The Delta Pearl 19 — Flirt

Saturday, January 4, 2019

Happy New Year, my chuckaboos!  May the new decade and the year 2020 bring 20/20 vision.

I’m still crawling back to the surface after Santa brought me a big bag of the Everything Flu on Christmas morning.  The “stomach flu” part of “everything” is still hanging on.  So let’s get right to business.

The “random reader thing” that drove this chapter is from Jill at J-Dubs Grin and Bear ItWeeks ago, in a comment she mentioned Coquettish.  

If you need to refresh your memory about the previous episode, click here for Chapter 18 — Bump.  Are you ready?

All Aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 19 — Flirt

Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan
Allison Scagliotti as Émeraude. Composite of Pixabay & public domain images by Teagan

Every available lamp was lit and each window fully exposed. The library was not vast, but it comfortably held several cozy places for passengers to read or engage in quiet pursuits. At that moment it had only one occupant. A peculiar bespectacled man took over the largest table, and eventually brightened the room to his satisfaction.

The ostensibly mild-mannered inventor weighted down the corners of a large sheet of paper to prevent it curling back into a cylindrical shape. The leather tube that previously held the paper began to roll across the floor as the Delta Pearl gently moved on the water. Without even looking at it, Dr. Victor T. Elam stuck one foot out to stop the canister’s motion. Such was the intensity of his gaze on the big document.

I lingered unnoticed beside the open door. The soft clicking of the clockwork spider, Amethyst, urged me to go inside. It was Amethyst who let me know where Victor had gone after he abruptly left the tearoom. I raised a hand toward the door, but drew back at the muffled footfall on the hallway.

The Chief Porter, Garnet Redford, stopped beside me. His eyebrows lifted in a silent question.

Garnet was already part of the riverboat’s crew when I came aboard as a little girl. Since I had grown up around his extraordinary good looks, I didn’t think much about how handsome he was.

Robert Redford Butch Cassidy Sundance Kid 1969
Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, 1969

However, I was the exception to the rule. Passengers and crew alike, women tended to get positively giddy about his tall, athletic build, chiseled features, green eyes, and reddish blonde hair. Add his soft English accent, and women had swooned ― sometimes literally.

Maybe that was why I felt I could act in a coquettish way with him. I knew Garnet would take it in the joking way that I intended, because there was never a shortage of women who were truly interested in him.

Even the Cook was not immune to the Chief Porter’s appeal. Garnet was usually treated to a “preview” serving whenever Agate baked any of his favorite pastries. This was evident by the flaky golden crumbs on his jacket. I dusted them off and shook my head.

Garnet gave a little smirk. I knew he wasn’t taking advantage of the Cook’s goodwill, but that didn’t mean I would not tease him about it. Agate loved to bake, and I suspected that it was also her way of flirting.

I rolled my eyes. He chuckled.

“The flirting would have been more effective if you had batted your eyelashes, rather than rolling your eyes,” he told me with exaggerated patience. “But don’t let the Dealer know I made such a suggestion. He’d have my hide.”

Amethyst stretched her legs so she could lean closer to Garnet without leaving my shoulder. She made a clicking sound, apparently indicating another crumb on his chest.

I flicked away the crumb. I imitated Garnet’s smirk and lifted eyebrows. His strawberry blonde brows climbed another inch closer to his hairline in return.

The man was British through and through. My enthusiasm for copying his manner deflated. I knew I’d never be able to imitate him.

“Been to the galley for a little cupboard love, have you? Did you ever stop to think the Cook might be trying to fatten you up for her own nefarious purposes?” I joked.

“Agate is a force of nature. I wouldn’t risk her ire by refusing a pastry,” Garnet told me. “And you know that I’m only half joking. Besides, it’s good to take the Cook’s mind off the thievery of that ruddy-cheeked cherub, Hershel. Although, it’s better to have him pinching food than trying to cause the guests to slip on banana peels.”

RUR 3 robots play by Capek 1921
R.U.R. is a science fiction play by Karel Čapek. The Three Robots Scene, 1921.

Garnet tilted his head toward the library and the young inventor inside.

