Cross Country Travels

Recently, I drove across part of the country.  This summer, I traveled to South Dakota State in Brookings, SD to continue working on my M.S. in Chemistry Education.  Since I would be living on campus for two weeks, I decided to pack up my car with dorm essentials and make the 1,524 mile trip, passing through 5 states, over three days.  It was pretty exciting stuff.

New Mexico

IMG_5721New Mexico is actually kind of pretty territory.  There are rocky mesas and vistas filled with desert scrub brush as far as the eye can see.  Red rock and sage colored plants everywhere.  I passed through Albuquerque with its adobe homes and chili pepper lights and drove to the tiny town of Santa Rosa.  Located on Route 66, Santa Rosa is a tourist town with shops and diners located up and down the historic route.  There were also a number of boarded-up gas stations and old hotels, making the town look older than it was.  But I enjoyed my stay for the night.  In the morning, I packed it up and headed back out on the highway.

Texas

I only passed through the northern tip of Texas on my drive up north, but it was pretty country.  Farms and cows and flat as far as the eye could see.  It was fun to watch the desert scrub of New Mexico turn into the prairie of Texas.

Oklahoma

Like Texas, I only passed through a small portion of Oklahoma: the panhandle.  Also like Texas, it was pretty flat and full of farms and cows.

Kansas

TIMG_5737his part of my trip involved a lot of county roads and two-lane highways all will driving through some pretty farm country.  First off, Kansas is not as flat as I would have thought.  There are rolling hills and river valleys.  Second, Kansas is not all grassland like I pictured.  There are groves of deciduous trees that line farms and riverbeds.  There were blue skies and road-side cafes and diners.  There were also very tiny towns dotted amid the farmland and forests.  I even drove through a completely abandoned town where all of the windows were boarded up and the buildings were being taken back by nature.  It was a little creepy and a little sad all at the same time.  Mostly, though, it was farms and cows and quiet towns.  It amazes me that so much of the state seems to be devoted to growing food.  Growing up in a desert, I sometimes forget that the rest of the country is green and farmable.

Nebraska

IMG_5741See above.  No seriously.  I stayed the night in the town of Kearny, NE.  It was small and cute and had a lot of hotels and RV parks.  It seemed like the type of place one would stop the night as one travels around the country.  But it looked much like all of the towns I’d driven through in Kansas, only a little bigger.  Nebraska is very much like Kansas.  There are farms and grasslands and small forests as I drove across the state on county lanes and two-lane highways.  There were rivers and ponds dotting the landscape and the sprinkling of black and brown cow bodies.  But the landscape wasn’t that different from that of Kansas.  Maybe this is true for most of the country, but I grew up in a state where most of the terrestrial biomes are represented.  Arizona has desert, of course, but we also have grasslands and chaparral and deciduous forest and pine forest and tundra.  Really, the only thing we are missing is rainforest, but we do have something called a “wet desert” which is kind of in-between a rainforest and a desert.  I can drive two hours from my desert home and be at a ski resort on top of a 14,000 ft. mountain.  Or I can be in an aspen forest. Or I can be in the grasslands.  So to travel across two states and basically not see the landscape change is a little on the weird side for me.

South Dakota

IMG_5761I was in the south eastern part of South Dakota, which looks pretty much like what I describe above.  There were also rolling clouds and brief thunderstorms, which was kind of fun.  And living in the dorm was a new experience for me as I live off-campus during my undergrad.  I got the walk through campus on my way to class, watching fluffy-tailed squirrels and cottontails eat grass and scamper away.  I also saw a prairie dog, which was cool as we don’t usually see those just running around in Phoenix.

All told, my cross-country trip was a fun experience.  I saw part of the country I wouldn’t have otherwise traveled through.  I realized just how much of the country is used to make food.  I saw just how small some places can be.  I will definitely be taking more road trips in the future.


Bite Somebody: A Review

“Do you want to be perfect?”

