EVANGELIYA (The Endurance Series: Story 5.1)
A Science Fiction Romance Novelette
“ I highly recommend this new wonderful series.“
EXCERPT FROM EVANGELIYA
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2017
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Gelin was moving down the silent corridor between the apartments as Liya came out of the empty apartment next to hers and palmed the lock. She didn’t need to see his face to know something was wrong. He was there in the middle of his outside shift on the skin of the Endurance. As it took nearly forty minutes to get back inside, cycle through the airlock and get out of the suit, even without a shower to clean up the sweat, no one came inside in the middle of a shift unless they really had to.
His face, though, confirmed something had happened. His dirty blond hair was standing up at wild angles. It was thick and normally had a life of its own, only now it looked like he had been pushing his hands through it over and over, like he did when he was under pressure.
His eyes were blank. Shocked. The blue looked faded. He stopped right in front of her. His hand trembled when he rested it against her neck, and brushed his thumb over her jaw.
Liya held his wrist, her heart running fast. “Tell me.”
Gelin swallowed. “Inside, first.” Even his voice was strained.
They were standing right next to the door. Liya pressed her palm against the lock and they moved inside.
There was only one place they could sit comfortably–the narrow cot that was her bed, that she disguised during the day as a sofa, with a row of cushions along the edge of the bed pushed up against the wall. Clients sat there, when they were not trying on garments.
The rest of the small, one room apartment was primarily taken up by the two huge work tables and her drawing board, plus the cupboards and shelves, drawers and boxes, and more shelving units, that contained the tools and supplies of her profession. Every centimeter of horizontal space was holding up something. Even the cannisters at the back of the small kitchen counter were filled with buttons and closures and other embellishments, instead of food ingrediants. The bathroom cupboard wall was punctured with hooks holding up her rulers and curves.
Normally, Gelin could not resist commenting about the explosion of what he called ‘stuff’, scattered over the work tables and counters. Liya kept her workspace tidy, though. She picked up and put away when she was done with a stage of a project, so there was only the current work and its tools spread across the table. She didn’t have the room to work any other way. The equipment that was out at any one time made perfect sense to her. None of it made sense to Gelin at all, even though he had often asked her to explain the functions of different tools.
Clients were the same—they would look about with a puzzled air. When everyone on the ship could pull up a file and print any garments they needed, the intricacies of hand-making clothing were completely unknown.
Today, Gelin was silent as he padded over to the bed, which built her fear.
Instead of sitting next to him on the bed as she might normally do, Liya settled on the rolling stool and pushed it so she was right in front of him.
Gelin gripped his strong hands together, making the tendons in his forearms flex and the muscles to bunch. He wasn’t looking at her.
Liya waited, her heart thudding unhappily. Gelin couldn’t be rushed. It was rare enough for him to speak of what was on his mind in the first place.
He must have sprinted inside. The shirt he wore under his environmental suit was still damp with the sweat and accumulation of moisture that happened when working as hard as the skinwalker crews did inside an air-tight envelope of micro chainmail and goofygel. He hadn’t stopped to shower or change.
If Gelin had retuned inside, his current partner, Maria Pater, would have been forced to come in, too. They would both lose the shift’s bonuses. Liya had often heard Gelin speak with derision about other skinwalkers who did that to their partners.
Liya pressed her lips together and forced herself not to speak, even though her fear was increasing.
Gelin lifted his whiskered chin and met her gaze. “They offered me a baby.”