“I’m not sure that one is quite right in the head, Émeraude. Maybe you don’t want to be alone with him in there,” he whispered. “You never know about the quiet, bumbling types, particularly when they’re brilliant…”

“Garnet, I’ll be fine,” I whispered back and patted the side of my thigh, where it was known among the crew that I often carried a small holstered pistol.

My footsteps were quiet on the plush carpet, so I deliberately cleared my throat when I walked into the library. I didn’t want to startle Dr. Elam. When I got closer, I saw that the paper that so absorbed his attention was a large engineering drawing. It was so complex that I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

Despite my efforts to make my presence known, Victor jumped when I said hello. He blushed and stuttered, clearly embarrassed.

“You are pouring so much thought into this drawing,” I began. “Might I ask what it is?”

At the prospect of discussing something technical he recovered his composure. However, he seemed less than enthusiastic. He looked from me to the drawing. Then he looked over his shoulder toward the door, back to the drawing, and again to me.

“Perhaps I’ve been too forward,” I suggested, seeing his concern.

“Oh no,” Victor Elam sputtered. “It’s just that I have not made it public yet. I hope I can count on your discretion. It actually helps me if I give voice to my thoughts. So, if you don’t mind my stuffy scientific prattle I would be delighted to explain.”

His eyes went to my hands as if he expected me to be holding something. Though his gaze met mine only briefly, I was sure that “something” was the rose Obsidian Durango had given me.

Is a single rose enough to make him give up? I wondered. Victor is so different from any of the men on the Delta Pearl. I need advice, but I don’t have anyone to ask. Maybe Mrs. Needleman. She’s a woman of wealth and taste. And she’s a suffragette! Eliza Needleman would surely be able to help.

James_Tissot_The_Fan 1875 Wikipedia
The Fan, James Tissot, 1875 Wikipedia

Dr. Elam leaned toward to the drawing as he pointed at an especially complicated looking part of the illustration. When he touched the paper, he accidentally pulled it away from one of the impromptu paperweights. The drawing immediately began to curl in upon itself. I quickly leaned over the diagram to hold it in place.

He had the same impulse to catch the drawing and we lightly bumped our foreheads together. I winced more at my clumsiness than at any pain.

Finding myself unexpectedly nose to nose with Victor T. Elam, I had the shocking, horribly inappropriate, outrageous urge to kiss him. Right there, in the library ― just move an inch closer, and plant a kiss right on his mouth.

A light tap at the door caused both of us to turn. It was the Garnet, from a moment before. Dr. Elam and I both straightened awkwardly.

Victor turned his back to the door and fussed over the drawing. I could see the back of his ears and they blushed crimson.

His blush made me think I had very nearly created a situation too humiliating for words. Taking it upon myself to abruptly kiss a man I hardly knew would have been scandalous enough… but if he did not want the attention I would have been utterly mortified.

Garnet had speedily fetched a tray of tea. The subterfuge to check on my safety was obvious. I didn’t know whether to be grateful that he had prevented me making a fool of myself, or furious that he had interrupted the process.

Is the entire riverboat filled with mother hens?

The Cook seemed determined to match me up with Dr. Elam, and the Chief Porter was bent on protecting me from the milquetoast.

China cup by Dan Antion
China cup by Dan Antion

The Chief Porter put the tea tray on a small table that was positioned between two chairs upholstered in golden yellow brocade. I shooed Garnet Redford away and poured the tea myself.

“Now,” I began with a motion toward the large mechanical drawing on the table. “I must admit I’m curious. When I look at the drawing, I feel like I should understand what it is, and yet I don’t. I suppose what I mean is that it seems familiar.”

Victor Elam looked inordinately pleased by my comment.

“Yes, you might well find it familiar, Miss Émeraude. Especially considering your charming clockwork creatures,” he added.”

“Do you mean it’s for a clockwork thing?” I asked in an astonished but delighted voice. “But it seems like it’s meant to be quite large,” I added as I rose and went back to the table.

Victor followed me, teacup in hand.

“Indeed, it is for something large. In fact, it would be taller than myself. It is meant to perform functions according to a predetermined set of coded instructions. In other words, it is intended to be capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances,” the inventor tried to explain, but the question must have been plain on my face.