That’s what Danny asked Celia the night he turned her into a vampire. Three months have passed since, and immortality didn’t transform her into the glamorous, sexy vamp she was expecting, but left her awkward, lonely, and working at a Florida gas station. On top of that, she’s a giant screw-up of an immortal, because the only blood she consumes is from illegally obtained hospital blood bags. 

What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just … bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. His scent creeps through her kitchen wall and makes her nose tingle, but insecure Celia can’t bring herself to meet the guy face-to-face.

When she finally gets a look at Ian’s cyclist physique, curly black hair, and sun-kissed skin, other parts of Celia tingle, as well. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation? His kisses certainly have a way of making her fangs throb.

Just when Celia starts to believe Ian may be the fairy tale ending she always wanted, her jerk of a creator returns to town, which spells nothing but trouble for everyone involved.

Bite Somebody by Sara Dobie Bauer isn’t your typical vampire book.  First off, you have Celia, the main protagonist of this tale.  Celia is pretty average Joe when it comes to looks and has some major insecurities when it comes to her appearances.  What person can’t relate to that.  When she was bit by Danny, she hoped that all of her woes would be carried away.  Alas, that’s only the beginning.  But Celia is getting by, with the help of her therapist Dr. Savage.  She’s a great main character not only because she is funny and weird (like me) but also because she isn’t perfect.  Celia messes up and makes mistakes, but she is living her life as she can and putting the bad things behind her.  It not only makes her a relatable character, but also a believable character.  Celia literally could be me, and there were more than a few times I laughed out loud at her antics because I’ve been there.

Second you have Imogene, a punk rock vampire that is a throwback to the 80s, complete with cassette tape player (that’s right, cassettes kids), plastic red sunglasses, and side ponytails.  Imogene befriends Celia initially for her blood supply, but the two become something like the odd couple.  Plus, you can’t not love Imogene’s feisty attitude and “fuck it” nature.  Imogene is the best friend that anyone can ask for because she just comes in, uses her stuff, and isn’t afraid to tell you how your fucking things up.  She’s also there in a jam and will back you up forever.  Literally, she’s a vampire and won’t die.

Of course we can’t forget Ian, the laid back former surfer next door who has the Best. Smell. Ever.  Ian is the most laid back, go-with-theflow character ever, yet his charm and innocence makes any gal, including Celia, fall in love with him.  Ian just kind of roles with the punches.  Even when he finds out the truth about Celia, he’s okay with it because he likes her for her.  And being a vampire is part of being her.  He’s far from mister Perfect, and the flaws in him keep him grounded in the story.

Bite Somebody starts out being a pretty typical rom-com, but quickly take the reader for an exciting ride into areas of mystery, intrigue, and suspense.  There are some fun, unexpected turns when Celia’s creator shows back up, but I won’t spoil that for you here.  I would recommend picking up a copy and finding out for yourself.

Sara Dobie Bauer manages to navigate those twists and turn beautifully.  She paints a wonderful picture of the town of Admiral Key and it’s unusual inhabitants.  Her writing is funny, witty, and easy to follow as she guides you through her world.  This book is for anyone who likes making fun of Twilight and enjoying some new twists on vampire shenanigans.

Bite Somebody comes out today (June 21st, 2016).  You can find it on Amazon and Goodreads or can buy it directly from the publisher.

You can find more awesomeness from Sara Dobie Bauer at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.


Nope, no. Absolutely not

I’m sure this has happened to other people, single or in a relationship, who are without kids. I’m pretty sure, actually, because I’ve talked to those people, friends and family both, who are in their late 20s or 30s or 40s and have never had children. I have read articles from other women admiting that they don’t want children and the reaction they receive. I find the whole thing very odd. Like it’s anyone elses business what I want to do with my life or my body.

I don’t want children. At all. For a while I was on the fence. I listened to people as they told me I just needed to find the right person. Or I just needed to be at the right place in my life. Or it’ll just feel like the right time when it’s the right time. My little sister has a child and it’s completely changed her life for the better. I can see the love she feels for her kiddo every time she looks at him. So maybe it’s a little ironic that his first birthday really hit home the idea that, nope, I really don’t want children. I watched people coo over the baby and hold him and watched my sister open his presents and while I was filled with love for this little guy I also realized that it really isn’t for me.  At all. I’m not interested.

