(It’s really short)
From the Trinity Universe
Talen and Adriann go to the Mall
Daniel felt his mouth curve up in a soft smile as he watched Jason walk ahead of their group. The jeans he wore were perfect. After that thought came an intrusive one: others would be looking, too. Color rose to his cheeks for a few seconds until he throttled the feeling. He was nowhere near a jealous man. How could he be, given his poly relationship with Jason and Jack. All things considered, he had his hands full and his mind wasn’t capable of housing stupidity. That was left for his two Hyper-Alpha husbands. He liked to think he was their stabilizing influence but he held a deep secret: he liked their Type A personalities. Well, that and the rest of their minds, and creative ones at that. Their love life, en masse, was never boring.
And today, of all days, it wasn’t boring. Adriann and Talen were visiting, sans Jalen, who was off somewhere else buying tech and the ability to use it away from Wifi. In other words, on another planet. Daniel looked to his left as the group headed for the leather shop, Wilson’s, and saw Talen walking toward a Pagan shop. He smirked, and Jack, walking beside him, caught it in time.
“What?” his husband asked. Upon hearing the question, Adriann, on his right, queried a brow.
Daniel jerked his chin in Talen’s direction. “She’s gonna get into mischief.”
Adriann sighed. “I’ll follow her, make sure she behaves, then we’ll meet you at that … shop?”
“Shop,” Daniel confirmed with a nod. He led Jack toward the store, and both grinned, a little worriedly, as they watched Adriann shadow his sister.
Talen caught the sparkly stuff inside an enclosed area at an intersection of walking strips … what did they call that? And the place? She dug around in her mind and recalled the word: a shop. The sparkly was purple and blue and would match what she wore—providing it was something to be worn. These Earth people had weird customs.
Veering to the left, she entered the corner store, eyes alight with fascination. The inevitable stares from other patrons were something she was almost getting used to. She knew why they stared, mostly because she hadn’t bothered putting up the walls in her mind to keep from hearing everyone. She didn’t see the point. She could filter quite easily, so that no words came, but the belief underneath. And with these people, that belief was about her height. Honestly, didn’t they have women who were over six feet tall?
She dismissed the question with a flick of attention at her goal: bowls of crystals. Long, narrow, in an array of … what were they called? She finally noticed the display title card planted on a little pole stand by the table that held the bowls: Amethyst and aquamarine. There were a lot of them, and each bowl had different shapes. She caught the words from the mind of the woman with the name tag: wands, discs, pendants, and beads.
The woman was a full foot shorter and she was staring; Talen didn’t need to look at her as she approached. She was broadcasting loudly. It was amusing. She wasn’t so much interested in making a sale as she was curious about the tall and striking woman with the ass-length black hair.
An enigmatic thought permeated Talen’s mind: She’d be a good Morticia if she had black nails and the dress. And what fashion is that? Layers of flowy silk, all dark blues and purples, with black leather pants and thigh-high boots that barely had heels? It’s pretty but weird and I’ve never seen such a look before and I’ve seen plenty!
“May I help you?” she asked, approaching the round display table.
Talen looked down at the blonde woman with hazel eyes, dressed in earthy greens and braids. She wore multi-colored crinkly fabric and she found it curious. “What are these, Carly?” she asked, picking up an amethyst wand about two inches long with both hands, index fingers holding the object by its ends. Talen heard the woman’s thoughts again.
She’s got strange nail polish. Metallic purple. Where could I get some? Seems to match her eyes, even though they’re a startling gray. And why’s she holding the wand like that?
“Crystals,” Carly said.
“Yes, they are,” Talen said dismissively as she put the wand down. “For what?”
“For whatever you want,” Carly said, frowning only slightly. “Wands, talismans, locators. If you’d like one of those, I can make it for you. Only takes an hour.”
Talen was amused. “Yes, I know,” she said, reading her mind as if the thoughts were being beamed into her head by force. She sighed. “Why?”
Carly blinked. “Why what?”
Talen’s attention was again diverted as her gaze rested on another table with bowls of polished stones. Black ones, specifically. She walked over and picked up four of them in a palm, fingering them with her other hand. They were nice and smooth. It felt relaxing. “What are these?” she asked, not needing to look to see Carly following.
“Onyx,” said Carly.
She’s got this amazing shade of red lipstick. Is it metallic too? It’s sparkly, but not glossy. Where’d she get it?
Talen’s attention was once again diverted as her eyes caught sight of green stalks bound together with plain string, and there were dozens of them on a table, laid atop one another in rows. She picked one up and the fragrance delighted her. “What’re these?” she asked, pressing her nose against the bound item and inhaling.
Crap, she’s not supposed to do that! What if she’s sick?
“Sweetgrass and sage. I don’t mean to be rude but—”
“Of course, of course,” Talen said, waving a dismissive hand as she set it down. “What’s it for?” She already knew, but felt it was only polite to ask.
“Smudging,” said Carly.
“Yes,” Talen nodded, getting the image from Carly’s mind. “No, don’t need that.” She caught sight of a bowl of round amber beads and strode over. “Pretty!” She picked up a handful and poked at them.
“Amber,” Carly said.
“Yes,” Talen said, tilting her head slightly. She dumped them back in the bowl and went to the next sparkly thing. A bowl of topaz chips. “Curious. Holes.”
“For beading,” Carly said.
“Yes,” Talen said, nodding.
“Talen?” Adriann asked, his tone full of gentle warning as he walked into the shop. He smiled at the employee. “She’s not making herself a nuisance, is she?”
Wow, he’s taller! With striking golden hair. And their eyes match. The same family? Weird accents. I can’t place them.
“Not at all,” Carly said, blinking away from them, knowing she was staring.
Adriann bowed his head once. “You’re gracious.” He touched Talen’s elbow. “What are you doing?”
“I saw these,” Talen said, and went back to the crystals. “Aren’t they pretty?”
Adriann sighed. “Must you go look at every shiny thing you see? They have birds on this planet that do the same thing.” Talen giggled. “Come along.”
She narrowed her eyes at her brother. “We are here to, as they say, see the sights. Is that not what I am doing?”
“No. You’re wandering.”
“Nonsense. Get these for me. I believe you have what they call currency?”
“And what are you going to do with them?”
“Do? I just want them.”
“We are leaving. Come along, sister mine.”
Talen sighed, and her eyes narrowed further. “I believe you need a good long fuck, brother. Where’s Jalen?”
“You know where he is,” he said, taking her elbow and steering her out of the store.
“With his husbands,” Adriann said, annoyed. “And I’m not involved with him anymore, as you know. Now, let’s go. Maybe we’ll find a lovely young man for you. Jack said we’re going to a bar tonight. I believe you remember the last one you went to?”
“Indeed. I fucked a lovely couple in the alley behind it. He was so surprised by my …”
In the store, at its edge, Carly lost what else the woman said, the words swallowed by other people passing by. Her eyes were wide while her brain went over and over the words she’d heard.
‘On this planet.’
‘What they call currency.’
No. She had to have misheard. Or had an auditory hallucination. She hurried behind the counter and checked the joint in her purse, smelling it. “What in the hell did they put in this blend?”