited for her turn with the bartender. While she waited, someone stepped up closer to her near the bar as well. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He said. She looked up at him, and smiled. It was the man who’d been sitting next to her at the table. 

“Not a problem. You’re friends with Wilder right?” She asked him, keeping one eye on the bartender. 

“Yeah, Kestral.” He said, holding out his hand. 

“Ailee. I live next door to him and work with Marlowe.” She told him as she took her hand back. 

“Right, he’s mentioned you a couple of times. So you guys finally met then?” 

“Yeah.” She smiled. “I can’t believe it took so long.” 

“It does seem rather ridiculous if you live next door.” Kestral smiled at her. “So what brought you to Port Shadeau?” 

“My dad died and I needed a change of scenery, so I’m here.” She said with a shrug. 

“I’m sorry about your dad.” He said softly, touching her elbow. 

“Thanks. I try not to think about it too much, but it is what brought me here.” She shook herself visibly. “So, what brought you to Port Shadeau?” 

“I grew up in New York, actually, but wanted something different. So I moved out here about six years ago. I love it here.” The bartender interrupted them then and they placed their orders before going back to their conversation. “So what do you do?” He asked her while they waited. 

“I’m the manager at the coffee shop that’s located inside the Librarie. It’s new for me and I kind of love it.” 

“That’s awesome. Is that what your goal is or do you want to do something else?” 

“I’m not really sure. What about you? DId you always want to be a Diffuser?” She asked as they accepted their beers from the bartender and started making their way back toward the table. 

“Sort of. I’m good with fire, so that kind of makes it the perfect career.” 

“So are you a fire then?” She asked as he motioned to let her sit down before he did. 

“No, I’m an Elentori, not an Arkane actually.” He said, a small smile on his face as he tipped his bottle to his lips. 

“Oh, I didn’t mean to assume.” Ailee said quickly. 

“No it’s okay, I work with mostly Arkane so it isn’t a stretch of the imagination.” He told her with a chuckle. Ailee breathed a sigh of relief. Kestral was cute and she didn’t want to offend him so early into their aquiantenship. 

“But you like being a Diffuser?” She asked, steering the  conversation back on track. 

“Yeah, I love it.” He told her, his dimples showing as he smiled wide. 

They spent the next two hours talking, and Ailee was surprised when Marlowe tapped her shoulder and told her they were going to head out. She had a knowing grin on her face and Ailee knew she’d get the third degree from her friend the next day. 

“If you want to stay and finish your drink I can walk you home.” Kestral told her softly. It seemed he wasn’t any more eager than she was for the night to be over. Ailee smiled wide. 

“I’d like that.” She waved at Marlowe as she followed Wilder from the bar. Looking around, it seemed that almost everyone else from their party had left as well and she couldn’t remember when that had happened. It had been a long time since she’d gotten so caught up with someone that she stopped paying attention to the world around her. 

“So, we sort of changed the subject earlier and never went back to it.” Kestral started as he held her jacket out for her to slip her arms into a half hour later. “But I think it’s safe to assume you are an Arkane?” He asked, pulling his own jacket on. Ailee smiled. 

“Yes I am. An air actually. My gift isn’t really useful for most things, but it works for me.” 

“So what is your gift?” He asked as they made their way toward the door. 

“I can infuse the air with scent, like magnify it somehow. It works great at the coffee shop, I just make the whole place smell like old books and delicious coffee and everything pretty much sells itself.” She told him with a grin, accepting the arm he held out to her as they ambled their way down the snow-covered sidewalk. 

“I bet that comes in handy sometimes, though I can’t imagine it was a good survival skill.” 

“Not really.” She agreed with a laugh. “Though it has its advantages.” 

“So are you seeing anyone?” He asked. Ailee looked up at him then, and smiled softly at the way he was worrying his lip between his teeth like he wasn’t sure why he’d asked that question. 

“No. I was before I moved, but I’m not now.” She watched as he exhaled and smiled down at her, his dimples on display once more. 