At teacher check out this year, I really drove that point home for myself. At the end of the school year teachers come back one extra day to close out their room for the summer. Many of my peers brought their little ones in to work with them as they did some last minute paper work and picked up their summer checks. I was walking through the front office on my way out when one of the lovely ladies who works at the front desk commented on my lack of child in tow. My exact response was “nope, no, absolutely not, fuck that.” It was a quick response with no thought behind it. It was my knee-jerk answer to the question of children. It was at that point that I really realized that this decision felt right for me. I’d always been on the fence, but I’ve now jumped over the fence into the “nope” camp.

And here’s the thing: I’m not going to be ashamed of my choice. Sure, I might change my mind one day, but probably not. I enjoy my life and I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about the decisions I make that best fit me. Just like I won’t judge the 6 children someone else chooses to have. I’m a little tired of other people feeling like they need to make me feel like a horible person because of my life style.  While my knee-jerk response surprised me at first, I think it’s one I’m going to start using as a stock answer to that question.  Or maybe people can just stop asking women in their 30s when they are going to have children.


Unexpected Part III: I Won’t Say It

Parts I and II can be found here and here.  Takes place during The Shadow of Revan storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  PC is the Imperial Agent.  Minor spoilers.

Part III

I don’t know what to do any more.  I’ve been disavowed for the murder of Colonel Darok.  The chancellor wanted me arrested and imprisoned.  Satele wants nothing to do with me.  She won’t even talk to me through the holonet.  Thanks, Mom.  Good to know that you don’t trust your own son in this matter.  They won’t listen.  They don’t understand that Revan is back and a real threat.

So now I’m on the run.  With Lana.

If you asked me two months ago if I would ever trust a Sith with my life, I’d have laughed in your face.  But she’s the only one I can trust right now.

Except maybe you.

“You made it,” Lana sighs.  I lean against the table behind me, crossing my arms over my chest.  Ever the picture of nonchalant.

“The way Revan was laying waste to that place, I wasn’t sure you’d come out of it in one piece.”  It comes out smooth and casual, but I can feel my heart quicken.  I really am glad that you made it out alive.  The thought gives me pause for a moment.  I haven’t had time to really examine my thoughts and feelings from earlier, when you were on the rooftop and I couldn’t get to you.  Too much was going on then.  Too much is going on now.  But the thoughts drift to the surface none-the-less.  I really am glad that you are alive.

“What are you talking about? I’m hardly in one piece…” Ceetoo Deefour complains.  Jakarro growls at him to stuff it.  I think he also threatened to dismantle the droid further, although I’m not sure how.  Ceetoo is just a head at this point.

“Anyway, my point is: glad you got out of there.  Any ally right now is a welcome ally.”  The picture of casual.  No feelings what-so-ever.

“So coy,” you reply, practically cooing.  “I think someone in the SIS has a crush on me…”

I can feel the heat rising off my face.  There it is.  Out in the open.  Just like that.  I can handle this.

“What, me? Into you?  That’s so… You know, don’t be ridiculous.” I practically stutter.  Smooth, Theron.  Real smooth.  That’ll show her what I think of that.  Me, have a crush on the Imperial agent?  Yeah, right.  Right?

“If I may say, Agent Shan, you appear to be rather flush all of a sudden.” Ceetoo comments.  Damn that droid.

“We’re gonna—Jakarro and I and the droid, we’re leaving now so you can have your… official Imperial debrief or whatever.”  I turn and stalk out of the room, being very careful to not appear as if I’m running.  I don’t even wait to see if Jakarro is following me.

“Lana, when you’re done, we can start picking out backwaters to go lie low in.”  I don’t look back, but I can practically feel you watch me as I leave.  I can picture your piercing blue eyes following me as I turn a corner.  I can almost see the small smirk on your full lips, the hint of a thin eyebrow raised in amusement because you must see that your joke has clearly gotten under my skin.