“The design is for an automaton,” Dr. Elam stated.

Amethyst chittered and clicked wildly. She pounced from my shoulder onto the drawing. The clockwork spider skittered all around the large design. She rose onto her back legs and hissed. For a moment she vanished beneath the paper. Then saw her scramble across the floor.

I caught a glimpse of Amethyst in the chandelier before she disappeared from sight.

Altered Spider jewelry pin Starbright Pixabay
Pixabay image, tomfoolery by Teagan

***

End Chapter 19

***

Thanks for visiting, my chuckaboos.  I’ll be looking for you at the riverboat dock next weekend.

***

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 and 2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


87 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 19 — Flirt

  1. I am finally emerging from a long absence. My desktop died and reading on the phone proved too difficult. Imagine my surprise to see coquettish! Very cool indeed. Another great installment. Love Amethyst! I could just picture the scene with that hiss!! I also can’t wait to find out more about what Dr. Elam has in store for us with his automaton. Oh happy day!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I have come to expect….great installment. You always throw a couple of curves to make us wonder where we are truly headed. Didn’t see the urge to kiss him coming…..nice twist!! Can’t wait to see where you take us with Amethyst!! Love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you, Joanne. Yeah, it was a heck of a way to end the Thistledown book launch and a worse way to begin the new year — the new decade. Nearly two weeks later and my stomach is still not right. But my stomach is also the main spot where the physical manifestations of my anxiety/agoraphobia show up, so I guess it will be extra slow going in that regard. I’m trying to get into a positive mindset — and my wonderful community here helps.
      Thank you for starting a new year on The Delta Pearl, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You know dear Teagan even though I do not get to read every episode of your stories, each chapter is a story unto itself.. Beautifully told as ever..
    I so hope you have recovered from your illness.. thankfully both my hubby and myself had recovered in time for Christmas after being quite ill with a nasty chest infection each that was also doing the rounds here in the UK..
    So I wish you a Happy Healthy new start to the new year and may 2020 see you flourish in every way possible both in your personal life and in the success of the sales to your books..
    Sending much love and warm giant hugs across the ocean my friend..
    Have a Wonderful New Year.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you both are feeling better, Sue. Being sick and alone throughout Christmas was not easy, mind or body. I’m trying to get into a positive mindset so I can get over what is still hanging on from this flu. Thank you for visiting. Wishing you all the best blessings of the new year. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Teagan. I do hope you are feeling better and am so sorry you’ve been under the weather. I loved this segment and these characters. The inventor is most interesting, but the handsome Garnet – Wow! You almost had me swooning. 🙂 Lots going on and can’t wait to see what’s next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure Garnet has swept several swooning passengers off their feet, Jan. LOL. I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter. Thank you, I’m trying to get well. This crud has drained my spirits just as much as my body. So thanks for taking time to visit, my chuckaboo.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good to see you, Suzanne. LOL, thanks for your feedback about the almost kiss.
      Yeah… this flu was a heck of a way to end a book launch and a worse way to begin a new decade. I really thought I would be (nearly) well by January 1st. I’m better, but still have a ways to go. Although it helps to see you here. Happy New Year, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Now that does more to heal me than anything! Thank you so much.
          I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick too. I’m sure all your resistance was down after what you’ve been through.
          I’m getting ready to publish my flapper slang dictionary, but there will not be an actual book launch. A Ghost in the Kitchen did so poorly that I’m not going to do much with my 1920s stories from now on. Aside from this serialized rewrite of The Delta Pearl, I’m going to focus on a crazy story I started in November. It’s set in the NV desert in 1964.
          Wishing you all good things in 2020, my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Another excellent chapter, Teagan. Clearly the spider is not happy with Victor’s plans. Will Victor attend the sweet sixteen party? I feel something will be brewing at the party, perhaps not all good. Feel better, Teagan! The flu is nasty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… this one is draining my spirit along with my body. But I’m trying to get back to normal. LOL, or at least to what’s normal for me. o_O I appreciate your feedback about Amethyst. We shall see why it upset her. Happy New Year, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you, Gerlinde. You are right about hydrating. That’s difficult enough in my new climate. My body has had a hard time adjusting to the dry air even without being sick. Especially at night. I have to make a conscious point of drinking even more than I want, throughout the daytime.
      I’m delighted you enjoyed the chapter. Happy New Year, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  6. A budding romance and a upset Amethyst. Great interaction:) I can’t wait to see what happens next! Hope you recover from the flu quickly, Teagan. Sending lots of hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh boy, Dr. Elam doesn’t need to woory about an embarrassing almost kiss, but rather an angry Amethyst. She does not appear to be in favor of the automaton plans. I hope the good inventor knows what he’s doing and this doesn’t turn jnto as mad scientist creation.

