Amara Deegan sneered at the valentine on her desk where it had fallen from the unassuming envelope thought on first inspection to be a business letter wishing it would catch fire and die in blazing agony.

A self-made black aether smuggling ship captain simply did not do Valentines! She had spent the last thirty years of her life clawing her way out of the slums and away from the fate that took her parents from her all too early. Not once had let silly notions such as romance interfere with her plans. She quickly conceded the thought admitting to herself that there had been one time… Once was enough! Life lessons were oft hard learned and none involving love could be harder taught that being jilted on your own wedding day. Having to spend time rationalizing the possible reasons all when it’s known perfectly well by the fifth hour that he’s not coming only to find out he preferred the company of three other women over being married to one. No, once was enough for silly distractions such as love.

And yet, glancing down at the red velvet heart shaped card still laying undisturbed on the spot it had come to rest, her breath had caught and her heart had skipped a beat. It wasn’t from who she first imagined it would be from; a man who had tried to woo her wallet more than herself countless times before. She knew the sender well enough and knew his intentions were on the level. Brushing curls of brown out of her face she planted elbows on the desk to lace fingers together and glare hazel eyes over them at the offending note.

How dare he? She had openly rejected him before. Was he thick? Did he honestly believe a flimsy holiday card would catch her eye? She realized all at once that it in fact had. Ah-ha! So that was his game! She picked it up between two fingers and quickly tossed it across the room like flicking a playing card. It made it nearly half way across the cabin of the sky vessel before making a sharp curve up and flittering down to the floor. Displayed obviously in the middle of the hardwood floor disgust her more than when it had been on her desk. Getting up, she wandered over to it and circled it with hands clasped behind her back. The more she tried to find the words to respond with or the reasons why he had even bothered to send it given her very public opinion on such things, the more she failed to find either to be damning enough.

“You’re growing soft!” She scoffed to herself, finally bending to pick up the Valentine and hold it out in front of her at eye level as if to inspect it for some hidden message or spring loaded trap.

‘For my Valentine. – Lynn’ Read the short handwritten message on the back facing of the heart.

No flowery promises of love everlasting. No declarations of intentions. Not even a lewd remark concerning bodies and what they were meant to do together.

Retreating back to her desk, she slammed a crisp piece of paper down in front of her to begin a counter. Once again, no words fiery or damning enough leapt to mind. Instead, all she could picture was the first time she had met the confused and dirty wanderer. He needed a ship to get from Boston to London and stumbled, quite literally, on to hers blinking at everyone before finally uttering his demands. He couldn’t pay, but he could work hard and eat little. She would always rationalize it as needing the free labor for a run, but it wasn’t the truth. She still didn’t fully understand why she had let him on, or let him continue to stay on for a stint through various English ports before she needed to return to Boston. It was confusing to say the least. Yet it had been the happiest summer she had experienced in a while. Her rejection had come at the end that run when he wanted to stay in London and asked her to do so as well.

The pen that had remained poised motionless over the ocean of white finally started to move as if of its own free will. The words flowed simply and quickly now as she thought about him and their brief time together. The message was folded into a fresh envelope and prepared to send out. Smiling at it, her thoughts turned to possible business ventures in London. After all, there was a demand for Black Aether everywhere.

‘For MY Valentine. – Amara’

About the Author

“My name is Jennifer and I more commonly go by one of my very long time character names, Amara Deegan, while online or writing stories. Amara started as an OC for, believe it or not, Gundam Wing fanfiction many moons ago. She has since become so much her own character that she is like my daughter. In the since of being similar in ways yet very much her own person, if that makes sense!

“I have known about Steampunk for a long time, but never had a name to put to it until January 2011 when I attended Wild Wild West Steampunk Con in Tucson, AZ after moving here from San Jose, California. It was that long lost, at last I am at home kind of feeling the more I get into Steampunk in general. I absolutely adore the maker/tinkerer aspect and have started my own Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/CaptainAmaraDeegan). I make tie-on bustles, fairy wings, and Steampunk and Sci-Fi inspired affordable guns. They may not have all the bells and whistles of intricately decorated guns. My aim was to make great looking guns (most of which are working water guns) that are more realistically affordable ranging $10-$25.

“I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without Steampunk in it to some extent. I grew up on Sherlock Holmes, Dickens, Jules Verne, and such. I have always had a love of the Victorian and Edwardian periods, even though I know that is not the only aspect or era of Steampunk with it’s ever growing myriad of sub-genres. I currently at the Navigatrix (co-organizer) of the Tucson Steampunk Society.”