I stop a few paces from the hanger where Jakarro’s ship is waiting.  It seems rude to just barge into a ship that isn’t mine.  I lean with my back against the wall, arms across my chest, head back, and close my eyes.  I take a deep breath and let the thoughts roll over me.  You can do this, Theron.  You’ve been calm and collective in many circumstances that should have killed you, many times over.  You’ve thought your way through each and every one and come out on top.  This is no different.  Just be calm and relaxed and think it through.

“Ah, Agent Shan,” Ceetoo Deefour’s voice cuts through my concentration.  “We were worried that in your haste to get away from the commander that you forgot where the ship was docked.”

“I wasn’t in a hurry to get away from anyone,” I counter.  “They just seemed like they didn’t want me there.”

Jakarro growls in Wookie.  “I agree,” Ceetoo replies.  “It does appear that Agent Shan left quite abruptly after the commander’s comment about his crush.  Perhaps the commander’s observations where more astute than-“

“Stow it, Ceetoo.  That’s ridiculous.  I do not have a crush on the commander,” I put as much bravo and mocking into my tone as possible.  I’m not in to that Imperial spy.  “She’s not even my type.”  I add as I follow Jakarro into his ship.  He growls and grumbles a reply, something akin to “sure sure, whatever you say.”

“She’s not!” I insist, but Jakarro is no longer listening to me.  He has a galactic map pulled up and is discussing places to hide with Ceetoo.  How can they possibility think that I like you?  You’re good in a fight, to be sure, and I’m glad you’re alive.  I’m not sure why, exactly, but I’m really happy that I got to see you again.

“Nar Shaddaa is out of the question,” Ceetoo points out with a sigh, or as close to a sigh that a droid can get.  “We’re wanted there as well.”

“How about Rakata?” Lana pipes in from behind.  I didn’t even hear her board the ship.  I tweak with my sensors a little, but they are working just fine.  Need to upgrade if a Sith can get past them.  Maybe a quick side trip to Nar Shaddaa wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“She thinks you’re cute,” Lana says casually as she leans in for a better look at the map.

“Wha-?” That catches me completely off guard.

“The great Jakarro says it would also give him some satisfaction to take out the remaining Revanite bases.”  Jakarro growls something, but I miss it.  I’m still stuck on Lana’s off-the-cuff remark.  I realize that my mouth is open and close it.

“Yes, but we want to hide from the Revanites, not announce our presence, at least not until we know more about what they are planning.  Hmmm.”  Lana moves the map around, trying to find an out-of-the way planet.  “I meant the commander of course.  She told me that she’s glad I reached out to you because she thinks you’re cute.  Or maybe handsome?  Or was it good-looking?  I can’t really remember the exact words.  You get the point, though yes?”

“I don’t… I mean… I’m not… Stop looking at me like that.”  I turn back to the map, but I can barely focus on the images in front of me.  I’m sure my face is on fire because it feels warm.  Come on, Theron, get it together.  You are an adult who doesn’t get distracted because some girl – woman – thinks you’re good-looking.

“We have some intel from the Revanites on Rakata.  No, Jakarro, we don’t want to destroy them just yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep track of their movements.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Lana.  We need more information.”  You think I’m good-looking…

Jakarro growled about something about Nal Hutta.  “The wonderful Jakarro says that he has contacts on Nal Hutta that might be able to help us.

“We’ve nowhere else to go,” Lana replies, pushing back from the map display and smiling.  “Theron?”

“I’ve, uh,” Snap out of this.  “Yeah.  If Jakarro has some contacts that won’t immediately turn him in, I think it’s a good place to start.  Plus, I bet I can find some supplies and parts I need to help me decode what we got from the Revanite databases on Rakata.  With any luck, we can figure out what they have planned next.”

“Then it’s settled.  Jakarro, plot a course.  We’ll see if we can find any more allies on Nal Hutta.”

“We have allies?” I ask, but regret it as soon as it leaves my lips.

“The commander, of course,” Lana replies.  She seems to relish that fact that just the thought of you scrambles my brain.  I can’t think straight and this is not the time to lose my head.  Blast it.