“Then would I be overstepping if I asked you to dinner next week?” 

“I’d love to go.” She told him, squeezing his arm where she still held it. 

“You’ll have to give me your number so I can call you later in the week and we can set something up.” He told her with a smile, laying his hand over her own on his arm for a moment. 

“I can do that.” 

They talked the rest of the way to her apartment, and when he left her at her door, she felt like she was walking on air. For the first time since Gideon had stopped returning her calls, she felt happy.  She couldn’t wait to see him again.

Well? What’d you think of this installment? Was the length daunting for a quick weekend read? I’m so excited for where this story is going, I can’t help it. It’s going to be amazing, I hope.

So that’s it for today, go enjoy the sunshine (provided you have some) and make today wonderful. If you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter as the first one gets posted today. There’s a link at the bottom of the page, but you can also follow this link. Have an amazing day you guys!

Leftovers

I know that it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but there have been a lot of things going on personally the last few months. But here I am, back at it and hopefully there won’t be too many more interruptions.

So we are going to kick off May with a lovely new Short Story Saturday. I’m going to pick up where we left off with Ailee Creed and her time in Port Shadeau. So, enjoy!

    Ailee set down the boxes she’d been carrying and wiped her forearm over her brow.  A quick glance at the clock as she opened the top box told her she wasn’t too far from the end of her shift.  With a smile she went back to unloading the boxes and putting the products on the shelf.  When she was finally done, she checked in with her Assistant manager who was working the evening shift, said goodbye to employees still on the clock, and then clocked out.  

    She made her way downstairs toward where Marlowe was also finishing her shift.  Ailee waited, leaned against the end of the counter flipping through a magazine while she finished doing what she was doing.  Once Marlowe was done they walked to the back to grab Marlowe’s coat and went out into the city to find something for dinner.  

    The next couple of days went the same way, and Ailee was happy to finally have a friend. It made her new life in Port Shadeau a little more bearable.  After work on Friday, Marlowe and Ailee met up at Marlowe’s for a couple of drinks and to make dinner.  Marlowe’s husband Wilder was at work for the weekend and so Marlowe had the apartment to herself.  They sat around at the counter and discussed the options for dinner.  

    “I have a lot of easy stuff because I’m not a big fan of cooking.” Marlowe explained standing in front of her fridge and trying to find something to make for them. “It’s such a difference cooking for me as opposed to cooking when Wilder is home.” 

    “Just because you make easy food doesn’t mean it has to taste easy.” Ailee said setting her beer on the counter and sliding off of the stool.  She moved to stand beside Marlowe.  

    “I don’t know how.” Marlowe said, shaking her head.  Ailee just grinned. 

    “I can teach you.  Let me see what you’ve got in here.” Ailee spent a couple of minutes looking through Marlowe’s fridge and cupboards.  She amassed a small collection of things on the counter and then looked at Marlowe.  “Okay.  Let me grab a couple of seasonings from my place that you don’t have, and I’m going to teach you to make something really delicious that isn’t complicated at all.” She said with a grin.  

    After she grabbed the few things from her apartment that she needed, she got to work in the kitchen teaching Marlowe how to make Chicken Penne.  They spent the time laughing and talking and Ailee was happy to really feel like she had a new friend here.  When the food was done, Marlowe was impressed about how easy it was to cook and it smelled amazing.  They sat down and shared a good meal with a lot of laughs and had a great evening.  When dinner was done, they worked together to clean the kitchen and pack up the leftovers.  

    “So, I’m gonna take these home with me since I don’t have to work tomorrow.” Ailee told her with a grin picking up the container off the counter.  

    “Oh no, those are staying here. I have to show Wilder I can actually cook.” Marlowe told her with a grin as she attempted to swipe at the container in Ailee’s hand.  

