Beta- the lovely and talented StacyO72- go beg her for a copy of her epic romance Still In Your Heart. It doesn't matter if you don't like Duran Duran or you have no idea who John Taylor is. Just read it and try not to fall in love.
Big thank you to PagingDrC for pre-reading and encouraging me to post this!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N Even though I have two neglected Duran Duran WIP's and it's the middle of tax season, I can't get this idea out of my head. I'm not sure how long it will be or how exactly this story will unfold. This is my first Twilight FF and after DD FF, it's like going from Little League up to the Majors so go easy on me. The story is planned to be BPOV in the beginning, but Edward will share his thoughts with us at some point. Also, fair warning, I plan to update once a week but I am a sloooowwww writer.
FYI – there is no commercial fishing port on Block Island. I moved a few things on the mainland over to BI for the sake of the story. If you ever get the chance to visit BI, do it. It's the best of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, without the pretense. In case you were wondering I am not from BI although I am from Rhode Island, which isn't an island, it's a state and no, it's not part of New York, we get a little sensitive about that.
I did work in a commercial fishing port for a very long time. If you don't like to read about fish being killed, this probably isn't the story for you. Here's my PSA- support your local seafood suppliers, know your source for fish and seafood. American Fishermen abide by a red-taped network of government regulations and restrictions that would give even seasoned attorneys migraines. They are at a huge disadvantage when competing against cheaper imports from countries that allow or ignore overfishing and environmentally damaging practices. If you want a glimpse of the Longliner life, watch Discovery Channel's show, Swords, Life on the Line. Yes, I did know a few of those guys at one time although I've never had the opportunity to meet the legendary Linda Greenlaw. Speaking of Linda, you can also watch The Perfect Storm but that movie has the most awful, hokey lines. The book was much better. Linda herself has written a few books about commercial fishing. I read her first, The Hungry Ocean several years ago but haven't had a chance to read any of her others. O.k., now that I got that out of the way, on to Longlinerward.
Ch. 1. The Smell of Money
For most people, the smell of money means the smell of crisp dollar bills fresh from the ATM or a teller window. I worked at the bank- yes there's only one on the island- the summer after I graduated high school. I disliked counting the newly inked paper bills because they were stiff and hard to separate without a dab of Sortquik on your finger. But the smell, the smell was clean and fresh and full of promise. I loved that smell.
However, down here, in the port, the smell of money is defined very differently. It's the tang of ocean salt clinging to scale covered flesh. It's the musky, slightly stale scent that surrounds cold boxes of squid frozen on board just after a good haul. Most importantly; it's the smell of freshly caught seafood packed in ice and ready to ship to market.
Here, fish equals money.
In decades past, it was easy money, flowing into the port like the tide, nets hauled back full of cod, fluke, mackerel and whiting in the cold months, then in the summer it was the sportfish- tuna, sword, and even shark, hung up to pose with their proud hunters, ready to collect their tournament prizes. I have a vague recollection of those glory days, which ended just a few years after I was born.
The cod stocks crashed first, sometime in the 80's, due to a combination of increasingly efficient catch methods and "plain greed and stupidity", as my dad would say. The government got involved, doing everything they could to get the stocks to recover, controlling what, when, how, and where you could catch and generally creating a roadmap of bureaucratic regulations that even a Rhodes Scholar couldn't understand. Fishermen got creative, finding new markets for previously discarded "garbage" fish- skate, monk, even the hated dogfish, but the government regulations were soon imposed on each new fishery, forcing many to abandon the only work they had ever known. Men who had gone to work as deckhands at fourteen, risen to captain, bought their own boats, raised and provided for their families were suddenly facing hard times. Who was going to hire a fifty year old guy with an eighth grade education and no work experience outside fishing?
My dad, Charlie Swan, was once a full-time fisherman. He owned a 55 ft. western rig otter trawler, F/V Isabella Marie, which cost more than our modest house. He did o.k. at first but with my mom leaving and taking her second income with her, then the regs getting even tighter (restricting squid, monk, and butters mostly because of by-catch: other species of fish, especially those identified as "overfished" like scup or porgies, that are accidentally caught with the targeted fish), expensive insurance, and finally skyrocketing fuel costs, it all just got to be too much. He sold the boat and became a police officer for the Town of New Shoreham, eventually becoming the chief of its year round four man force (himself included).
It should seem obvious, but in the smallest town in the smallest state in the country, there's not much crime. There's the occasional traffic accident, usually caused by some idiot who's never rented a moped before, or maybe a squabble at the public boat ramp about right of way, or most frequently, a drunk and disorderly call at The Black Wolf when a crew comes in to celebrate a good haul and gets a bit too rowdy. So, Charlie kept his fishing licenses and eventually bought a small 25 ft. lobster boat, the F/V Black Swan, with his friend Billy Black. They fished part-time, choosing to go out only in good weather because they knew they didn't need to go in bad. They no longer depended on fishing as their sole source of income.