“Look, she’s not even my type.  Plus, she was clearly joking.  I don’t have a crush on her.”

“Of course not,” Lana replied, but in a smug way that made me kind of want to punch her in the face.  I refrained.  It’s not nice to punch literally the only person in the galaxy who has my back in the face.  Well, maybe not the only person.  I guess Jakarro is in this with us.  And you.  At least I hope you’re in this with me-us!

“I’m going to see if I can decode more of the Revanite intel we gathered on Rakata.” I say to the room, but Jakarro is already off to plot our course and Lana just waves me off.

“Let me know if you find anything.”

I do not stalk back to my quarters.  I have every intention of doing what I told Lana and Jarakko I was going to do: work on decoding the intel.  But your eyes dance in front of my face and I can’t focus on the delicate task at hand.  Instead, I sit back on my bunk and try to figure this out.

I wasn’t lying when I said you weren’t my type.  You’re not really.  You’re smart, yes, but enhancements do that.  It’s difficult to hide your implants when the slim tendrils attach above your eyebrows and at your temples.  I assume the ones that caress your checks and sit above your mouth are also microphones.  I suppose you do that because you’re not interested in hiding your implants.  Why would you be?  Mine aren’t exactly hidden either, what with the flashing yellow lights at my temple.  So, yes, you’re smart.  And quick, which isn’t always the same thing.

There is a pose to you that I’ve not seen in many other woman, a grace that defines your every move.  Oh sure, I guess some would say the Jedi have the same grace when they move, but yours is different.  You move with economy, no step wasted, every movement has a purpose, but there is a fluidity to it as well.  It’s the confidence that you have, the way you hold yourself.  Some have told me I move like that.  I’ve rarely seen it in others, even other SIS agents.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it attractive.

You’re not beautiful though.  Or really even pretty.  I’d use the word handsome, but that somehow seems insulting.  You are striking, though, with your sharp check bones and sharp nose and amazing eyes.  And your full lips.  I’ve always gone for the pretty ones, with the delicate features and the need to be rescued.  You have proven more than once that no one needs to rescue you.  You are the exact opposite of delicate.  I know you can handle yourself, I can see that you are perfectly attune to your own needs and have no fear in pursuing them.  Perhaps that why your flirting has taken me so off guard.  I’m not used to someone being so direct with me, especially when that person is another spy.  Perhaps that’s why I’m more attracted to you than I’m willing to admit.

Huh?  Maybe you were joking or maybe you’re just better at reading people than I am.  That wouldn’t be too hard, actually.  For all my skill as a slicer, I’m not great with understanding people.  Blast it!

It’s fine, Theron.  So I’m attracted to an Imperial Agent.  It’s not like I’m going to see you again in the near future, especially since I’m running for my life from the very people you happen to work for.  Not like it would work out anyway, what with you being an Imperial spy and me being a Republic spy.

Still I certainly don’t have to tell Lana and Jakarro that you were right!


Dear Graduates,

Congratulations!  You’ve made it through high school!  All of your work has paid off and you are getting a diploma.  You’ll sit and listen to the valedictorian gushes about the wonderful memories you’ve all made together.  You’ll clap as the senior class president regales tales of homecoming and prom.  You’ll role your eyes as the principal talks about the responsibilities of adulthood.  You’re friends and family will cheer when your name is called.  You shake hands with education board and the principal and the assistant principals and you get to finally move that tassel (is it left or right?) to indicate that you have reached a major accomplishment in your life.  You’ll hug your best friend (friends for life) and kiss your significant other (we’ll always be together) and you’ll have an amazing night.

And then you’ll get up the in morning and realize that it’s over.  High school is officially done.  Now what?

It’s an okay feeling to have.  There might be lots of excitement for the future.  There might be some dread that you have no clue what you are going to do with your life.  There might be some anxiety over college or the military or your job.  It’s all perfectly normal things to experience.  As you enjoy your summer and prepare for your future, I hope that you’ll remember the lessons learned from your friends and teachers in high school.

