Terry had never seen her in his life, but would have known her in a sea of coveralled women.
Five days earlier a chopper had dropped him and eleven others off on the vessel that was to be their home for the next four weeks. He’d smiled and inhaled the salty ocean air. The floating old rust bucket was three generations outdated but it held sentimental value for him. At least twelve hours of each of the next twenty eight days, he would spend working on it, so there was no point moaning about its limitations.
Not long after his arrival, he was in the mess hall devouring a long-overdue lunch when he heard a magical cloud waft from the PA speakers: Benson, please call 501; Benson, MWD, please call 501, thank you. Sing-song, yet practical. Assertive, yet polite. Female. Something monumental shifted inside him. He swallowed but the food was stuck in his chest. Had he been part of the vampire-romance following, he would have understood that he’d just “imprinted” on a voice, a phenomenon that occurred when werewolves chose a life partner. The lads he’d travelled with since Manchester were seated around him, and after a brief “oooh” and shared naughty looks, they yapped on about ManU, while his heart secretly performed back flips in his chest.
Hours later, it was time to resume shift, but first things first. Extension 501 was the coffee shack. This told him nothing, and he needed to know more. A small stack of lockers on B-deck constituted the ladies’ changing room. It was off his route, but worth the detour.
A pair of boots sat in the only occupied niche. Also sharing the tiny space were impact gloves, goggles, and a white hardhat with the name Amaka taped across a green-over-blue sticker. Interesting. The unassuming items told several tales: she was the only female aboard, a local, very tidy, was a “relating thinker” by definition, and was currently off shift—or at least she wasn’t around the work area right now. Who knew the Personality Diversity colours they made them wear had any real use? She was considerate too. He knew this because all his gear was also crammed into one locker, even as several others stood empty. This was good. He’d garnered more intel than he’d hoped for. He headed off to begin his shift.
And thus began a week-long hopelessness consisting of searching, darting eyes which never revealed his mystery lady, leading him to suspect she worked the day shift, or maybe had resumed time-off at home. That is, of course, until the day a glance up from his workstation revealed a beauty of unicorn-like magicness striding toward him. He’d never seen her in his life, but would have known her in a sea of coveralled women. He watched her breathlessly from his console in the doghouse. Her steps were careful yet sure, hair safely tucked away inside her hard hat. The rig floor was littered with tools and slippery after the fiasco with the mud bucket. Dammit, he’d told the lads to start on housekeeping. Where the hell were they? Coffee break ended five minutes ago. A pretty lady was in his domain and the place was a mess.
As she navigated her way through the various hazards strewn about the slippery floor, he hoped with bated breath that the traction on her boots weren’t worn. The cutest, littlest boots in existence! Through the shapeless coveralls came a sexy gait—no, not sexy. Feminine. A walk so utterly true to its gender, it cast a sharp contrast against the scrappy metal wasteland they were in. It appealed to his inherent manliness to shelter this being from the many dangers about. He stared at the little feet as they sought sure footing, willing the mud to cake, pushing away tools with his mind, totally unburdened with the destination of those feet until, too late, he couldn’t see them anymore as they were at the doghouse entrance. One leg off the floor, she pulled the pressurized door open with all of her might, a tasking effort made elegant. Finally, she stood before him with a smile.
“You must be the night guy. Hi, I’m Amaka.”