They landed lobster, scup, when that fishery was open, and anything else that could be trapped in a pot. Charlie did the actual fishing because Billy couldn't walk. He had been confined to a wheelchair since his old boat, the F/V Rachel and Rebecca, had sunk in a sudden storm about sixty miles offshore. He was hit across the back by an outrigger that broke and came crashing down on deck. Outriggers are the two large metal poles, roughly the size and shape of telephone poles that fold outward from the sides of the boat. Each has a heavy metal stabilizer, commonly known as a "bird" because it looks somewhat like a bird in flight from far away. Once a vessel leaves port, the outriggers are lowered so that the stabilizers are below the waterline, which helps to stop the boat from rocking and rolling so much. Billy was found floating in the water by a Coast Guard helicopter team. It's a miracle he survived at all.
"Bella, I need you to get a landing license." I turned at the sound of my name to see Mike Newton, the plant manager for Newton's Wholesale Fish walking toward me. I automatically glanced at the clock on the wall behind him and sighed. The state government required all vessels to have a crewmember, usually the captain, with a valid license to land fish. It was a bit bogus because the license should be assigned to the vessel, not a person. Every time the crew changed, a new license was needed. At $400-600 per license, it was yet another way to bleed fishermen dry. However, without a person on board with a valid license, the Environmental Police, Fisheries Enforcement Officers disparagingly known as crab cops in the seafood industry, had the right to seize the vessel's entire catch. The catch would then be sold at auction, and all the proceeds kept by the Fisheries Department as part of the fine for not having a licensed crewmember. To add insult to injury, the Fisheries Office was in the capital city of Providence; nowhere near any of the state's commercial fishing ports. If I had to go up to the city for a license, my whole day would be shot.
"Mike, can't anyone else go?" I asked, not hiding the annoyed tone in my voice.
Mike shook his head, his gelled blonde spikes standing absolutely still despite the movement. He tried to give me a puppy dog look, but really, that only works if you have brown eyes like me, not blue. "Bella, I wish I could do it but I need to get ready for this boat. The ice machine keeps clogging and I need Ben and Eric to make boxes. You know my dad gets lost every time we send him to the city and I need to get the license today. We've got a sword boat coming in and they need to offload as soon as possible."
I tried not to roll my eyes when Mike mentioned his dad getting lost. Yeah, last time he got "lost", he managed to charge $400 on the corporate credit card at the Foxy Lady. However, Mike did catch my attention with the last part of his plea.
"A longliner?" I asked.
"Yep." Mike shook his head excitedly, again the hair didn't move, not one millimeter.
"Why are they coming here?"
"Right here." Mike pulled a small notepad from the back pocket of his jeans and tossed it on my desk. The paper was stained with fish juice, which I carefully avoided as I took a quick inventory- a decent mix of sword, bigeye, and yellowfin, some albies, escolar, plus a few mahi and…
"A Bluefin?" I looked up at Mike with one eyebrow raised. Strict quotas meant commercial longliners were allowed only one Bluefin tuna per trip when fishing in U.S. waters.
"What boat is this?"
"Never heard of it; do they know what they're doing?"
"Volterra owns it. It's the sister vessel to the Predator. They bought it last year, completely refurbished, all new Furuno electronics, new generator, new pumps, she sounds beautiful." Mike almost sighed in reverence.
I knew the Predator. She was an 85 foot longliner out of Gloucester, where Volterra Seafood was headquartered. Her captain was an arrogant s.o.b. but he knew how to catch fish. Anyone that worked for Volterra had better, or they'd be out on their ass pretty fast. Volterra controlled most of the longline fleet in the Northeast so the Newtons kissed their asses whenever they could, eager to get a piece of their business. One thing for sure, if the Vampress was a Volterra boat, then they knew how to properly handle a giant Bluefin tuna. A Bluefin meant money, possibly big, big money but if the fish was allowed to stay on the line too long it could "overheat", damaging the fish's tissues and comprising the quality. It happened often with sport fishermen who were so caught up in the battle with the tuna that they neglected to think about how it would affect the price. An experienced longliner wouldn't make that mistake. A 500 lb. prime Bluefin with good color and good bloodlines was worth at least $12,000.00 wholesale. The fish house used a profit margin of thirty percent, which meant Newton's would make about $3,600.00 for that one fish. Mike must be ready to jizz in his pants.
I sighed again. If I hustled, I could make the 10 am ferry, get over to the mainland by 11, and then be up at the Fisheries Office by 12. If there was no line, I could be back on the road by 12:30, and hopefully back here before 3 pm. Like I said, the whole day would be shot, but getting the chance at a lucrative trip was worth it.
"O.K., I'll go but I need your Suburban and you need to tell all the day boats guys that their checks won't be ready before noon tomorrow."