Some friends are worth keeping and some friends are there because of circumstance.  I know it’s hard to hear because BBFs and all.  I’m still friends with a few people from high school, and yes, one of my best friends from high school is still one of my best friends today.  But I rarely talk to other people that I considered close friends in high school.  It’s not because we didn’t care for each other, but we grew up and went separate ways.  I still remember them fondly and see occasional updates on Facebook, but our lives no longer bring us together on a daily basis.  It’s okay to let friends go and make new ones.

Teachers really do care about you.  It might not seem like it, and maybe all teachers don’t care specially about you.  But I’d bet that every single graduate can point to at least one teacher in high school who genuinely cared about you.  That gets more difficult to find as you go into the scary “real world”.  Professors and bosses and drill sergeants are more likely to see you as just another number or responsibility unless you do something to make them see more.  Be involved, introduce yourself, try as hard as you can, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, don’t be afraid to push yourself and show your dedication.  Get to know these people as people, as much as you can, at least.  I mean, don’t cross any lines where you will get kicked out or fired.  Have some boundaries, of course.  My point is, make connections with people and show that you care about what you do.

You will forever be a student.  You might not always be in the halls of a school or sitting at a desk, but keep learning.  Find things your interested in and passionate about and read about it or listen to podcasts about it or watch YouTube videos.  Get involved in local organizations or clubs were you can experience new things.  Travel and experience the world because there are so many things out there that are interesting and cool and fun.

Good luck to you all.  I wish you all the best whatever the future brings you!

Congrats, class of 2016!!


Why? Why not?

I consider myself a scientific skeptic.  I try to look at claims with a healthy dose of science and evidence.  I like to consider what the evidence says before I make up my mind about things.  I like to take a step back and ask “wait, what’s the proof for that?”  I like to doubt things it they sound implausible.

Of course, that often translates to my friends and family as being a doubter, as being contentious, as being difficult, as not believing in things.  I think my friends and family see me as being a nay-sayer to the things they believe such as homeopathic medicine, global warming, and the existence of ghosts.

I got into skepticism due to two podcasts: Science…Sort Of and the Geologic Podcast.  I wasn’t always a skeptic.  I believed in ghosts and spirits and Bigfoot and the conspiracy behind global warming.  And then I started listening to these two shows and they talked about science and skepticism in an easy-to-understand way.  Those podcasts lead to others such as Skeptoid and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and to more involvement with local skeptic groups.  That involvement lead to more research and more understanding of how important it is to examine things critically and not take claims at face value without good evidence to back it up.

This, of course, has lead to family and friends to start saying “there was a study about this” when they tell me things.  Great, I’m glad there was a study about it.  How good was the study?  How controlled was the study?  Did you actually read the study or just the reporting on the study?  What conclusions did the researchers reach?  Where those conclusions in line with the data they actually collected?  It’s a nuanced process that needs to be followed.  I understand that can’t be for everything.  I’m not going to doubt it when someone tells they hit a deer or they feel better when eating a gluten-free diet.  I just also don’t like to take everything at face value.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe why this is important to me.  I think George Hrab said it pretty well in his TEDx talk, so I’m just going to leave that link here.  The video is about 23 minutes, but it’s well worth the watch if you are interested in learning why skepticism is important.

GWC-keep-calm-and-question-everything-3Sometimes it seems like it is all pointless and why should I care.  But most of the time, I think it’s important to continue to inform people that they shouldn’t believe every miracle cure or health claim or wonder product out there.  They should stop and say “hey, wait a second, how does that work?”.  It’s okay to question how a product works and to demand that a product or procedure has been rigorously tested to ensure that it actually does what it should do or prevent what it claims to prevent.  So I’ll keep questioning and just hope that my family and friends realize I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just trying to make them understand that science is complicated and claims should require evidence.

Image credit: www.quotehd.com and larochecollege.blogspot.com and globalwomenconnected.com


Wolf Among Sheep – A Novella

My very good friend, Sara Dobie Bauer, is an author.  She has been publishing short stories since I’ve known her, but her goal has always been to publish her books.  Today, her goal is reality.  Her new novella, Wolf Among Sheep, is out and available at Amazon and Goodreads.  Check out the excerpt below and then go support this amazing author.