The girls devolved into a silly play fight over the leftovers before Ailee let Marlowe take them with a proud smile. She went home feeling happy that she had taught her friend the benefits of good food. Marlowe waited no time in taking the leftovers down to the fire house to share with Wilder. It took only one bite before he had shared with a couple of friends, offering a bite or two a piece. He was proud of his wife. When Marlowe got home, she had texted Ailee and asked her to do weekly cooking lessons, and Ailee was happy to agree. It was something wonderful and she was happy to be settling into her new life in Port Shadeau and settled into bed that night with a smile on her face.

Setting Preview: The Librarie

This week we are talking about The Librarie. This is the fictional bookstore and Cafe that Ailee Creed and Marlowe Lark manage in the Short Story Saturday series Port Shadeau. I kind of hope you guys love it as much as I do.

Many years ago I read a series by Nora Roberts about these women who live on an island and it still is one of my favorite series. My mom loaned it to me and I remember looking at her and telling her that I wanted the bookstore from the story. It had a cafe upstairs and it was also a metaphysical shop and I wanted to live there. So, when I was gathering inspiration for Port Shadeau, I found this picture of a bookstore somewhere and I knew that I wanted a cafe bookstore combination.

Now, to prevent copywrite and all of that, I changed it up. A cafe/bookstore isn’t a new idea so that wasn’t the problem, but making sure it didn’t resemble the one I read about a long time ago was essential. So, I set about creating the perfect environment.

It’s two stories, with the Cafe on the first floor near the back of the shop, and there are bookshelves that line the walls. There are new books, used books, a spiral staircase to get to the second floor where there are a few scattered chairs and small couches where you can read and sip your latte. It’s got brick walls and gorgeous windows for plenty of natural light. There’s a wonderful mixture of used books, and new releases, and several wonderful gifts for book lovers and coffee lovers alike.

Marlowe takes great pride in keeping the bookstore easy to navigate but also giving off the vibe of an old forgotten bookstore that you’d find down some alley in Europe, with books piled high not just on the shelves, but scattered on tables, placed carefully on carts, and any bibliophile would love to enter here. I want to go and it doesn’t exist. The smell of old books mixing pleasantly with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. It sounds like a sanctuary to me. There’s even a section of the store that’s more like a little library, you can check out the book rather than buy it. It’s wonderful. I kind of want to open this place now.

Can you imagine it? Spending hours wandering the aisles, looking for a long forgotten story that calls out to you. sinking into a comfortable couch and losing time while you read and drink a delicious cup of coffee or tea? I can. And I want to go there, like now.

What does your dream bookstore look like?
Have a great week guys!

Character Profile – Marlowe Lark

This week I wanted to tell you guys all about Marlowe Lark.

Marlowe Lark is the manager at the bookstore, the Librarie, and makes friends with Ailee Creed on her first day. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to become good friends.

Marlowe married a Diffuser, or Arkane fire fighter, named Wilder Lark when she was twenty two. They were high school sweethearts and didn’t let anything stand in their way. They moved to Port Shadeau about five years prior to the start of this story because of Wilder being transferred there. She started working at the bookstore shortly after and about a year later, they bought the larger of the two studio apartments above the Librarie itself. While they have no children, Marlowe and Wilder live a full life.

Marlowe loves to travel, and when their schedules align, they tend to go somewhere new. It averages out to one vacation a month. Although sometimes they prefer to stay at home and never leave their bed.

Marlowe spends a lot of time on her own because of her husband’s work schedule. Since she doesn’t work weekends, she usually spends her time reading and drinking tea. She also likes to wander around Port Shadeau and Seattle trying to find things no one else has. She hikes sometimes out to remote locations so she can play a little with the air discipline that she can’t use as much inside the city. Normally, she will sit on rooftops in the summer with a book and let herself play with the wind around her.

She takes great pride in the way she runs the Librarie. She likes to do special themes every couple of weeks to try and bring people into the shop. Ailee, once she hears about the plan, does her best to create special drinks to match the theme as well.

