Just want to give a quick shout-out to Brhi Stokes author of Caligation, her Anthology of short stories Out of the Darkness & Into the Night is free on Amazon until the end of september, and selling for .99c thereafter. If you’re a fan of my work you might enjoy these. She’s even offering free authographs, if the idea interests you.
In other news, today’s tale is my first pass at the steampunk genre, though only very lightly steampunk. Following the headstrong Levi White pursue the love of a pretty girl, this is somewhat a moral tale about entitlement.
If you like it you can find more of my romance stories here,
Drawing the heavily creased sheet of paper once more from his pocket to check, Levi stares across the university courtyard anxiously. The enormous stone structures that surround the courtyard teem with the best and brightest young minds on the continent. Everyone who ever wanted to be anyone attended the Edward Lincoln University. The foremost hub of technological and biological advancements for the past century, the scientific renaissance borne on the back of the external combustion engine could trace its origin back to this very campus. It was auspicious then that here he should have first laid eyes upon the woman of his dreams.
She had been tutoring a group of undergrads in the library while he had been studying nearby the first time he had properly noticed her. She drew him in and captured him with her enthusiasm and depth of knowledge for the subject. While her intellect was captivating enough her beauty was profound but humble. She had dressed after the fashion of men, dressed in tan suit pants and waistcoat over a white shirt she wore with the sleeves rolled past the elbow for practicality. She was vibrant, powerful and without even an exchange of glances he had fallen for her.
It was weeks before he had leaned who she was. A friend in the biological department recognised her description, having seen her in one of the labs. Other than a broad area to search he hadn’t known anything as useful as her name or anyone who might be able to introduce them. The students of the Edward Lincoln University were not unfairly reputed for tenacity and creativity, and Levi had always sat near the top of whatever he put his mind to. An engineering student, he had little justification for waiting around the school of biology as he did. Eventually he had been noticed after several weeks of loitering and been asked to leave, but not before finding her name among her supervisors records.
Riley Hughes, not the most feminine name but it suited her style perfectly. With the way she kept her hair short favouring a cut more popular among men and her preference for masculine attire, were it not for the soft tenderness to her lips and skin as well as the sensual cadence of her voice she could have almost resembled the androgyny of her name.
The brisk morning air was a start to the senses, keeping the students moving quickly to warm themselves as they headed for classes and other business. The half of the courtyard that boasted a touch of sunlight attracted a wide assortment of young academics. Musicians with guitars and lap drums played in a circle across from a foreign looking girl painting a likeness of the biology building with far sharper colours and contrasts, a small knot of Duellists loudly boasted to one another of their victories. Through all the activity, Levi was the only one who chose to stand in the shade. No more a fan of the cold than anyone else, he had chosen this spot for the unobstructed vantage it gave of the northern and eastern entrances to the Biology building.
The paper he held was a copy of Riley’s schedule for the semester. Once he’d had her name getting his hands on it had been as simple as finding a receptionist at the biology faculty trusting enough to believe the panicked pleas of a man claiming to have urgent news for his sister, Riley Hughes, regarding their poor beloved father falling ill and needing to find her as quickly as possible. With the means to find her at last, he had come to wait to see her leaving her morning class with the vague plan of finally meet her.
As students began exiting the building, Levi stared intently at the crowd to be certain not to miss his chance. He spots her leaving in the company of another woman, walking away from where he was standing. Pushing through the tide of students, he collides with an undergrad who doesn’t move in time and tramples over him unwilling to lose her again. Breaking through the crowd, he looks around desperately for her, barely spotting her tan suit pants as she rounds the corner moving swiftly.
Cursing beneath his breath he breaks into a sprint chasing after her, she couldn’t disappear he needed to meet her. He’d worked so hard to find her. There was no way he would let her escape him now.
As he regains sight of them the women inexplicably break into a run, forcing him to redouble his pace just to keep closing the distance. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, she should have been alone and walked past him so he could have started a cool conversation and charmed her properly. At least this would be an amusing story to tell their children one day, he supposed attempting to hold down the boiling over rage bubbling up inside him.
Riley ducks into a small building Levi didn’t recognise in his knowledge of the university. The woman she’d been running with remaining outside, at least he might have the small good fortune to at least confess his love in private.
“Hey you!” the woman shouted at Levi, challenging him before he could follow Riley into the building. His anger was reaching bursting point now, he didn’t have time to stop but this girl wasn’t giving him room to pass.
“What do you want?”
“What do I want?” she retorts, stepping threateningly in to him, her long hair and cute makeup almost making the gesture comical, “You need to back off, you creepy stalker. Riley’s sick of you following her, if she see’s you again I’m going to make sure you never set foot in this university again, do you understand me?”
Students at Edward Lincoln University well deserved their reputation for tenacity and creativity, but today Edward only displayed one half of those traits as he finally lost it. As he was being dragged away by three men Riley finally met his gaze for the first time. The hatred and fear in her eyes as she protectively cradling the woman who’d tried to keep them apart made Levi realise at last how cruelly she had tricked him.
Moral of the story: Don’t be like Levi