    You sure had an awful case of the flu. I hope this next week brings you much needed healing and rest. Hugs snd purrs for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your healing wishes, Mary J. I’m finally around 80%. Crystal typically isn’t a very snuggly cat, but she has made an exception the past week and a half. She’s been a dedicated little nursemaid.
      Happy New Year hugs, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  8. Awwww, poor Amethyst. Does she see herself being replaced by “bigger and better”?

    Hmmmm, I wonder if Emeraude had planted that kiss on Victor, what his reaction would have been? The crew seems to want Emeraude to grow up, but at the same time they won’t let her! We certainly live in different times, don’t we?!

    Sorry it’s taking so long to get your strength back, but glad you’re making progress in that direction. Stay hydrated my friend. And rest when your body tells you to. You don’t want to take a step backwards at this point.

    This was a great episode Teagan. Eagerly awaiting what you have up your sleeve!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Like

        1. That sounds like my kind of plan. This stuff had to be hugely contagious for me to catch it in the first place — I hardly go anywhere, and I wash my hands after I so much as touch a piece of mail. I felt so guilty when I had to go out (spreading germs) to pick up medicine. I took a disinfectant wipe around with me, and even wiped the pen before handing it back to the pharmacy clerk… Stay well, my chuckaboo!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m happy you’re slowly feeling better, Teagan. My energy hasn’t returned, but the body aches have subsided. My stomach issues were minimal, but after no food for 4 days, I lost over 10 pounds…not the best diet. Feel better! Great episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very happy that you are doing better, Jill. The very slow return of energy is so frustrating — please be good to yourself while you get there. I had full-on flu symptoms for 10 days. Now the sinus and diarrhea are gradually improving. Here’s to great health and energy in 2020, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “In the library with the clockwork mechanism.” Reminds me of the game Clue. Lots going on here, Teagan. Matters of science and romance and brilliantly written.

    I hope you are feeling much better before the Delta Pearl sails again. See you on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You will always find me on the riverboat dock awaiting your return. The presence of the Delta Pearl silently cutting through the water can make anyone swoon or get giddy with anticipation upon her arrival. My heart did go out to Amethyst, seeing such an automaton, must have given her quite the trepidation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Robbie — thank you. It seemed like A Ghost in the Kitchen was lost in the book fair I did as part of its launch. Thank you for reading. I truly hope you enjoy it.
      Haha, I hope Victor can find the courage to get competitive! Happy New Year, my chuckaboo.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great beginning the new year dear Teagan. Oh yes, Robert Redford, I love him 🤗 I have watched yesterday the Great Gatsby (the old version of course 😉 ) with Robert Redford & Mia Farrow though, the making of isn’t felicitous as the great work by Fitzgerald but it is a neat movie. Have a wonderful new your 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy 2020, Teagan! I h0pe you recover soon. Love is in the air at the Delta Pearl, and an automaton! Can’t wait for the next chapter!

    Like

    1. It’s lovely to see you, Cindy. I was happily surprised to find many of Tissot’s beautiful works on Wikipedia. I added them to a folder of several Victorian paintings I’ve used in this series to a folder, which provides a background slideshow for my laptop. It helps put my head into the setting of The Delta Pearl. Happy New Year to you and everyone at the Holler, my chuckaboo!

      Like

  14. Almost got a kiss? Or should I say planted a kiss? Scandalous fun in the making. I like the sassiness of the clockwork spider. How are you feeling, Teagan? I hope your flu has blown away with the wind.

    Liked by 1 person

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