About Wolf Among Sheep:

New from Hot Ink Press! Avery Collins is an ambitious young journalist in early-1900s Charleston, South Carolina, when exotic newcomers Timothy and Vonnie Duke spot him at a fancy gala on the Battery. The Dukes like bringing pretty playthings to their marriage bed, and with a promotion in mind, Avery entertains their advances not knowing lust can quickly turn to love — and love to murder.

Wolf Among Sheep
By Sara Dobie Bauer
An excerpt

My husband shares a smile before he continues talking to the odious Cleaver woman. She is round in the wrong places, the shape of an upside-down cupcake. The layers of tulle beneath her gown remind me of juvenile dress-up.

Of course she would be taken with Timothy. His skin is pale like hers, but he speaks with the unfamiliar, crisp accent of one who travels often, unlike the lilting, lazy-mouthed dialect of this strange place. He is tall and broad and wears his light hair in a careful wave above his forehead. He keeps his moustache clean and coiffed. I know he smells like coffee beans, his trade.

I notice the shark as I reach into my purse for a cigarette. I slowly place the end into my ivory holder and light up. Smoke from my mouth joins the smoke of so many others in a blue cloud against the gilded ceiling above.

The shark is out of place out of water. How on Earth did he flounder his way up from the harbor, across East Bay Street, up an entire flight of circular steps? How does he manage to hold a glass in his fins?

I am busy studying this unsettlingly beautiful, wild presence when Timothy returns to me with a hand on my lower back. He sips champagne then leans in and presses a single, moist kiss behind my ear.

“I spy,” I say.

“What do you spy?”

“I spy a shark. A wolf among lambs.”

Timothy’s body, so close, gives off more heat than a Charleston kitchen at lunchtime. He has his arm wrapped around me, one hand on my right hip, and the other against the balcony. His half-empty champagne flute balances precariously between us.

“Oh, of course,” he says. “How could I miss him?”

I take a sip of earthy wormwood. “He’s not rich.”

“Not at all. His eyes search the party as though studying it.”

I lean closer to my husband. “A journalist, perhaps?”

“On assignment. How intuitive.”

“Describe him to me, darling,” I say. It’s a game we play. I like to hear if Timothy sees what I see.

He speaks right into my ear. “Hair the color of a spilled inkwell. Unkempt, uncut. Perhaps he can’t afford a regular barber.”

“Or perhaps he keeps his hair that way on purpose.”

“An air of flippancy, yes, which is why he wears no tie. He leaves his skin open to the air.”

“Practically a scandal.” I finish my second drink. “What else?”

“I can’t be sure from all the way up here, but I believe his eyes to be the color of burnt coffee beans.”

I smile, which is precisely when our flippant shark looks up at me. I run the backs of my fingers across my cheek. He watches.

“Although, I do believe you’re wrong, Vonnie. I believe him to be a lamb among wolves.”

“Is that so? Let’s give him a name,” I say.

“Hmm.” Timothy kisses the shell of my ear. “He looks like a Judas.”

When I tongue my top lip, the shark looks away. “Destined for betrayal?”

“Willing to do desperate sexual acts that could get him hung.”

I laugh and notice several people turn to stare. I’m beautiful—more beautiful—when I smile, and I know my laugh has the resonance of a sea horn over a motionless sea. “Let’s meet him.”

 

Sara-Dobie-Bauer-AuthorAbout Sara Dobie Bauer:

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is the author of Life without Harry, Forever Dead, and Wolf Among Sheep. World Weaver Press will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, this summer.

Where to find Sara Dobie Bauer:

Wolf Among Sheep book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP-hz7_li68

Website: http://SaraDobieBauer.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SaraDobie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSaraDobieBauer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saradobiebauer/


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Sara Dobie Bauer

Author of forthcoming novel, BITE SOMEBODY, yours in 2016