I don’t know if there are going to be too many surprises with Marlowe. So far she seems like the steady, kind of crazy, force you’d want as a best friend. This week’s Short Story Saturday features heavily on Ailee and Marlowe’s budding friendship as they hang out after work one day. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

Let me know what you guys think of Marlowe, I’m excited to hear your thoughts!

Setting – Ailee Creed’s Apartment

Today we are going to talk about Ailee’s apartment. I mentioned before that she lives above the bookstore and cafe that she works at. It’s a little 500 sq ft studio space. I actually took inspiration for the entire thing from a post on Pinterest. I saw it an immediately knew it was the look I was hoping for for Ailee.

I don’t know what it was about it, but everything about it screamed that character’s name in my head. Back when I knew almost nothing about her but her name and her basic look, it made me latch onto it quickly. I followed the link and read all about the awesome lady that lived in this studio in Seattle. It seemed to be kismet.

So I gathered up the pictures, and then started making a few changes here and there, and I probably will continue to do so as the story goes on. I just loved the jewel toned colors and wood floors. It seems like the sort of space I would love, even though there isn’t enough room for me to craft. It seemed perfect for a person just starting out. Which of course, meant that it was perfect for Ailee.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look into Ailee’s apartment. I hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’m thinking of as I describe the apartment more in future stories. Have a great day guys!

Character Profile – Ailee Creed

So, if you caught the last Short Story Saturday, you got to meet a brand new character by the name of Ailee Creed. There are a few characters in the cast of the stories that will take place in Port Shadeau. Today I will do my best to introduce you to the main character, Ailee and hopefully we can all find out something about her together.

When we first meet Ailee she’s hanging out in her apartment considering a list of things she wants to do. Having recently moved to Port Shadeau from another location in the Arkane world, she’s just starting this new life. She talks a little about her estranged boyfriend Gideon, and the death of her father, but she doesn’t elaborate on either one.

From what I know so far, because I’m making this up as I go, after her dad dies, she doesn’t much want to hang around in Cheaveaux so she plans to move. When she chooses Port Shadeau, she asks Gideon to come with her, and he declines. She doesn’t see this as too much of a deterrent as those in the Arkane world can travel via Geo Drifting.

Geo Drifting is an easy way to travel once you’ve been trained. Drift points, which can appear in any location and often take the form of a doorway. An arch in the woods made of twisted branches, or a doorway at the back of an alley that appears to lead into a building. it could be anything. Most often in Arkane cities, they appear in their natural form, an archway filled with a swatch of swirling purple color, most often tucked up against a wall somewhere.

Drift points are easy to maneuver as long as you have a clear idea of where you’re trying to go, anywhere in the world. Essentially they’re portals, but only Arkane can use them. If a Jejune (typical non-Arkane human) were to walk through one of these Drift locations, nothing would happen. They’d simply be on the other side of the archway or door. By using these, Ailee could walk through a Drift point in Port Shadeau, Washington and walk out in Paris, France. The entire trip taking no longer than a few seconds.

Although not completely important to the story of Ailee, it is important to the Arkane world. Due to the ease of travel, living in another state from Gideon doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Once she moves, however, he goes radio silent and she’s having a hard time dealing with it.

Ailee finds work in a bookstore cafe, which she also lives above for now. The bookstore, called the Librarie, is managed by a young woman named Marlowe Lark. The two of them become fast friends, and she finds it refreshing to have someone to talk to after a couple of weeks of near radio silence. Ailee is excited about the opportunity to run the cafe alongside Marlowe. She is concerned about some of her employees, and their well-being but isn’t too worried. it seems like a wonderful challenge, and exciting opportunity.

I’m not sure yet what her larger motivations are, but I’m sure that by the end of March we will know. I created these characters as little more than outlines. The prompts for 2021 are set, and I have sketched out a basic outline between now and March. Whether the story will continue after that or not, we will have to see. I hope to add more depth to Ailee as a character in the future. At least more than a mid-20’s blonde woman who has just moved to a new city and likes photography and has a crappy boyfriend. The story is really taking shape and I’m excited to share it with you! Have a wonderful day guys!