I got a little behind with this week’s Random Wednesday post… But at least I got to it before the day was over! lol
Thanks to my good friend and fellow author Gail R. Delaney for today’s inspiration, in a Latin quote: Quod licet ingratum est: Quod non licet acrium urit. (What is permitted does nothing for me; What is forbidden arouses me fiercely.)
And off we go! :)
copyright 2010 by Esther Mitchell
Some things just aren’t meant to be. Kata LurAine had heard the phrase her whole life. Sitting at the knee of her stern, proper grandmother as the old woman taught her to stitch the painstaking designs into the coverlets for her hope chest was the first time. Or, more properly, just after she’d about turned the white silk red with her blood from pricking her fingers. That was when Granddam Maralaese decided that Kata was a lost cause – destined to never marry. A failure.
Kata snorted to herself as she dropped the faceplate of her welding mask back over her face and lit up the torch. Like she needed some dainty little cross-stitch pattern to make her life whole. Like she even needed a man. She was content here in her workshop, surrounded by metal that hummed and whirred with a life dear Granddam would never have understood. Never mind that metalcrafting wasn’t a woman’s world. And, okay, so most men turned their noses up at a woman with grease smudges and soot on her face, and sporting helmet-head hair from her welding mask. But she didn’t care. She couldn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t. And it wasn’t a big deal, right?
The torch lowered, and the flame clicked off as Kata rested her palms flat against the scarred steel of her workbench. She had to quit lying to herself. It did matter. It mattered a lot that no one saw Kata – not the real Kata, anyway. Not that being seen was her goal in life, she told herself stubbornly as she flipped the mask down again. But it would be nice.
She kicked the torch back on, and let the flash of flame against metal soothe her as the machines in her shop hummed and whirred on. If this was her lot in life, she could live with it…
A sound startled her out of her zone, and the torch flame skipped up, searing a long line of sooty copper along the face of the steamship she was working on. Irritated, she shoved up the mask and whirled toward the source of that sound.
“You should know better than to sneak up on a woman with a torch!” She glared up into the face of the stunned-looking gentleman – he in his just-so waistcoat and gloves, a dark cane resting between his arm and side that she’d bet any of her machines he didn’t actually need – standing in the stable doorway that served as entrance to her workshop.
He blinked again, clearly nonplussed, and she was left to wonder if he was a little thick in the head. Then, he opened his mouth, and she was certain he was. “You’re a woman!”
She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Thought we’d established that, already.”
He shook his head, and stepped forward. “No, you’d don’t understand. I was told this was the place to go to commission an airship. They said you’re the best around.”
She peered at him through narrowed eyes, assessing if he was pulling her leg. She stalled on his face, again. He had angular features with just enough smoothness to blend them together, dark hair cropped to his collar in current high fashion, and forest green eyes that were arresting in their intelligence and perception. Something twisted in her chest, and her throat closed up for a moment. She hated that feeling – the attraction that zinged through her – knowing there was no future for it. There never was.
“They talk a lot,” she managed gruffy, yanking the mask back down to conceal her face. “Just who are they, anyway? For that matter, who are you?”
“Jarath Pherson.” He doffed his Homburg and strode further into her personal domain, raising Kata’s hackles.
“Never heard of him.” She set her jaw, determined to ignore him.
He coughed. “That would be me. Tarsak Memkno recommended you.”
She froze. Tarsak? The little gnome was her idol, her mentor – the man who knew everything there was to know about airships and landracers. Adrenaline rushed through her. Tarsak really thought she was good? A grin spread over her face, and she turned toward Jarath as she lifted the mask again and shut off her torch. Finally, her chance to prove herself once and for all – convention, and what she should be doing, be damned.
“Well, then, what are we waiting for?”